Mid-Week Blues-Buster Week 41

Welcome to the Mid-Week Blues-Buster Flash Fiction Challenge, Week 41!



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 9:00PM Pacific Time on Friday.  You read that right.  Pacific Time.

This week’s tune comes to us from the kings of college radio, The Smithereens.

The tune is… “In a Lonely Place”. Here’s the link; http://youtu.be/mlOVlqUcB8A

This week’s Judge is author & all-around great person… Marissa Ames!

The challenge opens the moment you read this post and runs until 9PM PACIFIC TIME.

Now go write!!!!



Posted on December 24, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Erin McCabe


    Words 369


    We met in a soot-stained London bar; cramped, dank, dark and glorious.
    Carried by the perpetual motion of the masses, together we discovered hidden places and curious people.
    We lived bright days basking in the half-light of this ever-changing landscape, overwhelmed by the sheer deluge of life.
    On warm dark nights we enveloped each other, encased as one, shrouded from the hustle and bustle below.
    Through her provocative passions I was rendered powerless, but I gave myself knowingly, willingly.
    Within a week she proclaimed her undying love for me, and I was born again.
    Her firework love was lustfully spectacular yet fleeting; intense bursts which overwhelmed the senses before fading to black.
    Ultimately my adoration manifested as infatuation, dependency and obsession; I died many tiny deaths through incremental acts of self deprecation and worship.
    I overflowed with this consumptive love, devoid of any desire to escape, happily bathed without fear of sinking.
    It is clear to me now that this was not unintended, it is clear to me now, that immersed in this love, she expected me to drown.
    I can still taste her tear-stained lips, still feel the soft teasing trace of her fingers, still hear the words that signaled my destruction.
    Were they rehearsed? Were they final? Does it even matter; I imagine that conquered by sheer volumes, she no longer counts the number of hearts she has broken.
    This city is no longer mine, through my rejection she has reclaimed it and left me in this empty space; this lonely place.
    My world has lost its lustre; through my abandonment she has stolen its shine.
    I was appallingly naïve and never anything more than a toy inhabiting her metropolitan playground.
    The street lights, once beautifully illuminating, now only serve to reveal the pervasive dirt and my considerable shame.
    I am her detritus and like the litter surrounding me, I am without value and utterly disposable.
    Engulfed by strangers, these pulsing countless faceless unknowns make me feel more alone than ever.
    I pace her streets in a fruitless search to feel that spark again, to steal a brief glance at former glory.
    I would give myself to her again, just to feel something, anything, other than this.


  2. Creature Comforts

    It was only the washing line, but when it snapped it felt like the last string of sanity that had held her together through this nightmare.

    Gemma sank down to the floor, propped up by the corners of the kitchen cabinets. Her sobs wracked her entire body with no end in sight. She relived the moment he’d walked out the door, and the urge she’d had to fling herself at his legs and hold onto him and stop him walk out the door. She wanted to beg him to stay, but she hadn’t, after watching her mother do it when her father left she knew it wouldn’t make any difference.

    She never imagined it would end; she imagined that this was them set for the rest of their lives. She couldn’t believe that the decision had been made over a simple argument about doing a First Aid course, but it hadn’t really been the course had it? It had been about the fact that he hadn’t wanted to do it with her, and he hadn’t wanted to do anything with her for more than six months now.

    She had no idea how it had broken, but it had, and she couldn’t fix it.

    Eventually the tears stopped, but she remained where she was, still hitching. She knew she had to get up even though she didn’t want to. She wondered what would happen if she didn’t, if she sat there forever; would anyone notice? Would anyone care?

    One of the cats came over and put a paw on her leg, looking at her with worried eyes. Gemma’s heart squeezed with the love for her cat Millie, right there and then. She loved them like they were her children – people even thought they were when she talked about them.

    She reached out her hand and Millie pushed her head against it, her purr starting up, deep and reassuring. Then she stepped into Gemma’s lap and curled up in one move.

    Tears flooded Gemma’s eyes and poured down her face, dripping onto her top and onto Millie’s fur, causing her skin to twitch at each drop. In the deep darkness Gemma found light and comfort. She was grateful for that.

    Words: 368


  3. New
    535 words

    The survey vessel buzzed as her solitary ship slammed into the lightless atmosphere. Jan clicked off an alarm screaming at her to run a mandatory scan. Her heart hurt, her eyes burned with tears and she had no desire to follow any protocol. The ship and Jan shuddered in unison as both rushed away from everything comfortable and into the unknown.

    The ground seemed solid as Jan stepped from her ship. Black clouds obscured the stars, stretching the darkness from horizon to horizon. Jan scanned the sky for any signs of the Ilipa-5. The twinkling lights of the main ship were nowhere to be found. Maybe she’d been a bit too hasty; maybe she’d let her emotions bubble into her actions. But damn it if the Captain wasn’t a total pain in her ass. The computer had bleeped the tale-tell sound of life forms and she didn’t care how he felt about her, Jan wanted to see those beings. She loved taking the first step onto uncharted territories and no chain of command BS was keeping her on mess duty.

    The planet was in the wild; not just unexplored but completely missing from the starmaps. Emissaries weren’t supposed to research wild planets alone. But the Captain had said he cared. He’d even bellowed out the “L” word. The entire crew had heard it. Jan couldn’t go because he loved her too much. She felt certain her job at the Scipio Faction was over; not just for getting involved with an officer but for throwing that stock pot at his head before stealing a survey vessel. They’d have to come and get her before they could fire her though.

    The stupidity of her relationship with the Captain hit her when he’d said “love”. That’s why she’d thrown the pot. Her foolishness had become visible in the man standing in front of her yelling about love and safety. As the crew stared, she saw her dreams slip away. All the nights with skin touching skin, the warmth of his body on her back while she stared out the portal at the streaming starlight; all those times she had been thinking of the planets they’d see together, he had simply been thinking of her. How could she have been so blind? In that moment with a pot flying toward her lover’s head, she had known what it felt like to be truly alone.

    Jan shook her heard and rubbed her eyes on her sleeve. Time to move before the unknown came up and bit her. The thrill of a new world pulsed in her veins. Part of the excitement stemmed from the realization she would not be able to use the sky as a point of reference. Not scanning the atmosphere was a rookie mistake but here she was. Years of training told her the fear would have to take a back seat if she wanted to survive. She’d never seen black clouds before; they made the planet swirl with an inky beauty from up above. Down on the ground, they just made everything pitch-black. She grabbed her glimmer gun, a forever torch, and her rapid laser mapping pad. Time to see what all the bleeping was about.


  4. The City
    by A J Walker

    Patrick loved his city, he could amble round it for hours finding new things to like about it – new buildings, fragments of old architecture, fascinating people, great stories, histories – real and imaginary. It was alive and welcoming, vibrant and comforting – it was home.

    But now there was something wrong with the city, it wasn’t his any more. It bore down on him with imposing weight, making him feel claustrophobic, choking him. He now walked around the streets he’d known so well feeling lost and alone, even afraid. Its people were looking at him, thinking about him, talking about him, threatening him. So he walked quickly trying to escape its deadly grasp.

    He found himself in a cafe, holding a mug of coffee until it had gone cold. Not drinking a drop. He was facing the window, but not watching as life carried on out there in some remote fashion. Every now and again he’d see a face turn to him and look at him with pity or with anger, his soul laid bare.

    Life seemed to be continuing for others at an incomprehensible speed, while time for him stuttered to a halt. His heart was heavy, he could feel it pumping erratically and so slowly it was painful. A headache was spreading down his neck and into his arms and torso. If he waited in the cafe any longer it would reach his feet he was sure.

    ‘You want another?’

    Patrick nodded as the waitress prized away the mug from his hands, trying not to spill any.

    It seemed almost instantaneously that the next mug was in his grasp and he felt obliged to sip some.

    ‘Thanks,’ he said to the waitress, but she was already back behind the counter somewhere.

    The coffee – or the none conversation – seemed to wake him and he looked around the cafe. He remembered coming here with her several times. They’d sheltered from the weather – or the herds of shoppers – as comfortable lovers.

    He shook his head and punched himself in the chest hard. A man on the table nearby held up his newspaper higher – a paper thin wall to stop accidental eye contact with the weirdo.

    Patrick punched himself again. The action and the bit of pain was rousing him from his torpor. He was feeling better already, however temporary. The cafe had been their cafe, the city theirs too – for so long. He realised that’s what was wrong, it hadn’t been his city at all.

    The split had been amicable enough. Neither had anyone else to go to, or so he thought, he missed her painfully but the decision, however hard, he knew would prove to be right.

    The city was bearing down on him – and was probably doing the same to her – it was upset by the shift in its foundations. The city would get used to it and, eventually, so would Patrick.

    The waitress came over again, ‘Glad to see you drank that one, do you want another?’

    Patrick smiled for the first time that day.

    (505 words)


  5. A Lonely Place

    There’s this lonely place inside me and you fit it perfectly. I couldn’t believe it that first night. The way you looked at me and the way I felt with your hand in mine. Suddenly everything was right with the world…well right in that melancholy slightly angry bitter way that was the recipe for the two of us. From the moment we got together to the moment we broke apart we were nothing more than a clutching, grabbing ball of desperation. All those broken places inside of us that we thought we could smooth over with declarations of devotion and mind blowing sex and always looking cooler than everyone else on the street. All those broken places just got more broken. I could forget all the sharp edges of fear and rage inside me when I submerged myself into you and your life. You could forget feeling powerless and trapped when you lied to me and cheated. That wasn’t all there was. There was real love, deep powerful connection but very little of that had the strength to overcome our broken needs. It started falling apart from the very beginning but we just couldn’t let it go. We couldn’t get enough of how it felt to love and hurt each other. It was addiction in the truest sense of the word.

    When it finally disintegrated beyond even our ability to pretend otherwise there was little that wasn’t pathetic about both of us. But then that’s the way it is for junkies at the end, pathetic and desperate and ugly. We stalked each other and were angry about it, but couldn’t stop doing it. We were enamored with our own drama, as though we thought some camera was rolling somewhere, catching our moments in Canters when you stormed out or Largo on New Years Eve when you showed up and talked your way in at the door for one more hug and kiss, and I knew it was you even though that club was almost pitch black. I bet I could still find you in the dark. I drove by your apartment nightly, you knocked on the door of my duplex at 1AM, we had more breakup sex than most people have while in a good functioning relationship. But then for people like us, misery is one helluva an aphrodisiac. Like I said, pathetic.

    Finally it started to change. I won’t go into the details of how or why, it was just the hard grind of working on fixing my own broken places. You don’t seem to have managed that yet. It’s been a lot of years now and I hear about you now and then, even see you occasionally. I still think you’re attractive in that weathered way of good looking men in their early 50’s. I can tell that you still would fit perfectly into that eternal lonely place inside me. But now I know that if I leave that place alone, if I let it simply exist without trying to change it or fix it or fill it, if I attend with great love and consciousness to myself and my life all around that lonely place it just becomes a part of me and in truth rather small quiet part of me, one that doesn’t make choices for me anymore. Today I have a lonely place but I don’t live there.

    566 Words


  6. Dancing at Whitsun
    A thrill shivered through her as she felt Gordon’s hand on hers. The fiddlers struck up “The Nutting Girl”. Gordon bowed, then drew her into a lively stepping dance. Her new white linen dress flowed about her nimble ankles, the green ribbons in her red hair dancing a lively jig of their own as the couple whirled in happy enjoyment across the village green. As the tune ended, Gordon took her hands in his.
    “Marry me?”
    “Yes, oh yes,” whispered Jeannie through her happy tears. “I’ll always be yours. You have my heart forever.”
    “I know I leave tomorrow, but I shall return. This war has to end sometime, and I promise to return to you. We’ll be married next Whitsun.”
    “Our special time,” she nodded.
    Twenty yards away Mrs. Bickerdike and Mrs. Lowry leaned on the latter’s garden fence, looking over at the village green. They watched Jeannie as she clasped her hands together in delight and nodded joyfully. Then, slowly, the old woman moved her feet, treading as gentle a measure as age would allow across the lush grass. Her bare feet were stained as green as the ribbons threaded in her sparse white hair.
    “What’s that old bint faffing about at?” asked Mrs. Lowry. “Is she a bit doolally?”
    “Oh aye, this is your first Whitsun here, i’nt it?”
    “It is. We flitted in ’90, and we were away in Filey the last couple of years. Why, what’s to do?”
    “That there’s Nutting Jeannie,” Mrs. Bickerdike told her.
    “She’s nuts then?”
    “Nay. Well, aye, happen. I think it’s more old age, though. You can hear her humming a tune while she dances – ‘The Nutting Girl’ it’s called. That’s why folk call her Nutting Jeannie.”
    “Never heard of it.”
    “Aye, well, it’s an old tune. Fifty year back there were allus a Whitsun dance on the green. Girls’d get dressed pretty, be-ribbon their hair, and dance with their beaux. Come the war, and all the young men went off to be wasted in battle – husbands and brothers and fathers and sons. And fiancés.”
    “Jeannie’s fiancé?”
    “Aye. Their last day together was the Whitsun Dance in 1942, just afore the last few men went off to do their duty. Her young man – Gideon, I think – announced their engagement in The Royal Oak that evening. Next day he went off and were blown to smithereens in France.”
    “Chuffing hell, the poor bugger.”
    “Aye. It devastated Jeannie. She never looked at another man. Her parents tried to get her interested occasionally, but she’d have none of it. She’d given her heart to Gideon, and no bugger else could have it.”
    “Poor cow,” decided Mrs. Lowry.
    “Aye. Anyroad, every Whitsun after that she put that ragged white dress on and danced on the green. Still doing it. Still waiting for her man to come home again, see?”
    “Definitely doolally, then. Lost her marbles.”
    “Mebbe, but I think it’s dead romantic, staying true to her one true love for half a century.”
    “I don’t. God knows how she’s managed all that time without a man to warm her nethers.”
    “Aye, well, not everybody’s sex-mad like—oh my God!”
    Jeannie had crumpled to the warm ground, and now lay flat. A soft breeze tugges at the ragged hem of her dress, and one scrawny arm moved falteringly in the air.
    Mrs. Bickerdike and Mrs. Lowry ran across to her and knelt at her side.
    “Jeannie, love, are you alright?”
    The old woman looked up at Mrs. Bickerdike, a worried expression on her face.
    “Where’s Gordon?” she creaked, her voice like sandpaper on skin.
    “I don’t know a Gordon, love.”
    “He’ll come,” Jeannie sighed, barely audible now. “He promised. He’ll…”
    The wrinkled old lips emitted a gasp, and a horrible rattle. A light left her rheumy eyes, and they stared blankly up at the scudding clouds.
    Mrs. Bickerdike gently lowered Jeannie’s eyelids so that the dead eyes were covered.
    “She’s gone,” she said, sadly.
    Jeannie ignored her. She did not care. She and Gordon were strolling hand-in-hand in Spring sunshine through groves of white blossom, by fields of young corn, to the forest of oak trees at the end of the lane.

    700 words


  7. Oscar

    Waking up was painless for a split second. That’s how long it took the real world to fracture the dream world, replacing it with immediate emptiness. Molly lay still in the large bed, needing to stretch out her limbs, wanting to feel the warmth of Thom but knowing she would feel only cold, crisp sheets. She hated the weekends. Breaking up with Thom was harder to handle when there was no urgency to get out of bed, no work to occupy her mind. A whole day of nothing lay ahead of her. Just like it had for the past three weeks and still it wasn’t getting any easier.

    But Molly had promised herself she would make today count, be a part of society, drink a latte at the corner cafe, buy a Sunday newspaper and maybe stroll through the park like she used to with Thom and Oscar. If Molly could be honest about her situation, she’d admit she missed Oscar more; she wasn’t angry with Oscar like she was Thom.

    The cafe wasn’t so bad. She smiled as the latte was placed in front of her and was thankful the waitress didn’t ask about Thom. She sipped her latte, watching the world drift by, seeing how loved up everyone was, how they giggled as they walked by hand in hand. She and Thom used to be exactly like that. A swift gulp of her latte stifled a tear that threatened her veneered appearance of control. She had made it this far and was not going to turn back now. All that awaited her was an empty house, bursting with memories that was washed away momentarily with a bottle of rosé. If ever there was a sign of a broken heart, it was her recycling full to the brim with empty wine bottles. Not today. Today was the first of many painful first steps she had to take.

    Buoyed up with confidence, Molly finished her latte. Feeling warm inside, she could now face the park; a brisk walk to blow away her constraints of misery. She paid her bill but was surprised when along with her change, Molly was given a paper bag.

    “We’ve missed you Molly, and Oscar. Shame about you and Thom but life goes on and plenty fish in sea. Thom is a fool,” Dillon said with a smile. “But you can have these for Oscar. There’s some meat left on the bones.”

    Molly never made it to the park. What was she thinking? The park? Without Oscar? It was bad enough without Thom but Oscar? It was Oscar that made her house a home. Oscar who bounded across the park after sticks, making Molly laugh, Oscar who snuggled at her feet, keeping them warm and Oscar who sat with her on those lonely empty nights whilst Thom was ‘working late’. It pained Molly even more when she realised Oscar was the only loyalty she had had in her life and how empty her life had now become now he was no longer in it.



  8. I held the postcard that was never written and never sent, imagining her jagged New York script flying over the paper, as if she had too much to say and too many things to do to say it. I could even see where the lower right corner had gotten crushed as it slipped out of some anonymous mail sorter’s hands in one of a dozen countries on its way to me. But none of that had ever happened.

    She’d been in Russia when she hadn’t sent me the postcard on the day she was killed, the Cyrillic lettering on the stamp she hadn’t used a stark reminder of how far she had gone. She traveled often, a wanderer who was never lost, and I was slow to change, adrift on solid land, needing geologic upheaval to get me to move and then struggling to find my balance. She awed me.

    The picture on the postcard she hadn’t bought wasn’t of something cliché and gauche like the Kremlin; it was a stark Siberian landscape under meters of snow. The kind of place she knew I would want to visit, to experience desolation and unspoiled beauty. The white of midwinter faded quickly though, to the deep red of her blood, spilled onto a Moscow street by a careless bus driver, spelling out her last communique in illegible words that everyone can read.

    We hadn’t been lovers, though there were certainly parallel universes where things had been different. It wouldn’t have worked, not the way we both needed, and good friends are rare enough that casting one aside isn’t something to be done lightly.

    I turned away from the postcard that had never been printed and opened my computer. I don’t believe in Heaven, but her soul must still be out there, somewhere, and I had so much to say. The blinking cursor blurred in my dampened eyes, a trail of footprints refracting across the screen, and I saw what she’d written in the postcard she had always wanted to send but had forgotten. A lesson she had tried to teach me when we’d been together but had the restraint not to shove down my throat.

    The first step out the door was hard, the second harder, but the thousandth was as natural as breathing. I had my own postcards to send.

    389 words


  9. The Sultan’s Star
    525 words

    It was raining in the city that night. The kind of rain that drives people indoors for a strong drink, even if it does happen to be amateur night at my favorite dive. Louie’s was the name, and Sam behind the counter always pours my Scotch a little heavy.

    As I sit down at the bar, a young couple gets on stage. Why does it always have to rain on karaoke night? These two nearly matched the tune on a bittersweet breakup song about a lonely place. Seeing them gaze at each other, so young and clean, it’s as obvious as the front page that neither of them have been so hurt to have any idea what the song is even about.

    “Hey Handsome, why don’t you buy me a drink?” the blonde says, as she leans against the bar expectantly. The game with Suzie never gets old.

    “Sure thing. Can’t be anything weak, though, or you’ll have gotten into that dress for nothing.” Motioning to Sam, he starts pouring more Scotch. A pair of doubles. Taking a closer look at her dress, I break from the normal banter with upturned eyebrows. “Are those honest to goodness peacock feathers on there?”

    “You like it? It’s one of a kind. Handmade from Tokyo.” She caressed the dress, smoothing the seams and drawing most of the attention in the bar to all the dangerous curves underneath.

    “I do. But I’m not here for fashion. Heard about the Sultan’s Star getting nabbed?”

    She paused for just a moment, taking a pull of her cigarette through the holder. “No, Max. Everyone’s been quiet about it, and if any one of the regular muscle was involved, I’d have heard about it. The boys do like to brag, even the ones that work for Marconi that should know better.”

    She was scared, that much was clear. Suzie never needed to pause, and she knew better than to mention certain names in this town. Even in her own bar, there were ears. “Well, if anything turns up, you know how to reach me.” I look heavily at her. Most people would just see a pretty face on top of a body like a work of art. Underneath all that, though, was a mind like a steel trap, and enough cunning to keep her fingers clean in a dirty, gritty world.

    After the turn of events in the bar, I went out in the lessening rain and headed home to think. There were a lot of pieces to this puzzle, and so far, none of them really fit together. Sitting on the couch, nursing a Bourbon far less smooth than either the Scotch or Suzie, eventually I drifted into a fitful sleep full of memories that I still couldn’t shake.

    The morning sun shone through the grimy blinds, dragging me from one set of nightmares to another. There was a pounding on my door, echoed by a pounding in my head.

    “Open up! Police!”

    Not quite awake yet, I stagger toward the door but notice something on the way there. Under the coffee table, there was a single peacock feather, stained with blood.

    525 words


  10. Linda Johnson Who has the blues? Not me. I have the oranges. I bought them by the bushel at the produce aisle. Now I need to get going. I pull carefully out of the parking lot and head toward the bridge. Hopefully the cops will not be watching this time of day. I pull over near the abutment and look at the traffic. Nothing looks suspicious. I unload the first bushel on the passenger side, using the car for cover. I open the box and load my air cannon. The generator runs the compressor, the compressor fills the chamber behind the orange. When I open the valve, the orange sails out across the river. Hurry. Someone will tell them and they will stop me. Load. Fire. Load. Fire. Load. Fire. I cannot believe it. I am into the second bushel and they have not come. Load. Fire. Load. Fire. Load. Fire. Load. Fire. The operation has gone smoothly. All the oranges are away. I load the cannon into the car, along with the empty boxes. As I walk to the driver’s door, a black and white pulls up. My heart freezes. The cop rolls down his window. “You can’t pull over here. You will block traffic.” “But there is no traffic.” “Get out of here before I book you for impertinence.” I slide behind the wheel and close the door. As I drive slowly across the river, I can spot a line of orange dots headed downstream. The cops follow me all the way to my apartment. It gives me the creeps. Did someone report me after all? I go inside and lock the door. They have my license number. They know where I live. It is only a matter of time before they come for me. I hope the kids got the message I sent and will get the oranges. If they didn’t, the fruit will float past the industrial school. Am I contributing the the delinquency of minors? Yep. And I am willing to be charged with trespass, littering, blocking traffic or whatever the police decide to ticket me for. Those kids deserve a little Christmas, too.
    12 minutes ago · Like


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