Friday, May 29, 2015

Flash fiction writing contest!

It's the start of summer Fridays! Time for a flash fiction writing contest! The usual rules apply:

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

2. Use these words in the story:

plott  (note the number of t's in this word)

 (If you know what links all the words, you can include that in your post and the words do NOT count as part of the story.)

3. You must use the whole word, but that whole word can be part of a larger word. The word must appear as a whole if used in a longer word:
Wife/midwife is ok
Heart/William Randolf Hearst is not ok

4. Post the entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.

5. One entry per person. If you need a mulligan (a do-over) erase your entry and post again) It helps to work out your entry first and then post.

5. International entries are allowed, but prizes may vary for international addresses.

6. Titles count as part of the word count (you don't need a title)

7. Under no circumstances should you tweet anything about your particular entry to me. Example: "Hope you like my entry about Felix Buttonweezer!" This is grounds for disqualification.

8. Under no circumstances should post a comment that is NOT an entry here. They will be deleted and you will be severly glared at large menacing creatures.

Contest opens: Saturday May 30 10am (Eastern Shark Time)

Contest closes: Sunday May 31 10am (Eastern Shark Time)

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid
Ready? SET?


(Sorry guyz!!! I'm late opening the contest. Overslept...blame BEA!!)

Sorry! Contest closed!


Anonymous said...

The ceramic top stove I loved went out six months ago. I've been a dutiful wife for years, but I was tired of being without one. My heart soared like a balloon when Bob said he'd replace it.

They delivered a gas one like his mama had yesterday. He wanted that though he never cooks. I hate gas. It's dangerous. How dare he!

Bob says I'm simple, not a plotter. His stove is on. The pilot isn't. He'll walk in soon with that damnable cigarette dangling from his lips.

I'm outside watching the sunset.

I told him gas is dangerous.

Kitty said...

A Brief Acrostic For Divorce

Undeterred by my wife's
Nightly cold shoulder, I foolishly
Dared to think that
Even she wouldn't be able to
Resist my carefully
Plotted seduction. Shiny heart-shaped balloons
And roses and silky lingerie,
Not to mention a bottle of her favorite
Taittinger Brut La Française Champagne. And
She loved it all, Your Honor, oh yes! All except me.

Michael Seese said...

I'd plotted for months. For our tenth anniversary, we were going on a balloon ride. Sort of...

She'd always wanted to skydive. So I contrived with the balloon operator. I had her wear a harness, "for safety purposes." Under my windbreaker I'd concealed a parachute. At 5,000 feet, I hugged her and latched us together.

"Trust me," I said before jumping.

She didn't dare open her eyes. "We're flying!" she gushed.

We touched earth. She lay there, smiling and still.

She remained that way.

Ten years of marriage, and my wife had never told me she had a bad heart.

Colin Smith said...

It's sad when disease hits the kennel, especially when it takes down your wife's three favorites. We didn't dare wait to get them to the vet, though it broke her heart to carry their limp and helpless bodies to the car.

Two days later we got a call from the vet and drove to the office to receive the news.

To our surprise, the vet and his assistant were dressed in clown costumes with red noses, and balloons tied to their oversized shoes.

"The Dobermann and the Rottweiler are fine," said the vet, "but I'm afraid we lost the Plott."

What connects the words? North Carolina. "wife" "balloon" and "heart" could refer to our hospital adventure (see this past Sunday's WiR), and my family and I live in Eastern North Carolina. Dare County is in Eastern North Carolina. And the Plott is North Carolina's State Dog. Yes, we have a State dog. :)

Beth O'Grady said...

My heart is crushed, deflated like a used car lot balloon. I had been plotting my own death for years, but had not dared do it, until now. Accidental drowning, then escape to Madagascar. One more day.
My wife will rejoice, but what about Chester? How does one sneak a Great Dane into Madagascar?
“Debra, this quiche is great.” She had a way with…

“Well, that took longer than expected,” Debra said to Chester, as she gave him a pat on the head, “next time I will use cyanide.” She smiled as she pulled her husband’s body off the couch.

Ashes said...

Perfecting invisibility had been difficult, but plotting to steal the serum? Surprisingly easy.

Success was intoxicating at first, a heady, balloony feeling. I left the lab, dared to rob a couple banks, had strange evocative sex with my wife. But when she walked away it all fell apart.

Left to myself, I finally began to feel like I was nothing.

I questioned if the marks I made were even real. I began to mutter.

Tore out my invisible hair.

Spilt my invisible blood.

The sound of my heart? An illusion. Artifice.

Out of sight,





Megan V said...

“You must take this audience.“ The steward yanks my arm, dragging me up the sharp-edged stairs. Thump. Thump. Thump. The heart-shaped chair rocks back.
“But it’s stuffy AND itchy.”
“Too bad,” he snaps. Then he opens the doors. Eyes burning, I count the speakers. Only two.
“Your wife and men are complotting against you!” The first screeches.
Kumquatting against me?
“They dare to defy you!”
“A dare sounds fun! Is it a race?”
“No, your Majesty.”
"Oh," My lip trembles as I turn to the steward. “Can I get off my throne now?”
Beyond the doors, balloons pop in answer.

DB said...

Half way down the aisle, Phil chose the Plott Hound. Around him, crates rattled with the heartbreaking energy of their captives, while rest sat like stones, tired of the game, knowing this man was like the others—another balloon lost to the sky.

He thought of Linda, his wife, and how she used to give him a look when he came home. A look that said, “Oh, it’s you again.” Then she’d smile, and dare Phil not to smile too.

Phil leaned forward—eye-to-eye with his new companion. “Ready to come home?”

And he could swear Linda smiled back.

french sojourn said...

-The shuttle skipped across the stratosphere, like a spider ballooning on gossamer wings.

“Plotting course to intercept, Captain.”

“Hold steady on the starboard thrusters.”

“We have visual, Captain.”

His heart raced, knowing the shuttle held his wife and their son, Jimmy.
He prayed they could get there in time, but he dared not hope.
He ran down the curved ramp towards the hanger, so many spirals wending their way through the star cruiser. They were so close. –

“Ma! Dad’s running in circles on the front lawn…again,
and he’s wearin’ nothin’ but his old boxers and a tinfoil beanie.”

Dena Pawling said...

One Writer's Journey

There once was a writer, mid-June
Whose wife sent him off by balloon
He dared sail up high
Way up into the sky
And ended up crashed on Carkoon

There once was a writer, in exile
Whose heart wanted out of the slush pile
There were no distractions
Like problems with fractions
On Carkoon, he hoped would be worthwhile

There once was a writer, fair stuck
Mind blocked and all out of luck
His pantsing had failed
Tried plotting and wailed
“I'll never type The End, oh WTF!”

Jacob Burnett said...

Balloons in my arteries wouldn’t cut it. They cracked my chest open, put my heart on ice, and replumbed the whole thing. I was dead for a while, they said. I came back wrong.

My heart was still ice-cold when they were done. I looked at my wife and felt… nothing. My old Plott Andy snarled at my hand. I’d been reborn cut off from everyone I’d known. A latter-day Virginia Dare. Alone.

So I scrawled this note. My “Croatoan.”

“I’m going down to the ocean to swim east till my chest catches fire and my heart warms up again.”

Alter Ego said...

Thoughts on the Way Out

Cal felt strangely peaceful now that his heart had relaxed and settled back into his chest. Lying there his plott, Bay, pacing, nudging, less urgent, he felt pleasant now. Drifting along , he heard Meg's anxious pleading as he walked out that morning, “Cal, don't you dare take this kind of chance before we get that balloon gadget into you!”
His wife. Sounded strange now to say, “my wife”. Never said it in forty two years. Never really thought about it. It'll wait.

Craig said...

The realization settled like a lead balloon. She had been plotting escape from being the wife of an abusive ass. She had run before and been dragged back every time. This time she had a different plan. She would place an immovable object in the path of unstoppable force. He seemed the perfect fool, friendly and considerate. Then her heart dared to betray her. If she had measured a man by things like friendly consideration and patience she wouldn’t be in this mess today. She also wouldn’t be putting the one who taught her at risk.

DeadSpiderEye said...

I hate Christmas, without the wife and 2.4, it's a dance with a bottle, like that on the dresser, that dares me to open it.

'Plott!' a shout from downstairs, Sandrine and Mai Ling, they came over to offer company.

'Pahlottah!' louder, must be calling me.


'Come down'.

'Okay,' I see a faint red glow from the staircase, I descend to a room full of red balloons.

'Ahargghhh, me hearties,' Mai Ling jumps from her hiding place, holding a toy cutlass with a patch over her eye.

'Oh pirate! where's Sandrine?'.

'Behind you – balloon fight!'.

I love Christmas.

Unknown said...

I reached out to hold his hand and gave a gentle squeeze. He squeezed back. The opening to "Up" when the wife dies made us cry. The second time around, alone, I focused on the plott hound and his antics. Quick, quick, get to that scene, I thought. Quick make the balloons fly. As the house rose up, my heart dared to rise too. Then no longer alone, my love sat next to me, a ghost. He wrapped his arm around me and whispered, we’ll always have "Up" and each other

Jenny C said...

For six months I’d plotted. Scoured the Internet for lock-picking tips. Dared to crack safes throughout Manhattan, never stealing a thing.

All for one moment.

Stethoscope pressed against cold metal, I turned the dial. My blood raced. Minutes ticked by.

When the door popped open I saw no sign of my soon-to-be-ex-wife’s infamous ruby necklace. The necklace I planned to feed to the fish. Instead, a heart-shaped velvet box waited, with a note addressed to me in Claudia’s tempestuous handwriting. My own heart ballooned, and burst.

I read the single word and laughed, remembering why I’d adored her.

CHECKMATE, indeed.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

In the way of things, the princess was fate-bound to set the terms of her engagement.

"I replaced my heart with a balloon and secreted it in the forest no man dares enter. Recover it and we will be wed."

Many princes dared enter that forest; no princes returned, for seven years.

A shabby figure came carrying his hunting bag, brindled panting plott hound at his heels. The balloon deflated, and he returned the captive heart to her chest, staring into her eyes.

"Am I to be your wife?" she asked, breathless.

"No." Hound and he returned to the forest.

Writer of Wrongs said...

It was perfect.

I’d plotted for weeks. Dared to construct more faux clues than a
Gillian Flynn novel. My wife? She didn’t stand a chance.

It would start with balloons—she loved the horrible things. End with the first peace and quiet I’d known in thirty-five years. Not a romantic, huh? I’ll show you romance.

The lock snicked as she entered. I held my breath. She held a gun. That wasn’t part of the plan.

A festive pop preceded befuddled heartache. Roses fell from my hand.

“Happy Anniversary, Darling,” she said.

Then all went quiet.


Jamie Kress said...

George married Gracie, on a dare, while drunk in Vegas. He’d been plotting how to get out with his fortune and reputation intact ever since.

Now he had a plan.

She’d been pushing to have kids—the only thing George wanted less than her. If he convinced Gracie he was sterile, she’d leave him. Even better, he’d look like the kind martyr letting her go. People ate that kind of thing up. Perfect.

Until George walked into the kitchen to see his wife there, beaming and giddy, surrounded by balloons. Each one read, “Congratulations! It’s twins!”

George’s heart sank.

Peggy Rothschild said...

Sweat oozed beneath his collar. Jim resisted the urge to loosen his tie. The canopy shaded the small gathering, but had no power over the muggy air. He breathed in the scent of carnations and freshly turned earth. The pink and white floral arrangements were marvels of understated color and symmetry. Angela would have approved.

Like a balloon ensnared by the distant manchineel trees, his daredevil heart sank. His wife was gone. What was he to do with his life? Where would he find purpose or meaning now that the years of plotting her murder were at an end?

Just Jan said...

She agrees to meet at the ice cream parlor. My plott hound and I find her in a corner booth sharing a Dare-To-Be-Great, the restaurant's signature dish, with another man. My heart thuds. Before we can retreat, she jumps up and waves us over.

"Have some?" her companion asks, pointing with a spoon to the mound of dairy.

I shake my head. My mouth is suddenly bone dry. I thrust the balloon bouquet at my ex-wife. "Happy Birthday," I manage to croak.

The dog and I slink out, heads down, tails tucked, all thoughts of reconciliation melted away.

QuirkyElf said...

At Comic Con, my sister squeed, “Omg, Day9’s here!”

Meh, the queue trailed into next year. She double dog dared me to photobomb his fanmeet but I wanted the best selfie ever.

My Starcraft cosplay boobs and swag persuaded the bellhop I was Day9’s wife. I posed on the bed with a helium ‘I heart u’ balloon hiding my painted–ahem.

The door burst open. “And this is my room with a view!”

I released the balloon, baring all. “Surprise!

The red light on his camcorder stared back. Uh huh, Sean ‘Day9’ Plott was live vlogging to 191k followers. Awks.

Anonymous said...

Sergeant Colon of the Shark Brigade hunched over his keyboard, eyes riveted to the computer screen.

Mrs Colon tried to look over his shoulder, but the Sergeant nudged her aside.

"Wait," said wifey. "Are you plotting to overthrow the Queen?"

The Sergeant glared at her then turned back to his work.

She glared back. "Don't you dare!"

Sergeant Colon considered sending his wife up in the balloon that would drop the bomb on the palace... but his heart wouldn't let him. "Yes, dear," he said and closed the document.

He'd wait until wifey was out of the house.

Steve Forti said...

She stepped away from the hearth. The crackling logs often lulled her customers.

The spaewife caressed her faux crystal ball. “I see children.”

“How many?” The man perked up.

“Three. Playing in the yard. The plottage is ample for a swing set, you know.” That one landed. Just a little more.

“I dunno. Isn’t the market still down?”

Reel him in. “The spirits say it’s a great investment. Do you dare tempt fate?”

A pause. “Okay, I’m buying this house!”

After he signed, she shed the gypsy robes and dialed the bank. “Got another sucker with a balloon mortgage, boss!”

Rea Tarvydas said...

the exact center of the universe is 80 miles north. but my wife is bleeding bitumen in Northern Spirit Hospital in Fort McMurray, prostrate on an operating table, a lump the size of a deflated balloon on her jawline. the doctor humps over the metal table, hands hanging at the ready, plotting the last scheduled case of the day.

“a second brachial cyst, a congenital malformation,” says the doctor, afterward. “grossly infected. i stripped the tissues.” he makes a grasp-and-pull motion with his hands. “bacteria that close to the heart are dangerous.”

i’m the one with an infected heart.

Christine Lindahl said...

Unscrupulous breeder,

How dare you ship my Plott Hound puppy to me by balloon! My wife nearly had a heart attack!

We heard the pup howling before we even saw the bright colored ball rising above the privacy fence. I thought his pitiful cries alone would break Gloria's ticker, but she didn't feel the first chest pains until the razor wire snagged and ripped the nylon on its descent.

Our fearless and intelligent canine leaped into the safety of my arms before impact.

Fortunately for you, we didn't have to call 911. Turns out it was just gas.

Disgruntled buyer

Lance said...

After months of plotting, the cardiac surgeon dared a smirk behind his mask as the catheter ballooned into his wife's evil, but otherwise healthy heart.

eparentcoach said...

Fierce as a plott
She waited for me.
Heart in a knot
I knelt at her knee.

For a while I dare not
She scares me a lot
The mysteries she writes
Blood, guts, and frights.

So I ran like a hound
Don't want to be found
No print will bind me
Like balloons I am free
I'll run and I'll twirl
I'll escape that cruel girl

Oh wait, what is that?
A ticket she holds
My terror falls flat
Carkoon is the gold
I'll go there today
And stay til I'm old
Just publish my book
If I may be so bold

Stephen Parks said...

Rehearsal Dinner

“All your heart wants, really, is a good life… wife… I meant ‘wife’.” Frustrated, you reach for the glass of champagne and try to remember your speech. A voice in your head says, ‘don’t drink it all.’ You drink it all. Then it says, ‘don’t look at the bride...’

You look at the bride…

She’s telegraphing her thoughts, her anger, ‘what are you plotting, little brother? Don’t you dare screw this up.’

You nod thoughtfully, ‘dare accepted!’ You bend down and take another hit from the helium balloon.

“Dude, marry someone nice,” your best Donald Duck voice says.

S.P. Bowers said...

Her heart swelled painfully, as if a balloon had inflated inside it. No internet in ten days. She was a wreck. She couldn’t even spell. Her crit group booted her after finding an extra T in plot. Plott, she said, trailing out the T. She needed email. She needed cuddly cat videos. She needed—pop. The pressure in her chest vanished and she sank to the floor. The man and his wife sitting next to her screamed for help. It was too late. She never should have taken that dare.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

He holds her heart in his talons. He dares himself to wait, to relish the anticipation. Like a Plott Hound hunting wild boar, he scents the fear that once raced through her veins. He squeezes. The blood balloon bursts, sending streams down his wrists, running rivulets attempting escape. But he catches it all with his forked tongue, laps at the scales coating his skin. He swallows, her pain cutting him like broken glass yet feeding him like nothing else.

He rests now, satiated.

But he will need a new wife. Soon.

Timothy Lowe said...

His wife lay cold on the hearth.

Billy sat stunned. The dare had ballooned, mushroomed like a poison cloud. Even after all his plotting it had come to this.

“Damn if I told you,” said his brother. He’d once loved her too, but his tears had dried. He could take losing her again.

“Damn if you didn’t.” Shock covered Billy like a fire blanket. His anger could only smolder.

“Go ahead and do it. Gun’s empty anyway.”

Billy glared at his brother. Only he knew that Redneck Roulette called for two rounds in the cylinder.

He picked up the revolver.

Anonymous said...

There was a young woman from Dare
Her balloons nicely filled with warm air
But her plott hound was slow
So the young men said no
Her heart broke, as a wife she'd be ne'er.

KC said...

She'd waited long enough, an eternity, really, staring at the shiny red, glorious thing. But it was harder than she thought plotting her course across the room. Jane Goodwife was there with her blocks. Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar knee-deep in bloody clay. She tripped on the blocks. Smashed Rodrigo's muddy heart. And when she arrived, climbed on a chair, dared reach out her hands and squeeze, the creature squealed, shrieked, popped. She was left with nothing much, but little rubbery shreds of balloon and that Grown Up shrieking, "Get down from there. Now."

Ariel Bernstein said...

Caitlin missed the train again. This time by only a few minutes, but that would make little difference to her father's new wife and what she was plotting to cause her father's heart to weaken.

Caitlin told herself she'd try again tomorrow, but the result would likely be similar. Seeing her father's new wife in person would be too great a temptation to burst the woman's balloon and stop her nefarious actions. She didn't dare inform her that the will bequeathed everything to Caitlin's son.

Karen McCoy said...

The sonogram confirms a second heartbeat.

"You're certain?" my wife asks. The doctor nods, but points to her slightly ballooned stomach. "There's more," he says.

"Twins?" I ask.

“Dear God, I hope not.” She glares, as if plotting my demise. But the doctor's grim expression prevents me from sharing the joke. "What is it?" I ask.

"Breast cancer," he says.

The room stretches until all I hear are the two heartbeats on the monitor. And how I might have to choose between them. “Maybe we should terminate--”

She cuts me off. “Don’t you dare.”

Michael J. Craft said...

With the swipe of his finger, the sheriff sends three Plott Hound drones into the endless maze of city ghetto, past rusted fences and tireless weeds.

“You really think they’ll find her?”

“They’re the new ones. Military grade,” the sheriff says, patting his handheld monitor. “They’ll find your wife.”

Five minutes later I glance skyward for the sign. There, the heart-shaped balloon floats out of the eight-story jungle.

“The Dare’s complete.”

The sheriff cocks his head, checks his gun. “What’d you—” Alarms pulse from his monitor.

“Your dogs are dead, sheriff.”

“An Activist!”

And before his eyes, I’m gone.

CJ said...

Ka-boom! Fizzzzzz!


Herbert Plott-Sherbert was finally left alone in his lab to find the cure for the three-headed pimpersnickel. After adjusting his goggles, he scrupulously squirted the remaining pink heterochlorinate into a test tube.

Ka-boom! Hissssss!


Herbert’s stomach reminded him it was lunchtime. The photo of his wife glared down from above the clock. Pimpersnickels can wait, he decided, and turned to peel off his gloves. Behind him, unseen, the remaining drips began to burn. Balloon-sized holes appeared in the floor.

Suddenly, a heart-wrenching cry filled the air.
He froze.

Dare he turn and face his morbid fear?

Kate Larkindale said...

We were at street level, surrounded by colored latex bubbles that danced and swayed in the wind at the end of their tethers. Anyone within three blocks would know a birthday party was imminent. My heart quickened as I imagined turning uninvited seven-year-olds away, crushing dreams of chocolate cake, candy and new toys.

Plott tied off a purple balloon with a teeth-clenching squeak and added it to the bobbing rainbow overhead. As my wife came down the stairs with the baby to collect them, he held out his hand, a shiny silver pin resting in his palm.

“Dare you….”

feyngirl said...

Come on in. Drink? I'm gonna cut to the chase. I dare say you meant no harm, but my troubles started the day your all-you-can-eat chocolate restaurant opened. Seeing my wife balloon out like that done broke my heart. Broke hers too, first case of theobromine poisoning the docs had seen. Now me, I'm just a small town biochemist who never made it out of Dodge. Plotting ain't my thing, but I made an exception. The salmonella's in the chocolate fountain, county health are on their way, and it looks like the mickey finn has done its job. Sweet dreams.

Maurine Schou said...

Daren’s eyes followed the black, helium-filled balloons blowing out to sea. He’d released them during his drive to the beachside cemetery.

At the burial site, his mother-in-law sobbed, her heartache palpable.

He pointed at the sky. “The balloons. She’d have liked that.”

They were burying his wife’s torso. Bone fragments and blood at the scene indicated she’d been hacked into tiny pieces.

“They’ll catch whoever did this,” his father promised.

Daren hoped not, with all his plotting, planning, carrying out.
Covering his smile, he watched the oblong caskets of latex floating into the clouds. She’d always wanted to travel.

MugAndMuse said...

She’s somebody’s wife, but not yours. She’s got a husband who buys her dogs nobody’s ever heard of-— a Plott Hound. You know this because you looked it up.

You dared to tell her once, how foolish she was to walk her dog so late, so alone. Her lip curled in distaste. You withered and collapsed like a deflated balloon, but she listened, and for three days you were glad.

Then, she was back. When her lip curls this time, you don’t let it break your heart. It’s a hard lesson she must learn, but you are an excellent teacher.

sc said...

Staying Young Ain’t For Sissies

“I rabid-dog dare you,” whispered Sally, nude and smirking. A running joke; when my aging plott hound got into the whipped cream, girlfriend Sally made Old Yeller jokes. When we finally put her down—arthritic and cloudy-eyed—Sally was my wife; the jokes continued, but took on a maudlin earnestness. Now, the dog was five years gone, and the two of us were at a nude beach in Vancouver, beholding acres of tanned young flesh, feeling older than forty-two and forty-five. My heart ballooned. My bikini fell. “Sally forth!” Together, we braved the breakers.

SiSi said...

I floated high above, a helium-filled balloon climbing toward a clear blue sky. My heart sang its freedom from gravity and worry. From anger.

Anger. A blazing red line burned my eyes open.

I saw table legs. Chair legs. The plott’s legs.

My wife’s legs.

My wife? How could she be . . .?

Her smiling face hung over me. She held up a familiar white packet and shook her head in mock sorrow.

She found it? Had she dared . . .?

My eyes blurred. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe.

She had dared.

Anonymous said...

The deformed figure ambled across Clare’s path.

His wrinkled face, sagging like a deflated balloon, was smeared with thick blood.

Clare’s heart leapt into her throat.

She spun around and ran towards the main road, away from the creature that she somehow knew was plotting her doom.

She didn’t deserve this. She was a good mother, a good wife.

Another lost soul came into view. A younger man this time with his arm outstretched.
She changed direction, not stopping and not daring to look back.
“Trick or Treat!” the man shouted, impressed at how realistic his costume must have appeared.

Kathryn Clark said...

Scritch scratch scritch go the monsters, nails shrieking down the door. They were normal once, but blink and the men are gone. Now they’re yellow eyes, dead hearts.

Don’t need a spaewife to tell our fate. We die here.

But Momma’s a plotter. The gun, that one bullet she saved.

“Close your eyes, baby girl.”

Barely dare to breathe. Remember good times. Rollercoasters and a blue balloon, holding Daddy’s hand before he wasn’t Daddy anymore. I’m ready.

Crack goes the door.

Bang goes the gun.

And Momma’s limp body falls over me right before the monsters swarm.

Anonymous said...

The dark sky was heartening as she walked along the beach. Thoughts of her beau singing in her chest, plotting their return to the sea.

Pain ballooned in her chest. How dare him! He promised!

She ran to the knoll where she hid her skin, smoke pluming over the hill. Her skin, sleek and warm thrown over a fire.


An old man stood over her skin, laughed. “My fishwife.”

She fell to her knees and watched her soul burn. He touched her hair. She closed her eyes and wept.

Danielle Tannehill said...

It’d been so long since he called me that- his wife. I choked up, accepting the balloon, staring at the heart-shaped box turning round in his hand. I didn’t know his intentions, but I dared to hope.

He took a knee, looking so much like the man of my youth- furrowed brow, five o’clock shadow, and those irresistible grey eyes. Around them were the marks of time and plotted failures, an affair that threatened to sink us. But, it was all behind us now.

He opened the box, held my gaze, and asked me again.

“Yes.” I said, nodding. “Yes.”

Julia said...

“Nick’s tremendously worried about you.”

“You’re the one who dared approach an armed man barehanded, Tom, not me.”

Tom considered her grimly. “You did, actually; and I’m trained.”

“He was plotting a child’s murder.” Balloons danced uselessly, endlessly, infuriatingly, around her bed. She glared at them.

Rationalization. “You’re to be Nick’s wife. His heart would’ve broken had that bullet flown true.”

“And you might be dead.” She would’ve shrugged, but her wounded shoulder was in agony. “Otherwise, it made no difference.”

Tom frowned. This is going to take time. “You saved the boy.”

“Not the one that mattered. Not mine.”

Tie-in: Last WiR, Colin's wife, and I didn't put together the NC Dog - I thought the dog came from the debate about dog shows. And I figured the dare either went with "daring" to push the car, or, LOL, daring to go after Julie's - er - daring comments. Which I won't pursue here, though I was tempted to make my story reflect them. But all of them were in last WiR.

Her Grace, the Duchess of Kneale said...

Coffee, she offered. My ex-wife wanted to talk.

She had a heart like a balloon--empty. Her head was not the same, so I plotted carefully. "I’ll buy. I don’t trust you."

She replied warily, "You're drinking from my cup first."

I complied. Later I’d planned to strangle her, personal-like. "You know why," I’d whisper in her ear.

As I finished my joe my lips swelled in anaphylactic shock. I looked to my cup. "How?"

She dared to smile. "I cover the barista’s full-ride tuition, she covers your coffee cup with peanut butter, even if it takes a year."

Richard Sturgis said...

The doctor said his heart swelled up like a balloon in his chest. Had to work too hard to love his wife. That’s the story, anyway.

After they died, I dared my friend to sneak into their house. Said it was haunted, sheet-covered specters roaming the rooms of the Plotts’ house.

Now, the shutters hang, banging against siding made dingy with time and neglect. Blink your eyes and it’s all linen-draped ghosts haunting the halls of your memory, sheets bellowed out like a heart so full of air it’s about to burst. A child’s red balloon. And then, POP!

Samuel Vary said...

The policeman stared at his wife through his mud-stained sunglasses. She'd never dared to raise a hand against him before, not even once, and now she'd somehow managed to knock him into a ditch. She emptied the contents of a heroin balloon onto the hood of his cruiser. "This is what I care about now," she said. He'd been plotting an intervention for weeks, knowing that she was beginning to spiral into the depths of her addiction, but he never imagined it would come to this. His heart thudded heavily in his chest as he unbuttoned his holster.

Sussu said...

All reapers do their sorry work themselves, except me. I’m just a plotter, not a reaper. But hush.
I rearrange my basket overflowing with hearts. They jiggle and squish like jellyfish.
My wife shimmies her way between the guests.
She pulls out a mental picture of the victim from the files in her mind.
She dares lean over to the middle-aged man and slips the balloon in his hand.
He hesitates, looks in my direction. He takes it with trembling hands and puffs his last breaths of air into his retirement balloon before suffering a massive heart attack.
There, there.

LynnRodz said...

I first saw Tommy in fourth grade. He pulled my pigtail. I turned ready to punch, but his smile stopped me. It was love at first sight.

He became the love of my life and asked me to be his wife. He wanted to elope, I didn't dare. We married in my parent's garden: me in white, Tommy in sneakers, balloons everywhere.

One day, I caught Tommy with another girl. My heart broke. "You'll get over it." everyone said.

I stared into space, someone pulled my ponytail. I turned, Mikey Plotts smiled at me. Fifth grade'll be a good year.

Calorie Bombshell said...

Number Two warned the next heart attack would be my last.

Get off your ass and quit stuffing your face. She never was one to coat words.

I took up exercise and tilled the neglected vegetable garden out back.

Soon I had lost eighty pounds.

Then told her I wanted a German Shepard as a jogging companion.

Over my dead body, she dared.

So I plotted her deep in the turnips, beside Number One.

Puppy and I lived the good life. Married wife Number Three for her southern cooking.

Got lazy. Stopped exercising. Weight ballooned.

Guess old habits die hard.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Half Bluetick and half Plott, Smithy is a good old girl, all heart, with a balloon for brains, or so I thought.
On a dare I hiked Colin’s trial along the north end of Wifey Lake in eastern NC. Half way to the stream head I stepped off the trail, rolled down a hill and ended up in a gulley by the edge of a wash. Laid there the rest of the day, and most of the night, until I heard Smithy, nosen’ through the brush. Her howlin’ saved me. She ain’t Smithy no more, she’s Lassie.

Ginger Mollymarilyn said...

I’d had to become his wife to get it. It had started out as only a dare from a friend, but quickly transformed into a reality after some serious plotting. Frank’s small investment of a few thousand had ballooned into one-million dollars. He was a man of unequivocal greed and anger, undeserving. I would set things right. When I saw those dollar signs, my heart was set on it. I switched his meds, he was none the wiser. Guilt chewed at my sensibilities, but now living my dream travelling the world, it had been well worth it.

Terri Lynn Coop said...

"Come along now."

Despite my fear, I snickered. Even with horns, he looked more like my wife’s accountant uncle than Satan.

"It’s time to settle up."

My heart pulsed like a balloon about to explode. "I won the dare. The demon said I’d never die!"

"True, but he exceeded his authority. Immortality is a level 7 signature. We let you keep it on a trial basis, but, you've schemed and plotted and wasted your stolen life. Unacceptable."

The portal flared.

"The contract was kicked downstairs to management and cancelled. When you make deals with death, there's always Hell to pay."

These prompts come from Colin’s misadventures in Carkoon, including a harrowing medical emergency that thankfully turned out well and a dead Ford Excursion.

kregger said...

"Who called my wife a baboon?" The old timer appeared confused as the STNA fluffed his pillow.

"Balloon, dear heart, her life was like a balloon, all hot air and thin skinned."

"How dare they! She was more like a monkey." He lay back in bed. "Swinging from the chandelier..."

"Oh...honey...pretty please, endorse your updated will?"


The STNA held her fists on her hips. "Remember? We're naming each other as benificiaries?"

"Oh...that's right." He signed and observed her leave.

He retrieved his to-do list and added.

#1:plotting to kill nurse.

#2:collect inheritance.

#3:move to Caribbean

Donnaeve said...

I watch the sun rise, a red balloon in the eastern sky. Haint limps at the river’s edge while Banner runs nearby sniffing traces of yesterday.

Never had much heart for anything other than these old Plott hounds, God love’em. Last year when that water moccasin bit Lloyd, then Haint, it tested that very fact.

Lloyd had hollered, “Wife! Move your ass, I’m bit!”

Forty years. Never once called me by my name.

I daresay my decision came then.

Is puttin’ a dog ahead of a human a sin?


I wipe spittle off Lloyd’s chin and watch the dogs.

William Davidson said...

“Did you bring them? Not the safe life you’ve plotted, but the things you don’t dare to do?” Dad asked. He had been on hospice for two weeks, now only a skeleton. I had come alone.

“Yes,” I said, and I pulled out the small papers. On them I had written down the things I feared the most in my heart: to ride a hot-air balloon, skydive, to one day marry and have a wife. He had asked me to write them down, his last request.

“Promise you’ll do them,” he said.

“I promise, Dad,” I said, and wept.

Gabby Gilliam said...

“I dare you to hike the Plott Balsams, and not just a mile or two, all the way to the Tuckasegee.”

“No way, man.” Visions of a ruptured balloon and a burning wicker basket flashed through my memory. My heartbeat thundered in my ears. “There’s no way I’m going there again.”

She shrugged. “Thought so. You’re such a baby.”

My treasonous bottom lip trembled. She smirked.

Sometimes I hate my wife.

Pharosian said...

"I'll see you when you wake up," his wife says as they wheel him away to fix his heart. She waits and waits, eight long hours until at last they call her name.

"There were complications," the surgeon says. Three words, and she knows her life has changed.

Now she strokes his clammy brow while the machines hum and hiss and beep. She stares at the monitor whose colorful squiggles are plotting the course of their future. Tiny balloons of hope explode with each new lab result, until she dares not hope again.

And then he opens his eyes.

Anonymous said...

“I see you there, always complotting against me,” an old hobo yelled at the pigeons, cane a mast and flailing.
Central Park always ballooned at this afternoon hour, when lunches were conspicuously consumed in public.
A bottom feeder in a thousand dollar suit called his wife, begging forgiveness for recent indiscretions. I dare not find peace for my black soul today.
“I’m sorry,” he repeated again.
“We’re all sorry,” I mumbled to myself. “Bleeding hearts… what good are they anyways…”
“Good for eating,” the pigeon man said with a deranged smile as he plunged in the knife to retrieve mine.

ashland said...

Midwife. Housewife. Oldwife. Which am I today?

In a gadarene blitz we fell into marriage.

He was blackhearted. I was coldhearted.

But the calendared block sheds sheets like a snake's skin. Down, down, down.

Now we've become disheartened.

Our contrived design to rule the world left us merely plotters in a field of stone.

Balloonists floating astray as clouds blocked our way.

A child to fill our home would never find us, though I carried innumerable into life.

Now we sit, home as barren as my womb, and I wonder:

Midwife. Housewife. Oldwife. Which will be etched on my tomb?

Kate Higgins said...

As Kansas Balloon Company partners, two hearts became one as husband and wife. He taught her about plotting the winds, she dared to teach him Excel. They complimented each other for 20 years then compliments became contempt.

Her balloon lifted off first that morning.
She vented her balloon valve, “I hope you get lost!”

“And I hope you end up in OZ!” He volleyed back, his burner roaring in emphasis.

Her balloon was found 80 miles away, caught up on a scarecrow. His balloon was swallowed by the wall-cloud of a tornado.
Both dearly departed in the winds of change.

Just me said...

When the man came home a black balloon lay on the kitchen table. Beside it a note read: 'From your wife'. Suspicious, he snatched up a carving knife and stabbed the balloon. A bloody heart had been hidden inside.

"Do you like it?" his wife called out.

"Is this really her heart?"

"You mean your side tramp?"

The man reversed the knife. If she dared this, he was next.

"No, it's from the plott hound next door. I wasn't sure." She leveled a shotgun at him. "Anything you want to say?"

"Yeah. How did you get it inside the balloon?"

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Until Kristen Laverch met Sam Master, she didn’t dare to be a wife. Men sinned. She was set on breeding dogs. True love ballooned only in a mutt’s heart, plus, they could locate white truffles by the river.

Three weeks after their wedding, when she and Sam walked one of her bitches on the river path, the dog greeted a lady whose cheeks flushed pink.

The plott did a body-wiggled, snuffled the woman’s skirt. Her hand rebuffed its muzzle. Sam said he saw a mushroom, bounded into the brush.

“Beautiful dog.”

“Thank you,” Kristen said, “she hunts truffles.”

Tia Denni said...

The masked visitor crept into the backyard, taking the usual route. The woman silhouetted like before.
Sheila undressed near the window, spying the nightly visitor moving in the dark.

He drew nearer than before.

Sheila paused, smiled, and grabbed the flashlight to see him.

The silhouette of the wife ballooned as it neared the window. His heart pounded when piercing light interrupted his dreaming.

“Honey, he’s back,” she yelled over her shoulder.

The backdoor opened. Hank bolted out.

The visitor dropped to his front legs; he’d dared too close this evening.

Damn Plott.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

“Maximus!” the freckled, mini-donut colored urchin stepped onto our carousel platform. A heart-shaped balloon bobbed gently above him, as he stood nose-to-nose with me, wheezing. His bone-sharp arms and shoulders juxtaposed unnaturally with plump cheeks.

A woman waited nearby, wearing cornrow braids and bearing a plush-stuffed shark. And a book, 'The Negro Southern League: A Baseball History, 1920-1951.'

“After your ride,” she said, “we’ll get Mr. Plott’s autograph.”

The music started.

He rode round and round, an oversized baseball cap covering his bald head. And I midwifed his Gadarene legion who dashed headlong into our painted midst.

Eileen said...

Dying balloons littered the gym floor like deflated testicles. On the dance floor, the Queen sweat glitter, while the King, drunk on tequila and testosterone, plotted his conquest. Hiked skirts, a hurried affair up against the lockers in some darkened corridor, while the music beat like a heart in a distant room. It was just a dare, foolish lust, this ephemeral eternity. She wasn’t even his date, but months later, she would become his wife. I was conceived in a moment of madness, endured years of regret and recriminations. And my parents wonder why I won’t go to Prom.

Kate Outhwaite said...

The light flickers and bounces, the only soundtrack the spinning of the 8mm film. On the wall, the young wife, ballooning with new life, waves shyly as the first in a string of Plott hounds stands guard.

Splice to a family picnic: boys in short trousers dare each other to put their little sister on the dog's back before mother runs to the rescue; the reds of her heart-patterned summer dress still technicolor bright.

After the 7am gunshot, the police find the old man, the pillow used to smother his lost love clutched to his chest, the projector still warm.

Anonymous said...

He’d thought of everything.

Plottery won him the girl: years of watching from shadows, weeks of trailing her routes, then finally, darefully, asking her out.

Balloonery won him the yes: fifty inflated blowfish lining a sandy path to the frangipani-blanketed water plane, painfully, heartfully arranged to speak in place of his cursed, impedimented lips.

Yes; it had all required brainery. Patiencery. Sacrificery.

But she was with him now on the remote desert island, they’d burned the plane, and their days blossomed with delightery.

How could they not? He really had thought of everything.

Except, it turns out, midwifery.

--Rebekah Postupak, Flash! Friday

Mark G said...

I sliced the rope holding the basket to the balloon. Not clean through, halfway. I dared my fat drunken wife to fly solo. She accepted my challenge. I knew the arrogant bitch would. I waved as she rose from earth. She flipped me off and spat.

The first line snapped at 100 feet. The second soon after. The apparent gracefulness of her obese body tumbling to earth surprised me. My Plott hound, who I'd starved for a week, and I ran toward where the body fell.

I swear to you her heart still beat dangling from the hound's mouth

Susan Bonifant said...

A balloon, he called wife 2. Then, he compared her unfavorably to wife 1, who still cried over him he said, after he'd stupidly abandoned her for wife 2 back when she "looked like a model."

"You're making me miss her," he hissed.

But he hadn't left her yet. Until now, she hadn't dared leave him.

But with plotting it came to her, how to fix this.

"I miss you. I'm sorry. Call me," she wrote inside the card before adding hearts, his initials and cell, and dropping it in the box.