prompt: peacock, puzzle, electric

If it hadn’t been for the photo on the front of the box, there’d be no way to tell the puzzle was supposed to be a large, colorful peacock. It’d been three hours and Ryland had finished the border, started filling in one corner, and the lightning continued in earnest outside the window. This wasn’t Ryland’s first hurricane, but it was the first since he’d moved out on his own. His first one alone. 

Like clockwork, his mind started to run down the mental list. There were enough batteries for his five flashlights, the shutters had covered the windows since the night before, and the food stores were stocked. Lightning flashed again and Ryland’s fingers clenched around the puzzle piece. The only reason there even was a peacock in the first was because his mother always did puzzles during hurricanes. With rain pounding on their roof, she’d declare them to be calming and time consuming. Once the electricity went, they were able to be done by candlelight or flashlight. 

Lightning struck again, overhead the electricity flickered and even with the puzzle, it was nothing like the storms he remembered growing up. Too quiet inside meant that everything that happened outside only sounded louder. He never felt more alone.

prompt: pizza, avalanche, purple

“Purple mountains majesties,” Phil sang, and the words spun and garbled in his mouth, and for some reason he felt compelled to twirl, even though he hadn’t done anything like that since he was a kid at the mercy of his older sister. “I wonder how Dawn is.”

“You alright?” George asked over his shoulder, and Phil nodded and the simple motion made him rock like a dinghy in the middle of a hurricane. George didn’t notice. George continued hiking the startlingly steep elevation, and what exactly was the altitude here, because he hadn’t sung America the Beautiful since Dawn lived at home either. He really should call her. 

The sun beat down on his head and his thoughts flowed as freely as his sweat. In the winter this mountain must get avalanches. Phil hummed at the mere thought of cool snow. In the summer though, this mountain just overheated Phil, the cherry on top of his probable altitude sickness. His stomach churned, the pizza was a bad decision.

“The next peak is the worst of it,” George informed. Phil’s pizza did a somersault. 

“Yeah,” Phil said without thought, like his body was finally doing the thinking for him. “The worst part happened, for me, about a quarter mile back. I’m just going to sit here for a purple mountain majesty or two, then meet you by the car.”

George turned back, shaking his head as he sat next to Phil. “Yeah, no. If you’re seeing purple mountains, we’re definitely walking back to the car together.”

“Whatever you say, Star Spangled Man with a Plan.”  

prompt: monochrome, light, star

The world appeared in black and white. The dark shadows of the New York City skyline a stark silhouette against the vibrant white of the moon. The Soldier had a mission, and with a single minded focus he prowled through the alley, silently hooking his metal hand around the ladder of a fire escape that hung over his head.

Through the black night he climbed, silent in his movements even as the wind picked up. He made it to top, turned immediately into position on his perch. There was a man that the Boss deemed needed a bullet in their head. The Soldier looked through the scope of his sniper, scanning over the building across the street, the white light windows each their own flicker of life, easily discarded when the Soldier determined they were not his mark.

It was a shuffle of white and black, the dark night and the bright life dispersed throughout the city.

Then–Red.

Bright, vibrant red shot across his sniper’s scope like a star hurtling through the sky, the only color in the night. A superhero, flying over New York City. The Soldier pulled his sniper away from the mission. He followed the red in his scope, watched, as it paused in the air, facing the Soldier. He couldn’t look away.

prompt: television, church, fresh

“It’s not a religion, Ben!” Alice’s voice had surpassed shrill a half a dozen exclamation points ago and now settled somewhere in the vicinity of ear-splitting. “It’s a television show.”

“Yes. One that comes on every Sunday.” 

“Like church?” 

Ben kept his gaze on the television, knowing that the way he chose to answer the question would directly affect his wife’s mood for the rest of the day. “Of course not, sweetie.”

“Sweetie,” Alice mocked. “That’s fresh.”

He never won with Alice these days so instead of trying, he finally ripped his gaze from the television and locked it on Alice’s steely grey-blue eyes. “My show is obviously more entertaining than church, dear.”

Alice’s face turned red. She let out a half-growl, half-shriek noise, and then she pivoted towards the front door, slamming it behind her, presumably off to church. Ben turned back to the television, and counted down the minutes until his favorite show. 

prompt: frosting, blanket, clock

“Really, if you think about it, the sun is one giant clock.” 

Rebecca let the comment hang in the air between their beach towels, the waves crashing against the shore filling the silence instead. It didn’t take long for Sam to break it yet again. 

“I guess sundials have been around for forever.”

Rebecca hummed in agreement, sitting up to look at the ocean and try to tune out her brother’s observations. The endless blanket of blue reached the horizon and far beyond that, not locked to the land like she was. 

“And, like, the sun has been around for longer than the ocean, even.”

Rebecca clenched her jaw. If she owned a car, Sam wouldn’t even be here, but instead she had to beg him for a ride and sit through is inane chatter. She stood and walked towards the water. There was a puff of foam that the waves had stirred up lining the shore like frosting.

Through the wind she heard Sam shout, just loud enough for Rebecca to hear him, “Looks a bit like frosting!” 

Rebecca let the comment hang in the air for a moment. Then, in nothing more than a whisper, she admitted to the ocean, “That’s exactly what I was thinking.”

prompt: brie, bookshop, bland

Janet’s fingers brushed along the spine of the book, before she flipped it open to the first photo of brie. 

“Not that one.” It was like a buzzed whisper, not quite a hiss, from the other side of the bookstore. Janet ignored it and turned to the first recipe.

“Bland.” She heard the buzz again and this time couldn’t help but turn to look over her shoulder. No one was down the aisle of books, and on the other side it was just the shopkeeper seemingly consumed with his computer. 

Janet put the book in her basket. 

“I can’t allow it.” The buzz had turned into a distinct voice, and when she looked back at the shopkeeper he was no longer looking at the computer. Instead, he was holding out a different book towards Janet, another one about brie. 

“Now this one, is anything but bland.”

Janet looked down at the book in her basket. “Then why do you sell this one at all?”

The shopkeeper laughed, gesturing around the store. “A whole shop devoted to cookbooks. Had to find something to fill the shelves.”

Janet chuckled and reached for the book, flipping through the pages. “There’s no pictures,” she observed.

“Well–” the shopkeeper raised an eyebrow. “Are you going to marvel at it, or cook with it?” 

“Both?”

The shopkeeper beamed. “Then I’ll just ring up both of them, how does that sound?”

“Sounds like you’re good at your job. No wonder you’ve managed to keep this shop open.”

“Gift wrapping?” he offered. “50% off for such a kind customer.”

Janet shook her head with amusement. “Don’t push it.”

prompt: doughnut, lost, bathing suit

Anna was half under the bed, her arm reaching blindly for a bathing suit. The slipper she’d been missing for months, found. Bathing suit? Not so much. “It’s supposed to be here!”

“Under your bed?” Daniel asked, between bites of a doughnut.

“Well, no.” Anna pushed out from under the bed and blew her bangs in frustration. “It was supposed to be in my drawer, but it wasn’t. I thought maybe the storage bin with summer stuff, but that was a no-go either, and then I checked the garage, then the guest room closet, then the–”

Daniel’s eyebrows lifted as Anna spoke. When he finally swallowed the doughnut, he looked like he’d wished he hadn’t asked the question. Anna agreed, it was a stupid question. 

“Okay, okay, I get it.” With the doughnut finally finished, Daniel could lift his hands as if they were a shield between himself and Anna’s increasing anger and frustration. 

Anna rolled her eyes. “I can’t find it.”

“Well, on the upside, there’s more doughnuts?”

Anna growled and pushed herself to her feet. “I can’t swim in a doughnut, Daniel.”

He couldn’t quite hide the smirk that followed whatever mental image Anna’s words had invoked, and Anna couldn’t quite help herself either. She threw her newly found slipper right towards Daniel’s face. 

“Go bring me a doughnut.” 

prompt: friendship, train, strawberry

The familiar comfort of Strawberry Fields and the countryside rushing past, those were the things Carl tried to focus on. The rock of the train along the tracks would act as a soothing rhythm, if he’d let it. 

Living is easy with eyes closed

Carl closed his own, as if the song was an instruction, and he thought about all his own misunderstandings, the ones that had led him to this train, to the familiar trip home with a familiar song in his ear, but nothing more than that–No one waited at the other end, sitting in the station full of anticipation. No one; an old familiar song provided more friendship and solace than anyone living or dead. 

Nothing is real, And nothing to get hung about.

Carl opened his eyes, across the train car his gaze locked with a stranger, an elderly man, old enough to be his father, even though his father had passed away far younger than Carl was now. In that moment, a connection, a spark of humanity, nothing more than an acknowledgment of each other’s existence. But it was something real, and Carl found himself hung up on it long after the train pulled into the station.

Living is easy with eyes closed, but tonight, Carl decided, he’d go into town for dinner.

Warmth in the Storm

Over the ocean, in the far off distance, lightning lit up a gray cloud. Anthony shifted on the blanket next to Dean, not quite ready to go inside from their impromptu picnic just yet. The wind picked up and made him curl further into the warmth of Dean’s arm, where it was wrapped around Anthony’s waist.

The crashing of the ocean broke against the sand in front of them, the sunset they’d come out to watch had long since fallen over the horizon, just leaving the faint dusk light and the dancing of lightning. Anthony knew they’d need to go inside soon, that the wind would bring the cloud to shore and with it the oncoming storm.

Dean’s lips brushed across Anthony’s hair, another bolt making him gasp against the dark strands. “We should go inside soon,” Dean whispered between breaking waves.

“We should.” Anthony’s hand hit the box of chocolate at his side and Anthony reached for a piece, holding it up for Dean. Warmth from Dean’s lips wrapped around his fingers, cutting off the chill of the wind.

Dean swiped his tongue against Anthony’s fingertip before pulling back. “Maybe five more minutes,” he said, before another bolt of lightning cut across the sky, this time followed by thunder. “Or maybe three.”

Unconcerned, Anthony hummed, content to sit on this blanket in the sand, under the warmth of Dean’s arms, long after the storm rolled in.

Yellow-Bellied Love

The pencil snapped in her hand and he was grateful because it gave him something to look at instead of the cruelty in her eyes. “You’re nothing,” she spat. “A coward. A yellow-bellied fool.”
 
He winced at the words, a scathing reply on his own tongue that he swallowed down. But then resentment followed, why could she spout vile but he had to take the high road? “Call me a coward, but at least I’m not the one sabotaging this relationship because you’re scared of a little criticism.”
 
“You’re criticism is garbage, Jeremy.” She crossed her arms, turned to the window and threw the pencil pieces at the glass. She liked to make loud noises when she was angry. “Why should I value your opinion?”
 
It was like a slap in his face. “Because, you love me?”
 
Her laugh was tight and short. “Yea, cause that has anything to do with this. You call me a coward for wanting to do more, see more. You call it running away.”
 
“It is running away!” His voice boomed across their living room. “You’d be leaving me.”
 
God, he hated when she rolled her eyes, and there she was, rolling. “I’ll be gone for six months. It’s not the end of the world.”
 
A hot flush crawled through his body because he hated that he cared more than her, that he so obviously was the more invested one. “Fine,” he said. “Go.”
 
“I don’t need your permission,” she reminded, spite in her words despite getting everything she wanted.
 
He saw red, but it blurred from the tears in his eyes. “You did. But you don’t anymore.” And then he walked to the door.
 

 

Three words: Pencil, Yellow, Garbage
Mood: Angry

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