Bi-Weekly Story Prompts

Writing Prompt “Spring”

Theme: ‘Spring’ (any meaning of the word, but it must have an important part to play in the story – i.e. not simply a passing mention.)

Story Requirements:

  • The story must be written in the first person, i.e. “I …”

Word Count: 1,200

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

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

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 Stories must be in English, unpublished and your own work.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

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

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

***the next writing prompt will be chosen by RM York per the Writing Prompt Roster.

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

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161 thoughts on “Writing Prompt “Spring”

  • Robt. Emmett
    Ice skating
    After the Christmas break, the Safety Patrol schedule changed. Now I shepherd the little kids across 11th Avenue East, the corner crossing adjacent to the school. Also, I had a new partner, Sheryl Quinn. She was new to the parish, having moved in sometime during late summer. At first, I took little notice of her. She lived at the top of the hill on 12th Avenue East, above 11th Street. It was the last house below Skyline Drive, so she wasn’t part of my normal neighborhood group.
    Gradually, we began to chat as we waited for the children to come to the corner of 11th Avenue East and 8th Street. As the weeks went by, we tarried longer before returning to first-hour class, religion. Sheryl was nearly about my size. Tall, not skinny, but not fat. Mom, on more than one occasion, commented about my newfound eagerness to get to school early. I was eager, but not because I enjoyed school.

    The mid-February morning was extremely bitter, cold, and windy. She was acting odd. Between students, she’d put her stop sign on the ground between feet and her hands in her pockets. She’d never done that before. I wondered why. I held up my sign so a brother and sister could cross the Avenue and waited for Sheryl to stop the traffic on 8th Street. She gripped the metal handle of her sign with her coat sleeve.
    She had no gloves, I thought. Checking traffic, I walked across the intersection, pulled the wool liners from my leather choppers, and offered them to her. She gave me a grateful smile. Walking into the school after the last student, I held the door for her. She returned my liners and softly thanked me.
    She noticed me as I entered the lunchroom and slid over to make room. I walked to the next table and sat with my usual group, TJ, Dan, John. As we ate, we decided to go ice-skating after supper.

    In the boy’s warming house at Central High School practice field on 8th Avenue East and 11th Street, we helped lace each other’s skates. I was the last one out of the warming house and hurried to catch up with my friends. The door of the girl’s warming house opened, and I nearly bumped into her. I apologized. She turned and walked toward the ice rink and ignored me. It took me a complete lap of the quarter-mile-long oval, to catch up with her. I was a little short of breath when I did. When I could speak, she turned away and snubbed me. I got in front of her and I blocked her path.
    She tried to skate around me, “Get out of my way.”
    I didn’t and she stopped.
    “Why are you ignoring me?” I asked.
    “Me, you snubbed at lunch.”
    “I didn’t. I always sit with my group.”
    “Fine!” Pushing away from me, “Go sit with them now.”
    “Sheryl, wait.” It could have been my tone or her curiosity. She stopped. I explained. She dropped the uppity attitude. We skated together until she started to shiver. “Let’s go to the warming house,” I suggested. We did. “See ya in about fifteen?”
    She smiled and nodded.
    Inside the boy’s warming house, Dan was amusing himself by dropping small hunks of snow onto the top of the large, wood-burning potbellied stove. “Why does the snow dance on the hot top?”
    John, the brains of our group, glanced at the potbellied stove, “It’s the Leidenfrost effect.”
    TJ, sarcastically, “Of course,” throwing his hands in the air, “‘it’s the Leidenfrost effect.’ What the hell is that, anyway?”
    John copped his know-it-all attitude. “When water hits a very hot surface some of it will boil off rapidly, forming a sort of cushion of steam which insulates the droplet from the hot surface and it appears as if the droplet is floating above the hot surface.” John shrugged, “Simple physics.”
    Dan dropped another bit of snow on the stove lid, “Whoppie twing!”

    On the ice, we made a couple of laps before the rink lights dimmed. It was eight o’clock, time for the little tikes to leave and let us older kids skate in peace. Hand in hand, we skated by the light of the full moon.
    She asked if I could skate backward. I couldn’t admit I never tried.
    She didn’t laugh as she helped me stand up. “Think of it as dancing.”
    She turned and skated backward. We alternated skating backward until the lights brighten then dimmed again, twice. Skating was over for the evening.
    Sheryl left the rink with her girlfriend. I headed home with my buddies. Looking back over my shoulder, I saw her looking over hers. I haven’t the foggiest idea why I enjoy being near her, but I did. I had developed a feeling, an itch. Being with her meant, I didn’t have to scratch. We would meet at the rink a couple of nights a week. Sometimes we’d skated. Other times, we’d sit on the bench outside of the girl’s warming house and talk. I started walking her home from the rink. At first, my buddies needled me it, but it got old, they stopped.

    I’d covered my textbooks with brown grocery bag papers. For decorations, I’d draw airplanes or cars on them. Sheryl sat across the aisle from me. Late one afternoon, the sun glinting off her ponytail, I sketched it. I did it on the inside back cover of my Math book. The next day, I sketched her face with her strawberry blond hair down on her shoulders. She normally wore it that way. At home, I used my good set of coloring pencils to add color to my doodlings of her. Almost every day I added another sketch to the inside covers of my Math book, an ear, her nose, or an eye with its arch brow, something simple.
    On Holy Thursday, I’d walked her home after skating and we sat on the top step of her front porch. She rested her head on my shoulder, looking up at me. I sensed the questioning look on her face. Did she want me to kiss her? If I kissed her, would it ruin our friendship? If I didn’t kiss her, would it ruin our friendship? Suddenly the porch light came on solving my dilemma. I stood, said good night, and left.

    The next day, Good Friday morning, she forgot her Math book at home and asked to use mine. Without thinking, I handed it to her. Near the end of the hour, she handed it back to me. As I took it, Sheryl thumbed open the back cover to reveal she saw my artwork. Our fingers touched and she silently blew me a kiss. I blushed.
    Spring arrived and over the Easter weekend, she transferred out of Saint Anthony Parish.
    Our paths never again crossed.

    • Charles Lilburn
      Evidently, this is a true story, because I would have given it a different ending if it was fiction. The last line takes the wind of the sail rather quickly.

      If it’s fiction, I would have preferred something like “”It could have ended there, but during breakfast this morning, was reminded of that kiss 45 years earlier when she smiled and looked over her coffee at me.”

      If it isn’t a true story I think you need to fix it. If it is true, you kind of let me down flat with the ending so abrupt. Even a simple, ‘As fate would have it, our paths never again crossed.’ gives it a melancholy ending that is slightly more satisfying.

      There are a few things in your story I would fix, Sentences that can be separated by a comma instead of a period, The flow needs to be blended a little more.

      The sentences describing actions are matter of fact and don’t sing.

      For example, and this is only one example: The next day, I sketched her face with her strawberry blond hair down to her shoulders. She normally wore it that way.” I

      Personally I think it would flow better this way. “I sketched her face, her strawberry blond hair falling to her shoulders, the way she usually wore it.” Means the same, but flows better for me. You have a lot of statements instead of descriptions. You are ‘telling’ more than ‘showing’. Your writing keeps my attention, but I think it could be oh so much better. Hone your gift, Robt., you can write. I’ve read other things you’ve written and think you just need to clean it up a little.

      • Robt. Emmett
        Charles thanks for the critique. I can use all the help I can get.
        As to the story –
        It is sorta true. First, there was Sherrill. She was a blond [bottle], a crossing guard, and an ice-skater, but outta my league.
        There was Sharon, also a blond [real, I think], a crossing guard, and an ice-skater.
        Then there was Sharri, mouse brown ponytail, a crossing guard, non-skater and a model for my sketches.
        I never skated or dated any of them and four plus years later, we graduated from the same high school.
        Robt. Emmett

        P.S. if I’da taken your suggestion and ended the story thusly,
        It could have ended there, but during breakfast this morning, I was reminded of the attempted porch kiss 54 years ago when my strawberry blond skater smiled at me over her hazelnut coffee. [true]

        Robt. Emmett

        • Your new ending is much bettter. Only problem is you would no longer be using the Spring prompt.
    • Phil Town
      You’ve captured the joy and uncertainty of young love very well, Robert. (This is great line, and not, unfortunately, only related to youngsters … “If I kissed her, would it ruin our friendship? If I didn’t kiss her, would it ruin our friendship?”) The details of how the two get together are very carefully constructed and ring true. The backdrop of cold and ice are perfect for the budding love – reflected, I think that’s your intention, in the scene of the ‘Leidenfrost effect’. I tend to agree with Roy about the ending. I think it’s perfectly valid to have them separate – that makes the love story quite poignant – but it needs to be done more carefully and possibly with some seeding earlier on in the story. There are a couple of examples of wayward tenses, but that’s a detail; overall, I really like this story.
    • Interesting story that to me has a ring of authenticity about it, Robt.
      It is an abrupt ending – but seems real. I can remember when a girl I liked just suddenly moved out the neighbourhood. It can be the life of a kid, when you have no control and the family just does stuff. So who know what might have been.

      It’s a kind of not-quite-coming-of-age story, and I like the sweetness of that.
      I don’t get a clear sense, though, of how old the kids are. They’re old enough to do school crossing patrols … which is how old? But I’m not familiar with that practice: over here you need criminal records checks and multiple training certificates in health and safety, child safeguarding and how to hold a pole, and be over 18, before they’d let you near kids and traffic. Or have I read this wrong?

      • Robt. Emmett
        In 1954, 7th and 8th graders [age 13 and 14] employed hand size stop signs in the United States to control intersections around elementary schools. We were of an era that when graduating from high school we were educated enough to be able to take our place in society, get a job, joined the military [i.e. drafted], and/or marry. Few went on to college back then. Our education then was the equivalent of two years of today’s college.
        [I will get off my soapbox now.]
        • Thanks for the explanation, Robert. Knowing the age and also the era helps to put everything in context.
        • Bryan McNamara
          6th graders volunteered for crossing guard duty in year 2000 here in Canada. I liked this story. I think its relatable by all and I love the romantic moments through ice skating. It was all i was ever good at growing up.
    • Maud Harris
      ‘Faint heart never won fair lady’ Why didn’t you get her phone number ??
    • This story portrays, in a way, the essence of Spring in a young man’s life. The flowers have just opened, he’s enjoying their fragrance and beauty, (Especially one flower in particular.) His flower is removed, a twist of fate that may change his life forever. And it gives the story it’s authenticity.The angst of the boy is very convincing. For all their bravado, most boys are more shy and less mature than girls their own age. I enjoyed this.
    • Nice story Robt. Emmett. It feels like a real story. It would have been nice if he looked her up years later. That would have been an interesting reunion. Good Story.


    • Alice Nelson

      Robert this story is very sweet and poignant, I used to do crossing guard in school too, so I found it very relatable. I think the feeling in your story is there, which is why I like it, but it needs some tightening up. The fellas gave you some great advice, especially with the ending. If it isn’t a true story, you had license to really do something a bit more interesting, even if you end it with the kids never seeing each other again. As it is, that ending is a disappointment, compared to the rest of that beautiful story.

      You had a few tense issues:

      “…haven’t the foggiest idea why I enjoy being near her, but I did.” Should’ve been “enjoyed,” instead of “enjoy”

      “Sometimes we’d skated…” Could be either “we skated,” or “we’d skate”

      “I’d covered my textbooks with brown grocery bag papers” Could be, “I covered,” or “I’d cover,”

      Just those little details we miss because we’re too close to the story.

      A heartfelt tale, that just needs to be re-worked. I think if you clean this up, it could be a real tear jerker.

      • Robt. Emmett
        Alice, is this poignant enough?
        Spring arrived and over the Easter weekend, she transferred out of Saint Anthony Parish. Our paths never again crossed. I’ve often wondered, was she the reason I only dated strawberry blonds?

        Thank you for the edits. They smooth out the bumps.

        • Alice Nelson

          I like that ending Robert, that one works quite well with the rest of the story.

    • Amy Meyer
      Ice skating

      I really liked this story- very engaging and the dialogue felt genuine. I was a little confused by how old the narrator was at the start. It maybe a cultural thing, as I don’t think anyone else has picked up on it. The voice of the narrator and language was strong. I actually liked the bittersweet ending, although I thought it would have been more punchy if it had been maybe a few more sentences. Overall a great story.

  • Robt. Emmett
    Is my story, Ice skating, entered or not?
    • Charles Lilburn
      I see it, so I assume it’s entered, Robt.
  • Charles Lilburn
    Hope I have time for this contest. Doing some “Spring” stuff at home and time is scarce.
  • Phil Town

    I used to like coming out here to the countryside, but now it’s immensely sad, for all the implications. Let me start from the beginning, though.

    My name’s Bradley, Bradley Harris. Brad to my friends. That’s a joke. I don’t have any now. I don’t think I’ll have any ever again.

    It’s only been six months. Just six months. It doesn’t bear thinking about. Six. Months. What was the first sign? Well, I know when it was that I realised we’d really lost the plot. That day on the news, when they reported the death of the last tiger. I remember weeping. I was in the office, and there was a colleague staring at the tellyviz screen. She was a hunter, for fun. But at that moment, I think she realised, too, that we’d got it all wrong.

    Many species had gone before. The white rhinoceros, back in the 20-teens. The African elephant, the mountain gorilla, polar bears … Once the extinctions started, it was like dominos toppling. And what for? For trophies and, my God, for selfies! For fashion-fur. For exotic medicines that were a lucrative sham. Yes, follow the filthy lucre – the driving force behind the last decades. People with little money wanted more. People with enough money wanted more. People with more money wanted more. More, more, more. How do you like it … now?

    While there was still oil, we had the one-use plastics, manufactured in mind-boggling quantities, dumped in land-fills, dumped in the oceans, choking them. Oh, some people tried to push back against it, of course but the big Corpos … they’d grown just too powerful, remorseless in the hunt for profit. There was no pushing back against them. No siree. And when the oil ran out, fracking – that gave us a big push, poisoning groundwater, so that when the 2095 drought kicked in … well.

    Then the war. First it was just trade, with a little cyber-warfare thrown in. But the maniacs got total control of the madhouse and there was Tianjin – 300,000 killed in the first strike, millions displaced and dying from the fall-out. And the retaliation – in Europe and the US. Rotterdam, Manchester, Pittsburgh … so many dead – horrible, unnatural deaths. And those that the bombs and missiles didn’t get, disease and starvation did. As I said, it’s taken just six months.

    The televisions have been quiet for weeks. I found a radio station last week that was still up and running. I don’t know how they knew, with virtually all communications down – maybe word of mouth – but they painted a really black picture. I remember when I was at school, old Mrs Elliot telling us that we only had a couple of generations left before we were history. She was being overly optimistic.

    I haven’t seen a soul since last month. I had to get out of the city – it was overrun by rats. I saw some actually take a man down and finish him. I packed everything I could into a 4×4 I found and made it out to here. I’ve been here before, and it always reminded me of my holidays when I was younger, with my dear parents and brother, so I think that’s why I headed this way.

    I ran out of petrol so I’ve left the 4×4 back along the road a way and brought what I could carry. I’ll have enough food to get me to where I want to go. I’ve brought my iPatch, too, which is what I’m using to record this … last testimony, I suppose you’d say. Just in case one day …

    So this place I’m headed for. I can picture it now from my other times there: a little green oasis, it is – or was, at least – with willows and bull-rushes, and soft, springy moss for a mattress, and cool, fresh water bubbling up from deep down where I hope we haven’t meddled.

    Of course, I could find that it’s been spoiled since I was last there – maybe soiled with rubbish, as so many places have been. Or dried up. Or toxic. But I’ll keep that picture of the idyll in my mind and use it as focus, to keep my legs moving forwards.

    I am, as I said, struck by an immense sadness; we had everything, every possibility, to make this world work, and spat in our own soup. But I’m also slightly heartened by something I’ve been seeing by the side of the road for the last couple of miles: trees and hedgerows in bright, fresh blossom. It’s nature showing us a middle finger; life will be re-born, despite us. When we’ve gone – and that’ll be shortly now – the world will breathe a huge sigh of relief. And thrive again.

    For me, I hope I can make it to that place, with the cool, bubbling water. That would be enough. I’d end happy there.


    • Charles Lilburn
      I was going to write a bit tonight on my story of Spring, but now I’m so depressed reading this journal from the future I think I’ll just go to bed and read a little bit about a drunken sheriff and a couple of murders to cheer me up. Great story Phil. Nice job with the first person accounting that seemed factual. Well, unfortunately, you may be a bit of a fortune teller and able to see the future. Nice writing, got nothing to harp about and congratulate you on an absolutely hard to beat story. I’m going to give it a shot, though. But tomorrow. I’ve changed my mind. I’m just going to find a bottle of scotch and contemplate my future, what little there is that you left me.
      • Phil Town
        Thanks, Roy! Sorry it’s a bit grim, but it ain’t my fault! 😉
    • Engaging and well written doom-laden-but-light-at-the-end-of the-tunnel post-apocalyptic story, Phil.

      I fear you may be a shade optimistic, though … After the bombs stop falling there would probably be autonomous/remote control weapons of war still coming after you …

      My near future novel has a scenario where the Green guys get into power. It does not turn out so well …
      So maybe we’re doomed either way
      Pass the bottle, Roy!

      • Phil Town
        Thanks, Andy.

        Eek! (re the tanks). As the article mentions, though, unmanned drones are already a reality, so it’s not really so hard to imagine.

        Is your novel available anywhere?

        Miss your stories.

        • Yes, those tanks are rather scary. I did write a speculative short short some time ago on lethal autonomous weapons, as it happens: .

          You asked about my novel – it’s called Shades of Green (named well before the other Shades of, as it happens …) and it’s still around

          I never say ‘no 1 bestseller’ though i do expect royalties to reach double figures this year, lol. Perhaps 🙂

          • You’d have bigger royalties ifyour novel was available as an ebook–preferably kindle. Also, audibles are becoming more popular, though I never buy them because of poor hearing.
          • Thanks for the advice, Mike – it is actually available as a kindle e-book too.
            Audio book is a good idea but will have to wait. Maybe for a revised edition. One day, when time allows.
    • Maud Harris
      Nicely written but a bit grim, Phil. There have been ‘end-of-the-world’ prophecies and predictions ever since man started to think. We are still here. Nostradamus foretold disaster – We are still here. ’14 -18 war was ‘the war to end all wars.’ We are still here. Let’s drink to man’s ingenuity. Pass that bottle.
      • Phil Town
        Thanks, Maud! … but you’re more hopeful than me, I must admit.
    • Phil, I belong to a post apocalyptic goodreads group and this would fit right in. I love the tone of it. It almost feels like a bit of beat poetry (in the best way possible.) Super contemporary style, and the events sound like you anchored them in with current projections, which always helps to ground doomsday stories.
    • Excellent story Phil. Very depressing. I don’t understand your optimism, though. We’re still around in 2095? That’s generous. What about global warming, the rising sea levels? By 2060 a quarter of a billion people will already be displaced. The amazing thing is how many people are oblivious to how close to the brink of self destruction we appear to be.

      I was talking to this tree the other day and I said, point blank, “You can’t wait can you? You think I don’t know what you’re doing? You’re all just sitting there waiting for us to kill ourselves off, and then you’ll take over.”
      But you know? You can’t blame them, can you?

      A fine story.

      • Phil Town
        Thanks very much, Ken!

        I know what you mean about the optimism, especially with some leading industrialised countries (not naming names) charging in the opposite direction. But like Maud and Alice said, there might be a little glimmer of hope, especially given the groundswell of private action globally, e.g. there’s individual re-cycling, and SkyNews (not my preferred news channel normally, but anyway) are doing some sterling work on plastics-prevention. Initiatives like that, and more aware governments in the future that are not so beholden to corporations, may at least slow down the decline.*

        (* here I’m trying to be optimistic)

    • Alice Nelson

      Wonderfully bleak story. You tell it so well, you bummed out the whole group 🙂 That just means your writing is spot on. My husband calls me Pollyanna, so the story didn’t get me down because I have hope that things won’t turn out this way, any time soon at least. As Maud said, the end of the world has been predicted since the beginning, and we’re still here.

      Even so, great story, I could see it as a Twilight Zone style episodic television show, in black and white no less.

      Great descriptive quality, and I like the first person journal feel to it.

      • Phil Town
        Thanks very much, Alice! Sorry for the depressing-ness … but the future is looking a bit grim these days …
    • Amy Meyer
      I liked the concept of this story- very bleak- which I thought was great. I loved the little tale of the man being taken down by rats- it was much very vivid. I thought there was quite a lot of expositional description, and I would have loved more vignettes about specific instances like the rats. I thought this story was great and terrifying for our future!
  • Wow! Spring has never seemed so naturally bad-ass! Surely, they must be working on an ‘iPatch’ in the real world ( if not patent it!) . Great creativity, Phil.
    • Phil Town
      Thanks, Bryan.

      I’m not sure you can take out copyright on a play on the name of a company’s product. When they do use it in a few years, though [ 😉 ], I’ll get my lawyers onto it.

      • Bryan McNamara
        Oh im sure they’ve trademarked all the “i-etcs” just to keep ahead of their own ideas. Haha. Cant wait til your next one!
  • Robt. Emmett
    Thankfully, Mother Nature bats last.
    The short choppy sentences drove “Auto correct” crazy, but they made their point. A few grammar mistakes and spellings.
    • Phil Town
      Thanks, Robert (I think).

      Do you copy stories and paste them into Word or something similar to see spelling and grammar mistakes? No problem, if so, but make sure you set the spell-check to UK English for British writers (me and others here). Also, it will show invented words as being misspelt (like ‘tellyviz’, ‘iPatch’, ‘Corpos’, etc.). And it will also show ‘creative grammar’ as being wrong (e.g. “Brad to my friends.”); I wonder what Word would do, for example, with a story by Nobel-winner José Saramago, who uses virtually no punctuation. This story is actually all dialogue (Brad dictating into his iPatch), and natural speech is notoriously often ‘wrong’, grammatically speaking.

      If there’s something else that you found, I’ll be the first to hold my hand up.

      • Robt. Emmett
        As I said above our ‘common language’ can be a problem.
        Ex. Many years ago, the first day on a new job, I was told, to use a rubber to fix it. He was from the UK.
        • Haha. Yes, over here a rubber rectifies mistakes, in America it prevents them …

          It’s like a tutor at my college alarming a group of American girls over for a summer school who were complaining of jet lag by saying, “If you like I’ll knock you up in the morning on my way over”

    • Robt. Emmett,
      Phil doesn’t make grammar or spelling mistakes. Ever. I recommend that you take your ‘Auto Correct’ to a doctor.
      • Phil Town
        Not true, Keneth!
        • Hahahaha. Well, it’s very rare, Philip. And they’re not mistakes if you do it on purpose.
  • Robt. Emmett
    Charles, take heart. Phil has outlined the problems. Which makes us over half way to solving them. All we have to do now is work on them.
  • Spring Season (1168 words)
    Written by John Appius Quill

    The snows had melted and the winds no longer sent a shiver up my spine when they blew. Cyclists woke from their hibernation and dared traffic once again, darting around the maze of buildings while weaving through aggressive traffic. People smiled at each other again with smiles that radiated like sunshine and lifted the mood of everyone. Cafes and restaurants brought their chairs and tables out on the sidewalks so customers could bask in the sunlight and the heavy coats people wore vanished. Yes, in my dream my city was finally waking from its slumber.

    I woke up in my warm bed with one arm around my sleeping wife. She stirred and opened one eye, looking around before closing it the way sharks stick one eye out of the water when hunting for seal.

    “Check the weather.” My wife blurted out through lips that were squished up against her pillow.

    She knew I was awake because I was a morning person and I always woke up before her.

    “Yes. I´m on it.” I said kissing her cheek as I slowly got out of bed.

    Susan was not a morning person so I would wake her with the smell of breakfast. I shut off her alarm and unplugged the computer in our bedroom. I despised the morning computer applications that woke her in the morning. Blue Koala Bears singing a wake-up song just did not exist in nature. Neither did singing volcanoes like the computer application my son had. Such crutches in life were just too childish for me.

    I shuffled my bare feet to the kitchen while rubbing sleep from my eyes. I realized I forgot my slippers again when my feet shuffled over the cold tiled floor of the kitchen. In spite of all the heating our apartment got, the kitchen of our apartment was always cold in the mornings for reasons the building supper could never quite explain.

    “I want orange juice.” A child´s voice startled me.

    “Nick. What are you doing up before your volcano?” I asked watching my son sitting at the kitchen table rubbing sleep from his eyes and unlike me, he wore his slippers.

    “Add a boy.” I thought. “You´ll be a better version of your old man.”

    “Volcano´s not working. You have to pay the prescription.” He said rubbing his eyes.

    “You mean subscription.” I corrected.

    He nodded as I poured him a glass of orange juice and set out plates for the three of us. If his mother did not wake up too late we would have a breakfast together. I inhaled a lung full of air, held it in and then exhaled to see if saw my breath. I saw nothing this time but it was still very cold in our kitchen.

    “You want eggs and fruit?” I asked walking to the living room to grab two blankets off the couch.

    He nodded without saying a word as I placed one of the blankets around him and left the second one on the seat where his mother would sit. I did not mind the cold but it was kryptonite for my wife Susan.

    “How´d you sleep?” I asked while breaking eggs into a buttered pan.
    “Good.” He answered.

    “Were you warm enough?” I asked turning up the heat under the eggs.

    “Yep.” He answered taking a gulp of orange juice.

    Nickolas was never very talkative in the morning. I heard Susan getting up over the splattering of cooking eggs and flipped on a small screen by the stove to check the weather. Checking the weather every morning was part of the ritual she performed to wake up.

    “Smells good.” A voice from a throat that needed to be cleared said.

    Susan cleared her throat and sat down, wrapping herself in the blanket I left on her seat.

    Did you check the weather?” She asked filling Nick´s glass with more orange juice, then mine then her own.

    “It´s coming up now. Nick wants fruit.” I said nodding to the fridge.

    The screen was taking longer than usual to boot up. Susan got up and took the bowl of fruit out of the fridge. She gave some to Nick then me then herself.

    “Mommy, is Spring real?” Nick asked stabbing chinks of fruit with his fork.

    “It is real but it hasn´t come in a while.” Susan answered looking over at me.

    “All those things I told you about Spring and the seasons is true Nick.” I said serving him eggs.

    “You shouldn´t give him false hopes honey.” Susan said letting her fork drop to her plate with a loud clanging sound.

    “It´s not false expectations. We both grew up with seasons and there´s no reason they won´t come back. Telling him we´ll never have Spring again is a false hope.” I said walking around the table to give her eggs.

    “Mommy´s not a morning person but we love her anyway.” I said leaning down to kiss her.
    Nick smiled.

    She winced at my kiss and looked down at her plate moving her eggs around with her fork. I put the pan down on the table and rubbed her back to warm her up. She squirmed away from my hand, mouthing the words `cut it out´ while smiling as if not sure whether to remain grumpy.

    “I had a dream the snow disappeared and people were riding bicycles outside on the street.” Nick said out of the blue.
    We both looked at Nick.

    “Was it from a movie Nick?” Susan asked with eyes wide open.

    “No. It was as warm outside as it was inside and nobody wore coats.” Nick continued with his eyes glued on each forkful of eggs that went into his mouth.

    Susan looked at me and asked. “Have you been telling him your dreams?”

    “No.” I answered sitting down and sprinkling flakes of oregano over my eggs. “I haven´t.”

    “It´s just a dream honey.” Susan said casting a suspicious glance at me then rolling her eyes.

    he small screen by the stove suddenly went on showing the date, time and temperature. But something was wrong. The temperature on the screen was too high. I tapped on the news-app to get the real temperature outside and saw the same numbers for the temperature. We exchanged puzzled looks as newscaster told us the weather.

    “Yes people. This is not a joke or mistake of any kind. We had a freezing night but have warmer than usual morning temperatures that will only get warmer as the day advances. So far this is the warmest morning in 10 years and it promises to be the warmest day in 10 years too. We ask you not to be alarmed or make changes to your life that are too drastic. We are not certain yet if this is a just heat wave or spring.” The newscaster said.

    I changed to a different news-app and we listened to the newscaster who wore a Hawaiian shirt and shorts. “SPRING IS HERE FOLKS!”


    • Charles Lilburn
      John, welcome to the fold. I like your story and the use of the dreams as a lead in to what happened, but I’m thirsty for more of what caused the ongoing winter than you are giving me.

      A couple of critiques: I took a portion of your story and copied it here to talk over a few things with you that I think might help.

      “I want orange juice.” A child´s voice startled me.

      “Nick. What are you doing up before your volcano?” I asked watching my son sitting at the kitchen table rubbing sleep from his eyes and unlike me, he wore his slippers.

      “Add a boy.” I thought. “You´ll be a better version of your old man.”

      In the second sentence you follow your quote with ‘I asked watching my son’ If you are going to use the ‘he said’, she said’ format, you need a comma after the word asked as in ‘I asked, watching my son’.

      I suggest you try to go as often as possible without using the he said, she said format as you did in the first sentence. Everyone know your child is speaking the line and no need to modify if with Nick said in some fashion. When you ask “Nick. What are you doing up” you don’t need ‘I asked’, we know it’s you asking. Give your readers credit. (Unless there are three people speaking, I’m of the opinion you don’t need all that needless he said, she said.)

      I’m from the school of not using asked, said, etc., unless it is absolutely necessary. And you get the bonus of saving two words. Throughout your story you can save many, many words for better use by eliminating the ‘he said and she said’ words.

      And, in your last sentence, it’s Atta boy, not Add a boy. (I’m sure you just missed this auto correction in proofreading, but I had to point it out.} When I write on LinkedIn and make thoughts part of the story, I use the single apostrophe instead of the double apostrophe quote marks for better clarification. Otherwise, I use italics and I can eliminate ‘I thought’ also. It also delineates quotes from thoughts.

      I’ve learned in Flash Fiction to cut words where I can, and it really helps me.

      I also felt the words at the very end of the story in the radio announcement were stilted, and didn’t sound to my ear like a radio broadcaster would actually say them. I feel it should be something more newsy and possibly explanatory about the ‘global’ cooling. You know, like a line about the nuclear winter caused by the whatever war, or whatever happened in your imaginary world to cause such a catastrophe.

      Even so, all in all, a good start.

      Charles is a soon to be discarded pen name; in real life, my name is Roy York and I don’t want you to get confused when people refer to me as Charles/Roy, or in other ways, not all of which are complementary.

      • OK Roy,

        I use a pen name too but my first name is John so you can call me John. Thanks so much for the constructive criticism. You brought up points in my story I would have surely missed. I feel my writing gets better because of constructive criticism. I´ll take all those points into consideration for my next story. I love writing good stories.

        Thanks again Roy.


    • Another pa Spring story, I love all this gloom and doom! No seriously, I do. Your’s ends at lest with a glimpse of hope. I do agree with the others, though, I would like at least a hint about why they are having a ten year winter since that just doesn’t happen unless you live in Westeros.

      I did want to give my own pointer here in this paragraph:

      I shuffled my bare feet to the kitchen while rubbing sleep from my eyes. I realized I forgot my slippers again when my feet shuffled over the cold tiled floor of the kitchen. In spite of all the heating our apartment got, the kitchen of our apartment was always cold in the mornings for reasons the building supper could never quite explain.

      Kitchen repeats too many times and it throws off the narrative flow. You could end the sentence after “cold tiled floor” since you already mentioned you were in the kitchen. Then in the next sentence, try something like “In spite of all the heating our apartment got, the kitchen was always cold in the mornings for reasons the building super could never quite explain.” or maybe something like “For reasons the super could never explain, the kitchen was always cold in the morning despite the abundance of heat in the rest of our space.” This avoids repeating apartment twice so close together in the sentence.

      • Excellent advise. Thanks so much for the criticism Wendy it really makes my story better. I left out the reason for the 10 year winter because I didn´t want it to overshadow what the family was experiencing but now that I think about it, maybe I should´ve added it.

        Thanks again Wendy,


    • Alice Nelson

      I love your pen name, sounds like a character from some classic novel. I might have to borrow it for a story 🙂 Welcome to our little group!

      I liked how you wrote the story, describing the normal day to day routine most people go through, then you carefully let the audience in on the strange cold weather pattern. That was nicely done.

      Roy/Charles already mentioned what I’d noticed, so no need to repeat it here. I enjoyed the story, and with those few changes, it could really be fabulous.

      Again welcome, and quite a nice story.

    • An interesting take on tomorrow’s new normal, John. So normal that a youngster ca ask “Mommy, is Spring real?” I like this line. An authentic kid-question, like asking about Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. The interactions of the family are well-written.

      No privations in this springless (unsprung?) future world, unlike Phil’s and Wendy’s takes on the matter. Which is interesting in itself. The wealthier parts of the world will probably still be able to harvest the world’s resources, whatever their own climate.

      The weather app – we’re into the future here, and you might expect weather prediction to be even better than it is now. And the apps I use are already pretty accurate most of the time. So how unexpected would it really be, I wonder?

    • Amy Meyer
      Spring Season

      I liked the characters in the story, and the idea of the parents arguing around the child. There were a couple of wording things that didn’t sound quite right-

      “Check the weather.” My wife blurted out through lips that were squished up against her pillow.
      – the word ‘blurt’ took me out of the story- it sounded quite odd in the context of her being sleepy and her face being pressed into the pillow.
      “I want orange juice.” A child´s voice startled me.
      – it seemed odd that he wouldn’t know who the child was, when he’s in his own house.

      Overall, great story, and I really liked the ending.

  • Phil Town
    A very mundane morning in the house of a mundane family, but your description of the morning has an almost hypnotic effect. Almost nothing happens, but it’s great! The routine of the eggs, and the orange juice, and watching for the temperature. And then the problem: no spring! Climate change? A nice commentary on that. And I really like this family – authentic, loving, but with flaws. Enjoyed it.
    (And welcome, John!)
    • Thank you so much Phil. I love the idea of participating.

      I loved your story called Fools ad the narrator Brad. He really gives a great play by play account of how society caves in on itself. It was so realistic. It seemed like it could easily happen to us in our society. I hope he finds that place with the bubbling water and then tells the rest of us where it is.


  • The Fields of Innocence and Knowing (1188 words)

    Across the field she came, holding Emily by the hand. I’d seen her as I came through the gate, looking down the gentle slope towards the river. She was swinging her younger sister round, their laughter mingling with the sun that glinted off the morning dew.

    “Tom! You’re back,” she said, holding one hand over her eyes to shield them from the sun.

    “I am.”

    I looked across the fields, comforted that little had changed in my absence. But Lila had changed. She must have been around 14 when I’d left some 5 years ago.

    She took my arm as we crossed the field. “You’re going to see my parents?”

    I nodded.

    “They’ll be so thrilled to see you,” she said. “And perhaps a little comforted.”

    I wondered if either could be true, in the circumstances. It was a visit I was duty-bound to make. Little Emily skipped alongside, chatting away. Lila returned teasing comments to her, pointing out the spring flowers for Emily to pick for their mother.

    I studied Lila as we walked. Her hair was loosely tied back, a few loose strands playing against her cheek. In the sunlight I observed her fine and youthful features, the playful edges of her smile as she talked nonsense with her sister. Suddenly she looked up at me and caught my gaze. She smiled a different smile, and became quiet.

    As little Emily spotted more flowers and ran towards the woods, Lila slid her hand from the crook of my arm, and squeezed my hand firmly. “I know,” she said, looking me in the eye. She widened her eyes, raising her eyebrows a fraction for emphasis. And I believed she did.

    Those two words eased, in however small a way, the darkness I felt inside. She never asked what I had seen and done. Yet somehow she understood the depth of my suffering.

    Lila’s mother dropped a plate in surprise when she saw me, then tearfully embraced me. “Oh, I am so, so glad to see you, praise be to God.” She hugged me again, only tighter, and I could feel her emotion.

    I could see how Lila’s father had aged as, stooped and conflicted, he stood to shake my hand. He said nothing, only nodded slowly, repeatedly. He glanced over at the dresser, towards a photograph of his son in uniform. Two years younger than me, Michael had died within a day of arriving at the front. And I knew at once, that the day would come when I would be as a son to them.

    This was a spring morning we always remembered, more fondly even than our wedding anniversaries, for it was when our life together began.

    * * * * *
    We moved to France after our first child was born. I was in the diplomatic service, and my postings took me across Europe.

    Rising through the ranks, Lila was always beside me. She lit up every room she entered, conversing easily with people at every level, while managing our growing household. Three daughters and two sons, not counting the child we lost.

    On our visits back to England we always ensured we made time to walk in the fields where we met. In that field, whenever Lila took my arm, or squeezed my hand, I felt anew the same rush of emotion and silently sang out my thanks to the universe.

    Throughout 1939 and 1940, as the next war began, I debated within myself whether I should enlist again. The army needed experienced officers. My sense of duty conflicted with fear of new horrors, and my remembrance of the despairing emptiness I’d felt at the end of my previous military duties.

    Lila understood intuitively. “Whatever you do for the war effort, it must not separate us.”

    I sought a transfer into military intelligence. With my knowledge of European languages and experience of fighting and then living in France, I was recruited into the Special Operations Executive, to advise on supporting resistance activities against the German occupiers.

    In May 1945 we returned, a little delayed by my duties, to the fields where our lives had intertwined. The mood in the country was euphoric after victory in Europe. But I was more troubled than ever. As we walked through the gate at the top of that gentle slope, my mood of 1919, when I returned home, came rushing back. However, this time my inner horrors flowed not from my own experience, but from knowing how many of the young men and women I’d trained and sent into occupied Europe would never return. And what they would have suffered in captivity. For the first time, I broke down.

    “I know,” said Lila, holding me close. And I reflected on how, through all the years, I had tried to shield Lila from anything that came close to the savagery of war. Her innocence was my refuge.

    Yet even so, she understood.

    * * * * *
    It was only the second time I’d been back in 20 years. I parked the car by the village pub, and walked down the track to the fields. I leaned on the gate and looked down the slope towards the river, the woodland in the distance dappled in sunshine.

    I swung the gate open, then turned as I heard a voice calling.

    “Grandad! Grandad!”

    It was Carol, the second child of our third daughter. “Grandad, we were all waiting in the pub for you. Are you coming in?”

    Carol is 20, now. She was born the day after we buried Lila. I’ve been alone ever since. But not alone, with a family of children, grandchildren and now even a couple of great-grand-children. And Carol, she looks so much like Lila did at that age. Only more child-like, yet more sophisticated at the same time, in the modern way.

    “Yes, yes” I said softly. “I just wanted to, you know …”

    She took my arm, then squeezed my hand as she’d done a thousand times. “I know,” she said. “Show me where – exactly where – you saw Grandma that time. The day you fell in love,” said added, looking up at me with a broad and comforting smile.

    “I was up at the gate and your Grandma was pretty much just there.”

    Then I looked round and could see other members of the family coming down the track.

    “I know the rest!” cried Carol. Then she called excitedly to her niece, my great-granddaughter, “Millie, come down here!” Then she swung Millie around in the long grass, both of them laughing in the sunshine.

    As I watched, I felt the protective arms of family on my shoulders. I guess they were concerned in case this re-enactment would upset me. But Carol had known, in her own way, as Lila had.

    It may well be the last year I come here. In spring life renews, yet for me each year the potency of life diminishes. Today, though, I hear Lila’s laughter across the years, feel her touch of heart-felt understanding, as I watch our family make their way across the fields of innocence and knowing.

    • Charles Lilburn
      Andy, well lad, I’m having trouble finding fault of any kind with your story, except the part in the beginning about swinging her ‘infant’ sister around, and then a few paragraphs later have the ‘infant’ sister spot some flowers and running off toward the woods. I think ‘younger’ sister covers it all and eliminates the ‘infant’ sister suddenly aging into a three or four year old as they allow her to run off toward the woods. My American idea of infant may be different from the English perspective, but I see infant as very young and not even into toddler status.

      Your writing is very familiar to me, as I have quite a few under my belt using this same style. I’m willing to bet you I could show this story to my wife (my beta reader) and tell her it was mine and to proofread it, and she would believe it in a heartbeat. I would do that as an experiment, except I’m worried she might say something to the effect of “Why can’t your write more like this on your first try than you have been.” So, I doubt if I’m going to go down that road.

      Loved your story, man. Let’s just leave it at that, while I go lick my wounds and see what I can do to compete against this.

      • Thanks, Roy. Appreciate your comments.
        Why not give that a try, checking it with your wife?

        On the word ‘infant’ it’s a word I used without thinking too much, but you had me worried in case I was losing my mind so I checked it with the Oxford online dictionary and it says: “British: A schoolchild between the ages of about four and eight”
        – Over here kids start school at around 4 years old in the Infants section of primary school, then go up to the ‘Juniors’. Well, it varies a bit, but it’s more or less like that. However, ‘younger’ would also do the job, or ‘youngest’ to get the impression of a significantly younger sibling.

        • Charles Lilburn
          How about that, in America, and I just checked, infant means the phase after newborn, from one to two years old. And, in England it means between 4 and 8. Nifty. Yeah, common language and all that. By the by, I might just give that beta reader thing a try. It will be interesting.
    • Robt. Emmett
      Andy, I like it also. If there are any faults, it’s ‘infant.’
      Two countries separated by a common language. [G.B. Shaw]
      • Thanks, Robert
        The infant has grown up a bit now … 🙂
    • Andy, I liked the way you kept referring back to that day he first fell in love in with Lila. The repeating of the spring afternoon in the field with Lila, and later her grand daughter, saying ‘I know” was a nice narrative touch. I like that it ended with a happiness in the good things of life even though he had been affected by so much death.
      • Thanks, Wendy
        I think the story evolved into a kind of spiral structure, moving along and spiralling round to a similar point – but it can’t be the same because of time passing (etc), and I was trying to capture something like that in the structure. I’m glad you picked up on that effect.
    • Hi Andy,

      Your story is a beautiful tale of death and renewal. You showed us the picture of a person underneath their medals and that´s nice. Personally I would have named one of his grand daughters Spring to add to the theme. Otherwise, good story.


      • Thanks, John
    • Alice Nelson

      Andy, dude, a beautiful story. Sad but so hopeful. You touch on the horrors of being in a war without mentioning any of the terribleness that soldiers face. And the relationship between Lila and Tom is portrayed subtly, but we can see that they truly loved one another.

      Fantastic job, this one touched my heart.

      • Many thanks, Alice
    • Beautiful writing Andy. And a lovely story. I see you changed the infant to younger. Good move. And stayed with the ‘laughter mingling with sunlight.’ It’s all good. (You didn’t get no tears out of me, but the story was very touching.)
      • Thanks Ken
        Always happy to take good advice.
        I regret there were no tears from you – but are you telling the truth, ya big softie? 🙂
        • I may have sniffled once or twice. Due to allergies. I’m allergic to way better writing than mine.
    • Bryan McNamara
      I love this generational story showing the perspectives of one person changing over time and suffering. As well as his true inspiration on hiding the effect the wars have had. Undeniably great.
      • Many thanks indeed, Bryan
  • Phil Town
    Andy, I prematurely (above) said I missed your stories and this is why. Absolutely beautiful. I must admit I had a moist eye by the end. The subtlety of the moment they fall in love in the first section is perfect – I mean, I was in love with Lila myself! The joy of family in the last section, tinged with the sadness of loss and realisation of mortality, is very moving.

    ” … their laughter mingling with the sun that glinted off the morning dew” Beautiful, but I’m not sure sound and light can ‘mingle’ (?)
    “She must have been around 14 when I’d left some 5 years ago.” This transition might have been a little subtler e.g. adolescent > young woman (?)
    “I think I could see how her father had aged” needs ‘Lila’s’ instead of ‘her’, I think.
    “She was born the day after we buried Lila.” I’d have preferred Lila’s death to be understood rather than stated.

    But that’s all nit-picking really because I really loved this. Bravo!

    • Many many thanks, Phil, both for the kind comments and the crit insights, the ‘mundanities’ as you call them, which are all fair and I take note.

      Where did I go? I had a few weeks away from writing because of the intensity of my work schedule. Well, a fair bit of that was also writing, but of a different, corporate/management kind, along with a lot of time on the road.

      Just to comment on ‘their laughter mingling with the sun that glinted off the morning dew” – twas a deliberate literary conceit, as it were, to try to capture a sensory impression that became imprinted in the narrator’s mind. But it’s for the reader to judge if it works, or not … 🙂

  • Haha, yes, Robt. I’ll ask the ladies with editing keys to change it to ‘younger for the sake of international harmony and happiness 🙂
    And thanks!
  • Hope Springs by Wendy Edsall-Kerwin ©2018 [word count 678]

    I dragged my hoe through the dry red soil. The sound of the dirt moving was too similar to tiny pebbles hitting the metal tool, yet I dutifully formed my rows. The hot sun made the work harder than it could have been, but that’s how everything was these days. It’s like the universe was correcting itself after too many years of life being easier than intended.

    Reaching the end of the last row, I moved into the dusty shade behind my house. It was almost too cool here, the arid air wicking away all my hard earned sweat. Emptying my bottle, I wondered if I would ever get used to the slightly off taste of desalinated water.

    I’d been reading up on sustainable gardening techniques and this year thought I would try a variation on a pre-Colombian technique. Corn hadn’t yielded much the past five years and I had just enough seed to try one last time. I put the kernels in one section of my seed pouch, placing a kind of squash and a variation of bean in the others. Covering my nose and mouth with a bandana, I pried open the lid of a bucket of old fish. I set to work digging a little hole, placing in one of each seed with a bit of fish for compost. After covering it with dirt, I added some greywater from my house to moisten it and help quicken the seeds. I moved down each row repeating the process over and over again. The heat and the repetition kind of put me into a meditative state.

    “Haven’t you given up yet?” The gruff voice of my neighbor startled me from my trance. I turned around, pulling down my bandana.

    “How long have you been standing there, Win?”

    “Long enough to get bored. Why do you waste your time year after year? It’ll never grow the way you want.” He sipped his beer. That’s what most of us who still remembered what fresh water was like usually drank. The hops helped hide the flavor only we noticed.

    “Because I get sick of cactus being the only fresh food readily available. That nutrient rich replicated shit they hand out just isn’t enough to keep me from killing myself.” I leaned back to stretch a little. My legs were cramping and my back was starting to ache.

    “God, I miss tomatoes. Remember how juicy they were?” Win got a far off look on his face. “Salads, pasta sauce…”

    “If you say ‘pizza’ I will bludgeon you with that hoe over there.” I was only half joking. No cows meant no cheese, no pigs no pepperoni or sausage, and well, no water meant no grain or veggies. No amount of cactus, bean, or squash would ever make a pizza.

    “I would never, I’m not a monster.” He chuckled a little under his breath. “Remember when April showers brought May flowers? It hardly ever rains in spring anymore.”

    “Did you come over here specifically to sour my mood?” I went back to planting. Win was definitely interrupting my Zen flow. I stabbed the ground, pointedly turning away from him.

    “Just keeping it real. You’ve only got a couple of rows left anyway.” He leaned against a post from a long forgotten fence. “I got a couple more beers here for when you’re done.”

    I finished up my garden and joined him by the post. He handed me a bottle and we stood there in companionable silence for a while. Looking out across the valley I thought I saw some clouds in the distance.

    “It might rain tonight, look over there.” He waved his beer in the direction of the few puffs of white. “Think you’ll get enough corn to make tortillas this year? I could really go for some with your refried beans.”

    “One can only hope, Win.” I raised my beer in a toast. “Here’s to hope and rain – two things we need more of.” He clinked bottles with me and we stood there watching the sun slide toward the horizon.

    • Hi Wendy,

      I loved the way you likened winter with scarcity, mainly food scarcity. Good one because, whether we want to admit it or not, that´s powerful. You could have found a way to end the story with some kind of feast of the rarest foods. Now that would have been a nice touch. Good story Wendy.


    • Alice Nelson

      Wendy, I love the descriptive quality to your writing, I can visualize the whole scene you laid out in the story. It’s interesting that the theme spring brought about so many sad stories, and apocalyptic tales. Still your story has a sense of hope. I really liked the two characters and the natural ease of their friendship.

      Nice job!

      • Thanks, Alice! At least where I am this spring so far has just been cold and wintry. Maybe that’s what has us all so down.
    • Phil Town
      This is really lovely, Wendy – a very subtle critique of us and the ways that cause global warming, and how that will affect not just sub-Saharan Africa etc. as now but all of the planet, including us (in the ‘first’ – ha! – world). A nice description of the gardening technique of … (you could have had Win use the narrator’s name perhaps) – it should be dull, but it isn’t, thanks to your descriptive powers (as Alice mentions). The casual, warm relationship between the neighbours is very lightly and expertly handled. It’s all a little bleak but, as Alice again mentions, there’s also a glimmer of hope. I loved the ending – I can picture it very well. In this line: “Remember when April showers brought May flowers? It hardly ever rains in spring anymore.” … the second part is exposition for the benefit of the reader and therefore not natural. A smashing story, though.
      • Thank you , Phil! Yeah, I realized too late that I never named the MC, but then I couldn’t decide on one… or even if it was a man or a woman, lol. I see what you mean about the line about Spring, but I admit it was a way to cement the theme into the narrative. That will get changed in the rewrite.
    • Wendy, your story brought to mind Silent Spring, which baptised me into environmental thinking many moons ago – though this seems to be a climate-induced catastrophe rather than a chemically-induced one. I liked the incidental details of the greywater harvesting and the compost.

      And also, somehow, it brought to mind Scarlet O’Hara scratching away at the dirt to produce a crop. Gone With the Climate – perhaps it’s the reference to the red soil helped to conjure that up. In this post-apocalytpic vignette we have to admire the narrator’s indomitable spirit and optimism. Which is leavened in the story by the world-weary cynicism of her neighbour to good effect.

      The life the bantering neighbours have is of course daily reality for millions even now in many parts of the world.

      • Damn, I knew I should’ve added that bit about making a dress from her curtains… but thanks, Andy!
    • Charles Lilburn
      Doom and gloom. Almost all of these stories talk of apocalyptic springs. Good story as usual, Wendy, and you certainly packed a lot into a few words. Just like your story, not much more need be said.
    • Wendy,
      Your story is excellent. The writing makes it so. There’s not really much I can add to the comments you’ve already received other than, I wouldn’t change a thing to this story. I too, wondered what gender the MC was, and was pleased to learn that you didn’t know either. The beer, the old fence post, their ability to say nothing at all for awhile, these indicate that these are two men though. It’s a very subtle and nuanced story delivered with great skill Wendy.
  • Alice Nelson

    A Fairy’s Tale
    By Alice Nelson ©2018

    I am a Spring Fairy. Yippee. That’s sarcasm, if you were wondering.

    Don’t act so surprised, did you think all fairies were like Tinkerbell?

    My name is Trillia, I’m a legacy fairy, which means I come from a long line of fairies who have worked for Persephone, the goddess of spring.

    It’s supposed to be the most sought after position in the fairyverse, at least that’s what mother says.

    “You should be honored to serve under the beautiful goddess,” mom said from her and dad’s retirement digs in Olea. “Our family has been blessed with the luck of the gods for a millennia.”

    I don’t argue, mom is a true believer.


    The Spring Counsel is the only body Persephone has to answer to. It’s headed by Demeter, her mother, along with Ceres and Diana.

    “Our goal,” Demeter says at our yearly meeting, “Is to bring together as many couples as possible during the spring season.”

    What she really means is, our goal is to defeat the summer fairies, who are our biggest competition. If we are victorious, the High Council on Olympus will honor us at the end of the year with a grand awards ceremony, hosted by none other than Zeus himself.

    Whether the couples succeed or not, doesn’t seem to concern anyone at all.

    It’s all a scam, people! An ego boost for these shallow gods and goddesses. I couldn’t care less about my numbers, and Persephone has made no secret of her frustration with me because of it. When I come to earth, I spend very little time playing matchmaker. Instead I watch you all go about your days, blissfully ignorant to the shenanigans these arrogant gods are perpetrating against you.


    Finally, it’s Persephone turn to speak, and for some reason she’s taken on this irritating Glinda the Good Witch persona. “Oh my beloved fairies, it’s that wonderful time of year again when love is in the air and the flowers are in bloom…blah, blah, blah.”

    She’s droning on so much that I have to tune her out before my breakfast makes a return appearance. How’s this Persephone for love in springtime, I think, imagining myself hurling all over that beautiful dress she had made especially for this occasion. Then I start to chuckle.

    Persephone looks at me, “Do you have anything to say Trillia?”

    I make the standard reply, “Just excited about the new season, oh wonderful Persephone, Goddess of spring.”

    Can you believe that’s how she insists we address her? Effing Fascist!

    She glares at me, then goes back to that phony Glinda voice, “Here are your assignments, sweeties,” Persephone says. She always calls us sweeties when she’s a little miffed, which she is because Demeter read her the riot act this morning, within earshot of all of us. Seems numbers are down, and the council is not happy about it.

    “Good luck, and spread the love of spring for yet another year.” And with that, our yearly meeting comes to an end.

    Everyone is handed their assignments —except me. “Come into my office, Trillia,” Persephone says.

    Not again
    , I say to myself.

    She shuts the door, and motions for me to sit.

    “Yes, oh wonderful Persephone, Goddess—”

    She waves her hand and stops me mid-sentence, Persephone knows I don’t mean any of it. We have a history, she and I. An adversarial one where she feels I don’t respect her authority, and I think she’s a cold b-i-t-c-h.

    Both of us are correct.

    She sits high above me, behind that gaudy golden desk given to her by her father Zeus. “I do not want another incident like the one that got you suspended,” she says all tight lipped.

    She does this every year, reminds me of my one, granted huge, lapse in judgment. The incident in question was when, in one of my more defiant moods, I purposely mixed up my assignments, matching couples that weren’t meant to be together. It was chaos for months, as Persephone and the council tried to repair the damage, and she has never let me forget it.

    It was mom and dad, speaking on my behalf that prevented me from being banished. But Persephone calls me in to her office at the beginning of each season to remind me that I better not defy her again.

    “I’ll see to it this time that you’re sent to Auril, the winter goddess,” she says. Knowing no one wants to go there, because Auril is insane.

    Persephone places the assignment files in my bag, and stands there looking at me for a few moments. “Be careful with this one,” she says with a strange look on her face.


    I’m sitting on a bench in Fillmore Park, waiting for the first suckers of the season.

    The assignment file reads, Evan Evans, male, 33. His whole history is in here, as well as a current picture. He’s the first to arrive, a tall, decent looking man, but not much of a dresser.

    I search the file for the name of the woman he is to be paired with, but it isn’t there. Persephone will kill me if I’ve lost it.

    Then as Evan Evans passes by, he slips in this puddle of mud, and goes sprawling on the ground, landing flat on his face.

    I laugh, forgetting all about the lost file, but as I do, I realize that Evan Evans is looking directly at me.

    You must understand that the first rule in being a fairy is, you are never to be seen by the humans. Something happened in my departure, and the invisibility shield did not engage. Now I’m really panicking, because Persephone will have my head.

    “Not very graceful am I?” Evan says with a smile, and it is a nice smile.

    I’ve never encountered a human face to face, and I don’t have a clue what to say. So I giggle like an idiot, and Evan Evans takes this as a cue to sit down next to me.

    He wipes his muddied hands on his even muddier jeans and says, “Hi, I’m Evan.”

    “Uh…I’m Trillia,” I say, surprised that anything comes out of my mouth.

    “That’s a beautiful name,” Evan Evans says, and I feel myself blush.

    Then it hits me. Why mom and dad made a rare trip down to see me off. Why Persephone placed the file in my bag, instead of giving it to me directly, and why she had that look on her face when I left.

    They knew I wouldn’t be coming back. Persephone had banished me in the kindest way possible; without the usual public trial that would’ve shamed my family.

    Perhaps I was wrong about her.


    Evan and I talk for hours, making plans to meet the following day.

    I will stay with a transition unit that helps exiled fairies adjust to their new lives. In time, I won’t remember anything from my previous life —except in my dreams.

    Before this moment, I had never believed in this springtime fairy matchmaking racket. But after meeting Evan, I think that maybe there is something to it after all.

    • I liked your take on a ‘fairy’ tale. Trillia came off like any teenager/young adult in her distrust of her elders/boss and I love the way she realizes that maybe they weren’t so awful after all. Her voice felt authentic. And as far as Evan Evans goes, my grandfather’s last name was Michael and all his friends called him Mike, so I guess in some circles he was Mike Michael.
      • Alice Nelson

        Ha! Mike Michael, i might have to borrow that for another story. Thank you Wendy for your kind words. 🙂

    • Alice, I enjoyed your entertaining tale of fantasy blended across the ages, from Olympus to Oz via the ‘fairyverse’ as you put it, and a 21st century teenage/YA tone to Trillia’s narration. All culminating in Trillia’s ‘Evan sent’ lover-to-be 😊

      There is something genuinely classic about the drama with the antics of the gods above determining/influencing the actions of mortals down below. Clever stuff, how it’s all woven together.

      • Andy my dear, thank you very much! This was a different kind of story for me, and I wasn’t sure even as I posted it, if it worked. Thank you for your kind comments. 🙂
    • Phil Town
      Really fun story, Alice. The cynicism running through it, via Trillia’s voice, is very refreshing … and then she comes round to the scheme in a nice little twist. That twist is a little ‘out-of-the-blue’ perhaps? Some seed earlier on might have worked (e.g. Tillia aspiring to being human? Or her showing a bit more interest in Evan than she does before the revelation that the invisibility shield is down?) – just to give the reveal a bit more punch. A very enjoyable read, though.
      • Thank you Phil, my friend for your kind words. I think you’re right, adding some hints of Trillia’s desire to be human would help the story.
  • Yours is the most original story of the bunch. It has A Midsummer Night´s Dream feel to it. I loved the way you chose the themes of love and courage over death and sadness of loss in your story. Your fairy sucks the marrow out of life as the French thinker Montaigne would say. Nice change.


    • Alice Nelson

      John thank you, and a mention in the same breath as a Shakespeare play is awesome. Glad you enjoyed the story.

  • Maud Harris
    You ratcheted up the suspense and then it all came good. A heartwarming story.
    • Alice Nelson

      Thank you so much Maud!

  • Charles Lilburn
    Great story Miss Alice. I’ve still have to crank one out. I got my weeks mixed up and wrote White Horse and Noble woman first. Now, I gotta get busy with Spring. Maybe tonight something will pop up, or should I say ‘spring up’? I got nothing for ya in the way of critiques. Well, there is that Evan Evans thing. I mean, really? Run of out last names or what? Just rattling your chain. Loved, absolutely loved the story.
    • Alice Nelson

      Thank you Roy! I am so glad you liked the story, and can’t find much wrong with it. Ha, Evan Evans is a strange name, sometimes I listen to this guy on radio named Hugh Hewitt, and it just sparked an idea in me. Thanks again for your kind words, and I hope a story springs up for you 🙂

      • Maud Harris
        Evan Evans is a common name in Wales. along with David (Dai) Davies, William (Bill) Williams, Morgan (Moc) Morgan. Sometimes they even include the place of birth, for example , the famous hymn writer -long dead – William Williams Pantycelen.
        • Thanks Maud, I love this group, so many things I learn from you all.
  • Amy Meyer
    I looked into the moonlit workshop and watched the automatic daffodils curling and unfurling. A mechanical bee flew around the bluebells, which churned and waved as if tilted by a natural wind, although the air was quiet and still. My mother’s sleeping form twitched in sleep and I watched her from the door way for a minute checking she was really out of it. Then I quietly tiptoed into the workshop.

    I grabbed the violin from its stand and plugged in my headphones. I played the quietest note possible, double checking my headphones for any tiny sound leak. No stirring from Mum’s room. Then I started to play. The soaring music made my veins tingle with energy like every muscle in my body was alive. I wasn’t in a tiny crowded workshop anymore, I was in a concert hall in front of a vast audience. I closed my eyes and played. I’d linked the movement of three other violins to mine through linked cogs and pulleys so that the other ghostly players in the quartet followed me in sync.

    “What the hell are you doing?” my mother shouted. I jumped and the bow squeaked across the strings. I pulled the headphones off and it was silent.
    “I just wanted to practice.” I said.
    “Persephone, no. Remember what we talked about. It isn’t good for you. It’s dangerous. Honey please. Look at your fingers.”
    I tried to hide them behind my back, but the blood had already stained my t-shirt.
    “You know it isn’t good for you. Remember what the doctor said. I’m so worried about you, you’re going to really hurt yourself,” Tears glistened in her eyes and I looked away. “At least look after yourself for my sake if not your own.”
    Behind my back I popped one of my fingers back into its socket. I had hoped she wouldn’t notice, but the sound rang out like a gun shot, so much louder than I’d expected.
    “Look what this crazy playing is doing to yourself! You’re body can’t take it!”
    “I don’t mind, I can take it, it doesn’t hurt that much, it all heals, it’s OK, please I promise to be more careful next time.”
    “You can’t carry on playing! You are never going to leave this apartment and play in a concert. All this dreaming is for nothing.”
    “Why not! Why can’t I do what I want? I’ll do anything.”
    “You’re dead,” she shouted.
    I stumbled backwards, “What are you talking about?”
    “I’m sorry Persephone.” She turned away from me and started to disconnect the series of violins. “I put you back together after the Accident. Like the bees and flowers in the workshop. I made your joints from the same cogs and wheels.”
    “No, I can’t be a stupid puppet automaton. How can I think, how can I feel, how can I play?”
    “You’re real brain and body are still there, I just had to put you together again. I wanted my daughter back.”
    “But Mum—”
    She whirled back to me and her face flushed with anger. “Don’t look at me like that. You always look at me like I’m in the wrong.” She threw one of the violins against the wall and it shattered.
    I rushed out of the room and slammed my bedroom door, pushing my back against it so she couldn’t come in. I heard another violin hit the wall.

    I was scared. Yes, she’d thrown things before, but this was worse. I waited in my room until I thought she’d gone back to bed, then creeped out to take back my violin. But she’d locked it up inside the mechanism of this wardrobe-size cuckoo clock, full of intricate figures that whirred out every hour. When she heard the creek of my door she called out:
    “When the mechanism turns to midnight, your violin will be crushed. Unless you come out of your room and apologise.”. Then she slammed her door.

    As I watched the mechanical figures of the cuckoo clock, I thought about how my mother had said she put me back together. I held up my arm and it seemed like a natural movement. I couldn’t really believe it. And then I felt a clicking crunch. Was it my imagination, or was a mechanism at work? I twisted on my hand experimentally, and pulled at it hard. It popped off. I screeched and dropped the dismembered hand. I scooped it up and quickly replaced it on my wrist.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    I couldn’t remember that much before the Accident. I guess I remember being with Mum in her workshop. But then the Accident itself, now that was a total blank. Just a hole cut out of my brain that itched when I tried to look at it too closely.

    My mother was the best automaton producer in the whole city. She made the most beautiful trees that whispered with real life and energy, like they were ruffled by a real spring breeze. My favourite were the animals and the birds. The tiny baby rabbits whose eyes really twinkled, whose noses really twitched with excitement if you brought them a carrot. And she made it all for me.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    I so wasn’t apologising to Mum. But I couldn’t loose my violin. At eleven, I snuck out of my room and stole a lock pick from the workshop. Then I worked on the cuckoo clock cabinet’s lock. It just would not budge. I’m normally pretty good with locks, but I was trying to be quiet so she wouldn’t realise what I was doing and I was so jumpy that it was ruining my concentration. Finally, I heard the sweet sound of the chambers clicking into place.

    I eased open the door and something dog-sized jumped out at me and pinned me to the ground. As I struggled against it, I realised that it was her favourite monkey automaton.

    “Persephone. Why would you disobey me again? Look what you’ve brought on yourself,” my mother said from her bedroom door, as I lay trapped on the floor. Turning to the monkey pinning me down she said: “Put her in the clock.”

    It was very dark inside the cuckoo clock. The monkey pinned my arms down with the levers of the clock. When it closed the door, I held my breath, waiting for Mum’s door to close. I stood in the gently ticking mechanism and wriggled against the levers, trying to free myself. My arms were completely pinned. I could hear the cogs of the mechanism rolling closer, when it would crush me and my violin into tiny matchsticks.

    I took a deep breath. I popped my arms one by one clean out of their sockets. I wriggled clean out of the dark mechanical prison.

    I left the apartment behind. The only thing I took with me was my violin.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    I was playing in the Vienna orchestra. The audience cheered, they love me, they were on their feet. And there she was just sitting in the audience. I thought I’d escaped. But she was watching me and smiling that inward smile. And I knew then that I’d never be free.

    • Alice Nelson

      Amy a very interesting concept, a truly original tale. But it feels incomplete, and there are parts that don’t feel real, and that took me out of your story.

      For instance, the mother brings her daughter back in the form of some kind of automaton, then she loses it and begins to smash the violins. And when Persephone tries to retrieve her violin, her mother imprisons her in this crazy clock and is going to squash her to bits inside the clock because she wanted her violins back? It seemed over the top and didn’t make sense to me based on the characterizations up to that point.

      That’s why I think it might work better in a longer form, where the mother’s behavior can be explained, because as is, her actions don’t make sense, at least to me.

      Then you make mention of an accident, but that’s not explained either.

      And the ending was also kind of strange. The mother finds her and watches from the audience, instead of being happy that Persephone can indeed play in an orchestra, she’s staring at her daughter with a menacing look as if she’s going to what? Bring her back home? Is she going to tell the orchestra leader his violinist is not really human? I just wasn’t sure why she would be so angry with her.

      There’s too much that needs explaining and you just didn’t have the space to do it in this format. This story has a great concept, I just think it would better in a longer form.

      These two sentences stuck out to me:

      “My mother’s sleeping form twitched in sleep and I watched her from the door way for a minute checking she was really out of it.” I think it would be better if it read, “My mother’s sleeping form twitched, and I watched her from the doorway for a few moments, to make sure she was really asleep.”

      “…then creeped out to take back my violin. ” sounds better “…then I crept out to take my violin.”

      Still, a very entertaining read.

      • Maud Harris
        An unusual concept. Amy. I read it all through and then read it again. Just enough menace to be entertaining. I liked the mechanical daffodils, Just one tiny thing – Lose, not loose my violin.
      • Amy Meyer
        Thanks you so much for your feedback. It’s so helpful.
    • I loved Persephone´s drive and the obsessiveness of her creator´s control is brilliant. What a great story. I would have liked to have more descriptions of the workshop though. Also a slight detail that would have been nice was a description of Persephone in her orchestral uniform maybe even wearing some kind of make-up. Otherwise, I liked it. It´s the start to a great book.


      • Amy Meyer
        Thanks! Ooh I like the the idea of her in a uniform.
    • Hi Amy – I have to say I really liked this kind of gothic steampunk take on the darker side of mother/daughter relationships. Elements of Frankenstein and Pinocchio combined with the ancient (and seasonal) dying/resurrection motif – but most of all the mother’s terrifying possessiveness and control.

      I guess having given birth twice, so to speak, to her daughter she has this dominant yearning to care for her. Maybe the mother feels some responsibility or guilt for the accident (whether merited or not – parents feel that responsibility anyway) and it expresses itself obsessively. Or alternatively the mother is just that way anyway ….

      I also love the surreal eccentricity of the situation, e.g this sentence: “ Turning to the monkey pinning me down she said: “Put her in the clock.” And the symbolism of being crushed by the mechanism of time is clever. In many ways, perhaps it is a story to be read allegorically rather than literally.

      And finally, no doubt there are a lot of springs involved in operation of the automata

      • Amy Meyer
        Thanks for your encouragement and feedback!
    • I’m going to agree with Alice on this one. The concept is great, but a little more space to explain a little more of the world, the accident, their relationship would improve it.

      One thing I didn’t get was the part in the beginning where she played until her fingers bled and then had to pop her fingers back into place. That confused me until the reveal that she’s an automaton, but if she didn’t know that, why wouldn’t she find it odd that her fingers would pop out and then pop back into place like that?

      Your tale is super dark, which I’m into, and I feel the truth of the mother’s intensity and possessiveness. (I like the way Andy described it.) I also like the idea of the mother creating this automa world to please her daughter. The idea of the daughter owing her in some way rings true and dark for some people and I like your take on it. Just a little more breathing room for exposition and you’ll have an excellent, original tale.

    • Phil Town
      You’ve created a very weird and wonderful (rather nightmarish) world here, Amy. It’s all quite absurd, but then becomes believable (by the time the monkey puts Persephone in the clock, I was ready to believe anything). I like the mystery of why the mother treats Persephone like she does, but I think I agree with Alice and Wendy that you perhaps needed a bit more space to lay down justifications for her actions. And to expand on the excellent world you’ve devised. Good stuff!
    • Charles Lilburn
      I’m going to echo most of the other comments with an A+ for originality, and that your story does need some tweaking to correct a few things regarding the creator/mother and animatron/child relationship. I really liked the story and think with revisions you would really have the basis for a much longer and welcome story.
  • Maud Harris
    I haven’t got a story this week, I’m recharging my batteries.
    • Phil Town
      Shame … come back soon, Maud – supercharged! 😉
    • Sorry to hear that Maud, hope your bstteris are rechatged for the next prompt.
      • Phil Town
        I think your bstteris might need rechatging too, Alice. 😉
  • Carrie Zylka

    I’m not exactly sure why I’m struggling with this prompt.

    I’ve started and abandoned about 6 stories so far. Everything from bombs falling during a spring cherry blossom festival to a crazy cat lady with a spring trap laden front yard to keep the kids away (somewhat autobiographical…).

    Seriously wtf

    • Alice Nelson

      Man, sometimes it just doesn’t come for me, especially when several ideas are rolling around in my head. However, i do want to read that autobiographical story about the cat lady, so I’m hoping that one works out. 🙂 Hope you can come up with a story my friend.

      • Carrie Zylka

        Legitimately my cats favorite toys are these little colored plastic springs!!!

          • Hahaha! Andy, this made me laugh and groan all at the same time. 🙂
          • Phil Town
            Tee hee.

            My favourite there:

            “I used to think sticks and stones could break my bones but words could never hurt me…until I fell into a printing press.”

          • OMG that’s funny as hell – and like Alice laughed as I was rolling my eyes hahaha
          • Oh Phil, that one’s a groaner as well 🙂 But it did give me a chuckle.
    • I’ve written an entire story that sucks so bad I don’t dare post it. I had a pretty good idea too, but I think I let it get too complicated. And my writing sucked. As in: ‘They slowly retreated, but didn’t move quickly enough.” WTF? (Well obviously they weren’t moving quickly enough, because they were moving slowly! Jeezus. Ka-rysta.)
      I feel your pain.
    • Bryan McNamara
      You’re not alone. Couldn’t come up with anything good enough for submission. I love that there’s always a second prompt to work on!
  • Charles Lilburn
    It dismays me that I completely ran out of time this prompt even though I have an unfinished draft, so I won’t be able to compete. I will however, be voting, and look forward to the next prompt results, regarding the Lady of Nobility and the White Horse. Good luck writers, some excellent stories to choose from. Perhaps that’s why my subconscious won’t let me finish the story – knowing the competition it would be up against this time.
    • Phil Town
      That’s a shame, Roy.

      You’re a very competitive person! I’m not sure about the others here, but personally, I don’t think about ‘winning’ (and I’m not just saying that) when I post – just about producing the best work I can within the time, space and theme constraints. The ‘winning’, for me, comes from the validation from my peers in their comments (if I get it). That’s what gives me a buzz. And, of course, the ‘win’ (if I get it) – but that’s secondary. And then I like the pointers to improvement (if I get them). Each to his own, I suppose … but it’s a pity if you didn’t post because you thought you might not ‘win’.

      • Charles Lilburn
        You took it wrong Phil, I actually meant it as a compliment to everyone else’s writing. Guess it didn’t come across that way. Next time, since this is print, I’ll add one of those “just kidding” computer emojis 🙂 because you can’t see my tongue in cheek as I wrote it. However, you are right, I am competitive, but thinking I might not win will NEVER stop me from entering a story.
        • Phil Town
          Sorry, Roy – and you’re right … text only sometimes deceives.
  • No story from me either – just ran out of time and my brain is too scattered this last week!
    • Phil Town
      Shame, too, Carrie. Go for the White Queen/Horse!
  • Carrie Zylka

    Ok peeps – sorry for the delay – the voting page has been created and is waiting breathlessly for your attention!

    Remember – anyone can vote – but YOU MUST VOTE for your story to count, you can only vote once and you cannot vote for yourself.

    Good luck!!!!

  • Is this contest over? Because I can’t stop working on my story til the contest ends. I’ve got compulsive crappy writing disorder. I need help.
    • Ha! Sorry dude, the contest is over, but keep working on that story, we’d love to read it regardless. 🙂
      • Robt. Emmett
        My opinion on winning ~

        In my youth, I enjoyed hunting. Being in the woods at dawn surrounded by the sights, the sounds, and the smells, was a superb experience. If by chance some tasty morsel happened my way, I’d garnered a bonus.

        These contests delight me the same way. I enter these them because of the comments; I want to become a better writer. To become listed in the winners sheet is of secondary value.


    • Sounds like with slow retreats that don’t move quickly you’re writing about the battle of the Somme, Ken. Just add in a Gandalf’s horse and the Duchess of Cornwall, and you’ve got a head start for the next contest.
    • Robt. Emmett
      The cure for you case of CCW is CRW.
      [Cheap Red Wine]
  • Lettuce, Tomato and Locusts. (1175 Words.)
    By Ken Cartisano

    “Spring’s coming.”
    “Yeah, I know.”
    “You prepared?”
    “No. Are you?”
    “Well, now that you mention it—not really.”
    “I know, right?”
    “Did you hear about the locusts?”
    That made me pause in my careful selection of tomatoes. “No, what locusts?”
    “I don’t know. Just heard mention of it on the radio.”

    On my way home, the power company was out in full force. I didn’t count them, but I saw at least a dozen crews trimming trees away from the power lines. I waved to one of them as I went by. They’re doing a superhuman job.

    I drove home, got the electric clippers out of the back seat and buzz cut a tunnel through the hedges to my yard. The grass was a foot tall and I mowed it less than a week ago.

    I scanned the street and the neighbor’s yards.
    It was after five, so a lot of people were out, trimming trees, bushes, flowers. The sound of electric pruning shears and blowers made for a tonal backdrop to the variable pitch of two chainsaws growling and purring, back and forth, like a musical competition. Spring hadn’t even officially started yet. Come June or July? I don’t want to think about it.

    I grabbed the groceries and let myself into the house. Say hi to the wife. “Hi wife.” Yes, I have more vegetables.

    “What ya got there?” She asks.

    “A tomato.”

    Her face goes slack. “You got more vegetables? Hank!” She takes the bag and sets it on the counter.
    I drift over toward the stove. She’s cooking something but I don’t know what. It smells, unfamiliar.
    “What cha makin’?”
    “Hank,” she says seriously. “Seriously? More lettuce?” She holds up two heads and shakes her head. Then she shakes the lettuces heads. Then all three heads are shaking at me. No. No. No. Bad Hank. “But they were cheap,” I say. “Really cheap.”
    “It doesn’t matter how cheap they were if we don’t eat them.” She’s giving me that tilted head, maternally patient but disappointed, you are such a child look. Every woman has one. It probably goes with having children. Or men.
    “Five cents,” I say.
    It’s as if she’s been tasered. She’s momentarily stunned. Then she recovers, she always does. “Five cents? Hm.” She pauses. She’s got impeccable timing. “Next time you decide to throw our money way, buy something smaller.” Then she tosses them to me and says, “Put ‘em away.”
    I caught them both. Shoved one in the fridge, not easily, then left the other one on the counter.

    We have a TV in the kitchen, usually it’s on. “You hear about the locusts?” I say.
    “No.” She finds the tomatoes. “Ooo, these are nice Hank. I forgive you for the lettuce.” We’ve already got a lot of tomatoes too, but these are really nice ones. I’ve got her figured out.

    “Shit,” I blurt out. There was a couple of vine tendrils pushing through the screen and the window. Two green shoots.
    My wife looks too, and says, “Damn it, I just opened that window twenty minutes ago.”
    I know that’s an exaggeration—but not much of one. She takes two steps, breaks the ends off the tendrils and slams the window shut.
    “That won’t do it Carol.” That’s my wife’s name. Did I mention that? Carol. I grab a sharp knife off the counter and she backs away. I notice. I stop and look at her. We both laugh. Then I open the window and using the knife l crush and slice the shit out of those two ‘tendrils’ until there’s nothing left of them. Then I re-close the window.
    “My hero,” she says. Clasping her hands together, supplicant-like.
    “A minute ago you thought I was a psychopath.” I said.
    “And now you’re my hero,” she replies.
    I’m already looking for the remote. ‘Women.’ “Did you see the remote—hon?”
    “Nooo.” It’s a very patient ‘no.’
    I lift up the “Home & Garden,” and there’s the remote.

    I flick it on. A menu appears and the TV talks to me. “Would you like to restore default audio settings? Please use the remote to choose your preferred option.”
    This is why I like to leave it on.
    The wife sticks her head out past the kitchen wall. “Did you say something?”
    “No. It was the TV.”
    “What?” She comes walking over.
    “What’s on TV?” She looks at me quizzically, like, ‘why did you call me over here?’
    I didn’t call you over here. But now that you’re here. “Did you turn the TV off?”
    I find the proper button to push and hit okay. The TV comes on, displaying a hamburger as big as the TV. “Why?” I turn down the volume. Change the channel to CNN.
    “I felt like it.” She says, and retreats to the kitchen.

    Fox Blitzen is ramping down into a commercial. ‘this—time and we’ll be—back after these messages—from your local—sponsors.’ I caught the tail end of the scrolling banner at the bottom of the screen which said, ‘…een Prepares For Locusts Onslaught.’

    Crap. My neighbor Jim knocks on the door and lets himself in. “Anybody home? Hi Carol, how ya doing?”
    “Fine Jim,” she calls from the kitchen.
    He says to me. “Your lawn needs mowing.”
    I say nothing. I don’t need to. I have a remote in my hand. The universal silencer.
    “You hear about the locusts?” He says.
    I want to strangle Fox Blitzen right now. “No. What locusts?”
    “What luck huh?”
    “Who?” I say, somewhat heatedly. “Whose luck? What locusts? Where?”
    “Jesus Hank. Drink enough coffee today? Take it easy, neighbor.”
    Carol appears behind him. “You want coffee?”
    Jim says no. She looks at me and I say, “Jim was just telling me about the locusts.”
    “Oh really? You have a locust story? I’d love to hear it sometime.” To me she says, “No coffee? That’s fine.” And she goes back into the kitchen.

    She’s so quiet and clueless that sometimes I want to go over there and check to see if she’s not going through some kind of inter-dimensional portal, and that most of the time she’s not really in the kitchen, she goes to another world where she’s an Amazon Queen. Maybe she just steps into the refrigerator.

    Fox Blitzen comes back on, I pause the TV and Jim says, “So, they’ve been saying this species was supposed to be extinct.”
    I unfreeze Fox. ‘A species, once thought to be extinct for 50 years, is threatening to slam into this area for the third time in four years. Residents are preparing for the event in some unexpected ways.’ A video clip begins, showing people holding up signs, to the locusts. ‘Welcome back, locusts,’ ‘put your six feet up and stay awhile’, ‘God Bless our ‘loscuts’.
    I paused the TV. “Carol.” No answer. I know she’s not in there. Can’t be. “Carol.” Her head pops out from behind the wall.
    “We’re getting locusts for Easter.”
    “Really? Oh thank god. That’s wonderful Hank.”

    • Lettuce, Tomatoes and Locusts is a wonderful story. I loved this story. It´s funny, simple and a clever twist on environmental problems. Nice work Ken.


  • I realize this story doesn’t qualify for the contest. (Too late for the prom.) But I did it for this prompt. Gave up on my last story but used the same idea with a different setting and characters. Only took a couple of hours so it might be kind of rough. Cheers.
    • That’s an engaging story that turns things around – I guess it could have been subtitled ‘Too Much of a Good Spring’. The antidote to the scarcity apocalypses, but abundance becomes an issue in itself. There’s a nod to Day of the Triffids in there too. Then you have the beneficial plague of locusts being hoped for, instead of rain. Nice interaction between the characters too.
      • Hmm, just thinking, Ken: as well as the hyper-fertile vegetation, I wonder if you could have a super-abundance of bunnies that folk have to wade through to get home? That would then be the situationally ironic background to the “We’re getting locusts for Easter” comment at the end.
        Just a thought …
        • Thanks Andy. Yes, yes, yes. The bunnies would be a hysterical addition to the chaos. I’m not sure how or where I’d sprinkle them in, but it would definitely make a humorous backdrop and clever counterpoint to the second from last line.
      • You read ‘The Day of The Triffids’? John Wyndham, I believe. I still remember his name. (That is, if I’m correct.) So that’s where I get my crazy ideas. From books and stories I read 50 years ago. I’ll be a dadburned reptile. Thanks for the feedback. I noticed a typo in there. And in the final draft, after I posted it, I modified the first line to: “Spring’s coming,” the produce manager said.

        My wife/girlfriend was a tad confused on who Hank was talking to in the opening dialogue. Totally understandable.

        • Yes, Ken – I read John Wyndham’s ‘Day of the Triffids’ and ‘Midwich Cuckoos’ (‘Village of the Damned’ as filmed) when I was maybe in my early teens, and those plus John Christopher’s Tripod stories drew me into sci-fi/speculative fiction. Very visual novels that create very strong atmospheres with a fair bit of tension as well.

          I saw some typos too (‘way’ instead of ‘away’; capital H on ‘he’ when there shouldn’t be; also pronoun drift, where Hank seems to be waving to a tree rather than a crew of workers; some dodgy punctuation in the long sentence about the Amazon Queen, and there should be a comma in ‘Fine Jim’ so it doesn’t look like a command …) plus, as you say, sometimes not knowing who is talking, which prompts a few re-reads. But as you say, a rough-cut – a real gem as produced in just a couple of hours.

          The story idea is great, though, and some excellent lines – I love the apparent normality of: “I drove home, got the electric clippers out of the back seat and buzz cut a tunnel through the hedges to my yard.” – that was the point where I was hooked into the story. That sets the tone: Keep calm and carry on 🙂
          Also – nice dovetailing of first person and engaging dialogue between, I’m guessing, somewhat doddery old folk who are good-natured and close but also in the habit of not listening to each other.

          Glad you like the bunnies!

          • Charles Lilburn
            Congratulations Andy, I knew you had a winner there. And congrats to all those who finished in the top five. Nice writing folks. And now, on to the next storyline, White Horses.
  • Just waiting on Wendy and John to vote!
    • HEY! Carrie. I want to vote TOO! Just because I didn’t write, I mean submit my story on time is no reason to treat me like a, like a, like a ghostwriter! Jeeeeez. I still have to read Amy and Alice’s story. Can you hold off for about 45 minutes? Wendy’s story made me want to eat a pizza.
      • Carrie Zylka

        Ok I’ll wait for your votes too!

  • Here are my votes for the Flash Fiction theme of Spring:

    1) Ken Cartisano for Lettuce, Tomatoes and Locusts (5 points)
    2) Phil Town for Fools (4 points)
    3) Amy Meyer for Persephone (3 points)
    4) Alice Nelson for A Fairy´s Tale (2 points)
    5) Wendy Edsall-Kerwin for Hope Springs (1 point)

    Best character: Hank from Lettuce, Tomatoes and Locusts
    Best dialogue: Hank from Lettuce, Tomatoes and Locusts
    Best story spacing/ flow: Persephone by Amy Meyer


    • Carrie Zylka

      Hi John – votes are supposed to be kept secret, and Ken is correct – he didn’t submit on time so could you resubmit using the voting page and the appropriate drop down selections?


  • Hey, thanks John Appius Quill. Thanks for reading and commenting. Unfortunately, my story doesn’t count this week as I didn’t submit it on time. You should pick another story for fifth place.

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