Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 51

HIP HIP HURRAH!!!! WELCOME back to Flash! Friday (unless this is your first visit, in which case Welcome for the First Time!). Today is bittersweet and exciting and wonderful all wrapped up in one, as we round out Year Two and look ahead to next week’s Flashversary contest and then the launch of Year Three. Here are a few Year Two stats for your celebratory pleasure:

* Back-to-back wins by Cindy Vaskova, Michael Seese, and Josh Bertetta

* 42 different winners (see the winners’ wall here)

* 4th wins for Betsy Streeter, Maggie Duncan, and Karl Russell

* Record number of entries: 95 (on Sept 26, which was won by Michael Seese)

* New contests launched out of the FF community in 2014: Flash Frenzy (Flash! Friday winner Rebecca Allred); Three Line Thursday (Grace Black); Christian Flash Weekly (Flash! Friday 2-time winner Charles Short); Micro Bookends (David Borrowdale)


Go big or go home, they say, so I can’t imagine a more awesome way to close out Year Two than by welcoming flash fiction powerhouse Splickety Publishing Group as our guest judges. These are flash-obsessed publishers with three glorious imprints: Splickety Prime, Splickety Love, and Havok, and they are good friends of mine (but don’t hold that against them). Read all about Splickety here.

NOTE: In honor of their appearance this week and out of the goodness of their hearts, Splickety is offering a special subscription discount to our Flash! Friday community. Details here

DOUBLE NOTE: Like all our judges, they will read FF stories blind. Subscriptions will have no influence on their decision. No monkey business here; we’re all perfectly trustworthy dragons.


Awards Ceremony: Results will post Monday. Noteworthy #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner post Wednesdays.  I (Rebekah) post my own unbalanced writings sometimes on Tuesdays or Thursdays.   

Now, grab an umbrella and write us a story! 

* Word count150 word story (10-word leeway on either side) based on the photo prompt.

HowPost your story here in the comments. Include your word count (140 – 160 words, excluding 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 Monday

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 specifically instructed to do so, e.g. “include a mischievous group of writers named ‘Flash Dogs'”):

 Coming of age

***Today’s Prompt:

Your hand in mine; goodbye.

Your Hand in Mine/Goodbye. CC2 photo by Tony.


418 thoughts on “Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 51

  1. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 143


    They are coming, they are coming,
    The things that pass us by.
    The choices and decisions
    That made my parents cry.

    Now the cards are mine to deal,
    Mine to shape and mold,
    And nothing in this great wide sea,
    Can cause me now to fold.

    I cowered ‘neath the umbrella
    Of my parents careful shade,
    Terrified lest I should feel
    The rain on my parade.

    How many times they told me,
    “Girl, it’s not a simple task.
    Life’s not a platter with a cake,
    And all you do is ask.

    “It’s working hard and dancing well,
    And living day to day,
    And when the sun sets at the end,
    You must be on your way.

    “Be honest, humble, kind and sweet,
    Let all your heart shine through.
    And when we’re gone, you just may find
    You’ll shade others, too.”


  2. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 145


    You grasp his hand, turning it palm-up, tracing your fingers over the lines that map the last eighteen years. It hurts, you know?

    The bruises those hands have caused, blue fingerprints against soft flesh.
    The pain those hands have inflicted, hard yanks behind drawn shades.
    The screams those hands have smothered, molded iron against terrified lips.

    You don’t say anything; you don’t have to. He would know, in the silence, what you would have said yesterday.

    Yesterday, when you packed your bags.
    Yesterday, when you still feared death.
    Yesterday, when the state viewed you as a child.

    Today, you grasp his hand, the final goodbye, close his staring eyes, and march your way out of his room to the open door. The rain spatters across the steps, a thousand fountains of silver.

    You square your shoulders, open your umbrella, and face the ocean of possibilities.


  3. Avalina Kreska
    The Elders

    ‘That’s no good, she’ll never take off!’
    ‘The rules say she only has to lift…’
    Abon Sequire adjusted his robes to look more scholarly.
    ‘The only person qualified here to interpret the rules is me.’ He looked over the top of his glasses, scanning the page.
    ‘10cm. There!’ Abon closed the book.
    ‘I always said the parachutes were just overkill,’ Hobbin muttered.
    ‘You know how these things are, things get…well…inflated over time.’ Abon said, squirming.
    Jembo stood patiently, waiting for the elders decision.
    ‘That’s decided then, the umbrella can be used for the ceremony, write this down Hobbin.’
    Hobbin opened the huge 4ft book and disappeared behind it.
    Jembo was handed the red umbrella, she looked down at it with pride,
    ‘Go Jembo, visit the Deep and Become!’ Abon pronounced loudly, waving his arms for effect.
    As Jembo walked away, Hobbin spotted a small hole in the umbrella.
    ‘Don’t say a word, not one word!’ Abon hissed.

    (160 words)


  4. @bex_spence
    149 words

    Wave, Goodbye

    Standing amidst the ocean she let the waves rise against her swelling stomach. Her face stained with salt, from the sea or the tears she no longer knew. Her coming of age, not ideal, childhood snatched from her, as life grew within. She wanted it back. To take the disappointed look in her father’s eyes away, to unbreak his heart.

    Staring out to the horizon the lines were blurred, sea and sky blended together a welcome canvas for her sorrow. She lay back with ease; let the waves carry her, riding on the tide, slowly slipping away.

    She heard him, before she saw him, her name being called, opening her eyes a figure on the beach, striding forward, running ungainly through the sea, water splashing everywhere. Her father gathered her in his arms, held her tight, tears on his face he pressed her close and she breathed him in.


  5. @MattLashley_
    158 words

    The Hush of the Waves

    I walked the shoreline for an hour, though I knew it would do no good. The tide was going out. The wet sand squished between my toes, softening the callouses on my heels. The salty breeze invigorated me. I inhaled it like an addict taking one last drag on the pipe before rehab. Crashing shore breakers plugged my ears with white noise and, for a while, the world around me disappeared, or maybe I disappeared from the world.

    At the lifeguard’s tower, I turned and walked back the way I’d came. Back towards the ugly truth, hers and mine. Mostly hers.

    I passed the landlocked fish. It was still alive, still struggling. The opening and shutting of its gills, much slower now, seemed in sync with my own heartbeats. If fish could scream for help, I imagined this one would.

    Before too long I was back where I’d started. She wasn’t. And I didn’t expect her to be.


  6. The Word
    Ian Martyn @IBMartyn
    158 words

    ‘Ah, you’ve found her, Miss Frobisher.’

    ‘Yes, Mr Jenkins. I tracked for her miles, told her the wind was in the wrong direction. I don’t know, she was an unruly child, now she’s a headstrong teenager. Thinks she knows it all.’

    ‘I know, I know, Miss Frobisher. What will become of her? Leave this to me. “Mary, Mary.., get out of there this minute.”’

    ‘She’s not moving, Mr Jenkins.’

    ‘I can see that, Miss Frobisher.’

    ‘Needs a dose of the medicine that one, Mr Jenkins.’

    ‘That’s as maybe Miss Frobisher but we’ve got to get her out first. “Mary, I told you it wouldn’t work. That word of yours is not strong enough and neither are you. Anything can happen.”’

    ‘Oh Lordy, Mr Jenkins, she’s winding up to use it again.’

    ‘Hang on to your hat, Miss Frobisher and anything else that might fly away. “Mary don’t be silly, maybe when you’re older. No Mary!…, Miss Poppins!…”’



  7. @MattLashley_
    155 words

    Never Speak Ill

    The guy caught up to me as I opened the driver’s door of my father’s car.

    He was trash, the kind of trash that makes your skin itch. He had a red bulb-tipped alcoholic’s nose and lobes that dropped below his jaw line like the earflaps of a hunter’s cap. He wore greasy, ripped overalls and the left strap was tied with twine where the clasp should have been.

    “We’re sorry for your loss, son.”

    His breath smelled like whiskey, stale pretzels and every bad memory of the man we’d just laid in the ground fifty yards away.

    “Your father was a good man.”

    Good? He treated my mother like property and his affinity for the bottle alienated his children. That’s good? The ocean wouldn’t hold this good man’s secrets. He’s finally gone and now I would be the good man he wasn’t.

    The guy looked at me, expecting me to say something. I didn’t.


  8. Sunken Treasure

    Every step sucks at my feet like I’m walking through wet sand. Invisible waves push me gently, side to side. Pressure builds like a fist closing. My knees feel weak. My breath.

    I could almost be walking into the sea, even though we’ve always lived in the desert, Mama and me.

    She came home drunk again, filling the trailer with her foul mouth, her eyes blazing with pain even as she screamed I hate you! Parasite! I know she loves me, somewhere, but it’s buried deep. Sunken treasure, maybe.

    I’ve been saving for six years, now. Buried in a tin can in the backyard. Thank the angels she never found it. I stole some. I worked for more. Now I’ve got enough, and I’m leaving.

    But I feel her with me, like a parasol over my head. My memory-Mama, who held my hand and told me I was her precious baby.

    I let the memory sink, and keep on walking.

    160 words


  9. A Private Ceremony

    The red umbrella is a symbol of my menarche and a beacon to the unwed men in the village.

    “Walk away from us a girl,” the elder says. “When the water washes your navel, return to us a woman.”

    I timidly enter the water. I don’t mind the cold, but to splash the ceremonial umbrella will bring bad luck to my children. Last year I saw a girl stumble on the rocks and plunge into the water. Now she peddles homemade trinkets in the market and begs for scraps.

    I wade out to the required depth. I should return to my family for the bidding. I hear whispers behind me. I open my left hand and look down at the wooden mouse my father carved for my fifth birthday. I lower it into the water and watch it float away. I turn back to the shore, a woman in my own eyes as well as theirs.

    156 words


  10. The Point of Transformation
    A.J. Walker

    After a leisurely breakfast under the mango trees with her family Martan went to her room to prepare. She thought she’d be more excited, but she felt at peace.

    As the hubbub of the villagers heading down to the point subsided she knew it was time. She walked to the shore alone and the people parted, bowing as she passed – each saying their own prayer. Martan was to be the only one passing through the pool this year – the atmosphere tense after last year’s bloodbath.

    At high tide the Elder signed for silence and Martan, without looking at her parents, walked calmly out into the shallows clinging to her blood red parasol. She felt one with the water’s soothing warmth. Just thirty metres to reach the reef; if she made it there then she would have passed into adulthood and the party would begin.

    If the sea god’s spoke through their hammerhead envoys then she’d pass to the next realm.

    (160 words)



  11. Splish, splash

    These waves tried to swallow me once. I spat them out and kept on breathing. Salt water clung to my hair for days. My mother urged me to shower, to rinse out the silt, the sand, the memory. But the rainy droplets on my head whispered the same secrets as the waves.

    It’s not that I didn’t want to hear them, it’s just that I couldn’t understand. The language of the sea was still a mystery to me.

    Years have gone, I have learnt to swim. Commanding the water beneath my wings, floating on the surface as if by magic. Buoyancy has boosted my confidence.

    And now I’m back, staring out over this seemingly unending sea. I see its promise, its possibilities. The horizon slightly beyond my reach. Determined to conquer, to wade in deep. With a single red umbrella, so that you can keep track of me.

    148 words


  12. If only I’d known

    The thing I will never forget about Suzi is her smile. It could light up a room. She never stopped smiling. No matter what happened you could always rely on Suzi to find the bright side. It’s what I miss the most.

    I just wish she had said something. We were best friends, we told each other everything, or at least I thought so. Now I realize I did all the talking. She never talked about boys or college or life after graduation. I was so busy worrying about my future I never stopped to ask about hers.

    They say that depression is like being caught in a never ending storm, that the world ceases to be a place of wonder and becomes cold, damp, dark. I shudder to think of her standing there, all alone, drowning in a sea of her own creation. If only I’d known. I could have helped her. I could have been her umbrella.

    159 words


  13. Coming of Age

    WC: 140

    I have come of age.

    Those of you who have been here know what I’m talking about.

    The waves, the boats, the ports.

    Troubles, paths, destinations.

    Advice, feelings, desires.

    Demands, pressure, frustration.

    My dreams, realistic dreams, dreams others have for me.

    Dads, Moms, Best Friends.

    Me, dream jobs, reality.

    Building dreams, smashing dreams, but never out of dreams.

    Enemies, acquaintances, best friends.

    Tears, smiles, laughter.

    Trials, pain, pure joy.

    Horses, writing, good times.

    All swirls into one ocean.

    I stand here, chest high in this salty water, a high school freshmen looking out over my Atlantic Ocean.

    This is my life.

    I can do with it what I want.

    I can top the tallest mountain or I can fall off the steepest cliff.

    It’s my choice.

    There is one question that I am asking.

    How can I change the world?


  14. Blue World
    (148 words)

    I heard him on my radio. I broke the code. He is searching for me now. His message said he’d come for me. He’d be sweeping from the skies. He was sorry it had taken so long.

    They say I’m weird in school. Their words sting until my eyes water. I cut little vents in my skin in the toilets. Mrs. Crane told my mom. Mom says I bring it upon myself. I don’t talk much, but I asked her about Dad. I asked her if he was different. She just rolled her eyes.
    But I know, now, why I don’t fit in. Dad was different and so am I.

    I open out my umbrella displaying it like a peacock’s tail. He’ll see the red against the blue, my signal that I’ve outgrown this planet. He’ll know it’s me. He’ll know I am ready to leave.


  15. A Private Place

    150 words

    Carla looked at the ocean. Sand slid underfoot and worked between her toes as she walked forward. Already the chill of the ocean whispered around her ankles.
    The first steps into water were almost fine, the heat of the spring sun lifting the temperature a little. The cold deepened as she waded forward.
    A wavelet lapped her thigh and moistened the swimsuits edge, like a dozen tiny daggers of ice pricking her skin. Gasping she strode forward, letting the sea leap up her body, surrounding her in salty coldness.
    Turning she looked at her siblings as they tiptoed at the waters edge, afraid to come in, afraid to abandon themselves to the water.
    Carla floated, waves rolling her up and down. She listened to the oceans quietness and her heart beat calmly. Eventually she returned to the beach, slicing the waves with swimming strokes.
    “What’s it like?” asked her brothers.



  16. Erin McCabe


    160 words


    Slowly, I walk into their sea, grasping their ridiculous red umbrella, all the while cursing them under my breath.

    I stop, as instructed; a young girl left standing waist deep in the swell of the sea, mind consumed by contempt, stomach churning with impatience.

    Here, the expression of outrage is outlawed, the desire for change consistently castrated.

    They say this act; this rite of passage, must be passive.

    They say if you aren’t contrite, obedient and crushed under the weight of your own humility, it will come for you.

    They say if you aren’t sweet, subservient and unspeaking, it will find you.


    Casting their umbrella into the sea I scream until my lungs ache and all of the old men have cleared the edge of the beach.

    When it arrives I shall mount the terrible beast and with all my bravery, wit and hatred, I shall ride it over their corpses and out of this dead place, towards freedom.


  17. In and Out (160 words)

    Seawater rifled through my nose. I sputtered and spat, but the water kept coming, unseeing and unrelenting. Misfired neurons in my brain compelled me to put the umbrella out in front, like a sentry against the rush.

    Instead, the water folded up my red sentry and sent it careening with the tide.

    I ventured out here because the water looked inviting at the time, even magnanimous under the hues of a white and blue sky. But this water was a different breed, a nascent kind, somehow more ferocious, as if it had a sentient mind.

    A sentient mind that was saying, “Take her, take her.”

    And in the back of those misfired neurons, a small voice said, “Let it.”

    The waves continually smacked my breastbone and sprayed tiny rocks against my cheeks. Love hurt; love was meant to cut deep, to burrow in and blossom out of the destruction of meeting parts.

    I extended my arms, laid back and floated.


  18. With thanks to Roderick
    141 words

    Are you going for a journey red Rose?
    Nature>>> Maturity>>> Propagate
    A lunar last night. A child’s twilight
    Bright Rose, rose red at dawn
    Red Rose chose red clothes this morn
    Red Rose, take rose petals to protect her from red sky warned, but she stood in floods.
    Wrote her shoes are still white, her socks still white
    Scarlett, freed, Cardinal of the corporeal. This is God speaking to you
    Blunt as taxes, clear as death

    Lessons are a list of things that rhyme with rose:
    Need genesis Love.
    Beauty mirror Vanity.
    Purity valued Prize.

    So be prepared.

    Red Rose where is the moon? Red Rose did you bloom?
    A Rose an open Red Rose has Rose.


    Be Stein with me.

    Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose .

    And that’s enough, too much.


  19. Water Baby

    Betwixt and between, I am and remain an endless unquiet, my origins long since drenched to the depths; sodden submerged secrets, incapable of dredging. Bereft, time becomes my enemy – a stagnant sentence; wrapping its unyielding chill about me. I am cold to the bone. So near to the surface now – mine – as I become. Seconds, minutes; hours, years, stretch endless oceans deep before me – the gnawing beginning to burn once more at my core. My toes tease the water, in and out, whilst we; the waterways and I, watch and wait. He is – and will – come to me. Sleepy snatches drip from my lips; their patter forming a continuous stream. Warmth will enfold me, once again. I wrap myself around it, pulling it tightly towards me. Entangled, we two are together, a brief fierce embrace, before beginning our descent into the dark. Temporarily satisfied, I hold him close, all compliant limbs; uneasy intermediary, unceasing semi-adult, seeking final transition.

    (160 words)



  20. The Ceremony
    160 Words

    Mother unbuttons my long sheer blouse. It floats to the wet sand, exposing the red garments beneath. The toning of women mixes with the crash of waves.

    “Do we really have to do this?” I hiss.

    “Yes. You have prepared yourself?”

    I roll my eyes. “No shower since yesterday morning, no pads, no tampons, just me. In a red tanktop and hot pants.”

    “Be respectful.”

    I take the red umbrella with a sigh and step into the icy salt water. The female harmony crescendos, and mother’s ceremonial voice carries over it.

    “… gift of blood comes from the goddess and returns to the waters of the earth…”

    The waves eat my hips.

    “… so does this child move from one cycle of her life into the next…”

    Her voice fades as I push further into the sea, carrying the red umbrella, bleeding from between my legs. I chuckle. No one will forget this ceremony if I get swallowed by a shark.


  21. Today we should have been flying back from our holiday at the sea, hair dried, skin scorched, our dreams come of age.

    We should have been promising ourselves we wouldn’t forget and that we would come again. The palm trees should have been greyed in the failing light, whipping in the dusted wind of sunfall.

    Should have been. We should have been looking forward through the sunset-tinted shades of our contentedness, looking forward to our future together, our future continuing.

    I should have been looking, I should have been watching, I should have been paying attention.

    I’m sorry.

    I’ll come back and visit you. I’ll talk to you. I’ll bring the old red umbrella and use it as a sunshade and sit or stand and look out at the sea every day. And then I’ll leave the umbrella, the now sun-faded and salt-stained umbrella, I’ll leave it lying on the rocks and join you in the water.

    157 words


  22. Everything Changes
    158 words

    George found Sarah standing in the lake. He understood the water; her hot flashes were almost unbearable. The umbrella she was holding stumped him. It wasn’t raining, and she was already soaked.

    “Sarah? Breakfast is ready.”

    She didn’t move.

    “When I was twelve my mother said I’d ‘come of age.’ Everything changed and I loved it. I looked forward to having children…”

    There had been no children, in spite of their efforts.

    “Everything’s changed again, and I don’t know what I have to look forward to.”

    George waded into the water and took the umbrella. He recognized it, now; one of her treasured relics from childhood.

    “We still have each other to look forward to,” he said. He grinned. “Though I think I’m luckier in that respect than you, since I married such a catch.”

    Sarah’s smile could brighten any day. George took her hand and led her back to the first breakfast of many more to come.


  23. The Price of Growing Up
    by JM6, 159 words, @JMnumber6

    “It’s time,” her parents said.

    Rebecca nodded. Taking the folded red umbrella with its squirming contents, she left the cottage and walked slowly to the sea.

    “Why?” the small voice asked from inside the umbrella.

    Rebecca didn’t answer at first. After several minutes, she said, “Because I’m too old. You have to go.”


    “Because when mortal folk marry, you turn nasty. You sour the milk, and the hens stop laying. You want us all to yourselves.”

    “Is that so wrong?” the voice asked, barely a whisper.

    “When we are children, no. But I’ve grown up.” She arrived at the sea. Holding the umbrella with its point down, she opened it, gazing one last time at her friend. “It’s time to say goodbye.”

    “You’re right,” the piskie said, its voice now as cruel as its fate. “If I stayed, I would destroy you.”

    “I know,” Rebecca said, her tears flowing as she released the makeshift boat to the sea.


  24. Weathered Patterns
    Margaret Locke (@Margaret_Locke or margaretlocke.com)
    154 words

    She drowned me in tempests of her own making, the waves coming faster as the years seemed to slow. Caught in her currents, we’d swirl and crash, dragging each other down in whirlpools of words, our barbs like fish hooks we’d repeatedly cast.

    I couldn’t imagine a time when the waters would calm, when the murky surface wouldn’t hide adolescent icebergs I’d bang into at unexpected moments. I was a ship caught in her ocean, a personal Titanic battling the forces of her nature.

    One time in the middle of a downpour, she handed me an umbrella. “I love you, mom,” she’d said, her eyes misty in the center of repeated hurricanes.

    What I wouldn’t give to spy her on my horizon, to let her crest and break in my arms. But the tide never changed for us. She succumbed to her own inner maelstrom, and I’m marooned on this island of grief.


  25. Panic Attack

    ‘As we threw our mortar boards to the skies, I was seized by the feeling that when it returned to my outstretched hand, nothing would ever be the same again. It was like, everything was going so fast, and I thought I was having a heart attack or something. It felt like someone had injected poison into me and it was spreading through my body, gripping and gnawing at anything it could reach until it clawed its way up my throat and silenced me.’

    ‘Go on…’

    ‘I couldn’t speak. I opened my mouth, but there was nothing. I think I fainted. I remember being on the floor and looking up at all these faces. I think they thought I was high or something.’

    ‘How do you feel now?’

    ‘It feels like I’m drowning. I’ve waded out too far and I can’t feel the ground any more.’


    ‘And, I haven’t the strength to swim.’

    154 words


  26. ‘Seven Tears for a Selkie.’
    David Shakes
    157 Words

    I held your hand in mine until the waves loosened our grip and the call became too great for you to resist.
    Your tail surfaced just once, and then I was alone in that great, grey expanse.
    I held my red parasol aloft -a metaphor for the warmth and protection I’d given you; a talisman against the alien world to which you’d returned.
    I’d known this day would come, when I’d return you to your kin, for the bargain struck came with that terrible price.
    Does your selkie mother sense your return?
    Was I wrong to hide her skin until she’d fulfilled my heart’s desire?
    Seven tears were shed; seven years were given.
    Tell her of the love your land mother had for you.
    Now my tears are too many to be counted. They’re swallowed and lost in the heaving ocean. Are you lost too, or have you found a freedom beyond me, my beautiful seal child?


  27. Red Regret

    Some people spend entire lives in the shallow end, wading their way through murky waters that suppress and haunt their dreams. There’s safety in the shoreline and slow, sure death. Never one to wade, I walked before I learned to crawl.

    Ninety miles an hour down an open stretch of road, my destination anywhere adventure was ripe to consume. I left home at seventeen with a heart full of hubris and a hundred bucks. I knew what every diploma burdened teen understood about life, which was to say, absolutely nothing.

    Art in levered shades; the blue-eyed boys, hues of blood, and whitecap lips of love and loss. Beneath the skyscrapers, I learned to crawl.

    In the end, I returned to the seas hoping to stay afloat. Would the salt in my wounds be enough?

    We age, shield ourselves from the sun, come in from the rains, but we wade. We wade in the shallow depths of our own misery.

    160 words


  28. The Wave
    157 words

    The taste of the sea, the taste in my mouth. The volcano flows, blood red to the sea.
    I stand here, the beach new-formed, the little waves licking my feet. The water is cold, then warm, up to my knees, my thighs, my waist. It holds me, rocking with the movement of this world.

    I am in the sea, submerged. My sisters on the shore, my brothers on the shore. Life unfurls like a flower, a red rose, a red umbrella opening for the rain of tears. I cannot wait for heartbreak.
    I cannot wait to become one with the world, to lose myself in its waves.

    A wave arises, and my heart leaps up like a silver fish. I am one with all that is.

    The wave recedes and falls away. The moment passes. The shore beckons, come back, come back. I am not the one who waded along the beach, once. Now I am new, and changed.


  29. The Witch’s Daughter
    160 words

    I watch from the water as you gain the beach, a hostile island of adulthood, and you armed with an umbrella as red as a riding hood.

    You’re not ready to walk on dry land, but their eyes flash in the moonlight and you long to dance. You don’t realize how narrow their promised wonderland is.

    I scream, rage against the glass that separates us. That’s not love they’re offering. The wolves have never been about passion. Their teeth glisten status-quo seduction. They would chew your vibrancy down to grey bones. And the cape only taunts the infernal beast that would trample us into complacency or drive us back into the surf to become as ineffectual as sea foam.

    What resources I’ve left might yet serve you. With an iron blade, I sever my starry horn. I tuck it fur-wrapped and bloodied into an apple basket, send it off, and hope you’ll understand that I’ve never been the evil one.


  30. La Reina del Mar
    158 words

    The pea-soup water caught Carmel in its current. From the shore the Elders’ chants warbled, “Deeper! Farther!”

    Carmel’s offering—un paraguas—shook in her hands. If she made it back to shore, she’d return a heroine.

    Beneath her, below meters of sediment, the ancient city lay. Miami. Los Malditos had lived there before the water rose. Their cursed oil-burning playthings had melted the ends of the Earth and caused the sea to expand.

    Los Malditos had believed that a paraguas had the power to repel water. Carmel hoped some truth lived in the myth as she released the relic to the water god.

    Every autumn, one girl was sent to sea. If she could swim back to shore, they said the flooding would finally abate. She would then be honored as the highest woman, La Reina del Mar.

    Carmel began to swim. The Elders were but dots upon the distant shore.

    No girl had ever made it back.


    • I love the way you interweave the details of Carmel’s personal story with the backstory. I’m a sucker for the casting of our present as some distant past and you cast it so well,.


    • I love the world you’ve created (well, from the point of view of a writer, at least! I hope I never have to live in it); I love the way you’ve built it; I love the idea of sacrificing the umbrella to the sea. Just amazing, and I have my fingers crossed that Carmel is the first girl to make it back.



    Brian S Creek
    155 words

    I sat on the beach and watched my sweet Annabelle. She stood waste deep in the calm ocean, still in her school uniform, twirling her red umbrella like a windmill.

    I so wanted to stand up and amble down the sands to the water’s edge. I wanted to wade out to stand right next to her. I wanted to hold her hand. I wanted to kiss her.

    “Hey Chris, you all right?”

    I was brought back to earth by my best friend.

    “I know what today is,” he said. “Are you sure you want to be here?”

    I looked back at Annabelle. She turned and waved to me, that beautiful smile born from ruby lips letting me know I was going to be okay. Time to live life.

    My friend took my outstretched hand and pulled me to my feet. We headed back to the car.

    I glanced over my shoulder and she was gone.


  32. Out Of Her Depth
    155 words

    Upon reaching their 21st birthday the young ladies of the Nanny State, a small country in Eastern Europe, are entrusted with their first posting.

    But although she was celebrating that milestone today, things were not going well for Mary Poppins.

    She had received her instructions, her umbrella and her bottomless carpet-bag. She had set her jaw firmly (but kindly), had set her GPS to “The Banks”, and had set her feet like a confused hieroglyphic. Then she had launched herself into adulthood and into the sky.

    Her GPS programming, however, had been too vague. The machine let her down, literally, by the banks of the Mississippi and, like an over-eager dog towing its owner, her umbrella pulled her running into the sea. She shouted out a word, though not the one for which she is best known.

    Her bag now contained four trillion gallons of water, and was too heavy to lift off the sea-bed.


  33. Out of the Shallows
    159 words

    In the shallows, Maris sports with her spawn-mates. The elders note her flimsy fins and cast furtive glances skyward.

    Gills must mature, scales harden, full membrane enclose the eye. For when the seasonal storms carve waves into chasms, the juveniles must take refuge in the depths.

    As the first fat drops seethe the surface, instinct pulls the clan away from shore. Maris hesitates, pressure kneading her bones, pinching her sight. She sends pulses of distress. None look back. She’s already a casualty.

    Maris refuses to surrender her bones to the trench. She strains back through churning waters. The storm has transformed the birthing reefs into deadly teeth that gnash into her scales.

    She places webbed feet on sand. Fear claws at her limbs. The cliffs frown down at her, a leafy harbor at their crest. Behind her, a wave gathers itself to shatter the beach.

    Maris leaps for the trees above. At that moment, her flimsy fins become wings.


  34. “Red”
    by Michael Seese
    160 words

    Life comes in many colors. Death comes in but one.


    The sky bled with one thousand screams. The landscape crawled with War Of The World invaders, each blast from their laser eyes burning fury.

    I tried to find some refuge, some sanctuary, but found only paralysis in black words like “no future.”

    At the facility, we all tried to blend into the sterile gray walls. But there was no avoiding it. Just holding it off until your courage could find you.

    When they inserted the probe, my brain exploded in a reverse Marcia Brady first kiss fireworks display, a sickening bookend to our own awkward pyrotechnics.

    After it was all over, my boyfriend kissed my forehead and said how brave I was for making the right decision for us. We drove home, the weight of his world dropped on my shoulders. I went upstairs, cut myself, and asked Him to forgive me for spilling the blood of a child.



    Brian S Creek
    159 words
    @Brian S Creek

    I knew we was crazy but the prices the TV’s were going for was too damn good to skip out on. Denise and me had a plan too. Her boyfriend likes that American Football crap and he said, ‘cause Denise was bigger than me that she should be my blocker’.


    The shop man unlocks the door and it gets mental real quick. I stick to Denise like chewing gum while people fall down all around and shout words my mother don’t think I know. There’s kicking and screaming and it ain’t all Denise.

    We make it to the TV’s but some old bird’s got the last one. I grab a red brolly from a stand behind me and swing it at her.

    She grabs the end of the brolly and mutters something foreign sounding from a Harry Potter movie. Next thing I know I’m not in the shop no more.

    I’m in the middle of the shitting ocean!


  36. The Blinking Sand

    When she was a fractured teen, Jennifer would sneak out to the oceanfront with her plastic red bucket. The seashells that littered the sand became startled eyes in her ailing mind. Unseen bodies protected by a granular blanket with orbs of various hues darting around for the visitor sheathed in a lustful cloak. Like Jennifer, they had seen the trembling brass doorknob when the tormenting night arrived. They had seen brutes in flannel shirts and chameleons in silk pajamas.

    She would gather a few of the eye-shells and take them home to comfort her while her mother chose to ignore the stifled moans of lost innocence.

    “Who’s gonna pay the rent now, you ungrateful tattletale?” she asked Jennifer years ago. Nancy would eventually marry a ruffian with a bursting wallet and unquenched rage in his knuckles.

    Jennifer always comes back to the beach. She tells the panicked eyes about her new life, the one aglow with the color of redemption.

    159 words


  37. Lady of Lost Souls

    She’d been cautious at first – slowly dipping a toe. Cold. No, not really, just a little chilly. So – onwards – up to the ankle. Waves, waves slithered over her as she stepped out further. Squelching toes into gritty-grey sand – glorified ground-up rocks, particles of deadened shells that no longer housed soft-bodied creatures, fragments of old lives – she pressed on, salt water lapping at her thighs. Rain. She popped her umbrella and gamely proceeded. Nothing would stop her now. Up to her breasts, buoyed by the progress she was making, her smile widened; this was easier than she thought possible. Small ripples, perhaps seaweed or tentacles from an unknown creature, grasped at her goosepimpled shins. She pressed on, relentlessly. The floor of the ocean shifted with each step but she didn’t stumble. Sure-footed, serene, head held high above each cresting wave, in her red dress she shone like a beacon for lost souls across the vastness of the ocean.

    159 words


  38. The Key

    Word count 159

    Red had no place in Eva’s world; to her it was the colour of blood, of danger. Red however was her mother’s favourite colour, and she called it the colour of truth.

    Today, on Eva’s birthday, her mother was clad in scarlet. The waves of excitement with which Eva had started the day subsided into a trickle of anxiety.

    Her father’s key lay on the table. As a young girl, she had often walked with him to the door in the garden wall yet never glimpsed what lay beyond. Now old enough to take her father’s place, Eva felt out of her depth.

    “Time for you to go,” said her mother gently as they walked the familiar path.

    Eva opened the door to a world cloaked in night. She had never seen the moon before but immediately understood its call, its power. This was her mother’s truth and now it was hers. Red was the thirst to be slaked.


  39. The Easier Option

    It’s a terrible thing to lose one’s mind. To feel sanity slipping away, the fine silk threads of lucidity drifting ever out of reach.

    I don’t know why my grasp on reality shattered; I don’t even know when it did so. Maybe I was born broken, some neural connection not quite lining up with its counterpart.

    In more stable moments, I remember that I was a genius at the age of eight. An adult in a child’s body. I cut my teeth on quantum mechanics while my peers struggled with basic arithmetic. At twelve I was grown, at home among college professors.

    But I was alone. So alone and it broke me.

    Now I’ve finally grown up. I’m at peace now — maybe. Insanity showed me what I’m missing out on. A real life. I’ll never have one, so it’s best I leave now. Drowning is easy, or so I hear.

    150 words
    @ jujitsuelf


  40. Crazy Daisy
    159 words

    “She’s always been a bit odd” muttered Gloria

    I pretended not to hear. We’d been friends for years, the three of us, starting at university. I was the plodder, Gloria was the brain box and Daisy well Daisy enchanted everyone. Gloria never forgave her when she got a first. Gloria swore blind Daisy must have slept with the strange professor with frayed cuffs and leather elbow patches. I know she didn’t because he only had eyes for me. I needed all that extra tuition in between clinches!

    “Why is she showing us up? Everyone must think she’s crazy and us too”

    At that moment I came of age

    “Gloria, shut up!!”

    I gazed at Daisy. She looked ethereal, magical and mystifying, walking to meet the ship in the far distance. My eyes followed the red umbrella until it sunk under the waves. Gone like a mermaid’s parasol. I heard the siren calling. Drowning out Gloria’s anguished shrieks for ever.


  41. Black Coffee
    159 words

    She was out there again.

    I’d gotten up early to watch the sunrise each of the last six days and every time I’d stepped out on the tiny balcony, she was already there. Sitting in the water. Staring at the horizon. When I woke to the sound of rain against the windows, I’d assumed that today, surely, she’d stay inside.

    But there she was. Again.

    “The umbrella matches her swimsuit.”

    My mother was beside me, an amused smile in her voice. We held matching cups but the liquid inside hers was darkest black while mine was the palest shade of beige and held more milk and sugar than actual coffee.

    I pretended not to see her grimace when I took a gulping sip.

    “I wonder what she thinks about, sitting out there every morning?”

    My mom shrugged.

    “It looks very peaceful.”

    I contemplated the cheerful splash of red and decided that tomorrow, I would join her.

    With black coffee.


  42. C. James Dawson
    Word Count: 160

    New Life

    Let her wash away in the salty brine. The silly girl that clings to life, digging nails into my heart. She hopes to rain down her familiar habits. But I’m prepared this day. Her sheeting splashes of naivety and child-like manner sliding away down the plastic shield. The shield is synthetic, but, as with all things pertaining to the soul, perception is the real key. I became adult in the eyes of law years ago, but it is only now that I cast off my adolescence and become truly a woman. Standing firm in the pull of the current, holding my offerings of immaturity. Let them be inherited by the wisdom of the sea. I can feel now, a flutter deep inside. Maybe it is the new life I feel stretching it’s wings, or maybe it’s the old life clawing and gnashing as the tide sweeps it away. My emotions mix. Fear, sadness, hope, joy…

    Now, I am a woman.


    • I love the idea of the two stages of the self symbolized by the childish rain and the wise sea, and how they clash and become indistinguishable (the new life stretching or the old life clawing) in the internal conflict.


    • I love the imagery in this piece. The childish rain, the wise sea, and the clashing ideas of new life stretching its wings versus old life clawing and gnashing as the tide sweeps it away. Great last line.


      • Thank you both for the positive comments. This was my first time writing here and first flash piece in years. Great writers and community.


  43. Lost in Transition

    I am in the classroom and I have a thick layer of bubble wrap around my head.
    I walk in the street and I step in puddles of grey quicksand.
    I watch TV and I lie on a concrete couch.
    I visit grandmother on Sunday with the rest of the family and I am perched on a lamp shade in a corner.
    I do the shopping and I hop on one leg, the whole time.
    I hang around in the park with my friends and I think they are not my friends.
    I take the train and I sit on the lap of the man next to me.
    I swim in the ocean and I hold an umbrella in my hand.
    I am almost 16 and this is my life. People say it will get better. More comfortable. But I am not sure.

    143 words


  44. Agatha’s Mishap.

    Damn! She’d missed by a nautical mile.
    Damn, damn and damn! It was cold.
    She shivered.
    And wet. Her warm salt tears uselessly pushing back at the ocean.
    Agatha’s cheeks flushed as dark as her rouge gown, slapped by the waves; her nose streamed. And the hissing sea drowned her hearing with its whispers and sniggers.
    She still clung to the fine umbrella that was supposed to let her down gently, elegantly amidst an ogling crew upon the ship’s deck.
    How had she missed by so much?
    It was supposed to be her day! To be her first spell, her first revenge, her first success. She was supposed to present to the coven with “And here is a thumb snapped from the bosun no longer homeward bound.”
    If only she’d been more attentive in class.
    She turned the brolly about and growled a size spell; it would do as her boat to get home.

    @CliveNewnham – 154 words


  45. In-Between Days

    Sand smoldered underfoot, as Astrid navigated the chaos of towels and sunscreen that haunted the shoreline. She could feel voyeuristic gazes teasing at her body that didn’t fit like it used too.

    Temptation. Innocence. Her Mother’s lips, flecked with coffee and croissant, an oral legacy, chains of unspoken fears.

    White horses galloped, lapping softly over feet. Astrid’s skin erupting in pleasure. Marking each flowing incursion with a letter.

    L – I – M – I – N – A – L.

    A pleasant sounding word, Astrid had wondered about getting it as a tattoo. Stella lounging on her towel, cigarette and cherry lipstick, knew some guy who would do it without ID. “For a little favour” Stella had giggled. Astrid nodded, not daring to ask what favour meant.

    Walking towards the ocean, leaving her friend to inspire the imagination of others.

    Astrid dove amongst the stallions, the world dissolving into a rolling realm of shade.

    Fitting in within the silence.

    160 words


  46. Growing Up
    156 words

    “That umbrella won’t protect you from a storm if you’re in the sea!”

    “Maybe I don’t want to be protected.”

    “He can’t be worth it!”

    “Good guess, wrong pronoun.”

    “If you mean you like girls, I’ll be your comfort. For half price.”

    At that, the lady in red turned around. “Go home.”

    “I don’t have a home.”



    “Where do you sleep?”

    “With whoever pays me to.”

    “I mean the rest of the time.”

    “In the park.”

    “Not tonight. Come to my place.” Amanda happily followed. “I’m Akane.”


    “Maybe it’s time to grow up.”

    “I’m not inexperienced.”

    “Not you. Me.”

    “Usually anyone who looks like you isn’t a virgin unless she wants to be.”

    “I never said I was…or that I was buying. That’s not the area where I’m being immature. My mother thinks I’ll outgrow liking girls…but I think what I need to outgrow is giving so much weight to what she says.”


  47. Hopes

    Scarlett smiled as she padded down the beach, barefoot on the warm sand.

    Martin watched her over the top of his journal. He was writing another story, but he was far more interested in her. As she reached the water’s edge she paused, wondering where to leave her parasol, then kept straight on, holding it high above the waves.

    Martin groaned as she moved out into deep waters, becoming a red beacon of desire in the slate grey sea. He hated the water, hated holidays here and his parents for dragging him along, but at least he had found a silver lining in Scarlett.

    Now all he needed to do was tell her how he felt. But that seemed like too great a leap, plunging deep into the chilly waters of adulthood.

    He drained his cola, saw her form distorted in the bottle’s curves. Perhaps he could put a message in it?

    Smiling, already composing, he reached for his pen.

    160 words


  48. Regrets

    You learn to accept your regrets, with time, but the coming of age brings a redefining of the memory, and things I did don’t bother me any more; now it’s the things undone, words unsaid, that stand out, like blazing beacons in a stormy sea.

    What I did wasn’t always right, but there was usually a silver lining; I hid in my stories, but I got a career from it; I said I love you to the wrong girl, but we raised a perfect child; I learned to accept bad situations, but I was never cut adrift.

    Now though, I find myself thinking on all the what ifs and maybes, like the girl in the red swimsuit. I mooned over her on holiday one summer, threw love letters into the sea for her, all because I couldn’t just dive in. I never asked if she got them, or how she felt.

    That’s what bothers me now; not learning to swim.

    160 words


  49. Umbrellas

    WC: 159

    I filled my umbrella with pain.

    “What kind of idiot are you, Ishabell?” His slap resounded across the empty room. “Anyone should have been able to get that.”

    I filled my umbrella with tears.

    ”What kind of clumsy dork are you?” The kids at school always teased. “You must always be falling to have so many bruises all over your face.”

    I filled my umbrella with heartbreak.

    My dad is the governor of the state. No one believes that he takes his bad days out on me.”

    I filled my umbrella with longing.

    Why don’t I have a dad like other people? What did I ever do?

    I filled my umbrella with questions too hard to answer.

    Why does he insist on hitting me? Why does it have hurt?”

    Standing waist deep in the water with my filled up umbrella, I pushed it off.

    It doesn’t matter anymore. He won’t bother me ever again. I made sure of that.


  50. Deep

    Ma used to watch ships on the far horizon from the beach. I remember watching her painted red toes, her legs shivering under her flower print skirt. She always sat and listened to the ocean — the steady hum of waves, her eyes scanning the edge of the ocean where the sky and the strange new worlds collide.

    I wondered what lurked beyond that edge, or what stories her eyes held. The day came when I laid her to rest in the ocean as she had wished. I even carried her red parasol.

    Only later did I learn about what she sought from that deep, turbulent, obstinate mass of water. Only later I found those photos of Pa and Ma smiling on the deck of an ocean liner, sun shining on Pa’s hair and Ma holding that red parasol, her flower print skirt flowing in the breeze. I never knew Pa; he died a month before I was born.

    159 words


  51. The Deadpan People
    (158 words)

    A thousand years of rains have washed the blood of forgotten gods from the hillsides.
    And what use are gods to a people who have subdued the Earth themselves?

    They, who discovered fire.
    They, who split the atom.
    They, who cracked the genetic code.
    They, who have slain the gods themselves.

    That divine spark of intellect we kindled still burns in their minds.
    They sail the oceans in ships as gray as their souls.
    They soar joylessly through the heavens.
    The gates of Olympus are swung open: nothing is denied to them.

    What of the great heroes and monsters of legend? The passion and poetry? The prophets and oracles? The Age of Miracles?

    That magic is gone now.

    I look in on them from time to time — the last of a lost pantheon.

    Sometimes I pity them. Sometimes I envy them.

    I raise my umbrella against the rain. The tears of the lost gods pour down on me.


  52. An Ocean Between Us (155 Words)

    I board the plane to Boston, a smile cracking my lips and a knot twisting my stomach.

    Melissa remains behind.

    If I close my eyes, I can see her scurrying away from me on Westmoreland Street, her red umbrella glittering in the Dublin rain. She is a bright grace note in the melancholy symphony playing in my heart.

    She flutters in joyous expectation of new life and friendships, new studies and adventures. I swallow loneliness that lodges like a boulder in my throat and tell myself she must pursue her dreams and live her own life.

    Around me, attendants speak of safety precautions. I hope my daughter will be safe in this new city where she is already making friends.

    The plane rumbles down the runway, gaining speed, until with a rush, we are airborne. An ocean will soon lie between us.

    I am flying home, but my daughter has found her wings.


  53. WORTH

    I’m drowning in their less-than-private whisperings. They talk of test results, therapies and long-term goals. Individual plans fill places in carefully coded files, like drift wood piled by the tide, wet to dry, oldest to most recent. Coded but not flesh. Words without end. Where am I in this umbrella of protection created for me?

    You have questioned me often, and where my spoken words failed, I answered in pastel chalk. I tinted high rag content pages ever so delicately, wave upon wave of my real self. Colorful layers, blending and complementing. Colors expressing line, texture, ideas and broad concepts of my experiences, the answers to your mind-drilling questions.

    Turn me loose now with my powdery Grumbachers and oceans of paper. They will speak for me. They will shout to the critics, to the viewers, of my sense of worth, my ability to blend and complement. Unlike the driftwood of my files, the chalk lives for me.

    WC = 157, exclusive of title


  54. Do You Love Your Mommy?

    The wind whipped the rain and saltwater at her; they were not optimal swimming conditions, but they would do. She licked her lips, and the acrid taste of salt reminded her of Emily.

    Emily used to love that taste. She also used to love her Mommy. Then boys, parties, rebellion, and drugs replaced the mother. She tried to help her, but Emily did not want to be saved. It had been years since she last saw Emily.

    Now she had her little Jack, and unlike his sister, Jack would do anything for his mommy. They were here to prove that.

    She released the toddler, and he slapped at the water desperately.

    “Come on Jack, swim to Mommy. If you love your mommy you will swim to her.”

    The struggle ended. The little body stilled and rocked with the black waves.

    “He didn’t love me enough,” she thought, and like his sister, he drifted into a calamitous sea.

    157 words


  55. “Grown”
    John Mark Miller – 150 words

    “We are never to leave the caves, Sarina. When you’re grown you’ll understand.”

    Her parents had warned her for twenty-one years, and Sarina had never questioned them.

    Until today.

    Living within dark caverns when the world outside was so beautiful had become unbearable. She wanted to dance among the wildflowers, breathe fresh air and feel warm sunshine…just once.

    So she had grabbed her red sundress and slipped past the Cavern Guards. The day had been better than she’d dreamed, and after dancing for hours, she had fallen asleep in the valley.

    She woke with a jolt as water plunged about her. The sky had grown dark and fierce, and the tide was rising fast, reaching her shoulders in seconds.

    She suddenly longed for the Mountain Caves, but they were far beyond reach.

    Now…at the end…she finally understood.


  56. Love rescued!

    ‘The ball is to the left Kathy’ screamed Tim from the shore as Kathy walked deeper into the ocean. She was searching for the ball which they were playing with at the beach.

    But, she was not able to see properly in the glare of the sun, the high waves lashing against her. The silly umbrella she was holding was making her off-balance. She was a good swimmer, but it’s a high tide and she was slipping when walking on the sand. She gave up on the stupid ball and was about to turn back, when she felt it. She felt her feet off the ground and herself being sucked into the ocean with such force.

    She cried for help. But on this private beach, there was nobody else. And she saw Tim running towards her jumping right into the ocean. He was futilely trying to reach her. At that moment, she forgave him as she knew he loved her.

    160 words


  57. Breathe. She couldn’t breathe. Amy couldn’t breathe. There was air. She knew there had to be air. Others were laughing and talking as they passed by, oblivious to her distress. And breathing. They were all breathing. But there was no air. Her heart was still beating, pounding, pounding. Could they not hear it? How could they not hear it? Amy tried to swallow, hoping to break the stasis, to make her lungs work again, but her mouth was dry. Her mouth was dry and her hands were wet. Why wasn’t her body working right? One boy wasn’t walking past her. Scott was looking right at her. What was that look on his face? Fear? Confusion? Revulsion? He really should just leave and let her die, that would be best. Without knowing how, Amy nodded. Go ahead. Leave. Let me die here in this hallway. He didn’t leave. Scott didn’t. He just smiled. “Great, so I’ll see you at eight?”

    159 words


  58. @thebatinthehat
    159 words

    Aftermath of Neptune

    Everyone should have one happy memory to hang onto, and hers was a day at the beach. It was a summer filled with hope, even with the cloud of adulthood looming on the horizon.

    Those were simpler times, when logic was what you wanted it to be, like swimming with an umbrella, so you didn’t get wet, when you could still believe in nonsensical things, like happiness and love.

    The beaches looked different, now.

    Thousands of bodies lay scattered across the shoreline, bleeding out from bullet wounds and broken by patrolling tanks, their blood running down the sand, staining the water red. Their final resting place would be in foreign soil, without family, without friends, and some of them, without a name.

    The beaches looked different now, their city destroyed but free. Restoration would take time; recovery might never come.

    She picked up a dismembered limb and carried it to a waiting truck.

    Someone had to bury the dead.


  59. Gloria’s in Too Deep

    Gloria knew she was in over her head, but she didn’t want to admit that to the boss.

    She wondered why she had been put in charge of the Christmas concert. She was young, inexperienced, but she was made for this. The boss knew that better than anyone. Yet her attempt to gather a choir had failed. The warriors stepped up, but not a one of them could sing. The seraphim were a bunch of prima-donnas.

    As the day approached, she melted down under the strain. She yelled at the cherubs and threatened to leave the shepherds out completely.

    After she lost it, the boss found her hiding behind a thunderhead.

    “Thank you for trying to make everything perfect.”

    “It has to be perfect!” she sobbed, “it’s your only birthday.”

    “Yes, but the point of my birth, the reason for Christmas, is to release the pressure of being perfect by bringing grace. It’ll be a great concert.”

    158 words


  60. Exceptional

    Dozens of faces watch me take my place on the satin aisle spread along the sand. Waves lap quietly at its other edge. Heaping plates of food wait back at my house.

    The Council Head nods. I pop open my crimson umbrella and step forward.

    When was the last time one drowned? a voice whispers.

    Every Seean’me girl strides into the sea on her eighteenth birthday. An hour later, most reemerge — “purified.” Every girl wears crimson, probably so we’re easier to see. Every girl chooses her own accessory.

    Neck-deep, I lower my umbrella over my head and push off, losing the bottom. The chant begins, marking my minutes in the water.

    I have no time to scream when something grabs my leg, pulling me under. But moments later my mouth gasps in air, and my eyes open to a shimmering hall, ancient crimson decorating its walls. Submerged beauty engulfs me.

    Smiles greet my surprise. A hand gestures toward my umbrella.

    (160 words; @AriaGlazki)


  61. Jennifer Ricketts
    160 words
    Goodbye to the Land

    Tendrils of my dark wavy hair fall down to just below my shoulder blades as I take out my ponytail holder. The rain kisses my hair causing dripping wet tresses, but I don’t mind. I am about to become soaking wet from the ocean anyhow.

    At the edge of the water, I begin walking into it, carrying the umbrella with me. No one is at the beach today – the rain has driven everyone but me away. The deeper the water gets, the heavier my dress feels. I wonder what will become of it once the transformation is complete. I suppose it won’t matter.

    Once the water comes up to my neck, I open up the umbrella. I dip under the water and ease the umbrella down with me. Immediately I feel the process of losing my human legs beginning. My coming of age ceremony is just beginning.

    I bid a warm farewell to the life I had on land.


  62. At the Edge
    143 words

    Today, I go to the water’s edge and I shall sing the greeting song to the ships upon the horizon.

    Long have I waited for the day when I was deemed old enough to take my place amount my sisters. I watched them as they have grown into the full blossom of womanhood, sunning themselves in hopes of finding their man among the sailors… husbands and children they have found along the shore, and I have longed for what they have.

    Parasol in hand I wait, letting the song well up from water’s edge and echo across the bay. I bare my heart with the song and offer up the best of me to call them home.

    Today I will go to the water’s edge, and sing for them the song of greeting, and tonight, I shall suck the marrow from their bones.


  63. By Elisa @AverageAdvocate
    Word Count: 160
    “Rest Day”

    My courteous Sunday blew away the clouds. It actually calmed the seas, too–that surprised me. I didn’t know I could do that! Before I had just dabbled with servants and fantasy, but birthing a universe was a first. I invented a whole new genre!

    The breeze flaunted the girl, while I called for the one with those shoulders. He didn’t bow speedily. This time, they weren’t chess pieces, meandering unless I intervened. I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t, couldn’t.

    She dipped in the water, losing her footing; he offered his hand. I watched curiously to see if she would take it.

    She did.

    He gestured to the liquid expanse. Repeating him, she whispered, “Water?”

    He flicked it at her. Time paused, watching her. But then she doused him with a decisive splash. I exhaled, ruffling their hair.

    He grabbed her, she giggled, and I smiled.

    Drinking in the sunshine, I kicked-back to watch, finally resting. It would all be just fine.


  64. Raising the Tide

    Monica toes explored the cracks in the highway pavement hoping for a nibble. The lobsters made their homes in the crevices of the old interstate that had once bisected Atlanta. The road and most of the city that had gone underwater back when her parents were still children. With the water up to her chest, anyone floating by on a raft wouldn’t know she was pregnant. Even the baby’s father, if he were to ever own up to it.

    A spine poked her big toe and she immediately took the tickle stick from her belt loop. In two steps, Monica had the small lobster in her bag with the others. She now had enough to sell at the flotilla. Hopefully none of her customer were former clients from her old line of business. Soon she’d have enough to move inland and make certain her child didn’t have to come of age in this drowned echo of a city.

    158 Words


  65. Inspiration:

    There’s something magical and primal about the smell of burning wood. In the clean mountain air, even a small cooking fire spreads.

    I dare to hope that whomever made the fire offers a room with a roof and a mattress. Courtesy like that no longer exists.

    We’ve followed the lakeshore since morning. It’s slow going. I’ve spent the time watching the abandoned pontoon boats on the lake.

    We find the fire as the sun threatens to escape for the night. There’s a houseboat docked nearby. Two men and a woman amble from the houseboat to the fire.

    Their leader, a large graying man who should be wearing a shirt, says, “Good Evening. Care to barter for food?”

    “I’m afraid we have nothing worth bartering.”

    “I disagree,” the man says. His eyes are on my wife. My protective instinct clicks on.

    The lady says, “We’re the flash dogs.” At my shrug she says, “We’re writers. We trade food for inspiration.”

    159 Words


  66. 159 words

    First Meeting

    She glanced around the emptying beach, conspicuous. A red umbrella, of all things. He would choose that. With a penname like Awkward Surfer, she was surprised he asked at all.

    “You’re sixteen today. Let’s meet.” But when he’d typed, “The beach. 7 pm. Wear a red umbrella,” her heart had leapt.

    “I’ll be there.”

    And she was. He wasn’t. She glanced at her phone. 7:10. Heat washed through her. Had he forgotten? She stood, clutching the umbrella. The ocean’s steady pulse drew her. Sand cold beneath her feet, she took a step. Another. She met the edge of a wave.

    Still, the ocean beckoned. She took another step, no longer timid. Frigid water hit her knees. She ignored the chill and drew deeper. Water tangled her hair.

    She heard a voice and turned. A figure stood on the shore. He held up a single red rose and mouthed the words, “Happy birthday.” His other hand held a red umbrella.


  67. Mr Burbank

    She stood in the dark, choppy water, mulling over everything that the stranger had told her.Then, abruptly, she threw away the parasol and began swimming.

    “Where are you going, Caroline?”

    The voice behind her sounded anxious but she didn’t look back. She was the strongest swimmer of all the lifeguards; they had no chance of catching her.

    The horizon would be about three miles away; no problem for her. So she swam on, her agile arms slicing through the water with long, even strokes.

    Her hand struck an object in front of her, just as the stranger had told her.

    She found the flight of stairs nearby and climbed it to the door. The water dripped from her body as she stood transfixed by the sign in front of her.


    Finally, she took a deep breath, and opened the door to where Truman Burbank was waiting for her.

    Word Count: 150


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