One Line. Or Two. November 12, 2012Posted by nrhatch in Blogs & Blogging, Fiction, Word Play, Writing & Writers.
Tags: Fiction, Short Story, Trifecta Challenge, Word Play
One line or two.
As if she could summon whatever it is that makes up the human soul as easily as she could a cab on a busy New York avenue.
Deirdre stared at the steady stream of urine, hands shaking as she readied to take the plunge.
The cascading stream divided, water parting to flow with seamless effort around the intruding stick. If only life flowed around all obstacles with such ease.
Deirdre withdrew the saturated stick, her fate held in trembling hands.
One line or two. One line or two. C’mon. C’mon. C’mon.
One line or . . .
Cal slammed into the bathroom. Deirdre flinched and dropped the stick. She watched it tumble away.
“Well . . . are you pregnant or not?”
“Not,” Deidre murmured, slumping to the floor. She grabbed the white stick.
Cal glared. “Next month, or I’m filing for divorce.”
Deidre stared at her clutched fist until his shadow disappeared. Footsteps clomped. She didn’t exhale until the front door slammed.
Deidre unzipped the packed suitcase stowed under the bed. She removed the signed divorce papers and tossed them onto Cal’s pillow.
I left you a long time ago, Cal.
One more look at the stick. Two lines. She zipped her suitcase, secret inside, and walked out the door without a backwards glance.
The Easter That Wasn’t November 5, 2012Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Fiction, Word Play.
Tags: DP Challenge, Easter, Fiction, Holidays, Short Story, Traditions
I pulled the photo out of the shoebox hidden in the back of dad’s closet. Memories came flooding back.
I remember everything about the Easter that wasn’t. Everything.
The day dawned dark and cloudy. The sun shone somewhere, but it couldn’t break through the insistent gloom which colored everything in our world a somber gray. Everything.
Dad dressed us in our Sunday clothes, his countenance as dark and forbidding as the sky.
While pulling up Timmy’s slacks, he started talking. Rambling really. I don’t think he meant for us to hear. His words spilled out like raindrops. Cascading tears. Coating everything with wet sadness. Everything.
“It wasn’t supposed to be this way. She was supposed to be here too. With us. Not gone.”
On our way to church, a neighbor stopped us. She meant well, I suppose, but we didn’t want our picture taken. We didn’t want to remember this day. The Easter that wasn’t. We just wanted it to be over. To be behind us. We wanted to leave everything behind. Everything.
We stared at the camera, but the smiles wouldn’t come . . . no matter how hard she coaxed. I wonder she tried at all. Would she have smiled in like situation? I doubt it.
Even then, at age three, I questioned her sanity.
At the church, the minister greeted us at the door and escorted us to the front pew. There, we sat, ramrod straight, staring at the casket. And the cross. Our backs to everything else. Everything.
Dad’s words filtered back, “It wasn’t supposed to be this way. She was supposed to be here too. With us. Not gone.”
During the service, dad didn’t have to remind us to stop fidgeting once. That was never his job anyway. That was mom’s job.
And now she was gone. And everything changed. Everything.
* * * * *
I chose to write FICTION for the DP Weekly Writing Challenge: A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words (“tell a story based on this picture”).
Image Source: Michelle W ~ Weekly Writing Challenge
Halloween Drives Me Batty October 31, 2012Posted by nrhatch in Fiction, Humor, Word Play, Writing & Writers.
Tags: Bat, Contest, Fiction, Halloween, Short Story, Trick or Treat, Witch
Winifred stared at the calendar, “It’s Halloween!”
“I know witches are supposed to like Halloween. But I don’t. Halloween drives me batty. I never want to hear “trick-or-treat” again.”
Winifred grabbed her Spell Book and turned pages, “No . . . No . . . Not a chance . . . Hmm . . . Maybe . . . No . . . YES!”
Winifred chanted as she tossed ingredients into her cauldron:
Winifred padded over to join Ebony for a cat nap, and purred, “Better catty, than batty.”
* * * * *
Written for: The 2nd Annual Halloweensie Contest (Susanna Leonard Hill)
Contest: Write a 100-word Halloween story appropriate for children (title not included in the 100 words), using the words witch, bat, and “trick-or-treat”. Your story can be scary, funny or anything in between, poetry or prose, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words and is 100 words or less. Then link it HERE.
* * * * *
Susanna just posted the 8 Finalists . . . and I’m in the running! If you want to vote, click this link: Vote for your Favorite!
Killing Time August 9, 2012Posted by nrhatch in Fiction, Health & Wellness, People, Word Play.
Tags: Brochure, Fiction, Short Story, Time, Travel, Werther's Original
Sophia reached for the travel brochure on the coffee table, glanced at the date on its cover, and realized it must have been sitting there, killing time, for most of the past decade.
She tossed it back on the tabletop and reached into the candy bowl for a Werther’s caramel . . . wondering how long the confection had been biding time with the ancient travel brochure.
On second thought . . . she tossed it back into the bowl with a plunk.
Frozen in time. Eyes unblinking.
What in the hell inspires someone to become a taxidermist, anyway?
Maybe they like the idea of stopping time in its tracks?
Before Sophia could put a name to the notes, she flew back in time to her Great Aunt’s house, where fragrant bars of lavender soap greeted visitors as they stepped into the sparse but tidy Powder Room.
Across time, she heard Aunt Ethel singing softly to herself in the living room as she inserted the key to wind the grandfather clock that marked time in the corner:
. . . grandfather’s clock was too tall for the shelf so it stood 90 years on the floor . . . it was taller by half than the old man himself though it weighed not a penny weight more . . .
Emerging back into the empty waiting room, the scent of lavender faded, as did Aunt Ethel’s voice, but the melody remained.
Sophia listened to the staccato rhythm as a young but determined musican tapped out the tinny tune in an adjacent apartment:
Plunk. Plunk. Plunk.
Each strike of the keyboard ticked off another second. And another. And another.
Sophia drummed her fingers, mindlessly keeping time with the beat as the second hand on her watch swept round. And round. And round.
The melody shifted, replaced by another familiar refrain:
. . . and another one gone . . . and another one gone . . . another one bites the dust . . .
“Sophia . . . sorry for the wait. We’ll get you started on your chemotherapy in just a few more minutes.”
Great. More time to kill . . .
As if it wasn’t in short enough supply all ready.
* * * * *
Poets & Writers Prompt: Write a story in which one of the following objects triggers a flashback: a child’s keyboard, a bag of Werther’s Original Caramels, a taxidermied animal, a bar of lavender soap, or an old travel brochure.
Once Upon A Place . . . June 2, 2012Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Fiction, Humor, People.
Tags: Fairy Tales, Fiction, Heron Dance, Humor, Land of Nod, Short Story
“Once upon a place, in a time long, long, ago . . .”
“How many years ago, Granny?”
“Oh, too many years to count.”
“More than seben?”
“Yes. More than SEV~en.”
“I can count to SEVen! One . . Two . . Three . . Four . . . um . . . SEB~en!”
“Very good, Gertie. What about Five and Six?”
“Five and six, what?”
“Didn’t you leave them out?”
“Out of what?”
“Shouldn’t it be . . . One . . . Two . . . Three . . .”
“Oh, hurry, Granny. I hear mom coming. Tell me the rest of the story!”
“Very well. Once upon a place . . . “
“You already said that!”
“I did, didn’t I?”
“. . . a young girl named Gertrude . . . “
“That’s MY name!”
“Yes, it is. You were named after your Great Aunt Ger . . . “
“Hurry, Granny. Hurry!”
“. . . and every night before bed, Gertrude wanted a story read . . . “
Gertrude didn’t answer.
She’d already entered the Land of Nod, where fairy tales do come true . . . “once upon a place and time.”
Aah . . . that’s better!
From Wikipedia: The Land of Nod refers to the mythical land of sleep, a pun on Land of Nod (Gen. 4:16). To “go off to the land of Nod” plays with the phrase to “nod off,” meaning to go to sleep.
The first recorded use of the phrase to mean “sleep” comes from Jonathan Swift in his Complete Collection of Polite and Ingenious Conversation (1737) and Gulliver’s Travels.
A later instance of this usage appears in the poem The Land of Nod by Robert Louis Stevenson from A Child’s Garden of Verses (1885).
Artwork available at Heron Dance ~ in celebration of the Great Dance of Life.
A Stand Out April 10, 2012Posted by nrhatch in Fiction, Fun & Games, Humor, Life Lessons, Word Play.
Tags: Fiction, Humor, Scandal, Short Story, Trifecta Challenge, Word Play
I grinned, “Don’t you mean, scoundrel?”
“No. You’re a scandal . . . your conduct offends propriety and morality.”
“Propriety . . . smietry. They’re just mad that I won’t conform to the norm.”
“What’s wrong with conforming to the norm?”
“Nothing . . . if you’re a sheep. B~a~a!”
“Aargh! You’re impossible!”
“Oh, I’m moving up in the world.”
“I’m serious. You need to . . . “
“I need to what? Do what they want me to do? Be who they want me to be? No thanks. Life is too short for that type of nonsense.”
“About me? Not a bit. What they think of me is none of my business. Besides . . . I don’t look good in pink.”
Stop trying to fit in when you were born to stand out.
Aah . . . that’s better!
Merlin and the Maze April 8, 2012Posted by nrhatch in Fiction, Life Lessons, Mindfulness, Synchronicity & Mystery.
Tags: Archimedes, Arthur, Excalibur, Fiction, Maze, Merlin, Short Story
We reached the centre of the maze, and I spied a bronze plaque, “This is the centre, you now have two choices.”
What? Find our way out, or stay and starve to death?
I looked down at my shoelaces . . . untied again! Anyone would think they were alive and seeking freedom.
I bent to tie the lace and noticed an odd shape in the ground, a portion of a circle.
I kicked at it and the friable soil moved away, disclosing a brass ring, attached by another ring to a wooden trapdoor.
I looked at Merlin, “do you suppose this is the second choice?”
Without responding, Merlin turned away from the trapdoor and started to retrace our steps out of the maze.
I chased after him, “Aren’t you the least bit curious?”
“Not at all.”
“Why not? Don’t you want to see what’s on the other side?”
Merlin stopped in his tracks, “Why did the chicken cross the road?”
“To get to the other side.”
“Exactly.” With that, he marched on.
“Merlin, I don’t understand. What do chickens crossing the road have to do with that trapdoor?”
“Nothing. And everything.”
I glanced up, ”What? . . . Who? . . . Excaliber?”
Archimedes laughed at my discomfiture, “Hoo . . . Hoo.”
Merlin marched on . . . robes flying.
I trudged after him, doing my best to keep up, fighting the urge to turn around.
As we exited the maze, Merlin spoke, “Archimedes has a point, Arthur.”
Archimedes nodded in agreement, “Sharp talons too!”
Annoyed at them both, I jutted my chin out and glared at Merlin, “Where are we going?”
Merlin met and held my gaze, “I thought you wanted to know about the other side of the trapdoor.”
“I did. I do. But, Merlin . . . “
“Come then. We’re off to consult the Book of Ways.”
“The Book of Ways? What’s that?”
Archimedes flapped his wings, “The most potent portal of all.”
Merlin slowed and draped an arm across my shoulders, “Arthur, life is a maze . . . with magic and mystery behind each hidden door.”
“That’s why I . . . “
“. . . but if you stop to explore every rabbit hole that attracts your attention, you’ll be lost, like Alice, and never reach your destiny.”
“Wait? What? . . . I have a destiny?”
“Indeed you do, Arthur . . . Camelot awaits.”
My First . . . February 17, 2012Posted by nrhatch in Blogs & Blogging, Fiction, Humor, Word Play.
Tags: Blogs, Fiction, Humor, Mindfulness, Short Story, Word Play
Hmm . . . I’m not sure.
This position is uncomfortable.
I feel like a pretzel . . . tied up in twisted up knots.
I can’t feel my leg . . . it’s going to sleep.
I am relaxed! I’m numb from the waist down.
Shift a bit.
Aah . . . that’s better.
Now I’ve got a cramp in my leg.
Ooh . . . better. That feels good. Keep going.
Ooh . . . nice.
Crap! Did I turn off the coffee maker?
Don’t worry about it.
And the cat . . . did I let the cat in?
I can’t stop thinking.
Let it go.
This is hard.
We’re doing great.
This is so s~t~r~a~n~g~e. I wonder if it feels this awkward to everyone the first time.
This is way harder than I thought it would be.
Lots of people enjoy it.
Why would anyone enjoy doing this?! It’s torture being twisted up like this.
You just need to relax.
I can’t relax . . . I feel like I should be doing something else.
Be here now.
Wait! I need to move my butt a little to the left.
OK . . . that’s better.
I should have put on a CD to drown out all the noise.
The noise is all in your head.
I’m still not sure if I’m doing this right.
Aah . . . that’s better!
Meditation . . . like other “firsts” . . . improves with practice.
An Appalachian Adventure January 30, 2012Posted by nrhatch in Fiction, Humor, Nature, Travel & Leisure.
Tags: Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Fiction, Hiking, Humor, Short Story
“Man, this pack is heavy.”
“I know I’m right. We should have hired Sherpas.”
“Sherpas are few and far between in Georgia.”
“OK, then . . . donkeys.”
“Don’t be an ass.”
“I’ll stop being an ass if you stop being such a stubborn mule and agree to toss in the towel on this boondoggle through the boondocks.”
“I’m not tossing in the towel.”
“Fine, be a mule. So . . . how far have we gone?”
“About 7 miles.”
“That’s all? It seems further . . . like 107.”
“Nope. Just 7.1 miles since we set out this morning.”
“How many miles to the end of the trail?”
“From this point . . . we’ve got 2,171.2 to go.”
“I’m never gonna make it.”
“Sure you will. Let’s play a game to make the time pass more quickly.”
“Here’s a fun fact . . . the elevation gain and loss on the Appalachian Trail is equivalent to hiking from sea level to the top of Mt. Everest . . .”
“You’re kidding . . . “
” . . . and back to sea level . . . 16 times.”
“I’m never gonna make it.”
“You’ll do fine. See if you can list all the states the trail passes through.”
“Well, it starts in Georgia and ends in Maine . . . and Maine can’t get here soon enough.”
“Two states down and 12 to go.”
“Hmm . . . North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.”
“Great. You’re on a roll. Don’t stop now.”
“West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania.”
“Yup. Keep going.”
“New Jersey, New York, Connecticut.”
“Only three more.”
“Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire.”
“Yay, you did it!”
“Whoopee! How much does this pack weigh, anyway?”
“Your pack weighs 40 pounds. Mine’s a lean, mean 37 pounds.”
“Man, that’s like carting around a small child . . . or two. Just thinking about it makes me tired.”
“OK. Let’s take a break and stop for lunch.”
“Great! What have we got?”
“Power Bars, GORP, Candy Bars, GORP, Peanut Butter, and GORP.”
“What did you think I was going to offer you? A fresh out of the oven pizza?”
“Hey, that’s an idea . . . let’s find the closest pizzeria.”
“OK. No pizza. What’s GORP . . . or do I even want to know?”
“Are you nuts? All we’ve got to eat is fruit and nuts? After this workout?”
“No worries, mon! It’s high caloric Trail Mix . . . designed to keep us going and going and going.”
“What? Like the Energizer Bunny?”
“Sure . . . hippity hopping down the trail.”
“Great. By the way, where are we staying tonight? And, more to the hippity hoppity point, are we almost there yet? I could use a bath, a massage, a hot meal, and a Sleep Number Bed.”
“Keep dreaming . . . we’re staying at a shelter.”
“With all the modern conveniences?”
“Sure . . . sort of.”
“What do you mean sort of? Does it have running water?”
“Yup . . . the stream runs right by the shelter.”
“Sure . . . dig your own.”
“Only if there is lightning.”
“How did you rope me into this adventure again?”
“The promise of Amazing Vistas . . . ”
Aah . . . that’s better!
Photo Challenge ~ UP August 28, 2011Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Humor, Travel & Leisure, Word Play.
Tags: Blog, Humor, Parachute, Photograph, Recreation, Short Story
Carl Jetson surveyed the area, noting the vegetation with interest. Nothing like a change in perspective to shake things up a bit.
Sighing with satisfaction, he reached up to pull the rip cord and slow his descent, but his fingers closed around thin air.
He took one last look around . . .
What goes up . . . must come down.