Friday, January 30, 2015

2 minutes. Go!

Hey, writer-type folks. AND PEOPLE WHO JUST WANT TO PLAY BUT DON'T IDENTIFY AS 'WRITERS' - all are welcome here! Every Friday, we do a fun free-write. For fun. And Freedom!

Write whatever you want in the comments section on this blog post. Play as many times as you like. #breaktheblog! You have two minutes (give or take a few seconds ... no pressure!). Have fun. The more people who play, the more fun it is. So, tell a friend. Then send 'em here to read your 'two' and encourage them to play. 

The sun splits the darkness right down the middle. You look up into the sky, but there aren't any words. And what words there are - such flighty, useless things - sometimes they are so heavy they can fall and pull the whole world inside out.

You want some kind of soothing 'hand on back' affirmation. You pick cherry blossoms from the ground, arrange them into different shapes. Everyone looks at you like you're crazy. Must be the smile. Strange, you think - this is the first fun you've had in years. 

She wanted you to remember. Or, more accurately, she wanted you to never forget. Fine distinction, I'll grant you, but when the sun is tearing the top off night, these kinds of thoughts make sense. Soon, they will be obliterated by billboard longing and then, as one final insult, they will pull the night shade down. But first, it will open and for a moment, you will see.

Thanks for stopping by! I will be out all day but, rest assured, I'll be reading everything and commenting as I have time, so check back. And next week things should be back to normal. :)

#2minutesgo

154 comments:

  1. She never though her life would hinge on a man’s equipment. But there she is, standing at the window, waiting for him to show. They’d arranged it in advance. She, flushed from the wood stove in his living room, handing over the payment. He, forgiving her for being short a few dollars, says he understands what it’s been like out there. Stuck on your own. Lonely, in that big, dark house. She stands there and waits, knowing he is her only solution, her only salvation, the only way she can feel human again. And then she hears him. His engine racing. Coming to get her. With a low rumble, he pushes his way up, taking pains to be careful, considerate. There is no rushing this part. It’s what she paid for, after all. And when he finally gets close enough to see the twinkle his eye, she raises a tentative hand to wave, a flutter of a smile. But then he’s gone. And she slips out of the garage and drives away. To freedom.

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    1. Wow.... perfect for a snowy morning that I find myself in... this needs to go on. I want to know more.

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    2. I've never read anything so romantic about a snow plow. This was something my day needed. :D

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    3. Nancy DeCilio GauthierJanuary 30, 2015 at 8:50 AM

      Oh my, I shoveled many a time just in order to get the car out and have that freedom to go and come - LOL. Would have been nice to have someone with a plow do it for me.

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    4. Love all the innuendos and double entendres. You naughty girl.

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    5. Loved it. Glad someone mentioned the snow plough cos we don't have them in London and I would have been forever guessing :)

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  2. PS: JD, love your post. Words, those flighty things.

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    1. They were good words, in a good arrangement... heavy and light all at once, as only sentient beings from another dimension can be. Beautiful writing, Mr. Mader.

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    2. Loved that bit about words being flighty, useless things. Sometimes, they really can be, can't they?

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  3. I was an avid, perhaps even a voracious, comic book reader, a dreaming 1940s boy fiendish for Tales of the Crypt and colorful panels of righteous heroes. I was a Brooklyn kid who pretended he rode the hem of Captain Marvel’s magical white cape into the galactic highways of a restless, unbridled imagination.

    Unlike now in my 70s, back then I could “Shazam” myself into the realm of the gods like the Captain’s alter ego Billy Batson. I could shut down Sister Versalis’s whacking ruler indignities, Papa’s disintegrating squinty-eyed stare, my sister Joanie’s foot kicking my shins under the kitchen table. “Shazam! Shazam!”

    Now life’s pains and sorrows weigh me down, root me to the earth, far from fantasies. My shoes are set in metaphoric cement blocks. I cannot fly. Comic-book incantations have long since lost their power to lift me free of gravity and worry. I cannot fly.
    I cannot walk without the creaks of elbow and knee. I shuffle my feet from room to room.

    Captain Marvel has gone away.

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    1. Achingly beautiful... where are our childhood heroes when we need them most?

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    2. Nancy DeCilio GauthierJanuary 30, 2015 at 8:47 AM

      Salvatore....this Bronx girl remembers the comic books too. Amazing how we kids were allowed to read Tales From the Crypt and other horror type comics. Our parents never gave it a second thought and we grew up strong. Remember that strength and use it now. Also 70 here soon to be 71 - I salute you.

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    3. The loss of fantasy, the loss of hope really...so painful, and so wonderfully presented here.

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    4. There are many who can relate to this. That tired walk to the end of the tunnel.

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    5. Painful and lovely... "Captain Marvel has gone away."

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    6. My true hero growing up and growing old was my father, a man with a heart of gold and so much love for us kids and Mama. The poet Tagore once wrote that the best gift a father can give his children is to love their mother" and Papa was mad about her. Once he said, "I'd give my right arm for your mother." Then while we cringed thinking of a one-armed Papa, he added, "You know why?" We shook our heads. "Because that woman would give both her arms for me!" Yes, I read the comics, swung with Batman and Robin, flew with Superman and Captain Marvel, slid under doors with Plastic Man, and dashed like Flash Man, but they were paper heroes. Papa was real flesh and blood, winking eye, hand on my shoulder, laughter to wake the cynical, and promises never broken. I miss him.

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    7. ^ That is an awesome testament to your father. And a brilliant piece as always, Sal.

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    8. But you should defo get out that Captain Marvel outfit and go for it :)

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    9. I never owned the Captain Marvel outfit. Once in a dream he offered to have his tailor designed a similar one for me, but I did not find myself worthy enough to fly with the best. Anyway, if I did have and save one through the years, it would be moth-ravished, faded, and much too tight for me. Just imagining myself in that outfit gives me agita! It would be akin to a woman in her 90s wearing hot pants and a see-through shirt. Now that's grounds for commitment!

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  4. We were an hour outside Vegas when I realized the two of us might have very different expectations for the trip to Sodom in the Desert. I was driving, he was sleeping, or feigning sleep. No, it was sleep. He was too fastidious to allow the track of drool down his chin if he were faking it.

    30 years we'd known each other, but with separate lives, secrets we'd kept form each other. 30 years, we'd told each other truths we didn't even know we knew. So yeah, we might have different expectations.

    But we just might wind up at the same place after all. He shifted in his sleep, and muttered, "Hit me." Then again, maybe not.

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    1. Then again, maybe not. I can just about hear the sigh that accompanies that.

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    2. Thanks That's EXACTLY what happened!

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    3. I love writers who can open a character with one simple sentence, and you do it so well. "He was too fastidious to allow the track of drool down his chin if he were faking it." - Says so much. Well in.

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    4. That's so funny. The drooling had me giggling. Who hasn't done that. And the idea that not everything is known between them. Love.

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  5. "Tell me a story, Daddy, 'bout you and Uncle Luke and Lucky."
    "It's getting late, buddy. You should get some sleep."
    "Aw, come on, just one."
    "Okay. Let's see. Did I ever tell you about when Uncle Luke and I were in gym class together? No? Okay. Poor Mr. Snyder. He didn't know what to do with us. I was pretty good at sports and stuff, but Uncle Luke, well, he was just about as clumsy as anything. When it came time to play golf, Luke took a swing with the golf club and it slipped out of his hands and hit poor Mr. Snyder in the head. He wasn't hurt all that bad, but he was mad. The next week, we tried bowling. Mr. Snyder was careful to stand far away from Luke, but poor Luke accidentally broke a window in the bowling alley when the ball went in a different direction."
    There were giggles from between the flannel Spiderman sheets.
    "But when we got to swimming, it was a whole different thing. Uncle Luke swam like a fish. He didn't just swim, he danced in the water. He swam faster than any of us in gym class and with more style than Coach had ever seen. Uncle Luke made it to District Finals that year, and was just about to do his last swim when out of nowhere came this BIG black ball of fur--yep, Lucky the Labrador--startled the guy with the starter pistol, and then Lucky jumped into the pool at the same time that Uncle Luke did. Dog beat him in that race by a full body length. Coach Snyder retired after that."
    Laughter filled the room. It was a good story.
    "Okay, sport, time for you to say your prayers."
    "Dear God, please make sure that Lucky and Uncle Luke have a swimming pool up there in heaven, and let Uncle Luke win the race once in a while."
    "Good prayers, sweetie. Now you get some sleep."
    "Good night, Daddy."
    And up in heaven, there were two splashes in the biggest pool ever.

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    1. That prayer is so very childlike and so very sweet. Made me cry. Got me right in the feels. <3

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    2. Nancy DeCilio GauthierJanuary 30, 2015 at 8:54 AM

      Ooooh - perfect ending to the bedtime story.

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  6. The clock struck midnight, and a figure ran out the door into the darkness. The prince chased after, to no avail. Everybody knows the story, especially when told about the glass slipper, but what if I told you that the prince found a cowboy boot, not a glass slipper?
    Just like in the story that everyone has heard, the prince went from house to house, from castle to castle, looking for the owner of the boot, but none of the girls had feet big enough to fit the boot.
    Finally, at the last house in the kingdom, the prince broke down and cried. "Isn't there ANYone else whose foot might fit this boot?"
    From the corner of the room came a lanky blonde young man, wearing one boot. "I think it'll fit me."
    The prince, being fair and just, let the boy try on the boot. A perfect fit! As the young man closed his eyes, in anticipation of the prince's kiss, he heard a most disturbing sound. "Rrrrbt." A frog wearing a crown was on the floor in front of him.
    So much for happily ever after.

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    1. Sounds about right. :) And thanks for the laugh after making me cry. :P

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    2. Nancy DeCilio GauthierJanuary 30, 2015 at 8:55 AM

      ROFL....loved it.

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    3. Noooo! I'd have defo run after the cowboy with that darn boot tho!

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  7. The sledgehammer was heavy in his arthritic hands. He took the stairs instead of the elevator in case the bloody security cameras were working. He would have vengeance, and he'd have it at his own speed.
    All the hateful words came back to him as he climbed the stairs slowly. "Pops, you're getting too old for this project." "Maybe you should rest before you take the next conference call." "Tell us, Pops, how'd they do it before they had apps to track purchases?" "Come on, old guy, the iPad isn't THAT hard to learn. Get with it!"
    At last he was at the right landing. The floor that his project manager's office was on. He held the hammer close to his legs, so it wouldn't be immediately obvious what he was carrying if anyone saw him. Down this hall, and he was home free. The lights were off in the PM's office. Good.
    He turned the knob slowly, silently, carefully, and then he closed it behind him. The chair was facing away from him. Was he there? Was he planning the next insult?
    He lifted the hammer high in the air, and gravity helped pull it down.
    Not even intensive care could help recover the data on the PM's laptop. And the old guy just laughed and laughed, because the sound a hammer makes on a laptop is "Pop."

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    1. Well twisted, amigo. You had me. Hook line and sinker.

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    2. They learned he wasn't so old after all!

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  8. The pea-green walls smelled like stale coffee and candles, and when she touched the sticky paint, she could almost feel the boring, grownup words they’d absorbed. Finally her mother noticed her. “Go get your brother,” she said. “We’re leaving in ten minutes.” Her stomach clutched. This new section was bad enough, so dark and closed-in. But upstairs? In the old part of the building, where the big kids liked to play after church? There were too many small spaces, too many cubbyholes: under benches, inside closets, even in the floorboards. Ghosts lived there, her brother told her. She felt one of them once: a cold breeze coming from behind a door. She’d felt one seeping out of a crack in the plaster. But she didn’t dare tell her parents, and especially not her brother, who would tease her until she cried and could not sleep at night. Taking a deep breath, she climbed the stairs to the second floor, gripping the handrail for support, throat tightening with each squeak and groan. Finally she could hear their voices: boys laughing, girls squealing. “Watch this,” one of them said, an older boy, just as she passed the old yellow classroom. The window was open; he stood soft and easy in the frame, long, skinny legs braced like a diver’s, spider fingers gripping the wood. And then he let go. A half dozen kids scrambled to the window and from outside, she heard the boy’s triumphant yell at his safe landing. “I’m next,” her brother said, and she snapped out of her shock long enough to say, “We have to go.”
    “Get lost,” he said. “Or one of the ghosts will get you.” And he climbed into the window. Not setting his legs like the other boy. Not bracing his fingers on the sticky, painted frame. Her heart hung, wanting to stop him. But also wanting to hurt him. Just then, his back buckled. Almost as if he’d been pushed by an invisible hand. And he fell forward. She waited for the cheering. But there was only silence.

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    1. Ahhh... how you set us up for tragedy... and how you take us back to childhood. Well done.

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    2. Agreed. And I remove comments for VERY few people. ;) This is an awesome and evocative piece.

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    3. Love this. Well spooky. Brings back spooky memories. Love the final lines. You know what's happened without needing to see or be told.

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  9. It didn't matter that he was already dead. All her life he had told her she couldn't sing, couldn't carry a tune in a breadbasket. Well, maybe it did matter that he was dead. maybe she wouldn't be standing here now, the roar of applause from the crowd standing on their feet might never have happened. She might not have had the courage. But she did and here she stood. She took her third bow and left the stage in triumph. "Take that, Dad." For this once she had proven him wrong. When her friend backstage asked her what she was laughing about she just shook her head. "Oh, nothing, really."

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    1. Bravo for her! Winning against naysayers is always important!

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    2. Oh man. Yep. I get this one. 100%. Love it.

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    3. Yes! She stood on her own two feet and gave the V sign ! :)

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  10. It was a landmark day, in Luanne’s life, when she got to delving into the deep web. She was always one of the more tech-savvy of her peers, but this was an eye-opener. She thought she and her peers were struggling alone against the monolithic power structure they knew as The System. It was a tremendous, joyous relief to learn that, lurking in the seamy underbelly of the Internet, there was a whole network of other young people who were actively resisting those systems of authoritarian control.

    Within minutes of introducing herself, she was getting encouraging responses, such as: a very polite white boy from Minneapolis offering to furnish guns, ammunition, and other hard-to-acquire equipment at dirt-cheap prices; a pretty, well-dressed bi-racial girl from Los Angeles offering to help her design propaganda materials; and several tough-looking young black men from Detroit, Atlanta, and New Orleans expressing interest in coming out to San Francisco, if they needed extra hands to “do some dirt”. One man, a grey-haired older white man from Chicago, who looked like someone’s kindly grandfather, sent Luanne five thousand dollars via Paypal, apropos of nothing. His gift came with a short email, assuring Luanne that he expected nothing in return, but he hoped she would use the money sensibly, to pay for food, medical care, clothing, and maintenance of the squat she shared with her two brothers and friends.

    They called themselves, collectively, “The Coalition for Social Reform and Active Resistance”, or simply “the Resistance”. Most of them were in their teens to mid-twenties, with a handful of old heads; bitterly disillusioned military veterans, aging hippies, and progressive businesspeople taking a riskier approach to using their money and influence for the betterment of society. They discussed, in that nondescript forum secreted away in an obscure corner of the World Wide Web, a fascinating array of topics, ranging from pop culture to science to hacking, assassination techniques, and combat tactics. These all had an undercurrent of political unrest, as the common thread that brought them all together was a sense of profound discontent and anger with an inequitable, authoritarian society that had failed all of them, in varying ways and degrees.

    Yet, true to stereotype and traditional gendering, it was mostly the young men who spoke of direct action, boasting of how many police officers they had killed and government officials they had bent to their will by blackmail and intimidation. Luanne assumed they were mostly just running their mouths, though some of their boasts were corroborated: the Detroit crew were suspected in the deaths of more than fifty police officers, judges, and officials, and in some other smaller towns, the Resistance was the law.

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    1. You're determined that the feds come to the party, eh? ;) Just kidding. You know I don't give a shit. I give a shit about good writing. Which this is. Well played, D.

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  11. He'd meant to tell his dad the day before, before the craziness of dinner, before everything got so loud, but his courage had failed him. Then he meant to tell him at breakfast, knowing his dad was always the first one up, but he'd slept in.
    Now, now it was a couple of hours before he and Brad had to head to the airport and back to their life in California. It was now or never. He looked up, and as if reading his mind, his dad asked, "Wanna go for a walk, son?"
    It didn't go quite the way he'd planned. They walked in silence for a while. When the words finally were almost near his tongue, his dad interrupted them again. They were standing at the creek.
    "Right here, it was right here I asked your mom to marry me. I got down on one knee, fished around in my pocket for the ring, and I asked her if she'd spend the rest of her life with a ne'er-do-well farmer. Told her she didn't have to answer right away, that she might want to talk to her parents about it. She laughed, said her parents wouldn't approve, and that she was gonna marry me anyway." Dad's eyes watered as he rememebered. "We were from different backgrounds. She was educated and her family had money. I wasn't and we were dirt poor. She said yes, and we struggled through the next couple of years."
    "Dad, I..."
    "Let me finish. I guess, what I'm trying to say, son, is if your mom and I could make it through such odds, well, love makes everything possible. And I think," he said, wiping away the first tear I'd seen him cry since Mom's funeral, "I think that you have just enough time to run back to the house, to bring Brad out here, and to propose to him. If you want to. If you think he'll say yes."
    He gave me one of those awkward one-armed, Dad hugs.
    "You knew?"
    "Your mom and I knew from the time you were just about two years old. Go get Brad. Tell him you love him. Tell him you have my blessings."
    I cried as I ran back to the house. He knew. And he loved me.

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    1. Rats... I changed person in the last sentence... where is my EDITOR dammit!

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    2. I didn't even notice. I was smiling too hard. :)

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  12. “RUN.” How did it all go so wrong? It was supposed to be a quick simple hit up. Tim was supposed to be home by now, not running for his life, but the cops responded faster than expected.

    “RUN.” Did they get Mateo? He was a squirrelly bastard, had a knack for hiding and escaping. He’d squeeze through little gaps in fences, under cars, even the sewers. Tim knew that Miguel was dead. When the cops started shooting, he didn’t get hit, but he heard the body hit the ground. Even if he wasn’t literally dead, they got him, he was in custody, probably never to be seen again.

    “RUN FASTER.” Tim hid in a litter-strewn alley, crouched beside a dumpster, as the cars with flashing lights and wailing sirens passed by, and jackbooted feet marched down the street. “What’s the sitch, patrolman?” “One perp is down on Taylor Street, we’re combing for the other two. One Hispanic male, 5’7”, thin build, short black hair. One Caucasian male, 5’9”, thin build, shaggy dark blonde hair. Both look to be in their late teens.” “Well fucking find them!”

    “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? RUN.” Tim patted himself down to make sure he still had his gun, a well-worn 9mm Beretta with a full magazine and a round in the chamber. It sounded like the coast was clear, but if he crossed paths with anybody in a blue uniform, it was him or them.

    “RUN!” Heart racing, sweating like a whore in church, Tim darted from the alley and made a beeline south, toward the BART station. He wanted to run, but couldn’t risk attracting attention to himself. He hoped Mateo was okay, but at the moment he cared the most, by far, about keeping himself alive and out of custody.

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    1. This is strong writing. As we've become accustomed to. You definitely have this nailed. This world, the players, the desperation. Well done, brother.

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    2. Yeah, it's good. You defo want to read on. Love the 'squirrelly' as I could see him thin and wiry and like a fox.

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    3. Thankyou! I love when my mental image translates clearly to words. In this case, sounds like I nailed it: the Mateo I visualised is a thin, wiry, small-framed Mexican teenager, but for someone so young, skinny, and kinda short, he can be very intimidating.

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  13. “You degenerates think you’re tough?! You ain’t shit!” Joe “Stretch” Jefferson barked loudly at the small ‘formation’ he commanded, in his best impression of the leather-lunged drill sergeant who trained him at Parris Island. He knew he had a tough row to hoe, here: most of them were teenagers, orphans, refugees, a good few of them had substance abuse issues, and most were compulsively resistant to authority, after spending years living outside the law. He hoped that his appearance wouldn’t work against him: he was a tall, slim, well-groomed black man in a fine Brooks Brothers suit, trying to train a bunch of grubby teenage squatters.

    “I used to stack scraggly little undisciplined shits like you ten high, back in Iraq! I’m sure it’s great fun, running around stealing shit and getting high, but your tactics are not effective for your long term goals! You keep carrying on like that, you’re all gonna end up dead, or in prison!”

    “Now, I have been asked to educate you snot-nosed motherfuckers in the art of war! And I agreed because we share a common enemy, so I will be teaching you the methods of the greatest fighting force in the world, and one of the few enemies who have been able to resist it: the United States Marine Corps, and Al-Qaida! I served for over six years with the former, and spent most of that time toe-to-toe with the latter, so I am well-versed in both conventional and guerrilla warfare.

    Stretch stepped up to one of his recruits, a scruffy white boy in a flannel shirt and nose ring. “What does that smelly crack whore you call ‘mom’ call you, kid?”

    “Brian Segersen, bro…”

    “Don’t fucking ‘bro’ me, honky! The next time you call me anything other than ‘sir’, I will put my foot so far up your ass, you’ll be paying royalties to Manolo Blahnik every time you take a shit for the next fiscal quarter! How many pushups can you do in a row?”

    “I dunno, twenty or thirty?”

    “Good, drop and gimme fifty. Now! Did I stutter?!”

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    1. I like this as a piece and as a counterpoint. A different lens. Equally clear. And you said "row to hoe" not "road to hoe" like most people. ;) Kudos.

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    2. "Row to hoe" is a good catch!

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    3. Eh, well, it's the most accurate description I could think of: Stretch Jefferson grew up poor in East Texas, joined the Marines in hopes of escaping poverty; he got that nickname because he was so malnourished and runty at first, but shot up like a weed after signing up. He's used to having to do things the hard way, which has served him well now that he's out of the service, and built a career as a professional criminal.

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  14. With a bottle of water, a tennis ball, and a camera, the boy set off down the road with his faithful dog... Off to the meadow, where the flowers should be coming into bloom just about now... they walked an hour, and the boy was tired and the dog was thirsty. They stopped for a minute, and the boy noticed his knees were hurting. As they started again, he noticed the dog had a limp. Another hour, and the man's wheelchair slowed enough for the dog to jump on his lap. Another hour and the two dozed quietly by the road.
    The nurse found Mr. Waldron deceased in room 243 of the Fair Valley Nursing Home. He held a flower in his hand.

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    1. Wow, that one gave me chills. That doesn't happen often. Except when I'm cold. Beautiful.

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    2. That's what I would call "a good death". Well done.

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    3. Thank you... and I think so, too.

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  16. Henry looked about him, taking in everything as though seeing it for the last time. It wasn't the most perfect of days but he had to make it memorable.

    Walking along the gravel of the path, he trod carefully. Mindfully. Taking care to experience it fully. Paying heed to the simplest of things; the rolling of his weight from heel to toe, the pressure of the sole of his foot against the insole of his shoe, the mechanics of his ankle, the movements of his hands and his arms as they helped propel him forward; he took notice of everything.

    It hadn't been a long life: he'd fought against fate and then others and then himself and had lost to them all. Even now, he was fighting. Fighting against time – and losing.

    He'd had one of the brightest minds of all, too. Even now he'd an IQ in the low three hundreds but he knew he'd begun to lose his final battle. His battle against mortality.

    And now he was waiting. A body in motion with a mind that was currently stilled. Recorded. Scanned and programmed into a mainframe. Waiting for a cure. Or waiting for a new body.

    As he always did, he was putting his trust in science. Science would provide an answer.

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    1. Ahhh... bittersweet, yet full of an unusual hope. Nicely done.

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    2. Agreed. A very interesting and optimistic piece. Not what I expected going in. Which is good. Well in, brother.

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  17. Here's the thing: I am not going to tell you what to do. Or how to behave. Or even what to think. Because my reality is not yours. You bring so many things to the table that I can't even begin to fathom -- experiences, good and bad, that I can't imagine having. How could I pass judgment on what's going on with you? I'm not in your shoes. I've never been in your shoes. Your shoes are not mine.

    But by the same token, my shoes are not yours, have never been, will never be. You can tell me what you think of me, pass judgment on me, hand me your unasked-for advice. Feel free to do that. But just know in advance that my response is always going to be, "I'll make a note." And I will -- make a note, that is. Mentally. And then I'll crumple it up and toss it in the circular file in my brain.

    But hey, thanks for stopping by.

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    1. Ohhhh... I like that! the story AND the strategy...

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    2. Man, you're preaching to the choir with this one. Love it. :)

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    3. Yeah, me too. Same. Some shoes are bigger and deeper.

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    4. I can't count the times I've wanted to say that. Well in.

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  18. https://tainiwrites.wordpress.com/2015/01/30/2-minutes-go-friday-jan-30-2015/

    Celine didn't realize there was anyone behind her until she felt the hands covering her eyes.  Her new friend hadn't given any indication that she had noticed anything either. But then they had both been involved in their conversation.   Celine nearly topped over the chair as she turned around.  When she saw who it was, she had a few choice words as she pummeled his arms with her small fists.
    "Hey"  Robert said laughing, "Is that anyway to greet an old friend

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    1. You did an excellent job of showing us this small moment. I hate when people sneak up on me, especially if they touch me or (heaven forbid) try to cover my eyes. You nailed it. Only my fists aren't small. ;)

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  19. You wait for him in your usual booth in your usual place and he shows up fifteen minutes late, as usual, and he’s wearing a beret and you squint at him and can’t remember ever, in the thirty years you’ve known him, ever seeing him in a beret before. You think it’s silly and pretentious and there must be a girl involved. Otherwise you’d laugh at another guy wearing one. You suddenly regret accepting the invitation because he smiles in that way that lets you know it was all your fault, will always be your fault, and damn, he wants you to know it and to know it hard. It’s a smile that makes you want to trip over your cerebral cortex in order to apologize to him. For what, though? For letting you take all the heavy lifting in the relationship? For letting you go through all that shit alone? He asks if you were waiting long and you get up, drop your menu, and say, “Too fucking long. I’ve been waiting all my life.”

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    1. Oh yeah.... she's telling it like it is!

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    2. STRONG piece. Both in sentiment and prose. And I agree, FUCK berets. ;)

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    3. Love. Very real. Most people have been on one side. Yeah, berets suck!

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    4. Been there; done that! Well said.

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  20. "Sun's up."

    He groans, turns over, puts the pillow over his head. "Go away."

    "No. You need to get up."

    His voice is muffled. "It's Saturday. I don't need to get up for another three hours."

    Insistent. "Yes, you do. Now. The sun is up, and I'm hungry."

    The only response was a soft snore from under the pillow. Silly man. I know how to fix that....

    "Ow! Jesus! Okay, okay, I'm up. But then I'm going back to sleep." He threw back the covers and went to the kitchen to open a can of cat food. "Damn him, anyway..."

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    1. Welcome to my world... until the cat had to sleep in the other room cos I became allergic :)

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    2. Yep, that's my response, LOL!

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  21. Light with no heat is a frame with no image, it’s a smile that doesn’t reach the eyes, it’s soft, soft fur encased in glass. A picture of someone you can no longer touch or reach and even the memories are entombed in a kind of polymer that whisks itself away from you when you even try to think about what those blue eyes used to be like, what that smile used to represent. It’s gone in a blink the second you set your mental sensors to stun, and maybe it wasn’t even there in the first place. Maybe it was a movie you saw a long time ago, or a television show, or someone else’s book, and it’s mulching around in your head and spitting out those freakish dreams where you have the walls close in and you scream and nothing comes out. Light with no heat is a cruel taunt, a promise that will never fulfill, rays that will never reach your skin. You are bubble girl, and the rays can never harm you, but they can’t warm and soothe your wounded soul, either.

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    1. This is good on so many levels. The basic premise (light with no heat) is brilliant, its echo, and its poetic explanation, just touch my heart. Thank you for sharing this.

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    2. Yep. Brilliant. Just plain amazing writing.

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    3. Light with no heat... bubble girl... liking these images. Taking me places.

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  22. When Maureen goes out to pick up her mail, a neighbor stops and smiles at her. The briefest of smiles before it fades away and pity fills his eyes. People don’t know what to say to her when they see her now, what sort of creature she’s become, what check box she belongs in. Now that there’s one car in the driveway, one of her for lunch, one of her pushing the cart through the supermarket. On the tips of their tongues are, “And how’s Larry?” before they remember there ain’t no Larry anymore. Okay, he’s still walking on this side of the earth, but he’s got someone else now, and aside from that, she wouldn’t know how the hell he was doing. She presumed he might be happier. Since he’d been so miserable with her, or just miserable in general and she happened to be living in the same house, how could he not help but feel better now? She certainly does. And she wants to tell all those people she comes across that it’s okay to talk about the lack of Larry. They can ask how work is going, or what kind of bulbs she planted in the fall, or who she likes in the Superbowl. “It’s okay,” she tells the neighbor, pressing a hand to his arm, and he nods, consoled. Like that has become her new job. Her new check box, her new role. It’s a pathetic sort of sinking in her gut, worse than the stories she imagines they are telling behind her back. As she jabs her key into her PO box, she tells herself that maybe it’s time to move.

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    1. What a story... of both Maureen and those around her. The transition from coupledom to singleness is difficult for everyone. Really, any transition from one checked box to another. Well told. I ache for her, and I'm angry on her behalf.

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    2. Beautiful piece. SO True about those experiencing loss, too!It is truly something people don't know how to talk about and when going through that kind of experience, YOU help them through it, often more than they help you!
      Extra ordinary insight!

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    3. This is a dope piece. And the checked boxes? SICK!

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  23. The first week was full of phone calls and texts. Consolation and comfort nearly smothered him. The second week the silence bloomed. WTF? He'd lost a job, not a wife, but people acted like it was contagious. Week three, he'd sent a ton of resumés out, and gotten not one response. Not even the form email kind.

    As he grew accustomed to daytime television, he wondered how long he could hold on to the house without a job. Wondered if he cared.

    Somewhere around a month, he'd decided it was time for a change. A big change. He dug around in the basement storage until he found his old backpack and sleeping bag. Made lists of what he needed to bring along. Dehydrated food. Matches. Better make that waterproof matches. Water bottles. Water purification pills. A book, no, his iPad, he could use that for email, too, in case there was a job offer. Charger. Gotta remember the charger. Paper. Pens.

    On Monday of week five, he put the heavy pack on his back, opened the front door, turned back to look around inside to make sure everything was okay, and then walked out into the real world.

    It's a year now, and he's still walking.

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    1. Hmm...what great stories this guy must have.

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    2. and a curious sort of take on Laurie's piece just before it. Does loss mean we help others, or does it mean freedom from those things that never made us happy in the first place? HMMM Things to ponder...

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    3. And this is why this Friday exercise is sooooo cool. There's so much good writing to riff from... riff off of? I dunno, but you all's good writing inspires me...and I think you.

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    4. Yeah, I want to hear his stories. DiTTO!

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  24. You got tired of making out after awhile. When you knew it wasn’t going anywhere further than where it was, and you sense you were making him angry, even when you weren’t, not really. But you could tell anyway--from the way you face hurt from the razor burn and your jaw ached a little from his angling his tongue around your mouth in a way that made you think more than anything of some hungry baby bird. And with that came the certainty: he isn’t the one. Jake Ringley was good-looking and his blonde curly hair and pale blue eyes advertised the possibility. You’d liked the way he’d asked you out and the color of his car. Those broad shoulders and even-tempered smile. You’d studied his hands and imagined them on you, felt them soon enough after the movie crawling up your sweater and fumbling at your brA. But he wasn’t the one. You knew it as surely as it snowed in December and the price of gas kept going up. But when you did know, there was no un-knowing it. There was nothing else to be done.
    When his breathing settled down a little, he shoots you a look and struggles to find that even tempered smile.
    “I guess, maybe we oughta head out,” he says firing up the ignition. “You wanna go home?
    ” I guess.” I answer gazing out the window at the lights of the city below. “I uhhm—yeah.” I don’t know what to say. That I’m as disappointed as he is? That if I was sure, I’d do the whole thing and never look back?
    “Unless you maybe wanna stop for some fries or something. Burger? A shake?”
    “That’d be good, I guess. Dairy Queen?””
    “Dairy Queen it is!”
    He guns the engine and we race into the night back toward town sure that this night at least meeting one hunger might stave off the rest.
    “My treat,” he said and of course, I smiled.
    I was never a good girl, but God knows, I tried.

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    Replies
    1. Oh yeah... a universal experience, for guys and girls... the inertia holds us prisoner, even as we imagine following our hearts.

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    2. Agreed. And I don't know if the POV switch was intentional, but I really think it works well. I love 2nd in flash, but the switch makes it even more effective.

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  25. The wind was keening a sorrowful lament whipping the dead leaves into a frenzy.
    The trees which lined the dark empty street, swayed forlornly to the rhythm as if mourning their demise.
    He pulled the collar of his coat higher in a futile defence against the bitter chill.
    Although the night was black, the sky was cloudless and he could see her silhouette cleariy in the distance.
    He knew where she was heading and he had decided that tonight would be the last time.

    She had already entered the house, which stood alone in a copse, by the time he arrived.
    He sneaked a glance through the window and saw her smiling at Adam who was evidently standing out of view in the hallway.
    She was sitting on a couch and laughed at something he said.
    A sudden furious rage engulfed him. He wanted her to smile at him that way. He should be the one who could cause her eyes to light up so brilliantly and hear her melodious laughter.

    He knocked on the door quite gently and Adam opened it almost immediately.
    “Yes? Can I help you?” was all Adam managed to say before he thrust the knife deep into his chest and he fell forward onto the path.

    He stepped around him into the hallway and closed the door gently behind him.
    She was still sitting when he entered the lounge though her smile evaporated as soon as she saw him. He was blood spattered and still holding the knife.
    She stood and said “Who are you? Where’s Adam, what’s happened? “
    “What have you done? Who are you?” she yelled fearfully.
    She backed away terrified of him, shaking and crying in panic.
    He was puzzled by her reaction, this wasn’t how he imagined it to be when she met her new boyfriend.
    “What’s wrong with you?” he asked indignantly. “why aren’t you smiling? Why aren’t you laughing aren’t you laughing for me? Tell me! WHY AREN’T YOU LAUGHING!”

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    1. Holy shit! Wow, Audrey. This is an AMAZING piece. The end is so painful and scary and real. Awesome stuff.

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    2. Ditto... this is scary and good.

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  26. When the cold wind changes direction and leaves behind a gentle breeze,
    I will feel you against my skin.
    When the snow melts and flows down the mountain as pure spring water,
    I will drink in the sight of your face.
    When the first shoots break the soft rich soil.
    I will reach out for you.
    When the rose blooms beneath a the summer sky,
    I will come to you.
    When the nightingale sings the lover’s song,
    I will dance with you.
    When the moon is high and stands as our witness,
    I will kiss your lips.
    When the sun rises and when the sun sets with every breath within me,
    I will love you.
    Always.

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    1. Beautiful. You can feel the heart in this piece.

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    2. Cool. I love the nightingale. Glad there's someone else who posts poetry here :)

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  27. He walked up Dolores with his helmet in hand, sweat trickling down his back. The sun was high, and he was a little high, too. And he was tired - the kind of tired that lives in the lower back, never cutting any slack.

    He pulled a pair of sunglasses from his backpack and put them on - felt immediately cooler. Not more hip, he could give a shit. No, the lack of glare, the wind on his arms - no longer covered in leather - his body was adjusting.

    He watched the kids play on the playground for a few minutes. Then, he noticed a man and a dog. They were like statues. Alert, perfect. There was a grumble in his brain and he suddenly felt the heat again. The man turned toward him with a camera ... he stood up and closed the distance quickly.

    "Hey, what the fuck?"

    "Nothing, my friend. Just taking pictures."

    "Of me?"

    "Of everything."

    He couldn't think of an answer. He tried to glare.

    "Not right to own a dog like that in the City, you know? Not enough room to run."

    "Agreed. I am a former resident of your fine city. Where I live now - there is space, peace ..."

    "For the dog?"

    The man smiled.

    "Hey, brother, I'm sorry I came over here all heated. Been a shitty week, you know?"

    "Shitty weeks in the City can be especially hard. I know. It's part of the reason I left."

    "You got other reasons? I'll buy you a beer. You seem like a man who can tell a good story."

    "So, you're not going to kick my ass? Make me eat your helmet? Some striking and stark justice ... you are no longer the guardian of Mission Dolores?"

    He looked down at his boots and laughed. The wind was singing songs of Spring flower.

    "No, I'm not that tough. If you're into bikers who kick ass, I can recommend a good book ..."

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    1. The man with the camera, and the dog, both heartily love this story. What a great story... and so is the book.

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    2. Yeah, it leads you along and then you wanna know more. Like the staccato sentences (I think that's the word) with odd ones that rhyme. They kind of catch you and bring you in.

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    3. I'm holding on to this one... my one claim to fame... that I've been mentioned by a famous (and good!) writer...

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  28. 2mins
    Must be the smile, she figured. The reason she kept coming back. But he never had a care in this world, never looked at her how she wanted to be looked upon. Never touched her how she dreamed a man could touch. Never spoke to her in the way she wanted. Never listened. He just never. The word summed him up. Never. Kind of similar to veer. The way he veered away. Kind of near, but never, always veering, in that unfathomable way of his. She laughed such a hollow sound, carried on the air like the bloody gulp of a carrion crow. It drips. Dissolving. This unveiling. Disconcerting yet necessary. Here, in this space where it used to live, this love. Now dissolving in the hand like clumps of ice melting. Catastrophic but numb. Claustrophobic and dumb. This nothing. This never. Never. She sighed. With a final glance in the jagged lines of the broken mirror, she threw the ring upon the table, opened the door and...

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    1. I took JD's 'Must be the smile' as my prompt.

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    2. Wow. This is brilliant, poetic prose. I love the 'never' idea, and the word play after is phenomenal. Awesome.

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    3. Whoohoo! I prompted that? I'm honored. :)

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    4. Thank you!! Prompts help me. It's 12.12am here! Just passed midnight. A prompt will make me think when my mind goes empty... which happens an awful lot. I also read Laurie's beret story :)

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    5. wow... this IS good! and the "nevers" echoing throughout gave it an amazing backbone!

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    6. Cheers. I tried to write it hard, nihilistic. I dunno. I don't normally write like that. I'm not sure where never came from :)

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  29. Prompt - JD's 'She wanted to remember'

    She wanted to remember the night in its stark entirety; what happened in the shadows when the curtains fell and only candles breathed an atmosphere in the dark. Hands entwined, bodies warmed, motion moving, the sweet ache of it. Yet it all caved in on itself. She could only recall seconds. Like images flung blind upon the wall, she wished to catch them, feel them, but their essence trickled through her fingers like water, leaving them raw.

    If only. This memory wasted; the frustration of knowing without knowing. The shadow was her friend. He always followed, finding her in those moments when she searched for it, opened her mind to it, not wanting to lose, and there it would be, waiting, always. It knew. Knew her when she could not pretend to know herself.

    Turning over on the bed, she sprawled, flicking out her legs, stretching her arms, only then to pull back into a ball, hugging herself. Her hair stank. She could smell it. Dank, like an animal. Lifting her face, she opened her eyes to the junk on the table. One more. She needed one more. Then she’d call him. Her shadow. Because she needed more.

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    1. Woah. This is so good. Rich. And yes, raw. I love this line: "their essence trickled through her fingers like water, leaving them raw. "

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  30. Prompt - 'Everyone looks at you like you're crazy'

    Everyone looks at you like you’re crazy
    Except me
    For I know
    I have a handle on the thing
    The breeze in the air
    The circle in the stream
    The wandering so endless
    I know the creeping darkness
    The watcher in the shadows
    The mind fuck
    I have a feeling you know too
    These stray things
    The way they shift in the light
    Only to fade in the night
    When he comes a-walking
    Talking up the tune
    Only to confound me now
    Into this space
    Of utter burning
    I yearn
    Eager to begin a story
    Only you can tell me
    With that crazy laugh of yours
    In time with my own
    For I am as damn fine crazy
    As the life you’ve always known.

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    1. This is an awesome snatch of poetry and the last two lines are magic. So good.

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  31. Prompt - JD's 'the whole world inside out'

    He paints it
    The whole world
    Inside out
    Where I stand
    Beneath the rain
    Falling blue
    Pink petals swirl
    Upon this gainful air
    Creating magic
    Twisting, playing
    A Catherine Wheel
    Unlit, whizzing
    For me to catch
    If I can
    As the world turns
    Tilting
    Flickering
    He leads the way
    With a brushstroke
    This merry dance

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    1. Oh, I like this one very much. This merry dance. Fantastic. I' not good at critiquing poetry, but I love this.

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  32. Dolores. In Spanish, it means "pains." Also a woman's name. It's a street, too, in San Francisco. It's not my habit in later years to do anything that might cause pain, either for me or for others. It's never been my custom to search out strangers. But there I was, dog leash in one hand, camera in the other, and this guy comes barreling down on me, all red in the face and hiding behind shades. Not really hiding so much as being shielded by them, and from more than just the sun.
    We introduced ourselves in the Mission way, kind of like dogs stare at each other before they move on to friendlier greetings. Neither of us sensed threat, beyond the initial bravado.
    He asked if I wanted to go somewhere and talk, maybe tell some stories. Since we hadn't progressed to butt-sniffing, as dogs are wont to do, I didn't think he was trying to pick me up, so I accepted, with the caveat that where I go, the dog goes.
    He took me to his regular watering hole, told me to get anything I wanted. I ordered a club soda, so did he. So much for going for a beer.
    Turns out the guy's a writer. Turns out I've even read some of his books. We talk a while about what it's like to try to distill reality into words that can be shown on the page. We talk a while, and then I see him tensing up. I follow his eyes, best as I can since he's still wearing sunglasses, and he hisses at me not to look. I don't.
    My hand squirms down to my pocket toward my knife when I see his hand doing the same. A guy stands at the edge of our table.
    "Want you to meet someone. This is Matt Stark." I looked up at the guy, saw his scars, and I knew it was true. We all relax.
    And then, without benefit of alcohol or weed, we solve the problems of the world.

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  33. Katie didn't like admitting where she was from. She, or at least her background, wasn't like most of her new friends. She grew up in a nice house in suburban Newport Beach, and her parents were both wealthy, successful white-collar professionals, an aeronautic engineer and an attorney. But she couldn't go back, even if she wanted to, which she really didn't. Ironically, what the other kids found off-putting was how hard she tried to be cool, easy going, down to earth, humble, but stoically tough; the polar opposite of the prissy, stuck-up, rich white girl she feared they'd all see her as. To be fair, she personally was far from rich. Her parents did send some money now and then, but it didn't go far, especially since she freely shared it, spending nearly as much on her friends and neighbors as on herself. Their acceptance was more important to her than money, and to some extent, her daddy's money bought it, typically in the form of bags of groceries, cases of beer, handles of liquor, and sacks of weed and cocaine.

    Since she was still a bit too straight laced to turn tricks, she instead panhandled up by the university, hanging around on the street in ragged, revealing outfits to entreat the rich college boys; on a good day, she'd come home with a hundred or two hundred dollars. More often, she'd participate in robberies with the boys. It was a bit scary, but exciting, how most of the youths she squatted with owned and carried guns, and some of them were into drugs more than any of the debauched suburban kids back home.

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    1. I think I used to know Katie. ;)

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    2. To some extent, she is my female counterpart.

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  34. The dart of movement along the sheet of snow caught his eye and distracted him from from the words he held. Animal? Bird? No, of course, it’s another oak leaf, one that forgot to book its flight to iced-over oblivion back in November.

    So much has been smoothed and erased by these winter days and nights. Some of it will be remembered when Spring takes its muddy brush to the blank canvas, like it paints these memories in muddy tones of gray and brown.

    He sighs, his own echo to the wind’s tune, as he sits by the window. Another leaf runs across the edges of his consciousness, derailing this train of thought, for which he will be grateful until March finishes its work.

    Then this leaf gets snared in the bramble bush, coalescing into a book of others, all pages of memories that refuse to blow away. He closes the blinds and draws the curtain, but the recollections still run and the winds still sigh.

    And April, with its mash of rain, soil and memories yet to be, April is still a month away.

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    1. This is lovely and lyrical. A brilliant reflective piece. I especially like this: Spring takes its muddy brush to the blank canvas, like it paints these memories in muddy tones of gray and brown.

      Excellent. Sorry, you might not get much feedback now that Friday is over, but if anyone misses this final piece it is THEIR loss. Well in.

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    2. This just a beautiful piece of writing and metaphor... I loved "coalescing into a book of others, all pages of memories that refuse to blow away..."

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  35. Officer Koharski was doing his best not to cry. He knelt, blindfolded and handcuffed, in some desolate railyard, scared shitless. He had zero control over this situation, and correctly assumed his lifespan could be measured in minutes, not months or years. "Just so you know, this isn't personal. You know that, right?", asked one of his captors. "This is war, and you're just another rank-and-file. We're only being mean to you, to send a message to your side: we're not fucking around. We know you motherfuckers are no kinder to us. But, given that, we are going to kill you. And you're not worth wasting ammunition on."

    There was a moment of barely-audible whispering, before the beating commenced. Bony fists to the face, hard rubber sneakers and steel-toed boots kicking and stomping. Thankfully, he lost consciousness within a few seconds, but Officer Koharski never really woke up. He was vaguely aware of being heaved into a pit, which stank of decay and kerosene, and that he was not the only human body in there, as flies buzzed around the other, less-fresh corpses. He glanced up through swollen eye sockets, at a young black man, puffing on a cigarette, before being told, "adios, motherfucker." He could barely even think to himself, "oh, Christ, no," before the smoldering Newport ignited the stew of petrol and human flesh, burning it all to a sooty sludge. The last thing he was able to hear and comprehend, as he burned, was his killers chuckling, "Man, fuck these pigs. Heh, they smell like bacon frying. Who's hungry? I want me a BLAT." "Fuck yeah, nigga!" "I could fuck UP some hash browns!"

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