SaD – Word List

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Today’s prompt involved using a list of words. What is wonderfully delightful about this challenge is that it isn’t a new one for me. Our NaNoWriMo region gets together for a ‘Writing on the Road’ and the List Game is part of the midmonth event every year. Our MLs create a monthly theme to motivate the group and the List Game centers on that theme in a number of ways.

All right, still have a few others to transcribe, but decided to at least get this one posted:

“Listed Reasons”

 

Gerald Grant had the distinct advantage of knowing how to pressure or bolster the weak, whether they volunteered a call for help or not. The scales currently tipped too heavily on the first side, so perhaps today would add a bit of weight to the latter.

From behind the sheer curtain, he watched his nephew take a slow turn toward the house, coming back from school. The classmate with him pointed at his leg repeatedly, then made a series of gestured, including ‘phone.’ The teen stole a glance at the time, then shook his head, eyes cast downward. The girl threw her hands in the air, waved goodbye; his nephew continued towards home, a noticeable limp in his stride. Jerry listed half a dozen reasons for what he needed to do next. Well, after this talk, of course.

There were too many barriers to crash, missing bridges to cross and flooding fires to brave through. To confirm imagined nightmares were a certain reality, or that dreams of hope had already burned in hell… It would be the last pain point he’d have to bring to the forefront first.

As the key turned in the lock, Jerry stood to where the door would hide him until it was too late; a practice he had down to perfection.

“Hello, Ashley,” Jerry said, locking the door, then clearing the teen’s hands of everything. “How’ve you been?”

Ashley’s eyes widened. “Uncle Gerald,” he asked, trembling as he backed towards the fireplace.

Up close, Jerry could see so much of Aunt Sharon in his face – blue eyes that should be looking up to the skies, not dancing with fear. Thin face that had a hint of yellow below one cheekbone contrasting the deep purple just above the other, a sliver of a cut on the lower lip, and dark circles under the eyes (concealed with remaining flakes of makeup).

He held up his hands, forcing Ashley to sit down in the armchair that afforded Jerry a clear view of the driveway.

“Look, I know you made that confession under duress. I suspected that it was only a matter of time before your folks would find out. I’m sorry.” Jerry gestured to Ashley’s face. “Want to tell me what happened?”

“Gym class,” the lanky boy whispered.

Jerry gave a quick, painful laugh. “Not always a reliable alibi to shimmy from the truth. Ten minutes until they get here. Want to try again?”

Softly, cautiously, Ashley gave the briefest of explanations and Jerry listened.

 

SaD – Aphorisms

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All right, there’s some serious catching up to do in the converting of the handwriting-to-typing-for-post deal… There’s just something to be said for playing with new pens and journals, though!!

The prompt for today was to use an aphorism and there were different ways it could be done.

 

Hope Against a Hydra

“Going somewhere without telling me or letting me give you a lift,” Evan asked as he stepped in front of Ashley’s bike, grabbing the handlebars with one hand and yanking the backpack off his friend with the other, just trying to be-.

“Down in the valley, the valley so low; hang your head over, hear the wind blow,” the teen sang quickly, softly, pretending not to hear or see him, so skinny and afraid.

The nervous tick was something Evan recognized, despite the soothing tone of the singer hoping to hide behind the notes; the fidgeting of the ring on his right hand, that once had a quote etched on the outer side – now only one word remaining could be-.

“‘Rabbit’ gonna fade away next, if you’re not careful,” Evan warned, “then you’ll be left with imaging the saying, left imagining what could have anchored you and it may just be the very-.”

“Hole in the ground,” Ashley whispered, “doll fell down, I’m afraid.”

SaD – Muddle in the Middle

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Muddled Meddler –

Christine punched Ashley in the arm. “Why?!”

“Why not,” he asked, moving to her other side. “She asked; I said yes. I’m not backing down.”

“Just set yourself to be beaten up, is that it?”

He shrugged. “Not like I’ve not had practice. Would you rather I ask her to ask you, instead?”

Christine shook her head, still sore that her best friend didn’t feel safe enough to confide in her. She wondered if Evan felt the same way sometimes. “They’ll continue to eat you alive.”

“If the idiots didn’t demand she has to attend that location-.”

“I might know someone on the other side of town. It would require a few busses to get there, but-.”

Ashley nodded. “See if she’s open to it. Keep me out of it.”

“Why,” she asked, aware of a few reasons why.

He playfully pushed her with his shoulder. “Why not?”

SaD – Dialogue

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Today’s prompt was to focus on dialogue within a story. Well, with what few remaining brain cells there were, here it is:

 

Centered

The two of them continued their chess game in the library, the midday sun warming them. Evan moved his pawn into position. “I don’t like the idea of manipulating someone; it’s underhanded.”

His grandmother took the pawn with ease, certain there was a fifty-fifty chance he’d move one of three pieces she already had countermoves planned for. “Are you talking about someone you know, or just dissecting current debates in general?”

“Both. For example, the mandatory reporting law…” He moved his knight into position. “Tell me again why we haven’t made the call? What are we waiting for, something worse than what’s happened already?”

“So, law’s worth more than logic?” She positioned her queen for the double-threat.

Evan shook his head. “Doing what’s right, what’s necessary… I hate doing nothing, that’s all. And I can’t continue keeping my hopes…my opinions to myself in terms of what he should be doing to save himself.” He moved the bishop. “It’s so clear!”

She smiled inwardly. Bishop was open, and check was within sight. “He may already know what he needs to do. Maybe, he’s already tried it, too. You’re focused on one option only.”

“That’s not true. And before you say it, no, I’m not like Mom. I’m not trying to save everyone.” One pawn, one square off.

“Honey, you can’t lie to me. You’re my daughter’s child with her grandfather’s soul – bless him.” She took one more piece, chipping away at his options without him realizing it. “What he needs is something you’re already giving him. Keep that path open.”

He frowned as the knight fell. “Tell me again how I ended up between two friends who are complete opposites?”

“Because, you have a way of centering them when their souls are in turmoil. That, and you’re the big brother they need.” She put a weathered hand atop his. “He’s dealing with enough forces that would have torn any other child apart. Think of your uncle, the choices he made.”

“Sometimes, that’s why I’m trying to tell him-.” She moved her queen in for the checkmate. “Nana, that’s not funny. You distracted me.”

“Did I, now?” With that, she gave him a kiss on the cheek, then pointed to the storage bench and bookcase in the corner. “Move those things someplace else. I’ve a feeling you’re going to want to share that with a friend in need very soon.”

SaD – Description

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Today’s prompt was to focus on the description in a story. Given that I was ‘trapped’ in a too-long meeting in a big room, what follows is a small snippet (or snip) created with what brain cells remain:

Scribe

Ashley Emery wandered about the large house to escape his parents and better still, escape the crowd.

One of the large oak doors was ajar.

Stepping inside, drawing journal clenched to his chest, he stood in awe. Before him were shelves upon shelves of books, from floor to ceiling. The beautiful mosaic of spines, tall and short, thick and thin, brought a smile to his face. Paperbacks, hardback, and some that appeared to be handcrafted…

Glancing over his shoulder, relieved to see no one behind him, he carefully closed the door, only a click of the latch to possibly give him away.

He started with the books by the large window. Even in the so-called chaos of knickknacks cluttering the corner, there was a certain order to the titles. The last time he saw “The Stars” was on his grandfather’s glass-doored bookcase in the attic, beside the telescope.

Fingers lingering along the lettering, he was tempted to take it from its place.

SaD – Character Action

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Ah ha! Part two of the challenge from yesterday: Write a story about the characters all grown up.

I could have waited until morning, however, coffee was invented for a reason…

Action

Chris leaned against the tree as she stared out across the river. She knew Ashley was watching her from where he sat on the ground.

She yanked an apple from the branch, turning it over in her hand a few times, tempted… “You do something stupid like that again and I’ll…”

“You’ll what? Kill me? I expected that from Evan that day.”

She laughed. That’s when it hit her – this place, this time of day bringing her back to another lifetime. “’I’d throw you in the pool and teach you to swim the hard way.’ That’s what he told me after he pulled me to shore.”

“I might have preferred that. He threatened to anchor me in place.”

Chris turned and looked at him. “Why not? You’re always running, and where has that gotten you?”

Ashley stood up, looked her in the eye. “Better than trying to pick a fight with everyone, friend and enemy alike!”

This time, she did throw the apple at him; he caught it.

He narrowed his eyes. “That first day… when I tried to outrun them, but I fell instead…  You were the one who hit me in the head all those years ago! You and that damn apple!”

Chris shrugged. “Saved you, then. I’d have helped, but Evan was already there. I already knew what he was going to say to me, so, the absence was the better choice then.”

“No! I couldn’t get away with that excuse then and I’m not letting you get away with it now. Do you want to know why I run? Because I tried to return to what I lost, what I knew – a family that loved me! I couldn’t find my way, nor could I get out from under them!” He pointed in the general direction of his family’s house. “Absence, the best choice? Evan called me on it then; I’m calling you on it now.”

She laughed again. “I was so sick and tired of detention for every fight I got into. For the record, I only threw the first punch half of the time. I got so sick and tired of Boris and Bonehead bullying the others. I still hate bullies. But I can’t hit them all. I’d love to – I’d really love to. I can’t. I can’t hit them all. I can’t accept what she’s… I can’t risk you being gone, leaving me when I could have done something.”

“She didn’t go through with it! What-. No. You think you get to know the full story; you’ll have to ask her directly. It isn’t my place to tell it. For the first time, however – I have another reason to run. It’s more than just a scholarship that got me out of here. There are so many causes I can run for. The racing heart from fear? It’s exhilaration and joy in raising funds that help make a difference. There’s a finish line that means a new beginning for someone, somewhere, somehow.”

Chris crossed her arms. “In other words, you’re still running.”

“It’s… You want to fight me, fine. I can take it. I’ve taken worse.”

She only recently learned some of the darker details from Ashley’s past, in an unorthodox manner. She hated herself for not being able to see it then, to do more then … “I can’t hit them all.”

“Maybe you’ve chosen the wrong weapon for the fight.” He gave her a quiet smile she had enjoyed since they were in middle school.

To hear that repeated from different people this quarter alone… she hated to admit that they might be right. “Guess I should do something about that, then.”

“Permission to cook you dinner while you talk it out?” He held a hand out to her.

“So long as it doesn’t end in some sappy rom-com setup, sure.” She took his hand, remembering the few times they had danced in school. “I’m glad you’re back.”

 

 

SaD – Childhood Damage

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Today’s challenge focused on childhood damage. Since more of Ashley’s story unfolds later, thought I’d focus on his two best friends.

 

Damaged

Evan pulled the kid to her feet. “You do something stupid like that again, I might-.”

She put up her fists. “You might what?”

He doubted she weighed more than 100 pounds even while dripping wet. She may have been as small as his littlest brother, but her temper was that of his oldest sister (whenever he got caught raiding her bookshelf). “I might have to find a pool to throw you in and teach you to swim the hard way.” He threw his towel at her. “Chrissy, right?”

“Christine!” Her voice was muffled as she started to dry herself. “How do you know-?”

He tried not to laugh. “I hear your mom holler for you every night. The daylight doesn’t hurt your eyes, so why do you-?”

“Do you know how many things get lost in the dark? No one bothers you when you try to find them because they can’t see you.”

Evan knew exactly whom she was referring to – the Bully Biker Brothers. “So, you’re like the stealthy sleuth. Why not get a sidekick to help you search for the stolen stuff during the day? It would be easier, safer and-.”

“I can do it by myself!”

“I know you can. I’ve seen some of the other kids around here smile because of all the things you’ve returned to them. You’re good. I’m just saying, a sidekick, daytime – show the Bully Biker Brothers they’d better run.”

Christine held out the towel. “Mean it?”

He nodded. “I’ve seen them do some bad stuff, too. Except, I didn’t do anything, because I was small.” He held back the ‘like you,’ so as not to scare her off. “They tried to drown a kid in the river and I couldn’t swim. My mom – she raced out there like Wonder Woman and not only saved the kid, but she put them boys in their place.”

Christine’s eyes widened. “She sounds amazing! What happened next?”

“She taught me to swim. Every day at the pool and at the lake. My older brothers and sisters taught me to fight. What about you?”

“My brothers won’t teach me how and my sister ignores me. ‘Pristine Christine’ is what they call me all the time. I hate it!”

“Better than prissy or sissy Chrissy.”

She laughed. “You can call me Chris.”

He took the towel back at last. “Let’s try ‘Lil’ Sis,’ instead,” Evan replied. With that, he walked her home.

SaD – Conflict

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Today’s challenge – Conflict. I was torn on this one – cathartic writing anticipating a dreadful obligation or a simple argument between characters… Decided on this one.

 

Conflicted

 

Christine knew better than to wait until the last minute. Death was the second worst fate next to failing. She had a near-perfect score that would soon be at risk.

Yet the curriculum, the class, the teacher, bored her to tears.

The report could have, would have ruined a musical she had enjoyed for years, a musical she and her brothers and sister played every summer without fail. Yet leave it to Instructor Incompetent to give the most asinine assignment ever: What was the initial problem between the two main characters?

Christine didn’t have time to put the details and supporting evidence into a project given on a whim and due by the end of the week (aka, Friday, the day after it was assigned, as in two minutes before dismissal bell). Christine found a more enlightening collection of questions and topics to apply to the classic. Of course, they were logical ideas, hence never once considered by the instructor.

The clock chimed midnight and Christine was still engaged in the book she was reading, one that Evan’s oldest sister lent her. To finish one more chapter or complete the stupid paper…how was that even a choice?

The moment another chapter was finished, Christine decided ‘just one more; that’s what coffee was for.’ Soon, it was two.

Aware that at least a nap would be essential to focus on the math quiz, Christine resigned herself to the stupid paper at last, writing twenty words down, twenty-one counting the title.

  • The problem? Different pages. Harold Hill, the music man, needed to take note that Marian, the Librarian’s life was booked.

SaD – Flash Fiction

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Today’s challenge was flash fiction.

Flash

Even in shades of gray, the red bled through. A fairy tale scene – a truth of youth – that had to be a game, something impossible to name. So began the lie that flittered about like a dragonfly.

###

Ashley and Christine ran down the road, determined to catch up to Evan. The older teen reached the porch with ease. “That does it,” he said, breath fairly steady, “I get to pick the film, turtles.”

Panting, Christine said, “Not a stupid romance.”

“Or a scary one,” Ashley added. “I’ll have nightmares for weeks.”

“Me, too, if it’s a sappy rom-com,” Christine said.

Evan gave a rye smile as they made their way to the living room. “It’ll have to be a mystery, then.”

The Hitchcock film-built suspense on-screen and in-house had the desired effect. Evan knew every bit and still, like his friends, jumped like a mouse.  Shortly after dinner’s end, the youngest of the trio fled.

Evan kept Christine in her place, letting her know he’ll see him tomorrow, face-to-face.

###

“What happened,” he asked, pulling him off the path.

“Had to get home; you know my dad’s wrath.”

Evan wasn’t about to let this one go, knew something was painful, yet had to unearth it slow. How much time, that was the crime, did the dark secret, like vines, climb? What he could offer was a glimmer of hope, a shoulder, a lifeline, as strong as a rope.

“You know how to find me, where I’ll be at. Never a bad hour if you want to chat.” It was then, at that moment Evan thought it cruel – to be so close, yet soon off to school.

###

After photography class, going through pics didn’t bode well. An image of home plunged Ashley to hell. The trouble with Marnie, what it had triggered, hinted a terrible secret, forced him to dig deeper.

What he had passed off as a horrible dream, came to full color, full reel, forcing him to swallow a scream.

A dragon of a devil flew by, carrying a body on the ground to lie. The game was the name, yet not the same. The scene before him was far from serene.  The red bled through, covering the green.