Friday, March 11, 2016

The Sayonara Amy, Smooth Seas Ahead Writing Contest

Many of you "know" Amy Schaefer, one of the blog readers, and amazing flash fiction writers. She lives in Paradise.

But, Paradise moves, and now
we're back on the boat soon. We only have internet when we are in port, and it is usually, in a word, pathetic. We're travelling from Australia to South Africa this year, and I don't expect to be connected for most of that time. I can send/receive text-only email over our SSB radio; that lets me update my blog, as well as stay connected to friends and family. But the internet is a distant dream.

In case you're interested, a couple guys named Magellan and Drake did this trip as well (although Magellan ran into some harsh critics in The Phillipines.)

Let's send Amy off on her amazing journey with a writing contest!

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 word must appear in consecutive order. They cannot be backwards.
Thus: sea/seattle is ok, but salt/gestalt 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 MY feedback on your contest entry. NONE. (It's oke ok! to discuss in comment column with other blog commenters, just leave me out of the discussion.)

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: Saturday March 12 10am

Contest closes: Sunday March 13 11am (yea, hello daylight savings time)

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

Do I have time to still enter?

It's closed!

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!


Sorry, too late


S.D.King said...

When I found Bill he’d been there 2 days, naked but for a blue shirt. I gave him saltwater and wiped his butt.

No use calling an ambulance, he’d never go.

Neighbors hated him. Was he safe? Yes, but I would send him from my yard for swearing at my kids. House like a landfill. Dog slept in a mud hole in his yard.

I stayed five days till his kids were shamed into coming. They sent me out.
He lingered one season.

I taught him how to say “I’m sorry.” It worked on his kids. God, too, I think.

Michael Seese said...

“You'll be safe here.” The last words my husband spoke before he disappeared in a swirl of dirty murk.

No one expects a sleeping kitten, without warning, to bare its fangs and lash out, consuming trees and buildings and roads and lives with such unrelenting malice.

The skies are blue now. The sea has gone home. But it left me a souvenir. Salt. In my mouth. In my hair. Clinging to my skin as tenuously as I cling to the hope I'll see him again

Ten years ago we honeymooned on Phuket Island. I'll never forget our return visit either.

Timothy Lowe said...


What is the sea?
Blue. Salt. Safe. Free.

What is the land?
Palm. Dirt. Peril. Sand.

Cindy C said...

Time stopped for a moment, as if to paint a still-life portrait for an old blues album.

On the dresser two glasses still rimmed with salt, a half-empty bottle of tequila, an old-fashioned alarm clock. The woman sitting up in bed, mouth open in an O of surprise, one arm searching for the sheet to cover herself, the other reaching for the sweaty man lying next to her as if to keep him safe. The husband framed in the doorway, holding Chanel and flowers, his expression halfway between heartbreak and hatred.

The clock ticked.

He sprang forward.

She fell back.

Lennon Faris said...

“Cross the Great Plain,” Harry dares me, “in daylight.”
Giants are deadly, but I’m faster. I accept.
Halfway across, Baby Hulk spots me. He yodels, landing his massive fist terrifyingly close. I scramble into the box of frosted men he eats, strewn and prostrate from his tantrums. Other behemoths ignore, Baby forgets. I wait, safe in the dark of unsteady boulders.
Nope - I’m sliding with the eats. A pair of blue saucers widen as I fly by. She roars. I plop into her white sea.
Tsunami! Meteorites!
Universal truth: reputation costs an arm and a leg. Fortunately, six remain.

Unknown said...

The blue call and response of sax and horn drifted through the transom. The safe was already open. So was the hollowed out Psalter. Dammit. The Black Bird was gone. I grabbed the bundle of fifties.

A wheeze from behind. I spun.

The Fatman nodded. “Sam.”

“You’re too late.”

“So I see.”

“Looks like she left in a hurry. If we teamed up, we might catch her.”

“Work with a wiseacre? I’ll pass.”

“Think she’ll head to Malta?”

“I’m guessing Cairo.” A gun appeared in the Fatman’s hand. He snatched the dough. “And I’m betting I’ll get there first.”

Matthew Wuertz said...

You search the sea for her - the digital representations of countless dreams and ideas.

You swim through data with a trail of salt to guide you back.

There's a thin, blue thread that looks like her signature. At the end, she's there - a bland existence, diffusing into the sea.

You send a basic signal that her brain should reassemble into speech. "Amy."


“Amy, this isn’t real.”

“It’s the only reality.”

You promise safety if she’ll follow you. She refuses, and the sea takes her – fantasy conquering reality. You entered the sea together, but you swim back alone.

LynnRodz said...

T'was the season of the Great Hunter when the sky turned blue once every ten years. On this day, people gathered and told tales of a place where the sky and the vast waters were always blue.

A decade earlier, Lizzy, 9, felt safe in her older sister's arms until she saw the fear in her eyes. Lizzy began to cry.

Loukia wiped away her salty tears. "Before your 19th birthday, Lizzy, run."
That's all she said, Lizzy never saw her again.

Tall and beautiful, Lizzy was chosen.

She ran. T'was the season of the Great Hunter.

Kregger said...

A sailor’s bequest.

Quaint New England towns with widow’s walks,

Strolled by day and moonless nights.

The safety of land, an anachronism to sailors’ savant.

To test the tempest is humility and salty humanity.

How well do we treat our planet’s womb?

Silent waters roll testament to corrosive political wills and decaying steel.

The barrier reefs, a breath of fresh air, dying to breathe.

Elegant beasts, epochs in the making, gone in the step of man.

And yet,

She and I, share the same salinity.

And to that end,

I commit my soul.

To sea, is to believe.

Dena Pawling said...

Fifteen men on a dead man's chest

Yohoho and a bottle of rum

Took to sea to get some rest

Yohoho and a bottle of rum

Thought they were safe out on their quest

Yohoho and a bottle of rum

Men in blue soon came abreast

Yohoho and a bottle of rum

They were pressured and confessed

Yohoho and a bottle of rum

Now they're on land under arrest

Yohoho and a bottle of rum

Of the state they are a guest

Yohoho and a bottle of rum

Missing salt spray and crow's nest

Yohoho and a bottle of rum

Sherry Howard said...

Drake planned the reunion world tour for Travel Club. Brothers in exploration, this adventure was granted them by the women in their lives. Four weeks of salty language and cigars awaited.

One by one they succumbed to the travails of travel. Cortes missed boarding at Baja and they hadn't heard from him since. Ferdinand developed dysentery, bluefin tuna perhaps. Marco broke his leg in that mishap with the camel when la mariposa plunged from the sky.

Vespucci turned green and surrendered to his quarters, quickly followed by each in turn.

Seasickness makes a miserable mistress. Landfall looked better every moment.

Scott said...

I’m all alone on watch tonight, and the wind’s got a bone in her teeth.

The day was beautiful, the sky a lovely blue bowl, the sailboat safe, even out of sight of land.

But now it’s dark. We’re half way between here and there, surrounded by black salt sea and starlit sky. The autopilot keeps us headed northwest, leaving me free to roam the deck.

The boat heels. I grip the shrouds, lean over the water, and stare into the bioluminescent depths. If I slipped, no one would know for hours. It makes me want to just . . . let . . . go.

DLM said...

No safe landings in a mosh pit. But we didn’t even call them that back then.

Girls and guys, cigarettes, blue nighttime city light. The air oddly soft; this city is not a big one, and it is summer. Honey and Andy sharing salty snacks. Other Andy trying to flirt. We didn’t know he didn’t like girls.

Sitting on the wall. Flowered skirt, jean jacket, CIA t-shirt tied in a knot. Aching for someone to fall into. Sea of boys and wanting to dive.

No safe landings.

Colin Smith said...

I herd annoys, eye was as leap,
Uke ought me buys a prize.
I.D. dent askew inn my hows,
Urine tent was my team eyes.

Now yew liar pontiff lore,
I blue yore minder part.
Yaw bull it did a salt my harm,
Yo ray mitt safe my art.

Ewe thaw chewed god me, sea ping Jews,
Hugh deed dint under Stan:
I haddock unto, an die campfire
With Jess won A bill land.

Anonymous said...

Thickly blanketed head to toe by their warm friends shining from the heavens, their cutter cut a peaceful path through the salty blue sea. What is there to get when what is to be had is in hand. As two above so two safely below.

“Yes, dearest.”
“What did that weird actor mean by spring a leak?”
“I think that means good luck in weird actor speak.”
“Yeah, they’re superstitious and overly worried about failure.”
“Aye, I see.”
“Did you want to look below?”
“Just for a peek.”

Thus time is compressed once again by some landlubber’s request.

Unknown said...

Foul smelling sealant wafted toward the crowd dancing the night away. No one noticed the acrid smell, nor did they realize that the newly constructed deck on which they were stomping would lose its safety certification piece by crumbling piece.

Persistent waves boogied over the basalt coast and under the dance platform where a conga line of revelers dressed in various shades of blue performed their outlandish gyrations.

The alarmed construction worker raced to the site, phone to his ear, an unheard warning emanating from his lips.

But he was too late. “God, no!”

Startled dancers tumbled into the ocean.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

They will promptly move you inland. Your yearning for the sea will make the royal fiancé jealous.

You will have tutors, for manners, for posture, so you can complete that knife’s edge walk down the aisle when the time comes. Dance. Use the right fork.

You will never again taste salt on your lips. You will never again experience the blue depths.

You will be safe from sharks, sorcery, your father’s wrath. You will miss your sisters.

But you no longer have a voice to share these things. Only your love for him, and his need to keep you human.

Anonymous said...

We stumble from the ship, leaving friends whose lips are bluer than the California sky. The sailors ask for one last kiss, one last squeeze, one last tumble before they let us go like fish released from nets.

Do they know they’ve freed us in unsafe waters? The men who promised we’d be bankers’ wives make us live on others’ land, picking fruits we can’t afford, taking orders in a foreign tongue. Salt stains our cheeks each night as we remember all the promises life didn’t keep. This land of dreams leaves us dreaming of the nightmare homes we fled.

french sojourn said...

The coast appeared clear. Slowly, he inched out of the safety of his bunker. There was a faint light in the adjoining chamber. He looked up and saw the promised land. The hardest part was the climb. Absolute silence, or the game was up.

He thought of the others before him. Same journey, never heard from again. With the agility of an acrobat, he launched, spun, and landed behind a blue barrier.

He heard a noise from the adjoining chamber, then he saw it.


As he ducked behind a canister of Sea salt, a cat jumped onto the counter.

Donnaeve said...

Dodd, a salt of the earth sort, married Doreen. As years added up, so did the demands.

“Dodd, bring me some tea.”

“Yes, dear.”

“Dodd, quit chewing so loud!”

“Yes, dear.”

“Dodd! I’m talking to you!”

“Yes, dear.”

Then comes winter, and the land sleeps preparing for the labor of spring.

He’s trapped inside. With her.


It’s the longest winter.



Fields beckon, safety from demands, a reprieve for his blues.

An early planting season?

“Dodd! Get over here!”


“Dodd? No! Dodd!”

Outside he breathes deep, opening containers of lime, filling the spreader.


An early planting.

Jennifer Delozier said...

Old man Jimmy lounged, book in hand, on the yacht’s blue deck, oblivious to the churning of the angry sea. A Salty Piece of Land. He read his favorites passages out loud to the stuffed parrot head on the wall. “This is when life was good,” he said. The bobbing boat allowed the bird to nod its assent.

The sky grew dark, or maybe it was his eyes.

Jimmy pulled up anchor, and the boat floated from the safe harbor. “Time for one final change in latitude,” he said. “No more pacing the cage.”

Come Monday, the world mourned.

Unknown said...

I’m not gender typical. “Are you a girl?” the basses tease. Whatever. Me sings alto. Fuck off.

Sean isn’t neurotypical, and we bonded over perfect pitch. He sang and said “blue.” I replied “D#.” I mapped his octave onto colors. Pitch is hue, volume is value.

I thought I could keep him safe on the choir hiking trip. Now he keeps singing the same four notes, weaker and weaker. Quarter note G; eighth note A; quarter note D#, barely audible; eighth note A. Red; yellow; blue—no, black; yellow.

Holy shit. “Call 911,” I screech, “and get coral snake antivenin!”

Anonymous said...

Later, she would explain to Michél that she didn't know it was active. She wouldn't have approached it if she had.

She learned a lot of things later. The path she'd been walking on was actually the land's seam. The slick black rocks she'd scrambled down, running for safety, were basalt, and they were unforgiving. When they'd found her, submerged in ash and unconscious, it was only by the grace of her bright blue shoe sticking above the surface.

She told Michél, from the hospital bed, she wouldn't have approached it. She wouldn't even have gotten off the plane.

CynthiaMc said...

Jim wanted to go to sea.

"Not safe," I said.

"What is any more?"

Our Disney jobs were gone. Jim trained his foreign replacement. I watched twenty years of life drain from his blue eyes.

Sold house and cars. Kept the boat - paid for and insured.

Days 1-3: salt air, sunshine, healing

Day 4: lost radio and navigation

"We have the sun and stars. We're okay," Jim said.

Day 6: Hurricane we didn't see coming -again. Lost the boat.

Day 7: No land in sight

Day 8: Picked up by a Disney cruise ship

I wonder if they're hiring...

Unknown said...

Sure, I over-seasoned the soup. I know fancy pants chefs say cooking’s about “balancing flavors” but...meh. There’s no taking it back now. I flick a stove knob, and the burner’s blue flame falls.

I slide a bowl toward Colton, warning, “It may need salt.” He stops ranting about work and smiles. Domesticity’s all safe like that.

Then he takes a hearty bite. I sigh impatiently as he coughs hard, his eyes suddenly glittering.

Guess he doesn’t appreciate that bottle of Tabasco I tossed in?

When his accusing gaze lands on mine, I ask, “So why’d you empty our savings account?”

Brian M. Biggs said...

Two robots trudge across the sand to the shrunk lake. They gather samples. It’s hotter than hell and Mabuz-1 looks at Olga. Her temperature had started to rise but she seems afebrile now. Cars sunk in the mud up to their windows are scattered around the lake. Doors on rotted trailers dangle by a single hinge and bang in the wind. Loners and addicts out of rehab - lues, gonorrhea, and AIDS prevalent among them - live in this rot. But movie stars were here at one time, the Rat Pack frequented the Salton Sea’s North Shore Yacht Club.

Miranda F. said...

Tonight Jack took me to that overpriced steakhouse on Commonwealth. He said my eyes were blue like the sea and pulled a small velvet box from his coat.

I told him the sea is a dirty shade of green and reached for the salt, my heartbeat slowing as he slid the ring back into his pocket with a deflated look on his face. Even deflated, he manages to look arrogant.

He says I’ll be safe with him, that he’ll make me the happiest man in Long Island. Tomorrow I’ll take a fifty from his wallet and call myself a cab.

Celia Reaves said...

In wet clay, molecules bonded into proteins and life began.

In shallow seas, cells formed membranes and invented photosynthesis.

In rocky shores, creatures crawled onto land and spread.

In steamy jungles, giant lizards dominated the world.

In the aftermath of the comet, mammals took center stage.

In grassy plains, primates stood upright and built tools and fires.

In Blue Springs, AL, Tommy called out, "Hey, Contessa!" Ferrari, jewelry, just the right amount of chin stubble; he knew he would attract the attention of the pretty girl who had caught his eye.

It's all evolution.

Kitty said...

At the seasoned age of eighty-two, Luella was getting married for the first time. Waiting for the organist to begin, she ran down “the list.”

“Something old: me! Something new: my shoes. Something borrowed: my dress. Something bl… Oh my, I must confess something NOW!”

It’s safe to say Luella’s sins altogether wouldn’t amount to one decent confession. Even so, Father O’Hara was immediately summoned.

Minutes later, Luella marched down the aisle, on her brother’s arm, wearing a garland of flowers in her hair, a smile on her face and "sinfully sheer blue undergarments" she bought in the lingerie department.

Unknown said...

Barren in Paradise

The sea washed over her, drowning her blue heart and filling her wounded womb with salt. She swam to dry land and took a walk on its sandy shore. Her footprints washed away like the memories that would never live.

Sandcastles were mocking her, so she crushed them beneath her toes, scowling at the mothering mothers with their motherly stares. Scraping at the sand, she dug up a seashell and held it to her ear, finding safety in her cold shell. Listen—it sounds like ocean waves that never were.

Marie McKay said...

On the 'lost versus found' tally, 'lost' scores highly. She's SALTED - NO PEPPERED- the furniture and cupboards with square, blank labels; spaces he'll help her to fill when he's... ON LAND. That's wrong, but she lets it slip into another cliche... she's ALL AT SEA... unwilling to flag up more 'lost' words.
She worries invisible beads with her fingers. She won't feel SAFE - NO, WHAT'S THE DAMN WORD? - ANXIOUS! She won't feel ANXIOUS once he's here.
She writes ANXIOUS under BLUE on her list, allowing herself that triumph, before casting her eyes over the Mosaic of Missing decorating the house.

Alex Moore said...

If I didn’t get so nauseated away from shore, I would love to join Amy on her journey. It’s probably because of the time we competed over the saltines while boating. To pass the time. When you’re little, you’ll try just about anything for amusement.

How many of those crackers can you eat in a minute? You can drink as much water as you like.

I safely stuffed six squares of pasty fluff.

Face blued, eyes bugged. Throat preparing to heave. “Waaah-ter,” I managed a whisper.

Wait. What? We forgot the water back on land.

Please, go on. Without me.

Rena McClure Taylor said...

Look, he’d said. You don’t want this—neither do I, but—

—but we just got here—can’t we try—the girls—

The ocean moans in her ears.

She would miss the blue where sky meets land. The laughter.

But they’d never been safe—

tide’s undertow, threatening, pulling them down.

Don’t look back, but she had—

sea blackened

grass land turned desert

sand dunes scattered like pillars of salt.


somewhere water pools deep

trees shade,



No, don’t look back.

She rubs tears scalding her cheeks—

shuts, locks, walks the hill to her rented car.


Cheryl said...

All we knew was deep sea, cold and dark. When we needed to move we followed the whales, their great size providing safety from predators. But we were adventurous, Father and I, and left in search of new experiences.

Father wanted to swim up, toward the dim light, where the water was warmer. “We’ll see all kinds of new people,” he said.

We discovered a new shade of blue, so bright, so sharp. I swam higher, chasing the sparkles, though he told me to stop. I ignored him and plunged out of the water — tasted salt, saw land, smelled

Craig F said...

Technology almost killed the long con. Then the marks began to feel safe because they could check their money any time. That same technology allowed LEOS to track you all the way to the blue horizon, if you were on land.

With a little salt in you veins you could escape to sea like some pirate. Said LEOS were right on our tail as we raced to the harbor with the money. We ran onto the dock and saw that the tide was wrong. Diane pointed to the clock. We had forgotten to spring forward for Daylight Savings Time.

Scott Sloan said...

It began the day of our wedding, so many years ago.
Ransacking my trousseau, even before the ceremony.
Propositioning every female at the church.

Momma had always warned me about auslanders.

But he was so damned handsome.
Full of a saltatorial vitality unseen in these mountains.

Then came the bodies.
With the heads at just that awkward distance from their accustomed residency.
No abluent would scrub those images from memory.

How could I feel safe?

Listen to those heads, Momma had said.
They know what needs to be done.

Who wants to live forever?

cbaz said...

Land had never felt so lovely beneath Maria’s feet.

She licked the salt from her lips and took one last look at the docked sailboat behind her. Lady Seara would keep her secret.

White-capped waves reflected in the rearview mirror as she drove away. She was safe now. He would never hurt her again.

Boston’s “Don’t Look Back” played on the radio. Perfection.

Forty-five minutes later, she exited the highway, and her body slumped with fatigue. God, she’d really done it.

Behind her, blue lights flashed. Dammit.

Tears sprang forth.

“Tail light’s out ma’am.” A frown. “Everything okay?”

Steve Forti said...

8:58am: iShell marathon playlist ready.

9:00am: We’re off! Time to… zzzzz…

9:24am: Damn narcolepsy. Okay, sing to pace yourself.

9:53am: “Escargot. My car go. 160. Swiftly.” Almost across the starting line.

10:44am: Zzzzz…

11:31am: Slime trail nearly nine feet long (it’s glandular). Woo!

11:32am: Zzzzz…

12:47pm: Someone added the Speed Racer theme. Wiseass.

5:11pm: Half mile mark! I could zzzzz…

5:14pm: …keep going all day!

5:16pm: Zzzzz…

6:55pm: Saltine crumbs = refueling time.

8:28pm: “S-A-F-E-T-Y dance!”

9:06pm: “I’m blue, da ba dee zzzzz…”

Three years later: Hundred feet to glory! Be there by nightfall.

6:15pm: Finished! Time for a nap.

Anonymous said...

Day 1
The sun's bright spotlight shines upon the seas azure stage.

The dolphins perform their salty song and dance.

The world seems perfect, safe.

Day 2
'A voyage worth taking', he'd said, 'an adventure across the wild blue yonder'.

Day 5
Storms raged for three days and my stomach is now a world class gymnast.

Day 6
The morning sun, the seas calm blue glass, and 'Land Ho'.

Day 7

The Door opens, a man walks in.

“Simulations over, exit on your left please.”

“Fuck this shit. Babe, cancel that trip, were going to the Grand Canyon.”

Writer 4 said...

The diagnosis was a bomb: luetic arthropathy.


Better to get even than angry. It was altruism, really - a form of forgiveness. Each time his pants came off, he was a hero.

The small and religious town became a venereal hotspot, because our "hero" has a few holes in his memory.

-Forgot he'd fucked that one girl on a business trip.

-Forgets, often, to use a condom.

Was it neurosyphilis kicking in, or convenient omission?

CDC identified him as the source. He blamed his wife. She tested negative.

"Our wedding bed's been cold for years."

Forgotten that, too. Damn neurosyphilis.

Megan V said...

Mama is an expert at telling two truths with every lie.
Yesterday she said, “You’re a smart girl, Chelsea, and you’ll always be smart. Soon, though, you’ll be beautiful too.”
Today, I am not beautiful.
My skin is tinged with blue.
And Mama clutches a pillow.
“I can’t keep you safe,” she says. ”I can’t be the mother you deserve.”
My heart thumps in a rousing rataplan. Rataplan, rataplan, rataplan! Don’t!
Salt drips from her eyes.
“I’m sorry,” she lies.
Her sibilant voice is as soft as pine needles.
The pillow is softer.
I gurgle. Burble.
Then go still.

Curt David said...

I woke up. Remembered all my stress.

I teach English as a Second Language learners (ESL) and reviewed the presidential race today. I explained red and blue states, each candidate, Trump has the hair…the basics. Engaged class. Although one boy (new to USA) looked worried.
“What if the candidate that loses still wants to be president? Or Obama doesn’t want to leave. Will there be lots of guns and shooting?”
“No, that never happens when we get a new president. It’s safe.”
He smiled, genuinely relieved. “That’s good!”

I’m going to bed remembering all I have to be thankful for.

RKeelan said...

Shake, shake.
I hate myself. I poison those who love me most.
Shake, shake.
I'm bright and cheerful, but I should be some nasty putrid colour, like the flesh of blueberries (what is up with that?), so people know I'm unsafe.
Shake—"Let's stop this, you and I. You think life is bland and dull and unappetizing without me, but it's not. Life can be sweet, sour, bitter, and those aren't bad things. They're wonderful things."
Soul-searing silence. Resolution. Hesitation. Capitulation.
"I have got to stop drinking—I could swear this salt shaker just spoke to me."
Shake, shake.

Brigid said...

Dear assholes,
Look, you can’t demand it yesterday and refuse to pay for time travel.

Expect a reply within 24 earth-hours.

Rates double daily. The price of gas-alt is no joke. We're only getting farther.


Send the gorram file. I’ve done medieval Finland to the draining of the Red Sea. I'm the Golden Retriever. Ruin my record, I'll ruin you.


Coords received. Dropoff last Tuesday.

Ms. Janes,
We regret to inform you funding is retroactively retracted due to mandate changes.
T. Broderick, executive coordinator

code blue no gas-alt credit refused danger recon hurry


Christina said...

Lucy left the seaside cottage, a holiday with family. She lugged her blue bag through the full train. Salty air wafted through the doors before they shut. She was returning to work in London, always alone.

A man stood nearby in the corridor, his duffle safe behind him.

An hour of conversation with him passed before a seat opened. The man told Lucy she could have the seat, if he could take her for coffee.

Landing at Paddington station, Lucy lost him in the rush and decided to leave, feeling foolish.

She heard, "Wait!" and turned.

"What about the coffee?"

Mallory Love said...

Two pink lines confirmed her worst fears. They had practiced safety, but apparently not well. A wave of nausea roiled through her. It had been one night, filled with too many salt-rimmed margaritas and not enough sense. And this was her penance for it.

Heels clicked on the landing outside the door. “Hurry! It’s almost time.” She straightened the white tulle of her dress and opened the door.

“Do you have everything?” her bridesmaid asked. “Something new? Old? Borrowed? Blue?”
New- a baby.
Old- her virginal reputation.
Blue- her outlook.
Her eyes met the best man’s.
Only time.

Steve Cassidy said...

“The chart’s altered Captain.”

“Aye, should’ve spotted land a week ago on this course.”

“There’s nothing but empty sea.”

“How’s the fresh water?”

“It’s been contaminated. What do we do Captain? Pray for rain?”

“That we do. Sky’s as clear and blue as I’ve ever seen it Lieutenant. Can’t try for Tahiti anymore. Australia or Peru, if we live that long…”

“West, by south west lieutenant, Australia’s our safest choice.”

“Without charts and water?”

“Save your spit and don’t let the men see you sweat.”

“It’s 4000 miles sir.”

“5000 to Peru.”

“Who’d do this?”

“Lieutenant, there’s a madman onboard.”

Unknown said...

Albie vomited again into the blue soup pot, the salty bile like acid.

“So help me, Albie, if we miss this trip, I’ll kill you,” his mother’s voice a ferocious whisper.

Shocks stung Albie’s fingers as he shuffled with the pot around the sea of carpet in the den.

“We have to see Leland this weekend, I- I just…” She moaned, gasping tears. “What if he’s not safe there? What if they’re mistreating him? Your sweet brother.”

Albie lowered his eyes in fear, wishing again he was handicapped like his twin.

“You can’t be sick!”

Steven D. said...

Fellow Floridians labeled me aquaphobic.
Fellow survivors considered me prudent.
Both groups excluded my brother, Fin, ten-years ago today.

Though unsafe to scuba unaccompanied, I’d never truly be alone in the liquid blue.
After thirty-minutes, the serenity of the underwater seascape ebbed away a decade of resentment.

A tiger shark seized my tank.
I unbuckled it and found a cavern refuge.
Salty water seeped and blurred my vision, but I spotted a dive knife lodged in coral.
Having skewered his nictitating eyelids repeatedly, the beast retreated.

Later, I read the knife’s blade: “Quick Release, Finland.”
Fin rescued me again.

Anonymous said...

The Great Blue One, she of sharp teeth and salty language, stood to make a toast: "To fair winds and following seas."

"And no following kraken," came a sullen voice from the corner.

"May the wind always be at your back."

"And not blow through a pig farm first."

Her glare landed on the culprit. "This is a cheerful sendoff. What's with the gloomy remarks?"

"Just envious of all the island paradise talk. Plus, I'll miss her."

"It's safe to say we're all going to miss Amy. But don't worry, snookums, I've got an island in mind for you too."

Scott G said...

Seared steaks. A colander of greens with a pinch of salt. Salsa, feta cheese, a bottle of wine and a blues CD.

Everything I needed.

The doorbell rang. I answered.

“Good evening. You look stunning.”


“Will you marry me?”


“Before I die?”


“Right now?”


The priest arrived, and the guests, and the cake, and a candelabra with flickering flames.

“I do.”

“I do.”

We lay together. The needle pricked my vein. A portal appeared.

I knew it.

“Do you want to see?”


I let go of my widow’s hand and slipped into the disappearing mist.

CED said...

Chronometer's a few seconds miscalibrated. I land at the wrong time. No excuse. A second off can be enough to create a causal time loop.

No matter. I'm here now, with a mission. Wipe out a paradox. Time anomalies are the dirt, I'm the abluent.

I see my target. I step from the shadows, quantum pistol in hand. An old memory emerges—or is it a new one?—and I see myself point the pistol. Fire or not, either way I'm undone.

I flee. I'm the dirt now. But dirt exists, and that's enough for me.

Christina Seine said...





Kae Bell said...

First, only sea and sky, all the way to the horizon.
The Chain of Command decides.
Ships arrive, bearing dirt, concrete, and blueprints.
Plans from thousands of years ago.
Planning for thousands of years.
Hard to grasp for youngins like us.
New land made from red earth.
Next, missiles.

Missiles on a rogue island.
History likes a joke.

‘BREAKING NEWS’ about a salt spit on the world’s other half.

As if we were all safe before.

Karen McCoy said...

“Have a seat.” The detective sucked on a grass blade. “When did you discover your wallet missing?”

“Early this morning, after my car disappeared.” The old man’s hair tinged blue beneath the cellar lights. “Maybe I oughta…call the police.”

The detective glared. “Precautions first, dear friend. Hear any disturbances last night?”

“No, but I’m a heavy sleeper.”


“Don't pelt me with insults, rodent.”

“I’m a saltwater mammal, sir,” the detective insisted. “And you’re lucky I'm here. Your car landed safely near my marina.” He held up the drenched keys in his paw. “Your wallet, however, remains at large.”

Sara Halle said...

I grew up hearing salty language that'd turn a blueberry red. When the screaming started, I hid.
In school, learning took a backseat to hunger. Teachers scolded me for outlandish behavior if I fainted.
When a customer accused me of disrespect, my boss believed the slander and fired me.
My landlord turned out to be a philanderer. For saying, "No," I was evicted.
I joined a clandestine transportation scheme. Caught, I got twenty years.
Upon my release, I had a carefully researched plan: Commit another crime.
Doing so would let me return to the one place I'd ever felt safe.

Anonymous said...

He paints each day, himself, into a lover's embrace.
Watercolor. It's all he knows. To properly shade one artful and elegant elbow.
To salt every minor cloud. In cold-press paper lies safety.
In pigments, one great pearl selling at one fine price.
Each bristle of every brush becomes him,
and a blue pill that speaks.
“Paint on,” it says,
“paint on.”

AnnieColleen said...

Had the parlor not been shuttered, dust-smothered, it would have charmed me. So would the cabinet, no matter how neglected.

No matter his silence when I hint at questions.

My handlight picks out inlaid figures: mother and daughter, captain a-sea. Faint, faded ghosts in blues and reds and golds, smelling of salt and cedar.

The key I plucked from a jumble of spares - turned twice, pressed down - springs an artful panel. A paper, much folded, lands at my feet.

My treasure,
You have found my heart. I pray you keep it safe.

The date scrawled atop the paper is today's.

Unknown said...

Playoff season. It's a whole new level. The game is already fast and vicious, there's no slowing down until the whistle blows. What a rush! Tonight it's game one against the New York Islanders. Lucky bastards.

The roar of the crowd is deafening. The atmosphere has become a war zone. Fallujah is safer than here now. Salty veterans mixing it up with the crafty rookies. Blood splatter. Teeth lost means spirituality renewed. A game for the gods. Player safety be damned!

Coach yells line change as soon as the puck dumps over the blue line. My skate stabs the ice. I'm ready to play. I'm ready to kill.

The whistle blows.

AJ Blythe said...

De luk av de Oirish wus wi' us the-nite, Sean.
That's why oi'm gonna use me share ter ‘ead 'um.
No more shenanigans for me, Sean.
Promised me mama I'd salt somethin' away.
So oi 'av ter keep it safe an' nowha better than de 'omeland, Sean.
De men in blue won't fend me dare.
But why only de gauld coins, Sean?
So much 'arder ter 'ide.
Just pour dem into dis pot, Paddy.
I'll luk after dem.
I’ll 'ide dem after de storm, Paddy.
An' for al' that’s Oirish,
My name isn’t Sean, Paddy, it’s Leprechaun.

Anonymous said...

Marla’s blue eyes flicker. Energy shoots from them, warming the frozen doorknob. “Tonight, that hunk of evil falls!”

Dark foreboding curls around her. “It’s coming.” She hugs her Shaman’s bag. “I’m ready.”

She pulls a sage filled Abalone shell, sea salt, a feather, and matches from her bag. Then she sprinkles the salt on the floor, surrounding herself in a safety circle.

Coldness intensifies.

She lights the sage and uses the feather to swirl the smoke, creating a portal.

The being charges, bounces off the salt, and lands in the portal—sent back to its own dimension forever.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

Sweat salted her upper lip. Maisie tied a knot in the end of her hope and hung on. A Bluestocking in a red light district? The other girls said, you can be safe, or you can eat. Can’t have both.

Maisie disagreed. She watched the other girls land the cashed-up sailors or the business-“out late at a meeting, dear”-men. How hard could it be? A smile and a wink lured a John into the alley. Her tazer sealed the deal. Her fingers lightened his wallet.

One night’s work, and already her babies could eat for a month.

Unknown said...

Beware online dating!
Entrepreneur loves travel and animals, he writes.

Sailing around the Pacific tests our relationship.
Coastline wildlife guardians warn against poachers.

“These basaltic islands serve only nature,” he laughs.
One serves his business nature.
He exchanges currency with merchants of animal parts, aka nature’s little blue pill. Loaded down for his mainland trading appointment, he shoves off to sea.

Left behind: unhappy merchants with counterfeit currency and me.

Bolt to safe cove where Wildlife Guardian is waiting as mates deal with entrepreneur and merchants.

Wildlife Guardian loves travel and protecting animals, he wrote.
Trust coastline dating!

Danae McB said...

I watched through the back window as she assembled dinner ingredients on the kitchen island. “Out of seasoning salt and onion?” Her mutter drifted through the screen door. “Sweetie! I need to run to the store real quick!”

Her car sped away and the house was quiet. This was my chance.

I crept into the darkened den and opened a lower cabinet to reveal a safe. It had been too easy to obtain the combination—her favorite color, blue. I spun the dials, opened the door, and pulled out a package.

Finally, the Thin Mints were mine! You lose, Mom.

Anonymous said...

No safe land here, he thought, prowling the grid of cubicles. Lunch break wasn't long, and one wrong move could sear him into collective memory as office pariah.

He swept the first desks. Photos, locked computers, dry erase markers.

Then there it was, his poor purloined stapler, gleaming on Sandra's desk. He pocketed it and spat on the fireproof surface. His bosses could explain until they were blue in the face that this was an "open office," that they "shared resources," like "a team."

He'd've let it all go if Sandra hadn't added, "No need to get salty about it."

Just Jan said...

They asked for three things: a spacious house, a matching bank account, and a romantic dinner for two without distractions. Now they extolled the candlelit entrée in front of them--Icelandic cod sprinkled with sea salt and accompanied by a tangy mango salsa. Few people knew such bliss. They uncorked the Dom Perignon and drank a leisurely toast to the luck of the Irish.

Upstairs, rheumy blue eyes peeped into the crib. The baby gurgled and kicked at his misfortune as a gnarled hand snatched him up. No one ever bothered to read the fine print anymore.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Sky high waves fought to up-end the boat,

Before it slammed down into a trough.

Nausea and vertigo ruled my body,

Seasick an understatement.

I gazed at death through salt-encrusted eyes,

My life of calm seas under a blue sky finished.

Enticed, hood-winked into a life of misery.

"Let's be explorers. You'll love it."

I searched for a wisp of land on the horizon,

A safe harbor, where I could stay in one place


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

They were the perfect storm of two people who loved each other but could not live together.
She purred Persian, he barked Siberian.
She liked one sheet, he liked blankets.
She sipped wine, he downed beer.
She was a well done with sea salt kind of woman, he a rare with cracked pepper man.
She felt deadbolt safe, he left the door open.
They fought and made up and loved and yelled and cried and decided apart might be better.
She wanted pink, he wanted blue.
Their hearts landed feather light on four paws times two.

Kate Higgins said...

Drifting, cooking, dreaming.
After days spent days floating in a blue Curacao sea, his yacht,"OmniChef'so much lagam,
Chef Bob's skin roasted lobster red with patches of Crème Brulee.
When he opened his eyes he saw two chocolate brown feet in dry salt-white sand.

"White man, you wakey? You food."
Ah, English, his stomach growled.

"Come, Chief Bakuroo like you. Eat"

Bob was pulled to his feet and given a drink. Savory smells emanated from an ancient caldron surrounded by finely dressed islanders. Gourmet food, kind people; he was safe!

"Chief like white meat"