TAG | Fiction
A few months ago, the group had a good time writing to the prompt of “Stolen Kisses.” This short fiction piece from Lori Hudson made everyone smile.
“Get out of my office!” I screeched at Betty Westhouse, who jumped, tossed a message on my desk and scurried toward the door.
She cast me a wary glance as she edged by, and I glared at her. Did she have something in her hands? No, she was clean.
I went to my desk and surveyed by belongings. Everything in place.
Then a noise made me turn and look behind me. There was Joe Benny, a terrified look on his thin face.
“What are you doing?” I bellowed.
“Um – emptying the trash?” answered Joe, holding up a black plastic bag.
“Hiding while you do it?” I snapped.
“Well, no,” he stammered. “I was in the…” He gestured over his shoulder at the broom closet.
I gritted my teeth.
“Everybody out! Out, out, out! This is not a public gathering place!”
Joe dropped the bag and ran.
Quiet at least. And alone at last? I looked around. Yes – alone. I sighed and sat down, gazing at the little china chest by the blotter.
Then I slid it toward me, my hands trembling. Reverently, I took off the lid, reached inside, and pulled out a beautiful, beautiful Hershey’s kiss. I unwrapped it and set the chocolate on my tongue – so sweet, so smooth.
What if they had been stolen? It was a prospect too terrifying to contemplate.
©2014 Lori Hudson
At the last Writing at the Ledges meeting, attendees were challenged to write in response to pictures provided by Rosalie Petrouske, WATL founder. The prompt was Wading Through Water, given to accompany the pictures. This short, short story by member Ashtyn Rapp is the first of several brief pieces written in response to the prompt that we will feature here.
by Ashtyn Rapp
Noah dragged his feet through the muddy river bank, trying his best to mask his footprints. He hesitated at the water’s edge. It was late fall, almost winter really and the water was sure to be freezing. That morning when he had slipped from bed just before the sun began to rise there had been whorls of frost on the window pane and the tip of each blade of grass was silver with frozen moisture. “Noah!” His mother’s frantic voice broke the still and a flock of mourning doves rose from the trees not far behind him. Taking a deep breath, Noah began wading through the water. At its deepest the frigid water was thigh-high and the current was stronger than he remembered from the times he had swum in the river’s wide arms in the lazy heat of summer. He struggled against the pulling water, trying to hurry. Reaching the other side, he scrambled up the embankment and began running to where he had seen the soldiers camping the day before. His feet sunk into the wet soil and there was a constant crackle of leaves crunching underfoot, punctuated by an occasional stick cracking like a gunshot. It didn’t matter anymore. He was almost there. “Noah,” his mother cried again, but less desperately, as if she already knew it was too late.
The following story was written by WATL member Randy Pearson for the June 2013 Fiction 440 event at the Eli Broad Museum on MSU’s campus. Fiction 440 challenges writers to write a story of 440 words or less to a specified prompt. Then they sponsor a reading at a local venue –usually a bar or restaurant (writers love to eat and drink) — where those who submitted a story are invited to read their masterpieces. The prompt for Randy’s story was apocalypse, shapely, and sequence. Enjoy!
by Randy D. Pearson
Since the beginning of our civilization, people have been predicting the end of our civilization. From Nazis to zombies… to Nazi zombies, so many things were prophesized to be the apocalypse that would end our reign. Asteroid attack, viral attack… hell, Mars Attack! Some crazy ideas were bandied about.
But seriously, poison ivy? No one saw that coming. And no, I don’t mean the Batman villain, but that would’ve been infinitely cooler than this itchy nonsense.
The sequence of events, turning a mildly annoying plant into the virulent, hyper-fast growing uber-weed that engulfed Cleveland in a weekend, caught everyone napping, man. Of course, no one really cared about Cleveland, but when it took out Vegas and the rest of the West Coast, people became concerned.
So, even though only pockets of itch-free zones remain and anarchy rules the rest, some good did come from it. With most of the world dead or scratching, I have my pick of stuff. For instance, I love my red Stingray Corvette! I never thought I’d own this shapely beast, but now, I’m tooling up I-75 in the coolest car ever, trying to see if the rumors of an Ivy-free Canada truly exist.
As I spot a figure lying in the middle of the highway, creeper weed closing in on all sides, I ease to a stop. My first reaction is to leave this woman to her fate, but hell, I’ve been alone for ages. I could stand the company. And if she hasn’t been ivied yet… Well, dating in this landscape is, shall we say challenging, at the very least. Red welts can really ruin the mood.
As she runs toward my Vette, I jump out and yell commandingly, “Stop! Stay right there!”
Pausing, she yells back, “Oh my God, thank you for stopping! You’re my savior! I thought I was a goner for sure.” Her bright, grateful smile beams at me like a beacon in the late afternoon sun.
I pop the trunk and reach in to remove my high-pressure power washer. I’m not letting her or anyone get that nasty Urushiol (Oo–roo-she-all) oil all over my nice interior. I proclaim, “I know how uncomfortable this is, and I apologize in advance. But you know how…”
But then I hear the unmistakable click of her partner’s gun against my temple. “Shit!” I breathe.
I watch from the crumbling pavement as my shapely Corvette drives away. As the ivy creeps ever closer, I can’t help but think if I had my druthers, I’d rather be killed by the comic book Poison Ivy. At least Batman’s nemesis was hotter, more creative, and not nearly as itchy.
The following story is by WATL founder Rosalie Sanara Petrouske. She wrote it in response to a Fiction 440 challenge. If you’re not familiar with Fiction 440, it’s a Lansing-area group that challenges folks to write a short story of no more than 440 words using a set of prescribed words. They then invite the authors to read their stories aloud at a local pub or restaurant. For this story, the prompt was anniversary, toys, and composing. Enjoy!
I open the door to Sierra’s room, and sit on the bed. Running my hand over the smooth yellow spread, I notice how the throw pillows are stacked perfectly against the headboard. I can remember yelling at her countless mornings about making her bed. Books we read together are slid neatly into their places on the shelves, along with the journals she kept filled with tales about girls her age, who traveled on adventures around the world. “Mommy, Mommy,” I hear her call, “come listen to my new story!”
Stuffed toys she slept with when she was afraid of the dark sit forlornly, some on her bed, others tucked upon shelves or perched on top of the dresser. Wrapping my hands around the little brown otter, Seaweed, I give him a kiss. Clicking open my pen, I begin composing another letter to her.
Your dad is upstairs, already asleep, and Tucker is napping in his dog bed. Whenever Tucker hears the school bus stopping at the end of our block, he still runs to the door, tail wagging wildly. When you don’t come home, he plops down, dropping his head in his paws. I think dogs tell time by sound; certainly not by years. Tonight, the stars are out, scattered all over the sky like glitter confetti. If you were here, we’d put on our coats and go find the Big Dipper. Once I used to long for all this quiet, for hours with no interruptions. I don’t anymore because I miss you too much. If I didn’t know better, I could almost believe you were at your best friend’s house for a sleepover, and when you come home, I’d be whipping up a batter of pancakes with chocolate chips. Today is the first anniversary. . .
I stop writing and smile at my foolishness. My daughter has only left for college. It’s not like she has gone away forever, not like the daughter I read about in today’s newspaper who died in a car accident because she was texting and driving. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain that mother must be feeling. The phone starts ringing in the other room. Setting down my pen, I hurry to answer it. “Hi,” Sierra says. “I was just thinking about you.”
“What are you doing?” I ask.
“Walking back to my dorm. There are so many stars out tonight. The sky is amazing.”
Yes,” I tell her. “I know.”
I go to the window and look up.
© 2012 Rosalie Sanara Petrouske
The following story was written by Lori Hudson, a long-time member of Writing at the Ledges, at our May meeting where we were given the prompt: “She never should have gotten that tattoo.” It was such a great story, we decided to post it here for your reading pleasure. We hope it will inspire you to write your own story in response to the prompt.
by Loraine J. Hudson
Marika is my best friend. She will always be my best friend, and I will support her no matter what— no matter what she says, where she goes, or what she does.
She is the kindest person. She loves puppies, recycles her neighbor’s newspapers, carries spiders outside rather than kill them, marches against war. She even makes delicious brownies.
That is why when I walked down West Street with her yesterday, I glared at the mail delivery man when he burst out laughing.
And even though I think I’m a pretty kind person myself, I said, “Mind your own business!” to Mrs. Brogan when she said pityingly to Marika, “Oh honey…”
And I yelled, “Shut up!” at the college kids whistling and calling, “Hey, baby!”
Marika’s face was flaming red when that happened.
Marika has just one fault, and that is that she can’t spell. She is such a terrible speller that I guess she didn’t realize “peace” is not spelled P-I-E-C-E.
Yes, Marika is my best friend, and I will support her no matter what she does, but she never should have gotten that tattoo.
To learn more about the author, click here.