Too close to home for anything other than tears
Michael Seese 9:44am
Mallory Love 10:48am
Richelle Elberg 12:27pm
Kathy Joyce 1:11pm
Craig F 5:33pm
Not quite a story, but an attention grabber none-the-less
It’s the worst kind of theft...the kind where you fill the fat thief’s deep pockets because you’ve not been taught better. The old in the shadows of looming senility can see it from their side of schooling. They know what’s gone down, how dependence has replaced knowing...how them apron-strings that kids now call ethernet cables have shortened minds on long loose leashes. They gather and mutter while kids scatter from lessons, laughing at the obsolescence of outdated connections as they rush to their standalone lives.
It takes a lot to get me these days, what with your amazing entries and clever writing, and Steve Forti is in an especially difficult class cause we've come to expect him to be flat out brilliant, but honestly, this one STILL made me laugh out loud. (and the prompt word Thief….well, that was five stars out of four!)
“Eww, that tux is hideous. Tell me it's rented.”
“Owned. Bought it last night. Only twenty bucks!”
“You don't say.”
“Hey, check her out. Pretty cute, right?”
“Stunning. What's your plan?”
“Alcohol. Definitely need a shot of courage first.”
“Obviously. And then?”
“What's the best pickup line you got?”
“Effective. I'll consider it. But what follows that opening?”
“That's on you. Go get her, you mensch.”
“Oo. Lookie what the cat dragged in.”
“Hi honey. You look great in white. Think we're ready?”
Cuddles the Cactus has a favorite. It is of course this entry from Amy Schaefer
Everybody wants to touch me. It's the downside of being gorgeous.
He approaches cautiously, lips wetted, eyes gleaming. Glancing around to make sure no one else is looking, because he's only barely bold enough to try this. He reaches out, body blocking the movement.
Just waiting to be schooled.
"Ouch!" He pulls back, abandoning stealth. I effing love it.
Mortified, he retreats. His spouse is rolling her eyes, lips pursed in a sour-lemon expression.
He's going to get an earful as they try to remove that spine together. My little gift.
You come at the cactus, you best not miss.
On the other hand Cuddles was not all that pleased to be told that her hairdo was an alien!
Caru Cadoc 10:31pm
Dear Ms. Reid,And for those of you who know about succulents you'll be glad to know I inherited Cuddles in that tea cup and her new home AND potting soil are on order.
I’m writing to submit a “novel” idea: lift my leathery green ass out of this cup and put me down inside the sink to water me. This b-team teacup lacks proper drainage. Any schmo can see that from the dirt on the porcelain. I’m an old-school cactus. I need drainage. Don’t be the thief of my brief existence.
p.s. There’s two of us. Swirly-brains is a separate cactus, grafted onto my head. Please refer to us by our proper names, as we find your single name for two individuals offensive and belittling.
And sometimes when you play with form it's just absolutely fun and gorgeous, like this from Dena Pawling 11:46am
School is closed
And all doors
Are locked tight
Nog is egged
As he lands
At the hearth
Arms are full
Cat peeks out
Leaves his loot
Loves the milk
Late to go
Aims for face
And draws blood
Up he goes
Soon she purrs
Sometimes the first line of an entry just grabs me and won't let go.
There are down sides to keeping an alligator. Thermoregulation is a big deal. Like Goldilocks, these creatures want the temperature just right.
Schooling is also important. Not for the animal, but for the general public. An alligator’s personal space, for instance, is something you don’t want to encroach upon. My wife, Debbie, failed that topic.
Her brother, Victor, plots revenge.
“It’s a dumb animal,” I tell him in disbelief.
“It’s a thief,” he insists. And one night, just like Debbie, he makes a mistake.
Which is the up side of keeping an alligator.
Another great opening line, and a job I really want to apply for
The Headmistress of Downlow School of Mischief and Debauchery perused the application with all the enthusiasm of a lethargic cat. Until she reached the last page.
“High seas or space?”
“Little bit of this. Little bit of that,” he said, flashing an elusive smile. Nobody liked a braggart.
She set aside her rimless spectacles to consider the thief with renewed vigor. “Very well. We’ll be in touch.”
When they parted, the thief carried an old pair of rimless spectacles; the Headmistress a thief’s wallet. Neither said a word, not even after school commenced.
Nobody liked a braggart.
While this one isn't quite a story, it's the start of something I'd want to read!
Amy Johnson 8:13am
The super unlocked Mrs. Chen’s door for me. I’d miss her grandmotherly “hello, dear” whenever we saw each other in the hallway. And I would need to find someone else to feed Mittens when I traveled overseas for work.
I had never been inside. Seventies kitsch. Oolong tea, five varieties. I felt a bit like a thief, going through her things. But I couldn’t bear to think of anything precious ending up down in the dumpster. Old books. Sun Tzu—who’d have thought? A metal box. Her passport. But a different name. More passports, more names.
It was only on the second pass that I realized what this story was about. Do you get it?
This was no ordinary robbery. It was a merciless plan to break a teacher down.
The iPads? Untouched on the bookshelf, like they were obsolete as the old dictionaries beside them. My laptop? Closed on my desk, the chalk dust on the lid undisturbed.
The thief took the best listener in class, who sat with perfect posture every day. Who never interrupted a lesson with a fidget spinner or a fart joke. Who never wasted time, pretending to need another drink of water. The sharpest one in school. My favorite.
All that remained was a speck of sandy soil.
I love the play with old school thief in these two entries
Marsha Adams 4:03pm
There's no downside to being an old school thief.Nate Wilson 12:10am
Okay, you need the right tools and if you can't find a fence you're stuck with an old school: so you need a way in and out. That's planning, not a downside.
There's a small risk of jail time, sure. Free bed and board; a holiday from the world. There's no actual downside.
But the rewards! Diamond Jack sold Harrow for... well, he's never said, but a waitress gave him that nickname when she saw her tip.
So... field generator, miniaturiser, containment unit: £19,000 all in.
Do we have a deal?
"I'm just an old school thief. Small scale only. There's no down side."
Roger deflated. "My source said you'd branched out."
Jenkins shook his head. "I ain't altered my business model in 50 years. And I never been caught. This is all I got."
"Nothing else? I need the stuff tomorrow."
"Nope. I only hit hatcheries, poach swarms of tiny fish. The skins make gorgeous jewelry. Huge profit margins."
"No feathers to fill my knock-off jackets? He swore you did those on the side."
"Like I said. I'm just an old school thief. Small scale only. There's no down side."
This isn't a story but it's hilarious and charming
She lived a colloquial life. Sold her soul, lied down with dogs, and played both sides against the middle. On occasion she denied death and swam with the fishes—schools of them. Her aphorisms were orgasmic; she’d stolen hearts and left them cold. Lovers could be such idioms, and she such a petty thief. There’d be no rest for a woman this wicked, so she skipped the afterlife and proclaimed herself, “goddess” (figuratively).
This time the winner was clear at once. That doesn't happen often, but this entry was both on topic, funny, and subtle. That's a neat hat trick in 100 words.
Congratulations Miriam 3:18pm
I've got a copy of Mike Cooper's The Downside (UK edition) for you and an audio copy too! If you've already read it let me know and we'll figure out another prize. Email me your mailing address.
And many thanks to all of you who took the time to write stories and enter the contest. As always the breadth of talent here is inspiring and daunting. I love reading your work!