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Category Archives: Short Stories

Word Prompt: Soap

“If I ever hear that filthy word come out of your mouth again, I’m going to wash it out with soap.”

“Wash what out?” my lil’ sis challenged.

“Your mouth. Dirty words demand clean mouths.”

That’s what my momma said when my lil’ sis scrunched up her eyes real beady-like and spit a bad word at her. Lil’ sis was touch and hardy. She paid no mind to my momma’s threats. Nothing scared lil’ sis.

“Oh, yeah?” she countered. “Well, go ahead. I don’t give a damn.”

My momma’s face hardened like stone. Faster than a cat twitching its tail when a mouse scampers across the room, my momma pounced on lil’ sis and grabbed her by the arm. Lil’ sis fought to wriggle free, but when our momma was set on discipline, no amount of wiggling could free you from her clutches. She meant business.

She dragged my lil’ sis, kicking and screaming, to the bathroom. I wanted to follow and watch how she cleaned the dirty words from my sis’s mouth, but my momma slammed the door in my face and shut me out. All I could do is sit on the other side and listen to the muffled rage of my lil’ sis as she lost the struggle.

Later, when she recounted what happened, lil’ sis said our momma shoved a whole bar of wet soap in her mouth and made her hold it there for a whole minute.

“What it did taste like?” I asked.

“It tasted nasty. Like salty bubbles.”

I was curious what salty bubbles tasted like. I didn’t so much mind the salt part. Momma hated how much salt I dumped on my dinner plate to make her diet food taste good. That night, in my bath, when no one was around, I held a bar of soap and worked up the nerve to put it in my mouth. I settled on touching it with the tip of my tongue. Don’t you know, my sis was right?! That white bar tasted just like salty bubbles. I didn’t mind it so much, but then again, I didn’t have to hold it in my mouth for 60 seconds. I hoped I never had to endure that uncomfortable punishment. I was gonna try real hard to keep my mouth clean on my own.

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Word Prompt: a Puppet

Smiles. Tilts his moppy head. Gazing with mixed wonder and amusement at the audience before him. His finest moments are on stage, among a crowd. These are the hours he feels his purpose jiggling through steel mesh and fibrous veins.

His darkest days are confined to a stuffy box. His coffin, he thinks. One day, they’ll forget about him and he’ll be trapped forever. No small hole where the light on the other side can sneak through. He’ll never feel the sun. Preservation, they say as they lower him to his grave.

“We want you to stay this way forever.”

He wants to roam free. Bounce along sidewalks, peering into storefront windows at those poor mannequins forced to stand all day in one pose. He wants to be like the frog on TV. The frog that’s in movies and who everyone loves.

His soft purple hands will never be green. He can’t speak with a noble nasal voice. Deep down, he knows he can’t only be the puppet he was made to be. With a big smile and round eyes. Rosy indigo cheeks and skinny arms that know how to hug a sick child and make her smile again.

“Well, who do we have here?Is this the Sally Jensen? Oh, my, I’ve heard about you, Miss Sally. The nurses tell me you’re the bravest girl in the whole wide world! Is that true?”

“It is, Bennie. I’m the bravest girl.”

“Can you teach me to be brave?”

“Okay, Bennie. I can teach you.”

“Yay! I was hoping you’d say that. Merlin, you don’t mind if we stay with Sally for a while so she can teach me, do you?”

“Not at all, Bennie.”

“Okay then! Sally, where do we begin?”

“Well, Bennie, we should start with doctors, who come into your room with long needles so they can take your bad blood away.”

“Wow, Sally, that sounds really scary.”

“It is, Bennie, but I’m very brave.”

“That’s right! I’m so glad I have a great teacher like you!”

Bennie sees Sally glow from inside. Another child made to feel like she can conquer the world. And maybe, maybe she will.

Word Prompt: Seagulls

Prancing around the sand, chests puffed with pride over ownership of the coast along which they roam. Kings of their beach. Scavengers of what isn’t theirs. They take sandwiches and french fries. Poop on those plebes who don’t share or who appear as though they’re having too much fun. Squabble with their greedy peers when they try to encroach on their territories.

“This is my land! Don’t you see my castle over there?!” they squawk at the webbed enemy who tiptoes too close to his neighbors’ property line.

The poor, dilapidated castle, built on weak foundation, sags under the sun’s watchful glare. The looming tide will inevitably claim it as its own. The displaced seagull will have to find another home.

Word Prompt: Porch

The old people rock in chairs on the porch, reminiscing about the good ol’ days while youth slumps across the street, smacking gum, playing with their phones, and moaning about being misunderstood. Old people hold all the cards, they complain. The young people need to grow up, respect their elders, act like adults, the geezers wheeze across the yard. They have forgotten themselves as teens, losing their minds when Elvis appeared on-stage and smoking cigarettes behind the five-and-dime.

I was working at the age of five, one exclaims. These kids today live at home until they’re thirty! Don’t get jobs because they think they’re too good for hard work. They want it easy. Well, tough sh**. Life is hard.

The youth scowl. Don’t you see? You made us this way. You didn’t make us work at five. You coddled us, showered our rooms with the toys you never had, told us we were special and could be anything we wanted in the whole wide world. You wanted to give us the lives you didn’t have, and now you take it back. You resent us for being young, for experiencing the world through a different lens. You gave us the looking glass. If anyone is to blame for who we are, it’s those in rocking chairs, always nagging about what we don’t do for you.

The old people grumble, stand on creaky limbs, and shuffle inside. Leaving the porch bare.

While the young snap their gum and ruminate how they’ll be more tolerant of youth when they grow up and have kids of their own.

Word Prompt: Pegasus

The magnificent creature stood amidst a sea of golden-yellow wheat. His nonchalant gaze toward the thick, tangled forest behind him. Flaring his nostrils, he pranced forward two steps and paused. A curt breeze shuddered the dense oil of silver-tipped feathers amassed at his side. 

No one would ever believe me. A real-life Pegasus posed before my awe-stricken eyes. Each as wide as the frisbee I clutched with superhero strength. At least it seemed like the grip of a superhero. If I dropped it, I feared the soft plop might startle the winged horse and he would flee. I wished for a camera to capture this strange sighting at the farthest edge of our farm.

Grandpa Joe told me stories of the Greek gods, but my big sister Jean said his stories weren’t real. Jean was super smart, so there was a pretty good chance she was right. Until I saw the Pegasus for myself. Standing there in all its glorious majesty, basking in the soft halo of sun glowing around him. 

“Charlie!”

In the distance, someone called my name. It sounded like Jean. 

The Pegasus, startled by the far cry, fluttered and spread his feathered wings. The massive span stretched wider than a two pickup trucks. 

“Charlie!”

The Pegasus blinked and glanced at me. I wished Jean would shut up. 

“Don’t go,” I whispered to the Pegasus, hoping it would hear my quiet plea. 

As my sister’s shouts grew louder, the Pegasus became uneasy. Taking a few steps, he turned away and broke into a canter. His wings stretched farther and began to flap gracefully. Up and down. Up and down. Generating enough power to lift his massive girth in the air; soon he was flying over the canopy of trees. 

A few seconds later, he was gone. 

“Charlie!”

“He’s waking up!”

“Charlie, you okay? That frisbee knocked you out pretty bad.”

Jean stood over me and examined my head. 

“You’re going to have one helluva bruise, but you’ll live,” she said. “Come on. Let me help you get back to the house so we can put some ice on that bump.”

Charlie felt himself lifted to his feet. As his sister led him away, he turned and looked at the open field. Something in the air caught my eye. A single, silver-tipped feather floating from the sky. 

Word Prompt: Imaginary Friend

She says I should eat chocolate cake for breakfast. Just once. It won’t kill me.

My mother says different things. She says sugar is evil. Toxic. Rots your brain.

Mozzie says my mother rots my brain. When Mother puts steamed carrots and broccoli on my plate, Mozzie sneers. She doesn’t think Mother has any fun. She thinks a big black tornado swept Mother and carried away all the fun. When I asked Mother if this was true, she looked at me funny.

“Where did you get that silly thought?”

“Mozzie told me.”

“Who’s Mozzie?”

“My friend.”

“Your friend? I don’t recall a girl named Mozzie in your class. Is she new?”

“No. She’s been my friend since I was three.”

“Hmmph.” Mother gave me a curious look when she grunted like that.

Mozzie tells me not to talk about her in front of Mother. She says Mother will try to separate us. I don’t want Mozzie to go away. We’re going to be friends forever. We’ll grow old together and sit in rocking chairs at the special home where my grandma lives with her friends. Mother says she’s much happier there than she was living with us. I liked it when Grandma was waiting to hear about my day when I got home from school. She listened to Mozzie talk about her day, too. Now we only get to tell her about our days on Sunday afternoons when we visit her after church.

Grandma thinks Mozzie is a special friend. She tells me to hold onto her for as long as I can. And I do. I hold Mozzie’s hand every night when we fall asleep and every day when we walk to school. I’m going to hold onto Mozzie for the rest of my life.

Word Prompt: Blizzard

A blizzard doesn’t march or stomp its feet to announce its invasion, pelt windows with wet bullets, or slap the you with sheets of rain. A blizzard descends like a ninja, silently swooping through the frosty midnight air and stealthily landing on icy toes. It pads across the land, darting rapidly between trees and sneaking onto roofs. Leaving sleeping souls be for hours, until in desolate loneliness, it howls, curling moans through grayed air, burnt at the edges by the soft sienna glow of streetlights posted like apathetic sentinels along the road now flooded by rolling mounds of snow. Tucked against parked cars like insulation packed into eaves. From the blacked out heavens, Old Man Winter shakes his quilted map of attack, and a million more frozen flakes come cascading down, whirling around the covert ninja leaping and dancing over barren lawns, perching on window sills, and coating steps with invisible ice. Tomorrow someone will fall prey to the blizzard’s careful traps, slip and fly backwards, and land with a heavy thud on his back. While children toy with a scheme to skate across a hardened pond as their fathers grunt in the arduous labor of plowing blankets of snow from suburban driveways.

The ninja will be gone, his mission complete, the white damage done. In Old Man Winter’s cabin, he’ll be resting, building his strength for the next winter storm.