From the great prompt words, to the entries, you just knocked my sox right off.
Here are the prompt words again:
gaze (provided by Melanie Sue Bowles)
scapegrace (provided byJulie Weathers)
scram (provided byLennon Faris)
forti (provided byMegan V)
fin (provided by the comment column on 4/26/17)
And here are the first round results:
The Steve Forti Award to Steve Forti, cause really who else even comes close?
Security had to bag a zealot last night. Tried to escape. Gr. A cell should be secure, dammit. Requesting reinforcements.
CFO, R. Tiddlywinks
Get those hens in line. Scramble a few eggs if needed, so to speak. Not literally, of course. Fortify that compound, or I'll find some guards with more testicular fortitude. Fire anyone who is aloof or timid. For time is short. The big day approaches.
CEO, E. Bunny
We managed to escape gracefully. Unlike your impending downfall. For 'tis certain you'll never find these eggs. And vengeance hops your way.
The Free Hens
Imaginative use of prompt words
fortinet firewall. Patricia L. Shelton 9:27am
forticating whale Barbara 1:49pm
A character that begs for a novel
Colin Smith Knuckles the Emasculator.
I didn't quite get these three entries, but the writing is just lovely
Megan V 11:44am
Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale 8:41pm
Words I had to look up
Homage to the Bard
D Willadsen 10:50am
I think this might be the best opening line in a very long time
Mrs. FasterThanLightning sat at Mrs. StrongerThanSteel's table, drinking coffee, as Mrs. S folded laundry, including her husband's red costume.
And then here comes Terri Lynn Coop to give BJ a run for her money
I gazed at my reality show team -- a chef, a clown, and a motivational consultant.
The ending here made me laugh for a solid minute
Mark Thurber 10:56am
Giant tentacles rise from pond behind gazebo as orchestra plays three fortissimo chords.
Not quite a story but holy moly!
abnormalalien (Jamie A. Elias) 3:22pm
Not quite a story but these cracked me up completely
Peter Taylor 8:30pm
Not quite a story, but lovely lyrical writing and a GREAT concept
EM Goldsmith 10:08pm
This is hilarious IF you know the sourcecode!
John Davis (Manuscript) Frain 12:07am
This isn't quite a story but the writing and imagery are breathtaking
Fortissimama A. Capella, she a neon girl. She triangle-orange in a blue-circle world. She don’t want no dust-town life, never find a color in this old world. She scram. Saunter downcity, catch her some gaze.
Boys whistle. Boys catcall. She flip her hair and wink. They follow.
They follow down the years. It be one year, it be two years, it be ten. One by one, blue-circle girls smile at them boys. One day, nobody follow. All them scapegrace boys, they turn into dust-town papas.
Fortissimama ain’t a mama, but she still laughing neon-orange.
Here's the long list of finalists
Melanie Sue Bowles
She adjusts my feeding tube then grabs a handful of raisins, cramming them in her mouth.
Late again, because of me.
“All set?” Her words are garbled.
I smile and nod. Wordless.
She adjusts my oxygen then waves from the door spoofing a Charlie Chaplin soft-shoe. The whoosh of the regulator settles into a comforting rhythm, but I can’t dance to it.
She navigates the city landscape, graceful as a gazelle in neon Chucks and a floral sundress. I navigate our apartment in a motorized wheelchair wearing an easy-access gown.
She adjusts her body-cam. Because of her, I live vicariously.
One murder. Three suspects. Zero alibis. And me.
They were all there when the stubby bastard died.
The tall one, scarred, met my gaze with indifference. The other, nondescript except the obnoxious gold collar, avoided eye contact at all costs. And the slender fellow, a scapegrace in need of a trim, grinned. Discomforting.
“Wasn’t me,” they each said.
“Anyway, who put you in charge?” the Tall One asked.
Not my first rodeo, friends.
Apply some pressure; they scrambled, broke like fingers.
“Middle did it,” the small one finally squeaked.
“I’ll kill you!” Middle cried.
Thus solved the Murder of Thumb.
Grandma didn't tolerate no lip.
“Some people have grace, and some just don't, dear,” she said, pouring a crisp cup of tea.
Grandma was sharp as a tack, though occasionally she'd fall prey to this faraway gaze that left her thoughts mired mid-order between scrambled and poached.
“I'm fine, dear. I --”
The banging beneath my feet startled me. As always.
Grandma got down on all fours, most unladylike.
“You can't escape, Grace!” she yelled through a crack, rattling the fortified box below the floor. “So give it up!”
She glanced up and smiled.
“Now where was I, dear?”
The question again: “Why did you do it?”
I ignored everyone else. The doctors. My parents. But I’m ready to talk. “To escape grace.”
The new shrink frowns. Gazes at her notes. “Who’s Grace?”
“Not a person. The thing. The idea.”
She’s not getting it.
“You know. God?”
“You…don’t want to go to heaven? Why?”
I move cold scrambled eggs around my plate with a plastic spoon, wishing they’d let me have a fork. Run a finger around the bandages on my left wrist.
“Everyone says he’s in heaven.”
So I’d rather be in hell.
We scramble towards him, two starving girls, legs like gazelles.
He’s brought food.
After we finish eating, he says to Grace, “Let’s go.”
This was the agreement. She would go
Only eight, she cries.
I don’t have the fortitude to watch them walk away.
Mama behaves as expected, using child support to buy drugs
I call the police – as planned.
“Where’s Grace?” they ask.
I cry. Play dumb.
Foster care’s okay. There’s food!
I often think, Lucky you to escape, Grace.”
Postcards come often, regular.
The foster parents are suspicious, though they’re never signed Love, Daddy and Grace.
I showed him my heartsick gaze, vowed to abandon my scapegrace ways. From beneath demure faux lashes I promised to scram when he wants space, never Forti the truth, never answer a fin “nothing” when a great white “something” lurks.
So he married me.
Now he follows me everywhere. Every week-a-versary’s another (suffocating) bouquet of roses, every meal’s a (tacky) candlelit banquet, every email’s a (clichéd) Petrarchan sonnet, and even simple grocery lists are now obscured by swarms of his (immature) x’s and o’s.
Dammit dammit dammit dammit dammit dammit dammit dammit dammit dammit dammit dammit dammit dammit.
The landscape, graced with ferns taller than the stars, cries out in fortissimo for a mark, some proof of my final, greatest achievement.
For who would know I made it here? My time machine has dissolved to dust, victim of its own energy, and I am alone.
My signature will be a joke to anthropologists, who will no doubt scramble to decode the anachronism.
The cave will protect my work, I will descend tonight to draw gazelle in the age of dinosaurs, leave coded messages in my handprints.
Millennia from now, before I am even born, I will be famous.
He asks about her date.
Happily, she chatters.
I place the milk pitcher. By him.
“Scapegallows,” he insults. Of course. “He wouldn’t know a fortissimo from a finocchio.” He eats his cornflakes.
Our daughter gazes, blankly.
Angered, I touch her shoulder, “Fatherly humor.”
He rolls his eyes.
Stiff-backed, I sit, “Finish your breakfast, dear. How was the band?”
Her cannolo remains untouched.
Patient, I sip my Italian Roast.
He stands—slender and handsome as ever—and scrams.
I accept his tainted kiss, airbrush-style this morning.
He leaves. Scapegoat.
“How was your date?”
Wednesday night. She’s cramming. If interrupted, she says, she might never reach the goal. He understands. As a future doctor’s spouse, he can be a time-thief or timesaver. But she has to eat. He brings her a chimichanga, zealous in his need to prove himself supportive.
A gentle knock. No answer. He knocks again. Frets. Faint from hunger? Asleep? He tries the door. Locked. Panicking, he locates the key he hid under the eaves.
Empty – her escape gracefully executed.
He sighs, glad he installed that tracker on her cell phone yesterday. She’d better be at the library. Or else.
Horoscope: a moment today will make you a hero!
Half marathon: I’m a gazelle!
…Silver by one millimoment.
Brother’s audition: his cape graces boulder shoulders, regal Phantom rendition. In finale, baritone voice squeaks. Audience laughs.
My 'moment?' Punch them all in the suckers?
Job interview: nail it. “Thank you, sir,” I close.
Candlelit proposal: girlfriend confesses moment of indiscretion, aka ‘Shawn.’
Universe has dark humor.
11:58 PM, can’t sleep. I text brother: beer fortification??
Phone gleams: sure. I’ll postpone suicide
Bah-ha. Love his morbid jokes.
And, screw you, horoscope.
Midnight: Grab keys.
Brother flushes pills.
I found a photograph of you today but the pictures in my head are better.
Your wedding day: honeysuckle scrambling over the gazebo, framing us, as you wave your bouquet at the bee circling my mother-of-the bride hat.
Or this one of Graduation. You, finished with school, chomping at the bit to make your mark on this world.
And here! 7-year old you: a tumbling, tree-climbing scapegrace; all legs and laughing independence one moment; claiming comforting knee-kisses the next.
Yes. These pictures in my head are much better than the faded polaroid of you in my arms. Perfect. Newborn. Breathless
Every morning I escape grace and wake in an unfamiliar bed.
There's a woman next to me. We're lying side-by-side like two corpses in a double-wide coffin.
I have no idea who she is.
She's old, but beautiful. I probably know her. I hope I do.
Her gaze is on me.
I try to ignore the fortissimo beat of my heart, scrambling for something to say, something to ease the worry in her eyes.
I know I'm supposed to recognize her, but I don't.
I'm supposed to know her name, but I don't.
"Good morning, Dear. I love you."
Her head poked in, gaze full of questions. Apparently I’d stolen her fort.
“I’m sorry. Scram,” my voice weak with cold.
The dog whined, then squirmed in, warming the air enough to silence my aching, chattering teeth. I slept. Dreamed of panting, then whining, growling, biting.
Not a dream. “Ow, ouch.” I was too weak to pull away.
Barking. Angry. Harsh. She struggled to leave, kicking my stomach, turning to bark in my face. Voices approaching.
“Yo, Scapegrace! Easy. What’d you find? A—Dad? Dad!! It’s a kid.“
Bright light, the dog just whining now. Hands reaching in.
I will not beg a zebra mussel for forgiveness.
The beastly bivalves take over our lake and starve thousands, yet we're supposed to be grateful for cleaner water? No. I'm done paying.
Someone needs to take down this mollusc a peg.
"Race is a social construct," I say.
"Don't care. Apologize or owe triple the algae tomorrow."
"Stripes aside, we're not so different, you and I."
"Don't try to appeal to--"
"Except you're small."
"Ooh, you're dead, Clam. Finished."
With great effort, I dig in and drag myself directly at the infernal mollusc. Ramming speed!
The short list and the winner will be posted tomorrow at NOON (Eastern time).
Please feel free to weigh in on your faves, or what I missed, in the comment section!