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February 2018 Writers Challenge

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  • 02 May 2018 10:21 AM
    Reply # 6129491 on 5715356
    Michael Worthington


    Great pacing and build-up to the conclusion. Enjoyed reading the story.


  • 02 May 2018 7:48 AM
    Reply # 6129268 on 5715356
    Sherri Hollister (Administrator)

    Lars, what a lovely, heart-felt story. Thank you for sharing it. 

  • 01 May 2018 2:28 PM
    Reply # 6128244 on 5715356
    Lars Larsen

    A Glass of Water

    All eyes were on her as she stumbled across the room, weaving between the tables, and set the dripping glass of water in front of the man sitting alone.

    “Hi sailor, mind if I have a seat?”

    What a looker, the man thought, but who the hell is she? Then he remembered her—they met a long time ago, and she still had the magic—and his eyes twinkled. He said, “Help yourself.”

    Smiling, she sat down and said, “So you’re still dry?”

    “Yep, thirty years and counting since my last drink.”

    “That’s awesome—it takes a strong man to last that long.”

    He took a deep breath and sat up straight. Compliments from attractive women are rare these days, and it reminded him of better times. Searching for words, he said, “So what brings you here?”

    She stared at him with wide-open eyes. “Just looking for a good man, and I think I found him.”

    They had met many years ago and pretty soon she was talking about people and places they’d known, of times that seemed incomprehensible to him now. He liked the sound of her voice set against the soft music and voices from the tables around them. Bursts of laughter ricocheted around the room, and he was happy.

    This is a good way to spend an evening, he thought, and she became more attractive to him. She sensed his feelings—she was experienced at this—and enjoyed flirting and seeing his responses. It was the timeless dance of eye contact, body language, and warm conversation leading to closeness, and they were going slow and enjoying the process.

    Most of the tables were empty by the time the lights flickered, indicating the place was being shut down, but not theirs—it seemed they could talk forever, him becoming livelier and she leading him on. They stood up to leave and she gave him a gentle pat on his butt.

    She took his hand. “Your place or mine?”

    He smiled and said, “The usual.”

    Bonny McCaskey, RN, evening Nurse Supervisor, watched them walk to the door. It has been the same every night since they came to Golden Life Living Center twelve years ago, she thought, except now age is taking its toll. But just don’t tell them that.

    She smiled. Mrs. Flanagan refuses to bring her walker into the social room despite worsening arthritis and the risk of falling; it’s a pride thing. And Mr. Flanagan, the poor guy, has dementia and often doesn’t recognize her without it when he’s tired at the end of the day. But by using playful cues, Mrs. Flanagan can jog his memory and bring them back together.

    It’s beautiful to watch, McCaskey thought—they’ve been married for 60 years and are still very much in love. I should be so lucky, and her eyes teared. If only…

  • 29 Mar 2018 8:40 AM
    Reply # 6006027 on 5716004
    Gil Alligood wrote:


    He was strong in his Christian faith. The day had been especially daunting, but he had survived and stopped at Muncey’s tavern to ponder on events of the day. I just had to do it, he mumbled to himself. What would they do without it? His wife was having her third chemo treatment for cancer that day. His daughter was beginning her second year at the state university. Mortgage payments, credit card payments. The world was closing in on him.

    He had seated himself at a table in a corner. It was only 4:30 PM. The usual crowd was just beginning to amble in. He had never stopped at the tavern before. His moral principles just would not approve. He did not understand why, nor did he even realize he had entered the tavern, but when the waiter came to his table he ordered a Martini.

    The pressures of family demands and inadequate finances had burdened him until he realized that recovery was beyond hope.

             He was the junior vice president at Quest Bank. It was the primary bank in his small community. That afternoon a secretary from the local General Motors car dealer in town brought a deposit for the company receipts of the previous day. Most transactions had been made through on-line bank transfers, but a local engineering company had purchased six new vehicles for use by company employees and paid for them with a cashier’s check. Yes, a check in the amount of $174,321.54. The secretary asked that the check be credited to the car dealer account.

             He had never met the secretary. Bob usually brought the daily deposit and simply did the transaction at a teller window. Yet, she asked for him by name. The bank greeter escorted her to his office where he welcomed her and invited her to be seated. She then told him that she wanted him to accept the deposit that she had.

             Because of the pressures from family and finances, he was cordial but not interested in conversation. She began talking and discussed a number of topics, including the success of the car dealer she worked for. She handed him the cashier’s check and said, “take care of this for us.” Then she said, “thank you,” and simply stood up and exited his office.

             He sat for a while as he seemed to receive numerous thoughts and visions as though he were in a dream. After about fifteen minutes of that confused thought, he looked at his computer screen and observed that he had deposited the cashier’s check in his personal account. At first he was confused and shocked. How could that have happened, he pondered? But then he realized that he now had enough money in his account to pay all of his past due accounts with some extra for future expenditures.

             The thrill of realizing that his financial woes had just vanished was followed by the realization that he had violated his most basic morality in life. That feeling was deeper and more devastating than the trauma of facing bankruptcy. Bankruptcy would cause his dismissal from employment at the bank. With that moral shock reverberating in his mind, he got up, retrieved his coat, and departed the bank without speaking to anyone. As he was departing, the bank greeter observed that he was not acting normal.

             As he walked along the sidewalk he had no thought as to where he was heading. Now I have made things worse, he thought. I am crushed and facing the penalty of breaking the law.

             A waiter approached his table. It was not the male waiter who took his order for a Martini. She carried a bottle of water. She also carried a Martini cocktail glass that she placed in front of him. She began talking to him. She slowly poured water from the bottle into the glass. As the water flowed from the bottle he seemed to sense a presence that he did not understand. It was confusing yet consoling. He watched the water bubble into the glass until it seemed to become a vapor. Now the voice of the waitress faded and he heard a consoling voice from the vapor. “I AM a spirit,” the voice sounded. “Worship me in spirit and the truth.” After a brief pause, more words from the spirit, “Know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” Then, “Trust in me.”

             That was a beautiful woman, he thought. A beauty that I did not think could exist. Who, or what was it? Then he realized that she was not there. He did not even see her leave, if she had in fact even been there.

             The original male waiter approached the table and said to him, “The water is free. Oh, yes, water is life-giving and can be redeeming.”

    * * * *

    He left Muncey’s tavern and walked to his house that was only three blocks away. His daughter met him on the walkway, “Daddy, I got it! I got the scholarship. It is for full tuition and dormitory room.” She threw herself on him and hugged him tightly.

    Immediately his wife met him on the walkway and approached with a shy but knowing smile. “Cancer free! The doctor said there is no sign of it!”

    “Are you sure,” he replied?

    “Oh yes, he had results from various tests, and an MRI. He said there is no doubt.”

    * * * *

    Even in his confusion, that night he slept well. Except for a voice that spoke to him. “Your faith has made you well.”

    The next morning he opened his computer expecting to find tragic records. But his personal account did not show any deposit from the previous day. The $174,321.54 check had been credited to the car dealer’s account.

    The spirit and the water. Oh, yes, they are indeed refreshing! He felt like a new person.

  • 28 Feb 2018 9:15 AM
    Reply # 5881524 on 5715356
    Sherri Hollister (Administrator)

    I enjoy reading the different stories one picture can evoke. The way each of us interprets it is surprising and unique. For me, writing for the challenge helps me hone in to the bare bones of the story, what is important, what moves the story along. It is a tool I use when writing my novels as well. The challenge also makes me think outside the box. What would be a unique story for this picture, a different twist. As I read each of your stories, that is what I see, stories that are boiled down to their essessense with so much more than the words that are written. Stories that make you think and wonder. I learn from each of you. 

  • 28 Feb 2018 9:10 AM
    Reply # 5881504 on 5876568
    Sherri Hollister (Administrator)
    Gloria A. Gould-Loftin wrote: “Zero Day” Gloria, you have an wonderful, interesting mind and an old soul. The stories you write could be ancient, great job. 

  • 28 Feb 2018 9:05 AM
    Reply # 5881500 on 5872399
    Sherri Hollister (Administrator)
    E.M. Satterley wrote:Mrs. RousseauWhat a fabulous story and the surprise ending, I was expecting him to be on his way and died, truly wonderful. 


  • 28 Feb 2018 8:39 AM
    Reply # 5881426 on 5715356
    Sherri Hollister (Administrator)

    The dry, gummy paste that coated my mouth made breathing difficult. I tried to spit but there was no moisture to remove the thick coat that covered my tongue like cotton batting. My head ached, my muscle trembled, my bones were rubbery and insubstantial. Still, I pushed on, determined. Sweat trickled from my brow, drying on my skin before it reached my tongue or I’d have sipped it for sweet relief.

                    The noise around me faded to nothing more than cicadas on a summer breeze, unnoticed by a native.  My attention rivetted to the blue bottle that stood like a temptress, the color catching the light and refracting like a prism, filling the room with disco lights. Droplets of life-giving water slid down the delicate curve of the plastic, pooling on the table. I would lick the puddles if I could only reach it. My feet slapped against the tiles. Lifeless and numb, they beat out a rhythm. I longed for the cool, refreshing water against my cracked lips. My eyes burned but they were too arid to cry.

                    The music continued, as the instructor smiled, gleeful in her torture. She ordered us onward. “Lift your leg, tap your foot,” the instruction continued. I followed several steps behind on leaden feet. My arms, like dead fish hung to my sides, slimy and sweaty from my exertions. The air was heavy with the humidity of so many gasping lungs. The instructor asked if anyone wanted a break. My groans echoed at their denial causing a twitter of unease.  I staggered, my feet tangling with each other I pleaded for surcease. Blessedly, she granted my request. I half crawled, half lunged for the last bottle when nimble feet scurried past scooping up the others leaving only the bent, stooped bottle. I cared not that it was imperfect. The plastic not as blue, the curves slightly dented and out of contour. It was the most beautiful bottle I’d ever seen.

    I reached for it, my fingers too thick and rubbery, unable to hold it. It leaped from my grasp, shooting over the table and rolling across the floor. I dove for it and missed. The sob escaped my dry lips. I dropped to my aching, swollen knees and crawled beneath the table, searching for the allusive blue bottle like a treasure hunter on a quest. Flat on my belly I scooted on the tile. My sweat soaked tee shirt and shorts clinging to the cool floor like soft rubber on pavement. I strained and stretched trying to reach the last bottle of cool refreshing…

    “We have more water in the cooler,” a chiding voice said from above me. “Here, let me help you.” She grunted only a little when she pulled me unsteadily to my feet. She handed me a bottle of water. It was slick and cold, and slippery in my fingers. I held tight and fumbled with the lid.

    “Would you like me to open that for you?”

    She must be an angel, my new best friend. She handed me back the opened bottle and I poured the precious liquid down my throat, emptying half the bottle without taking a breath. I sighed. “Thank you,” the words loosened from my parched throat sounded like a toad frog in the bottle of a trash can.

    “This your first time at Zumba?”

    I nodded.

    “I thought so.”

    “How can you tell?”

    “I didn’t remember anyone making those noises before.”

    I frowned at my new friend, the unearthly glow fading with each utterance.

    “My grandmother came with me one time. I think she made similar noises but at least she kept time with the music.”

    I narrowed my eyes at her and guzzled the rest of the water, wishing it were beer or whiskey or even cyanide.

    “Oh, time to get back in line,” she smiled and waved as she bounced back out to join the rest of the class.

    Tossing my bottle in the vicinity of the trash can, I shuffled back to join the torture. 

  • 26 Feb 2018 6:28 PM
    Reply # 5878920 on 5715356

    E.M. Satterley, I enjoyed the story. The pacing was excellent, and the ending was a surprise.

    Gloria A. Gould-Loftin, Your allegorical tale is timely, and you did a great job of creating the setting.

  • 25 Feb 2018 11:50 AM
    Reply # 5876568 on 5715356
    Gloria A. Gould-Loftin

    “Zero Day”

    Tiki had heard village elders talking about something called “Zero Day,” but it meant nothing to her.  The well in her tiny village had run out of water a few days ago and she was walking to the nearest town that was many kilometers from her small village hoping to get enough water to give to the children in her care.

    She walked through the golden dirt, waves of dust wafting up and chocking her every breath. The dust so deep and  heavy it felt like she was walking through mud.

    Burdened down with a yoke with two large barrels attached, and her child; sickly and near death attached to a sling across her chest, she trudged on only one goal in mind, life giving water.

    The air became thicker the closer she got to the town.  Fire, flickering with violence came to life right next to her on the road.  With nowhere to hide she ran as fast as she could to the only safety she saw; a cave buried into the side of a small cairn.

    Tiki pushed herself  and her child as far back as she could into the cave.  At least the fire could not reach her and the cave was cool and damp.  She prayed that the fire would pass quickly, like it often did in the Veldt.

    The cool air in the cave worked as a soporific on her mind and she fell into a  deep sleep; the first since the water had started drying up near her village.

    Tiki dreamed of a cool breeze scented with the prevalent eucalyptus trees that used to flourish around her village.  She felt the soft breezes caress her still young face and wrap around her body like the young men of her tribe were always trying to do.  She dreamed of life for her family and friends. She dreamed of an end to the drought that has plagued her village since before she was born.

                When she woke she realized that the dreams she had would not come true for her peoples and that she was the only hope for the children in her village. 

                The fire had gone out and she exited the small cave and trudged back to the road to begin the rest of her journey. Her child began to cry and she raised her to her breast that had swollen with  life giving milk.  She wondered just how much longer she would be able to feel her child.  She had not had sustenance or water for days it seemed, but she trudged on.

                Walking along the road, clouds of  burnt arid plants reached into her sinus cavities and made it almost impossible for her to breath. She tore off part of her clothing to wrap around her face and the face of her child.

                She became tired and disoriented.  The sky above turning dark and oppressive.  She kept on walking not even realizing that rain had started to fall on her emaciated body. Still she kept on one step at a time.

                She reached the town and started to walk to the well to fill her barrels.  People rushed up to her and took the burden from her shoulders.  They raised her face and gave her a life giving cup of water. They took her child from her and laid her on a soft bed in the town Chief’s home.

                “Child,” said the wife of the Chief.  “Where have you come from?”

                Tiki raised her head and took in the cool and welcoming surrounds and said.  “I have traveled days from my village to reach this town to bring water to the children in my care.”

                “Where are the men of your village, that they would let you set out on this by yourself.” The Chief said.

                “They all left us to hunt for food to sustain the people that are left in my village.”  Tiki tells them.

                Thunder boomed just outside the home and startled Tiki. She had never seen such a display in the African sky. A heavy rain began to fall and she fell down and wept at the miracle of it. This life giving rain would fill up the wells at her village and others near them.

                Later after she had fallen into a dreamless sleep, she awakened to find that it had not all been a dream and her people would not suffer again.

                This has been a story of caution for the Earth we live in.  We may not always have the water and air we do now.  We must be better guardians of the world we live in and must remember that this is the only world we have and treat her with reverence and love.


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