Weekly Prompt Prose: Phone Bump

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Someone is reading a book on their phone while walking on a city street. They bump into someone who is less than sympathetic…at least at first. How does the meeting end?


Phone Bump
by Jamie DeBree

Abby glanced up briefly, her true attention still on the small screen in her hand. She didn’t normally read while she walked, but her lunch hour was so short, and the heroine was just about to meet the guy she’d been texting with on and off for weeks, and Abby was sure they were going to hit it off right away – well, after she forgave him for that whole misunderstanding several chapters ago – and declare their love and it was going to be so…sigh.

Looking up again as she reached the curb right before her block, she forced herself to make sure the light was green and the walk sign was on before she stepped out into traffic, forgoing the story long enough to cross. Safely on the other side, she eagerly looked back down at the screen. She might be able to finish the chapter before she got to her front door.

Someone – her text buddy, she assumed – tapped Maeve on the shoulder and she turned around, her smile falling as she realized just who she’d been communicating with…

And Abby gasped as her left shoulder slammed into a solid wall she was sure hadn’t been there just a second ago. Jarred, she looked up, her mind still half in the book as she clutched the phone hard to keep it from slipping out of her grasp.

“And that’s why you shouldn’t text and walk,” the tall blond suit said, his voice much deeper than she would have expected. “Are you okay?”

She nodded. “I wasn’t texting. I was reading.” She realized how stupid the words sounded the moment they came out, and felt her cheeks warming. “I’m sorry. I don’t normally, but I was just at the spot where…” she stopped again. He didn’t care what she was reading or why, just that she’d plowed right into him on the sidewalk. “Well, I’m sorry. I should have been paying attention. I…are you okay?”

He certainly looked okay to her. Annoyed, of course, but the frown lines looked good accenting his square, Calvin Klein-model jaw. The green eyes glaring at her reminded her a little of fresh leaves unfurling in spring. The tailored charcoal suit set his broad shoulders and strong lines well, and the cream button-down underneath made an unassuming backdrop for the surprisingly artistic abstract black and gray tie that pulled it all together.

“If I looked you up and down like that, I could get arrested for harassment.” He checked his watch, thick and silver. “And I’m late for an appointment in one of these buildings. Do you know which one the Hansen building is?”

Abby tried to ignore her flaming cheeks and nodded again, pointing around one of those big shoulders. “Right behind you – that’s my building, actually. Who are you meeting with?” She put her phone in her purse, stifling a sigh. Finding out if Maeve and Toby would get past their differences and fall into each others arms would have to wait until after work. Dammit. She started walking towards the building and charcoal suit fell in beside her.

“Anderson-Pearson. The law firm,” the man said, reaching out to pull the door open for her. “Which company do you work for?”

“Thank you.” She crossed the threshold and moved toward the elevators. “I’m at Eldrige DocuServ. We do legal document service as well as courier services for most of the firms in the building.” There was an elevator waiting, and she got in. Charcoal Suit followed. She pushed the buttons for three and seven, and watched the doors close.

“I’m Abby Eldrige, by the way.” She held out her hand, and smiled pleasantly. The man took it, and squeezed – a good, firm handshake. Always a good sign.

“Toby McIntyre,” he said. “Nice to meet you, Abby. You own the company then?”

She shrugged as the elevator doors opened on third. Her stop. “I might someday. For now, I’m just working my way up like everyone else.” Stepping out, she put a hand against the door. “Good luck with your meeting, and I’m sorry I bumped into you.”

He raised an eyebrow and gave her a smirk. “I’m not. Have a good afternoon. Maybe I’ll see you around.”
Abby nodded and stepped back, letting the doors close between them.

Toby was also the name of Maeve’s currently estranged love in her book. What an interesting coincidence.

 

Two hours later, she was sitting at the front desk wondering if she could sneak in a few more paragraphs of her book while things were quiet, and of course just when she reached for her phone, the door opened. She looked up and smiled, her cheeks warming again.

“Well hi there. What can I do for you?”

He handed her a thick envelope with a sticky note on top. “Pearson asked me to drop this off on my way out. He said to charge it his account.”

Abby took the envelope and nodded. “We’ll get that delivered for him before five. Anything else?”

He shrugged. Smiled. “Maybe later. You have a good afternoon.” He turned and left, and Abby sighed. Why couldn’t she find someone that good looking and potentially smart for herself?”

Looking down at the envelope, she read the sticky note and grinned.

Text me when you find out how the book ends. His number was scrawled below.

Well then. Maybe she would.


Check back next Sunday for more free flash fiction! And check the writing prompt on Monday’s blog too, in case you might be interested in writing something to submit for this weekly post as well…

Weekly Prose Prompt Stories: Monkey Shines

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Someone figures out how to beat the carnival games and wins a big stuffed monkey. He/she gives it to a stranger – what happens?


Monkey Shines
by  Carol R. Ward

“You can’t keep that,” Irene protested. She stopped in her tracks as they headed away from the game.

“Why not? I won it,” Chad replied, arms holding the giant stuffed monkey drooping a bit, big grin fading. “I won it for you.”

“You cheated.”

“I did not!” he said indignantly. The grin reappeared. “I just figured out a way around it, that’s all.”

“Same thing!”

“Is not!”

It was difficult for two people to stand nose to nose to argue when one of those people was holding a giant stuffed animal, but somehow they managed.

“These games are all rigged anyway,” Chad said.

“That doesn’t make it right.” Irene crossed her arms under her breasts, still refusing to take the monkey.

“C’mon, baby, don’t be like that.” Chad waved the monkey’s arms at her. “Look how lovable I am.”

“Stop that.”

“Look at that little monkey face, how can you say no to that face?”

“Easy.” Irene went nose to nose with the monkey. “No.”

“But he’s so cute! Isn’t he cute?” Chad asked one of the bystanders lingering to watch their antics.

“Adorable,” the woman said with a laugh. She seemed a little over dressed for a carnival, more like a business woman who escaped from the office for a few hours.

“Isn’t he the cutest monkey you’ve ever seen?”

“Absolutely.”

“There, see?” Chad turned back to Irene. “He’s adorable.”

“Not to me he isn’t,” Irene said firmly.

“What is your problem?” The monkey sank a little lower in his arms. “I went to a lot of trouble to win this for you, the least you could do is accept it graciously.”

“Look, I never asked you to win me anything in the first place. And just because you figured out a way to get around the game doesn’t mean you should.”

“But–”

“And I don’t even like monkeys.”

“How can you not like monkeys?”

Irene looked down and scuffed the toe of one shoe in the dirt. “One of my mom’s boyfriends had a monkey. They’re noisy and smelly and they throw their feces around. And the guy was a real creep. Monkeys just bring up a lot of bad memories for me, okay?”

“I didn’t know.” Chad shifted the monkey so he had a free hand to lay on her arm. “I’m sorry. Why don’t I find someone else to give it to?”

“That’d be great,” Irene said with a tentative smile.

Chad glance around and saw that the woman he’d spoken to during their spat hadn’t moved too far away. “Hey,” he called to get her attention.

She turned to see what he wanted.

“Listen, you’d really be doing us a favour if you took this guy off our hands.”

“Why me?”

Chad shrugged. “You like monkeys. And I’d like to see him go to a good home.”

Hesitating a moment, she finally smiled. “Thank you, I accept.” She took the stuffed monkey from him. “I have a nephew who’ll go absolutely bananas over him.”

Chad and Irene both laughed with her. Arm in arm, they watched the woman wind her way through the crowd towards the exit.

“That was nice work,” Irene said. “I didn’t even see you slip it inside.”

“It’s amazing how tiny, yet powerful explosives can be these days,” Chad said.

“What would you have done if she refused to take it?”

“I did my research, I knew about the monkey loving nephew.”

“But still…”

He shrugged. “And if she hadn’t, we would have found some other way to get the bomb into the hotel.”

“C’mon,” Irene said, pulling at his arm. “I want to get a good seat for the fireworks tonight.”

###


Check back next Sunday for more free flash fiction! And check the writing prompt on Monday’s blog too, in case you might be interested in writing something to submit for this weekly post as well…

 

 

 

 

Weekly Prose Prompt Stories: Metamorphosis

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Write about some sort of metamorphosis, what triggered it and whether the outcome was expected or not. 


Metamorphosis
by Jamie DeBree

They’re all staring. This was a really bad idea.

Mary Coulter adjusted the strap of her new leather satchel for the one-hundredth time on her shoulder and kept walking, trying to avoid eye contact. She’d thought she could do this, thought she could make a clean start and leave her past behind, but everyone knew who she was – it was inevitable in a smallish town. Everyone knew what she’d done, even if they didn’t understand the reasons why. Girls like her don’t change, everyone knew that, and they all took great joy in reminding her of it too – even those who’d taken advantage of her “services”.

Her parents had been gone for six months now, and the need for treatment money gone with them. Her dad had decided it was time to check out, and politely took her mom with him. She still wasn’t sure how she felt about that. She’d kept working for awhile, numb and alone. Not sure what else to do, really.

A man had passed through a few weeks back who hadn’t wanted anything from her, but he’d paid her well to listen to his advice.

What he’d said made sense. But now here she was, the center of attention again in a way that she had no idea how to deal with, and she wasn’t so sure this was a good idea after all. Maybe she should have waited longer. Or just laid low for awhile, until people forgot.

Except people never forget.

“New costume for the clients, Mary? I bet that one’s really popular, but you know you’re not supposed to be on campus…”

Daisy Newsome laughed with her two best friends, Bonnie Spinner and Lila Tate as they watched Mary walk by. Lila had been Mary’s best friend in grade school – they’d been inseparable. She’d hooked up with Daisy in middle school when Mary’s mom got sick (her dad had always been drunk) and she’d dropped out to care for her, and that had been that.

Just keep walking. You can do this, just like you did the other thing. You don’t have to be that person anymore.

She kept walking, ignoring the giggles and not-so-quiet whispers. She’d done what she had to to take care of her family, and those girls would never understand it. But she didn’t have to be that person anymore – the kind that swore and hurled insults right back before she ran off to lick her wounds. Her clothes weren’t the only thing that had changed, and eventually, they’d realize it.

Or not.

Marry lifted her head at that thought. It really didn’t matter whether those girls ever came around. Thier lives and opinions hadn’t mattered to her in years, and a new wardrobe and new goals didn’t change that. Her own opinion was the only one that mattered. Even if people did point and stare and…whistle.

It came from her right, but she ignored the urge to look. That’s what they wanted, she knew. They wanted her attention, her fear, her prey-like reaction to either run or freeze while they verbally assaulted her just because they could.

Not today, she thought, a small grin flirting at her lips. Today, she had far more interesting and important things to do than spar with a bunch of idiots. Well, that, and last time she’d responded, the police had almost arrested her for rearranging that one guy’s nose. She never did apologize. It would have been a lie, and she tried never to lie.

She reached the large building, the imposing red brick and brown trim looking almost more judgemental than any human she’d run into so far. Taking a quick, deep breath, she marched up the stairs and through the doors, and then up another flight of stairs past people she thankfully didn’t know or recognize. Encouraged by the lack of attention, she found Room 201 and went inside, pausing only momentarily before choosing an empty seat in the third row.

A few familiar faces stared back at her when she glanced at her new classmates, but no one flinched or sneared, so she figured things were looking up.

Then the professor walked in, and they dropped right back down into the gutter.

“Good morning, class. Professor Heinrich had a family emergency at the last minute, and had to leave, so I’ll be filling in for him until he returns. My name is Theresa May, and this is English Literature 101. Please go around the room and state your name and your favorite book.”

Definitely some familiar names. Client’s kids, some of them.

Former clients.

“Mary Coulter,” she said when it was her turn. She made sure to enunciate clearly, not wanting to leave any confusion, and Professor May looked up from her ledger. Her expression was grimm, tired. “The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe is my favorite story.”

For a moment, Mary thought the professor would say something. Maybe ask her to leave. But the next student said his name, breaking the immediate tension, and the rest of the class went quickly and easily.

It had been a long time since she was in school, and listening to the professor go through the syllabus and test dates and everything they were going to study was overwhelming. But it was just one class, and the start of something better, Mary hoped. More classes, more opportunity. One day at a time.

She was tucking her things back in her notebook at the end of class when the professor approached.

“I was sorry to hear about your parents. That must have been very hard for you.”

Mary nodded. “Thank you.” She never knew quite how to respond to that, since it had probably been more good than bad for all involved. But she supposed in this case, a reciprocal apology was due.

“I’m sorry about your husband.”

Ms. May shrugged. “I was angry at the time, but I realize it would have happened eventually. Good riddance.” She stood there while Mary zipped her bag and stood, slinging it over her shoulder. “I’m glad to see you here. If you need anything at all, even after Professor Heinrich returns, please let me know. I’m happy to help.”

She smiled. Not an obligatory smile, but a real one. Warm. Friendly.

Mary couldn’t remember the last time one of those had been directed at her, and she smiled back.

“Thank you. I really appreciate it.”

She left campus to more catcalls, a few giggles, a few jeers, but none of it touched her. When she got back to the trailer – the only thing her parents had ever actually owned, there was a man waiting on the steps. A regular. He smiled when he saw her. The obligatory “I want something” kind.

She smiled back, pulled out her friend’s card and pressed it into his hand.

“I’m sorry. I don’t do that anymore. Call Amy.”

He nodded.

She watched her old life walk away without a backwards glance, and went into the house.

###


Check back next Sunday for more free flash fiction! And check the writing prompt on Monday’s blog too, in case you might be interested in writing something to submit for this weekly post as well…

Weekly Prose Prompt: Meeting a Dragon

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week:  Someone who’s never seen a dragon before is just seeing one for the first time. What do they see? Feel? Hear? What happens to them after (do they run, stay, escape, get eaten)?


An Unconventional Arrangement
by Carol R. Ward

Princess Noreen was putting away her clean laundry when she heard a thump from outside. She looked in surprise at the large creature perched on the stone rail of her balcony. “What manner of creature might you be?”

“Me?” returned the creature in astonishment. “Why I’m a dragon of course. A fearsome, fire breathing dragon.”

The princess looked him up and down. “Are you sure you’re a dragon?”

“What else would I be?”

“I don’t know, a featherless bird perhaps?” She shrugged. “Or maybe some kind of giant, hairless bat?”

“A bat? A bat?!” The creature nearly lost his perch. “You are a princess, are you not?”

She drew herself up huffily. “Of course I am! I am the youngest daughter of King Manfred the Third.”

“I don’t know,” the dragon said dubiously. “I would think a real princess would know a dragon when she saw one.”

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why should a real princess know a dragon when she sees one? Dragons are only myths after all.” She said this in a matter-of-fact tone of voice as she finished putting her clean clothes away.

“Only myths?” The dragon bristled on the railing. “My dear child, what are they teaching you girls in princess school these days?”

“Oh.” Princess Noreen looked a little crestfallen. “I never went to princess school.”

“Whyever not?”

“King Manfred has an abundance of daughters and a lack of gold. He couldn’t afford to send all of us to school.”

“How very unfortunate,” said the dragon sympathetically. “Well, you’ll just have to take my word for it I suppose. I am a dragon.” He turned his head to one side and belched out a big gout of flame.

Princess Noreen took a step closer to inspect her visitor. It had great, bat-like wings and beautiful golden scales. Its head was long and narrow with a ridged crest. The eyes glowed orange and were filled with intelligence. It smelled faintly of sulphur.

“All right,” she said finally. “Just suppose I do take your word for it that you’re a dragon. Why are you perched on my balcony railing?”

“I’m here to carry you off, of course.”

“Why do you say “of course,” like it should be obvious?” Noreen asked crossly. “And why would you want to carry me off?”

“Well I suppose if you didn’t know I was a dragon then you certainly couldn’t know that’s what dragons do – carry off princesses.”

“You’ll forgive me for saying so, but your wings, large as they are, look barely able to support your weight, let alone the weight of another person.”

“I’m stronger than I look,” the dragon said proudly.

“Well then,” Princess Noreen said. “Let’s get on with it, shall we?”

“I beg your pardon?” The dragon drew back slightly.

“You said you were here to carry me off, let’s get on with it. Shall I climb on your back? I’m sure that would be more comfortable for both of us than you trying to grasp me in your claws.”

“But … aren’t you going to scream or cry or otherwise carry on? Most princesses do, you know.”

“Most princesses aren’t to be wed to King Edward of Ballentyne a few days hence,” said Noreen grimly.

“But…”

“I told you,” she continued, folding a spare dress around several books to make a neat packet. “My father is low on gold. He’s been marrying us off for the dowries we bring. King Edward is fat, old, and has a wart on his nose. I’d much rather be carried off by a dragon.”

“But…”

“I expect you live in some sort of cave?”

“Yes, but…”

Noreen nodded. “Well I’m sure I’ll be able to make do.”

“But that’s not how it works,” the dragon said a little desperately.

“No?”

“No!”

“Well how does it work then,” the princess asked with what she considered a great deal of patience.

“I’m supposed to carry you off and then your father pays me a ransom to get you back.”

“But my father doesn’t have any gold.”

“Exactly. So there’s really no point–”

“Oh no you don’t.” Faster than the dragon expected, Noreen darted forward and grabbed him around one leg.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m not letting you leave without me,” she said with determination. “I may not know much about being a princess, but I know a lot about running a castle. I’m sure I could make your life so much more comfortable – cooking, cleaning, organizing your hoard…”

The dragon thought about it for a minute. “Well my cave could use a little sprucing up,” he admitted.

“Sprucing things up is my specialty!”

“Well, I guess we could give it a try,” he said slowly.

“Excellent.” Noreen beamed at him. “I’ll make sure you never regret it.”

Which is how Princess Noreen, youngest daughter of King Manfred the Third, came to become a dragon’s housekeeper.

And she lived happily ever after.

###


Check back next Sunday for more free flash fiction! And check the writing prompt on Monday’s blog too, in case you might be interested in writing something to submit for this weekly post as well…

 

Of Grasshoppers & Spats in the Park

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about a grasshopper/grasshoppers.

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: 
 A fight breaks out at a picnic in the park. Passing by when it happens are a woman jogging with a stroller, a man with ear buds connected to his cell having a loud discussion with someone, and a teen on a skateboard with an army-style canvas backpack. Which of the passers by breaks up the fight, and how?


Grasshopper
by Carol R. Ward

Grasshopper, grasshopper, creamy green
you’re the prettiest drink I’ve ever seen
a subtle kick, not strong at all
but lots of flavour for a drink so small.

Philip Guichet, he knew your worth
in New Orleans he gave you birth –
a splash of this and a splash of that
shaken with ice in a minute flat.

Use crème de menthe, a quarter ounce
and crème de cacao to give it bounce,
and don’t forget to include the cream
for a drink that tastes just like a dream.

You taste like mint but chocolate too
like a liquid thin mint in a brew.
Grasshopper, grasshopper, creamy green
you’re the prettiest drink I’ve ever seen.

***

Lovely Weather
by Alex Westhaven

Isn’t the weather lovely?
Said the grasshopper to the bee.
It is indeed, replied the bee,
and buzzed off toward his hive.

Isn’t the weather lovely?
Said the grasshopper to the ant.
Can’t stop to chat, replied the ant,
carrying a leaf on his back.

Isn’t the weather lovely?
Said the grasshopper to the fly.
Putrid scents are the best, replied the fly,
and the garbage is perfectly ripe.

Isn’t the weather lovely?
Said the grasshopper to the frog.
Hop along or I’ll eat you, replied the frog.
You’re just the right size for a bite.

Isn’t the weather lovely?
Said the grasshopper to the bird.
In one bold, heartless crunch,
the bird got himself lunch.

Lovely weather, indeed, said the bird.

***

Best Game Ever
by Carol R. Ward

It started out innocently enough. Jeffrey and Alex were friends, best friends as a matter of fact. It was a beautiful summer’s day and they found themselves with some unexpected time on their hands. But what to do with it? They were easily bored and after much consideration they’d come to the park to play ball…

Even those who witnessed the altercation couldn’t say what started it. One minute the park was calm and quiet, the next the two had resorted to name calling and insults at the top of their lungs.

Sandra Covington was jogging by with the stroller and saw them, but she was hesitant to get involved. She knew both Jeffrey and Alex but her time was limited. There was a stirring from the stroller and she shook her head and continued on. Whatever had set the two off she was sure they’d work it out themselves. She had one more mile to go and didn’t want to take the chance on the baby waking up before she was done.

Though cutting through the park was a quicker way to the office, Lawrence Thompson hadn’t expected it to be so … busy. He attached the ear buds to his cell phone and tucked the phone in his pocket, using the blue tooth feature for his conference call. He shot the combatants a glare. This was an important call and he could hardly hear over their noise.

“Hey! Can you keep it down? I’m on a call here,” he yelled at them.

They didn’t even so much as spare him a glance. Whatever they were arguing over threatened to become an epic battle. Lawrence raised the volume on his phone and turned away. The nerve of some people. Just because this was a public park didn’t mean he should have to put up with this crap.

Teenaged Kevin Masters thought the crowds were great as he wove back and forth around the people. He narrowly missed Sandra with her stroller, but was forced off the path by Lawrence, who was taking his half of the walkway out of the middle. He landed in an ungraceful heap near some long grass, all scrawny elbows and knees.

“The path is for everyone you know!” he yelled after Lawrence, who was practically yelling into his phone, gesturing with both hands. Lawrence was too focused on his call to pay any attention to one skinny teenager.

“You rich old farts think you own the world,” Kevin said, voice raised so the businessman could hear him. “You’re lucky I don’t sue for reckless endangerment or something.” Okay, so maybe he didn’t know the first thing about suing someone, but it sounded good anyway.

Shaking his head, Kevin picked himself up and dusted his hands over his low slung pants. Picking up his ball cap he smacked it on his thigh a couple of times and put it back on his head, bill turned firmly backwards.

As he picked up his skateboard he noticed a flash of red in the long grass. It was a ball.

“Hey little dudes,” he called over to Jeffrey and Alex. “Did one of you drop your ball?”

“It’s mine!” Alex yelled first.

“Is not, it’s mine!” Jeffrey insisted.

As Kevin stood there watching, the two six-year-olds fell to arguing again, the assertions of “mine” flying back and forth like a ping pong ball. The truth of the matter was it belonged to neither of them. They’d found it when they were at the park three weeks ago and had been taking turns taking it home.

He watched them for a few minutes but what started out as kind of funny turned boring after a few minutes. With a shrug Kevin tossed the ball in their general direction. It landed several feet away, in plain sight, but the two didn’t pause in their arguing. Setting his skate board on the pavement again, he pushed off with his foot and was on his way again, weaving in and out through the passersby.

The prize lay forgotten on the ground as Jeffrey and Alex fell to pushing each other back and forth, which then led to wrestling. As they were thus occupied, a stray dog happened by.

He was a nondescript brown with the gangliness of a very young dog. He sniffed at the bright red ball and his tail began to wag. He showed his sophistication by executing a perfect downward dog pose, then his exuberance by barking at it. As quick as lightning his head shot forward and he snatched it up in his jaws, flinging it upwards then scampering after it with a joyful bark.

The boys stopped their wrestling and stared in disbelief.

“Hey!” one of them called out. “That’s ours!”

They raced towards their ball and the dog barked again, snatching it out of the grass and leaping away, tail waving madly. Yelling and laughing the boys gave chase as the dog bounded away.

This was the best game ever.

###


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!

“First Kiss” and “Skills” by Jamie DeBree

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Write about a fictional first job interview.

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about a (yours, or someone else’s) first kiss.


First Kiss
by Jamie DeBree

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
Smooth, slimy skin mashing my lips,
like a snail spreading awkward wetness.

His energy and eagerness overpower
my need for slow, gentle seduction.
Too much, too fast, too hard, just…

Stop.

Maybe we’ll try this again later,
when the newness wears off and
I’ve caught my breath again. Dried off.

###

Skills
by Jamie DeBree

“I must admit, while your resume is very impressive, we’re a little confused about the lack of previous job history included. Can you tell us a little about where you’ve worked before, and what kind of experience you have?”

You knew this was coming, Tracy silently coached herself while forcing a smile at the man across the table. Keep it vague, but relevant. All he needs to know is that you can do the job he needs you to do. That’s it.

“I’ve been employed privately by someone who wishes to remain anonymous for most of my life,” she began, pleased that the words sounded far smoother than she felt. “I’ve been performing fuctions that included the same type of tasks you’re looking for. I’m excellent at keeping a calendar, scheduling meetings, and organizing files, and I’m also very good at research and creating documents when needed. I’ve also successfully planned several large-scale events that went off without any problems whatsoever, and I can arrange and organized trips if needed.”

Mr. Englebrecht sat back in his chair, a confused look on his face.

“You’ve only had the one employer then? How many years were you in his or her employ?

Tracy considered that for a moment. “I’d say probably thirty-two years or so. Ever sincel I turned twelve.”

Mr. Englebrecht tapped a pen on the dark, cherry surface of his desk.

“There are laws against chid labor in this country. I’m surprised your anonymous boss was able to get away with that.”

“And much more.” Tracy nodded, wishimg they could end this line of questioning. “I’m sorry I can’t give you details, but I promise I’m good at everything you need me to be, and possibly more. I won’t let you down, Sir.”

“Well, this is highly unusual. Normally we would never even consider an application like this, but I’m inclined to believe you, and we’re desperate to fill this position. Do you think that in lieu of your job history you’d be willing to give us a day’s worth of work, and then we’ll make a decision.”

Tracy nodded. “Of course. Just tell me when, and where. I won’t let you down.”

He smiled. “No time like the present, unless you have something else to do today.” When she shook her head, he went on.  “I’ll have you work in the business office with Stephanie Thomas today. My secretary is just outside the door, and he’ll show you how to get there.”

Tracy worked hard all day, smoothly following her assigned mentor and grateful that she could. At the end, she found herself back in Mr. Englebrecht’s office.

“You really must tell me who trained you,” he said, looking over a form she’d created. “Your work is exquisite. You’re hired, of course. Can you start tomorrow?”

Tracy nodded. “Thank you, Sir. I promise you won’t regret it.”

“And the person who trained you to do all of this? A hint, even?”

“I’m sorry, Sir, but it really doesn’t matter anymore. He’s dead.”

###


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!

Falling by Jamie DeBree & Rare Books by Carol R. Ward

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about falling off a cliff.

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Write about something that really happened to you in the style of a fiction novel. Give it a cliffhanger ending.


Falling 
by Jamie DeBree

It’s always a little bit scary
at first.
A glance, a look, a flush of
blushing awareness.

The danger still out of sight
lies quietly,
at the foot of a hidden cliff and
gravity waits.

Stomach butterflies flit happily,
a touch
on tender skin brings joy, anticipation,
and longing.

A warm smile, a tender hug, a
slow kiss,
a step off the ledge and sometimes it’s absolute
weightless bliss.

Sometimes gravity wins.

######################

Rare Books
by Carol R. Ward

“Please, Mrs. Andrews,” Elise begged. “I’ll be ever so careful.”

Mrs. Andrews heaved a long suffering sigh. Elise was a familiar face around the library, a precocious child with a sophisticated taste in reading. “All right, but you must promise you won’t touch anything.”

“I promise, Mrs. Andrews! I promise!” Excitement danced in the twelve-year-old girl’s eyes. To finally be allowed in the rare book room was a dream come true.

Elise had known it would only be a matter of time before she wore Mrs. Andrews down. She was used to getting her own way after all. Shortly after Elise was born her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Everyone felt sorry for the poor little girl who was destined to lose her mother and she had grown up rather spoiled..

She had been in blissful ignorance of the dark cloud hanging over her mother. Cancer treatments were scheduled to coincide with visits to relatives, aunts and uncles who were more than happy to have poor little Elise to themselves for a week or two.

Despite having twin brothers seven years older than her and a sister ten years older, she was a solitary child, happier in her own company than anyone else’s. Her older sister went through a phase where she wanted to be a teacher and taught Elise how to read before she even started kindergarten. Books opened up whole new worlds to Elise, they became her best friends.

Elise’s mother had no time or energy to worry about her youngest child and let her do as she would. If she wanted to read the set of dusty, old, encyclopaedias instead of playing tag out in the streets, so be it. At least she was staying out of trouble, unlike her older brothers. When Elise began to nag her for new books to read, she introduced her to the library, and Mrs. Andrews.

“You can do anything, with the right book,” Mrs. Andrews told her. “Solve any problem. Reading is without a doubt the most valuable skill a person can possess.”

Elise was a girl after her own heart. She blazed through the children’s section by the time she was eight and was working her way through the non-fiction section of the adult area. If her choices were somewhat unusual, eclectic even, it just made her all the more interesting.

Of course Mrs. Andrews had no idea of Elise’s home life, the boisterous siblings, the sick mother, the father who coped with everything by putting in extra hours at work. So when Elise began to work her way through the biology and medical sections, she had no idea it was brought about by the fact the girl’s parents had finally sat her down and told her about her mother’s cancer.

Whatever Elise had been looking for in those books, she didn’t find it and it was then that she began questioning Mrs. Andrews about the rare book room.

“I don’t think there’s much to interest you in there, dear,” Mrs. Andrews told her, not unkindly. “Most of the books are so old they’re ready to crumble and are kept behind glass.”

“But what kinds of books are in there?”

“Old journals and texts, books about witches and demons, illuminated texts … just last year we received a donation of paranormal texts – all first editions – from a private library.”

If Mrs. Andrews thought she’d discourage Elise by such a revelation, she was sadly mistaken. This was the exact kind of book Elise was looking for. She kept her hands clasped behind her back as she followed Mrs. Andrews through the room. The musty smell of old books was more pronounced in her, despite its sophisticated climate control. She admired the Gutenberg Bible on its stand, and nodded along as Mrs. Andrews explained how one page was turned carefully each day to keep the dust from settling on it.

Under Mrs. Andrew’s watchful eye, Elise was allowed in the rare book room once a week after that, on Saturday mornings. She kept a respectful distance from the books, looking but not touching. Looking, had Mrs. Andrews only known, for a specific book.

Her mother was running out of time. Modern medicine was ineffective and Elise had faith that there was another way – magic. Not the airy fairy magic in children’s tales, but real, grown up magic. The kind of magic locked away in the rare books room of the library.

Six months after she was allowed inside, Elise found the text she was looking for. Not by word or gesture did she show the excitement she was feeling. But this was the easy part, finding it. Now came the hard part.

As though in answer to her prayers, a young man, probably a college student, appeared at the circulation desk with a stack of books. Alice, the under librarian, had called in sick today leaving Mrs. Andrews on her own.

Elise and Mrs. Andrews had only been in the rare books room a few minutes. The librarian hesitated a moment, then, “I think I can trust you here on your own,” Mrs. Andrews said. “Make sure you pull the door shut again when you leave.”

Nodding dumbly, Elise could hardly believe her luck. Keeping one eye on Mrs. Andrews, she circled slowly through the room until she was back in front of the coveted book. Without stopping to think, Elise snatched the volume from the shelf, stashing it in her book bag, then spread the other books so there was no gap in the shelf.

She stood there for a moment, breathing heavily, astonished at her own audacity. Taking a deep breath, she left the rare books room, making sure the door was shut firmly, and waved to Mrs. Andrews who was still dealing with the young man.

When Elise went home she went straight to her room. The book was hand written, the letters small and messy. It took her a while to find what she was looking for, but after a couple of hours she had a short list of things she needed to gather.

That evening, after the house was quiet, Elise rose from her bed and went up to the attic where she had everything ready. You could solve any problem with the right book. Maybe even cure cancer. Having nothing to lose, she turned the page.


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!

“Pouty the Walrus” and “Table for Two” by Carol R. Ward

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about a favorite childhood toy, and how you enjoyed playing with it.

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Someone walks into a coffee shop/bar/tea shop/ice cream parlor and all the tables have at least one person sitting at them. Pick a person for your to sit and have a drink or snack with. What can you learn about a stranger in just 20-30 minutes?


Pouty the Walrus
by Carol R. Ward

You had a hard plastic face
with a hard plastic tear
and a black and white body
with a peanut butter smear.
I carried you with me
no mean trick to do
‘cause you were almost big as me
and I was only two.
I don’t know where you came from
or where you went in the end
but you were Pouty the Walrus
my very bestest friend.

*****

Table for Two
by Carol R. Ward

Jonathan stood just inside the door of the small cafe scanning the room for a table. Though the cafe’s menu wasn’t large, the food was delicious and he was in the mood for one of their signature soups. Unfortunately, it looked like every table was occupied. He started towards one of the tables for four that had only an elderly gentleman sitting there, but then the man coughed wetly into a handkerchief, stopping Jonathan in his tracks.

Looking around, he saw that the other table for four was also occupied, this time by a pair of middle-aged women who were arguing loudly, hands flying for emphasis. The tables for two seemed to be filled with couples.

He’d almost resigned himself to getting his soup to go when he spotted her, a young woman sitting alone at his favorite table, the small round one flanked by two wing-backed chairs. She was paying more attention to the book she was reading than the sandwich on her plate. Then he noticed the cover of the book and he couldn’t hold back his grin. It was fate.

Quickly he ordered his soup, along with a coffee and a couple of tea biscuits. Carrying his coffee, he went over to the table and hesitated, suddenly reluctant to disturb her. Then he heard his mother’s voice in his head. “You’re going to be alone for the rest of your life if you don’t start taking a chance once in awhile.”

Jonathan cleared his throat. “Excuse me, I’m sorry to bother you but all the seats except this one appear to be taken. Would you mind terribly if I joined you?”

“Sit,” the woman said, not looking up from her book. “No talking – just one more chapter.”

Shooting her a smile she never saw, Jonathan made himself comfortable the blue wingchair.

The woman made a noise of frustration, her brow furrowed, and turned the page. If she was on the last chapter then Jonathan knew the scene she was reading and couldn’t help wondering what she thought. Another page turned – she was a fast reader.

Jonathan drank his coffee but didn’t speak. He knew there was nothing worse than someone trying to make conversation when you were just at the good part of a book. A moment later his soup was delivered and he quietly started in on it.

“No!” she exclaimed. “He can’t do that!”

Oh, but he can, Jonathan thought. And he does. But he’ll redeem himself in the next book in the series.

He found himself fascinated by her. She had a very expressive face, framed beautifully by her short dark hair. He judged her to be only a year or two younger than his own thirty years. A quick glance at her ring finger told him she wasn’t married, unless she didn’t wear her wedding ring.

“Argh!” She slammed the book shut and then onto the table, causing his soup to shudder in the bowl.

“Sorry,” she said sheepishly.

“Don’t worry about it,” he said with what he hoped was an engaging smile. “I’ve been known to get caught up in a book a time or two myself.”

“It was just so frustrating! Just when I thought I had it all worked out, there was this twist I never saw coming.” She huffed a sigh and picked up her sandwich to take a bite.

“Isn’t that what a mystery is supposed to do?”

“Well, yes. But there’s this romantic thread in there too and the main character … I can’t believe he could be such a jerk! Or maybe it’s J.D. Parker who’s the jerk – he’s the one who wrote it.”

Jonathan wasn’t sure how to respond to that, or even if he should.

“Even if he is my favorite author,” she added. She kept her focus on her sandwich, as though embarrassed. “You must think I’m crazy, getting so emotionally invested in a book like this.”

“On the contrary,” Jonathan said. “I think the best books are the ones that provoke a strong response. I’m Jonathan, by the way.”

“I’m Emma.” She glanced up and quickly away. He found her shyness cute.

She took a sip from her own coffee cup and grimaced. “Cold.”

“Let me buy you a fresh one.”

“Oh, that’s really not necessary,” Emma protested.

“No, but I’d like to just the same. I could use another one too.” Jonathan signaled to Edward, the owner of the cafe and then motioned towards their cups. Edward nodded in understanding.

Emma finished her sandwich while they waited for their coffee. “What do you do for a living?” she asked.

He could tell she was just being polite, but he answered honestly. “I’m a writer.”

She opened her mouth, probably to ask what kind of writer, then squinted at him and paled. “You-you-you’re–“

“I’m afraid so.”

“I am so sorry!” she sputtered, face going red. “I am really sorry.”

She made as if to leave and he put his hand on her arm. “No, don’t go. You have nothing to be sorry for.”

“Really?” she asked dubiously, still poised to flee.

“Really. The truth is, I knew fans would be upset when I wrote that ending, but it was the only way to make it work for the next book.”

Emma slid back into her seat. “Please tell me Derek and Jen work things out in the next book.”

Jonathan grinned. “And spoil the surprise? Not a chance.”

She smiled back, a little shyly. “Do you think…” Emma took a deep breath. “Could I have your autograph?”

His smile was as sincere as it was blinding. “It would be my pleasure.”

He signed her book with a flourish, but held onto it when she reached to take it back. Screwing up his courage he added, “But it would be my even greater pleasure if you’d have dinner with me.”

Emma’s smile widened. “How could I say no to my favorite author?”


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!