Ode to Books by Carol R. Ward

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write an ode to books.

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: A character stumbles upon an ancient civilization that has no written language. What would it be like? How would you describe their lives? How would they? Could they?

Looks like none of us got moving on the prose prompt this week (I do have a story started, but it’s going to run a lot longer than prompt-length), but Carol wrote a most excellent ode to books. Enjoy! 


Ode to Books
by Carol R. Ward

Hard back, paperback, big or small
it makes no difference I love them all.
Used books, new books, electronic too
and especially the books I get to preview.
Board books, comic books, rare or not,
self-published, free books, ones I’ve bought.
Slick cover, leather cover, no cover at all
hand bound, perfect bound, sewn real small.
Science fiction, romance, mystery as well,
fantasy, horror, or a western tall tale.
My house is full, almost ready to burst
but I just need a couple more books first.


Thanks for reading! Feel free to submit your poems/stories for the week in the comments if you’d like. And check back Monday for new writing prompts!

Call Me Edward by Jamie DeBree & Consequences by Carol R. Ward

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: A man doesn’t feel like his name suits him, so he wants it changed. What does he change it to, and does it solve his problem?

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Describe a person with one name, and then reveal at the end of the poem that their name is actually something quite different.

We flipped the script a bit this week! Carol wrote a piece of prose to match the poetry prompt, and I wrote a poem to match the prose prompt. Either way, we were both inspired, and that’s what matters, right? Enjoy!


Call Me Edward
by Jamie DeBree

There’s always a party at Mikey’s, they’d say.
Always more fun to be had.
Mike’s not a thinker, he’s a-okay,
a guy who knows how to be bad.

Party for years, and that’s what he gets,
a herd that just can’t see the change.
The boy’s now a man, the compass reset,
but his friends can’t see anything strange.

Mike knows it can’t last, it can’t stay the same,
knows his friends won’t let him advance,
Call me Edward, he says, pulling out his first name,
can’t hurt just to give it a chance.

The parties are smaller, with quieter guests,
but still enough fun to be had,
Edward’s a thinker and one of the best,
who’s name always makes him quite glad.

***

Consequences
by Carol R. Ward

Most people who saw her agreed that even if Bella wasn’t her real name, it suited her. With her pale skin and hair, big blue eyes in a heart-shaped face, it would have been no surprise had she spread a pair of great, white angel’s wings.

But she didn’t, of course.

No one knew exactly where she came from, she just began appearing at the lawn parties and social gatherings that summer. They were young and rich and entitled, none more so than Bobby Greyson. Bobby was the undisputed leader of wealthy youth of the area, not just because of his money and the fact that most of the parties took place at his parents’ estate on the river, but he had a natural charisma.

The fact that this charisma didn’t always work on the, shall we say, less fortunate young women of the area mattered not at all. What Bobby Greyson wanted, Bobby Greyson got. And if it took a couple of his cronies to hold a girl down while he took his pleasure, well that just made it all the more thrilling. And if those same cronies wanted a turn or two themselves, what did he care? He’d already lost interest.

Bella appeared like a vision at the soiree held at the country club. By the time Bobby had worked his way over to her, she had disappeared again. For a time he thought she might have been a vision, and then she appeared at the Van Houten’s cotillion. She floated through the dancers like a dream, and like a dream she was gone before he could even ask for a dance.

It was not until he caught sight of her at one of his own parties that he was able to actually speak to her.

“I am familiar with everyone on the guest list,” he said, offering her a glass of champagne. “How is it I have never met you before?”

“The friends I’m staying with insisted I accompany them,” she said demurely. “I hope you don’t mind.”

“How could I? But please, tell me the name of these friends so I may thank them.”

But she would not. “I would not wish you to learn my secrets too soon – the mystery would fade and take with it your interest.”

“At least tell me your name.”

“You may call me Bella.”

“Of course, how could it be anything else? You are truly bellissima. A beautiful gift.”

Bella smiled and took a step towards him. “Perhaps I am your gift,” she said, and leaned closer.

Bobby closed his eyes, expecting a kiss, but felt nothing more than a whisper of air on his cheek. When he opened his eyes, she was gone.

He asked all his friends, but no one would admit to hosting the mysterious Bella. In fact, only a few remembered seeing her at all. In desperation he threw another garden party, and his efforts were rewarded.

“I was afraid you an angel returned to heaven,” he murmured in her ear, coming up behind her as she stood in the gazebo.

“My place is not in heaven,” she told him.

“Then it is here by my side,” he declared.

“Perhaps.” She smiled enigmatically at him.

There was a shout behind them and he turned. When he turned back she was gone.

The next time Bobby saw her was at the Anderson’s during their croquet party. She was smiling at old man Anderson as he tried to show her how the game was played and Bobby was filled with a murderous rage. Bella was his! No one else was allowed to touch her.

As though sensing his presence Bella looked up and it was only with a great effort of will he was able to mask his feelings. She smiled, as though she could read his thoughts, and he felt a sudden chill. Then the moment was gone.

What was she doing to him? Bobby had never felt this way about a woman before. Lust yes, that he slaked on those unfortunates that were caught unawares, but this … this was something more. This was a hunger, an obsession. If he couldn’t be with her, he’d die.

He was so caught up in his reflections that he failed to notice her approach.

“I need you,” she whispered in his ear. “Meet me tonight at the gazebo.”

And like a puff of smoke she was gone again.

Bobby was at the gazebo at sunset. It had been thoroughly cleaned by the servants earlier, and he’d brought soft pillows to recline on, a bottle of champagne chilling in a bucket of ice, and a tray of delicacies to tempt any pallet. He sensed her presence and turned.

She was breath-taking, a vision in a filmy white gown – she was always dressed in white – with the last rays of the setting sun illuminating her from behind.

“You take my breath away,” Bobby said.

“Do I?”

“I…I love you. You must know that.”

She glided closer. “Are you sure?” she asked.

“Yes.”

“Very sure?” Her lips were just inches from his.

“Very sure,” he breathed.

Their lips met. It was like he was kissing for the very first time. She tasted sweet, like some unnamed fruit. He felt light headed, his heart raced. Bobby staggered back from her, a shaft of pain going through his head. His eyes opened as he sank to the ground, his vision blurry.

“What’s happening to me?”

“Did you think you could use those poor girls with such callous disregard with no consequences? I’m here for them.”

“Who are you?” he gasped with his last breath.

“My full name is Belladonna. My kiss is death.”

But Bobby was no longer able to hear her.

She stared down for a moment at his cooling corpse. “There are always consequences.” Spreading her dark wings, she vanished from the earthly plain.

###


Thanks for reading! Feel free to submit your poems/stories for the week in the comments if you’d like. And check back Monday for new writing prompts!

Lady Tea & Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat by Carol R. Ward

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Compare someone (fictional or real) to a teapot (whatever kind of teapot you’d like).

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Someone has invited your character for tea. Only when he/she gets there, something seems a bit “off”…


Lady Tea
by Carol R. Ward

Not a fine English porcelain
nor a modern stainless steel
not iron nor even ceramic
but something not quite real.
You’re more like a clear glass vessel
with a tea blossom trapped inside
just add a pot of hot water
and watch as you come alive.
Your anger, like steam, quickly rises
and wafts its way through the air
and like steam is quickly gone again
no sign of it anywhere.
The blush of the tea blossom mimics
the colour that’s found on your cheek
and the statuesque form of the teapot
is the same as your body so sleek.
The reddish brown of Darjeeling
is the same as the curls of your hair
but the black of the dragon pearl leaves
are the same as your eyes so fair.
I see you each time I measure
the leaves for a fresh pot of tea
perhaps you are just a tea spirit
but always you’ll be real to me.

******************

Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat
by Carol R. Ward

The tea service was stunning. One would have almost expected sterling silver, given the circumstances, but this was a porcelain so thin it was almost transparent with life-like violets hand painted on it. It was almost too delicate to use. The butler poured the tea and stepped back. Actually, he poured the tea and disappeared completely.

“Cucumber sandwich my dear?”

Jessica accepted the small, square plate with her gloved hand. Gloves? Since when did she wear gloves?

“Milk or sugar?”

“Neither, thank you. I take my tea black.”

There was an autocratic sniff as the proffered creamer set was withdrawn again.

“I think you will enjoy the tea, it’s my own special blend,” the accented voice told her.

Jessica dutifully picked up the teacup, holding out her pinkie finger as she raised the cup to her lips.

“Well?”

“It’s very hot,” she said, setting the cup and saucer down to pick up the thinly sliced cucumber sandwich, hoping the cucumber would soothe her poor burnt tongue.

Again with the sniff. “That’s because you had no milk. Tea should never be served any other way but hot. It’s the addition of the milk that cools it down.”

“I’ll remember that.”

“See that you do.”

Jessica looked around the formal drawing room – the original artwork on the walls, the tastefully arranged flowers. “You have a lovely home.”

“That is a non sequitur.”

“No, that was a compliment,” Jessica told her. “This is a non-sequitur: Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been? I’ve been to London to visit the queen.”

“Indeed. I should, however, like to point out we are not in London.”

“But you are the queen.”

“So they tell me,” Elizabeth said dryly.

Jessica went to take another sip of her tea and saw to her surprise the cup was empty. She set it down carefully on the table in front of her. “Shall I get to the point?”

“Please do.”

“There’s something I’ve always wanted to know…”

The queen waited patiently as Jessica fidgeted. “And that is?” she prompted.

“Why corgis?”

“Well you see, Jessica, you have to wake up now.”

“What?”

“Wake up Jessica.”

The ground beneath her chair began to rock violently. “I think we’re having an earthquake.”

“C’mon Jessica, time to wake up.”

Jessica opened her eyes and Dominic stopped shaking her. “What’s going on?”

“Jessica,” he said, hugging her to him. “I was afraid we were too late.”

“Too late for what?” she asked, a little irritably.

“You got a dose of somnambulist dust,” Ellen said, peering over Dominic’s shoulder at her.

“What is somnambulist dust,” Jessica asked in what she hoped was a reasonable sounding tone of voice. “And how did I get dosed with it?”

Dominic loosened his grip slightly. “It comes from the somnambulist bloom–”

“Of course it does,” she muttered under her breath.

“–and you got dosed with it when you went charging ahead like you always do.”

Jessica wriggled out of Dominic’s embrace so she was sitting up herself. They were sitting on a cushion of dead leaves, a forest at their backs and a field of wildflowers in front of them. “You mean like in the Wizard of Oz?”

“The wizard of where?”

Ellen giggled. “Exactly like in the Wizard of Oz.”

Dominic shot her an angry look. “It’s no laughing matter. If we hadn’t seen where she went down we might not have got to her in time. A big enough dose and she’d have died instantly and if she’d been alone, she could have slept until she starved to death.”

“They look like ordinary wildflowers,” Jessica said with a shiver. She put a soothing hand on Dominic’s arm gave him a kiss on the cheek. “And you did get to me in time, as usual.”

“Rescuing you is starting to become a habit,” he grumbled. “Now come on.” He helped her to her feet. “We should get moving before the wind shifts.”

Jessica agreed whole-heartedly. She took his hand as they followed a game trail into the forest, but spared one wistful glance back at the meadow. Now she’d never know why Queen Elizabeth favoured corgis over every other dog.

*******

Note: Want to know who Jessica and Dominic are? Check out Carol’s Moonstone Chronicles series! 


Thanks for reading! Feel free to submit your poems/stories for the week in the comments if you’d like. And check back Monday for new writing prompts!

Keepsake and Finders Keepers by Carol R. Ward

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about keepsakes you (or someone) left behind, whether it was intentional or not.

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: A new homeowner discovers a keepsake box hidden in one of the air vents. What’s in the box? Does it matter?


Keepsake
by Carol R. Ward

The box came from Egypt
made of some kind of exotic wood
inlaid with tiny mosaics,
mother-of-pearl and ivory,
lined with purple velvet.
It hasn’t aged well –
the finish is flaked
the design faded away
the piece of wood on the left side
missing.
I never knew
what she used it for –
jewelry? mementos? photos?
It’s been mine since she died
and though I’ve had it for years
it holds nothing
but the memory.


Finders Keepers
by Carol R. Ward

Lanie sat at her desk staring at the manila envelope in front of her. She promised her friend Cass she’d at least look at the contents. Never mind the fact that Cass was convinced Lanie’s fixer upper of a Victorian house was cursed, a promise was a promise.

With a sigh she dumped the contents onto her desk. It was a mixture of newspaper clippings and photo copies of newspaper clippings. Some of them had stick notes attached to them, others had highlights and notes. One of them had “Original Owner” printed across it in bright pink ink.

Despite herself, Lanie was intrigued. The original owner of this house was a widow who was accused of murdering seven people. The bodies were found buried in the garden. But the intriguing part was the side article that accused Rose Wildman of being a witch.

“She has the ability to possess a person and force them to enact all manner of evil deeds,” she read. “She should be burned at the stake, just like the witches of old.”

There were several articles of that ilk, accusing Rose of creating potions and poisons from the herbs she grew, to singing My Wild Irish Rose as she disemboweled her victims. Another article attributed her powers to a large ruby pendent Rose wore, which mysteriously disappeared upon her death.

Lanie sat back with a snort. “What a bunch of superstitious twaddle,” she said. She loved Cass like a sister but sometimes her penchant for the supernatural was downright annoying.

The articles and envelope went into the trash can and Lanie buckled down to work. She wrote historical romance, and did well enough that she was able to buy the house outright. It was the kind of home she’d always dreamed of owning, a Victorian with a wrought iron fence around it and a large garden out back.

After working steadily for two hours, Lanie sat back in her chair and stretched. The writing was going well for a change, she gotten a lot accomplished. The virgin bride was in a coach headed for Scotland and was about to meet up with the laird disguised as a highway man. It was a good place to leave it for now – she needed a break.

Padding out to the kitchen, she made herself a cup of tea and carried it into the living room, formerly the front parlour, and sat in the wing back chair near the fireplace. This room was next on her list. She’d already pulled the panelling that went halfway up the wall off and was ready to start on the crown molding. Once it was all off she could start stripping the wall paper.

Setting her empty cup on the mantle, Lanie pulled the step ladder over to the corner of the room and picked up the wonderbar. The crown molding came off easier than she expected and she made good progress. As she repositioned the ladder next to the fireplace, it knocked against the brick and some of the mortar fell off.

“Damn it!”

Lanie ran her hand over the brick, feeling for damage. One of the bricks was definitely loose. Frowning, she gave it an experimental wiggle.

“Either I hit this harder than I thought, or this brick was already loose,” she muttered. “I think there’s something behind here.”

Carefully she worked the brick out then reached into the hole, pulling out a small leather pouch. Excitedly she opened it and a pendant dropped into her hand. It was gold filigree, set with a large red stone.

“It’s beautiful!” Lanie said breathlessly. It must have been the pendant belonging to Rose Wildman that was mentioned in the article. “No wonder she hid it.”

On impulse, she slipped the chain over her head and went over to the mirror. The stone rested just where her cleavage started. As she stared at it in the mirror it seemed to pulse with light. Raising her gaze, she stared into her eyes and gasped. It was as though someone else was staring back. Lanie did something then that she’d never done before in her life. She fainted.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

Hours later she awoke, groaning as she pushed herself up off the floor. Brushing off her clothes she glanced in the mirror again and smirked.

“You look beautiful, darling, and that pendant was just made for you.”

With a laugh she turned and went into the kitchen, picking up the cell phone to scroll through the contact list for the right number.

“Cass? You were right. There is something strange about this house.”

“I knew it!”

“Do you think…” Lanie gulped. “Do you think you could come over and help me pack? I…I really don’t want to be alone.”

“I’ll be right there,” Cass assured her.

A smile curved Lanie’s lips as she hung up the phone. Only seven bodies were found? Obviously they never thought to check the dirt floor of the basement. She flexed her fingers, a red glint in her eyes as she checked out the knives in the butcher block. Oh, she was going to have fun this evening. It had been too long!

As she waited for Lanie’s friend to arrive she began to hum My Wild Irish Rose.

###


Thanks for reading! Feel free to submit your poems/stories for the week in the comments if you’d like. And check back Monday for new writing prompts!

Eleven Things & Mugged by Jamie DeBree

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a “ten-things-I-hate-about” poem. Ten things you truly hate about someone, or something.

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: A man ordering coffee is jostled by someone as he’s speaking with the barista. Who jostled him, and what does he/she say when confronted?


Eleven Things
by Jamie DeBree

I see you standing there
judging me silently.
What is it this time?
My lack of forced smile,
my bare face,
my disregard for titles and accomplishments?

Maybe it’s my tattoos, but
that seems so cliche.
My non-designer clothes,
my metal-filled ears?
Or just my
general distain for the endless small-talk loop.

I laugh too loud,
or not enough,
snicker at all the
wrong things but
I just take
everything far too serious, too literal, too thoughtful.

I know where I
fall short, why I
don’t fit in, how I
could change.
But I am who I am. Like who I am. Just gotta be me.

**********************

Mugged
by Jamie DeBree

“I asked for no foam.” Charlie tried not to sound as frustrated as he was, but it was late, and so was he, and he really needed caffeine.

Without foam on top.

It wasn’t the young barista’s fault he was having a bad day, but it was her fault that his latte was piled high with foam. A few bubbles, no problem. Half an inch of the stuff? She needed more training.

“I’m sorry, Sir. It says ‘foam’ here on the order sheet. I can make a new one for you if you have time to wait.”

He shook his head and set the cup down. “I’m already late. Why don’t you just pour me a black coffee — whatever you have back there, and refund me the difference. We’ll call that good.”

The girl gnawed at her bottom lip, her eyes going glassy.

Oh no. She was not going to cry on him. Not today. Not now.

“I’m sorry Sir, but I don’t know how to do refunds. Let me get my superviser to do that while I get your coffee.” Before he could say anything, she’d disappeared into a door on the opposite wall.

Mentally making note for the five billionth time to buy a damn coffee pot and make the stuff at home, he picked up the cup, fastened the lid and turned to go.

Right at the same time someone else was passing too close behind him.

Hot, milky-caramel liquid splashed across the front of his shirt and pants. He stared down at himself in disbelief, and then looked up to find a woman around his age with brown eyes and chestnut hair staring back, and apparently trying not to laugh.

“Something funny about spilling coffee all over someone?” he asked.

She shrugged, and gave a slight nod. “Actually, when they’re being as big of an asshole as you, yes. Admit it or not, you deserved that.

Unbelievable. He raised an eyebrow. “So now just ordering coffee the way I want it, and asking for it to be fixed when it isn’t is asshole behavior? Since when?”

“Since foam is not going to kill you and is pretty much just air bubbles. Do you realize how ridiculous it is to request no air bubbles in a drink with steamed milk?”

Charlie sighed. He was so not in the mood for this or any other conversation, and now he had to go home and change clothes before he could actually make it to work.

“It doesn’t have to make sense to you. I just has to make sense to me, and I just don’t see why that’s such a difficult thing, or why that makes me the bad guy.” She started to speak, but he held a hand up just as the door behind the counter opened. He turned to see the young barista, apparently still sans supervisor.

“Oh! There you are, Margaret,” she said, looking directly at the woman who’d spilled coffee on him. “This gentleman needs a partial refund and I’m not sure how to do it. Can you help me?

Margaret shook her head. “Nope. This gentleman will be leaving, and he’s not getting a refund or a replacement. We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason.” She reached toward a shelf of coffee mugs and took one, re-reading the front before holding it out to him.

“There. Now you can’t say I didn’t try to compensate you for this one last mistake. Get out of my shop and don’t come back.” She shoved the mug into his cooling but still wet stomach and walked away.

He looked down at the mug, and very nearly chuckled when he read the saying on the front.

“You’ve been mugged!”

Charlie sighed, took his mug, and walked out the door. On his way home, he called the office and quit his job.

Then he went to the store to buy a coffee pot.

###


Thanks for reading! Feel free to submit your poems/stories for the week in the comments if you’d like. And check back Monday for new writing prompts!

Bookkeeping by Jamie DeBree & Psychic Spider Excerpt by Alex Westhaven

Poetry Prompt of the Week: It’s tax time here in the US, and many of us are parting with money, rearranging money, finagling budgets and generally annoyed with the fact that everything costs money. Write a poem about money. Love it, hate it, balance the two (and the budget while you’re at it?)…whatever comes to mind about currency.

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Two women are sitting at a bar having drinks. Three men are at the other end of the bar, clearly drunk and getting drunker. The women notice something small moving toward them on the bar. It’s a tarantula, but there’s a note attached to the large spider…


Bookkeeping
by Jamie DeBree

What have I done?
Slacked off here, left off there,
shirked responsibility.

Need to fix this,
but there’s so much to do.
Just want to chuck it all.

Promises, every year,
to do better than the last.
Never happens.

Maybe next year.

###

Psychic Spider (excerpt)
by Alex Westhaven

*Author’s note: This feels like it wants to be at least a decent-sized short story, not just a novel. So here’s how it starts. Stay tuned for the rest later this year…

“What is that? There’s something on the bar. It’s coming this way — Hannah, you have to move now! Like, right now!”

Hannah put her glass down on the napkin in front of her and calmly turned to look in the direction Beth was pointing. Sure enough, there was a big tarantula crawling toward them on the bar. And the poor thing looked like it had been given a mission, judging from the small piece of white paper laying on it’s back.

Glancing at Beth, who now stood a good five feet away from her bar stool, Hannah shook her head.

“It’s not going to hurt you — tarantulas are normally pretty gentle. Though it might shoot you with a leg hair if it feels threatened, but there’s really nothing to worry about.”

Beth shook her head and held both hands up, palms out.

“You can go right ahead and be spider-bait if you want. I’m find over here. Watching. I’ll be a witness. Until I run out, anyways.”

Hannah sighed. The spider was nearly in front of her now, and she slowly reached over to pick up the note. Unfolding it, she read the single sentence to herself.

First one to leave dies, second one is the killer.

###


Thanks for reading! Feel free to submit your poems/stories for the week in the comments if you’d like. And check back Monday for new writing prompts!

Spring Fever by Jamie DeBree & Grave Concerns by Carol R. Ward

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about a puppy (or puppies) playing in a field of tulips…without mentioning either puppies or tulips specifically.

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: There’s a grave in the local cemetery so old that the headstone is tilting to one side. Permanently affixed to the top of the headstone is a small brass bell in a brass frame. The headstone reads simply: “Ring my bell. I dare you.” What happens when someone does?


Spring Fever 
by Jamie DeBree

Thick strappy leaves wave merrily
propelled by warm fuzzy bodies
under bright spring sunshine.

Happy tails move this way and that
sending the occasional loose petal
flying free of its cup-like structure.

Red and yellow dominate the field.
A pleasant breeze ruffles ear-fur and
delights busy noses that sniff and seek.

Is there anything happier than soft
wigglebutts and bright fresh blossoms
on a warm spring day?

***********************************

Grave Concerns
by Carol R. Ward

Stumbling drunkenly on her stiletto heels, Candice hurried as fast as she could down the path.

“C’mon Candy, don’t be like that,” a male voice called from behind her. “It didn’t mean anything, I don’t even know the chick’s name.”

Candice didn’t answer, just tightened her grip on the bottle she was carrying and tried to speed up a little more, gulping back the tears.

“You’re going in the wrong direction you know,” the voice continued.

She didn’t care, she just wanted to put as much distance between them as quickly as possible.

“Fine you stupid bitch, have it your way. I was getting tired of you anyway.” His voice faded away behind her.

Though she was pretty sure he wasn’t following, she decided to cut through the old cemetery. It meant leaving the intermittent light from the street lights behind, but there was a full moon tonight. The gate for the cemetery was open – actually it was missing – and Candice picked a direction at random once she was inside.

Graveyards never bothered her, she often went for walks in them. She actually found them interesting. Her steps slowed and she started keeping an eye out for someplace to sit. Too busy looking around to watch where she was stepping, she stumbled on a protruding rock and fell to her knees beside a grave stone that was listing to one side. Moonlight glinted off the small brass bell in a frame that was fixed to the top of it.

“Guess this is as good a place as any.”

She awkwardly sat back on her heels then moved her legs to the side. Leaning back against the grave stone Candice uncorked the bottle she’d snagged when she started looking for Travis at the party. A tear trickled down her cheek.

“Stupid jerk,” she muttered, taking a swig.

***

When Janice told her about her proposed moonlight party, she’d thought it was a cool idea. And she also thought it would be the perfect night to finally let Travis, her boyfriend of one year, pop her cherry. They’d been there about two hours before becoming separated, and in that two hours she’d managed to down several beer. But she still drank almost half a bottle of wine, for courage, before setting out to find Travis.

But when she did find him he had his tongue down the throat of another girl. For a long moment she just stood there, staring in disbelief, her whole world crumbling down around her. Then he grabbed the girl’s ass, pulling her closer.

“You sonofabitch!” Candice shrieked.

The couple broke apart, although the girl kept ahold of Travis’s arm.

“Hey, Candy,” Travis said, looking not the least bit guilty. “Where’d you disappear to? I was looking for you.”

“Where? Down that skank’s throat?”

“Hey, who’re you calling a skank?” the girl asked.

“Don’t be like that babe,” Travis said, shaking the girl off and taking a step towards Candice. “I was just having a little fun.”

At that moment a guy holding a full plastic beer cup passed through. Without stopping to think, Candice grabbed it out of his hand and threw it at Travis.

“How’s that for fun?” she asked, and ran for the front door.

***

She sniffled in the night air. “He was supposed to be the one,” she said, taking another drink. “He was my Travy-bear and I was his Candy cane.”

Tears began to slide down her cheeks. “He was so hot, all the other girls were so jealous. That’s why I was going to let him be my first.”

Candice began to cry in earnest.

After a while her tears slowed, then stopped. She didn’t have a tissue so she swiped at her face with her sleeve. Then she leaned her head back to look up at the stars. The air was a little chilly, but not cold and she had no desire to move.

“What’s wrong with me? Better yet, what’s wrong with him?”

What was wrong was her bottle was empty. “How did that happen?”

With a sigh she tossed the empty bottle aside. “I should probably go home.” If she cut through the cemetery she could probably make it to a bus stop before they stopped running for the night.

This time her sigh turned into a groan as she got to her feet. Everything started to spin. “I guess maybe I shouldn’t have had so much to drink.” She leaned on the grave stone until the spinning stopped. “Hey, thanks for the support, whoever you are.” Leaning down, she looked for a name on the marker.

“Huh, no name but there’s something …” Candice leaned a little closer. “Ring my bell. I dare you.” She giggled. “I’ll bet that sure didn’t mean the same in your day as it does in mine.”

Unable to resist, she flicked at the little bell. Its note sounded louder than it should in the still of the night. Candice was about to leave when the earth started to tremble beneath her. She staggered, clutching at the grave stone for support, and the earth opened up at her feet.

“Thank you, my dear. You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting,” said a deep, baritone voice from the gash in the earth. A dark figure began to rise. “And it does indeed mean the same thing,” it told her gleefully.

Candice’s screams went unheard by the party goers, but they went on for a very long time.


Thanks for reading! Feel free to submit your poems/stories for the week in the comments if you’d like. And check back Monday for new writing prompts!

Ode to Bindweed and A Night With Poe by Jamie DeBree

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Do you love yardwork? Spring-clean up? Not so much? Wax poetic about an afternoon of outdoor spring cleaning…

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: It’s a “dark & stormy” night, and there’s a sound at the door. When the door opens, there’s a large cat on the stoop, soaked to the bone and determined to come inside…


Ode to Bindweed
by Jamie DeBree

Solemn and quiet the brown earth lays,
newly exposed after winter abed,
waiting patiently for nutrients and UV rays,
to warm the dark soil and summon the dead.

Deep underneath, where no light penetrates,
the tiniest microbes wiggle and churn,
tough twisted roots begin to replicate
preparing for their evil master’s return.

The rake turns the soil, pulls back the top
tiny seeds scattered wide, a last ditch hope.
The rake cuts the roots, but they don’t ever stop
indeed they grow into stronger, deeper rope.

Those arrow-shaped leaves, the bell-shaped flowers
would surely be pretty at some other abode.
In this place the sight is one quite sour
akin to licking the back of a toad.

*******************************

A Night With Poe
by Jamie DeBree

Carrie twitched as the sound of thunder rattled the windows and lightening flashed outside the semi-sheer curtains almost immediately after.

“Gotta get blinds,” she mumbled to herself, glancing at her grandparent’s old anniversary clock on the mantle. Nine at night, and the storm had already been brewing for nearly an hour. Surely it would pass by and be over soon.

Another loud boom, another bolt of lightening that she thought might have been at least a smidgen farther behind than the last one.

Then something hit her front door with a solid, unmistakable thump.

Setting the worn copy of Poe and her favorite afghan aside, she rose from the couch and tip-toed toward the door. The front light was on, but she didn’t see any shadows or silhouettes through the window at the top of the door, nor through either of the long windows on either side.

Somewhat relieved, she moved closer. Maybe a tree branch had been knocked down. Using one of the side windows, she peered out into the night, her gaze panning what little of the water-logged world her light illuminated. Seeing nothing out of the ordinary, she looked down, down, down until she found herself face-to-face with the biggest pair of glowing yellow eyes she’d ever seen.

Instinctively she knew the animal on her step was a cat, but it almost looked like an otter with its soaking wet, slicked-back fur. She would have expected a somewhat downtrodden look from an animal in such a predicament, but it actually looked rather angry.

She supposed she’d probably be a bit angry too, if she were locked out in this storm.

A somewhat muted thunder rolled overhead, and the cat came alive, raking its claws down a good chunk of Carrie’s front door and looking at her with a mixture of longing and murderous intent. The thought that the cat might be rabid crossed her mind, but it seemed inhuman not to offer shelter to someone…or thing, who so clearly needed it.

Reaching up, she flicked the deadbolt and pulled the door open. In two seconds flat, the black beast was inside and deep under her couch. Carrie closed and bolted the door, and then went to the living room and stood in front of his much drier hiding place, hands on her hips.

“It seems only polite to offer you a towel,” she said, squatting down for a better look. He blended in with the shadows so well, all she could see were his glowing eyes. “Maybe some food? Something to drink? Do cats really like milk, or is that just a romantic myth?”

And now she was talking to a cat. Shaking her head at herself, she rose and went to the kitchen. Yesterday’s grilled chicken might do, she thought, and she trimmed and cut it into tiny cat-sized pieces. Tossing a big towel over her shoulder, she got a small bowl of water and the chicken, and went back to the living room.

Spreading the towel on the floor, she set the water bowl close to the couch, and then sprinkled chicken right at the edge of the towel.

“There now. That smells pretty good, right? Wouldn’t you like to come out, dry off and put some food in your little belly?”

The cat hissed.

She took that as a ‘no’.

“Okay then. Well, it’s the proverbial dark and stormy night, which is the perfect night to curl up with Poe, and since you are black and somewhat of an oddity, I do believe I’ll call you Poe while you’re here. Any objections?”

The cat hissed again. Tiny curmudgeon.

“Too bad. He’s really a fascinating character in his own right, and he wrote some marvelous stories. Here, I’ll show you. We can read together.”

There was no response from the cat, and she got her book and blanket and curled up on the couch again. Opening the book, she began to read Poe to his namesake. She started with the famous raven, and moved on to the Telltale Heart.

***

Carrie had no idea when she’d fallen asleep, but when she opened her eyes again, sun was streaming in the window and there was a heavy weight laying in the center of her stomach.

Poe had decided to join her at some point, and was curled up in a decent-sized ball on her lap, his fur finally looking more normal and fluffy.

She glanced at the towel on the floor, and noted that the chicken was all gone. The motion must have been just enough to wake the cat, and he paused just long enough to give her a pointedly dirty look and then jumped off the couch.

Rising from the couch, Carrie stretched and then followed the cat down the hall to the front door. He sat in front of it, watching her over his shoulder until she was just two feet away.

Then he reached out with a single paw and swiped it down the door, giving the inside scratch marks to match those undoubtedly gracing the front of the door as well.

“Okay, okay — no need to get all impatient.” She reached over him and unbolted the deadbolt, and then pulled the door open.

With far less urgency than the night before, Poe stalked out into a sunbeam that was so bright it blinded her eyes. If she didn’t know better, she’d think he was on his way to heaven, and walking in like he owned the place.

But at the end of the day, it was just a trick of light, and he was just a cat she’d sheltered in the storm, and slept with, and like so many one-night stands, he was leaving her too.

Typical.

Carrie looked at the claw marks on the outside of the door. Nothing a little wood putty, some paint and some sealer couldn’t fix.

Tires screetched in the street just across the yard and her stomach turned over, her heart pounding a million miles an hour.

“Poe? Poe!” She ran down the sidewalk, sheilding her eyes with one hand and desperately hoping he’d been long gone. A white sedan was stopped in the middle of the road, driver’s door ajar and a very confused, though well-dressed woman standing in the road looking frantically around and under her vehicle.

“What happened?” Carrie asked, her heart slowly recovering when she realized there was no dead cat lying in the road.

“I swear I saw it. A black cat just ran out in front of my car, and then just disappeared. I was so afraid I hit it…”

The sound of metal on metal and glass being broken reached them. It was coming from the intersecton half-a-block up.

The other woman gasped. “That could have been me! It would have, if I hadn’t stopped for that cat…”

Carrie smiled. “It’s a good thing you did, then. Will you be okay now?”

She nodded and got back in her car.  Carrie looked through the window to find Poe sitting in the passenger seat.

“Looks like he’s adopted you. Will you take him home? I don’t know who belongs to, but he spent the night with me.”

The woman nodded, running a hand through the cat’s sleek fur. “I think I have to now. Do you know anything else about him?”

Carrie shook her head. “Unfortunately, no. But his name is Poe.”

She grinned at the cat, and he hissed at her as the woman drove off.


Thanks for reading! Feel free to submit your stories in the comments if you’d like. And check back Monday for new writing prompts!

 

April Fool by Jamie DeBree

Writing Prompt of the Week: Someone has left small, brightly wrapped packages tied up with ribbon on everyone’s desk at the office. Everyone is afraid to open them though, or even touch one for fear that one of them will explode…or worse.


April Fool
by Jamie DeBree

“What do you think it is?”

“Does everyone have one?”

“Someone shake it.”

“No! It might explode!”

Danny sat back in his chair and stared at the tiny package on his desk as the office buzzed around him. As far as he could tell, there was one on every desk — an April Fool’s joke, no doubt.

Unfortunately, what might have been funny thirty years ago had to be seen as a potential threat now, and he was certain the police had already been called.

No wider than a deck of cards and twice again the thickness, the box was wrapped in shiny bright yellow paper with an orange ribbon crossed on top and a bow nearly larger than the package on top.

Chocolate, he’d guess. Maybe a rice crispy treat. The urge to shake it was strong, and he reached out with every intention of doing just that. If it blew up, well, he’d probably never know.

“Danny — stop! Don’t touch that!” Jessica from HR ran to his side, practically gulping air as she pointed to the little gift.

“It could explode — or worse. Didn’t you hear the loudspeaker announcement ten minutes ago?”

Danny shook his head. “Sorry. I must not have been paying attention. But if you’re so worried, why aren’t we evacuating the building?”

She looked at him like he’d lost his mind. “We don’t want to start a panic, of course. I’m sure the police will be here soon. We all just need to stay calm, and not touch these little boxes. Okay?”

Danny held up both hands in surrender. “I won’t touch a thing. Promise.”

Jessica gave him a long stare, and then hurried off, one hand in the air and that shrill voice carrying over all the other busy buzzing.

“No! Don’t touch that!”

Danny shook his head and checked his watch. It was eight forty-five, and the police station was just down the street, what in the world could be taking so long? He stood, stretched, and walked two aisles over to look out the window with a clear view of city hall.

Why were so many people huddled in the parking lot kitty-corner from the building? He thought for a moment, and realized that the last time he saw that many people in a parking lot, city hall had done a firedrill.

Which means they’d been evacuated. He wondered if they’d come in to tiny boxes on their desks too, or if their April Fool’s Day gift was a fire alarm first thing. Same result either way, he supposed. No one was getting any work done this morning.

The loudspeaker crackled, and the verbal hum died down a bit.

“Everyone please return to your workstation and check your email for further instructions. Please be careful not to touch the wrapped box, if there is one on your desk. Thank you.”

Danny wandered back to his workstation, watching as one by one, his co-workers sat down and looked confused, searching their desks for something.

When he sat back down in front of his own computer, he realized why. And then he stood up, looked at the back of the wrapped gift sitting beside his keyboard, and chuckled quietly to himself.

Holding down the control, alt and delete keys, he logged into his computer. There was a button at the top of his keyboard with the symbol of a letter, and he pushed that to bring his email program up. Using the arrow keys, he highlighted the first email from Jessica in HR, and tapped the “Enter” key to open it.

“If you are reading this, please lock your computer and immediately report to HR. You are being tracked.”

Danny locked his screen and stood to find Jessica herself standing right outside his cubicle.

“How did you access that email without a mouse?”

Danny frowned. “How do you know I don’t have a mouse?”

She put her hands on her hips and cocked her head to the side like he was some sort of special.

“No one has a mouse. They’re all missing. Haven’t you talked to other people at all?”

“Didn’t need to. No one’s missing a mouse. They’re all just wrapped up in some stupid April  Fool’s Day prank. Let me show you — ” he reached for the box on his desk again.

“No!” Jessica looked like she was about to pass out, but this time Danny ignored her. He picked up the box, mindful of the cord coming out of the back, and ripped the ribbon and paper off sideways to reveal his mouse, no worse for the wear.

“See? No harm, no foul.” He put it back on the desk and moved it around, watching the arrow move on the screen.

“We’ve been pranked.”

Jessica looked so disappointed that he felt bad for being the one to tell her. Others had been watching, and one by one they started unwrapping their own packages as Jessica trudged down the cubile row.

Danny logged in, put his hand on the mouse, and moved the curser to hover over the internet icon. He always read the news first, and it didn’t seem like today should be different. No need to disturb the normal flow any more than it already had been.

His finger moved on the mouse.

Click click.

Boom.

###


Thanks for reading! Check back on Monday for the next weekly writing prompt.

Beware the Tiny Doors

Writing Prompt of the Week: A little girl goes out in the garden to play one day, and spies a tiny door at the base of a tree. She imagines that a family of fairies live there…or is it just her imagination? And if they do exist, are they as benignly charming as the little girl perceives them to be?


Beware the Tiny Doors
by Alex Westhaven

“I’m sorry honey. You’re two feet and ten inches too tall.”

Five-year-old Paisley Johnson pointed to the tiny door at the base of a tree in the park and looked up at her mom, her lower lip quivering. “But I want to visit the fairies! Make me shorter!”

Her mom chuckled. “I can’t make you shorter. But you really don’t want to visit the fairies. They’re mean, and if you could fit through that little door, they would kidnap you and make you their slave.”

“How do you know, Mama? Have you visited the fairies?”

“No, I haven’t. But everyone knows fairies are mean. Now come on. We have to get home for dinner.”

Paisley looked at the little door one more time. She was sure there had been a face in the middle window just a second ago. Was it a little fairy girl like her? Was the fairy girl scared of the giant outside her door?

“Now, Paisley. It’s time to go.”

With a heavy sigh, she stood up and ran after her mom.

“How does everyone know fairies are mean, Mama?”  She climbed into the car and pulled the seat belt over her lap, making sure it clicked into place.

“Because everyone just knows that, honey. My mom told me, Grandma’s mom told her, and I’m telling you.”

Paisley thought about that on the way home. When Mama pushed the button to let the seatbelt go, she climbed out of the car.

“But how did Grandma’s mom know?” She followed her mom into the house and took off her coat.

“Don’t leave that on the floor. And I don’t know how your great grandma knew. Go wash up for dinner — your dad will be home any minute.”

Paisley went to the bathroom and washed her hands. When she came out, her dad was hanging up his coat and she ran to give him a hug. He scooped her up in his arms and kissed her cheek.

“Hello Princess. Did you do anything fun today?”

“We went to the park, and I saw a tiny fairy door. I want to visit the fairies, but Mama says fairies are mean. Do you think fairies are mean, Daddy?”

He laughed. “I think fairies are probably like people. Some are mean, and some aren’t. But I don’t think you can visit them, Princess. You have to wait for them to visit you. It’s only polite. Now let’s go see what your mom is making for dinner.”

He put her down and they went into the kitchen.

“Daddy says some fairies aren’t mean, Mama. But I can’t visit them, because they have to visit me first. It’s only polite. And we should always be polite, right Mama?”

Her mom smiled and then winked at her dad. “That’s right, honey. I put some plates on the table — why don’t you go put them at everyone’s place and set the silverware out? I’m making macaroni and cheese.”

Paisley giggled when her father kissed Mama on the cheek. She went to the table and set plates and silverware out, wondering if that little fairy girl had to help set the table too.

After dinner, Paisley played in the backyard while Mama did the dishes and Daddy watched TV. She looked at all of their trees for tiny little doors, but she didn’t find any. Why weren’t there any fairies living in her yard? Was it because Mama thought they were all mean? Or maybe the trees weren’t big enough for fairy families.

She wished she knew what would make a fairy want to visit her.

That night after her parents tucked her into bed and turned out the light, she waited until she heard her dad snoring and then went to the window. She picked out the brightest star in the sky, and made a wish.

“I wish the fairy girl from the park would come and visit me. We could have a tea party, and play with dolls, and maybe she could share some fairy dust with me.”

The next morning, Paisley woke up to see a tiny, shiny creature flitting around overhead. Not quite awake yet, she sat up and yawned.

“Are you a fairy?” she asked.

The creature fluttered in front of her face, and Paisley thought it might be saying something, but it just wasn’t loud enough. She shook her head.

“I can’t hear you. But you look like a fairy. Would you like to have a tea party with me?”

She could just barely see the fairy nod her head, and Paisley got out of bed, so excited she could hardly stand it.

“Let’s sit down at my table over here. I can have my mom make us some tea…”

The fairy fluttered in front of Paisley’s eyes so she was able to see a shake of the head. Reaching to her waist, the fairy pulled out a tiny bag and reached a hand in. When she brought her hand out and tipped it sideways, a trail of tiny, glittering particles rained down on the teapot, and steam came out of the spout.

Paisley gasped and put her hands to her cheeks.

“Wow — was that fairy dust?” At the fairy’s nod, Paisley grinned widely. “Can you make me small so I can visit you too? Daddy said I had to be polite and wait for you to visit me first, but you’re here now, so would it be polite to visit you?”

The fairy seemed to think about that for a moment, and then reached into her tiny pouch again. Flying up just a little higher, the fairy dropped the glittery substance on Paisley.

Paisley blinked, and everything around her was suddenly huge. The fairy she’d barely been able to see before was much bigger than she’d imagined now, and when it smiled, she gasped at the sharp, pointed teeth. Two more fairies flew in to join it, and they all smiled at her.

“I told you she would do it,” one of them said to the other. “Peering out the door like that was the perfect touch.”

Paisley’s lower lip started to tremble.

###


Thanks for reading! Check back on Monday for the next weekly writing prompt.