Bi-Weekly Story Prompts

Writing Prompt “Deadly Sin”

Theme: Deadly Sin

Story Requirements:

  • The theme must incorporate any one of the seven deadly sins:
    • Gluttony
    • Sloth
    • Greed
    • Envy
    • Lust
    • Wrath
    • Pride
  • Story must be in fable form with a moral ending

Word Count: 1,200

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Please Note: Comments may be considered “published” in regards to other contest requirements.

All stories are fall under general copyright laws. No part may be reproduced without the express consent of the respective author.

Story Submission Rules:
  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 Stories must be in English, unpublished and your own work.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).

  • You may vote only once.
  • You cannot vote for yourself.

***the April 13, 2018 prompt will be chosen by Kenneth Cartisano 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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68 thoughts on “Writing Prompt “Deadly Sin”

  • Hmm, I really like the surreal feel of this story, Tom. It gives an interesting take on dreamwalking. I’m just not quite sure what the moral to the story is. The descriptions are just ethereal enough, though how does Ophelia see the MC if he is invisible as you mentioned earlier in the story. I do like the squirrel though, he makes a fun messenger.
    • Thanks Wendy. I do need to touch it up a bit. Haven’t been on this site for a while. I kind of rushed the story to get it posted. If there’s an opportunity to edit,I will, and come up with an ending fitting the requirements.
  • Charles Lilburn
    I think the story needs a moral, which shouldn’t be too hard to do, given the storyline. Grass is greener and/or that sort of thing, although that’s already been fairly well used. But the requirements aren’t to have an original moral, just one that fits the story. I wonder if there are any ‘new’ morals out there. Won’t it be interesting to find out?

    And, me too, Crap, I forgot to hit the notify thing.

  • Thanks Charles. I’m re-editing the story to make it flow a bit better. I need to better define my fable, thanks…
  • DREAMLAND (revised)

    While on a four day fast in a cave in the mountains, a squirrel poked its head out from a burrow precisely where the rock met the ground and questioned: “Will you be here long?” This puzzled me as I was only on day two of my fast without food or water. I closed my eyes for a moment, then opened them and looked toward where the squirrel was; it was still there. Was I hallucinating, or was this a vision my elders told me I might experience?

    “Well,” he asked rather impatiently. “Will you be here long?”

    I scratched my head. ‘What the hell.’ I thought. ‘I know I’m not going crazy; at least I hope I’m not,’

    “I’m here for another two days,” I described. “I’m fasting.” The squirrel looked at me with beady eyes and said: “You’re brave. You do know that a bear and its young live here don’t you.” My nostrils then picked up the scent. “Well, it’s a bit too late to move,” I responded, trying not to let the squirrel sense my growing anticipation at the threat of a possible encounter with an angry bear. “I guess I’ll just have to let that bear know that this is my home from now on.” The squirrel looked at me and then laughed. “I like you. Would you like to come with me?” Where can this squirrel possibly take me, I thought. But, it was my curiosity, above reason, that took over.
    “Sure, why not.”

    “Carry this pouch with you,” explained the squirrel. “Tie it around your neck and don’t, I repeat, don’t ever take it off once we enter this place I’m bringing you to, okay?” The squirrel stared intently at me. “Do you understand?” I simply nodded my head as it gave me a small bag. It was made with a material I had never seen or felt before. I tied it around my neck and began to feel like the air inside of me was being released from every pore in my body, and that I became the air that floated gloriously about. “Let’s go,” was all that the squirrel said.

    We tunneled our way from the hole from which the squired had appeared and almost instantly entered into this place called Dreamland. The squirrel described Dreamland with a bit of exuberance, and caution. “This place is alive, and filled with everything you have ever imagined. But, there are things here that you’ve never seen or felt. Be careful when you must, and throw caution to the wind when you can. Just don’t ever let anyone ever take that pouch away from you,” he stressed. “What will happen if someone takes it,” I questioned. The squirrel shot a sideways glance at me and said: “You’ll remain here forever.”

    The pouch, and whatever was wrapped inside, kept me invisible, or so it seemed; or maybe, it was just that no one really cared who was around that made me feel somewhat insignificant. Together, we drifted past scenes of pleasure, pain, ecstasy, beauty, horror, virtue and the vanity of deceit. It was at one point of this journey when the squirrel realized that it must leave for a moment. “Stay here,” was all it said as it scurried off into the maze.

    “I won’t be long.”

    Like a stranger in a faraway place, my eyes and ears filled quickly with every sight and sound imaginable. I then felt someone standing beside me. “Hi handsome,” murmured one of the most beautiful ladies I ever laid my eyes upon. “Would you like company.” My mind unhesitatingly raced yes, but my reason slowed me down. “I would love to,” I replied. “But I’m waiting for someone.” I found myself adrift in her eyes. “Oh, I suppose your waiting for the pesky little squirrel,” she said. “He’s nothing but trouble. My goodness, that’s a pretty pouch you have there. Can I hold it?” I remembered the squirrel’s warning and fidgeted about for a moment, trying to change the subject: “You’re very beautiful.” Just as she was about to answer, the squirrel returned and the lady, whose beauty I was becoming entrapped in, fizzled before me into a hideous being, and floated away, laughing: “I’ve got you in my sights now my pretty, pretty young man. I’m not going to be very far from you.” Her laughter echoed into the marrow of my senses.

    “That’s exactly what I warned you about,” said the squirrel as we watched with an almost morbid curiosity at the strange, but fascinating sight before us. “Ophelia is trouble. That is just a small taste of what she can do. Stay as far away from her as you can. If she can ever take your pouch away from you, she’ll rip you apart and make your stay here miserable, forever.” Just as we were to journey deeper into Dreamland, the squirrel said: “If you ever want to return to the cave, simply cup the pouch with both hands and blow gently into the palms of your hands. Let the warmth of your breath take you back.”

    We stood there, watching, listening, breathing in the aroma of food cooking on open grills. On one hand, the sight before us almost seemed jovial, carefree, but, deep inside, an almost utter feeling of dread and lifelessness dangled like icicles frozen in timeless confusion. It was by pure fluke to have found a stitch undone in that fabric which kept together, or kept separate, Dreamland and from what many people simply referred to as existence. Dreamland, much like a carnival, was a place where one could find just about anything from the mundane to the spectacular, or from the mystical to the monotonous. And, with so many places to visit from the familiar to the faint, and from the predictable to the unknowable, with characters of every description and intent, each a journey in itself, this was not a place I would call home. However, I was intensely inquisitive.

    ‘If I stay in one spot, in one place, I’ll never change,’ I thought. ‘This little friend of mine, I believe, wants me to tag along for a reason, a reason I’m quite unsure of just yet; But, I guess, according to my elders, one can not see the real world with their eyes closed.’

    The squirrel, rather impatiently, twitched his nose and tapped its claws on the ground. I was becoming dazzled by the brilliance of the lights flashing about, by the noise and the energy, and yet, felt almost tied down in the darkness of my fears. Deep inside, I could hear a voice echoing a return to the cave, to where I was fasting, to finish why I went there in the first place, to hopefully receive a vision and then, to go back to the safety of home.

    “Well?” inquired the squirrel. “Ya coming or not?”

    I clasped the pouch, took a deep breath, and followed the squirrel, further and further into Dreamland.

    MORAL: Not all dreams have silver linings…

    • Tom, clouds have silver linings, not dreams. You need a moral that involves dreams. (or squirrels. Sorry, bad joke. My speci-ality.) The story invariably evokes the spirit of Lewis Carroll and Alice in Wonderland but does not culminate in a clear and definitive ending or moral. That’s my honest opinion. (For what little it’s worth.)
    • I liked this story, even though it rambled a bit.
      I think a laser pointed end game would have been helpful for the reader, to know where we were going.
      I liked the descriptive work and the squirrel was a lot of fun.

      As Ken said, I believe the one you wanted to use was “not all clouds have a silver lining” but you could easily incorporate the “Keep your promises” moral. You could have the main character promise to never give the pouch away even though he was tested!

    • Phil Town
      This is a good adventure, Tom. The beginning is nicely strange – the reason the narrator’s in the cave, the squirrel, the reason they have to get out. I quite like the open-ended-ness of it; the narrator has the choice to seek adventure or return to what he knows … and he opts for adventure (so this could in fact be the introduction to series of adventures that he and the squirrel might have). If you could show some mishap that befalls the narrator in this wonderful world, then the moral would maybe work better (?) I think that ‘Dreamland’ perhaps needed more description to get across the wonder of the place (just telling us it’s wonderful and magical isn’t enough). Finally, just a point of grammar … as it is, your opening line tells us that it’s the squirrel that’s fasting …
      Enjoyed this.
  • I hope we have the option of an edit. If we do, then I’ve re-edited my first contribution and tightened it up a bit. I don’t know how to get rid of the first story.
    • Charles Lilburn
      The two very talented ladies that take care of this site, Carrie Zylka and Alice Nelson will be glad to help you out. They will make minor editing changes, so you don’t have to keep trying to delete and repost. That doesn’t work these days. Just contact them and they can be your best friend. Flowers might help, too. Or candy.
      • Carrie Zylka

        Jelly beans.

        Good old fashioned Brach jelly beans… I can’t speak for Alice but I’ll fight dragons on your behalf if you gift me jelly beans…..

        • I will do just about anything for Peanut M&Ms, so…
    • Charles Lilburn
      By the way, Tom. you aren’t in on the news. Charles Lilburn is my pen name. It’s me, Roy York. Honest. Good to see you on the site. I used to love your stories, and still do, for that matter.
      • Roy my friend. It’s been a while. Hope you are well. I hope to continue with my contributions and to catch up on everything. And yes, I offer my thoughts of candy and flowers to the dedicated and fun-loving editors…
        • Charles Lilburn
          See Tom, it’s why this site is considered one of the best on Writer’s Hangout. Good stuff.
    • Carrie Zylka

      Hiydee ho neighbor!

      Just email the revised version to and we’re happy to replace it for you. 😊

  • Tom Russell
    Hi Carrie: can you please add this moral to my contribution? MORAL: Not all dreams have silver linings…

    One more question. I have been out of the loop for so long, how or where do I go to view the other stories? Thank you…

    • Carrie Zylka

      No problem Tom – I’ve updated it.

      As far as the other stories, I believe you are the only one so far.
      I’m half way done with mine, hopefully more people will submit.

  • Carrie Zylka

    Sheila by Carrie Zylka
    467 Words, Sin: Lust

    He leaned back, his legs dangling over the edge of the metal walkway. The cold night air swirled around him and he raised the bottle of Jim Beam to his lips again. The digital billboard above and behind him flickered and rotated through the adverts, casting different lights over him. Somehow accentuating the darkness just outside the pool of illumination. The building wasn’t very high, only five stories but the billboard afforded him a secret hideaway to sit and think.

    And drink.

    He’d been delighted to find his new apartment had access to a roof and the roof had a billboard on it. He could sit, leaning against a stanchion and gaze out at the city below. But his gaze tonight was laser focused on one thing: the bar on the corner, or more specifically, the woman sitting at the bar. The huge bay window allowed him a clear line of sight to her. Young, pretty, with long red hair, she raised the beer bottle to her lips and drank. He watched as she laughed with the patrons sitting around her.

    His new girlfriend.

    He’d met Sheila about a year ago. He’d been married at the time. Not quite unhappily, but not fireworks and pornhub either. So when Sheila walked into his life, young, pretty, sexy, naughty (everything his wife was not) he’d been smitten. And his lust had gotten the better of him.

    They’d begun their affair with a vengeance and soon he’d fallen head over heels for her. Professing his undying love and making plans for their future.

    He’d told his wife that he was bored with their house in the suburbs, with her perfect haircuts and their perfect, uninteresting little life. He’d left her and moved into his new apartment in the heart of the city. Where the action was…where Sheila was.

    Unfortunately, Sheila was a wild child at heart. She didn’t want to settle down. She didn’t want to be exclusive to one person (male or female). She wanted to be his girlfriend, after all he showered her with gifts and took her on weekend getaways, but she wasn’t quite ready to commit.

    He took another swig from the bottle and thought of his ex-wife. Of her easy laugh. Of their two cars and their dog and their 3200 square foot home. He thought about how comfortable he was around her and how she always knew the right things to say when he was down. About how she always wanted to be with him, and only him.

    He thought about all that he’d thrown away to be with this woman who, would more than likely, never love him the way his ex-wife had.

    A tear slipped down his cheek as he realized that sometimes, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

    • Charles Lilburn
      Ah, lust. Good use of the theme and the requirements, Ms Zylka. Nice, beautifully written opening paragraph making me want to read more. Good story proving length isn’t everything. No pun intended. Many men think they are Gods. but in their own lustful, dyslexic way, they are not, proving they are dogs.
    • Carrie – it’s great how you could get just enough across in so short a story. I love the descriptions in the first two paragraphs – they really set a scene. The moral works its way in seamlessly. Very nice.
    • Carrie,
      A terrifically succinct story based on a common theme. Excellent writing. (Efficient, lean and powerful.) I thought he was going to jump off the building, but then the moral might be: “He should have looked before he leaped.”
    • Phil Town
      Good story, Carrie – short but … bitter! The thing I like most about it is the setting. Having the protagonist sitting above the bar looking down is an odd and striking perspective, giving him the physical and emotional distance to be objective about the situation he’s in. It’s like a single photo of a crisis point in his life: he’s burned a bridge and now stands on shifting sands. (The moral works well.) A detail: I think the sentence beginning “Somehow accentuating…” could maybe have been joined to the previous one with an ‘and’, to help the flow.
  • Phil Town

    He had never seen anyone quite like her: tall, upright posture; long legs; elegant hands with long fingers; breasts full but not overly, as was her behind, and as were her lips; straight, white teeth; dark brown eyes he wanted to drown in; natural eyebrows; a fine but not supercilious nose; a strong but not masculine chin; straight, dark hair fixed in a plait …

    Of course, he did not catch all of these details at that first glance, the day he saw her in the window of Burton’s department store. She was crouching, adjusting the skirt of one of the mannequins, then she got up, standing at her full height, and it was like one of those time-lapse films of beautiful exotic flowers opening up. Then she was gone; he was left on the pavement, gazing at the window display, ignoring the torrential rain pounding off his head.

    He had not needed to be in that street; it was one of two ways to get home from the office, and he normally preferred the other route because it had less of a hill to climb. But on this particular evening, his normal route was blocked by some demonstration or other – blessed demonstration, he thought – and so here he was.

    On subsequent evenings, he chose the same route home, passing always in front of Burton’s and slowing his pace in case she were in the window. But she was never there, although on some days the window display was different. He would close his eyes to fantasize about how she might have moved the dummies around, crouching and leaning to gently alter their stance, touching their shoulders, their thighs, their chests …

    He would carry the fantasizing with him the rest of the way home, sometimes risking life and limb as, in his reverie, he crossed streets buzzing with cars and buses. And when he got home, he would go straight upstairs to the bedroom. He still had only a fleeting glimpse of her to go on, though, so he resolved to see more of her.

    It was a Saturday. Burton’s was heaving with people. He had never been inside before – not his kind of store – and but for her, he told himself, he would never set foot in the place again. He moved with difficulty along the wooden-floored aisles, buffeted by the jostling crowd as he made his way to the clothes departments – first the men’s.

    There were several young gentlemen in suits behind the counters, attending to customers, but no sign of her. So he followed the signs to the women’s wear department. She was not there either, and he was about to give up and leave – with relief, it must be said, because five minutes was enough for him to know that he hated this store for all its hustle and bustle.

    Then he caught sight of her. She emerged from a door marked ‘STAFF ONLY’ and glided – as he had hoped she would move – through the crowded store. He followed her, losing her once or twice before her magnificent plaited hair reappeared among the heads of the normal folk.

    She was not wearing the beige uniform of the store but a tight blue jacket and skirt that accentuated her curves. As he trailed her, he drank in every detail that he could for later reference.

    She emerged from the store onto the street and strode confidently down it, her high heels not a hindrance to her movement. Indeed, as he half-trotted to keep up with her, he decided that they actually enhanced her form, firming up her calves and her shapely behind, and forced her to adopt a heavenly sway.

    Two blocks later, she entered a café. He gave it a couple of minutes, then followed her in. She was sitting in a booth, one elegant hand swiping through something on her phone, the other cradling a coffee. He ordered a coffee for himself, and while the barista was preparing it, he surreptitiously drank in more details: her profile, her eyes, her teeth when she grinned at something on her phone, her facial expressions.

    The booth behind her was free. He slid into it, with his back to her. He was close enough to smell her perfume, mingling with the ever-so-slightly-acrid smell of sweat from her rather hurried walk to the café. He leaned his head back slowly and carefully on the mock-leather seat, knowing that he was just centimetres from her. This closeness was causing a stirring in him. He looked around to make sure no one was watching, then discreetly adjusted his trousers to accommodate it.

    He let his mind wander: he was with her, hand-in-hand on the street; they were sitting on a park bench, kissing; he was moving his hand inside her coat; she was moving her hand up his thigh; he was moving his hand down–

    “ ’Ere!”

    What was that?! He sat bolt upright in the booth seat. The voice had come from behind him. It could not be …

    “Gissa nuvver coffee, luv!”

    But it was. The object of his desire had spoken, though it was not the voice of an angel; it was more like a metal spoon scraping a saucepan.

    “An’ gissa cake to go. One o’ them what’s got cream in i’.”

    He shifted to the other side of his booth, so that he was now looking at the back of her head. She was calling over to one of the baristas.

    “Bu’ make it snappy can yer? I gotta ge’ back to work.”

    The stirring had left him. He glanced frantically around the café, as if seeking an explanation for the immense chasm of disillusionment he found he had tumbled into.

    There was of course no explanation, other than his own unfair, superficial expectations; he had wanted her to be as elegant of character as her fine fingers, as sensual of voice as the subtle curves of her breasts. But he did not direct his searching glances inwards, did not discern his folly, and so came to the conclusion that he was merely the victim of a large slice of common, cruelly indiscriminate, bad luck.

    He left his coffee untouched and quit the café immediately. Truly, he thought to himself, all that glitters is not gold, and the disappointment would remain with him, jagged and bitter.

    But only until the next woman.


    • Haha, I love that her every man way of speaking contrasted with her elegance of appearance. The fact it was such a turn off after everything else had been such a turn off is telling to just how superficial his lust really is.
    • Phil,
      Fabulous writing. (A distinctly Philbulous story.) The mounting and multiplying description of the woman’s various ‘assets’ is a testament to your writing prowess. (This reminds me of a gal I met decades ago, who, though she was not endowed with the abundance of charms possessed by your story’s character, she had a high tinny voice that would have driven me nuts. Fortunately, she eschewed my company me for a sinister looking black-clad biker dude who, she would later learn, had no motorcycle.) Or, to paraphrase a great movie line, ‘he was all chains and leather, with no wheels.’
    • Hahahaha love it! And I loved the “all the glitters is NOT gold”!
      Great descriptive work, I had visions of some super model and the change in dialect was purposefully jarring.
  • Charles Lilburn
    Another lust story. Must be catching. I was NOT disappointed in the story, the writing, nor the interesting wrinkle and play on all that glitters is not gold, although the picture you painted of her made me actually think of Eliza Doolittle; and how, if this man played his Henry Higgins cards right, could have made an effort to teach her ‘The rain in Spain, falls mainly on the plain’ and end up with Eliza Doolittle. Instead, he bolted and ran. As usual, the writing is excellent, which I’ve come to expect. Good Job, Phil.

    @ Carrie. I echo Charles’ comments on the length, but it made me feel the anguish of regret and of somehow letting lust overshadow stability. You have me thinking of a number of scenarios the story could go after he leaves his perch…

    @ Phil: What a let down; the sound of the balloon bursting rocked my insides. This brought back memories of working with a co-worker who had a high-pitched, very nasily voice that drilled through me. As much as I tried to distance my self from the sound, I could still hear it haunting the hallways of our workplace. All your descriptions painted a picture of a dream doll who unknowingly, or unwittingly perhaps, let an initial glimpse morph into a fantasy, then a nightmare. I hope my description doesn’t place too much on anything other than my interpretations, but Phil, I really don’t have any harsh critiques other than very well-done my friend…

    Man, this site has talent. I wish my workload afforded me the time to be more consistent, however, I will make every effort to continue and to learn more on the critiquing aspect of the talented writers’ art.

  • Charles Lilburn
    Birds of a Feather

    The sun had just peeked over the hilltop when Smiley, the banty rooster, crowed his mighty call to wake the farmyard. Life stirred as the various farm animals started greeting the day.

    Hens started clucking their off-key musical chorus as they went about the business of laying eggs, while the geese gathered in the corner of the barnyard and paraded around honking; actually going nowhere, as geese were wont to do. Ducks swam in the pond nearby as life went on for the feathered friends.

    There were chickens, ducks, geese, and on this farm, one more very important bird. The one who thought himself the most magnificent of them all – Preen the Peacock. While all the other birds spent their time going about their own bird business, Preen was busy strutting and showing off his plumage; practicing for the day a suitable bevy of peahens would provide for his spreading pleasure, no pun intended.

    Darnell the duck would swim in the nearby pond watching as Preen would pompously walk through the barnyard and when he thought the timing was right, spread his colorful tail feathers and soak in the admiring glances of the various fowl as he paraded around.

    Darnell envied Preen and every night as the first star would appear in the sky, Darnell would make a wish that he would one day be as beautiful as Preen. Preen on the other hand, thought Darnell was an annoyance and despised the little duck. Preen told Darnell this whenever he had the opportunity. “Go away, you little flat billed duck.”

    Darnell, would follow along unfazed. “It’s OK, Preen. I don’t have to be your friend. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be my friend.”

    Not all of the barnyard fowl were as enamored with Preen as was Darnell. Hilda, the goose would exclaim to anyone within earshot, “Just look at him, stepping so high and mighty, spreading those feathers. If you didn’t know better, you’d think he was auditioning for NBC.”

    “I know,” would sniff Catatonia, the Rhode Island Red, “he looks like a box of crayons threw up on him.”

    Darnell, however, would waddle away from the pond, and follow Preen around the barnyard just to be near him. Preen, of course, would ignore Darnell, because Preen only had time for himself.

    Whenever Darnell would get too close, Preen would turn and hiss at Darnell, flapping his wings and making himself a big nuisance. Hilda would get between Preen and Darnell, daring Preen to do something. “Go on, you big bully. Go find a mirror and try to figure out who’s the best looking. That’ll give you something to do for awhile.”

    Then she would hustle Darnell back toward the water telling him to stay away from Preen, explaining, “No good ever came from trying to become a friend of Preen. Others have tried and failed. Preen, sadly, only has time for himself.”

    “I like Preen anyway; he’s so beautiful,” Darnell would sigh.

    Preen would only glare at the little duck. “Keep that stupid duck away from me,”

    Then, one day, a large storm gathered in the distance. The farmer and his wife came out and looked at the storm. The farmer looked worried, then he pointed at the sky. “TORNADO,” he yelled, “RUN!”

    All the geese were already half running, half flying for the barn, having heard the farmer’s cry of ‘TORNADO!’. The ducks were in the air flying away, all except Darnell, who flew toward the barn to find Preen. He knew Preen wouldn’t be able to fly very far and would probably be afraid. He was right. Preen was hiding in the corner, his eyes shut, whimpering.

    Before Darnell could get to him, the tornado touched down near the barn, ripping the door off, pulling Preen from the barn. Darnell was able to fly to safety, but watched as the peacock was flung into the pond by the high winds of the tornado. They say pride goeth before the fall and this was a mighty fall.

    Preen tried to keep afloat, but his tail feathers were dragging him down. He was sinking like a stone. Darnell saw this and flew to the pond, braving the high winds, and got there just as Preen was going under. He dove into the water underneath the peacock and pushed him to the surface, then pushed him to shore.

    Small, lightweight Darnell was exhausted and lay next to Preen who was making a noise like someone stepped on a bagpipe. But, he was alive, thanks to Darnell.

    The wind died down and the tornado lifted back in the sky. The air grew very calm and quiet. The birds were checking to see if they still had all their feathers. The ducks were returning and the chickens were coming out of the coop, clucking nervously. They started looking to make sure everyone was accounted for, but Darnell and Preen were missing. Where did the wind take them?

    Then the entire barnyard of birds started clucking, honking and quacking as they all flapped their wings excitedly. There, walking up from the pond, was Preen with Darnell at his side. Preen was wet and wobbly, but he was walking. Not quite as proud as he normally did, and it would be awhile before his feathers dried out enough to spread into his fan, but he was walking.

    When he got to the barnyard and all the animals gathered round, he took his wing and pulled Darnell to his side. ‘Darnell saved my life. He risked his life to save mine. I don’t know what would have happened without my little buddy here – my new friend”

    Darnell just looked at the ground, scratching one of his webbed feet nervously into the soil.

    The Rhode Island Red shook her head. “We should all learn from this,” she said. “Preen learned that pride is foolish and without value. When his life was in danger, pride was nowhere to be found. Instead, his friend Darnell was there. We need each other. Let others accept you as you are.”

    The sun broke through the clouds and in the eastern sky, a huge rainbow appeared. A big cheer went up as everyone saw it. “Look, Preen, don’t you wish you could spread your tail and show that much color?” Everyone laughed, even Preen.

    Preen and Darnell looked at each other and nodded, laughing as they walked away; friends – birds of a feather.

    The moral to this story: Rainbows can’t exist without rain and sunshine and we cannot exist without our friends.

    • I think this one is the most fable like for sure. It still has a moral and I love the cute animals on the farm interacting with one another. The only thing that rubbed me a little wrong was the “no pun intended” because, of course it was intended. Own your puns sir. ;^) Great take on the theme Roy!
      • Charles Lilburn
        You are right, Wendy. I didn’t need the pun line, nor the actual line. Tom also alluded to it, because it is more of a children’s story and I snarked it up when I didn’t have to, and the story didn’t need it. I would ask the girls to take it out, but at this point, it won’t change any votes by making said change. It has been changed in my version
    • I have to agree with Wendy, definitely the most “fable” ish story.
      I loved the descriptive work and the attention to detail in the different breeds.

      Reading through the comments, I actually took “pride is foolish and without value.” as the moral. Pride can get you killed, destroy your life, all sorts of bad stuff.

      And I too agreed with the “no pun intended” line. But such a small nitpick that I forgot it as I was caught up in the story itself.

    • Phil Town
      This is a lovely story, Roy (When are you going to change your account name? I’m sure any casual passer-by will be thoroughly confused by us calling you ‘Roy’ … 😉 ). The characters are very distinct and pertinent to the narrative. As the others have said, it really has an Aesop (or de la Fontaine) structure and theme. For that reason, I think it would have worked better told straight (e.g. ditching the NBC and crayon references – which would be very good in another context). The moral works, but maybe just tweak it a little? (e.g. “Just as rainbows cannot exist without rain and sunshine, so we cannot exist without our friends.”
      • Charles Lilburn
        Probably not going to believe this, but that ending you proposed is almost word for word what I changed from when I posted the story. i really wrestled with it. Yeah, the crayons and other thing were comedy relief, nothing more. If I do rewrite this, I may make it even shorter and more fable like. It came to me long after I proposed the prompt. I just wish more of the talented writers in this group would have contributed. I was trying to stretch their writer styles a little, but it looks like it didn’t work. Thanks for your assessment, I value what you tell me.
  • Charles, that’s quite a story. If it was lightened up a bit, it would make a darn good story and book for children. As I was reading your story I felt myself being drawn into those childhood memories on the ranch, and of other memories of childhood behaviours in the playgrounds of my youth. Thanks for the memories and I do hope you can flesh this out into a book for our young; that would be awesome, thanks Charles…
    • Charles Lilburn
      How would you lighten it up, Tom. I liked the story, too. Perhaps, just make it more Disney or Uncle Remus-like? Give the characters a more delightful personality and lighten up on Preen. Make him more of a likable character? What would you do? Seriously. Or, go more Aesops with it?
  • Tom Russell
    Charles, if you were going to put your story to print with the artwork and design, the only thing I would take out is at the bottom of the third paragraph before no pun intended. Other than that it’s perfect for children to learn in Story form. For our site, I wouldn’t alter in any way or change each or certain characters. They compliment each other as they transition from scene to scene. It definitely has an Aesop’s feel and in my humble opinion it is a very creative story that definitely will provoke a child to better understand the pride and envy and other do’s and don’t’ adult often overlook or ignore.
    • Charles Lilburn
      Thank you Tom. perhaps I should take that remark out anyway, as it doesn’t add anything to the story, other than to give a little more snarkiness to Preen’s obnoxious behavior.
  • Roy,
    Very enjoyable children’s story. Highly polished writing. My only criticism is the ending and the moral. The ending was a bit of a denouement, which the story doesn’t need, and the stated moral does not ring true. If anything, the moral of this story is given, ‘birds of a feather, certainly should flock together.’
    But hey, what do I know about birds or morals?
    • Charles Lilburn
      Well, thanks Ken, I think. I actually struggled with the ending and that struggle must have shown up for you.

      I rather liked the moral thing, and it was the driving force for the story. I was trying to come up with an original moral, rather that reworking one of the classics.

      I thought rainbows needing both rain and sunshine was a pretty good start on something original and stretched it to the underlying meaning we can’t exist without friends.

      Rainbows are beautiful only because they have both rain (sadness) and sunshine (happiness) and with happiness to counter sadness in our life, only then can we truly understand how beautiful life is. That’s what I was going for. Perhaps I need to rework the story with that moral in mind.

      Loved the thing your friend sent you. Some really clever stuff in there. And a few lessons in writing and understanding similes, metaphors, etc., etc.

    • Charles Lilburn
      By the way, ‘birds of a feather flock together’, is a way of saying that birds should stick with their own kind. And in my story, that doesn’t work (for them to stick with their own kind. Ducks with ducks, chickens with chickens and not with each other). I wanted them to all get along, like we as humans should. And, I gave them human values for the very obvious reason of making it a fable to apply to us as human beings.
  • I doubt I’ll be able to come up with a story, polish it, and post it in the time I have left. (Two days.) Not sure I even want to try since I probably won’t be able to vote either. I’m on vacation in an undisclosed location (only the CIA knows where I am, and they don’t really care. In fact, they told me to quit messaging them with my location all the time already.) I can only check my email every two or three days. (I never get any emails from anyone I give a shit about anyway so, no big loss there.)
    It’s a shame really, (not writing a story) because I’m an expert on most of the sins, which I’ve been studying in every spare moment of my limited time on this planet. (Except greed, I don’t do greed. Then again, maybe I’m greedy about sinning. Does that work? Not sure.) Anyway, that’s my situation. My excuse. May you all enjoy the respite from my annoying commentary. Although, with only three and a half stories posted so far, I’m a shoo-in for fourth or fifth place.
  • The Traveling Minstrel. (1199 Words.)
    By Ken Cartisano © 4-11-18

    Seth wore a coarse woolen robe over a silk tunic and stockings. A rapier hung through the rope he used as a belt. The hilt was dented and the blade was broken off midway down the shaft. It was not, strictly speaking, a weapon, but rather a tool he used to…do various things. In a sack over his shoulder he carried wine, some hard-bread and a chunk of cheese ‘garnered’ from a goat herder in Gwaltney Commons.

    Deep ruts were worn in the clay at either side of the road, but it hadn’t rained in days and the track was hard and dry. Along with his rations he possessed a bedroll for those occasions when he had to sleep in the open air, an inevitable circumstance that he tried to avoid at all costs. The sun was low and the afternoon waning when he rounded a turn in the road and spotted a fence.

    Fences were signs of land and livestock. His face showed no discernible expression as he resumed his usual pace. Eventually, he came across a small homestead with a mud and thatched roof, low walls and doors, and a crudely fenced in yard. A pack of chickens ignored him, pecking the ground industriously. Two dirty children tossed a piece of manure back and forth in a primitive version of dodge-ball, but stopped as soon as they saw him.

    Two mongrel dogs ran to the fence, the scrawniest one barking ferociously, the healthier one hung back. He was the opportunist. The children hollered for their mother’s attention, while a third child, older by some years, eyed him suspiciously, but uttered a single unintelligible command and silenced the dogs.

    A handsome, but harried looking woman peeked through the window then came out the front door wiping her hands on a dirty apron. Her hair was mussed and her ruddy cheeks etched with lines of worry. “Here then,” she said, “what’re you about? What’s your business here?”

    A young woman appeared at the side of the hovel and said, “It’s that minstrel we heard about at the market, Mum. We thinks he does tricks, he does.”

    “Oye, don’t give us none of your tricks and just be about your business, mister, and you’ll come to no trouble.” She hissed at the girl and said, “Come over here now, child.”
    But it was too late, the minstrel had already laid eyes upon the girl’s auburn hair, blue eyes and fair skin. Her mouth was set in a slight but fetching pout. “I’m no child, mum, I’m of the age to marry.”

    “That’ll be enough of that talk or I’ll be tellin’ yer…” She was interrupted by a fellow of considerable girth and voluminous hair that forced his way past her through the door holding a roasted chicken leg in one hand. The chickens in the yard fled at the sight of him.

    “I know you,” he said. “Jennie’s aright. You’re that traveling traitor, banished from his own realm for insulting his royal benefactor, Queen Axelflaxenhair. And don’t deny it or I’ll sick the dogs on yer traitorous hide.”

    “I am he,” Seth confessed. “Sadly doomed to roam, homeless, penniless and pitiless.”

    The husband scrutinized him closely. “Yer carrying three skins of wine and you smell like cheese. I’ll grant you the first two, but not the last. What d’ya want around here?”

    “I’d be in your infinite servitude for the small sanction of a meal and a place to sleep… for the night,” he added hastily, lest he be turned down summarily.

    The fat farmer tossed the chicken bone into the dirt, approached Seth and said, “You can stay the night, but you’ll not be sleepin’ with me daughter, under no circumstances. Ya hear?”

    “I do sir,” Seth replied with all the sincerity of a slithering skank after a fortnight of acting lessons. Before he could smear the sincerity to a deeper depth the farmer added, “Unless yer willin’ ta marry ‘er.”

    The children laughed, the mother looked flustered and disappeared into the house while the auburn haired girl seemed unperturbed at the suggestion and its implications.

    It seemed to Seth that this fair skinned maiden, a virginal citadel of carnal desire. I mean virtual… no, a virtuous object of his growing lust, was deliberately leaving the city gates unlocked, perhaps even open.

    With a lascivious look of intent, Seth said. “I am willing, sir. Very willing.”

    “Willing to what?”

    “Marry her, of course.”

    The farmer hollered for another piece of roasted chicken, which was delivered quickly enough, spinning end over end until he snatched it out the air and took a bite. Through successive mouthfuls, he said, “Why would you want to marry a girl ya know nothing about?”

    “I don’t need to know what I can easily surmise, sir. She comes from excellent stock, a prosperous family, a well-mannered father, and a beautiful mother.”

    The farmer called for his wife to bring out their best mead. Logs were thrown on the fire. He sent his sons to spread invitations to his neighbors and a ragged assortment of fellow farmers arrived as the festivities gained steam. All the while, the traveling minstrel allowed his licentious gaze to rest on the lissome woman for long and improper lengths. His attention was returned unabashedly, which only served to make her even more alluring.

    As the evening wore on, more drink was consumed while the farmer negotiated the terms of the dowry. A process during which the farmer sang the praises of his eligible daughter: her sturdy frame, hardy nature and skills in the kitchen. The minstrel, dismissing the claims as salesmanship, drove a hard bargain, for he had nothing to lose and everything to gain. He secured a small sum of silver, a modest piece of farmable land, an Ox of dubious usefulness, and the promise of help from the farmer and several neighbors to help with the raising of a house.

    Once the interested parties were satisfied that no further gain could be gleaned from the other, they shook hands, drank a toast, swore a blood oath and smoked a ritual offering of tobacco. At its conclusion, the farmer suggested that the minstrel might now like to meet his dearly betrothed.

    The minstrel paused in confusion. He gestured toward the pretty girl with the smoky eyes and enticing lips. “Is this lass not your lovely daughter?” He said, slurring his words and nearly falling off his seat as he waved his cup of mead in her direction.

    “Her?” The farmer laughed. “That puny waif is the daughter of my wife’s sister. Pretty she may be, but she’s not mine to give away.”

    One of the neighbors came to congratulate the farmer. “Nicely done Jude. Three down and only two to go.” They clinked their glasses together in a gesture that reeked of collusion. “Can I borrow the lovely lass when you’re done with her? I’ve got two goats that send shivers through the spines of every man who looks at them.”

    “Agreed,” the farmer said. And drank to his health.

    While it is often said that ‘no good deed goes unpunished.’ Evil deeds are the glue that binds us together.

    • Charles Lilburn
      Ken, very nice writing and a good piece of misdirection. I began to catch on when things went too quickly for her to get married, but still, a very good job overall. Liked your dialogue and characterizations. One teeny tiny thing. I think the sentence near the end, I’ve got two goats that send shivers through the spines of every man who looks at them, should be ‘spine’, and singular, or change ‘every man’ to ‘all the men who looks at them’. AND a semicolon after unpunished, and take the capital off evil, because I think the ‘While it is often said’ sentence is incomplete. I really like your story.
    • Literally half way through the story I was shouting at my screen “THIS STORY MAKES NO SENSE!”
      And then chuckled heartily at the bit of misdirection.
      Great job Ken, great job!!
    • Although I believe “no good deed goes unpunished” isn’t the right moral for this story as the minstrel was a traitorous dude who did nothing but lust after a young girl, hardly a good deed.

      I think “Be trustworthy” would have been the better moral to the story. The minstrel wasn’t being very trustworthy as all he cared about was getting up her skirt, if he’d taken the time to do it right he would have found out he was being duped.

      Just my opinion.

    • Phil Town
      Great stuff, Ken. Very funny. It’s basically an extended joke, isn’t it? – that’s a punchline at the end there. But apart from that, the journey getting to the punchline is very entertaining. You’ve got the rural feel down to a T. The dialogue is, as ever, brilliant (except this: “a virginal citadel of carnal desire. I mean virtual… no, a virtuous object”, which is fun but doesn’t belong and took me out of the story [might be just me]). To make the punchline even better, perhaps we could have seen the real daughter? Really enjoyed it.
  • Ken made it in just under the wire, but this story thread is now closed and it’s time to vote. Remember anyone can vote, but if you submitted a story you must vote in order for your story to qualify, and you can not vote for yourself.

    We’ve done away with the “Best Pacing” choice, but everything else is the same.

    Good luck, and thanks for participating writers!

    • Phil Town
      Hi Alice/Carrie

      Congratulations on doing away with ‘pacing’!

      There are 5 boxes on the voting form for 4 stories (not including our own). I put my top story in that box, so please disregard that.



      • Thanks Phil, and no Worries, I will disregard the 5th place votes for everyone who has submitted a story.
  • It’s nice to be back in this group. I had a bit of writer’s rust, but hope to polish the next contribution. Thanks for the excellent feedback…
  • Welcome back Tom!! I had a few appointments this morning, should have the results posted this afternoon.
  • Waiting on Ken, I think he’s going to vote since he submitted a story…I think.
  • Alice, I sent you my votes. My first vote list inadvertently had my name on top, but I resubmitted and hopefully it went through.
  • Hi Tom, I received your votes, thank you 🙂
    • Tom Russell
      Congratulations Roy. Very well written story. I would really like to see this fleshed out with illustrations. Also congrats to Carrie and Phil and to Ken. It’s very enjoyable to be back…
      • Carrie Zylka

        I agree wholeheartedly.
        This would make a fabulous illustrated story!

        • Charles Lilburn
          Thank you, everyone. I just wish there had been a little more participation. (And, that Ken would have voted.)

          I will have to take a look at the story again. Although I illustrated my children’s book and it was fine, illustrations are whimsical things. They can make or break a story. My wonderfully talented wife, however, might be able to do it, if I persuade her. I’ll see. Looking forward to the next contest and am wondering what sort of eclipsical story and secret I can come up with.

          The stories were, as always, varied and interesting. Let’s see, Blood Moon, no…umm..Solar Entity,no…Total Eclipse of the Heart,no…already taken. Gosh, I’m gonna have to think about this.

          Congratulations to everyone. Love this group of writers.

          • Carrie Zylka

            Or maybe “she was so fat she eclipsed the sun” 🤣🤣🤣

    • Tom Russell
      Also, great work Alice and Carrie⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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