Dance With Me?

Writing Prompts: Romance

(You got ditched at the last minute before prom – who will your date be?)

Sharee was frozen in disbelief. She had spent time on the perfect hairdo, the perfect makeup, the perfect dress and shoes. She knew she looked really good, and she’d been excited for this, her first prom ever, with her friend Brandon at her side. Not a boyfriend. Just her date for that night, a guy she enjoyed.

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She had though he enjoyed her, too.

When the phone rang, someone picked it up downstairs. A few minutes later, her mom came to her room, tapped once, then opened the door. “Sharee, honey, that was Brandon. He–uh–isn’t going to make it tonight.”

“WHAT? Why? Did he say why?” Tears threatened to spill down her cheeks, wrecking her perfect makeup. She blotted them with a tissue before they could spot her pretty dress.

“No. He just said to say sorry, but he couldn’t make it. You going to be okay? What are you going to do?”

Sharee took a few minutes to process the news. All dressed up and no place to go? Oh, no! Her temper began to rise, and her mom recognized the familiar glint in her eyes as determination. Sharee had always been a very determined girl. Her mom thought it was terrific.

“I’m going to prom, Mom. I’m not going to waste the money we spent for this night. I’ll go alone. Brandon is missing out! Can you let me have the car tonight?”

“Yes, that should be no problem. Are you going out afterward?”

“Probably not. Usually it’s just couples who do that. I’ll have my cell. I’ll call if anything changes.”

Giving her mom a quick hug, she grabbed her small purse and a wrap, went down the stairs like a queen, took the car keys from their hook. She opened the garage door, slid into the car, started the engine, and backed out. Closing the door, she did a Y turn in the driveway and headed out onto the street.

Her stomach was clutching. Going to prom alone was cool for guys, but not for girls. Most girls would find a group to join rather than going alone, but it was too late for that. Well, Sharee was used to making her own choices, and this was no different. It could turn out to be an interesting night,

Arriving at the school parking lot, she backed into a space. She grabbed her purse and shawl, dropping the keys into her little bag. With her shawl loosely draped, she walked steadily to the entrance, holding her head high. She stopped at the welcome table, accepted the stamp on her hand. When the girl asked her, “Where’s your date?” she said, “He couldn’t come. Something came up at the last minute.”

Not waiting for a reaction, Sharee continued into the gym. The committee had done a wonderful job. It certainly didn’t have any resemblance to the gym that housed basketball games, with sweaty players and screaming fans. The music was good, too, and Sharee’s feet itched to dance.

She stood quietly off to one side, looking over the groups not dancing, and finally spotted a group that was just guys, no girls. Taking a deep breath, she approached them as if she owned the place. Digging down for her best smile, she said, “Hi, guys. Would any of you care to dance with me?”

There was dead silence for about three heartbeats. Then a boy she recognized as a quiet, studious kid in her study hall stepped forward. “I’d be happy to dance with you. Sharee, right? I think we’re in the same study hall. I’m Lucas. Shall we?” He held out his hand, and she put her own hand in his.

It turned out to be a wonderful night, after all.

The Package

Writing Prompts: Mystery and Thriller

(A stranger sits down next to you on a train and gets up, leaving a package behind. Do you investigate the package?)

————————-

The man had been reserved, but polite. They exchanged the usual inanities about the weather (hot) and the economy (lousy). Once they had observed the courtesies, they lapsed into silence.

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He left the train three stops later, and it wasn’t until they had started moving again that Mimi noticed the package under his seat. Curious as always, she bent to pull it out. As she did, the big feet of the conductor paused at her seat. “Help you with something, Miss?”

“Uh, no, I’m–I dropped something. I have it. Thanks!”

Now, why had she done that? Should have given it to the conductor and been done with it, but no, Curiousity always won out. Mimi loved a good mystery.

She turned the small but heavy box around, then flipped it over to look at the back. She took a quick breath when she saw the message printed in red:

“If you open this, it will become your problem!”

She dropped it as if it were a snake! It landed back on the floor, and Mimi pushed it back under the seat with her foot. She glanced around, The train was nearly empty, and she was sure no one had seen her.

Her curiosity nagged at her while she waited through three more stops. Finally, she could walk away from that terrible package and forget about it!

Mimi gathered her purse and her briefcase, adjusted her scarf, and was on her feet before the train had come to a full stop. She usually enjoyed this ride through the countryside, especially in the fall, but not this time. Her nerves were all wide awake.

She stepped off the train into a solid wall. A pair of hands grabbed her arms to steady her. A very handsome young man, whose chest had been that wall, was watching her carefully. He said, “I’m so sorry. I was hurrying and not watching.” He lowered his voice, pulling her close, and spoke into her ear. “Did you pick it up? Do you have it?”

“WHAT? Wha–why–who–who ARE you?”

“You don’t need to know. Do you have the package?

“No! What pack–” The man shook her lightly, once, pulling her away from the train as people began to board.

“Let me go! You have no right!”

“Look, lady, just give me the package and we’ll pretend we never met,” he said, in a pleasant tone. His eyes, however, were not pleasant. And he was still holding her arms.

“I can’t! I-I–put it back under the seat! I was afraid!” Mimi blurted, embarrassed and more terrified by the minute.

“You didn’t! We were sure you wouldn’t be able to resist opening it. We thought–well, we guessed wrong. Okay, look, you’re coming with me. We need to get that package!” And he dropped one of her arms, but held firmly to the other, dragging her along as he fast-walked back to the train.

Just as the door was closing, and the conductor waved them away, he saw two men watching them. He shoved Mimi in front of him and turned them both around, looking for cover. He dragged Mimi into a crowd of people coming off another train and followed the pack toward the depot. By this time, Mimi was panting, trying not to cry, both angry and terrified.

“I’m Mark,” he whispered in her ear. “You can trust me. Just go along, and I’ll get you to safety as soon as I can.”

“But–“

“No buts! Now move!” He dodged into the small depot, quickly crossing to the exit. He glanced out the nearest window, spotted their tail, and turned instead to the restrooms.


“Noooo! I’m not going in there!” cried Mimi. But she couldn’t resist his shove.

“If you want to get out of here with a whole skin, you’re going to have to trust me. Those guys believe you have the package, or that you gave it to me. We have to hurry. Do exactly as I say, no questions. I’ll explain when we can find a safe hiding place.”

She had no choice, really. She did what he said, amazed at his ingenuity. She thought maybe they’d pull it off and get out of there safely.

Or not.

Dragon’s Tale of a Tail

Writing prompts: Young Adult

(It’s your first day of middle school. But when you’re half human, half dragon, that makes things a little tough.)

Doogie was tense. New school, new kids, new teachers. He’d been accepted just fine in elementary, where even the teachers thought he was kinda cool.

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He was glad, at least, that it was his top half that was human. He probably wouldn’t be able to make it in school if the first thing everyone saw was a dragon head!

Really, there were always mean kids to deal with. Usually he could just turn and take a swipe at them with his tail, and it would shut them down. But junior high kids? Holy cow, they were vicious! They tended to follow a mean-mouthed leader, and ganged up on their Victim du Jour with great glee.

He just knew he would be that victim. Daily.

Well, time to bite the bullet. He stopped and thought, “I wonder where that phrase came from?” So he googled it, and discovered that it’s what they used to do before anesthesia. Some poor soldier would get his leg or arm all mangled, and the doctor would give him a bullet to bite on before he sawed off the injured limb. “Didn’t want him to scream, I guess,” thought Doogie. “Shoot, just the idea of getting something sawed off would knock ME out!”

Sighing, he grabbed his new book bag, his lunch, and popped his cap onto his head. Deep breath, shoulders back, GO.

He walked to school, only a couple of blocks away. It wasn’t long before a gang collected behind him, as he had known it would, mocking and making snotty comments. Well, he could let the comments slide off his scaly behind and down his tail. Pretty soon, though, he’d have to face the threats and the big bully who would dare to touch him. Not a good way to start his first day in a new school. He suspected that a lot of it would be spent in the principal’s office, along with the angry, weeping bully. Man, he hated this!

Sure enough, Mongo soon stood in front of him. Doogie didn’t know what his name was yet, but “Mongo” popped into his head because the kid was huge. Tall, thick-bodied, his face squinched up in pretend confusion, his eyes sparkling with glee, he put out his meaty hand and put it on Doogie’s chest, pushing at him. His posse gathered around, eager for blood.

“Hey, Dragon Boy, whatcha think yer doin’ in our neighborhood? No half-n-halfs allowed here, Dragon Boy!” His posse snickered, waiting for more.

Doogie shrugged away from Mongo’s hand, sidestepped and kept moving forward.

“HEY! DB! I’m talkin’ to YOU, boy! I didn’t say you could leave!”

Doogie kept walking, waiting, knowing what was coming. He’d be glad to get it over with.

“DRAGON BOY! Yer not even wearin’ PANTS! No nekkid Dragon-Boys allowed!”

Doogie kept walking. His side vision was unusually good, being half-dragon, and he waited until Mongo disappeared from his sight. Then, winding up for a good one, he lashed out with his tail and sent Mongo flying, along with his posse. He enjoyed the satisfying whumps as they all landed.

Of course, they were close enough to the school now to be noticed, and it was just a few seconds before a couple of red-faced, puffing teachers came running up. They were mad at Doogie, of course, because, well, dragon tail. Not a fair fight.

“How dare you! You can’t go using your tail like a club! Come with us to the principal’s office!”

Doogie stood stock still. His tail made him heavy, and the teachers, each grabbing one of his human arms, couldn’t budge him.

“Just wait a minute,” said Doogie. “I’ll come with you, but you need to know that big kid shoved me before I send him tumbling. He’s not hurt, just embarrassed. It’ll prob’ly do him good, you know. He’s a bully.”

“That’s a LIE!” shouted Mongo, brushing off his pants. Bright red in the face, he advanced on Doogie. “HE started it! It’s not MY fault!”

Doogie shrugged. “Touch me again, man, and you’re going to take another fall. Your choice.”

The irate teachers got Doogie moving (at least, that’s what THEY thought), and grabbed Mongo as well.

“Hey, you can’t touch me! Child abuse!” yelled Mongo, shrugging off the teacher’s hand. “I ain’t goin’ to nobody’s office! Can’t make me!”

So Doogie went alone to face the music, knowing exactly what would happen.

He fought off the urge to whack the teachers with his tail, but if he was going to make it through this school year, he had to have some backup from the principal. And when he saw the principal’s wings, he figured it was going to go just fine.

Sproing!

Writing Prompts: Children’s Stories

(Your dog begins speaking in a human voice one morning.)

They named him Sproing because it’s what he did. Besides, he was born in the spring, and he was a Springer Spaniel. So. Sproing!

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Jilly wanted to name him Joy, but Billy put his foot own. “That ain’t no name for a dog, ‘specially a boy dog!” So, Sproing it was.

He was, indeed, full of joy, that dog. He loved life. He loved his people. He loved everybody, really. He’d have made a lousy guard dog.

His kisses were sloppy, but Jilly and Billy (yes, they were twins) didn’t mind.

Every day with Sproing with a good day.

Until the morning Billy opened his eyes because–dog breath. Right in his face. Sproing stood spraddled over him, his wet nose touching Billy’s. Sproing said, “You plannin’ on gettin’ up sometime today?”

Billy squinched his eyes shut, shook his head, reached out to make sure he wasn’t dreaming. Sproing was there. “Billy? You okay, man?”

“Wha–how–when–Hey! Dogs can’t TALK!”

“Huh! Well, I’ve always wondered if I were really a dog!”

“Nope!” declared Billy. “Not happenin.’ No talking dogs!”

Sproing grinned. “You wanna go ask Jilly?”

“Don’t GRIN at me, you mutt!”

Sproing took Billy’s pajama collar between his teeth, pulled him off the bed, and trotted down the hall to Jilly’s room. The door was partly opened. Sproing nudged Billy into the room where Jilly sat on the edge of her bed, looking gob-smacked.

“Jilly? You awake?”

“BILLY! Did he–um–TALK to you?”

“Yeah. You?”

“Uhuh.” Jilly nodded her head. Sproing jumped up on the bed, sticking his nose under Jilly’s arm. Pushing through, he licked her chin and she scritched his ears.

“What’ll we do?”asked Jilly. “Mom and Dad will never believe it.”

“They’ll have ta believe it when they hear it. C’mon. Time for breakfast.”

They trotted down the stairs, thundered into the kitchen. Sproing whined and jumped, begging for a piece of bacon. He snapped it up, went to his food bowl and gobbled down his breakfast. He never said a word. Of course he didn’t.

Billy and Jilly looked at each other, mirror images except her hair was long, curls bouncing off her shoulders. She raised her eyebrows, he shook his head. Mom laughed, watching them. “What are you two talking about?”

“Nothin,'” (Billy). “Right. Nothing,” (Jilly). Finishing their eggs, they took their dishes to the sink, pushed in their chairs. “Okay if we go outside?” asked Billy.

“Of course,” answered Mom. “Take Sproing, okay?”

“As if,” thought Billy. Sproing always went out with them.

Once out of earshot, the twins, hands on hips, glared at Sproing. He sat, tail curled around his feet, and grinned back at them. “What? You guys have something’ to say to me?”

“Why didn’t you talk to Mom? Why didn’t you say somethin’ while we ate?”

“Billy, grown-ups can’t hear us dogs. We all talk, but just to kids. It’s one of the best-kept secrets of all time. No grown-up even remembers dogs talking when they were kids. It’s like they have brain-freeze. They can’t see the fun stuff any more.”

“So–you mean we have to keep it secret? They won’t believe us?” (Jilly)

Sproing’s ears quirked. “Rrrrr-OWF!” he barked. The twins turned to see what he was seeing, and they saw the neighbor lady, Mom’s friend, coming across the yard. “Hey, guys! What’re you up to?” she greeted them.

“Uhhh, nothin.’ Just standin’ here talking’ to Sproing.” Neighbor Lady laughed. “And I’m sure he answers you, doesn’t he?” Laughing again, she walked up to the front door, waved at them, and entered when Mom opened the door.

Sproing grinned. “Told you,” he said.

Vegas to Fruita

Writing Prompt: Travel and Adventure 

Write about your favorite vacation.

I had to consider this, because there have been some really good ones. I decided, however to focus on a trip that Terry and took, just the two of us, some 11-12 years ago. We hadn’t visited my mom in Fruita, CO for a very long time. Fruita is a small town not too far from where I was born, in Grand Junction. My family moved away from there, to Minnesota, when I was only two, so I don’t really have any memories of living there. Still, it always felt like coming home.

We decided to fly to Las Vegas and then rent a car to drive to Colorado. Several reasons for doing this, one of them being the low cost, way back then, of flying to Vegas. I’d never been there, and i don’t think Terry had, either.

Neither of us is a gambler, so I have to admit to being a bit surprised when the flight attendant announced that she would pass a hat, for anyone who wanted to play. I forget what the challenge was, but whoever won it won all the money in the hat. People went nuts. There was shouting, stamping, whistling–the level of excitement was amazing. I’m pretty sure whoever won the money was planning to use it in the casinos!

Driving through Las Vegas made me feel as if we were in a TV movie! All the buildings you’ve heard about, the lights, the flashing signs–it was fun to see, but I truly wouldn’t want to live there. We found a nice motel on the eastern edge of town, enjoyed a meal, slept well. The next day, we loaded up our car with emergency supplies–lots of water, extra gas, pre-packaged food, and so on.

First stop, not far away, was Hoover Dam. I’ll always call it that. Seems there was an effort to change its name a while back. It’s amazing, a magnificent structure that changed the course of a mighty river. Pictures can’t do it justice. You have to be there to get the immensity of it.

I’ve lost the order of things over the years, so I’m going to hopscotch now. The highlight, for me was the Grand Canyon. As I said, you can’t do it justice with pictures. You can’t understand how vast it is until you’re gazing at it in person. We decided on a helicopter tour, and I’m so glad we did! Our pilot was a Viet Nam vet, totally composed and in control, which did a lot to allay my fear of heights with nothing between me and disaster but a thick glass window!

We were his only passengers. As we took off, and the trees below began to look like toys, he said, “Get ready. Big drop coming up!” WHAM! He wasn’t kidding! I know I gasped as we flew over the rim and the ground below us just dropped away to a vast emptiness. Once we were settled in, though, I was amazed over and over again with the beauty, the variety, the rock formations, the tiny silver ribbon of the river running through the canyon. Our pilot asked if we’d like a little adventure. Sure we would! He said he wasn’t supposed to do it, but he began taking us lower, into the canyon, dodging in and out of the slopes to show us some things close up. It was wonderful. I wanted it to never stop.

Well. We went on, across miles of nothing. We stopped at the Painted Desert. We saw petrified wood. We visited the meteor crater in Arizona. We did all the touristy things we could find, figuring we’d probably never do it again.

Arizona Meteor Crater

After a delightful visit with family and friends, we journeyed back to Vegas on a different route, enjoying some of the most beautiful national parks–Bryce Canyon, where Terry got to see a bristlecone pine; Zion, The Arches–and picked up our flight back to green, lush Pennsylvania.

I enjoyed seeing the vastness of the West, the desert scenery that is so unimaginably different from where we live. Again, the vastness of it is beyond anything I’d ever imagined. It’s one thing to see pictures; another thing entirely to see it.

We fell in love with a town called Cortez in Colorado. It was near Mesa Verde (green flat-topped mountain) and had lots of trees, rolling hills, a river. We decided, if we ever moved to Colorado, we could live in a place like that.
It was a wonderful trip that went without a hitch. It’s a treasured memory.

Icarus Reborn

Writing prompts: General fiction

Prompt: You’re chasing your dream of being the first person to fly.

Icarus Reborn

Abra was often frustrated by the requisite female wardrobe. Yards of skirts, flounced and frilled, bustled and crinolined to the point of ridiculous. Sleeves, poofed at the top, tight to the wrist. Bodices buttoned to the chin, too tight for taking a deep breath. No wonder, Abra snorted, females carried smelling salts. They were always fainting from lack of air! And hats! Mercy! She hated all of it, longed for the freedom her brothers had to run, jump, roll, tussle, and even ride a horse astride instead of the uncomfortable sidesaddles a lady had to use. One shouldn’t ever hint that a lady had two legs, after all! And they weren’t legs. They were limbs. Bah!

Gibson girls.

Someday, she determined, she would set aside all the stuffy silliness and set herself free of restraint. She’d soar like an eagle! Wait—soar? Fly! That’s it! she would rid herself of all the fabric that surrounded her like a cage, and she would FLY!

She dreamed of it all through her childhood, her “young adult” status, and finally attained her majority, as the saying went. She turned 21, and decided it was time to put her dreams into action.

Of course, she had to become a male in order to gain her goal. No one would be interested in helping a young female who was stepping out of her proper position, but a young male would be considered daring, and would be given respect even if he was a lunatic who thought he could fly.

So she whacked off her heavy long hair. She concealed her feminine appearance as best she could with loose shirts, loose trousers. She flattened her already small breasts with strips of linen. It was her good fortune to have a slight build, not richly curved as was the fashion for women–thus the silly bustles!

Her shocked and indignant parents looked on in dismay, fearing their only daughter would never meet a marriageable gentleman, but they chalked it up to a female fantasy, hoping she would settle down and find her place among other young women her age.

What they didn’t know was that she slipped out every night and found her way to an abandoned garage, where she meet her best childhood friend. He was a young man just about her age, and he was as enthusiastic about flying as she was. Her male appearance? He found it amusing, and enjoyed her daring spirit.

They had agreed that building wings to be strapped on their backs was not a good plan. Horace had read the classics, and didn’t care to be the new Icarus. They considered balloons, but others were already doing that. Besides, the garage wasn’t big enough to accommodate such an endeavor.

They finally decided that they needed a flying machine, one that could be powered by an engine fueled similarly to the new horseless carriages. They spent hours studying those machines, learning all sorts of things that made them excellent mechanics. They began to sketch ideas, learning about materials that would keep them airborne once they managed to rise from the ground. They learned about wings, and came up with ideas to model theirs on the feathered wings of large birds of prey.

Before daybreak, they would lock up the garage, sneaking home in time to be in bed before anyone else was awake. When Abra began to sleep well past the usual time of rising in their household, her family accepted it as just another of her many quirks.

The next time Abra and Horace met in their garage, Abra carefully approached him with an idea she hoped he would accept.

“Horace, neither of us knows how to create and build a gasoline engine. I think it’s beyond my own ability, and maybe yours as well.”

Horace, to her great relief, agreed with her. “I have a friend who loves to tinker with motors and fuel. He’s trustworthy to keep our secret, and I think he would be excited to be a part of our project. Should I invite him to meet with us tomorrow night?”

“Yes! Wonderful! I’m so relieved. I was afraid you would feel insulted,” she said.

“And I thought YOU would be insulted,” said Horace, grinning. “I guess we’re both just—smart! Smart enough to know our own limitations.”

They worked, and sweated, and planned. They scrapped one plan after the other, and all the while, their newest partner tinkered on a bench with his metal and screws and bolts and tools as he developed his own contribution to their plan. Abra found great satisfaction in doing something besides her hated embroidery! She loved stretching her brain, learning something new every night that they worked.

Her days were occupied by learning how to run a household, supervise the servants, and do all that was considered proper for a young woman not yet married to attract an appropriate suitor. The problem, of course, was that there were no appropriate suitors for a woman out of her own time period. Men found her either boring or intimidating. She seemed doomed to spinsterhood–which was perfectly acceptable to her. She would be free, without the restraint of a husband, to do what she loved.

The months passed swiftly for the three friends. Their project began to take form as they drew, measured, considered weight, weather, winds. It was agreed that Abra would sit in the driver’s seat, steering with a set of bicycle handles attached to a pipe that was attached to the mechanism for turning left or right. They didn’t concern themselves with any device to set the machine back down on the ground, trusting the limited amount of fuel to bring that about naturally.

They spent a great deal of time on the wings. The were constructed of wood that was thin but sturdy, with several small strips that were hinged to the broader wing and connected with wires, in turn connected to a control mechanism near the driver’s seat. Abra hoped to control the flaps, as they called them, to catch air currents just as the feathers on a large bird would do. The trio had spent countless hours studying birds, watching them through telescopes, to understand how they used their feathers in flight.

They were ready. The watched the weather, looking for signs of a good breeze blowing in the right direction, and for clear skies. Their excitement rose as spring weather settled down to stay. And one morning, just before dawn, they rolled their machine out of the garage and down the street to a broad field that was outside of town. There were no houses, just a wide and lengthy expanse of grassy fields. Perfect.

Of course, as they trundled their odd machine down the street, people began to follow. Not many were up and about, but as the noise of their audience increased, more and more folks popped their heads out of windows, and rapidly dressed to join the crowd. This was something new, something different. They all wondered what this odd-looking “bird” would do!

Abra had already strapped on a leather helmet, and place goggles over her eyes. She wore leather gloves, and a jacket and trousers that would keep her warm as the machine gained (she hoped!) altitude. Her heart raced with excitement. “Even if it fails,” she thought,”I’m doing something I always wanted to do!”

By the time they reached their destination, the crowd following them was large and noisy. Horace and his friend urged the people to stay back, out of the reach of any disaster that may take place. Abra took her place behind the steering device. Horace’s friend checked his engine, checked the fuel, and then cranked it just as one would crank the motor of a horseless carriage. When it caught, coughing and spluttering and then settling into a steady roar, the two men each got behind a wing and began to push the machine toward a rise that would give the machine about 20 feet of drop to the ground below once it was aloft. They had chosen the spot with care, measuring and looking for impediments which they moved out of the way.

Suddenly, Abra felt the machine leave the ground! Oh, how her heart raced! She wanted to sing for joy, laugh and dance and turn somersaults! But she had a job to do, and she paid attention. She could turn left or right, and she had to maneuver the wing flaps to catch the wind. She’d never had so much fun in her entire life!

Abra could hear the crowd below yelling and cheering. She could see them running to keep the machine in view.

When she heard the motor sputter once, then again, she knew her first flight was coming to an end. She scanned the ground below, looking for the best direction for setting her bird down safely. She felt it begin to drop, and realized that the fuel was gone. Thankful for the harness that strapped her to the seat, she did her best to make use of the wing flaps, slowing her descent a little here and there, until she felt the wheel touch the ground and bounce, touch and bounce, touch and bounce. She pulled on the lever that would brake the wheels, and the machine lurched to a stop.

The crowd was going wild! They were excited, congratulatory, gleeful to have seen such a strange event.

Abra unstrapped, climbed down, and ran to her friends. They embraced, pounding each other on the back, yelling and screaming their delight. Abra, forgetting that her hair had grown, took off the helmet and tossed it into the air, whooping with joy.

The crowd suddenly went silent. Abra turned to see what had caused them to go so quiet, and then someone shouted, “LOOK! It’s a FEMALE!”

The murmuring of the subdued crowd rose to an indignant roar. One of the men stepped forward, pointing at Abra. He hollered, “What is a woman doing in such a dangerous experiment! You should be ashamed!” He turned away, and the crowd went with him, shaking their heads and glancing back over their shoulders.

Abra and her friends stood quietly for maybe three minutes. Then, they looked at each other, grinned, and continued to celebrate their great success.

Writing Prompt: Fantasy and Paranormal

(A mysterious creature speaks to you in your dreams and tells you that when you awake, you will have the ability to see into another realm.)

Note: I have to admit, this is way out of my comfort zone. I’ve read very little of this type of fiction, and just never found it to my taste. However, deep breath, here I go!

Another Realm

Always a restless sleeper, Livvie was used to strange dreams that disturbed her rest. Her earliest dreams were horrifying, with chases in which she could not run, formless creatures pursuing her in the dark, and the thump-thump-thump of the feet that followed her.

But this? This was new! And entirely too real. A shapeless form, an ethereal voice, neither male nor female, jerked her out of a dreamless state into cold, dark reality.

“Livvie! Wake up! There is a message for you, and you must heed it! You will fall back to sleep, and it will be a sound, restful sleep. When you wake, you will be able to see a different realm than your own. You will live normally, in your own realm, but you will see that you and your kind are not the only inhabitants of the air.”

“But–what–WHY? Really? Oh this is only another of my nightmares! I don’t want to ‘see another realm’–I just want to sleep. . . . leave me alone. . . .”

“Livvie! You will remember! You will see! What you do with your new ability is up to you. Use it wisely.” And the form vanished, leaving no trace. Livvie plopped back down on her bed, her head pillowed deeply, and found sleep.

She woke with a jerk, the memory of her vision crystal clear. She was afraid to open her eyes. She peeped out from under her blankets. Ah, what a relief–nothing had changed. Her room was the same, her bed the same. Her mother’s voice, too, was the same.

“OLIVia! You’re going to be late for your new job! Up and at’em, girl, or I’ll come up there!”

Livvie sighed, wondering if her mother would ever, ever let her not be a child. She needed to find her own place!

Her morning routine under way, Livvie stood in front of her bathroom mirror, blowing her hair to reduce the curls and make it manageable. Her hair had plagued her from childhood. At least, over time, she had learned what to do to smooth it down and tame it. Everyone told her it was gorgeous, but she hated it. The only good thing she could see about it was that it grew fast, thick and strong. And with the right product, it was glossy. Not quite red, not quite brown, but somewhere in between, she fussed with it more than with her makeup or her outfit for the day.

Realizing that her mind had wandered, she looked back in the mirror and saw, with sudden panic, that it had shifted into a panorama straight out of a fairy tale–and she was in it! Only she was dressed in an outlandish set of clothing she never would have worn in her real life. A gown (who wore gowns?) of deep purple shimmering to royal blue and back again, draped her from shoulder to ankle. Her shoes were heeled slippers of silver. Glittering jewelry dripped from her ears, neck, and hands; there were jewels in her hair! How did they stay anchored? Surely they would fall out!

At first glance, she was alone in a vast area of lush green parkland. Tall, multi-colored (!) leafy trees shaded her from an orange (orange?) sun. Pink clouds (pink?) scudded across a lavender (really!) sky.

Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees Look Too Beautiful to Be Real (But They Are!) |  Better Homes & Gardens

“Good grief!” muttered Livvie. This was ridiculous!

Looking around, she realized she was not truly alone, but that she was followed by a Cinderella coach, pulled by silvery horses; there were gentlemen and ladies dressed in finery similar to her own, just with fewer glitters and bangles. They sat their horses as if they’d been born to it, all waiting, it seemed, for her to decide where they were going.

On closer inspection, Livvie found to her horror that none of the people she saw had faces! Shocked, she touched her own and found eyes, nose, mouth just where they should be.

The voice from last night spoke. “You will need to give them faces, Livvie. Imagine them, and they will appear.”

Livvie sighed. This was going to be a long, strange day.

Writing Prompts: Sci-Fi

Prompt: You wake up one morning to find out that you get to move to any planet of your choosing.

Space Traveler

“Attention Earthling! This is RoboMaster! Here is the message:

“You have been chosen to move to a planet of your choosing. You have 24 hours in which you must decide on your new home. All travel and living arrangements will be made for you by The Leaders. The only choice you have in this matter is which planet you will inhabit. You may not choose Earth. You may not change your mind. Ever. Any resistance is futile. This is for your own health and safety, and the health and safety of the over-crowded planet Earth.”

The voice switched off. The mechanical, impersonal message that had filtered through his speakers left Jack feeling hopeless and helpless. There was no hint that he would have company in leaving Earth. There were no instructions as to which other planets were habitable.

Sighing, Jack sat down at his computer, commanded it to wake up, and gave it the directive to find habitable planets. The computer replied, “Working. Please wait.”

Masses of code flashed on the screen, too fast for anyone but another computer to read. Jack waited, enjoying the coffee he’d ordered his personal robot to fetch him. Finally, his computer said, “Here is the information you requested. Are there further commands?”

“Not yet, but please stand by,” answered Jack. He sighed. It was a lonely business, living in the age of robots, computers, and cubes. He glanced around his own cube, amazed at the ingenuity of the design. There was everything a man needed–except for human companionship. He had not been given the order to marry, so he lived alone, hoping always that such an order would come soon.

Thinking hard, Jack said, “Computer. Please find other planets inhabited by Earth people; also, that have un-mated women eligible for marriage.”

“Working,” replied the computer. “Please stand by.”

Again, code flashed and scrolled. When it stopped, there was a list of planets with links Jack could use for researching each one. “Are there any further commands?” asked the computer.

“Please stand by,” responded Jack. He wondered what it would be like to have a conversation with a human being. “Computer, please find a planet on which people are free to speak with other people, face-to-face.”

“Working,” replied the computer. Again, screen after screen of flashing code. When the code stopped, the computer said, “Human-to-human conversation is denied. It is not a freedom or a right. Are there any further commands?”

Jack sighed, deeply disappointed but not surprised. The Leaders were not inclined to conversation. They just gave orders. Disobedience was rapidly and absolutely punished by death. Jack’s closest relationship was with his computer. He had tried to name it once, but discovered that naming one’s computer was considered a sign of weakness. Not allowed.

Jack wondered, as he often did, what this life was all about. He had no memories before his cube. He assumed he must have had a mother, but had no memory of that, either. He had work, which he faithfully performed every day. His “free” time was dictated by The Leaders, who gave him a regimen of physical activity and approved hobbies. Non-compliance was punishable by death. There was no crime on earth, because no one was free to leave the cube to which he was assigned. There were eyes everywhere. Every exit from his cube was watched. He was allowed to open his doors or windows for an allotted period of time every day, but he could not step outside the door without his robot to guard him. All cubes shared walls with other cubes, but there was no contact allowed between the inhabitants of the cubes. Every night, his viewing screen showed the fate of anyone who had been caught stepping past the approved boundaries. It wasn’t a pleasant sight.

Jack began researching the habitable-for-humans planets, and after narrowing his search to three, he looked at each of them in more detail. He finally decided on Blue Earth II, in the Second Solar System, as his destination. Immediately upon making his choice, RoboMaster came back through the speaker in his cube.

“You have made a sensible choice. The Leaders approve, and have given the order for you to take only one change of clothing with you. All other essentials will be provided. Note: The Leaders have seen you are interested in having a mate. They are considering your desire, and you will be informed of their choice in due time. You are to be ready for transport at precisely 8 a.m. tomorrow. Do not be late. You will be picked up and taken to the travel station.”

Jack didn’t have any particular response to this huge change in his life, other than a mild interest in who might be chosen for him as his mate. A tightly governed life held very few surprises. One seldom needed to think or make any decisions.

He expected it would be more of the same on Blue Earth II. Sighing, he chose his one change of clothing, inspected his cube to make sure nothing was out of order, and got busy with his assigned work.

Life was certainly safe, unless one tried to step out of the will of the The Leaders.

Discover Prompts, Day 11: Bite

Oddly, my mind just went blank.

Maybe that’s because there are so MANY directions one could take for this one-word prompt.

Let’s see. How about a bite of fiction?

**********************

Peanut butter and jelly. The ultimate American sandwich champion. For kids, at least.

Lizzy watched her ten-year-old champion eater take a huge bite of his sandwich. Grape jelly, always. Leaving a circle around his mouth, always. Which he swiped at with his arm, always. Topped off with a milk mustache, always, as he ran out the door to continue his important project of the moment. He’d be back inside within an hour, looking for cookies or an apple or whatever he could wheedle out of her. Always hungry, always on the move.

She loved him more than she had ever understood a mother could love her child.

Taking her after-lunch tea into her living room, she curled up in her reading corner. Taking a bite of her own sandwich, a much smaller bite than Jeffie would have taken, she relished the combination of salt-and-sweet. Her husband teased her about still loving her favorite childhood sandwich, but it didn’t bother her. He never turned down a pb&j, either.

Her book open on her lap, Lizzie let her mind drift to five years earlier, when Jeffie didn’t want anything at all to eat. He would pick listlessly at every tempting morsel she could create. One bite, maybe, but no more.

He was pale, losing weight, and had no energy. Finally, they took him to his pediatrician, who dropped terror into Lizzie’s heart when he referred them to a pediatric oncologist.

Lizzie didn’t dwell very long on the next couple of years. Tubes, needles, surgery, fear, cold sweat, sleepless nights, terror-driven trips to the ER. The feeding tube was unbearable to her. How she longed to see him take a huge bite of his messy sandwich, wiping the residue on his sleeve. She swore that if he survived this monster, she would never fuss at him again for wiping the jelly on his sleeve.

Children Patient Closing His Face In Hospital Bed Stock Photo ...

He did survive. He was a tough little kid, even at only five years old. He was eight before he really started to return to normal. Now, at ten, he was unstoppable. It was glorious!

And she never, ever scolded him again for wiping that last bite of pb&j off his mouth onto his sleeve.

Alpha Male

Note:  Mac was 15 years old this past November, and he was in a lot of physical discomfort.  He was still dedicated to my daughter, but he had so many problems that she knew it was time.  She had him put down a week ago today.  We will all miss this great little dog, who had a wonderful life and brought a lot of happiness to the whole family. I wrote the following story about a year ago. 

 

The last Christmas our daughter lived with us, we got her a puppy.  He was the offspring of a friend’s tiny little Maltese and the neighborhood Dachshund who came visiting one day when she was out on a running leash in their back yard. This little five-pound momma had a litter of six finger-length pups, with all the varieties of color and markings you can imagine from such a combination.

Our daughter used to babysit for this family, and she immediately fell in love with one puppy in particular. When she first met him, he fit nicely into the palm of her hand. She talked about him all the time. That was in the late fall.

My husband got busy and built a crate for the pup, without telling our daughter, of course. Just before Christmas, he passed the crate over to our son, who stopped  at the home of the puppies and picked up the one our daughter loved.  He was too cute for words by that time.  If memory serves he was about six weeks old.

When our son walked in the door on Christmas morning with the crate in his hands, Deb was completely taken by surprise. She was in tears pretty quickly, and Mac the Dachtese became our entertainment that day and for many months following.

That spring, Deb got her first phone call from the young man she would marriy.  He was quickly a frequent visitor in our home, and Mac wasn’t especially thrilled. At four or five months old, Mac’s attachment to our daughter was very strong. When Aaron showed up, Mac would raise his little black lips and snarl. There was never an all-out attack, just the snarl.  Often, Mac would insinuate himself between Deb and Aaron if they were sitting on the sofa. We laughed. Well, most of us did. Aaron wasn’t so sure.

Although Mac was doing well with house-training, we kept him off the living room carpet  by propping a piece of plywood across the opening between the living room and dining room, exiling poor puppy to the back side of the house. One day when Aaron came over, Mac was especially unhappy. He growled and howled, but no one took much pity on him. We all went about our business.

In maybe fifteen minutes, I realized Mac was nowhere to be seen.

“Deb, do you know where the dog is? I haven’t seen him in several minutes.”

“Uh oh.  Better check.”  Deb got up and stepped across the plywood, checking first in the kitchen and then coming back through the dining room to the bedrooms.  I’d gotten busy with something else, so when I heard her say, “Oh, NO! Mac! Bad dog! NO!” I  had to go see what the problem was.

She found him in the bathroom.  He had spun all the toilet paper off the roll and trailed it all over the place.  Fun new trick.  But that wasn’t all.  In several places, this tiny little dog had dropped enough  doodoo to make a whole new version of himself!  Piles of it, all over the bathroom floor.  Then he had sneakered out to a corner in the dining room, leaving another pile in one corner.  When Deb found him, he was hiding behind the bathroom door.

“Oh gross!  Oh man!  I can’t believe this!  How could such a little dog have that much in him!  Mac, you little brat!”  As she cleaned up the mess, though, she began to laugh. And so did all the rest of us–except Aaron. This was  such a perfect display of alpha dog marking his territory, letting Aaron know who was boss, keeping Deb’s attention on himself.

Well, things are better now.  Mac has reluctantly accepted Aaron’s alpha male position, and has even  welcomed three new little people into the mix.  He and Aaron aren’t exactly what you’d call soul mates, but they do all right.

 

 

Friends At Last!