Yes, this is filled with whisky

Yes, this is filled with whisky

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Single Sentence Writing Contest!

There's a terrific new book out now by Lane Shefter Bishop: Sell Your Story in a Single Sentence. It's about how to craft an effective, compelling log line for your novel.

Now, you all know I am not a great believer in loglines, and it's mostly cause it's HARD to write an effective one and I hate to see writers shooting themselves in the foot as they try to do so.

Thus, this book is a must read for authors, because if you CAN craft a compelling one-sentence answer to "what is your book about?" it will serve you well for years to come

So, the prize this week is a copy of the book (Thanks to Lane Bishop who is providing the copy!)

The usual rules apply:

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

2. Use these words in the story:


3. You must use the whole word, but that whole word can be part of a larger word. The letters for the
prompt must appear in consecutive order. They cannot be backwards.
Thus: log/flog is ok, but yow/yellow is not.

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, then post.

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

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

8. 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.

8a. There are no circumstances in which it is ok to ask for feedback from ME on your contest entry. NONE. (You can however discuss your entry with the commenters in the comment trail...just leave me out of it.)

9. It's ok to tweet about the contest generally.
Example: "I just entered the flash fiction contest on Janet's blog and I didn't even get a lousy t-shirt"

10. Please do not post anything but contest entries. (Not for example "I love Felix Buttonweezer's entry!")

11. You agree that your contest entry can remain posted on the blog for the life of the blog. In other words, you can't later ask me to delete the entry and any comments about the entry at a later date.

12. The stories must be self-contained. That is: do not include links or footnotes to explain any part of the story. Those extras will not be considered part of the story.

Contest opens: 8:58am Saturday June 11

Contest closes: 9am Sunday June 12

If you're wondering how much time you have before the contest closes: click here.

If you'd like to see the entries that have won previous contests, there's
an .xls spread sheet here

(Thanks to Colin Smith for organizing and maintaining this!)

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid
Ready? SET?

Not yet!

oops, too late. Contest is closed.


Steve Forti said...

For Sale: Nagging wife. Previously used. Full disclosure: Once it starts talking, it won’t ever stop. It changes moods without warning. Expensive tastes. Good cook, though. Sold as is. All offers considered.

Free: Lazy husband. Previously useful. Distinct lack of manliness. Hair everywhere but on its stupid shiny head. Clogs toilet daily. Good luck convincing it to rake the damn leaves.

Wanted: Sense of humor. And cure for “headaches”.

Wanted: Sharp knife, preferably serrated.

Help Wanted: How to get rid of --- Oh no you don’t! This is my line. Hey! Ow!

Help Wanted: Good lawyer.

Sasha A. Palmer said...


She pinned the last piece of his laundry to the clothesline and looked back at the house. He was smearing the leaking roof with hot tar, his enormous silhouette pitch dark against the sun.

She wished hard.

Her insides churned, she felt rotten and spent, like an old log swarming with ugly insects. Crossing her fingers to err on the side of caution she stared into her own void.

A crow yowed overhead, and the ground shook, and it was done.

Megan V said...

Mr. Hemingway:

I’d like to place an advertisement with your newspaper.

For Sale:
Great blogger, horrible petter, refuses to provide pitchers of cream.

Please send me the price perrrr line.

The Duchess of Yowl

Craig said...

Chainsaws screamed defiance at the aftermath of the storm.

The crash of the tree and the yowl of a person drowned the noise of the storm. Our neighborhood voyeur’s roof had collapsed. The error of his ways could be discussed some other time.

Others pitched and held the stabilizing lines and I went to check inside. The front door was locked but I had a chainsaw. I saw him under the main log. I started trimming things back to get him out and noticed the walls. Pictures of the neighborhood kids covered them. Then the chainsaw slipped, I swear it.

Brigid said...

The day they moved in he broke her spyglass. Their mothers tittered. She threatened to flog him for insubordination.

He had every Errol Flynn line memorized. Her knees were pitch-stained from climbing her backyard man-o-war.

It was destiny, all right: nemeses at first sight.

“Ahoy — ow! I’ll get you, you bilge-rat!” She shimmied down the piney rigging, waving her cutlass.

He keelhauled her teddy bear. She plundered his Halloween candy. They traded a battered Treasure Island back and forth.

Decades later, everyone wondered about their unusual wedding rings. "Oh, just old Spanish gold we picked up on a sailing trip."

Colin Smith said...


Dateline: Saturday, June 11, 2016

Page 3
Police are still investigating the mysterious death of James “Butterfingers” Willoughby, owner of Jim’s Bakery, 211 Fourleaf Road. Mr. Willoughby’s body was found in an abandoned log cabin near Oak Woods last Friday. He suffered multiple stab wounds to the chest and neck. Anyone with information please contact Kernville police at 555-2141.

Page 6
WANTED: Tiffany pitcher. Red floral pattern. 1920s. One of a pair. Name your price. Contact M.W. 555-2137.

Page 7
FOR SALE: One set steak knives. Lightly used. $10. Contact

Jennie Camacho said...

“You crossed the line, Bernard!”

“Pfft, that’s rich coming from you,” he retorted. “You’re the one who flogged the poor guy.”

True, but he was still alive, probably. That didn’t make her a murderer like Bernard claimed, and in her defense, she thought he was already dead.

“It’s not my fault! How was I supposed to know he wasn’t a real zombie?” she yelled as they ran from the scene. Her voice raising in pitch with each word.

“I don’t know, Terry. Maybe because it’s Halloween.”

Well, that would explain his pleas for help between the yowls of pain. Whoops.

Sherry Howard said...

Perfidy with Honor

“Mornin’, Johny. ‘Ow's your mum?”

“Fine, Mr. Wellborn, fine. Loaf of bread on account, please, sir?”

While Mr. Wellborn fetched the bread and fumbled for a sack Johny worked quickly, slipping six eggs and a pound of butter into deep pockets of his coat. Could he fleece more? No. Adrenalin escalated at the thought. How long would this terror go on?

He logged the totals in his mental tab and raced up the littered pitch to home. How could they survive much longer?

Empty eyes awaited.

“When's Mum coming home then, Johny?” Petula asked. “It's so cold.”

SiSi said...

My brother tried to be a godly man, but he was always better at Saturday night than Sunday morning. They found his body late Monday in an old logging camp. Sheriff said he’d been dead about 48 hours.

Tuesday the ghostly flash of a snowy owl swooped by as I sat on my brother’s porch, drinking his pitcher of tea.

On Wednesday I followed the crooked line of evidence markers to the dried blood near a huckleberry patch. I can picture my brother on his knees, begging forgiveness. Crying for love. For mercy.

But I was never a godly man.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

The resounding slap of leather against quivering flesh matched the rhythm of his pounding run. Rivulets of frothing sweat coursed down his body. His bleeding lungs screamed for oxygen as a growling command of, “C’mon! C’mon!” burned his ears.

He crossed the finish line. First.

The cacophony of cheers from beneath the wide brims of satin and lace turned into a keening yowl as his body pitched forward and he dropped to his knees. And then his heart stopped beating. The hats turned away as officials logged the time. There was too much money at stake to risk an error.

shtrum said...

Lines of logarithmic code, like math with no sum,
“‘Twill write the perfect query!” said scientist Shtrum,
“Causing agents to yowl,
For plots erroneous and foul,”
The last line was, in truth, just a pitcher of rum.

abnormalalien (Jamie A. Elias) said...

Golden-red flames lick ever closer but I have to find Jerry. The heavy smoke overwhelms the yard and the smell of burnt logs sweeps through the house like an ashy tidal wave. I stumble through the pitch colored yard until I'm nearly garroted by the laundry line.

Finally, I find him hunkered under the porch with Yowl, the pillow-pet. He swipes away tears as I scoop him up. When I load him into his booster-seat, he whispers.

“Sorry, Mama.” He hands me a pack of matches and some crumpled cigarettes. “I just wanted to be like Daddy.”

Marie McKay said...

She closed the curtains and checked inside the cot. The baby's chest rose up and down; tiny fingers curling over the blanket.
Reassured, she went downstairs to study the log book. Had she made an error last cycle? None of it was logical.
A yowl rose at a pitch intolerable to her ears, and she knew what was upstairs would be intolerable to her eyes.
Yet, even when toothless mouth had turned to muzzle and tiny nails to claws, she soothed the stricken creature.
Ruing her husband's bloodline, she cursed at a moon that had cursed her baby girl.

lizosisek said...

Glass separates me from the lineup, and I know the men can’t see me, but it’s not enough. The Nike logo on one’s shirt says, “Just do it,” and I want to, but what if I choose wrong? I can’t trust my own memories of that night. There’s just my cry, a fight, blood pooled beneath the streetlight while a monster fled, the knight dead, me, the damsel drugged, distressed.

I grasp at errant memory threads. Was it the pitcher? The artist? How tall was he?

They all look like monsters in this light.

“Well?” The cop’s waiting.

I point.

Claire Bobrow said...

Bird hatched a plan that had Squirrel and Bear racing out of a pitch-black cave, tripping over a log, and getting zapped in the nose by a Slinky attached to a line (yanked by Bird) in time to hear one of them yell "yowch!" before stumbling onto a rope bridge over a raging river ravine, which Bird considered the perfect place to pull one of Bear's shoelaces undone and provoke a tumble that would, indeed, provide an exciting adventure for his friends and a magnificent finale for his as-yet-to-be-published bestseller, but, sadly, it didn't work out that way.

elizabethadkins said...

Terrence, I'd heard his mommy call him before she sat down with her coffee and her phone.

So simple. Like ordering from a catalog.

Fishing line's best for binding hands and feet. Fifty pound test won't break and wriggling cuts easily through a child's skin. He's still soon enough.

Treated him same as I had my own, but he was no more special than the others. Too soon his bright blue eyes went dark. That night I pitched his sack over the railing and watched it sink in the current.

I have faith. I'll find the one.

Karen McCoy said...

“It’s clogged,” Jim insisted. “Honestly woman, you’d think after forty years you’d be inclined to keep our kitchen in order.”

Mary reached into the garbage disposal. “There’s nothing in here.”

“You sure?” Jim tried to sound nonchalant while he mentally coaxed her fingers toward the impeller blade. “I think I saw an egg earlier.”

Mary peered down. “An error, I’m sure. The egg probably got pitched.” She moved her hand back and Jim failed to suppress his groan.

“I thought so.” Mary turned on the switch and shoved his hand into the churning disposal.

Blood splattered. Jim yowled.

tell me later said...

There’s a time when you stand with a gun in your hand when you trialed-and-errored past the line in the sand but your conscience is clear if your logic is late and as the world turns pitch black yo--


Peggy Rothschild said...

The bLOG post would be live now. He imagined her high-PITCHed YOWl when she saw her secrets writ large: Her love of nip; the midday sunbaths; the constant demands for attention.

She shouldn’t have treated him like a servant. An ERRor she’d not soon forget.

He checked online. Where was the post? Had he scheduled it for PM instead of AM? No. It wasn’t in the queue. It wasn’t anywhere. Oh no. Was that a partial paw print on the Enter key? Fur nestled next to the Delete button?

The damn feLINE was always one step ahead of him.

Janice L. Grinyer said...

The crickets stopped chirping outside. She wasn’t alone.

Racking a .9mm Browning, Mariel slid one into the chamber. A Pitch pine log crackled in the woodstove, masking the sound. She lined her trigger finger up against the barrel.

The porch stairs creaked.

“FBI STOP!” Spinning into the doorway, Mariel kicked open the screen door, seeking her target.

“Err, Miss Weaver? You forgot to pay for your newspaper!” little Tommy yowled, clutching his collection envelope, a wet spot forming on his trousers.


This case certainly has taken its toll. Now she’ll have to talk to Tommy’s parents.


Kae Bell said...

Dark as pitch, the night enveloped her. As Meg slid sideways through brush, logging mile after mile in her red shoes, her mind replayed the verse he’d muttered these many months: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.”

With each step away from him, an outline of hope formed in her heart, like the sliver of moon she glimpsed rising now above the bracken.

She pushed forward.

The arroyo would be her undoing.

Just Jan said...

(-ology) A branch of knowledge

(methodology) Stray text message, clearly not intended for me

(ophthalmology) I spy my errant wife in the park sharing secrets with him

(neurology) My trigger finger twitches as I drag the gun from its holster

(audiology) A blast, a high-pitched yowl, deafening chaos

(pathology) Massive hemorrhage from the bullet wound

(cardiology) Heart rhythm flat-lines before the paramedics can arrive

(psychology) Serious error in judgement--she never strayed

(criminology) Guilty by reason of temporary insanity--the man I killed was her therapist

Sara Halle said...

My new book's liftoff paralleled that of an unswung yoyo.
While my agent cautioned, "Sales take time," I wasn't in the mood for logic.
Then I heard of a guerrilla marketing firm that could place me atop the social media loop. Itching for readers, I quickly signed on the dotted line.
But instead of eager buyers at my next event, there were only moaning, mangled bodies strewn across the floor. And in the corner, a big ape glowering in a cage.
"What happened?" I cried.
An out-of-breath animal wrangler glanced at me. "There are risks with gorilla marketing."

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Bones, small and broken, shift deep inside the hag. They swarm, clog her throat. She yowls as they scratch their way out.

Outside her hilltop home, she hangs the bones. Some are berry-stained by her blood, others blackened by the bile of the Monster contained within her. The wind pitches the sagging lines. The bones chatter like teeth.

The animals she swallowed weren't enough. The Monster will cleave her open. Stalk. Hunt. She looks to town. The horror to come is her fault. But surely the bones will show how hard she tried?

If anyone's left to see them.

LynnRodz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Donnaeve said...

“Cut the shit.”

“Yes sir.”

“Can’t stand weakness.”

“No sir.”

“I’ll show you the error of your ways.” They went to a barbershop. “High and tight, like mine.”

Distressed, Mama whispered, “I’m sorry,” while Dad declared baseball the next solution.

Logan ducked fast pitches, cringed at line drives.

Dad yowled, “Clumsy shit!”

Dad’s displeasure purpled his skin.

One night, Logan dug into Mama’s purse, then eased into the kitchen.

Dad blanched, his voice shook. “That’s your decision?”

Logan shrugged.

Dad said, “It’s permanent. I won’t come back.”

Mama said, “Great.”

Sporting her Stormy Pink lipstick, Logan smiled while Dad packed.

Gypmar said...

It’s like Deliverance out here, only without the fun banjo music. In Portland the men lined up for me. I picked the one who works a godforsaken tree farm.

I can’t sleep at night for the coyotes yowling like women screaming, but he sleeps like the dead. How long since I slept?

When the rope on the log pile breaks, I’m standing at the kitchen sink, close enough to see the terror in his eyes.

I wash the pitch from my hands with alcohol and wipe them on my jeans. First, a nap. Then I’ll drive back to the city.

Paul McDonald said...

“Yow!” Mitch screamed as the line drive smashed into his nose. He crumpled on the pitcher’s mound, writhing in pain. The ball caromed off and rolled slowly along the third base line as Roger sprinted towards it. The winning run approached home plate as he scooped up the ball and threw it to the Matt at first base….who dropped it. The other team erupted in victory as Matt’s shoulders slumped, his error costing his team the game. No amount of apologizing could erase the loss, or correct the mistake that would haunt his life for years to come.

Dee Blackshear said...

Sally logged in and stared at the blank square.
Her rapid fingers typed line after line.
A snowy owl hooted, “Who”? from outside her window.
Cold, along with despair, seeped in from the darkness.
I need the right pitch.
More typing.
More typing.
More typing.
No wait! I misspelled ……

Beth said...

“Someone has to maintain community standards.” Ada jabbed the doorbell.

“I’m not sure it’s wise to alienate your neighbor.”

“Nonsense.” She lived to terrorize the neighborhood. You should see her blog – line after line yowling about lack of manners, pitching fits over unmown lawns and unleashed dogs.

When he opened the door, Ada stared him down. “Mr. Smith, is something wrong with your garage?”

“My garage?”

“You park in your driveway.”


“It’s rude.”


This was going nowhere. I stepped forward. “Your police car. It’s scaring away her clients.”

His eyebrows lifted. “Mary Kay?”

“Mary Jane.”

Ada nodded. “Rude.”

Lori said...

The duchess was not amused. The offered temptations in the line of bowls turned her nose up: milk, herring, dry bits.

Being ignored was not acceptable. Another blog post or writing contest did not equal a reason for dismissal.

A high shelf. A swipe of the tail. The pitcher hit the floor in an agony of spillage and wreckage.

The human yowled in despair. Maybe a little nibble after all.

Linda Strader said...

“In my dream, you, as cat, follow me. I talk to you, and you, as cat, yowl a reply. Then you change into human form, and we kiss. I tell you kissing is everything I’d thought it would be. The dream continues, but with you as a white cat, following me outside, where a pitchfork leans on the fence protecting strawberries. A coyote yips. I carry you inside...wanting you to be safe.
“Me as a kissing cat?” No doubt you’d say. “Dialog with a cat? Such silliness.”
I purr pure love to my human. What else can a cat do?

Where There's A Quill said...

Yowled and whined something terrible after that acid peel, but I sure look good. Now let’s clog up these pretty new pores. (Because maybe she’s born with it, maybe she’d still look better with foundation).

Definitely hair down. More feminine. Thank fuck I didn’t cut it short; might as well cut off my breasts, too.

Sorry, not fuck. Thank goodness.

Shoot, he’ll pitch one if I’m late. Quick assessment: fingernails, eyebrows, mascara, eyeliner, blush, vagina, lipstick, perfume.

Red skirt? Skanky. Blue? Boyish. Pink? Perfect. But… too short?

I’ll risk it. Worse comes to worst, his swim times aren’t very good.

Celia Reaves said...

Can't we be logical? I was just an early adopter, really.

These days researchers have much better tools, and government funding besides. It's all about acetylcholine pathways, glial precursors, neocortical structures—blah, blah, blah. In their fancy labs in China or Israel they can take stem cells from an embryo without batting an eye, drop them into a brain, and get a paper out of it.

But no, not me. A couple of dead bodies no one will miss, a convenient lightning storm, and what did I get? A howling mob with pitchforks, that's what.

It's just not fair.

Mallory Love said...

It’s all about dialogue, my therapist says. Communication is key. The balm to heal the scratch. But she lies, because it won’t stop itching. Talking doesn’t ease the guilt. Doesn’t kill the urge.

But still, I talk: about the triggers, the desperation, the pain. She only nods. She doesn’t understand. None of them do.

A knock interrupts our session. She answers the door. Murmurs streamline from the other side.

“You sure?”

“Saw it with my own eyes.”

Her judgmental gaze lands on me. I’m caught. Hanging my head, I pull the chocolate from my pocket. Caffeine is the damn devil.

S Edwards said...

I know the closet is the wrong place to hide. An err in judgment that might cost me. I've seen that movie twenty God damned times--should know better.

I inch deeper into the confines of the small space. As far as I can get. If I'm as still as a log, just maybe I'll get lucky.
If only I can find something, anything that will be a life line. A clothes hanger-- won't work. A stiletto--might work.
The door rattles--shakes violently. Pitched from its hinges.

Nothing left to do but yowl.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

First to pitch after lunch, I was as nervous as an old ladies yowling bladder.
He belched. “What’s your log line?”
The space between us smelled of genoa and provolone.
“Hero writer and killer of literary agent awarded Pulitzer.”
“That’s a fucking headline not a logline”
“I erred on the side of news because it will be.”
“What do you mean it will be?”
“Unwritten memoir.”
His forehead glistened.
“You rejected my work, a lot.”
His eyes scanned the nearest exit.
“You won’t make it.”

“After five years of serving a life sentence, killer of literary agent awarded Pulitzer.”

Sarah said...

Grimacing, she logged the double play in her scorecard. Two outs.

#32 swaggered up to the plate, bat wagging. He hit a ball that was barely foul off the first base line. She sighed. Second pitch, down and out of the strike zone.

Her date fidgeted. “Err, could you explain to me why you like this game?”

“Shut up,” she said. Nicely, she hoped.

The third pitch soared out of the park, high and clear. “Yow!” whooped a man two rows back.

Even her date smiled. “Pardon me,” he said. “But may I kiss you now?"

Ashes said...

Escapin' was top priority when after restless years in chains they moved Rudy to a pen with a yard. On that first day he'd climbed the roof and pitched himself over the fence. His yowl and broken leg was what done him in.

They replaced the gate when he repeatedly bashed his thick skull against it, plyin' the metal lock.

He ditched the grub line to tunnel out, key was to start close to the fence. If he hadn't hit log he'd have made it before bein' collared.

Truth is Rudy was never a good boy, he was a bad dog.

David Swindler said...

We have shared this conversation many times, you and I. As always, you will not recall these words when you wake.

Should you wake.

For I am the purveyor of dreams, a discipline I have held since the rise of sin, and despite your logical mind’s inability to fathom my role, your soul understands. Tonight you shall thrash inside ferrous bonds and yowl deep inside the pitch-dark of nothing.

Indeed, your soul understands all too well, and it weeps not for the nightmare I give to you; it roars at the one I have saved for her.

Sleep well.

Steve Cassidy said...

She heard it; a high pitched wail, the beast yowling at the moon.She calmed her racing mind and looked up at the ridgeline. There, barely silhouetted in the darkness she could see him. She’d tracked the monster for hours.

Blood splatter on a log, she’d hit him with her first shot, not enough to kill, she’d barely slowed it down.

“Damn,” Tracy shivered as the rain fell. Her breath vaporized as the cold seeped in under her sweater, her knees hurt. Her back ached.

She racked another round and peered through the night vision scope, but the beast disappeared.

RKeelan said...

I never apologized for a thing in my life except one.

It was a small thing, a buffer overrun in an important project.

I found it two years later, sneering at me like a malignant tumour. Sweat popped beneath my hairline and my stomach collapsed in on itself. This thing was going to devour my career and leave a pitch-black smear in its place.


There was a way.

Hackers exploit overruns to control the devices that people think they own.

Why not me?

I did. Got caught. Pled out and apologized for hacking.

Not for the bug though.

Donna Munro said...

“Just another day in hell,” Gaspard said. His pitchfork scraped the grammarian’s throat who in life had picked apart Poe’s works, rendering him suicidal. As punishment, the grammarian wrote erratum for Twitter-philes, Facebookers, and texters.

Hysterical, torturous yowls seemed heavenly next to the lack of apostrophe placement and misused “your verses you’re” the grammarian endured every eternal day.

Gaspard watched him squirm, wondering if he wrote a blistering good logline could this be next season’s breakout reality show? Imagine, “The Devil’s Grammar.”

What? You didn’t know television writers spend vacations tormenting sinners? Not much different from their day job.

Erin Scruggs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

Everyone knows the despised and secretive Yow-zhai never dip their bread. A funny custom for an areligious group. Did no one pause ask why? Mistake.
At the wedding I laced the oil bowl at the children’s table with poison. When all but the Chu-mei boy pitched over in death, erroneous rumours spread among the families. Misdirection.
I knew the Chu-mei boy simply didn’t like bread. They didn’t.
By morning, Chu-mei bodies lined the roads, nailed to trees. Misplaced logic.
But an excellent way for me to dispatch the rival Chu-mei clan.

sdbullard said...

They owe me. After all I've done. If they think I'll go unrepaid, they're in error. I'll take what I deserve. I'll swallow them whole, spit children bones out, revel in every bite.

They owe me. I finally rid them of that man always chasing them. The metal didn't bother me. I'd been Hooked on his flavor for years.

But now they don't want to pay for that service. One boy would suffice. Otherwise, I'll just take them all.

I slide on my belly toward their hideout.

Logic says to start with the flying boy.

Tick tock.

Their time is almost up

Erin Szczechowski said...

Behind: a crowd like Taylor Swift playing Disney World.
In front: a man carefully logging entries behind a windowed booth.
Like Myra, all dead.
“Cause?” the man asked.
“Come on, pitch it to me straight. Drowned, burned, mad cow? Can’t move on ‘till I record it.”
“But I don’t know.”
She remembered blackness, splintering pain, her comical, trivial ‘yow’. Little else.
The man shrugged. “Then I can’t help you.”
“Back of the line.”
Myra swallowed. It had taken her three years to get this far.
Sighing, she obeyed. Afterlife bureaucracy. What did she expect?

Scott G said...

I’m a virgin and I need a marriage license.

I wanted to shout from atop the steep-pitched courthouse.

Not the part about being a virgin anyway.

The clerk logged into the database to pull up our names.

Holding hands, we waited.

Several minutes of typing. The clerk scowled. “I keep getting error messages.”

My heart sank. I guess she’d have found out sooner or later.

I gulped, stifling a yowl. “Try first name Barbara.”

I searched for understanding in my fiancĂ©’s eyes. Would this change things? Please, no.

Worry lines appeared on her forehead.

“Try first name Steve,” she said.

Erin Scruggs said...

One Dark and Stormy rested alone on the bar top, an audible sigh escaped, while Steven logged into his favorite dating app. The lineup this time looked promising – an engineer, [sip, swipe] a Wall Street banker, [sip, swipe] a jazz musician, [sip, swipe] and even an MLB pitcher for the Mets [sip, swipe]. Smiling, enjoying the irony of swiping right to find his next swipe. “Ready for another one, John?” the bartender called him by the erroneous name from the credit card on tab. He reflected momentarily. Then he yowled and replied, “Maybe not… last one didn’t go down easy”

Michael Seese said...


Emily smiled. She'd grown weary of living in her sister's shadow, following her every move. But today, finally, she didn't mind.

Emma earned straight A’s. Emily had straight lines on her thighs.

Emma published four books. Emily had a blog.

Emma owned a house in the ‘burbs and the Hamptons. Emily owned only debt.

Emma had perfect pitch. Emily could carry only a grudge.

Emma gave Momma and Poppa three little ones. Emily had cats.

Emma always erred on the side of caution. Emily erred on all sides. But today she would not.

Jumping is idiot-proof.

luciakaku said...


Come on, baby, one more time. You wanna pitch or catch?

I said no.

What’s got your panties in a bunch today, anyhow?

Forget it. You want some so bad, go screw yourself.

All right, you want an apology? Here. I’m sorry.

Three guesses where you can stick that line. Hint: nothing fun is going up there tonight.

She deserved it.

Deserved what? Terror? The problem is, if I leave you’ll just find someone else.

What the fuck’s that mean?

I’ll show you. Hold still.

Why? Ow! Where’d you get—


Kate Higgins said...

In 1865, Bucky Owens turned up for work in a dead-fish logging town overrun with ill repute; stinky with holes in the middle of its Bucky. He had no fear, it came with the holes however Bucky had "knowin' smarts".

He knew when the timbers tangled and untied them. He leapt the slippery lines of logs, burling and pitching snarled snags until the coniferred mess broke apart to hump its way downstream. For seventy-odd years Bucky anticipated and disentangled every logjam...until his holes were filled.

Then he vanished. Disappeared. Gone.

It was regretfully expected, for he'd drowned in 1867.

John Davis Frain said...

Front porch? My domain. Basement, living room? Mine. Study? Own it.

I pretend to share the bedroom. Bed too, until they kick me out. Literally. Just Mister. Missus curls her legs ‘round me.

For seven years, I’ve ruled 324 Maple. Suddenly, a demotion.

I’ve heard tails around the neighborhood of this sort of thing. But none of the signs were here. Missus never plumped. Nobody painted the spare bedroom pink.

Still, they’ve pitched an old shed out back for me.

If this overrated feline so much as steps on the grass, I’ll pounce. Without apology. Because the backyard? It’s mine.

Kate said...

Hey, I’d really like for us to be talking again.

Yow. Still haven’t heard back. Need to talk.

Why no answer? Did you think I’d be deterred just because you left? I can’t. I won’t. Not who I am. I believe in this. You need to come back.

You’re being illogical. You want to lose everything?

I know I let you down, but this ugliness is beneath you. I tried so hard, I hurt others trying to do right by you. I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, my wife won’t talk to me, and you’re pitching a f---ing fit!

Sonali Spiller said...

“‘Lucent’ means see-through,” his wife barked from the dining table. “Not glowing.”

Log-headed, Mother had said. He snorted into his Perrier. More like battering ram.

Her voice bore into his ear, the rush of warm air familiar with blood pressure rising.

The answer was somewhere. The vertical line of library books promised. McDermid, Rendell, Rankin. Christie was a pharmacist. Just a simple heart attack.

The keening in his left ear turned into a yowl. The blue hardcover tumbled as his knee pitched.

“Don’t bother getting the dictionary, my dear,” she called from the kitchen, rinsing out his glass.

CarolJ said...


Evan tripped over a log and pitched forward. One leg slid hip deep into a stump hole; the other splayed out to the side. He cursed his dumb error of losing sight of the power line and getting lost. Warm climate and heavy rains rotted dead trees quick. Only left rich compost and a water-filled hole hidden under leaf litter.

He struggled to get his boot loose from the sucking muck and looked up at the sound of a soft yowl. The blue eyes of a baby cougar stared back.

“Looks like your mama’s gonna be getting her wish.”

Christina Seine said...

1986 was a hot year.

I was eleven. Mom had me watch the kids while she’d do errands. “Be right back,” she’d say. We’d do some video games, get bored. Joey’d fall asleep.

I remember Mr. Johnston’s brown boots slogging through the smoke, me hiding under the bed. He carried me outside and pitched me to a firefighter holding a line of hose big as a tree. He went back for Joey, came out with his whole back on fire.

Seriously, ow. He died afterwards though.

They never did figure out what started that fire.

Or any of the others.

Kae Ridwyn said...

Becky gritted her teeth; ignored Roxanne’s smug smile. Since her expensive full-size violin’s arrival, her sister stopped practising only to gloat.

In comparison, Becky’s half-size yowled like an alley cat; felt like a log. Their eisteddfod duet was next week. But Becky’s violin regularly lost pitch; her harmony line sounded atrocious.

“C’mon Roxanne – you’ll be late!”

Roxanne carefully laid her violin into its case, shoulder rest still attached, ready to play on her return from her friend’s party; then she left.

Becky grinned; nudged the case into the patch of summer sun streaming through the window. Then she continued practising.

Audrey Chin said...

He throws another log on the fire.
“You don’t mean to hurl that pitcher at me,” he says, peeling the woman’s fingers from the jar and forcing a pen
into the clench of her hand.
“A few lines,” he says. “Just a confession of your errors. And, in light of them, the disposition of your assets”
But, she’s a stubborn cow.
The man sighs. “I’ll do it then. There.” He signs off with a flourish, licks the ink of his fingers.
“Will blood slide off the same?” he wonders aloud.
She turns. Bites.
He yowls.
“Now you’ll know,” she says.

french sojourn said...

I stalk silence. For me, loud crowded spaces are a trap.
I’ve been dodging sirens for six years now. They don’t respect county lines, Christ not even state lines.

I lost my brother three years ago, his error was a loud Honky-Tonk, didn’t hear the sirens coming. There’s a certain pitch they emit, a high pitched yowling like sound. Logic says I should have been bagged by now, but I’m a real light sleeper. Constantly vigilant. Sleep’s a luxury that’s fatal.

Gotta keep a weathered ear, just because I visited some fucking remote island six years ago in Greece.

Mark Thurber said...

“Speak, foul ogre!”

The ogre just works his serrated blade. The pitched battle sounds far away.

“My own glory is outside, yet you keep me in this cave!”

The ogre offers a slice. The boy fends off the oak bough of an arm.

“I don’t want your bread. I want to fight.”

The ogre shrugs, chops celery.

The noise outside dies away. The ogre heaves a fetid sigh and pushes aside the boulder sealing the entrance.

Three heads in a line: father, brother, brother.

The boy’s voice shakes. “Ogre, will you teach me how to be king?”

The ogre nods.

Almitra Clay said...

Disaster strikes on the third pitch.

“Are you gronking me?” shouts Lin, hauling slack out of the belay line. I’m twenty meters up, hangdog and yowling. And embarrassed. So embarrassed.

“Choss and dross,” she spits, “you’re making this harder for yourself.”

Yeah, I’ll be logging this one for my therapist.

I restart the traverse, slow this time, erring on the side of caution. My palms grow wet in spite of the chalk, my technique now lousy as a flat-lander’s. And there: I see it, the horror, my nightmare, guardian of the crux.

Heights don’t scare me. Spiders do.

Timothy Lowe said...

They were on the wrong glacier.

Chelsea smiled, her feet dangling over the void from the safety of their portaledge. Chester had always been a hanger-on. She’d been tethered to her twin since the womb, even as they’d conquered the great peaks. But this was the last. When she returned trailing an empty line, she’d blame an errant log entry.

Her smile grew. Shy, owlishly myopic, Chester hadn’t noticed the turn. In the morning, she’d -

A rustle. She gasped.

“Stop it, Chester!”

The rock face fell away.

She was free, her brother far above.

Damn hanger-on had planted a spike.

flashfriday said...

Crazy, but when the cops interrupted breakfast to report Mom had been knifed, Grandma didn’t say a word. And she had words for everything: words when my brother was shot, words when Aunt Jess was shoved off a roof by my own cousin, words about our government promising every citizen a shocking death, words, words, words.

“Different from when you were little, huh,” I said.


“Headlines must’ve been super boring.”


I sighed, slow-pitched a pebble at her tombstone, logged another mark in my journal. “Happy twelfth birthday, me,” I said.

But Grandma didn’t say a word, just cried.