Tag Archives: writing prompts

Of the Great White North

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Merv moved south from a meager beginning outside Lake Huron. He’d grown crestfallen from eating nothing more than corn in Farmville, Iowa, after an upbringing of butter tarts.

She who rescued him named the stone figure after a pervert destined for prison. His legacy followed suit, a life, albeit a still one, in the Midwest much like incarceration?

Only the path through Chicago, a few drinks and a smoke along the way, quelled his sentence, a future with a pipe smoker and frog sidekick. He’d rather live with a spotted blue skink. It would be better company than elfin kind.
100-word challenge: lizard

100-word-challenge

 

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Abandonment Issues, part 842

“Great, here we go again,” Anna lamented, kicking at the dirt with her sneaker toe. She unfailingly let Louise get under her skin, with disappointment seeming to seep from her. “Why do I allow that jackdaw to get a rise out of me?”

The woman glanced to her right, where Ken and Francie both cast her a sidelong glance. “Holy shit, did I say that out loud? Sometimes I don’t realize when I talk to myself,” Anna chuckled, embarrassed, as her cheeks became crimson.

“No worries,” said Francie, shrugging. “We just wondered if we might see that old crow somewhere.”  

100 Word Challenge – holy

photo by abaicus via Flickr

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“In Progress” meme

My friend Marie at my cyber house rules nominated me for a special meme, so there’s no way I can refuse her. I say “special” because that’s a great word for her! Marie is a talented writer, photographer, sailor, paddle boarder and Derby Doll. I’ve had the distinct pleasure to know her over the last year or so, and my online life is greatly enriched by her perpetually-happy presence.

The meme centers on the writing process, so here’s my proverbial two cents.

1. What am I working on?

My yet-to-be-revised novel, Her Own Way, began with an idea for NaNoWriMo 2012 and wrapped up during Camp NaNoWriMo last year.  It is a coming-of-age story of two friends who support each other through their first summer living own their own and missteps made along the way.  Certain scenes were created with writing prompts from an online community that Marie actually helps moderate, Studio 30 Plus. The feedback I’ve gained there has helped build my confidence and encourage me to complete this work. Time gets away from me, though, so I am not quite finished with the re-writing process.

Otherwise, I try to blog at least once a week so my stuff doesn’t get stale for my wee little group of followers.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

The most unique feature of my latest work is its basis in reality. Most of the characters I “create” are usually either based on a person I’ve seen or a caricature of someone I know, warts and all. I love people with quirky personalities, so that’s mainly the type of people and situations in my writing.

My blog is full of short stories instigated by some fun prompts from the above-mentioned community. Participating there has also exposed me to the inspirational brilliance among its memberships and also forced me to write when I’m feeling lazy and develop somewhat of my own style. Great motivation.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Some of my stuff, especially on my blog, is regionally based in the Midwest. Basically, I’ve met some very entertaining folks who affect the scenarios I build. Many situations are outlandish but others include every-day happenings – past and present – that are new to a reader with a different upbringing and introduces her/him to a unique perspective. I love to read about places not typical to my background or personal experience, so I hope my stories might reach out to someone else in the same way.

 4. How does your writing process work?

I love to watch the world around me and create characters and craft stories based on eccentricities I see within my immediate environment. My car and purse are full of pens and notepads to jot down ideas that leave me too quickly. There are also times when my writing is a bit more serious if I’ve read something about a subject that draws my ire or concern. So I usually start with that central character, idea or topic about which I am passionate, get the basics down in my cloud drive so I can pull it up from wherever, and finalize the piece after enough time to go back and make sure I’ve said what I want.

 

Tag You’re It!

Lanea created Recipe Records and blogs about Food for Thought, Food for the Soul, Food for the Love of Rock and Roll. We’ve known each other since elementary school, and I’m so glad we stay in touch online.

Paula, of Paula’s Pontifications — Life, Love, Laughter, Longing, has an astounding and inspirational outreach through her book Escaping the Boy and her active blog.

 

Cheers!

 

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The Mission

A large group of people assemble in a meeting hall for a long-overdue gathering. Through forces unknown and inexplicable, I am granted the supernatural power of omniscient feminist influence by which to reach closed-minded naysayers and misogynists throughout the world, win them over with magical eloquence, and change their previously mislead ways of thinking.

(greeting via loudspeaker)

The mentoring program will commence in just a few minutes. Today’s plan of action is to overwhelming implant knowledge and understanding of feminism, heretofore considered by some a “dirty word,” to the doubtful and mainly conservative minority. While we’ll be here for two hours, there is much ground to be covered. All negative stereotypes will be overcome, and an all-encompassing compassion for humanist issues will be accomplished here forward.

Our mission:

We will convince otherwise misguided people of the innate equality of females.

Points of discussion:

1) Feminism is about equality and autonomy. Women should be valued as highly for their efforts and abilities and have ultimate control over their own bodies.

2) Female sexuality is okay, just like it is for males. Humans are sexual beings who deserve pleasure without being slut-shamed.

3) Our bodies all differ, and that doesn’t mean one is any better than another.

4) We are individual people, not simply objects meant for men’s pleasure.

5) Women should support other women. Everyone needs a little help now and then, and who better to give it than other sisters, mothers, friends, and colleagues?

6) Equal pay for equal work. It’s that simple.

7) That is all.

A few special guests in attendance are:

Sophie Hasty, the 13-year old Hasting Middle School activist who rebelled against the Evansville, IL administration’s initiating a dress code against girls wearing leggings, as they felt doing so “distracted the boys.”

Olive Bowers, another 13-year old who challenged a surfer magazine for misrepresentation of females only through bikini shots and no sports coverage.

Andie Fox of blue milk, a smart feminist writer/blogger who approaches parenting, gender equality/stereotypes, pop culture, politics, and many other things about which she is very savvy.

Jessica Valenti, an intelligent feminist author, speaker and columnist for The Guardian US and formerly The Nation, who tackles tough issues like abortion and rape culture. She’s pretty damn funny, to boot.

  valenti tweet.JPG

Zooey Deschanel who, even through her sweetheart persona, is trying harder than most young American actresses to counter the common notions of perfection via her media presence and collaborative Hello Giggles website.

also inspiredbycharm.com

via inspiredbycharm.com

Jennifer Lawrence, another American actress, who is a vocal advocate of positive body image. She is invited because I trust the public image of her being a down-to-earth awesome role model. Simply stated, she must be awesome.

sheknows.com

via sheknows.com

 

And the keynote speaker will be:

The irrepressible bell hooks, feminist scholar and author of Ain’t I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism, Outlaw Culture and Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics, among others, who will further elucidate those who need to know, as well as we who already know, about the “white supremist capitalist patriarchy.”

via goodreads

via goodreads

 

Through my cosmically granted and omniscient feminist influence, everyone reached through my superpower of mental telepathy realizes what feminists have known since the beginning of time – all women and men deserve to be treated equally.


*The above-listed Indie Chick Lit scenario and love Studio 30+ writing prompt both instigated this post.   I’d love to know who you think should be on the invitation list. Please comment!

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The Village Idiot

 Studio30

He would sometimes stop traffic on the Interstate highway by stepping in front of moving cars. Cars moving at speeds up to 70 miles per hour. That’s a helluva way to get attention. Donald Knopp was definitely an odd one. Solid of stature, wispy graying unkempt hair in not-quite-a-comb-over the only hint at his age, he was nondescript enough to be generally ignored.

One booth at McDonald’s practically had his seat imprint in its molded plastic, and he spent most of his other time at the public library or walking the streets of the small town where his parents raised him. All he knew was Marsburg, and his reputation preceded him with many of the townspeople there.

He’d strike up inappropriate conversations with complete strangers, ogle at women who didn’t know him from Adam, and scare children away in a fit of stranger danger. Everyone suspected he wasn’t quite “all there” but not in an innocent way. A trace of malevolence lingered just below the surface, and people ducked into storefronts to avoid him on the sidewalk and risk an uncomfortable interaction. Regardless of the stories, most folks though he was relatively harmless. One just never knows for sure.

Rumor had it his parents were first cousins and probably too old when he was born, those being the main reasons he was so strange. Some people said Donald was simply “cursed by birth.” The man had no social skill whatsoever, was a complete misfit, but not quite full-on mental. Getting along in society seemed even harder for him after his mother died, and he acted out in public more often. She’d arranged for a court-appointed guardian before her passing, but the social worker couldn’t always keep tabs on him.

And hooligans took full advantage of those disabilities.

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A colossal statue marked the final resting place of Colonel William Mars of the State’s historical and much revered 100th Cavalry, with the town founder’s stone likeness brandishing a bayonet atop a rearing stallion. The monument was where those boys once left Donald Knopp tied up overnight. Bored teenagers with a little too much St. Patrick’s Day cheer in them scooped Donald off the street and to the cemetery at the edge of the city park. They’d had enough drink that they considered their prank innocent fun and quite a humorous finding for the caretaker when he unlocked the gates at daybreak the next morning.

Donald hung there limp for hours, weather-beaten and tethered to the horse’s legs at the monument’s base. Quite cold upon discovery, having been exposed to the elements over an unusually cold March night, he sported a permanent limp from that time forward. In their inebriated celebration, the boys had shaken up their bottles and sprayed beer over his legs and feet in a contest of who had the best aim at his extremities. Hypothermia in Donald’s soaked limbs claimed several toes on one foot.

No telling who won the cruel competition, but the irony came as county taxpayers picked up the tab for the indigent man’s hospital bill, some of whom were undoubtedly the boys’ parents.

Knopp stomped along with his weight centered in the right leg and the other one dragging behind him, frightening little kids with such a striking resemblance to a modern-day Quasimodo. Adults stole a second glance to see if a giant wart covered his right eye.

Donald tried to move swiftly along and one step ahead of that annoying conservator. He haphazardly crossed the street wherever he pleased, feeling like all of Marsburg was his oyster, his new gait impeding traffic more than ever before.

*This post was part of a weekly prompt at Studio 30 Plus inspired by AB’s line cursed by birth.

(photo credit: “snow cemetery” via DerekL on Flickr)

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Roughage

They let him take his truck along on days when everyone went out on the grounds. It was otherwise considered dangerous to allow the man the length of metal chain, much like a dog’s lease, so he pulled the toy along behind him. He was likely in his 50s, only his official chart knew for sure, but had the capacity of a child.

On recreation days he and his fellow patients were supervised by attendants in an area with swing sets and teeter totters. They might as well be children. The men were corralled within the surrounding fences while an Aid sat atop a picnic table watching their random activity.  Little to nothing kept him occupied, so toting the black plastic S*W*A*T truck across the grass and sticks was a pleasant enough distraction from his ostensibly miserable existence.

The group varied from those with stunted brain function that kept them in a state of adolescence to the ones who were probably “all there” but deemed criminally insane but safe enough to keep them out of the penitentiary. Better to be incarcerated here than with the thugs up at the big house. And they were better off than the waterheads trapped in infancy at the hospital, where anything from a car wreck head injury to a birth-defect or encephalitis kept them suspended in a bed-ridden purgatory of medical compromise. An afternoon out meant they were at least breathing fresh air instead of the stale recirculated oxygen inside the walls painted institutional yellow at 800 North Lincoln Street. The entrance’s wooden sign read “State School and Hospital” and employed the largest percentage of the small town’s population. It kept the citizens with a steady paycheck and its occupants out of the rest of society’s concern.

Jarle Naustvik - Flikr

Jarle Naustvik – Flikr

Some families didn’t want to think about loved ones whose care became too much for them or whose condition was so helpless they had no other choice but to commit them there. It was easier to forget about whether their son or brother got to go outside for an hour or two every few weeks to commune with the outdoors.

A house next door had a dirt patch to its east with a handful of horses the guys could watch wander around within its own confines. Their attendant said they could feed them grass through the woven-wire fence as long as they kept their hands on their own side. Funny how no one ever asked the people who lived there if it was okay. Those were the days before lawsuits were so common.

The S*W*A*T truck rattled along behind the man, his squat little body bent over in its trek. His hair hadn’t been washed for days, but no one cared — even him. Hygiene was the least of his concerns, because a simple joy came from yanking the silly truck all the way over to those horses AND getting to touch and feed them. It was an exciting thing to do when there’s little else.

Out of his peripheral vision, he spotted a lady in the yard next door who was eyeing his progress along the fence line. The scowl on her face intimated she wasn’t happy with his presence, although her mood made no difference to him. “Hey there, Big Mama,” he called. “I am Womp! What yo name?” Hands on her hips, she scoffed and didn’t answer him. Her disgust apparent, the woman darted back into her house. She obviously didn’t find it acceptable for those boys reach over into the back lot. No matter. The joy gained from the equestrian feeding frenzy was all that concerned them. The greener, the better.

A tall spotted horse with ruined red eyes smelled his way to their offering, its head moving back and forth till it reached the prize, but a rounder one on short legs saw the juicy treat being presented. Neither animal minded the source a bit. The “crazies” came to feed them every once in awhile, which suited them just fine.

The woman had meanwhile informed her husband they were back. He was his usual surly self and immediately began dialing the phone. Upon an answer and connection to the administrative building, the man demanded, “You need to send a supervisor out to the south lawn! Your damn nuts are over here bothering my livestock again.” He paused, tapping his boot on the floor in impatient exasperation.

“I don’t care,” he continued. “They might have just as much right to be out there as the next person, but I’ve got kids over here who don’t need to see their bullshit.” More silence ensued, and crimson flamed in the man’s face and showed how he felt about the answers he was getting on the other end of the line. His voice rose in indignation. “Next thing you know, another one of those nuts will be naked on a park bench again!” The attendant’s watchfulness made no difference to him, as this was a repetitious conversation and he felt the workers did anything but pay attention to their charges. He threatened, “If it happens again, I’m taking it to the top! You tell that woman in charge that I’m either calling Jeff City or crossing the fence to take care of it myself.” A sharp ring resounded from the wall phone when he slammed the receiver back onto it.

Outside, two horses’ jaws gleefully masticated all that was given. The barely 20-something Aid sat studying a textbook in the center of a makeshift playground, glancing up from reading every now and then to survey the group for which he was responsible. They continued to pull weeds and shove them between the wires to pile up in front of eight hooves across the divide, however invisible to them.

Down an adjacent hill, a short man with dark, greasy hair moved slowly out of earshot. He was oblivious to where he was expected to be, the black square toy bumping blissfully along on wheels to his rear. The plastic truck’s lettering grew smaller as its owner faded into the distance.

*The writing prompt I am was from Studio 30 Plus.s30p

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It takes a village

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via robertrazrblog on Flickr

He was born with a proverbial dark cloud hanging over his head. His mother held a grudge against him since the day she found out she was pregnant, a scared teenager who would have aborted him if she’d had the wherewithal and resources to do so. Devon hadn’t been able to please her since, as if it were his fault his biological father shirked responsibility for having knocked up his mother. As a little kid, he often heard her claim, “That damn baby ruined my life.” What a harrowing memory for a son to carry through his life.

At least he hadn’t been locked up like some of his grade school teachers imagined would be his fate. He got past his “angry” phase and quit getting in trouble by the time he entered high school. The negative attention did him no good, because teachers were less likely to help a bad kid, and school was his only refuge by then.

Devon started caring about his grades when he realized doing well on assignments put him in the good graces of his teachers, who recommend he see the nurse with his latest set of bruises and consult the school counselor when he dozed in class or his stomach growled loudly from the third row back in the room. Getting himself dismissed from the naughty list in the class secured the counselor’s helping in getting the free lunch and backpack of canned goods sent home on the weekend. He hid the bulky bag from his mother so he could avoid her admonishments for accepting welfare. Its contents were too precious to let her throw them away in disgust, even if he had to hide in his room and scoop the cold contents out of the cans in secret.

The kindness of those virtual strangers was how he narrowly evaded malnutrition. Mom didn’t have the money to keep the electricity or phone in service, much less feed him a decent meal each weeknight. Only the people at school – his safe haven – made sure he was there each day and had something to eat at least for breakfast and lunch. His mom was absent to him when her mind was addled with the toxic chemical combinations she used to escape her diminished existence.

His aunt took him in when her sister was finally arrested for drug possession. They were trying to pin her for distribution, which would mean much more time on her inevitable sentence, and Devon would’ve been sent to the State’s custody. Eventually Devon’s sallow appearance began to change. He’d always been slight, but teen years meant his appetite increased, and he eventually outgrew his aunt’s ability to provide for him. She said he ‘ate her out of house and home,’ so she couldn’t do it anymore.

A custodian soon found him staying in the parking lot overnight in the old junker his aunt had passed along at his mother’s incarceration. Nobody grows up aspiring to become homeless and live in their car. Temperatures were dropping, but a sleeping bag and a stiff wool Army blanket kept him as warm as it was when last winter when the heat got disconnected at home. After the discovery of his squatter status behind the school, Mr. Washington let him into the boy’s locker room before officially opening the building each morning so Devon could shower and brush his teeth there. He was graciously allowed to wash his clothes in the athletic department’s laundry facilities. Living in a small town sometimes had its perks.

While the grapevine could sometimes hurt, other times it could help, too. Word spread from the janitor to the school counselor and moved along to a local citizen known for her altruism. A surprise call to the counselor’s office brought the young man face-to-face with a woman who was at least 80 years old, had curly gray hair sticking out from under a faded Fedora, and wore an over-sized trench coat on an almost six-foot tall frame. Surely someone’s oddball grandmother. There must be some mistake.

The receptionist introduced him to Ms. Carolina, an eccentric old lady, who offered him an opportunity. A former colleague of hers, one of his teachers, had recommended him to work for her. She heard he was sharp and picked up on things quickly. Her proposition was that Devon help maintain one of the apartment complexes she owned in exchange for board in a one-room apartment above her garage.

He was dumbstruck, and a torrent of emotions overcame him. Rational behavior was, however, his strong suit. He’d had to survive practically on his own all these years. So the thought dawned on him that he had no skill at electronics or repairs to offer. How could he ever meet these expectations?

Carolina proclaimed, in an aged but strong and deep-pitched voice, “I’m not one to give out charity. You must earn your keep, which means you’ll need to learn what you don’t already know.” She paused for effect and studied his face speculatively, causing Devon to shift back and forth in anticipation. The boy looked down at his legs, mentally reminding his knees to bend. He thought, “Don’t lock out and make me faceplant in this makeshift interview.”

She gave him a once-over and continued, “You also have to drive me to appointments, the grocery store and Bunko every week.” The nodule of his Adam’s apple moved up and down as Devon took a gulp of air and nodded in agreement, surprise apparent on his rosy-cheeked face.

She told him, “You start today. My house is the brick one at the corner of Main and Grand. You’ll know it when you see it, so report there after you leave school today.” With that, she turned on the heel of her Jack boots with dark trousers tucked in the tops and left the office. Devon shook his head to make sense of what just happened and turned to look at the receptionist, who simply shrugged her shoulders and turned back to the ringing phone.

He’d never had religion, minus the televangelists he begrudgingly watched when the cable was shut off, so the thought of divine intervention never entered Devon’s mind. But there was a passing notion of a guardian angel. She came disguised as an aged brusquerie who’d just stomped into his life in steel-toed boots to whisk away the dark mass that was no longer looming over him. Devon’s future had just gotten much brighter.

*I used both prompts, locked and please, for this week’s writing prompt at Studio 30+.  s30p

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The Exodus (Studio 30+ prompt )

“But, Myrna, it’s supposed to be one of the best places to retire in the entire country,” Bart argued, his brow furrowed and deepened the lines on his sallow forehead. He reminded his wife of a grumpy old cartoon man, one from the Sunday funnies, or maybe an animated fish ready to expel its inky toxin into the water. Myrna and Bart had this discussion on regular basis over the last few weeks, and he had yet to convince her of Branson, Missouri being a viable alternative to their current residence. He was ready to leave the travails of his previous career — and their lifelong home — behind them and make new in a different city.  She was not.

His tirade continued, “Come on now … we could get a condo dirt cheap.” Just what she wanted, a dirt cheap condo in a place where she’d rather take a punch in the eye than live. “The kids can come visit us for a change since it’s smack dab in between where they both live, and the grandkids will love it there, too,” Bart feebly added to his argument. Myrna couldn’t be convinced.

(Photo: Dennis Macdonald, Getty Images)

(Photo: Dennis Macdonald, Getty Images)

She said, “The kids won’t spend the money for fare into that tiny little airport, and Grace and Sam can’t fly by themselves yet. They don’t want to visit us anyway, Bart. Face it – we’re old and boring.” No amount of coaxing about go-kart tracks, water parks, and some place down the highway called Silver Dollar City was going to sway those grandchildren into spending any significant amount of their summer vacation in the sweltering Midwest. Especially not in the Ozarks in the height of its humidity. Or at least no more than a weekend, which their parents — her own children — wouldn’t financially support but cost for which Bart certainly wasn’t going to spring.

He came at her from every angle. “There’s great golf there, I hear. Anderson and his old lady retired there, so he had their development’s realtor send me a personal invitation to take a tour.” Great, she thought sarcastically, just the people I want to associate with in our golden years. “Darling, you know that doesn’t interest me,” she told him. “And his wife was not asked back to our Bunko night after that incident, you remember?”  Oh, no, Myrna mentally pleaded – don’t make me spend any more time with that woman.

“She’s been to Betty Ford since then, Myrna, just before they moved.” Bart’s monologue was unending. “Anderson tells me that Andy Williams has a great show, too. You’re always trying to get me to to see crap like that.”

“He died, hon,” Myrna quickly interjected.

“And Anderson says ol’ Dolly Parton has that Dixie Stampede place where you eat supper and watch a Wild West show at the same time!  Maybe she’ll be there when we are.”  Just what I need, Myrna conjectured, dust settling around the dinner table and buffalo chips flying into my plate.  She caught herself squinching the “11” permanently etched between her eyebrows into a cynical mass of perpendicular lines. She simply replied, “That just doesn’t sound very appetizing, Bart.”

He looked forward to a change at finally leaving the rat race. Hours spent with his friend out on the links, leaving the hens behind to do — whatever it is they might do — just no more of their prattling on about nonsense. No more traffic, a life of leisure out on the lake, and people their same age instead of these young bucks who took over his and Anderson’s sales jobs. That is, if his ticker would yet allow it all to happen.

He wouldn’t be deterred from making a final stand. “Oh, listen, gal.  I suspect you’ll love it there.” What she didn’t know was that he’d already booked their tickets into the little wood-replicated airport nestled back in the hills that his former colleague had described. They had an appointment at the Palatial Pines Co-op Association coming up the next week, and he’d placed a deposit on one of their charming villas. This is what he’d toiled for his entire adult life. Bart wanted to get there quickly before Yakov Smirnov retired. It’s going to be great, he thought.  Everything’s going to be swell.

This post sprang from the weekly Studio 30+ writing prompt swell and a recent USA Today article claiming the best places in the U.S. to retire. Studio30   

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Fish Tales

Mr. McCall had known Julia since she was a little girl. Her grandparents owned land by his place, and he’d practically watched her grow up. That was long before her parents divorced and her mother had lost her mind in the aftermath.

Mrs. McCall had died sometime in between, and Julia’s mom had tried to help him recover from his loss. She had been unreachable in her own sorrow, though. Julia remembered going to Mr. McCall’s house for something to eat when her mother would space out for days on end. The widower took Julia and her brother under his wing, fed them and made sure they were safe when their mom was mentally lost to them.

Her dad’s leaving had scarred them all, but mostly their mother. It was a good thing their mom’s example didn’t affect Julia and her brother any more than it did, or they’d never have made it out of that miserable existence. Mr. McCall was a life-saving father figure after her dad’s abandonment, and Mac — as they called him — helped give them the substance to survive both physically and emotionally.

Julia needed a strong male presence as much as her teenage brother did. There were otherwise so many bad influences in their world, especially for a pretty and impressionable young girl like her. The most daunting one was unfortunately her brother’s best friend, Pete, but Mr. McCall tried to see to it that Pete didn’t bother Julia. At least not if he could help it.

Mac talked to Julia’s brother once about how bad he thought Pete was for both him and Julia. To no avail. He’d noticed a change in Julia’s behavior around that boy in the last few months, though, and he feared what may have already happened between the two.

He was taking a chance, with Julia not being family and all, but decided to discuss the matter with her anyway. If her own family wasn’t there to step in, he was the next best thing to it. Damn her mother for not doing so herself.

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The old man took the girl fishing from time to time and decided to broach the subject one of those peaceful afternoons. They had their own spot on the bank where they usually set up, away from where the boys or other neighbors could hear their conversation. It was within this seclusion that Mac stumbled over his words in an abridged version of the-birds-and-the-bees as well as the boy-birds-gone-bad.

This was heretofore a discussion he’d never imagined having with a girl her age, the daughter or granddaughter Mac never had himself. “Now, Julia, honey,” he began. “I wanna tell you something that your momma mightn’t never had told you before.” She sat on the ground with her pole in the water, its red bobber bouncing on the surface, in rapt attention at Mac’s exhortation. “You have to watch out for boys. I know because, believe it or not, I once was one myself.” A slight smile crept across her face but quickly disappeared when she realized he was quite serious.

Mac continued, “You need to watch what you’re doing … and watch what THEY’RE doing. ‘Cause them boys might be up to no good. You’re becoming quite a fetching young woman, and adolescent boys might not be trusted around a looker like you. Their bodies start to take over for them.” Julia began to protest, her face flushing to a darkening crimson, “Oh, come on, Mac …”

“You let me finish,” he admonished. “Your daddy’s not here to warn you about how some boys aren’t gentlemanly but will act a certain way to get you to … warm up to ‘em. And I just want you to be on your guard.” Julia’s gaze was downcast by now, but she respected her elder and listened to his advice. To prevent any further embarrassment on both their parts, Mac decided to stop while he was ahead. He asked, “You understand what I’m saying here, hon?”

She raised her head to meet his eyes and gave a slight nod. Julia said, “No worries, Mac. I still have that old pocket knife you once gave me for my birthday, and I know how to use it if the need arises.” She’d succeeded in cutting the thick tension with her knife of humor.

Mac was the most positive influence in her life, and Julia knew he’d do anything in his power to protect her. There was no way she could tell him what Pete had already done.

I used the weekly writing prompt fetching from the Studio 30+ online writing community.

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image: cjdjkobe at everystockphoto.com (attribution license)

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By Now

It’s yet another writing prompt from Studio 30+.  Just before Mother’s Day.  Studio 30+

Endera hated those mini-van windows with the stick figure family progression from Dad (because, of course, he’s always tallest) down through kiddos and even the dog. As usual, Mom is second in line — funny, as she’s probably the one who put the damn things there in the first place. It was comical to see those embellishments on a tough-looking SUV or a sporty little coupe, not what you’d expect on anything but the micro-bussed, soccer-mom-mobiles of the world. Endera was outwardly bitter toward the whole thing, and she couldn’t help but wear it on her sleeve.  stix

She’d been a babysitter most of her young adulthood and always thought she’d wanted kids of her own, but the older she grew the clearer it became that maybe she wasn’t cut out to be a mom. Kids are loud. It was enough to listen to her date yammer on about nothingness, much less the cacophony of a toddler in her house, and the thought of a newborn’s blast was enough to shake her womb into utter rejection. Noise sensitivity came along with age, or at least Endera blamed it on that.

photo: yalescientific.org

photo: yalescientific.org

Her own mother’s and grandmother’s nagging hadn’t helped matters. “When are you going to settle down with a nice fella?” “You need to give us a grandbaby sometime, you know!” “There’s nothing like the pitter patter of little … don’t worry, you’ll change your mind.” The best was the admonishment, “Your biological clock is ticking!” They were relentless.

She’d let those lofty illusions simmer in her brain at one time, but the fantasies were long in her past. Way back in her 20s.

Endera had assumed her life with Tate would include those familial fairytales … the four-bedroom house, two kids and the stinky little dog. Her dream version life came complete with a chain-link fence to secure a miniature Schnauzer from being hit by the neighbor’s mini-van. Her future didn’t pan out the way she imagined.  But as John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”

She had a decent job, her own SUV and a great apartment in the city. Endera’s social group regular met for happy hour or movies and had dinner at nice restaurants on a regular basis. Her girlfriends set her up with Accountant or Broker friends of their husbands, so she had a very satisfying sex life and things to do.

Her disappointment stemmed from Tate breaking his promise. It was only a proposal, after all. He didn’t actually say “till death do we part” in front of everyone — he’d only hinted at those sentiments in private, in the dark after they’d been intimate. He’d led her on like a puppy, and she hated herself for believing his lies. Sometimes she’d catch herself digging her perfectly French tipped nails into her palms so deeply in unconscious anger that she had almost ruined her fresh manicure before she stopped.

Little did Endera know what he actually had in mind, that he was more intent on keeping his affair with a co-worker secret. Their private meetings had gone on in those hours of “working late” and happy hours that were only for the guys at work. Yeah … the guys. That group wasn’t supposed to include the one with a surgically enhanced rack and fake-ass veneers. Those same sparkling teeth had been flashed at Endera in false greeting when she’d stopped by Tate’s office once to surprise him with lunch.

Her cell phone’s buzz surprised Endera out of her temporary catatonia, and she released the tight grip of her fists. Uncurling her fingers revealed four perfect crescent-shaped indentations across each palm.  She shook out her hands and answered the incoming call. A high-pitched ramble emerged from the phone, “Hello, sweetheart! How are you? Do you have a date tonight?”

It was her mother. Endera released a weighty, yet silent, sigh. She replied, “No, Mom. Sorry to disappoint you. I’m staying in tonight.”

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