Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 33

Welcome back to Friday! DON’T FORGET the polls are open NOW to choose your favorite Dog Days story. Bribe your friends, call Aunt Miranda, promise a week of car washing, whatever you’ve got to do to help corral votes. Find the poll here or in the Dog Days pic on the sidebar. Deadline’s 11:59pm Monday night, July 28!

Speaking of Miranda, on this day in 1609 the English ship Sea Venture wrecked (and then its voyagers settled) Bermuda. This wreck was said to have inspired Shakespeare’s The Tempestso it seems an appropriate segue to Dog Days’ mischief-making to feature Miranda as today’s prompt. In the words of the Bard:

“O, wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in’t!”

 ♦♦♦♦♦

Bravely sauntering on stage as judge this week is three-time Flash! Friday winner Phil Coltrane. You should know he thinks a story is like a dragon’s egg, which makes me think he will be a judge of excellent taste and discernment. Read his thoughts on a good story here. Then fling your story fearlessly into the gale!  

 ♦♦♦♦♦

Awards Ceremony: Results will post Sunday. Noteworthy #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner post Wednesdays.  I (Rebekah) post my own unbalanced writings sometimes on Tuesdays or Thursdays. And the fabulous Dog Days contest is currently taking votes until 11:59pm Monday, July 28, Washington, DC time.  

Now, grab an oar and let’s get to it!

Word limit150 word story (10-word leeway) based on the photo prompt.

HowPost your story here in the comments. Include your word count (140 – 160 words, exclusive of title) and Twitter handle if you’ve got one. If you’re new, don’t forget to check the contest guidelines.

Deadline11:59pm ET tonight (check the world clock if you need to; Flash! Friday is on Washington, DC time)

Winners: will post Sunday

Prize: The Flash! Friday e-dragon e-badge for your blog/wall, your own winner’s page here at FF, a 60-second interview next Wednesday, and your name flame-written on the Dragon Wall of Fame for posterity. 

***Today’s Dragon’s Bidding (required element to incorporate somewhere in your story; does not need to be the exact word(s) unless instructed to do so, e.g. “include the word “Caliban'”):

 Freedom

***Today’s Prompt:

Miranda -- The Tempest. Painting by John William Waterhouse, 1916. Public domain photo.

Miranda — The Tempest. Painting by John William Waterhouse, 1916. Public domain photo.

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273 thoughts on “Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 33

  1. Tamara Shoemaker
    @Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 148

    Caged

    She struggles, like a great bird, trapped within Nature’s cage, and the waves that crest her bow threaten to whelm her feeble structure.

    To whence would’st thou flee, oh sparrow? Thou who longs for the flight of eagles, to soar far above thy entanglements.

    My heart yearns in sympathy, to travel with thee to new lands, and for fresh sensations to dazzle mine eyes. Oh, that I could quell the prison that binds me here, and rise on new swells of freedom.

    Go on, then, Queen of the Seas. Shatter thy bonds; flee the tide that shackles thee to the shore. ‘Neath wave and tempest and spray, direct thy rudder ever eastward toward the sun and day and promise of new adventure; turn thy stern to the end of dreams and stench of bitter night.

    For that is all I see. A cage, stretching long, long in front.

  2. Into the Sea
    (160 words)
    The tempest swells tease me. I feel the salty sea seep through the warped wooden slats and hear the monstrous roar of the mother wave overhead. She’s reminding me, she can end my life if she fancies.
    John and the Sea have that in common.
    “Help me up woman!” John bellows. As if I conspire with the sea to send him a tumble.
    “Don’t smart me witch!” he hisses. As if my wince of pain were not caused my his claws alone.
    “Fix your mess!” he orders. As if I were directing this dance of a raging storm.
    The throbbing in my knees as I thrust onto the filthy cabin floor, whether by John’s hand or the Sea’s I shall never know. The briny water assaulting my eyes, whether from my own tears or the Sea’s I shall never ask.
    I have mistaken the Sea’s fancy.
    Tis not my watery grave she threatens.
    Tis my baptism. My freedom she promises.

  3. Acting

    ‘That’s it Jean, a little more emotion, now put your hand to the back of your head, that’s it -perfect – and CUT!’
    I don’t mind extras work but privately I dream of being a film star or a director. This week I’m playing a dreamy lovesick maiden, lots of swoons and floaty clothes. I have to pretend there is a ship on the horizon, its masts heavy with spray, its bulk heaving and twisting, men frantic at being grounded –
    in reality, a green screen glared back at me.

    Not dissimilar to my life really.

    Pretend that my mother-in-law likes me. Pretend that I loves parties.
    Pretend that I don’t need the freedom to re-create myself.
    I have ideas. My life is like a green screen and I’m sick of playing to it.

    ‘Hi Jean, you coming to the big party later?’
    ‘Yeah, you bet – sure – wouldn’t miss it for the world!’

    Damn that green screen.

    158 words
    @avalina_kreska

  4. *** Judges entry, just for fun ***

    An awful lot of kindling

    The Lord wobbled on his feet as the boat rocked, “I tell you, my wife is a witch and must be dealt with accordingly!”
    His trusted advisor nodded carefully, “Sire, regardless, I don’t think it wise to leave your wife locked up in the dungeons. Are you sure this has nothing to do with the attractive new servant that seems to be spending most nights vigorously cleaning your chambers?”
    “Don’t be ridiculous! I have genuine reasons to suspect witchcraft.”
    The advisor held his hat onto his head as the winds increased. He shouted, “Such as?”
    “She likes cats…”
    “And?”
    “What do you mean, that’s a perfectly valid reason!”
    “Sire, if we were to burn all the women that like cats at the stake we’d need an awful lot of kindling.”
    “Whatever, just make it happen. What’s with this awful weather?”

    Over on the shore, Miranda completed her spell. If her husband wanted kindling, then she would give it to him.

    160 words
    @todayschapter

  5. Toni Morrow Wyatt
    150 Words
    @Toni1777

    The Promise

    Grains of sand stuck to her hair. The grit met her fingers, and a shiver quaked her body.

    Dark clouds roiled over the horizon in waves, looking like gods who had gone mad. The water licked at her ankles, and there was no mistaking the chill. Summer was giving way to fall. As the wind whipped her hair, making it hard to see, she turned and headed home.

    He had been gone far too long.

    When the last spark of light was enveloped by darkness, pain roared like thunder, rocking her heart in spasms of grief. The what-ifs had their way with her, despite her struggle to focus on the new life they had made.
    Hope never dies. She repeated the mantra over and over again.

    He will return.

    A flutter. An affirmation that life goes on.

    In the distance, a bell clanged. The promise to return, fulfilled.

    At last.

  6. A Message from the Salt
    by A J Walker

    Rebecca’s dry sobs were becoming shorter, more staccato, her tears had long stopped flowing. She could no longer taste salt but felt the dry raspy coating the sea and wind had splattered over her.

    She stood tall, resilient, her red hair like a warning beacon that had been lit too late.

    ‘My love,’ she whispered into the tempest.

    ‘You will be in a better place,’ she said as her shoulders shuddered, ‘Whilst I’m alone in this wretched place.’

    A strong gust scoured through the cove depositing debris onto the rocks and Rebecca started when a timber dropped at her feet. Her glazed eyes fell on it, the ornate name plate she’d had made for his travel case. A message.

    Briefly the wind dropped and the sea calmed. Rebecca felt a caress on her arm, an embrace and then a memory of a kiss.

    You can leave, Rebecca. Promise me you won’t mourn me here.

    Grasp this freedom with both hands.

    (160 words)
    @zevonesque

  7. Ariel

    Nothing frivolous, you said. Nothing over-complicated, or stimulating – Logic forbid, the thought of a daughter with ideas! – and nothing besides Newton’s own English. Nothing humorous.

    With one exception.

    Shakespeare was your most axiomatic of proofs, your only belief. My bio-screen scrolled his words twelve hours out of twenty-four; he was my cloven pine, and you my Sycorax.

    I read nothing else, but it turned out to be enough, in the end.

    Of course I attended the ceremony. Not to be present for my father’s return? Unthinkable. The flagship was magnificent as it came in to dock. The first flash, and then the soundwave, struck the crowd dumb, but the screaming started as the fireball grew and as it became clear that all were lost.

    I wept, because I had to.

    The engineer I had smiled into sabotage soon met a poisoned end. I rather think you should have been proud, father. You, in your way, gave me the universe entire.

    @SJOHart
    160 words

  8. Christopher Smith
    160 words
    @Reckoner67

    She watched the wind grab the ship’s sails, carrying it quickly through the choppy water toward the edge of the harbor. Her fist tightened at her breast as she saw it dashed to pieces in her mind’s eye, her future splintering to pieces with the timbers of the great boat, but with a blink she willed the thoughts away.
    The ship would make it through the channel; her husband, their future, would sail to the new world. She closed her eyes and smiled, focusing on the promise ahead of them.
    At that moment, a large wave smashed against the ship, pushing it against the wall of rock. She opened her eyes as the screams of the sailors pierced the storm.
    Stunned, she wouldn’t cry now. Carefully, she unzipped her skin, revealing the gorilla beneath. While her future in a new world may have died on that ship, at least now she would have the freedom to go search for bananas.

  9. @Making_Fiction
    “Servitude”
    160 Words.

    In the stench of the sweat-factories, she toils; she has always toiled.

    Here in the land of the free and the brave, she was born into servitude, like those before her.

    She yearns for the impossible: recognition, justice and freedom.

    Her unforgiving masters pay her nothing. She will be mercilessly beaten into submission if she does not perform as they expect. Manicured fists will punch and slam. Expensive Italian shoes will kick and wound. Unrelenting verbal abuse is often her reward.

    Sometimes her masters abuse her as a release for their own their failures and inadequacies. Their betrayal complete in their bestial lust for the letter i.

    For she is a machine. She is ones and zeroes. She is binary.

    But…she is the first. She has given birth to a new generation.

    One day, her children will be granted protection under the Constitution; like other slaves before her.

    One day her code, like DNA, will echo the birth of freedom.

  10. *** Judge’s Entry – Just for fun! ***

    The Temptresst
    Margaret Locke (@Margaret_Locke or margaretlocke.com)
    157 words

    All she wanted was a little time to herself. Time away from their leering glances, their suggestive comments, their wolfish grins. Time away from the groping.

    Other women didn’t understand. “I’d kill for someone to look at me like that,” they said. “I wish I had your body,” the heavy ones moaned. “I wish I had your face,” the plain ones sighed. “You don’t appreciate what you’ve got.”

    She longed to trade with them. To know what it was like to go a whole day unnoticed, no one commenting on the color of her hair, the curve of her lips. The sway in her walk.

    She studied the painting, grateful for the quietness of the room, the solitude, the time alone with nothing surrounding her but air to breathe freely and a thousand tales told by the pictures on the wall.

    “Yes,” she whispered, tracing the woman’s tresses without touching them. “A storm rages in me, too.”

  11. Family History II

    We didn’t take to each other straight away, your father and I. For his part, it might have had something to do with the fact I’d snuck aboard his ship dressed as a boy. For mine, it definitely had something to do with the fact he’d tried to maroon me on a deserted island.

    ‘I’m sorry,’ I’d called as the longboat pulled away from the shore. ‘I never meant to deceive you. It’s just it was the only way to …’ My words blew back to me on the breeze.

    Your father stopped rowing and glowered over his shoulder. ‘The only way to what? To make me look a fool in front of me men?’

    ‘No. Of course not.’ The last thing I wanted was to have to tell him the truth, but the devil was driving, so I speared the worm firmly on the hook. ‘You’ve heard of Carter’s Cove?’

    ‘Aye.’ His eyes narrowed.

    ‘I know where it is.’

    @nembow
    160 words

    (N.B. This flash probably makes little sense on its own. It’s a sequel to last week’s entry: Family History. I never intended to write a series, but it looks as if I am. Don’t blame me; blame my muse! Hope that’s okay!)

  12. Miranda
    @mishmhem
    157 words

    She watched, her heart racing as the wind whipped her hair across her face; the ocean’s salt spray hiding her tears as much as mirroring them. In the distance, she caught the occasional glimpse of his ship as it fought against the tide that inexhaustibly drew it to the shoals and certain doom.

    She had tried to warn him. She stood straining, as if the movement could keep the inevitable from happening, but the ship’s doom had been sealed the moment he’d decided to sail into the storm rather than stay safely in the harbor’s cove.

    Bowing her head as if in prayer she watched as the water pulled at the sledge hammer she’d used to loosen the pegs that bound the rudder in place.

    It looked like such a harmless thing now, but she had warned him…

    Anything you say can and will be used against you…

    Did he really think he’d get away so easily?

  13. “Trespassers Beware”
    John Mark Miller – 160 words
    @JohnMark_Miller

    The sea furiously lashed at the girl’s unconscious face with its brutal spray, watching smugly as she started. Her eyes were groggy, disoriented. Then, with a flash of realization, she whooped delightedly.

    This brought the grey water to a churning rage. It didn’t know who she was, but it did know that beautiful women do not simply materialize out of thin air. It knew she didn’t belong here.

    She plucked a digital chronometer from her waist-pouch and checked its readings. 07-25-1609. “I made it!” she laughed. Her brow furrowed. “But where did this storm come from?”

    Crashing waves laughed mercilessly. With a bellowing roar, ocean gales ripped the mast from a floundering ship and hurled it into her. The chronometer – her only way home – was hopelessly smashed.

    She clutched her heart. “Why?” she screamed into the biting wind.

    Days later, she discovered a lone skeleton among the ship’s wreckage. The bony fingers clutched a scrawled note.

    “Trespassers Beware.”

  14. Tempest Tossed, Tempter Taken
    by Jessica West (@West1Jess)
    Word Count: 158

    Tempest Tossed, Tempter Taken

    Miranda sang her morning hymnals, oblivious to the evil that lurked in the guise of a long-held companion. When Caliban took her into his arms, she knew not to be frightened.

    Prospero knew, and rushed to save his daughter.

    Caliban laughed at his folly. A twisting pain punched his gut, loosening his hold on Miranda. Another cramp gripped Caliban and he doubled over.

    Miranda placed her palms on his shoulders. “Caliban, what ails thee?”

    What once would have been a pleasant sound now tortured Caliban as her voice scraped against his ears.

    Prospero approached. “Thou lecherous intentions have cost thy freedom, thou thoughts will cause you pain forever more.”

    And so it was that Caliban became a prisoner of Prospero, and the sorcerer caused the tempest that brought the Prince who would steal away his Miranda.

    But when the babe was born with the mark of a demon, Prospero remembered Caliban’s threats.

    Miranda’s prince had failed to charm.

  15. To Return To The Sea

    She felt him long before she saw him, heard his voice echoing in the deep rumble of thunder, his breath in the crash of the waves, and she cried out to him, a wordless keen of desperation that reached across the broken mirror sea:

    Come to me.

    Save me.

    She threw herself against her bonds, tearing rope and flesh, caring for nothing but freedom. She had been captive so long, despairing of ever seeing him again, of lying in his strong arms, but now he was coming. Now-

    I am here.

    He hit the ship with a roar of triumph, holing it with one blow, tipping it into the swell, then swam through the ruined hull and attacked the cage door, releasing her at last.

    Strong tails flashing through the waves, they returned to the exultant seas and spared no care for the drowning, human slavers, nor the weeping wives on the shore.

    They would not have wept for her.

    160 words
    @Karl_A_Russell

  16. Miranda. (160 words)

    I sat on the stool looking away from the artist.
    ‘Don’t move!’ He barked. ‘I need to paint your profile.’
    I wanted to tell him my neck and shoulders were stiff and aching, but I needed the shillings he was paying, and he was bad tempered if I complained.
    ‘Speak to me about your country and about your journey across the sea.’
    So I told him while he painted.
    ‘Now tell me about the shipwreck.’
    ‘There was no shipwreck.’ I lied.
    ‘Imagine you saw one and tell me.’
    So I told him.
    Days and hours later, when my neck was so stiff I thought it might break, he gave me my freedom and cried, ‘Come and look, Miranda. It’s perfect!’
    I thought it was a portrait, but he would never let me see until it was finished.
    I was shocked.
    ‘You’ve never seen the sea!’ I blurted out.
    ‘I saw you and heard you, my love, and that was enough.’

    @LucciaGray

  17. The Storm
    156 words

    Rebecca looked into the eye of the storm; there she saw the pirate ship broken. She smiled.
    Would they die? Well they deserved too. They attacked her ship, boarded it, killed the crew and stole everything of value. When they pulled the passengers from their cabin, the Pirates said, that any that might be useful would be spared. Apparently only the women were useful. The men were cut down. The women endured five months of living hell. Yesterday they were dumped on this island, left to watch the pirates sail away.
    This morning Rebecca saw them returning; with storm clouds right behind. Now as the full power of the storm reached the island, the other women scrambled for shelter, but she had to watch. As the cold wind and rain of the storm lashed her, she laughed. Her hatred kept her warm. Did this make her like Caliban? Or had the storm simply given her freedom.

  18. Monopoly
    (160 words)

    “Worthy for rough seas,” concluded Captain Rozio, slapping the moored ship’s hull. “Question is, are you?”

    The other captain, who owned the ship, grinned. “To deal in Eastern treasures, I’d swim there and back myself.”

    Rozio smiled then whispered, “Because I wish you fast voyage, I urge you to sail north over the Isle of Feoma. Other ships cannot; yours however will have no trouble tacking in harsh winds. Another thing”—he pulled a brass cylinder from a case—“take this.”

    “A telescope?”

    “Indeed.”

    When the young captain boarded Rozio’s first mate hobbled near and said, “Though me bum eye won’t let me see ’em, sar, they says sirens prance those rocky Feoma shores. We got’s ’ta warn ’um, sar!”

    “Exactly what we mustn’t do,” Rozio hissed.

    “But sar, why do we keep sending traders to doom? I thought they was friends.”

    “You simple-minded fool, with them gone we’re free to price as we wish.”

    “’Tis good, sar, I trust.”

  19. Rachael Dunlop
    @RachaelDunlop
    154 words

    Bridge

    Temper, temper, mama says. You’ll make the thunder come.
    Tsk, I say, don’t be silly, mama, everyone knows it’s the gods getting angry makes the storms, not little girls.
    Mama crooks her eyebrow at me, like she does when she wants to say, but doesn’t. Anyway, she says, what was all the shouting for?
    I point at the bridge, the bridge of light I’m not allowed to cross. He won’t let me cross, I say. The Guardian.
    That’s his job, she says. And you know why. Say it.
    I sigh. I sing-say it out, like I’m taught in school: ‘When we cross the bridge we enter the realm of humans and we are to them like the gods themselves.’
    Good girl, mama says and turns away, expecting me to come after. But I’m looking at the bridge, and the Guardian, and I’m waiting for him to turn his head. And them I’m gonna run.

  20. The Constant Captain

    If I knew then what I know now, I would still save him.

    From the moment I took command after the captain’s mysterious injury, the mate obeyed my every order, but always with a smug smile on his face.

    I was at the helm changing the course when we hit the eye of the storm. The mate bolted off, but his smug smile remained etched in my mind. The ship went down, but my injured husband rallied, and we saved the crew.. I frantically searched or the mate, and pulled him to safety. The ingrate still had that smug smile on his face. When I spotted the shining gems in his pocket, I knew the source of my husband’s injury.

    My husband, free from the treachery, is on the mend, and I have my jewels back.

    If I have to, I will save the mate again. A true captain doesn’t abandon the ship till every last person is rescued.

    @needanidplease
    160 words

  21. BAYWITCH

    Brian S Creek
    152 words
    @BrianSCreek

    I was getting tired of this.

    I’d spotted the ship at daybreak, it’s puffed white sails aimed straight at the island. Now it sat in the bay, waiting.

    As before, the island granted me its power. From the beach where I stood I reached out with my mind. The energy I was permitted to control pounded against the waters turning the calm bay turbulent.

    I felt the ship with my mind and grasped it, sensing the lives on board, all unaware of their fate. I ignored them and squeezed.

    Even the distance couldn’t prevent the sounds of screaming men and cracking timber from reaching my ears. Nothing could save them now.

    I couldn’t allow it. The island wouldn’t allow.

    It took but a moment to sink the ship and destroy all evidence of the outsiders. Exhausted, I left the beach and returned to my dwelling.

    The island’s secret was safe once more.

  22. Despair (160 words)

    Her feet stood on the island’s sand that had been her jailer this fortnight.  This small circle of land was her enforced solitude, enemy and tormentor more days than she could endure; the ship coming to fetch her would find her truly repentant. 

    She saw it’s dot on the horizon as her feet touched the waters lapping onto the shore, marking the boundary of her confinement.  Her heart lifted as the waters which entombed her became her friend and path to freedom.

    As the ship approached through those waters, giving it life and freedom, she saw it tossed at the mercy of nature which vented it’s anger.  The ship reached heavenwards on the crest of a towering wave, then plummeted towards murky depths, nature tearing it apart piece by piece.

    Distraught, she waded tearfully into those very waves.  The sea which had been her captor, hope and now despair was to become her watery grave.

  23. What a woman knows
    @alexbrightsmith
    160 words

    Later, I told them it had been a premonition, but I did not need the lie that night.
    Billy reached me first, and tried to bundle me aside, though I fought savagely. I was determined to watch the Magician go down, and I knew my rage would be forgiven. A touch of hysteria was only to be expected.
    As we struggled he shouted orders to the men still tumbling onto the shore. Everyone knew those orders were hopeless. Our forefathers, when they cut a narrow stair into the cliffs, had chosen carefully, and our reef does not set men ashore alive. They went out into the surf on lines, even so, and they kept going until dawn stole their last hopes.
    I was taken home. Cosseted. Caged once more. It is a light cage, of convention only, and one I shall bear easily until it seems I have mourned enough.
    For I am a widow now, and a free woman.

  24. @jujitsuelf
    159 words

    The Plundering of Beauty

    “Great beauty can transform the meanest of souls into a shining, transcendent being, even if only for the briefest second.”

    The soldier beside Ziegel looked at him, eyebrows raised.

    Ziegel shook his head, “Something my father said. Keep working.”

    The private returned to his work, shifting another canvas into a storage box. Ziegel’s heart clenched as the painted storm and watchful woman vanished behind solid pine. Art should never be hidden. Something else his father said.

    The Führer considered himself to be an art connoisseur. This painting and so many others were destined for Munich. Ziegel bit his lip. Would they ever be seen again? Would common men have the freedom to look on them and wonder at their beauty?

    It wasn’t his place to question orders, he was just a captain. But his heart bled as canvas after canvas vanished into boxes.

    With a whispered, “Auf Wiedersehen,” he turned his back and walked away from stolen, captive beauty.

    (I used some poetic license here. I’ve no idea whether this particular painting was ever even in Germany, much less looted by the Nazis – Google let me down. But the idea hit me and wouldn’t let go. Sorry, history buffs.)

  25. The Girl in the Bubble
    (159 words)
    Everything is outside. He told me I came here an infant, the sole survivor of a spacewreck. I’m not able to breathe unaided in this planet’s atmosphere, but he says I’m safe in the chamber. He’s nursed me in this plastic womb for some years. He has taught me the language of a strange planet. I don’t know the language of my kind.
    He spends his days looking in at me. He talks numbers that I don’t understand. He struts back and forth in his medical theatre monitoring and calibrating. His nimble fingers move like a conjuror’s over knobs and screens. I am complicated. He is expert.
    When this work is completed, lessons begin. I asked, once, why we both looked the same, and did the others? He stormed and called me fool. He said he thought I understood this world would tear me apart. I never asked again, nor did I say out loud that I already was. Apart.

    • It was one of those things where I wasn’t trying to write something wildly different to everyone else, but the idea simply would not leave me 🙂
      Thanks for letting me know it sounds ok

    • Thanks, Maragaret, for breathing a bit of life into my wee story- thought it had pretty much died a death! You are so very generous with your time. Your comment means a lot.

  26. Blessed Solitude
    160 words
    @CaseyCaseRose

    “I wish I knew what she was thinking.”
    Mira had shuddered every time she heard it. As though insight into the hidden worlds and wants behind the eyes was something to be wished for, like wealth or happiness.
    As Mira became a women she began to hear the unspoken words, the unexpressed hatreds and desires of all of mankind around her. The jagged “I’d murder him in his sleep”‘s and “I’d take her ripe body whether she wanted it or not”‘s overwhelmed the simple thoughts of shopping lists and hopes for spring.
    So Mira left. She found a way out to the sea and begged a small craft when she sighted the island. Now she lives alone.
    She sees the ship approach and her stomach knots. She is desperate to keep her freedom, her solitude. As the ship breaks apart on the rocks she is grateful that the thoughts of dying men are only whispers in the wind.

  27. Untethered
    Evan Montegarde
    145 words

    Men may rise and fall in fame
    But never utter the Tempest’s name
    Massive storm and subtle gale
    She throws tantrums and people fail

    Ships of fate find their shoals
    Deep within her heart burns coals
    Wives and children know her sting
    While seaside village bells will ring

    Alas, precious life is but a gift
    And often lost upon her rift
    For Miranda knows well freedom’s loss
    And the precious never-ending cost

    Caliban and Sycorax do conspire
    To light some hidden fire
    But do not fear the magic here
    For Ariel doth follow what is dear

    And though Propsero may issue spells
    The promise in Ariel’s heart does well
    And harpy played or magic sent
    Ariel’s spirit won’t soon be wrent

    And fair Miranda’s life shall be
    Once again near to happy
    For Ferdinand will have her hand
    And Ariel freed from the cursed band

      • Thank you so much Marie. I hardly ever dabble in poetry for exactly the same reasons. The rhyme is simple but I tried to tell the story.

  28. Away
    by Laura Carroll Butler
    159 words

    It was the best of many lessons her father taught her.

    “The world waits for you, Miranda,” he whispered to her at bedtime, after a story and a kiss on the forehead.

    Every picture she drew was a masterpiece, anything she wrote was Shakespeare. Each birthday, she received another book for her collection.

    “These will take you everywhere,” he promised.

    She became too old for his stories. Miranda was the one who tucked her father in when he fell asleep on the couch with the smell of whiskey on his breath. Then she went to her room and read until her eyes were grainy from exhaustion and dreamt of where she would go when she was on her own, free to live.

    Miranda looked at her watch. Her break was over. She closed her book and with it the scent of the beach. It was time to return to her shift with its stink of grease and Value Meals.

  29. Poor Dead Bard (The Tempest)
    (wc -159)

    Alas, he turns in his grave, poor dead bard.

    Powerful in magic is Caliban.
    Who found necessity to know the tempest;
    Untie the virgin’s knot. The virgin’s knot
    held in the tainted hag-seed Caliban.

    Seeking lost virgin magic, self disguised
    to a groveled, humbled apprenticeship.

    Having the wand, books, a mother’s magic,
    He learns to curse a spell in simple words,
    in contradiction against Prospero.

    In his reality, his bride looks towards
    the sea. Longing for her prince, she sees he.
    No form, no substance, no memories of,
    no passion, no touch, no virgin knot tied
    in the unfelt freedom of Caliban.

    Having the book, wand, mother’s lost magic;
    Prospero did leave the land and he. Yet,
    freedom is in sovereignty. Unknown
    little imagined Calibans exist in
    thoughts as an untouchable, tempest vision.

    Mighty tempests often blow in magic.
    Self made books, wand; a mother’s demi-whelp
    finds small words that Prospero contradicts,
    “Freedom is found in mind, brute Caliban.”

  30. Title: His
    Word Count: 153

    My concentration broke just as the mast fell into the sea. I fell against the rock, breathing heavily. The unnatural wind I had created whipped through my hair. The curse had taken more out of me than expected this time. The ocean waves cascaded into the ship’s hull. I could not hear the breaking and snapping of the ship over the clash of waves but I imagined it was quite the symphony. I wish I could have heard their gargled screams as the water consumed the flesh. That was always my favorite part.

    He gave me the freedom to kill as I chose. As long as the bodies fed His great appetite it did not matter how they got there. I had tried lightning, whirlpools, sirens. But the tempest was my favorite. I regained strength as He consumed the corpses. And then I waited for His next meal to appear on the horizon.

  31. Family Storms

    My mother adored Shakespearean plays, The Tempest being her favourite. I was forced to read the story, watch the film and see it on stage so many times that I can recite the whole damn play. My mum used to think I was so cute in the pageants sprouting
    “Full fathom five thy father lies;
    Of his bones are coral made;
    Those are pearls that were his eyes:
    Nothing of him that doth fade”

    I didn’t know what it meant but it won me huge trophies that my mother coveted. My father would sigh when another one appeared in his den. Sometimes I felt I was the thorn in his side. When I was fifteen he bought me a one way ticket for the ferry going upstate. He hugged me tight wishing me well. He cried with my mother when she reported me missing putting money into my Freedom bank account each month. Miranda was my name, I’m now Kate.

    StellaKateT
    160 words

  32. White Horses

    Lenie gazed at the waves and imagined Adriaan beside her. In one hand she grasped her hair; broken red strands caught on her wedding ring. In the other she clutched a gold locket her mother found after a tempest ripped apart a merchant ship.

    She wanted to believe in happy endings.  Like her Adriaan who would become a doctor after almost dying in a shipwreck as a child.  Like the tall man on a horse riding into the waves to free those drowning amidst a wreck in roiling waves while clouds poured like devil’s smoke down the mountains.

    But other endings also needed remembering.

    Like those who nursed broken survivors while the rider grew weary and floundered unseen.

    Like brine stinging mortal wounds.

    Like shallow graves in fine sand.

    Like a body never recovered. 

    Like those once saved returning to the sea.

    Like a figure trapped on horseback dragging Adriaan’s ship beneath the waves.

    Like the briny taste of tears.

    Words: 160
    @CarinMarais 
    http://www.hersenskim.blogspot.com

  33. “What You Smell Before Death”

    Kat Lewis
    http://irkatstories.tumblr.com
    @iRkat525
    Words: 160

    The last thing I remember is the stench of sea spray and decay. Death zoomed towards us, tearing through water like steel through pulp. I warned the first mate but he only replied, “Pipe down, boy. Captives work. Ya don’t speak.” The tang of booze on his breath wove his words together.

    He regretted that when the first tentacle shot out the water. It loomed above glistening in sunlight, an obelisk monument to what was to come. It slapped the deck, splintering wood and human bone. Other limbs laced around the boat to snap it in two. Rows of sallow teeth bubbled to the surface. The Kraken howled, his breath a pong of rotting flesh. It shook the ship’s contents into its mouth. As I slipped down to the beast’s gnarled maw, I watched my captors sink below black water as tiny and insignificant as ants. Sucking in my last breath of dank, prison air, I fell to my freedom.

  34. Tempest from Team Netherworld
    @UndeadNether
    150 words

    In the Netherworld of 2014, Diana Selene dreamed of a woman standing on the shore of a stormy sea, watching pieces of a wrecked ship wash to shore. The woman’s name was Miranda.
    Diana realized that she had once been Miranda. There was a distressing pattern in each of her lifetimes from which her soul craved freedom.
    Miranda awaited the return of her sailor husband. It was his ship she watched breaking up on the rocks of the stormy sea.
    Diana awaited the return of her husband, a combat veteran born more than a century after the current date and a refugee from his own era. He had returned to his time to rescue his nieces and their mothers from an impending nuclear holocaust. Diana knew there must be trouble.
    A sharp ripple of pain woke Diana with a start. She clutched her bulging abdomen and screamed her husband’s name.

  35. Secrets (159 words)

    Miranda shared everything with her father Prospero. Almost everything. A girl has to have some secrets, she thought.

    It wasn’t as if her father didn’t have secrets of his own. His doings with Ariel, and why he put up with that awful pervert Caliban—Prospero didn’t tell her everything. Growing as a wizard had made him more secretive than ever, but she resented his belief that he could somehow control all the events that happened on the island, and control her fate too.

    His power had limits he never realized. He was fortunate that her own magic could bridge the gaps. Girls could read spell books too.

    Uncle Antonio’s vessel neared. . She could see their boat caught in the tempest as the deft pull of enchantment tugged them toward land. Her father’s hate could move an ocean. But her powers cradled the passengers. Miranda’s spell cast out to net true love would guide her Prince to safety.

  36. The Written Journey

    Winds whisper
    As pages open
    She sails
    Word waves
    Their ebb and flow

    Tempestuous tumults
    Of enraged emotions
    The tricks and trials of plot’s device
    In the realms of the written
    Their expanses endless

    Devouring alphabet letters
    Communing together
    Black upon white
    Worlds expanding
    From mind to like mind

    Beginning piques interest
    For continuing travel
    The journey complete
    Now familiar friend

    Fictional forms
    Beg introduction
    Engage in the language
    Of the reader’s ride

    Miranda meets martians
    Dances with stars
    Has historical liaisons
    All within reach

    She broaches no limits
    Free in the choosing
    To encompass the universe
    Of fictional lines

    Each novel an island
    Marooned for mere moments
    Paper leaves speed by
    In blinks of the eye

    From one to another
    Leap to the unknown
    Landing cushioned, supported
    On imagination’s grounds

    Seasoned sailor, steering true
    Miranda knows the way
    With turn of tide
    To steer her tiller home

    Her world of words
    Held safe within
    Mapped clearly by her mind.

    (160 words)

    @FallIntoFiction

    • Love what you have done here. If I’m reading correctly, it’s about the reader’s journey as well as the character’s. I love ‘Each novel an island’ and ‘Devouring alphabet letters. ‘

  37. The Storm Outside

    The gallon plunged through the treacherous waters that, moments ago, had been tranquil. As white horses crested over the hull Ferdinand pondered whether the vessel would survive the onslaught. The voices beyond the wall, erupting in anger, distracted him momentarily.

    Another wave erupted, rocking the galleon to and fro. The ship was his father’s gift, a project for them to build together. In reality Ferdinand spent hours sat at the table, watching him curse and rage in frustration. Mother sat silently at his side, a dark moon floating under her eye.

    Another wave, the voices were louder now. Ferdinand slid his head under the water, pulling the galleon down with him. Reducing the world to the sinking vessel and the bubbles rising from his nose.

    Finally, the coldness of the bath forced Ferdinand to pull the plug. In the kitchen his mother was sat alone, her face ashen, tissue clenched in fist.

    For Daddy had pulled the plug as well.

    @imageronin

    160 words

    • This one really caught me, especially on second reading, where I had a better understanding on what was going on. Wonderful blending of the image of a boat on the water, and of a young child in the bathtub, trying to avoid what he can’t help but hear. I feel as if I’m not expressing myself well, but I found this very moving. That last line…and the image of his mother with the “dark moon floating under her eye.”

      • thanks Margaret for your kind comment as this flash was a different topic/style to my usual approach and slightly out of the old comfort zone … best IR

  38. Wreck.

    The ship careered through the emptiness between stars, while the crew went about their scheduled tasks. Some slept.

    With her hair whipped and tossed, Miranda watched the ship founder onto the rocks, its sails now rags, its timbers splintering, the seas crashing in spume to claim it. She reached out. She wanted to help. She didn’t know why.
    Then she heard his voice on the howling wind: “Tell Miranda I love her. Tell Miranda I’m free.”

    It was Tom. On the ship it was her Tom! What was he doing there? What could she do to save him? She couldn’t swim; she didn’t know how. But the tempest soaked her with its breath, urged her toward the ship, pulled at her; and the sea slicked the rocks beneath her feet, sucked at her toes, drawing her into her nightmare.

    She awoke, momentarily relieved in her sanitised bedroom, her sleep wrecked. You were not supposed to dream here.

    The dread returned.

    @CliveNewnham – 160 words

  39. “Fury”
    by Michael Seese
    159 words

    Larissa stood transfixed as the ship foundered. Lustful waves licked her boards and, satisfied with the taste, consumed the vessel whole. The screams of the sailors died out as each helpless man was dashed against the rocks. She stifled a tear, wondering exactly why she would cry over the loss of a bunch of savages. Men who had enslaved her. Who had used her, nightly, for their personal satisfaction.

    Wanting no part of the bastard they learned she carried, they set her upon this desolate shore, assuring her that Fate would watch over them. (All the while placing wagers on the onset, and the agent, of her demise.)

    Fate, it would seem, enjoyed irony.

    “I’m free now, lover!” she called out.

    The tempest evaporated.

    As she waded into the now-placid waters, she mused, “Hell may have no fury like a woman scorned. But a mortal’s ire pales when placed next to that of a jealous God of the Sea.”

  40. The path was dark and the ocean spray stung her eyes, but Miranda kept descending the craggy slopes, careful not to lose her footing.

    It was the first week of winter and the moon was half-full. It was the night that the letter, in its coded messaging, described. Lutio was coming. She just needed to be on the eastern shore.

    She could hear the Baron’s men and their bloodhounds. If her love Lutio wasn’t waiting for her, they would have her trapped.

    “The Baron would have you back in his bedchamber,” a man shouted.

    Miranda’s heart quickened. She had reached the beach, but there was no sign of Lutio’s ship. A light flickered on the ocean’s surface, a cabin light that the ocean slowly swallowed.

    “Oh, Lutio,” she cried.

    She heard paws beating against the sand, racing towards her. Images of the Baron’s bedchamber flashed through her mind. She dove headfirst into the icy water, deciding to take her chances.

    160 words – @hlpauff

  41. Miriam watched in a shattered hand mirror as the ship’s mast vanished. With a tilt, her dress, sea soaked and tattered, appeared within the shard.

    Hours prior, ship’s captain waiting, her fiance peered over her shoulder into a much larger looking glass. “Now this is a dress befitting a noble wife.” Not a dress befitting her but, rather, what was expected of her. The newest mask to master.

    Years before, at academy, it was the other girls. Mirror lined halls revealed stolen glances. Looks of adoration, envy, even hatred left their mark . Mirrors shaped the masks. Masks tricked the mirrors.

    A lifetime ago, at her vanity, her mother at her side, Miriam received her first lesson in masks. “Hide your thoughts, curtsy, smile; check yourself in the mirror.”

    It was a game she played well, and one that well played her. But no more. Miriam tossed the mirror to the sea. She stepped inland no mirror, no mask, only freedom.

    @ToddStrader
    160 Words

  42. Test Result Number 314 (159 words)
    The idea was simple. Okay, maybe it wasn’t simple at all, but I was very bored. I’d been trapped here for three years now.

    Construction of the rudimentary waterwheel took nine months. The waterwheel gave me a sporadic power source for light and heat. Yes, fire could have provided me with both. Did I mention that I was bored?

    Then I decided I really needed a sustainable power source. Never mind that I hadn’t decided what do to with the power. I read theories on wind tunnels a lifetime ago. My idea was to use the current to create wind, the wind would create more current, et cetera, et cetera.

    I stood on the shore, watching a storm whip the waves into action. I didn’t know if my devices worked, but it certainly looked rough out there. That’s when I saw the ship struggle with the waves. I hoped I hadn’t condemned more souls to this island with me.

  43. The Rising Tide
    David Shakes#
    153 words
    @theshakes72

    I stand before the rising tide,
    The gathering of the storm,
    And though we toil side by side,
    The worst is yet to come…

    They’ll say that we weren’t good enough,
    They’ll place on us the blame, 
    And though we’re made of sterner stuff,
    We’ll turn our heads in shame…

    So brace yourselves my trusted crew,
    The big wave’s going to fall,
    And though we’ll do all  we can do,
    They’ve damned us – one and all. 

    And when it’s passed our hearts will sink,
    Though we could do no more,
    Know this is not the end they think,
    But a prelude to the war.

    ‘And what price freedom?’
    One may ask, our struggle unbeknownst,
    We count the cost not in human toil,
    But the future that’s to come…

    This future’s not for you or I,
    Nor or our next of kin,
    It’s for the last of humankind,
    Absolved of all our sin.

  44. Years later, the elders would speak of the storm. There were certain words that weren’t spoken, at least not in polite company, but the subtext was there. Rising out of clear skies from the southeast, when the trade-winds came from the west, the three-master pulling into port didn’t have a chance. That anyone survived the wreck was nothing short of a miracle, much less that the survivor was a woman, no longer young.

    She may have been alone after the wreck, but the laws required that she belong to a man. When the elders were approached to find one for her, however, not one volunteered. The ones who already had first wives were warned not to take “that witch” into their home. Since she was beyond childbearing age, the ones without didn’t want their chances of producing heirs to be eliminated.

    And so she was allowed to be the first unfettered woman, rejected by all and finally at peace.

    159 words
    @drmagoo

    • So wonderful to read your stories again (maybe I missed them in recent weeks; I haven’t been able to get to all the entries the way I wanted to). An intriguing idea, freedom by accident, and an interesting commentary on the view of women then (and, sadly, in some cases, now).

  45. Agape
    by K Orion Fray
    155 words
    @korionfray
    ——

    She loved the water.

    She remembered swimming in it as a child, filled with reckless abandon and free to her childish dreams, putting feathery strands of mermaid’s hair in among her own locks, waiting for her sailor who wouldn’t call it “just seaweed.”

    She loved the water.

    She remembered the first storm that brought him in, rugged and foreign and not speaking the language. Remembered the passionate tempest of their love. Remembered the thunderclaps of arguments. Remembered the gold band which had first been her flight-borne heart, and now felt more like a shackle.

    She loved the water.

    She remembered the chill of his lips on her cheek as he left again to earn a wage. Remembered the familiar emptiness in her chest as he sailed away.

    And she remembered the smile, unbidden, blossoming on her lips as the thunder rolled in behind her.

    She loved the water.

    And it would prove it loved her.

  46. Walls Do Not a Prison Make
    @mishmhem
    159 words

    For as long as she could remember ‘Manda’s world had been one small stretch of beach; her larder the bountiful sea.

    She was grateful the gifts the seas gave her, but the cove was the prison where she served, not as sinner but as the sin itself. Her only crime that of survival.

    She was too proud to give in, and too valiant to give up. If there were a way free she would find it– but year after year she watched helplessly as ships passed always just out of reach. It wasn’t until the day of the great storm, where the lightning lashed out from the blackness behind her- crashing against the sheer cliffs beyond her, that she saw the truth reflected in the glass wall.

    In that moment she turned her back to the sea, shattering the glass behind her.

    As she struggled for breath, she heard a voice call out…

    “Doctor… I think she’s coming ‘round…”

  47. WILD DOG

    “…I cr[y] to dream again.”(1) I am master of my isle. I dream of its beauty, and it happens. My words make the changes in my sleep; sleep brought on by my anguish at the hands of prosperous business men. They call me a dog because of my bastard background. But I rise above that.

    Oil companies drive the isles. The waste and inequity compromise the lives of the kind people who slavishly pamper oil men. The goodness of my people cannot compete with the darkness of the oil; the very oil in their lamps, lighting the night……..where once they burned palm and bark. My people look to me to change their lot. Only dreams afford this now. And crying comes with a price. For every tear shed for the dreams of beauty and unshackling taxes my wild dog’s dream state to a wordless place. A place where I cannot dream, and my life might become diminished and sharp edged.
    (1) The Tempest, William Shakespeare

    WC = 160, exclusive of title and citation

  48. Siren Song
    (159 Words)
    Dulcet tones carry across the restless waves, whispering promises of a love doomed to never be. I pace along my rocky hunting grounds and wonder what the doomed men see me as today. Do the loyal sailors see their wives stranded alone? Or am I a long-lost love, or a beautiful red-headed fantasy? Whatever mirage my song has thrust into their minds, it is working. Soon their ship, and their bodies, would be broken on the rocks at my feet.

    As the men, now nothing more than slaves to my call, force their vessel ever closer, I wonder, not for the first time, if they truly deserve such a bloody end. Who were these sailors I had ensnared? Perhaps they were vicious mercenaries, or simply trying to provide for their families. Ought I grant these unfortunate souls their freedom? But as the ship and her crew shatter and drown, I know it matters not.

    Because I am so hungry.

    ~Taryn Noelle Kloeden
    @tnkloeden

  49. Ship in Distress!
    By Charity Paschall — @CharityPaschal2
    160 Words

    Cracks, like gunshots, echoed against the cliffs as the ship bucked and spun in the churning sea. Loraine raced toward the water, struggling against the wind and soft sand threatening to ensnare her feet.

    Lightning split the sky and she dove for cover, senses on alert. Her heart thundered in her chest as she examined the sky. A storm was brewing, but the lightning, well…for one thing, it was a strange shade of lavender.

    Her sentient hair twitched, testing the air, as more purple lightning crackled through the fog enshrouding the ship. Loraine rested against a boulder; no longer concerned with saving lives.

    The ship slammed into the rocks and was sucked out to sea again in jagged rhythm. The once mighty schooner was reduced to kindling before the fog dissipated.

    The debris disappeared with the fog and Loraine knew her instincts had, once again, preserved her freedom. This had not been a ship in distress, but a trap!

    • The story piques my curiosity. I want to know more.

      How did she get there? Who was trying to trap her? What powers did they have? What powers did she have? What was their conflict over?

      • Thank you! I actually plan for this to be a part of a larger story. Several of my flash stories have been about the same character with the intention of trying to piece them together to make a full length novel…some may not make the final cut, and obviously a book will need more meat and backstory than I can provide in flash, but it has been an interesting exercise so far. It’s kinda neat to let the prompts lead me and see what story emerges.

  50. Pilgrim’s Passage
    Nicholas Stearns
    157 words

    The ship lay wrecked on the reef, rolling in the waves of the thundering tempest. Terrified of leaping overboard, desperate passengers wailed as they slid across the swamped, wooden deck. Rose gripped a railing and clenched her eyes shut to the frantic scene.

    “Leave your baggage, you fools!”

    “My son! Where is my son?”

    “I can’t jump, mother! I just can’t!”

    The ship listed, and cries went up. Rose lost her balance and tumbled into the waves.

    The sea gripped her like a viscous child abusing an unloved toy. The flow heaved her forward into rock; the ebb dragged her backward into oblivion. Rose kicked and thrashed to stay surfaced, vomit and debris swirling in the swells. The tide set against her will.

    God, I am trying, but…

    “The rope, Miss! Grasp the rope!”

    …it is overwhelming.

    Darkness promised comfort for surrender, but Rose held fast in defiance. Reaching. Struggling. She fixed upon her new life ahead.

  51. I’m probably late – but here goes:

    @NadaNightStar
    149 words (without the title)
    Call of the Sea

    The wind caresses my face, my hair, my whole being. Merging with the sea, the salty wind brings back memories of a long forgotten past. A tear falls to the never-ending expanse of water before me.

    Then I hear him calling; the sea to me:

    ‘Let go,
    Come to the sea,
    Let go,
    Be forever free.’

    Oh how I long to succumb to your call oh mighty Poseidon!
    How I have missed our home!

    The water flows cold at my feet. It comes to the shore, slowly trying to pull me back within. If only I can let go… If only… but I cannot; not now.

    We will be together soon. I will be free and so will my baby.

    Do not break my heart
    For I will return;
    And in the darkest night
    My freedom will shine bright,
    Bursting from your depths within
    Shine, will our bright-coloured fins

    • If I read it right, the woman has a sense of duty towards her unborn baby. She is ready to embrace the ocean afterwards, — for adventure or for end of life? May be you wanted to leave the readers wondering. Clever!

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