Friday, April 13, 2018

Flash Fiction Contest!

That caption contest reminded me how much I love the flash fiction contest entries, so let's have another one this weekend!

The usual rules apply:

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

2. Use these words in the story:

paw
joy
son
smith
trick

If you have an idea of how these words came to be the prompts, you can post that as a separate line that does NOT count against the 100 word limit.

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: paw/paws is ok, but joy/joey 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: 8:44am, Saturday 4/14/18

Contest closes: 9am, Sunday 4/15/18

If you're wondering how what time it is in NYC right now, here's the clock

If you'd like to see the entries that have won previous contests, there's an .xls spread sheet here http://www.colindsmith.com/TreasureChest/

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

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid
Ready? SET?

Not yet!
Enter!

Rats! Too late! Contest is closed.

56 comments:

Steve Forti said...

Dangling like a participle, the guards will find my rope come morning.
It was inevitable. Judge Joykill saw to that. Life sentence. No parole. Oxford Penitentiary.
The warden is a real stickler. Dashes hopes to smithereens. Carved “SPITE' into the rafters. Locks you in the hole for any infraction. Men went mad in there. Catatonic. They call it the Oxford Coma.
He thinks he's got me in line. I'll show him. This pawky prisoner knows some tricks. I carve the “DE” in front. I'll use a preposition to end my sentence with.

Timothy Lowe said...

They ate the silversmiths first. Wily bastards, Bill Craft said, chewing the nub end of his pipe in the subterranean glow of the Inn’s fireplace. Next, the blacksmiths and gunsmiths. Old Jeb Farrier’s apron was found folded neatly over his anvil, a crimson paw-print telling the tale as neatly and surely as blood on snow.

Winter was long. People huddled in the dark. The whole town got rickets. Then came joyless spring when they ate the locksmiths.

Nobody knows why they left the wordsmith. But they did, the whoresons. Left me white-knuckled, scrabbling words by moonlight. I think I might

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...

Family reunions suck

Look at them

Dena’s spawns circling the dessert table (like vultures-in-training)
Kathy and her “pride and joy” (more like frankenboy)
Amy’s precocious son, Kristafer (seriously?)
Colin, babysmith extraordinaire, six and two more in the oven (geez!)
Stacy’s Little Lord Fauntleroy (whom Patrick still believes is his, LOL)

Showing off their children like Blahniks bought on sale
Comparing pre-schools, timeshares, Sandals
Stopping when they realize I’m around
Pretending to envy my ‘bachelorette lifestyle’
Throwing pitying glances when I walk away (I’m sure)
Shaking their heads (I bet)

Every year
Every freaking year

Family reunions suck

Marie McKay said...

Red and gold cast a tawdry sheen across the shop. Mr Smith, the pawnbroker, busied himself in the back. His son, who had always found joy amongst the myriad of lost treasures, grabbed one of the harmonicas and blew. The shrill noise brought his father to the front.
'Do something useful,' he said.
New items- a watch that still ticked and a heart that was still- lay unattended at his son's feet.
'How many times? The trick is to move them before rigor sets in.'
Mr Smith bent and snatched a shiny watch from a stiff, slender wrist.

Sarah Bewley said...

The paw on his chest should have worried him. But he was so full of joy at waking up not dead, he didn’t care until he opened his eyes. His son stood over him frowning. The dog looked equally put-out. Parts of his body felt like a smith had tried to beat him into a new shape. The trick, he thought, was nonchalance.

“Dad.”

“I thought I’d cut the power,” he said.

“Mom called an electrician.”

“No ambulance?”

“She saw you were breathing.”

Good enough, he thought.

Alina Sergachov said...

How does a pawn, cat’s paw, son of a… Adam has the gall to train me. To give him. My paw?
Time to inculcate this senile servant with a sense of sacred duty. Get thee to a kitchen. Feed the cat. Pet the cat. Repeat.
“Here, kitty, kitty. Trick for treat, Ulysses.”
You treat me like a pet. Prepare to die.
Without further meow, I strike. That pitiful fan of Joyce skedaddles, slips, trips. Falls. A Smith’s fracture. Karma.
Alas. No festive feasts for felonious felines.

Craig F said...

Name’s Smith, I know the trick of tracking things, good enough to get government work.

Didn’t expect the ex’s call, she was beside herself. Our son had run away.

I found the spoor under his window. It headed up the mountain. There was no stealth or hesitation in his stride. It went around the mountain, toward the moonrise side.

In the moonlight, the track changed. It became a paw print. I couldn’t hide my joy, he was a true heir of my blood. I lifted my head and howled my thanks. The answering howl brought tears.

Claire Bobrow said...

At night the smithy was so quiet,
only the whistling wind
rattled the bellows.
Old John shivered, when a sound struck his ear.
A flash of white in the corner -
was it a trick of the firelight?
He trembled.
“Laura, dear, what should I do?” he whispered to the ceiling.
No son or daughter to help,
the blacksmith crept forward, knees creaking,
and…
snatched his hand away!
Razor-sharp teeth,
slashing claws -
a narrow escape.
He scrabbled backwards, knocking over his evening tea.
A pinwheeling paw dipped into the milky mess,
then,
a rumbling.
Oh, joy!
The kitten purred.

Corrine Dzwil said...

"We in?"
"Affirmative."
"Hazy on picture feed..."
He approached the trembling woman and her boy.
"Maybe your son can slip through," he said, running his hands along her body.
Pulling the Smith and Wesson from its holster, he tucked it behind, out of her reach. Then, pawing a breast, he shooed the boy.
"No! My baby!"
"Shh," he soothed. "Border crossings are tricky. Loopholes everywhere..." He loosened his pants, pulled her forward.
As she touched him, a look of joy spread across his face.
"Go! Go!"
"FBI!Hands in the air!"
The woman stood, smiled, showed her badge. "Mirandize him."

Michael Seese said...

The Smith & Wesson, heavy in my still-trembling hands, smelled like her death. Helpless to circumvent the inevitable, I watched the last vestiges of life trickle out the hole I'd put in her heart. Is this how God feels? I wondered. Amazed at, and terrified of, the power. I understood why He can't look us in the eye.

"Maybe her fawns are around," Dad said, drunk on bloodlust and joy. I thought of Bambi and felt even more crap awful.

"Congratulations, son. Today you found out what it is to be a man."

In my mind, I only discovered mortality.

Amy Schaefer said...

I enjoy gravedigging.

People are strangely squeamish about my vocation, so I’ve learned not to share over a beer or three. Conversation trickles to a halt, and everyone stares at me like I’m the spawn of Burke and Hare. I don’t get it; all I do is grant peace.

I’m no wordsmith, but I’ll recite a sonnet or two as the moonlight bathes my sweaty shoulders and the shovel bites the ground. Your struggle is over now; be tranquil, friend.

Truly, gravedigging is soothing.

I cherish the task after the fierce, foul, strenuous minutes that let me dig a grave.

Christine Sarmel said...

The old woman balanced on a ladder, picking apples with one hand and steadying herself with the other. Deep lines bracketed her mouth, as though she tasted the sourness of the Granny Smith in her hand.

“We…” Cassie stuttered.

“We came to say we’re sorry.” Lila said. “We stole your cat.”

The recently returned feline licked his paw, enjoying the discomfort of his kidnappers.

“We wanted to trick Chad, the pastor’s son. Maybe you know him?”

“Hmmm, Chad.” The woman climbed down and pulled a bloody, blackened stone from her pocket. “I’ve been waiting for you.”

RosannaM said...

“How can you stare at that all day?” Gerald grumbled.
“I enjoy it. Reminds me of work.”
“You hated that job.”

“Hated the people, the rules.”
“Housework woman.”

Seems retirement is a trick word for trading one tyrant for another. But Gerald will be cleaning his own toilets now. Seems I liberated his strongbox and hid it at my old job. Seems I’ve been watching my old friend guard it.

I swear I saw Bei Bei wave a paw as I switched off the Smithsonian zoo webcam and left to retrieve the box buried under the bamboo he chomped.

GFS3 said...

My dead wife tricked me into naming my son, Joy. She wanted a girl. Eventually, the boy gave her that. He grew up to despise me; fueled by my disappointment and a divorce triggered by my wife’s carefully laid traps to unleash my anger. My rage turned wild once again on the morning I watched my boy’s spindly arms pawing the air as I plunged his face into the water bucket in my smith shop. As his water-drenched corpse crashed to the floor, my anger vanished. And for the first time since his birth, I felt true joy.

Kerry Bernard said...

The sonogram sucked Lydia into a pit where the light of Dr. Smith’s smile couldn’t reach her.

“What’s… wrong with it?”

A trick, maybe. A sick joke. That’s why the question only dimmed Smith’s joy to blinding.

“Everything looks great, kiddo.”

In her nightmares’ snapshot, “great” looked like two spinal columns, each with fins and Venus flytrap heads.

“That’s not—” Wriggling like spawning salmon. “I haven’t even—”

The smell of bleach became brine. Fluorescent lights became glinting swells. Ivory walls became whitecaps.

A hand on her arm returned her. Cold. Wet. Smith smiled wider, with needle teeth.

James Leisenring said...

Squeak.
An audience gathers.
Squeak.
A song of barks. An applause of paws.

“Quiet!”
The song ends. Tails wag in anticipation.
The arm winds.
The joy of the hunt is nearly upon them.

The throw!

A race in the direction of the toss.
They will rip their prey to smithereens.
Frantic eyes searching.
Where did it go?

Squeak.

The predators rush back.
Squeak.
A trick. It had never been thrown at all.

They take their seats, eyes focused.
They will not be fooled again...

Lennon Faris said...

Snowy: My best friend is best guy in the world he yells and smells sweaty! Yum! We’ve been friends 2 hours!
Hot: My best friend packs boots and long loud stick and green fur and smells excited! Me, too!
--Oh. Not me? Huh? Is he playing hiding game?
I check every room!
Every night.
Rainy: Best friend’s smell is almost gone so I watch out window every day. Paws are comfy. Once, 2 in green fur come. “Ms. Smith, your son…” It smells like terror.
Snowy: Trick? Rolling chair that smells like – MY BEST FRIEND!!! I howl with joy.

Catherine Graham said...

Tabitha wrapped her arms around her moving belly. She fixed her eyes on the finely smithed altar cross, joyous tears trickling at the pastor's benison.

The congregation was used to sad piles of rank clothing in their pews, especially on rainy Sundays. No one had differentiated Tabitha from the others. They sang too loudly to hear her cracked voice muttering the hymns. They were too busy trying to eradicate the mouse infestation in the choir loft to greet her.

Tabitha reached under her hoodie to stroke a paw. Today she finally had something for God.

Colin Smith said...

“Papa—will you be there for my birthday?”
“That might be tricky.”
“Aw, please! You’ll enjoy it. We’ll have cake, and play baseball. John’ll bring his mit. Him and me, we’ll show you how good we are!”
“Maybe. Now, I’ve got to go, see your Mom safe to the car.”
Tanya hugged and kissed her son, then looked up at the women beside him dressed in business clothes.
“How much longer?”
“Child Protective Services need a few more days to evaluate.”
“It was an accident. He’s not a murderer!”
The woman smiled. “Just be sure those guns are locked away.”

Connection: The words are all from the names of the April 11th Caption Contest finalists.

Robert Ceres said...

The searches were getting more frequent. I could see the next posse heading down the street. Another vampire sweep.
Awful joy sucking fear.
“They’ll trick you, “ Will Smith had said, now dead, staked through the heart.
They’d be at my steps soon, where the gypsy woman had started to beg. I ran ahead.
“You have to leave.”
“I can’t. Help my girl.”
She, stood, robes uncovering a long pine box, and looked into my eyes, where tears had appeared. I grabbed the handle, dragged the box towards the basement door.
“Thank you son.”
She walked onto the street.

almostwritten said...

Her one hand brushed her white hair from her forehead. The other kept pawing the earth.

Her face looked dirtier than a smith's handkerchief, but that could not conceal the sudden joy unfrowning it as her fingers discovered the smoothness of polished wood.

The soil made a pained grating noise as she ripped the box from its embrace. Or was that her breath?

She did not scrape the dirt from it. She wrenched off the lid and peered inside. "Son of a bitch", she muttered. "That's one hell of a trick."

unavoidablytiger said...

At Mrs. Smith’s bakery, scents of yeast and wheat were an ever-present joy. Today, a sulfuric trick lingered on the floor, cleverly stashed by her rotten son.

Tom already knew the boy was rotten. A fur-pulling, whisker-twisting sort of kid.

As the door opened, Tom lined up his shot. Slapped his paw against eggshell. Perfect timing. Whoosh – past the closing door. It tumbled and – score. Right under the brat’s falling shoe.

The door closed on disgusted cries. The air smelled sweet and wholesome once again.

Tom knew how to handle unruly kittens. Human ones were no exception.

Katie Dean said...

Sonny side-eyed the wriggling slime noodle that was attached to his hook.

“Fishing is messed up.”

“That’s one of the tastier catches, boy.” Papa Wally grabbed the creature and bits squeezed out in between his fingers.

“It’s gross!”

“Pretend it’s some fine oyster and slurp it up. That’s the trick.”

“The smiths talked about water when fishing. There’s no water in our backyard.”

“They don’t know joy and life can be found at home!”

Papa Wally took his hook and scraped around in the dirt.

“He-he, caught one!” He pulled out another slime creature and smiled.

Megan V said...

The snow left behind a flurry of paw prints.
“Beaws?” my son asked.
“No sweetie, not bears.” The deep impressions in the cold, white crust weren’t large enough for bears, they weren’t even large enough for a mountain lion.
“Tigews?” Mason pressed his pink nose to the windowpane.
“No tigers,” I said. Just the frosty remnants of April’s latest trick. And yet…
Crash!
The abominable fluffball bounded into the house.
“Dog!” Mason screeched with joy.
“No dog!” I shouted. “No dog!”
But I was too late.
Fido was already licking my heart to smithereens, making me April’s latest fool.

Steph Ellis said...

“Murderer,” she growled.
Smith looked at his mother. “It puts food on the table, doesn’t it? Better than turning tricks on the street. Besides, look at yourself, who’d pay for you?”
Joy shivered at his tone, she had no money, had pawned the last of her jewellery. He was right. There were other ways, her son’s way and tonight they had meat. One joint was already roasting, the remaining carcass was in the freezer. Her stomach rumbled.
“Here,” he said, holding out a delicate gold chain. “Yours.” He nodded at the cold store. “She has no need of it anymore.”

Alyssa Duke said...

The car salesman gawked at the red-lipped woman behind the wheel of the Maserati tester.
“Joy ride?” Her voice wasn’t as expensive as her taste in cars.
Not just any Jane Smith could test drive one of these babies.
A single wink. Eyelashes cascading over cheekbones.
The salesman loosened his tie. His suit jacket dropped to the ground. The showroom seemed a million miles away.
He pawed the passenger handle, slipped into the buttery seats.
“Carry On My Wayward Son” blasted.
Gravel churned beneath the tires.
Darkness gleamed in her eye, but perhaps it was just a trickery of light.

StackAttack said...

Howard Smith chucked the burger wrapper from his Hummer, searched for a woman to catcall, then sped off. This was the kind of asshole Howard was. Him being possessed by a demon was unrelated.

The demon thought he learned the trick to success. Why infect an innocent soul and be easily discovered? Better to inhabit scum, and enjoy a home behind a hideous curtain.

Unfortunately, Howard’s behavior was so insufferable when the demon wasn’t behind the wheel, the only effective torture was forcing him to be a decent person.

This was a new low, even for the spawn of Satan.

Lucy Crowe said...

“Aye, I remember him.” Detective Jamison nudged the corpse with an inconsiderate toe. “Bit of a joypopper. Harmless enough.”
The corpse lay supine in a crimson puddle, throat slit broad, like a Cheshire’s grin.
“Fancied himself a lady’s man,” said O’Donal. “Regular wordsmith, was he.”
Not so any longer; sun cut London’s fog to illuminate yellow teeth displayed in a mouth agape, horrid in death’s rictus. Hard to believe that mouth had kissed Katy.
“How is our Katy?” As though Jamison could read minds.
“Ah, she’s a pawky little gypsy, i’nt she? Regular trickster.”
And she keeps her knives sharp.

Donnaeve said...

Joy finally conceived, and Smith so wanted a son, he sought a legendary seer, also wise in herbal remedies.

She dispensed tiny packets, canned pawpaws, careful directions.

Returning to his mountain, Joy consumed the brew and fruit daily.

One morning, she began laboring hard.

By nightfall, a daughter arrived. Stillborn.

~~~

Eventually, Joy conceived again.

He found himself returning to the old woman’s cabin.

More packets and fruit were given.

Another daughter, stillborn.

Angry, he confronted the old woman. “Trickster! Faker! Our babies are dead! My wife now barren!”

Pale blue eyes pierced. “You did not say you wanted daughters.”

Karma Hope said...

“My baby,” she said, devoting all her time and energy to my vigorous nurturing and development. I personified all her hopes and joyful aspirations. My birth, the greatest moment of her life.

Dangerous to be the spawn of one so void of parental aptitude.

You see……..she introduced me to HIM. Neglected. Abandoned. My existence now a painful reminder of dreams blown to smithereens. HE didn’t want me. Her wasted youth trickled through her fingers; somehow – my fault.

I try to read the words emblazoned on what will be my new home. Recycle?

- Cries of a rejected manuscript.

H. M. Elliott said...

3:07 am. Ana’s eyes squeezed tight.

A new hotel room, a new phantasm.

It has settled itself—himself—beside the bed, movement unhampered by the stale, still air, product of the beleaguered, ineffective air conditioning unit.

His vacant eyes on her, tiny droplets of sweat form on the back of her neck. She knows the trick now, learned at age thirteen. Eye contact is invitation.

Now they always find her.

Stealing the joy of restful sleep. Pawing at her sensibilities, her awareness, her willingness—no, her duty—to honor the loss, the pain of the after with her inexorable fear.

Gypmar said...

“I don’t enjoy delivering news like this.”

“Of course not, officer.”

“Bad enough when your boy torched that rickety gazebo, but this time he’s blown city hall to smithereens.”

She nodded.

“Don’t take it personal, but that kid is the spawn of Satan.”

She smiled gently, a flicker of fire in her eye.

“Not at all.”

“We had witnesses—“

“If you’ll hold on just one moment. I’ll fetch my husband from the basement.”

He eyeballed her exit.

Finally that kid is gonna get what’s comin to him, he thought, as the scent of sulfur wafted from the basement door.

Donna Martin said...

Jonathan woke up in the barn. Blood trickled down his face.

"Don't move or I'll blow yer guts out."

"Mitch, is that you?"

"You know'd I weren't gunna let you hitch up with Joy."

"I love your sister. Don't you want her to be happy?"

"Not with the likes of you. Paw'd roll over in his grave iffin I let one of you Smith boys make off with his only daughter."

"Mitch, it's time we sons end the feud of our fathers."

"Naw, it's time I ended you."

BOOM!

Blood splatters the wall.

"It's over. Let's go Jonathan," Joy said.

Loulymar said...

shoeless and pain free
joys son pawed the smithys head
trick executed

(I know it's not a story, but I wanted to play. Unfortunately, I am in the mood to write bad senryu. 😁)

Margaret Turkevich said...

A paw tap on my cheek sparks no joy. Followed by a cold nose under my chin

and finally, a direct landing on my midsection.

Jack, son of Puck, that sly old trickster, more poodle than golden.

Yesterday Jack found the remnants of a human hand in the old smithy.

What would he find today?

Rick said...

Smuggling the monkey’s paw from the Smithsonian wasn’t as tricky as separating the paw from the monkey first, without being detected.

To be accurate, it was a chimp. A special chimp—Enos, the second primate in space.

Every second that passed, I imagined my capture. What’s the federal charge for amputating and stealing a dead primate’s appendage?

When I presented the old woman with the paw, she lifted the curse she’d put on me, as agreed.

“Why did you need that particular paw?”

“Go away!” She whispered something to the paw, then cackled with joy and squinted into her telescope.

Jennifer Delozier said...

Her son pummeled his way to the top of the boxing world, smashing his opponents’ noses—and egos–to smithereens with his trick left and a lightening right. He was a southpaw, a joy to watch in the ring, which he circled like a blood-thirsty beast hunting its prey.

He bobbed. He weaved. He fell, like all boxers do. One knockout too many. One warning too few.

Her son was a southpaw, but he uses both hands to drink from a sippy cup. Even so, the liquid trembles. She feeds him with her left hand. Momma’s a southpaw, too.

Barbara said...

Smith Jamison, best-selling crime novelist and closet serial killer, pointed a gun at Joy's head. "Swallow the right pill, you live. Choose wrong, you die. Don't choose, I shoot you."

"But, I can't swallow pills."

Jamison sighed. He should just shoot her. "It's easy." He fake swallowed a pill then sipped her water. "Now choose!"

Joy swallowed the red pill.

Jamison stiffened.

Joy swallowed the blue pill.

Jamison pawed the table.

Joy smiled. "Forgot, didn't you? The water's poison, not the pills."

Jamison gurgled. "How did-"

"I'm your biggezt fan, sicko. You used that trick in your first novel."


Melanie Savransky said...

Tuesday afternoon, Sonny Smith met Joy and me at the Roan Library to pick our gang name. I thought up 'The Roan Langers,' Joy wanted ‘The Joy Schmucks’ Club,' and Smith, a southpaw with a trick knee, didn't care.

I said, whaddaya call a gang with no name? And Joy said, whaddaya call a gang with no plan? And Smith said: “The defendants.”

Joy warbled ‘Jailhouse Rock’-- and Smith joined in with the clearest tenor this side of young Elvis.

We decided to start a band instead: ‘The OK Chorale.’

Joy says if anyone pays us, it’ll still be robbery.

kdjames.com said...

Drawn by joyous laughter coming from his office, Colin Smith found his son and the cat sitting at his computer.

"Dad, I taught her a new trick. Watch!"

The cat extended a paw, pressed the keyboard.

"She loves the whoosh sound of Send."

Colin looked closer, recognized his email account, the "query drafts" folder open-- dread clenched his gut.

"You've been busy, so we're helping with queries."

"NOOOOOO!"

Colin jolted awake, sweaty, panicked.

Just a dream.

Horrid cliché. Sweet relief.

He saw her then, sitting on his nightstand, tail flicking. She extended a paw-- and slowly, decisively, pressed it down.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I am not the smith who forged the sword or the soldier who wielded it.
I am the wound that festers.
There is no reason.
Stop your infernal wailing.
I was not brought on by the whisky.
By all means, have another sip.
Or two.

Ignore the crap awful sound your spine makes when it breaks.
Neat trick.
You will not enjoy this.
Your head twisting around like a top.
No, no. This is not a lovely day for an exorcism.
It’s better if you don’t struggle.
Open up, here I come.

I will make a writer of you yet.

Will MacPhail said...

I was a locksmith so breaking into houses is easy. The trick is choosing the right one. We’re cold and hungry so I pick a lonely two story colonial.

I’m on the run since my family was torn apart, and the only joy I get these days comes from my son. I need to protect him because he’s too young to understand.

Something paws at the front door, and I hold a hand over my son’s shivering mouth.

She found us, but she’s not my wife anymore. Aggressive and disheveled she lunges toward us. The infection spread fast.

RKeelan said...

I sprawl across a subway bench, struggling to make sense of the droning metal voice, to figure out which station is coming up.

Moscow’s subway isn’t the cleanest place to live, but it’s warm during the cold, joyless winter.

I’m getting too old for begging. Too feral, too dangerous. That’s why I need to learn the scents and sounds of the stations. It’s tricky, but their lessons are my future.

The subway slows.

I hop off the bench, pad to the narrow chasm.

I thrill to the scent of Spicy-station-with-warm-draft and lift a paw onto the platform.

I’m learning.

Mallory Love said...


The name of the game was treason, and it had more pawns than spaces on a chessboard. Some of the players were less sophisticated; their strategic style more closely resembled checkers than the former. But they enjoyed playing, despite the lack of skill. The trick was seeing how far they could go without being caught.

They selected one of their own, the wordsmith, to record their intentions. It was a long game that lasted years. However, regardless of the numerous crimes against them, they won.

And that, my children, is how the United States came to be.

Lisa Redfern said...

Hurrying through Petco’s doors, Joy glanced back to where her nine-year-old son agreed to wait with the family dog.

Pulling a lint coated Snausage from his pocket, Trevor sniffed it.

Doctor Smith barked and hopped when Trevor circled it over his head.

“You could get famous with a circus trick like that,” commented a swollen nosed man from his car.

Hefting a bag of dog food, Joy stopped dead when she saw the empty bench. “Trevor!”

A car suddenly accelerated through the lot.

From the back window, Joy saw Doctor Smith’s paws pressing against the glass and Trevor waving.

Just Jan said...

Pawpaw had a trick knee. He also had a glass eye that he would let us kids pass around. When he died, we fought over who got to keep it.

It ended up with Mabel, whose son had a club foot. She washed it with Joy and tucked it away. But each Christmas, it inexplicably turned up in Cousin Davis’ stocking. Davis threatened to smash it to smithereens, claiming it was possessed. Mabel wouldn’t hear of it.

We learned the truth four years later, when Davis was blinded in a hunting accident: Pawpaw’s eye was a true visionary.

John Davis Frain said...

“There is nothing to discuss. It is arranged.”

Father. Ever the killjoy.

“Vikram is a nice boy,” Aunt Aditi said. “He plays violin.”

“Bassoon,” I corrected.

Aunt Aditi gasped. “He’s from the Woodwind family?”

“Alas, he’s left-handed.”

Father’s turn to gasp. “A Southpaw?”

“On the other hand,” Aunt Aditi, the wordsmith, countered. “He loves your daughter.”

“He writes me Punjabi poetry.” A tear, forced, trickled down my crimson cheek.

Father understood the heart. He’d lost his one year ago when the woman he’d chosen passed. “It shall be,” he announced. “Arrange for me to meet this Vikram.”

Father even smiled.

Julie D said...

“You pawning or selling?” the man on TV asks a guy who’s just set down a pistol. Old-timey, like Yosemite Sam might use to blow a rabbit to smithereens.

Mother sleeps. Used to, she’d crank up that bed and mock the whoevers peddling their whatnots square on. Then she’d ask for a Coke, some bacon—joys the son-of-a-bitch doctor (her words) ordered against. “When the day comes you’re headed for the chair, I’ll get you bacon.” I said this when I thought she would get better.

The rabbit always lived, you know. Tricked that outlaw reaper every time.

Tomorrow, bacon.

Dan Castro said...

I found her sprawled in a drug den. Mouth wide open. Her final scream.

Welts, like cigarette burns, lined the arms’ dark blue veins. Nearby lay an empty syringe. The latest opioid, Joy, I assumed. Weird to be killed by something with your name.

A shadow filled the doorway. Sunglasses. Suit. Earpiece. Like Neo’s Mr. Smith on steroids. He curled his paws into fists that could batter down the Capitol.

The trick to surviving? Pound the solar plexus to knock the wind out. I dropped him like 300 pounds of potatoes. Handcuffed him. Called Joy’s son with the bad news.

Karen McCoy said...

The joy of reading? More of a trick, an indiscernible riddle.
I’m a “fish in a tree,” like Einstein’s quote, unable to climb without paws.
No reason for me to speak up, right? Those fish get harpooned.
I graduate with a certificate instead of a diploma.
My tutor gives me a book about a gorilla in captivity;
the quote from George Eliot slowly loosens my self-loathing.
I pry my way out. Transmit her quote to my students.
Einsteins, all of them. Like me, with tools to climb.
“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”

LynnRodz said...

Should I kill the boy on the bike?
Or the couple crossing the street?
The boy's young, someone's son.
The couple's old, they've had a life.
What if the boy grows up and becomes a trickster, worse a rapist or killer?
What if the man's a surgeon saving lives, spreading joy; the woman a scientist on the brink of a discovery that'll help the world?
Pawl?
No one programmed me for this!

*

Mr. Smith, Tesla awarded you four million dollars. It won't bring your wife back, but perhaps there's some consolation knowing three lives were saved.

Amy Johnson said...

Michael Johnson was one smart oxymoron. The jocks played their tricks, even destroyed the science fair project he’d worked on all summer. And as Michael fought back tears, they called him a killjoy.

He’d never beat them, but he could gain their respect. For although nobody knew, Michael was as athletically gifted as he was brainy.

The amazed coach saved Michael for the bottom of the ninth in the big game. Ready to shine, Michael took his stance at the plate.

Then he recognized the pitcher: James Smith, his similarly thinking archnemesis from the science fair circuit, and fellow southpaw.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

My head was pounding like a blacksmith’s hammer. Fired. Just another lousy break in my lousy life.

I slumped down on the couch thinking how tricky it’ll be telling Sonny we’ve got to tighten the proverbial belt - nothing extra, especially no more fancy feasts. He walked in wearing arrogance like a custom-made coat. Oh, joy.

As always, aloof as a rock, he began to lick one polydactyl paw. I began to cry. Suddenly, he jumped up on my lap and gave my chin a headbutt. His deep purr resonated straight through to my heart. I smiled through my tears.

Sherin Nicole said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ly Kesse said...

Smithy placed the stone on the grave, easing the stone into place. "There, that does the trick," he mumbled, as the stone fell into place. He stood and brushed the dirt from his hands. "Let's see if the old son of a bitch complains now."

Smithy picked up his cane and limped to the bench.

Sally trailed in his wake, tears streaming down her face. "It's not right, you know?"

Smithy frowned, all the joy draining from his face. "Sorry, Sally. I know. It should have been me. I promise. I'll keep my paws to myself from now on."

Sherin Nicole said...

On the night the child was born the moon kissed the sun in celebration. And the sun blushed into a shimmering ring of shards. The trickster did not know the difference between destruction and creation but he took the eclipse. That very night the blacksmith set the kiss into a locket. His paws trembled when the trickster laid the necklace on the little kit’s chest. He could not tell his son how many times the world would fall apart and remake itself, but this symbol of his joy would never fade. And that would be enough.