November 25 – December 15, 2021 Writing Prompt “Sibling Rivalry”

Theme: Sibling Rivalry

Requirements:

  • none

Word Count: 1,200

 

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The writing prompt for January 6, 2022, will be chosen by RM York.

101 thoughts on “November 25 – December 15, 2021 Writing Prompt “Sibling Rivalry”

  • November 26, 2021 at 12:19 pm
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    Signing In.

    • November 26, 2021 at 8:00 pm
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      Could it be this time, Trish? (no pressure! 😉 )

      • November 27, 2021 at 9:09 am
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        Oh thanks for remembering me Phil! I’m really enjoying reading all the stories but my writing muse seems to have disappeared for now… I’m hopeful that my creativity will return. It’s always fun to participate with this group of talent!

  • November 26, 2021 at 5:29 pm
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    I’m in, so much to write about 🤣🤣🤣🤣. One of six siblings.

    • November 26, 2021 at 5:38 pm
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      Haha
      This prompt was inspired by the insane fight I had with my sister last night.
      It was technically Roy’s turn to choose the next prompt but I totally dropped the ball in emailing him….

      Sooooo thank you Nicole for the inspiration!

      Also.
      Roy.
      If you’re reading this it’s your turn to choose the December 9 prompt 🤣

    • November 26, 2021 at 8:13 pm
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      Fewer toys as presents for you at Christmas then, John?

      I’m one of only two, but: my father was one of eight; mother one of five; the three significant women in my life: one of five, one of four and one of seven.

      So in theory, a lot to go on, but I’ve got a (fictional) idea brewing that has nothing to do with any of them … though it will contain moments between my brother and me.

      Happy writing!

      • December 5, 2021 at 1:19 am
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        Hi Phil,
        I wanted to be a only child or a two-sibling family as all my friends at school had families like that. I slow had friends who were adopted or were born to older parents, thinking they might never be parents at all.
        I wanted to think I was adopted at times as I am no like my siblings at all. I am third of six, so very unlikely. LOL.

    • November 27, 2021 at 10:36 am
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      Looks like I’m at a disadvantage here, as an only child. 🙂

      • November 27, 2021 at 11:51 am
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        I’m more than happy to give you my sister 🤣🤣

        • November 30, 2021 at 4:48 am
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          🙂

        • December 5, 2021 at 1:20 am
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          Hey Carrie,
          I have four sisters (and a brother), happy to consider a swap.

        • December 5, 2021 at 1:41 am
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          Hey Carrie,
          Any chance of an extension for this one? Still working on something, and trying to get it sorted. I do want to submit to this one as I feel it is a wonderful prompt especially with no restrictions except word count. Please, pretty please.

          • December 7, 2021 at 7:27 am
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            Haha since you have so nicely, yes I can extend this out one week, that will actually work perfectly with the next prompt.

      • November 30, 2021 at 2:37 pm
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        You are not alone. Yup, raised as an only child because my brother died right after being born back in 1943 when I was a mere 13 months old, and lost my mother at the same time. Raised without a momma, too, although I did have a step mother … one who read all of the Grimm Fairy Tales from cover to cover and learned her lessons well. At least that’s my theory. Wasn’t her fault, entirely, she had a rotten childhood herself. Way worse than I had it, so I guess that’s an improvement.

        However, I’ve got a boatload of sibling rivalry stories. Now, to pick and choose which one I want to write about and submit.

        Roy

  • November 27, 2021 at 7:18 am
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    test comment

    • November 29, 2021 at 6:14 pm
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      Hi Carrie,

      Did you see my most recent post to you on the last prompt requesting a one to one e mail chat?

      Ken Frape

      • November 29, 2021 at 6:24 pm
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        Yes I sent you an email

      • November 29, 2021 at 6:26 pm
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        I sent you an email about 9 hours ago from my personal email.
        I just sent you one from the liflashfiction@gmail.com one.

  • November 27, 2021 at 7:19 am
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    test 2 (testing a new comment editing plugin – pls disregard)

  • December 1, 2021 at 11:33 am
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    My oldest brother is awesome. The middle child is a brother, too. We don’t get along because he is just so kind and friendly that I can’t stand to be near him. I also wish he was more judgmental and controlling. Shoot.

    This is going to be real hard. You know, because both of my brothers are just so nifty and swell?

    Why do I go straight to Cain and Abel (and then Romulus and Remus) when I see this prompt?

    • December 5, 2021 at 1:25 am
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      Hey Rumples,
      I think all my sibling rivalry is just in my head, but sometimes the best stories come from the imagined ‘memories’ we hold. I too am blesses with siblings who are good people, as I am, but that means I need to think of the them ‘sibling’ and ‘rivalry’ in very different ways.
      Looking forward to what you write.

  • December 1, 2021 at 1:11 pm
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    Just two minutes apart but a world away.

    A short story by Ken Frape

    w/c 1200

    Marietta is fussing around me as usual and carrying on chatting without waiting for a response. It was always like this. I used to tease her,

    “Is this a conversation where I should join in, or are you just talking to yourself?”

    She would laugh then, that soft lilting sound that would raise my spirits even on the darkest of days. God, she is gorgeous, my Marietta. My Marietta, I roll those words around inside my head. It’s still hard to believe that she agreed to marry me when she could have had her pick of the bunch.

    “I did have the pick of the bunch,” she says, “and I chose you.”

    Not my twin brother Richie. Me.

    Then we’d snuggle up, oh so close, the warm natural musk of her body as alluring, as arousing as any magazine photo of those glamour models that my workmates used pin up inside their lockers.

    Richie and I were literally born to compete. I am two minutes older but he was the jock, the quick-witted one, always up to something, into everything. He achieved good grades with no apparent effort whilst I had to slog to get to the same place. In everything we did Richie kept score, kept a tally. Everything was a competition and he loved winning. When he lost he would sneer and say,

    “Ah, just wait, big brother. Life’s a long game don’t you know?” I hated him then.

    Then along came Marietta and I won first prize.

    After Marietta and I got together I was always the proudest guy in the room at every party. At our wedding, I knew all eyes were on us as we danced our first dance. Dancing was a skill I possessed in abundance, whilst Richie was the star athlete who preferred to run. At the Summer Ball, the men would watch Marietta as she glided around the room, head back, laughing, matching my every move, eager to see if she might just find a space for them on her dance card. They were routinely disappointed. The women would look at Marietta and then at me and shake their heads in wonder. How could she be so happy with him?

    Whenever Marietta and I were together Richie seemed to fade into the background as if this was one part of our lives where he couldn’t compete with me. He knew he had already lost and he hated losing.
    ……………………………….

    Now, as Marietta tidies and washes and sweeps and cleans, she carries on her chatter about the weather, the price of milk, Mrs. Jackson’s new car, the latest pop songs. I watch her as she glides, just like another dance, each step flowing into another, one continuous smooth movement. It’s so comforting to hear her voice. Sometimes she sings along to the radio and as I doze off it’s that sound that lulls me into a peaceful sleep. When I awake there she is, beside me, her hand in mine, a book open on her lap, a half empty coffee cup perched on the arm of her chair, a single strand of her golden hair curling around her cheek. Sometimes she dozes and her hand slips from mine but I can still see her there and I am comforted.

    My worst moments come if Marietta leaves the room. I can only turn my head and swivel my eyes as I lie here in this hospital bed that the insurance company paid to have installed in my home after the accident that left me paralyzed from the neck downwards. There was talk of a prison sentence for my negligent employers but it was dropped.

    Now, I am in a kind of prison that no inmate could imagine and very few deserve. My eyes constantly seek out Marietta. Those same eyes that weep copious tears every day to run unchecked down my cheeks until she dabs them away in the same calm, loving way that she attends to my every need, to every other leak and dribble from my useless body.

    We have developed a system of communication based upon my eyes blinking but to be honest, Marietta anticipates my every need. I sense that she knows that, if I could, I would kill myself just to end this miserable existence. My body should not feel pain but it does, like the amputee’s phantom limb pain and I cannot cry out, cannot speak. Inside my head I am screaming but I can only use my eyes to tell Marietta. She adjusts my morphine drip and for a while the pain recedes, slithering back into that dark cave where I know it lies in wait, sharpening its claws for its next attack.

    Of course, I have no control over my life and Marietta would never assist me in dying and thus we must endure this living hell together, for better or worse, through sickness and health…….

    Marietta deserves so much more than this. Still young and vibrant, she still has her whole life ahead of her but she shakes her head at the mere thought of this as I blink my messages of distress to her.

    Just recently, after years of distant communication, rare texts and occasional seasonal greetings, Richie has now decided to return to our home town, to take up the vacant doctor’s position. The town elders are delighted at the return of their favourite son. Does he really need to see me every day or is this just a ruse to see Marietta?

    I have been through a whole range of emotions since my accident; anger, fear, regret, even acceptance eventually but recently I have experienced new emotions that really surprise me. Jealousy and hatred. After Dr. Richie has checked out my cannula, the feeding tube, the drips and the pressure sores on my buttocks and heels, he always turns his eyes to Marietta, just like I do. He then moves towards her, speaking softly to her in the way that I cannot. It is driving me mad like an unreachable itch.

    In my imagination I can see them together after I am gone. She did her duty, people will say. Now she deserves a new life, full of happiness and joy. And children. We talked about a golden haired boy and a copper haired little girl, replicas of the two of us but they are not here. They were only talk. Now, she could realize that dream with this young doctor who looks exactly like me and who looks at her in the way other men used to. As I did.

    “No, no,” I scream inside my head. “Anyone but Richie.”

    He leans over me to offer me words of reassurance. Or are they?

    “Don’t worry about Marietta,” he whispers in my ear. “Whatever happens, I’ll take care of her.”

    Fresh tears burn my eyes as Richie smiles down at his helpless older brother. I clench my teeth and taste blood from my tongue. If he has been playing the long game, this time he will win and the prize is my beloved Marietta.

    Ken Frape

    December 1st. 2021

    WC 1198

    • December 1, 2021 at 1:50 pm
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      You made it even better. Still a winning story in my book. All the praise I lavished before and now even more bc the inclusion of the brother angle is deviously done. Hats off to you Ken Frape! Very well done.

      • December 1, 2021 at 3:19 pm
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        Hi Trish,
        Lovely comments which are much appreciated. I was disappointed not to be able to use this story last time around and Carrie suggested repurposing it for a future prompt. So here we are.
        So glad you like it.

        Kind regards,

        Ken Frape

    • December 5, 2021 at 1:28 am
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      Hey Ken,
      Must admit that I did not read the other draft because it had been ‘disqualified’. This was also somewhat intentional as I did not wish to have that version attached to another prompt. I like it attached to this one. Will give it another read but I did thoroughly enjoy the way you presented the characters. No spoilers in case others have not read it but my nursing background came to the fore during the first read. Well done.

    • December 5, 2021 at 9:14 am
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      You’ve re-purposed this really well, KenF, and the joins barely show. We’re still left with a very real sense of the prison that is the narrator’s life, and the frustration of not being able to ‘be’ with Marietta. That frustration is much more aggressive this time since Richie is the one who’s going to end up with her (in the other version, the narrator was more or less resigned to the fact, I think). The “I’ll take care of her” is chilling because we remember that for Richie “everything was a competition and he loved winning”. A couple of thoughts: I stil think the ‘accident’ paragraph is superfluous. In a later paragraph it’s touched on much more subtly: “I have been through a whole range of emotions since my accident”. I think the coincidence that Richie is a doctor is perhaps too much. If he simply returned to the town and visited the narrator regularly, ostensibly as a dutiful brother, but with the ulterior motive of seeing Marietta… (?). Finally, it’s just a thought, but … If the paraplegic had been a woman and ‘Marietta’ a man? I’m thinking of this: “Now, as Marietta tidies and washes and sweeps and cleans,” and wondering if there might be some pushback from feminist readers (?) But these are all arguable reservations – the essence of the original story is there, and it’s a very good one.

    • December 7, 2021 at 9:26 am
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      Ken, F.,

      What a great story, and I have to agree with those who thought you made it better. I liked both versions, but you did add a degree of drama with the sibling bit. And, a more sinister aspect that was missing, but we didn’t know it.

      And, here you were saying a few weeks ago, you felt you had no more stories to write, that you couldn’t find your muse. I think she’s (or maybe he’s) shown up and is ready to rumble.

      Nice story Ken F., very nice. I hesitate to say you might have a winner here, because I don’t want to dis anyone else’s stories that I haven’t read. But, as of now you are tops on my list. Then, again, you are the only story I’ve read, so that’s not much of a compliment I guess.

      Roy

      • December 7, 2021 at 10:18 am
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        Hi Roy,

        Thanks for the positive comment. Made me laugh about having read only one. I think you can sometimes get an inkling as to whether a story is going to be in the mix. I thought this last week with Jack’s story although I didn’t give it top place as I felt the prison element of the prompt was almost peripheral. However, as a story, it was clearly going to be right at or near the top It was a super piece of writing..

        Hopefully there will be a few more entries especially as Carrie has agreed to an extension.

        Glad to see from some of your previous comments that you are well and doing ok.

        Still waiting for your story now.

        Kind regards,

        Ken F

    • December 8, 2021 at 2:21 pm
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      Hey Ken F. ,

      Well…. your writing is wonderful, as usual. I read the earlier version of this story and liked the original, but I have to confess, a lot of people promise or vow to re-use a rejected or surplus story at a later date, but this is one of the first times I’ve seen someone actually do it, and, as Phil said, you really can’t tell where the seams are.

      I (unfortunately) also agree with Phil, (in that) assigning a medical license to the narrator’s brother is a bit too convenient and runs a little bit counter to the new flavor of this story.

      In the original version, there was no hint of animosity between the mc and the doctor, (accordingly, the narrator feels a sense of acceptance.) In this new version, animosity is the current that everything else is drifting along on. I’m not sure if that was your intent, but human nature is a force to be reckoned with.

      I don’t think anyone could find a way to improve on your writing, but the story could be better.

      You know, throw some aliens, some slime and some dead bodies in there. Spruce it up. (Okay, those last two sentences were jokes.)

    • December 10, 2021 at 3:26 pm
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      I think that you somehow made it better with the sibling rivalry adjustments. The whispers in the ear did it. It went from a deep sadness to a much more powerful kind of rage. It made me want to go help him by stopping his brother or something. I think that you tapped into that part of my mind where I store my fraternal complex. And “anyone but Richie” was a good line, because it showed that he was resigned to the concept of his wife moving on to a new man, just not his own brother.

  • December 4, 2021 at 5:19 am
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    FRAGILE

    Danny’s mother let him feel the new baby kicking inside her.

    “Is it a boy or a girl?” Danny asked.

    “It’s a boy, love. Your little brother!”

    “Smashing!” Danny laughed. “We can play football, and climb trees, and go out on our bikes, and…”

    Other games occurred to him but he stopped there. His mother was happy that he seemed to accept the prospect of a newcomer.

    In the weeks before the birth, Danny tried to help around the house, making breakfast, washing the dishes, cleaning. But a five-year-old boy isn’t used to doing those kinds of chores. He burnt the toast, and soaked the kitchen floor, and knocked over a favourite vase. His parents thanked him for his efforts though found it impossible to hide their annoyance.

    When Thomas was born, Danny’s father took him to the hospital to see the new arrival – all wrinkled and purple.

    “Can we play?” Danny wanted to know.

    “Well, not yet, silly!” his father said, a little curtly. He sat by the bed, holding his wife’s hand and stroking the new baby’s head. Danny stood on tiptoe behind him, trying to get a look at Thomas.

    “Can I hold him, mum?” he said, trying to push through between his father and the bed.

    “No, of course not, Daniel!” his mother snapped. “He’s very fragile.”

    Danny wasn’t exactly sure what that word meant, but he could guess. He gave up trying to see Thomas and went out to sit in the corridor, staring sullenly at the doctors and nurses who passed.

    Back home, Danny’s mother and father took it in turns to look after Thomas; it was a lot of work because he slept little and was irritable during the day.

    A few days after coming out of hospital, Danny’s mother was preparing lunch and left Thomas in a rocker in the living room. He was grizzling, as was becoming the norm.

    “Go and rock Thomas,” she told Danny. “See if you can calm him down.”

    She was pleased when the crying stopped, but then Thomas started crying at the top of his lungs, much more violently than before. She rushed through and found Danny trying to sooth the little boy.

    “What happened?!” she shrieked.

    “I don’t know mum, he just…” Danny’s explanation trailed off.

    His mother picked Thomas up and put him on her shoulder, rocking him gently.

    Of course, she saw no reason to check the bedding in the rocker, so what was on the underside of the pillow went undetected.

    As Thomas grew, the parents allowed the two brothers more and more time together to play.

    “Nice and gently, there’s a good boy,” the mother would say.

    “Course, mum – he’s fragile, isn’t he?” Danny would reassure her.

    One Christmas, when Thomas was four, they were opening the presents that Father Christmas had left. Thomas opened one of his and it was a toy gun. For some reason, he didn’t take a liking to it and threw it across the room, hitting Danny full in the eye.

    Danny’s father comforted him, while his mother spoke to Thomas.

    “No, Tommy. That’s not a nice thing to do, is it? Now say sorry to your brother.”

    Thomas screwed up his face.

    “No, don’t want to!” he bawled.

    His mother took him in her arms and hugged him.

    “There, there,” she said softly.

    Danny watched on through his good eye, cold and blank.

    On Boxing Day, the two brothers appeared to be friends again; Danny’s eye was a little swollen but hadn’t needed treatment. They were playing on the carpet in the living room, building something unidentifiable with the Lego set that Thomas had received for Christmas. Their father was out clearing snow, their mother upstairs tidying.

    Danny’s screams brought her rushing down the stairs. She found him next to Thomas, tears streaming down his cheeks.

    “Mum, it’s Thomas, he’s–“

    “Go and get your father!” she shouted as she knelt beside Thomas’s limp body; his face was deep purple.

    Danny disappeared and seconds later his father charged in.

    “What happened?!” the father barked.

    “I don’t …” was all a tearful Danny could manage.

    His father got on the phone to the emergency services. The two adults tried CPR, but when the ambulance arrived, there was nothing the medics could do.

    The distraught parents accompanied the body to the hospital. Mrs Taylor, a neighbour, came round to take care of Danny.

    “Don’t cry little one,” she said as tears continued to roll down Danny’s cheeks. “It wasn’t your fault.”

    Danny excused himself to get a glass of water from the kitchen, where he promptly disposed of the raw onion he’d stashed under the sofa. He washed his hands and wiped his eyes on some kitchen roll, smiling to himself.

    He knew about fingerprints from the TV, but he felt sure they wouldn’t check. And anyway, even if they did, they’d both been playing with them, hadn’t they? – the Lego bricks.

    Like the one they would find lodged deep in Thomas’s throat.

    .

    • December 5, 2021 at 1:38 am
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      Hey Phil,
      What a story. Wondering how subtle the ‘rivalry’ would be, no surprise. I have heard of older siblings acting out when a new ‘threat’ to their life occurred. I for one had tow older sisters and was happy being the ‘baby’, my brother born four years after me was not expected, by me anyway. I did not wish to see him at the hospital and when he came home the first time, all I said to my parents was, ‘Well, you can take that baby right back to the hospital’.
      He enjoyed the baby-ness for a short time until my parents were blessed with twin daughters to complete the family.
      I have to read your story over again to pick up more subtlety, but the first read was ‘Wow’.

      • December 5, 2021 at 9:18 am
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        Thanks, John! This is funny: ‘Well, you can take that baby right back to the hospital’. Reminds me a bit of Stewie in ‘Family Guy’.

    • December 7, 2021 at 2:34 pm
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      Phil,

      Excellent story. I often wonder when I’m writing a story like this if people wonder if I have something wrong with me to be able to think of mayhem and brutality and then write a story about a four year old killing an older brother.

      It’s not too far fetched from the truth. I have a bunch of dysfunctional relatives, mostly from my mother’s side, and mostly from the hills of Missouri. One of my cousins shot and killed his mother when he was 11 years old because she wouldn’t let him ride his bike to school. He was released from ‘institutionalized’ care because of his tender age when he was 18. He’s married, has one child that I know of and suffered no consequences of his actions because the state government said he wasn’t of responsible age to learn from any punishment. As you wrote above, they all said … it wasn’t your fault.

      I could go on about others from the same side, but I don’t really want to depress myself thinking about goofy relatives. You can pick your seat in a theater, you can pick your nose, you can even pick your friends, but, sadly, you can’t pick your relatives.

      The story itself is really well done, I learn something every time I read one of your stories, this one is no exception. Like Ken F., I learned you can be too clever sometimes and I don’t think the onion added anything, even though we all associate crying with sadness, you can be sad without the tears.

      I once read an account of a trial in which the accusing police officer based his entire case on the fact the husband shed no tears at the death of his wife, and therefore was ‘guilty as hell’ in the officer’s opinion. Fortunately for the defendant, the jury went by the evidence and the husband went free.

      Great job, Mr. Town, can’t wait to see how you handle the next prompt.

      Roy

      • December 7, 2021 at 6:13 pm
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        Thanks for the positive words, Roy. Yes, as I said to KenF – maybe the onion is too much (the idea was that Danny thinks that tears will hide his guilt … and it actually seems to work).

        Your extended family sounds … eventful. Lots of stories (and story ideas) there, I imagine.

        • December 12, 2021 at 2:13 pm
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          Phil,

          Stories I have written about my family in the past have been met with disbelief. I kid you not. I’ve got a laundry list of relatives that were just ‘bad seeds’. Thankfully, most of them met with their fate at their own hands, for example, the cousin who was stealing copper from a high voltage line by cutting one end and then cutting the other allowing a length to drop to the ground. Then, picking it up and selling it. In one of his forays, he touched one of the 40,000 (or so) volt lines with his cutting tool and was electrocuted on the spot. He was found by the crew who came out to find out what happened to the power, all crispy.

          His father met his fate by challenging a drug gang in Oakland, Ca., who he accused of stealing ‘his’ drugs (or route or whatever) and they beat him to death with a baseball bat. I could go on but I just depressed myself thinking about the idiots which have the same blood line as me.

          But, as you say, there are hundreds of story lines. I have, without exaggeration, well over 100 blood first cousins. My family was prolific, and, here I am, an only child. Go figure.

          Roy

        • December 13, 2021 at 1:39 pm
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          Phil,

          For what it’s worth (not all that much) the onion didn’t phase me at all. But after reading the comments and thinking about it, using an onion to invoke tears is so time-worn it seems trite, and yet it is in fact exactly what a five or six year old boy would think to do. I think it serves as a punctuation point on the boy’s character.

          Maybe you should attempt a Part Two, (since this is all so easy for you) where the kid gets caught, 15 years, days or minutes later, because of an onion. (?) Why not? It could be a real ‘tearjerker.’

          I’ll answer for you, Phil.
          (Because as ideas go, Ken–it sucks. Besides, onions need to be taken seriously.)

          The funny thing here is that Ken’s story held no surprise because, as good as it is, I already read it. Your story seemed pretty predictable, I mean, I kind of knew something bad was going to happen. Just wasn’t sure who was going to get the worst of it. Wanting to find that out supplied the intrigue.

          John’s story, on the other hand, lulled me into a gentle torpor, and then startled the shit out of me, that’s what was cool — I had, I did, the last thing I expected the doctor to do, was what he did. (turn into a recluse.) Did you see that coming? I didn’t. No way.

          So how’s the onion story coming? Keep me posted.

    • December 8, 2021 at 3:05 pm
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      Phil, et. al. (is that, ‘all phils’?)

      Well your writing is excellent, as ever Phil, but I felt like this story is badly in need of a twist. This is your basic sibling rivalry on steroids. After reading the story and the comments, especially Roy’s, I think the story would be better if the younger sibling DID in fact kill the older brother. Your story doesn’t specify, but one has the inkling that Danny killed his younger sibling because he (Thomas, the younger sibling) was an evil brat.

      How intriguing would it be if the older brother, aware that his younger sibling was a psychopath, hatches a plan to eliminate his evil brother, but before he was able to initiate his plan, he ends up dead with a leggo in his throat? That’s what I was thinking, Phil. (It’s not really my idea, it’s Roy’s.)

      To all and sundry:
      If it’s confessional time;
      I have, or had, a sister, a half-sister, a half-brother, a step-brother and a step-sister. All of whom, over the years, have revealed in spectacular fashion, the true nature of their individual neuroses, vices, indiscretions and outright criminal transgressions. Never-the-less, I was christened early on and remain imprinted with the ignominious label of ‘the black sheep of the family.’ (Me! Ken! Can you believe it?) That having been said, I had one of the worst Thanksgiving dinners ever, this last week. I don’t know whether it was sibling rivalry, or sibling alcoholism, or sibling stupidity, or what…. but it definitely boiled down to something with my siblings.

      How ironic to find that the prompt was on ‘sibling rivalry.’

      In fact, I was so pissed off about the whole thing, that Kim, (my female lady-friend) said, ‘Take the week off, Ken. Don’t write a story, take a break from the writing. You’re just going to get yourself pissed off again.’

      And she has a point. My intention was to write a humorous story, which, with my family in mind, should be a piece of cake. But I was content to let the week pass without composing a story, but with the extension of the deadline, mecht… I don’t know. I might just take a wild swing at this prompt. But, I don’t think it’s going to ‘resonate’ with anyone. Or win me much praise.

      I find that if I care about a fictional topic, the story just doesn’t come out as good as when I’m just making shit up from scratch. I mean, the only reason I would write this story would be to entertain. I don’t need catharsis, or a place to vent, I did all that already. If I can’t turn this shit into humor, I won’t post it. And I’m not even sure I can come up with anything worth reading at all at this point. (Not that anyone really gives a shit, anyway.)

      • December 8, 2021 at 3:51 pm
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        I do, I do! (@KenC)

        Thanks for your comment, Ken. Yes, that would have been a nice twist, but then it would have been more of an ‘Omen’ kind of deal, whereas mine is simply of a boy, feeling left out, being pushed over the edge into fratricide. (Different stories, both valid angles, I think.)

      • December 8, 2021 at 5:22 pm
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        No pressure to be funny from me – bring on that hateful story and give it a little “Home for the Holidays” humor if you like.
        I can’t think of a way to NOT make my story all about how much I hate the one brother, but maybe I will try to recreate some folklore about murderous brothers?

        Or maybe we should both right the truth, which contains mushy and loving stuff mixed with lots of more toxic emotions?

        I have one that is too long and it is missing siblings, but I think the biggest problem is that it reads like a Goosebumps book!

        I will take my time in fixing it up. Rome wasn’t built in a day, because the one founder killed the other founder and it caused a delay.

        Whip out that magic pipe of yours and get some inspiration!

        😉

        (But only a mile or two of fences this time, okay?)

        • December 10, 2021 at 3:25 pm
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          Phil, John,

          I don’t care what anybody says, you two guys are all right. (Not too much being said around here right now.)

          I see your point Phil and agree. (If it isn’t one thing, then it would have to have been a different thing.) There’s a site for tropes that I visit from time to time. It’s unbelievable. There’s a trope for everything. There’s the trope, it’s origins, examples of the trope, who or where the trope got its name, related tropes, etc, etc, etc. It’s like a ‘story swamp.’ So I get what you’re saying. I just thought I’d throw the ‘twist’ out there because it was actually Roy’s typo that gave me the idea. So if you don’t like it, blame Roy. I do. I blame him for everything. I blame him for the reason my father hates me. (Why would I blame my father? I love my father. Blaming him for hating me would be — I don’t know — Scientific? Who needs that? Ucht.) Oops. I digressed. I meant to digress on Rumples. Not you, Phil. Sorry. ‘You have a little…. yeah, a little piece of digression on your lapel there… oh okay, there you go, you got it. Good.’

          As for a story.
          I’m priming the pump right now, Phil. Can you tell? To paraphrase a well-known clown, ‘We’ll see what happens.’

          Rumples,

          I can’t even remember the last time I had an argument with someone on Thanksgiving! Kim and I do it every year. We always have my family over, and others. I argue with everyone, any time and any place–except Thanksgiving. I love my family, they’re basically a fun bunch of idiots, like me. I belong. All I said was, ‘That’s not how I remember it.’

          What transpired next, does not bode well for my opinion of humanity.

          • December 13, 2021 at 5:49 pm
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            @KenC “I don’t care what anybody says, you two guys are all right.” Ah, gee, shucks. You too, Kenneth, despite what they say.

            That trope trove sounds horrific. If I saw that, I’d never write again. I’m sure most of the stories I write are (unbeknownst to me) re-treads, and I prefer to carry on in blissful ignorance.

            Recently I came across an article about Corrie Ten Boom and her ‘famous’ (I didn’t think I’d heard of it) book ‘The Hiding Place’. The blood drained from my face: I had a story published (online) called … ‘The Hiding Place’, with a very similar premise (though thankfully with a twist that made it different enough). Had I read about it before and it had entered my consciousness, sunk to the bottom and re-surfaced as apparent inspiration? Or was it all an incredible coincidence? Whatever, i felt very embarrassed. So a collection ot tropes? No sirree thanks!

      • December 12, 2021 at 2:14 pm
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        I’m with Phil on this one. I do, too. Seriously.

        Roy

    • December 10, 2021 at 6:55 pm
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      Nice! This is a very unsettling horror story. I was thrown off by Boxing Day, but it wasn’t too hard to guess that it is a holiday close to Christmas.

      What did Danny use to make him cry the first time? It was disturbing how you didn’t name it directly.

      I just realized that I also have a Thomas in my story, sorry about that! I should have gone back to change it before I clicked.

  • December 5, 2021 at 6:29 am
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    Hi Phil,

    Sibling rivalry is a very powerful force. It must have a place, to a greater or lesser degree, in every family with more than one child. That period around the birth of the second child needs to be handled so very carefully. I remember my son aged 27 months wanting to play with his newborn sister and then running off down the hospital corridor just like in your story.

    This is such a well-written piece, Phil but then I would expect nothing less from you.

    Danny trying to help out at home and breaking things was sad but, I expect, so common. Looking after a new baby is so demanding in the early stages that little time is left for the other child, especially if he is a bit more independent.

    I was the third and last boy in my family. My oldest brother was five and a half years older than me so we never went to primary school together and he left secondary school around about the time I started so we were like strangers in some respects. The main issue for third borns is the hand-me-down clothes.

    As soon as the Lego was mentioned I thought DANGER DANGER and, of course, this how things turned out. It was a very cool and calculating thing for Danny to do.

    I’m not sure if the onion is necessary but I can see how it adds another element to the premeditation of the “murder.” I wonder what the future would hold for a child killer aged nine? A very scary prospect.

    Another great story Phil.

    Kind regards,

    Ken Frape

    • December 5, 2021 at 9:28 am
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      Thanks, KenF. Yes, the onion might just be a detail too far.

      Your experience with your older brother was very much like mine with mine – six years’ difference, missing each other at both Primary and Secondary schools. And I had to put up with “Ah, so you’re B’s brother?” (He was much brighter than me and I think I must have surprised many teachers over the years… in a negative way). But he was a good friend and hugely influential in my life. Rivalry was minimal (though the toy-gun incident did happen…)

      • December 7, 2021 at 2:37 pm
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        Phil, just wondering. Did you consider putting a lego down your brother’s throat at the time, or was he too big? Or, were you the one who threw the gun?

        • December 7, 2021 at 6:15 pm
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          I threw a gun at him, Roy. The way I remember it, I threw it over my shoulder so wasn’t actually aiming. But he always insisted that I went for his head .. and hit it.

          • December 12, 2021 at 2:18 pm
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            Ahh, memories. Everybody has one that might just be different than what really happened. If only a little bit, or in this case, completely different. My wife and I were discussing something recently and I explained how I remembered it and my wife said, “I don’t know where you were, but that wasn’t how it happened at all, It happened like this”, and then explained how she remembered it, which was totally different than my version. (I’m right, by the way, regardless of what she remembers.)

            Roy

  • December 10, 2021 at 10:10 am
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    I finally got my youngest fully vaccinated!

    And the time of relaxing indoors and sanctioned laziness is upon us!

    I do this all year, but this is the one time that I don’t have to feel guilty about it.

    But then there is the stress of shopping and the seasonal depression stuff to counter the jolliness…

    Everyone stay happy!

  • December 10, 2021 at 4:12 pm
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    “Arachno Thank You”
    By Rumplefinkies
    Word Count: 1,192

    “It’s the web again. I can feel the woven baby carrier I am swaddled in swaying gently in the larger hammock of silken cords. It’s soothing in a way, probably because there is nothing I can do and the cumbersome burden of an internal locus of control is removed.

    There are jarring vibrations now and then as the other guests struggle vainly, but those are comforting too. They mean that my turn is delayed even further. But then some part of me is jealous of their release and wonders if I am distasteful for some reason.

    None of these thoughts ever disturb me, and I have come to realize that the venom must contain a kind of powerful and calming psychoactive substance in addition to the paralyzing agent. I even have a fondness for my captor and get a thrill from seeing it’s silhouette through the veil of my papoose. Or has this fly developed Stockholm syndrome after so many repeated visits to the arachnid’s parlor?

    But that is an overused and trite little turn of phrase, isn’t it, Doctor? And you head spelunkers hate it when we try to self-diagnose, don’t you? Well, I am paying you plenty and I think that I have earned the right to intrude upon your area of expertise and use the vernacular of your kind when I am in your parlor.”

    Thomas stopped to gauge the expression on the shrink’s face, but it was pointless. His countenance was just a bushy mustache and pince-nez glasses attached to a blank and eternally neutral mask. The fingers that intermittently scribbled at different rates were probably the only window into his soul. Presently. the pen was jumping around like a seismograph during an earthquake.

    “That was an amusing and insulting comparison: likening me to a spider and my patients to doomed insects stuck in my web! But I am entranced by arachnids, I must confess, and I enjoyed your commendable attempts at psychoanalysis. And ‘papoose’ is a derogatory word for the child of an American Indian, for the record.”

    Dr. Bach smiled in an uncharacteristically smug manner and leaned back in his creaky leather chair. To be clear, he always seemed discreetly smug to Thomas. He just never made it this overt.

    “But tell me Thomas, what experiences have you had with spiders throughout your life? What is the overall impression that you get from them and how do they make you feel in the waking world? You certainly are no arachnophobe! To the contrary, you seem to be a little bit of an arachnophile…”

    The smile broadened.

    “Well Doc –”

    “Please, call me Fidel.”

    “Okay. Well, Fidel, I can say that my late father was an entomologist that treasured all arthropods and never allowed us to even stomp on a roach. I once got lectured for swatting a mosquito that was biting my arm! No joke.

    Yes, he instilled a powerful respect for lifeforms and a kind of resentment too, because sometimes it seemed like even bed bugs were more worthy of his attention than I was!

    But it was sweet how tender he was with the things he studied, and he taught me how to handle them with care and to tend to their needs. I feel like it was a very positive thing, the way he taught me to be nurturing and fatherly to such fragile and miniscule organisms. I got over my jealousy by the time I was six and came to love bugs by the time I was eight or nine.

    But spiders in particular? I used to catch grasshoppers and leafhoppers in my yard and feed them to this massive orb weaver in my neighbor’s yard. If you place them in your palm and give them a little fright, they will leap straight into the web, with a little positioning and practice.

    It fascinated me, the way the spider would get all excited and ‘listen’ to the vibrations when the impact occurred. They know the difference between a leaf or bit of grass that you try to fool them with and the real thing. Sometimes you can get them to start running, but they always stop and turn back if it doesn’t make the web jump and jerk in the right way. Thrashing motions of tiny critters are different from inanimate objects blown by wind, and larger or more dangerous things like sticks or red paper wasps are obvious.

    Unwanted detritus or threatening captives get cut out of the web and dropped below, but all the others get the same treatment: a bite to paralyze, a quick wrap into a white burrito, and the draining of all fluids until naught but the dried husk of an exoskeleton remains.

    If you keep feeding them, you can see their excitement taper off after three or four grasshoppers. They lose the pep in their step and they will stop draining, but they still paralyze and wrap. Surplus meals get stashed away in the web for later, and you can see the little lumps wiggling.

    Guilt-inducing but mesmerizing. When I think of spiders, I get a flash of that web and the wiggling lumps, but there is something else.

    I think about how the young burst from their egg sac and begin eating one another as they spread outwards through the world. The ultimate in sibling rivalry. As I was an only child, I had to compete with bugs for my father’s attention, but no one else. The thought of having hundreds of murderous and ravenous brothers and sisters with which to compete with always creeped me out, even though I could let the blighters crawl on me without flinching. Is that irony?”

    “Intriguing.”

    Dr. Bach didn’t continue. A long interval of awkward silence ensued.

    “Intriguing? I just practically wrote a love sonnet to spiders and that is all you have to say?”

    “Forgive me! My stomach does not agree with me quite suddenly.”

    The good doctor stood and made a hasty, sideways retreat into the adjoining bathroom.

    Thomas was dejected. He had scarcely given the shrink anything to work with for weeks. Now that he had laid bare an integral part of his childhood and his relationship with his father, the man gets queasy?

    It occurred to him that perhaps there was a closet arachnophobe in the building after all. A wicked smile graced his face and he darted from the room with all the stealth he could muster. Returning a minute later, Thomas placed the realistic plastic spider from the waiting room Halloween decorations right on the center of Dr. Bach’s chair.

    And he deserved it, in Thomas’s eyes. The nightmares had only started after he began to see Dr. Bach… now that he thought about it. Maybe it was just the stress of being scrutinized and dissected that was to blame, and not “dream manifestations of his shadow self” or whatever malarkey the quack had spouted.

    The door to the bathroom burst open and a seven-foot-tall brown recluse exploded into the office. What happened next was gruesome and not at all like the methodical procedures of that orb weaver so many years ago.

    • December 12, 2021 at 8:55 am
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      Rumples,
      Holy Cow! Good God man, what a story! Excellent writing too, of course. I felt like I was being slowly trapped, wrapped and sapped… and as wary as I was, reading this story, you still tricked me. I’ll add another comment later, but for the time being, just wanted you to know I thought the story was awesome.

      • December 14, 2021 at 8:38 am
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        Aw shucks I don’t deserve that but thank you kindly!

        “Trapped, wrapped, and sapped” is a good tagline for this one, btw. Wish I had thought of that.

        Did you catch the name?

        Dr. Fidel Bach = Fiddleback

        I was hoping that the name wouldn’t sound too weird and I also didn’t want to put the first and last names together, just in case someone was really into spiders (or from the South and used to people calling brown recluse spiders that). I personally never remember grownups calling them that in my youth, but all the books and verbal warnings would contain some description of a violin or fiddle on the back.

    • December 12, 2021 at 2:26 pm
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      This is some really good writing Rumple. I enjoyed the story, but I kind of felt what actually happened at the end was what was going to happen when the good doctor excused himself. I don’t know if there was any way to avoid that, however. But, I shall give it a reread and perhaps try. I really did enjoy the story. Now to finish mine so I can join this group of trepidation explorers.

      Roy

      • December 14, 2021 at 8:50 am
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        Much appreciated! Yeah, I struggled with this after I wrote it because it seems like one of the two characters has to do something drastic at the end of the story and I feel like I made it too obvious, especially if they catch the clue in the name (I tried to bury that clue deep). But then I just crossed my fingers and hoped that the stuff the narrator is divulging would be distracting and maybe disturbing enough to make the reader forget the setup (and the fact that it is me writing the story, of course there is going to be a werespider or wereshark or crow with intimate knowledge of rifles and ammunition lol).

        The narrator and I seem to crave attention, now that I look at it. He seems sad that the spider in his dream isn’t killing him, because he would rather be the focal point of its attention. He also is upset that his father is more interested in insects than him. And then there is the fact that the shrink steps out on him and he feels slighted by it, which seems to be more of the same. The prank is just a maneuver to get negative attention, like an upstart child. But that is just the surface.

        Yeah, that guy has some real problems (wink).

        • December 15, 2021 at 1:09 am
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          Rumples,

          I commented that your story put me in a state of ‘torpor’ until the ending. Unfortunately, I don’t know what that word means. I meant to say, or type, ‘stupor’. I was kidding of course, and your description is much more accurate, I was distracted. I was in full agreement with the main character. I wasn’t sure if I liked him at first, then I thought, if he’s so miserable, why doesn’t he leave? By the time he threw down the plastic spider though, he’d won me over.

          I’m one of those weirdos who saves spiders and sets them free… outside. This does not afford me any privileges from the spiders who can’t resist stinging me, biting me, or laying eggs in my glottissimal. (Yes, even there.) There was a great article on spiders in a recent issue of Science News. Great photography too. I tried to paste the article or the photo here but it wouldn’t.

          As for your story. I like Phil’s idea, because the ending is quite sudden, as long as you don’t lose that last sudden element of surprise, I don’t see how it could hurt to set the reader up. I didn’t even notice the thematic Doctor’s name, even though I backed up and read ‘Fidel’? That’s an odd name. And even though the title of the story indicated a spider theme, I felt like you were delivering that, and never suspected a spider would jump out of the cake with a machine gun and shoot every fly in the room. Amazing. (I’m not tripping, I’m traipsing.)

          Did you say you were going to create a were-spider that picks locks? Or did I dream that?

          Seriously though, yes, the focus on the Doctor and the inner dialogue was so normal, and mundane, I expected some subtle, everyday twist. Like, what DOES a psychiatrist do when you try to prank them? I was actually expecting a wonderfully creative answer to the question that you presented, and never expected what I got.

          But I was not disappointed. In fact, I completely forgot about the plastic spider until today.

          I must talk with Roy about this story. (How did he know?)

          Oh yes and I appreciate your comments on my story. They were enlightening. I didn’t conceive of the skeletal structure when I was writing it, but that is an apt description.

          This is a great story, John.
          Ken

          • December 16, 2021 at 7:44 am
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            I have been running into the webs of those invasive Joro spiders for months now! Have you seen any, or is it really just northern Georgia? They are colorful and their webs are golden, but the coolest part is this Japanese legend about how they transform into human female seductresses and lure hapless men into their webs!

            I am also a Buddhist when it comes to spiders, and it gets hard because my wife has an allergy to an unknown spider venom, maybe wolf spider, she never got the license plate of the one that bit her.

            But this story was supposed to be the shark guy at the shrink’s, and then he eats the doctor at the end when he can’t help him with his “little problem”. I mixed that story with a story I started about a tavern owner who is actually a spider lol. His victims all think they are having a good time, but they are really tripping hard on his potent venom! It was a mess.

    • December 13, 2021 at 5:15 pm
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      Great stuff, Rumples! I can only really echo what KenC and Roy said, Ken for his praise of the writing per se (some fantastic turns of phrase – this is a belter: “you head spelunkers”). There are clues to the ending (e.g. “eternally neutral mask” and “sideways”), but the twist is still very well done, especially as a foil to Thomas’s plastic-spider practical joke. My only observation (apart from “it’s silhouette”!) would be that the last paragraph could be prefaced by a little sign of what’s coming – I don’t know, a strange noise from the bathroom or something. It’s surprising rather than shocking (imho), and a little bit more preparation of the moment would have been the icing on the cake. But still, a cracking story (the analysis itself is beautifully done).

      • December 14, 2021 at 8:28 am
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        Thank you kindly for the words and I never would have caught that “it’s”! I probably should add some noise from the bathroom, but I would have to word it right so the reader doesn’t mistake it for the other kind of bathroom noises!

        • December 14, 2021 at 1:28 pm
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          Maybe some strange grunts? That way, Thomas (and the reader) wil be thinking one thing (“the other kind of bathroom noises”), then when we see what comes out of the bathroom, there’s an “Ah! So that’s what it was!” moment (?) Just an idea – I’m sure others will like it as it is.

  • December 13, 2021 at 2:15 am
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    OUTLIER. (A Detective Dumbo Mystery.)
    12-13-2021 By K. Cartisano

    Dispatch directed us to a home in the heart of a middle-class suburban neighborhood. Still wet-behind-the-ears, I was assigned to Detective Dumbo, an unpopular, pugnacious ten-year veteran who, as soon as we arrived, assumed authority over the entire crime scene, including the local police.

    I was about to ask him why there were no medical units on the scene when he grabbed my lapel with his fist and twisted it. “Don’t speak, don’t touch a single-freaking-thing, just observe and take notes. Got it?”

    I opened my mouth to respond and he pulled my lapel upwards and said, “Got it?”

    I nodded and was released.

    The house was full of distraught and nervous people. The apparent victim was the host of the party, these were his guests. A tense, uniformed officer led us to a body lying face down in the middle of the backyard, head and neck twisted in an awkward position. Detective Dumbo knelt in the grass next to the victim and studied the back of his head and neck for trauma, then gently searched the body, found nothing in his pockets and stood up.

    It was a holiday, I could hear distant neighbors laughing, music, a TV playing too loudly somewhere. We were in a small yard, fenced in but not inaccessible. The young patrol-woman looked way too hopeful, as if me and Detective Dumbo might solve the case that night.

    “Anybody see anything?”

    Dumbo’s question caught her off-guard. “I don’t know, sir. We just made sure that nobody left.”

    “Okay, good. You do a head count?”

    “Fourteen people, sir.”

    “And they’re all in the house?”

    “Yessir.”

    “How many are related to the victim?”

    “Five or seven. They weren’t sure.”

    “Really? Okay. Did he have a wife?”

    “Sort of.”

    “Sort of. Is she here?”

    “Yes sir.”

    Dumbo scanned the layout of the patio, just a few yards from the victim, moved a table and some chairs around and said, “Alright, I want to talk to the relatives first, you’ll bring ‘em out here one at a time, and we’ll start with the wife.”

    He didn’t specify which of us he was talking to, so me and the officer worked together.

    The wife/girlfriend was wary, and shrewd, but her every emotion was betrayed by her face. It was obvious that she was at least fond of the victim and certainly not his murderer, in fact, she seemed angry at his sudden demise. Detective Dumbo asked her about that.

    “Well, I’m annoyed that he didn’t duck, or turn around. He was so skittish. I mean, how could anyone sneak up on him? He was so paranoid.”

    “Do you have any idea who would want to harm him?”

    She made a face, and you, me, Detective Dumbo, the neighbors, we could all see her mentally scrolling through a list of names a mile long. When she said, “No. Not really.” We all knew she was lying, protecting everyone. Useless.

    I brought the victim’s father out, held his chair for him. He was wearing a veteran’s hat from the Franco-Prussian War. I violated Dumbo’s orders when I asked the old gent if he was a veteran.

    “Well of course I’m a veteran, can’t you read the hat? What are you, a moron? You want me to spell that for you? It’s M-O, ron. Mo-ron. Oh—here we go, a real detective. What’s your name?”

    “Detective Dumbo, sir.”

    “Dumbo huh? That’s a funny name. Have you figured out who killed my son, Detective?”

    “No sir. I was going to ask you if you’d seen, or heard anything?”

    “See anything? What does that mean? You think I saw my son get murdered?” He took his hat off and threw it across the patio. I went to retrieve it.

    Detective Dumbo patted the guy gently on the shoulder and said, “I’m sorry for your loss sir. I just meant, maybe you’d seen or heard something suspicious.”

    “Suspicious?”

    “Or unusual…”

    “Unusual?”

    “Yeah, you know like…”

    “No. I didn’t see anything. I didn’t see anything!”

    “Were you out here on the back porch?”

    “Yes, I mean no. Yeah. I don’t know. Probably. Doesn’t matter, I didn’t see anything. Can I go now? I don’t live here, you know.”

    “No. Go inside and stay put. Who’s next?”

    I brought the sister out.

    “He’s a great kid, a great kid. My brother. He was as funny as…” She seemed pretty broke up about it.

    “Did you see what happened?” Dumbo asked.

    “Who me? No. Me? No.”

    “You didn’t see anything?”

    “Me? No. Why? What happened?”

    “Your brother was murdered.”

    “Huh? Oh that. I wasn’t sure if that’s what you were talking about.”

    “So—you didn’t see anything?”

    “Who me? No. Nope, I didn’t see nothin’.”

    “Do you have any idea who could’ve murdered him?”

    She looked thoughtful, shook her head, tilted it, nodded. Her brain was racing like a waterwheel in a flash-flood. “I could’ve killed him a couple of times myself, at least. But I didn’t.” She leaned forward, “If you find out who did it? Let me know and I’ll kill ‘em myself. Those motherfuckers. I’ll kill ‘em. Nobody kills my fuckin’ brother. Nobody.”

    She stood and carried herself resolutely into the house.

    “Who else we got?”

    Another sister.

    She didn’t look like the first sister. She was younger, sober, had an accent and answered half his questions with questions.

    “So, you’re related to the victim?”

    “Yes?”

    “Okay. How?”

    “He’s my brother? Or was my brother. Well, I suppose he’s still my brother? He’s just dead, so now he’s my dead brother, I just never referred to him as my live brother before when—you know, whatever happened, happened?”

    Detective Dumbo blinked. “So—were you out here when whatever it was happened?”

    “Ah, yeah. Definitely. Yes.”

    “And did you see anything? Did you see what happened?”

    “Ah, no. I was inside.”

    “You were inside?”

    “Yeah.” She shook her head.

    “You just said you were outside.”

    “Yeah, well I misunderstood what you were asking. Now that I know what you were asking, I have to give you the correct answer.” She looked at both of us very earnestly and added. “Don’t I?”

    Dumbo scowled and waved her away as I ushered her back into the house.

    “Who’s next?”

    Dumbo’s face lit up when I told him. “His brother. And get this, they’re feuding.”

    “Is that so? Is he here?”

    “He’s out front, pestering the police. He wants to know what’s going…”

    “Bring him back here.”

    I did as I was told.

    The brother arrived, sardonic and bald, with a braided ponytail. “Murdered? I should be so lucky.” He was looking at the victim, then he turned a skeptical eye on me and my notebook and said, “You think you’re going to get a murder mystery out of that idiot? Good luck. Did anyone check his pulse?”

    I didn’t see Detective Dumbo check for a pulse. I know I certainly didn’t. I didn’t touch anything but the old man’s hat. Dumbo asked the officer if she checked for a pulse and she shook her head.

    That’s when the ‘deceased’ snorted, rolled over, and mumbled something in his sleep.

    • December 14, 2021 at 8:24 am
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      An excellent comedy and sort of parody of the whole detective partner motif! I tried to do something like this with that pun story about the vacuums, but I feel like you pulled it off way better. Dragging each suspect out like that was a good way to do it because it gave the story a kind of skeleton and it let you parade a bunch of funny characters past the reader in a short period of time. The name of the detective sort of gave it an “Abbott and Costello” feel at first, but the writing was good and I got drawn into the mystery so I started taking it real seriously earlier on, despite the fact that it was funny.

      It felt like you gave the cast of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” the roles of a bunch of murder suspects. (I liked the sister with the racing thoughts the most)

      • December 15, 2021 at 7:42 pm
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        Thanks Rumples,

        I just let Kim read it. When she was finished she threw it in my face and told me it was lame. (Okay she didn’t actually throw it in my face.) I rose to my full five-and-a-half-foot height, towering over the cat toys, I scowled fiercely, popped my knuckles, pointed my index finger at her nose and said, “Really? Shit.” Then I grabbed the remote and changed the channel before she could say ‘Stop, it’s the Geico lizard.’

        Such is life, amigo.

  • December 13, 2021 at 5:35 pm
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    Funny, KenC. You really are the master of dialogue – this fizzes and pops like crazy. This line made me lol: “Oh that. I wasn’t sure if that’s what you were talking about.” What else would they be talking about?! The characters are all very vivid, with the minimum of description; just the way they speak and act is enough. The ending is great: for all Dumbo’s authority, he didn’t get anyone to check the pulse. Now for the negative bits (not so negative really). Why is everyone so confused and evasive? Drunk? Why ‘Dumbo’? It’s a silly name for a cop and appears to exist just for a brief exchange with the father (and it’s not the funniest exchange, either). Ok, by the end we find that the name fits the character, but if that was the point, then maybe something a little subtler? That’s all I’ve got on the ‘negative’ front. Fun stuff!

    • December 15, 2021 at 7:07 pm
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      Thanks Phil,
      You wrote:
      ‘Why is everyone so confused and evasive? Drunk?’

      Phil. This is my family. (What part of ‘We’re idiots’ don’t you get?) This is what happens when you freebase my relatives.

      ‘Why Dumbo?’ Dumbo was a character I created for a story in June of 2015 about a bumbling slapstick detective appropriately named Dumbo. (I think it came in 17th.) I used him as a mental anchor to facilitate the story, but he turned out to be a more serious, just as fallible, but much less important character in the story than the character he was based on. I don’t have (as some writers do) a stable of characters that I re-use, and I almost named it Dumbo Reprised. But it wasn’t really about Dumbo at all, it was about — the inadvertent perfidy of people under stress. (You know, the lighter side of that.) Either that, or I was lampooning my family. Except that it was a work of fiction, and all the characters and events were products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, was purely coincidental.

      In other words, you’re right. I gave it a lot of thought but came up with the wrong decision. In the original, Dumbo is the Detective’s nickname, but his real name was Caesar Assets, which is just as bad as Dumbo.

      So, yeah, I should have changed the Detective’s name. Got any suggestions? I’m all ears.

  • December 13, 2021 at 5:58 pm
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    Fiery Fate Pt 2 by Carrie Zylka

    Pt 1 can be read here: https://fictionwritersgroup.com/FieryFate

    A third voice came out of the darkness, a voice that made both angels blanch. “What indeed…”

    “What are you doing here,” The male angel spat.

    “Stopping the slaughter of innocent lives.” She stood tall, taller than the other two angels.

    “Who is this?” The little girl breathed, her heart beating furiously at yet another creature magically appearing. Her presence was….more somehow. Just more than the others.

    “This, this is my sister Heather.” He made a face as her turned towards her. “And she has always been a pain in the ass.”

    The sides of Heather’s mouth twitched in amusement. “Says you, Cal, my little brother who always seems to get himself into trouble.” She glanced at the other angel, who spat the words of the spell that fed the fire. “Enough Missa.”

    Missa glanced at her but didn’t stop.

    Blue eyes narrowed as she unfurled her war-torn wings, and with them, a white brilliance. “If you don’t stop, I’ll be forced to stop you.”

    Cal stepped in between the two. “You won’t. They deserve a full cleansing. This city is a safe harbor for the worst of the worst. They’ve destroyed everything good there. Once it was a bustling fishing town, now it’s nothing but whores and rapists and murders.”

    “That’s not true. My baby sister is only four. She’s there. She’s good.” The little voice spoke, tears carrying her voice into the darkness.

    A second of silence passed.

    Heather lunged forward and grabbed him by the throat. “You know the rule, you must safeguard the innocent Cal. What is wrong with you?” She shook him violently.

    He swung his arms up and brought them sharply, one breaking her hold on his throat, the other one slamming into her chest, thrusting her backwards.

    “Not today dear sister…” he sneered, and Heather dodged a round house kick from him.

    She grabbed his foot and pulled him towards her, he lost his balance and rolled to the side.

    Heather took the opportunity, she drew her sword and jumped forward, her wings caught a thermal, and she came down right behind Missa, with her left hand she grabbed the angel by the front of the face, with her right hand she plunged the sword into her back, pulling her close as if to embrace.

    Missa’s mouth opened in a silent o as she clutched at the blade protruding from her torso, she tried to finish the spell but the flames in the city sputtered as the words caught on her bloodied gums. Her chest gurgled as she fell forward and onto the ground.

    Heather turned back to Cal who stared at her in disbelief. “My apologies little brother, but you have been judged and have been found wanting.” Her voice was sad, but hard as steel.

    “By who? And what? You were sent like a death squad? This is unacceptable Heather!!” His voice quavered in fear. He knew his sister had been selected by the Retributioner, the archangel for the World Builders. He’d heard she’d been chosen as Retributioner’s personal guard dog. “You’re my sister! My blood. Your allegiance should be to me!”

    Heather turned towards the smoldering city. Cries of agony and frustration wafted towards her on burnt air. “There were innocents in that city Cal, innocents.” She hung her head in sadness at what she knew she had to do. “You know I can’t let you leave. I can’t allow this to happen again.”

    She could feel the fury in him building behind her. The air became heavy, almost electric.

    She turned slowly, stoically, and prepared herself for battle.

    • December 14, 2021 at 2:12 pm
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      Epic – reminds me of a serious version of that movie “Dogma”! Or deleted scenes from “Constantine” (which could have used some good melee combat between the winged forces of good and evil, btw).

      Too short! You can’t end it before they start the “circle of death”. No one calls it that, but they used to call it that in a certain video game from the 90’s. You know, where two fighters face off and start to circle each other and test the waters?

      • December 16, 2021 at 12:55 pm
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        Ha! Yes Rumple! Constantine is one of my favorite movies, Keanu Reeves has been trying to get a sequel done for years!!

    • December 15, 2021 at 12:50 pm
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      Wonderful story, Carrie, and a fun read. Or sequel, I should say.

      This is exactly what the first story deserved—and, you left it open for yet another chapter. What is she going to do? Kill her little brother? Right in front of the innocent little—innocent? I don’t think so. (You play chess, eh?)

      This genre showcases your talent because you do action really well. (Your nature or outdoor blogs are equally engrossing.)

      There’s some great imagery in this episode:
      ‘a voice that made both angels blanch.’
      ‘she unfurled her war-torn wings, with them, a white brilliance.
      ‘her heart beating furiously at yet another creature magically appearing.’

      Some suggestions:
      You had one paragraph toward the end that could have been reduced to:
      Could the rumors be true? That his sister was in service to the Retributioner? Archangel to The Worldbuilders. (I felt like that whole paragraph should be compressed, as if you were introducing it, and it would be more fully developed later, if more sequels were to follow.)

      ‘Heather took the opportunity’ is a phrase that defangs, “She drew her sword…’

      A few other phrases that were unnecessary:
      ‘the sides of Heather’s mouth’ (a fleeting smile?)
      ‘The male angel….’ (I’d give him a name at this point. We’ll learn his gender later.)
      ‘spat the words of the spell’ (Too many ‘spats.) I’m familiar with the problem of describing angry utterances. Off the top of my head?
      ‘…while spewing a vile incantation…’ ‘venomous incantation’ ?

      Clearly, I have too much time on my hands.
      There was one typo, towards the beginning. ‘He made a face as her turned towards her.’

      Exciting writing. I can’t wait for the next installment. The underlying premise of the story is the ultimate sibling rivalry. Does she abide by her oath to the guild, or spare her impetuous brother’s insignificant and worthless life? Beats me. Good story you got going here.

      • December 16, 2021 at 12:54 pm
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        Thank you for the kind words! You know if given the opportunity I’m happy to write a fight scenes hahaha.
        I always appreciate your feedback. I took your edits in the 1st one and updated the story. And it definitely helped!

  • December 15, 2021 at 12:41 am
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    Sibling Love- Then to Now
    Boomers, Millennials and Covid Gen

    Myra was the youngest of the clan, born as a blessed afterthought. Not a mistake, never!
    Her older siblings were way older than her and the brother, just older to her, was 7 when she arrived on terra firma. The brother was the only son and was ruling the roost till she popped out of her beautiful mama’s belly.

    The oldest, the most responsible big sister ever to be born, was all of 10 years old, and she claimed in her later years that it was her master plan that got her parents procreating once again.

    Her argument held strong.

    “If the Georges, who are as old as you, can have a baby now and they can all play with him, what’s stopping our family, dada?”

    Well, dad was not one to disappoint and he got in the swing of things. And mama went along. Got hugely pregnant.
    Finally the day arrived.

    “Kiddos, get ready, we’re going to the hospital to see the new baby.”

    Abe wore his socks, both different colors and sizes, but he didn’t care.
    “A baby? I’ll kill her…,” he said.
    Of course he was joking. But there was an ounce of jealousy creeping up his spine as he had just about lost the esteemed position of being the youngest.

    Zara, the eldest sister, was aghast!
    “Never use that k-word again ever. I am shocked at you, Abe!”

    But Anna, the second born, giggled.
    She knew the agony of losing her position of being the youngest at the tender age of 2. Abe had arrived much too soon and stole it with his good looks, besides being the only son!
    Anna recalled the time she had asked her little baby brother to lower his one leg into the deep well that stood in the far end of the garden. And the little nut did just that.
    Then she said with a very impish grin, “Now put your other leg inside.”

    Just as Abe was trying to lift his other leg, big sis Zara, who was constantly on guard to see that the younger ones kept out of trouble, happened to peek out of her bath. She saw her darling little brother with both legs dangling inside the deep, dark mossy well.

    Zara ran out in her ‘nanka panka,’ which was their innocent word for nakedness and saved the boy at the nick of time.

    Anna giggled again. She was not mean and would’ve stopped him at the crucial moment. Her defence was that she wanted to know if Abe was upto a challenge. The books they grew up on had wicked stepmothers, witches and dragons and you had to be daring.
    Besides there was no telly and imagination ran riot in her.

    So it was minimal rivalry that existed among the four. And they wholeheartedly lavished love on the newly arrived youngest baby.
    What started in the 50’s continues to this date.

    Anna was the smartest of the lot, more so in a cunning sort of way. She was quite the daredevil to fall in love when it was not allowed. She secretly read all the romantic Mills and Boon and gestapo like, in military style, she stopped her siblings from reading the very same. Her siblings were absolutely forbidden to do anything daring.

    Only Anna had the right to venture out into the world to do all the intrepid stuff.

    In later years, around the 90’s, there grew a new trio of siblings who cared and loved each other with no idea of rivalry or one upmanship. The reason being there were spaced out, apart by many years. The only greed exhibited was wanting buttery food meant for the ‘baby of the moment’. Or gobbling up milk powder mixed with chocolat!

    Long time ago, there was a time, coca cola was not to be found in India.

    Myra grew up to be this mother who had travelled to Europe and brought back a huge bottle of coke for her three kids. The excitement ran high and the bottle was stored in the fridge to be drunk in small ounces. But the smarter middle sibling Eliza managed to guzzle the whole thing up without sharing with her elder brother. And she got properly punched for it.

    Today nobody drinks coke.

    Eliza later claimed that it didn’t matter whether a child was fed with mama milk or formula. Her siblings had been fed the former for a long period of two years, but she who fed on formula, had turned out the smartest.
    It was her reasoning alone.
    Of course the youngest was livid when she heard this false claim. The milk of creativity flowed in her veins, but it got her little money.

    “Not everyone has to be a doctor or engineer.” She said.

    “Yes, honey. If you have to survive in this world, you gotta be one or the other.
    Not everyone is an Elon.”

    Years speed by as summer lightening and now we are in the next 2021 gen.
    Myra has now become a young granma.

    Eliza has her two little boys.

    The older one is three and 9 months old and the newbie has just arrived on planet earth. Papa and mama gets some masterful play acting done, according to the latest parenting books, on how to bring a baby home so not to arouse the green eyed monster.

    Big brother is super excited to welcome baby brother home.

    There are no tantrums yet. It’s all in the book.

    Big brother loves Baby T with all his heart and kisses him gently on his head. He tells him that he must obey God and love Jesus. He sings to the cooing baby his own canonical liturgy on how they are all part of one family now, and they are there for each other.

    As night fell, big brother wanted a back scratch and huggy time with his mama. But mama is busy pacifying the babe.

    ‘I love baby T but I’m getting a bit frustrated with his crying.”

    “How does Daniel Tiger react to his little sister?” reminds his mama.

    “Hey little feller, it’s time you stopped whining. We got to share our mama, you know. She belongs to both of us.”

    • December 16, 2021 at 2:58 pm
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      Your writing is very uplifting and upbeat – are you an optimist? I can’t seem to infuse my writing with the kind of joy you exude, but I would like to be able to pump out some of that positivity! This family seems so pleasant and well-rounded – I only hope that my children have memories even half as good some day!

      I was never allowed to drink coke (unless it was a special occasion) until I was 14, but by then I had developed a disliking to it. It seemed exotic and fun when I was real young, but it lost the luster very quickly. Same thing with sugary cereal: we only had Rice Chex and Special K and that kind of stuff until I was 14, and now those things are comfort foods to me.

      And I couldn’t watch R-rated movies, but that just made me want to soak up every wicked thing I could ASAP, just like all the Lucky Charms and Fruity Pebbles that I sucked down the moment that I moved out of my parents house!

      Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

      😉

  • December 15, 2021 at 6:16 am
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    Yet I am the Monster…

    I have not spoken to one of my brothers in twenty years plus. I mean really spoken to him. The other brother is deceased literally by his own folly. The latter I can mourn, but the former I have no wish to ever speak to him or his family again in my lifetime. As far as I am concerned, I no longer have a brother, as the only person I could call a brother in the true sense, even though we are or were radically different, we had affection for each other and had no desire to cause harm to the other. The same cannot be said for the younger now non-brother and the non- relatives.

    I used to be amused by the rivalry between my two younger brothers, but did not take seriously comments about the youngest in our family and the assertion by my deceased brother that he would not want to stand in the way of our youngest sibling if he wanted something.

    “I reckon he would kill you if you stood in the way of something he wanted. He’s pretty bloody ruthless, ya know.”
    “Naw. Really. Don’t exaggerate.”
    “I’m not. He would kill you for a few bob! And you won’t even know it until it’s too late.”
    “Oh com’on. Don’t be silly.”
    I now wish I had not been so naïve and trusting our youngest sibling would do the right thing by the family. I wish I had taken more notice of what was going on. However, I have always preferred to think the better of people until it is proven beyond a shadow of doubt that their intentions are not so pure or nice.
    My first inkling of his duplicity came observing his behaviour with others and then in 1996, he and his wife turned on me and the lies flew thick and fast. He had laid some important groundwork with relatives and probably had discussions about what I was supposed to be doing rather than actually doing.
    I had recently partnered with someone who was around 14 years old than my 42 years after a tumultuous few months when I had been robbed of three months rent in advance, been evicted from the flat by the landlord because the people I paid the rent to (co-tenants) had not paid it to the landlord but used it for night-clubbing apparently. I came home to my things packed out on the street and a landlord who wanted me and them out. I went to work, broke down in tears and luckily my boss – a Russian girl Tamara, allowed me to sleep on a couch in her lounge room for six weeks in her flat in central Tel Aviv. I was able to borrow, against my better judgment, $1000 from my brother and sister-in-law to pay the bond on a flat and provide two months’ rent up front from my wages as a teacher.
    In the meantime, I started to go out with a man who had been introduced to me by a mutual friend. I ended up going to England on a holiday with him and came home before him as I was starting work with a new company. Meanwhile my sister-in-law rang me about the $1000 which I had placed in a security bond for a flat. It was time based and I was intending to return the money to them with the interest. She got abusive on a phone call to me and stated that I was never intending to return the money and I was a pig. I replied that if I am a pig you are married to the brother of a pig and your children could very well take on pig characteristics. She hung up on me and so I went to the bank the next day to get the bond back from the security deposit it was in and got in wired to them after much hassle. They had their money and I thought “Ok, that is the end of it.” But it was not.
    Brenda the sister-in-law later rings my boyfriend’s number and tells him some story about me being mentally unstable. He asks me to move out and gives me a week or two to find another place. He does not give any real explanation, just that he has had enough crazy women in his life and does not need another one. I am moved to a room in a house on the beach front near the Tel Aviv bus depot and it was enough to send me crazy from sleep deprivation. The buses went past on the road by the window of my room, and it shook the whole house. Not only was I scared and upset by the sudden break-up, but I could not sleep because I had buses by my window every few minutes until the early hours of the morning and then they started at 4am again in the morning. For nearly a month I did not sleep and was working to get money together to move yet again. I felt bad for the woman who had put me up on Bruce’s request as he wanted me out of his house as fast as possible after my ‘lovely sister-in-law’s phone call’. He never spoke to me about what she had said, but it must have been bad.
    I worked quite hard to keep myself off the streets and the only person who contacted me over my eight years in Israel after that incident with my brother and sister-in-law was my father. We kept in regular contact. I think my brother wanted that bond broken.
    My mother told me a rather slanted version of the loan story when I returned to Australia. That was related to me after my father had died of cancer. Of course, in her version, it was all my fault and I realized that while I had not spoken, they had to my parents and all the relatives. I was the monster black sheep.
    When Dad got sick, I had insisted that Stephen come over to Australia otherwise he would not see him alive again. When I was trying to ring him, Brenda intervened and screamed at me down the phone.
    I had wanted the family together in peace before the old man passed away. Once he died, the sibling’s claws unsheathed. I was almost stopped from speaking at my father’s funeral.
    The coup de grace came a few years later, when he put our mother in a home, and with the help of his wife stripped her of her possessions. Then as he had power of attorney, I was not even notified of her death except I had regular contact with the home when I learnt she had been ill. I was not notified of her memorials. l had to ring around local funeral homes to find out where she was to say goodbye.
    I was treated as though I did not exist. Several weeks after she died I got an email from Brenda gloating over the fact and I was told I was lucky I was allowed to see her body. I have my own theories.

    • December 15, 2021 at 6:23 am
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      I am sorry but mine is a memoir. I nearly did not write this as my sense of betrayal and hurt by biological family who I believed so much better than they proved to be, is still so raw that several years later if I think about it causes me to sink into the blackest mood of despair and hurt that I cannot almost function, but just want to lie down and die. I cannot think about them nor do I ever want to see any of them ever again in my life. It is the only way I can cope or function. They have hurt me to the extent I can never trust them again in my life and they would bring nothing but hatred and despair into my orderly and peaceful world and that of my son.
      I feel like I have bared my soul in writing this. I cannot delve too deeply as to do so, darkness would engulf me and I could possibly drown in it.

      • December 15, 2021 at 7:34 pm
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        Good Lord, Ilana. People can be so awful to one another, can’t they?

      • December 16, 2021 at 9:27 am
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        Reminds me of my own feelings towards my brother. I think it is the nostalgic feelings and memories from childhood and the way I looked up to him being dashed by his modern personality and behavior. Is dashed the right word? Like when there is a little puddle with a pretty reflection of a sky in it … and then a boot stomps down? That is the betrayal that I feel. Not a real betrayal, but a sharp contrast between the past and present.

        • December 16, 2021 at 10:35 am
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          Hey Rumples,
          You seem to have found a way to touch that chord of irrational fear surrounding us and spiders. Tiny as they are they can put the fear of God, any god I guess, into grown men whether they represent a real danger or not.
          Well done for writing this psychological piece.
          If you want to read my attempt at “ a spider story” that I wrote several years ago then contact me at : kenfrape@hotmail.co.uk

          I read it once to an audience and apparently several people shuddered (their word) at the scenario.
          Nice writing my friend.
          Kind regards,
          Ken Frape

  • December 15, 2021 at 8:01 am
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    FYI – you have about two hours to submit a story – after that I won’t include it in the voting page. I have a 6 hour meeting starting at the time voting starts and need to get the voting page done ahead of time.

  • December 15, 2021 at 11:56 am
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    Hey writers!!

    You know the drill… It’s time to vote!

    Remember you MUST vote for your story to count, you can only vote once, and you may NOT vote for yourself.

    https://fictionwritersgroup.com/voting-sibling-2021/

    You officially have 24 HOURS from the timestamp of this comment to read through the stories and vote.

    Good luck!

  • December 16, 2021 at 7:42 am
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    Hi All,

    Just to say sorry for not posting much in the way of comments this time round. I have barely touched my lap top for over a week. However, I have carefully read all of the stories so well done everyone for the quality of your writing.

    Now to vote,

    Ken Frape

  • December 16, 2021 at 1:00 pm
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    Just waiting for Phil and Ilana to vote.

    Before I get more emails – yes I know the rules are twenty four hours, but they took the time to write a story, time differences may dictate some leeway.

    New prompt is up. It’s a 3 week prompt as I ‘ve received more than a few emails lately from people dissatisfied with how I run things and my inconsistencies. (Probably true.)
    So I’m going to be taking the time to figure out what the future holds for this site.

    Keep an eye out for a blog post in the next week or so explaining changes and/or suggested changes.

    • December 16, 2021 at 6:03 pm
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      Thanks for giving me a chance to vote, Carrie. I’d planned to read the rest of the stories today and vote, but work and forgetfulness got in the way, then later I had some unpostponable stuff to do and the day just ran away from me.

      (I do hope you continue to run this. I reckon you do a great job. And I would miss this page terribly.)

    • December 17, 2021 at 12:32 am
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      Carrie,

      I hope your doing well. Your comment implies much, but says little.

      As someone who has written and posted over one-hundred and forty stories on this site and its predecessor, I’d really like to know who is harassing the moderator, and why. I think the duration of my participation adequately demonstrates my dedication to this site. My devotion is such that I frequently consider leaving the site in the interests of improving participation. It’s still an option I can employ.

      That being said, Who ‘all’ on earth is sending you emails about the rules?

      I hope you haven’t received any whiny emails from me in the last two months, because I haven’t sent you any. I do all my whining on the thread. If that does not sound correct to you, please contact me about it. The site may not be perfect, but you’re not likely getting rich off it either. For this, you deserve a great deal of gratitude, and latitude.

      On the other hand, when someone recently suggested that the writers on this site can edit their comments and sometimes even their stories, you did nothing to correct that person or clarify the issue. I had to wonder what you and the writer were talking about. I’ve been posting stories on this site since its inception. Our ability to edit and modify our remarks and comments has changed over time. It doesn’t bother me one way or the other, as long as we’re all playing by the same rules. I think that’s an important benchmark, but after five years of contributing to this site, I still don’t actually know what I can or can’t do, or why… but I certainly didn’t send you any emails about it.

      As for this most recent contest, with five submitted stories, who would be pressuring you to post the results? And why would they? This is the kind of cryptic comment that leaves me wondering about something that until five minutes ago I wasn’t even thinking about.

      Only five people posted a story. Are you saying that people who didn’t post a story are complaining that you’re taking too long to post the results?

      Or are you saying that some of the people who did post a story are complaining? If that’s the case, who would that be? You were waiting on Phil and Ilana, so I think we can eliminate them as suspects, It isn’t me. (I think I would know if I was sending you emails.) Rumples? He’s not a complainer. Marien? Extremely unlikely. She’s not the type, either. What am I missing here and who are you talking about? If we eliminate the people who posted a story… and I think I just did, then, are you seriously saying that people who haven’t even posted a story are complaining? That seems really unreasonable.

      But I don’t really know because your remarks do not impart any useful information. For me, it is the status quo.

      Cheers, Kiddo.
      Hope you get it all sorted out.
      Ken

  • December 17, 2021 at 12:27 am
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    Hey All
    Unfortunately I did not get to submit this time. I did read the entries once and voted, but might be too late.
    I have had a terrible few weeks. My sister was unwell, went to hospital four weeks ago and died last Tuesday. She had no symptoms at all until a headache and a bit shortness of breath. She was diagnosed with metastatic brain cancer, spread to the lungs, lymph and bones.
    I could not write or submit a sibling rivalry story at this time. There was never any rivalry between us all, six of us.

    • December 17, 2021 at 12:33 am
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      John so sorry to hear of your sister’s passing. You must have a beautiful family. Hopefully you are supporting each other through this horribly sad time for you. I have friends with six or more in the family and they are usually the happiest of families working as teams. It must have been a terrible time for you. Sending lots of light and love. G-d bless and give you comfort. She is one of the angels looking down on us and protecting all her loved ones.

    • December 17, 2021 at 12:44 am
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      Oh my god, how awful for you, John. I’d say the sibling rivalry prompt was very badly timed for you. I’m very sorry to hear about the death of your sister. I hope you accept the sincerity of my condolences to you and your sister’s other loved ones. May she rest in peace.

    • December 17, 2021 at 3:10 am
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      John, I’m very sorry to hear of your sister’s death. May her memory be a blessing.

    • December 17, 2021 at 6:49 am
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      Ozjohn- I’m so sorry to hear of your sister’s passing. How shocking and awful. I’m so sorry.

    • December 17, 2021 at 10:03 am
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      Oh John I’m so sorry for your loss – I can’t even imagine….

  • December 17, 2021 at 12:28 am
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    I have voted Carrie. I was going to withdraw my writing as it is not really a story but some mumblings and I really feel I need to take stock, drag myself out of my depressive state and get seriously writing once again. My writing and mood has been pretty bad lately.

  • December 17, 2021 at 12:58 am
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    Ilana,

    I”m reluctant to give advice to someone who has been so despicably betrayed, but I think you should be told by someone with an irrepressible imagination, that I cannot conceive of any circumstance in which the actions visited upon you by your relatives could have been justified, no matter what the circumstances. You have the right to be furious, for as long as you need to be.

    I know whereof I speak.

    Peace.

    • December 17, 2021 at 5:40 am
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      Thanks Ken you are one of the many people I truly love on this site in a very literary platonic sense. We share a love of the written word and that is a great thing.
      I do concur with your comments about the people writing horrid emails to our beloved Carrie. There I nearly called her Carre such was my angst.
      I shall dream up a plague of large wasps to send their way. That will serve them right if they annoy our beloved mod any further.

  • December 17, 2021 at 10:11 am
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    Ok writers, here are your winners:

    1st Place: Arachno Thank You by Rumplefinkies
    2nd Place: Outlier by K. Cartisano
    3rd Place: Just two minutes apart but a world away by Ken Frape
    4th Place: Fiery Fate Pt 2 by Carrie Zylka
    5tOhhhh Place: Sibling Love by Marien Oommen
    6th Place: Yet I am the Monster by Ilana Leeds

    The story with the favorite character was the Narrator in “Arachno Thank You”
    The story with the favorite dialogue was “Outlier”

    Congrats to all!

    Disqualified, didn’t vote: Fragile by Phil Town

    • December 17, 2021 at 11:41 am
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      I’m not worthy of this honor, but thank you!

    • December 17, 2021 at 11:44 am
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      Congrats to everyone! I hope y’all can find some comfort and peace this weekend.

  • December 17, 2021 at 2:18 pm
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    Well deserved placing. Great story. Though I liked the doctor. He was fun.

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