January 9 – January 25, 2023 Writing Prompt “Peace”

Theme: Peace

Open to interpretation by the writer.

Required Elements:

  • eyes of some sort.

Word Count: 1200

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71 thoughts on “January 9 – January 25, 2023 Writing Prompt “Peace”

  • January 9, 2023 at 12:23 pm
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    OK, if there’s a pause in the “weather” I might be able to write a piece about peace….so far nine days in it’s been one crazy year…
    Reply
    • January 26, 2023 at 8:24 am
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      I’ve been trying to comment on each story, but when I click on the ‘Reply’ button, it takes me to the bottom of the page. A glitch, I think (though it might just be me?)
      Reply
      • January 26, 2023 at 8:26 am
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        Ah, no … I’m taken to the bottom of the page, but the comment I write ends up under the reply button I click on.

        As you were.

        Reply
  • January 9, 2023 at 3:18 pm
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    I’m in, let’s hope I can participate. I’m gonna try.

    Roy

    Reply
  • January 10, 2023 at 8:21 am
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    Signing in. Hoping to read some great stories. My second surgery is the 17th. I’m not likely to get a story in since I’m still working with one arm/hand and little sleep.
    Reply
    • January 11, 2023 at 9:36 am
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      Hi Adi,

      Hope everything goes well on 17th. Great to note that you are managing to work and keep life as normal as possible…..whatever that means in 2023.
      Thinking of you and looking forward to reading your next story.
      Kind regards,
      Ken Frape.

      Reply
      • January 13, 2023 at 4:16 pm
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        Thanks Ken!
        Reply
  • January 10, 2023 at 10:38 pm
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    I will try this one, hope that my muse comes through for me. Looking forward to seeing how we interpret the prompt.
    Reply
  • January 13, 2023 at 12:03 am
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    Hi Adi
    Hope all goes well on the 17th. The 16th January would have been my late father’s 95th birthday. He died of lung cancer at 74 and I miss him so much. 21 years on and I can visualise his face and speech and mannerisms like it was yesterday. Also gran his mother, my grandmother.
    I have a rose bush out the front planted for him and it is blooming with about twenty or thirty buds. I am in the process of buying a property with my son which one day will be completely his. I think Dad approves. I will be doing something good for someone else in his honour as I do every year. He was a very decent human being and it grieves me that neither he nor my mother have a grave site. My brother does have a proper grave on a property he owned in South West Queensland. It is near a lake and possibly we can get some sort of hardy tree to plant there. I am so glad that he was not cremated like my parents. It physically hurts me to think that their ashes are not only lost, but that they were cremated and what that entails spiritually for their souls.
    It is so stinking hot here. 34 C and will be 38 C tomorrow. I am definitely not looking forward to that.
    I will try to write a story with peace in mind and eyes. It will probably have creepy eyes.
    Reply
  • January 17, 2023 at 1:48 am
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    Peace & BenevoLens.

    Percival Peace, but never Percy, could not have had a more suitable name. He wanted calm, wanted quiet, and would do anything to achieve it. The world often had other ideas in place.

    The 438 bus stopped for him as usual, without his outstretched arm. The driver, the usual driver, Kenny, knew Percival and of his routine.

    Kenny greeted him as always, on entering and when scanning his pass. Percival acknowledged the ‘relationship’ by nodding and abruptly looking away. He walked the aisle and took his seat. He was outfitted with one of his brown and cream collections of identical outfits. He didn’t wish to stand out, didn’t wish to be the centre of attention, just to blend into the background.

    Percival took his seat, the same on every day that he would take this route. It was as if every commuter on the greater suburban transit grid knew that this was his seat, as it was never to be occupied. He boarded a few stops from the depot so the chance of it being taken was reduced, but not impossible.

    The seat next to his, the window seat was unoccupied today as always. If he had to stand to allow someone to sit, he would, but with an avoided gaze, this never happened. People would rather stand than to be a nuisance, Percival concurred. He sat with his briefcase resting on his lap, his umbrella at attention, and hooked to the seat in front.

    Today he was on his way to his role as the senior Optical Dispenser and Fitter, at ‘BenevoLens’, the Optometrist and eyewear store. On non-working days, he would walk to places he needed to go, rather than use public transport, which may disturb his peace. From his home residence to his place of work would be over an hour to walk, and on a good day in traffic, only ten to fifteen minutes on the bus. This then allowed time to attend ‘Brewed Awakening’, the cafe next-door to BenevoLens. Same table, same menu, raisin-toast and black coffee, regular as clockwork.

    Percival wore glasses, was born with poor sight, and his first pair when only eighteen months old. He has grown accustomed to knowing that the frames are part of him and therefore inseparable. Mr. Goldman, his employer, ensured the latest technology and updates regularly for Percival. Today he wears transition shades, so as to avoid eye contact, giving the impression of vision impairment, not a lie, but so as to not have to interact in public.

    The bus rattled on and Kenny stopped, and a gent got on, covered head to toe in winter attire, hat, scarf, and coat and it was not far into autumn, let alone winter. It was unseasonably warm for this time of year. Kenny acknowledged him with a faint recognition of a semi-regular commuter.

    The man raised his voice and his hand, “I have a gun, stay still. Don’t move”.
    This of course got everyone’s attention, especially Kenny, who said, “Okay mate, what can I do for you?”, internally scared but outwardly calm.
    The man just grunted, “Drive, I tell you where”.

    Kenny obliged as the man gave directions step-by-step. The passengers froze but listened to his every demand, this was out of self-preservation.

    Percival pretended that it just could not be happening. Having many questions, ‘What did the man want? Why is he on this bus? What’s the idea behind his actions? And the idea of interrupting a pleasant work commute? Was he crazy, or having a crisis? How is Kenny doing?’ Only a few stops and it would be his usual stop, they had not deviated from the usual route. These questions or their rationale were not of any importance to Percival’s day.

    The man with the gun (TMWTG), continued with the instructions and Kenny was as cool as a cucumber, on the outside anyway. All drivers did have training on this kind of thing, in the rare situation of it ever happening. Luckily he had listened in those long forgotten sessions, but now ever so relevant.

    Percival’s stop was approaching. Reaching to press the signal bell, the audible buzz shocked out into the silence. The man with the gun, “I said no stopping, who the hell pressed that button?”

    No one including Percival acknowledged or accepted the sound. The commuters knew who had been responsible.

    Kenny made an announcement over the tannoy to the passengers, at the behest of TMWTG. “We are all going to travel together, no stopping, no alighting. The destination is unknown to me and it is requested that everyone remain seated and be quiet, then no one will be hurt. Thank you”. Tension could be heard in Kenny’s voice and the words he spoke, although he was not visibly shaken.

    Anxiety and fear could be felt cutting into the air, emanating from everyone, except Percival. Of course, he was anxious and scared but no one was going to ruin his peace today, or any day.

    Percival sat three seats behind Kenny, hearing the conversation clearly, even over the vehicle noises and the street traffic surrounds. His hearing was more acute because his sight was in deficit. It is said that the other senses compensate and may even enhance when another decline or is absent.

    TMWTG and Kenny were deep in conversation with glances sent back to the passengers, every few seconds. The gun pointed at Kenny then as TMWTG turned, the gun pointed to the commuters, glaring and growling to show who was in command.
    Percival took an opportunity and when TMWTG next turned, Percival was standing behind him. He had perfected the greatest ninja move, silent and swift.

    “What the F%$K! Where did you come from? Why are you standing up? Get back to your seat”, was ejected in quick succession.

    “I just wanted to let you know that your gun will not hurt anyone”, Percival offered those words to the conversation lucidly.

    “What you going on about?”, TMWTG shouted.

    “It’s not armed, loaded, and to be honest it is not even a real gun”, Percival retorted calmly.

    “Bullsh*t”, he ejected, “Let me show you”.

    “If you must, but it will not hurt me”, Percival muttered in response.

    TMWTG rapidly shook the gun into Percival’s face. The acrid odour of new plastic could be smelled as it waved passed his nose.

    Percival grabbed the pistol and said, “I’ll take that. Now you sit down”.

    TMWTG was flabbergasted but obliged willingly, like a chided youth, taking the next available seat.

    “Now”, addressing Kenny, Percival continued, “ If you don’t mind, I will alight at the next stop, as I have missed my stop”.

    Kenny did as was instructed and was greeted by the police and the Mental Health Crisis Team. Kenny had pressed his distress alert and they had been followed.
    Percival alighted, acknowledged Kenny’s assistance, and continued on with his day.

    The police officer beckoned for Percival to stay, to check on his safety, and to give a report. That was not going to happen, he had already been delayed, a morning without his daily coffee and toast. The store should have been opened ten minutes ago.

    Reply
    • January 26, 2023 at 8:31 am
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      Really nice story, John. As KenF says, Percival is a very different, memorable character – a bit OCD. I like the ordinariness of it all. Even in what should be a stressful situation, no one panics, and Percival’s cool wins the day. I had a little giggle at ‘Brewed Awakening’. Some issues with tenses (the present used occasionally when the narrative is mainly in the past). But an enjoyable, tidy read.
      Reply
    • January 26, 2023 at 10:13 am
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      OzJohn, great story this week, and your characterization of Percival was excellent in my opinion. LIked the way you handled it, and it’s as if you have insight and inside knowledge of that character. Found it very believable. Nice use of the theme without having to hammer the peace issue home.

      Roy

      Reply
  • January 20, 2023 at 9:00 am
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    Hi Ozjon,

    So, you’re the first one to post, this time round. It’s a very good start too, in my opinion.
    You nail the prompt requirements in every way. As you will be aware, us writers in this group don’t always manage that and thus we leave poor Carrie to exercise her judgement.

    I feel that you created a great character. What you tell us about him and his routine allows us to imagine how the rest of his life is, how set he is in his ways and how everything is ordered to suit him.

    Lovely way that you resolved the issue without violence so no one got hurt and the mental health people were in attendance to assist. Where is this cos it can’t be the UK at the moment? There’s a two year wait for mental health care and only then if you are in crisis.

    So, man has plastic gun that cannot be fired.
    Police are called but don’t shoot or tazer anyone by mistake.
    Mental health people are on hand when needed.
    Must be a work of fiction!!

    Great stuff, Ozjon.

    Kind regards,

    Ken Frape

    Reply
  • January 21, 2023 at 7:04 am
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    Goodnight Kiss

    Little James Ellison squatted on the painted step under the wrap of his mother’s warm arms that June night in 1914. The talk was that the war with Germany was imminent and the country had to be ready but it would soon be over and the menfolk would return for Christmas as heroes. Then the fathers would carry their sons and daughters upstairs to warm beds and goodnight kisses, the young men to eager, impatient lovers.

    It was barely dawn but the men of the village had gathered, no sleep in them, standing loose-limbed and expectant, snorting and stamping their feet, the steam rising from their heated bodies like cattle in the fields. They had answered the call to arms and they were excited, shielded by their ignorance.

    Children danced around their fathers, older brothers, cousins and uncles, all soldiers now, flag waving with gusto as dogs joined the fun, racing through legs, barking and jumping and grinning their dog grins. The rag tag remnants of the village brass band moistened their morning lips to see the men off to war in style. Sweethearts huddled together to weep silently on each others’ shoulders, dabbing their tears on scented, monogrammed handkerchiefs, savouring last night’s private goodbyes.

    There may have been sun later but it did not shine on those soldiers, not there anyway; the light of foreign shores awaited them after the brutality of basic training. As dawn gave way to the day, the bellow of the Sergeant Major galvanised the troops into ragged ranks and moments later the rhythmic crash and creak of their still new boots echoed down that lightening tunnel as proudly, stiffly, chests out, shoulders back, they marched away to a steady drum beat without a backward glance. Those young men would be crying in agony before the day was out as their boots crippled their soft feet as the blisters rubbed raw and bloody. In the weeks and months that followed, those still alive would have accepted this lesser agony in an instant.

    The eyes of every person in the village were on their men who were going to war, to return who knows when, if at all? Going to war. Just three simple words that embodied excitement, fear, a quickening of the pulse in the hearts of young men, many who had yet to venture outside their own village, taste the sea, suffer loss.

    George Ellison was one of the older men who knew the horrors of fighting. He had joined up in 1902 rather than face the ignominy of unemployment. He had seen service as a regular soldier, “a sweat” until 1912 when he returned to his home village to become a coal miner, husband and father. He had seen the work of the barbed wire and the bullet and the bayonet. As a trained soldier he was immediately recalled at the commencement of hostilities and now he stood quietly among the excited young men, his fears tempering their exuberance as they gathered to become a part of the British Expeditionary Force headed for The Western Front.

    Already, George’s son sensed the gathering shadow of his father’s impending absence, like the tender pain of scuffed skin on knees, felt his mother’s sorrow, her fear and anxiety, even as he sought her comfort, tasted a tear dropped from her cheek and saw the redness in her eye.

    Each family would yearn for the hail of their man’s returning voice, as that first hour became a day, a week and for some, a lifetime. Left behind, they would long for the chance to cut his bread, pour his beer and plump his pillow.

    When the men return.

    When there is Peace.

    But history had a different plan for Private George Ellison.

    The villagers drifted back to the safety of their humdrum daily routine but it was now an empty, fearful existence. The lack of knowledge and information created a vacuum that was rapidly filled over the coming days, weeks and months by gossip and rumour.

    Soon the dreaded telegrams began to arrive as the courier roared in on his motorbike. Wives, sons and daughters hid fearfully behind their curtains, dreading that rat-a-tat knock on their doors, a sound that echoed along the empty terrace, gasping with relief as the courier departed with a roar of exhaust to devastate some other family.

    Private George Ellison, 36 was in a regiment of men young enough to be his sons. Perhaps his military experience had given him wisdom but as the machine gun bullets scythed down the men on either side of him, he knew he was in God’s hands or the hand of simple fate and he survived. His regiment was routinely decimated during each battle and then repopulated with yet more naïve, terrified or ignorant young men.

    Their ignorance was short-lived.

    George’s regiment fought in many battles; The Battle of Mons, Ypres, Armentieres, La Bassee, Lens, Loos and Cambrai and Mons again. Each one was an example of military stupidity, now recorded in history as a testament to man’s ultimate inhumanity to man. George almost stopped asking the names of his new young comrades as he feared that many would die and he could not bear to get to know them and mourn their loss.

    But George survived each battle. It was not yet time for his fate to unfold.

    11th. November, 1918, near Mons, This was George’s moment. The Irish Lancers were crouched in their trenches, bayonets fixed as they awaited the order, that shrill whistle that would signal their attack. But George Edwin Ellison was not there in the trenches. He had served every single day of the five summers of that dreadful war but on that day he was part of a small detachment on patrol near Mons tasked with pinpointing the enemy’s position.

    One of the enemy soldiers was all too near but hidden from sight as he lined up his target in the sights of his sniper’s rifle. Seconds later, the bullet ripped through George Ellison’s uniform and into his chest. The Goodnight Kiss. His death is recorded as 09.30 hours, 11th. November 1918. Armistice Day.

    That planned attack never took place. George was the last British soldier to be killed, just ninety minutes before the signal to “cease hostilities” was sounded.

    12643 Private George Edwin Ellison, (1878-1918) now lies in Plot 1, Row B, Grave 23 in the Symphonien Military Cemetery, Belgium. He was 40. As he lies there, finally at peace, he is facing the grave of Private John Parr, aged 16, a lad who lied about his age, the first official casualty of The Great War, the war that was supposed to end all wars but didn’t.

    They lie a mere fifteen feet apart and yet separated by four years and ten million other dead from all countries. It was as if John Parr was waiting for George Ellison over those five Summers, a man old enough to have been his father. Both died at Mons, one in the first battle and the other in the last battle.

    Never to be forgotten.

    Ken Frape
    1199 word count

    Reply
    • January 24, 2023 at 5:39 pm
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      Hi Ken,
      Such a moving piece, I am assuming there may be a personal story in there too. Losing a relative in war is something some of us will never know. I have had a grandfather and some uncles return shattered men. All saw action and one was a POW in Changi. The War to End All Wars, the Great War, is just the first of many conflicts that humanity has seen in the living history of us and the ones we love.
      Beautifully written and expressed. Thank you.
      Reply
    • January 25, 2023 at 4:32 am
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      Ken Frape,
      I’ve also written stories of the barbaric nature of war. In my first one, the beginning part was about the gala party on the night of June 15th, 1815. It was a joyous evening.
      The battle was a gloss-over. The focus of what I planned to submit was a slim-down of the post-battle butchery of the night.

      If you want bloody, read the Bible; NKJV or NAB, take your pick.

      I’m glad I changed what I submitted.

      Reply
    • January 26, 2023 at 8:52 am
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      A powerful piece, KenF. From your comment to my story, it seems you used to teach about this war, and your knowledge comes to the fore in the second part. While it’s moving to know that these people actually existed, I think (for me) it would have worked better if you’d created two fictional soldiers – perhaps from the same town in the send-off from the first part, which is superbly done for the imagery and the sense of pride and hope in that parade. Then they could have suffered similar fates to the real people you mention (as ‘one of the first’ and ‘one of the last’ to die – the scene you paint in the graveyard is very well done). I say this because that second part begins to read a little like a Wikipedia page, which is good for information, less good for generating emotion (once again, for me). You use language very beautifully (especially in the first part).
      Reply
    • January 26, 2023 at 10:21 am
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      Ken F.,

      I felt like I was reading a London Times article. I mean that as a compliment, because, while it’s a story, it is also written with a writer’s flair rather than that of a correspondent. I got completely immersed in the documentary aspect of it. Loved the irony of the bit that the first and last casualties of the war are buried across from each other, and I wonder if that was by design, or sheer accident and amazing coincidence. A well told tale, my friend. Indeed. Damn, talk about a cruel twist of fate to survive almost the whole damn war and then be the last to die.

      Roy

      Reply
  • January 22, 2023 at 6:13 am
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    Hi to Everybody I know.

    Long time no contact.

    Good to notice you are still writing.

    I have been hibernating.

    Reply
    • January 22, 2023 at 10:40 am
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      Chitra!
      Welcome back, it’s good to see your name pop up again, hope to read a story from you, you always crafted amazing characters!
      Reply
      • January 23, 2023 at 5:52 am
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        Thanks Carrie

        I will try to get involved again.

        Reply
      • January 23, 2023 at 5:52 am
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        Thanks Carrie

        I will try to get involved again.

        Reply
  • January 22, 2023 at 6:58 am
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    HOPES OF PEACE

    The great armies had been locked in bloody battle for three days. The ground between the two lines was awash with a red that sat like a gruesome sauce around the heaps of bodies, some still twitching and groaning. To drag them back to their own lines could be a death sentence for those who tried, the archers on either side eagle-eyed for any opportunity to slay yet more of the foe once they moved into range. Now and then, an archer would target their own stricken soldiers to put them out of their misery, but unless very accurately placed, sometimes their arrows served only to increase the agony.

    The two sides took it in turns to charge the other, as was battle etiquette for that land and time. Perhaps the waves of attack would push the defending lines back some yards, but by dusk of each day, the status quo would be restored, and in the space between the armies, the bodies and red would accumulate.

    From his vantage point on the ridge behind his soldiers, the King of the West, Mendebaldeko, looked on with a heavy heart. The reason for the war – a territorial disagreement, as with most wars – seemed to him to become less and less important as his loyal subjects threw themselves towards their violent death. On the third night, as he rested in his marquee, listening to the cries of agony that swirled up from the battlefield like a vile aural mist, he decided that the war must end, that the new dawn must bring peace.

    As the sun crept over the ridge on the other side of the valley, and those of the East awaited his army’s charge, so Mendebaldeko ordered that the parley flags be hoisted. He could sense the bitterness of his men; why had there been such sacrifice if it was all to finish thus, in words? But the soldiers missed his motive: his love for them was such that the idea of another day of bloody death was simply unbearable.

    He had to wait mere minutes before the bugles sounded from the other side, signalling acceptance of the parley. With the military contract now agreed, the battlefield became a safe place, and soldiers from both sides flooded the plain to retrieve the wounded. Mendebaldeko’s personal guard made it their job to clear a path to the centre of the battlefield, as did the guard of his opposite number.

    When a path was defined – resembling more a shallow river of red – Mendebaldeko mounted his horse and set off towards the central spot to encounter the King of the East. Mendebaldeko had never met Ekialde before; the most he’d seen of him had been as a distant black figure pacing the opposite ridge during the days of battle. As they approached each other, he was reassured to find that Ekialde had a handsome, open face. Mendebaldeko was certain his wish – that the fighting might cease and the sides enter into civilised negotiation – would come to pass.

    The two Kings dismounted and trudged through the grim mud towards each other. By the law of parley, they were alone, and as they met, a hush fell over the plain, all eyes trained on them.

    “Hail, good sir,” Mendebaldeko said, holding out a hand.

    Ekialde took it with a firm grip but said nothing. They were close enough now for Mendebaldeko to read Ekialde’s face. They say the eyes are windows to the soul. Ekialde’s were the colour of a glacier, but as Mendebaldeko looked into them, he thought he saw warmth there, and his hopes for a swift end to hostilities soared.

    He was mistaken. The warmth was not of goodwill but pure hatred. Ekialde tightened his grip on the hand that had been offered him and pulled sharply, so that Mendebaldeko lost balance and toppled towards him. In one smooth movement, Ekialde whipped a dagger from his belt and plunged it into Mendebaldeko’s heart.

    The last thing the King of the West heard as he crumpled to the mud was a roar from the throat of his slayer.

    “ATTACK!”

    .

    Reply
    • January 24, 2023 at 4:18 am
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      Hi Phil,

      This is a powerful piece of writing, once again illustrating the theme of “man’s inhumanity to man.” This was the theme for the Humanities Curriculum in my first year of teaching in a comprehensive school in Reading way back in 1973.
      I like the way ( as a reader) that you end the story. A happy ending would have been too glib. Those Kings and leaders in history would almost always have seen the olive branch, the parley flag or whatever, as an opportunity to attack to gain more ground, riches, slaves etc.

      I tried to read a book about Jerusalem written by the quaintly named Simon Montefiore- Seebag and I was surprised about the degree of savagery depicted. Everybody was killing everybody else, in awful ways and taking the riches of the city. For hundreds of years!! Your story would fit perfectly into this book.

      I have written a number of pieces about no mans’ land and the First World War is a prime example of military stupidity and the use of men as cannon fodder.

      I am really pleased that you used a more ancient time to portray this sense of futility and of that blood-red strip of land. In one of my pieces I personified no man’s land as a slavering beast that swallows men up, devouring them as the dead bodies were blown to bits or simply sunk into the mud in the shell holes.

      This is a starkly evocative piece of writing, Phil and I really enjoyed reading.

      Kind regards,

      Ken Frape

      Reply
      • January 26, 2023 at 10:09 am
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        Thanks, KenF. Yes, I remember that story you wrote – very vivid. We haven’t learned much since then, have we?
        Reply
    • January 24, 2023 at 5:45 pm
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      The futility and stupidity of war. This a great piece of writing showing that this warlike hatred has been going on for millennia for the sake of power, land, wealth, or whatever reason the ‘king’ had decreed.
      Well done.
      Reply
      • January 26, 2023 at 10:10 am
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        Thanks, John. You’re right, John – very futile and stupid. And evil.
        Reply
    • January 26, 2023 at 10:28 am
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      Phil,

      What a rotten thing to do. Take us all the way to the end and then twist a knife in our hearts with a literary thrust of your sharpened pen. Gadzooks man.

      But then, watching the world now and seeing how Ekialde, I mean Putin, is treating the citizens of Ukraine with his ordered raping, pillaging and merciless killing of innocent civilians and children, under the guise of a police action, I see where you got the idea.

      As always, and I mean always, great writing, good story, and use of the prompt.

      Reply
      • January 26, 2023 at 11:29 am
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        Thanks for the kind words, Roy.

        In fact I didn’t consciously base the story on the Ukraine/Russia war (rather the cruelty and senselessness of war in general), but now you come to mention it…

        Reply
  • January 22, 2023 at 10:40 am
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    Enough
    Robt. Emmett

    I choked down a plate of cold macaroni and cheese for supper. She owed me an explanation, and dammit, I’m getting one, or I’m gonna know why or why not… Whatever! The Mac and cheese were like a lump of lead in my stomach as I drove to her house.
    Her mother let me in the back door. She was sitting at the kitchen table. I would have demanded an explanation then and there, but her mother was at the sink washing supper dishes. I put on my best manners and asked nicely why she’d changed her mind and didn’t want to go with me to the hockey game and the sock hop after.
    “I don’t want to see you anymore.” Her answer startled me.
    “Why?”
    “I don’t. That’s all.”
    Her mother had stepped out of the kitchen. I got in her face, “You owe me an answer. A real one. Spill it!”
    “I don’t want you to get hurt.” Her face looked wretched as she spoke. “Louie said he and his gang will beat you to a pulp when they catch you.” She sniffled. “I can’t have that on my conscience.” She ran out of the kitchen as her mother returned. Because of her mother, I couldn’t go after her. It wasn’t my house. Her mother offered me a cup of coffee and asked me to sit. I accepted the offer. She said Ginger had told her about the incident at the bus stop. You’d stop at the light, and Louie’d sucker-punched you through the window.
    I thought she was about to give me some advice, but she started to talk about the new cake frosting she had been trying to develop. I was not interested in any old cake frosting. Ginger’s female logic confused me. Her mother commented on the failures she had had. Yet she had tried again and again. She analyzed why the new frosting recipe was wrong and did something about it. She said she couldn’t count the times she wanted to quit, but she faced the problem and tried again. Suddenly, I understood. She was not talking about cake frosting at all.
    I knew what I had to do. My problem was I wasn’t a fighter; coward was a better description. The thought of getting beat up scared me. The idea of not seeing Ginger again stiffened my spine a little, but enough. Her mother told me the hooligans hung out at the Heights Community Center warming house at the corner of Ideal Street and Swan Lake Road. I thanked her and drove to the street closest to the warming house. I walked around the back way. The two guys standing outside the front door were far enough away. They had their backs to me and didn’t notice me standing behind them, screwing up my little courage.
    I pushed the front door open. Louie was standing right in front of me. He started to say something, stopped, and swung at me. I stepped into him. His blow slid over my shoulder. I clutched him close with my left arm and drove my right fist into his gut three times. When I released him, he dropped to the floor, on his hands and knees, retching. Another hood stepped around him and swung at me. He managed to graze my left cheek. I turned left with the blow. After completing a three-sixty turn that his fist started, my right shot out and landed on his nose. Out of breath, I pressed my luck. I knew I was in danger, but I was beyond caring. Shaking a finger at the other three, “Who’s next?” I was angry.
    My whole life, I’d put up with the same old crap from people who didn’t like me because I was from the wrong side of Chester creek. I had suffered that cross all my life. Now, these wannabe thugs want to dictate who I could date. I’d had enough! They backed away from me and then ran out the back door. I got lucky; none of Louie’s buddies were left in sight.
    It had started to snow, and resting my sore cheek against the left front fender felt good. After up-chucking the macaroni and cheese on the front tire of my car, my nerves settled, and I felt better. Wiping my face with my jacket sleeve, I straightened up when I heard the crunch of tires on the gravel behind me. The headlights blinded me as I turned. I knew I was going to get a good beating now. This crapola is getting old. Gathering my courage, I waited. Luckily, it was Fred and Bonnie. I told them about Ginger not wanting to go to the game and dance with the three of us Friday night. I explained what happened inside the warming house. Fred nodded and urged me to get in my car.
    He followed me to Ginger’s house. The three of us trooped in. Her mother wanted to know about the cut on my cheek. Her father entered the kitchen and listened to the recounting of my adventure at the warming house as he poured himself a cup of coffee. He smiled and left. I heard him settle into his recliner. Ginger’s mother told Bonnie to go upstairs and get her. Using the corner of her apron, she wiped the blood off my cheek and put two Band-Aids on it.
    The girls returned to the kitchen. Teary-eyed Ginger slumped onto a chair, her ponytail slightly askew. Her mother suggested we kids go for a ride and get some fresh air. On the way out the door, I grabbed her ice skates and said, “I’ll drive. Fred looked at me. He knew what I had in mind. He got their skates out of his car.
    Bonnie ran back into the house. Back in the car, “I forgot my purse.” she said.
    Louie was gone when we arrived back at the rink. But the other three from the warming house were standing in the snow bank at the rink’s edge. They said Louie and Frank had left to fix Frank’s nose. The others went into the warming house. I gave the three a message to give to Louie. Now, having made an enemy of a coward held little meaning. Instead, a weight had been lifted from me. One I’d carried far longer than I should have. I had faced my fears and won.
    Bonnie came outside and helped me tighten my skate laces. “Ya know what her old man said about you?
    “No.”
    “He said, ‘Bout time that boy grew a spine and some….’” Bonnie looked up. “Hi, Ginger.”

    Before the first hour, Fred said, “Flip ya to see who’s driving tonight.”
    “Ya know something I don’t?”
    “Two somethings.”
    “Okay, I can guess the one, but what’s the other?”
    “According to a little bird.…”
    “Bonnie?” I asked.
    “Bonnie. To quote her quoting him, ‘I ain’t gonna mess wit him if’n he don’t skate at my rink.’”
    — Ԙ —

    Reply
    • January 24, 2023 at 4:36 am
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      Hi Robert,
      Nice to see another story from you. I have been almost inactive recently so I might have missed a few things.
      This story reads well and gives a real insight into the lives of “kids of a certain age.” That whole dating scene and the big brother shadow hanging over people. It seems every group in society has similar figures and often those awkward or unpleasant teens turn into similar adults. We just hope they are not our boss.
      Most of the dialogue runs along nicely and seems true to life. The only paragraph that puzzles me is the last one.
      But, overall, an enjoyable read about a young person finding himself. That will hold him in good stead throughout his life.
      Of course, in some other writers minds in our group, your central character would have been beaten to a pulp. In some cases, that’s life.

      Kind regards,

      Ken Frape

      Reply
      • January 25, 2023 at 4:24 am
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        I know the story is good, so it doesn’t need a double posting. i
        Reply
        • January 25, 2023 at 8:49 am
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          Hahaha I removed the duplicate!

          Reply
    • January 25, 2023 at 3:09 pm
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      Hey Robt,
      Enjoyed the tale, the simplicity of it as well as the way it was written too. Thoroughly enjoyed the ride.
      Reply
    • January 26, 2023 at 9:07 am
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      A good feel to this, Robert – a bit ‘American Graffiti’, a bit ‘The Outsiders’. The dialogue feels authentic. The action in the ‘warming house’ is really well described. There are a couple of inconsistencies with tenses. And I got a bit confused with the last part (from when the mother tells them to go for a drive to the end). Not really sure what’s going on. Maybe just me. You’ve nailed the style, though.
      Reply
    • January 26, 2023 at 1:56 pm
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      Robt.,

      Good job on this story. Very believable with accurate dialogue in my opinion. Enjoyed the whole step back into my past, as I had a very similar incident, except I brought a 2×4 to the fight. He was 6’2″, and center on the football team. I was 17, weighed 98 #, and was 5’6″, with arms like toothpicks. The 2X4 equalized things up. Broke his nose and he never bothered me again. Nor did any of his buddies. When he complained to the principal (we were on school property), the principal told him that he had it coming and was surprised someone hadn’t done it before that day. And, yeah, it was about his old girlfriend who wouldn’t go out with me because he kept beating me up when I did. go out with her a couple of times. It was like you were looking over my shoulder at the time.

      I agree with Phil on his comment as I didn’t quite understand the ending. I’ve re-read it a few times and still don’t quite grasp it.

      Good job.

      Roy

      Reply
  • January 23, 2023 at 10:51 am
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    Upon Waking
    By RM York
    1183 Words

    Olena, waking just after dawn by the sound of distant muffled explosions, turned over lazily in her bed. The sounds no longer made her tremble and cower in fear. ‘If it’s God’s will, so be it. It’s going to take more than that to get me out of bed.’ She pulled the blanket tighter around her and closed her eyes. The sudden deafening scream of the air raid sirens next to her apartment building caused her to sit straight up on the side of her bed and reach for her shoes.

    ‘That’ll do it,’ she thought, her heart thumping in her chest. She didn’t have to worry about changing clothes, she had gone to bed dressed. There hadn’t been any electricity in the building since the Russians had bombed the power plant nearby almost two weeks ago and they used a small wood stove sparingly for cooking leaving little fuel left for heat.

    There was enough light to see and within seconds she had grabbed her coat and was on her way out of her bedroom. She could barely hear her mother’s voice over the noise of the sirens, calling her name. “Olena, hurry, we only have minutes, perhaps seconds. Hurry”

    When she got to the kitchen she grabbed the ‘ready’ bag filled with emergency food and supplies. Her mother, Valentina, was right behind her throwing on a coat. “Let’s go,” Olena said. “I have the bag … grab Sonia.”

    Sonia, a black cat with white boots that had been Olena’s since she was a little girl, was scrunched down cowering by the front door, head down and ears flattened, ready to flee. The loud screech of the air raid sirens always terrified the cat and Olena was glad to see her instead of having to look for her. Normally the cat would hide under Olena’s bed when she heard the sirens. Valentina scooped up Sonia and the two of them were out the door.

    As they made their way down the hallway, they were joined by their Ukrainian neighbors making the same journey. Wearily, they only nodded to each other in passing. This had become a routine. There was time to talk when they reached the shelter; now it was more important to move quickly without time for idle chitchat.

    Olena’s apartment was on the second floor and the stairs were already crowded, but it cleared quickly as their acquaintances and friends were as fixed as she and her mother on getting to safety.

    They had no sooner cleared the building when the sirens were silenced for a moment. Within seconds, the sirens started up again. Now that everyone was outside the noise was deafening. Valentina raised her hands to her ears to soften the sound and in doing so, Sonia took the opportunity to jump from her arms and head back toward the apartment and perceived safety.

    Valentina cried out, “Sonia! No!” Olena turned and saw the cat running toward the building. She threw the ‘ready’ bag toward her mother and said, “Go on, I’m not leaving without Sonia,” and ran after the cat.

    Valentina shouted, “Olena, come back, it’s only a cat.” Her plea fell on deaf ears as Olena pursued her cat into the building.

    Reaching her bedroom she found Sonia under her bed. She reached in to grab her but Sonia lashed out and scratched Olena’s arm. Olena, thinking quickly, grabbed a blanket and threw it over the cat, and pulled it toward her. Wrapping Sonia up in the blanket, she hugged her close and ran toward the back door.

    Olena had just reached the threshold of the bedroom when a concussive shock wave spread through her apartment followed by a loud explosion. Lena never heard the sound as she lost consciousness, driven backward by the force, then was surrounded with dust and debris. As she lay on the floor a beam from the upstairs apartment fell across her midsection below her pelvis, at first partially supported by a large chair, then as the chair collapsed, pinned her tightly against the floor.

    The blanket was still tightly wrapped in her arms as she lay facing what was left of her ceiling. As the dust settled, light streamed in through the missing wall. The apartment next door no longer existed and the wall separating the apartment gaped over a twelve-foot fall. There was only the wail of the sirens as dust drifted down from the upper floors, sparkling in the sunlight appearing almost magical.

    Olena gained consciousness and started coughing. She tried to move her legs then realized she couldn’t. She felt for her legs but couldn’t feel them. As her hand tried to reach down the side under the beam, she felt wet and pulled her hand back. It took a moment to realize it was thick and sticky. Olena looked at her fingers, at first not comprehending they were covered in blood. She was slowly bleeding from the side of her leg, punctured by a splinter from the wooden beam.

    As she lay with her head on the carpet and tried to determine her next move, she felt the blanket moving as the frightened Sonia untangled herself from the blanket and popped her head out. She licked Olena on the cheek and Olena hugged her close.
    The sirens were no longer screaming and Olena realized she must have lost her hearing from the concussion. Lapsing in and out of consciousness, she could see Sonia yowling, but there was no sound. Soon after, the cat disappeared.

    She lay there for hours in silence, unable to move as blood slowly ebbed from her body, the pressure of the beam preventing clotting from completely stopping the bleeding. There was no pain and realizing there was nothing she could do, she closed her mind to the numbing cold and accepted her impending fate.

    At first, her thoughts had been, ‘What will Momma do without me? Who will take care of you, Sonia?’ she wondered as she looked into the eyes of Sonia who stood on her chest looking down at her. Then, she remembered what she had thought earlier. ‘If it’s God’s will, so be it.’ She relaxed and felt a great calm envelope her body.

    The light began to dim and she found herself smiling accepting her fate. ‘Poppa,’ she thought, ‘I’ll see you soon.’ Then darkness grew until there was nothing but black, and finally, peace.

    “I’m glad we followed that cat, doc.”

    “So am I, Yuri. Let this second bottle of plasma finish before the two of you try to move that beam. We don’t need a cardiac arrest because we moved it too quickly,” ordered the paramedic.

    “You’re the boss, doc, just let us know when.” The young soldier looked down. “Pretty girl. She sure looks peaceful. Think she’s going to make it?”

    The paramedic, kneeling by her side, feeling for a pulse, said, “I don’t know. She’s lost a lot of blood and we can only do our best. After that, as my grandmother would say, ‘If it’s God’s will, so be it.’”

    Reply
    • January 24, 2023 at 7:35 pm
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      Such humanity in your story. This is our most recent break into ‘peace’, the war with Ukraine. I could realate to the plight of the common person. The love another being, trying to save her cat and risk her life. I would like to know what happened to Olena and Sonia.
      Reply
    • January 25, 2023 at 4:25 am
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      The story is good, so it doesn’t need a double posting. i
      Reply
    • January 25, 2023 at 4:27 am
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      RM York
      You have brought me perilously close to breaking my vow not to comment on our current training ground, now that the Afganny ordeal is finished, er, officially, (Wink…Wink) that is.
      Reply
    • January 26, 2023 at 9:19 am
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      An excellent and topical story, Roy. As I was watching a half-destroyed apartment block on the news today, it flitted across my mind (as it often does) how those families cope with the constant stress of impending death. Your story answers some of those questions (the ‘routine’ feel of the evacuation, for example, and the bags at the ready). I like the ‘Save the cat!’ moment, but wonder whether Sonia would stick around; I’ve had cats, and I know how egotistical they are. What if it had been a small dog? I like how you keep Olena’s fate open at the end. She believes in God, and is now in God’s hands. I hope she makes it. I hope the Ukrainian people make it.
      Reply
  • January 24, 2023 at 12:59 am
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    Hi Phil,

    I know you’ll keep this email in the strictest of confidence. I wouldn’t want this to get loose on the writing site.

    Some of the voting results and critiques on this site have been a little strained in recent months. I’m guilty of some pretty stupid sarcasm, as well, especially lately. But that story you did in the last contest, a la ‘Pulp Fiction’? I hated that movie, and I hated your story. Neither one made any sense to me. Perhaps I was overzealous in my critique, sure, but it was an honest opinion.

    Having said that, there are writing sites and contests all over the Internet, that I could EASILY make more interesting than they are now. But more importantly, I would like to see if any of the 50 to 100 stories that I have already written would be enjoyed by a larger audience. Or a small audience that’s larger than the one I have now.

    I have always felt like my ideas were better than my writing. Which is why I never actually wanted to write, I wanted to give my ideas to a real writer, and let them have at it. I like reading WAY more than writing. Writing is work, reading is leisure. But oh no. All the writers I contacted, (both of them) and even authors I hadn’t contacted yet…I don’t know how they did it; ordered me, derisively, to write MY OWN goddamned stories. Can you imagine that? The nerve of those bastards. And here I am paying to read their fucking books. (Putting their young wives through college, as it were.) Sons of bitches. Make me write my own fucking books and stories. Who do they think they are? What kind of stupid writers make readers write their own fucking books? Are they idiots? They must be, which made me qualified too. So I wrote a few books and a boat load of stories. (I’ll show those pricks who they’re dealing with.) Bottom line is, I got a lot of stories now, and I want to unload them. Cheap. Which brings me to the crux of this communication.

    Besides the odd and sometimes calamitous prompts here, (‘Start a story with two paragraphs of the worst writing you’ve ever seen.’ Remember that one? I got disqualified for editing the prompt for that story. I don’t think I should’ve been disqualified. I should’ve gotten a fucking medal. I should’ve awarded myself a commendation, dammit. (You remember when I used to issue those, Phil? The commendations? Yeah you do, don’t deny it. Abby was still here when I was doing that. Remember Abbey? I hope not. I made her up. Those were the ‘halcyon days’ eh? I hope I didn’t plagiarize that. ‘Halcyon.’ Did I steal that from someone who knows how to write? I’m so callously illiterate that I don’t even know when I’m mimicking the masters. For all I know, I saw it scribbled on the wall above a urinal at Atlanta International Airport, and never knew it was ‘great literature.’ How the fuck would I know? I’m a half-man, half-horse, headless horseman and asshat. Why do people expect so much of me? What are they thinking?)

    The real problem here, for me, is the mod’s refusal to insert the word ‘Workshop’ into one of the site’s headings or sub-headings. I’ve built a few websites and it would’ve taken her/him about five minutes work, if that, even just using a foot or thigh, no hands. Putting ‘workshop’ in one of the subheadings would have been easy, reasonable, and frankly, more accurate than ‘contest.’ Their incomprehensible decision to insist that this is a bona fide writing contest, in a technical sense, besides giving us nothing, renders many of our best stories ineligible for half the contests and writing sites on the World Wide Web. In other words, a lot of fucking places, all-over-the-goddamned-world.

    That decision, which benefited no one, unnecessarily ‘turned-my-mushroom-polyps-sour’. (The actual word does not translate well.) In essence, long term contributors to the group, with a backlog of otherwise unpublished stories, are now, congratulations, ‘published’ authors.

    This decision is not helpful, and stands in stark contrast to the mod’s inattentive management style and feckless oversight. And it’s the primary reason for my reluctance to continue posting stories on this site going forward.

    However, you wrote (intoned really):’Will the site wither away in your (blessedly benevolent) absence?’

    I doubt it. (You silly savage.)

    In fact, it’s totally possible that my scathing remarks, incendiary wit, inflammatory comments, excoriating explanations and horrible sense of humor are causing a drop in posts from other writers. The only practical way to gauge my influence for good or bad (or evil, let’s not forget about evil,) would be to nullify it for a while.

    As much as I may annoy you Phil, I feel a very strong kinship and loyalty to you for your consistency, kindness, generosity, devotion to providing constructive feedback, and the fact that we joined the group within weeks of each other, eight years ago. I consider you a friend I’ve never met. You’re a positive influence on me, an asset to the group, and an unflappable island of sanity in an increasingly chaotic online environment. (Except for that one time, you know, but that was good, it proved you were human. Something I no longer have to wonder about.)

    Suffice it to say, I’m sure everyone thinks I’m a mean-spirited asshole. Especially lately. And even I know, I can be an asshole, but I fervently refute any suggestion that I am in any way mean-spirited.

    Especially since:
    Going forward, I will be happy to read story’s and maybe even comment after a sufficient hiatus, I don’t think the group will fold, it may well flourish in my silence.

    Your critiques are so much better than mine anyway. I’m sure you understand my position, Phil.

    Crossing literary swords with you has been a blast, one of the most satisfying and challenging mental contests I’ve ever had the pleasure of getting bogged down in. (Except for eighth grade shop class.) Just looking for errors in your stories is like a bi-weekly Easter Egg hunt, with no bunny and very few eggs. (BTW, when you wrote: you got ‘a spoke in your wheel,’ I think you meant ‘a stick in your spokes.’ But hey, if you say that’s the way you do it in England, I’ll take your word for it.) Bullshit. Like hell I will. You made an obvious and blatant syntactualistic error, plain and simple. Don’t try to blame your entire culture for your incessant, (what are you up to, is it six now?) your incessant errors, Phil.

    You have been a stolid literary constant since I joined this group, and I will miss you most of all while I’m doing my sabbatical distancing. My plan, Phil, is to make enough money to fly to Portugal with Kim, ring your doorbell and then run and hide behind the public fountain, in the square. Surely you live near a square?

    Keep a sharp eye out for us then, eh? Peace, bro.

    Ken

    Reply
    • January 24, 2023 at 4:02 am
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      Dear Ken

      I’m sure that was a kind of meta-joke (the first bit), but if not, you do know that wasn’t an e-mail you sent, don’t you?

      There are lots of kind words there (for which I thank you), and a lot of Cartisano-esque detours (for which I thank you).

      The thing about ‘workshop’ … I’m not sure it would make much difference really because our stories would still be deemed published, I think.

      Re ‘put a spoke in someone’s wheel’

      From the Cambridge Dictionary (yes, THAT posh!)

      idiom informal

      to make it difficult for someone to achieve something they had planned to do:
      His letter really put a spoke in our wheel.

      So there! (with a raspberry)

      If you’re leaving us, that makes me – and I’m sure many more – very sad. It won’t be the same without you (your wit, energy and great writing).

      Take care, ol’ chum.

      Reply
    • January 24, 2023 at 8:03 am
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      “The real problem here, for me, is the mod’s refusal to insert the word ‘Workshop’ into one of the site’s headings or sub-headings. I’ve built a few websites and it would’ve taken her/him about five minutes work, if that, even just using a foot or thigh, no hands. Putting ‘workshop’ in one of the subheadings would have been easy, reasonable, and frankly, more accurate than ‘contest.’ Their incomprehensible decision to insist that this is a bona fide writing contest, in a technical sense, besides giving us nothing, renders many of our best stories ineligible for half the contests and writing sites on the World Wide Web. In other words, a lot of fucking places, all-over-the-goddamned-world.

      That decision, which benefited no one, unnecessarily ‘turned-my-mushroom-polyps-sour’. (The actual word does not translate well.) In essence, long term contributors to the group, with a backlog of otherwise unpublished stories, are now, congratulations, ‘published’ authors.

      This decision is not helpful, and stands in stark contrast to the mod’s inattentive management style and feckless oversight. And it’s the primary reason for my reluctance to continue posting stories on this site going forward.”

      Pretty fucking rude if you ask me, all you had to do was ask me to remove your stories. I would have, yet again, volunteering MY time to remove them all, several people have done so in the past when they wanted to submit a particular story. Your beef is with the publishing companies, not me. It’s not my purview, it’s theirs. It doesn’t matter if the site has the word “contest” or not. If it’s published anywhere, people can read it, on a blog, on facebook with public privacy wherever – it’s considered published.

      This is the first I’ve heard of your derision in the use of the word contest instead of workshop. It’s what it has always been called – all the way back to the LinkedIn days.

      My “inattentive management style and feckless oversight” ……you bitch and moan I’m not strict enough. Then you bitch and moan I’m too strict.

      Get over yourself. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

      Reply
      • January 25, 2023 at 4:34 am
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        Carrie, saying, “And if you’d like any stories removed ever in the history of either of our lives, just say so. I could probably get it done in a relatively short amount of time,” is too WOKE to be you. Either remove all and the author or nothing.
        Reply
        • January 25, 2023 at 6:59 am
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          If someone says to me I’d like this one particular story removed because I’d like to submit it for publication, or another contest I have no problem with that.
          But yes you are right, someone says they want all of their stories removed, I will probably just use a filter and remove every comment they ever put in and be done with it 😂

          Reply
    • January 24, 2023 at 7:48 pm
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      Hi Ken,
      I assume that your entry for this prompt aimed to discuss peace. To be interpreted any way you like, causing a breach of the peace was your interpretation? Thank you for the truth, sarcasm, humour, or whatever else you decided to bring to the table this time.
      This entry to the competition is well-received and the voting will determine the validity and sincerity.
      Thanks for your words.
      **Oops, I may have misunderstood. Your entry is not in fact an entry. My mistake, I assumed wrongly that it was a work of fiction, LOL.
      Reply
  • January 24, 2023 at 8:08 am
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    Ironic that this bullshit attack on the site and the “inattentive mod” was orchestrated in the “Peace” prompt.
    Or maybe intentional in response to it. Who knows. Who cares.

    To be clear for everyone – this site is voluntary, no one’s forcing you to participate.
    And if you’d like any stories removed ever in the history of either of our lives, just say so. I could probably get it done in a relatively short amount of time.

    Reply
    • January 24, 2023 at 3:19 pm
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      Didn’t see this coming.

      When the site got started back in ‘13, it was a forum of like minded writers and writer wannnabees. We turned it into a contest because people wanted to vote. Maybe if only for bragging rights for a couple of weeks.

      I’m hoping it will continue long after I’m gone. It’s a little more grown up now than it was and may one day turn into a writers workshop, but it’s not there now. I’ll keep after it even if I’m the only one. Thanks Carrie for keeping this idea — dream? — alive as well run as you have.

      Roy York

      Reply
      • January 25, 2023 at 6:48 am
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        I am trying to post my story and it won’t let me. Carrie I will attach it to one of your posts as a reply?
        Reply
        • January 25, 2023 at 7:00 am
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          No problem Ilana,
          I can separate it out into it’s own comment.

          Reply
      • January 26, 2023 at 5:40 am
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        I am so glad I discovered your site on Linkedin Roy and have had this ten year love affair with the site and the writing which I hope will continue. I remember some great stories here by people like Andy Lake, Phil Town and many many others who have made this site amazing. You get out of something what you put in to it. If you spew gall at the site and the mod, that is what you will get back. I think a lot is happening in Ken’s life that is possibly unfortunate. He used to be such a positive and charming member who writes well and had a sense of humour which he has somehow misplaced. Let’s hope he gets grounded and on track again. I feel sad reading some of his recent comments which are not how I imagine him to be and nor do I want to remember him for them.
        We all face challenges in our daily lives. Adi for example, has just had to undergo surgery and we all wish her well. She does not take out anything on others. Some of us, myself included face health issues and we deal with them without taking it out on other people and destroying their peace. Life is so much easier when we work together and treat others with respect and compassion.
        I have just been listening to an audio book called Massacre at Myall Creek by Mark Tedeschi QC. Such a shocking stain on the early colonial settlement authorities and John Hubert Plunkett an Irish barrister who fought to have the rights of indigenous people recognised and to have them treated like people and not animals or savages is a story of inspiration and courage that many of us need to emulate.
        There is so much sadness in this world, let’s not be someone who wallows in anguish and tries to hurt others, but let us bring some peace, love and light into the world. Our Rebbe was very big on being a positive influence in the world and not negative and we all need to work to dispel darkness and approach life with humour and not sour grapes.
        Reply
  • January 25, 2023 at 6:40 am
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    The Dove and the Eagle-hawk
    There was once a very peace loving, family minded dove Shulamit who had raised several families of young doves with a couple of different partners whom she had lost in a variety of unfortunate circumstances. Her first partner Ellis was taken by python. Ellis was sitting on an overhanging branch above their intricately constructed nest reflecting on the beauty of their newly hatched bald brood. Shulamit arrived with food for her hungry chicks in time to see the python swallowing her spouse.
    Tearfully she deposited the grasshopper she was carrying into the hungry maw of one of her chicks. Then she fluttered helplessly around the python as it rose up and burped greedily to assist the peristaltic action of its long throat that pushed a lump that was Ellis down into its stomach.
    She became a busy overworked single parent.
    She was luckier with her second spouse who was around for two seasons’ hatchings. His name was Monty. Monty fell foul of a young boy with a sling shot. Shulamit barely escaped with her feathers intact. Monty was hit by a stone and fell or rather plummeted to the ground, hitting it with a dull thud. She could not even mourn his lifeless clump, because the boy was reloading and preparing to send off another missile and she needed to get out of range fast. Their chicks were teenagers who had all flown the coop.
    Cooper was her third partner. Cooper and the hatchlings met with an unfortunate end as the tree their nest was in was hit by lightening. All perished. She came back carrying a lovely juicy earthworm
    byfor a snack. She was met by the sight of a shattered tree that had a few scorched feathers floating mournfully about its broken trunk. She flew to another bush and alighted on a branch. In her shock and grief, she bit down on the earth worm and swallowed it. The food helped her cope with her dreadful loss.
    Phil was her fourth and final partner. They are still together. She rescued him from certain death and it is an interesting tale of deceit and manipulation.
    She rescued him from certain death. Death by an eagle hawk called Ken.
    Ken was a devious character and the safest place to be when he was soaring through the sky on the wind currents was to be out of sight like in the hole of a hollow tree. He was a handsome fellow with absolutely astounding plummage which he was constantly preening.
    Shulamit came across Ken on the topmost branch of a tree trying to coax Phil to take flight. Ken had not noticed her. He was too busy talking to Phil and trying to take him out.
    Ken: You might like a race to that corpse of trees. I’ll give you a head start! (Ken was thinking and when you do, I will be feeding on your corpse seconds later.)
    Phil: There is actually another word for that. Coppice, I mean..”
    Ken: Who gives a flying F**k. I am American. We’re blunt and to the point. Let’s race.
    Phil: I’m not sure, I’m in the mood for a race today.
    Ken: Scared you might lose?
    Phil: No. I’m a dove. We are peaceful. Not competitive. I can get you an olive branch to chew on if you like, when it’s not so hot.
    Ken: I’m an eagle hawk. We don’t eat vegetation as a rule. (Thinking, but nice little sweet dove flesh is right up my alley.)
    Phil: Ok. Let me think on it. (At this point, Shulamit dropped a lilly pilly berry on his head. He looked up into the eyes of the sweetest little female that he had ever seen. Shulamit, of course. She was hiding behind some leafy branches.)
    Phil: I do have to take a poopy leak though. Back in a moment! (And quick as a flash, he was off; up through the branches which were too close together for Ken to spread his broad wings and follow the swift little dove.
    Shulamit joined him and together they fled into a hollow of a dead gum tree where they built a beautiful nest of sticks and feathers plucked from both their breasts over their hearts. It was a joyful start to the spring, despite Ken’s sour soaring sorties to try to trap them and rip their guts out for his baby eagle hawks.
    Peace reigned in the hollow of an old gum tree down by the creek.
    The end.
    Reply
    • January 25, 2023 at 3:28 pm
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      Hey Ilana,
      I enjoyed the morality of the tale. I guess good triumphs over evil in the end. I can see this as a children’s picture book, of course it would need to be adjusted for the kids. Thank you for sharing.
      Reply
      • January 25, 2023 at 4:09 pm
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        Hi John
        Yeah I wrote it in about twenty minutes between 11 pm and midnight. Decided to get a story in after reading the catfight conversation a couple of people. One of our Ken’s spat the dummy??
        Anyway it has quite a few errors I need to edit out. I have repeated myself several times and there are some typos. Reading it in the clear light of the morning has made me wince.
        Not sure what is up with Ken C but maybe he needs mega doses of Vitamin B until he calms down.
        Reply
        • January 25, 2023 at 4:11 pm
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          Or some apple cider vinegar in the morning with a squeeze of lemon. He sounds constipated and cranky.
          Reply
    • January 26, 2023 at 9:35 am
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      Ha! I seem to be ‘starring’ in a couple of pieces this week, Ilana! Thanks for ‘saving’ me (with the help of a ‘poopy leak’…). In real life, though, I can look after myself (just!). Ken’s post was perhaps unfortunate, but he’s not an ‘eagle hawk’, I’m sure. And as you say elsewhere, I hope we can all live together peacefully – here and in the world. (btw – where are the eyes! 😉 ).
      Reply
      • January 26, 2023 at 9:50 am
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        When he looked into the eyes of the sweetest little female he had ever seen — after Shulamit dropped a lilly pilly berry on his head. I missed it at first, too.

        Roy

        Reply
        • January 26, 2023 at 10:12 am
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          Aaargh! Thanks Roy! (And sorry, Ilana!)
          Reply
      • January 27, 2023 at 4:58 pm
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        Hi Phil
        The eyes are Shulamit’s as he looks up at her. Very tongue in cheek and needs quite a bit of editing I dare say. When one writes at top speed at nearly midnight, exhausted from several days or travelling back and forth. The words became a blur of letters.
        Reply
    • January 27, 2023 at 4:13 pm
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      Ah, wonder where you got your idea? Hmmm. Anyway, for a quick dash of the pen, you covered recent events in good fashion. Good story, but as you know, more fable than story, without a lot of show vs tell. Still, I enjoyed it, especially the dance around the poopy leak. Loved the term, although not sure I would use it. I laughed out loud when I read it.

      Roy

      Reply
      • January 27, 2023 at 4:59 pm
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        Roy you probably know that birds do not urinate but their feces is a mixture of solids and liquid. Bit too much TMI, yeah. LOL
        Reply
  • January 25, 2023 at 5:26 pm
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    Hi All,
    Although only five stories to vote on, it is such a great selection and the ranking is going to be tough. I have read them all a few times, time permitting I would have reread them again and again. Good luck all.
    Reply
  • January 26, 2023 at 10:09 am
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    Hey everyone,

    What a tough choice this week. I had a lot of problems separating the very good from the best, but one finally won me over. Here’s to everyone this week with great stories. As far as I’m concerned, after my agonizing ‘final’ choice, everyone else came in second. Congrats ahead of time. Roy

    Reply
  • January 26, 2023 at 12:01 pm
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    And without further ado, here are your winners:

    1st Place: Peace & BenevoLens by Ozjohn66
    2nd Place: Goodnight Kiss by Ken Frape
    3rd Place: HOPES OF PEACE by Phil Town
    4th Place: Upon Waking by RM York
    5th Place: The Dove and the Eagle-hawk by Ilana Leeds
    6th Place: Enough by Robt Emmett

    Favorite Character was Percival from Peace & BenevoLens by Ozjohn66
    Story with the Favorite Dialogue was Ilana’s “The Dove and the Eagle-hawk”

    Congrats to all!

    Reply
    • January 26, 2023 at 10:33 pm
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      Thank you, I am so humbled. I am sure really sure why i want to write, i just know I like doing it. I know I have some learning to do able tense and POV, but to be honest I am just a storyteller. The three people in the story, Percival, Kenny and TMWTG, are all loosely based on local characters I know of in my home town. They most likely will have never met, and certainly do not have the jobs or lives that i showed here, I take bits of this and that and just write and explore.
      Thank you again for the support and the love.
      Reply
      • January 27, 2023 at 4:05 pm
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        I’m with Phil on this one, Ozjohn. Great story and as I said earlier, good characters and dialogue. Well deserved win.

        Roy

        Reply
  • January 26, 2023 at 2:33 pm
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    Congratulations, John! Probably the best story you’ve posted here, I reckon – hence the gold medal! 🙂 Well done also for the character prize!

    And congrats to all of us … happy few!

    Reply

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