Saturday, December 30, 2017

Holiday Flash Fiction Contest Round 4 (final round)

Round Four
Posted: 12/30 (noon)
Opens 12/31/17  9am 1/2/18 9:31am
Closes: 1/1/18 9am 1/3/18 9:31am

prompt word: SENT
Number of words: 20

You can enter Round 4 even if you did not enter Rounds 1, 2 or 3.

You may continue the story you wrote for Rounds 1, 2 or 3 OR use someone else's post from  Rounds 1, 2 or 3 as your "starter"
If you use a starter, you MUST include it in your post WITH ATTRIBUTION.
It goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway) that you use someone else's work with respect.

You can NOT use 29 words in this entry if your previous entry was "only 26 of the allowed 30" In other words, no carry overs.

1. You must use the whole prompt word (sent) 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: sent/sentence is ok, but sent/scent  is not.

2. Post the entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.

3. 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.

4. International entries are allowed, but prizes may vary for international addresses.

5. Titles count as part of the word count (you don't need a title)

6 If you use a STARTER post, those words DO NOT count for word limit for today's entry.

7. 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.

8. 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.

Round 4 opens: 9am, 12/31/17

Round 4 closes: 9am, 1/1/18

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

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

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

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid
Ready? SET?

Not yet!

ENTER (sorry about this snafu dear readers. I may have vacationed a bit too much!)

Sorry, contest is closed!


Craig F said...

I couldn’t look at her lodging. Instead I watched the first tendrils of fog. A bird bitched like he was directing it. It was a remake of that Christmas morning.

I didn’t have to ring; the nurse was waiting. When I got to my girl’s room I bent to kiss her. No response, organic damage.

Her pillow became colly temptation. I put it over her face but couldn’t look. I turned my face towards the window and the swirling fog.

A flashback, headlights slashing through fog, sent me reeling. I knew I failed. I couldn’t set you free this Christmas.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Fog shrouds the house.

A bird flits by a window, the old glass broken from within.

The fog breathes, escapes.

The bird does not.

Inside, the occupants are still hungry.

Long ago, they gathered at the dinner bell's ring.

But the meal was not for them.

The only thing to grow up was their rage.

Now, they're the monsters. Cursed, caged.

Desperate, their tongues, long and twisted, bruised colly and cobalt, lick the walls, tasting memories of blood and bone.

When they turn on each other, it's swift, unsentimental.

Only one remains.

She crunches her brothers' bones, satiated.

For now.

(Rounds 1, 2, and 3 Starters - mine)

Timothy Lowe said...

“Early birds!” Gregor scoffed.

Dominic’s was a sea of blue-hairs. So much for Christmas Eve dinner.

Marie sighed. “You never plan ahead.”

Surreptitiously, he pocketed the ring.

“You’re right.”


“No worries.” He fingered the other unpopped question: a sealed vial. “I can make us something mouthwatering...”


“... I always have a plan B.”

She wasn’t his first. There was a protocol. Lyrics - sultry, gelatinous. Candles - scented. Duck - crispy, succulent.

The ring was dessert.

This time, she said yes.

Next Christmas Eve. Dominic’s.

“You never plan ahead,” Gabrielle said.

Gregor pocketed the ring. Smiled.

“I’m beginning to resent that.”

Gaylord Pusyslayer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amy Schaefer said...

What would it mean, to eat the bird? I glanced nervously around my fiancé’s family. Heads cocked, beady eyes watchful, like a flock of birds themselves.

I took a bite.


She took a bite.

You’re so relieved, you nearly tip your wine glass. Food matters, here.

Mother nods.

You pull the ring from your pocket.


The girl sobbed in Corbin’s arms. Mother approved. People were happiest following protocol, lying to themselves about love.

Bird eaten, ring on. Time to feast.


The paralytic kicked in, freezing my smile in place.

The family tore me apart.

Sent to Hell by a bird.

(All entries – Amy Schaefer)

french sojourn said...


He had a couple guns to take care of in Sacramento.
After landing at LAX, he drove his rental car north, bird-dogged by bruised clouds promising nothing. Nothing but pain.


After pushing the windshield for five hours, eyes red, ears ringing, he pulled over. Caffeine, nicotine, then back behind the wheel. He chambered a round.


Twenty-minutes later, he walked into a dank and colly Bar. Fat Kenny just nodded and pointed, “Them two offed yah sister.”

He raised his Makarov.


“Hey, she owed Lonzo four large for Dragon powder.”
“Guess he sent a message.”

“Message received,” he emptied the clip.

Mallory Love said...

We fell in lust on the subway. Sweethearts turned to soulmates in swift fashion. Lovebirds, we were deemed. Little did I know, instead you'd be the albatross around my neck.

"It was an accident," you begged forgiveness, tightening the string like a noose.
Apologies don't raise the dead, dear, and mothers can't nurture memorials.

"Love you" has become this protocol lyric sung between us, issued for our therapist's sake. But medicine doesn't cure bitterness, and...
I miss my boy.
Life happens without consent. So, I'm off to meet the train and our son again, this time falling with intent.

(Rounds 1,2, and 3- mine)

Kim Long said...

Today, I’m a bird. And yeah, I’m worried. People ‘round here love hunting the skies. One skilled shot—heck, one lucky shot—and it’ll be bye-bye birdy. Bye-bye me. Sigh.

I know why She turns me, of course. Clawed feet. Night vision. Perfect for night-time thievery.

Now to spot the ring.

And survive ‘til night.

I'm alive. Better, I've reached the col. Lyrebirds finally out of earshot, I can think clearly. Forget Her and Her ring. I want my freedom.

But that ring.

So shiny.

Finger snapped. Ring grasped.

Soaring now.



She knows.



Today, I’m a wisent.

Unknown said...

"No bother at all. I just put the bird in the oven."
Mom was infamous for never answering her phone. Why today? I lamented inwardly.

"We're in deep...colly," Elisabeth said, looking at her daughter.
"I don't know how to tell you this," I confessed, "but we're all vegetarians now."

I listened. Mom was quiet.
"Do you resent us now?"
"Not as much as the turkey does."

Steph Ellis said...

“Papa’s gonna buy you a mockingbird,” sang her father, into the darkness.
Lizzie lay there silently, axe in hand. “That’s a lie, Daddy,” she said. “And liars should be punished.”

“What if I’ve got you a diamond ring?”
She saw the jewel glimmer, dropped the axe. She always enjoyed Christmas carving, but it could wait.

Tonight though, her father appeared different. Colly-masked, red-eyed, he looked a devil. Working in the mines could do that. She held out her hand expectantly.

The demon grabbed her. “My present?”
Her father nodded. Finally, he could get that damn axe and kill the turkey.

Steve Forti said...

Dec24: Yitzhak caught me escaping the robbery. Made up story about following star to magic baby. The gold a gift? Y-yeahhh… (Is now.) He and Hebir decided to follow. Ugh.

Dec30: Still walking. Why so far away? I swear the star is moving. Yitzhak and Hebir fight over gifts they bring. WTF is Myrrh, anyway?

Jan5: Almost there. Star is getting bigger. Growing excitement at my story. Bummer I can’t keep the gold. Still better than getting caught (protocol: lynching).

Jan6: Wrong! We were so wrong! The star? Some flying object. Firing lightning bolts. Entities – green demons! – abducted Yitzhak. Help!

npholland said...

Dec 24. Her bird, the ethereal wings of Siren, descends upon the east winds bringing news of the coming. Alighting upon the window sill, it pecks the warning against the glass.

Dec 27. The ringing, the sound of bells reaches her ears before the bird's tapping ends. She knows then it is coming. He is coming.

Dec 29. Take the children and leave the presents, well not this time she thinks. She sits by the fire place waiting for the colly to fall.

Jan 2. “Ho, ho, ho”, she chambers a round. “Let’s see you merry this Christmas.” A thud. A flash. No more presents.

Sherry Howard said...

Among the muskets, gunpowder, and silks nestled something as deadly as an explosive—gambir. Desired as an astringent in the new world, it could also be deadly. Captain Bird smiled.


Her ingratitude had been incomprehensible. Yet, he’d played along. Bought the ring. Gotten down on one knee. Even set a date—upon his return. Soon.


How could she colly his memories of her cradling their newborn, crooning soft lullabies? He’d teach her. Soon. It would be more than just collywobbles.


Absent a miracle, it ends now. His first mate writhed, sent Captain’s wife a longing glance across the dinner table.

Ashes said...

Prime birding weather, Jerry would've said. Maybe that explained her cold feet.

‘Meet potential matches in a café/bar’, the website had suggested. She’d chosen bar. She needed the drink.

Her wedding ring tan line a willful reminder, fingers wrapped around an unsympathetic cocktail. It had been too long.

He looked nothing like his picture.

But he was here. That was all that mattered.

She hated this part of herself—the carnal urge to colly her marriage with these desires.

Silenced pleas. Bloodstained sheets.

Urges sated, she sent herself home. Her ring in place, feet toasty warm, Jerry's safety guaranteed.

Eileen said...

It's always a standing-O when he levitates. Please. I used to be the showstopper. But, old birds learn new tricks hanging around magic hats. My latest? The bullet catch.

His newest shill inspects the bullet. I wear his ring, but he's doing hocus-pocus with her.
Big mistake... I'm the one who pulls the trigger.

I pocket the wax bullet. Load a real one. Not exactly protocol. Lyrics crescendo in my head. Bohemian Rhapsody. Mama, just killed a man.

I see a little silhouetto of a man.
Disentangle trigger...
What cheats in Vegas, dies in Vegas.

Unknown said...

Snow covered fields. No wind. Perfect day to be out. Dog frozen in place. Straight line from nose to tail. Paw raised slightly. Stating, without question, “Bird”.

Ring neck pheasant. That's the only thing would draw the hunter and his dog out to this section of the county, this time of year.

The little, colly dog stands out against the snow. Stand a bit off, and she looks more like shadow, the afterthought of an earlier hunt.

A loud cough. Bird in flight. Shot sent wild. Snow covered fields. No death today. Perfect day to be out.

Michael Seese said...

“Birds were meant to fly,” her mother cooed. “So fly.”

Faith pushed her out. She caught an updraft, and soared, gloriously, finally tasting freedom.

Returning home, she found an abandoned nest, too soon tasting emptiness.

* * *

She swallowed a shot of 151 and her pride before taking the stage.

The pole reeked of prostitution. The dollar bills, desperation.

His ring... salvation.

* * *

The champagne tasted empty. Like their penthouse. His note burned. As did the ethylene glycol lying in her stomach.

A bird flew by.

Freedom beckoned.

* * *

His note caught an updraft. She didn't.

Birds were meant to fly,” the cop grunted, absent emotion.

And the backstory.

Rena McClure Taylor said...

The scream swirls around her bed, black and streaked with blood; then hovering at her feet, finally settles dripping the moments. She counts, waits … counts, waits …

“God-damned Bird.”

The daughter flutters around her bed. “Mama, what’s wrong with you?”

“Wring his dinger. Ding-a-ling-a-long.” Stares, her wrists ooze red.

They twitter at her feet arguing price of fresh carrion.
“Two, four, six bits, a dollar.”

In bounces Hadacolly Cholly, guitar in hand.
“Surprise. Surprise.”

She chops, slices guitar’s deadly beat: daughter, fresh carrion—gift-wrapped presents—at her feet.

The moral? “Don’t mess with Tessie.”

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

“Your daughter’s a bird,” Mrs. Turkington told my mother. I was fourteen and perfect.
You don’t forget something like that. Ever. It can shape your life.
I became a bird.


I perched on the roof.
Spread my lovely wings, drinking the salt air and the ring around the moon. Singing to the lonely foghorn.



Angel? Or devil.
A dark hole appears in the dark sky.
It’s a raven, the colly bird from my dreams.
Fly, she croaked.
I flew.


The harbor lights are cold and the landlord cruel.
I’m not sentimental but I remember.
Once I was a bird.

Claire Bobrow said...

Christmas dinner.
Her first.
Invitation went straight to the heart.
Couldn’t dodge it.
She arrived perfectly dressed -
a swell bird, a dish -
but wished she had ducked.


Too late for regrets!
Her soul winged its way onwards,
the blue yonder calling,
ringing in her ears
like the report
of a gun.


She reached the pearly gates,
spirit clean of colly,
only to be sent back.
Different nest -
lined with feathers.
Yellow ducks on flannel.


New Year’s day.
Her first
(of many).
She arrived perfectly dressed -
a swell babe
in a birthday suit.

[Previous entries are mine.]

Dena Pawling said...

Blitzen kicks me. Hard. “Why'd you pick THAT paper?”

“It was on top!” I splutter.

But he's right. What can we give four calling birds?

@%^!# North-Pole gift exchange.

“I know! Let's give them five gold rings.” I'm brilliant, thank you very much.

Blitzen snorts. “Ring their little necks is more like it.”

“What d'you have against calling birds?”

“Colly birds.”


“Blackbirds,” Blitzen says.

“Like four-and-twenty?”

“Yep. Pie. Yummy.”


He grins.

“Gift exchange,” I remind him. “Fruitcake?”

Blitzen snorts.

I protest.

But birds do make a delicious entree.

[Starters all mine]

Jennifer Delozier said...

Raunch leaned his elbow on the drowning man’s back and wondered if he had time for a smoke. Knock ’em out first, and the birdbath works just fine. Easy-peasy.

Murder-for-hire was boring, but it paid the rent. Crimes of passion were a different species, and Raunch fed his soul with their bones and flesh.

His Irish-Catholic mother had taught him not to colly any Colleens. But mama never said anything about boys. Collying Colin worked just fine, too. Easy-peasy.

Tonight he’d combined passion with paycheck, a birthday present to himself. Colin’s limp, naked body hit the ground. Deliciously easy.

Marie McKay said...

"Eat the damn bird."
Boys who'd earlier made Peter Drake beat his kid brother for fear of their 'or elses' now wept a rainstorm.
"Eat. Or. Else!" said their Father.

Birds squawked, "Tell." But Peter sealed Richie's bruised lips with marshmallow. He'd seen his Mom accept flowers as purple as the rings decorating her eyes.

The colly bird seemed to writhe in the boys' bellies. They'd named it, but their Father never let them keep anything. Not even their mom.

Richie grows paler. Doves form a shroud: their message sent earthward, "From here we witness the flaws you hand down."

Unknown said...

Remote Death

1. Veronica jammed tweezers into her stinging cut; white Christmas tree bulbs supplied light. Feliz Navidad, her ass. She freed metal—microchip. Fuck. The infamous acronym stamped it.


2. Hoods shielded executioners from humanity. Like towers, Russ reckoned. Up high, swallowed in night. He pushed the button activating an Isabelle Ringer. Paid good, though.

3. Sweat hit Kirk’s pits as he watched Alex squint at the grainy monitor.

“I.R. #526 violated protocol.”

Lying, Kirk replied, “It’s on my grid.”

4. Highway stretched taffylike into horizon.

The red Toyota appeared as promised.

A BIRD released, Veronica sent Kirk silent thanks.

[Rounds 1, 2, and 3 starters mine]

Unknown said...

It had to be her.
This had my sister's fingerprints all over it.
Only Christina could flip you the bird and blow you a kiss all in the same gesture.
Tonight was my first time hosting our family's annual Christmas gatheRING and every pan in my cabinet was coated with a layer of purple glitter.
Purple. Christina's favorite color. Lest, I colly her name unjustly, I searched the craft drawer above for the culprit glitter packet. Red, gold, no purple.
Halfway between laughing and crying, I looked up.
"You couldn't have just sent a damn cardinal like a normal ghost?"

Cheryl said...

(All mine)

In the forest lie bird wings, sparrow-feathered, linked only by sinew. Moonlight puddles on snow, highlighting horror and beauty. I should move on, but I reach out.
It opens.

I enter the cave, which is warm and full of light.
“What do you want?” Her voice is frail, stringy. Ancient.
“Give back the sun.”

She settles on a col, lying back against stone. “Why?”
Cruel, as they’d said. “We’re dying.”
“As am I. Your sun gives me comfort now.”

“But you’re the Sentinel. Eternal.” She has protected us forever.
“The Sentinel is eternal. And you are the Sentinel now.”

Unknown said...

(First Section by Laurie Batzel)

It had to be her.
This had my sister's fingerprints all over it.
only Christina could flip you the bird and blow you a kiss all in the same gesture.

It wasn't underwear we found in my bedroom. It was her knife, because
Christina cooked his dinner.
Her catering skills were famous.
my poor husband

he didn't stand a chance. I chopped up
his sweetmeats, and
she stole him from me. My heart, collying up
Thought I'd laugh last when

he came back to me.
Officer, I didn’t realize that
She murdered him resentfully.

Evelyn smiled, and read it backwards.

Terri Lynn Coop said...

A bird from the murmuration landed on my shoulder.

“She’s your guide. It’s time.”

“This potion will protect me?”

“Hell can’t harm those immune to death.”

I drained the chalice.

The ringing phone interrupted the dream I’ve had for twenty centuries.

I led my beloved from Hades’ chasm and we loved a lifetime. His lifetime.

Immortality means I’ll outlive every beloved.

“Sweet Cailin,” he’d whispered before dying an old man.

I swiped the screen. “Colly.” Modern times demand modern ways.

“I sent an invitation. It’s fancy. No Disney leggings.”

Immortality would be easier if I’d outgrown the Juniors section first.

Amy Johnson said...

[All words are mine.]
Maggie was in heaven. Lying on puffy clouds.

Voices. “She’s back.”

In a bed now.

A nurse. “I’ll crack the window. You like hearing the birds.”

Bars on the window?

Caged like a Serinus canaria domestica.


“That’s your name?”

“Must speak with Winifred.”

“Is Winifred here now?”

“With me for years.”

Ears! Ringing again!

“This’ll help you relax.”


“Last memory before arriving here?”

“In the col, lying in wait.”

Frowning, exiting.

Should have said waiting to photograph hawks.

Voices. “She sent a text. Said she was heading to the col. Is she here? I’m her research assistant, Winifred.”

Barbara said...

(Round 1)
Was a Christmas miracle, for sure. Hadn't et in eight days. Slinked to the neighbor's pear tree 'cross the way, but weren't a pear on it. Was a bird, though.

(Round 2)
Partridge. Wringed its neck and took it home. We et good that night. For the next 11 nights, I found something worthwhile in that tree.

(Round 3)
Colly birds, milking cows, a parade of pipers and leapers. Gold rings was the best, though. Pawned them for good money. Then come day 13.

(Round 4)
Everything vanished. WTF?!

Cops barged in, but weren't nothing to find. Got me all sentimental.

Yep. Christmas miracle for sure.

Anonymous said...

The pigeon pirouetted through the rain of bullets, burdened with the fates of hundreds. If the bird soldiered through, delivered his message, the unit might survive.

The flight was brutal, but no ruffled feathers would stop Cher Ami. He stuck the landing, savoring the respite while the general read his missive.

“Cease fire!” the general ordered, sparing Cher Ami’s unit. The pigeon surrendered to exhaustion, the medic tsking about how he’d let gunpowder colly his feathers.

The unit, saved from friendly fire, sent Cher Ami home to receive his medal of honor.

Unknown said...

Bird excrement stole the white magic from snowflakes settling upon the decrepit bricks. He supposed it'd go well with the pellets wedged between the treads of his boots.

Sighing, he stepped up on the ring of soiled blocks and into yet another sooty maw. The hot, creosote-lubricated throat swallowed him greedily.

Expelled below in a black belch, he tumbled toward the fir corpse, collying the carpet with every roll.

"Santa?" A voice like a smothered kitten.

It sent him a pallor. But rules were rules.

Nodding, he opened his bag wide.

She'd make a fine elf.

Karen McCoy said...


She attempted a flawless Thanksgiving dinner for his mother, who still disapproved of their match. Tender stuffing steamed, while plastic-covered bird innards sizzled inside meat and skin.


One turkey thrown out, the other perfectly laid on a platter, next to a ring. Broken china, thrown by his outraged mother.


“No need for collying the table,” he said. “I couldn’t stay alone forever, Mother.”

“Of course not. But really Tom—a prostitute?”


On Ella’s first day as a prostitute, widower Tom was her first client…and her last. His mother eventually consented.

Anonymous said...

“Mommy, are bad guys coming?”
“Shhh. Drink this entirely, dearest.”
“I’m scared.”
“Me too.”
“I feel funny.”
“Goodbye, my heart.”

Beth Carpenter said...

Swans? Now? With a foot of ice on the lakes? Way too many birds in this stupid song. Wait – got it. Seven Swanson dinners swimming in gravy. Next…
Grumman Goose – the quintessential sea plane. National Guard has six of the belly-landers lying, not laying, in the snow. Close enough. Which brings us to…
Performers, livestock, poultry – check. Pepto for the milkmaid with collywobbles. David Cassidy’s album, dangling from twin birches. Five rings, one diamond. Here goes nothing.
Good, she sent a text. Plane landed. Heading home. Kidding about that bet, you know. Just ask me. Love, Noelle

(All rounds mine)

Mike Hays said...

Admit fallibility, eat crow, and move on? Vincent cringed watching the shiny, black bird gobble a fleshy bit of a roadkill skunk outside. Nature made the choice easier. No crow.

The truth would change everything. It would torch this promising relationship. But with guilt ringing in his head, how could he continue to keep quiet?

Vincent brushed aside his collywobbles, put on his big-boy pants, and decided to come clean. He risked everything, but Jessica had the right to know.

Vincent told her every ugly detail. It had to be over. Later, though, Jessica sent a text. “Dinner @ 8:00?”

Ivy Blackwater said...

She skittered like a bird, timid beyond tolerance. So he clutched her to his chest and held tight until the fear that restrained her understated beauty writhed itself to sleep.

“Do I have to?” She peeked at him, voice quavering. “So many men.”

He squeezed. “You’re the sexy manager. Show them. Take it all off.”

She pulled away.

"They'll love it." He winked. "And later I'll give you a stiff one to ease remaining collywobbles."

She smiled. "Promise?"

"With pleasure.”


So she entered Home Depot’s outdoor presentation area and showed those curious men how a beautiful young woman strips...wood.

Marty Weiss said...

The bird entered by flying through the bars.
“Hello there, Tweety. What’s that in your beak?
For me? Thank you. I do believe it is a bit of the weed.”

“Can you bring me more? Understand more?
Well, ring-a-ding-doo, I believe you do.
Flower buds and leaves would be welcome.
Give you peanuts in return.”

“Been selling the pot, Tweety,
Not for chicken feed, either.
Airheads on Death Row have collywobbles;
take a couple of hits and they zone out.”

“You keep me well supplied with pot, Tweety, and when
my sentence is over, we’ll wing it to Florida together.”

Anonymous said...

Round One:
Goddess Rainbird knew her love for Goddess Firebird was hopeless. One touch would destroy them both.

"I do not care!" shouted Rainbird. "I'd rather die than live without her."

Round Two:
Rainbird stole Shieldbird's Ring. With this ring she was invulnerable. She could survive Firebird's love. The two of them...

She only had one ring.

Round Three:
Rainbird stole Armorbird's Protection Armor, offered the two treasures to sooty colly-covered Firebird, who accepted them gratefully.

"Now Snowbird and I can love," said Firebird.

Round Four:
Rainbird loved Firebird, so she sent her away. Rainbird wanted Firebird happy.

Eventually, Rainbird met Thunderbird. But that's for later.

Jason said...

It isn't enough the light shines through the window in the morning, but the birds make it impossible to roll over for more sleep.

My phone rings but is somehow less irritating than the chirping cacophony outside my window. If I could hit it on the head, I would.

I put my feet on the floor, already dreading the day. The collyrium does nothing to wash away the previous evening from my eyes.

Toward my car, the bald eagle flew and in the opposite direction, I sent it flying. I’m in trouble.

RosannaM said...

Another box leans against Rudolph. Damn Amazon prime. Damn birdbrain people who require you to wrap your own gifts. Toby refused, keyed the strapping tape, viewed the contents with shock.

A plane ticket, a passport and an unsigned invitation. A pile of cash on the bottom provided the how. The who would keep him wondering.

Take out Big Boss, note said. Never one to ignore anonymous commands, Toby placed ethylene glycol, lye and Gatorade into Biggie’s booze bottles. Utilized ticket.

Hotel door opened. “Gatorade? Risky.”

Toby assented. “But Biggie loved margaritas.”

He kissed Mrs. Biggie; had hoped for the daughter.

CarolJ said...

Defiant, the sun escapes December clouds. Scarlet cardinals, indigo buntings and earth-toned wrens bathe in a puddle. The birds and illusion of spring light hearten me--until defiance fades.

The cat's cradled in my arms, and I indulge in yearly tears of remembering the almost-child who died on Christmas eve fifty years ago.

Blackbirds land outside. They remind me of the "Calling birds or colly birds?" argument about the Christmas song. My mood breaks. "Okay, cat. Enough crying."

"Go watch the birds."
The phone rings. My son, 49, heaven-sent to restore my joy in life.
He has.

(All entries are mine.)

AJ Blythe said...

My addiction gives me pleasure. Unlike the victims of my habit, but I’m no jailbird. Yet.

I peer down the barrel. Steady myself. Never thought of myself as a twitcher, but I am. The high I seek…crave…brings with it a slamming pulse. Sweaty palms. The need for another notch crushing.

I wait for the red-head I hunt. Check my scope. A flicker of red.

Then a colly bird shouts its warning. A chorus echoes.

Red bolts. Away from me.

I growl at the sentry. Take the shot.

Success? The red-head now a still.


[All my words]

Janice L. Grinyer said...

The Cows keep screaming. Smoke hangs in the air. A charred bird ensnared by barbed wire soundlessly cries. Our mercy killing begins.

Wildfire does that.

Every week until snowfall they come. Both wild and tame, staring, damaged forever. Bang! Bang! Bang! Sick, I’m kneeling in blood.

Wildfire does that.

Ash devils spirit away soil, collying blue sky. Clean, repair, rebuild. My fingertip traces pine needles seared onto windows, their trees gone.

Wildfire does that.

“The land will recover,” they say. We know better.

Sentiments don’t apply to survivors.

Wildfire does that too.

Brig said...

She enjoyed life at a distance; never chose the bird in the hand. In a bush, preferably imagined, meant perfection, control.

He arrived like a cowpat from a jumbo jet.


He was attractive like he ate Pringles over the rug: infuriatingly, messily; a whirlwind completely at ease.

With her, a maypole, his whirling made sense.


But like the “Fourth day of Christmas...” once sung of Colly birds, time changed things.

Her structure became his straight-jacket; his easiness begot her unease.


They ended.

Life didn’t.

She preferred it at distance; he hurtled towards it as if heaven-sent.

Same; same; but different.

Mike Wyant Jr. said...

A damned, dirty business, hell. Not a soul consents to it, but they’re here. With me.

Time to punch in.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Her partner read from the paper, “…a major seabird breeding station.”

Jeanie’s heart thudded as the catamaran rolled over swells and approached jagged green ridges jutting from the North Atlantic.

Kelly glanced at her, “Did you bring them?”

Sure her face was white as a ghost, Jeanie patted the rucksack in her lap.

The zodiac dinghy bumped the pier.

“Don’t collymoddle!” she scolded Kelly.

Jeanie marched beyond the abandoned village’s grassy street, puffed uphill.
Time to be done.

Along Hirta’s giddying cliffs, gannets swirled.

Jeanie said, “Dum and Mad. Home you are,” and sent the ashes flying.

Sherryl said...

Janice flipped me the bird as she drove away. In my Mustang. Was she even allowed to do that? What were the rules for ex-wives? I'd never had one before.

Or a Mustang either. I was left with Janice's engagement ring. A real diamond could have bought me two Mustangs.
Or a good hitman.

Just the thought of killing her myself gave me the collywobbles. All that blood and goo. Ick.
Besides, it was the car I really wanted.

GPS tracker and spare key. The Mustang was mine again. I left Janice a present. An upside-down stuffed vulture.

walkie talkie said...

Loretta placed her boot on the stoop. She turned to tell the taxi not to leave but saw a yellow streak.

Inside the bird was still alive.

"Bitch is back."

“I oughta ring your neck.”

The parrot dove, puffed with madness.
Loretta’s bones cracked as she dodged the attack. She rose and preheated the oven.

“What’s for dinner?”

Loretta’s mom hung her keys.

“A little surprise.”

“Where’s Polly?”

Loretta shrugged.

“Remember when you used to say, ‘Colly want a Pracker?’”

She nodded.

“Polly also sent me to timeout impersonating you.”

“You two have hated each other since.”

“Eat up, Mom.”

Gingermollymarilyn said...

They eat lots of birds, most often chickens. Turkeys on special days, like the one they call Christmas. Before cooking, they stuff the cavity with more food.
Rings feature predominantly, often signifying the coupling of two humans in a committed relationship. Most are made of gold or silver, adorned with valuable jewels.
Females of the species, approximately once every 25-28 days, menstruate. It is the key to procreation, but unpleasant, back aches, headaches and collywobbles are suffered.
Study complete. Purring simultaneously in the host bodies, humans are in a global trance ready to be sent to Robonia.

All starter/entries are mine.

Mike Mikula said...

Part One:

“Chuckee!” Alice screamed skyward as Charlie Chirplan climbed toward five phoebes and joined their maneuvers like he’d spent none of the past eight years in a birdcage facing the television.

Part Two:

Soaring with the phoebes felt right, Charlie Chirplan thought, almost as good as not having Alice’s every thought ringing in his ears, yet he worried.

Part Three:

Resting above a supermarket, collying a giant K, Charlie Chirplan relished the new freedoms of phoebe life. Who's a pretty bird? the only thing missing.

Part Four:

Alice avoided her absent friend’s cage. She watched TV and worried the vacancy on her ring finger; all was lost.

Unknown said...

(all entries mine)

Brown feathers glinting, a hen perches near her redbird. They serenade, fly apart. For now.

Cardinals are monogamous; they defend their mates.

Hope wheels her chair from the window, wistful.


A mean drunk, the driver wouldn’t relinquish his keys. When the accident severed Hope’s spine, Drake flew like a peregrine falcon. She kept the ring.


Chris, the contractor, retrofitted Hope’s house. He filled the high feeders, lowered some. His presence swept the colly from her life, but not her heart.


Construction finished, she sent him away. Back came his ginger self: champagne, chocolate, roses. Hope, a brunette, trusted nature.

katie said...

"See those birds, circling? I'm going to take care of that, first off. Got it?"
I nod, uncertain.
"Then we'll deal with the house."

I scrub colly off the floor. 
"I'm done," I call but the house rests and when I tip the bucket the water's brown, not black.
I make sure the ambulance is sent too late. The birds watch me leave, the only witnesses.

Colin Smith said...


We tried warning him, but he kept peering into binoculars, scribbling his notes. He didn’t see it coming. Bludgeoned from behind. He thought we were serenading him with birdsong. Ornithologists!

We tried warning him, but he called us
poulets, fearing our own shadows. It was the shadow behind him he didn’t see. Whack! Fermier fou!

We tried warning him, but we got the collywobbles. The aviary keeper didn’t hear our coos and purrs over the swish of the cudgel. Eeek!

No-one warned her. Her husband’s present: three men hanging on two trees. Their sightless eyes the last Mrs. Partridge saw.

E.M. Goldsmith said...


Death in raven form followed the old man. 

He smiled at the night. 

“Navigating by stars is a lost art. Come along old bird. Greet the last of your days.


Shattering the veil between worlds, the old traveler ventured into the valley of darkness. Such great rewards awaited if courage allowed him passage across.


The traveler arrived before a glorious gate guarded by a goat. It spat and spoke.



“It is protocol. Lyrically required.”


“I endured trials and tribulations untold to present myself.”

The goat stomped its hooves. “No. That’s not your password. Reset?”

Unknown said...

Bird: “Should we tell them about us?”
Bee: “We don't have the time.”
Bird: “We should try.”
Bee: “Okay, where do we start?”
Bird: *sighs* “So there was this flower.”

Bee: “Orchid. Bird stopped for a drink.”
Bird: “Bee had a few too many.”
Bee: “Still, Bird liked me. Month later, I gave a ring.”

Bird: “Got collywobbles meeting Bee’s family.”
Bee: “But soon wanted our own kids.”
Bird: “Couldn’t conceive though. Then we found Caterpillar.”
Caterpillar: “It’s Butterfly now.”

Bee: “Aw, don’t resent us Kitty Cat!”
Caterpillar: “Boyfriend! Help! My parents are embarrassing me!”
Ladybug: “That’s their job, honey.”

RKirkman said...

(All entries, mine)

Chuck patted his pockets: keys, phone, wallet. He opened the door to leave.

“Watch out for that truck!”

Chuck stopped and looked back.

First words the damn bird ever said.



The bird had distracted Chuck. The Kringle for the office party was still in his kitchen.

No problem—he’d just swing by the bakery.


Chuck, pastry in hand, stepped from the curb.

The semi missed him by inches.

Beside the open manhole: the Kringle, colly stippled in the icing.


They’d sent for Chuck’s sister—Final arrangements. Entering Chuck’s apartment, she heard the parakeet repeating:

“First step is a doozy.”

E. Berg said...

I’m barefoot in the snow. That much I know. A whisper hovers in the trees but it’s not my language. Then…a bird. I sense it before it sings. It’s me.

Must stay quiet. The order brings heat to my veins, purpose to my hollow mind. My name escapes me; don’t want it back. Never back.

Blood stains the snow and marks my moves. Their footsteps colly my thoughts; they’re closing in and I have no clear direction. A memory flickers…

Greasy smiles. Hard, greedy hands. My wounds are worsening but I remember: I was sent to hunt. They’re my prey.

Matthew Wuertz said...

Didn’t need no birddog to flush you out.

Didn’t need no 12-gauge to take you down.

Told you not to bring Kate into your world of false hope.

Told you I’d bring you into my world of true despair.

Used words like medical protocol – lying to her. Lying to yourself.

Left out the word experimental. Cut her time in half.

Issued a death sentence.

Won’t be no end to grieving my sister.

Won’t be no end to grieving your wife.

RKeelan said...

Bird’s in the oven,
Table is set.
Santa on rooftop,
Not ready yet.

Hearth was still lit,
Now soaking wet.
Live wire sparking,
Santa’s kismet.

# # #

Boots hit the water,
Ringed in flames.
Leaping from fireplace,
Santa remains.

Quick as a twinkle,
The flames wink out.
Bone-chilling magic,
Saint Nick’s redoubt.

# # #

I brandish a knife,
He pulls a gun.
Protocol lysis,
I turn and run.

Bullets impacting
All around me.
A hail of gunfire—

# # #

Indiff’rent bullet
Enters my chest.
Santa’s red menace,
Unfinished quest.

By elven helpers
Selfishly sent.
Dispose of rival,
Ensure ascent.

Lennon Faris said...

[Round 1 - Laurie Batzel]

It had to be her.
This had my sister’s fingerprints all over it.
only Christina could flip you the bird and blow you a kiss all in the same gesture.

[Round 2 – Brian Schwarz]
It wasn’t underwear we found in my bedroom. It was her knife, because
Christina cooked his dinner.
Her catering skills were famous.
my poor husband

[Round 3 - mine]
They searched the garage.
Didn’t notice bottles of ethylene glycol. Lying’s not my m.o., but
it was Christmas.
her chocolate pie totally wowed
those cops.

This has to stop,
I told Christina.
Who’s next? The Mayor?
Her answer –Talk over dinner!
count me absent

Kate Higgins said...

“It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Commuterman!”
Some idiot came up with a genetic alteration that allowed humans to fly, it was now Robin’s job to promote this concept.


However, bioengineering data reveled unforeseen complications; shorter life-spans, collisions with high-rise windows and wires and the egg-laying was a surprise. Thousands sued AreoHomid and lost.

Robin presented only the facts;
• Protocol lymphphacyte studies indicated massive global contagion
• Eradication of all infected

Robin flew away.

Barbara Lund said...

A bird in the mouth is worth two in the store, says I, cramming a rotisserie wing into my maw as I flee from the cops over Frozen asphalt.

Gotta break up my trail, so I bust in the front door of the next house without ringing the bell. No one Home Alone here.

The Gremlins in the engine of the red convertible smooth out as I back out of the garage and drive right through the collywobbling cops.

Old Nick ain’t no Santa Clause, no matter what sentimental shit they’re saying just ‘cause they can’t catch me.

Anonymous said...

Gazing out at the rusted Taurus in the drive, she imagined a vintage T-bird and herself as Thelma, while her husband raged about dinner being late. Again.

No, maybe Louise.

"Stop pretending you cain't hear me, woman."

She absently traced the ache of bruises ringing her arm, reckoned pretending was what kept her alive.


"What's this slop?"

Experience kept her mute.

His plate went flying. His colly-stained hands hard, unforgiving.

Her plan required blood, anyway.

"Clean it up."



She imagined him explaining the bloody trunk, his absent wife.
Passing sleepy towns, lumbering bus her T-bird… her smile fierce.

[all words mine, except Janet's four miscreants]

C. Dan Castro said...

The hooded man satiated the rabble, executing the sentence. Tiny feet jerked. Ceased.

Later, watching his son sleep, he wept.

Jeannette said...

The girl squatted by it on the sidewalk.

Mrs. Morrison, passing, noted, “Fifth this week. Stupid animals.”

But the girl touched its broken neck.

And knew who’d killed the bird.


Susannah twisted her wedding ring around her finger. Frank had said if Peter did this again… Through the window, her daughter’s red eyes met hers.


Dad’s Audubon obsession'd kept him from one too many chess matches. Peter placed the final dead bird on his pillow. His colly-covered heart sang.


The girl used drugs. Susannah used to smile. Frank used the letters Peter sent from jail to line his birdcage.

Unknown said...

Too drunk.
Me and my Karate Kim. So he’d driven her home.

Too stupid.
I’d introduced…my two best friends.

Too eager. ‘Loverbird’ Jim. Mistletoe. Hormones. Her…perfect scent.


The door crashed open. “You uncaring ass. Some wingman you are.” She dragged me out of bed, onto the floor. ““Our Christmas! He…” She punched.

Her heart wasn’t in it. I grabbed her hand.
“Colly hearted man.” Sobbing.
“What happened?” I didn’t want to know.
Kneeling. “I cracked his rib.”

She laughed. “You sent me home with Grabmyass.”
She frowned.
“It should’ve…”
“…just us.”
Red lips.

Stephanie Lau said...

Mark thought he’d gotten away with it, but Polly couldn’t keep a secret.

“Unbelievable,” his wife said. “In her mouth?”

Who knew birds had such good hearing? ***** He imagined his Sebring was a space fighter, gunning down blabbermouth parrots. “Everyone’s got their fantasy, okay?”

His wife glared. “Most don’t involve their mothers.” *****

Mark didn’t respond.

“Seriously, what if she had woken up?”

He shrugged. “Probably would have said, ‘Is this colly in me mouf?’ ”

“You’re sick.”***** Then she added, "If you insist on presenting yourself as Kara Thrace's son, at least get your mom fancier cigars."

Unknown said...

He bird-dogged her heart with a letter promising gifts, travel, mystery. He’d reversed his tradition— hadn’t made her ask for what she wanted. Then he signed his name—Santa.
She almost succumbed, but then he spoke of bringing her north. That tipped her off: he could read minds, but she didn’t like the cold.
Antenna up, she checked his trademark coat for authenticity. Red and fur-trimmed, but no colly. Hard to believe he’d worked a day in his life.
Finally, the confrontation:
“Are you real?”
“You decide.”
“But... I’m Jewish.”
“Heaven-sent! Your answer?”
“Mrs. Claus it is.”

Theresa B (of Nebulopathy) said...

(Starters mine)

The thousandth crane is lumpy, damp from her prison making the paper swell.

“Forget those damned birds,” he says. “Take the ring. Be mine.”

Head bowed, she wishes.


The ring tightens as her vows are spoken.

“Mine at last.”

One cut. One finger. Blood dyes her shoes red as she dances away.


The crone nods.

“Colly the red shoes.
Finish the dancing.
Take strength and be free
from wayward romancing.”

The thousandth crane unfolds.


Prison again. No cranes. No shoes. No wishes.



She rips out his heart. Message sent, she walks free.

CED said...

[All entries mine.]

Mei had one shift left. One way out. And no time.

The open window beckoned.

She hardened her nose, hollowed her bones, and soared away.

Free, as a bird. Forever.


She inhabited the sky, flitting and fluttering over deserts and oceans, forests and mountains, yearning and mourning, caged by cruel freedom. What had she done?


“Not a true finch,” chirped the others. “Too colly. Too big.”

“I am...”

“A thrush.”

Mei hadn’t noticed the change. Maybe her magic had returned.


An unexpected present from the gods: one last shift. Human again? No. Mei turned into the wind and drifted away.

shanepatrickwrites said...

A word about birds, they fly away; I’m stuck here.

Waiting to die while hoping the phone will ring, shoveling suet and seeds into my craw.

And then a raven covered in colly pecked at my window. Things were looking up.

I took it as a sign and sent her another text.

Just Jan said...

“Barcardi has a bat, not a bird.”

I concede, as I’m so toasted my vision’s blurry. Doesn’t really matter, as long as there’s enough to get me to midnight.
The ringing of a clock and the lusty cry of a newborn tell me it’s time to make my exit.

I won’t be going alone.
Attacking colly birds? Listeria-laden fruit kebabs? Drunken driver? The method doesn’t matter. Misery loves company, and there’s nothing so miserable as an old, used-up year.
Except for a baby with malevolent eyes. Call me sentimental. I slink away, unremembered, and weep for the world.

(All words are my own.)

Megan V said...

Dear Mrs. Claus,

I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for IT to happen. But your husband has birdies everywhere and some of them have mouths to match their big ears.



So my husband would rather deck you than deck the halls—who cares? He won’t remember a thing after we ring in 2018.




Did they shoot him up with Artecoll yesterday? You know this won’t work if he missed his appointment.



I sent him on his way—he’s all smiles and we’re both ready for a bounce around your bush.


Scott G said...

I watched the bird matriculate from one body to the next, pecking at flesh, quirking its head to compare each bite.


Go away bird.

My arm would not move.



Fly away bird.

Don’t peck my eyes, my cheeks, my lips, cracked and burned from the hovering, desert sun.

I cannot see my leg.


RPG’s play overture. Roadside bombs crescendo. Entrails peppered with colly spider-web from my gut.



Shoo. Fly away bird.

Thirst not for my blood.


I watch you, bird, a vulture sent from hell, lock your eyes on me.


I’m waiting…


Hello, bird.

Unknown said...

[All entries mine.]

I want her to stay
But unless she flies away,
This will end in shit.

A little at first.
It will grow like resentments,
On the window sill.

Shoo, bird.


Rain fades rings of shit
Like white paint from empty homes.
The sparrow is gone.


A cold narrow slab
The sill is like a gravestone.
A memorial.

Like an unused hearth
Filled with pretty plastic logs
No flame to colly.


Bird seed is scattered
A message sent on the sill.
I wait for the paint.


Sherin Nicole said...

“Bird Legs, Bird Legs,” the children swayed around her, hands clasped, their circle taut with taunts. She’d come to teach them. They planned to school her in cruelty.

Mouth dry as ashes, caught in their tightening ring, Rosie prophesied: They’d all fall…stairs, wells, cliffs... The malice they taught, they’d learned at l'Académie.

Their mutual need to survive wove a collying bond between them. The teacher and her students—natural enemies who shared a common predator: The headmaster.


Finals preceded Headmaster’s finale. The class stood sentry, their teacher played assassin. “Accident,” ruled the coroner.

Revenge: Grade A.

BJ Muntain said...

Today, Daddy finally sent for me. I promised to keep it a secret, but I've taken it to the grave.

John Davis Frain said...

Wideload Johnson stumbled. Ogled the idling pickup. Shimmied inside.

Perfect fit.

Next surprise—it was a convertible and defied physics.

He leaned out his window. Birds-eye view of a rooftop.

* * * * *

The sleigh stopped. A glimmering, unfamiliar house.

He knocked.

A girl answered. “Uncle Teddy?”

Wideload shook. “Ain’t nobody call me that name in twenty years.”

* * * * *

He wiped his forehead, colly clinging to his cuff.

An older woman appeared.

“Ted! How’d you—?”

He pointed toward the pickup. It was gone.

* * * * *

“Come inside.”

“But I’ve no present to give.”

She wept. “You already have.”

The girl rushed inside. “Guys! Uncle Teddy!”

Curt David said...

[All starters - mine]


Cafeteria. ALAN and RACHAEL sitting. JOHN enters.

JOHN. Are you two lovebirds?


(John exits. Beat.)

RACHAEL. Number five. Ralph and Piggy.

ALAN. What if we were?



Central Park. Dusk.

ALAN. (Stuttering.) I have question. When I’m with you. You see, we’ve known each other–

RACHAEL. Yes, I’ll marry you.



RACHAEL. Bridesmaids. Collyrium or no?

ALAN. Don’t care–

RACHAEL. You don’t care about our wedding?! (exits)

ALAN. –as long as I marry you.



Hospital. Holding a newborn.

RACHAEL. You’re the best present ever.

ALAN. We love you, our little Ralph.


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

Her cleaning cloth gave the lens a dab. IR didn't like dust. Interrupted the image.

Clarity was required, else the second device wouldn't trigger.

She dreamt of an optical camera.

First, pass by the IR camera. Second, pass under in gamma ray. Third, wait a week for the final image to develop in their flesh.

She wanted a pic of the moment they realised the truth. Ah well...
a shot of them covered in Procol, lying in bed would do.

(rounds one, two, three starter - mine)
She lowered the camera, shot untaken, having chossen to forget. True death wasn't just the body, but of the memory.

Emalbom said...

Iced pine and citrus-cinnamon. Pinpricks of white light. Annual smiles on unwashed faces bringing the fat warmth of hope.

Instead, a nightstick rattles the bars. ‘Merry fucking Christmas, jailbirds.’


I'd welcomed the lie - first love of my unnoticed life. Understood the price when steel kissed my wrists.
'Where'd you get the ring, kid?'


'Driscoll, your ride's here.'
What more would it take? 'I choose jail over her house.'
Chocolate eyes punctured my bravado. 'It's our house, now.'


When we visit, she sees a scrawny boy behind bars - the ghost of Christmas misrepresented. My son giggles.
Tears prickle.

Brigid said...

With one phone call, the young lovebird's greatest fear switched from losing herself to losing her wife.
Pre-diagnosis, Ell hated the thought of growing old: arthritis, handicap stickers, watching the children leave home.
Now it sounded heaven-sent.