Tag Archives: word prompts

Wednesday Write-In #84

This week’s words were: murky  ::  favourite mug  ::  hasty  ::  myth  ::  murder

Image: pinterest.com

Image: pinterest.com

Crisis Management

I knew it as soon as she came through the door. Murky look in her eyes, mouth drawn tight, frown lines like steppes across her forehead. When she threw her backpack into the corner without giving it a second glance, I knew for sure.

Favourite mug. Kettle on.

‘I could murder a cup of tea, love. You?’

‘Thanks, Mum.’ She slid into her chair, folding her legs under herself like she used to do when she was tiny. I had to look away, just for a second, as the kettle started rumbling beside me. A blink or two, and I was fine again.

‘Everything all right?’ The kettle clattered and clicked, belching steam. She spoke, but I couldn’t hear her over its racket. I poured the tea, carrying the mugs to the table. She wrapped her fingers around hers without even looking – her fingernails are gone to hell again, I couldn’t help thinkingbefore telling myself to shut up.

‘So. Is it something at school?’ I blew across the surface of my tea, pretending to watch it ripple. I saw her lick her lips, and the pained flash that crossed her face.

‘I told you,’ she said. ‘I’m fine.’

‘Good, good. So, how’s Maths? I know you were having some difficulty last -‘

‘Mum, is it true? About boys?’

I coughed. ‘What about boys, specifically?’ I took a mouthful of tea and held it.

‘That they can – you know. Tell.

I swallowed. ‘Tell?’

She rolled her eyes at me. ‘Come on.

‘You’ll have to give me something else to go on, darling. I’m good, but I’m not a mind-reader.’

‘It’s embarrassing,’ she muttered.

‘Try me.’

She started to chew the inside of her mouth, and tilted her head so that her hair fell down over her eyes. She huffed several long, pained breaths in and out before finally managing to clothe her thoughts in words. ‘That they can tell if you – if you’ve done it.’

‘Ah.’ I took another mouthful of tea, wondering why it suddenly tasted like acid. ‘That old myth.’

‘Myth?’ she said, flicking her hair out of her face and gazing at me with those eyes, so clear. So like her dad’s. My heart lurched, but it passed.

‘Yup. Think about it. How would they tell? It’s impossible.’

‘Stacey says it’s obvious. Like, on your face, or whatever. She says it’s like you might as well wear a big sign on your back saying ‘Virgin!’ unless you – you know.’

‘Well, no disrespect to Stacey,’ I said, putting down my tea. ‘But she’s talking nonsense.’

‘Really?’ She smiled at me, her dimples showing. ‘Them’s fightin’ words, Mum.’

I grinned. ‘Bring it on.’

She laughed, then – a genuine laugh, head thrown back. I felt a throb of something large surge up my throat, and my eyes filled again, and I had to blink hard to keep it all in.

‘Go, Mum!’ she said, looking back at me. ‘So, it’s for real? They can’t tell?’

‘Nope. Nobody can. Well – maybe a doctor. But that’s all right, isn’t it?’

She shrugged, her eyes falling. ‘Well, it’s good to know.’

I leaned in, and put my hand on her arm. She didn’t pull away, but she didn’t look up. ‘There’s no need to be hasty about anything like this. Do you understand? You have time to make your own choices, in your own time, and don’t let Stacey – or anyone – pressure you. All right, darling?’

‘Yeah, Mum. Keep your wig on.’ She unfolded herself, shaking off my hand. ‘I’ve got homework, okay? See you later.’ She grabbed up her bag and was gone, her untouched tea still steaming on the table, and I nursed my heart for a few moments before hauling myself to my feet and getting on with making dinner.

I wish I’d had a mum like me, I thought, as the carrot peelings piled up and the oven warmedbut then I just put the potatoes on and forgot all about it.

Wednesday Writing

There didn’t seem to be a Wednesday Write-In today, so I decided to improvise. One random word generator later, and the following words were mine:

Guarantee :: oar :: napkin :: silo :: slippers

Keep reading to find out what I made of ’em.

Image: dreamstime.com

Image: dreamstime.com

The Bearers

It all kicked off the mornin’ Daddy found an intruder in the silo. I knew somethin’ was wrong by the way he came walkin’ out of the barn – he looked like someone had glued his teeth shut, and he was in desperate need to yell.

‘Margaret,’ he said, comin’ up to the kitchen door, and leanin’ in. ‘Get my gun.’ His voice was quiet, which is how I knew he was real mad.

‘Now, Gus,’ said Mama, shufflin’ over to him. Her slippers whispered across the linoleum, and her arms went out like a statue of Ol’ Mary, except her robe wasn’t blue. ‘There ain’t no guarantee -‘

‘I asked for my gun, Margaret,’ said Daddy. ‘If you don’t fetch it for me this minute, I’m gon’ be forced to track through the house with my yard boots on, and there won’t be nothin’ you can say about it.’

‘Daddy, what’s goin’ on?’ I asked, wipin’ my mouth with my fingers as Mama left the room. I always got myself in a buttery mess when Mama made pancakes for a breakfast treat.

‘God’s sake, Lily! Use a paper napkin, or a washcloth, or somethin’,’ snapped Daddy, wrinklin’ his nose at me. ‘You’re raised better’n that.’ I hid my face as Mama came back, carryin’ Daddy’s shotgun. It was open, lyin’ broken over her arm like a freshly killed deer.

‘You can get your own cartridges, Gus Lamping,’ she said, handin’ him the gun. ‘I ain’t goin’ to have nothin’ more to do with this.’ Daddy grunted as he took the weapon from her, which would have to do for ‘thank you,’ I guessed.

‘Daddy! I’ll get your cartridges,’ I said, slidin’ down off my chair. ‘Please?’

‘Lily-Ella Lamping,’ he snapped, not lookin’ at me. ‘This ain’t no thing for a girl to be gettin’ mixed up in.’

‘Aw, please?‘ My heart was slitherin’ down inside me like it was losin’ its grip. ‘Daddy, I wanna see! Is it – is it one of them?‘ Sometimes, I wondered if the disease, and The Bearers who spread it, were nothin’ more than a fairytale Mama and Daddy’d made up, just for me.

‘Whatever’s in that barn is not for your eyes, child,’ said Mama, gatherin’ up her collar and holdin’ herself close. ‘You stay in here, with me.’

‘Yes, Mama,’ I said, watchin’ as Daddy slipped out through the screen door, trudgin’ around to the lean-to. I wasn’t supposed to know where his cartridges were kept, but I did. I imagined him findin’ the box, and rustlin’ around in it while keepin’ one eye trained on outside, and loadin’ the gun without even havin’ to look.

I watched, real careful, as he slammed the door to the lean-to shut. He raised the gun to his eye – judgin’ the distance, I guessed, between the house and the barn, just in case one of them things decided to spring out through the barn door – and then he shook himself, just a little, like a person does when they get cold, suddenly.

‘Jesus Almighty,’ gasped Mama. ‘Lily-Ella, you get away from that window. Right now!’ I blinked, and kept my eyes on Daddy.

He turned to face me, smooth-like and strange, just as a boat that’s lost an oar is likely to. He looked in through the window, and his eyes met mine. The whites of them had turned to red. He settled his grip around the rifle, and poised to aim.

Lily!‘ screamed Mama, runnin’ to me. ‘Get down!

The blast of Daddy’s shotgun and the impact of Mama’s arms came so close together that they were all mixed up in my head. She dragged me down off the chair and we hit the floor in a tangle of limbs.

‘Lily,’ I heard Mama gasp. ‘You gotta run, baby. You gotta run!’

‘Mama, what’s happenin’?’ I could feel her blood, hot and everywhere, spreadin’ across the floor beneath us. Her breath smelled strange. Her eyes were wide, and blue as the dawn.

‘I am your Mama, Lily-Ella,’ she gasped, pink bubbles foamin’. ‘Nobody else. You gotta remember that, baby.’ As her eyes slid closed, Daddy’s shotgun spat one more time, and then there was silence.

Feelin’ like a badly-made doll, all sewn up wrong, I inched my way back to the window. Beyond the broken shards of it, my Daddy’s broken body lay, his own shotgun lyin’ inches from his pale fingers.

The barn door creaked, and my eyes skipped up before I could think better of it.

I saw a man, as like my Daddy as his twin would be, and a woman like my Mama on a good day, wearin’ a dress so pretty that it shone. Her hair was neatly styled, and she was clean – so clean. She smiled with a bright ruby mouth, and opened her arms like they were made for runnin’ into.

‘Come on, Lily-Ella,’ she called, and it was my Mama’s voice only better, shinier, more happy. ‘Come on over here. Mama’s waitin’.’

It was an effort to close my eyes, but I did it.

Mama’s in the kitchen, Daddy’s in the yard, I sang to myself as I slid to my knees and out of sight. I knew that they didn’t need eyes to see me, though – I knew, even through the wall, that they could hear my heart. Feel my blood pumpin’. Hear my breaths, fast and cracklin’. They were comin’.

But they can’t hear my thoughts, I realised. If Mama and Daddy taught me right, and I know they did.

I looked, and saw that Mama’d left the gas stove on, keepin’ warm for the pancakes she’d planned to make for Daddy. I knew, too, that she kept her lighter in the pocket of her housecoat, even though she hadn’t been able to get cigarettes for years – not since the Bearer Invasion, when the world had gone to hell.

I wiped my eyes.

‘Mama!’ I called, getting back to my feet and starin’ out at the creature wearin’ her beloved face. ‘Hey, Mama! I’m here! Come get me!’

It smiled, and I smiled right back, my Mama’s blood still warm upon my skin.





Wednesday Write-In #76

This week’s words for CAKE.shortandsweet’s Wednesday Write-In were:

suspicious behaviour :: auburn :: shock :: grin :: dawn

What follows is my story, based around those prompts. What would yours be?

Scene from 'Rear Window'. Image: writingeditingspring2013.blogspot.com

Scene from ‘Rear Window’.
Image: writingeditingspring2013.blogspot.com

Alex, Extraordinary

‘And hello. Dawn has broken one more time over the beautiful Auburn Heights … or, well, I’m sure it did break, several hours ago while I was unconscious, but who cares about that, right? Anyway.  As usual, your intrepid observer of human nature is up and at ‘em, poking the merciless binoculars of justice between the musty, paisley-patterned curtains of Suspicious Behaviour. Or, just ‘the neighbours’, if you prefer. There’s no movement yet -’

‘Alex? Who’re you talking to?’

‘Good morning to you too, Mum!’

‘Answer the question, please.’

‘I’m not talking. Me? Wouldn’t know how.’

‘I’ll be up with your breakfast in five minutes, young man. You’d better have that ridiculous recorder switched off by then, or there’ll be consequences.’

‘Sure thing! I’m turning it off right now!’


‘Yeah, right. As if. She’s just worried I’ll put the footage up on YouTube again, but a promise is a promise. Well. Unless she gives me excellent content, that is. Of course. You just sit tight, old friend, and we’ll take what we can get. Now, if the stupid microphone would just point down…  Gah. Right. That’ll have to do.’

‘Alex? Are you decent? I’m coming up!’

‘Some ‘five minutes,’ Mum! Geez! I could’ve been doing anything up here!’

‘What, like tap-dancing?’

‘Yeah! Or stepping into my zero-gravity suit. Or watching a grin flickering across the face of a beautiful woman as I –‘

‘All right! Boundaries, Alexander. Remember those?’

‘Please, mother. Between us? Surely not.’

‘Surely not, indeed. Good morning, darling. Did you sleep?’

‘I think so. I’m filled with boundless energy, ready to jump from bed and attack the day, at least.’

‘You’re such a funny little man.’

‘Little? I am fifteen! In the prime of my wasted life!’

‘Alex! Stop that. We’ve talked about the ‘wasted’ word, haven’t we? Now. You ready for me to start?’

‘It’s that or starve to death, I guess.’

‘Alexander. Give it a rest, all right?’ *rustling* ‘Now. Let’s get your feed bag ready…’

‘Ow, Mum. Take care, will you?’

‘Alex, please. This is hard enough without you –‘

‘I reserve the right to be more freaked out by being fed through a tube than you are, Mum. God!’

‘But honey, you can’t even feel what I’m doing. Right?’

‘Shock, horror, Mum. I can still see when you’re being too rough. That’s one thing I can still do.’

‘I’m sorry, darling. I’ll take more care. All right?’

‘Yeah. Thanks.’

‘Okay – almost done. Let me just set the pump, and we’re good to go.’

‘What flavour mush is it today, anyway?’

‘Let’s see… Oh. Carrot, maize and sirloin steak. Apparently.’

‘Hmm. Piquant. Notes of oak and – mustard.’

‘Oak and mustard?’

‘It could be mustardy. Nobody will ever know.’

‘Such a funny boy. Now, are you comfortable?’

‘Probably. How can I tell?’

‘Let me just straighten up these pillows for you – Alexander!’


‘The light on your headset is still on. Have you been recording, all this time?’

‘I cannot tell a lie.’

‘Honestly. You are too much. If I so much as get a sniff of this conversation online, I will be very upset. Do you hear me?’

‘What – you’ll ground me? Deny me the car keys this weekend? Take away my stash of beer? You’re so unfair!’

‘Just – I can’t even. Just don’t put up any more descriptions of Mrs Stroud’s underwear, all right? It was bad enough the first time.’

‘But I named no names! A good journalist never reveals his sources, after all. It could have been the underwear of any middle-aged woman with a large… clothesline.’

‘Alexander! Oh, my God. You’re too much.’

‘Amen, sista. Hey, Mum?’

‘Yes, darling.’

‘Love you. Look, I even said it on tape.’

‘Love you, too, Alexander. Get some rest, now. And do keep the spying to a minimum. Your father might just lose what little mind he has left if the police end up knocking on the door. Right?’

‘Ach. What’s life without a police raid, from time to time?’




‘Get going! I have an empire to run up here!’

*laughter, fading*

‘Finally, a bit of peace. Now. As I was saying. All is quiet this morning in Auburn Heights, but the sun is high and the day is bright, and that means all I’ve got to do is wait. And boy, am I good at that. This is Alex, investigator extraordinaire, signing off – for now…’