May 2 – May 15, 2019 Flash Fiction Contest – Dialogue Prompt “River Discussion”

Theme: Dialogue Prompt “River Discussion”

Two figures argue about six {insert whatever monetary item you like) they found down by the river.

Monetary items may be anything i.e. six gold coins, six rupees, six one hundred dollar bills, six silver chests full of riches. Whatever you want.

Story Requirements:

  • There story should focus on dialogue. Show us through their words what is going on.

Word Count: 1,200





  • This is the thread for stories as well as general comments. Say hello and be sure to check the “Notify me of follow-up comments by email” box for email notifications.
  • To leave feedback/Comments directly relating to a particular story – click “reply” to the story comment.
  • Specific critiques, comments, and feedback are encouraged. If you do not want honest professional feedback do not post a story.
  • Keep feedback and critiques to a civil and constructive level, please. Please critique stories for construction, style, flow, grammar, punctuation, and so on. The moderator has the right to delete any comments that appear racist, inflammatory or bullying.

Please Note: Comments may be considered “published” in regards to other contest requirements.

All stories are fall under general copyright laws. No part may be reproduced without the express consent of the respective author.

Story Submission Rules:
  1. One story per author. You may post more than one but only the first story will qualify for voting.
  2. Stories must be in English, unpublished and your own work.
  3. Stories must fit into a single comment box and must stay within the word limit set for each contest.

Voting starts Wednesday morning at 10:00am PDT / 1:00pm EST / 11:30pm IST / 6:00pm WET/GMT/ 5:00am AEDT (Thursday) and ends the same time on Thursday / 5:00am AEDT (Friday).

  • You may vote only once.
  • You cannot vote for yourself.

To be included in the “writing prompt roster”, you must have submitted two stories in the last sixty days. The roster is alphabetical and can be found here.

See How to Participate for complete rules and disclaimers.




186 thoughts on “May 2 – May 15, 2019 Flash Fiction Contest – Dialogue Prompt “River Discussion”

  • May 2, 2019 at 2:21 pm
    Permalink

    Read the stories here:

    (If you don’t see your story linked here, be patient, moderators are not always online. We’ll get to it as soon as possible. Thank you.)

    Reply
    • May 12, 2019 at 4:00 am
      Permalink

      I posted my story a couple days ago, it hasn’t been added

      Reply
      • May 15, 2019 at 3:38 am
        Permalink

        Just asking: Did you write to Alice / Carrie by e-mail to the address you find under “Contact” above?

        Reply
    • May 13, 2019 at 7:52 am
      Permalink

      Some of our stories are not listen above. Just telling!

      Reply
    • May 14, 2019 at 11:29 am
      Permalink

      Commenting again, as the competition ends tomorrow, and I’d hate for people to miss out on their stories being entered. Stories that haven’t been added to the above list yet are as follows:

      < The Find – Chitra Adjoodah
      < Money for Nothing – Peter Holmes
      < Camp Out – Marien Oommen
      < Six Golden Souls – M. Costa
      < Plunder – Wendy Edsall-Kerwin
      < The Kings of Carter County (Or, Gem Kadiddlehopper.) – Ken Cartisano

      Reply
  • May 3, 2019 at 6:14 am
    Permalink

    Good prompt!

    As a matter of interest – which well-known writers do you particularly admire for their dialogue in novels?

    Reply
    • May 3, 2019 at 6:17 am
      Permalink

      … that’s a question to everyone!

      Reply
      • May 3, 2019 at 10:52 am
        Permalink

        Oh boy – that’s a HUGE question!!

        David Eddings is a wonderful dialogue-ist off the top of my head. And Patricia Cornwell too!!!!

        Reply
        • May 3, 2019 at 1:22 pm
          Permalink

          Ah – I don’t know David Eddings. Where would you recommend I start with him?

          Reply
        • May 6, 2019 at 1:32 pm
          Permalink

          Definitely Patricia Cornwell for me. I love every single book in the Skarpetta Series. I love the dialogue and how it gives the characters true depth. My other favorites are John Sau, John Connoly and Stephen King- their dialogue is pretty great too.

          Reply
      • May 14, 2019 at 1:04 am
        Permalink

        Andy,

        Bernard Cornwell, William Kent Krueger, Imogen Roberts. Ruth Downie. Just finished a book by a fairly new author, Benjamin Percy. ‘Dead Lands.’ Great stuff, especially if you’re into post-apocalyptic, horror, fantasy-fiction. (Or even if you’re not, because I’m not.) Randomly picked it off a shelf at a truck stop. Great read.

        Tried to read Tolstoy. Too confusing, (I guess.) Couldn’t get into it and gave up after about twenty-eight pages. I ain’t smart enough or young enough to attempt to read Tolstoy anymore.

        Reply
    • May 3, 2019 at 12:46 pm
      Permalink

      Wow, have to think on that one. Great question Andy!

      Reply
    • May 3, 2019 at 4:19 pm
      Permalink

      Ray Bradbury for starters, and I’m sure I could write a very long list of thriller writers, such as Lee Child, Jeffrey Deaver, John Grisham, and of course, in Horror/Supernatural etc., Stephen King, who is the only author who made me laugh out loud and gave me the giggles for the next ten minutes. I had to wait until the next day to go back and reread the passage and still cracked up.

      Reply
      • May 3, 2019 at 6:24 pm
        Permalink

        Amongst contemporary writers, I think Dave Eggers and Lionel Shriver are really good – sharp and genuine, and particularly good at capturing relationships in their dialogue. Vikram Seth is pretty special too, perhaps in a more classical literary tradition. John Scalzi’s dialogue is really funny and drives the narrative along. And you’re quite right, Roy, many thriller writers and crime writers pen compelling narrative that generate conflict and tension and take the plot forward. I like Ian Rankin in particular.

        IMHO for great dialogue you can’t beat the classics – Jane Austen, Anthony Trollope for characterisation and sharp, witty exchanges. Tolstoy and Dostoevsky for emotional depth, character development and also at times addressing deep philosophical and psychological issues and conflicts through intense and passionate dialogue.

        In a short short story like the ones we do here, it’s challenging to do all the things one can do with dialogue beyond taking the storyline forward, especially getting depth of character and some character development – maybe impossible for more than one character? – but thanks to whoever set the prompt for giving us the challenge.

        Reply
        • May 4, 2019 at 10:15 am
          Permalink

          So I’m talking brain candy like Grisham and King, and Andy comes on board with Austen, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. I don’t think it’s the chemo, I think it’s the fact i haven’t read the two Russians in any depth. Tried War and Peace and opted for ‘You got any other books I might be interested in?’ Personally, I couldn’t get past the Austen tediousness in writing, so I never gave her a chance. I have the same problem with Dickens, although I think ‘A Christmas Carol’ is an exception. I’m impressed, Andy. It is probably all that education you undoubtedly have in England, while I, poor boy that I am, didn’t go on to the greener pastures of higher education.

          Reply
          • May 4, 2019 at 2:50 pm
            Permalink

            I like John Grisham too – have read quite a few. But have never read any Stephen King, probably as a result by being put of by some not very good screen versions of his stories. I’ll follow your recommendation and give him a go.

            With War and Peace, one of my all time favourites, I did struggle first time out. All those names (esp. different names for the same person, according to who was speaking to him/her), and some author’s digressions, and the multiple narrative strands – but so worth persevering with. And once it all starts falling into place … it’s breathtakingly good, on so many levels. Characterisation, dialogue, the weaving together of the narrative strands, the social and political observation ….

            English Lit wasn’t my subject at university – always been recreational, a distraction from studying. I remember reading Lord of the Rings two years running, during exam time, to take my head somewhere completely different. Great dialogue there too, though somewhat stylised – and certainly the best dialogue ever in Elvish.

    • May 4, 2019 at 1:35 pm
      Permalink

      John le Carré is one of my favorites.

      Reply
  • May 3, 2019 at 3:44 pm
    Permalink

    Signing in for comments. This one will take some thinking.

    Reply
  • May 4, 2019 at 10:23 am
    Permalink

    The River Giveth and the River Taketh Away …
    1199 words

    I think around age ten or twelve, all of us become aware. As if we suddenly realize we are capable of making soul searing decisions. Our reasoning power is however, as it is in all twelve-year olds, seasoned with that small amount of knowledge which makes it possible to only be certain of worthy facts; such as: M&Ms are the best candy in the world, bar none.

    The four of us had come to this monumental decision one afternoon, after Blinky had brought a bag of Bit-o-Honeys to our regular Saturday get together. Blinky got his nickname because he never blinked. He did, of course, because otherwise his eyes would dry out. But, he was so good at staring at you, it was one of the first things you noticed. So, we called him Blinky. It made sense to us. He was smart as a whip, and as it turned out, he didn’t mind being called Blinky. I asked him one day why, and he told me because his name was Homer Junior, after his dad. He hated that name and being called Blinky by everyone else, was special to him. Even his mother started calling him Blinky – I think because he wouldn’t answer to Junior.

    We were by the Roubidoux River wading around in the cool, clear water, telling ourselves we were looking for minnows and crawdads, but we all knew we were just using that as an excuse to cool off. Blinky reached into a pocket and pulled out several Bit-o-Honeys and offered each of us one. “Best candy made,” he said.

    Well, Whisper jumped on that like a hungry dog on a pork chop. “There ain’t no way in all of God’s creation that Bit-o-Honeys are the best candy made.”

    Willow looked up and said, “You’re right about that, Whisper.”

    You need to know about Whisper, too. When he was seven or eight he was riding on a scooter and took a short cut though a back yard. He hit a clothesline about neck high. It flipped him over and did some serious damage to his throat and vocal cords. It took awhile for him to talk again, and when he did, it was only in a whisper. Doctors said he would whisper for the rest of his life. It was only natural we would call him Whisper after that. Actually, he was pretty proud of the fact he was called Whisper. The only person who didn’t was his mother, who called him Alvin.

    “The best candy made is M&Ms,” said Whisper.

    Willow was right behind me, giggled, and looked at Blinky like his hair was on fire. “Whisper’s right. Bit-o-Honeys get sticky in the package and you have a hard time unwrappin’ ‘em from the paper. Besides, M&Ms taste better and,” she said, “they’re chocolate and they don’t melt in your hand.” Willow was the only girl we hung around with. Blinky and Whisper hung around because they liked her as one of the guys. I liked her for being a girl but no one knew that but me.

    By the time I jumped on the M&M bandwagon, Blinky knew he was hopelessly outnumbered, and he folded like the cover on a book of paper matches. “OK, OK,” he said, “If you’re all gonna gang up on me.”

    Then, another group of kids joined up with us, not that we asked them to. It was Jimmy Galloway and Randy Foster, along with two kids I’d never met. Galloway was a troublemaker, just like his ol’ man, and Foster was a juvenile delinquent if there ever was one. I figured the other two were built along the same lines.

    “What are you losers doin’ down here by the river,” announced Galloway, like he owned it or something.

    “We were lookin’ for crawdads and minnows to go fishin’ later on,” said Whisper. “Why are you here? Time for your annual bath?” We all laughed, including Foster and the other two, who shut up quickly when Galloway clenched his fist.

    I don’t know to this day why I did it, but I said, “Actually we were down here lookin’ for Old Man Peter’s lost gold nuggets. Legend has it he lost them right between the willow and the oak tree. My dad says they’re worth a fortune.”

    “Listen, Wheeler, you’re crazy as a looney bird. Gold nuggets my rear end. Why was he wadin’ in the river where he could lose his gold nuggets, anyway?”

    Making it up on the fly, I said, “You don’t know the story of Sam Peters and the golden nuggets? He struck it rich in California durin’ the gold rush and after findin’ a fortune, he managed to get out of there and was on his last leg home, comin’ down the Roubidoux. He got caught up in the great flood of 1852 and his boat turned over right here. Right by this big oak.”

    “Oh yeah, then where’s the willow?” shot back Galloway.

    “That’s for you to figure out. We’re lookin’ too. Anyway, we haven’t found them yet, so feel free to hunt for them. Right now it’s anyone’s game; finder’s keepers. Come on, guys, let’s go. Let’s see if they can find the willow.”

    It was three days later and I was going down to the river with Whisper when Galloway and Foster caught up with us. I knew they were following; I was counting on it. “Hey,” he hollered. “Did you boys find that gold yet?”

    I held out my hand. In it were six small golden nuggets. Found ‘em this morning.” Whisper didn’t know I had ‘em and when he saw ‘em his eyes got big as saucers.

    “Jeepers,” he said.

    Galloway hiked up his pants and said, “Hand ‘em over.”

    “Hand ‘em over? What for?”

    “On account of I’m bigger than you and if you don’t I’ll mash both you and your little friend here.”

    “You leave Whisper out of this. He’s got nothin’ to do with it.”

    Galloway grabbed me and Foster grabbed Whisper. “Give me the gold or I’ll mash ya.”

    I handed them over.

    “Now,” he said. “Get out of here.”

    Me and Whisper went up the river bank and started making our way home. Whisper was struggling not to cry. “Why did you give them the gold? It ain’t theirs.”

    I motioned for Whisper to sit down on the bank as we watched Galloway and Foster wade out into the river, looking for more gold.

    “Let’s just sit here for awhile and watch them make fools of themselves,” I said.”That ain’t real gold. It’s a bunch of lead I painted yesterday. I left a few more in there for them to find today. Then, I’m gonna come down here every two or three days and throw in a few more. I figure they’ll be down here every day until school starts. Then, we’re gonna let you ‘whisper’ to everyone about “the Sam Peters Story”, and what them dang fools have been doin’. This is gonna be the best start to a school year, ever.”

    Reply
    • May 5, 2019 at 7:27 am
      Permalink

      Well-written and entertaining story, Roy

      Reply
    • May 6, 2019 at 10:03 am
      Permalink

      Roy,
      How very Stand by Me of you! I loved the flow of it, it felt very cinematic and I enjoyed the trick played on the bullies. The beginning felt a little clunky at first but as I read on it all came together very nicely!

      Reply
    • May 6, 2019 at 11:33 pm
      Permalink

      Great story Roy! I think we’ve met these characters before. Glad to see you back!!

      Reply
    • May 7, 2019 at 6:07 am
      Permalink

      To me it’s a Bit Mark Twainish. That’s meant as a compliment. I see Mr. H. Finn coming around the corner. 😉 Great writing.

      Reply
    • May 7, 2019 at 4:45 pm
      Permalink

      Roy, this is a wonderful story! The prank reminded me of my own brothers pulling pranks when we were kids and how much I love and miss them these days. Thank you, I look forward to reading more of your work.

      Reply
    • May 10, 2019 at 8:56 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Roy

      This has a great little plot, with a satisfying ending, and the dialogues are very good. I love the parts about how the characters got their names (although the descriptions don’t really have any significance in the story – apart from colour – and nor do they move the action along). Similarly, the ‘candy’ discussion is really nicely done, but what significance does it have? I think it should be ‘Old Man Peters’ lost gold nuggets’. Really enjoyed this story. Good to have you back!

      Reply
    • May 13, 2019 at 5:54 pm
      Permalink

      I love these stories you have with the kids. Such a slice of Americana. I was sure the “gold” was going to be chewed up bit o’ honeys though haha

      Reply
    • May 15, 2019 at 4:38 pm
      Permalink

      Hey Roy,

      I gotta be honest, the writing is spectacularly smooth, but for two things, the description of ‘Blinky’ and ‘Whisper.’ While I agree with the strategy of adding color to the stories through character description, I think you went way too far with these two, especially since both nicknames are (or should be) fairly obvious. You devoted a long paragraph to each one. I got the impression you were using the two paragraphs to develop the voice of the narrator, as such, it succeeds in that. But it’s still a lengthy bit of exposition for a couple of childhood nicknames.

      All else with the story is smooth, tight and entertaining.

      Reply
  • May 4, 2019 at 10:27 am
    Permalink

    Some of the chemical fog has lifted, although the physical end of it hasn’t. I did manage to spend a lot of yesterday writing this story. I hope you all like it. I want to eventually write more about my “Pink Socks” gang. Some of you may remember that story with the same four main characters that are in this one. Maybe even put out a book of flash fiction featuring the ‘Pink Socks Gang’. Feels nice to be back in the saddle.

    Reply
    • May 7, 2019 at 4:59 am
      Permalink

      Welcome back Roy,

      You clearly haven’t lost your touch.

      So many nice touches and natural dialogue that seemed to me to be exactly how the boys would have sounded. I find it helps to read some dialogue out loud. Then you get a real sense of its rhythm and structure.

      Great to hear the way the gang members give each other nicknames. Kids are classic nicknamers and often hilariously non-PC. Kids go where adults fear to tread, often without offending or being offended then we adults “Civilize ” them and take away the fun.

      Reminds me of my teaching years where I can hear myself telling one child that it isn’t nice to call people names based upon parts of their anatomy, ie big ears, ginger, lefty, stretch.specky four eyes etc. I suppose now we can only get around this by writing in the voices of children then we can blame them!

      By the way, for me the best sweets were cola cubes and rhubard and custards.Terrible for the teeth but great taste. They are probably just a UK sweet though.

      Keep writing,

      Ken Frape.

      Reply
      • May 10, 2019 at 9:01 pm
        Permalink

        @KenF … Fruit Salad, Black Jacks, Toffee Crunch, American Hard Gums … yes, our poor ol’ teeth!

        Reply
    • May 16, 2019 at 4:58 am
      Permalink

      Nice easy reading and well structured story Ken. Sorry you are dealing with such a rough trot in the medical field. I refused to investigate the chemical side of cancer treatment and will be making golden paste and going down natural path. If it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger. God bless.

      Reply
      • May 16, 2019 at 4:59 am
        Permalink

        Roy sorry Roy. Told you I am tired and getting old and useless.

        Reply
  • May 6, 2019 at 12:04 am
    Permalink

    The Queen’s Temper
    1200 Words

    “Don’t be absurd, Cal. The Nile is the only river that flows north and we happen to live in Alabama!”
    “No. Really. It’s true Chris. There are a lot of rivers that flow north but this one is much more unique.” Cal countered as he adjusted his Duffle bag’s shoulder strap. The two brothers had packed light for their camping trip but the bag was still heavy.
    “Unique? How?”
    “Well not only does the Silver Minnow River flow north instead of south but it is also fed from the Gulf itself. For a good long stretch it’s still salt water until it hits the mountains up there.”
    “Are you pulling my leg?”
    “Of course not, look into local history.” Cal widened his eyes to emphasize his point. “Besides, all you have to do is know where you are and you will see that this river really does flow the wrong way!”
    Chris noticed something less than twenty yards away glinting in the fading sunlight. The men walked to see what could be shining with the shadows of night closing in. Without a word, both of them dropped their bags to search the bank on their hands and knees for whatever had cast the light.
    “What is that thing? It looks like it’s made of solid gold.” Chris held the golden box under the water to wash away some of the mud and muck.
    “Look at the designs on the top, they look foreign, possibly ancient.”
    “There’s another one!” Chris pointed excitedly at another golden box embedded in the side of the Silver Minnow River bank.
    “Come on, let’s see what we can find before we reach the foot of the mountain to set up camp.” Cal countered just as excitedly as Chris.
    “I’ll take finding things like this over fishing any day of the week!” They followed the river bank, collecting items as they went along and washing them in the water of the river. They found six of the golden boxes by the time they had reached the foot of the mountain.
    “It’s getting really dark now, I’ll build the camp fire while you set up the boxes we found.” Cal offered a fair work exchange. “Then you can make some food while I inspect the boxes.”
    “Deal.” Chris placed his Duffle bag on the ground next to Cal’s. He pulled out one of his tee shirts, flattening it on the ground and placed the golden boxes on the fabric side by side while Cal busied himself with lighting the kindling between the circle of rocks they had used many times over while camping.
    “All six boxes have the same exact design. It looks like a crown with some intertwined Old English letters underneath and a leaf like pattern all the way around the edges.” Chris expressed his findings aloud as Cal placed a decent chunk of wood on the fire.
    “Cool.” Cal sat down on the dirt beside the shirt with the golden boxes so Chris could make something to eat. “I sure am glad we brought a few canned foods with us.”
    “I know, we completely forgot about catching some dinner!”
    “Hey, Chris, all of the boxes have the tiniest hinges I have ever seen and a tiny little lock in the front!”
    “You think they may be miniature chests of some kind?”
    “Yeah, I do. We need a key or something to open them with. I could use the edge of my knife but I don’t want to break the locking mechanism in the process.”
    “Could this work?” Cal reached into his pocket and produced an old golden key that looked tiny enough to fit in the slot. “The design matches the coins that we picked up, too.”
    “Let’s see.” Chris sat down beside Cal, dinner completely forgotten and watched him open the first box.
    “Oh!” Cal exclaimed as he gazed into the box, examining the contents. “These are the coins that were used in England back in the fifteen hundreds!”
    They opened the remaining five boxes. All of them except one contained old jewelry, old coins, pearls and small diamonds.
    “This one has a small book wrapped in a handkerchief.” Cal took the book and handed the handkerchief to Chris. “The book has the same design as the boxes. It looks like the crown and letters are stitched into the cover. It’s definitely handmade by someone who knew exactly what they were doing.”
    “The handkerchief has the same thing right here in the corner. Open the book, maybe it will tell us who it belonged to.”
    The book was made of what looked like dark brown, genuine leather with thick yellowing pages held together by a thin strap of leather that laced through to join at the back of the spine.
    “What does it say?” Chris whispered as Cal turned one page after another, reading the old writing inside.
    “This is Queen Elizabeth the First’s journal, that means these boxes belonged to her too. She wrote about pirate ships that were raiding and stealing anything they could get their hands on. Her last entry says that she was worried because word was spreading that the pirates were headed toward England! The last entry was made in mid-summer of fifteen seventy eight.”
    “I bet these were stolen right after that last entry.” Cal assumed in awe. “We have to get this stuff to a museum where they belong.”
    “Yes, but if these are here along the Silver Minnow River, that means there has to be more and it’s probably scattered all the way to where the river meets the Gulf.”
    “You want to treasure hunt all the way to the ocean, don’t you?”
    “Don’t you?” Cal retorted a bit irritably.
    “Sure, but it’s going to be a very long walk. We’ll have to get started at daybreak.”
    Their plans settled, the two men snuffed out the fire without having dinner. Gathering their things they began their journey following the river between the mountains picking up more items as they went but no more golden boxes. Finally, they reached the Gulf Coast along the bottom of Alabama.
    “Excuse me, Sir. Do you know where we can rent a boat and some diving gear?” Cal asked an elderly gentleman loading goods onto a small boat.
    “I can give you a lift, you can use my gear if you like. No charge.”
    “Thanks.” Cal replied in surprise.
    “You found some treasure, didn’t you? Now you’re searching for the pirate ship that wrecked here in the fifteen hundreds after robbing England.” The old man grinned as he told his tale. “Folks around here say Queen Elizabeth is the reason the Gulf is so restless, kicking up hurricanes something awful. That’s why the stormy season is called The Queen’s Temper around these parts.”
    “I take it we’re not the first ones to find things like this?” Cal asked as a shiver traveled down his spine.
    “No Sir.” The old man replied as the three of them climbed aboard, “but hopefully we’ll be the last to go looking. If we find the ship and rest of her things, maybe Queen Elizabeth will finally let the Gulf rest.”

    Reply
    • May 6, 2019 at 6:23 am
      Permalink

      I enjoyed this – smoothly told story, with eh action taken forward to a large extent through dialogue, and interwoven with local tradition. Did you make that up, Amy or are you incorporating some actual folklore?

      Queen Elizabeth’s fear of pirates: piracy was endemic at this time, especially English home-grown pirates, French corsairs and Barbary pirates. I’m not sure Elizabeth would be too surprised or worried though – she directly sponsored a lot of piracy, as long as it was targeted at the shipping of other nations. But she would be angry, no doubt, if her own goods were seized. Or if goods her pirates had stolen were seized by other pirates …

      Reply
      • May 6, 2019 at 10:25 am
        Permalink

        Thank you for the kind words, Andy. This story was almost entirely made up with no real local folklore as far as I know but I have always loved the history in Queen Elizabeth’s era and she did seem to have a temper.
        Truthfully, I have never been to Alabama but have heard that there is a river that flows the wrong way there, possibly feeding from the Gulf.
        This was one of my first attempts at writing flash fiction and had a lot of fun adding in a historical theme.

        Reply
        • May 7, 2019 at 5:09 am
          Permalink

          Hi Amy,

          Good story that I really enjoyed reading. Isn’t it the stuff of dreams to unearth a treasure trove? Strangely, the old pirate notion of “X marks the spot” on a pirate map fits well here in the river bed.

          Geographically, I cannot comment upon the notion of rivers flowing north but you can bet that I will be asking questions about this feature. As Andy says, Queen Elizabeth was not above sponsoring piracy as long as she received a share of the spoils.

          Looking forward to reading more of your work, Amy.

          Ken Frape.

          Reply
          • May 7, 2019 at 6:26 am
            Permalink

            As long as rivers flow downhill, Ken, they flow in any available direction. Hundreds of rivers flow north, though Amy’s characters don’t necessarily know that
            Rivers with large estuaries and long tidal reach, like the Avon or Thames, may see rivers flow in either direction, at least for part of their course, depending on the tide. But NSEW orientation makes no difference!

    • May 6, 2019 at 10:04 am
      Permalink

      Amy,
      What an interesting story you’ve woven for us! I liked the dialogue but there were a few things that confused me.
      First, how fast do they walk? Alabama is a very large state and they seemed to have covered many miles in a few hours.
      Secondly, where did the key come from? It randomly appeared in the one guy’s pocket?
      Thirdly, what particular thing caused the old guy to assume these two had found treasure and were now seeking more treasure rather than just being touristy divers?

      I am assuming all of these questions would have been answered had you been allotted more than 1200 words but those small things stood out.
      But like I said, I enjoyed the overall story, and found the storyline of finding pirate’s treasure very entertaining!

      Reply
      • May 6, 2019 at 10:58 am
        Permalink

        Thank you for the kind feedback, Carrie.
        To answer your questions, The key was found when they were picking up the random items along the way. The distance would have been only a few miles, I realize that seems farfetched but I grew up in the Smokey’s where walking between two foothills while following a stream didn’t take more than an hour or two. The characters had camped in that area many times but had never found anything like that before- their personalities are based on my own brothers, they were always curious and loved a good treasure hunt.
        The old man that just knew- he had encountered many people finding random things and helped them look for more. He is based off an old man I knew when I was a kid, his wisdom was uncanny and no matter what my brothers and I were doing at the time it was like he just knew and always had a fun story to share.
        Yes, this story would have been much more in depth without the word count but I honestly had a lot of fun testing my skills at flash fiction and truly appreciate your comments.

        Reply
    • May 6, 2019 at 11:37 pm
      Permalink

      Amy,

      Nice story. Smooth and easy to follow. I loved the reference to the stormy season as The Queen’s Temper. Great job!

      Adi

      Reply
    • May 7, 2019 at 6:21 am
      Permalink

      I just love treasure hunting stories. Thanks a lot for this gem. Reminds me of Sir Francis Drake, a hero of my childhood. But of course he was on the Queen’s side. 😉

      Reply
    • May 10, 2019 at 9:17 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Amy

      A brisk story, which takes us from a common hike to riches in a very short time (lucky brothers!) You’ve imparted a lot of information through the dialogue – the description of the boxes works because one of the brothers is cutting wood while the other inspects them. I felt that maybe the brothers would have been a little more excited at finding this treasure – the gold and diamonds would be worth thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars. A good read, though … and welcome!

      Reply
    • May 13, 2019 at 6:04 pm
      Permalink

      I wrote about pirate treasure too haha. I was hoping you were going to incorporate Pierre Lafitte since we have family lore involving his gold (as does every good family descended from French settlers). I agree with what Carrie said about the key and the old man. Just a line where he says he picked it up earlier in the walk would help and maybe have the old guy catch a glint from the boxes or something. But I liked the creation of country lore you used for the story.

      Reply
    • May 15, 2019 at 4:42 pm
      Permalink

      Amy,

      A fabulously inventive story. The dialogue is marvelous. While I agree with Carrie’s observations, a few minor hints or tells would satisfy a skeptical reader. I think your writing is excellent. Perfectly fulfilling the prompt requirements in a very entertaining story.

      Reply
  • May 6, 2019 at 2:17 am
    Permalink

    Story Telling

    – Hi!

    – Hi! Do I know you?

    – Yes, you do! Look closely! Do you recognize me now?

    – Well! No, it can’t be. You are ….

    – Yes, I am the story you wanted to write.

    – Oh, you’re the one I wanted to write for the prompt, but I read the damned thing incorrectly. Don’t rub it in.

    – I’m not here to rub it in. I want to help you save me, to save your story.

    – But how can we both save my story together? It has so many descriptions in it. I don’t believe I can write a story about a mermaid persuading a young man to buy her a hamburger just in dialogue.

    – Nothing easier than that! I’m your story, and now I’m going to play the role of the mermaid too. Listen! I’m a bored mermaid on a lazy Saturday afternoon. I want to have some fun. So I decide to swim up the river to that small town where Jesus stands on a pillar like in an Olympic diving competition.

    – Yes, and then you come up to the place next to where the ferry leaves for the other side. And there I am. I mean me the young man not me the writer of the story. I am a young man and I’m very sad because the woman I love just got on the ferry with another man. I saw them, and he had his arm around her waist.

    – Yes, and then you sit there on a stone wall all alone and very sad. You notice six coins on the rocks in front of you. Next to you there are anglers fishing and smoking cigars. So you go and ask them if one of them lost some money. But none of them has.

    – And then I see a beautiful mermaid sitting next to the six coins. I the writer understand now that she put the coins there to fulfill the prompt. I thinks she really loves me if she does things like that.

    – Yes, and then I the mermaid ask you, if you could buy me a hamburger in the restaurant close to the bus station, the one with the two golden donkeys in front of it.

    – And at first I don’t want to do it. I think mermaids don’t exist and this small town isn’t even on the seaside, it’s next to a river not an ocean.

    – I’m more of a rivermaid anyway, but us rivermaids call ourselves mermaids, because even Google doesn’t know what a rivermaid is.

    – Anyway, I say, ‘what do I get if I go fetch a burger for you‘. And you say ‘you’ll pay me with six‘. I think you mean the six coins. But it somehow doesn’t make sense.

    – We have to work on that. We both know the coins are there only because of the prompt. So we argue about them and then Tommy the Thief comes by and steals them. Off they go.

    – Ok, that sounds a bit simplistic, but you’re the story, you must know.

    – Anyway, an Irishman once said ‘we can’t know the dancer from the dance‘, so you can`t tell a story from its writer. So in fact we’re pretty much the same figure, but don’t mention it to anyone. We’re going to stretch that prompt quite a bit. We don’t want to get into trouble with Alice and Carrie.

    – Ok! Let’s get on. I say, ‘did you see the coins are gone. How are you going to pay me now? ‘

    – So I the mermaid say ‘I’ll pay you with six.‘

    – And I ask, ‘six what? ‘ And you say ‘trust me, it’s a surprise. ‘ And I look at you and I really like you and maybe I do more than like you, so I say ‘allright‘.

    – And I say, ‘but without pickles please. ‘

    – And I say, ‘very well milady‘. And I go to the restaurant with the golden donkeys and get the burgers. And as I order and I say ‘but without the pickles‘, the boy there says, ‘oh it’s for the mermaid again, isn’t it?‘

    – And when you come back with the hamburger in a little paper bag you give it to me, and I devour it in a very unladylike manner. But I’m no lady anyway, I’m a mermaid. A rivermaid, rather.

    – Ah, you wipe your mouth afterwards, your sweet little mermaid mouth, and I get all excited. I think I fall in love that very moment. So I say, ‘it’s ok, you don’t have to pay me.‘

    – But I tell you I want to pay you. I come very close to your face and you can see traces of hamburger sauce in the corner of my mouth, and your heart starts beating like hell. I whisper in your ear ‘I want to pay you with six kisses‘. And you know, mermaid kisses are special. Whatever you see while being kissed by a mermaid or a rivermaid, makes no difference, will come true.

    – Then you put your soft lips on mine, and it feels so very good, it feels like, I don’t know, it feels unlike anything else.

    – Oh yeah, you answer my kiss in a slow way, and it feels like dancing under the moonlight to me. You know we mermaids kiss humans very rarely, so I enjoy it. And we stay that way for a long time.

    – And when it’s over I realize I forgot to see something so no wish will come true. It’s more or less impossible to think of a wish when you kiss a mermaid.

    – So you try five more times, and these kisses get really long, we don’t want to go into details here, minors could read this story and we don’t want to get into trouble, but these kisses are better than a Hershey’s. Much better in fact.

    – And then it’s over. I open my eyes and no mermaid anywhere. I think ‘was it a dream? ‘ But I see the little paper bag and I know it was real. So I hope you the mermaid will come back, I would offer you another burger, just to get paid for it.

    – But I don’t come back. Because, if I did, it’d be like the end of a fairy tale and we’d have to marry and all that stuff. I don’t want to end up like my sister in Copenhagen.

    – But then, after a while I notice I’ve changed. I’m a proud mermaid kisser now, very self-confident, and I want to write a story about it. And I skim over the prompt and later someone tells me, it has to be just dialogue. So I don’t know what to do with it, but my story itself helps me out. How can I ever thank you?

    – Well, you can kiss me.

    – A writer can kiss his own story?

    – Give it a try!

    Reply
    • May 6, 2019 at 10:06 am
      Permalink

      Berlinermax
      Absolutely hysterical and amusing! Well done!!!!
      Loved the complete use of dialogue and really enjoyed the banter.

      Reply
      • May 6, 2019 at 11:01 am
        Permalink

        Thanks a lot Carrie! So you don’t mind being a part of the story. I admit I was afraid you might not like that. 🙂

        Reply
        • May 6, 2019 at 11:17 am
          Permalink

          Hahaha I didn’t mind at all! It was awesome to be include!
          And made it all the more amusing 😊

          Reply
    • May 6, 2019 at 11:40 pm
      Permalink

      Jurgen,

      You certainly raised the bar high on this one! Total dialogue and amusing story. I thoroughly enjoyed it! Great work!

      Adi

      Reply
    • May 7, 2019 at 4:50 pm
      Permalink

      Berlinermax,
      I love the comedy in the dialogue, great job!

      Reply
    • May 10, 2019 at 9:27 pm
      Permalink

      Hi, Jürgen

      Once again you’ve found an unusual angle from which to approach the prompt (it’s always a surprise), this time apparently forced by circumstance (your misinterpreting the prompt) and it works well – the writer, story, young man and mermaid (sorry, rivermaid) all mixed up in a kind of helix structure, which allows you to have lines like “…but you’re the story, you must know.” – the story with a life of it own. Who is that Irishman, though?

      Reply
    • May 15, 2019 at 4:46 pm
      Permalink

      Hey Jurgen,

      Another amazingly creative story that separates you from the pack. Funny, strange and at times, insightful story and a quick clever read.

      Reply
  • May 6, 2019 at 6:28 am
    Permalink

    Clever and humorous, Jürgen! Playful and classily absurd.

    Don’t all writers kiss their stories, or want to? Even when they tear it up and throw it across the room, tearful kisses may follow the discarded scraps …

    Reply
    • May 6, 2019 at 7:32 am
      Permalink

      Thank you Andy!
      I definitely fell in love with my story.
      So what is the point in writing if we don’t love what we do?

      Reply
      • May 6, 2019 at 7:39 am
        Permalink

        I completely agree.

        And I thought it was an insightful comment about a writer’s relationship with his/her creations, presented through (by) a story and in a way that made me smile. A perfect way to end the dialogue.

        Reply
  • May 6, 2019 at 9:20 am
    Permalink

    Fishing with Pa.

    by Ken Frape

    May 2019

    “Beautiful, eh Davey?” Pa said, looking down at the day’s catch. I nodded. “And free!” He added, grinning broadly as he ruffled my unruly hair. Father and son, we stood looking out across the gently flowing water, its progress slowed by the kink in the river bank by the old willow as the river meandered across the county. The fish rested here in abundance.There was a ripple of movement as another fish pouted its lips and broke the surface.

    “And there’s plenty more for another day too, Pa.”
    “Yep, nature’s bounty,” he said.

    They were the happiest of days as I remember.

    In my family, we were lucky that my father faced the prospect of having no job as an opportunity after they closed the steel works. He was bursting with energy and ideas. Some men were defined by their jobs, shaped by the need to provide for their family and losing their job diminished them. Other men, like my father, grew in stature once the shackles of enforced industry were removed from their shoulders. Pa made a few bucks mending shoes using an old industrial sewing machine that he had scavenged from a disused warehouse and soon had it humming like a honey bee. Ma walked ten miles a day,often with a babe on her hip, to clean rich folks’ houses in town. She was a dab hand with a needle and thread too and she sewed our clothes from scraps and helped our neighbours with theirs. Together with fruit from the trees, foraging in the hedgerows and Mother Natur’s generosity,we got by. We knew hunger but not starvation and we had love. Love in abundance.

    I was always around my father but the one special thing we used to do together was fishing. I remember lazy days listening to his voice as we sat by the river bank, under the shade of the willow tree that shaded us from the midday sun and lulled the fish. It was our special place. Ten miles from our little wooden house, a place that no one else seemed to know about. We rattled along the path on a rickety old bicycle that Pa had brought back to life in the same way as that old sewing machine. I could never have managed ten miles each way without that old bike and the wicker basket tied to the handlebars to carry me and the fish. Boy, was that an uncomfortable ride!

    One particular day stands out as a golden memory.

    “Yep, nature’s bounty,” Pa said again as we stood looking down at the six silver fish arranged side by side on the bank. I knew how to stun a live fish and now they were lying still, glistening in the late afternoon sun. And they were big too. Four would feed the family that evening with great chunks of corn bread and a jug of cool, clear water. We would eat like kings that night and the other two fish would be bartered with our neighbours or given away to anyone in desperate need.
    “I caught that one,” I said, pointing, “and that one too, didn’t I, Pa?”
    “Sure you did, Davey.” I felt his arm around my shoulder as he proudly looked down at me, his twelve year old, first born son. Annie, Joseph and Jacob came along soon after but I knew I was his favourite. Nothing he ever did made it obvious but I just knew.
    “Tie ‘em up, son and we’ll set off home. I can taste them already.” He licked his lips and smiled. “ Your mom will be real pleased.”
    “And that’s a good thing, ain’t it Pa?” I said with a knowing grin.
    “It sure is son!”
    Pa sat down by the roots of the old willow tree and lit up a smoke. He smoked five a day when he could afford it and they were the thinnest cigarettes I had ever seen. Puff, puff, puff, gone. I threaded the string through the mouths of the six fish and finished with a carrying loop.
    “See those ants, Pa?” I pointed to a line of ants that was marching purposefully downwards in to the roots of the tree. They had to climb over a big chunk of old wood so I carefully lifted it out of the way and put it down beside them. They quickly rerouted and the line of hard-working soldiers continued.
    “Hey, what’s this?” I could see a scrap of old sacking jammed into the earth and it had been partially uncovered by the ants. I pulled at it and a small sack came out, scattering dirt and dust and ants.
    “Sorry ants,” I told them. Pa laughed as he took a last draw on his stick-thin cigarette. He turned towards me and looked over at the dirt covered sack. I handed it to him.
    “Well, what have we here? “ He said. The sack had some faded blue lettering on it, “First Western Bank.”
    He looked at the sack then he looked at me. The sack was full.
    Pa wiggled his fingers into the drawstring and opened it up. As soon as the opening was big enough we both peered in. My eyes widened and I’m sure Pa’s did too.
    “We’re rich!” I shouted. My joy was cut off as I looked at my father’s face. All thoughts of that new catcher’s mitt were gone.
    “Let me ask you something son, ok?”
    I looked up at him.
    “Do we have enough food to eat?”
    “Yeah, sure,” I replied, mystified by the question. “Mostly.”
    “Is this ours?” He indicated the sack on the ground between us.
    “No, Pa, but we found it, didn’t we?”
    “Are you sure it’s lost?” he asked me.
    I shrugged my shoulders. I didn’t know.
    “Do we know who it belongs to?”
    “No Pa,” I looked at my feet, getting his drift.
    “Then we can’t just take it, can we?”
    “Sure Pa, but why can’t we just………” My sentence remained unfinished. These were the first words of disagreement we had ever had. I didn’t much like the taste in my mouth.
    “ Is it right to take what’s not ours?”
    “No, Pa. We don’t do that ..ever …”
    “If we take this it would be stealing then, wouldn’t it?”
    “Yes, Pa.”
    “And how do you think it got here?”
    “Someone must have buried it, I guess.”
    “And why would they do that?”
    “To keep it safe?”
    “ And would it still be safe if we stole it? ”
    “No Pa, ” I admitted.
    “So what should we do now, Davey?”
    “Bury it again?” I said.
    “Sure, so when the owners come back it will still be here.”
    I pushed the sack back into the hole in the ground.
    Within seconds the ants were marching across it once more.

    Pa held up the six silver fish, their fishy eyes glazed in death but their rainbow scales still sparkling.
    “These six fish are worth more to us than everything that was in that sack, son.”
    We never spoke about that sack again.
    We were too busy pulling silver from the river.

    Ken Frape May 2019 1200 words.

    Reply
    • May 6, 2019 at 10:07 am
      Permalink

      Ken,
      An absolutely beautiful tale, with a life lesson to boot. I really loved the interaction between the two and how the fish were worth more than anything else.
      Really great job!

      Reply
    • May 7, 2019 at 6:35 am
      Permalink

      That story gave me a lot to think about. Would I have left the bag in the ground? I’m afraid I wouldn’t. So maybe I’m not such a good person as your protagonist surely is. Thank you very much for making me think about it.

      Reply
      • May 7, 2019 at 10:24 am
        Permalink

        Hi Bmax
        If I hadn’t set this story in rural USA I would have gone there and dug it up myself! Mind you, I never actually said what was in it, just gave a couple of clues.

        Ken Frape

        Reply
    • May 7, 2019 at 4:55 pm
      Permalink

      Ken, I love how honest, laid back and sweet this story is.

      Reply
    • May 10, 2019 at 9:45 pm
      Permalink

      Hi, Ken

      This is a very lovely story. The warm relationship between the two is clear – and that’s done with the dialogue. I love how you emphasize the silver of the fish, allowing that terrific last line. Maybe, though, the type of fish could have been named at some point? (Bream? Trout?) The money they found … it’s obviously laudable that the father should decide that they put it back, but what if it were stolen money (in fact the most likely possibility for me), stashed under the tree by bank-robbers? Does that make it a good decision to put it back? Just a thought. It’s a smashing story – very warming.

      Reply
    • May 14, 2019 at 11:28 am
      Permalink

      I liked all the little details with the silver and the ants. The dialogue between the father and son really flowed. I do have to agree though, that if it’s stolen money reburying it might not be the best plan morally, though if you turned it in then there’d be an assumption you stole it and maybe it’s really the dad’s… you got my imagination working overtime here Ken.

      Reply
      • May 14, 2019 at 11:42 am
        Permalink

        Hi Wendy,

        Thanks for your comments.

        In this story I decided that the father would make a simple moral decision, based upon his own code or beliefs. The father has always told his children that if something doesn’t belong to him or them, then they can’t have it. End of. They could, in theory, have handed in the sack but the decision is a simple one; If it isn’t their property then they don’t need to worry about how it got there and any other associated questions.

        It’s a tough one!

        Ken Frape.

        Reply
    • May 15, 2019 at 4:51 pm
      Permalink

      Ken F.

      The story itself, (for me) was a bit on the corny side. (But it was good, buttery corn.) Be that as it may, your writing is wonderful, Ken. The rhythm, miter, cadence, the descriptive eloquence, the dialogue. You’re doing an awful lot of things well, or really, really well. Which, corn or no corn, makes your stories very readable, and ultimately entertaining.

      Reply
      • May 16, 2019 at 6:23 am
        Permalink

        Hi Ken,

        Wow, you have certainly been busy since you got off your bike. So many well thought-out comments.

        I guess you are right in that my story may err on the corny side. I was looking for the Waltons rather than the Simpsons perhaps. I’m thinking that we live in a moral maze these days where there are so many shades of grey and life can be simplified if we adhere to a set of black and white principles and don’t deviate from them. Thus, Pa didn’t need to debate who’s money it was as for him it was a simple decision to just put it back where it had been before.

        This, of course, is my story, not necessarily what I would have done. I’m sure I would have been tempted but I like to think that I would have behaved like Pa did.

        In your story critique I made mention of Randall and Carter, perhaps mistakenly or for the wrong reasons. Howard Carter was the archeologist who first peered into King tutankhamen’s tomb. As your story had an archeolpogical slant I picked up on this and it may well have had nothing to do with him and his associate who I seem to remember was a Randall. Lord Caernarvon was the sponsor and there was a curse associated with this tomb but you probably know all this.

        Regards,

        Ken Frape.

        Reply
  • May 6, 2019 at 9:50 am
    Permalink

    Hi All,

    For me great dialogue goes almost unnoticed. You read and read and don’t give it a thought if it’s sound real. It’s telling a good story well that matters. Poor storytelling can ruin a great story whilst, conversely, great storytelling can turn a good story into a great story.

    I’ve just had a look at my bookshelves and here’s a list of writers who, in my humble opinion, write great dialogue;
    Wilbur Smith, John Grisham, Bernard Cornwell, Philip Gale, CJ Sansom, Lynda la Plante, Ian Rankin,Jed Mercurio ( writer of the brilliant BBC TV series Line of Duty), Rachel Joyce, Anita Shreve, Rose Tremain, Peter May and others. I have tried to pick up pointers from them but when they write it just seems to flow and it’s not easy to replicate without copying.

    I just watched the finale of Line of Duty here on UK TV and the dialogue during the police interviews was brilliant. Jed Mercurio’s writing for TV is first rate, I think. Sorry if that is a UK cultural reference but I bet the BBC will sell it in the US.

    Happy dialogueing ( is that a real word?)

    Ken Frape

    Reply
    • May 7, 2019 at 2:41 am
      Permalink

      Line of Duty is indeed first class, Ken. Anyone who doesn’t know it should watch out for it!
      The way the story is told, swinging this way and that way with great intensity and drama, especially in the interview room, through the perspective of different characters is excellent, and the dialogue threads the plot together while raising possibilities and red herrings alike.

      Reply
  • May 7, 2019 at 6:03 pm
    Permalink

    AND FROM THE GROUND

    Hey Jerry! Over here!

    Hang on. Let me just … my rod.

    Come on! Quick!

    Ok! Ok!

    You’ve got to see this!

    What’s … up?

    Out of puff?

    That’s a steep … climb. Now, what’s … the emergency?

    This.

    What is it?

    A pouch.

    Looks like a fistful of earth.

    No, it’s leather. Look.

    Oh, yeah. Where did you find it?

    Digging the pit for the fire.

    Oh. So, open it up.

    Do you think we should?

    Wha–? What do you mean ‘do you think we should’? Of course we should. We must!

    But what if it’s an archaeological treasure or something?

    What if it is?

    Then we should leave it to the experts.

    You’re kidding now, right? And what if it’s something valuable? What would you get? Some kind of finder’s fee? A pittance, probably.

    Probably. But that’s not the point. It’s heritage. History.

    You’re out of your mind, Will! Give it here.

    No! I’ll do it. Hang on.

    Don’t be such a namby-pamby about it. Get it open!

    There you … WOW!

    WOW! What is that? Gold?

    Don’t know. Looks like it.

    How many? Five … no six.

    They. Are. Beautiful.

    What’s that stamped on them?

    Some flying … thing. How would you describe that?

    A flying thing.

    Funny. They’re beautiful.

    Beautiful? I don’t care if they’re like the Sistine Chapel. If that’s gold, they’ve got to be worth … I don’t know. A king’s ransom. Remember those they found over in Norwich last year? And a couple of years ago, down in Lakenheath?

    You can be a bloody philistine sometimes Jerry, you know that?

    A rich philistine now!

    No.

    What?

    We’re not going to make money from these.

    Now you’re just being crazy.

    Maybe, but I’m the one who found them.

    Ah, I see. That’s how it’s going to be, is it?

    Afraid so.

    You’re a bastard Will, you know that?

    An honest bastard.

    Look, I don’t even want half of them. Just give me one.

    Jerry.

    You can say you only found five.

    There have to be six.

    No there–

    That’s it. There have to be six.

    What’s … What are you…?

    Six.

    Will, what’s … the matter with your eyes?

    There were six in Norwich. Six in Lakenheath. King’s Lynn … six.

    Will!

    Norwich, six. Lakenheath six. King’s Lynn six.

    WILL!

    He is coming.

    Will, I … What was that? Was that a … tremor?!

    He is coming.

    No!

    Closer. So close now.

    Will! Put them back! Put them back in the ground!

    He. Is. HERE!

    WILL!! LORD! SWEET MERCY!

    .

    Reply
    • May 11, 2019 at 1:30 am
      Permalink

      “namby-pamby” is the newest addition to my dictionary. 😉

      Reply
    • May 14, 2019 at 11:32 am
      Permalink

      That twist at the end was great, Phil! The number of the beast }:^> The pace was great and you got just enough detail through the dialog to bring it to life.

      Reply
      • May 16, 2019 at 5:05 am
        Permalink

        Thanks, Wendy!

        Reply
    • May 15, 2019 at 1:30 am
      Permalink

      I can’t say much that hasn’t already been said by others, but I loved the communication between the two characters

      Reply
      • May 16, 2019 at 5:06 am
        Permalink

        Cheers, Peter!

        Reply
    • May 15, 2019 at 4:58 pm
      Permalink

      Phil,

      Phil, Phil, Phil, Phil, Phil. (Where are your quote marks?) Just kidding man. You really nailed the prompt. Quick, fast moving, dialogue only story that will probably come in sixth, or sixty-sixth, or — dare I say it? Six hundred and sixty-sixth. Great job. But tell us Phil, and be honest, how long did it take you to write this story? (And don’t say sixty-six minutes.)

      Reply
      • May 16, 2019 at 5:04 am
        Permalink

        Thanks, Ken, Ken, Ken, Kennethy, Ken, Ken.

        (Not long – I had to get out of there sharpish. He was coming, after all.)

        Reply
  • May 8, 2019 at 7:44 am
    Permalink

    Another great, fast moving dialogue from you, Phil! I could hear the voices talking while reading it! In the end much is left to imagination, so my imagination worked overtime!

    Reply
    • May 10, 2019 at 9:47 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks, Jürgen! (I wonder if too much is left to the imagination, though – a bit too minimalist, perhaps.)

      Reply
  • May 8, 2019 at 11:30 am
    Permalink

    Hi Phil,

    Great writing, as ever and dialogue from first word to last. This hits the nail of the brief firmly on the head! Also,it makes such good sense to dispense with the irksome speech marks. Wish I had thought of that but it probably works best wnen everything is speech.

    As your geographical references are in the UK (Norwich, Lakenheath, King’s Lynn etc, places I know) it seems we have a long tradition of seeking out and unearthing buried treasure in the UK and I wonder if this is a feature in other countries too. I assume it must be and I don’t just mean Egypt! Every part of the world must have its own history.

    There must always be that debate too around whether to declare the find or not. In my story I decide to adopt a high moral stance and leave the treasure buried but that was written by the author in me not the man in me! What would I have done?

    Reminds me of the recent UK TV programme “Detectorists” which was a lovely, slow-moving tale of metal detecting.

    Good story,

    Ken Frape.

    Reply
    • May 10, 2019 at 9:52 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks, Ken. I found a wallet with over 100 euros in it last year – handed it in at the police station. I’m sure the police on duty kept the cash … but at least I have a clear conscience. I’ve seen ‘Detectorists’ and love it; could only have been made in Britain, I think (because of the slowness and care).

      Reply
  • May 8, 2019 at 12:00 pm
    Permalink

    6 ….and … 6 …. and …. 6 ….. = … 18 ….an auspicious number of prosperity in Chinese … ?
    Or maybe I’m on the wrong lines, lol!

    Seriously, a good chuckle with the denouement and a moral conflict leading up to it.

    I like the East Anglian noir setting, an area of the country I know well having lived most of my life there (until quite recently – maybe I got out in time!). I can add visual detail to the narrative in my mind, as I have one daughter in Norwich, and another who lived in Lakenheath for a while. I can add that it’s locally well known that the Hellmouth is located in the Fens ….

    Reply
    • May 10, 2019 at 10:02 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks, Andy. Bit of a coincidence with the setting, then (re your daughters). I wanted to set it in England somewhere, and I got the idea of East Anglia being a little devilish from an impression left by ‘Witchfinder General’ (though I could be wrong – I saw it when I was much younger and it might be anywhere in England).

      Reply
      • May 11, 2019 at 6:43 am
        Permalink

        Yes, Witchfinder General is set in East Anglia.
        Norwich/Norfolk is quite a hotbed of literary endeavour, and quite a few writers use a local setting for historical fiction and mystical/spooky/fantasy writing. I think it comes in part from the rurality and sense of being a little cut off and different, and the bleakness of the Fens.
        So it’s a good setting – must be on the banks of the Great Ouse at King’s Lynn (a historic but now bleak and depressing town), which is a river that coincidentally flows north at that point!

        Reply
  • May 8, 2019 at 1:57 pm
    Permalink

    Writing prompts.

    That cause great tales to swirl in my head as I drive home.

    But actually suck as stories when I sit down to write them….

    Such is my life lately.

    Reply
    • May 15, 2019 at 5:04 pm
      Permalink

      Hey you,

      Don’t swirl and drive. (It could be dangerous.)

      And you don’t suck at stories. (You’re just having a… a nervous meltdown? You’ve hit a rough patch?) I couldn’t think of anything this prompt and had to ask my GF/Wife/Mistress for an idea. Which I promptly f**cked up beyond all recognition.

      (You know, the more I think about it, the more I like the idea of this ‘swirling’ stuff. I’m gonna look into that.)

      Reply
  • May 8, 2019 at 4:20 pm
    Permalink

    While I’m trying to think of a story this week, may I share some exciting news??

    I am officially done with “Scholarly writing!” I have successfully earned my Education Specialist (Ed.S) degree in Special Education! I may complete the Ed.D later but I am satisfied for now.

    I can finally get back to the novel I was working on before the insanity of going to graduate school and I have more time to care for my parents, my house, my kids, my dog and work! LOL.

    Thanks for letting me share!

    Reply
    • May 8, 2019 at 6:10 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Adi,
      That’s brilliant! Well done.
      I’m sure your family will welcome you back with open arms, dog walking, washing, cooking, ironing etc.
      Ken Frape

      Reply
    • May 9, 2019 at 2:41 am
      Permalink

      Congratulations!
      Would you like to explain a little bit for somebody who lives at the other end of the world? Is it a college degree?

      Reply
      • May 9, 2019 at 8:25 am
        Permalink

        Sure Jurgen! It is a graduate degree. I already had a B.S. in Education with a minor in psychology, and a Master’s degree in Education with Special Ed emphasis. I was working on my doctorate in special education but my family’s needs have increased and I had to let something go. I’ve now earned the Education Specialist degree in Special Ed. An Ed.S is a half-step below a doctorate and truthfully, I can accomplish as much with the Ed.S and I would have with the Ed.D. I’m excited to have the degree and to be done with school for now!

        I work with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and have been in this field almost 30 years. I’ve done everything from Early Intervention (working with infants and toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities), transition specialist working with high school students with disabilities on the transition from school to work and with adults of all ages. I can now teach at the University level and with my wide range of experience, I can teach in special education, social work, courses related to people with disabilities, etc. I can also now work as a consultant if I choose. (I should also get a raise at work!)

        Anyway, all of that is extrinsic. I obtained this degree because it has always been a personal goal of mine. I love education and I love school and my grandparents instilled great faith and ambition in me from the time I was a young child. My parents always placed a strong emphasis on education. My grandmother was determined that I would be the first in the family to graduate with a college degree and I was. I wish they could know how far I’ve come since then!

        Thanks for the congratulations!

        Reply
        • May 9, 2019 at 10:14 am
          Permalink

          Oh thank you very much for the long explanation! This is beautiful! Perhaps you like to read your own explanation and celebrate yourself!

          Here is another bundle of congratulations!

          Reply
        • May 13, 2019 at 6:41 pm
          Permalink

          Well done, Adi! Congratulations!

          Reply
    • May 9, 2019 at 2:43 pm
      Permalink

      I’ve been following your story for a long time Adrienne. Congratulations. It’s great to share.

      Reply
    • May 15, 2019 at 1:31 am
      Permalink

      Fantastic Adi, we’re all proud of you

      Reply
  • May 10, 2019 at 8:19 am
    Permalink

    THE FIND

    Polo! Walk along the dirt footpath, along the river and watch me swim. Right. I am going to win the olympic games in swimming in England.

    What is that, Marco?

    You did not pay attention when the Englishman spoke? He is sponsoring us, people in Africa who are over seventeen, to take part in the Olympic games. You’re too young to take part. You can be my trainer, my mentor.

    Am I not your little brother anymore?

    You can be a brother, a trainer and a mentor.

    I don’t understand. How are you going to England?

    I’m going to fly, silly. The Englishman is taking me there in the aeroplane you sometimes see above in the sky.

    Fly! Up there in the blue sky!

    In an aeroplane. The big metal bird that goes in the sky and flies to other countries.
    Now, I am going in and if you see a croc comes near me, just shout and I’ll move out of its sight.

    Ok.

    Speed up, Marco, there is one not far behind you.. I can see the whirlrpools above its head and its flaring nose. It is slashing its tail, swirling the muddy water from underneath.
    Faster! Faster! It is catching up behind you. I think you should come out now. It will gobble you. It has raised its head, opened its mouth showing its sharp teeth. He’s hungry.
    Quick!

    You’ve made it. I was afraid it was going to eat you. It was so near you. Look, how I am shaking with fear. I’m proud of you, Bro. You’re so strong and excellent at swimming that the croc could not really compete with you. I will be strong too when I grow up to your size.

    I know.
    Never mind I have had my practice for this morning. We will come back again in the afternoon when the sun goes down. It is really getting hot now. The crocs will be resting in the shades then. You will train me again.

    Ok. I am sure you will win the Olympics.

    I am. Go and play little brother. I am going to lie on the rock to dry my short on my body and rest.

    Hey, what is that up there, Polo? There, on the rock. FOOD! Small Bananas!
    Wait, stop leaping over the rocks. Don’t pick them. I will do that. I am older. Don’t! You’re not listening to your elder. I am sure they’re voodoo stuff. Do not touch them!

    They are not. I think the Indians have offered them with flat leaves and some flowers to their gods to eat. There are six bananas here.

    Give the bananas to me. Don’t throw the leaves and flowers in the river either. Leave them on the rock for their goddesses. They will to be happy with them.
    You’re still a child. They will bring bad luck if you take the bananas. You will die. They have needles pricked on them. They’re voodoo stuff.

    They’re not needles. They’re incense sticks. Voodoo practitoners use dolls, not fruits. The Indians have been praying. The bananas, flowers and flowers are offerings to the river goddesses. I know because my Indian friend told me.
    We can eat them or sell them or barter them in the market. These bananas are special. I am going to exchange them for a pair of flip flops I saw in the barter market.

    You’re not going to do such thing. Give them to me. I will bury them somewhere so that we do not carry the bad luck with us.

    You’re lying. You’re going to eat them when I’m not looking. You want to cheat me.

    I cannot eat six bananas in one go.

    You can. They’re very small, ripe and very sweet.

    Now listen to me and do as you’re told. I am your elder brother and one day I will be the head of our family. You will have to do as told.

    You’re not now. You’re going to this Olympic place. You might die on the way there and I will become the head of the family.

    I am not going to argue. Give them to me.

    No.

    They’re voodoo stuff. Whoever have them will die or fall ill or bad things will happen to them.

    They’re offerings from the Indians, not voodoo stuff.

    Indians are no longer indians in Africa, silly. They don’t pray and give offerings to their gods here. They do voodoo just like we, Africans, do. You don’t know anything. Please, obey me.

    No. I know, you will sell, barter or eat them

    I will not.
    I saw them first. You must give them to me.

    I fetched them. So they’re mine.

    Don’t go away. I am going to report you to father and the elders in the village. They will chastise you and send you away or sell you to other tribes to eat you or become their slaves.

    They will not.

    Right. You’re not listening. I am going to tell.

    I will tell father and the elders that you swim in the river and the croc was following you. That you’re going to run away with the Englishman to go to the Olympics in England. You won’t be able to go and become a rich man.

    Okay, let’s come to an agreement like civiliised people. We’re going to share. You take 3 bananas and I will take 3. It will be fair. We will go to the market and barter. You can get your flipflops and I will ask for a trunk. I will need a proper one to swim in their river. It is cold there. Perhaps, I will be allowed to wear a short underneath my pants.

    I am only agreeing because you’re my brother.

    Good brother. You have my love and respect.

    Now give them to me. I will look after them. Some bad people can steal them from you. I am bigger, stronger and older. They won’t dare attack me.

    No. I will give you 3 of them. I will look after my 3. You can come with me when I barter. The bad people won’t cheat me if you’re there.

    Are you kidding me? You stole them from the river, from the goddesses. I can smell the incense and see the pricks on the skin. Take them away to some other traders..
    Why do you need flipflops now when all you life you’ve been walking barefoot? You want to be like that Englishman.

    Ok we’ll have them back.

    We might as well eat them. We’re allowed. Anyhow, the crocs or the river rats will eat them if we put them back on that rock.

    Reply
    • May 13, 2019 at 6:56 pm
      Permalink

      Hi, Chitra

      A very colourful dialogue, with a lot going on (I love the race with the crocodile! … but if my brother were swimming in front of a croc, I’d probably be saying something a little more urgent than: “I can see the whirlpools above its head and its flaring nose. It is slashing its tail, swirling the muddy water from underneath.” 😉 ). The relationship between the two siblings is well reflected in the things they say. The mystery/significance of the six bananas is nicely clouded by their disagreement. What happens to the bananas in the end is maybe a little ‘throwaway’, but it gives the story a nice, light ending.

      Reply
      • May 14, 2019 at 9:58 am
        Permalink

        Hi Chitra,

        A most enjoyable and entertaining story. You paint a picture of a culture different to mine and it makes for fascinating reading.

        I think that anyone who can outswim a crocodile deserves a Gold medal in the Olympics!

        The solution to the banana issue, share three and three, was a very sensible solution and one that only bickering siblings would fail to see.

        A couple of minor points in my humble opinion, I would have worn swimming trunks and a pair of shorts, both words with an s.

        Good work, Chitra and I look forward to reading more in the future.

        Ken Frape.

        Reply
        • May 17, 2019 at 5:08 pm
          Permalink

          Thanks for reading my story and the feedback.I will add the missing ‘s’ in the copy of my story

          Reply
    • May 14, 2019 at 11:41 am
      Permalink

      I love the use of bananas as the the 6 treasures for the prompt. I can see the two brothers arguing over them and the back and forth is really fun.

      Reply
    • May 15, 2019 at 5:11 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Chitra,

      Good to see you, (or read you, as it were.) I love the creativity in your story, the use of the banana’s as a device, the global aspect of the story and the characters. The shortcoming with this story is the dialogue surrounding the croc’s appearance in the river. As someone else mentioned, I don’t think that was presented in a very realistic way.

      Reply
  • May 10, 2019 at 10:39 am
    Permalink

    Money for Nothing by Peter Holmes – 914 word count

    “Annie, don’t pick them up!”
    “Why not?”
    “We don’t know what they are!”
    “Nick, it’s a few coins. I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about…”
    “But count them.” Nick’s voice quivered. “There’s six of them. The number of the Devil.”
    Annie couldn’t contain her laughter. “You’re unbelievable sometimes. I always knew you were superstitious, but this is too far.”
    “Well I refuse to take part in this.”
    Annie mock gasped, but she knew that belittling Nick could end their friendship. “Fine, we’ll leave them alone for today.”
    The morning after, Annie was shocked to see Nick crouching over the coins, crying. “Nick, what’s wrong buddy?”
    “N-n-nothing…”
    “You know you can trust me, right? I love you buddy, don’t forget that.”
    She wasn’t the best at comforting people, but this unexpectedly got Nick to open up. “My dad. He died a year ago. In a casino.”
    “Nick, I’m so sorry, I had no idea. Why didn’t you tell me?”
    “He got too greedy, too obsessed with gambling. Gangster’s shot the place up; he was caught in the crossfire. Doctors got there too late, he bled out on the floor.” Annie wrapped Nick in a warm, embracing hug. He wiped his tears away and continued. “I never talk about it because I don’t want to turn out like him. He got too involved with the game and couldn’t spend time with who he loved. He died surrounded by coins, Annie. Gold coins, just like these bastards.” He kicked the coins away from him, muttering something about murder.
    “Come here bud, don’t worry about it.”
    “No. No, I can’t be here anymore.”
    He ran away, leaving Annie all alone. She glared at the coins. “What have you done to my friend?” She threw them into the lake that the river flowed into. And then she left too.
    No matter how creepy the coins were, she couldn’t stop coming back to them. Every day, without fail, she was carried over by the coins. They had a hold over her and they wouldn’t let go.
    “I need to save him. It’s all up to me. Nobody else.”
    “Whatever it takes. I’ll stop him. For his sake.”
    The words were repeated over and over in her head. She visited the river again at night. The moon, reflecting in the water, almost calmed Annie. She glanced at the reflection, and there they were again. The coins. They’d returned.
    “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO MY FRIEND? I HAVEN’T SEEN HIM IN A WEEK!”
    “Annie? Are you okay?”
    “Nick? NICK!”
    “Why are you shouting at the coins?”
    “Because they’ve changed you Nick. You haven’t been in school at all, and your mother hasn’t seen you either.”
    “I’m sorry about scaring you, but it was necessary for me to overcome my irrational fear of coins. And I see that now.”
    “Nick, did you forget how to smile? You look like a robot.”
    “Everything is fine Annie.”
    “Nick, stop staring at me like that.”
    “Everything is fine Annie.”
    “Yeah, you already said that.”
    “Everything is fine Annie.”
    He lunged at her, grabbing the coins from her on the way down.
    “Don’t you see, Annie? The coins. They’re burning.”
    Nick’s eyes looked like they were burning, ablaze with rage.
    “Get off me! What are you talking about? They’re not burning!”
    She wriggled out from his cold, hard grasp and stumbled away from him.
    “Annie, you don’t understand. Now that I have defeated them, now that they are meeting their fiery end, I have complete power over them.” He cackled, still staring directly at Annie. “I’m not afraid anymore. I’ll never be afraid again. I am more powerful than you could ever imagine.”
    “No. I’m not going to let you do this Nick. These coins have done something to you, and I don’t like it.” She brushed the sweat and tears from her face and rushed towards Nick, seeming to copy her friend’s attack plan. She knocked him over, forcing the coins to fall out into the river.
    “LET GO OF ME, YOU BITCH!”
    “NICK, I’M TRYING TO HELP YOU!”
    “DOESN’T LOOK LIKE IT!”
    “DON’T MAKE ME DO THIS NICK!”
    “DO WHAT? YOU’RE JUST A WEAK LITTLE GIRL! THESE COINS HAVE SHOWN ME STRENGTH, AND I SHALL NOT WASTE IT!”
    They rolled into the river together, fighting to stay afloat. Annie grabbed his neck and pushed it against a rock. “IT’S FOR YOU, NICK! I’M DOING THIS FOR YOU! IT’S MY BUSINESS TO STOP YOU, WHATEVER IT TAKES!”
    She put all her weight onto her hand, thrusting Nick’s head against the rock. Blood started to flow out, and Nick’s heavy breathing came to a stop.
    “I did it to help you. I did it to help you. I did it to help you.” She sank into the river.
    Her mourning was immediately cut short, as the coins’ influence took a hold of her once again. “Where are you? Come here, you goddamn coins.”
    She looked up, towards the end of the river. It surged into a lake. Annie’s grin widened up to her eyes. “Bingo.”
    She waded through the waters until she had to swim. “I want you. I need you. I’ll scour this entire lake if that’s what it takes.”
    She swam. And swam. And swam. “I don’t care if it’s midnight. I don’t care if my body has given up. I’m doing this for me- no, for Nick. I’m doing this for Nick.”
    She sank into the watery depths of Lake Soldo, never to return.

    Reply
    • May 12, 2019 at 9:22 am
      Permalink

      Just noticed that I’ve accidentally placed an apostrophe in “Gangsters” when Nick opens up about his past

      Reply
    • May 13, 2019 at 7:13 pm
      Permalink

      Hi, Peter

      You really get a sense of the evil that the coins possess and transmit – they destroy both friends and presumably have destroyed and will destroy more. Good ending. I lost track at times of where the coins were supposed to be (at one point they were in the lake, then a moment later Annie was holding them …?) I thought that a fear of coins was your invention, but no – I looked it up: ‘cuprolaminophobia’, apparently. An intense story.

      (Oh, and welcome!)

      Reply
      • May 14, 2019 at 1:28 am
        Permalink

        Thank you very much, I’m joyful that you noticed the intense mood I was aiming for. And I see now what you mean about the confusing location of the coins at certain points, I shall have to repair that in my own time.

        (and thank you for the welcome, it’s good to be here!)

        Reply
      • May 14, 2019 at 10:11 am
        Permalink

        Hi Peter,

        Welcome to the group. I am a relative newcomer myself having only started at Christmas time.

        I can see that you certainly met the prompt with the six coins of the devil. Whilst there were actual coins in the story, the point is that money can and does corrupt and / or hurt people. The pursuit of wealth is in itself potentially risky but it still fuels many ambitions.

        I think Phil was right in his observations about where the coins were at different times during the story but this is something that is easy to remedy. One of the real benefits of this writers’ site is that other people read our work and ask questions that we may not have thought of.

        A very nice story and I look forward to reading more of your work.

        Ken Frape.

        Reply
        • May 14, 2019 at 10:32 am
          Permalink

          Thanks Ken, for the advice and the welcome. I liked your fishing story, which opened up some interesting discussions for me.

          Reply
    • May 14, 2019 at 11:45 am
      Permalink

      I liked the curse of the coins and you kept the pace going in the story. I think that if it were fleshed out a little more and give some room for the suspense to brew a little it would be even better.

      Reply
      • May 15, 2019 at 1:28 am
        Permalink

        Appreciate the feedback Wendy, thank you. I completely agree with the statement about fleshing the story out. I noticed that myself when I was writing it, but I’m not the best at dialogue, so I’ll definitely have to practice with that.

        Reply
        • May 15, 2019 at 3:32 pm
          Permalink

          I had to force myself to add dialogue for the longest time. I love using these prompts to push myself out the comfort zone sometimes.

          Reply
    • May 15, 2019 at 4:29 am
      Permalink

      Thrilling! And I had Gollum peeking over my shoulder while I read your story! 🙂

      Reply
      • May 15, 2019 at 2:49 pm
        Permalink

        Haha, thanks! I often ask for feedback from friends before entering competitions – I’ve been told that I might have been channelling Gollum and the theme of J.K. Rowling’s horcruxes…

        Reply
    • May 15, 2019 at 5:18 pm
      Permalink

      Peter,

      Exciting story. I have to disagree with you on dialogue. If you think you’re not very good at it. You seem pretty good at it to me. Like Wendy and Phil and Ken, I also feel like the location of the coins was a problem, but more of an unnecessary complication to the story. If we don’t need to know, don’t tell us. I had my own problem with complications this week, so I hope you don’t think I’m preaching. Just offering observations and suggestions.

      Reply
      • May 16, 2019 at 12:34 am
        Permalink

        Thank you very much for saying my dialogue was good, you’ve certainly helped me boost my confidence. Your observations and suggestions are very helpful, don’t feel bad about it.

        Reply
  • May 13, 2019 at 4:26 am
    Permalink

    Peter Holmes’s , Marien Oomen ‘s and my story are not added in the list of stories

    Reply
    • May 13, 2019 at 6:35 am
      Permalink

      Thanks for the reminder, Chitra. Still figuring out how this works. I can see my story, but I guess it’s got to be mentioned on top?
      Meanwhile it’s good to see the camaraderie going on. But am still a newbie in class!

      Reply
    • May 13, 2019 at 9:09 am
      Permalink

      Thank you for reminding them Chitra

      Reply
  • May 13, 2019 at 8:50 am
    Permalink

    Six golden souls

    Six crystal jars lay by the riverside, in the middle of the reeds, each of them containing a sparkling golden mist, floating inside.

    Two tall figures stood in front of them, in silence, contemplating the beauty of those tiny clouds.

    One of the figures, Remiel, was tall and thin, with blonde hair and blue eyes, and skin so pale, so white, it almost seemed translucent and his vests luminous and radiant. When he talked, his voice was soft, smooth as silk, so melodious it sounded like a song.

    The other one, Ronove, was the perfect opposite: short, crooked and fat, with black hair and anguine dark red eyes; his skin was wrinkled and dark grey, and his clothes vantablack, a color so dark that absorbed all the daylight. And the voice – so creepy was his voice that it sounded sickly sibilant.

    Both had been rivals since they could remember, and somehow Remiel almost always got the better of Ronove. “Well, not this time” Ronove decided. “It’s a treasure too precious to let go”.

    They turned to each other like two opponents in a duel, both serious, both defiant; both determined to take that treasure with them.

    “So,” Ronove hissed. “Let’s get this over with, shall we?” he grunted with a sneer.

    “By all means,” Remiel replied smiling serenely. “Although, for me, it never began. I will take all six with me to where they belong.”

    “It doesn’t really matter where they belong, it’s whom they belong to that must prevail, and they belong to me.”

    “I disagree…” Remiel smiled patiently.

    “What else is new,” Ronove grumbled.

    “They are pure souls, so they belong in the purest place among others like them.”

    Ronove whined something rude that Remiel decided to ignore, moving towards the jars.

    “Wait,” bawled Ronove, not prepared to give up yet. “You’re wrong. They’re not pure; they can’t be because they were generated in sin.”

    Remiel sighed and stopped.

    “Their parents were sinners, their fathers, their mothers. They rebelled against all that’s pure and good and engaged in unnatural unions. They were born from evil, so they are pure evil.”

    “You know that every soul is pure and divine, a part of love,” Remiel replied, “children’s souls above all. They are ‘blank sheets’, works in progress that if loved, nurtured and guided as they grow, they can become mature, rational and responsible adults. These,” he pointed at the six jars, “were never given the chance to become adults, so we can’t judge them for what they could be or who they could become.”

    “I can’t agree with the ‘empty bucket’ theory you mentioned. People are naturally evil and must learn to be good. Not the other way around. But not those born within a family of sinners, those can never learn how to be good. Destructive, selfish and criminal beings that went against who they were supposed to be and what they were created for. Sin is evil,” Ronove argued with contempt.

    “Children can’t be punished for the sins committed by their parents; neither are parents to be punished for the sins of their children. Each of us is responsible for our own sins and each of us must answer for them.”

    “Children are in perfect harmony with their parents’ will and way of thinking, therefore they will grow up to be just like them, with the same beliefs, the same immoralities, the same wrongs…”

    “How can you say that children are in perfect harmony with their parents’ will? Try telling a crying baby to ‘quieten down’ and see if he responds to the will of the parents.”

    Not convinced, Ronove kept on arguing. “It has been proven that evil is genetic. If the father or the mother are killers, then the baby will be a killer when he grows up too.”

    “Proven by whom? Men? The same men that say that you and I don’t exist, that we are mere ‘creations’ of religions to control them, to keep them from doing what themselves know is wrong. The same men that punished these children for no reason, that abused them, violated them, abandoned them!” Remiel took a deep breath; he had almost lost his temper for a while.

    Determined to end what was an unfruitful discussion, with a hand gesture Remiel lifted the six crystal jars containing the six golden souls. “They’re very simple loving humans, because they tend naturally to love. There’s no home for darkness in these illuminating souls; they’re just unconditional love. That’s why they’re golden souls, because they are pure and loving.”

    Remiel lifted himself to the sky, taking the jars with him, leaving Ronove growling and cursing, hissing and swearing as he crawled towards the river to then disappear into a black, sulphurous fog.

    Reply
    • May 13, 2019 at 9:20 am
      Permalink

      Hi there,

      What an expressive and thought-provoking piece, debating, if I understood it properly, the notion of original sin. Some interesting and persuasive arguments put forward also looking at the nature versus nurture debate.

      I was fascinated by the use of the word “Vantablack” that I had never heard before. It is not in my 2004 Oxford English Dictionary so I use Google. I quote the result of my search,
      “Vantablack is the superblack coating that is the darkest substance man has synthesed. It retains 99.965% of the light that falls upon its ensnaring surface, making it appear as though a wormhole to a remote corner in deep space.” Wow, now that is a word / colour that I must weave into a conversation somewhere soon!!!

      So glad that Remiel won this contest.

      Well written,

      Ken Frape.

      Reply
      • May 14, 2019 at 8:32 am
        Permalink

        Hi, Ken,

        Thank you for your kind words and yes, you understood it properly, It’s about nature versus nurture and the notion of original sin we usually believe in, regardless our religious beliefs.

        “Vantablack” is a great word, isn’t it? I found out about it very recently, by chance, but it’s one of those things that are trivial but you find it somehow interesting and it sticks into my memory.

        Reply
    • May 13, 2019 at 7:39 pm
      Permalink

      Hi, Marta

      A very clean and together story. There’s some lovely description (the crystal jars with the golden mist are very magical-sounding). The extreme contrast between the two characters is well portrayed. The discussion is deep but lightly handled. If I had to highlight one weakness it might be the ease with which Remiel wins the day; in fact it feels a bit like a foregone conclusion – Ronove doesn’t stand a chance! Maybe if there had been a point where it looked like Ronove was going to win the jars but then Remiel makes a comeback …? But that’s me just nit-picking really. A lovely story.

      Reply
      • May 14, 2019 at 8:34 am
        Permalink

        Hi, Phil

        Thank you for your constructive comment. I’m delighted that you enjoyed my story.
        I understand what you mean about the ease with which Remiel wins, but I was afraid that if I had given Ronove a little more power of argumentation, the narrative could be diverted to an outcome I didn’t want.
        You know better than me that sometimes stories have a ‘mind’ of their own and can escape our control…

        Reply
    • May 14, 2019 at 12:35 pm
      Permalink

      Wow you really got a lot of deep thoughts and debate into this tiny story. I like the back and forth between the angel and demon. I could almost see this fleshed out into a short play. I too now want to find some Vantablack.

      Reply
      • May 16, 2019 at 3:25 am
        Permalink

        Thanks so much for your comments, Wendy.
        I’m so glad you liked it!

        Reply
    • May 15, 2019 at 5:25 pm
      Permalink

      M. Costa,

      An entertaining story. I agree with Phil’s observations wholeheartedly. But wanted to add that the descriptive element is really magical. That first opening sentence is wonderful. How can you not be intrigued by that? In fact, much of the writing in the story has a mystical flavor to it. But the conflict is resolved—how? By rational discussion? That seems hard to believe. But your writing has a wonderful lilt to it. Very enjoyable.

      Reply
      • May 16, 2019 at 3:40 am
        Permalink

        Thanks so much, Ken,

        I appreciate your compliments as much as the ‘critiques’, to a newcomer to short story and flash fiction like me both are extremely valuable.

        Reply
  • May 13, 2019 at 10:00 am
    Permalink

    Hi Marien,
    I am not any better – finding my way.
    It seems like, unless you scroll down, a story has to appear on the list for others to know that there is a story sitting in there, waiting to be read.

    Reply
  • May 13, 2019 at 10:41 am
    Permalink

    Chitra, Marien, Peter – anyone who has signed up for comments will see that you have posted a story.

    Unfortunately I probably won’t be able to comment and vote as I’m travelling for work and a pretty intensive schedule. Wrote half a story, but won’t be able to finish it 🙁

    Reply
    • May 13, 2019 at 11:20 am
      Permalink

      I’m glad to know people can see it, but it was concerning when I realised that my story hasn’t been added to the list yet.
      And it’s certainly sad that you won’t be able to vote, hope to see you back online soon though.

      Reply
  • May 13, 2019 at 5:49 pm
    Permalink

    Plunder by Wendy Edsall-Kerwin [word count 779]

    “What do you mean you want to keep it?”

    “I mean I want to keep it. We’ve spent ten years trying to find Blackmaw’s treasure and now that we’ve found it, Jack, I want to keep it.”

    “But it’s not ours, Barry. These belong in a museum.”

    “Hold it right there, Indiana. Who do you think gets to keep them? The state of Florida? The US government? Just because we found it here doesn’t mean it’s theirs. Captain Blackmaw turned pirate and stole all this. Should it go to England because he was a British citizen? Should it be divided between the Brits, US, Spain , and France since he plundered it from their ships? No! I say finders keepers.”

    Jack gestured toward the river bank. “There are six chests buried here! How do you plan on selling that much loot on the black market?”

    “The same way you sold that chalice you found in ‘open waters.’”

    “Hey, that was twenty years ago…”

    “And this is now and we both have mortgages to pay – not to mention all the equipment and research we paid for just to find this. You can do what you like with your half, but I’m keeping my three chests and disappearing.”

    Whatever Jack was about to say in rebuttal was cut off by the sound of twigs cracking. Barry felt the muzzle of a gun press into his back and saw four other figures emerge out of the trees and surround them.

    “How about you give them to the Seminole Nation since you’re actually standing on our land.”

    “But we checked and there are no tribal lands in a 25 mile radius of here.”

    “You should have used a more recent map. We negotiated with the government five years ago to get water access and this is now all ours straight down to the coast.”

    “Hey, we did all the hard work to find this treasure. It’s been missing for almost 300 years and we were the only ones to figure out where Blackmaw hid it.” The man behind Barry cut him off with a poke in the ribs.

    “You realize there are serious penalties for looting indigenous artifacts? And if you run crying to your government that we don’t have a claim to them, do you really think you get to keep any of it once they get their hands on it? These chests are not going home with you.”

    “I have an idea.” Jack looked around at the men. “There are five of you and six chests. Why don’t you each take one and we keep the sixth? Consider it payment for finding them for you and for keeping our mouths shut about where this treasure originally came from. That way you won’t have four countries trying to take it away from you.”

    “Alright, I’m not a complete asshole, that’s a fair deal. You take one chest – of my choosing – and get off our lands as fast as you can. Never come back, never contact us,” he punctuated each of these words with a jab of his gun into Barry’s back, “and Never. Breathe. A. Word. about this to anyone. Fair enough?”

    Jack & Barry quickly agreed and stepped aside as the five Seminoles went through the chests. They chose the ones filled with gold and gems, leaving the one that had mostly cloth, a few pieces of jewelry, and a couple of old ships logs. The treasure hunters grabbed it and high tailed it back to their Jeep, heading out toward the highway.

    “I can’t believe we wasted ten years and thousands of dollars on a chest full of rotting cloth. If we’re lucky we’ll get gas money out of this.”

    Jack had a crazy grin on his face. “Don’t be such a Debbie Downer – we got the best chest of them all.”

    “You can’t be serious. It’s full of garbage.”

    “Garbage and two ships logs written by Blackmaw himself. Did you know that he was the first mate on the King George’s Breeches?” Jack was almost humming with excitement.

    “You mean Captain Corsair’s ship? But his missing treasure was supposed to be twice as big as Blackmaw’s.”

    “And I saw the hallmarks of Blackmaw’s secret code in the pages of that log. From what I was able to piece together from a quick perusal, there are directions out to an atoll that’s covered with water now.”

    Barry punched Jack on the shoulder. “You sneaky bastard. You were going to donate all that loot and keep the logs for yourself. That’s why I love you, man. You are one crafty hunter.”

    “What do you say we go charter ourselves a boat?”
    ###

    Reply
    • May 15, 2019 at 1:37 am
      Permalink

      I’m writing a pirate story right now, and your treasure chest story is so good that I’ve defeated the writer’s block I reached recently. Good job Wendy, loving it

      Reply
    • May 15, 2019 at 5:51 am
      Permalink

      Hi, Wendy

      Great little twist here. It’s always gratifying when the underdog outwits the bully. The dialogue is smooth and clear and tells us all we need to know.

      Here there could maybe have been some reaction from Jack and Barry at being discovered:

      – “How about you give them to the Seminole Nation since you’re actually standing on our land.”

      – “But we checked and there are no tribal lands in a 25 mile radius of here.”

      And here, the Seminole might have spent a few moments pondering the offer before accepting:

      – “Alright, I’m not a complete *sshole, that’s a fair deal.”

      Nitpicking, though. Enjoyed it.

      Reply
      • May 15, 2019 at 3:28 pm
        Permalink

        Yeah, it bothered me too Phil lol. I originally wrote the story up to this point solely with dialogue and added the prose bits on the second run through, but couldn’t quite figure this part out the whole way. Thanks!

        Reply
    • May 15, 2019 at 5:32 pm
      Permalink

      Wenders,

      Fun story. Great writing. Fabulous dialogue. Super ending. I loved it. I didn’t see a thing wrong with it. But Phil’s observations are spot on.

      Reply
  • May 13, 2019 at 7:28 pm
    Permalink

    Hi, Marien

    That’s a bit of a crazy story (in a good way) – from the Met to the trailer park to the river bank … some great images (the costume, the shark and the jeans) and turns of phrase. I like the relationship between Nina and her father – the simple things in life! The dialogue is brisk (though the turns are mixed up sometimes), e.g.

    “Alrighty then. I can’t force you.”

    “Papa, here’s a little something for a treat…

    Not sure I get the last line. That’s the father speaking, and we know what he thinks about the Met, but the ‘bread’n’butter’ part?

    (Welcome, btw!)

    Reply
    • May 13, 2019 at 10:54 pm
      Permalink

      Oops! The spacing ain’t right in the last line.. it’s Nina speaking.
      Thanks for pointing out, Phil!
      Will repost.. if possible.

      Yes.. it’s a crazy run of my ‘magination after I watched that crazy Met Gala on TV!
      Chuckle chuckle.

      Reply
    • May 14, 2019 at 6:11 am
      Permalink

      Camp Out

      Nina walked fast down the back lane. Her red feathers were getting in the way of her giant unladylike strides. She was stepping on them and it got caught on the buckle of her high-heels.

      She knew she looked ridiculous but luckily for her there was nobody on the back road. Because every bloomin’ body was busy in front of the Met. She had to make good her escape when nobody was spying on her. Tony wouldn’t miss her one jot. He was so spaced out looking at the football game on his IPhone.

      “What a stupid theme for the gala.” She complained to Tony during their final touch ups.

      “Couldn’t they have picked something more humane, more down to earth? Why does everything have to be so kitsch?”

      One look at that awful ‘head’ the bloke was holding in his right hand, made Nina want to puke. How ridiculous can you get to be carrying your own head?

      She had dressed like a big bird- a Muccentino inspired collection- with a bottom, which had been nicely carved out to perfection. Standing on those steps of the Met, with the photographers clicking away at her juicy angles, she gazed in pretend lovingness at Tony.

      “Honey, look towards me.” She whispered, “You gotta look into my eyes.”

      “Hey I can’t do better than this. I’m genius at suave.”

      “Smile, please.”

      “Gosh! Now it’s the PBN clicking us. When I turn around, just grab my tush.”

      “It looks like goose. Okay, I will. But I can’t keep faking it, sweet pea. When will this lousy thing get done?”

      They were walking down the hall viewing all the artwork. More than half of them weren’t there for the art.

      Nina thought of her own mom who was a struggling artist and would’ve loved her work to be displayed right at the park entrance. But she had walked away from her life when she was just 14. Nina brushed those memories away.

      “Sandra, come with me to the wash room. Let’s go spruce up.”

      The washroom was choking with scent, perfumes, feathers, and ribbons. They were taking selfies and smoking like chimneys. Smoking was forbidden anywhere near the art collection. But these nouveau-riches knew nothing at all. They broke all rules.

      It was the worst display of stinking lack of talent. And good actresses like her had to mingle with singularly idiotic ones from the pit.

      Nina could stomach it no more. She felt sick to the core.
      A quick visit to the loo…the sound of the flush and she was out. She made a dash for the exit door.

      “Heavens, there’s a family coming. GO AWAYYY. Don’t notice me.”

      “Ma, who is that red bird?”

      Nina walked faster. She took off her high heels and started a short sprint.

      The Hudson River at the far end, looked beautiful in the dark starry night. So close and yet no way could she get there during the interval unless…unless…

      “Taxi!”

      The yellow cab stopped right beside her.

      “Where to, ma’am? He couldn’t see her face, covered in a scarf.

      Nina hoped her dad wasn’t sleeping. In ten minutes she was at the trailer park. Outside his green, creeper-covered door.

      “Dad, open the door. It’s me, Nina.”

      The man within grunted and peeped through the keyhole.
      “Hold a minute, let me get the stupid key. What are you doing here so late?”

      The door opens.

      “Dada!” She ran into his arms. “How have you been?”

      “What are doing in this outrageous costume? Been to a costume party? You’ll scare my little friends..”

      “Papa, don’t you read anything other than wild life, nature stuff? Do you even know I was invited to the Met Gala? It’s no ordinary event.”

      “By virtue of what? Are you the tea girl?”

      “Oh! You are so annoying. I am an actress. You know that. Don’t pretend. And I’m successful.”

      “Hmmmmm!”

      “Only top people get invited to the Met Gala. This year they decided to have me on their guest list. Don’t you read the newspapers? No TV either. Unheard of! Oof!”

      “Nina, my girl, I’m happy for you. You’ve got your life to live and I got mine.”

      “But, Dad, I want you to rejoice with me. Get dressed and come with me to the Gala. I can take you in. See I got a pass. Just wear your best outfit.”

      “Honey, I’m not coming. To be counted among those fools? Then more fool I.”

      “Alrighty then. I can’t force you. Papa, I gotta little something for a treat. You know, go spoil yourself at the pub or have a meal at a Steak House. Go with a buddy.”

      “Since when has a dad lived off his daughter, hey? The good Lord has provided for me in more ways than ten. Look at my fridge. I’ve got everything I need to fill my tum.”

      “I don’t know what to do with you, Nina replied. You are so argumentative. Is it pride? Yes, definitely pride.”

      “At least let’s go for a walk down by the river for ol’ times sake.”

      “That I will do happily. Maybe catch a yellow tail. You can take it back to the Met and dangle it in front of the biggest celebrity.”

      “Look, Nina, there’s no end to this natural beauty. I love to hear the crickets sing. The frogs croak my nighttime lullaby.
      Spare me the glitz of the city.”

      “How are we so different?”

      “Here my heart goes soft, my pulse gets slower,
      I gaze at the stars and thank my Maker.”

      “I’m proud of you, Dad. But how long can you gaze at the leaves and trees, listen to the cricket, follow the lizard and the hedgehog?”

      They walked right onto the waterfront. Something was being pulled in the water fifty feet away.

      “Oh crumbs! It looks like somebody’s drowning. Or his trousers are afloat. Like a fish is pulling it!”

      “I gotta save that fish,” Dad said. “Wait a sec. It’s a Blacktip reef shark! They can bite!”

      “Be careful, Dad!”

      “Silly city folks…they think they can leave their clothes anywhere they wish.”

      Dad dove right in and tugged at the blue denim trousers, yanking it away from the fighting fish.

      “Dad, you look like a merman right now.”

      Nina sat down on the riverbank. She didn’t care a fig for the designer dress she was wearing. This was more fun.

      Her dad was checking the pockets of the denim trouser.
      “What’s this?” he shouted, shaking it.

      A bundle of notes fell out from the pocket.

      “Gee whiz! Nina, do you see what I see?” He counted it with uneasy fingers as if it were some blood money.

      600 dollars!

      “Whom does it belong to? How do I find out?”

      “It’s finders keepers. Dad, it’s yours now.”

      “No, honey, I gotta find out. If I don’t find him, I know exactly where this money is going.”

      “Where, Dad?”

      “No telling.”

      “That’s lame. I’m taking it. I’ll invest it, Dad, for YOU.”

      “Give it back, Nina.”

      “Here, take. You never think of yourself, Dad! I’m going back to the Met. Superficiality stinks. But it’s bread ‘n butter.”

      (1,200)

      Reply
      • May 14, 2019 at 12:41 pm
        Permalink

        I like the idea of this story, but I admit I got a little confused as it moved through different stages. Just a little. With just a couple more lines in there I think it would flow a little easier. My one pet peeve when reading anything is unreality in distances traveled. I don’t believe it would be easy to move from Manhatten to anywhere there was a trailer surrounded by nature and then still have the time to get back to the Met. Like I said, this is just my pet peeve. I do like the way she is caught between two worlds – the fake nouveau riche and her calling as a real actor. Then add in the third world of her father and there are many layers to who she is. Your reworking of the last line really helped too.

        Reply
    • May 14, 2019 at 10:31 am
      Permalink

      Hi Marien,

      One or two aspects of this story puzzled me but that’s probably just me not being in your head!

      As Phil suggests, it is a bit crazy in places and that last line may be brilliant but you will need to explain it to poor little me.

      Ken Frape.

      Reply
  • May 14, 2019 at 6:59 am
    Permalink

    Thanks Phil for your very encouraging critiques. Pleased that you enjoyed my story.
    I am interested in how people with basic needs in life live happily satisfied, and how they adapt to their environments.
    The story is set in Africa ( never been there but hoping to visit one day). The brothers have a less amplified fear of wild and dangerous animals because they live around them.

    Reply
  • May 14, 2019 at 8:06 am
    Permalink

    The Kings Of Carter County. (Or, Gem Kadiddlehopper.)
    (1197) (With apologies to historians and Hittites alike.)
    by ken cartisano

    Randall Carter and his friend, Jimmy, standing ankle deep in the ice cold rushing water, wrestled the embedded stone from the bank of the creek, and as they got it free, they found the remnants of a tattered cloth bag containing a set of deep green gemstones, perfectly cut into small, coffin-like shapes.

    “Well looky here. Peers we found ourselves a buried treasure.”

    Jimmy, who was quite a bit older and wiser than Randall said, “Let me see those.” He studied the bag, the small gems, and even the spot where they were lying before handing them back to Randall. “Either some rich old Englishman chose to hide the family jewels in your backyard, or someone’s playin’ a trick on you.”

    Randall removed his hat and wiped the sweat with his forearm. “I think they might be worth something. You wanna split ‘em?”

    “Nah. No thanks. You keep ‘em Randall.”

    But Randall insisted. They were standing on Randall’s family farm, but since Jimmy found the stones, an even split seemed fair. “You can have ‘em made into a necklace for yer new flame, Becky Allison.”

    *****

    Mollette Willard was an old woman which, strictly speaking, meant that she possessed a great deal of wisdom that no one was interested in hearing, but, when her feeble-minded nephew Randall Carter showed her the stones he’d found, she sat up in her rocking chair and said, “Randall Carter, you wrap those stones in that dish towel there, and take ‘em o’er to the College in Mars Hill.”

    That’s how Professor Marvin Rash became aware of the stones. He scratched the back of his neck and made a pained expression. “I don’t know, Mr. Carter. You should take them to a jeweler. They’re clearly valuable, but I…” He caught sight through the doorway of another professor crossing the hall and unceremoniously hailed him. “Professor Moore—could I see you for a moment?” He winked at Randall Carter and said, “He’s head of the History department.”

    Professor Henry Moore entered the office looking mildly annoyed, his face flushed. As soon as he saw the stones he froze, as if held in the grip of a powerful magnetic field. “Where’d you find these?”

    “Down by the creek near the…” Randall started to explain, but he could see that Professor Moore wasn’t listening. He was holding one of the cut stones up to the light, turning it very slowly. “You got a magnifying glass?” He fairly barked. Randall slapped his pockets reflexively, while Professor Rash provided a large, heavily scuffed lens with a black handle. “Extraordinary,” Moore whispered, as he examined one stone and then the others. “They’re identical,” he said, “and flawless.”

    Professor Rash, the geologist, agreed, but lacked any sense of awe. “They’re very high grade, I’ll give you that, and reasonably valu…”

    Professor Moore interrupted him. “These stones are part of…” He stopped abruptly, and addressed Randall for the first time. “Do you have more?”

    “Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. No.” Randall lied, not very convincingly. “Waah?”

    “Why? Becuz these stones were part of the head dress of an ancient Hittite Queen.”

    Professor Rash uttered a dismissive snort. “You’re joking. You can’t possibly identify three stones from antiquity in less than a minute.”

    Professor Moore seemed to grow taller. “I’d stake my reputation on it,” he said, still holding one of the stones. “I minored in archeology,” he explained. “Did my thesis on the Hittite Queen Maathorneferure, her life, her death, her garments, her jewelry, as well as these gems, which were cut to precise specifications, and are part of a matching set. As valuable as these three stones are, the entire set would be priceless, not to mention its immense historical significance.”

    “But this is North Carolina, Moore. How could something like that wind up half-way around the world, centuries after its disappearance?”

    Professor Moore shook his head. “I don’t know.” He turned his attention to Randall. “Where’d you say you found these stones, Mr. Carter?”

    “I didn’t say.” Randall said. “But they’s on my Aunt’s propitty, and they belong to her.”

    “I don’t suppose you’ve ever been overseas.”

    Randall looked scandalized. “Naw. I ain’t never been out of Carter County.”

    An awkward silence ensued as the two professors gazed at the floor.

    “Course, my great-uncle now, he did some travelin’, both before, and after the war.”

    “World War Two?”

    Randall nodded. “Yes sir.”

    Professor Rash inquired further on this point. “Do you happen to know where he served? In the war, I mean?”

    Randall shook his head. “No sir. I don’t rightly recall. I wuz about knee high to a tadpole when he passed, and it’s been a long time since.”

    Both professors sighed. But then Randall added, with complete innocence. “Course, he mentioned the name Rommel a lot. He was in a manner, might proud of bestin’ someone named Rommel.”

    Both professors blinked, thinking, ‘North Africa.’ Not exactly Giza or the Middle East, but a damned sight closer to the gem’s origins than North Carolina.

    Professor Moore’s face took on a hard, set expression. “I need to make a phone call.” He turned to Randall. “Could you hang around for a few minutes, Mr. Carter? I have some friends who, I think, would be very interested in your discovery.”

    Randall didn’t nod, or agree, but Professor Moore took no notice of this. “I’ll be right back,” he said, before ducking out the door.

    No sooner had Moore left the room when Randall declared he wanted some fresh air. Professor Rash urged him to remain on campus, and Randall assured him that he just wanted some fresh air.

    By the time Professor Moore returned to Rash’s office, Randall Carter was long gone, along with his precious Hittite stones.

    “Where is he?” Moore demanded.

    “He left.” Rash replied.

    “I can see that. Why’d you let him go?”

    “I have no power to hold him here. Besides, you know his name, you know his approximate location; he won’t be that difficult to find.”

    Professor Moore collapsed into the only other chair in the room and put his face in his hands.

    Sensing his despair Rash said, “What’s the problem?”

    Moore looked up, his face contorted with disgust. “You’re not from around here, are you?”

    “No,” Rash replied. “Why?”

    “Half the people in this county are named ‘Moore.”

    “Uh-huh. So?”

    “The other half are named ‘Carter.’ Believe me, I’ll look for ‘em, but my guess is we’ll never see those stones again.”

    *******

    Randall and Jimmy watched Becky through the drug store window as she showed off her new necklace to her girlfriends.

    “I appreciate you giving me the rest of those stones, Randall. Becky’s mighty impressed with me.”

    Randall stirred his milkshake with his straw. “Wail, I don’t reckon a handful of priceless artifacts would improve my life much. Aunt Molly was gonna make me bury ‘em again anyway. Last thing we want is a bunch of angry in-tee-llectuals trompin’ around the propitty.” After a short silence he asked, “You tell ‘er we found the gems in the creek?”

    Jimmy shook his head. “Heck no. Are you crazy? I made up some cockamamie story about seeing it on the shopping network.”

    “Good thinking,” Randall said.

    Reply
    • May 14, 2019 at 12:32 pm
      Permalink

      Haha it’s funny to think of priceless artifacts being more of a pain than a boon, but it seems like it might be from Randall’s perspective. Plus now they helped Jimmy impress his girlfriend. I can’t figure out what the Randall & Carter inference that Ken Frape is talking about. It must be an age thing…

      Reply
      • May 15, 2019 at 5:44 pm
        Permalink

        Wendy,
        An AGE Thing? Why… how old do you think Ken F. is? I hope I’m not adding this explanation too soon but, I think what Ken meant was the Carter and Moore thing. The fact that most people in that county have one of two last names. Which simply makes tracking down the stones again impossible.
        But I think the real point is exactly as you summed it up. It’s an ‘old saw’ presented in a different way.

        Reply
          • May 16, 2019 at 7:46 pm
            Permalink

            That thought simply never occurred to me, Wendy. (Don’t make me bring up the blow-torch again.)

    • May 15, 2019 at 1:41 am
      Permalink

      An excellent, thought-provoking story from you. I’m a fan of the old-timey, intellectual vibe from your dialogue

      Reply
      • May 15, 2019 at 1:42 am
        Permalink

        Sorry, got confused for a minute. I meant the lack of intellectual vibe. As in, very colloquial. Either way, good story mate

        Reply
        • May 15, 2019 at 5:46 pm
          Permalink

          Peter,

          Thanks for the feedback, man. It was kind of a retro mountain backwoods thing. (I think.)

          Reply
  • May 14, 2019 at 10:47 am
    Permalink

    Hi Ken,

    Are you back from your trip? Hope it was fun.

    Typically tongue-in-cheek story from you, with a mish-mash of throw-away lines and an unexpected ending.

    I really enjoyed the language which was very authentic sounding to my UK ear. The whole thing seemed to hang together nicely and I suspect it represents the different attitudes and values associated with ancient artefacts. In other words, one man’s treasure …..etc. I hope Becky appreciates how fortunate she is.

    A very entertaining read.

    Regards,

    Ken Frape.

    Reply
    • May 14, 2019 at 10:49 am
      Permalink

      Hi Ken,
      Oh, I almost missed the Randall and Carter inference. Clever!

      Ken Frape.

      Reply
    • May 15, 2019 at 6:17 pm
      Permalink

      Greetings Ken F.

      Yes, I’m back. From my trip. I had a ton of fun. (Not really, it was more like four, or five hundred pounds worth, but still a significant amount.)

      I wouldn’t say this was my finest achievement, story-wise, and I was running out of time, so I couldn’t bend the story into the direction I originally had planned. But I worked on it until I was at least satisfied.

      As per your comments about dialogue:
      I totally agree. As soon as you notice the dialogue, you’re being pulled out of the story. It’s another aspect of dialogue that, heck, I don’t know, it’s just another aspect of dialogue. That’s all I know.

      I came across an interesting (if heartbreaking) book called ‘The Cove.’ (Written by a Ron Rash.) I wish I had time to finish it before I wrote and posted my own story. Anyway, there was a printed interview with him at the back of the book. He said something about dialogue that I thought was very relevant to writers who wish to replicate a dialect or accent in their characters. (As I was trying to do in my story.) And it was in fact a strange coalescence of circumstance that found me reading a book about Appalachia shortly after starting a story about Appalachia. While I was in Appalachia. Go figure.

      Question: When you use Appalachian dialects in your writing, especially in the first person, do you find the writing to be more challenging, or is it more natural?
      Answer: The challenge is to keep it from becoming caricature. Sometimes I find that being true to the way it might be spoken isn’t true on the page. I believe dialect in fiction is more an art of translation than mimicry.

      Alice does wonderful dialects and accents. When she does them. She’s a natural born translator.

      Reply
  • May 15, 2019 at 7:26 am
    Permalink

    Hi, Ken

    When the theme for the week was ‘dialogue’ I knew you’d shine. As Ken says, it sounds very authentic, and it’s all germane to the story. And the story’s good. I got a ‘Beverly Hillbillies’ feel from both the dialogue and the simplicity of the folk. And there’s a nice moral, too: ‘Money can’t buy happiness’ (and can only complicate things, according to the friends). One tiny false step for me: “You can have ‘em made into a necklace for yer new flame, Becky Allison.” Randall wouldn’t have used her name, I don’t think, as they both know it already. A tiny nit. Very enjoyable story.

    Reply
    • May 15, 2019 at 6:58 pm
      Permalink

      Phil,

      You’re being very frugal with your criticism in my case, but I won’t fault you for that. And I see your criticism and raise it. No, actually I agree. It’s a misstep. I really wanted her name in there somewhere. so… I guess I forced it. Actually, this is one of those things where too much realism sounds false. He (Randall) might very well have used her name, and indeed her full name, IF, she was a NEW flame. Which is what I did.

      In the deep south, (Appalachia) there’s always at least two ‘Becky’s’ for every three mountains. (It’s a proven fact.) Therefore, Randall would be sure to be CLEAR as to which of the two Becky’s he was referring to as his friend’s new flame. Whereas, if it was an ongoing flame, then it would already be clear who his girlfriend was, and no name at all would be used. (Unless his friend was teasing him, which he mostly likely would be, in which case, it’s back to the full, wrong, name. Got it?)

      But you’re right. It sounds wrong. I should have put it in there differently somehow. “You can have ’em made into a necklace for Becky.” His most recent flame. (I think that would have worked. But no name would have worked better.)

      Point taken though. Thanks Phil.

      Reply
  • May 15, 2019 at 10:04 am
    Permalink

    STORY BY MARIEN OOMMEN

    Camp Out
    By Marien Oommen

    Nina walked fast down the back lane. Her red feathers were getting in the way of her giant unladylike strides. She was stepping on them and it got caught on the buckle of her high-heels.

    She knew she looked ridiculous but luckily for her there was nobody on the back road. Because every bloomin’ body was busy in front of the Met. She had to make good her escape when nobody was spying on her. Tony wouldn’t miss her one jot. He was so spaced out looking at the football game on his IPhone.

    “What a stupid theme for the gala.” She complained to Tony during their final touch ups.

    “Couldn’t they have picked something more humane, more down to earth? Why does everything have to be so kitsch?”

    One look at that awful ‘head’ the bloke was holding in his right hand, made Nina want to puke. How ridiculous can you get to be carrying your own head?

    She had dressed like a big bird- a Muccentino inspired collection- with a bottom, which had been nicely carved out to perfection. Standing on those steps of the Met, with the photographers clicking away at her juicy angles, she gazed in pretend lovingness at Tony.

    “Honey, look towards me.” She whispered, “You gotta look into my eyes.”

    “Hey I can’t do better than this. I’m genius at suave.”

    “Smile, please.”

    “Gosh! Now it’s the PBN clicking us. When I turn around, just grab my tush.”

    “It looks like goose. Okay, I will. But I can’t keep faking it, sweet pea. When will this lousy thing get done?”

    They were walking down the hall viewing all the artwork. More than half of them weren’t there for the art.

    Nina thought of her own mom who was a struggling artist and would’ve loved her work to be displayed right at the park entrance. But she had walked away from her life when she was just 14. Nina brushed those memories away.

    “Sandra, come with me to the wash room. Let’s go spruce up.”

    The washroom was choking with scent, perfumes, feathers, and ribbons. They were taking selfies and smoking like chimneys. Smoking was forbidden anywhere near the art collection. But these nouveau-riches knew nothing at all. They broke all rules.

    It was the worst display of stinking lack of talent. And good actresses like her had to mingle with singularly idiotic ones from the pit.

    Nina could stomach it no more. She felt sick to the core.
    A quick visit to the loo…the sound of the flush and she was out. She made a dash for the exit door.

    “Heavens, there’s a family coming. GO AWAYYY. Don’t notice me.”

    “Ma, who is that red bird?”

    Nina walked faster. She took off her high heels and started a short sprint.

    The Hudson River at the far end, looked beautiful in the dark starry night. So close and yet no way could she get there during the interval unless…unless…

    “Taxi!”

    The yellow cab stopped right beside her.

    “Where to, ma’am? He couldn’t see her face, covered in a scarf.

    Nina hoped her dad wasn’t sleeping. In ten minutes she was at the trailer park. Outside his green, creeper-covered door.

    “Dad, open the door. It’s me, Nina.”

    The man within grunted and peeped through the keyhole.
    “Hold a minute, let me get the stupid key. What are you doing here so late?”

    The door opens.

    “Dada!” She ran into his arms. “How have you been?”

    “What are doing in this outrageous costume? Been to a costume party? You’ll scare my little friends..”

    “Papa, don’t you read anything other than wild life, nature stuff? Do you even know I was invited to the Met Gala? It’s no ordinary event.”

    “By virtue of what? Are you the tea girl?”

    “Oh! You are so annoying. I am an actress. You know that. Don’t pretend. And I’m successful.”

    “Hmmmmm!”

    “Only top people get invited to the Met Gala. This year they decided to have me on their guest list. Don’t you read the newspapers? No TV either. Unheard of! Oof!”

    “Nina, my girl, I’m happy for you. You’ve got your life to live and I got mine.”

    “But, Dad, I want you to rejoice with me. Get dressed and come with me to the Gala. I can take you in. See I got a pass. Just wear your best outfit.”

    “Honey, I’m not coming. To be counted among those fools? Then more fool I.”

    “Alrighty then. I can’t force you. Papa, I gotta little something for a treat. You know, go spoil yourself at the pub or have a meal at a Steak House. Go with a buddy.”

    “Since when has a dad lived off his daughter, hey? The good Lord has provided for me in more ways than ten. Look at my fridge. I’ve got everything I need to fill my tum.”

    “I don’t know what to do with you, Nina replied. You are so argumentative. Is it pride? Yes, definitely pride.”

    “At least let’s go for a walk down by the river for ol’ times sake.”

    “That I will do happily. Maybe catch a yellow tail. You can take it back to the Met and dangle it in front of the biggest celebrity.”

    “Look, Nina, there’s no end to this natural beauty. I love to hear the crickets sing. The frogs croak my nighttime lullaby.
    Spare me the glitz of the city.”

    “How are we so different?”

    “Here my heart goes soft, my pulse gets slower,
    I gaze at the stars and thank my Maker.”

    “I’m proud of you, Dad. But how long can you gaze at the leaves and trees, listen to the cricket, follow the lizard and the hedgehog?”

    They walked right onto the waterfront. Something was being pulled in the water fifty feet away.

    “Oh crumbs! It looks like somebody’s drowning. Or his trousers are afloat. Like a fish is pulling it!”

    “I gotta save that fish,” Dad said. “Wait a sec. It’s a Blacktip reef shark! They can bite!”

    “Be careful, Dad!”

    “Silly city folks…they think they can leave their clothes anywhere they wish.”

    Dad dove right in and tugged at the blue denim trousers, yanking it away from the fighting fish.

    “Dad, you look like a merman right now.”

    Nina sat down on the riverbank. She didn’t care a fig for the designer dress she was wearing. This was more fun.

    Her dad was checking the pockets of the denim trouser.
    “What’s this?” he shouted, shaking it.

    A bundle of notes fell out from the pocket.

    “Gee whiz! Nina, do you see what I see?” He counted it with uneasy fingers as if it were some blood money.

    600 dollars!

    “Whom does it belong to? How do I find out?”

    “It’s finders keepers. Dad, it’s yours now.”

    “No, honey, I gotta find out. If I don’t find him, I know exactly where this money is going.”

    “Where, Dad?”

    “No telling.”

    “That’s lame. I’m taking it. I’ll invest it, Dad, for YOU.”

    “Give it back, Nina.”

    “Here, take. You never think of yourself, Dad! I’m going back to the Met. Superficiality stinks. But it’s bread ‘n butter.”

    (1,200)

    Reply
    • May 15, 2019 at 7:10 pm
      Permalink

      Marien,

      I believe your last sentence should be. ‘But it’s MY bread ‘n’ butter.’ (The point being that that’s how she makes her money, no matter how distasteful.)

      It’s a wild and crazy story with a warmhearted message. However, in reality, only a fool would jump in the water with a black-tipped reef shark. Unless they knew, there was a huge reward for it. But I see you’ve reworked it so it’s almost believable. (One might wade into knee deep water with a reef shark, yes?) Plus, he says, ‘I gotta save that fish.” So it fits in with the crazy theme of the story.

      Reply
  • May 15, 2019 at 10:47 am
    Permalink

    First off, I want to apologize for not being as attentive to the site as I should have been. It’s been a hectic week for both Carrie and myself which is why things have been neglected. Usually one of us has a busy schedule and the other one takes up the slack, but this time around we were both pretty busy and unable to carry the load. The list above is updated, and I will have the voting link up after the deadline listed.

    Thanks folks for being understanding and providing your stories to our little contest.

    Alice 🙂

    Reply
  • May 15, 2019 at 10:53 am
    Permalink

    I’m in the Black Hills chasing turkeys with pretty much zero internet service 90% of the time.

    Appreciate everyone understanding the moderators aren’t always online. 😊

    Reply
    • May 15, 2019 at 7:14 pm
      Permalink

      Carrie,

      The Black Hills? Chasiing turkeys? Wild turkeys? Uh-huh. Suuuuuure. (You mean you were chasing something WITH Wild Turkey. No?) Is that South Dakota territory?

      Reply
      • May 16, 2019 at 8:48 am
        Permalink

        Hahaha literally…. chasing….wild turkeys.
        I mean I haven’t actually found any so they’ll live to see another day while I drink the complimentary make believe cocktails they serve while you gamble away your sorrows….

        But it’s ok cuz today I get to go see Buffalo and go on a Deadwood ghost tour.

        Not sure if that’s better or worse than running around like a maniac in the woods 😂😂😂😂

        Reply
        • May 16, 2019 at 6:58 pm
          Permalink

          Hey Carrie,

          Deadwood ghost tour sounds like fun. I had a friend once, (no, it’s true, I really did) who told me quite a bit about turkey hunting. They’re very smart and cagey birds. Now, I never went myself, but he told me that you have to get up before dawn, find a good hiding place, and have one of those turkey callers. The birds are looking for a female, and you’re calling them, inviting them to mate. According to him, you had to get them to approach with the bird-caller, but you had to anticipate when they were close and stop calling lest you give yourself, or your exact position away. Because somehow, if you call them when they’re within sight, for some reason (perhaps because they don’t see a female) they get spooked and skedaddle before you can even draw a bead on them. Does that sound right? Is that what you’ve been doing?

          Reply
  • May 15, 2019 at 12:10 pm
    Permalink

    Okay Ladies and Gentlemen, this story thread is now closed and it’s time to vote!!

    Here is a gentle and loving reminder, that you can NOT vote for your own story, and you MUST vote in order for your story to qualify. Good Luck to you all, and may the odds forever be in your favor 🙂

    http://fiction.wwocz.net/blog/voting-for-riverdiscussion2019/

    Reply
  • May 16, 2019 at 11:54 am
    Permalink

    Waiting on Marien’s votes. I’ll post the results a quarter after the hour, regardless. 🙂

    Reply
    • May 16, 2019 at 12:21 pm
      Permalink

      About to board a flight! Yikes!! Just sent it in! 😀😀😀

      Reply
  • May 16, 2019 at 12:50 pm
    Permalink

    River Discussion May 16, 2019

    The Winner is!!
    First Place: Fishing with Pa by Ken Frape

    2nd Place: The River Giveth and the River Taketh Away by RM York
    3rd Place: Plunder by Wendy Edsall-Kerwin
    4th Place: The Kings Of Carter County by Ken Cartisano
    5th Place: And From the Ground by Phil Town
    6th Place: Story Telling by berlinermax
    7th Place: The Queen’s Temper by Amy Raines
    8th Place: Six Golden Souls by M. Costa (Marta)
    9th Place: The Find by Chitra Adjoodah
    10th Place: Money for Nothing by Peter Holmes
    11th Place: Camp Out by Marien Oommen

    Favorite Character: “Cal” from The Queen’s Temper by Amy Raines
    Character Dialogue: The Queen’s Temper by Amy Raines

    Congratulations Ken #2!!
    And thank you all for participating.

    Reply
    • May 16, 2019 at 2:53 pm
      Permalink

      Congratulations Ken, for a well told, story of right and wrong between a father and son. You write well my friend, keep it up.

      Sorry I wasn’t able to comment on the stories. The day after I posted my story, I had to take another journey to the emergency room because of a fever. Turns out I contracted a hardly heard of disease (these days) called Pertussis. That’s Whooping Cough. Yeah, I know, tell me about it. If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any at all. Even my doctor walked in and said, “Really? Whooping Cough? I was down and out for over a week and my oncologist wouldn’t give me chemo last Monday, said I was in enough trouble and didn’t want to send me along to see the river Styx and it’s boatman Charon. I start again Monday, so I hope to get a story in this weekend before I have a chance to see what other exotic infectious diseases are running around looking for a compromised immune system.

      Congratulations to a group of really fine writers, I look forward to this site. It’s amazing what fertile imaginations come up with.

      Reply
      • May 16, 2019 at 5:12 pm
        Permalink

        Knock it for six, Roy!

        Reply
      • May 17, 2019 at 6:06 am
        Permalink

        Hi Roy,

        Sorry to hear that you are not well and with Whooping cough too. Strangely, just last evening I was chatting to a friend who is a retired doctor, general practitioner, and he said that his neighbours, in their 60s both had whooping cough. I assumed it was only children who caught it but apparently not.
        Get well soon,

        Ken Frape

        Reply
      • May 17, 2019 at 8:02 am
        Permalink

        Wow, Roy. Take care of yourself!

        Many years ago, my son (who was 3 months old) contracted pertussis. By the time we got home from the Dr.’s office and hospital, the health department was on the phone. We were quarantined in our house for a MONTH. May not seem like a long time but when you are confined to your house with a sick 3 month old and 15 month old, it can be …. well, confining.

        Hopefully medications and treatment has improved in the last 35 years and you will recover nicely. Hugs and prayers my friend!

        Reply
    • May 16, 2019 at 4:45 pm
      Permalink

      Congratulations Ken! I love your story, you delivered it beautifully.
      I have enjoyed learning what flash fiction is all about. It can be difficult to squeeze all the details of a story in a specific amount of words, it is quite a lot different than writing novels. I am officially hooked on writing flash fiction and am grateful to do that here in a calm and understanding environment. I can not wait to get started on the next prompt so we can all learn and sharpen our skills together.

      Reply
    • May 16, 2019 at 5:13 pm
      Permalink

      Congratulations, Ken! Another smashing story.

      And congratulations all!

      Reply
      • May 16, 2019 at 6:07 pm
        Permalink

        Hi All,

        Thanks so much for all your kind remarks and helpful critiques.

        In reply to Amy with regard to writing flash fiction, that term seems to mean different things to different people. In my view 1200 words is probably a short story. I also write much shorter pieces for so-called “Flash Fiction” contests and they have a maximum limit of 300 words or even 150. (Look up Ad Hoc fiction on the internet. It’s a part of The Bath Flash Fiction site.) Writing such short pieces is a very good discipline and it makes my editing a much sharper tool, I feel.

        Anyway, thanks again and it’s now onto the next one “The Eavesdropper.”

        Ken Frape.

        Reply
        • May 16, 2019 at 7:38 pm
          Permalink

          Congratulations Ken #2 (The Frapester.)

          When I first started competing in this contest it was being managed by Roy (York) on Linked In. The word limit was set by linked in at 750 words, give or take twenty or thirty words. For some reason, you never really knew what your word count would be until you tried to post it to the site. If you were over the word limit, the site would automatically truncate your story one, or two sentences, or sometimes one or two words from the end. The good news was that we could delete the story ourselves, trim a few words off, and then re-post it. Personally, I have enough trouble keeping the limit under 1200 sometimes, and looking back, I don’t know how I managed to keep myself under 750 words. But, it is certainly true that a word limit forces one to ruthlessly edit. You have no choice.

          I haven’t checked the thread and just hope you didn’t take offense at my comments. I didn’t care for yours or Roy’s story all that much, but both of you got top five votes from me because your writing was so excellent. Oddly enough (I hope this isn’t too much information, but) I didn’t really have a favorite character out of any of the stories. Some were out and out evil, many were either too idealistic or too nihilistic. So I ended up picking Jurgen’s character, the author, or narrator, or whatever it was.

          The one disappointment this prompt was Amy’s story, I think it was a top five story but unfortunately didn’t make the cut. Oh well.

          So what are you going to do with the prize money? A weekend in Monaco, perhaps?

          Reply
          • May 17, 2019 at 6:16 am
            Permalink

            Hi Ken,

            No problem, no offence taken. If we post our work on this site then we should expect honest criticism that makes us think.

            I have found this very useful in the six months or so that I have been involved. In any case, we all have different opinions and it would be boring if we all expressed the same opinions.

            Regards,

            Ken Frape.

    • May 17, 2019 at 3:55 am
      Permalink

      Congratulation, Ken! A story about high moral standards wins! I love that! And thanks to all of you! It’s been a great contest again! And all of us are winners … in a way.

      Reply
  • May 17, 2019 at 8:04 am
    Permalink

    Congrats to Ken and all! I’m sorry I could not participate this round but work has kept me on the road. Looking forward to the next prompt!

    Reply
  • May 17, 2019 at 5:26 pm
    Permalink

    Thanks for reading my story and the feedback

    Thanks Ken C for reading my story and the feedback.

    Reply

Leave a Reply to ken cartisano Cancel reply

%d bloggers like this: