Friday, January 31, 2014

Samantha Redstreake Geary Week 84:Falling Star

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Samantha Redstreake Geary’s Picture Choice:

Title: Falling Star

There are details I remember with crystal clarity before I died.

The biting wind snapping at my face. My wheels spinning along the snaking Blue Ridge Parkway. My muscles burning with fatigue. The beat up Dodge pickup, passing so close I could see rusted bones beneath peeling skin.

The reckless truck swerved within an inch of my life, abandoning my fate to the space between death and dying...

I awoke in a body that was not my own, a thousand years severing all ties to the life I lost. I somehow slipped through the fingers of oblivion, only to fall through the cracks of a world I cannot fathom--a lone traveller aboard an alien ship, sailing into a ceaseless sea of stars.

No. Not entirely alone. There’s another lifeform sharing this strange shell, one that’s not exactly...welcoming.


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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Mark Ethridge Week 84: The Old Man’s Back Yard

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Mark Ethridge’s Picture Choice: Two

Title: The Old Man’s Back Yard

Henry yelled at me from his back door, “You shouldn’t walk through there without their permission!”

I laughed. I walked along the fence at the back of his yard. The old guy had built a little town there. With little paved walkways, and tiny buildings. He even had tiny plants, like trees and bushes, decorating what would have been yards.

“I won’t hurt anything! I Just have to look!” I waved at him, and continued exploring that tiny neighborhood. There was an old style cathedral, I mean, it looked like one to me. Complete with a church tower, in the middle of the building. Which was weird. There was a partially constructed building. And several that looked like old apartment buildings. Three stories tall. I towered over them all, of course.

Tiny bricks, stones, and pebbles made each buildings walls, and floors. Each piece carefully placed, and matched color wise. “The old guy must have spent years making these.”

Henry, from his back door, belted out again, “You’ll piss ‘em off! You’ll see!”

I scoffed. The old guy told me the little village was for the fairies. Yeah. That’s what he said. “For the fairies.” Can you imagine that? He’d built an entire little village in his backyard for the fairies. I chuckled as I walked through the place, examining each building. “Damn. But he put a lot of work into this.”

The road was actually made of paving stones. Yeah. The old guy had made the roads, stone by stone. Just like the Greeks and Romans did over 2000 years ago. It must have taken him months just to put in the roads. I didn’t even want to know how he’d managed to get all the stones to match. “What’d he do? Chip rocks to bits to get them?”

I peeked inside the buildings, through the windows. Solid stone walls. Rocks lined up, patterns matching inside and outside. I kept seeing the old guy in his garage, with a bunch of power tools, cutting boulders into tiny pieces, so he could get what he needed.

The guy was an artist. The entire village should have been in a museum somewhere. He must have spent years working on it.

After I peeked, studied, and examined everything, I wandered back to his house. He was still at the back door, waiting for me. “Son. You be careful the next few days. Be on the look out for strange things.” He looked back at his village, “They’re none too happy with you, you know.”

“Fairies don’t exist, old man. You know that.”

Yeah. Fairies don’t exist. Everybody knows that.

I had a flat tire driving home from Henry’s that afternoon. Three blocks. And I had a flat. Pulled into my driveway, and stared at the back left tire. Bone flat. Just like someone had let all the air out of it. Not a nail, or a puncture of any kind in sight. I hooked up my electric air pump, and filled the tire. Yep. Not a leak of any kind.

That evening, things just kept happening. The toaster oven kept going “BING!” every hour. All night long. “BING! BING! BING!” The microwave joined in, offset a half hour from the toaster. “Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!” Hell, I unplugged them both, and they still went off. All night long.

The TV kept tuning to BBC America. Yeah. I tuned in ABC to watch the news. I put the remote down, and presto. The channel changed to BBC America. I put on a movie with the DVD player. And pressed play. And the TV tuned to BBC America. Figure that one out.

In frustration, I grabbed a beer, and popped the top. Stupid pull tab came off in my hand. Beer was still sealed. I tried to push the tab into the can. Nothing doing. It was like the top was solid. In frustration, I stabbed the top with a Phillips head screwdriver. Sucker spewed beer all over my kitchen.

I could have lived with that. I could have. But I grabbed a second beer, and the same damn thing happened. Pull tab came off, and I had to resort to opening it with the screwdriver. And I beer spewed everywhere.

I figured I’d fix a sandwich. I pulled the loaf of bread out of the fridge, and stared at it. It was fluffy white and green, with a hint of blue here and there. The entire loaf was just two days old. The sell by date printed on the bag was still over a week away. And the entire loaf was fluffy.

I pulled out a bowl, and a packet of instant oatmeal. I got the water in the oatmeal, no problem. Plugged in the microwave, and put the bowl inside, and none of the buttons on the touchpad worked. Not one. I unplugged the stupid thing, and plugged it back in. Nothing. I took two steps back from it, so I didn’t pick it up and throw it across the kitchen. Stupid thing said, “Bing! Bing! Bing! Bing! Bing!”

I screamed, and unplugged it. “I give up! I’ll just go eat somewhere!”

When I got to the car, that tire was flat again. Not a leak in it. Not one atom of air in it either. So, I pumped the tire back up, and got in the car. Every time I turned the key, the car said, “Click! Click! Click! Click! Click!” I knew that sound. It was a dead battery. I popped the hood, and looked. The battery looked good. I hooked up my battery charger. It said the battery was good. I got in the car and tried again. “Click! Click! Click! Click! Click!”

I screamed in frustration.

I got out, slammed the car door shut, and went back to the house. I couldn’t get in. The front door had magically locked itself. That was OK. I had the keys. I put them in the lock, and turned, and nothing happened. The keys didn’t work.

I couldn’t get into my house. I pulled out my cell phone to call the AAA for help with my car. My cell phone was dead as a brick. The battery charge was gone. “Really? Really?” I stared at it. “And I charged you this morning?”

I wandered around my house, trying to get in. I tried the windows. The garage door. The back door. I tried everything.

And that’s when the cops showed up. Flashlights and all. Guns drawn. “Freeze!”

There I was, in my yard, holding my hands up, scared witless, explaining, “But it’s my house! And my keys don’t work! I’m just trying to get back inside, so I can go to bed! I have to work tomorrow!”

They listened to me explain. They were so patient. They even walked around to the front door with me. I tried my key again, and the door wouldn’t open. I handed the key to one of the officers. He tried it. The door opened right up.

Well. At least I’d gotten back inside. To watch more BBC America. I unplugged the damn TV, and turned on the Radio. “This is BBC News.” Learn something new all the time. I never knew my radio, in South Lake Tahoe, California, could pick up BBC News in London. Hell, I didn’t know that was possible. I stood there, staring at my radio like it was a demon from hell.

Then I unplugged it.

I didn’t sleep much that night. Especially when the toaster oven and microwave started making their hourly noise even though they weren’t plugged in. And the TV turned itself to BBC America again. With me standing there, holding the cord in my hand, wondering how a TV could run without being plugged in. I even pulled the cable company connection, and the silly thing kept right on playing.

I slept in short twenty-minute chunks, leaping out of my skin every time the toaster said, “Bing! Bing! Bing!” or the microwave said, “Beep! Beep! Beep!”

I didn’t even try a third beer. I just sat on the sofa, and watched BBC America until I passed out. Then picked myself up off the floor when the Toaster said, “Bing!” and I leaped out of my skin, and landed on the carpet.

That kept happening all frigging night long.

The next morning someone knocked on my front door. I staggered to it. It was Henry. The old guy. “The fairies want you to know. If you apologize, they’ll stop.”

Do you know what I did? I showed how stubborn I was. That’s what I did. I put up with that same story every night, and every day for three solid days before I gave up, and went back to Henry’s little village. I stood outside that little village, and I sank to my knees, and pleaded for the fairies to forgive me.

That’s what I did.

Tell me fairies don’t exist. Explain to me how they’re figments of my imagination. Yeah. Right. Sure they are. And do you really think I’m building those tiny buildings in my backyard? Nope. It’s the fairies doing that. One stupid stone at a time.

One stupid stone at a time.


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Mark woke up in 2010, and has been exploring life since then. All his doctors agree. He needs to write.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Pablo Michaels Week 84: The Ice Creamery

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Pablo Michael’s Picture Choice: Both

Title: The Ice Creamery

It all started with ice cream. Nash had gone to the Ice Creamery to indulge himself with his favorite food fetish, a blueberry-rocky road ice cream cone. An extended hot spell had sent the temperatures in the hundreds for a week. The air conditioning had failed in the shop that day but people were lined up to buy their favorite scoop. When Nash had paid for his delicacy, he turned and bumped the young woman behind him. His ice cream, already melting with the scorching heat, plopped in a liquid slop on her Bruce Springsteen tank-top, above her left breast.

Nash expected outrage but was floored by her response.

“Well, don’t just stand there crying over spilled milk, lick it off.” She laughed.

Nash, completely outwitted, began blotting her shirt with his hand filled fist of napkins. Seeing the futility, he started to remove his sleeveless muscle shirt, apologizing, “Let me clean the rest with my shirt.”

The woman started laughing boisterously. “Take it off. Let me switch your shirt for mine. You’re making a mess. You must be gay.” She rebounded with more chuckles.

“Oh, yes, of course.” Nash disposed of his cone in the trash, nervously, and thought. “How’d she guess I’m gay?” Is my shirt that obvious?” The yellow tank top was embellished with a logo of two parallel, yellow bars set in a royal blue square.

“Let me buy your ice cream, while you change.” He handed her his shirt. “What flavor?”

“You’re too kind. I’ll pop into the restroom and change. Peaches and Cream, double scoop.”

Momentarily, she returned, extending her washed tank-top to Nash. “You might as well wear my mine. It’s wet but it might keep you cool.”


“I’m Susan. What do your boyfriends call you?”

“Nash or Klutz. I’m clumsy.”

“Yes, I’ve seemed to experience that first hand.”

“How’d you know I was gay? My shirt?”

“No, although now that you bring it up it does ring “gay”.

“It was your GayDor.”

Gaydor? She knows that word.

“The way you ogled the guy serving you. And the two buck tip. But your beautiful green eyes, most of all. Any man with such awesome eyes has to be gay. You’re probably single too.” Susan’s tongue licked a large melting drip of a cream, encrusted peach from the side of her cone.

“You must have a close friend who’s gay.” Nash, finally, laughed, easing his embarrassment.

“Yeah, Tristan. We’re like sister and brother. I’m meeting him at the airport, after we finish our lovely discussion. I think you two would hit it off. He’s single too.”

‘Really?” Nash passed off her suggestion as a passing comment as one lacking commitment.

“He’s one hot man with a delicious sense of humor.”

Nash was picturing his introduction to Tristan, a man who would look past his awkwardness and see his inner finesse for perfection.

“It’s time to go” Susan had finished her double scoop cone shortly after Nash had eaten his. ” You don’t want to be late to meet Tristan, do you?”

“You’re not being serious, are you?”

“Of course, I am. Tristan expects my mischief. I know you will, too, once we become better friends. Come on let’s go.” She grabbed Nash’s hand, dragging him, from the Ice Creamery.

Susan and Nash stood watching the airplane taxi to the gate, where they would be greeting Tristan.

Susan proudly wore Nash’s Marriage Equality muscle shirt. Nash’s sweat kept Susan’s Bruce Springsteen’s T-shirt wet. His stomach churned from anxious expectations. Will he see me as a desperate gay man? Especially since we’ve never met, not even had eye contact.”


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Pablo Michaels writes LGBT fiction and has published with Naughty Nights Press, You can follow him at @bell2mike


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Samantha Lee Week 84: Nothing Special

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Samantha Lee’s Picture Choice: 1

Title: Nothing Special

When Oz was a kitten, he remembered being cold and wet, hurt and alone. He remembered when the others come and been so cruel to him, their weapons harsh, their fire merciless. He remembered being left in the mud by the side of the road, the rain a thick, pounding crush upon him. And then his Girl found him. She was a child then, just a little kitten herself. He'd heard horses rushing by and had cowered back, mewing in spite of himself when the effort sent pain searing through him. A voice had risen above the hooves and whinnies and a moment later silence descended but for the rustle of skirts and the shuffle of small, light feet. The girl smelled of cedar and vanilla, the male that accompanied her of steel and feathers. He felt a hand touch him, felt the weight of soggy leaves and thick mud brushed gently off him. Panic and fear flared inside him and he had hissed, feebly lashing out with his too-weak claws. The male had murmured something in a gruff voice, his girl had answered, and the male moved away, his scent growing faint with distance. His girl had scooped him up and held him to her chest. "It's alright," she'd told him, "you're home now."

His girl had brought him to a warren, a place with twisting tunnels and secret corridors, where rooms appeared and disappeared on a whim, doors locked and unlocked on their own accord, and almost nothing was in the same place twice. It was a place that was alive and sentient, that listened and watched, that learned and knew and remembered. His girl loved it and the warren loved her too and they made each other very happy. He went with her everywhere. Curled on her lap, held in her arms, trotting at her side; she refused to have him parted from her. Together, they grew up, growing in size, in strength, in power, but always together. Until they weren't.

One day something happened, something terrible. His girl had smelled of fear and sorrow when she'd locked him in their room with her other cats, an entire pride she'd collected cat by cat over the years. She'd never returned, although he'd felt her fear and sorrow turn to rage and desperation. He'd felt the warren tremble and shake with its need to defend her, a need she herself denied. He'd heard her scream when it came, filling the whole of the warren with her pain and anguish, and then he'd felt her vanish.

It was her packmate that came let them out. He'd opened the door and stood there looking at us for a moment before walking in and going to the closet, ignoring our hisses. He'd shifted something aside and pressed his palm against one of the stones at the back of wall, murmuring something under his breath. With a hushed whisper, the stones had parted. "Go," the packmate said. "All of you. She's not coming back, not for awhile, and if my mother finds you, any of you, she'll use you against her. The wraiths are already gone; she sent them away when she realized what was going on with her da. You need to go."

Oz hadn't liked it, but he'd gone, leading the others out into the forest. His girl was gone for a very, very long time. Without her, Oz roamed first near then further and further away, until one day he felt her call. He wasn't one for metaphors or flowery language, but even he had to admit that feeling that call, feeling her after all the decades and centuries of being alone and lonely, it was like being a bird who'd finally found the sky again.

The call lead to a house. Oz had to slip through the black, wrought iron bars of a gate and trot up a pink bricked driveway lines with cherry trees that twisted and circled for what seemed like miles. At the end of it all sat a massive three storey house. Someone had left a downstairs window open and Oz took the invitation for what it was, leaping gracefully from ground to sill and slipping inside.

She was upstairs, huddled in the corner of a big white room. She was hugging her knees tightly, her face buried in the silk of her ravaged gown's skirt. Her hair was long, so long it fell to pool around her in greasy tendrils. Still healing scars marred the white flesh of her arms and he could smell fresh blood seeping into her gown. She rocked and trembled and shook, mumbling and murmuring to herself. His girl was gone, destroyed by her disappearance, but she was still his.

Tentatively, Oz padded close. He smelled dirt and sweat, blood and urine, grease and oil. metal and ash. So many scents were clung to her, marking the events and torments that had filled her time away. Gently, he bumped his head against her knee. Whimpering, she curled tighter and tried to move deeper into the corner, but the brief touch had been enough. Underneath all the scents of horror and pain, there was the faint smell of cedar and vanilla. His girl was still there, inside of her broken shell. He couldn't scoop her up and hold her to his chest. He couldn't fetch a bottle of warm milk to suckle her and ensure she regained her strength. He couldn't clean her off and heal her wounds. He didn't have hands or strong magic or an enchanted refuge. He was just a cat who could change size and ward off ghosts. Nothing special.

With a mew, he curled up at her side, resting his chin on her feet and purring, letting her know he was there. After awhile - he had no idea how long - her hand dropped from around her knees to curl into his fur.

Perhaps, he decided, he was special enough.


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Monday, January 27, 2014

Lizzie Koch Week 84: Simone’s Night Off

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Lizzie Koch’s Picture Choice: One

Title: Simone’s Night Off

I wander around, dressed for the occasion but no one sees me. But they know I’m there, can feel my presence for I am a Guardian Angel. I rest a comforting hand on heavy shoulders, I sooth a sick brow. I am only seen by those moving on upstairs as I lead them on their way. Tonight I am at an office party. I love the atmosphere of parties. Everyone is smiling, conversation flowing, sparkling dresses twirling. No one will see me tonight though. I just feel like being somewhere full of laughter and life where a Guardian Angel isn’t needed, where no one is moving on. Even I need to relax sometimes.

I stand alone, silently watching the flirting, the politics, the laughter. But one person isn’t laughing at the witty joke cracked by Ian in accounts. He doesn’t wear a smile on his stern looking face. His eyes are dark and stare ahead . . . at me. I turn around, but no one is behind me. I turn back to him and he’s walking towards me. In my two hundred years of being a Guardian Angel, I have never been seen unless by the dead or dying. He is neither.

“Hi.” His voice shocks me, not because its weird or funny because it isn’t. No one has ever spoken to me, no living human anyway and I am visibly startled.

“Hi,” is all I can say even though a thousand questions are on the tip of my tongue.

“Great party isn’t it?”


“Leo.” He holds out his hand.

My hand slips into his and I feel the warmth, so welcoming. “Simone.”

“Care to dance?” We walk to the dance floor and he smoothly places an arm around my bare back, his hand feels hot against my skin. He leans in close, pulling me in tight. And we move gently as I rest my head on his chest. I can’t describe how the touch of another makes me feel. For so long, I’ve been alone.

For the rest of the party, Leo and I are inseparable. I don’t want it to end. But apparently, it already has as I realise we’re alone.

“So, you can see me?” I finally ask.

“I sure can, every inch.”

As an angel, I can’t blush but his remark sends fuzzy feelings whizzing through me that I try to ignore.“How?”

He shrugs, pouring the remnants of a champagne bottle into a glass. “I guess I’m in tune with the universe or some bollocks like that,” he laughs, emptying the glass in one gulp.

“You know what I am?”

“Yes I do. Which is why I haven’t offered you a drink all evening. I know you don’t need to eat or drink. I know you don’t get the chance to feel the touch of a man,” he says softly, stroking my cheek. “I also know that you long to be kissed,” he whispers as he tips my chin up to meet him. Anticipation rises; after a drought of two hundred years, it’s to be expected and when our lips meet, I feel as light as a cloud, floating on air.

“So this is what it feels like to have your halo slip,” I laugh. “I’m so going to get into trouble for this.”

“I think you’ll find you’re already in trouble Simone.”

“I mean with my boss, not you,” I joke looking up at him. The smile fades from my face as the eyes staring back at me glow red. I try to pull back but he clutches hold of me, his hand burning into my arm. I cry as my flesh sears.

“You see, I’m very much like you Simone. I am also not seen by humans. But unlike you, I work for him downstairs. My job is to bring despair by ridding the world of hope which means ridding the world of angels and as gorgeous as you are Simone, that means you.”

The pain is acute, a quick blow. Looking down, I see the bloody blade being pulled slowly from me, a crimson stain rapidly spreading across my white beaded dress. Leo holds me, laying me gently on the floor where we’d danced all night.

“Sorry Simone, it’s nothing personal, just doing what I do,” he whispers, gently pressing his lips against mine. I know my last breath is leaving me. I know the last thing my blue eyes see is him, Leo. I see his hand glide down my dress, pulling off a bead and slipping it into his pocket. He gives me one last look before vanishing, leaving me to the unknown.


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I dream of sharing my work with the big wide world one day as a published author. Right now, I share flash fiction with a wonderful community of writers and friends. If you liked this story, then why not visit my blog at for more. Thank you. Love Lizzie x


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ruth Long Week 83: Do You Have The Time?

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Ruth Long’s Picture Choice: Two

Title: Do You Have The Time?

“I’m not sure I heard you correctly,” she says, lemonade sloshing over the edge of her mason jar.

He hands her a cloth napkin. “Marry me.”

She smoothes a palm down the front of her dress. “You can’t be serious. My father would never allow it.”

“He already has. I have his consent to court.”

Her brow furrows. “That hardly gives you license to propose.”

He shrugs. “It is the natural progression of courting.”

Her fingers swish the white cotton folds of her sundress. “Which we haven’t.”

He takes a drink of sweet tea. “What do you think the last year has been about?”

She lifts her face to his. “Excuse me?”

“I’ve come to call every Saturday for the last year.”

Her gaze rests on his shoulder. “Yes. To help dad around the farm.”

“No, Miss Wright ,” he says, moving to catch her eyes. “I don’t do farm work. I came by and rolled up my sleeves to show respect to your family, and give you a chance to get to know me in the comfort of your own home.”

She begins to pace up and down the far side of the tables.

His stride matches her. “And every Sunday we sat down to dinner together at the Franklin’s.”

Her feet pause. “I assumed you were there because they’re your relatives.”

“Round here,” he says, voice a rough whisper, “I’m everybody’s cousin twice removed. It makes people feel safe to lay claim to me. But I’m no kin to the Franklin’s.”

“I don’t understand. Why were you there?”

“For you,” he says, cutting through the gap between tables and closing the distance between them.

She takes several quick steps backwards, until the dandelions brushing her ankles tell her she’s moved off the gravel drive. “Why?”

He shrugs. “Politics. That’s why I came down to the coffee shop that morning. To discuss the matter with your daddy. But then -”

She turns away from him.

He waits several moments before moving in front of her.

She keeps her eyes on her shoes. “That’s it, isn’t it? You’re punishing me for what happened. This little charade is your revenge.”

“No, Miss Wright , you’ve got it all wrong. I’m not after revenge. And this is no charade. What happened that morning was that I laid eyes on you and my life hasn’t been the same since.”

Her mouth twists. “So let me get this straight. I spilled scalding coffee down the front of you and that piqued your interest? You are joking, aren’t you?!”

He unbuttons his shirt and pushes it open to expose a jumbled scar on his chest.

She pales “Is that … is that where my coffee burned you? Oh, I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t be. Lot of guys have a tattoo to remind them of their girl. I have an imprint of our first meeting forever emblazoned over my heart.”

“Let’s go back to the politics.”

“What would you like to know?” he asks, giving her conversational liberty without relinquishing an iota of encroached personal space.

“How it involves me.”

He slides his hands into his pockets. “Your father’s family has always held the Neville County seat. It is your dowry. Taking you to wife would secure my tri-county holdings.”

She holds very still. “What do you mean?”

“My family already owns the seats in Carson and Plackett Counties. We have your father’s pledge, but having the deed would make it official.”

“So, I’m just a piece of real estate to you?”

He nods. “That’s how it started, anyway. Lasted all of two hours.”

She tips her head to look up at him. “And then?”

“I bumped into you. That’s what really happened that morning.”

“Oh? It was all such a blur …”

“Well let me set you straight. I was waiting at the counter for your daddy when you walked in. I didn’t know who you were, hadn’t seen any pictures of you yet, but there you were, fresh as a spring colt. But before you got both feet in the door, Ned Tollinger was all over you like a bug on a windshield and I wasn’t going to stand for it. On principle, first off, but it would be more truthful to say that it was because I had an instant hard-on for you and no way was I going to let Tollinger or anybody else get in my way.”

“Oh.” She holds his gaze, unblinking.

He clears his throat. “What I meant to say was that I found you very attractive and had no intention of letting any other man get his foot in the door.”

She lets her gaze roam over him. Why was he wearing that white shirt and black jacket? It was his Sunday best. Who did that on a summer afternoon, at a county picnic, no less? “So, is this you putting your foot in the door?”

He says, “More like closing the door on anyone else. Out here, a man in my position takes what he wants. I could have come into your grandmother’s house at any time and put my hands on you and nothing or no one – not even your daddy – would have stopped me.”

Her face flushes. “Of all the – - ”

“Let me finish before you get wound up. Since your mama took you away from your daddy and birthplace when you were a toddler, you didn’t know our ways when you came back last year. So instead of asserting myself, I took a different route. I educated myself on your background, on your life beyond my territory, on your interests, habits, dreams, so that I had a working knowledge of you. And I gave you an entire year to get accustomed to me before we got to this moment.”

She says, “You’re making me uncomfortable.”

He says, “Welcome to my world, Daisy. You’ve been making me uncomfortable since the first day I laid eyes on you.”

She realizes he is serious. This back woods alpha cock is pursuing her in earnest. And he isn’t ashamed to do it right here in front of the whole damn county. “So, what am I supposed to do here?”

“I don’t know as I’m the one you should be asking. Because I have an answer and it’s short and sweet.”

“And that is …?”

“Marry me. Take my ring. Take my name. Take my seed.”

His frank words startle her but they also set her pulse racing. “Even if I were to consider it, and that would take a lot of considering, these things take time to plan."

“Reverend Lindsay is prepared to read the vows this afternoon.”

She laughs. “Ridiculous. My father would never forgive me for not having a white dress and wedding cake.”

“Let me ask you a couple of questions.”

She shrugs acquiescence.

“What are you wearing today?”

She pauses. “A white dress.”

“Why that dress in particular?”

“My granny brought it out of her closet for me. Oh. Damn it.”

“And what’s in the dining room for desert?”

“A tiered white cake.”

“And who designed it? Who chose the flavor and design?”

“I did. As part of the picnic committee.”

“Who was on that committee?”

“Granny and Aunt Emmy, your sister Charlotte and … your mama.”

“Your family and mine, right?”

“Stop talking, Mr. Crowder. I need a moment to think.”

He looks out across the meadow. “I was hoping to have garnered some small amount of your affection by now, but if you need space, I’ll give it to you. All you need.”

She watches him move down the table and refill his glass. Folks nod at him, give up their place in line for him, and offer him the choicest bits on the table. Why wouldn’t they? He is their heir apparent.

Businesses thrive or fail on his command. Disputes are settled by a single word from his lips. Men live and die by his hand. And it strikes her, not for the first time, how much she wants those hands on her.

She walks towards him, see the stares, hears the whispers, feels the tension. "Excuse me, Mr. Crowder. Do you have the time?"

He winks. "For you, Junebug, I always have the time."

She holds out her hand to him. "Then let's say the vows, cut the cake, and let these nice people get back to their nice quiet Sunday afternoon because I suddenly find myself in a bit of a hurry to get to the honeymoon."


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A reader by birth, paper-pusher by trade and novelist by design, story-telling in my passion. If you enjoyed reading today's story, please consider checking out my blog, joining my creative community or participating in the madcap twitter fun @bullishink.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

JB Lacaden Week 83: Her

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JB Lacaden’s Picture Choice: One

Title: Her

She lay sprawled
On the blinding,
White snow.

With her blue lips
And her bruised eye,
And the words,
Sharp and pointy and...
The words still clung to her.

She lay sprawled
On the blinding,
White snow
Making a
Broken winged angel.


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JB Lacaden dreams of someday being a published writer. He currently resides in Manila, Philippines. He's a lover of comic books, science fiction, and high fantasy. Check out some of his works at and follow him at @jblearnstowrite.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Jeff Tsuruoka Week 83: Night Train - Part Two

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Jeff Tsuruoka’s Picture Choice: Two

Title: Night Train - Part Two

The shooting started before I'd made three strides toward the train.

A couple of pops, then more. A lot more. Small caliber fire, much quieter than the bomb blasts produced by the hand cannon Robinson carried.

I hung back for half a second, listening for Robinson's gun.

No soap. The small guns were having all the fun.

The conductor staggered out of the doorway of the last car and tore, hatless and screaming, away from his train.

I cursed, then ran right into a bullet. It caught me high on the right shoulder, knocking me back a step. One of its friends socked me in the side.

The cement of the platform felt cold under my body. My blood didn't warm it any. I couldn't remember falling down.

The shooting inside the train petered out. The reports of the guns were soon replaced by footsteps as men exited the train in a hurry.

I heard more shooting-- from a different direction. Someone had a Tommy gun and knew how to use it.

Hoods hollered, hoods cursed, and hoods hit the pavement.

I turned my head for a look and put the side my face in a puddle of blood. Just as well. Everything in my line of sight looked like a gray blur.

A huge shadow blotted out the gray light. It spoke to me.

“Why it's Maurice Shabansky, as I live and breathe.”

Tynan O'Shaughnessy, one-time friend, now full-time rival of my boss, Jackson Lerner-- Big Jack-- stood over me.

“What on God's green earth are you doing down there, Moe?”

Aside from bleeding, I wasn't doing much down there. I still had my gun in my hand but couldn't raise my arm. If O'Shaughnessy decided to be a pal and lie down next to me I might have something.

He stepped back to keep my blood off his barge-sized spats.

“Don't answer that,” he quipped. “It's what we call a rhetorical question.”

I glared at him out of the one eye that wasn't caked up with sauce.

“You're in a spot, lad,” he continued.

I tried to add something to the conversation. He wasn't having any.

“No, no, Moe. Save your strength. I'm afraid you're going to need it.”

He took off his black raincoat and spread it out next to me on the platform, then lifted me onto it.

“One raincoat, Moe. I'll add it to your bill.”

He laughed and slipped his big hands under my body.

“All right now, boyo, up we go.”

I woke up in a chair.

I gave it the squirm test and it passed, holding together as I moved around. The wooden legs and back felt varnished, as did the armrests, and I even felt some padding under my ass.

Food smells, mixed with a trace of something chemical or antiseptic, hung beneath my nose.

The empty feeling in my stomach fought the pain in my right shoulder and side for attention. The pain was bad, centered in my upper torso. My left arm moved. I knew better than to try the right. I had the full and free use of my legs.

I'd been relieved of my shirt. Everything else I'd had on was still in place.

It made me suspicious.

I opened my eyes and shut them right away against the bright white light.

“Dim that lamp,” ordered O'Shaughnessy.

“How do you expect me to work if I can't see the God damned wounds?” shot back a man with a flat, mid-western accent.

“Patience, Doctor,” said O'Shaughnessy. “Allow the poor man a chance to adjust his eyes.”

I waited a few seconds, then gave it another try. Even with the light softened it took a few minutes for my eyes to get the idea.

Tynan O'Shaughnessy's smiling mug was there to greet me. The kitchen light caught the shiny whites of his very crooked teeth.

“Welcome back to the land of the living, boyo,” he said.

He occupied a chair very much like mine across a small, plain table in the corner of his kitchen.

He'd changed into a scarlet smoking jacket and had a big cigar in his mouth. I found myself staring at a small brown bottle on the table in front of him.

The stoves and oven occupied two walls at the other end of the room. Pots and pans hung on a rack suspended from the ceiling. There was a large sink next to the door and another between the refrigeration units that took up the remaining wall.

I allowed myself to breathe. A little. I'd seen some truly awful things done to people in kitchens-- usually involving large cutlery or pots of boiling oil-- but O'Shaughnessy wasn't a man who did business where his dinner got cooked.

The doctor was one of those fellows who looked taller than he is on account of being so skinny. His balding pate, the round gold-rimmed cheaters, and the white kitchen apron he wore combined to make him look more like a general store clerk than a sawbones.

“Butt me, willya, Doc?” I asked.

He gave me the icy mitt. I gave it back. He broke first, fishing a hand-rolled cigarette out of his shirt pocket.

O'Shaughnessy loaned me his cigar to light up.

The doc said nothing as he mopped the blood off my face.

O'Shaughnessy produced a tumbler and poured a finger of amber liquid into it.

“I do believe this will meet your standards.” he remarked, sliding the glass my way.

I hadn't seen anything that color in years. It was beautiful.

“You didn't think I'd be drinking that coffin varnish people are making these days, did you?”

I took a sip of the Irish whiskey, savoring the flavor and the burn as it went down.

“This is the stuff, all right.”

I knocked the rest of it back as the doctor went to work on my shoulder.

“This will hurt,” he said “Try not to move too much. I'd recommend taking a deep breath right... now.”

He didn't give me the chance.

I just about slid off the chair as he jammed some kind of sharp instrument into the bullet wound.

“Steady, lad,” intoned O'Shaughnessy. He reached across the table and refilled my glass.

“Says you,” I hissed through my clenched teeth.

“Don't you worry, Moe. Dr. Williams knows his onions, don't you, Doctor?”

“Of course I do,” grunted Williams. “Now hold still. I can see the bullet.”

I growled and turned the air blue.

“Yes, yes,” said the doctor, “it breaks my heart too.”

He kept on digging. I kept on cursing.

“And... here it is.” He showed me a small, bloody hunk of metal, held between the pincers of his instrument.

“Swell,” I murmured, more or less out loud.

Dr. Williams bent to look over the wound in my side.

“This one's nothing,” he explained. “Through and through. I'll have to clean it out but that's all.”

He swabbed out both wounds with alcohol from his own flask. It hurt more than all the digging had.

My nose rankled. The man didn't have O'Shaughnessy's taste in hooch.

Tiny lights exploded in front of my eyes. Flashes of my life, hallucinations all, rushed me-- gunfire, flappers and piano players in juice joints all over town, brawls, chasing skirts, getting shot on the platform at the train station.

When Dr. Williams was done he took a drink from the flask, then replaced it in his shirt pocket.

“You're a lucky man, Mr. Shabansky,” he said. “Didn't hit anything vital.”

O'Shaughnessy laughed.

“I'd say he's got the luck of the Irish.”

I pushed the pain away and gave him the eye.

“I always wondered about that expression,” I began. “I mean, you guys get invaded every time you're not looking and got starved out of your own country. How lucky can the Irish be?”

Dr. Williams chortled and took another drink.

O'Shaughnessy raised one bushy eyebrow.

“You don't believe in the luck of the Irish, Moe? You won't be drinking any more of my whiskey, then.”

He reached for my glass. I put my good arm out to stop him.

“I'm sure there's a lucky Mick out there somewhere.”

He held his glare for another second, then laughed, letting go of the glass.

“Excellent,” he said. “It's all in how you look at a thing, Moe.”

Dr. Williams applied bandages while I sipped my whiskey. I enjoyed every drop of O'Shaughnessy's liquid gold. He fixed me up with a sling, then gave me a reassuring pat on my good shoulder.

I set the glass down when it was empty.

“We can punch the bag all night of you want,” I began. “It's your party. But why don't you can it and tell me-- straight-- what it's about.”

The doctor choked on his panther sweat. He fumbled with the flask. I turned to look.

“What's yours?” I asked.

“The good doctor is not accustomed to hearing me spoken to in that way,” said O'Shaughnessy.

I turned back around in the chair, groaning with the effort.

“He doesn't know you the way I do,” I replied.

He smiled at me.

“Doctor,” he said, “if you're quite through with Moe I don't believe we'll be requiring your services any longer.”

“Sure, sure,” answered the doc. He capped his flask and put it away. “You know how to reach me, Mr. O'Shaughnessy.”

“Indeed I do.”

We waited for the doctor to scram, then exchanged hard looks.

“Why don't we start with you telling me what you know?” said O'Shaughnessy.

He made it sound like a question. It wasn't.

“Someone came gunning for Robinson and me at the depot. Bunch of torpedoes already on the train when it pulled in.”

“Any idea who, Moe?”

“An enemy of Lerner's.”

“An enemy of Lerner's,” he laughed. “Their name be Legion.”

I nodded. It was true. Jack Lerner was never known for his charm. He didn't have friends so much as guys who weren't itching to rub him out.

“I'm guessing you know which Legion they came from?”

“I have an idea.”

He motioned for me to continue.

“You came gunning for them.”

“Saved your Polish ass, we did, Moe.”

“Didn't do much for Robinson.”

He poured himself some more whiskey.

The kitchen clock ticked. It seemed louder than it had been before,

“Boyo,” he said, “nobody, not even Jackson Lerner, is going to mourn Lon Robinson's passing.”

“Especially not Jackson Lerner,” I agreed.

“Care to tell me what you and the late Mr. Robinson were doing at the train station?”

“Care to tell me why you're asking? You already know why we were there.”

He drank off half the hooch in his tumbler.

“Twas a fool's errand, boyo. Young Master Lerner was never aboard the night train.”

I set my glass on the table. The whiskey didn't taste so good anymore. Getting played has that effect. “You tipped him.”

“Of course I did. I have high hopes for that young man.”

I eyed my drink but left it where it was.

“Gotta admit,” I said, “I'm a little balled up on all of this. What does it have to do with Sol Lerner?”

“That, my friend, is an excellent question. Why don't we ask him?”


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Jeff Tsuruoka is an author in search of a writing career. He has found a home in the Flash Fiction circuit and is grateful to the blog hosts that give him the opportunity to get his work out there. You can follow him on Twitter @JTsuruoka and be sure to keep tabs on his weekly contributions to Daily Picspiration.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Michela Walters Week 83: Facing Forward

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Michela Walters’s Picture Choice: Both

Title: Facing Forward

She was sitting in front of her vanity, staring off into space. I still couldn’t believe she had no idea how lovely she was, no clue how she sets my heart on fire with just the simplest of looks and touches. After the last year, I cherished her more than ever.

Allison must have finally come back to the present when I see her begin to apply her lipstick and fix her already flawless makeup. “You know you don’t need all that, right?”

She jumped slightly, and spun around in the chair to observe me. “You look handsome. If only it were as easy as a shave and putting on a tux.”

Her smile was wistful, and even though I knew she was teasing, her self-confidence had taken a nose dive since her car accident. Most people would barely notice the scar that ran across her forehead and cheek, but she felt it was a beacon telling everyone she was forever flawed.

“That’s not what I meant. You always look beautiful.”

She stood up, smoothing down the black lace dress, trying to perfect what was already perfect. “I know you think no one notices, but I do.” She stalked over to her closet to grab some shoes, continuing her rant, “When will you figure out that it’s not just the scars on the outside that make me feel fractured? When will you realize that while the baby might have only been a microscopic organism floating around in my uterus, it was still life that we created together, and he or she is now gone? Why doesn’t that matter to you?” She threw her shoes on the ground in anger, and sat on the bed to put them on.

How she could think I was so callous about our child, the child she was carrying when the suped-up truck t-boned her precious Porsche. Her accusation felt like a punch to my chest. She doesn’t remember me crying deep into the night over almost losing her and losing our child because I didn’t. Well, not in front of her, anyway. I’m the husband, the one who was supposed to fix her when she was broke, support her when she was down. Not show her how weak I could be. During those weeks after the accident, I would go to the hospital and be strong for her, yet come home and break down, unable to come to grips with having almost lost my love. I couldn't envision my life without her, and thankfully I didn’t have to, but If we couldn’t get past the loss of our baby, I still just might.

“You know that’s not true--” The whisper hangs in the air like puffs of dandelions we made wishes on all those summers ago. “It matters, Ally. We can’t change it, but we can try to have another. Can’t we try?” My voice cracked, showing my amazingly strong wife how broken I really was. Sitting on the bed, I pulled her into my side, needing to show how much everything affected me too. “I may not have been in the car wreck, but you’re not the only one to suffer. Did you know I went to the hospital chapel to pray that you’d live? That if God was going to take away our child, he had to let you live. I wasn’t going to survive without you. You know that, right?”

A lone tear trailed down her cheek. I whisked it away with my thumb, cupping her face, willing her to look into my eyes. Her gaze spoke volumes, filled with disappointment, heartbreak and the toll it had taken on us both. “It hurts--God it hurts,” she wailed into my shoulder. Seeing her like this, the pain wracking through her body was more than I could take. We sat entwined for a long time, taking moments to soothe and comfort each other. Something we should have done a long time ago.

“I know it does, baby. I know it does.” I cradled her in my arms, wishing I could go back to that fateful night and change the outcome. There’s nothing I could do, but hold her, and let her lean on me. It was what I was here for. Why she married me. I kissed her gently, trying to absorb the pain from her. To take on the weight of her world.

My kiss settled her some. When her whimpers finally stopped, her eyes opened with a flutter, and the warmth and love pouring from her gaze fills me with a hope things may eventually be okay.

Her slender hand slid over my cheek, the first real smile I’ve seen in weeks graced her tear streaked face. “Wanna stay in tonight? Watch a movie?” she asked, innocence dripping from her tone.

My smile matched her’s as I replied, “Sounds like plan.” Tugging the zipper down the back of her dress, I pulled the straps off and handed over her comfy pants and sweatshirt. Instead of taking them, she shakes her head and pulls the covers back on the bed.

“Why don’t we build up an appetite first?” Her sly smirk reminded me of the woman I married. The same person I haven’t seen in months and the one who I was extraordinarily happy to see return.

I undress slowly, reveling in her enamored gaze from beneath the covers. “When I’m done with you, we’ll eat like we haven’t had a meal in months,” I teased, pulling the covers down and pouncing on top of her. Just as I was about to nuzzle her breast, she tugged on my hair to arrest my progress.

Beneath wide eyes she whispers, “We’re going to be okay, right?”

“As long as you’re here with me? Absolutely.”


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Michela Walters is a wife, mother and book enthusiast. She is currently attempting her hand at writing her first romantic fiction novella. You can read her other stories on her blog:


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sarah Aisling Week 83: Got a Secret . . . Can You Keep it? (Part twenty-seven)

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Sarah Aisling’s Picture Choice: 1

Title: Got a Secret . . . Can You Keep it? (Part twenty-seven)

Several days had passed since the girls were found.

Ciel was finally out of danger from her head injury though the double vision lingered. She had three cracked ribs, an elbow fracture, and a multitude of bruising that continued to bloom across her pale skin in varying shades of yellow, blue, and purplish-black.

Susan and Brett took turns watching over their daughter and keeping unwanted visitors away. After a reporter dressed as a nurse tried to question Ciel, the police posted an officer by the door of her private hospital room.

Ciel shifted in the bed, crying out at the sudden burning pain that flared along her left side. When she could breathe again, she opened her eyes, surprised Susan wasn't hovering over her. She blinked, focusing on her dimly lit surroundings, and realized the double vision had almost been resolved.

Brett sat in one corner of the room, reading a magazine. He glanced up at Ciel and winked. It was hard for Ciel to express how much she appreciated her father's laid-back approach. Her mom had been driving her nuts, and Ciel feigned sleep a number of times to avoid being smothered by Susan's well-meant doting.

A soft snore drew Ciel's attention to the chair by the window. Jason was sprawled in the uncomfortable-looking vinyl chair with one gangly leg tossed over the arm and his head tilted at an odd angle, mouth slack. She contented herself to watch Jason sleep peacefully.

“He's been here a lot,” Brett spoke into his magazine.

“He has?”

“Jason practically lived at our house while you were . . . gone.” Brett swallowed, laying the magazine on his lap and swiping a thumb across the corner of one eye.

“Really?” A warmth rushed through Ciel, settling over her cheeks.

“He's a nice boy.”

“Where's Mom?” Ciel asked with trepidation.

“I sent her home to get some rest. I know she's been driving you nuts, but you have to understand, honey, what it . . . did to us.” He passed a hand over his face. “Do you want to talk about it?”

“No. Therapy will be hard enough. I still don't even know what happened after I passed out!” Ciel's eyes filled with tears of frustration.

“Think I may have something that will help. Be right back.” Brett left the room.

Ciel settled back against the pillows and looked over at Jason. No longer asleep, he watched her with concern deep in his eyes. “Hi,” she said.

Jason pushed up from the chair and perched on the side of the bed, cupping Ciel's face in one large palm. “You look so much better today. I—I was so scared.”

Ciel smiled, nuzzling her face against his calloused skin. “My mind is clearer, and the double vision is almost gone.” She grabbed his free hand and squeezed it. “Jason, I need to know what's going on. My mom keeps hiding shit from me.”

“She's only—”

The door opened, and Joanie rushed in. “Ci! Oh my God.” Joanie slapped a hand over her mouth for a few seconds, her big brown eyes widening behind her glasses when she spotted Jason at Ciel's side. “Um, hey.” She flapped a hand Jason's way.

“You must be Joanie, the protective best friend.” Jason grinned, which brought out his dimples. “Do you want me to give you two some time alone?”

“No, that's okay. We can share her.”

They chatted for a few minutes about mundane things like school and a recent storm that had blown through the area. She knew Joanie was doing it as a distraction; it was one of Joanie's defense mechanisms.

Ciel grabbed Joanie's hand. “Jo, I'm okay. Really.”

“You promise?”


“Good. It's been really lonely without you.” Joanie hugged Ciel.

“Guys, what happened? To Janice and her aunt and Professor Jeffries?”

Joanie and Jason looked at each other across the bed, and an awkward silence filled the room. “We're not supposed to—” Joanie faltered.

“Is Janice okay?” Ciel pressed.


“What about Professor Jeffries?”

“Suspended while they investigate, and that crazy wife of his is in the psych ward.” Joanie gritted her teeth.

Jason snorted. “They both belong in jail, but I heard Janice isn't cooperating.”

The door slammed shut, startling them.

“What do you know about anything, Greene?” Janice stood there glaring, a mere shadow of her previous self. The clothes virtually hung on her gaunt frame, and the hollows beneath her cheekbones had deepened to purplish slashes. “Everybody out. Ciel and I need to talk.”


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Sarah Aisling hails from the East Coast of the US and loves living by the ocean with her incredibly indulgent husband and precocious daughter. She’s currently editing her upcoming novel, The Weight of Roses. When Sarah isn’t being enslaved by her characters, she can be found with her nose in a book, obsessing over nail polish or anything leopard, biking, hiking, camping, and spending time with friends and family. Twitter: @SarahAisling Facebook

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

J M Blackman Week 83: Drowning

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J.M. Blackman’s Picture Choice: 1

Title: Drowning

Robert placed the glass beside the bottle on the counter. The glass was nearly empty. He’d drank entire glass. Again.

He turned it in a few circles, considering the liquor jolting up and down the sides of the glass. But he didn’t pull it to his mouth, just watched the ripple of color.

He hadn’t thought of the fact that she had bought him the glass. And the whiskey, so akin to her eyes in sunlight.

He used to not drink. He wasn’t quite sure how he’d picked it up. He remembered the set of glasses as a gift from John.

He also remembered that he’d warned himself against John. Against letting him into his life. His head. His heart.

But when he touched John, he felt something. So much more than the low-volume hum of his everyday life. Robert was like a full orchestra. And he wanted to listen to the song until it ended.

Yeah, somehow he wanted to listen despite the fact that John’s beliefs were flat, despite the fact that he hated every single damn thing Robert wore (and told him every time he saw him), despite the fact that they hated each other.

But he couldn’t pull away. John was on his mind, all the time. It was killing Robert. But he couldn’t pull away.

He picked up the bottle. He couldn’t pull away.


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J.M. Blackman is a Language Arts teacheri and a feminist. She endeavors to review nearly everything she reads and is a happy wife. She's a SFF enthusiast, loves dark humor, and has an unhealthy need to protect the image of Batman.


Monday, January 20, 2014

SJ Maylee Week 83: Lucky in Love

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SJ Maylee’s’ Choice: 1

Title: Lucky in Love

It had only been two weeks since Roxanne met Jonathon, but she was smitten. She turned to find him drawing in the snow. A couple of kids ran by him and trashed his work of art. The chuckle that bellowed out of him settled inside her heart like the comfort of warm apple pie. She loved that he was able to appreciate everyone’s joy and not just his own.

When he looked up, he seemed to be searching the park. She waved her arm over her head. Relief appeared to wash over him when he found her.

“How did I get so lucky?” She blew him a kiss and started walking towards him.

One of his eyebrows raised and his smile turned devilish. Then she noticed the ball of snow forming in his hands.

“Oh no. Jonathon, not again.” She took off across the park. He was lucky she already loved him.


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SJ Maylee believes hearts are meant to come together and find love. As a writer she has a tendency to break hearts, but she always glues them back together. You can follow her at @SJMaylee,


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Miranda Kate Week 82: Time and Motion Part 2

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Miranda Kate’s Picture Choice: One

Title: Time and Motion Part 2

The professor swung into his driveway, the garage door opening automatically as he did so. In the rearview mirror they both noticed the black sedan pass the house as the door closed behind them.

“What if we don’t manage it? What shall I do about them?” Vlad glanced at the professor with fear in his eyes.

“One bridge at a time, Vlad, one bridge at a time. The question really is should we switch if we can?” The professor jumped down from the car and pressed the central locking while Vladimir joined him at the inner door to the house.

“But isn’t that the whole point of doing this?”

The professor raised his eyebrows as he unlocked the door. “Yes, I suppose it is.” They both tumbled into the kitchen and the Professor started getting out some mugs.

“What are you doing Professor?”

“Making Cocoa.”

“What?” Vladimir blinked, thinking he must have misheard him.

“You need to redo the figures so we know how exactly long we’ve got – to the second - and then we can synchronise clocks and do a countdown.” He lit the gas burners on the hob. “And while you’re doing that, I’ll make some Cocoa. I’m freezing.” The professor rubbed his hands together, and held them up to the gas burners.

Vladmir sat down on a stool at the kitchen counter and grabbed a pad and pencil that was lying on it. He pulled out the paper he’d snatched up from the professor’s desk on their way out of the institute, and started scribbling.

Just as the Professor poured the milk into the mugs, Vladimir turned round and said, “I’ve done it.”

“Okay, when?”


“An hour and 15 from now?” The professor looked up at the kitchen clock and his wrist watch.


“Well come on then, let’s go downstairs and get the computer clock synced too.”

He took both mugs with him to a small door under the stairs. Vladimir leaned forward and opened it for him, flicking a switch on the right. The stairs came into view and the professor went down them, flicking another switch at the bottom with his elbow. The basement flooded with light, and he placed the drinks down on a huge desk that lined the right side wall, and turned on the power to the computer.

“Have you any idea how it will show up Vlad?”

“On the computer it’ll show up in code - you’ll need to run it in DOS - it should be easy to spot. But in the real world? I’ve no idea Professor. It could be a minor change, like a sensation, although if we switch it should be a lot bigger.”

The professor ran the computer in DOS and the three large screens displayed rows of figures and symbols, some with cursors and question marks at the end. Vladimir joined him and started typing in commands, causing large quantities of data to scroll across the screen. The professor winced at it. “Are you sure it’ll be easy to spot, it looks chaotic to me?”

“You’ll see, I’ll explain it as it runs.”

“And if we switch, what do you think we’ll see?” The professor stepped back from the computer picking up his mug and blowing the mini marshmallows round.

“It could be drastic, like in HG Wells Time Machine; we could end up in a whole new world. Or it could be subtle, like a change of wall colour or something.”

The professor laughed. “I can’t imagine finding ourselves in a jungle. If we’re in a sim, all the parallels will appear the same, surely? Depending on the cause behind each parallel.”

“Well, we’re assuming the parallels at this point, Professor - more than the sim I think. And that means we could end up anywhere in the world as we know it, without having any relation to a causality difference.”

“What like jumping around the planet or something?”

“Yes, sort of.”

“So we could end up on a beach in Maui, for instance?” The professor took a seat in one of the armchairs scattered around and sat back sipping at his drink.

Vladimir smiled. “We could.”

“Will there be a variant on when?”

“It’s not a time machine Professor, and as far as I’ve been able to tell there is no way of going back to an old sim, they occur in real time. If there is a storage database then I haven’t discovered it yet.” Vladimir continued to type commands into the computer, until eventually the scrolling data became more uniform.

“Is that the mainframe you’ve found there, Vlad?”

“Yes, professor, I’m in now. When the time comes there’ll be a space between the figures.”

“And what do we need to do?”

“When it scrolls down to here,” Vlad put his finger on one of the screens, “I’ll click onto it and hit enter.”

The Professor waited but Vladimir didn’t continue. “What? That’s all?”

“Yep.” Vladimir picked up his mug of Coco and started sipping.

“Sounds a bit simple.”

“Trust me Professor, getting to this point was anything BUT simple!”

Vladimir checked his watch and then joined the professor in one of the armchairs. Once they finished their drinks, the Professor dragged a small table with a chess set across, and said, “You might as well beat me at one last game while we wait.”


By the time Vladimir moved his Queen into checkmate there were only a few minutes to spare. He smiled at how the professor always put up a good fight on the chess board. Then he moved back to the desk to watch the screen. The professor joined him.

They saw the space appear and begin to work its way down the screen. It felt like an eternity. Vladimir’s poised finger began to tremble and he feared he would miss it. But when it arrived it went by the book, although the white flash when he hit enter surprised them both.


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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Jenn Monty Week 82: Perfect

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Jenn Monty’s Picture Choice: Both

Title: Perfect

**So let me start by saying I’ve been working on a horror piece for submission. It has obviously swayed my writing into a dark and violent alley. As a warning, there is graphic death in this piece so feel free to stop reading. I’m not sure what has happened to my mind. **

His fingers tightened. He enjoyed the squish of the flesh; it just kept giving and giving. He wondered how many minutes it would take; like that stupid bird on the t.v. How many licks. Except the bird had cheated. Maybe he should cheat; press down with his body instead of just his arms. Jeremy shifted.


The damn bird had been right. Three licks to get to the center. The thrill of bones grinding beneath his palms surprised Jeremy. He thought the sensation of pulsing blood under his fingertips was a rush. But that snap! Man, he hadn’t expected the excitement. He needed more. Jeremy looked down.


Blood, just a touch, dripped from the corner of her mouth. Was it from the bones Jeremy was pulverizing? Or had she bit her lip? He couldn’t tell from this angle. He leaned forward.


The arm bones pinned beneath his knees gave way. Jeremy shivered with joy. Better than all the imagining. So. Much. Better. Too bad she didn’t scream. That had ended a few minutes ago. Now, nothing seemed to be coming from her purple lips except spit and that beautiful string of crimson. Jeremy looked at her eyes. Glassy. And the tears had stopped. That wasn’t cool at all. She should be crying, at least. Come to think of it, he couldn’t feel the movement of blood any more either. Jeremy relaxed his grip. The girl’s head flopped to the left. Jeremy sighed.

Too fast.

That went way too fast. He’d have to pay better attention next time. Draw it out a bit. Not let the excitement rush him forward. He needed another doll. Jeremy stood up and grinned at the bruising where his knees had pinned her arms. And her neck - gorgeous stips of lavendar bloomed along the sides. He had made her prettier - all red and purple against the alabaster skin. That was a curious word, alabaster. He’d heard it in a song, maybe? Jeremy shook his head. Didn’t matter; time to go. He left the apartment and drifted down the hall to the front of the building. No one noticed. No one ever did. Except that girl; she had smiled at him. Smiled and taken off her scarf. He’d smiled back. He knew what she wanted. The exposed neck said it all.

Jeremy walked outside and into a cold rain. Cold and sideways. His mother would say God was mad at him, punishing him for what he’d just done. Even the birds kept their heads down in shame, she’d say. But he knew the cold and the wet would purify him; make him clean so he could meet another doll, another neck to paint. Jeremy headed back down to the corner coffee shop. He looked up briefly as he entered. A blond doll slid into a booth three tables in; she looked up and smiled. Smiled as she tugged at the edges of her scarf. Jeremy smiled back.



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Jenn Monty, also known as Brewed Bohemian, is a lover of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror and anything with "Punk" in the name. She is an avid reader and writes flash fiction at


Friday, January 17, 2014

Samantha Redstreake Geary Week 82: Implantation

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Samantha Redstreake Geary’s Picture Choice: Both

Title: Implantation

We’d tried to have a times. Although, Andy only knew about the first four.

I stopped telling him about plus signs when they stopped being a positive.

I’d traveled through the realm of traditional medicine with nothing but a bundle of blue bills and pink slips. Years passed with nothing but dust collecting on the pastel pieces of our neglected nursery. Andy was losing patience with procedures. I was losing my mind.

I walked away from my last appointment, heart crumpled and torn like the latest test results I’d shoved in my bag. A sympathetic nurse passed me a form on my way out the door. I shook my head. I was done. I couldn’t survive another disappointment.

“Trust me. This is...different,” the woman whispered.

I read through the tiny block print, my head swimming in legal jargon. I flipped the page and there, in bold were words I’d never seen in the mountains of painful paper.

100% success rate

A week later, I was donning a familiar flimsy gown, sitting on a starched linen cot waiting for the inevitable barrage of tests. The underground lab was cut from slick stones, its polished surface surrounded by glass. Slippery silver gadgets were strewn across stainless steel tables. A cylindrical column of water, akin to an aquatic tank, pulsed with a blue glow.

A swarm of white coats marched in, scattering like ants to their assigned posts. Between the impressive technology and sheer manpower, it felt as though a shuttle mission was underway, not an experiment in fertility.

I was escorted into the water chamber, its warmth enveloping me up to my neck. I never had a spa treatment before--this was new. Slowly, a tingling sensation rippled across my skin. The currents skittered along my nerves, its intensity increasing, sharpening into stabs of pain. The light quivering in the water grew brighter, its tendrils reaching, stinging like a sea of jelly fish.

Something was wrong.

A scream clawed its way up my throat moments before I surrendered to darkness.

Four Years Later

“Aiden! We’re gonna be late!” I yelled upstairs, running behind as usual.

Aiden came stumbling down the stairs, his hand rubbing furiously at his right eye. “Mommy, my eye feels funny.”

“Lemme see, kiddo,” I picked him up and sat him on the kitchen table. Brushing aside his moppy hair, I peered into his eye.

My breath caught.

“Is it bad?” he asked, lips trembling.

His iris was flooded in pulsing liquid silver. They told me this might happen. I thought we had more time. I thought...God help me...

I hugged him close, inhaling the coconut smell of his hair. “It’s gonna be okay. We’re on our way to the doctor’s now. They’ll take a look and get ya all fixed up.”

I buckled Aiden into his car seat, pressing a kiss to his feverish forehead. I wasn’t ready to face this...this secret hidden beneath cherubic cheeks and dimples. He was my baby. Despite where he came from...what he is...he’ll always be my baby.


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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mark Ethridge Week 82: That Little Glass Jar

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Mark Ethridge’s Picture Choice: Two

Title: That Little Glass Jar

Billy sat at the picnic table, shivering, despite having on a hat, gloves, and his puffiest down coat. “Dang. It gets cold in the mountains, don’t it?” he thought as he picked up his mug full of hot chocolate. He let the steam from it warm his nose and chin before he took a chug, and felt its heat flow down his throat until it stopped in his stomach. He looked at the mug. “Making hot chocolate’s a bitch, but so worth it.”

He stood up, and took in his surroundings. The park campground was almost deserted, but that didn’t surprise him. It was late February, and there was still snow on the ground in the mountains.

He’d always wanted to spend a weekend in the mountains, in the snow, all by himself. To experience such a weekend. The cold. The snow. The wind. And the scenery. Ice encrusted streams and creeks. Waterfalls outlined with snow. It was all pictures he’d seen out of books.

Yeah. It was cold. But he didn’t really care. He was living out a dream.

He turned back to his picnic table, and his propane stove. He poured some more pancake batter on the griddle, and watched his pancakes bake, the batter bubbling. “I love it! I get to do what I want. Eat what I want. Walk all I want.” He looked around again. “And there’s noone here!”

Billy hated crowds. People always getting in the way as he tried to take pictures. Staying up stupidly late, making noise, keeping him awake. And why did they always bring their dogs? Really? Dogs at a campground? Leaving shit everywhere? Even on the trails?

“Humans. Geeze.”

When his pancakes had finished, he rolled a slice of cheddar cheese up in each one. One of his favorite breakfasts. Pancakes with cheddar, and hot chocolate.

He sat at his picnic table, and drank in the scenery. The leafless trees, with white, fluffy branches, and icicles were gorgeous. He knew he’d take a zillion pictures of them, trying to capture just one image that came anywhere near what his eyes saw. He knew he’d fail, but that was OK. It was all about trying. Exploring. Making the effort.

He took another chug of hot chocolate, and thought of the people he once knew. Trapped in little office cubes for hours on end. Answering their phones. Editing their documents. Endlessly testing applications on their computers. He thought about how much those people hated what they were doing. And how they kept doing it anyway. So they could pay the bills. He remembered Tom’s words. “Yeah. It sucks. But I do it anyway. Because I get paid to. And I can’t afford to not get paid.”

Yet, he was sitting at a picnic table at a campground in the mountains in West Virginia, and all those people he used to work with were sitting in little cubes in a cube farm in a building somewhere, with no windows, and yellow-green fluorescent lighting sucking the life out of them all day long. He was walking around in the snow, and ice, in the mountains. They were sitting in cubes, their bodies slowly turning into useless lumps of flab.

Sometimes, Billy thought of sending a DVD full of pictures to the office he once worked at. Pictures of flowers in spring. Camellias in winter. Waterfalls in the mountains. Snow covered trees on the edge of a cliff. Deer grazing in a field. Hawks soaring in the sky, among the clouds. He thought about attaching a simple note. “See what y’all are missing!” But he never did. He knew he never would.

He knew he'd never hear from them. He knew they'd tell each other how sad it was, what happened to him, the way he'd lost everything. He knew they'd talk of how lucky he was, able to take such trips. He knew everyone would say, “lucky dog,” and make plans for after they retired.

He knew they wouldn’t know how hard he’d worked to get those pictures. How much he’d had to scrimp and save. He knew they’d never understand life after work when you’re not retired. They’d never understand the glass jar he kept on the kitchen counter, with the tape on the side that said, “for adventures”. He put all the change in his pocket in that jar, every night.

He had days he couldn’t eat dinner, because he didn’t have any cash, and his refrigerator was empty. “Peanut butter on a spoon tonight!” He’d lost count of the times dinner had been peanut butter. Dirt cheap. And filling.

He could have dipped into his adventure money jar, and made it to the next paycheck. But he refused. He had dreams. Things he wanted to do. Places he wanted to go. He needed to escape the world once in a while. To get away from the endless droning of money, money, money, more, more, more.

He knew. A bigger car, a bigger house, a riding lawnmower, a smart phone, and all the rest, were just there to blind you to the misery you were in. He understood. He’d been there. “I need something new in life!” So you buy a new phone. Or a new computer. Or a new TV. Or another game you’ll never finish. Or another book you’ll never read.

People collected stuff. That was their escape.

He’d learned the stuff didn’t help. It just lead to an endless loop of buying more and more stuff. Kind of like binge drinking. Or any number of addictions. Where you always have to have the next dose. Because if you don’t, you have to face what you’re escaping.

Billy smiled. “Take care of my friends,” he whispered to the universe. “Don’t give up on them.” He’d emptied his adventure jar three days ago. Made his reservations at the campground. Packed his tent, and camping gear into his 12-year-old Honda Civic hatchback. And headed to the mountains. To sleep on the frozen ground. To walk trails through the ice and snow. To stand before waterfalls lined with ice.

He wasn’t there to escape anything. He was there to see. To experience. To feel.

That’s what his adventure jar was for. To give him a chance to feel. To feel the cold. The biting wind. The heartless nature of the rocks. To feel the cold truth that life on Earth would be there long after he was gone. To feel tiny. To feel weak. To feel everything.

He sat at the picnic table, and smiled. He closed his eyes, and just felt the breeze flowing through the campground. The wind was from the north-west, and had a strong bite to it. He felt himself shiver. In a few minutes, he knew, he’d pack up his stove, and breakfast stuff. Then, he’d take his camera, and take a long walk on a mountain trail. He knew he wouldn’t even notice the cold. He knew he’d be too wrapped up in experiencing the raw beauty of the mountains in the snow.

He knew he’d get to feel. Everything.

“Thank you, universe,” he thought, his eyes closed, “for granting me another day of life.”

Another day to feel. And he wanted to feel everything. Every moment. Every breath. Every heartbeat.

That’s why he had that little glass jar.

So he could remember what it felt like. Remember what it meant. To be alive.


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Mark woke up in 2010, and has been exploring life since then. All his doctors agree. He needs to write.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Pablo Michael Week 82: Sweet Revenge

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Pablo Michael’s Picture Choice: Sweet Revenge


Brody parked his car next to the for sale sign. Making the last check of the condo, before the realtor came for the final inspection of the short sell, he unlocked the door to the place he had called home with Angelo for nine years.

“That stupid shit!” he cursed.

Souvenirs from Angelo’s trip to Africa were strategically placed in the entryway, in disregard of Brody’s showcase staging

“Just because he was spooked after meeting up with that witch doctor. That tribal chief told him to collect all these masks and tribal artifacts to protect him from evil spirits, when he returned home with his five-foot-eight, Twinkie, boyfriend. He’s not scaring me. All he wants is this condo for them, leaving me only my family’s vacation home. I won’t let him get more than his share”

Brody stuffed large, Hefty garbage bags with Angelo’s farewell tokens and carried them to the dumpster, eliminating the bitter remnants of their broken relationship.

“Is everything ready?” The realtor greeted Brody, as he dumped the last bag.

“I think so.” Brody wiped the anguished sweat from his brow.

Nine viable offers were submitted, one for each year Brody and Angelo shared their nest. The full cash offer gave them a hundred thousand dollar profit. Angelo was furious. Not only, did he lose the condo and gain but his equal fifty thousand dollar share, he lost his African souvenirs.

The longest, hottest summer came to a bitter close. The snow fell lightly as Brody parked his car on the recently plowed pavement outside the family vacation house. His scorching temper from Angelo’s deceit moderated to the coolness of the surrounding, quaint landscape. The conifer tree branches were cloaked with a mantle of fresh snow. Not far away, a buck stared, and then strolled slowly across the street.

Brody carried the last of his remaining belongings into his new home, ready to begin a reinvigorated life. I hope Angelo finds happiness with his Twink. Gio will be here in two more days. I always liked Italian men. Too bad for Angelo. He didn’t know they like me too.


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Pablo Michaels writes LGBT fiction and has published with Naughty Nights Press, You can follow him at @bell2mike


Monday, January 13, 2014

Lizzie Koch Week 82: Love, Honour and Obey

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Lizzie Koch’s Picture Choice: One

Title: Love, Honour and Obey

I’m such an idiot! The point of storming off is to get away from him, as far as possible so he can show at least one ounce of worry. But no. I’m storming off in the wrong direction. In my defence, my eyes are swimming in tears and I’m raging silently so direction isn’t really on my mind. Just away from him. That worked really well. Now I’ve come to the end of the short (rather pointless) jetty. My pride is stopping me turning back. Anyway, I know he’s there, somewhere and he’ll see me and then it’ll start again.

This is good; for now.

The turquoise waters stretch before me, shallow enough in places to see the sandy bottom where sea cucumbers rest and the odd fish darts in and out amongst the timber. I should feel serene, relaxed, in heaven.

But I don’t.

Right now I feel like I could scream.

Maybe I should. I bet I’ll feel a whole lot better.

My scream is as loud as I can possibly make it, so loud it feels like it’s ripping my throat to shreds.

I’m not sure how I feel now, apart from a sore throat.

Footsteps are coming up behind me. I know it’s him and my body tenses. Is that right? Should my body tense up on the approach of my husband on our honeymoon? He isn’t saying anything as he stands behind me. A sudden feeling of vulnerability sweeps over me. The silence seems to last an uncomfortably long time. But I’m not going to make the first move. He was the one wrongly accusing me of flirting and eyeing up the barman as he expertly made us our cocktails. He was the one gripping my wrist, leading me away from the bar. He was the one who calmly yet coldly starts laying down his expectations for his wife, his wishes which seems more like demands to me. He was the one who starts telling me how to dress; my shorts far too short, in fact how my whole wardrobe needs to change.

That’s why I stormed out. He made me feel small and worthless.

And now he is behind me, waiting for me to no doubt apologise. Well, he has a long wait.

I swing my feet in the lukewarm waters, looking carefree, wishing I felt the same way.

“Come back to the hotel now,” he says. I shiver. Still the coldness.

“Not until you apologise.”

“Apologise? I don’t think you heard me. Come back now.”

“Excuse me!” I swirl around, facing him, my husband, the stranger. He is staring, a small smile creeping across his face, reaching out his hand. I see the wedding band, glinting in the sun. Since I placed that band on his finger, Ross has changed to someone I don’t know anymore.

The signs were there right from the start when he stopped me from picking at the wedding cake we’d just cut by slapping my hand. I thought he was joking. Then there was Danny. I was dancing with Danny, my work colleague and Ross came over, taking hold of my wrist (a little too tightly) and pulling me away where he held me close to dance with him. I thought it was romantic but now I see he was controlling me like he’s doing now. I bet if I tell him I’m going out for a drink with Danny when we get back, he’ll say no.

“I’m not in the habit of repeating myself Josie.”

“I think you owe me an apology Ross.” I stand firm but my legs feel like jelly. He walks closer to me, reaches out and touches my hands with his. Softly, he strokes with his thumb. He pulls me closer, leaning in. I feel his warm breath on my skin, his lips brush against my ear. I’m falling under his spell again. It’s not hard, I mean he’s my husband and I do love him.

“When I ask you to do something, I mean it!” he hisses, pressing his thumbs down harder, his nails digging into my soft flesh.

“You’re hurting me!” I say, trying to pull myself away.

“If I wanted to hurt you, I could,” he replies, still clutching my aching hands. “In fact, I could probably make you disappear right here, right now and no one would know. Just imagine,” he continues, turning me around, facing the sea, wrapping his arms around my body, still gripping my hands like a vice, “that beautiful clear, crystal blue water vanishing as your thick, rich blood flows out of you. I can do that Josie but I don’t want to. Don’t make me hurt you with your defiant ways, after all, you did promise to love, honour and obey.” He rests his chin on my shoulder, swaying us both gently. “This is our honeymoon darling, I don’t want to fight.” He kisses me softly. “Come on, we have cocktails to finish.”

I don’t know why I let him take my hand. I am walking back with him, my stomach is churning. Did he just threaten to kill me if I wasn’t obedient to his will? We’re sitting at our table and he’s sipping his cocktail, looking relaxed.

“Go and see what snacks they have will you,” he says flatly. And it’s at that moment I know he means me to obey his every command or . . . The image of a stained sea floods my mind and I’m leaving my chair to go and look at the menu.


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I dream of sharing my work with the big wide world one day as a published author. Right now, I share flash fiction with a wonderful community of writers and friends. If you liked this story, then why not visit my blog at for more. Thank you. Love Lizzie x


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ruth Long Week 81: Ghost of Hope

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Ruth Long’s Picture Choice: Two

Title: Ghost of Hope

It is really one moment of looking love dead in the eye that takes us everywhere in a flash. ~Swami Chetanananda

Why are people so afraid of dying, as if that's the end of it? Were it that simple, I wouldn't have a tale to tell. But here I am, mucking about, two years after my death. Disembodied and disgruntled.

Family and friends mourned my passing, though my wife didn't take it nearly as hard as I expected. But she was an independent woman. People were always surprised that we were a couple. Hard not to take offense to that but I did my best.

Maybe it wasn't smart of me to stick around the house but it's not like there is a manual that explains how this stuff works. I left once, in the beginning. Thought it's what I was supposed to do but sitting on the dock where our boat capsized and I died didn’t bring the closure I’d imagined it would.

Things at home remained strangely the same for the first year. Chelsea was up at seven, off to work at half past eight, and home to make dinner at six. The routine was reassuring. Sure missed the taste of coffee and scent of her perfume though. And her touch.

And then one weekend, when the kitchen faucet went haywire, she went to the hardware store for replacement parts. That's where she met him. Again. The three of us had known each other in college but we'd lost touch in our thirties. He'd turned up for my funeral but I'd used what leverage I had to chase him off.

Grief counselors tell you not to rush into anything, to take your time, to make small slow changes. But they hadn't counted on Max Ballentine. Brash. Charming. Persistent. It was that last quality that would drive a nail in my heart.

When I thought he'd dropped back off map, after my funeral, I was miserably mistaken. There was the odd card, just a line or two scribbled beneath some mundane quote. A bouquet on her birthday. Small, but comprised of solely of her favorite flower. Little things. Purposefully given. Smartly timed.

That sinister strategy made me hate him more with each incident. Such kindness. Such patience. It sickened and infuriated me. And then, the moment came, when his end game was in sight and the shock of it, the audacity, appalled me.

Chelsea was kneeling at my grave, flowers in hand. Two years I'd been gone. She even had tears. A trail of them down her cheeks. God, how I wanted to wipe them away. The separation was unbearable.

And then there he was. Max from the hardware store. Max with the flowers for my grave. Max with his perfectly calculated appearance.

And there was Chelsea, standing to greet him, bravely holding back more tears, and then turning into him, pressing her cheek to his chest, wrapping her arms around his neck.

And he, oh the cursed man, he hugged her back, cheek to cheek, arms around her waist.

I wanted to throttle him. I'd been saving my strength for a moment like this. Waiting out the lesser events so I'd be at full power. I circled them, wanting to be in the perfect position to see the terror on his face when I unleashed my unearthly fury.

But something stopped me. The look on his face was arresting. It should have been smug. This was the culmination of all his effort. Months of planning. Years of unrequited affection coming to fruition. Oh, yes, I had learned much about my opponent during the second year of my death.

Instead, what I saw on his face was the wonder of a child seeing his first snowfall, the joy of a father hearing the first pitiful cry of his newborn, the utter surprise of a man receiving a death row pardon in the midnight hour.

I knew that look, felt it sear my intangible consciousness and wreck me like death never could. No matter the manipulations that put him here in her arms. All of that was rendered inconsequential in a blink because he loved her.

I was there to witness the moment another man came to grips with his love for my wife. That is what truly killed me. And that's the only death that counts. The one in your heart. Because when you lose the ghost of hope, my friend, there is nothing left for you.

But the bitch of it is, you have to keep living with it. You can’t drown, burn, or suffocate to get away from it. That look of love on his face as he held my wife in his arms will forever haunt me.


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A reader by birth, paper-pusher by trade and novelist by design, story-telling in my passion. If you enjoyed reading today's story, please consider checking out my blog, joining my creative community or participating in the madcap twitter fun @bullishink.