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!

“Fireworks”, “Boom, Fizzle, Pop”, & “The Decision”

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about fireworks or firecrackers.

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week:  ‘Tis the season for fireworks! A couple is sitting outside on a blanket, watching fireworks go off. They’re making a major decision – what is it?


Boom, Fizzle, Pop 
by Jamie DeBree

Hiss, crackle, fizzle & pop,
all so much noise.
When will it stop?

Bang, boom, sizzle & smoke,
so close and so loud.
The dead are all woke.

Red, blue, pink, white & green,
light up the sky
like some magic machine.

Explosions so bright to celebrate war,
nothing like the bombs
used centuries before.

Ohs and ahs mask screams of pain,
bright pretty patterns
mask reality again.

Don’t whine, please don’t cry,
let us have our
war-themed fun.

Hide from the crackle, bang-boom & pop,
come out when the show
finally fizzles to a stop.

###

Fireworks
by Carol R. Ward

Twinkle, twinkle little star…
That’s not really what you are
You burst into a vibrant light
Stark against the blackest night
Like the lightning in the sky
Followed by the thunder’s cry.
With colours of a rainbow hue
Each time the starburst is brand new.
You thrill the crowds with oohs, and ahhs,
Shooting sparks without a pause.
But all too soon the show must end
Just wisps of smoke left to descend.

###

The Decision
 by Jamie DeBree

Bright colors exploded over the lake in a bouquet of stars that slowly melted back to earth, and Dani couldn’t help but wonder if it would be the last time she’d ever see fireworks.

“It’s really dangerous,” she said, as another pop filled the air with a thousand shimmering white lights. “There’s a good chance I’d end up completely blind, or worse.”

Aaron reached out to stroke her arm, his skin hot against hers. She was always cold these days, it seemed. Colder than she’d been before the diagnosis, though the doctors brushed it off as anxiety.

“I don’t know what the right answer is,” he said, moving closer on the blanket. His arm slid around her shoulders and pulled her close, surrounding her with his heat. “If you don’t go through with it, you’ll be blind within a few weeks anyway. It’s the ‘or worse’ I’m worried about.”

The water lapped along the shore, illuminated by another burst of brilliant colors in the sky. Why her? Why now? What had she ever done so wrong to deserve this?

“How are the headaches?” he asked, when she dropped her head to his broad shoulder. “Have they gotten any worse?”

“A little better, actually,” she lied. The pain was almost constant now, but he didn’t need to know that. He saw enough of her struggle, carried enough of the burden. She wasn’t sure what she’d do without him.

“It would take twelve hours. We’d know two days after.” She wasn’t telling him anything he didn’t already know, but she needed to hear it aloud again, for herself. “But I have to decide this week, or it will be too late.”

He nodded, hugging her tight. Stroking her arm. twitching slightly at a louder boom as the grand finale began. Fitting, she thought. Without the surgery, she had six months, max. Most of that she’d be blind. Not even enough time to learn braille.

“Would you pull the plug, if it all went wrong?” She turned her head, looked up at the face she held so dear. “Would you make sure I don’t suffer if it doesn’t work?”

He sighed, didn’t answer right away, which was comforting. It shouldn’t be an easy decision, should it?
“I would,” he acquiesced. “If that’s what you wanted me to do.”

She nodded. The sky was quiet now. The lake still lapped at the shore, bugs still buzzed, the wind still rattled through the trees. Life moving on, just as it would whether she was here or not. Just as it always did, always would.

“I can’t just sit back and accept it. I have to fight. I have to try. Even if it costs me everything.”
Aaron touched his lips to hers, gently once, then twice. Smiled.

“Good. I love you. We’ll schedule it tomorrow.”

###


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!

“Roses”, “Planting Trees”, and “The Great Debate”

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week:  It’s the time of year when gardens everywhere are just begging to hear people’s private thoughts. Write about a character sharing his or her inner monologue with the flowers…and whether or not the garden (or a garden eavesdropper) replies…

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Roses are blooming everywhere, and are always a popular theme/subject in poetry. Write a poem about roses – love them, hate them, or use them as a metaphor.


Roses
by Carol R. Ward

Traditional symbol of love
or is that just what Hallmark
would have you believe?
They may be in cahoots
with the florists –
can’t have a rose
without a gift card.
So many colours,
so many names –
Soft velvet touch at odds
with the sharp, piercing thorns.
Much sought after fragrance
that I find too cloying –
what does that mean, anyway?
Cloying – a sweet excess
of scent and sentiment.
A rose by any other name…
still smells pungent to me.
Genus Rosa in the family of Rosaceae
Latin for pretty flower/nauseating odor.
As you may have already guessed
roses are not my favourite flower.

###

The Great Debate
by Jamie DeBree

“I don’t know if I can do this.”

The pale pink rose blooms nodded in the breeze, as if they were sympathetic to her plight. She reached down to rub a velvety petal between her fingers, releasing a bit of fragrance into the cool morning air.

“I mean, how can I? It’s such a big risk. I could end up stranded and alone. I might get lost. What if I can’t find my way back? What if I never see my family again?”

Tall sprigs of lavendar rustled as she strolled by, tiny purple blooms dancing with the fabric of her skirt. All new adventures come with risk, they seemed to say. How can you not take the chance? How can you not find out for sure? 

“I’m not really the adventurous type,” she replied to no one in particular. “I have a lovely life, a beautiful home, and parents who love me. I have this wonderful garden to enjoy. What if I never see it again?”

Tiny coral bells swayed near the base of a mightly oak tree. What if this is your destiny? Who knows what wonderous things might be waiting for you, if only you’re brave enough to seek them out? This isn’t the first chance you’ve gotten, but who knows when it will be the last? 

“Perhaps I shall only dream about it,” she mused. “Perhaps I shall write stories about what might have been, had I gone. I could imagine what it’s like without taking the risk of actually going.”

The daisies seemed to bow their white and yellow heads at that. Imagination is a very fine thing, they whispered. But it is no substitute for experience. Go, child. Find out what lays beyond, and then write about it. 

The oak leaves rattled in the breeze like a bell tolling the hour. The large knot near the base started to churn and enlarge to just the perfect size. The white rabbit appeared as he did every week, pulling his pocket watch out to check the time, wriggle his nose and motion for her to follow before darting back into the hole.

This time she did.

###

Planting Trees
by Carol R. Ward

“That one, I think,” Millicent decided, pointing out the flowering pear tree. “And the planting is included in the price?”

“Yes ma’am,” the nice young man in the green jumpsuit told her. He checked the sheet on his clip board. “We can send someone out today to dig the hole, and your tree can be delivered … let me see…” he flipped the page. “I’m sorry, but it’ll be Wednesday before we can get the tree delivered.”

“Wednesday would be fine,” Millicent said with a smile.

“Great,” the main said. “I’ll make sure you’re at the top of the list so you’re the first delivery of the day.”

“Thank you, that would be perfect.” Actually, that would be more than perfect. It would give her time to get things prepared.

Late Tuesday night, or more precisely, early Wednesday morning, there was movement in Millicent’s back yard near where the hole to her new tree had been placed. Had there been anyone around to hear, they would have heard the sound of a shovel. Had there been anyone around to see, they would have seen a shadowy figure emptying several bags into the hole and covering whatever it was with loose soil so that the hole looked undisturbed.

Wednesday dawned bright and sunny.

“It looks beautiful, doesn’t it?” Millicent said to the men from the nursery, motioning to the newly planted tree.

“Yes ma’am,” one of the sweaty men agreed. He held out a clip board to her. “If you’d sign here please…”

* * * * * * *

The tree was planted in the fall and the following spring Millicent had a small, circular garden placed around it. “You know,” she said as she dug another small hole, “Pansies are one of my favorite flowers.”

What’s happening? Where am I?

She looked up at the tree. “Did you know another name for a pansy is heart’s ease? Fitting for a grieving widow, don’t you think?”

Widow? No…I remember. You killed me!

“It was so fortuitous that the river near the cabin flooded the same weekend we were booked to be there.”

We were supposed to spend the weekend together to see if we could work things out.

“It saved me the trouble of having to come up with a reason for you to be out on the water by yourself.” Cocking her head to the side she surveyed her work. “A yellow one next I think.”

How could you do this to me?

“Most fortuitous, the cabin washing away like that. Such a logical reason for why there was no body.” Millicent dug another hole. “It’s not as though I could have produced your actual body now, was it? I mean there would have been an investigation with those forensics. Why they might have discovered I had something to do with your death.”

You had everything to do with it you monster! You whacked me over the head with a cast iron skillet!

“It’s really your own fault you know,” she said, looking up at the tree again. “If only you hadn’t made such a fuss over Brian, we could have been together for years.”

You were cheating on me, you gold-digging tramp!

“How could you not have realized what a bore in bed you were?” She shook her head and planted another pansy. “A woman like me needs a little passion in life, and if you weren’t up for it who could blame me for looking elsewhere?”

I could! I could blame you!

“But then you had to go and spoil it all by having that detective take pictures. You made me so mad in the kitchen, threatening to divorce me – I just grabbed up the frying pan without even thinking twice.”

No, you just kept whacking until my head was a bloody pulp.

“I guess we both just overreacted. It’s not as if Brian was the first you know. Just like you weren’t my first husband.”

Not your first…No, I didn’t know!

“I guess I’m just unlucky in love,” she said, sitting back on her heels to survey her work. She glanced around the back yard, at the tulip poplar, the sycamore, and the red maple trees, all with their circular gardens.

Just how many others were there?

“You were my favorite, Larry,” she said, climbing to her feet. “Really,” she laid a palm on the trunk of the tree. “So delightfully naive.”

Not as naive as you, my dear. Especially when it comes to trees. This species of pear tree has a poor branch structure prone to breaking apart. All I have to do is wait until my tree matures – accidents happen all the time, accidents like getting killed by a falling tree branch.

###


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!

“Ivy” and “Kudzu” by Carol R. Ward, “Innocent Evil” by Jamie DeBree

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Write about an incident that ends up being the backstory for another incident in the character’s current timeline.

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about a vine, doing its vine-y thing…

Our prose prompt was a bit too obscure it seems, but we have two poems and a story that work with the poetry prompt, so all is not lost! Enjoy!


Ivy 
by Carol R. Ward

Twisting, turning, growing fast
up the trellis next to the glass
of the kitchen’s south window –
so big you need replanting now.

Of all the plants who’ve graced that spot
you’re the best one that I’ve bought
you love the sun, need little care
sometimes I almost forget you’re there.

You forgive me if I forget to water –
I don’t do it as often as I oughter
yet you thrive, I must be blest.
English ivy you’re the best!

###

Innocent Evil
by Jamie DeBree

How innocent you look,
all pale yellow flowers
and plain oblong leaves.
Even your particular green
is unremarkable.

Such an evil tease,
enticing innocents to feed
on your boring, poisonous leaves,
and maim themselves on your
tack-like seeds.

So defensive, little vine.
Why do you attack so mercilessly?
What did my dog’s paws, bike
tires, a lowly sheep,
ever do to you?

###

Kudzu
by Carol R. Ward

It’s not so bad, being buried alive. You don’t even realize that’s what has happened at first, where you are. There’s no up, nor down, no sense of ‘self’. There’s nothing to see, no vibration of sound…just cool moist darkness all around you.

Awareness comes slowly. Gradually you become conscious of the earth pressing in around you. Or more precisely it is you that is expanding, swelling, trying to stretch outwards. There’s an undeniable urge to move. Through instinct a sense of direction is formed. Up. Push up. That way is up. Expand upwards while at the same time creating an anchor that pushes downwards.

It’s not easy in the beginning, moving through the mixture of rock and sand and clay, and the organic matter mixed with water and air. But these things feed you, give you the strength to continue on. You must continue on, no matter what.

As you near the surface you become aware of a new sensation – heat. You feel the warmth of the sun even before you break through the outer layer, and when you do – oh, when you do the feeling is like nothing you could have ever imagined. It’s…rapturous.

You rest for a time, basking in the heat of the sun, absorbing its energy. But it’s not enough. You need more. You must have more. Straining upwards, your leaves unfurl like solar collectors which is, in part, what they are. As you elongate, spreading above the earth, you also spread below, roots feathering outwards to better inhale the moisture and nutrients from the soil.

Dimly you’re aware you are not alone, there are others. Some, like you, are just making their way out of the soil. Others are well established. You do not care that they are called ‘trees’ or ‘fences’ or ‘rocks’, you care only that they can be used as a stepping stone towards the sun and you cover them indiscriminately. You choke and strangle your neighbors, you smother the inanimate objects. You have one purpose now, to reach the sun.

Even during the times of cold darkness, when the pale light of the moon and stars are inadequate to your needs, you strive towards your goal. The energy you gathered during the day is able to sustain your efforts – just barely.

It is, perhaps, an impossible goal, to reach the sun, but you’re helpless to do anything else. This is your purpose – to grow, to expand, to let nothing prevent you from your quest. You cover everything in your path, creating first a blanket then a wall of green, wrapping around the sharp wire of fences, curling up posts and poles and trees, trailing over rocks and walls. Seeking ever upwards.

There are those that call you noxious, nothing more than an intrusive weed. You don’t care. There are those that try to stop you – pulling you up, setting fire to you, spraying with chemicals – but you are nothing if not tenacious.

You’re a true survivor and you will be here forever.


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!

Release Day Interview: Snow White and the Seventeen Dwarfs by Ford Forkum

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Snow White

Happy Flag Day and Release Day to our resident satirist, Ford Forkum! To celebrate his new book, we’re interviewing Ford here on the blog today.

Well Ford, it looks like you’ve done it again! Another fairy tale falls under your pen, so to speak, and we’re left with a few questions for our favorite satirist:

First off, what kind of relationship do you have with your mirror? Does it tell you how stunningly handsome (or pretty – if you’d prefer) you are every day?

To put it bluntly, my mirror’s a jerk. No matter how much I try to convince it that I’m not getting older, it refuses to believe me. I don’t know why it insists on showing me stuff about myself I’d rather not see. One of these days, I’m going to get a hand-held mirror and hold it up to my bathroom mirror and say, “There! How do you like it?”

The satirical aspect of my writing is to “hold a mirror up to society,” and since my mirror obviously has no interest in sparing my feelings, I feel it’s only fitting to hold a mirror up to my mirror. Sauce for the gander and whatnot.

Do you like apples? When is the last time you ate one?

Fuji apples are my favorite. They’re the perfect apple; sweet, crunchy, and juicy with just the right level of tartness to yield a zip. I haven’t eaten any in a while, though.

If you happened to come across a beautiful woman lying in a glass casket and guarded by one or more dwarfs, what’s the first thing you’d think and do?

I’d probably look for signs that might indicate I’d wandered into some kind of fairground. If it turned out to be the case, I’d check out the scene, but if there was nothing else around, I would become very anxious and unable to decide whether to ask the dwarfs a ton of questions or just panic and run away.

Is there now, or has there ever been, a body behind your couch (living or dead)?

No, but that’s not to say there never will be. I’m not, you know, planning on it or anything. I’m just saying you never know. It can’t say it’s entirely out of the realm of possibility because I don’t own a crystal ball or anything that could help me predict the future. I mean, how do I really, truly know? I don’t. So it would be presumptuous of me to say to the readers, “Oh, there’s no way there would ever be a body behind my couch. That would never happen.” But I will say it’s unlikely, that is, given an ordinary set of circumstances.

Have you ever been so jealous of someone that you wanted to have their heart cut out? Do you know if anyone’s ever been that jealous of you?

Jealousy isn’t particularly a problem for me. At least not to the extent that I’d want to have someone’s heart cut out. Besides, cutting out hearts isn’t really my style. It’s too messy and doesn’t seem all that satisfying.

I can’t say for certain if anyone’s ever been jealous of me, but I couldn’t fathom why.

Bonus Question: Can you tell us what you’re working on next? Another fairy tale satire, or something entirely different?

I’m juggling a few ideas around, possibly a sequel to Alien Invasion of the Zombie Apocalypse (if five years isn’t too late for a sequel) and a Star Trek parody. It’s too early to tell which idea will find its way to being developed into a complete story but for the time being, that’s where my head’s at.

You’ll have to let us know how it goes with the whole mirroring mirrors thing. And the whole body-behind-the-couch thing too…

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both print and digital formats!

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!

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!