Mid-Week Blues-Buster Week 29

come to the Mid-Week Blues-Buster Flash Fiction Challenge, Week 29.

This is a flash fiction challenge.  The prompt is a song.  You are not required to write about or even mention the song.  It’s there only to get the ideas moving around in your brain pan.  If you want to write about the song (or the video- it’s all good here) go for it but don’t feel like you have to.

The rules;

500 words, but it’s a slushy 500, meaning you can go up to 700 or as low as 300.

Post your entry right in the comments section of this post.


The challenge starts whenever I post this on Tuesday and ends at 4:30PM Pacific Time on Friday.  You read that right.  Pacific Time.

This week’s prompt is provided by Manchester duo… Hurts.
The song is, “Stay”.  Here’s the link; http://youtu.be/1nP3XB7hrFo

This week’s Judge is none other than The Sultan of Skeptophilia… Gordon Bonnett!

The challenge is open from the second you read this post until 4:30PM Pacific Time on Friday September 6th.
Now go write!!!

Posted on September 3, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.


    Annette led Donny past the bar as the music crescendoed.
    She threw her head back and laughed, ponytail flying behind her. He panted, red-faced, working hard to keep up.
    Mickey finished his whiskey and stared at me staring at them. His fast-moving smirk spread all the way to his mocking blue eyes.
    “You won’t,” he said.
    I slammed my glass down on the bar.
    “Watch me.”
    He lit a cigarette, doubled-down on the smirk, and leaned back against the rail.
    “Go get her, tiger.”
    I stalked away from the bar and stopped at the edge of the dance floor.
    When they came my way I grabbed Donny’s arm.
    “I’m cutting in, pal,” I said.
    He spun his big, balding head around, ready for a fight. Annette stood back and looked at me out of the corners of her eyes.
    “You can’t ask any better than that?” he spat, his face reddening even more.
    “Wasn’t asking.”
    Annette cackled as I shouldered him aside and grabbed her hands.
    He was still standing there with his mouth hanging open when we swung by a minute later.
    The song, an upbeat Latin number with a flamenco stylings, forced me to dance faster and better than I knew how. I held onto her and just let it happen.
    When it ended she threw her arms around my neck and hugged me. I pulled her in tight. Her ponytail had shaken loose. I found my fingers entwined in an unruly tangle of long, brown hair.
    I glanced down and smiled, relieved to find all ten of her toes unmangled by my clumsy feet.
    She grinned at me, her face flushed from heat and exertion.
    “What the hell was that about, Tad?”
    I tried to grin back. I felt Mickey’s sniper smirk from thirty yards away.
    “Seemed like the thing to do,” I said.
    She cocked her head and eyeballed me. I didn’t look away.
    “You lying sack of shit.”
    “What?” I choked out. Heart palpitations ensued.
    “All these years you’ve been telling me you can’t dance.”
    I let the breath out.
    “Well, I’ll say it again. I can’t dance.”
    She wasn’t having it.
    “Don’t know what to tell you, Annette. Must be magic. Absolute motherfucking magic.”
    She regarded me for a moment, like she’d seen something she didn’t understand, then smiled and kissed me on the cheek.
    “There’s my Tad,” she said.
    “Always, Annette.”
    She ran her hands through her hair.
    “I’m gonna go freshen up. Will you be right here when I get back?”
    “I was thinking about getting a drink. Want something?”
    “Get me one of whatever you’re drinking.”
    She squeezed my hand and took off across the room. I watched her disappear into the crowd, then made for the bar.

    Mickey smirked around his cigarette when he spotted me coming toward him.
    “Was that so fucking hard?” he asked as I took my place at the rail.
    I snatched the cigarette out of his mouth and took a deep pull off of it.
    “You have no idea.”
    I got the bartender’s attention and ordered two Wild Turkeys.
    Mickey took his cigarette back and reached for one of the glasses.
    I smacked his freckled hand away.
    “Not for you, buddy.”
    “Suit yourself.” He ordered a drink for himself.
    I waited until he got it, then we drank.
    “What now, champ?” he asked.
    I sipped my whiskey, looking down the bar. Every second of my dance with Annette played in my head. The look on Donny’s face when I cut in inspired a little chuckle.
    “You’re not gonna do a God damned thing, are you, Tad?”
    I turned to face him, adrenaline flowing once more.
    Mickey stared back at me and lit another cigarette. I stood there and fumed.
    The touch of Annette’s hand on my shoulder brought me out of it.
    “My, we’re looking serious,” she said. “Everything all right?”
    He smiled as she took the glass out of my hand and had a sip.
    I picked up the second drink and knocked back half of it.
    “Sure, Annette,” said Mickey. “Everything’s just fine. In fact, Tad here was just trying to figure out how to tell you he’s in love with you.”
    I finished my Wild Turkey and contemplated the dregs of amber liquid in the bottom of the glass, too stunned to do much else.
    “Was he now?”
    I felt her eyes on me and forced myself to meet her gaze.
    The music changed from rumba thump to something soft and sweet. Nina Simone’s, “Lilac Wine.” Good choice.
    Annette grinned and ran her fingers down the side of my face.
    “Well,” she said, “he can do so just as well on the dance floor.” She took my hand and pulled me away from the bar. “He promised me all the slow dances and I’m not letting him go back on his word.”
    “Nor should you,” replied Mickey. “A man’s word is his bond. I’m gonna go find Vasquez. I haven’t had a chance to congratulate Luisa yet.”
    Annette smiled and led me to the middle of the dance floor.
    She laced her fingers behind my neck, my hands met at the small of her back, and we swayed along with the rest of the room as Nina sang the blues.
    “Holding up all right?” I asked her.
    She didn’t answer me. She leaned in, pressing her cheek against my shoulder. I savored the warmth of her skin through my shirt.
    Vasquez and Luisa appeared in the doorway, still glowing with beach wedding splendor. Clapping guests parted to allow them to step onto the floor.
    They smiled at us when they saw us dancing nearby. We smiled back.
    Annette nuzzled in a little closer. I let my fingertips trail up and down her spine.
    “It’s all right, Annette,” I said. “You’re all right.”
    She followed their progress until we lost them in the crowd, then shuddered against me. Hot tears bled into my shirt.
    “I fooled them all, didn’t I, Tad?” she whispered.
    I bit my lip and held it until I tasted blood.
    “Yeah, baby. You fooled us all.”


  2. It broke my heart
    To answer you today,
    When you asked me,

    You asked me to stay with you.
    To hold your hand.
    To walk with you
    Out on the sand
    Down by the water’s edge.

    “Stay with me,
    You asked.
    “Wrap your arms around me
    As we watch the sunrise.
    And then kiss me again.
    And again.”

    “Stay with me,
    You asked.
    “Hold me when the sun sets.
    And then all through the night.”

    But I could not stay.

    “Stay with me,
    You begged.
    You pleaded.
    “We can walk through the roses,
    Hand in hand.
    And spend hours on end
    Watching the butterflies

    My heart ached
    As you spoke those words.
    If only I could
    Spend time with you.
    Sitting on the sand at sunrise.
    As the sun
    Brings the colors of the world
    Back to life once more.

    If only I could
    Kiss your lips
    As the ocean waves
    Played their songs of life
    Once more.

    “Stay with me,
    You whispered,
    As your fears
    brought tears
    To your eyes so blue.

    You should know.
    I love you.
    I really do.

    But I cannot stay with you.

    Both our hearts know
    This is true.
    Although someday
    I may find a way
    To return.

    Right now
    I cannot stay.
    For I would be in the way.
    I would halt the flow of time.
    So you could never change.
    And never grow.
    And never learn to walk
    On your own.

    For I know the truth.
    I know why you asked.
    You pleaded.
    You begged.

    I know
    You are afraid
    To be alone.
    You are afraid
    Of you.

    If I stayed
    You would use me
    As a crutch.
    You would put me
    In your heart.
    Where you need to be.

    You would look into the mirror
    When you wake up
    Every day.
    And see me looking back
    At you.

    You would do everything
    I wanted to.
    And love every minute of it.
    Because you wouldn’t
    Have to live
    With you.

    You would never learn
    To see your own eyes
    In the mirror.
    Stare into their

    You would never take the time
    To stand out on the sand,
    Down by the water’s edge.
    And listen to the songs
    The ocean sings to you.
    Watch the world prepare
    For its healing rest
    As the sun fell from the sky.
    Feel the world
    Come back to life
    As the sun restores
    All the color
    Painted over by the night.

    You would hold my hand
    So you would never get the chance
    To feel the breeze
    Flow between your fingers,
    And across your palms.
    And your fingertips
    Would never feel the texture
    Of the sand
    On which you stand.

    And you would never see
    The beauty of the roses
    Of the butterflies.
    Because you would see me.
    Keeping you company.
    So you wouldn’t be alone.

    If I were to stay
    You would never get the chance
    To meet yourself.
    To be alone.
    And learn to see you
    As I do.

    If I were to stay
    You would never learn
    Why I love you so.

    That is why
    I cannot stay.

    That is why
    I have to go.

    533 Words

    These rules were meant for bending.
    And that’s just what I’ll do…


  3. We say goodbye in the pouring rain, you shake my hand like the true gentleman you are.

    Then you turn and leave without a single word.

    But then you’ve already told me this is never going to work. Your letter so articulate and neatly written in your cursive old fashioned handwriting explaining everything.

    Holding in all my raw emotions I watch you walk away, your umbrella aloft protecting you from the storm. Once you turn the corner, without so much as a backwards glance, tears run down my face mingling with raindrops.

    I can’t move yet all I want to do is run after you and beg you to stay – please. We can make this work – somehow. That’s what love is all about. Compromise, give and take, call it whatever you like.

    Was it a mistake to see you one final time?

    Well one last time for me but for you this is actually our very first meeting – isn’t it funny how time travel works – I’m not sure I’ll ever understand why our days together had to be so brief when you had the capacity to turn an hour into an entire lifetime.

    What is the point of your gift if you can’t use it to be happy or to make those you love happy too?

    In your time, the you who’s just left me standing here, oblivious to how I even feel, you’ve not even written this letter yet, this letter that is fading before my eyes.

    At first I think it is just the ink running, words smudging in the wet but as I look closer the blue script is not running but erasing line by line. I trace the disappearing words with my finger until I have nothing left of you.

    I feel wobbly as if my legs will no longer hold my weight.

    Time is being re-written.

    And then the rain stops, at least it no longer drips on my head or runs down my face.

    I look up to see the shadow of a big black umbrella and your smiling face.

    “It’s all been a mistake,” you whisper softly, “I’ve decided to stay!”

    360 words


  4. Time To Leave

    So it was time to leave. I knew he’d already been all over town looking for me. Probably even tore up my Granny’s place, I’m sure that was festive. That old woman deserved everything she got, especially since this was all her fault. I knew she wouldn’t stop and neither would I which meant the body count would go up if I stuck around. I knew I would tear this city to the ground if she hurt or killed Sean.

    So it was time to leave. But…goddamnit it was fucked. I had tried to explain it to him, tried to make him see that there wasn’t any other way, but he refused. Fucking Alphas, so convinced that no one and nothing could touch them and most of the time that was true, just not this time.

    So it was time to leave. He argued and insisted, he plotted and planned, his whole pack weaponed up on my behalf. I couldn’t take on that responsibility, I couldn’t have these people taking hits for me. Man that last fight had been pretty awful…

    “YOU DON’T GET TO MAKE DECISIONS FOR ME OR MY PACK!” Oh my, Sean was pissed off at me. He couldn’t even stand still to yell at me. He was stalking around the kitchen banging his fist on the counter as he passed by.

    “Sean” I said in a very reasonable tone, “I’m not trying to make decisions for you or your pack. I’m telling you that it’s time for me to leave before there’s blood running down the street out in front of your house.”

    He suddenly stopped and turned to stare at me, eyes suspicious, “Is this just some twisted way of breaking up? Because I really thought you were better than that Niki.”

    I rolled my eyes to the heavens and silently prayed to the Lady for strength in the face of a stubborn man, “For the love of all that is holy Sean Hannigan you KNOW what this about. Don’t try to blow smoke up my ass and make it into some sappy romance novel bullshit.”

    He glared at me and I was suddenly so angry I thought my head would explode. I jumped off the counter and got right in his face, “My Grandmother and my brother will destroy you to get at me. She will hunt down your pack one by one and you won’t even know it’s happening until they are all dead. She’ll infect the little ones with disease, she’s curse the women carrying babies, the fighters will all go rouge and die in dominance fights that make no sense. That old bitch plays a long ass game but right now she’s feeling the pinch of time and within a month you will be the only one left standing and trust me she will make a point of cutting your heart out right in front of me just like she did with my mother. So don’t you fucking making this into anything less than the impending apocalyptic hell it actually is because YOU are better than that.”

    The silence rang with my rage and despair. Sean finally deflated and hung his head as he leaned back against the counter. I felt my throat start to close as I fought the tears rising up to choke me. This was why I didn’t do this. It never worked out any other way. I closed my eyes and gritted my teeth against the heartbreak. Suddenly Sean grabbed me, crushing me to his chest, arms wrapped around me like steel bands.

    “Don’t you leave me Niki. Don’t you do it” he growled and I broke into a thousand pieces.

    So it was time to leave, but I just had to lay eyes on him one more time. He was standing in the rain staring at the For Rent sign hung in the window of the apartment I had been living in. I looked down from the roof as he threw his head back and howled his pain into the night.

    There was only one right thing to do, so I left.

    691 Words


  5. Stay

    He let his fingers drag across her shoulder, drawing lazy circles over her silky skin. He shivered, goose bumps erupting as the cool breeze danced across the beach, and he held her close.
    She moved her head to gaze into his dark eyes, and her lips curled into a smile as she pulled his arms tighter across her breast. Her lips parted and she licked them, and the salty taste of desire flared within his soul. She shifted slightly, leaning into the crook of his arm and back against his bare chest. Her hair tickled his chin and emotions rose within his belly; desire tinged with yearning and a splash of regret.
    He closed his eyes, emptying his mind of sorrow and pain. Seagulls rose and fell on the currents and cawed at the water spread before them, and he knew time was running out. The moon had faded into the sapphire sky many hours ago and dawn peeped over the horizon, a sliver of pink against the black ocean.
    She sighed, a tiny, contented sound, and he wrapped his arms around her. His eyes flickered open and he rested his chin upon her head, and felt her body relax between his thighs. His chest shuddered as emotion overwhelmed him and his embrace tightened as if he’d never let her go. She stroked his forearm, leaning forward to kiss the upstanding hairs on his arm, her breath mingling with the cool, salty air.
    Salmon pink infused the sky, painting the underside of heavy, drifting clouds. Moments later, fat drops of rain fell and he felt her change. Electricity surged and he buried his face trying to delay the inevitable. He could barely hold himself together and left a dozen kisses in her silky tresses. Horizon’s pink blush deepened, as did the ache that penetrated his entire being. She shifted again, her body waking and stretching, and he slowly released her.
    She wriggled away and turned to kneel against him. Her arms embraced his slick shoulders, her wet cheek pressed against his face, her lips sought his, and the rain fell in a shower of kisses.
    They broke apart, and she cupped his face in her hands and whispered words of love. He kissed her back, his lips melting against hers and his tongue teasing the fire that blazed, but she pulled away, slowly, leaning back on her heels and stood.
    He stared at her silhouette, black against the rising morn, and his heart burst with love.
    “Stay…” he whispered, barely audible above the wild horses of the ocean.
    She shook her head and waited. The fiery clouds wandered and he sucked in a deep breath. Her gaze never left his face as she smiled in the rain and waited, patiently, and then he reached behind him and drew a silky fur across his legs. He stroked it gently, and dawn’s light shimmered across the glistening pelt, as he rested it across his arm and rose, taking her hand.
    Down at the ocean’s edge, he wrapped the skin around her shoulders and held her close, kissing her with everything he had. She turned in his arms and reclaimed her pelt, shimmying skilfully into it, and then she dropped away and returned to the sea.
    If she stayed, if she ever stayed, it would be her choice…and, for now, he let the ocean swallow his heart.

    (564 Words)



  6. He watched her move round the lounge, collecting, packing; he hated it…but he just sat there.

    He wanted to speak; he so wanted to express how he felt, but how could he? How could he form the words she wanted to hear? He’d tried so many times – and several times he thought he’d managed it, but she still kept doing this, still kept insisting that she was going.

    But this time it was different; this time she wasn’t screaming, she wasn’t ranting, this time she was silent, quiet – methodical. And she’d never packed this much before.

    The children sat and watched too. They wondered if mummy was serious, if this time she would actually go, but their silence – and their presence – said that they believed that this time she just might.

    And that was the problem, wasn’t it? He hadn’t believed her when she said she’d had enough, when she said she couldn’t do it anymore, that she couldn’t live in this emotional silence; that it was killing her, and her love for him. He hadn’t really listened – thought she was just having another of her tantrums; that it would blow over like they always did, and she’d be fine in a few hours, and all would be right with the world again. She’d attempted to leave before, three times in fact; walked out. But she’d come back, and to be honest he found it irritating now; he’d grown tired of it.

    But today she wasn’t doing any of that; she wasn’t telling him what she needed, she wasn’t screaming at him, telling him where he’d gone wrong and how he’d failed her. She wasn’t doing any of that – and actually hadn’t for months. She’d been studying her self-help books, seeing her therapist and things were looking up. She’d started to return to the woman he’d met, the loving, warm, caring individual he’d fallen in love with.

    So why was she packing?

    He desperately wanted to know, but he daren’t speak. Whenever he spoke it always went wrong, somehow his words would be misinterpreted, and she’d start screaming, or crying. His words never seemed to work, she complained that they didn’t really say anything. And today, if it went wrong, that would be that, she wouldn’t be coming back. He knew it; he knew it in his soul.

    She zipped up the last bag and stopped. She went over to the children, not speaking – not able to with the tears pouring down her face, and grabbed them off the sofa, squeezing them as tight as she could. The little one implored her with his eyes, and when that didn’t work, he wouldn’t let her go. She had to peel him off. That’s when his tears started and he ran to his Papa for comfort and support.

    She turned to him, and again he tried to speak, he tried to form the words that would make all this stop, but he fumbled when she looked into his eyes, and only said, ‘So, this is it then?’

    She blinked, the disappointment in her eyes palpable, and looked at her cases. ‘Yes.’ She walked over to them and gathered them around her. He knew she was stalling, waiting for him to say or do something, but he felt paralysed, frozen inside, not able to form anything. She picked them up and took them to the front door, managing to fumble it open and push herself out.

    She faltered on the doorstep, turning again. And he stood there at the door holding the little one, while the eldest stood by his side, still trying to get the words out, still trying to form anything that would work, that would stop this horror unfold. But part of his mind was waiting, waiting to see if she would really go.

    She turned. She walked to the car and loaded the cases in the boot. The children were crying loudly now. He had to do something.

    ‘STAY! Please stay!’ He shouted.

    She stopped; pausing for a moment as she opened the car door.

    ‘I can’t.’

    As her car pulled out, his tears started too.

    690 Words


  7. Dark clouds looming, the sea grey with specks of white.
    Powerful waves crash against the shore.
    The air chilly
    Strong breezes whip through the skies

    A single tear rolls gently down her cheek
    His hand touches softly to brush it away
    Eyes gazing
    Hearts plead


    Rain falls heavily
    Soft kisses


    Words 54
    FB page- Books, Movies and a Cup of Joe


  8. Peace, Perfect Peace

    “This is all your bloody fault!”
    I reached for her hand but she bunched it into a fist and pulled away.
    She stalked off, her haughty pose only slightly diminished by being soaking wet and having to carry her shoes.
    I trudged in her wake, slipping on the wet sand.
    “Miranda!” I wailed
    “Bugger off”, her wind-blown retort.
    The cliff face stopped her where I couldn’t.
    “Please Darling…”
    “You can’t even sink a boat properly. Not a path for miles. I suppose you expect me to slog along this desolate beach until we reach some meagre sign that civilisation actually exists in this arse end of creation?”
    “Well I can’t carry you, Babe. But I suppose could go off and look for a way up the cliff. Come back when I’ve found it…”
    “… and leave me here, alone, at the mercy of who knows what, whilst you meander along, looking for seashells and forgetting why you started to walk along the beach in the first place? No bloody thanks.”
    “But I know this pl…”
    “What! Did you plan this fiasco? Is this your lame brained idea of a romantic destination? Well, let me tell you, Sunshine, you’re no Mr Darcy when it comes to romance – or anything else in that area. How do you know this place anyway? Have you been bringing other tarts here?… Is that it?… It is, isn’t it? Oh you unspeakable bastard! You little worm!”
    “Don’t you Miranda me, Sonny Boy. When I get off this god forsaken beach the first person I’ll be speaking to is my lawyer. In fact there’s no point you leaving here at all – a driftwood hut on the foreshore is all you’ll be able to afford when I’ve finished with you.”
    “Look, Dearest…”
    “What? Where? Out of the way. Let me see. Oh yes, I see. Looks like someone’s waving at us from that cave.Why don’t they bloody well come over here then?”
    “Perhaps we could climb in… there…it’s not too steep”
    “Well I made it, but no thanks to you. Now where are these waving people? Shine a light. Go on! Flick your lighter or something! How peculiar. They look like statues… of women. Damn, it’s cold in here. Give me your jacket!”
    “Here, Sweetness. I’ll wrap this around you.”
    “That stupid gossamer whisper of a thing? Are you a complete idiot, or are you still practicing? What good is that going to do? It’s just like the statues have draped over them. Fat lot of good it did them.”
    “Multiple layers Munchkin. Keep some heat in whilst I get you my jacket…”
    “Oh very well, just hurry up about it…”
    “Here now, if I just drape it over your head as well, just so…. perfect. Am I a complete idiot? No Darling, but I have an ancient and effective way of dealing with wives who become… tiresome. Meet your new sisters, my other exes. Say hello. Oh, I forgot, you can’t. Not anymore. Bye Bye Miranda.”

    500 words


  9. It’s been said that rain on a wedding day is a good omen. Standing on the porch in my tuxedo, all it seems like to me is a gloomy end. She comes out to find me, radiant in white silk draped with beads of pearl and opal, iridescent in the light streaming through the windows of the church.
    “There you are! I just couldn’t do this without my Man of Honor.” she playfully scolds, fists on her hips, face beaming with love and joy.
    “Be right in. Just enjoying the rain.” I turn back to look out over the lawn, green and vibrant, and past that to the graveyard.
    Her heels click on the stone porch as she steps, and instead of the door closing, arms wrap around me, and I feel her head leaning on my shoulder. “Thank you for always being there for me. We’ve been together through quite a lot, haven’t we?” she says, not for the first time.
    “Of course we have. It’s wonderful to see you so happy. Now go on, you’ll mess up your makeup before all the pictures, and then you’ll kill me for letting you look like you have a French Quarter hangover for your wedding.”
    She laughs, with her special laugh that first caught my attention, and then my heart, years ago. From the first time I heard it across a crowd and followed it back to a beauty with golden hair and sapphire eyes, that laugh makes me feel like I’m hearing the voice of God. Since walking up to her and breathlessly introducing myself, we have been partners on a thousand adventures, thundering across the country like the wind. Yet never in that time have I been able to voice how I feel. The timing has been wrong, or maybe I’m too afraid to risk hearing the words that she doesn’t return my feelings spoken out loud. The laugh has held my heart in silent bliss for many steadfast years, and today when she weds and leaves to start a new life somewhere else, will be lost and out of my reach forever. We’ll still be friends, of course, but any future where we are together will have slipped away like rain vanishing into the grass.
    “That was such a rough morning, and I still can’t drink tequila shots. Well, don’t be long.”
    She squeezes me in a quick hug, before walking back to the warm light of bustling festivity. The door opens to a whirlwind of giggling glitter as last minute adjustments are made to flowers, dresses, and hair.
    Quietly, I whisper as a tear rolls down my cheek. “Stay.”

    486 words @BryantheTinker


  10. Can’t Say, Can’t Stay
    by A J Walker

    Darren watched Clara walk down the road to a waiting car. She waddled a little comically as she struggled with her unwieldy bags. Her words were still ringing in his ears “emotionally stunted.” Clara had said it mid diatribe on the way out of the house. He’d remembered hearing that from someone else, he thought it was Melissa, though it may have been Michelle. Or Lisa. As Darren saw the car’s brake lights go on he closed the front door then headed for the sofa.

    The thing is Darren didn’t disagree with it. He’d never been good at showing his feelings, he expected people to know what he thought of them without actually requiring proof of it, or heaven forbid just the damn words. Emoting was for other people. As a kid he never noticed he didn’t discuss them and he grew up a little distanced from his emotions. They were his, nobody else’s business. By his late teens he realised something was amiss, but it was too late and in any case emotions seemed far too much like hard work and not at all helpful. Keeping them hid would largely be a good thing. Surely.

    Clara said she had left him because he had never said ‘I love you,’ but he had never said it to anyone. His thoughts were what would that really change? He would still be the same person. Surely they should just know. As she left Clara had said “If you ask me to stay I will,” but this seemed to be a roundabout way of her getting him to admit he loved her. He wasn’t going to fall for that.

    ‘Of course I bloody loved you. Sorry, love you. But they are just words,’ he muttered to the wall as he put the TV sound back on.

    He flicked through the TV guide picking something he could watch which Clara wouldn’t have liked – just because he could.

    He would miss her. Her warmth. That smile and her sense of humour. Her washing up. Oh, and the love making. There really was a lot to miss.

    Still, if she really needed to hear just those three words once to make her stay – or for him to just say ‘stay’ – then perhaps it was her that was emotionally stunted, not Darren.

    There was a Die Hard marathon on Channel 5, just the ticket. Clara had hated Bruce Willis. With the left over chilli in the fridge and Uncle Ben’s microwave rice, together with the box of unspecified red wine, Darren’s night was sorted.

    The empty bed later though seemed bigger than he remembered and colder.

    He’d had a good night though. He loved Bruce Willis.

    (449 words)


  11. Brian had waited months for this day, but finally the conditions were perfect. The radar showed a thunderstorm coming in from the west, full of lightning and warm rain. Rachel’s house overlooked a park, and the bedroom she shared with her new husband would be the ideal place to watch him out in the park, especially with their bed along the north wall. The mirror on their dresser would show him to her, the way she normally sat up in bed to read, and then it would begin.

    There were many days he doubted whether his plan would work. It had been four years since she’d left him, two hundred and eight weeks, one thousand four hundred and sixty one days. And every one of those nights, he was tempted to go to her, to tell her how he really felt, to show her that he could be the man she wanted. But she wouldn’t have bought it, not unless he did it right. What woman wanted to listen to him talk? Any fool could say anything. What he needed was a plan of action.

    And finally, it was time to implement that plan. He almost gave up when she married Ryan, but even that was a sign that she was still waiting for him. Brian-Ryan? That was too close to be a coincidence. Their wedding was beautiful, he’d thought, watching from the trees on the far side of the arboretum, and he’d put a lot of thought into saying something just when the priest got to the “speak now or forever hold your peace” part, but that would have been impulse, not a well-constructed plan of action. And he was nothing if not a man of action.

    The storm rolled in right on schedule, and Brian took his place in the park. He had everything – a mixtape of her favorite songs. A bottle of her favorite wine. And the ticket stubs from the movie they’d seen together on their first date. It was fully dark by the time the thunder started to rumble, and when he saw the first crack of bright lightning, he started.
    Rachel was indeed sitting in her bed, idly scratching Ryan’s back while she read her kindle. There was a heck of a storm coming in that night, and they’d closed the triple-pane windows before crawling into bed, not wanting to wake up to wet carpeting. A flash of light caught her eye, followed by a very soft rumble. She smiled, putting her kindle down on the bedside table. Sliding her hand around to her husband’s front, she found him half-ready, as he often was in bed. “Want to make some thunder of our own?” He took her in his arms, kissing her fiercely as the storm reached its full potential.

    She reached her climax just as Brian reached the climax of his own plan. Neither of them had any idea that she was never aware of the man in the park, nor the gunshot that rang out at midnight.

    505 words



    – – – – –

    She eyes the string of prints on the gallery wall and indicates one in particular. “The way you’ve captured the light in this photograph is brilliant, Chastain. It’s a shame I’m going to miss the opening. A week goes by so quickly, doesn’t it, and suddenly, here we are on the cusp of goodbye.”

    Goodbye. The word pierces his ears like the tip of an arrow punching through his ribs, penetrating his lungs, and robbing him of oxygen. He’s in trouble, the kind of trouble for which there is only one remedy.

    His ‘no emotional entanglement clause’ had been irretrievably smashed during their first conversation last year and the ‘no physical entanglement clause’ was damned five minutes into their first meeting last week.

    When he’d picked her up at the airport, she’d greeted him with all the affection and enthusiasm of an adorable energetic puppy. She was so unabashedly vivacious and he’d been hopelessly entwined by all those lean limbs and feminine curves and, heaven help him, he’d kissed her.

    Meant to connect with her cheek but met her mouth instead. Meant to keep it chaste but had instead devoured her like she was liquor and he was a drunk. And remembering it now, he was thirsty all over again.

    The relationship was supposed to be a creative collaboration, nothing more, nothing personal, nothing permanent. He’d posted his requirements in a single succinct sentence: Photographer seeks writer for short-term collaboration on travelogue memoir.
    She’d responded in seven paragraphs, which, distilled down into a summary sentence … well, it was just as impossible to summarize her on paper as it was to summarize her in person. If not for her oddly endearing prose, he’d have passed her over.

    She lacked the education and experience he was hoping for but he quickly found that she made up for it in creativity, intuition, and innovation. Her ability to read his photographs, to dip her fingers into the images and scoop out portions of his soul, stunned him.

    And what took him so long to perceive, when it was his job to see things, was that the project had become a love letter between them, his photographs and her words, traveling back and forth across time and space, collecting bits of their hearts along the way.

    Color and ink and paper and film, all of it a measurement of impending affection, like an atom gathering protons, growing and swirling and collecting more bits until, at last, the inevitable happens: catastrophic fusion.

    He accepted it, now. He loved her. She understood him on a level that few people did and she was able to articulate her feelings for him and for their intertwined lives, in ways that constricted his chest. Yes, his intellect and experience was superior to hers, and yet, there was a deceptively simple brilliance to her, an internal knowing, that fascinated and delighted and surprised him, so that instead of feeling superior, he wanted to nurture her gifts, to share what he knew, what he had, what he was, with her.

    He comes to himself again, standing beside her in the gallery, lightheaded with the memories and heavyhearted with her impending departure, and in the first spontaneous act of his life, bursts into a stumbling confession. “Emily, tear up your plane ticket. Forget about my clauses and contracts. Stay. Here with me. Stay. Indefinitely. You know what I mean. Must I say it?”

    The answer was in her face, that sweet tug of knowing married to the joy of declaration. Those big beautiful blue eyes, so full of love and laughter, that crooked smile formed with sweet plum lips, went unremarked by the public eye. They didn’t hang in a gallery, get featured in a glossy photography magazine, or grace the mantle of a fortune five hundred home.

    But that image, the look of love requited, and the woman who wore it, stayed with him until his dying day.

    – – – – –
    657 words / @bullishink


  13. Penny unlocked her apartment door and stepped into the dark entryway. She tossed her keys onto the hall table and locked all three deadbolts before heading into the kitchen for a beer, flipping on lights as she went. She kicked off her heels by the fridge as she twisted the top off the first bottle she grabbed. She tipped the bottle upward and took several gulps before surfacing for air.

    A good ending to a shitty day, she thought as she padded barefoot across the kitchen and into the bedroom. Penny set the beer on her dresser and began peeling off work clothes, tossing them in a pile on the floor.

    Create the sales forecast for next month, run diagnostics on the new implementation at AR-Com, finish coding the finance reports – she ran through her mental to-do list as she pulled on sweatpants and a tee-shirt. A hand slammed across her mouth and a gruff arm punched into her belly, jerking her back. It took a moment for her brain to catch up with the action; someone was in her apartment. Panic spread as she was lifted off the floor by the unseen assailant. She thrashed out wildly, her feet making contact with what felt like a shin. A deep “Umph” sounded in her ear as she clawed at the hand muffling her screams.

    “Stop fighting,” the male voice commanded. Wait, she knew that voice. She bucked and kicked once more, this time hitting the night stand. Terror rose up in Penny’s throat; they were moving toward the bed. She yanked her whole body forward, trying to break free of the tight grip. Her attacker wrenched his arms tighter and shoved her face first onto the mattress. Thick knees dug into the back of her thighs and an elbow drove her shoulders down. The hand covering her mouth swung around and grabbed the back of her head. The hand pushed her face down into the bed until all she could suck in was the musty taste of her duvet cover. A hot, wet breath on her ear raised goose bumps on her neck as she struggled to breathe.

    “I said stop fighting,” the voice whispered. Recognition once again tickled the back of Penny’s mind just before she blacked out.

    Penny’s eyes fluttered open. She was laying on a bed in a strange room. She looked around as a killer headache crept up the back of her skull. She knew this room but couldn’t seem to get her bearings on exactly where she was. A friend’s house; a lover’s? Wait, had she gone out drinking? No. She wasn’t hung over. She’d been attacked; in her apartment. It had been a man, someone she knew. She bolted upright as it dawned on her exactly whose house she was in.


    “I knew you’d remember this room. We had some great times in here.” A male voice spoke softly from a dark corner.

    “James, what am I doing here?” Penny moved to get off the bed but the chain around her left ankle kept her tethered. Fear began to churn in her stomach.

    “Do you remember when you said goodbye,” James asked.

    “You mean, when I graduated college?” Penny replied. Tears welled in her eyes as she realized she was bolted to the wall.

    “It was raining.” James continued as if she hadn’t spoken. “Your heels kept sinking in the mud. I ended up carrying you all the way back to the dorms.”

    He chuckled and Penny heard the scrap of a chair as James stood up. She scrambled across the bed but there was nowhere to go. James pinned her to the wall and gripped her chin in his fingers, forcing her to look him in the eyes.

    “Then you hugged me and fucking pecked me on the cheek.” He spat the words out angrily. “I never heard from you again. After all we’d been through.” Her head cracked against the wall as he released her and backed away.

    “James, that was five years ago,” Penny whimpered.

    “Do you know what it was like to live five years without you?”

    “Please, let me go,” she whispered.

    “No. This time you’ll stay.”

    @Brewed Bohemian (700 words)


  1. Pingback: #MWBB 29 : Stay | My Soul's Tears

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