Friday, May 12, 2017

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 last few weeks I've been putting up flash exercises I've done with students. Hence, the prompts. But they were written in roughly three minutes and I didn't edit. Plus, rules schmules.)


The boy sat on the side of a small trickle of water. You wouldn’t call it a stream, but the boy did. And there were crayfish in there. There was the sound of water. In his imagination, the stream was broad and full of fat trout. In reality, it was a choked-off spring dying in the suburbs, trash floating like so much flotsam and jetsam.

The boy did not see the trash. The boy saw opportunity. 

He started on a Monday afternoon. He grabbed one of those big, black trash bags they have for gardening. Started filling it. It took the better part of a week, but when he was done, the stream was beautiful. The weeds just licked the surface of the water. He swore it even sounded better. And it smelled like moss, like water, like life.

The stream was ignored by everyone except the boy and the county workers who had to clear the drain where the stream passed under the road. The boy did not want anyone at his stream. And that is exactly the way he thought of it. 

He would stand for hours, or lie on the soft ground and think: I have this. And he would smile.

#2minutesgo Tweet it! Share it! Shout it from the top of the shack you live in! I will be out most of the day, but I'll be back...


  1. FedEx

    You picked up a box, that ugly baby-shit brown, just like all the others. This box was marked fragile, so you threw it at the side of the truck as hard as you could. Heard something shattering, a tinkling of glass or ceramic. You smiled, kicked it for good measure.

    Might as well smoke a cigarette. You pulled one from your pack while you opened some of the Amazon boxes. Pocketed an MP3 player and some Hanes undershirts. Trashed a bag of organic walnuts and a collection of fake, blue birds. Probably for some old lady’s mantle.

    You stubbed the cigarette out and wondered how many packages Amazon would have to replace. You looked in the mirror and made the contrite face. The ‘jeez, boss, I left the package on the steps…I don’t know’ face – they’d find out eventually.

    But that’s true for anything. You always get caught.

    1. I loved Happy - innocent and sweet, with a slow rhythm and then this one speeds up and shouts at you. Both completely different.

    2. Ugh. My worst shipped package experience? UPS abused my shipment of ammo. Mangled package was abominable taped up and left on my doorstep missing half its contents. Striving not to use my delivered product on the local driver.

  2. Banana

    Every day, his mother wrote a message on the banana that went into his lunch bag. She drew stick figures and wrote reminders. Don’t forget you have soccer practice at 3. A picture of stick figures kicking a ball toward the goal. He treasured these messages. They were a handhold in what felt like an ongoing freeform scree run.

    He also hated them. He was embarrassed.

    The boy got older and eventually the writing on the bananas stopped. They never spoke about it, but the boy kept that memory like a hidden ace. He thought about it when life seemed complicated. He knew that if he kept the bananas in his memory, they would guide him.

    Plus, potassium.

    1. This one is my favourite of this bunch. It's a unique idea and touching. And he remembers it. So true how you never speak about things in families, like when your mum stops kissing you goodnight cos you get too old/embarrassed for that. And the potassium kick is pure funny.

  3. Hunger

    He reached toward the sky, thin arms grasping at the harsh, yellow sun. He was vaguely aware of a thirst. Goddamn, he was thirsty. He grasped in his mind, searching for some reason. The memories were like a film that has been razor-sliced to pieces and then put back together in random order.

    He remembered his first communion. He remembered the humiliation that was middle school. He remembered his father’s face, swollen red and yelling. And there was the amorphous outline of recent memory – a man with a gun, standing over him laughing.

    The man with the gun was gone. All that remained was desert. In every direction, sand and, the more he thought about it, death. And the more he thought about it, the more he wished the man had used the gun. But he hadn’t.

    He stood up and shook the sand off his torn clothes. He looked away from the sun. Felt it burning his back through layers of clothing.

    And he began to walk himself to death.

  4. Your flash exercises are brilliant... and I bet your students' are, too. They've got a good teacher.

  5. On the Wyoming side of the state line with Colorado, on the other side of summer, in a different century, there is a log cabin beside French Creek. The creek was named for a trapper from yet another century. As the sky turns from the gray of steel to the blush of dawn, the door opens and a man steps out. His breath makes steam in the alpine air. He wears only jeans, believing that exposure to the cold air will harden him for cruel winter, not long from now.

    Behind him, a dog stands, watching to see if the man will come back inside. The dog is comfortable with this man. They have little need for words. They've been together nearly a decade.

    The man takes a deep breath of the air, inhaling the place as much as oxygen. The pines, the meadow's grass, woodsmoke from the fire he made to brew his coffee. A decade changes a man, especially a decade in a place such as this. He allows himself a one-sided smile.

    The ladies from church keep visiting, every Sunday afternoon, trying to introduce him to their daughters, never understanding his need for solitude. He was polite but uncooperative in their quests for the right partner for their offspring.

    The lines around his eyes and between his brows are there in testament to the war, to too much killing, to broken dreams. On his left side, if you look closely, you can see a scar from a bullet that grazed him. If you look closer still, you can see a hole in his heart from the man who stood beside him that day, the man whose life the bullet claimed.

    The dog sniffs the air, reads the scents of a cougar who had passed in the night, of coyotes, of a rabbit's warren. Something else, too. A man.

    "Halllooooo!" echoes off the sides of mountains, long before anyone is visible. The dog does not bark. He and the man watch the figure walk past the tree lightning struck last summer, past the rock that looks like a face, past the grassy meadow where a rattlesnake lives.

    The man looks the stranger over as he comes up onto the porch. Probably 21 or 22. Maybe 23. Honest blue eyes. Blond hair, when he takes the cowboy hat off. Good manners, too.

    "I'm Jake Casper. You might be Ben Washington?"

    The man pauses, like he's trying to find his voice. "I am."

    "My ma sent me to find you. To visit you, I mean. She said spending some time with you might do me some good. Might do us both some good," young Jake says.

    "And just who might your mother be?"

    "Rosalie. Rosalie Casper. She's..."

    "A pleasure to meet you, Jake. Your mother is a fine woman." He knows he is one of only a few in the county who believe so, what with the woman in question keeping a tavern, but she's shown him a kindness or two through the years. And she doesn't have any marriageable daughters.

    "I can help you out. Fell some trees. Split firewood. I make a passable cook. I..."

    "Whoa, slow down. How long are you thinking of staying?"

    The young man looks down. "Till things, um, settle down a bit."

    "Maybe you can fill me in on what 'things' are."

    Jake's face reddens. "I sort of got caught in a, um, compromising situation..."

    "And the young lady objected? Or her dad?"

    Jake looks everywhere but at Ben. "Not exactly." His voice dropped to a whisper, almost as quiet as the wind.

    Ben is patient. He lets Jake take his time.

    "It wasn't a young lady. It was Pete. The preacher's son."

    Ben guffaws. "Come on in, Jake. Let's get some coffee in you and you can show me how good you are at makin' breakfast."

    The dog likes Jake, and that's recommendation enough. Maybe this winter won't be all that cold after all.

  6. Afterward, her first instinct was to make her way to the cabin upstate. When she saw his text—"On my way soon"—her heart hop-skipped in her chest for a second. Like a new comet, hope crossed the night sky of her awareness.

    She cranked the generator and wondered how much he had changed. Almost a decade had lurched awkwardly by since they'd spent a blurry month of kayaking and dancing and one-upping each other with their culinary skills. And lovemaking. Don't forget that. She couldn't forget that. It had been a perfect time. No hint of impending darkness; pure lakeside rapture in gauzy dreamlight.

    Again. She wondered how much he had changed.

    How cruel the passage of time. How needlessly complex. A relentless, heedless, slick-knot blastocyst.

    On the uncovered deck, unfolding chairs, sitting, standing by the railing, she paced, fidgeted. She could never get comfortable anymore. She tried to breathe, yoga breathe—prana, her instructor had called it; deep and long—and take in the skim of mist that hung like netting over the lake and the dark encirclement of conifers. But her mind stutter-stepped and her hot, coiled body wouldn't settle.

    She had the strangest sense of unraveling. Like yarn unspooling. Was it time or was it memory? The loons were long gone from this place, replaced by more distant complaints. The songs of the cicadas seemed muted. More sorrowful, more dissonant.

    In the small kitchen, sensing his proximity, she uncorked an expensive Bordeaux, with some difficulty. Ready to celebrate this reunion. Mark this occasion. Poured herself a large glass. Began to fix tortillas with salsa and guacamole. Crushed some ice for margaritas, made do with lime juice instead of limes. Sweet-rimmed two plastic glasses. Overkill, she knew.

    But still she wondered. If he had changed, had she also changed? Well, yes. Much had changed, although this lake and its vigilant garrison of cedar and spruce seemed somehow eternal. The choral dawns and evening serenades. The songbirds and the fireflies.

    The earthy tang of woodsmoke in her nostrils. The face of the water ashen, like someone given grave news in a hospital.

    She tried to tune the radio, found nothing. Smacked its wooden frame. Paced. Waited.

    The moment she found a channel—something preachy, gawping, and demented; scratchy as brain spiders—she looked up and with her remaining eye watched him approach from the overgrown driveway. He was worse off than her, an arm long gone and the skin on the other flapping in slick pink parade flags as he lurched her way. A good third of his head was a ruined moon, yet he grinned peculiarly, one pinning eye fixed on her while she struggled to stand and greet him.

    The timing of their embrace, already heated in its way, coincided neatly with the next howling firestorm.

  7. Angst

    Nothing but sound
    Sweeping pictures into dust;
    Pure heart where it stopped
    Considering the unfathomable,
    Stuck as it is in this denouement
    Pondering the next second.
    On the edge of a cliff staring
    Down, where the crags seep,
    And so we wish to walk again
    Beside the other invisibly,
    A slowing dance unrehearsed.
    This thing we have is not to have
    This thing spent is only lost,
    Curving as a fast ball flies
    South for the winter, scrawled
    Like a bloody ribbon blowing
    In the darkness of a bruised fist.

  8. Bitter guest

    It’s only words. Letters conjured up. The he said, she said. Cast adrift, spiralling like smoke twisting from a cigar. Set adrift upon the breath, usurping the light. The story took on a life of its own until it walked and talked, ate, drank and laughed its way inside, taking root in the recesses of the mind. Never questioned. Never asked. It stayed for years. A willing guest, received with a warm welcome by those who hungered for it. It never wondered why. The story stayed, grew and rested, spilling its scented anger and bitter streak wherever it drifted. An invisible guest always chattering, nothing sensible escaped it. Only bile. But no one thought not to believe it as the smoke choked.

  9. Casting colours

    It starts…
    The beginning casts colours in the light
    Sacred thoughts transcend the real
    Aglow in the dry heat of summer,
    A kaleidoscope of raw emotion
    Spun tightly, wrapped in the soundless
    Instinct killing itself nightly,
    Caught in a web it seeks to unravel.
    Locking the heart within a keyless box
    It feels like time has no end.
    Choices lost in a cloud of nothing,
    This trivial heart knows no distancing,
    Seeking self-destruction in a second
    Of perfection it can never hope to find.

    It ends…
    The falling triggers memories of dark
    Where the spider creeps in strewn dust
    Waiting for the silent stuttered scream –
    These things born of bloody nightmare.
    Screwing the twisted seeping heart,
    Shadows awake from the silent walls
    Where hands seek to drag and play.
    He builds a fortress across these skies
    Inside the beat of a solitary star
    Sent adrift where the dreaming lies,
    Echoing the curved moon’s absent lover
    Here to stay til the dawn tide roars –
    A subtle kiss is the only thing he knows.

    1. Thank you :) I've got a cold and that was the first day of it - so my writing went dark.

  10. The biscuit queen

    She made biscuits the way only women who’ve been making them for sixty years or more could. Like a magician. Flour, soda, salt and baking powder, cold lard and buttermilk and abracadabra! Every morning a new batch, batch sometimes noon and supper, too. She never measured, never thought, just threw it all into a big old timey spongeware bowl, threaded and crazed with tentacles of age; tossed it fine, added the liquid and cut with the top of some old mason jar. Her spidery fingers kneading just until it was dough, then patted out on an old wooden board, which shone with a fine patina of age, lard, and untold bacteria.
    They hired me to help with her garden; Miz Mayfied’s arthritis had got bad in her fingers, and she couldn’t shell peas no more, or stoop to pick the lettuce and beans, or worse, pull the big, stubborn sweet onions from the stubborn red dirt. But I’d gotten fired from my job at the bank and needed something to do. Living on a farm don’t mean that you love it. It don’t even mean you don’t have to work somewhere else, but Miz Mayfield? She was a real education, so I tried to learn.
    The trouble started the first time I threw out her can of bacon drippings. I figured she didn’t need the fat on her arteries. She wrung her hands in the worst way, then told me what them drippings were good for: greens, roasting, salad dressing and god knows what else. When I tried to get rid of the expired eggs, she snatched them out of my hands and fed them to the dogs.
    I discovered her root cellar on my second week. I told her. “Miz Mayfield, you got any idea how long some of this stuff’s been down here?”
    “Feel them lids, “ she told me. “Tell me one’s that’s popped and you can throw it away.”
    I couldn’t find one. So she sat me down for a lunch—fresh picked mustard and collards, pickled okra,cooked soft. Some ham that came from somewhere I hadn’t even found yet. Fresh poached duck eggs and oh, those biscuits, with a jar of honey she’d scared up from the barn, dark and mysterious and utterly fine. Magic.
    I have a 400 hundred dollar Kitchen Aid mixer taking up space on my counter. My Derek bought it for me for Mother’s Day two years ago and we still haven’t got it paid off. Old Miz Mayfield had a special catfish fryer underneath her carport. Sometimes, she’d go out to the bayou in a broke down old boat with her friend, Annamae and spend the day . Annamae was ninety or so, and we wanted to stop ‘em but we knew better than to try. When she came back, she showed me how to clean ‘em on the back of an old tree stump her yard, scraping away the scales with the edge of a worn, sterling silver spoon, how to drop a kitchen match into that fryer that had been holding the same damn oil for longer than anyone could tell. When that match flared? The oil was hot. That it never caught fire? Some other kind of magic.
    I learned how to smoke and to can and save and preserve. When Bryon, my husband got laid off, those lessons finally sunk in. I’d been feeding my babies with stuff on sale. I’d been listening to the government telling what was good and what was bad. Buying 99 cent Banquet Pot Pies and Chef BoyArdee. But Miz Mayfield’s magic?
    I see her hands in those biscuits, that soup and those feastings
    Always her eyes on that stove
    And for all that I learned from that biscuit magician?
    I hope she’s still with me to whisper those lessons
    I failed to learn cause I thought I knew better
    And may never know.

  11. The long years she'd spent planning and preparing were finally paying off. And it made her proud, but sad.

    The off grid shelter was stocked. There was enough food and water for years. She'd gotten the latest composting toilet at the very last minute possible.

    She'd stockpiled books; enough to occupy her mind---she hoped. And decks of cards. She knew she'd wear them out quickly.

    She learned to hunt. To fish. To grow a garden, she hoarded seeds. She learned to sew. She had enough fabric and supplies to keep her clothed forever.

    Batteries for lights, for clocks, for radios in case the solar system failed.

    She'd thought of everything she needed to get by...except a companion. A dog, a cat, a person.

    So on the twenty-fifth night in the bunker she caressed her Browning pistol in gratitude, just before she put a bullet through her brain.

    1. Yeah. This does beg the question: What does it REALLY mean to "survive?"

  12. "What's the matter with you? Humans not good enough for you?"

    Bruno heard the words but refused to acknowledge them. At least openly.

    It had begun again.

    "I suppose you're afraid. Maybe you're not that well-endowed. A droid wouldn't tell if she wasn't being satisfied."
    Still not listening,he walked to another desk. He had to push into Greg to get by but said nothing. There were no words for this. Sometimes your thoughts and emotions are too real to be distilled into language, even if you use your tone to colour it.

    "Freak. Maybe that's why you never hang with us. Nothing to hang, right?"

    Bruno stiffened. For an instant he'd thought he could cope with this. Use a witty comeback to try to recover some face. But he knew it would fail. Greg would just blank-face it, refusing to see the humour and widening the chasm between them. He would never be able to explain this away.

    And besides, the moment had gone. He'd over-thought things again.

  13. They called him Bird Boy, not because he aspired to the heights, not because his feathers were easily ruffled, not because the bullies among us decided Kyle was out of his tree.

    He warbled. He chirped. He quacked. He cawed. He trilled.

    It was a tough act to follow, though we tried. A menagerie of animal sounds, a Babel of gibberish, each of us zooing our best to land a sound that Bird Boy could latch onto, but neither bird nor beast succeeded. Instead, we shrugged our shoulders and swallowed laughter.

    Admittedly, looking back after all these years, we guys on Boerum Street must have appeared like mentally deranged jesters trying to solve the mystery of fruitless dialogue. Finally, we let the Bird Boy express himself in his own avian tongue.

    It was the 1960s, an incendiary time when scenes of looters, torchers, and marching malcontents of every shade and color were televised. The "vast wasteland" of television framed those demonstrations for the sake of increased media revenue and more viewers to cause a Neilsen rater to salivate like a Pavlov dog.

    Bird Boy stood on the sidelines of a Selma March re-enactment. Though now in his thirties, he still could not speak, but his blue eyes sparkled as the demonstrators paraded by. Happily he clapped his hands.

    Bird Boy knew about segregation; he had lived apart all his life. It pleased him that the black man would soon shake off the stigma of racial bias and all men of all colors could speak at the same table.

    In his joy, Bird Boy's heart swelled with pride and, opening his mouth, he sang a birdsong in loud melodious tones that everyone could hear. It rang out like a chorus of wrens, of larks, of pipits at their first sight of spring.

    "How dare the man!" cried the marchers. "Where was his decency!"

    Someone on the issue's left or right shot him. Even as he lay there, the final chords of his song fled his throat and Bird Boy died.



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