Bi-Weekly Story Prompts

Writing Prompt “Wedding”

Theme: Wedding.

Must contain- Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.

Word Count: 1,200

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  1. One story per author. You may post more than one but only the first story will qualify for voting.
  2. Stories must be in English, unpublished and your own work.
  3. Stories must fit into a single comment box and must stay within the word limit set for each contest.

Voting starts Wednesday morning at 9:00am PDT / 12:00pm EST / 10:30pm IST / 5:00pm WET/GMT/ 4:00am AEDT (Thursday) and ends the same time on Thursday / 4:00am AEDT (Friday).

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***the next writing prompt will be chosen by Phil Town per the Writing Prompt Roster.

To be included in the “writing prompt roster”, you must have submitted two stories in the last sixty days. The roster is alphabetical and can be found here.

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115 thoughts on “Writing Prompt “Wedding”

    • Amy Meyer
      Hi Carrie,
      Could you add my story? And I think Ken’s is missing too.
      • Hi Amy, I put your story on the list above, but I’m not seeing a story from Ken. I don’t think he’s posted one. 🙂
  • Match Plus: 23 August 2118
    (1088 words)

    I was waiting for Javia under a tree in the Reserve Park. In this park people can visit any place they like and stay for any time within reserved time. There are so many locations within park with some kind for boundary for the privacy. As you enter the door automatically locked for the others to enter. Once you exit from the units it is automatically available to others. It is a very big park. We do not need to reserve particular place. You can decide as you move. As you stay it is reserved for you. You can open for the person you like.
    I found Javia from the social site named match plus. Match plus finds the friend for you for a special purpose, analyzing all the views expressed by both and based on activities. I searched for the life partner and found Javia and set up for meeting in the reserve park.
    Javia located me and entered the area with my permission. We opened the mind and heart for some time and tried to find the possibility of the unification. Our ideas closed together and feeling matched.
    Javia said, “I think ‘match plus’ works well. What do you think Kundana?”
    “I also think so”
    “What is your plan for the near future?” Javia asked.
    “Something creative”
    “Do you want to get more credita?”
    (Note: people would get credita any works they have done based on the value fixed by the government. Credita carries purchasing power)
    “Yes, I wanted to earn some credita from creative works and skip from the regular works. What about yourself”
    “I wanted to do some social service”
    “I wanted to remain with elders and know about how life look like in the old age. This will also add some credita to me”
    “That looks wonderful. You do service and I will invent something useful for the older people.”
    While in the park I got a notification in my mobile and Javia too. It was an opinion for continuation for present PM.
    What so you think?, Javia asked for my opinion..
    “I think we need to say yes. She is doing well. She is likely to be a leader in the region soon. May be a leader in the world in a few years.”
    We both said yes to the present PM.
    “What do you want to do next week, Kindana?” Javia asked.
    “I wanted to visit the NASA center and got new idea”
    “I wanted to visit a library, but I can also join you. May be we can visit together”
    There was a bird in the bush near our bench. Bird wished for the happy couple. Javia had learned to understand language of bird. She explained to me what the bird said. I became interested to learn the language of bird. Javia promised to teach me the bird’s language as a first gift from her side. She promised to start next week when they will be connected through telepathy. The scientist makes this arrangement for the new couple upon request.
    We fixed the date for visit to NASA next week and moved to own destiny. We travelled in a same train. My station came first and she continued. My credita was getting low. We got some extra credita when we decided to become life partners. It was added by the government online.
    “I knew that 100 years ago people would have to spend lots of money when they arranged marriage” Javia expressed
    “Yes, I also read. Marriage would arranged between similar people based on status of parents. People would carry property from generation to generation as a private. What a fun life was that time. But now we get credita for the decision taken for the life”
    “Why government adds credit for that?” Javia asked
    ” You do not know?”
    ” I know, but not in detail”
    “It is because goal of government is prosperity, happiness and sustainable life. This adds smooth going of mind kind. That is why government adds credita for all activities that supports its goal”
    In the evening I got another notification that present PM will continue because 90% people said yes. At least 50 % people would have to say yes for the current PM to continue.
    I prepared an outline for the study about life in the old age. I collected some study related to that line. I did some mental exercise before sleeping so that I could see it in dream on how it looks like. Scientists have invented that dream reflects unsatisfied or intensive need which is not possible to happen in the real life. This is reflected in the dream which can be planned by implanting strong interest before sleeping. There are some ways to load the demand in the mind to be able to ensure the dream in the same line. Let’s see how it looks like.
    Before sleeping, I had short chatting with Javia so that dream would cultivate combined ideas for the both.
    “Javia, how would you like to engage yourself with elders?”
    “I will live with them and try to understand their life style. I will try to find the solution for the every problem they are facing. I will see myself from their point of view”
    “So you would like to find the right things for them and ask yourself ‘why’ if there is any gap, Right?”
    ” Yes, you are right, I will focus for their expectations and gaps”
    “Kundana, What would you do for your innovative research?”
    ” I do not look at what does exist, I will dream the things that do not exist and make question ‘why not’?
    “So you want to bring something unexpected for the elders I will be working with?”
    “Yes, I must do that to be innovative in real sense”
    “If that happened, you will get lot of credita, with that you can hire flying bird (space craft from NASA then we can travel to space together”
    “This is not a right way of travelling to space, scientists have invented how to maintain a living environment within close vessel and send the vessel to space mechanically. Scripture mentioned that it is possible to travel to space by controlling the control of breath suitable in the space. Scientist need to try for that”
    “May be scientist are working on that too, we will find that. Flying bird was imagined 100 years ago”
    With this I completed the diary of the day

    • Roy York
      Interesting story. Thanks for explaining credita – I am assuming that’s a made up thing. Don’t know how much I like the idea of someone in government deciding if I have ‘credita’ or not with something I invent or do, but I get the drift. I’ll take good old capitalism any day over government deciding what works and doesn’t work. Are we to assume this is a futuristic society? If so, you need to make that clear.

      Takes me awhile to get used to the syntax of a person’s writing whose first language is not English, but I manage.

      Why did you make it a diary entry for the day, when this takes place over weeks? I would think if you made this in diary form (an idea you might consider), then you can break up your diary entries as time progresses.

      Nam, why do you explain flying bird as space craft from NASA and then in a later sentence say Flying bird was imagined 100 years ago. I know what you are saying is the space craft from NASA was imagined 100 years ago, but this might be a big shock to you, flying birds were imagined millions of years ago. A simple ‘Space craft were imagined 100 years ago’ is a better sentence in my humble opinion. If you have to explain it with parentheses, you are leaving nothing to the readers imagination and you haven’t done your job as a writer.

      All in all, good use of imagination, but this needs a little work.

      • Dear Roy, Thanks for trying to understand my story despite some difficulties. You have asked for some clarification.
        1. My imagination is that all the works useful for the society needs to be evaluated or credited.
        2. This is one way of writing. I managed to write my ideas within a single day diary.
        3. Regarding flying bird: We can see birds and aircraft flying in the sky as of now. But it does not mean that both are flying in same way. Scientists developing a aircraft that can fly like bird- with more flexibility. We can see the model in NASA now. My story belongs 100 years from now.
        4. I have imagined everything that came in my mind and possible to express as one day diary and within word limits.

        By the way I a in visit in US now.

    • Namster,
      I’m not ignoring you, but your story needs quite a bit of grammatical editing. (Your knowledge of English is well enough to communicate, but it needs far more work and corrections to become entertaining. Certain things are all but indecipherable. For instance: ‘There are some ways to load the demand in the mind to be able to ensure the dream in the same line.’ I don’t know what that means. (I’m intrigued, but still clueless.)

      Here’s another example. You wrote: ‘Javia located me and entered the area with my permission. We opened the mind and heart for some time and tried to find the possibility of the unification. Our ideas closed together and feeling matched.

      It’s difficult to know exactly what that sentence is intended to convey. Now, a literal correction of that passage would be as follows:

      Javia located me and entered the area with my permission. We opened our minds and hearts for some time and tried to find a means of unification. (,until? Finally,?) Our ideas merged and our feelings matched.

      If that’s what you meant, then it could be further distilled down to this:

      Javia arrived and I quickly approved her entry. We joined minds and hearts for some time and worked diligently to identify mutual and complimentary traits. (Eventually,) Our ideas merged and our feelings were in sync.

      I should re-write this whole thing like I did with Rathin’s. This actually NEEDS an entire re-write to make it a little more comprehensible, unlike Rathin’s, and then it could be further refined. I’m sure you don’t want me to do that, so I won’t feel guilty if I don’t get around to it.

      • Dear Ken, I will be happy if you rewrite it. I will have chance to see how it looks like if it is written in correct English.
    • Amy Meyer
      The futuristic sci fi ideas were interesting. I have to agree with Ken about the grammar; it was quite hard to read at points.
      You don’t need to explain the concepts, like the credita. If you introduce things like that in the right way, then people will pick it up from context. Thanks for posting.
      • Thank you Amy for reading my story and note. I explained work “Credita” because this work does not exist now.
    • Phil Town
      Hi, Nam
      I really like the futuristic ideas imagined here – you story is brimming with them. The ‘Reserve Park’ concept seems to be an extension of on-line dating (the next-step in the process) and is strange and intriguing; it seems that Javia and Kundana have found Mr/Ms Right! And the ‘credita’ concept is good, too – people rewarded monetarily for social/cultural activity. I agree with Ken that some of the language obfuscates meaning and flow. Where do you write your stories? I use Microsoft ‘Word’. In that, I use the grammar/spell check function to help correct some of the main errors/typos. In fact, I’m sure whichever program you use will have its own checking function.
      • Thank you Phil for reading my story in detail. There way we can make comments: active, reactive and suggestive. Active means any comments that is valid and made for comments ( for comments), reactive means to find some fault, suggestive means to help for improvement. Your comments is of third type. It really helped me for improvement and how to do that. Thanks.
    • I really enjoyed the intersection of spiritual concepts and science. There is a bit too much description of the park which then becomes a bit irrelevant to the story. So many elegant concepts that could use fleshing out, maybe a better concept for a short story which would give you more space to explore these concepts. The largest hurdle of course is the English but I do admire your bravery. I don’t think I could even attempt to write in another language.
      • Thank you Tobie for reading my story and comments. I will take care in the future story.
  • Hey everyone I’m new here, I love reading Flash fiction so I thought I’d give it a shot. I was afraid this might be a little too short but another part of me felt like it ended right. I’d love to hear what you all think.

    Chemistry (626 words)
    I spotted her bright auburn hair through the front window of the coffee shop. The sun bounced an orange halo off the top of her head as she opened the door. I spent the last 15 minutes with my headphones on, listening to Spotify, maybe something by Drake, God’s Plan or something else. Trying not to look apprehensive, like I wasn’t waiting for someone, I stared at my phone as if I didn’t expect her to stroll through that door, because she might not.
    Then she caught me looking and wiggled her fingers in a slight wave, like she knew me. I assume I turned red because my face grew hot. So I took a sip of coffee to explain it away as she crossed the room. She was even more magnetic incarnate; I stood when she reached the table.
    “So nice to finally meet you.” I had said this maybe one thousand times before but until then I wasn’t sure I had really meant it. She responded, but I don’t think I heard it because I had just noticed how blue her eyes were. In her photo she was smiling and her eyes were crinkled so I couldn’t tell their color before now. They were blue as an iceberg, nearly white at the center with jagged peaks of cerulean and azure. “Would you like some coffee?” We sat, and I waved the waitress over.
    There was small talk, she asked about my new tattoo; it was tribal and had no significance. She showed me hers. A miniature dragon on her left hipbone, it covered an old scar from a surgery she had as a child. Her tattoo had meaning. Her dad had named her Lessa after the dragonrider in Pern. My mother named me Brian, I wished it had a literary reference, but it was just Brian. 
    “Would you like to go to lunch?” We had talked for half an hour but it felt like 5 minutes, I was trying to not look too hopeful.
    “I have to go to work.” She was a research assistant at the University, her professor was expecting her.
    “How about dinner?” I was an unemployed engineering student, could I afford this? Did I seem too pushy, too eager? We agreed on a date and a time, later that weekend.
    I changed my clothes three times and showered twice before I ubered to her apartment. I took her to the best restaurant I could afford. Not Italian, not a chain. I had wine, wine gave her headaches so she had a martini, extra dry. On the way home she slept on my shoulder and I walked her to the door. I said I would call, and I did. 
    Months later I took her to bed. She was a differential equation I had never studied before. I ran my fingertips along the dragon’s spine. I tried to analyze our relationship, the movements of our bodies like the Schrödinger equation. Describing over time our physical system in where quantum effects, wave-particle duality are significant. Was she wave or was I particle? The paradox of our connection never escaped me. 
    Summer she went home, I stayed on campus. Three weeks in she didn’t return my texts. I borrowed my roommate’s Kia and drove to Kansas. I knocked on her parent’s door. She answered crying and threw her arms around me. “My grandma died.”
    It was enough; I knew I loved her at that moment. The summer ended and so did our temporary separation. My final year of education. Our love followed the theory of General Relativity, it curved through spacetime. I could envision my proposal, our wedding, our children, the construction of our first home. I was cogently complete. 
    I swiped right.

    • Hi Tobie, welcome to the group. I’m one of the moderators here along with Carrie, and I look forward to reading your story.
    • Hi, Tobi,
      Welcome to the site. When frustration has been seeping in fast, your story is a refreshing breather. You know what I mean? It is writer like you who will take upon themselves the onus of keeping this forum going in the near future. I haven’t been a contributor for long either, six months at the most.
      I just want you to know how impressed I am with your story. A story that seems tailor-made to prompt-perfection. The brevity, the language, the apt choice of the words and the concluding line!
      You know, I’ve been frustrated for ages. i keep writing in the hope of finding my name on the top someday and I ain’t sure if this is ever going to happen. In you I get to find another very promising contender. But a contender worth having. You get to know how good you really are when you have the toughest competition, don’t you?
      Lovely story. Keep writing, my friend. Best wishes.
      • Sorry for spelling your name incorrectly, Tobie, and the mistake of overlooking the final ‘s’ in the sentence – It is writers like you… My sincerest apologies.
        Happy weekend. Stay blessed.
      • Thank you for your kind and encouraging words.
      • Thanks so much for the words of encouragement, best of luck to you as well!
    • Roy York
      Welcome to the site. You say a lot in a few words.

      Not sure yet if I think the eye thing -They were blue as an iceberg, nearly white at the center with jagged peaks of cerulean and azure – isn’t just a bit too much. But, to your credit, you made me think about it and you did paint a picture. I write similarly, and am always wondering if I’m not crossing some imaginary line that will make my readers look up at the sky after reading it and wince.

      And, you also made me think about the title Chemistry, then write the entire piece based on Physics. Or, are you so clever as to name it Chemistry as the bonding link (chemistry and physics term for those unfamiliar) for the two of you and allow Physics to finish the love equation?

      I would like to know how far Kansas is from where the protagonist is, as it would give me insight into what kind of roommate he has who would loan a car for a possibly cross country trip. “Hey, borrow your car?” “Sure, here’s the keys” and as you are speeding away, “When will you be back?” “I don’t know, how far is Kansas roundtrip? I’ve never been there. I’m sure Siri knows.”

      I also learned what ‘swipe right’ means. Had to look it up. I’ve seen it before but never bothered to check it out. (Being 76 will do that to you.)

      Nice story and I would like to see more of what you do.

      • Thanks for your insightful critique! I did mix a little chemistry and physics and threw in Geology just because I liked the thought of icebergs in her eyes. If I was going to edit it (and I may in the future) I would use all of your suggestions especially the cross-country trip dialogue. I actually think it would make for a brilliant start to a flash story, maybe I’ll write that next, (with your permission, of course)
        Thanks Tobie
        • Roy York
          Permission granted, word for word or whatever you like. That’s why we write. Good job Tobie and good luck.
        • Roy York
          Thanks. Although I happen to think the key line is “Behind the old mill. That’s where your father found me the day you and I got married.” But, I appreciate the critique.
    • Tobie Ward?

      Is that you? I can’t believe it. I haven’t seen you in years! Not since the wedding. This is really weird, seeing you on this writing site, with a prompt about weddings. Did you ever follow through on that crocodile management thing? You were going to cross-breed them with butterflies or something, weren’t you? Whatever happened with that? I haven’t seen any snapping butterflies yet, so maybe it hasn’t quite gotten off the ground. (No pun intended.)

      I didn’t know you liked to write. You always struck me as… oh, I don’t know, too smart to waste your time reading? You were into martial arts as I recall, and always punching me. Actually, we traded punches didn’t we? That’s right. It was a two way street. So… you’re still married then? To that guy? The guy at the wedding? Your husband? What the hell was his name? Well, it doesn’t matter.

      Speaking of which, man, that was one wild wedding wasn’t it? On a barge under the falls, or nearly so. There was so-much-water…. water everywhere. The theme was barrels wasn’t it? There were barrels of monkeys, barrel rolls with butter. Barrels of booze.

      And the cars, all those cars that went into the river. From the skylift. I just remembered that. That wasn’t so great when all those cars and cables came down I guess, but hey, I’m sure the insurance paid for it all. Or most of it. It’s hard to believe what one missing cotter pin could do and it didn’t turn out to be the greatest hair-clip either, but… I probably shouldn’t have brought that up. But hey, at least nobody got hurt. By that.

      I’ll never forget that giant fish tank either. Remember that? When all the fish (they were Piranha’s weren’t they?) when we knocked the tank over? You were drunk and trying to grab the keys to the helicopter, and the Piranha’s were flying and flipping all over the floor? Jesus, who could forget that? I never had so much fun in my entire life, before or since. And I’m all healed up. A couple of dozen stitches, that’s all.
      Good times.
      Well, welcome to the group.

      So…I liked your story. Great title.
      Brilliant concept to express a relationship ‘mathematically.’ I wish I’d thought of it. And it’s not really math, it’s better than math, it’s quantum physics. And if ever there was a good place for dragons, it’s in a story about quantum physics. (You can quote me on that, although I don’t know why you would.)
      You draw a lot of clever analogies in your last few paragraphs. I enjoyed them.
      ‘fingertips along the dragon’s spine.’
      ‘Not Italian, not a chain.’
      He took a ‘Kia and drove to Kansas.’
      ‘paradox of our connection’
      ‘wave-particle duality’
      ‘curved through space-time.’

      (You don’t know anything about physics, do you? No, no, that’s not a problem. Nobody cares, trust me.)

      I’ve read the ‘Dragonriders of Pern.’ (Although I don’t think I understood it.) Have you ever read ‘The Dancing Wu-Li Masters’? (I KNOW I didn’t understand that. I had to read it twice.)
      I will agree that few people realize how important grandma’s are in the grand (see?) overall scheme of things.

      While I think your writing is excellent, and the story is intriguing as hell – I wanted and expected more story. More detail, which you seem to do so well. I too was mystified by the last line until I looked it up. (I’m older than Andy but not as old as Roy. Which makes me pretty frickin’ old. I haven’t accepted ‘swiping’ as a significant behavioral activity yet. So that had me clueless at first.)
      Maybe the wife/girlfriend should be an English or History Major.
      She was both wave and particle. (I was a dangling participle.)
      As our relationship curved through spacetime… (I conjugated prepositional nouns before breakfast.)

      I don’t know. Just fooling around. Trying to entertain the zombies. Pay no attention to me, I’m going to go and get some Gatorade now. I’ll be back in a few days to see if anything happened.

      One thing, the description of her eyes. They could’ve been the color of cobalt, you know.
      Fun story. Very entertaining. (Deserved a fun comment.)

      • Roy York
        If such a thing is possible, in your reply to Tobie, you just might have outdone yourself. Just saying
        • Thanks Roy, that WAS pretty funny, wasn’t it? I may have found the perfect mixture of coffee and cough syrup.

          Just between you and me? I have a weakness for women who use physics terminology. So I was really trying to impress her. She used Schrodinger’s Equation in a story. I didn’t even know Schrodinger had an equation. (It takes a lot to admit that.)

          I’m kidding of course. About the weakness. I have no weaknesses. Okay I have weaknesses, but that’s not one of them. Just want to make sure everyone knows that.

          Not that anyone but you and Ilana ever reads my comments. And that’s why, and how, the three of us are going to take over the world. Ilana’s got this plan that involves goats, (naturally)… but I’ll let her fill you in on the details.

          We’ll be in touch. Keep checking this thread.

          • Roy York
            I thought Schrodinger had a friggin’ cat. No wonder I’m confused. But, yes, you, I and Ilana do manage to keep it going and somehow, I don’t know quite how, manage to keep it together. Lot of commas in that last sentence. I need to go to bed and get some rest. This takes so much out of me. why do commas make me tired? Anyone?
      • You win! Your response was a better flash than my original. Bravo! I laughed until I cried and I still have the cotter pin as a remembrance. I loved all of your suggestions and may someday use them when I edit this, right now I just needed a little creative break from the writing and editing of a novel I am working on, so maybe later I could expand it in to a short story? So to answer your questions, I only know a little of physics and most of it I forgot as quickly as possible, but I liked the idea of using physics as a metaphor. I read Dancing Wu Li Masters multiple times many years ago and I loved it! I’m sorry to disappoint you with the brevity, I likened this piece to an amuse-bouche. She could be either an English or History major, she was both a wave and a particle. And her eyes should have been cobalt.
        • Thanks Tobie,

          Glad you liked it. (Other than Roy I’m not sure anyone else did yet.)
          Thank God you have a good sense of humor. I hope you really got a good laugh and weren’t just flattering me.

          I was not familiar with the term ‘amuse-bouche’ so I learned something new. And, it’s a very funny expression. (If I know my French, which I don’t, it’s probably pronounced ‘ah-moo-boo; shay.) Luckily, I know some people who speak French and with a little arm-twisting I will get to the bottom of this ‘little joke of the taste bud.’

          I’m glad we agree on the eyes. Sometimes it’s not the color, it’s the sound of the color. (You were supposed to swoon at that.)
          See—now I’m (obviously) flirting with you, but you can’t take me seriously. Really, you can’t. I forbid it. (My wife really, really forbids it.)

          May we ask what you’re writing? Any dragons involved? Or is it all wolves and sex?

          I’m kidding. Based upon what you posted here on the site you could be working on anything. Anything at all.

          • I have not seen your entry yet so I’m really looking forward, you have set a high bar with your response. I’m not a flatterer, in fact I am known for my cutting critique ( and I have a weakness for alliteration haha)

            Amuse bouche is a complimentary small appetizer created and presented by the chef, often as an test or experiment of his newest creation. The French translation amuse is the same in English, bouche means mouth. So it literally means an amusement for the mouth. Words are my amuse bouche and I totally agree sometimes it’s the sound of the color.
            My novel is a YA fantasy (with dragons!) It is sometimes proving to be a challenge as this genre is not what I typically write- so fun-
            Are you writing anything long form or for publication?

        • Hey Tobes,

          I couldn’t reply to your comment there, so I’ll put it here. I finally posted a story that you can rip to shreds. (Have fun. Knock yerself out.)

          Yes I’m writing something long, too long. How was I to know that evolutionary science could be so complicated? It’s a short story that turned into a three novel trilogy and it’s been on the back burner for so long I’m not sure where the stove is.

          But it’s written, it just needs editing. Ruthless editing.

          I have a septic tank pumper truck driver in my book. (Clearly, that’s novel. But surprisingly, not much shit.) Apes, (Orangutans, actually.) A telepathic dog. Some macaques, chimps, a few people too. You know, to keep things interesting. A 1960 Lincoln Continental. An autistic millionaire. A couple of FBI agents. An animal testing facility. And water. Water plays a key role in my trilogy.

          Where was I? A sadistic bastard. (Pretty common.) An evil inhuman genius that also reads minds. (Less common.) It was very hard to outwit him. But I figured a way. Thank God, or I couldn’t have finished the books. A pervert, a kind woman. A Lear jet. An old farmhouse.
          Sounds boring doesn’t it? I know.

          No dragons though. Not one dragon. There’s no room for any dragons!

          I tried to visit your web page, or profile, or anything to get a sample of your work. But had no luck. Since you’re writing YA now, what do you usually write? (Please don’t tell me romance novels.) Unless it happens to be true. And even then… (I don’t read romance novels. What’s that? You can tell? Pfff.)

          • Your story sounds completely fascinating! I would love to read it.
    • Amy Meyer
      A light and breezy story which accomplished a lot in a tight word count. At the beginning I wondered whether it should say ‘I had spent…” rather than “I spent”. I thought the scene at the beginning was well brought to life, which I think was missing in some of the later summary.
      • Thanks so much for your critique. I do feel like the end could be fleshed out a bit more.
    • Phil Town
      Hi, Tobie … and welcome!
      This is a sparkling little story. Each bit feels really fresh – you certainly have a way with words! And I really love the twist in time that means the swipe (I had to look it up too! – and nor did I realise that ‘uber’ is now a verb!) comes after (but really before) the whole relationship … I think … ‘cos I’m a bit of a dummy where science is concerned, and as soon as you started on Schrödinger, you lost me, I’m afraid. Or at least you slowed my reading of the story down to a crawl as I tried to get my head round it. This is probably just me. Enjoyed it all the same, though, for the flourishes with the language.
      • Glad you enjoyed and I tried to keep the science light, I had hoped it would merely reflect his way of thinking without the reader needing a true understanding of the concepts themselves. Thanks for your critique!
    • Hey Tobie,
      In my attempts to be hilarious at every opportunity, I seemed to have overlooked something intriguing about your story. I was retelling the gist of it to a third party yesterday, and it occurred to me that your story is imaginary.

      I mean, completely imaginary from start to finish. Your story begins in the present tense, (seemingly) an account of the couple’s first meeting, which is relatively detailed, then moves to their first official date that night, which is a little less detailed. (Like the restaurant for example. We are told what it isn’t, but not what it actually is.)

      And then the story proceeds into a future presupposition of the relationship’s trajectory, which includes lovemaking and fingertips running along her spine, but once again (after that) becomes more theoretical than actual. (‘…a differential equation…’ ‘the wave-particle duality…’)

      Then moves on to a complete flight of anticipatory fancy, (I now presume) which includes her disappearance, their re-unification, ‘proposal, …wedding, …children and construction of’ their ‘first home.’

      The tip off is the word ‘cogent,’ a kind of argument, then the story finishes with the flourish of a ‘swipe right.’

      The ‘swipe right’ is the clincher that this entire story is not merely fictional, but completely imaginary, and takes place in the coffee shop before the narrator actually meets his dream girl. Or as he meets her.

      Much like the story of the man who, facing his own execution, imagines, with incredible detail, his miraculous escape, freedom and jubilant return to his loving wife in that final second before his actual death.

      This story, your story, is a (stay with me here) a technologically modern, reverse mirror image and happy riff on that theme. Am I right about this? Or completely wrong? (Did you know this? Was it intentional?) Are you a genius? Or what.

      Or am I just imagining that?

      • You are exactly right, and it was completely intentional, the entire story takes place in his head as he sees her picture on his phone and then at the end, after he envisions their happily ever after, he swipes right. It is completely imaginary, I am so sorry I failed to convey that, 🙁 . That was also the reason that the vision becomes less distinct as it fades into the future. In the beginning he is kind of doing a dress rehearsal in his head for the initial meeting and as it projects into the future the vision becomes less specific. Hope that makes sense?
  • Hi,

    “You’re a stunning girl. Let me be your lifelong friend. I’ll, no matter what happens henceforth, love you always.”
    As Tanushree is seated on the bridal cushion, dressed in a bright, blue Banarasi sari with the golden patterns embroidered all over, the sea of invitees keeps flowing in and out of the spacious bedroom. Someone comes forward, beaming. Tanu passes the gift on to her niece sitting on a chair behind.
    “Hi, Mami (aunt). Hope you haven’t forgotten me already. I’m Srija, remember? Uncle Bibek was just being modest when he told us that you’re pretty. You’re looking more stunning tonight, in your blue banarasi, than anyone I’ve seen.”
    The mention of Bibek’s name by the bubbly youngster brings memories of Tanu’s first encounter with Bivek at his house. She was completely taken aback by those sudden words of the strikingly handsome man, in his mid-thirties, when they were left alone by the members of both the families ‘to get to know one another better’. Bibek struck her as someone with an uncomplicated approach to life, when he said: “You’re a stunning girl. Let me be your lifelong friend. I’ll, no matter what happens henceforth, love you always.” The words have kept ringing in her mind since then.
    Amidst the soulful tune of the Shensi being played by the most famous band hired for the wedding, permeating the entire house, Baba sneaks a peek into the room to see how she was doing. Tanu, with those large eyes ,smiles back at him as her mind flashbacks again to the day Bivek met Baba for the first time ………
    Tanushree jerked her hand free from her sister’s playfully and sprang down the open staircase, looking up just to catch the blue of the overhead sky. It was a sparkling day full of love and the absolute joy of living. The very next moment, she barely managed to avoid colliding with the stranger, who had been the topic of discussion earlier with her sister in the bedroom. The man in his mid-thirties, immaculately dressed in a sky blue suit, looked dashing.
    This Tanushree Chaterjee was no pushover either. She was the heartthrob of her college. At 17, she had already made a name for herself as one of the most outstanding students pursuing honours in English Literature. Besides her stunning looks, she was the champion debater of the college. The best thing about her was how ignorant she was of her ravishing looks with those locks of curly hair over the cheeks adding more to her irresistible beauty.
    She caught the stranger in front staring at her and mumbled out a feeble apology. There were butterflies fluttering in her heart and she heard a voice hum within her:
    “You’re the one for me and the day isn’t far when you are gonna be mine.”
    The man, in the meantime, had recovered from the shock of the near collision. “It’s okay.” Next moment he was gone. Tanu, for that was what everybody called her, was barely able to get that dreamy look out of her face, when she was face to face with her father sitting across the table in his drawing room.
    “You’re just in time, Tanu Ma. You see the young man going out of the room just now? He is Bibek, an engineer entrusted with the job of building the first-ever metro in the city. An outstanding student, he comes from one of the most reputed families….”
    “Yes, I got that Baba. But why are you talking about him to me?” Tanushree feigned utter ignorance, though she wanted nothing more from her father than to continue talking about the stranger.
    “He saw you during the Inter-college Debate Championship where he, I reckon, was the Chief Guest.” Her father paused for a while while something flashed through Tanushree’s mind. Last summer when she represented her college for the Championship, at the end of the competition, having received her Best Debater’s Trophy, she was made to stand beside the Chief Guest for a photo shoot. So the man in the navy blue suit was none other this stranger! God! This world is a small village indeed!
    “The reason for talking to you about him, Tanu,’ she was brought out of her reverie by Nripesh Babu cutting into her thoughts.” is he came to our house today with a proposal. He’s been absolutely besotted with your brilliance since that day. It has taken him some time to find our address as he’s been kept busy with a series of meeting with the team of foreign advisers of late. He just called me last week for a visit.”
    “Baba!” she cut him short again with her pretentious innocence. “Have you gone out of your mind? Why are you talking to me about this stranger? What does all this have to do with ME?”
    “That’s what I’m coming to, my dear. He is so besotted with you. …that.” Nripesh Babu stopped here to steady his own voice.
    “That what, Baba?” Of course, she knew what was coming. Her sister, Anushree, sixteen years her elder, couldn’t stop teasing her with this man since they heard about his impending visit to her ancestral home.
    “Ah, Tanu Ma!” Nripesh Babu blurted out impatiently. “Don’t interrupt and listen to what I’ve to say. Bibek, for that is what the young man is called, came today with a marriage proposal for YOU!’
    “ME? Baba, I’m only a second year student! How could you let him broach the subject?”
    “He told me that he’d let you continue with your studies, if you want. His family doesn’t want a thing from us for the marriage. Their only condition is that the marriage should take place within this year. He’s leaving for the U.S.A by the year end.”The happiness in her father’s face, made Tanu break into a shy smile finally.
    “What did you tell him, Baba?” Tanu asked coyly.
    “I told him that I’d let him know your decision. But let me tell you something, Ma Tanu. He IS a promising man, if there ever was any..”
    The exchange of the look of happiness between the father and daughter settled the matter.
    Tanu had to borrow the blue georgette sari from her elder sister a week later, when she had to accompany father, Anushree and her husband to the groom’s house to confirm the marriage proposal. Smart as she was, she had already realized the man’s fondness for blue. The barrage of questions from her future in-laws, how one of the relatives suggested that they should be left alone and how she and Bivek, all of six feet, towering over her, coursed through her mind. But her fear proved unfounded when Bivek uttered those magical words.
    “How’re you doing, my child bride?’ Bivek appeared to whisper into her ear, in absolute tune with all the gaiety and merriment all around. “Let me tell you something I always wanted to. I knew from the day I set my eyes on you that you’re fated to be mine.” Tanushree eyes held his with his intense look as people below could be heard shouting for the bride to be taken to the nahabatkhana.

    (1199 words)

    • Roy York
      Best story I’ve seen from you, Rathin. Crisp writing for the most part. Only a few tense and plurality problems, but there is one line I think needs to be changed. It sounds clunky in English. It isn’t necessary to change it, but I think it will make it flow better.

      I’ll, no matter what happens henceforth, love you always.” It flows much better writing, ‘No matter what happens henceforth, I’ll love you always.’ I personally don’t think dialogue works like the original, but like the simple change I made. I seldom critique dialogue, because if that’s the way you want your character to talk, that’s fine. I just think it’s a little stilted.

      Otherwise, Rathin, my man. Good job, nice story. Having had several guests from India stay in my home, and discussing it with them, I still cannot get used to the idea of an arranged marriage But, I know that’s the way it works over there, and I liked the story, the description of the wedding, how they met, how things progressed and the way you wrote it. Good job. We’ll see how the voting goes. Maybe, you’re getting closer to that top rung you are trying to reach.

      • Dear Roy,
        Thanks for your encouragement. I’ve just finished reading Wedding Belle” and how I enjoyed it! Anyway, anything from you, like I said once, and I will do so always, means a lot to me. I could have told YOU about a recent mishap in the family but changed my mind.
        And I’ll also give this to you, man, that there is something very honest about you. I read Tobie’s and the concluding line intrigued me but I never bothered to look up ‘swipe up’ , though a notification from Google a tad later asked me if I wanted to ‘swipe’ with two accompanying pictures of what looked like boxes one on the Right and one on the Left with the words written on the top. I didn’t bother even then. I take Life easy, I guess ( keeping your advice in mind , I’ve brought ‘I guess’ at the back from the front of the sentence here). Before the reply gets too long to make any sense even to myself, here is wishing you Health and A Happy Weekend.
      • What a sizzler of a story, Roy! It will take me ages to write like the way you do it, man!
        I enjoyed reading most of your story and won’t be surprised if you find your way among the top three again. Let me, if I may, ask for a couple of clarifications though. I’ve read the story once and I’ll read it to brush up my English a couple of times more, but I didn’t find any act of borrowing in the story. If mother gave Marsha the gown, it couldn’t be some kind of borrowing, right? And one element of the prompt demands ‘something BORROWED’, remember? One more thing – I found Susan’s remark to Barbara – ‘It means, Ms.Nosy, that mom was picking Marsha around..before HER and dad got hitched up’, a bit irritating. But I guess that was written deliberately to convey an idea of the narrator’s family, their status or whatever.
        Anyway, right now as I try to wind up, the line that keeps jingling in my head is: Seems like our boyfriends can’t keep their peckers in their pants long enough to ask ‘Will you marry me’ first.” Lets me have an inkling into your tremendous sense of humour, something I lack desperately to make my life as well as that of others around me, colorful. Lead us to the horizon that you are destined to. Stay healthy and happy for our sake,Roy. My love and regards for you keep going up and up and up. Happy weekend.
        • Roy York
          Rathin, here’s the line I wrote: Mom and Marsha had altered Mom’s old wedding dress. I had to admit it looked nice. Mom told her that she was borrowing it, not keeping it; thinking ahead, I guess.

          If you look, you will see Mom said Marsha was only borrowing it, not keeping it: thinking ahead…remember, she has two other daughters who may need it. Marsha borrowed it.

          The line about Ms Nosy was that Mom and Dad had sex and had to get married, just like Marsha, was to convey that an entire line of family women conceived their children BEFORE they were married. Hope it didn’t irritate you too badly, I though it was funny. And, it’s very true in many families in the US if they will only admit it.

          Hope that clears things up.

          • Dear Roy,
            I’d to teach an absurd drama to my students till last year. One feature of the drama that I’d to teach them about in that connection is ‘the utter distrust of language as a means of communication’. I realize the feature better now because of the way we seem to be communicating with one another lately.
            I think I knew the meaning of the sentence all right. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that it kept jingling in my head. What I found irritating about the extraordinary line was the use of the word ‘HER’ (highlighted), where ‘she’ would have been more appropriate. But I know there are people who talk like that. What saddens me is that you seem to have so very little faith in me, dear friend.
            Forget about what this ignorant, impractical man might have written. Who gives two hoots to him?
            Take care and have a good day.
            • Roy York
              We seem to have a slight communications gap. I was simply pointing out that the ‘borrow’ aspect of the rules was fulfilled with that sentence. And, oh yes, one other thing. Her is the correct term. May sound strange to ears that speak another language, but trust me when I tell you that ‘her’ was absolutely correctly used in that sentence.

              I’m not an English teacher; just a fellow writer who attempts from time to time to critique a work with what I hope is constructive criticism, and it is hopefully never received as trying in some way to demean the other writer’s work. So, always take my criticism with a grain of salt, and feel free to reject it.

              In a recent critique you said something was the ‘icing on the pudding’. In America, the term is ‘icing on the cake’. And, it’s humorous when I hear sentences that are malaprops. A term that means a word incorrectly used which turns out to be funny. I also learned while in England that ‘pudding’ means dessert in general. Whereas in America, pudding is only pudding. A thick, sweet, creamy concoction with a cornstarch base. Yet is it is still considered a dessert. Just like cake, cookies, ice cream, fruit sorbets, and so on. I found your use of ‘icing on the pudding’ amusing because when I was first asked in England following a meal if I would like a ‘pudding’, and I answered yes, imagine this American’s surprise when they brought me a small bowl of cooked pears in a thick syrup. That’s when I learned that England and America are separated by a common language.

              You have a great day and always remember I am trying to give you tough love, I guess, because if I don’t point out the differences, then why are you writing your stories in an English speaking forum if not to improve your skills? I thought that was one of the reasons writers post on this site. To have others gently critique their work, although in the past we have had some rough critiques. When that happens, those who do so are reminded they are to do so constructively, not in a mean-spirited way. Hopefully, you accept this as constructive.

            • Roy York

              I misread what you said. Let me clear this up. I was wrong when I said ‘her’ was absolutely correct in that sentence. I was speaking of another sentence. ‘When her and dad got hitched up’ is incorrect grammatically. However, in dialogue, when your characters are speaking in the vernacular and with local colloquialisms, and no matter how incorrect it may sound, it’s the way they speak. I use a lot of that in my dialogue, because I can totally recall how my relatives all spoke when I grew up. All of them used words incorrectly. I would be doing a great disservice to my readers if I had country bumpkins speaking with correct grammar, when we all know that many people do not use grammar correctly much of the time.

              So, my friend, my apologies to you. You were correct when you said it was running around in your head as wrong. Sorry I misread what you were so eloquently trying to tell me.


              • Dear Roy,
                It’s 11.13. at night. I retired to bed early. Somehow woke up thinking it was the day breaking up with everything so very calm and quiet all around. I picked up my mobile and, out of habit, turned it on. There were these two letters from you, Roy, and didn’t I love your letters? You bet, I did.
                All these letters are little pieces of gems for me, Roy. Oh! How I wish I could copy-paste them in a folder or somewhere! You are not only an exceptionally competent writer but also a good friend and a great human being, to top it all. You are a BLESSING in my life. Keep correcting me and I love you for being what you are.
                Take care. My sincerest apologies if I spoiled your Sunday somehow. With warm regards,
    • Rathin, I found interesting contrasts between yours and Roy’s stories. Yours was achingly romantic. A modern and enlightened vision of a love-based Indian(?) marriage, and not even a dowry was exchanged.
      Personally, I liked that first opening line, and the fact that it was repeated. People frequently, or so I’ve been told, don’t always talk in the most sensible manner.
    • Phil Town
      Hi, Rathin
      This is a refreshingly happy ‘arranged-marriage’ story, when what we normally read about or see in films are ones that go badly. You get across really well the ‘love-at-first-sight’ aspect (on both sides). And I like the various references to the colour blue. I did get a little confused by the names and had to go back and figure out the connections. You have variations on some of the names – maybe you could have stuck to one for each, just for the sake of clarity, e.g. Nripesh Babu/Baba could be referred to simply as “Tanu’s father” (it would take a little colour away from the story, sure, but …). I agree with Roy and disagree with Ken about that sentence: “I’ll, no matter what happens henceforth, love you always.” Using either Roy’s version, or de-contracting “I’ll” (i.e. “I will”) would make it read more smoothly. Your story leaves a nice, warm feeling, though. It’s true love, after all.
    • Very lovely romantic story, your plot was clear and the dialogue was well done. I did feel the pace slowed a bit with the flashback and wondered if you couldn’t have just started there? Just curious. Great Job!
  • Roy York
    Wedding Belle
    1200 words

    To say my family is dysfunctional is an understatement. I could write volumes about exactly how dysfunctional, and perhaps one day I shall, but for now you will have to settle for a story about my oldest sister Marsha’s wedding.

    It all started at dinner one night when my nineteen year old sister Marsha, staring glumly at her plate, announced to no one in particular that she would be getting married.

    My father looked up from shoveling an extra large forkful of mashed potatoes into his mouth – Marsha’s timing was incredible – and said, while spitting out tiny bits of mashed potato, ‘Ofer my Deah Bobby’, but turned out to be, ‘Over my dead body’.

    After clearing his throat he refined his statement, and with a very red face, loudly roared, “You will not be getting married to anyone. PERIOD!.”

    “Well, Daddy – that’s why I’m getting married,” Marsha shot back.

    “What’s why you’re getting married?”


    “What about them?”

    “I’ve missed two of them.”

    My father had started to rise from his chair and like a balloon that had been popped, he deflated and sank back into his chair, looking for all the world like he was going to cry.

    My mother calmly placed her fork on her plate and said softly, “We’ll talk about this in a bit, but right now we are going to finish dinner. Then while Barbara and Susan clean up, we can discuss this like grown ups.”

    “Why do we have to clean up? We aren’t getting married,” chimed in Susan.

    “Do as your mother says.” My father then stood back up unsteadily. “I’m not hungry any more. I’m grabbing a beer and I’ll be watching the Cardinal’s game in the living room. If anyone wants to talk, that’s where I’ll be.”

    I looked over at Marsha, “Who are you going to marry, Marsh?”

    “Sammy Johnson,”

    Susan’s eyes got big. “That slick haired dude with the tattoos and the nose ring; who works over at The Quick Stop Cafe bussing tables?”

    My mother started to cry. She picked up her napkin and dabbed her eyes, then blew her nose in it and set it down on her plate. I tried not to think about having to clean that up with the dishes.

    Trying to gather herself, she turned to Marsha and said, “Are you sure, dear? Is it possible you’ve miscounted? You know you’ve had trouble with your period in the past.”

    “Oh, Mother, for God’s sake, give me some credit. Of course, I’m sure, and besides, the stick thingy turned blue.”

    “Oh dear,” my mother said. “That’s pretty definite. Well,” she said, with a forced smile, “Your father and I started our life that way and I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.”

    “What does that mean?” I asked. “You and Dad started that way.”

    “It means, Ms. Nosy, that Mom was packing Marsha around in her belly before her and Daddy got hitched up,” said Susan. “It runs in our family like a curse. We come from a long line of early first born children. Seems like our boyfriends can’t keep their peckers in their pants long enough to ask ‘Will you marry me?’ first.”

    Mom said, “That’ll be enough Susan. Now, clean up these dishes while Marsha and I go talk with your father. Barb, you help your sister. Then, the two of you go finish your homework.”

    “I don’t have any homework,”

    “Then do something else Barbara, after you two finish doing dishes. Now go!”

    I started collecting the dishes and told Susan she could pick up the snot rag Mom left on her plate. She made a face but picked up the plate, held it out in front of her, and carried it into the kitchen where I’m sure she dumped everything, including the plate, in the trash. There was a lot of food left, but everyone was pretty much done eating.

    There was so much yelling going on in the front room I decided to go to my room. Didn’t help though, I could still hear all the yelling. So could the whole block.

    Two weeks passed and on Saturday we were all getting ready for the ceremony. Mom and Marsha had altered Mom’s old wedding dress. I had to admit it looked nice. Mom told her that she was borrowing it, not keeping it; thinking ahead, I guess.

    Instead of invitations, the wedding and reception was announced on Facebook, and anyone wanting to come had to let Mom and Dad know by Wednesday afternoon.

    Knowing full well, that tongues would be wagging, Mom put a stop to all speculation regarding the sudden need for another girl in the Jensen family line to be married by also announcing that Aunt Louise had also planned a baby shower for Marsha at her house, two weeks from their wedding day, at 3:00 PM. It’s a boy, so bring boy things.

    Mom and Dad had secured the VFW dance hall for the reception, and had convinced Reverend Jacobson to perform the ceremony in his church even though we weren’t members of his flock. We weren’t members of anyone’s flock, but my father said “No daughter of mine is going to have a bastard child. The least my daughter can do is get married in a church.”

    So there we were, in church, waiting for the ceremony. Marsha looked pretty in Mom’s old gown, and the bouquet of wildflowers Susan had picked was actually quite nice, matching the blue headband Marsha wore.

    I helped pick it out at Lindemann’s Boutique and gave it to her as a gift. I told her it matched her eyes. I will always remember the look she gave me as she kissed me on my cheek. Must be something about weddings, ‘cause she was awful nice to me.

    After awhile, it got to be about a half hour past the time Marsha should have been saying her I do’s, but Sammy hadn’t shown up yet. I realized my father wasn’t standing by Marsha anymore, and Mom was as nervous as a virgin on Prom night.

    A few minutes later, my father came walking in holding Sammy Johnson by one arm, almost dragging him to the front of the church. He whispered something in his ear and then pulled back his coat. I thought I saw his long barreled .44 caliber pistol for a second.

    Daddy walked back by Marsha and took her arm. The wedding started and everything was just fine after that; went regular as clockwork. When the minister got to the part about anyone having reason to stop the wedding my Dad stood up and looked around as if daring anyone to say something. It was so quiet you could have heard a wink.

    I was sitting next to Mom when Dad sat down. She leaned over and whispered, “How did you know where to find him?”

    My dad chuckled and said, “I knew where to look. He was behind the old mill, where your daddy found me the day you and I got married.” She smiled, squeezed his hand and turned to watch the oldest of her three daughters get married.

    • Roy
      A wonderfully irreverent idea for a wedding story, Roy. I think it was a love story too, but I’m not sure you conveyed that. (or didn’t try to.)
      I also thought the writing was excellent right up to the reveal sentence which could have been a little more refined. It didn’t go down quite right in my opinion. And it’s dialogue, so, it has to have that little bit of whatever the hell it is that makes dialogue sound real. Presumption of information by the principals? As writers we (usually) presume that the characters know more than the readers. Unless he’s never told the story before, then his wife already knows where his daddy found him.

      My dad chuckled and said, “I knew where to look.”
      “And where was that?”
      “The same place I was hiding when your daddy dragged my ass to the alter, sweetheart.”
      “Behind the old mill,” she said.
      He squeezed her hand as he turned to watch their oldest daughter take her sacred vows.”

      Something like that. Some spin on an already funny, irreverent ending.
      If you disagree that’s fine. You can even ignore me. But don’t be hurt, because if you think I care about your feelings you are incredibly mistaken.
      I re-wrote my story at least ten times, Roy. (I printed it out four times not including the final version, so that means I thought it was done at least five times. And I know I revised it at least five times without printing it. PLUS, I still saw one other thing I wanted to change even after I posted it on the goddamned thread! Apparently that’s what I have to do to produce a story that doesn’t suck. And no doubt, some people will still think it sucks. And they may be right!
      Other people are different no doubt. (Philip tells me he dictates his into his phone on the way to the golf course, in his Jaguar, and then just hits ‘send.’ Can you believe that?)

      ** I should pause here and confess to everyone that I haven’t had a cigarette in almost three weeks. How can you people STAND IT?!!! It’s a good thing I have other drugs. Don’t you all want to smoke? Doesn’t everybody? Jesus. (That’s a Mexican I know. Whenever I get upset I think of him. I don’t know why.) It’s a miracle I haven’t killed anyone yet!
      (Just kidding folks. Just kidding.)
      Where was I?


    • Amy Meyer
      A great story with engaging funny details. I loved the tense scene over the dinner table. And the funny details really made me laugh, like the Dad as a the deflating balloon. The ending tied things off really neatly.
    • Phil Town
      Hi, Roy
      I loved this – it really made me smile bigly (…) and then LOL at the end. The realistic characters and relationships are very well observed. I love how the mother tries to ‘carry on regardless’ after the bombshell. The dialogues are really well done. This is a great line – very awkward because the father’s flustered: “What’s why you’re getting married?” The ending is very good (but I maybe agree with Ken about polishing it a bit). A couple of minor observations: “…shoveling an extra-large forkful of FOOD into his mouth […] and said, while spitting out tiny bits of mashed potato …” (to avoid repetition of ‘mashed potato’); you can’t ‘roar’ in any way other than loudly, I don’t think; “Cardinals’ ”. Immensely enjoyable, this.
      • Roy York
        Good points Phil, really good. I always like your critiques. Short, to the point and almost always 100% correct. I occasionally disagree, but hardly ever and I certainly can’t in this case. Thanks.
    • Maybe I’m just weird but my favorite part was the facebook wedding invites, I laughed out loud. Other than that I agree with the other comments. The dialogue seemed realistic but the only thing I missed was some type of emotion from the narrator. Since this was first person, I guess I expected a bit more insight into what was going on in her head. This was my favorite line of hers– ‘I helped pick it out at Lindemann’s Boutique and gave it to her as a gift. I told her it matched her eyes. I will always remember the look she gave me as she kissed me on my cheek. Must be something about weddings, ‘cause she was awful nice to me.”
      • Roy York
        Tobie, thanks for your comments and suggestions. Anyway, stick around for awhile and amaze us with your writing prowess.

        I wanted the narrator to be a young girl who hadn’t formed a whole lot of opinions about things such as weddings yet, as she is still learning about the whole dysfunctional family thing. But, I thought she was emotional over the mom using her napkin as a kleenex, and getting her sister something nice for the wedding. You really liked that line, and so did I as I wrote it. And, I’m a guy. At that point in the story she wasn’t Barbara, she was Randy and I changed her gender before the final rewrite thinking it would add something to the line about her mother telling her oldest sister she was borrowing it, not getting it as a gift. Thinking ahead I guess was the follow up line, which was the young girl thinking that she and Susan may both need it altered in the near future for the same quick wedding reason.

        I thought putting the wedding invitations on facebook is just about as dysfunctional as you can get. Then, after I wrote the story, I found out that it happens a lot more than one would think. Which is really discouraging.

        I don’t know how true it is, but there was something on facebook recently about a bride who gave each of the wedding invitees a $ amount to pledge so she could have a blow out wedding and honeymoon. When people said ‘No way!’ bridezilla called off the wedding.

  • Story seems interesting. ” Your father and I started our life that way and I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.” This is the key line i think.
  • robtemmett

    Babe 1956


    “Damn, Mickey, don’t ever sneak up on me like that again.” He’d scared the liver outta me because I’d been concentrating on getting all the hose clamps on all the fuel lines angled exactly the same.

    “Sure pal. So, this is the big secret,” he said as he eyeballed my engine. “Four 97 carbs, inline, and sitting on the most butchered Edelbrock manifold I’ve ever laid my eyes on, bar none.”

    “Yeah, I did it so each carb throat feeds a cylinder.”

    “What’s the rest of the stuff that’s not showing?”

    “This ‘49 V8 Caddy block started life with 331 cubes. I punched it out sixty-thousand. The tranny is a 1939 La Salle 3-speed, which is not here. Nor is the rear end with a set of 4.11 gears. The paint shop has the tires that fasten the torque to the tarmac. The only piece I have here is the engine. And know that you know, keep your mouth shut or no one will ever find your body, got that?”

    “My lips sealed.” He lifted an index finger to his lips, “Mum’s the word to everyone.” Pointing at the engine, “So that’s why you’re number one at the outlaw strip.”


    “You going to race anymore now that you’re top o’ the heap?”

    “No, I’m going to paint it some sorta blue and retire. Retire that is unless I hear of a faster car, or there’s serious money that needs pickin’ up … by me.”

    Mickey looked around, “So where is the rest of the car?”

    “It’s in the body shop owned by Slick’s girlfriend’s dad. All I have is the engine and I have to get it ready to mate it back with the tranny. Slick said he’d bring it early tomorrow. That’s why I’m working this late to get the engine ready.”

    “How many times did you run at Highway B?”

    “Twice … in one night. My time was so fast I had do-overs. Five guys timed me on the second run and averaged it. Then I pulled the rear gears to change the ratio for better gas mileage and haven’t raced since.”

    “If I tried to build something like that,” he pointed at the engine, “ma would box my ears.”

    “Speaking of ears, thanks for keeping Kat out of mine last night.”

    “And Carter took care of Ely for you. It was a good bonfire. Everyone there seemed to have a good time. Even Kenny behaved. You going to date Ann again?”

    “Don’t know, why?”

    Mickey shrugged, “Just asking, that’s all.”

    I knew why. He was sweet on her. I also knew he wouldn’t cross me and date her. I shrugged, “To your, question, no?”

    His face brightened. “Ah, you mind if I….”

    “Go for it. And before you ask, I’ll tell ya why. She hates drag racing. Last night she and I were doing just fine until Kenny mentioned my car and Highway B. That was it. She shut-down like she’d thrown a rod!”

    “I gotta run. If I don’t cut Miller’s grass, I’ll have no money.”

    “No money to take Ann on a date?”

    He shot me a Cheshire-cat grin and disappeared out the garage’s open doorway, whistling.

    Slick, the smart-ass that he is, said he’d deliver my car two hours before the summer solstice sunrise. It was chilly, it was dark, and I waited.

    At the sound of grinding gears, I looked to the far end of the alley. The darkened silhouette eased around the corner. The brakes squealed and the wrecker stopped in front of my two-car garage. Slicked jumped to the ground.

    “Here ya go, Rob, as promised. The new Cobalt blue paint job is just what this ’34 Ford Vicky needs to make the statement ya wanna make.”

    “Thanks, Slick, but why at this time of night?”

    “Cops. Don’t need ta get busted for illegally towin’ your car.”

    “Are you going to hang around and give me a hand?”

    “Yeah, for a bit, ‘n then I gotta get back to work or her old man’ll have my ass.”

    “Good, help me roll this thing into the garage.”

    “Which side?”

    “Over the oil pit, that way I can stand up rather than laying on my back on a creeper.”

    “You gotta oil pit? That’s dangerous, man. Haven’t you heard carbon mox’ll kill ya without ya knowen it, man?”

    “I know carbon monoxide is heavy and will settle in a pit. My garage’s built on a hill and has a basement. I put a large vent at the bottom of the pit when I dug it.”

    “Okay, that’ll work.”

    We rolled the coupe over the pit and blocked the wheels so it wouldn’t move. In the pit, I blocked up the tranny to where I thought it should be. Back out of the pit, I asked Slick about a clutch alignment tool. “You have one with?”

    “Thought ya’d never ask.”

    He got it from his truck. Returning, “A very handy tool when ya need one,” he said slapping it into my hand. “You have a real tranny jack?”

    I didn’t, but I hoped that blocking it would be good enough.

    He explained that a good tranny jack lets you tip the tranny forward and backward in case you’re not pointing straight into the pilot bearing.

    “I assume ya installed a new pilot bushing.”

    I gave him my best up your dumb ass look.

    We rolled the engine cradle from the dark corner of my garage next to the car and hoisted the engine over the car. I went into the pit. Slick would work from the top. He put two long headless bolts into the top holes on the engine. They were the same size as those from the T-case and they’d guide the bell housing home. He lowered the engine and eased the bell housing onto the bolts. Using the alignment tool, Slick lined up the new pilot bushing and hooked up the clutch link. The engine slid back. The gap between the tranny’s bell housing and the back of the engine narrowed. It stopped short of mating.

    “What’s your problem?” He asked.

    “My problem, your problem,” I said. “Do something to make them mate, will ya.”

    “I could try pouring some beer into the tranny.”

    “Slick are you outta your mind?”

    “It seems to work for college girls … or so I’ve heard.”

    He slid the engine forward, did something, slid the engine backward, and the gap between the bell housing and the engine disappeared.

    At dusk, I pulled into her driveway and shut the car down. She answered the door on my first knock. She looked glad to see me as she turned and asked her father if she could go out for an hour.

    At the burger place on 17th, I sorta pigged out by ordering double of everything; I hadn’t eaten all day. It took all day to tweak all the little things.

    She, on the other hand, just had a Coke, a burger, and a small order of fries. Dusting the corner of her lips with a McD napkin, she remarked, “I like the color.”

    “I think it’s a fitting color.”

    • Robt.
      This is a fine story that takes you back to a different era. You give us just the right amount of automotive vernacular to inform without confusing us and the connection between the engine and the tranny is the wedding, apparently. (I suppose some would say it was symbolic?)

      This is a great story because it’s mostly dialogue. But it has a few rough spots. Like: “It’s in the body shop owned by Slick’s girlfriend’s dad.” That sounds like a writer trying to use dialogue to convey information. I don’t care which body shop it’s in. Not important.
      And here:
      “I shrugged, “To your, question, no?”
      Shouldn’t it be: “To your question? No.”
      “knowen it” instead of “…knowin’ it.”
      There were a few errors like ‘Know that you know,’ instead of “Now that you know…” ‘My lips sealed.’ Instead of: ‘My lips are sealed.’

      Still, it’s an engaging story that seems to take you back in time, even though, the only reference to time is in the title. Nice job.

      • robtemmett
        Thanks for the corrections. Which proves – comb the writing another time or two for the last few errors.
        It is a story from “back in the day.” It’s my second car and the description is wish fulfillment, not reality.
        Thanks again, Ken, for your help.
    • Roy York
      Liking your stuff more and more, Robt. Good story and one I could follow easily having actually lived through many of those same scenes with various friends of mine while working on our cars getting ready to make a run against some local yokel who slaps a $50 on his hood taking any and all comers. I agree with Ken regarding the details he mentioned, adn a few others, but gotta tell ya, if you don’t end up higher than last week, I will be disappointed.
      • robtemmett
        Thanks for the compliment, Roy. There’s not that many of us left that did things to cars without an instruction book. Back in the day, trial and error was the rule. Most time it worked out. Now and then bad happened, like the ’49 Merc flathead I had that spit parts into three neighbor’s yards and a bit of cast iron through mom’s kitchen window. I was too old to have to eat at the breadboard, but I used a whole jar of BlisterX on my ears.
        • Roy York
          You are welcome Robt. I’ve always liked your storyline, but you’ve improved your flow and structure admirably. Keep it up.

          My first car was a ’49 Lincoln in mint shape, that I bought for $50 in 1959.

          Interesting story. It belonged to a kid who got killed in Korea and his father put it up on blocks and it sat there for almost 7 years. My dad worked with his father and took him home one night and asked about the car telling him his kid was looking for one. The guy got tears in his eyes as he told the story and turned to my dad and said, “It’s time I got rid of that. All it does is remind me of Tim. Gimme $50 and it’s yours.”

          We picked it up the next day. My dad poured a little gas in the carb, hot shot it with his battery and it started up almost immediately. I bought a new battery for it and drove it to school for the next two years. And, of course, cruised the streets of Kansas City trolling for chicks. It was midnight blue and had power everything, including seats and an automatic transmission that looked just like the ones today, except it was on the steering column. You know, R, N, D, 2, 1. Great car, finally sold it for $500 bucks when I joined the Navy.

          Ah yes, I reminisce. The good old days.

          • robtemmett
            Glad to have sparked such a good old memory, Roy.
    • Amy Meyer
      A well written story with good dialogue. Personally I found the technical stuff a bit much for my interest. I found the comment about the college girls pretty off putting. Overall it’s a well written story.
      • robtemmett
        Thank you Amy. About the remark from back in the day about college girls, I could apologize …
    • Phil Town
      Hi, Robert
      I can see that this is well written – you have all the vocabulary of automotive tuning down to a T, it seems, and it flows out very confidently and comfortably. There’s a certain music to the descriptions, too. However (and this is definitely just me obviously, given what Roy and Ken have said), I was lost as to meaning. I haven’t got a clue what most of that technical stuff is (could there have been less?), and cars in general leave me completely cold. Does this make me a bad person? I don’t think so – just not the type of person that would be the target audience for this. The really nicely-done last paragraph is my type of thing: simple, two people, subtext.
      • robtemmett
        Phil, we all have different talents, interests etc. What if we were all the same – booorrring.
        Thanks for the comment. As to less techy stuff, in the original version it was much, much longer [for the gear-heads]. This is the basics – engine, tranny, rear end.
  • Lovely pacing and great description, but I am confused and saddened by his killing of the girl.
  • Phil Town

    “I … must … keep … going.”

    The man picked himself up from the mud and forced one foot in front of the other. The rain lashed his face, causing him to squint at the dull grey road before him. He trudged on, the love in his heart fuelling his spent legs.


    The ancient castle, emerald green with moss, was a hive of activity. Squires and handmaidens rushed back and forth carrying food, wine, plates and goblets to the great hall. The guests stood in the courtyard under the deluge of rain, soaked to the skin but too fearful to complain. From the battlements, a dozen buglers sounded a fanfare. The ceremony was about to begin.


    The road curved around a rocky outcrop and there in the distance, a league or so away still, loomed the castle, its exquisite emerald walls belying the evil that dwelt there. His destination now within sight, the man found new energy; he imagined his feet to be skimming over the mud. Perhaps he would yet be in time.


    The great hall, buzzing moments earlier with excited conversation, was reduced to a hush almost instantaneously with the entrance of the king. His size was imposing, his bearing regal, his eyes a murderous bright blue. He reached the throne and whirled round, the scarlet velvet cloak whirling with him. He glared at his subjects with a hatred born of superiority and suspicion.

    “Be seated,” he whispered, and it was like a booming shout. Next to him the bishop trembled, both through fear of his worldly monarch and of his higher king, who would most certainly be looking down and condemning the travesty that was about to take place.


    The guards were looking inwards through the main gate, distracted by events in the courtyard and at the side doors of the great hall, where guests were pausing and shoving to get in. One of them had leaned his crossbow against the gateway wall. The man saw his chance and slipped through, under the portcullis, grabbing the crossbow as he passed. The first step of his plan was easier than he’d imagined.


    On the king’s signal, buglers inside the great hall blew another fanfare. The heavy wooden doors at the back of the hall creaked open and the light burst in. It was not the light from the sun or from any chandelier or candles but from the young girl who stood there, all in virginal white, her long hair golden and glowing. The tears on her face were like tiny diamonds. The guards either side of her gave her a shove and she began her unsteady walk towards the king, his lips curled into a ghastly grin.


    The man made a quick analysis of the situation and saw that it would be impossible to enter the great hall through the side doors – they were still crammed with people. He scanned the courtyard, his eye settling on some steps that led to the ramparts. He splashed his way there and took them two at a time, the fatigue from his long journey forgotten momentarily.


    The young girl reached the king, towering over her. He grasped her hand, making her wince with pain and disgust. The king turned to the bishop.

    “Get on with it,” he said, in the same deathly whisper as before. With shaking fingers, the bishop opened the holy book and croaked:

    “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today …”


    One of the walls of the great hall adjoined the battlements. The man crept along the ramparts to an open window and, looking down, he saw them, standing together in front of the bishop – the young girl in her brilliant-white dress, the king in his blood-red cloak, his piercing blue eyes violating her tiny form. The man lifted the crossbow to his shoulder and took aim.


    “And do you, Your Majesty,” the bishop was hoarse with shame, “take this young –“

    He stopped, dropping the holy book. A crossbow bolt had whistled past his ear and pierced the heart of the young girl. She staggered, took a step back and crumpled to the floor, the bolt surrounded by a slowly spreading crimson stain.

    “For my daughter!” came a shout from above. All shocked eyes lifted to see the silhouette of the man against the angry sky.

    The king raised his gloved hand.

    “Seize him!”

    This time it was not a whisper but a full-throated cry of fury.

    The guests, some crying, some screaming, rushed for the doors. The guards sought to get out ahead of them to apprehend the perpetrator. But they all stopped and looked up again upon the man’s next words.

    “And this is for my daughter also!”

    The man stretched out his arms and stepped through the window, meeting the cold stone slabs of the great hall moments later.

    The king hesitated then swept out of the hall from whence had entered the bride-to-be, his face a mask of frustration and – this would have pleased the man – bitter defeat and humiliation.


    • Philip,

      Philip, what are you doing? This story is beautiful and brilliant. (Are you trying to teach me how to write?) If I wasn’t so impressed I’d be insulted. That’s how good this writing is.
      In fact, I’m not even talking to you at this point, I’m talking to the rest of us. Look at this guy’s writing people!
      ‘The ancient castle…’
      ‘The road curved…’
      ‘The great hall…’
      ‘The guards were looking inwards…’
      ‘On the king’s signal…’
      ‘The man made a quick analysis…’
      ‘The young girl reached the king…’
      ‘One of the walls of the great hall…’

      These are the beginnings of his paragraphs. Jesus, Mary et. al. Son of a bitch. The first three to five words in each paragraph pull you into the story, paragraph by paragraph. I think this is really brilliant writing, because it’s so effective.

      Okay, so everybody that was good in the story died. So what? Who cares? The writing is so good I don’t care. He could’ve killed more people as far as I’m concerned. He could’ve killed off half the Royal Court and I would not have objected.
      Philip, I think this is exemplary writing. And, an excellent story.
      (Please don’t run for political office.)

      • robtemmett
        It’s all in the little details. The average person doesen’t see them, doesn’t write them – a writer does.
      • Phil Town
        Thanks, Ken – you’re too kind. I mean you really are TOO kind. But it’s nice to get a bit of praise now and then. Not sure why I shouldn’t run for political office. I think I could probably do a better job than the shower in charge in Britain at the moment …
    • Phil, I read your story almost s week ago. Refrained from commenting though. Wanted to see how it would read after a week or so. I’ve to give it to you, Phil, the story reads as good as the first read or even better.
      This is one of your stories without much of dialogue. At the end, I felt sad, saddened by the fact that the man could have easily spared his daughter and gone after the King instead. To me, it seemed like justice was not meted out. The man jumping off the window also left me dissatisfied. Such a heroic figure shouldn’t have died like the way he had. His end could have been more romantic and less cowardly or ghastly.
      That doesn’t take the credit away from you. Your writing prowess, individuality and uniqueness cut you out from others. Keep writing. All the best.
      • Phil Town
        Thanks very much, Rathin. I can see how you might be disappointed by the ending, but I think having the man shoot the king might have been the wrong idea for two reasons: i) it would have been a bit of a cliché perhaps; ii) the man and the girl would have been left behind, and may well have been tortured and executed in an appalling way. And who knows, the very public death of the girl and the man may be the beginning of the end for the king … (?)
      • Raffin,
        Your story is about love, a happy wedding. Philip’s story is about justice and honor. The ultimate arranged wedding, a medieval one. The justice lies in the fact that the wedding was foiled.
    • Roy York
      Phil, no need to recount the number of wonderful, descriptive sentences you wrote, but it started so well and picked up from there.

      The rain lashed his face, causing him to squint at the dull grey road before him. He trudged on, the love in his heart fuelling his spent legs.

      Loved these two lines and it painted a picture for me. So, thank you, for that.

      The only thing about your story and I have to agree with Amy on this one, is why kill his daughter, when he could have done a service to the entire country and gotten rid of a lecherous old pedophile and evil man all in one well aimed bolt? He could have still made the same fall to his own death. Of course, there is the fact she would probably have died shortly after, no doubt, horribly and he did save her that fate, but as an author I totally understand killing her off. I may have done the same at that point.

      Loved the story.

      • Phil Town
        Thanks very much, Roy! I can see the point about the shooting, but killing the king would have been too easy I think (from a narrative aspect, and see my note to Rathin above) … but by the end of your comment you seem to come round to my way of thinking anyway … 😉
    • Amy Meyer
      Don’t kill the bride! I agree with the others that it would have made more sense for the king to die.
      I thought it was interesting that we never learnt the name of ‘the man’. It could have been more emotionally engaging with more characterisation of the man.
      I liked the structure that flips back and forth between the man and the wedding. What a fun, well written story.
      • Phil Town
        Thanks, Amy! You may be right re the names, but as it is, the man becomes ‘Everyman’, the father protecting (to the utmost degree!) the honour of his daughter (also not named). See above for comments on why it’s the girl that get killed …
  • Victor Ostrovsky
    Corrected version

    In the corner of the grand hall, Giovanni Viotti, the queen’s favorite musician, practiced “La Campanella” a new piece by Paganini. The upbeat notes rolled effortlessly off the master’s violin filled the air. It was to be the wedding march for Pascal and Jacques’ wedding.
    When the renowned Parisian baker rolled in the wedding cake, Marie was speechless. The five-tier white marzipan tower was magnificent. The morning sun poured in, cheerfully bouncing off the cake’s delicate powder blue Fleur-de-lis, and gilded rebounds.
    “Denis,” Marie Antoinette said. “It’s a true masterpiece, you have outdone yourself.”
    “Mercy, your highness.” He answered humbly with a modest bow.
    She circled it staring at the subtle details when she noticed he had scribed instead of Pascal and Jacques it read Pascal and Jacqueline.
    “Oh Denis,” there was a slight hesitation in her tone. “It’s Jacques, not Jacqueline.”
    “But that’s a man’s name? Your Highness. There must be a mistake, they cannot both be men?!” He chuckled. “It’s a gateau de marriage.”
    “Yes, Denis, and it’s Pascal and Jacques who are getting married.”
    “That is imposible.” The baker said raising his voice.
    The music ceased, Geovani looked across the room surprised at the loud sound coming from the fat little fellow in a chef’s white cap.
    The guards who stood by the door moved in closer.
    “It’s a sin your majesty.” he was growing louder, raising his hands to the heavens. “A sin against God,” clasping his hands as if in prayer. “In both old and the new testaments.”
    “Enough,” Marie warned. “You had your say,” the blood rushed to her head, she fumed at the insolence of the little man. “Correct the name and go fetch the heart-shaped bread loaves I requested.”
    The small man raised his chin in defiance. “I will not be a part to this, your highness.” His voice trembling in anger.
    “You dare defy your queen?” She tightened her fists, the guards now stood on both sides of the Denis, ready to unsheathe their swords and slay any threat to their Dauphine.
    “Take him away,” she cried in anger. “Lock him up.”
    The little man suddenly realized what he had done, dropping to his knees he’s voice shuddered. “Please your highness, no, please.” He pleaded.
    “Take him away,” she shouted. “Now”
    The guards grabbed him by his armpits and dragged him away screaming and begging for mercy.
    “That bastard will never bake another cake,” she muttered.
    She stood for a moment in front of the majestic cake. She then took a deep breath, ran her hands over her dress, smiled to herself and signaled Giovani to play again.
    The upbeat sounds of Paganini’s concerto filled the air again as she walked out, joined by her femme de manage at the door. “When are the flowers coming?” She all but whispered.
    “They are here my Lady, Rafael, is working on the arrangements. The chef is ready for your tasting, and the seamstress asked if she could bring the dress to your chambers for one last fitting?”
    Marie paused for a minute and glanced at her maid. “Why can’t everybody be like her?” she thought. “Don’t forget I need a nap as well.”
    “Yes, your highness.”
    The sun was setting over the Seine river, tinting the Tuileries Palace rising from its left bank with a warm orange haze.
    By the time the guests started to arrive, Marie had all but forgotten the incident with the baker.
    “You are late.” She beamed at the two handsome men who entered to the applause of the gathered court. “to your own wedding no less.”
    “Our apologies your highness.” They were catching their breath as they spoke. “We had to borrow a carriage, then we were forced to take the long route.”
    “The long route?” She sounded puzzled.
    Almost all the roads by the Bastille are blocked by an angry mob. They carry torches and sticks and are chanting, ‘free the baker,’ ‘lock her up.’ Do you have any idea your grace, what that’s about?”
    “long story,” She snapped, making it clear this was not a subject she wished to speak of.
    “Praise you again for hosting our wedding,” the two said as they took a deep flamboyant bow waving their feathered hats in a broad gesture of adoration. They then kissed the ring on her outstretched hand.
    “You are genuinely a maverick,” Pascal, the taller of the two added. “Blazing a modern trail for France, making our country a beacon of light on to others.”
    “I truly believe,” Jacques said, “you will forever be revered as the queen who led a revolution. A French revolution.”
    “Thank you, it’s all for love,” she said trying to sound humble. “And flattery is what I love most.”
    The three laughed. “Unfortunately,” Marie said, “we will not have bread with our dinner tonight.”
    The two men raised their brows. “What will you do?”
    She shrugged with a giggle, “If they do not have bread” she gestured to the marzipan tower. “let them eat cake.”

    • I want to be he first to congratulate you, Victor, for”The Glory of France”. Initially, I had a problem relating the content to the title. But by the time I came down to “we will not have bread with our dinner tonight”, and the subsequent question ” What will you do?”, from the couple-to-be – History was giggling out the epic concluding liner in my mind:
      “Let them eat cake.”
      Great job, Buddy. Let me also tell you something, in this context, if I had the power to select the winning story based on its sheer class and merit, I’d have chosen yours straight away. The theme, the language, the setting, the dialogue, not to forget the characterization of Mary, everything is a treat! One of the most subtle stories I’ve read in years. Congrats and all the best wishes
    • Victor,
      Welcome to the group. Or, as Rathin would say, ‘Welcome back.’

      Corrected version


      What’s wrong with this ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, picture?

      Victor, don’t bring me down man. Did you see my previous note about quitting smoking? You’re on dangerous ground here in just your first two sentences.

      I love France. (Although they just called and said they wanted their statue back. But who can blame them?)

      The thing is, you don’t need to capitalize every letter in the title, Victor. (Especially if you’re going to misspell it. That’s rule 52. Straight from the book. I did not make that up.)

      Other than that, this is an interesting twist on a historical account. The irony left me a little puzzled as to what to extrapolate. And so I didn’t. (And therefore I felt deprived of my right to extrapolate.)

    • Amy Meyer
      A fun story with good tension and conflict. Some of the dialogue came across as a bit stilted. And I thought you over-explained some of the dialogue too. For example, ‘ “I will not be a part to this, your highness.” His voice trembling in anger. ‘ . It would work better to show us that he’s angry through the dialogue or gestures, than to tell us he’s angry.
      I liked your poke at history at the end, it wrapped everything up neatly.
    • Phil Town
      Hi, Victor … and welcome!
      This is a nice, light story, very briskly told. I like the fact of the gay wedding, and that the baker gets his comeuppance for being such a party-pooper. Marie is well drawn – vicious with the baker, nice as pie … er … cake with the couple. And all leading to a very neat re-imagining of the famous “Let them eat cake!” (which Marie Antoinette never actually said apparently, or so my 30 seconds of Google research tells me).
  • Amy Meyer
    by Amy Meyer (1,000 words)

    Elias watched the fires flare up in one part of the dark snowy mountainside, then extinguish and relight in another, like the twinkling of stars. He felt a thrill of anticipation. She was coming. He tweaked the position of the engagement ring in it’s blue-ribboned box. He adjusted his coat, patted down his hair, and took a deep steadying breath.

    He edged out of the doorway, trying to stop any of the huskies following him, but Lykke slipped through. As he crunched down the gentle slope to the clearing in front of his cabin, he turned around and saw another three huskies, following but keeping their distance. Lykke nudged his hand and whined. The dogs didn’t like Fire Travellers.

    The night air was cold and calm. With a whooshing sound, a circle of fire appeared in the clearing with a shadowy figure at it’s centre. Elias had seen her arrive many times before, but even so he stumbled back. He recovered himself, grinned and bounded forward until he couldn’t get any closer to the burning ring. Ruby reached her pale white hand through the wall of fire and he clasped it. At her touch, the baking heat dulled to a pleasant warmth, and he stepped through the wall of flames.

    They embraced in the centre of the circle, their hands still touching to protect Elias from the heat. They sat down together, cross-legged in the centre of the fire-circle.
    “I’m so happy to see you. Thanks for coming,” he said, squeezing her hand.
    “You said it was important,” she said.

    “It is. I have something I want to say to you,” he took a deep breath. “Ever since the first time I saw you I’ve known you were the most extraordinary girl I’d ever met and that we were supposed to—”
    “Elias, stop,”
    “— Supposed to be together,” he continued.
    “Elias, please,” she begged.
    “I need to say this,” he said, not sure that if he stopped he’d be able to restart. “The last year we’ve been together has been so precious and I want you to be part of the rest of my life. Will you marry me?” He pulled the blue-ribboned box from his coat pocket and opened it to reveal a ring set with a red stone that caught the fire-light.

    “Oh Elias,” she said, sighing. “You don’t know what your asking. What you’d be signing up for. To marry me you’d have to become a Fire Traveller. I can’t let you do that.”
    “I’ve read all the books I could find about Fire Travellers. I know what it would cost me. It’d be worth it to be with you,” he said.
    “Do you? I don’t think you understand the danger of this life.” She flicked her fingers and the surrounding fire burned fiercer and brighter. Sweat trickled down Ellias’s back, but he tried not to show a reaction.
    “If you don’t keep constant control you get burnt,” she pulled back her sleeve to reveal the red burns scored into her skin. “Is this really what you want?”
    “I can handle it,” he said.
    “In the Fire Traveller wedding ceremony, they burn off your fingerprints. Can you imagine how painful that is?”
    “I’ll do whatever it takes. You don’t understand how serious I am,” He held up the ring. “It was my mother’s engagement ring. I had the stone re-set as a ruby.”
    He watched Ruby’s eyes swum with tears and squeezed her hand.

    “What about the dogs?” she asked.
    Elias looked away. He looked across the fire to Lykke, who sat outside of the fire circle watching him. The darkness winked with the eyes of the other dogs.
    “You won’t be able to take them with you. They’re your friends, your business. Travelling by fire and sled-dogs are not compatible.”
    “You think I just decided I wanted to give up everything and travel with you on a whim? I’ve thought about everything. I’ve got a friend in the next village who’re willing to take them in.”
    “But you love those dogs. No. I can’t be the cause of so much pain.” She stood up, pulling Elias up with her.
    Outside of the fire circle, the dogs growled.
    “I care about you, and I won’t let you do this for me. You’ll end up bitter and resenting me,” she said.
    “I’m prepared to do anything. Look!” He grabbed his hand back from Ruby. The heat of the fire overwhelmed him for a split second, then he plunged it into the flames.

    “No!” Ruby called, trying to grab Elias’s other hand. Seeing her master in danger, Lykke tried to leap over the flames. She howled and leapt back out of the fire, coat smouldering, then rolled in the snow, howling in pain.

    Elias sprang through the fire and ran towards the wounded husky. Her fur was singed all over her torso and her front legs bubbled with red blisters. He stroked her, trying to still her thrashing. He scooped snow from nearby and gently applied it around her wounds. His mind flashed to the landline phone inside his cabin— he desperately needed to call a vet.

    The air behind him crackled. He turned back to see Ruby in the middle of the flames, and with a whoosh of air, she disappeared.

    He blinked trying the clear the bright after image from his vision.He stumbled to the point where she’d vanished, which was now a circle of ashes. He felt numb and shocked. He knelt down in the snow and put his hands in the space where they’d sat together. He raised his eyes and watched as Ruby fire-travelled across the hillside, the flashes of fire becoming smaller as she jumped further away.

    Perhaps if he rigged up the sledge, he could follow the trail of ash circles after her and catch her before it was too late. Lykke’s whined and Elias felt a rush of clarity. Ruby didn’t need him, but Lykke did. Tenderly, he stroked Lykke’s head, then ran towards the house to call the vet.

    • Amy,

      Loved the story. Even though there was a part that puzzled me, and the ending was indefinite.
      But…The concept was wonderful and I really love your writing style. I mean, you just dreamed up some imaginary beings, placed them into a frozen landscape and had your main character fall in love with one. (And why wouldn’t he? She, or it, was so beautiful, and so generous.)

      Your writing style seemed to help in conveying the heat of the fire and the chill of the night. The dog seems to me to be the fulcrum of the story, but you don’t have time to develop it, or him. This seems like a story that could continue, and should.

    • Roy York
      Liked your story Amy. I also liked the name Lykke for the dog. Well place imagery and good character development. I think you could make much more of a story with your Fire Travelers. I would like to know what their purpose in your ice world is. Keep up the excellent work. There are some things I would do differently, but not enough that I think is worth mentioning. I did like the line about Elias felt a rush of clarity. About time he came to and understood which female really loved him.

      I have a story I used to tell people about how to prove dog is man’s best friend. Lock your wife and your dog in a room for a couple of hours and when you unlock the door, you’ll know which one is really glad to see you. I had to alter it slightly in this age of political correctness, but you get the drift.

      Anyway, keep submitting your stuff.

    • Phil Town
      Hi, Amy
      This is a really smashing story – very imaginative. “Travelling by fire” – what a great idea! (Although as Roy mentions, why? What’s the fire travellers’ purpose?) There are lots of legends/fairy tales where one of a kind falls in love with one of a different kind, but this is unique. I don’t know if this was intentional (must have been), but all the way through I felt that Lykke’s feelings for Elias were deeper than Ruby’s, so that when he makes his decision, we welcome it. Perhaps it needed a bit more space, but we don’t get a very good idea of why Elias loves Ruby so much that he would give up his current life (and dogs) for one full of danger. A memorable story, though.
  • Wonderful story, Ken. When the story is all about Sarah (,talking about whom, let me congratulate you, buddy. What a masterly characterization!) – how she knew where to find Todd, what was going on in his life, the guts she displayed confronting Mike and the unstated suggestions she must have offered Todd for what was to be His Wedding, and she did all this inspite of having been dumped by him, clearly for love for all to see. The persona of Sarah domineers over the entire story despite the drunken presence of the protagonist.
    My question is, when the story revolves round Sarah, when she grabs the reader’s attention from the time she is found sitting alone in the booth and holds it till the end, where she is clearly deliberated as the brain behind the marriage – why is the story entitled “Sarah Something”, when a more appropriate title would have been ” Sarah Everything”?
    Anyway, the writer has the liberty to name his story the way he wants it, I guess. Another gripping story, Ken, and there is no point crediting you on the other elements along with your deft use of the language. I don’t think the person who wrote that you are setting the standard for yourself (and for the others as well), was exaggerating or whatever.
    Thanks for the story. Please keep entertaining people the way only YOU can do it. All the best.
  • Thanks Rathin,
    To be honest, Sarah’s role in the story grew as the story evolved through editing, in it’s earliest incarnation, Tammy and Todd were the most important characters, not Sarah. For me that’s part of the fun of writing, as well as the most frustrating and mysterious. With a few minor adjustments, Sarah could have been an extremely diabolical character. As it is, her character is not without its flaws. (But I think that’s more realistic.)
    • Phil Town
      Hey Ken … your story’s disappeared, before I even had a chance o read it. 🙁
      • It was pretty blah, Phil. Roy made some suggestions, which I took and incorporated, and they helped, but, I don’t know, it needs more. It’s just not that good a story. It’s a bit too ‘little goody two-shoes’ for me. But that’s only part of the problem. It needs a certain something and unfortunately I don’t know what it is.
        • I read your story but didn’t have time to follow up on your invitation to “rip it to shreds” and now it is gone. 🙁 I don’t believe that it was too “little goody two shoes” I liked the fake groom with the Jason mask, but there was so much going on behind the scenes that left me intrigued. Like- Why would he run off with a girl he had only a couple dates with? Is there more story there? How did he convince his best friend to wear the mask and take his place? I would love to hear that conversation. In fact I would start a story with it, it could be soooo good. Just me? I know I’m weird.
          • That’s a good suggestion Tobie, starting the story with that conversation. You asked: ‘How did he convince his best friend to wear the hockey mask?’ (I’m working on it right now. But it’s 250 words.)

            Now, as to why would he run off with a girl he had only had a couple of dates with?
            Well… (Are you kidding me?)
            That’s a good question. And there are so many possible explanations. It should be a good reason. A really good reason..(She liked pirates?) Not good enough. I’m not sure how I would do that without being blatantly obvious.
            (He had a carrot farm and she loved diamonds?)
            A good reason, a good reason. Her name was Sarah. (She was so………..
            What was she? What was so special about Sarah?
            Wait a minute. Isn’t that what everyone wants to know? Isn’t that, basically the secret to life? The thing about Sarah?
            That…thing—about Sarah.

            Okay, here it is.
            “Sarah? She was American Indian, dark-haired, beautiful and wild, but patient and wise. She told me she knew I “would return to the same clearing, and she would be there waiting. It was as inevitable as the full moon.” That’s how she talked. That was the thing about Sarah. Her real name was Shoshana.”

            And she liked pirates. (Always a plus.)

          • For some reason I cannot comment on your response below. I now know that thing about Sarah. It wasn’t a carrot farm, a girl like her cannot be tied to the earth or the seasons. Shoshanna is a Hebrew name so that is truly mystifying . Was she adopted? She is definitely the pirate and she returns to that hidden hollow every year to steal his heart. That is a return worthy of writing!
  • Roy York
    Ken, thanks for your thoughtful analysis of my story. You are right about the ending and your change was pretty much spot on. Where the hell were you when I needed you? When I was pacing the floor, lips pursed, shaking my fist at the writing gods for not delivering the ending I needed? Where I ask? Where?

    So, speaking of endings, I’d like to add a little change to yours. For the betterment of an already very good, just not over the hump of excellent, story. Instead of: But it was all part of an elaborate prank arranged by Todd. The first surprise came when everyone realized an inebriated Mike was the man behind the mask, not Todd. Tammy was shocked.

    I think it should simply have said, It was all part of the elaborate arrangements by Todd. (Not an elaborate prank, because I think that was too much foretelling.)Then, the next line should have been Everyone was surprised when they realized an inebriated Mike was the man behind the mask, but Tammy was shocked. You don’t need to tell everyone that the first surprise was realizing Mike was the guy, because you don’t tell them a second surprise, Well, you kind of do, but then you should say that, such as, Her second surprise came when she ripped open the envelope handed her (really the Justice of the Peace was in on this?) by the Justice of the Peace. And, finally you don’t need to say, not Todd, because you just told them it was Mike. Not Todd is superfluous. Always wanted to use that word in a sentence and I owe it all to you.

    Anyway, nice story, but I think you rushed it a bit letting Sarah get her way, and your guy is very easily led, isn’t he? Damn, two women just running roughshod over him. But, sexual appetite is the way to a man’s heart, contrary to anything else you’ve been hearing, such as cooking, or some crazy crap like that. Good luck on your story.

    • Roy,
      Thanks for the feedback Roy. Excellent observations and I will definitely take your advice on that. Since my story hasn’t even been recognized as being posted yet, after three days, it should be no problem making those changes and getting it re-posted.
      It’s funny how easy it is to see these things in other peoples stories, but not our own. I eventually catch a lot of this stuff myself, but not always, and certainly not all of it.
      As for Todd’s obvious weakness: In one somewhat twisted version of this story, (which I may revive) Todd’s body is never found!
      (Three weeks and a day without a cigarette. I may kick this habit yet.)
      • Roy York
        Thanks for your reply and I think you still have time to clean your story up a bit and let others read it, Go for it. By the way, I know what you are going through, having quit (finally for good) about 10 years ago. Probably won’t stop me from coming down with one of the related lung issues, but the day comes that you don’t miss it. Well, I shouldn’t say that. The day comes when you don’t ‘need it’. If I knew I could, I would sit back right now with a cigarette. Those friggin’ things are malicious. But, I’m saving money, living longer, living cleaner and so is my lovely bride. Glad I did it, and I encourage you to do everything you can to never take it back up.
  • Thank you Ken for interesting story. Last para send me back to understand the story in dept. There is lot of room for readers to think on hidden line in their own way.
  • Carrie Zylka

    Tattooed by Carrie Zylka
    1018 words

    Cindy woke up with a splitting headache. She rolled over and violently slammed her hand on the alarm clock, silencing it. Dragging herself out of bed she shuffled to the shower and stood in the scalding water for several minutes, trying desperately to make her brain work.

    She reached for the shampoo and stopped, staring in bewilderment at the tattoo on her arm. She didn’t have any tattoos, hated them in fact, so the appearance of one on her forearm was a bit confusing to say the least.

    Inspecting the tattoo further she tried to rub it off, thinking it was a temporary tattoo or some strange marker drawing on her arm, she began vigorously scrubbing, harder and harder, her eyes widening as she realized it was a permanent addition to her once flawless skin.

    Her blood pressure skyrocketed as she inspected the tattoo closely and saw it was a depiction of two rings intertwined with a ribbon, on the ribbon scrolling letters spelling “forever” and a date: September 2, 2018, four days ago.

    She stumbled out of the shower, her head screaming, trying not to scream herself as her brain tried desperately to remember when and how she had gotten a tattoo. She couldn’t figure out why it tasted like a dead racoon had taken up residence in her mouth and her body felt like it had been run over by a Mack truck.

    She threw on a tee shirt she’d recently borrowed from her best friend and rushed to her purse, looking for her phone. She couldn’t find it, she was always losing it and had purchased a bright blue case to make it more visible, she wasn’t seeing it and began searching more vigorously. In her haste she fumbled and spilled the purse onto the counter. She stared in bewilderment at the driver’s license staring back at her. The photo was of her, the first name was hers, but the last name was not. And neither was the address. The address was in the wealthiest part of town, certainly not the address of her tiny little apartment. She still couldn’t find her phone. She needed to call someone, anyone, to figure out when the hell she’d gotten a weird tattoo of a wedding date.

    She stood for a moment looking around her apartment, everything seemed normal. Her eyes slid back to the address on the driver’s license and she made up her mind in an instant. Grabbing it up and shoving it back in her purse she nearly slipped on wet concrete as she ran out of her apartment to her car. Driving erratically, she made it to the address listed in record time.

    Her mind was racing and she couldn’t figure out what the heck was going on.

    Getting out of her car she walked up the driveway and stood in front of the door, noting the dark colored sedan parked in the driveway. And the Ferrari, and the Astin Martin. She paused in front of the largest door she’d ever seen and rang the doorbell, unconsciously rubbing at the tattoo on her arm.

    The door opened and an older man answered, his face blanching when he saw her. “You!” He shouted, his hands clenching into fists. “You’ve got some nerve you bitch!”

    A hand on his shoulder appeared behind him, pulling him back from the door.

    “I’m so sorry,” Cindy stuttered. “I have no idea what’s going on. All I know is I woke this morning with some weird tattoo and a driver’s license with this address on it!”

    A man in a suit nodded. “Come in Ms. Pearl, we haven’t had a chance to explain everything to Mr. Weatherman so your arrival is very timely.”

    Cindy nearly burst into tears in confusion but she entered the home at his direction, they walked through an enormous foyer into a sitting room where the older gentleman was slumped over a desk. He looked at her with red rimmed eyes. “How could you Cindy? How could you do this to me?”

    “What? Do what?? Will someone please tell me what the hell is going on here???”

    Another man, taller than the first put his hand on the man’s arm. “I’m sorry Mr. Weatherman this isn’t the woman you married. This is the real Cindy Pearl. The woman you married is a woman named Margaret Coleman. She’s a con artist we’ve been trying to catch for years. She finds a mark,” he nodded at Cindy. “gets a slew of plastic surgery to look like her, and shows up as a long-lost twin sister.”

    Cindy felt her stomach drop. Her “twin” Kelly had shown up out of the blue four months ago. She’d been adopted so the thought of being separated at birth was plausible. They’d developed the most intense sister relationship and she’d been on cloud nine since she’d found out.

    The man continued. “She then finds a second mark, a wealthy older man, gets him to marry her, cleans out the bank account and then runs. Leaving her first mark to take the fall.”

    Cindy and Mr. Weatherman looked at each other in disbelief.

    “But, but what about this?” She held up her tattooed arm.

    The old man let out a cry of despair. “Our wedding day, we’re supposed to be on our honeymoon right now in Tahiti! Our wedding!! Six hundred people attended and you professed your undying love for me!” His face twisted in anger. “I guess not you…her…”

    “I’m so sorry miss, we don’t know why she does it, but she drugs her mark and they get the tattoo. It’s horrible and malicious but it’s almost her calling card.” He turned back to him. “Mr. Weatherman I know she cleaned out your bank accounts, and she’s on the run but we’re doing everything in our power to catch her. I am truly sorry you both were her victims in all this.”

    Cindy stood there for a moment, looked down at her now permanent tattoo, looked at the now destitute and heartbroken old man, looked at the two FBI agents, and promptly fainted.

    • An interesting read, Carrie. I wish I had more time to go through yours more critically.
      All the best.
    • Roy York
      Gonna step out on a limb here and ask you what kind of drugs you’re taking, ’cause I would like some of the same pills to put my brain in hyperdrive as yours appears to be. Whirlwind story. A little farfetched, but almost plausible. And well written although it could use some clean up.

      And please, no fainting to end the story. That’s not allowed after coming up with all the other great stuff you came up with.

      My problem is why did Cindy get a tattoo? I know you explain it, but that was something I thought was even more malicious than wiping out the old man’s account. He can make more money (well, I hope he can).
      You have an evil, twisted mind. Keep it up.

    • Phil Town
      Hi, Carrie

      An ingenious story, told at breakneck pace. The mystery of the tattoo is really well established and sustained. As Roy says, a little far-fetched maybe (Plastic surgery? For every con?), but that’s ok with me – it’s fiction after all (I hope!). As Roy says, too, the fainting is a bit disappointing, and in fact Cindy should perhaps be relieved: the police know she wasn’t directly involved, she’s home free. A couple of details: this sentence: “She needed to call someone, anyone, to figure out when the hell she’d gotten a weird tattoo of a wedding date.” At this point, she’s also found out about the driving licence and the name change, so maybe something a bit more vague?: “… to figure out what the hell was going on.” (something like that?) In the first line, ‘slam’ already means ‘violently’, so the latter’s not necessary. A good read, this.

    • Well, this is a fun, fast-paced story, Carrie, and personally, I loved the swoon at the end. (To each his own.) It took me by surprise. And I loved the idea of waking up with a tattoo and no memory. But it doesn’t actually make sense that if the fake ‘twin’ went through the motions of the wedding, that the real Cindy would have the tattoo. Like Roy says, she’d have to be really malicious to have arranged that. (Because it was unnecessary.)
      The writing was great but the tattoo needed a better explanation, because it’s the key to the story. (In my oh-so-gracious opinion.)
    • Amy Meyer
      Absolutely loved this story, Carrie. Fast paced, with a fun twist. You set it up brilliantly at the beginning with the confusion of poor Cindy. There were some really minor things, that if you ironed out, would make the story read better. When the ‘husband’ and the FBI agent open the door, the description could have had more punch:
      ‘A hand on his shoulder appeared behind him, pulling him back from the door.
      “I’m so sorry,” Cindy stuttered. “I have no idea what’s going on. ‘
      It would work better to have the FBI agent introduced properly at that point before Carrie speaks– otherwise Carrie is stuttering to a disembodied hand.
      But a really minor thing on an excellent story!
    • Carrie Zylka

      Thanks all for the feedback – I’d been mulling this story over in my head since the prompt posted and didn’t think I’d get a chance to sit down and actually write it until yesterday morning. But once I did I kept yelling at myself to flesh it out more before the deadline!

      I’m going to record this one for Monday’s podcast episode and will definitely fixed the things everyone has pointed out before I do so.

      My biggest challenge was fitting the whole story into 1200 words. I wanted to really deep dive into the fake sister relationship. And I think I’ll change the tattoo origin to how she and Mr. Weatherman go get them together rather than the con artists calling card.
      I think that would make more sense.

      Again – thanks for the feedback all!

  • Amy and Carrie, waiting for your votes 🙂
  • Carrie Zylka


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