prompt: holly, baboon, squeaky

The stroller tire squeaked with every turn and the sun screaming overhead only deepened Holly’s headache. They hadn’t even made it to the baboon sanctuary yet, and Sybil seemed more interested in sobbing than looking at the animals. 

“Sybil, please, remember how we were so excited to see the parakeets? Then the baboons! We talked about it all week.”

Sybil continued screeching louder than any of the birds in the aviary.

A couple next to them, with children more interested in their devices than what their parents were pointing at, sent a glare towards Sybil. Holly clenched her jaw; they were at the zoo for godsakes, not the movie theater.

Holly made the decision to roll her squeaky stroller right by them on their way to the baboons. If Sybil wouldn’t quiet, at least she’d be useful.  

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: 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: envy, doll, gondola

  • envy doll gondola

The curve of her cheek reminded Sarah of a doll, plump and perfect. Even from high above, as she leaned against the stonewall of the bridge, Sarah could clearly see the dusting of freckles and the press of a dimple when the doll laughed. Her laugh chimed like bells along the canal; the surly gondola driver had even cracked a smile. All eyes were on her, and Sarah wanted to be her, even though she knew nothing about her, not even her name.

There was a young man in front of the doll-like beauty, and even Sarah knew his interest far outweighed the woman’s. He didn’t seem to mind. With each long pull of the gondola paddle, the world revolved around the woman, and her plump and perfect cheeks. 

Sarah pushed away from the stonewall of the bridge, just enough to brace her palms on the top of it and hoist herself over its edge. Into the air, it was like time suspended for a moment as Sarah hovered over the gondola. Then there was a thunk as her body hit wood and a series of splashes. The doll wasn’t perfect anymore. 

On the Top of the Hill

A hand shook Ann’s shoulder, pulling her from a deep sleep. “Mama?” she asked through a yawn. “What is it? It’s the middle of the night.”

Mama’s eyes were bright, a toothy grin spreading across her face. “Wake up, there’s something I want to show you.”

“I’m sleepy,” Ann whined. Didn’t Mama know tomorrow was a school day? Mama usually cared about those sorts of things…

“This is more important.” Mama clapped and Ann started to sit up, only to have a pile of clothes land on her head. “Get dressed.”

Ann followed her Mama’s orders right out the door of their tiny home. The darkness had waned a little, the pitch black transforming into a dark purple.

“I’m very excited for you, Ann,” Mama explained. She swayed on her heels as Ann pulled on a jacket while Mama got them flashlights. When we were both ready she snapped her fingers. “Come on, chase me!”

And then Mama was off and Ann remembered her bed, and wondered if this was still a dream. But still, she followed Mama and ran.

On the top of the hill, the dark purple had changed to a dusky blue, if not for the flashlights, Ann would not know where they were. “This is where we lost our relay race.”

Mama turned, face unreadable until Ann shined the flashlight in it. Even Mama’s squinting couldn’t detract from her smile. “Oh honey, this is where a lot of things happened.”

“Like what?” Ann asked, still unable to forget the sting of defeat.

“Well, for one,” Mama held up a finger. “This is where I first felt you kick in my belly.”

“Really?”

“Really, really.”

“What else?” Ann looked around the hillside, the first bits of sun rising over the horizon.

“It’s where you Papa first told me he loved me.”

“What else?” Excitement ran through Ann now, because Mama was looking towards the horizon, as if she was expecting something.

“Well, sweetheart. In just a few minutes the sun is going to rise, and you know what’s going to happen?”

Ann pulled at her sleeve until Mama wrapped her arms around her, rocking Ann against her body. “What?”

A car rumbled in the distance and Mama leaned low, pressing her lips against Ann’s ear. When she spoke her voice was barely a whisper. “We’re going on an adventure.”

—-
 Words: Sunrise/Elated/Lost
Mood: Hopeful

Nah Nah Naan

“What do you mean you’ve never had curry before?” Jane stirred the pot, in more ways than one. “Do you only eat fried food that’s the color of beige?”

 

Charles gaped. “That’s pretty limiting. I eat lots of things!”

 

“Name me something you’ve eaten in the past week that contained a spice other than salt or pepper.”

 

“Hey!” Charles crossed his arms and leaned against Jane’s kitchen counter. He spun at the spice rack instead of answering and Jane wondered if he knew how much any of them could add to a meal. “I don’t cook much.”

 

“Nay.” She pointed the cooking spoon at her friend. “You don’t cook at all.”

 

“Well…that’s true.”

 

Jane sighed, turning back to the curry and using her hand to waft its smell to her nose. “This may cause some irreparable damage to our friendship.”

 

“The fact that I haven’t had curry?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Well, you’re about to remedy that so…” Charles smiled, wide and contagious, and Jane had to look away or else she’d return it.

 

“It’s always up to me to better you.” The scent of coriander and cumin filled Jane’s small kitchen. “Grab the basket of naan. This is almost done.”

 

“Nah, nah?” Charles questioned, looking around the room. “What’s that?”

 

Jane switched off the stovetop and blew her bangs with an exasperated breath. “It’s literally the only thing in the room in a basket.”

 

Charles smirked. “I’m obviously kidding. I know what a basket is.”

 

“You’ve never had curry before! How am I supposed to know what you do and do not know? Just grab the basket you basket case. I’m about to open your culinary horizons.”

 

—-
Words: Curry/Basket/Irreparable

James and the Tiny Prince

The fabric caught on the callouses of his hand but James didn’t care, he just scrubbed harder. He wanted to look perfect, needed to look perfect; and he wouldn’t let the smell of bleach distract him. The prince was coming and James couldn’t help bouncing his feet as he stood by the sink.

When the white shirt was clean, or as clean as a farmer mid-season could make it, he pinned it to the line and rushed back inside. His wood cabin was small, but tidy, and he could offer the prince variety of cushions to sit upon. As he patted a gold and red one, a flush grew in his cheeks. He hoped they weren’t too big for his majesty.

The sun fell over the horizon, the colors of sunset shining into the cabin through the window. He was almost out of time.

James was panting by the time he made it back outside, the shirt damp as he slid it on. And then he was standing at attention by his front door, his farm on display and his house tidy. James knew there were better, more affluent subjects in the prince’s kingdom, but he chose James and who was James to question it?

The trumpets were the first thing he heard, followed by the rolling carriage wheels. The carriage was large, larger than James’ cushions, so some of the stress eased from his shoulders.

The carriage came to a stop. A man hopped from the front with another brass instrument. “Presenting!” He blew into the horn. “His royal highness.”

When the door opened, James fell to the ground. A sign of respect, to lower himself under the prince. Above he heard the sticky steps as the prince hopped down, made his way to James.

“Rise,” the prince said.

James did, grasping the princes hand to place a kiss on the slimy, suction cupped skin. “Ribbet,” James saluted.

“Ribbet.”

The Clown Murderer – an Origins Story

In a dark corner
of an equally dark mansion
swung a framed portrait
of a clown.

No one could recall
when it arrived in the corner
but it smacked mistress
and she died.

After that we knew
of the framed clown that swung at will.
Our house versus the clown,
a battle.

Soon, it turned bloody
the clown killed the heir and the spare
and then the butler.
We brought fire.

Oh, how the clown screamed
trapped in his frame, as he melted
and we did not laugh,
at this clown.

But then the next day,
in the same spot, a frame swinging
and a new clown face
murderous.

We blocked the corner
kept away the remaining child
who laughed at the clowns
with intent.

Who placed this mansion
under such a malicious curse?
We would never know.
The child grew
as most children do,
yet, he had vengeance in his heart
for he’d decided,
kill them all.
All clowns, even those
who did not swing from frames at will.

Perfectly Bowed

Her sister wrapped all the Christmas presents, every year, forever. Even if Nina tried to help, her mother would swat her hands with a rolled up newspaper.

“Don’t you touch your sister’s perfect bows,” their mother would say.

It wasn’t fair. Just because Carla could bend the ribbons with delicate precision, didn’t mean she was Santa’s Freaking Helper. How would Nina learn, if no one let her practice?

With a pile of wrapping paper covering her lap, Carla asked her little sister to pass the tape. Nina threw it. It hits Carla’s knee and ruined her meticulously constructed bow.

“I thought you wanted to help!” Carla snapped.

Nina surveyed the wrapped boxes in the corner – not a single crease.  She wanted to kick and stomp on them, do things that would definitely put her on Santa’s naughty list. Instead, she picked up the tape and handed it to her sister.