Friday, February 17, 2017

A different kind of flash fiction contest

Last week's writing contest winner posited a world taken over by machines. I loved the pure imaginative concept.  The same day I posted that choice, I was reading a piece by Jeff Somers that referenced Ray Bradbury's short story There Will Come Soft Rain.

That story, as you read it, seems clearly inspired by a Sara Teasdale poem.

And the idea came to me: why not use a poem as a prompt!

So, here it is. (this is my favorite poem of all time)

Happiness by Jane Kenyon

There’s just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.

And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.

No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.

It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basketmaker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.
                     It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.

Almost all 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: flim is ok, but MILF 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: 8:54am, Saturday 2/18/17

Contest closes: 9am, Sunday 2/19/17

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

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

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

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid
Ready? SET?

Not yet!

oops. Too late. Contest closed.


Kitty said...


Katina is one year old today.
There will be cake
and ice cream.
No chocolate!
And, of course,
wrapped in colorful paper and ribbons
which she will tear off
while squealing with delight.
Noisy toys, which will assault my ears
and she’ll love,
and maybe a cuddly doll or two .

Katina, my elfin granddaughter,
who can say three words I hope to hear
for the first time today.

Katina, a year old
and no longer crawling
but walking!
towards me
with outstretched arms
and frosting-smeared lips
drawn into a smile
because she is happy to see me.

Michael Seese said...

He frowned as he threw a ladle’s worth of the glop at my tray. It landed with a sound somewhere between a SPLOOOORK and a whimper.

I trudged my ration across the sepia courtyard, finding a spot at a table that had long since surrendered to its fate. Close, but not too close, sat the others. Ashen faces contemplated their own oozy destinies. I couldn’t read their minds. I didn’t have to.

They’ve lied before.

I decided death could be an improvement. A weary hand guided a spoonful of the horrid stuff toward my mouth.

And then there was sunlight.

Mallory Love said...

I didn't expect it when he walked away after five stifling years, but it was there.

I didn't expect it on the day I buried my mother after a year of holding her fragile, fading hand through three rounds of failed chemo treatments, but it found me.

I didn't expect to find it when my car rear-ended his, but six months of dating later, I realized I had.

I didn't expect how much of it I would feel when I heard the heartbeat through the ultrasound after the last one had been silent, but it overwhelmed me.


Susan said...

I stumble up cracked concrete steps
to a brownstone
caught in shadow,
follow you into the house
where cobwebs drape like curtains
and dust scatters beneath our feet.

On the floor by the staircase lies a single sock,
shredded heel-to-toe,
and a birch broom stands in the corner
by the open door,
splintering at the grip.

There’s a dip in the couch cushions,
an empty wineglass on the table.

“I know this place,” I whisper.
“But it’s been so long…”
I sense the rain within me.
“Can we stay?”

You pause, hand me the broom.
“I never left,” you say.

Unknown said...

In a winter of my life, dead trees materialize everywhere I look.

Crocuses? Not so easy to find: sweep moldy leaves and tattered litter; scoop dirty, leftover piles of snow. Push aside deadness.

I struggle to look away from the trees, to concentrate on the budding crocuses.

Gradually, but steadily:

And hyacinths, then tulips,
Then peonies and daylilies
Roses daisies asters geraniums
Snapdragons zinnias gladiolas marigolds…

Ivy that seemed lifeless grows green and vining.
The old dead trees bud with leaves.

My world comes to life. Again. Expanded with joy.

The lesson? Focus on the crocus!

Anonymous said...

Happiness. Such a fickle quiddity, isn’t it? There’s no key to it, it can’t be bought, it can’t even be found. Not that I ever tried looking again – not after that first time.
Fuck happiness. It left me days ago and I haven’t seen that bitch since.
I look at the empty chair across from mine. Red velvet. Who in their right mind would ever buy a red velvet chair for a place like this?
But she was never in her right mind. Then again, neither am I.
I wipe the blade on my pants. It seems happy. Me too.

Colin Smith said...

I have never been so afraid.
Growling like no dog on earth.
Whining, whistling, like a thousand voices.
Poles, tables, chairs, and cars.
Then deafening silence.
Except the whimpering of the hopeless
The lost
Who have lost everything.
I step around broken beams
Jump across chairs
To the sobs of a girl on a box
Surrounded by her shattered life
Clutching a doll.
I find her lap.
She finds my chin.
She sighs.
I purr.

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

If you are very lucky or very good
someone like this comes into your life.

I’m not good.

pay attention
this is grass
is this grass?
how soft it is, how wonderful

this is a tree
is this a tree?
how high I can climb
watch me, how high

this is water
is this water?
how good, how sweet it is
to drink this water

pay attention!
watch me, watch me now
touch me, touch me now
love me, love me now

How I love my days here with you


there is a time bomb in my chest

Johnell said...

Prodigal, I
weave through humanity
with a truth,
a lie,
a promise unkept. The motive:

Power, maybe,
over my better self--the one
I sold to pigs
for gruel.

Better selves don't feed pigs.

With silvered
I lure them.

I turn swill into nectar
with a sweetened word.

My herd doesn’t know
its being fattened--
not like the “other”
who hog their swill

Both herds squeal
for the others’ slaughter--a sacrifice
to the Father—Patriae.

But Father,
in his vexing goodness,
spurns their blood.
And I, bloody handed,
dare not meet his embrace.

Beth Carpenter said...

Almost there. The scent of exhaust and fresh-mown grass. Every Saturday, ever faithful. She was faithful too, until the day freedom called louder than the comforts of home. The day she ran.

She’d run far and fast. No boundaries for her. But freedom came with costs. She’d done things. Things to appease her hunger, things he could never forgive. She no longer deserved a home. Yet here she was, repentant, hoping for scraps.

He looked up, stopped the mower. “Misty? Is that you?” He ran to embraced her. “I was so worried. Come inside.”

Home. Misty slowly wagged her tail.

Kate Higgins said...

The pale sea-green glass just fit inside her palm.
How long had it been on this beach?

Was it older than the Before?
Did it once belong to a tall building
or some mangled library
or a home?

Was it polished by shifting sands
or tides of the war?

She held it to her good eye
viewing the world in shades of living green.

A new point of view
or maybe a very old one?

Like a distant promise, it somehow made her happy.
The world used to be green...they say.
She smiled – maybe someday.

Claire Bobrow said...

50 miles offshore, the “Caroline” foundered.
Jeb felt his way through the galley and exhaled as his fingers detected the emergency kit. Thank God!

He yanked Tiffany on deck, unzipped the kit, and rummaged for the distress beacon.
It glimmered in the moonlight.

Momentary disbelief,
Then reluctant admiration.
His clever wife -
What attention to detail!
Waves lapped at Tiffany’s toned thighs
As he lifted the bottle of Dom Perignon,
An elegant card tied to its neck.

“For you, my darling,” it read.
Here’s to slow leaks
And fast life insurance payouts.
Happy sailing!
– C”

Megan V said...

Jake wrapped his arms around knees that bent like overloaded pizza slices, ignoring the sting as his sleeves scraped scabs the size of pepperoni and roused the blood beneath their crusted tops. It wasn’t fair, he told himself. He’d been ‘sponsible. He hadn’t written a letter or anything. But it didn’t matter. He could hear the wing beats like ominous drums in his ears, could hear them carry IT through the door. He was too late. His mom was bringing IT to him.
“Jake,” she said. “Meet your baby brother.”
Jake stared at the lump.
And then, he smiled

Kregger said...

My glass is not half full.

It’s a drop short of empty.

When I receive a box of manure

And after searching

I don’t wonder where is the pony.

My newest belief about life?

God must hate the really old

To make us live so long.

Life sucks.

Until the littlest one (what’s his name?) calls me “Oppa” because he can’t pronoun his p’s.

Grandchildren are like puppies.

They can’t help but give unconditional love.

Because they’re horrible judges of character.

Even of a cantankerous and feeble poppa.

Damn those innocent hearts.

Now God's going to make me wait.

Amy Schaefer said...

I read the poem.
I read it again.
I nodded quietly to myself.
I turned off the computer.
I took my kids to the butterfly conservatory.
We had lunch with my sister and my niece.
I didn’t check my email. I didn’t read the news.
That hard fist in my chest eased a little.
Now I am going for a walk in the woods with my family.
And that is why I’m not entering the contest this week.

Steve Forti said...

It found her in the oddest of moments today. The sudden surprise would make her laugh.
The way her puppy danced on hind legs at the sight of dropped bacon – that he knocked over. Happiness.
The little boy giggling when she slipped on the the banana peel – that he threw. Happiness.
The smile as her grandma pinched that cute doctor's butt at the nursing home – and he just squealed. Happiness.
The shocked pantsless guy in the changing room – that she just barged in on. Ha! Penis.

Dena Pawling said...

New job, day 2*

Nice office, fourth floor, window view
Friendly people, interesting work
Computer software from hell
Today's Friday!
3pm, rain slams window
Wind strong, palm trees horizontal
Lights flicker
Phone alert, flash flood warning!
Shut down computers, grab handbag
First floor flooded
Umbrella inverts, slog through parking lot, clothes and shoes soaked
Check traffic website, choose route
Join mass exodus
Dodge fallen trees, traffic lights out
Freeway 40mph
Grip steering wheel, say prayer
Avoid stalled vehicles in right lanes
An hour passes, exit freeway
Misjudge water level, pray car doesn't stall
Stop for train

*true story

veragood said...

My knees pushed hard together, and with every bump I prayed. The old schoolbus screeched to a halt.

I scooted off my seat, and ran down the embankment toward the shabby apartment tenement. Home.

My knees buckled as I searched my backpack for the latchkey that pulled like an albatross at the bottom. Got it!

Pushed the key shaking into the lock, yet the wet shame moved down my legs anyway. The door opened. I sobbed alone as I cleaned myself up.

Sulking, I looked to the fridge.

Hidden behind the mostly gone cola, a wrapper glistened, a leftover chocolate from Easter. Salvation.

Noel (tell me now) said...

I know,
I've been there too.
Does the medicine help?
Are you better, at least? Are you

Dee said...

I sit in the dark, crying and waiting for answers.
The ground is hard and cold.
Despair wraps its cloak around me.
In the distance, a pale glimmer of light peeks out from the blackness.
Afraid of knowing, I bow my head and squeeze my eyes shut.
The answer could be 'no'.
Sudden heat warms my cold soul.
I peek upwards.
A blinding light consumes me.
I have an answer.
Could it be yes?

Timothy Lowe said...

I loved accounting. Dimes shimmered between my fingers. I squandered my nights under LED lights, whistling as I paved a road to hell with dollar bills.

Mustang: 42,000.00
Case of bourbon: 349.99
Lady friends: 200.00/hr
Dinner at Rocco’s: 1243.60
Drinks at Tenochtitlan: 3650.00
DWI lawyer: 14,000.00
Interlock device: 200.00 a month

I paid for my mistakes. Price Waterhouse fired me. My friends deserted me. But I met someone at AA who told me that happiness is free.

Now we have another beautiful child coming, our sixth.

But hey - who’s counting?

Unknown said...

"But Momma, I don't want to run anymore. You said we would find happiness in this country."
"Even adults can be wrong sometimes.Button your coat."
"Is it really cold in Canada?"
"Not as cold as it is here."

Karen Baldwin said...

It's him!
Him, who I’d been waiting for my whole life.
Dancing, our bodies touch, anticipating.
My head on his shoulder, I drink in his scent. Our lips meet.
Sweet fire ignites.
“Let’s get out of here,” he whispers, his breath, warm, moist.
Static words crack my reality.
“That concludes tonight’s sock hop,” the school’s principal announces in the mic.
My best friend runs to me. “Let's go. Your mom’s here.”
“Will I see you again?” I ask him, breathless.
“Just visiting. I leave tomorrow.”
He walks away, looks back, smiles.
Will I ever know you again?

Steph Ellis said...

Sweeping the hours with a birch broom
You squandered night and day
Abandoned a feast in your honor
Weary of the child, the lover

A mother chewing despair
The garment of happiness lost
Inquires at every door
Can you forgive?

Finds just dust and shade
Falling at your feet
As prodigal fortune turns its back
And you weep

Woman, you are alone

PAH said...

It struck in the night, like a hitchhiker. But the kind no one wants to pick up--you know, one with a beard, no thumbs, and a chainsaw.

My uncle, the one who flies planes, said it was a lie designed to sell newspapers. But denial is not inoculation.

It took the monk in his cell.

A woman sweeping the streets.

A drunk mother and her crying baby.

Dogs, basketmakers, clerks. Everyone.

It'll take me, too. At that, I laugh.

But, here, laughter is a symptom, not a medicine.

Oh, Happiness. Such an odd name to give a virus.

katie said...

"She said we would all get what's coming to us! We were all right there - you all heard her! I was part of that." The corners of Carla's mouth are white.

It's quiet and then Uncle Clark says, "What she said was that happiness comes to us all, eventually."

Carla explodes. "You all got your money. That lawyer said I have to take it up with you. Where is my happiness, damn it!"

The only sound is a stifled titter that could have come from anyone with a functioning memory.

"Family meeting adjourned," says Uncle Clark.

JD Horn said...

Yeah, well, happiness can't buy money, either.

Marie McKay said...

The club's manager caught him crying between performances.
'Sort yourself out,' he said passing him an address.

He knock knocked at the door:
"Comedians' Support Group?"
A guy, an old timer, dressed in a powder blue tuxedo let him in.

Inside, it was her turn to stand up; share.
She said Comedy was a tyrant. Being  funny was exhausting; sad. Lonely.

And he got it; got her. Love at first sight.

So this isn't the one about the two comedians who laughed all the way to the Delivery Room.
This is the story of how they made each other happy.

Craig F said...

He pulled his coat tight before stepping into swirling winds of the concrete canyon. All colors seemed grey since he came home to changed locks and the acrimonious afterward.

Turning to lock the door, he was weakly headbutted in the shin. A ghost of a smile cracked a face that had been solemn too long. The cat, his cat, had chosen and come to find him. He lifted the cat to warm it under his coat.

The smile grew when the cat got his motor running and a big purr emanated from it. Happiness is found in small, unconditional things.

Kate O said...

It smells like hot garbage.
Probably because I am in the garbage.
And the day is hot.
It wasn’t always like this.
I began life on a shelf, pristine beneath my plastic packaging. My bright future as yet unspooled.
But I was bought hastily, for a child with too much already. I was one of many.
If I had a heart, it would ache.
The garbage can tips. The indignity of something sticky smearing across my face as we tumble: strawberry jam.
A dog’s hot breath, its slobbery tongue.
But also, sunshine.
And also, a child’s voice.
“Mama, look! A doll!”

Unknown said...

It came with the rising sun casting colors and light across the clouds sweeping and swirling in spikes across the sky. It came with the fresh smell of the air when she stepped outside to watch the sun sparkle on the dew of the trees and grass. It came overwhelmingly when she heard the baby’s happy gurgle of the morning. How had it happened? This day, this world? It had breathed in below the sadness, snuck into the crevices of memory, slithered over shadows, pushing always outwards until it filled her body, her life, her world. Happiness.

Lennon Faris said...

Two saplings gaze into a pool.
“See my brawny branches,” says Oak, stretching.
“And my ample trunk,” Sycamore preens, digging roots into the Earth.
“Your bark’s like a fungus.”
“Your progeny’s the teats of a fox, who milked too long.”
Why fight? hisses Wind, joyriding between their leaves. What do you accomplish?
Ignoring Wind, Oak roars to his squirrel brigade, “Hurl my progeny at that blasphemous ogre!” Songbirds of Sycamore dive-bomb the squirrels, screaming back insults. War rages in the canopy.

Below, a beaver meanders into the glen. He builds his home.

Eventually, the silent stumps turn back into dust.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

The park bench is hard on Harriet's old bones. Nearby, a little girl begs her mother unsuccessfully for ice cream.

Harriet, her heart long unraveled by regret, recalls her son's voice, how it grated her nerves. She was a lousy mother. She pushed him away over and over until he stayed away on his own. If she could have another chance, she'd grab it, never let go.

The girl wanders over. Harriet glances at the mother, focused on her cell. Harriet stands, holds out her hand. The girl takes it, weaving her fingers through Harriet's.

They walk away.

Amy Johnson said...

White Easter lilies long since withered, bed these days ablaze with tiger lilies. She sticks them in vases from Goodwill, lines them up on the porch railing of her shack off the interstate.

“Still just a flower stand, officer.”

Red pickup. “Hi, Lily.”

Payment goes in the coffee can on the table. Just inside the front door. Follow to bedroom. Grab a bouquet afterward. Maybe give it to your wife.

Coffee can reflection. What happened to me? Drunk mom. Teenage runaway. Desperation. Regrets.

Moves can to porch. Smiles.

Silver convertible. “Hi, Lily.”

“Only selling flowers. And my name’s Mary Frances.”

Unknown said...

It comes to the person alone
To the woman old and grey
The child on a boat

The wind
As it blows
Palm trees

It comes to me without you

On a beach
In the cold
Reading, watching, writing

A crowded market
A train
A quiet place
A mind wandering

In the sun
On my bed

It lives in me
I am happy
I am free

S.D.King said...

I think we drove over ninety to Ann Arbor the night he was born. First grandchild.

We were too late.

He was wrapped in a blanket at the graveside. I held him tight as they lowered her down.

“The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.”

He didn’t cry. I shook uncontrollably.

Months of going through the motions.

Choking despair.

Toothless smiles.


First word: Meema

He sits on the floor playing with Russian nesting dolls, endlessly stacking and restacking. Laughing at a joke only he knows.

His toes flex up in delight.

“Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Shaunna said...

That night, like every other, Grace climbed into bed and pulled her grief up to her chin. Another day done. Another night to drift through.

Everyone else rounded their losses to the nearest year, but hers felt razor-sharp after a decade.

She tried not to wait too hard. It was always tricky, catching the moment between awake and asleep, when dreams were as real as thoughts.

She needn't have worried, though; he had been waiting just as long. He walked into her dream, and she walked out of her life, and her sorrows were the only things she left behind.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

By noon the baby was gone. How could they recover from such loss, how could they ever experience joy once more, how could their world prop straight again?
And then, mere months later, a blue strip proclaimed their escape from grief.
From heartbreak a family formed, thrived and painted joy in every corner of their lives.
Lesson learned:
Desperately needed and least expected, happiness often wriggles into our lives to tickle away despair.

Anonymous said...

Exit 243, and go left at the Sunoco. Actually, might be an Exxon now.

Go halfway through town and turn left at the pawn shop, or at the DQ if you miss the pawn shop, and head toward the mountains.

Wind round a bit--half hour or so--don’t worry about the quiet, it’s hay-bailing time. You’ll pass the Crabells, they’re still there, great beef, and what used to be the Hollidays’.

Take the bridge extra careful; it’s rickety since the storm.

Go through the gate and keep going til you see my porch.

This cup of tea’s all yours.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Warm winds whisper
a promise of spring.

The doctors brought you back
but the promise was not ours to receive.
It is yours alone.

How do we love you?
Let us count
your strong strides that led us,
your calloused garden hands,
your quiet watchfulness among the tall pine trees as you munched unripe apples, summer ruffling your barely-gray hair.

We will remember
as you valiantly push
through hospital hallways
that hospice wheelchair,
refusing to sit,
until you find spring’s unseasonably early sunlit promise
on your weathered-vine face
and the bright breeze that beckons you home.

RosannaM said...

How capricious happiness that doesn’t land on me when I ask,
yet deluges the unsuspecting. The unnecessary.

Callie bustles about with vigor, a beautiful girl
with beaus far and wide.
Her dreams? They come true.
Her wishes? They are granted.

Yet I toil, a mere servant.
Do I not deserve joy?

Adam calls upon the mistress,
hat in hand, eyes aglow.

So I serve him a spot of tea
with crumpets
and I brush against his arm, his hip.

And I feel it. As does he.
Our eyes connect
And happy? It jumps from
Callie to me.

Karen McCoy said...

They tell her that happiness is a baby.
She’s not interested.
She’s the perfect breeder, they say,
With love handles, and baby fat.
They ply her with men,
Some with muscles, some not.
She prefers intellect. And careful hands.
Much different than the one they thrust on her.
Baby fat makes for baby.
It grows, unnatural, within her.
She’s sick, drugged.
The thing inside her transforms…
Points instead of curves.
Metal, instead of bone…
Just like her.
She rips the mechanical fetus
From her green drenched insides
And cries out

Sherry Howard said...

Diary Entry: March 17

The new bench lets me rest my legs while I visit you. It was worth sharing tuna with One-Eyed Joe to stretch our budget for that bench. Joe sends some purrs to you, too.

Today the sun lit your name with a halo, and warmed my old bones. Your cardinal visited. I clipped the fresh grass around you.

After I left you, I saw Dr. Sanders—you remember him. Such good news today! He said it’ll only be a few weeks more now. Can’t wait to see you again. Maybe Yvonne will plant some daffodils then.

RKeelan said...

Happiness has been a poor friend to me.

Happiness was there when you first asked me to dance.

Happiness was there when we made a home together.

But when you left me—where was happiness then?

When I was weeping on the floor because you loved another—where was happiness then?

Now you've returned, and happiness has too.

Now you'd have me cast aside those emotions you sneeringly call negative.

But I remember.

I remember grief and rage and wounded pride that never left.

I remember my true friends.

So let happiness stay and prove its worth.

I'll be waiting.

Joey said...

I woke slowly, head filled with numbness, and looked around.

My first thought was a snake waving to me. That didn't make sense and the snake had legs. My second was a striped dragon had appeared. That too seemed unlikely. I focused.

Blue and yellow snout. Four legs. Frustrated growls.

Suspicion bloomed.

The growling turned to bays and my dumb dog, stuck in my sock, danced. I laughed. The sound scratched and spluttered and coughed, but didn't stop. I couldn't. I could still feel the numbness, but I could also feel something else: happiness.

I laughed because I wasn't abandoned.

Nick V said...

He held her, and the fear crept in like a rising tide advancing on an oblivious child. By the time he noticed, it had damn near swallowed him whole. His heart drummed through his chest and against her curved back. “What the hell is wrong with me?” he thought. There was nothing worse than a sniffling coward who was too afraid to simply open the door and let happiness waltz in once chance had done the all heavy lifting. He took one breath, and one breath only, and decided that was not who he was going to be.

Kat Waclawik said...

Corna only cost us fifty bucks. Spindly white mare. Proud neck. Legs like a goat.

We kept her on ‘cause she was so good with kids, though a right terror to most anyone older’n a teenager.

She’d stand at the fence each morning, staring past the sycamores towards the road, a flash above her forehead when the sunlight first hit her.

Years passed. Then decades. We retired her. Spirit, flesh—you know.

By the time the old woman came, whispering apologies, Corna barely walked.

Somehow she found the strength to prance. They shimmered away together into the dawn.

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

Today was Friday, which meant the lawn mower came tomorrow. I let the others go on to school; I would catch up later.

Just needed five minutes to sketch this dandelion. I capture it in a few deft strokes, colour and all, before I pluck it from the earth.

It was going to die anyway, whether today or tomorrow.

At least I would have the memory of its yellow happiness on Sunday.

Unknown said...

‘Happiness’, that myth became mine,
For just a short moment in time.
A Red Robin’s song filled my soul,
That time oh so long ago.

With a soft touch and a tingle,
Our hearts soared and truly mingled.
Our daughter’s sweet cry and first breath,
Slowly gave way to her death.

Our world crumbled as myth faded,
‘Happiness’ quickly abated.
Till my love took my hand and smiled,
Soon there’d be another child.

Years rolled along and Robin’s song,
Still tweeting sweet helped me stay strong.
As my love passed he squeezed my hands,
By our daughter he now stands.

Kae Ridwyn said...


Zealously pursued; seldom attained
A rare temptress is she

Hold too tight and she disappears
A fine mist in the pre-dawn of the summer scorcher
Hold loosely and she vanishes beneath worries
Concerns, frustrations, troubles

No, she is fleeting
A vague notion, few of us are cognizant
We have…

… until she has fled
And we remain.
In the dark.

Reminded of happier times
Just passed…

… regretful at how oblivious we were

John Davis Frain said...

Your happy place?

Remember the first time you asked me. Lying on the sun-soaked plywood of Aronson’s pier. We weren’t even married yet.

“This place,” I said. And then it became our annual question.

Fourth row James Taylor after you admitted you didn’t know JT. The dry spot beneath Colter’s bridge. The protest march downtown. Our table at Dairy Queen.

I’ve been back to most of them. I’ve tried to relive them. In the process, I learned this.

I don’t have a happy place. I have a happy state. And you put me there.

Janice Grinyer said...

An ad for a little red roan mustang.

I sit at my desk contemplating, while outside crickets chirp their sweet trill of a good night.

"I can't, it's a waste of time and money. I'll get hurt…"

Why do things that bring us life also bring the fear of living?

"I have been through fear... and fire”

The crickets continue to sing into the depth of an endless star sky. I listen.

I have been refined.

We will ride.

Tomorrow I'll call, next week I'll visit, in one month I'll buy one little red roan mustang.

We will live.

french sojourn said...

She was a long-legged redhead, with a cute little nose. Her heavenly body moved with a slow French southwestern kinda gait. We met at a wine tasting event. She was tastefully dressed, love at first sight.

One night I had her over for dinner. She opened up, but she felt like she couldn’t breathe. Maybe she was tired of living in some Godforsaken fishbowl.

She was fine with the main course, but for dessert, she declined. Sadly, it didn’t last, she spirited away.

In the morning, I found her sleeping like a dead soldier, awash in an afterglow of happiness.

Just Jan said...

“Are you certain it would provoke a cure, Sister?”

“This information could give him a whole new outlook. It may even save his life.”

“It’s to be communicated on a need-to-know basis only, you know. Most men couldn’t handle it.”

“The truth deserves to be shared, Abbott.” She adjusted her dimple. “Besides, Brother Patrick is more evolved than most men.”

His acquiescence sent her scurrying off to text. One simple click elicited a hallelujah from Brother Patrick’s lips and a dancing emoji from his cell.

Happiness was achieved in four words: “HE is a SHE.”

Unknown said...

The boy clung to the broken fence surrounding the playground. Crumbled cinder blocks piled up next to rusty swings. He stared into the sky.


“Hey, Annie.”

“Whatcha doing?”

“Wishing I could catch one of those clouds. Hold it in my arms, ride outta here, never look back. Nothing would make me happier.”

“Then you’ll never be happy.”


Twenty years later, Isaiah stood at the fence again. He wiped the sweat from his brow and put the last of the trash into a bag. Kids squealed on the new playground. He grabbed Annie’s hand, returned her smile.

“Yes, I’m happy.”

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Sugar sand scrunched under my feet as I trudged down to the jetty, screaming seagulls in the early morning sky.

The tide turned, now on the ebb. Sanderlings picked at the water's edge.

A steady southwest breeze excited the dune-nesting song sparrows.

Wings beating, an osprey flew overhead, claws wrapped around a plump fish.

The rocks at the end of the jetty slick with algae, I flung a white orchid lei into the lapping waves.

The metal canister held aloft, I circled, letting the wind take a shimmering stream of her ashes and bone fragments.

Joy in the morning.