Friday, September 23, 2016

Dixie Dupree writing contest

Our very own Donnaeve has a book coming out soon, and it's been selected for the Indie Next list which in case you are Donna didn't know,  IS A BIG DEAL!

Indie Next titles are chosen by independent bookstores and get special recognition and promotion. There are in-store displays, signage and advertising.  It's the kind of thing that gets a book in front of more eyeballs, and thus, we hope, into more reader's hands.

To help Donna celebrate this lovely accolade, we're going to have a flash ficiton contest and Even Better: the prize is a copy of The Education of Dixie Dupree.  Trust me, you Want That Book.

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: Dixie/Dixiecrat is ok but home/holmes 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 the prize 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: Saturday 9/24/16 at 8:57am (EDT)

Contest closes: Sunday, 9/25/16 at 9am (EDT)

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!

RATS! too late. Contest closed!


Jennifer R. Donohue said...

First we were twelve, then eleven, bodies counting down like moments on the hour.

Ten. Nine.

Every new place, new names. Lies are our sustenance. Our purpose varies, based on payment.

Eight. Seven.

Clandestine drinks in airport bars, a nod on a city street. There is no home port.

Six. Five. Four.

Inscrutable messages from those who fell before. Disjointed sound clips, scratching through speakers in the blue hours of dawn.

Three. Two.

I’m the last, left holding the puzzle pieces of our lives. No edges. No corners.

Too late, I know. The one who comes for us whistles Dixie.

Linda Strader said...

Who knew it would take eleven lies to make me run home to mom down in Dixie? The eleventh was the one that made my insides turn right-side-out, so what else could I do?

The bus ride was long, smelling of stale men and soiled babies. Perfume that had gone off hung like smoke around the woman next to me.

Home meant apple pies and deep red raspberries, warm hugs, and non-judgmental talks.

“I’m fine, hon,” mom said, offering me a pie slice.

Lie number twelve. I had much to do here.

Anonymous said...

times she said I warned her not to text while driving
vertebrae shattered
minutes for her to bleed out
times I actually warned her not to text while driving
stitches to patch up the other driver
people told me they saw her with Dixie
characters in her unsent text – omw lo
lies she told me before going out
days since she said, “I’m gay,” and I said, “You’re sixteen.”
minutes from home when she ran the light
childless mom who’d let her marry Dixie if it brought her back.

french sojourn said...

Sheriff Tyler showed up, not five minutes after I put down this dog that bit Tony Radcliff’s boy, Zeke.
“Good Christ Clyde, what’d you use…a bazooka?”
“Only had my Model Nineteen Eleven at home, Sheriff.”
“Zeke, you okay?”
“Can’t lie, sir, I’ve been better.”
A block away some lady come running out her front door, arms flailing and screaming gibberish, like she’d just found Jesus.
“That’s Zeke’s mom, I don’t envy you none.”
“You ain’t justa whistling Dixie,” he paused, “rekon that dog was mad?”
Now, I’ll never forget Zeke yelling.
“Mad? Why I betcha he weren’t too damn pleased.”

Sherry Howard said...

Molly Ray flushed the truck stop toilet,
straightened her shirt,
and started the long hike home.
Dixie Dozen had been
the premier movie theatre
in Possum Patch, Georgia,
for eleventy-seven years.
Telling Momma she'd be there had been
such a small deception,
compared to the stories she usually told.
She'd figure out
her next lies
when she faced Momma,
however long that took.
She wished she had been making out
with Buddy in the back row all day
instead of fighting off
meaty paws of a greasy
18-wheeler trucker.
She'd learned a valuable lesson:
never fall asleep when you hitchhike.

JulieWeathers said...

Janet huffed, not for the first time since she'd agreed to judge this contest. "This entry doesn't make sense."

"What is it?" Suzie asked.

"'The burliest dixie warriors set off to rescue the eleven queen from whomever stole her. When they found the scoundruls, they'd teach them a momumental lesson.' It's from Rhe'Alor Dixie Warrior. What is all this glittery stuff?" Janet sneezed a cloud of it away.

Suzie giggled and pulled out the emergency Macallan. "Fairy dust, I'm sure. I don't think pixies write in English much."


"Actually, you look pretty good with wings, Janet."

Timothy Lowe said...

Humanity might have survived its eleventh hour, but the hospitals were smoking pits, and I needed a bone set. He was the last doctor, or so he said, a poisonous little man in a filthy overcoat.

Giggling, he severed my hand. An hour later, I buried his bones behind the auto-garage where he’d plied his trade.

Now, they come for their homeopathic remedies, their surgeries. Bellies gnawing with hunger, bodies riddled by fear, they seek me, the man wearing the doctor’s skin.

With each appendix, I excise a fee: a toe, a pinky, maybe an earlobe.

I’m omnivorous these days.

Em-Musing said...

Left home at eleven. Momma didn’t care. Too busy boozing and schmoozing with her new guy. She didn’t notice he had his eye on me. And his hands. When I told her what he’d done, she said I was nothing but a piece of crap and a pack of lies so I left, hitching a ride with a trucker I met at the Dixie Travel Plaza. Darby is kind, gentle. Makes me feel safe. But thousands of miles travelling down Route 55 ain’t for me. Reckon it’s time to move on. Just don’t know where.

Kregger said...

My mom’s name was Dixie Lee.

Please notice the past tense.

At eleven, they moved her home from Kentucky to Michigan.

She married a man to get away from her abusive father.

Even the dog recognized her husband’s lies.

But she never did.

After fifty years, I removed her from the fights, the bruises, and the black eyes.

She had serenity.

At last, she could breathe.

I got her to kick narcotics.

And then...

She went back to him.

I gave up.

No twist.

No happy ending.

Just a DNR code after a fatal traffic accident.

Jo Connolly said...

“It’s ‘whistling Dixie’”, Bobby said, after asking Lewis what he was doing.
“No - I actually AM whittling Dixie,” Lewis said. He motioned to the bits of wood lying on the dirt at the bottom of the steps. He held up the homely figure in one hand and a jackknife in the other.
Behind him were eleven more carvings standing in a row. Bobby looked closely and saw that each one was sporting a little twine noose.
For a moment, Lewis hesitated. Then he checked his list, picked up another block of wood and started cutting.
“Bullies…,” Lewis muttered.

Craig F said...

When I was just eleven years I asked my momma what would I be.

She said “I can’t tell you lies my dear, if you were a boy you’d be groomed for the lead of the Dixie Mafia. You are a girl though and will be married to seal an alliance.”

I remembered and left at sixteen to polish my skills.

I returned home at eighteen as a chef. It was the big mob meeting and I wanted to impress them with my soup.

Three died before they would acclaim me as leader and master poisoner.

Que Sera Sera.

Mark Thurber said...

Di Xieyan applies brush to paper. As a girl she loved landscape painting, but her mom pushed her into sports. She was good at them, and even better at flying.

There are no trees to paint here, but the ridge outside and lustrous orb above it are subjects enough.

Her companion looks on. “It is good, Colonel Di,” he says.

Di exits the lander of Jingpeng 8, China’s Apollo Eleven. She bounds to the ridge and plants the tripod holding her painting. Let the Americans leave golf balls. The first Chinese visitors would leave art.

“Let’s go home, Major Zhang.”

Colin Smith said...

"Home is where the heart lies," Mom always said.

I took her meaning from the way she ironed our clothes for school. The way she made sure we had a hot meal every night. The way she kissed and fussed over Dad when he came home from work. The way she made sure we brushed our teeth and rinsed our mouths with Dixie cups of water before bed.

Then she was gone.

June eleventh.

She left a note. Said she’d had enough, said she was following her dream.

"Home is where the heart lies."

I guess I misunderstood her meaning.

Anonymous said...

Mom never understood my need to leave home. Now that she’s gone, I’ll never understand her. It’s been eleven years since I moved out. Eleven years since we spoke.

People watch me through the funerary door; judging me for abandoning her. But my mother made her choice. She chose That Man, and his lies. She chose his love over mine.

I drain the water in my Dixie cup.

That Man approaches me. My mouth is suddenly dry. He reaches for me with gnarled fingers, but I turn and walk back to the parking lot.

He will never touch me again.

Adam Simone said...

Dean flinched hearing his Chinese name.
“Di Xie.” The old man’s eyes were cloudy. “How can we live these lies.”
Dean nodded, vaguely. His hand traced along the hood of the car as he circled it.
“We cannot keep covering. It has been eleven months.” The old man shuffled behind Dean.
“Di, listen to what I say.” He pleaded in Mandarin.
The old man didn’t see it coming, the blade.
Red seeped through his shirt as he crumpled to the ground.
Dean stepped over the body, following his nose to the kitchen.
“Mom, I’m home!” He called out.

Steve Forti said...

My parents called me Worm. Said I was the wriggliest baby they’ve ever seen. Dropped me so much it wasn’t worth the effort to pick me back up. Or do anything for me, really. A burden under heel even before I could crawl.

Spilled her chamomile tea on my arm, made me ride my bike to the burn unit. Burst my appendix, I even had to call the ambulance myself.

Never fathomed I’d amount to much. Maybe they were right. But at least now I’m not the one under heel.

Pops it in reverse. Bump. Bump.

Or rather, under wheel.

Marie McKay said...

Mom looks pretty today. That's a warning sign. I make plans fast, wanting to stay out for as long as possible.
'Dixie's escaped. I'll go look for her.'
'Don't tell lies. She's on the step.'
Home smells of cat pee and cheap perfume, and everything is the colour of used.
I start my jigsaw after breakfast (Mom says it's weird replacing the missing pieces with daisy heads) a silent and useless promise I'll stay out of the way.
By the time her 'Eleven o' clock' arrives, I'm already a bundle of secrets in the coat closet.

LizellaPrescott said...

When I turned eleven, I told my mom I was done with pageants.

“I’m not beautiful,” I said. “And I despise prettified lies.”

Mom smiled her sad, crooked smile, the one I recognized from the mirror.

“Want to know a secret? I hate them, too.”

Next time, she brought my sisters and left me at home. I wondered how she endured hours in the stuffy auditorium, watching girls’ faces melt under the lights.

And then I remembered the cooler full of ice and tapered bottles.

She was always sipping from a Dixie cup.

And it was always filled with wine.

Beth said...

“…ten, eleven, twelve. Thank you. Come again.”

Dixie stuffed the change in her pocket and dug the Twinkie from the bottom of the grocery bag. She took a quick look around before tearing off the plastic and stuffing the cake into her mouth. Mmm, butterflies, unicorns, and rainbows in every cream-filled bite. She dropped the wrapper in the trash and started walking.

Home again, she swallowed the last mouthful and opened the door.

“What have we here?” Dixie’s thin-lipped warden inspected the bag. “Broccoli, seven-grain bread, fresh fruit.” A rare smile appeared. “Good to see you’re finally eating healthy, Mom.”

matt said...

Eleven Dixie cups of wine stood in a row on the table. Two more in the hands of the older girls who had come early.

Her fingers ached to grasp her cup. To reject the Enemy’s lies.

A prayer from the priestess, a sip from the cup, and the Church would be her home forever.

She couldn’t wait to see Mom again. To greet her as a peer, a member of the Church like herself.

The incantation spilled from the old woman’s lips. She barely heard the words.

Trembling, she lifted the cup to her mouth.

It wasn’t wine.

Janice L. Grinyer said...

“I never drew no blood.” He spat for emphasis.

“So if Carly was safe in your home, why is she missing?” A passing truck, its horn blaring “Dixie,” threw road dust over them and her squad car. God, she hated this town.

“Her momma lies. Drivel, even she knows it. Aint got time for this shit.”

She watched as he entered his house, tapping her pen against her badge. She stopped at the sight of a tiny hand, a child’s, waving through a crack in its foundation.

“10-35 two zero seven 10-40, NOW” she hissed into her shoulder mic.

Richa 'Ness' Agni said...

It’s been eleven months since he moved here, and he still sits at a table alone. Never bothered with a kind word for anyone except his mom. Today I sit down with him. He’s sipping something from a Dixie cup. “I’m sorry about the lies,” he tells me.
“What’s this about?” I ask.
“It wasn’t a glamourous new job—it’s because I lost my home. In a fire. I missed it every day. I hated it here.” And then, “Want to be friends?”
“That’s quite a tragic backstory,” I say, and smile like I always do. “You’re still a jerk.”

RosannaM said...

I wanted to see the rabbits in kindergarten,
Dad explained we’d moved to Cedar Rapids.

I ran away to Dixieland at seven,
Dad flew me to see Mickey the next year.

I picked fruit flies from smuggled wine at a shleepover,
Dad dragged me home at eleven.

I drove my rust bucket to college,
Dad followed me Justin Case.

I married my soul mate in Maui,
Dad walked me down the isle.

I checked into the hospital, a patient,
Dad paced the hallway, impatient.

I placed my son in his arms,
Grandpa—the best mom a girl ever had.

Robert Ceres said...

The game finished at eleven. Time to head home, but they said, “No. Let’s go. It will be fun. We won’t stay long.”

A few lies got us into Phi Kappa Theta, right down the street.

Inside we met wild music and Dixie cups of beer. A boy gave Jennifer one. She passed it to me and started dancing dirty with some lesbie girls. The rest joined in, grinding hips, laughing in pretended shock. I drank, knowing Mom would be pissed.

The boy came over, kinda cute, in a blurry kinda way. I looked around. Where were my friends? I…

David Wolf said...

Industrial dynamo Maximillian Goldman glowered at his TV. Various world leaders were delivering their homilies on the benefits of the life-extension technology so generously provided by the Arcturians. The idiots couldn’t fathom exactly what the long-term effects would be. Those speculations were buried in the report’s appendix, i.e., fifty billion humans by the year 2100, with no end in sight: an unsustainable level, even if per capita energy use fell to preindustrial rates. Like the frogs in the metaphor, humanity would bring the environment, and themselves, to a slow boil. Just the way Arcturians liked their dishes prepared.

Anonymous said...

“Dixie darlin’, you’re eleven--
Daddy left home yesterday;
left behind his lies and bruises.
Kneel with Momma now and pray.”

Dixie kneels, with guts on fire.
Momma did it . . . Dix won’t tell.
Dixie Girl, you’re such a liar.
Momma taught her daughter well.

Julie Dawn said...

Beth dropped her Dixie cup.

It was go time.

Little Bobby Benton had terrorized us for the last time. Precisely at eleven o'clock, he stepped out of the Grady's foster home.

I pulled back the slingshot. He was going to pay for all the lies he told Mom.

Beth dug a double scoop of ice cream out of a bucket, and loaded me up.

I let it loose, but little bugger moved.

On to Plan B.

Claire Bobrow said...

Dixie would eat her thong if she lost the Blow-Dry Battle – again - to that washed-up heavy metal rocker. Too dumb to style his way out of a plastic bag. Or whatever.

It wasn’t fair. Dixie had diplomas! She’d watched those videos, anyway. Harmless lies. She did feel guilty about Mom. But it would grow back.

Dixie whipped her dryer from its holster and cranked the heat setting to the max.
“Looky here,” she called to her doofus competitor. “You might as well go home.”

“Yes, well,” said Nigel, smacking his gum, “but do you see? Mine goes to eleven.”

Maggie Maxwell said...

“Morning.” Mom smiles when I enter. “Are you my nurse?”

“Just a visitor,” I say as I sit. She stopped recognizing me last week. Since then, I’ve learned lies are easier than explaining I’m her daughter. Once upon a time, she’d ground me for lying.

At eleven, the nurse brings a Dixie cup of pills. I pass it to Mom.

“I want to go home," she says between pills, her voice and hands trembling.

"Soon," I say, a daily lie swallowed with her medicine. She downs it with the extra pill I slipped in the cup.

Finally, I’m not lying.

Ashes said...

I remember every first. 

Her first solid. Banana, served from a Dixie cup coated in wax.

Her first word: 'mom'. Spoken on the day I started waitressing to support us.

First steps in our first home, a battered trailer, amid painstakingly handpainted butterflies on the walls.

Her first bra at eleven. Boyfriend at fourteen.

But when was the last time I carried her? 

The last time I lifted her into bed, laid her down, kissed her head? The last bath, shampoo mohawk, and baby powdered toes?

The lasts are lost to history. 

Those equally significany moments, 

bittersweet bookends,

long forgotten.

Michael Seese said...

Seven years of the bottle had taken its toll. My nights melted into one continuous blackout. My days, one continuous black. I hear people escape it. The lies. The shame. The regrets.

I won't be one of them.

As I blew out the candles, precariously punched into a lopsided homemade cake, I wished my Dixie cup held something more fortifying than fruit punch.

“How will you celebrate your newfound freedom?” my Mom asked.

“I thought I'd take my shiny new driver's license out for a spin. Drive around a bit. Maybe pop over to the 7-11. They're still open, right?”

AAGreene said...

I was eleven years young when Momma brought Dixie home. She hid under the table, wouldn’t eat.

I danced in my seat; I always wanted a dog.

Eventually she ate from my hand and followed me everywhere, like a wee pup.

When I turned 18, Dixie ran away. Momma told me so over cold oatmeal. Folks went out lookin’, but they don’t know Momma lies. Now it was my turn.

I snuck out the house and fixed the hole in the fence. I made a promise: no more pets.

So Momma don’t get foster kids no more.

Bethany Stefanski said...


The lies I told caught up with me. With us. We flee south, into Dixie. This time, I’m old enough to drive, the night a blue-black smudge outside the windows. I ache to apologize, but what to say?

I could remind her that I’m good at the short ones. I mastered those when I was ten or eleven.

I could admit that it’s only when I fool myself into believing that I’ve found home that the mistakes happen.

No apology. Instead I’ll make a vow.

“Mom, I swear, in the next city, I’ll get the long con right.”

Mallory Love said...

Arriving home, I flip on the light switch. Then off. On again. Once. Twice. Eleven times, like always.

Hard days make it worse. Familiar faces on the slab are never easy. For a moment, at first, I didn’t recognize him. Only seen him twice since childhood, neither time pleasant.

I counted stab wounds and marked an erroneous number on the report. By the appendix, I examined a few more abrasions. Made a note. Signed the autopsy.

Got what he deserved, I tell myself. Lies catch up to you in the end, right Dad?
“A family trait,” I repeat eleven times.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Kathleen lived a life of perceived offenses. Now she was dying. The last of the matriarchs.

Eleven families crowded her home. Each individual anticipated their penance. She had two words for all.

Grim-faced they waited to see her. A real live Dixieland band jammed on the trim lawn outside her sprawling porch. Three days straight they’d played, switching musicians. Music to the last breath was Kathleen’s creed.

Her eldest daughter handed the banjo over, hiked up the stairs, knocked on the door, and tiptoed to the bed. Caressed her mother’s hand.


Kathleen parted her lips and whispered, “Fuck you.”

SDKing said...

Aunt Dixie never had kids, a real job, or a skirt longer than eleven inches.

Mom’s twin. None of Mom’s executive suite polish.

Dixie? Babysit me? Other way 'round, I think.

“Sis’s in a pinch,” Dixie said squealing from my private school lot.

The Walmart run for Lucky Strikes was a Tilt-a-Whirl ride. Then instead of heading home, she hit the interstate.

“Tired of the lies, kid.”

“Me? Lie? I’m an honor student.”

“Not anymore.”

She pulled over, unzipped her pants, pulled up her shirt.

“See that?” Stretch marks covered her wrinkly abdomen.

“Time for you to come home.”

Katie Buxton said...

2am and she still wasn’t home. When she finally eased through the front door humming an old Dixie Chicks song, I was sitting in the dark living room, waiting.

“Where have you been?”

She yelped. “I hate when you do that, can’t you at least leave the light on?”

I flicked on the light and raised one eyebrow.

“I stopped at the Seven-Eleven, then walked to the park and lost track of time.”

The lies slurred out of her mouth, as usual.

I sighed. “Go to bed, mom, we’ll talk about this in the morning.”

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Eleven still alive. Only ten doses of immunity.
“Let an elder die.” I shrug. “Our young will repopulate.”
“Which happens to include you.”
Certain he’s pleased, I uncork a vial. It smells like cardamom and rocket fuel.
“Torture.” His brow furrows. “Deciding who dies.”
“Frankly, I don’t give a damn. Dixie’s burning. Decide.”
“Referencing forbidden literature?”
“We’re finally going home,” I offer, feeling smug. “Been thinking about my childhood.”
“Your childhood? That book was banned before—. So, more lies.”
“Wait!” I scream as he pries the vial from my hand.
Now he shrugs. “Even cowgirls get the blues. Cowgirl.”

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

She keeps them in a Dixie cup on a shelf in her closet. Once a year, on her loneliest day, she takes the cup down and pours the contents into her hand. She rolls each tiny object against her palm with her fingertips, closes her hand, kisses it and cries. She always cries.
I would too but my tears broke her heart, so I watch.

I died at home when I was eleven and the tiny objects are my baby teeth. My mom thinks they are all she has left of me but I’m still here, forever.

DeadSpiderEye said...

If you've ever tasted what the army serves up from those eleven gallon dixies to its men, you'd understand why a three mile walk in no man's land doesn't seem such a bad idea. Yesterday the captain exhausted his supply of cardamom, maybe that's why he's never going home, preferring the food on offer as he lies face down in a shell crater. We keeps the squits at bay courtesy of the pease brewed up in a brodie. Funny when you're hungry, you'll settle for anything and the meager yellow gruel of pease soup, seems like nectar.

JD Horn said...

Eleven lies stand between you and home,” her mom said, unzipping a string bean, turning it, then tossing the filament onto yesterday’s front page news. “And the first lie is that you don’t belong here.” A fat fly buzzed overhead, trapped on the porch by the very screen meant to keep it out. “You may’ve left the South, but you still got a lot of Dixie in you.”

“And the other ten lies?”

“The other ten are those fingers of yours that say they shouldn’t be helping me string these damned beans.”

Dena Pawling said...

Hi. My name's Dixie. I'm eleven years old and we just moved, AGAIN. We live in base housing. This is my fifth home and my fourth school.

I'm behind again. Like usual. Changing schools sucks, especially when your parent is deployed. Last time it took two months, WITH a tutor, before I could catch up.

This time isn't any different.

My tutor is Anabelle. She's nice. No BS, no lies.

I'm almost caught up.

My dad picks me up from school today.

He has THAT face. The face no one wants to see.

We cry together.

Semper fi, Mom.

Mark Ellis said...

There was a sad homeboy from Trent,
Whose get-up had got up and went.
Seven, eleven, and sixty,
There lies the end of Old Dixie,
His moments of rapture all spent.

T.C. Galvin said...

Dixie is a rescue, her previous owner behind bars. Gang violence, the shelter assistant says. Makes her hard to home.

From the start it's a disaster. Dixie and George do not get along. One barks, the other snarls. One chews eleven curtains and the other scatters dirty laundry.

Then George goes too far. When I wake, Dixie is by my side, her leg in a cast. There was an accident, Mom says.

I keep Dixie close when I confront George. He lies contrite at my feet. Closed casket - the funeral director wasn't able to conceal the damage.

Good girl, Dixie.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Eleven hide.

Father crushes a Dixie cup in his fist.

“Shut-up,” his wife tells their daughter.

“Hush,” his son whispers.

The others glare at the family. Death will hear.

“You’re not allowed to tell me to shut-up, mommy. It’s mean. This game’s stupid. Let’s go home, now.”

Horror in her eyes, the mother covers her daughter’s mouth.

Gun shots sound closer. Across the hall. A scream, a shot, footsteps.

The girl fights her mother, bites and kicks. Sound echoes.

The father grabs his daughter, covering her mouth. The cup disappears. A tear lies still on the man’s cheek.

Ten hide.

Norman Dean said...

Mom lived down in Dixie, which everyone knows is south of the Mason-Dixon Line. She was the finest tracking hound in Tennessee. Rumor has it that she'd tracked down eleven escaped killers from the prison farm near my home in a single year. The inmates knew you couldn't get away from Mom, and any rumors to that effect were just lies. That dog could run all day with a scent, never getting distracted by a rabbit or a coon.

Patricia Harvey said...

I watched from across the street as an officer of the law stretched canary-yellow tape from our front porch to the Japanese maple, then over to the giant magnolia and back to the porch again. He might have tied a little bow onto the rail, just to make the whole affair look like a homecoming celebration. Dixie would have liked that. But now my sister lies between the sheets, quite deceased. If Mom told that girl once, she told her a hundred times, “You be home by eleven.”

The truth is, Dixie had simply failed at being a daughter.

Celia Reaves said...

Don't you hate when people go exploring, then you have to look at the pictures?

They're black and white, naturally. Mostly gray blobs. He finds meaning, though. Omens. Messages from another, inner world.

He wants me to respond. "Well?"

"I..." Escape is all I can think.

"There's so much ahead. Work. Travel, even." He tucks the blanket under my leg, now vestigial, an oversized appendix.

"I…" Escape, escape.

He stands. "I'll give you a moment."

I manage to turn my head. On its steel frame, machinery winks, beeps, sighs. Keeps me alive.

If I could…

Would I turn it off?

Jearl Rugh said...

“There’s politics in these swamps,” great-gramps says. My eleventh birthday, I kneel in the cattail waiting for the catfish’s nibble. “Remains from boys whose flesh lined gators’ bellies lies beneath these still bayous waters: bones and bullets and bindings. Momentous days in ’48: Human rights or States’ rights; Federal law or Jim Crow Laws. Though just a lad, I favored those Dixiecrates. Hum … reckon not much changes, young man, for colored folk.”
“Got one,” I shout.
He stretches his proud hand to grasp my shoulder. As he slips the hook from the whiskered jaw, he says, “Homely, but supper.”

Kathy Joyce said...

Dixie found Sammy, a salamander. Grandmom had Alzheimer’s, bad eyes; she ground Sammy in the disposal.

I said, “All drains lead to the ocean.”

Kids still howled.

“Can’t sell salamanders.”

Brought two geckos home, seventy bucks, plus two-fifty for habitat and eleven live crickets. Jonathan died; flushed him. Vet bill for Gecky: one-fifty including medication. His tail still shrank.

Damn thing should die, costing a fortune.

Weeks later, Gecky shivered. I stroked him with water. Desperate to relieve suffering, I wanted to suffocate him. Just couldn’t. I stroked him with tears. He lies in my garden, shrouded in Dixie’s blankie.

Rene Saenger said...


Fred the Dragon heard the child’s call. He turned and saw a small dog chasing butterflies.

Fred swooped down and caught the dog. He walked over to the little girl keeping his expression neutral. His smile often frightened humans.

The little girl reached out and Fred handed Dixie over.

“My name’s Breleven. Mom says dragons are mean, but you’re nice.”

He smiled.

“Will you walk me home?” she asked. “Can we be friends?”

“Someday – when humans aren’t afraid of dragons,” he said, breathing fire on a bundle of sticks to light her way home.

“I’m not afraid,” she said.

CynthiaMc said...

We must've looked like easy targets - three old ladies laughing, holding each other up as we headed down the deserted street after Homecoming at Southern Miss.

One moment we were swapping lies. The next we were looking at the guy with the gun pointed at us.

It was way after eleven and I was two hurricanes over the legal limit for dealing with this nonsense.

"On one," I said.

Three perfectly timed kicks to tender parts of his anatomy put him out of our misery.

We are Dixie Darlings - Rockettes of the Gridiron.

Still kicking after all these years.

RKeelan said...

"Je suis le dixième."

"Then I'm eleventh. Shit." He thought for a moment. "Do you think he'll give me a chance?"

"He better not," said Ninth. "I was here before you."

"Hey!" That was First. "Shut your pie hole!"

Why was he so cranky? Success lies in the gut.

"Tu es au sujet de quoi ?"

"I'm—um… you go first."

"De chez nous."

"Home? Cool!". "I'm about… me, I guess."

"An idea about an idea?" Ninth guffawed.

"C'est une bonne idée !"

"He's writing—it's me! Dixie, he's writing about me!" Eleventh looked around. "Dixie?"

Karen McCoy said...

They need to downsize to another home. Eleven movers aren't enough for 32 years’ worth of clutter, and Mom can’t balance a checkbook any more than the pet store dixies can reproduce. (Who knew dogs needed all parts of the cow?)

The move commences. One piano, then two. Mom is afraid to look under the bed, where the 1992 Sears catalog holds up the mattresses.

After a fall, and Dad lies in a rehabilitation facility with a broken leg. Escrow deadline looms, and the house still isn’t empty.

Daughter leaves The Reef to help.

ZKimbrough said...

Deb inspects the peel-and-stick thermometer on the foam cooler before removing the specimens. She glances at the clock. The hour hand points to eleven, though she can’t remember if it is morning or night. She wants to go home but everyone at Dixie Regional has been under quarantine since patient zero was identified. Now employees and patients are dropping like flies and Deb might be the only one who can find a cure. She puts the tubes in the centrifuge and looks at her mug. She needs more coffee.

Sara Halle said...

My Dixie always kept up a stream of unending chatter in our home. I thought of it as drivel.
Eventually she'll pipe down, I told myself. After all, she can't talk forever.

Today I placed lilies on her grave. Then I went back to a house so silent I can hear the echo of dust motes as they float from empty room to empty room.

My moment of peace has arrived.

Sara-Marissa Baker said...

Humidity clung to the air as the screen door banged shut.

Neil whipped the newspaper under the kitchen table as his mom bustled in. Her hands shook as she grabbed the receiver and dialed, the rotary clicking with each number.

“You read the paper?” she demanded of whomever answered. The cord coiled and stretched as she paced. “Governor told us nothin’ but lies. He’s really a Dixiecrat.”

“Why did he lie, Momma?” asked Neil.

She gasped and spun, realizing Neil was home. “You’re eleven. I’ll explain when you’re older.”

Neil gripped the hidden newspaper. He understood more than she thought.

Nate Wilson said...

While writing one night, Eve--my dear, sweet Eve--moved an extraneous tidbit into her appendix. (i.e. the vestigial organ)

That Friday, she collapsed during her evening jog. I sprinted over. 'Twas in the Presidio I rescued my fair damsel, Eve. (NW of our apartments, about six blocks)

I got us to CPMC quicker'n an ambulance. Eve called me her hero. Me. No lie. (SF geography's in my blood)

But wracked by pain and nausea, my words she couldn't fathom. (e.g. "I've always loved you," "It's fate")

Still, everything was perfect. For two minutes. Then she met Daniel Bergamo. (M.D.)

Calorie Bombshell said...

“Widow down the street needs a home care aide.”

There goes summer book club. Blame Dad’s hernia and no savings.

“The Boo Radley house?”

“It’s a mansion. Eleven dollars an hour. More than I make at Winn-Dixie.”

“Heard she’s Bertha-Mason crazy.”

“You read too much. Couldn’t hurt a fly. Invalid.”

I answer the ad and someone hands me a tray. Shoved toward a staircase. Praying I meet Miss Havisham at the top.

Halfway up.


Hornets, not butterflies, swarm my stomach.


Splashes of chamomile tea scald my wrist.

Top step.

Door opens.

Now I know.

I am Grace Poole.

DLM said...

"Eleven replies!"

Mom was frantic about the wedding. Cakes, invitations. She wasn't joyous, it was just her job to do, her attention to get, her show, her stress.

How had this become about her?

It became my way to prove her wrong. We’d have more than a pot to pee in.

But we couldn't even afford toilet paper. The last week before our first anniversary, dad drove 500 miles to help me move back home. OJ's slow chase on the TV. Rodney and I queerly relaxed. Dad wasn’t.

Hope crushes easy as a Dixie cup. We couldn’t afford those either.

John Davis Frain said...

One year ago, Mama and I planted the garden. Rich, tilled soil. Was about the time Daddy left us.

Tonight, Mama’s sister visited. Eleven kids from both families came together. Mama grilled. What used to be Daddy’s job.

“What’s the occasion?” I asked.

A homecoming of sorts was how she put it.

Mama spoke before the meal. “Moment of silence, ya’ll.” Raised a white can, green letters. “A miracle occurred,” she said. “Papa’s finally providing for the family.”

“But why a Dixie beer, Mama?” It was Daddy’s drink.

“Because he provided the vegetables, dear. And now the life insurance check.”

k said...

Michelle yanked the dixie cup from the holder.  It had been eleven days and twelve lies since she had seen the second line appear on the stick.  Pink foam slipped from her mouth as she brushed.

She had called home that day. “Mom?”

“Yes? You okay?” Relief, then guilt, flooded her. “I’m fine.”

Across the belly of the cracked sink ran a long black hair.  “This place is filthy”, she thought. Looking at the daisy-printed cup, she wondered if it had been “recycled”.  It didn’t matter, she supposed, filling it with water and reaching for the pile of pills.

Anonymous said...

Home Number Eleven
Day one

Another group of pretenders. I doubt they’ve noticed their own lies yet.

I give HNE eight days.

Day three

Dixie said it. I’m too much for them to handle. I overestimated how dedicated they were to the pretense of being good people.

Day twenty

I still haven’t been foisted back onto the program. It’s not like they’re saints. We argue every day.

Day twenty - Mom edition

David, you don’t trade in your son for a better one if you have problems. We’re family. Get used to it.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

She sashayed home, carrying the guileless MOM. Liesel even laid it on the railless stoop to hunt for her house key.

But once inside, Leisel locked up, kicked off her loafers, and beelined it to her bedroom.

Hands atrembling, she riffled through the dog-eared pages of the church’s Manual On Ministry. Finding the envelope, she fished out the crisp $10 note.

Studying it, her lips curved.

A remainder, issued by La Banque des Citoyens de la Louisiane. Oh blessed dixie.

Sell that baby on a highfalutin auction site and that’d stock the town’s Food Pantry for a mess o’ months.

LynnRodz said...

"Horrible thing happened when I was a kid."

"Shh, mom, rest. Doctor's orders."

"Scorchin' day I recall, jest wanted a Dreamsicle to cool off."

"Better shush now." Aunt Mary got up.

"No, let her talk."

"Didn't have a nickel, but I was gonna get one. Mr. Bo caught me stealin' and took me in the back room. I got home cryin' all red. Pa asked what happened an' I tol'em. He was ragin' mad, got his shotgun."

"Jesus, Dixie, when you were eleven you told a lie so bad an innocent man was killed and Pa went to prison."

Just Jan said...

Remember melting S’mores over the stove? Delicious on a cold winter’s night.
Remember your ruptured appendix? I ended up in the hospital with you, I was so upset.

Do you remember your firstborn? Or my beloved Captain who lies overseas in an unmarked grave?
Or the kitten we would sneak into bed when Mom wasn’t looking?

Remember when Granny was moved to the nursing home? And the pact we made when we were eleven? You don’t, dear sister, but tonight I honor it.

So drink up as the fog rolls in, and we’ll both go gently into this last goodnight.

SiSi said...

Oh momma momma it happened again. I’m so sorry momma.

I want to come back home momma. Be your little Dixie Darling like when I was five and you bought me ice cream when Sarah Jane was so mean to me at her party.

Why are people so mean momma?

She said I was stupid and rude and she had to let me go. But those are lies, aren’t they momma? I’m smart as a whip and sweet as pie just like you said.

Eleven people. They were so mean to me momma.

Can I come home momma? Can I?

Lucie Witt said...

“Get up, boy,” the man snarls. “Show some respect.”

The boy’s knee trembles. He shifts his eyes up to the man’s brass buckle. Pride of Dixie.

The boy ignores the spit that flies past his bowed head and splatters on his cleat. He silently counts to ten. Makes it eleven to be safe. No fighting allowed. Mom expects him home after the game.

* * *

After the Friday night lights fade the man sits at home. The news plays the latest dashcam video in the background. On the screen the unarmed motorist with his hands up falls, unnoticed.

Megan Laughman said...

“I’m coming!” Brady responded to his mother’s call moments after flicking mascara down his lashes. Brady was a boy at eleven; now at seventeen he was just shy of becoming a woman.

Breakfast was harried and thick with condemnation expressed mutely by a mother with a curled upper lip. School was no less dangerous.

“Oi, Uglies! Yeah, you. Pussy. What happened to your balls? Did your mommy Frankenstein a girl?” Normal taunts.

Once home, Brady escaped censure, humming “In Dixie’s land, I’ll take my stand.” A vertical slash. Another.

A mother crumbles.

In a perfect world, a bully would mourn.

Kate Higgins said...

To Dixie
From Desmond
Subject: Turn-abouts fair play

My Dear Sister,
The ten lies brought old Mom home from the asylum, the eleventh stopped her heart. The will is being read at the upper estate house tomorrow at 10am. We inherit everything. Great work Sis!
Your loving twin,

Jennifer Moorhead said...

Sissy’s scared of the doorbell in our new home. And in Dixie, me and Sissy have to call Mom, Mama. Only Yankees say Mom. But we still clean our dishes after supper, do our chores, and cover up Mama’s lies like good little girls.
Ten lies so far. I’ve written their names down.
The doorbell chimes. Sissy ducks behind the sofa.
Mama sweeps in from the kitchen, drying her hands on a kitchen towel. She cues me to open the door.
A haggard man shuffles on our doorstep. “I’m here about the room for rent.”
Mama smiles.
Make that eleven.