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Bonus Writing Prompts

Writing Prompt “The Misunderstanding”

To avoid voting confusion with the Culture Clash contest, this bonus prompt has been extended an extra day.

Theme: The Misunderstanding.

We posted this last week after I (Carrie) misunderstood the meaning behind the prompt Vicki chose. I thought it was still a great prompt (and great image!) so I’m running with it.

The story should contain the dialogue “whether intentional or not, you misunderstood….” somewhere in the story.


  • a red article of clothing

Word Count: 1,200

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53 thoughts on “Writing Prompt “The Misunderstanding”

  • Read the stories here:

    (If you don’t see your story linked in this comment within a day or two, feel free to use the contact form to let us know we somehow missed it.

    Meanwhile, please be patient, moderators are not always online. We’ll get to it as soon as possible. Thank you.)

    • Signing in. Finally got my act together.
      Ken Frape
  • Signing in for ‘The Misunderstanding’. I think it’s classic there was a misunderstanding in posting this. There’s a story for you Carrie!


    • Ken Miles
      Haha – good one Roy!
      • Roy York
        Thanks Ken, Hey, I just saw an ad for glasses that eliminate blue light rays from computer and phone screens that are harmful to people’s eyes. Check it out, might be a sight saver, and maybe a life saver. I’ll admit I’m bummed you have to slow down for awhile, so I’m practicing medicine, now.


        • Hi Roy and Ken M,
          My daughter, who wears contact lenses and getstired eyes from working at a computer screen xhours a day has bought the glasses you have mentioned. She says they are great. Give them a go and, if necessary, I can send you a link to the sellers

          Ken Frape

          • Roy York
            Ken F.,

            See, this is why this is such a great site. Hope Ken M., Tries them.


          • Hi Ken, thanks for your concern and info. Yes, please send me the link. No harm giving them a try!

            I got your emails too, thanks! I’ll be leaving you a note there too.

            As for my presence here, I’ve discovered I still got stories to contribute, ones I’ve written way back that happened to match the current prompts (see my reply to Roy, above, below, wherever it went!)… so I’m sort of still around to some extent!


        • Hi Roy and thanks for your concern. I’m moved to hear that I’m going to be missed in here.

          But I’m not totally out… I’ve had an idea: I’d dig in my old repertoire of stories and if something happens to match the prompts (and I remember of its existence and where it is!), I’ll dust it a little and post it in here! In fact, I have a story for this prompt and also for the “Culture Clash” prompt (already posted). That’s not too taxing on my eyes… (shhh!)

          On the blue light glasses, please let me know of the ad you saw. If they’re available online, I might order them. I have, of course for quite a while now, dimmed to a minimum the blue light on all my devices (both Apple and Microsoft have that function now), but apparently it’s still not enough… If I also add the glasses, maybe…


  • People Ain’t Property
    by Robt. Emmett ©2020

    It started when Fitz said, “Whether intentional or not, you misunderstood when Jerry said to your face, ‘“You try to take Fitz home from skating, and I’ll beat the livin’ shit outta ya.’ And Bill, I don’t want to see you hurt.”

    I stopped talking to Harry when I heard Johnny and Bob charging up his billiard parlor’s stairs. He hates his place being called a pool hall. They sounded like a herd of elephants. Bob leaned on the newel post at the top of the stairs and tried to speak but couldn’t.
    “Bob,” I said, “you winded?”
    He gave me both fingers and croaked, “And the horse you rode in on!”
    “Bill, if you wanna know about this Fitz chick, you buy us a Coke,” Johnny said, “and I’ll tell ya what I learned.”
    His hitting me up for drinks meant it was important. Bob and I sat on the windowsill overlooking Superior Street. Johnny was wound up like a fresh fart and paced the floor.
    Wiping the bottle top with his plaid shirtsleeve, then Johnny chugged a couple times. “This Jerry character is a junior at Morgan Park High. On Saturday nights, he and his two buddies hang out at Richie’s Drive-inn. You know, it’s the place on the west side of Morgan Park.” I nodded. “He’s going steady with a chick named Terri. She’s a sophomore at Denfeld. I’ll get her last name from a guy I know. Then on Monday nights, he and his buds hang out at the A & W in Cloquet. Guess what?” I shrugged. “He’s got a steady there, Mary Sue Hendrickson. According to a carhop, I know there.” He winked. “They park in a dark corner and neck after they have their burgers and strawberry malts.” He chugged his Coke again.
    “Wow, a three-timer,” I said. The term three-timer shot over Bob’s head. “He’s going steady with Fitz, Terri somebody, and this Mary Sue,” I said. The TILT light on Bob’s forehead went out.
    Johnny held up four fingers. “Four. A chick in Proctor, Carla Demming, is going steady with him also. He sees her on Friday evenings. They are regulars at the High School hop, dancing up a storm.” Johnny pointed the top of his bottle at his ear. “So, I hear.”
    “Busy lad,” I said. “How’d you find all this out in such a short time?”
    “The hard part was finding out what kinda wheels he rolls. Then it was a piece of cake.”
    Bob tilted his head, “Piece of cake, how?”
    “He drives a Burlingame Red and Caspian Cream 1955 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Starfire convertible. Now, just how many of those have you seen prowling the Duluth streets. Huh?”
    I shook my head, “None.”
    “Exactamundo! I have relatives all over the Northland. With the car’s description, I asked, and the family answered.” He chugged the last of his Coke and cut loose a tonsil-wrecking belch.
    “So, what’s our plan?” Bob asked. Then he tilted his Coke to drink. Nothing, but he kept tilting until the bottle was vertical. “Who drank my soda?”
    I looked at Johnny, “Plan, plan for what?”
    “We’re going to beat his ass, right, Billy?”
    “Ah, no, I don’t think so,” I said.
    Johnny slammed his empty bottle on the windowsill. “Hell, we ain’t! Damn, after I’ve done all this investigatin’, some bad shit better go down. I mean it, Bill. This BMOC at Morgan Park needs to come down a peg or three.”
    Bob’s eyes crossed. “BMOC?”
    “Big Man On Campus,” Johnny said.
    Bob nodded and looked down his bottle, hoping there was a drop or two left.
    Johnny got in my face. “If you ain’t gonna kick his ass, I will. Damn straight, I will.”
    “Not your fight, Johnny.” I drained my drink, grabbed all the empty bottles, and walked them to the rear of the pool hall. I needed time to think. Johnny, as usual, wanted a fistfight. Bob, not the fighting type, would play cheerleader. I wasn’t afraid to fight. I just didn’t relish it as much as Johnny did. Also, there were Jerry’s two buddies to think about. I knew Johnny, and I could do a two on three. We’d win, but at what cost? I needed a way to keep the casualty list small, namely to just Jerry. I dropped the bottles in the wooden case. On the walk back to the window, I thought about Jerry and his four girlfriends. I thought about what I’d just said to Johnny. BAM, it hit me.
    Bob elbowed Johnny. “Look, Bill’s got a plan. I can tell by his silly-ass grin.”

    Jerry parked near the entrance to the Curling Club. The three of them stepped out of the distinctive Oldsmobile. He took his sweat time grooming his ducktail to perfection. After checking the pack of smokes rolled in his grungy white T-shirt’s left sleeve, he started toward the entrance and his Wednesday night skate date with Fitz.
    She stepped into the light. He stopped. The cuffs of her jeans were rolled to the prescribed three inches and the sleeves of her bright white blouse, precisely one inch; She’d read the memo. He started to say something but paused when Terri, Mary Sue, and Carla joined Fitz. They’d read the dressed code notice also. Four pairs of clenched fists held him dead in his tracks.
    His two buddies stepped forward.
    Johnny said. “Not your fight.” They turned and saw Bob, Johnny, and two of his cousins. At least, he said they were his cousins. Personally, I think they’re two gorillas on a day pass from the Duluth Zoo. “Just relax and watch.”

    It wasn’t pretty. Even Johnny winced coupla times when Terri yanked on his pompadour, and Carla punched him in his face. Bob crossed his legs and moaned sympathetically when the shoe Mary Sue planted lifted Jerry a foot in the air. He curled up on the ground. The dust-up was over. Thanks to two of Johnny’s other cousins, kids from every school in Duluth were there to watch the whole thing go down. His ladies’ man reputation was ruined.
    Grabbing the front of his bloody shirt and leaning him against his car door, I suggested he stay away from Fitz. As he wasn’t in a condition to drive, I pushed him into the rear seat. Johnny frog-marched one of the buddies behind the wheel of the Olds. “You drive. And if I see any of you east of Mesaba Avenue, I’ll rip off your head and piss down your neck! You got that?” They nodded and left
    Fitz and I walked around the parking lot and picked up Jerry’s Lucky Strike cigarettes. We didn’t want the little tikes to get any bad habits.
    The six of us headed toward the Curling Club to skate and to celebrate the fall of Morgan Park’s BMOC. Johnny asked Terri to be his skate-date. Carla called it an evening and grabbed the bus to Proctor. Mary Sue sweet-talked Bob into paying her way to skate. The grin on his face said he didn’t mind at all.
    I stopped, and she looked up at me. “What Fitz?”
    She smiled, “Now you can drive me home.”
    — Ԙ —

    • Hi Robt.

      This is a really good, atmospheric piece of writing. It sounds so authentic. The language and the dialogue just zip along and the way you have written it helps me, who is a stranger to the culture in the story, to fully grasp what is going on.

      A really good way to sort out this problem without the testosterone punch-up, so well done in Jack Reacher novels but hard to recreate.

      I really hope a few more stories appear to give you some competition. This story deserves a wider readership.

      Kind regards,

      Ken Frape

    • Good dialogue, Robt. You lay on the atmosphere a little too thickly in some places, but, I suppose that’s forgivable. I mean, the rolled up sleeves and pants, the lucky strikes, the soc hops. It’s very ‘West Side Story.’ (Without the dancing.) And that’s fine, but the “He drives a Burlingame Red and Caspian Cream 1955 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Starfire convertible.’ This line is too detailed to be believable, EVEN IF THEY DID KNOW THIS INFO, it would’ve been delivered differently. Like:
      “He drives a red and cream ’55 Olds Ninety-Eight.”


      “A Starfire, convertible.”

      “Oh, well that does narrow it down, doesn’t it.”

      All in all an entertaining story all the way through.

      • Can I buy the rights to,
        “He drives a red and cream ’55 Olds Ninety-Eight.”
        “A Starfire convertible.”
        “Oh, well, that does narrow it down, doesn’t it.”

        Pardon the pun, it Fitz so well.

        • Haha, ‘It Fitz so well.’ Very punny.

          I’m sure you’re kidding, Robert. But in case you’re not, you’re welcome to it. Could use minor punctuation adjustments, so, you know, technically it’d be different anyway.

  • Thanks, Ken, for your comments. Glad to enlighten you on the culture which formed me. As usual, you’ve finished and are, as we speak, doing a final edit. But if there are no other posts, I’ll end up in second.
    Here is a little more on me and my “culture.” My home town – Picture in your head a city three miles wide with six high schools dotted along its twenty-eight-mile length. And that’s not counting the all-girl private school. To compound the problem(s), there are six more high schools within a twenty-five-minute drive. There was a sock-hop at a third of the 12 (13) schools on any given Friday and Saturday evening. (Note our high schools are grades 9-12. It’s worth noting that many of those students have access to vehicles.
    It was not wise, or healthy, for guys from one school to go to a dance at another school’s sock-hop. It’s called a sock-hop because shoes were not allowed on the gym floor. This was in the days before bulletproof varnish. Being from a parochial school I was/ marginally accepted at all the city schools as long as I didn’t violate the RULE. “If a young lady had any kind of trinket, on a chain, about her neck – don’t even look at her, let alone think about asking her to dance.” Violators often woke up in the dark corner of the school parking lot bruised, battered, bloody, and wondering how they got that way. Such was the mid to late 50s.
    There was a Jerry, Fitz, Carla, Mary Sue, Terri, and Johnny. The dust-up at the Curling Club happened. Which only proves that my memory is better than my imagination.

    by Ken Miles
    (1,200 words)

    “I get, like, a couple women a month, here, in front of the White House, since the standoff with the Moon started, all claiming to be in love with Molitor,” President Wilhelm Breadworth told her.

    But he did have an inkling that this woman they brought to him was unlike the others.

    “Some strip off to their waist,” he continued, allowing himself to grin at that, “they have messages painted on their breasts. One woman even burnt herself alive. What makes you different?”

    “I’m still fully dressed, as you can see,” Ada told him, fixing a stare at him, “haven’t set myself on fire.”

    He eyed her for a long minute, noticing her bulging belly under her stylish red jacket.

    “I see you’re pregnant?”

    She nodded.

    “Don’t you have more pertinent things to think about, instead of campaigning for the Lunatics?”

    “It’s his.”

    “His? Whose? What?”

    “I’m carrying Molitor’s baby,” she waited for his stunned reaction and then went on, “it’s a boy, Molitor doesn’t know that yet, the phonelinks with the Moon have been down for months, you know… ”

    A tear rolled down her cheek.

    The President glanced at the Earth-Moon Hotline set on his desk, long silent since the crisis started. He worked it out quickly in his head. The last Earth-flights from the Moon were in February, right after the Lunatics made that shock declaration of independence. Eight months. Yes, that pregnancy was possible. He was starting to believe her.

    “What’s your name, Ma’am?”



    “Just Ada.”

    “Just Ada, eh? You Moon-Yank hippies go by first-names only. Yeah?” President Breadworth was known for his gaffes with words, which he made up for with his gregarious charm.

    She didn’t react, so he went on.

    “So tell me, what’s Molitor like? I wish I got to know the lad before this storm started. That teen rascal rose in ranks before we even had the chance to meet. And so impatient he was to press the independence button…”

    “He’s surely not the monster you picture him. And he’s twenty-eight.”

    “Okay. Between you and I, Ada, is Molitor as in love with you as you are with him?”

    “He is, Mr. President.”

    “Willie. Call me Willie, I’m a Lunatic, too! At heart.”

    She smiled a little.

    “Then, if he loves you, as much as you say he does… and he knows very well you are down here, doesn’t he?” the President continued, protracting his words as usual, “then, why’s he sending this to kill us? How could your loverboy do that to us? To you?”

    He clicked on his mouse until a hologram filled the room all the way from floor to ceiling. A large cosmic body traveled slowly towards them.

    “That, Ada, is a comet. Live footage. Now, what’s special about it is that it’s heading towards us. And what’s even more special, it has rockets attached to it – these silvery things here, see? Your loverboy’s guiding them from the Moon.”

    “Can’t be!” Ada protested.

    Can be!”

    “Molitor’s not like that. He won’t hurt a fly. Less so destroy the world! And I’m here. It’s impossible. I’m living proof you’ve got your information wrong, Mr. President.”

    “Willie.” He reminded her.

    “I wanted to shoot at the comet, blow it up, but my men-in-labsuits said that would turn it into a million shrapnels each the size of this house. The only way we can stop it is to cut off the fingers guiding it. You see that red button there? I press it and no more moonlit barbeques. If I don’t, in just another hour – 52 minutes, now – that comet leaves its trajectory, enters Earth’s atmosphere and we’re history…”

    “I beg you! Don’t blow up the Moon! It’s not Molitor doing this. He’d do nothing like that. Won’t hurt me! Whether intentional or not, you misunderstood him…”

    “He never offered me an olive branch…”

    “Coming from you! You cut off the Moon’s water supply. I was there when the last watership arrived. You can’t begin to imagine the distress…”

    “Your dear Molitor reminds me of me at sixteen. I left home, first sweet taste of freedom. I even showed Dad my middle-finger. But independence my foot! I ran dry, the motel guy kicked me out, I returned to my old man tail between my legs. The Lunatics did great things, got oxygen to the Moon, mastered all things spacey. But too soon they threw overboard the tea! They forgot they needed our water, like I needed Dad’s dollars. I didn’t turn off the tap on them, dear Ada. They did. And now this…” he pointed at the comet, “this is their middle-finger at us. It’s the same war I had with my Dad.”

    A knock on the door and a man in a hurry and a labsuit got inside.

    “Mr. President, we’re running out of time. Press that button, or we won’t be able to turn that comet back! Another 35 minutes’s all we have left!”

    “Dr. Sushikov, do you believe in love?”

    Sushikov just glared at the President. That man frustrated him. Especially when things were urgent.

    “This woman here, she’s Molitor’s babe. And she’s carrying his son, too. Molitor wouldn’t do anything to hurt them, would he? Shall I believe her or you?”

    “Thirty-three minutes, now. Sir!” With that, the top-scientist barged out the same way he had barged in.

    The President locked the Oval Office and ignored the frantic knocks and phonecalls that followed.

    “I believe in love, Ada. I may be wrong, and if I am, we’ll soon be dead. But I’d rather be dead and a believer. Than press that button. May I feel your belly, is the lil’ one a rebel like his dad?”

    Five minutes. Four. Three. Two. One. Fifty-nine seconds, 58, 57, 56…

    Ada looked at the President, haloed by the approaching comet glowing monstrously behind him as it got closer to the point of no return.

    Thirty-seven seconds. 36, 35, 34…

    “It’s the end, isn’t it?” the President lamented.

    Twenty seconds, 19, 18, 17…

    “It’s been nice knowing you, Ada.”

    Six seconds, 5, 4, 3, 2…

    “Willie! It’s turning!”

    The President looked behind him at the hologram and the comet really seemed to be heading elsewhere now. He dialled Sushikov’s number.

    “Sushi-boy, what the hell’s going on?”

    “The damn thing’s spun-off our gravity and is actually heading to the Moon itself!”

    “Kamikaze? But why?”

    Tense moments followed.

    “It’s melting, Sir!”

    “Melting, you say?”

    “A comet’s tail’s mostly ice. This might sound incredible, Sir, but it’s raining on the Moon!”

    “I figure it! Those rascals got their own water!”

    The President and Ada walked out onto the terrace. The Moon in the night sky lit up in colors.

    “Fireworks! Them hippies know how to have a party! Good ole’ sixteen-year-old me! If I just could’ve pulled one like that on my Dad!”

    He went in again to bring pen and paper.

    “I’m going to sign the Lunar Independence Declaration, and you, young lady will deliver it in person to President Molitor…

    “…I’ll be remembered as the President who lost the Moon…

    “..but who allowed love to win!”

    He signed the hand-written declaration.

    “Here, for you, first First Lady of the Moon!”

    • Very clever humor here, Ken. One minor error. ‘A comet’s tail is mostly ice.’ Should be, ‘A comet is mostly ice.’ A clever astronomical plot twist though. I didn’t see it coming. It’s a fun little story.
      • Ken Miles
        Thanks, Ken and I’m glad you liked it, humor and all. I wrote the original of this in my school days (with some touches to fit the prompt), at a time when my interest in women’s breasts was far greater than my knowledge of the exact composition of comets (by now, my knowledge of both noble sciences is more or less equal). Anyhow, you’re right, there’s a solid core, and a lot of ice, and not just in the tails of comets. I missed that bit. But I was keen to mention the introduction of oxygen on the moon. Or else the brains in here would have caught me out on the theme of fireworks on an inert lunar surface!

        I’m finding this method of digging in my old stories a good solution to my present predicament with having to drastically cut down my time in front of screens… So far, I’ve found a story for each one of the two running prompts. I have literally hundreds of stories written over the years and buried in old hard disks. Some of them ought to better remain buried, but some others can be made presentable with a little tweak…


    • Hi Ken M,

      Good to see you still around. Re the blue glasses my daughter couldn’t find the exact link but suggests any site advertising “blue light blocking glasses” and thinks Amazon has stock.

      This is a great story, fun and full of interesting twists and turns. I do like the whole notion of the future of humans exploring other planets for somewhere else to fuck up, in due course. We have tremendous capacity for survival as well as tremendous capacity for self-destruction.

      The notion of a huge meteor / comet heading for Earth is so very plausible and there is abundant evidence that this has already happened i.e. dinosaurs.Water on the moon from a melted comet is a great touch too.

      Nice one Ken.
      Kind regards,
      Ken Frape

      • Ken Miles
        Hi Ken, yes I’m still around (somehow). I found old stories I’d nearly forgotten I had written, that happened to match the current prompts. I’m not sure if I’ll be that lucky with the coming prompts, but we’ll see… (Alyssa? What’s coming up tomorrow?)

        I’ll look for the blue light filter glasses, hoping I won’t fall upon some coloured-mica scam. Perhaps a known brand name is best.

        I’m pleased you found my intrigue-of-astronomical-proportions tale both fun and interesting. I’m now going to patent this idea of comet-water on the Moon. NASA or the moonwater division of Gazprom will have to award me a cut of their profits one day!


  • Carrie Zylka

    A Bit of an Overreaction by Carrie Zylka
    (722 words)

    *Warning language*

    The winds tore through the trees, debris flying everywhere, garbage from half a mile away piling up against the front fence.

    Joe cringed as he heard the sharp CRACK and the thump of the branch hitting the roof of the three season room. He groaned as he heard the crash of the windows shattering and the roof caving in.

    He could do nothing but sit and wait it out.

    The Oklahoma storm lasted through the night; Joe didn’t get much sleep. The power went out sometime after midnight, as the winds lessened he somehow forced himself to get a few hours of shuteye, knowing tomorrow would be a long day of clean up.

    The next morning, he got up to assess the damage.

    His girlfriend Nora arrived in her shiny red pick-up truck around 8:30 with coffee in hand. She lived in an apartment building built in the 1940’s with underground parking. Nothing short of a tsunami would have taken that building down so he hadn’t been too worried about her.

    He was near tears when she arrived, trying to figure out if his homeowners insurance was going to cover all this.

    She got out, her bright blond hair shining in the warm morning sun. She snuggled up to him and wrapped her arms around his torso, pressing her cheek against his red flannel shirt. “What a mess.” She said quietly.

    He took a big gulp of the coffee she’d handed him. “Powers out. Water too. So, thank you. I’ll have to pee in the bushes for the time being I suppose.” He said and ran a hand through his unruly hair.

    “I figured; it is most across town. I had to go to the Kwik Trip way over on Grandhaven to get some coffee for you.”

    They walked around to the front. Grocery bags, fast food cups and random litter was pressed up against the fence line. “Ugh, I can’t believe I have all this shit in my yard.” Joe muttered.

    Nora looked at him sharply. Her demeanor changed as the surveyed the damage.

    They walked around to the back of the house and Joe let out a big sigh.

    “Joe,” Nora said, her voice tight.

    “Yeah?” He asked as he pushed against the huge branch experimentally.

    “Who’s Alice?”

    Joe tried pushing harder but the branch wouldn’t budge. “Who?”


    “I don’t know any Alice.” He moved around and put the coffee on the back step.

    “Alice.” She gritted her teeth and placed her fists on her hips. “This is the first time I’ve heard of her.”

    Joes pulled his work gloves out of his pockets and began putting them on. He gave her an annoyed look, bracing himself for another one of her random Instagram women accusations. “Who are you talking about?”

    “Alice. You know goddam well who the fuck I’m talking about.”

    “Nora, what the fuck are you talking about? I don’t know any Alice.”

    Her eyes narrowed and her voice lowered to that dangerous pitch women assume right before they are about to raise it several octaves. “Then why did you bring her up?”


    “And why the hell are you letting her shit in your yard?”

    “What in the blue hell are you carrying on about? I’m not letting anyone shit in my yard?”

    “Ohhhhhhhh ok. I guess I’m just making this up in my head. YOU are allowing some girl you’ve probably been talking to on Instagram to shit in YOUR yard????? Why can’t she shit in her own fucking yard you asshole?”

    Joe turned to her. “I literally have no idea what you’re babbling on about, as usual whether intentional or not, you misunderstood something, somewhere, at some point. But in case you hadn’t noticed I’m a bit busy and I don’t have time for this!”

    “Really? Mister Captain Save a Ho. Always the Knight in Shining Armor to the slut who needs it?”

    “You’re freaking nuts. I don’t know any Alice!!”

    “You are such a jerk, you always do this, you always try to gaslight me when I catch you talking to some other bitch. You literally just said I can’t believe Alice is shitting in my yard. SO FOR THE LAST GODDAM TIME BEFORE I REALLY LOSE IT, WHO THE FUCK IS ALICE AND WHY ARE YOU LETTING HER SHIT IN YOUR YARD??!!”

    • Vicki Chvatal
      LOL Carrie – that is one major misunderstanding! And at the worst possible time, too.
    • In my experience, just because you know what someone is talking about, doesn’t mean they’re not nuts.
    • Hi Carrie,

      It took a little while to figure it out but I got there in the end. Poor Alice. She doesn’t even exist and yet she has managed to cause all this trouble.

      Kind regards,

      Ken Frape

  • I agree with Joe. I literally have no idea what you’re babbling on about, …
    • Carrie Zylka

      You’ll laugh your ass off when you figure it out!

      It has nothing to do with our Alice, it has to do with speaking clearly to avoid misunderstandings!

      • Hey what’re you all doing up there? You got three stories in the hopper, waiting for their blue fonts and their links. Are you hunting geese again, or turkeys? Don’t you have wi-fi in your base-camp? Or one of those satellite phones, like they had in Jurassic Park? (So twenty years ago.) I’m thinking of filing a complaint with the President. I’ll bet he’d have something to say about this kind of substandard digital management.
        I’ll tell you how serious I was. I was so serious, I asked Kim, “what’s the president’s name?”
        “No, not him, the president of Google.”
        “Ohhhh,” she said. “Google has a president?” She didn’t know. I don’t know either. (This is why we’re poor, some people say.)
        • Customer Service Department for the Fiction Website
          Please submit all communication to the Complaints Department. Our President is far too busy for you peasants complaining about blue fonts and such…….
          • #1 Okay, so your answer is funnier than my complaint. I’ll give you that. (Mr. Anonymous Complaint Department official.)

            #2 The President… (this comment deleted by anonymouth fortheth of the cue, (anon, the poet-th of dithcord.) I’m JOKING people.

            #3 The President of Google is Sundai Pichai. Although some sources say his real name is Pichai Sundararijan. (Indians, you gotta love ’em. They’re like an entire race of ‘Prince.’)

            #4 Your title is ‘Customer Service’ but you advise me to direct complaints to the ‘Complaints Department.’ So…You are not the ‘complaints department’ yourself, you’re merely ‘directing’ me there; and ‘Complaints Department’ is plural, so it sounds as if you have had more than one complaint. (You don’t keep records for that sort of thing, do you?)
            #5 I’d be devilishly interested in what other complaints you may have had, and how they were resolved. If you could get that to me in the next couple of days that’d be great.

            Thanks so much. Well, carry on then. Keep up the good work.

            Nameless Peasant
            ps. If you ever need any help with cows. Call me. I’m very good with cows.

  • Phil Town


    “So, Miss Verstandnis, you admit that you killed your husband, Derek Abweichler, with a frying pan to the head.”

    “Yes, and it broke the frying pan.”

    “All right, but that’s neither here nor there, is it?”

    “It was a good frying pan!”

    “Be that as it may, Miss–”

    “My cousin gave it to us for our wedding. Kept the heat really even. I’m not a fan of fried food, but you could do a very nice risotto in that, and also–”

    “Miss Verstandnis, let’s get back to the important facts, please. Now, it says here that you were married to Mr Abweichler for seven years, is that right?”

    “Yes, that’s right.”

    “One thing: why didn’t you take his name? Why are you still calling yourself ‘Verstandnis’?”

    “Well, it’s so ‘old school’, isn’t it, Inspector, changing your name? For a start, that name … it’s horrible. And I’m a modern woman, you see. We modern women–”

    “Kill their husbands?”

    “Sometimes, yes.”

    “I see. I’m glad my wife’s not so modern then.”

    “Who knows what the future may bring, Inspector.”

    “Yes. Well. Thank you for that. Back to the main topic of our conversation.”

    “The frying pan?”

    “THE MURDER, MISS VERSTANDNIS! (Heaven help us). The murder.”

    “Very well. What would you like to know?”

    “The motive. Why did you do it?”

    “It’s funny, when you think about it.”

    “Murder isn’t funny, Miss Verstandnis.”

    “Wait till you hear what I’ve got to say.”

    “Go on.”

    “So on this particular afternoon …”

    “Tuesday, 13 October?”

    “Yes. And here’s an odd fact. Did you know that Tuesday the 13th is unlucky in Spain? Here it’s Friday the 13th. There it’s Tuesday the 13th.”

    “I didn’t know that, no. But what has that got to do with you murdering your husband?”

    “Nothing, unless the day had some … influence over my reaction.”

    “We’re in Manchester, Miss Verstandnis, not Madrid.”


    “So on this particular afternoon …?”

    “I came home early. I had very bad period pains, and you know what that’s like, Inspector.”

    “Oddly enough no, I don’t. But anyway …”

    “I get them really bad, and at that time of the month, well, I must admit that I get a little … emotional. Perhaps that had some influence over my reaction, too? Anyway, on this particular afternoon I couldn’t bear to be in the office another minute, so I came home early.”

    “As you said.”

    “Yes. I came home early and opened the front door. Derek had been laid off. So he could have been at home or out, I wasn’t to know.”

    “But he was at home?”

    “Well, I didn’t think so at first. The house was very quiet. So I went to the kitchen to make myself some tea. I noticed that Derek had done all the washing up from the night before. That was our deal: I’d be the breadwinner until he found a new job and he’d do all the housework. And actually he did it with relish and was really rather good at it.”

    “The house was empty, then?”

    “As I said, I thought so. I made a pot of tea and left it to stand while I went to change.”

    “You went upstairs?”

    “Actually, I was at the bottom of the stairs, about to go up, and I stopped. I thought I heard a noise coming from upstairs. A kid of faint moaning.”

    “A man or a woman?”

    “A man. I called up: ‘Del? Is that you?’ The moaning stopped immediately and then I could hear a shuffling about and a cupboard door bang.”

    “What did you think it was?”

    “What do you think I thought it was?”

    “I’m interested in what you thought it was.”

    “Of course I thought it was Derek … let’s say, ‘having a bit on the side.’ ”

    “And you went upstairs?”

    “I did. Double quick. I burst into the bedroom – OUR bedroom – and Derek was standing there, stark naked, his tiny penis still erect.”

    “Too much information, Miss Verstandnis!”

    “Well, the size of his penis IS quite pertinent. You see, our sex life hadn’t been so … fulfilling really.”

    “You mean–”

    “He never fully filled me. And because of that, I’d lost a bit of interest. And I think that’s maybe why he strayed.”

    “You say he was standing … ‘stark naked’. Where, exactly?”

    “In front of the wardrobe. So naturally I assumed …”

    “You assumed that his lover was in the wardrobe?”

    “What would you have assumed?”

    “I’ve never been in that situation, so I don’t know.”

    “And I hope you never are, Inspector.”

    “So you went back downstairs?”

    “No, of course not. I needed to be sure, so I pushed Derek to one side.”

    “Was that easy?”

    “Easy peasy. He was puny, really.”

    “Okay, and …?”

    “I opened the doors to the wardrobe.”

    “And …?”

    “I looked inside.”

    “And …?”

    “No woman.”

    “There was no woman in the wardrobe?”

    “That’s what I said.”

    “So where was she?”

    “ ’She’ who?”

    “The lover.”

    “Ah, I said there was no WOMAN in the wardrobe …”

    “A man?”

    “Good God, no! There was no woman but there WAS a dress of mine, on the wardrobe floor.”

    “Fallen off the hanger?”

    “That’s what I thought at first, but then I looked over at the bed.”

    “The woman?”

    “A piece of material, red, poking out of the sheets.”

    “What was it?”

    “I pushed Derek out of the way again – he really was puny – and went to see. It was a pair of knickers. Red, lacy knickers.”


    “Inspector! Do I look like a woman who would wear red knickers?”

    “Well …”

    “Thank you, I’m sure. No, these weren’t my knickers. So that’s when I exploded!”

    “Not literally, I suppose.”

    “You are funny, Inspector. No. I stormed out of the room and ran downstairs, too angry to even think straight.”

    “And Mr Abweichler followed you?”

    “After a minute or so. He came into the kitchen in his boxers and a T-shirt. And that’s when it all kicked off.”

    “You had an argument?”

    “And then some. ‘Where is she?!’ I yelled. ‘Nowhere,’ he bleated. ‘Who is she?!’ I screamed. ‘It’s no one,’ he whimpered. ‘Then whose knickers are those?’ I roared.”

    “And what did he say?”

    “ ‘Mine’.”


    “No, his!”

    “Ah, I see. That must have been quite awkward.”

    “Awkward?! I was disgusted! Incensed! And feeling stupid that I’d misread the situation. I hadn’t intended to, of course. The natural thing would be to suspect a fling.”

    “Naturally. Whether intentional or not, you misunderstood.”


    “And then?”

    “I was standing near the sink and turned round. The frying pan was sitting there on the draining board.”

    “And you hit him with it?”

    “I threw it at him. I’m a terrible shot normally – darts, bowls – but this time I hit him square on. Bullseye!”

    “I see. So it was all a tragic accident. Is that what you’re saying?”

    “Those are the facts. Call it what you like.”

    “But you seem to have no remorse, Miss Verstandnis.”

    “Oh, I regret it all right.”

    “You do?”

    “Yes. I loved that frying pan.”


    • Very funny story Philip. It’s almost all dialogue. (A significant achievement to my way of thinking.) I can almost hear Johnny Cochran for the defense. ‘If the fryin’ pan didn’t hit, you’d have to acquit.’
      My favorite character? The frying pan.
      • Phil Town
        Thanks, Ken. “Very funny” coming from you is praise indeed.
    • Hi Phil,

      Great work my friend. The dialogue is crisp, sharp and really funny. Well I laughed out loud anyway.

      I really like the way the suspect gives such literal responses throughout. I could list a few examples but you know which ones they are so I won’t need to point them out but one at the end sums things up with, “I loved that frying pan.”

      This is a super piece of writing that really nails the prompt too.

      Kind regards,

      Ken Frape

      • Phil Town
        You’re very kind as always, Ken. Glad you enjoyed it!
    • Well done Phil,
      A clear winner.
      Great stuff.

      Kind regards,

      Ken Frape.

  • Quetzalcoatl.
    K. Cartisano

    Latin music filled the air as a procession of scantily dressed women paraded down the boulevard. Stone buildings lined both sides of the street and every house was adorned with colorful, well-tended flower boxes.


    Rafe eyed the foreigner the way a diver might watch a lobster on the hoof. He hissed at his sidekick, Teo. “Teo. Look at this. Who is that? And what’s he doing in our backyard?”

    Teo simply saw a tall stranger, wearing a distinctive red scarf around his neck, looking a little hungover.

    “What d’you think, Teo, does he look like he needs help?”

    Teo caught on. “Ahh, yes, we help him. We help ourselves.”

    “Well, I wouldn’t put it so crudely, my friend. Let me do the talking, okay?”


    Despite his attempts to avoid unwanted attention, clearly, someone had slipped something into Josh’s food or drink the night before. He was wary enough to secure himself and his valuables before succumbing to the drug. Still, it was a cautionary experience, and he was still feeling the after-effects when he noticed two grungy looking locals, approaching from across a littered sandlot.

    The cleanest of the two addressed him. “Can I help you, senior?”

    “Are you the guide I spoke to over the phone?” Josh asked. “I’m supposed to meet a guide. Somewhere near…” He had to suppress a sudden wave of nausea.

    “A guide? Yes. Yes I am.” Rafe assured him.

    “Yes, but are you ‘my’ guide? I spoke to a gentleman…”

    “Yes, sir. That was me.”

    “I’m sorry, I forgot your name.”

    “Then we are even, I forgot yours, too. Name’s Rafe. That is my associate, Teo. You look a little green around the gills, my friend. Can I get you some water?”

    Josh spurned the offer. “No, I’m okay. Look, if you recall our discussion, and I doubt that you do, we’ll need two small boats, a month’s worth of food, assorted dry goods, weapons, maps, tools, water…”

    “A gallon of Tequila.” Teo suggested.

    Josh bristled. “No.” He wagged his finger at Teo. “No booze.”

    When Josh was gone, Rafe spread the money out like a fan, waving it under Teo’s nose. Josh had advanced him five-thousand in cash to procure two small motorized vessels, gas, water and other essential goods. He’d supplied him with a list. It was almost too good to be true.

    “We could buy a lot of tequila with this, eh? Teo?”

    His young cousin Teo looked cross. “When did you get a phone, and when were you going to tell me?”

    Rafe counted the money again. “You’ll be the first to know, Teo, as soon as I get one.”

    This admission pleased Teo. “So what do we do now? Disappear?”

    Rafe shook his head. “No. We go shopping.”

    Teo frowned at the idea, but as the day progressed, he gradually put the pieces together and clapped Rafe on the shoulder. “I think I see your plan now,” he said. “We guide him out to the swamp, take the rest of his money, and toss him to the crocodiles.”

    “This, Teo, is why you eat what scraps I feed you, and not the other way around. Our friend Josh is a treasure hunter, who has no need to search for something he’s already located.”

    “He told you this?” Teo was sullen.

    “No, not in so many words, but I can feel it, Teo. I can hear it in his voice. He’s not searching for something he’s heard about, he’s already found it. He’s returning for something he knows is already here.”

    They stood there, squinting at the pile of equipment they’d purchased. Among the supplies were shovels, hammers and pick-axes. Teo nodded, “And this time he plans to bring it back with him.”

    “Exactly.” Rafe agreed. “And at some point, he will wish to dispose of us. He has a strange, alarming lack of fear, Teo. I don’t trust him.”

    Rafe had acquired two sturdy boats with make-shift plastic roofs. A brilliant move, Josh noted, as it rained every day at least once, but more often only once, all day, without end. The supplies were secured and mostly dry, the weapons were few but well chosen and oiled. They had plenty of ammo.

    Ten days elapsed as they motored up the Amazon.

    They faced several deadly challenges: Like the Headhunters of Wasa Tupay, the eight ounce mosquitoes of Hada Nitchee, and the ‘Glass Slipper Eels’ of one newly minted banana republic near the base of Victoria Falls. But who cares? The point is, despite daunting odds, and deadly obstacles, they found themselves whole, in one piece, at a small outpost on the edge of the swamp in the middle of the vast Amazonian rain forest.

    Mold grew on everything that wasn’t already covered with algae, lichen or moss, and a lot of things that were.

    By the time they reached the outpost, Josh was too ill with fever to notice their arrival. A muscular man met them at the dock and immediately took charge of everything, including ‘Father Josh’, as he called him.

    Josh barely felt himself being grabbed and carried from the boat, and dropped onto something soft and springy.

    This left Rafe and Teo alone with the boats and the provisions.

    A tiny ramshackle church sat next to the outpost. Teo was chafed, bug-bitten and irritated. “You and your precious instinct. This guy’s no treasure hunter. He’s an idiot, and a priest, no less.”

    “Okay so I was wrong.” Rafe admitted. “The guy wants to rebuild his church.” What could he say? Rafe had good instincts, but they weren’t foolproof. Nothing was foolproof. “My intentions were good…”

    “Whether intentional or not, you misunderstood…”

    “Teo.” It was time to cut their losses. “Let’s vamoose. Grab the guns and ammo, we’ll switch boats and vanish.”

    Teo didn’t move. “I don’t get it.”

    “Get what?”

    “These tools are not gonna help him fix THAT.”

    They both gazed at the pathetic church, then at the equipment and tools. The church resembled an outhouse, with a lopsided cross on top, yet the boat was full of excavating tools. Tools that would prove useless in a swamp in any case. The incongruity was blatant, but its meaning was elusive. Especially for two irritable thugs who didn’t really care. “That’s his problem,” Rafe concluded. They grabbed the guns and most of the ammo as they switched boats, leaving the tools behind.


    Josh came out of his delirium about three days later. He woke in the late afternoon to find himself lying among sweat-stained sheets, a mosquito net hanging above him.

    Once he’d showered, donned a frock and eaten a little, he asked his partner what had happened to the two guides who had brought him to their remote outpost.

    “They deserted you, Josh, took one of the boats and skedaddled. Apparently they fell for the fake church and ‘Father Josh’ bit. Good thing too, or I’d have shot them both.”

    Josh shrugged. “You make any progress on that tomb while I was gone?”

    His partner’s eyes gleamed as he pulled a beautiful golden mask from the cupboard and laid it on the table in front of him. “A little. ”

    • Hi Ken,

      Once again, a masterful tale created in a world that hints at places where it could be set but never actually tells you. Thus, I, as the reader, go where you lead me…….until we go up the Amazon and then we know.

      The tale is very well crafted with lots of information about the proposed “con” and insight into human nature, showing it off in all its colours. Ultimately, Father Josh is just too smart for Teo and Rafe.

      Nice work Ken.

      Sorry my critique is rather brief but I am on a tight schedule today and need to crack on.

      Kind regards,

      Ken Frape

  • Listen carefully

    By Ken Frape

    Like most working couples with kids, our mornings are a whirlwind of frenzied activity centred around the bathrooms and the kitchen, increasing irritation as the kids dawdle and squabble over their cereal and rapid-fire instructions about timetables and kit bags and homework as the clock ticks past the time that we should have left the house. Then, suddenly, there’s a clatter as cereal bowls, coffee cups and spoons hit the sink followed by a rapid series of “Bye, have a good day,” air kisses and door slams.

    I was in even more of a rush than usual last Tuesday. I had put on my lucky red tie as I had an early start and a challenging meeting to retain several key accounts with my boss in attendance. My last mouthful of toast was still at the chewing stage as I called out to the boys, blew a crumb-laden kiss to Lucy across the breakfast bar and hefted my briefcase strap over my shoulder.

    “Don’t forget the McTavish’s are over for dinner tonight, Frank,“ Lucy called as I turned to leave. I stopped in my tracks and turned back towards my wife.

    “Oh, I thought it was next week.” I muttered.

    Lucy countered testily, never good in the mornings,. “Whether intentional or not, you misunderstood and it’s probably because you don’t listen carefully. Never do.”

    I bit back my response. Busy day ahead.

    Joshy Mac and his wife Amy are old college friends and we were a group of four that did everything together. I’ve lost track of the number of evenings we spent together as students back in the day, drunk or stoned, or both. But that was then and this is now. We are all working parents with responsibilities and a more measured way of life. Apparently. Certainly true for Lucy.

    “That’s great, something to look forward to …..” My hand was on the door handle and I was through the door in a trice. As the door closed with its usual reassuring thud, I caught Lucy’s last few words before the door cut her off,

    “Don’t forget we need some pot………”

    In the car on the way into town I pondered Lucy’s words, So out of character these days for Mrs. Sensible.” I thought we had stopped all that but then again, why not? Have we not earned the right to a relaxing evening, over a few glasses of good wine and a few puffs of good quality gear in the security of our own home? After all, these were our very closest friends so I guess that Lucy and Amy had got together to agree this. Added to this, she probably had told me and I hadn’t really been listening.

    First priority was to get into the office, negotiate with the coffee machine and then run through the documents for the meeting just to remind myself. I moved a couple of chairs into place, finished my coffee and there I was, poised and ready, professional, red tie neatly knotted, when the meeting started. That careful preparation was well rewarded as what could have been a very challenging meeting went without a hitch. I received a solid wink of approval from my boss as he escorted two very happy clients out of my office.

    My second priority was to do what Lucy had asked. I stood in the doorway of my office cubicle scanning the open plan space of the other fifty or so employees. I was looking for Danny Jenkins, twenty-something party animal. It was likely that he would be late or arrive at the last moment, just in time to avoid further censure over his timekeeping. There was an empty space where his head and shoulders would be if he was behind his desk but then, as I begun to turn away, a tousled head of blonde hair popped up and, in that moment, his eyes locked onto mine, as I mouthed, “roof terrace, now.”

    I remembered our last conversation as we drunk our morning coffees on the roof terrace and puffed away at our cigarettes. I had been given the task, as his line manager, of reprimanding him for his late arrival and scruffy appearance, as if he had been out all night, which was the case. He took my half-hearted telling off on the chin and then shrugged it off before saying, “Anytime you want any gear, Frank, you know, to make you old geezers feel young and chilled again, then you know where to come. Right?” His eyes darted round for eaversdroppers.

    I sauntered out of the office to the roof terrace. Danny appeared a few moments later.

    “What’s up, Frank? I’m not late, or drunk or stoned and I’ve got a clean shirt on, ironed by my own hand, so let me guess….” His voice tailed off.

    “Go on then, Danny, have a guess.”

    “I guess you need some quality gear. You’ve been under the cosh lately, you’ve just retained the account for two of our most important clients and now you want to celebrate. Am I right, or am I right?” He turned to face me, an infectious grin on his face.

    “You’re right,” I agreed. “Can you help?”

    He looked at his watch. “Give me a couple of hours and then meet me by the bandstand in the park at one o’clock.”

    I know I probably looked completely normal, innocent even, as I sat on a bench eating a ham, cheese and tomato sandwich and sipping coffee from a paper cup. Lots of people do it every day but I felt as if I was wearing a large target on my chest, or a message saying, “Arrest me now,” to any passing law enforcement officers. I saw two but they passed without a glance in my direction, their eyes fixed ahead, men on a mission it seemed. As they moved away I spotted Danny coming up the pathway from town, hands deep in his pockets, cigarette angled from his lips, headphones jammed onto his head, his eyes looking down towards the ground.

    The two law enforcement officers moved swiftly and suddenly, changing direction and clamping Danny’s arms behind his back. They slipped a pair of handcuffs on him and did a routine search through his pockets, holding up several small twists of paper triumphantly. They read him his rights, marched him away and that was, quite literally, the last time I saw Danny Jenkins, partygoer, man about town. Drug dealer.

    I sat in my car on the way home wondering if it would be wise or foolish to tell my wife and best friends. It was a close escape and I went hot and cold as I contemplated how different it would have been if the arrest had been made as Danny was handing over the gear and I was caught in possession.

    My mind was still in a bit of a flurry as I stepped through the front door to be greeted by a frosty Lucy who looked in dismay at my empty hands as she said,

    “Where are the potatoes, Frank?”

    Ken Frape

    • This is such a brilliant story, Ken. The last line just knocks it out of the park. But the story itself is so cleverly done. The circumstances are so believable (and believe me, they are) because you’ve clearly described the character as straight-laced, conservative, and accommodating. (a people pleaser.) (A virtual fucking hero in some circles, as I understand it.)

      What is also interesting is (amazing, really) is the way you’ve constructed a visual ‘point-counter-point’ to the issue at hand, (which is pot). While the MC sees it as no big deal, the police obviously see it differently. The MC is neat and well-kempt, the drug dealer ‘tousled’ and ‘scruffy’, (until he’s warned, at least, since he admits on the roof that he’s not, ‘late, stoned,’ or unkempt.) The MC is punctual, the drug dealer is not expected to be, (but actually is) at this point a bias bleeds into the narration, but that only makes it more realistic.

      Nice crisp exposition and perfect dialogue, excellent writing throughout. And a great story too, Ken.

      • Hi Ken,

        thanks for your very positive comments. Much appreciated.
        I spent days wondering if an idea would pop into my mind and nothing happened. I was convinced that I would have to miss this prompt and then, suddenly, it hit me and I was away. It took two hours to write the story and twelve hours to edit and rewrite.
        So glad you think it was worth the effort. I quite like it myself!

        Kind regards,

        Ken Frape

  • Look Before You Leap

    (By Marien Oommen)

    “Now listen, kiddos,” Marge carried on telling the story to her grandchildren.

    About the year 3900 BC. It was the time of Noach, who was the tenth and last of the pre-flood patriarchs. He was pondering over the affairs of his village being specifically told by God to build an ARK! That was it.

    Nothing more was said except that he was given its very detailed dimensions. Noach, man of great faith, decided to obey at once and started working on the big boat. His mission was to save a wicked world, plunged in depravity and sin.

    God charged Noach with the duty of preaching to his people to make them abandon idolatry, to worship the One True Creator God, to live good and pure lives. Although he preached the Message of God with immense zeal, people refused to mend their ways. Duh!! Their only refuge was in the ark, much like a vaccine, but they jeered at Noach’s efforts.

    Then came the deluge, in which all the wicked people of his time perished.

    “All of them, Mama?” Rachel exclaimed.

    “After that a rainbow appeared in the sky. A covenant rainbow. God promised Noach that He’d never again destroy the earth in flood waters.”

    Old Marge was thinking that the past few weeks had been nothing short of distressful.

    A court order in a country faraway had begun to affect the whole world just as in Noach’s time. This distant country, Amerindi, had made Valentine’s Day, Mother’s day, Father’s day a global phenomena through commercial marketing.
    How insidiously they changed the way the rest of the world lived! Countries who knew nothing of these ‘special’ days started aping them.

    With this latest dangerous court order, a distant planet EffBee suddenly lit up in rainbow hues on the horizon.

    “A rainbow covenant!” grunted Viktor. What other biblical symbols will they distort from the past?

    What was happening in that distant country was like a ploy to destroy the very fabric a church was built on.
    Marge wanted to yell, “Amrindi, go to hell.”
    But that was akin to condemnation and destruction forever. Never wish that on anyone, her mission being to pray for all nations.

    The issue had divided her friends, her relatives, her Whatsapp groups. There had been verse thumpers, doomsday prophets all waiting for the final bell to toll. They said an economic depression was well on its way. Her teenager said she couldn’t stand all the arguments her friends were getting into. She reckoned everyone just moved to Ireland, or Tonga where she reckoned there’d be peace among the mooing cows and fresh green pastures.

    Questions about genders arose. Transgenders. There are born eunuchs, or those with eunuch-ry thrust on them. There were those born gay and those having gayness thrust on them. Then there were those who paraded their gaiety shamelessly on the streets.

    “Are they really born that way?” Marge didn’t know.

    “Ask a doctor,” Vik replied. “And they’re good folks, genuinely kind. I have great friends among them.”

    “Much better than the so-called moral, verse spewing %^&$ if you ask me,” opined the agnostic.

    “Of course, they are good people! But what about perverted ones taking cover under the same umbrella?”

    Marge recalled a strappy 13 year old, Radha, from a rival school, who used to win all the 100mts, 200mts, 400mts sprints way back in 1968, when she was a runner herself. Radha looked rather fierce and was a challenge to the rest of the girl-runners with her incredible speed. Many years later, the newspaper reported that Radha had evolved into the male ‘Radhakrishnan’. She had transformed into a handsome bloke with a handlebar mustache, and later gotten married, settled into a quiet life.

    There was something decent about him. The way Radha went about her inherent masculinity. She did not parade it or paint it in rainbow colors.

    Was that the first sex change operation done in the small state of Kerala, Marge wondered. But those days it got no further coverage. Today in 2015, things looked a whole lot different.

    Overbearing parents can give rise to such gender confusion within a growing child. An absentee or an overprotective mom, an abusive or absentee dad. What does a little baby do when parents don’t raise him on the solid rock of a happy home?

    Marge thought how this silly court order was going to change the face of childhood stories in the next decade. The stories she had loved as a child listening to her mother relate them to her.

    No longer would it be Jack and Jill. There’d be new stories of Jack and John going up the hill and coming down to find a baby in the valley.
    Cinderella wouldn’t be longing for a prince but for hairy Stella (sic) in the ballroom.
    Rapunzel would let down her hair and Rachel would clamber up, not the dashing Prince.
    What would the wicked witch say now?
    Oh! oh! oh!
    Even worse, a princess could kiss a frog turning it into Bella. Unbearably pukeworthy.

    Deception was eating into the mind of man. Have no doubt whether intentional or not, you misunderstood where this deception comes from.
    From the very pit of hell.

    There are different levels of it. First the deception is introduced quietly and whispered in hushed tones, then it becomes a discussion over tea and scones, then the ‘intellectual’ forward thinkers tout it as being tolerant, then it’s made into a political gimmick making it a public virtue, then people start venerating the idea as if it’s the very bedrock of intellectual freedom.

    How far they fall from the truth; the truth expounded in Romans 1.

    It could be a sad world out there for our children and children’s children. However, have no fear because those who are rooted on the Rock will stand the test of time and not be blown away by any passing doubt or fear.

    Marge always said that one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. She warned her grandchildren not to be double minded or unstable if they wished to receive anything from the Lord. In all things you gotta be faithful and just, persevering in your faith.

    “What is faith, Margema?” queried the littlest one, in her red dress dripping with ice cream.

    “Faith is a gift from God,” Marge said kindly. “Is there anyone who does not wish to be mature and complete?”

    All five raised their hands.
    “I want to be mature and complete, Gramma!”

    The testing of faith produces perseverance, her parents had taught Marge when she was a kid. And parents are usually right. Marge decided to allow perseverance to finish its work so that even she, at 75, could be mature and complete.

    Marge kissed them one by one and said, “If only we could in all things ask for Wisdom from God who gives generously to the one who asks.”

    “What is wisdom, MargeMama?”

    “Wisdom is Christ.” Marge smiled. The topic was a bit much for the little ones to comprehend.

    But they did somewhat.


    • Hi Marien,

      I have to say that you have managed to cover a huge amount of ground in this mini-saga. It starts 3900 years BC so that means it spans 5920 years and all in 1200 words. That is really quite some feat.

      I think your story starts with the story of Noah’s Ark as the people who won’t listen are washed away. All clear so far but then you introduced something about a court order in a faraway country. Now I am lost.

      I have given the story three readings and I am no closer to understanding your intention. I hope you don’t feel that I am being mean but the body of the rest of the story sounds to be like a cross between a religious tract and a summary of some of the issues surrounding gender politics.

      If you feel that you wish to give me a clearer insight into your thinking then I will be more than happy to read this again but at the moment, I just don’t get it. This may be more to do with me than you.

      Kind regards,

      Ken Frape

      • Thanks,Ken Frape. You got it right- yes, it’s a cross between … as you say.
        How things might change in the coming years and fairy tales look different.
        It’s a rehash of a tale I wrote in 2015 or thereabouts. I usually take my old tales and make it fit the requirement.
        It’s a treatise of faith built on a rock that will ne’er be shaken. And gramma passes it on to her little ones.

        Thanks for reading and it’s perfectly fine if you don’t get it all. :))

    • Marien,

      Boy this story really gave me a lot to think about, and say.
      And I don’t mean to pick this story apart, but it’s really asking for it. Believe me, I have so many other things I should have been doing while I was doing this, you wouldn’t believe it. But I felt compelled to react to your story, because it has an irresistibly charming ‘ain’t it awful’ come on, which we can all agree on, with some little children mixed in, for a good measure of innocence, and just a dash of ‘aw shucks, I jest don’t know’ to clinch my heart, but the conclusion of the story is not so much a leap of faith,’ as it is a divorce from reason.

      The beginning is confusing. To summarize:

      ‘A court order in a foreign country faraway,’ (sic) popularized a specific day, commercially, to honor certain people (mothers and fathers and others) which changed the way the rest of the world lived. (That’s a rather broadly worded indictment, and will need some clarity later on.)

      Simultaneously, a distant planet efFBee, suddenly lit up in rainbow hues. (A reference to Facebook?)

      This aggravated Viktor. (‘Kay?) Who, as a non-specific patron of perennial wisdom, dismissed it (the preceding story, presumably, or something else entirely, the passing of the law, perhaps?), as a distortion of some ancient (but unspecified) truth.

      In case we missed it or got lost, you sum up the essence of this introduction again at the conclusion. ‘Something’ happening, in a ‘distant country, was ‘LIKE’ a ploy, to destroy the very fabric a church was built on.’ (Simple.) The clarity never made an appearance.

      Yeah, see, I was really enjoying this retelling of Noah’s Ark, until you brought me into the present. There’s a great deal of blame in your story, but no evidence. No causation. No connection between the ‘marketing’ and the ‘way the rest of the world lived.’ No clear chain of evidence between people getting sex changes, and the ‘destruction of the fabric…’ of the church. Which is a peculiar analogy, (or metaphor,) for whatever a church is built on.

      Also, it should be noted that a ploy is not a plot. It’s just a ploy, and to be ‘like a ploy’ is even less compelling.

      While I love your writing Marien, this story’s meaning, and much of the plot eluded me the first time through.

      After a second and more careful reading, I felt more enlightened, but more skeptical too. Setting the intro aside, this is a gentle diatribe against the current and growing trend of gender confusion or vagueness. (I think.)

      I heard on NPR the other day that some organization was proposing that humans should be divided into 16 genders. I’m pretty sure there are just two.

      So, even though I enthusiastically share your writer’s dismay at the trend toward treating gender as optional or variable, I do not see great long-term harm in it, I just lose interest, as I would in any other average sized pile of rich, aromatic manure. It seems yet another thing that no one chooses, so much as something one must accept and deal with (or choose not to.) This is the nature of all human beings. Is it not?

      All of that having been said, by you, in a playful, yet ‘all the way to the hilt’ kind of fashion, the nature of humanity is presented as an affront to a church. That’s a peculiar supposition. I would not give the church so much credit. People’s bizarre proclivities seem far removed from any relationship with a church, or a religion, or God, or anything else. They’re just another means by which peoples imperfections manifest themselves.

      And these imperfections are the reason the church exists. It is humanity’s rough aggregate that forms the church’s very foundation. (I’m talking about non-specific, inter-denominational churches, of course, but others as well.)

      Finally, I had to look up Romans to find that it teaches that people with weird sexual proclivities are evil. Is that the message here?
      If so, then I don’t put much stock in what Paul supposedly told the Romans 1700 years ago.
      Even Edgar Allen Poe has a shelf life. My goodness. God is the greatest writer of all time. He includes characters that don’t even believe in a book, much less a story or an author.

      That’s His choice, not yours, or mine, or theirs. Nor is it the choice of the church. See what I’m saying?
      Paul was too judgmental.
      In my opinion.

      • Dear, dear Ken C,

        Thank you for your well thought out response to my dare of a tale that I put out here. It was a very last minute entry and I apologize for that.
        It’s an old story I wrote some years ago. 2015.

        And what seems fiction or fairy tale, that ‘divorce from reason’, to one, is absolutely factual, faith empowered, real and true for the other (ie me). 🙂
        So there you go… how can there be a coming together of ideas?
        But with God all things are possible.

        You said….(That’s a rather broadly worded indictment, and will need some clarity later on.)
        I’ll deign to explain that right here.. whatever America does becomes fashion/ commercial enterprise for the rest of the world. All those ‘days’ I talked about never existed in the east. But today parents this side are rushing to buy stupid halloween stuff for their innocent babes and shops are making a killing.

        .You said….I’m pretty sure there are just two…. high five on that one! 🙂

        Ken, you’re hilarious about that aromatic way you used the 4 letter word… 🙂
        Makes me laugh out loud. You know that lol thing?

        I agree that there is no perfect church. But there are rules or laws laid down just like in society, and in family.

        I’m sure glad you checked out Romans. Hard truths.
        Read on 2 and 3 tell us more about hypocritical pharisaical bigwigs.

        However, there is fine line drawn here. Faith and belief vs doubt and unbelief.

        Paul was tough guy and he was a nasty Saul before he turned Paul.

        Ergo there is hope for everyone of us. That’s how much God loves each of His magnificent creations. All of us.
        This I believe without a shadow of doubt. But that’s me.

        I am glad you took time out to write this down. I do enjoy your critiques very much. Huge thank you!

        Take care,

  • NOT the Complaints Department so Don't Send Me Emails..... KEN CARTISANO
    Hey writers! Thank you for participating in this bonus contest!
    Ground round of stories for sure….
    The time has come to vote, remember you have to vote, you can not vote for yourself, and you may only vote once.

    Here is the voting link – you have 24 hours to vote.

    • Alyssa
      I love your name Carrie😂
      • Carrie Zylka
        Hahahahaha I forgot to clear out the autofill on the comment LOL!!
  • Overworked Official Voting Tallyer Who Deserves More Coffee Breaks and Less Emails from KEN CARTISANO.
    Without further ado… are the winners for this bonus prompt!

    Your 1st Place Winner is………… Phil Town for “Red-Knickered”!!

    2nd Place: Quetzalcoatl by Ken Cartisano
    3rd Place: Listen Carefully by Ken Frape
    4th Place: People Ain’t Property by Robt. Emmett
    5th Place: The War of Independence of the Moon by Ken Miles
    6th Place: A Bit of an Overreaction by Carrie Zylka
    7th Place: Look Before You Leap by Marien Oommen

    This round’s favorite character was Ada from The War of Independence of the Moon.
    And the favorite dialogue was: Phil Town!

    Congrats to all!

    Don’t forget we have a 1 week Halloween prompt “Superstition” that ends next Thursday!

    • Phil Town
      Wow! From 8 to 80 (as they say here). Thanks all!
      • Congratulations on your x-rated story, Phil. Some very funny lines. Well done.
        • Ken Miles
          Well done, Phil! King of dialogue…
          It’s nice to see humour winning too, sometimes. Or else we’re going to come across as a bunch of snobs inside here!

          On Ada’s behalf, thank you guys for the Best Character’s Award. The First Lady will be coming over to receive it on the next available flight down from the Moon, once we’re done with Covid, down here…

    • I’m immune to the alleged charms of the average supermodel.thank my lucky stars.

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