Welcome to Year Three!

Welcome, dear ones, to Year THREE of Flash! Friday! Today kicks off the brand new judge panel, which this year will be captained by teams. Your entries will still be judged blindly, which means the only intentional bias you’ll see here is toward strong writing and (yeeeehaw!!!!) anyone with a readiness to have a totally good time. 

Keep coming back, too: in the next few weeks we’ll be rolling out some new features here at the ol’ lair, including a fresh contest format just to shake things up a bit. You will certainly not want to miss Tuesday’s announcement of the Flashversary winners (listen carefully and you’ll hear the Flash Fiction Online staff battling over them now).

ALSO come back Saturday & Sunday, not just to read and comment on today’s stories, but to VOTE: we are doing a bonus readers’ choice award on the top ten stories, just for fun. And yes, sure, I’ll throw in an extra prize for that, why not!

Now let’s get to it, eh?


The first team of Dragon Captains consists of Image Ronin and Joidianne4eva, who are so anxious to bite into your stories, I can hear their bellies rumbling from here. Take a minute to scan their judge pages (linked just above), read their thoughts on what a good story oughtta look like, and give them a nice, warm FF welcome!


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, take a swig from the glass (if you dare) and write us a story based on the photo below.

* Word count: Write a 150-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.

Deadline: 11:59pm 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.


Wine Glass. CC2 photo by BlakJakDavy.

Wine Glass. CC2 photo by BlakJakDavy.




569 thoughts on “Welcome to Year Three!

  1. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 140


    It is the distortion that I do not see.

    It wavers, offset, unbalanced, against a backdrop of perfection,
    Deep hues blending one into another like the shift of twilight into dusk into night.

    Beauty spills from the scene, and peace, the scent of
    And tranquility.
    Fingers lacing my hand,
    A casual brush of my hair behind my ear.

    So that when you smile, I don’t even notice the cracks in the smooth granite,
    The weeds in the white lilies,
    The scorpion that hides in the sand.

    When you look at me with the familiar smile-creases,
    When you lean in for our mutual touch,
    When you raise your glass in toast to me,

    I never notice the poison that swills the wine.
    It sinks deep, unnoticed, into the purple liquid.

    And on top, on the shimmering surface,
    The picture tilts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Top up

    Daisy’s voice echoed clear across the lake, “It’s half empty! You’re mad to think otherwise.”
    Claire giggled tipsily, “It’s half full! There’s still plenty of wine left in there.”
    “Yes, but I’ve already drank half of it. I have much less than when I started.”
    “Are we still talking about wine? It sounds more like a mid life crisis.”
    “There’s going to be a crisis if you don’t top me up.”
    “What I’m saying is, you still have plenty of wine left. And life. Don’t give up. Just because he left you, doesn’t mean your life is over.”
    “You promised not to talk about him. Now shut up and pass the wine.”
    “You’ve had too many already.”
    “Husbands or glasses of wine?”
    “Nonsense. Technically this is still my first glass.”
    “Yes, because you keep insisting I top you up when it’s still half full.”
    “Half empty!”
    “I’m starting to see why he left you…”

    155 words


  3. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 153


    One glass of wine is a lonely thing.

    If you bring another, place it next to mine, we can gaze outward, toward the sunset, a steady nearness warming our skins. Laughter might fill the air, the occasional witticism.

    Perhaps you enjoy golf.
    Perhaps I adore opera.
    Perhaps a can of Campbell’s tomato soup is next door to heaven, in your opinion.
    Perhaps I inform you that it most certainly is not.

    Perhaps we sit in our chairs and chart a course through the stars that is woven of dreams and memories and wishes that never came to pass, yet. We plan the future and take it by storm. We are powerful, we are masters, we are kings and queens in our own right.

    And then the darkness seeps in and the clouds cover the stars.
    I return my gaze to the glass on the railing.

    One glass of wine is a lonely thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. @lsunil
    150 words

    “The Perfect Scene”

    June and I rushed back home.

    ‘Hurry up! Before everybody comes back from their walk,’ said June clearing up the verandah.
    ‘It should look neat and serene. Where’s that wine glass? It will complete the look’

    ‘What if they enquire about Bobby?’ I asked feeling scared.

    ‘We tell them, we hadn’t seen her and we thought, she went with them’.

    ‘Will they be suspicious?’ I asked thinking of the consequences.

    ‘Not if you behave as I say?’ June warned.

    It was evening when the rest of the girls came back from their walk. I took a quick look at our room. Everything was neat and clean. The glass on the window was a master touch. June was reading a book.

    Tina picked up a handkerchief from the verandah asking innocently, ‘Isn’t this Bobby’s? Where is she?’

    I immediately broke out in a sweat and I blabbered out the whole story.


  5. Sprawled out on the recliner, head thrown back, she surveyed the scene before her through the wooden slats. The rays of the setting sun glinted off the gently undulating river and slanted through the untouched glass of merlot, she had placed upon the sill over an hour ago.
    She couldn’t decipher why she felt so calm, or why peace seemed to enclose her in such a protective shroud. I
    She felt lulled as the river ebbed and flowed past.
    Nothing seemed to really matter. At one level she felt as if she was having an out of body experience: how else could she explain the need to not shatter into a billion fragmented shards of pain.
    She had trounced her vices before. She wouldn’t let betrayal lead her to those crutches again.
    She rose and carefully picked up her paint brush. Nothing better than trying to paint a glass of wine that reflects the sunlight.
    She saluted herself and grinned.


  6. @bex_spence
    152 words


    Sitting back in the chair, Michael took in the view from the balcony. It had been a long day and he needed to recuperate before the evening’s assignment. He closed his eyes bathed in the evening sun, still warm on his skin. He had been sent to do a job, procrastinating through the day, time was running out.

    Waking up early he had set off into the old town it hadn’t been long before he spotted the target. He’d followed her around the stalls of sea shells and sponges, watched her eat lunch and drink wine, oblivious prey to the stalking hunter.

    Standing he savoured a mouthful of the deep red wine, the air had turned cooler, tickling the hairs on his arms. He put down the glass, picked up his gun, looking through the scope he set her in his crosshairs. Put his finger on the trigger, ready for the sunset.


  7. Remains

    I drove home, but I shouldn’t have. I’d only taken a mouthful or two, but that wasn’t the problem.

    I’d remembered the gloves while I prepared his glass. No touching!

    I’d been careful about disposing of the packaging. Not there!

    I’d waited, carefully, while the powder dissolved. Please! Not yet!

    I’d flung my undrunk wine down the sink and stowed my glass in my handbag. Hide it!

    I’d been careful.

    I’d touched nothing without good reason. I hadn’t used the bathroom. I’d kept my hair wound tightly – but even if one had escaped, I could explain that, couldn’t I? Transfer from his jacket, or something? I’d barely breathed. I’d disturbed nothing.

    But I’d had to hand him his wine. Gloves off.

    And I’d wiped the glass afterwards. Hadn’t I?

    I pictured it, on the railing of the sun-filled balcony, his cooling body on the ground.

    And all I could see was distortion, whorls and smudges, and what remained of me.

    160 words


  8. Tears of Life
    @geofflepard 160 words
    Kiwa lore held that it was Princess Hicanti’s tears for her lover that fed the Burg glacier, the source of life in the north island. Peter Estrom’s instinct said, ‘rubbish’. What he did know as a glaciologist was that the glacier was dying and life in the north island would die too if the Lingby worm died out. Lingbys fed the carnivorous lichen; the lichen fed the insects and the fish who fed the birds and the mammals and on. If the glacial waters stopped the Lingby died. No one knew why the glacier was dying.
    Yet here he was, holding a wine glass in which Mikra Hicanti, the Princess’s last living direct descendant had just donated her blood; blood that held the same enzymes as in the Lingby. Now Estrom could artificially reproduce the Lingby.
    Miss Mikra lay back, smiling. She didn’t have long left. ‘You don’t have to believe for it to be true, professor. But it helps.’


  9. Santé

    Best friends. We’ve been best friends all our lives. She knows all of my doubts, my fears, my happiness.
    ‘Let’s drink to that, shall we?’ she says, happily raising her wineglass.
    I raise my glass filled with a beautiful dark red liquid that sparkles in the light of the dying sun.
    But I don’t drink. I never have. She should’ve known that, too.
    ‘Yes, let’s celebrate,’ I say, drily.
    I watch as she presses the cold glass against her lips and her lipgloss leaves a smear. I wait… but she waves her glass in the air again. ‘To thirty years of friendship!’
    Thirty years indeed.
    ‘You know, Tyler told me something a while ago…’ I say very slowly.
    She doesn’t flinch. ‘Good news? Bad news?’
    I tell her.
    She falls silent.
    I bet she never thought he’d tell me of her strange proposal.
    ‘Enjoy your wine,’ I say as I leave. ‘I hope it doesn’t taste too bitter.’

    159 words


    • Okay, on second thought I think I *should* add ‘My husband.’ To that third line, after ‘my happiness.’ The reason I didn’t, was because I thought it would give too much away too soon. But now, ‘Tyler’ just drops out of nowhere and you’re left to guess who he is. That won’t really do, either…


      • I did need the extra help of ‘My husband’, as I wasn’t sure what was going on without it. I still thought it was a great story, with great touches of description and excellent characterisation – but the tiny addition of ‘My husband’ transformed this story for me. Well done.


    • I don’t think it matters to much about Tyler. The point to me of this story was the all-consuming sense of betrayal which is so clearly conveyed in your words.


    • I actually like it the way it is. I like deliberate ‘spaces’, and I think your one works. The effects of the betrayal on the narrator are brought out so well in this exchange.


  10. Erin McCabe
    160 words


    “Red buses!” He would begin.

    “Black taxis!” She would add.

    “Chicken Shacks!” He would laugh.

    “Harrods!” She would counter.

    They could go on for hours like this, drinking wine and listing things they missed about London. The Australian outback held a great many wonders, but none quite as wondrous as an evening spend together on Camden Lock.

    Over the years she had thought many times about returning, but the idea of stepping back into her former life seemed simply too unreal, too removed. Every morning she awoke waiting for the end, hoping a distinct notion of closure would envelop her, forging the strength within to try again, but the beginning of this end never came; the cancer had destroyed them both.

    She swirled her glass, watching tiny undissolved granules of cessation dance in the remaining wine. Placing it down, just as the sun was setting, she imagined his hand in hers and hoped to see him soon.

    “You.” She ended.


  11. Eventide

    150 words

    The sun slipped from behind a low bank of clouds as Cara placed her glass on the handrail. Shards of light erupted from the crystal and formed small rainbows on her arm. She shook them off, watching the light scatter and bounce like marbles on a concrete floor.

    She intoned a command and the light stopped, frozen. One of the beams had bounced up, cutting across another that was spilling through the glass. With the residue of the blood-grape wine lending darker than normal hues the effect was astounding.

    She took some frames on her phone, but knew twenty million pixels would fail to capture the glory of the color clash. She worked on committing it to memory, collapsed the stillment command, and let the light flow and bounce.

    The sun set, the last fragments of light pooling behind the handrail. Cara finished her wine and reflected the dark.



  12. New Wine in Old Skins

    “Well done Gramps, you just sent your first tweet.”

    The nonagenarian stared at the screen nonplussed.”

    “Sent it where?”

    “To the world!”

    “Who’d want to read it? All those squiggles?”

    “I told you. Hashtags mark topics—”

    “Never mind, dear. It was nice of you to show me, but I don’t think I’ll pick it up at my age. Besides, I’d rather walk to visit friends while I still can. Did I tell you about Ernie?”

    She sat back on the porch swing, tilted her face to the dying sun, and listened to the tale of Ernie’s hip. She remembered the Gramps of her childhood, strong and clever in a child’s eyes, teaching her to climb trees and count in threes. Now his skin was thin as tissue, and his memory short as the time he had left.

    She picked up the bottle and shared the remaining wine between their glasses.

    Gramps took a sip and smiled. “Hashtag nice wine.”

    160 words


  13. @Making_Fiction #FlashDog
    160 words

    Title: Judge, Dread

    You sit there and judge me.

    Perhaps, you are in your leisurewear, in the sanctuary of your home, with a glass of wine in hand, overlooking vistas of crumpled mountain and flaming sky.

    Perhaps you are on a bus, holding a festive bake in one hand and corporate coffee cup in the other. Hastily printed scraps of paper laid on your lap, while odious commuters jostle and rub, and breathe yesterday’s alcohol over you. Do you even try to mask my work from their bloodshot eyes?

    Perhaps, you sit there with kindness, or compassion, or a twinkle of recognition?

    How many countless moments have I pondered word choices? How many edits? How many fingers crossed in scant hope of a dragon bone left to sustain me for another week?

    I used to fear you, oh judge. But it is you that should fear us. For words can conjure magic and inspiration and laughter and tears. And give a Judge, dread.


  14. Season’s Change
    A.J. Walker

    Shell looked out over the coast, drinking in its simple beauty, entranced by the mediterranean aromas. The warm breeze against her face felt soothing, feelings intensified by the local wine. It was finished now and she was ready.

    Her friends were waiting down at the restaurant for her. They would have started the party without her; wine was drunk here like water. She knew they’d ordered a birthday cake from the shop in the village, secrets were impossible on the island.

    Secrets were impossible; therein lay her problem. She had no choice now, she sensed people suspected the truth, it was time to start over.

    In the distance she could see the last ferry of the day banking around towards the quay. Her escape timed to perfection – Shell had found it easier this time. She picked up the soft leather case, her new life packed neatly away inside.

    This time she would move to somewhere with more seasons.

    (158 words)



  15. Wine Fantasy
    143 words

    The sun sinks into the mackled wineglass. Soon the wine will swallow it up, and I will swallow the wine, touched by the sun’s radiance.

    The crimson wine slides down my throat as I ingest the sunset. The essence gives me strength.. Soon my power will surpass the glass, will surpass the air itself. My wings will unfurl and I will rise, weightless, into the sky. I will barely clear the tops of the trees as I soar, dialoguing with the bats hunting their dinner. I will warn them, advise them to steer clear the far off trees.

    As they watch, the trees shimmer. A veil of birds rises from them, followed by my mate. I call to him, shrieking across the sky, a glass-shattering squeal heard for miles. The gryphon glides my way, meets me, delicately gripping a wineglass in his talon.


  16. Breaking up is hard to do
    142 words

    Cherry – no, blood – red, the sun burns through the clouds in its dying moments and bleeds into the distant hills. Sally grips the stem of the wine glass and sniffs, inhaling the smell of the ruby colours that fill the sky and the glass. Heady, warm smells that swirl around her head. Undertones of rosemary pierce through the glutinous, viscous liquid that coats the sides of the glass. She closes her eyes and takes a sip. Flashes of memory cut through the darkness behind her eyelids; the slice of his knife as it slid through the barrier, carving out her initials in delicate pink beads; the gentle hiss of breath as his head turned to her, his eyes pleading; the dark, primeval sounds that came from nowhere. She shuddered. Not in fear, but with self-satisfaction that the task was over.


  17. Title: Decisions
    Words: 160

    To drink or not to drink? The glass of red wine stared at me from its perch on the railing. I told myself I had until sunset to decide. The sun behind the glass made the liquid look uneven and I tilted my head to make the wine straight and the horizon crooked.

    To keep the baby or not to keep the baby? That decision depended on the drink. Everyone knows the alcohol disclaimers: Consuming alcohol while pregnant can cause birth defects. But pregnancy itself is a defect. It demonstrated all my failings as so called responsible adult.

    To stay or to not to stay? I did not love him. If I drank the wine I would leave. If I didn’t drink the wine I would stay, for the baby’s sake, not mine. He would know that. I kept my head tilted, the wine staring at me. I lifted the glass, cringing at the weight it bore in my hand.


  18. @Marking_Fiction #Flashdog
    159 words
    Title: The Basilica of Bethlehem

    I fumble as I approach the sacred Basilica, the upturned wine glass that stretches ten-miles in diameter. I bow my head, respectfully, as I follow the procession ‘neath the spire, the stem, the funnel that stretches endlessly into a cask-oak coloured sky.

    On stony bridges, we walk, over the streams of lava that flow like liquid sunsets through the long-forgotten approach ways.

    The Basilica of Bethlehem is the last testament to humanity.

    They say humanity built this place. A last sanctuary, on this holy ground. When men of faith gathered arms, rather than linking them. Where the dull shine of automatic weapons was more precious than gold. Where the smell of spent incendiary devices, instead of campfire meals, filled the once-pure air.

    They are supposed to be our ancestors.

    I know that I am still a child, but I’m wise enough to know it is no more real than fairy stories or myth.

    But yet, I kneel. I pray.


  19. Josh Bertetta
    “The Little Things”
    160 Words

    Rebekah, wanting nothing more than to hide, ostriched her face into his chest and he, setting his wine glass on the deck’s railing, overlooked what the wedding planner described simply as “paradise.”

    Meanwhile, the groom’s friends and family were deer caught in Rebekah’s family’s high-beam headlight stares.

    “Heading out the door now. Can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you. You are the greatest thing in my life.”

    That’s what his text said. That was over an hour ago.

    The pastor began to say something, probably of a consolatory nature, to Rebekah’s mother…





    “Then what the hell happened John? No other car. Wasn’t texting. Didn’t appear he hit anything before he ran into the pole.”

    The coroner shook his head. “I think it was the flower that did him in.”

    “The flower?”

    He pointed to the boutonnaire. “Right there on his neck. See? He must have swerved when the bee stung him.”


  20. And They Lived…
    Margaret Locke (margaretlocke.com or @Margaret_Locke)
    158 words

    It was supposed to be for our celebratory toast, our clinking to a lifetime of love and happiness.

    Instead, I’m nursing this pricey champagne and a broken heart. Such a cliche.

    I drop the glass.

    I’m a cliche. Thirty years old. Abandoned at the altar. No prospects on the horizon. No hope to go back to.

    So I sit here, gazing out at the beautiful landscape. it’s what Hallmark would want me to do. Right?

    Where’s my cowboy? Where’s my billionaire businessman? Where’s my noble knight on his royal steed?

    You’re telling me I have to be the hero of my own story? Nobody is responsible for my happiness but me? Women need men like fish need bicycles?

    If I have to live a cliche, I’d rather have the fairytale.

    But life isn’t fiction. There are no convenient plot twists, no guarantee of a happily ever after.

    There’s just me, and this glass. Both shattered.


  21. Oasis
    151 words

    “We don’t have any water,” Greenleaf said. As the elf, scouting fell to him, though he’d argued he was more suited to a desk job. Even he knew that thirst was a problem in the dessert.

    Maximuscelous flexed her magnificent biceps. “I love being the Hero,” she said. No one was listening. She said it at least twice a day.

    The dwarf twins slapped Greenleaf from either side.

    “Problem solved!” Harald said.

    “Giant wine glass ahead!” Jarald said.

    Sorcerer Joe shook his head. “Fools. That wine glass only appears giant due to perspective.”

    “We’re hallucinating,” Miracle Gnome squeaked.

    Maximuscelous charged. (Walking is for the weak.) Her ferocious battle cry split the sky as she came to a halt next to the stem.

    “It’s real!” Greenleaf exclaimed.

    “And giant! Hurrah!” cried the dwarves.

    And so the heroes drank of the Fountain of Hangovers, and it was good.

    Until the next morning, anyway.


  22. Last Call
    by JM6, 160 words, @JMnumber6

    We toasted each other’s good health, neither of us meaning it. We had been a very long time coming to this point.

    After we set our glasses down, she said, “You’ve heard the phrase ‘In vino veritas,’ right?”

    “‘In wine, there is truth.’ Something like that.”

    “How are you feeling?”

    “Tired,” I said. “Really tired.”

    “That’s the fírinne I slipped in your drink.”

    “I didn’t notice that. I underestimated you.”

    “You always did. You know what I want.”



    “Quite well, thanks.”

    “Stop that,” she said, getting angry.

    I smiled. Truth drugs are tricky. You still have to ask the right questions. And her anger was always her weakness.

    “Why did you come here, tonight?”

    Finally. “To end this.”

    “End this?” she asked, taken aback. “How were you planning to end thisss?”

    I sighed. The slurring was my cue. “I drugged your wine, too. Poison.”

    “But, my sssecretsss.”

    “I no longer care,” I said quite truthfully. “Goodbye, my love.”


  23. The Roommate from Hell
    160 words

    Dear Answer Angel–

    I have a problem with my roommate, Shell. When my boyfriend moved out, I needed a roommate, and she needed a place. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

    We had met at work and  we seemed to get along. Her jokes always made me laugh. Now the joke’s on me, because she hates the smell of garlic.  We couldn’t be more different.

    She’s working nights, now,  and every evening I come home to the smell of meat. One time, she set fire to the kitchen.  I never see her. She conveniently forgets the rent.

    I admit I had illusions of  relaxing evenings on the balcony, a glass of wine, the healing power of sisterhood.  Now,  I have to clear a path through the trash bags and empty bottles just to get out the door. But it’s the smell of meat that bothers me.  And I don’t think it’s wine in those bottles.

    Sincerely, Dana


  24. That Mother Daughter Bond
    Words 159

    The empty glass was a reflection of my heart. Even the warmth of the setting sun couldn’t penetrate the coldness that I’d wrapped around me. The yellow glow threw darkness over the beauty of the landscape while illuminating the flaws. Sticky finger prints on the glass a fitting image to the way my skin felt.

    I watched them from my lonely corner of the deck. Hidden behind sunglasses and a brunette wig I was able to witness their lies. Girlish giggles and cocky smirks sealed their fate. Every brush of their fingers over blushing skin, each lingering kiss, caused the anger to bubble and churn inside me. Rage burned my organs. It melted my bones and turned my insides into liquid hot magma. They will pay for this injustice.

    I lifted my phone to capture the evidence of her infidelity and headed home to Dad. I always knew my mother was a whore and now I had the proof.


  25. The Good Fight
    158 words

    I can do this.

    Outlined by the dying sunset, the glass winked at me from the edge of the balcony, as poisonously innocent as a bite from an apple.

    Saliva formed at the back of my mouth. The scent . . . the taste . . . it was all there. Woodsmoke and oak. The sweetness of berries and the tang of sugar. Memories and need tormented me.

    In a desperate bid for salvation, my fingers clenched around the hard metal disc in my pocket. My chip. Thirty days.

    Hi, my name is Stewart . . .

    Temptation whispered in my ear, carried on the voices of the party behind me. Just one . . .

    Deliverance arrived with an unexpected bump. Pushed out of my frozen state, I stumbled into the rail. Crystal and ruby liquid hung motionless in the air and then, mercifully, fell away.

    “Sorry, bro!” The laughing apology was well-meant. “I’ll get you another one!”

    My hand came up, the hard-won chip visible.

    “I’m good. Thanks.”



    Brian S Creek
    156 words
    @Brian S Creek

    I refill my glass hoping this second bottle will make it go away.
    Every time I relax it’s there again and I just want it to stop.
    One minute there was nothing and then there he was.

    I just want it to go away but it keeps playing over and over and over again.
    It’s the sound more than anything. It’s the sound that haunts my dreams and it’s the sound that is slowly tipping me over the edge.
    It’s got to stop soon. It has to.

    From the corner of my eye he appears in slow motion before I hear his body and his bike slam into the side of the car. The sound causes every single muscle in my body to tense far beyond their limit.
    One minute there was nothing and then there he was.

    Like the drink in front of me now.
    One minute it was there and then there was nothing.


  27. @betsystreeter
    153 words


    “Don’t run away yet!” Jack wrestles open the screen door and stumbles onto the balcony.

    Janet pulls her coat the rest of the way onto her shoulders. Amplified music pounds through the floor.

    Jack slaps his hands down on the railing. “Nice view, eh? It’s good to be the king.”

    Janet glances at the glass door. The sun’s reflection obscures the people inside but she can see the gathering has dwindled.

    “Tell me something. You get along with your husband?”

    Janet’s eyes narrow. “He’s the best husband in the world.”

    “Except for me!” Jack says. “I’m the best husband material. In the world.” Words pour out of his mouth like water running downhill.

    “Okay, Jack,” Janet says, walking in a wide arc around him. “See you Monday.”

    She can’t hear his reply over the music.


    “How was the shindig? Sorry I couldn’t go.”

    Janet puts her arms around Bill and holds on.


  28. Eternal Love

    The evening sun was waning and I needed her consent before conversion.
    ‘I offer you eternal love, Mina’ I promised.
    She looked into the glass of wine, lips pursed, and shook her head.
    ‘I prefer mortality.’
    Seconds later I rushed out to the sound of the opening door. Lucy had arrived unexpectedly.
    ‘I couldn’t wait!’ She cried as she pushed past me into the hotel suite.
    She kicked the door shut, grabbed my hand, and pulled me into the bedroom.
    I heard the gust of wind waft into the adjacent room as the sliding balcony doors were pushed apart.
    ‘Did you miss me?’ she asked.
    ‘We need to talk.’ I answered.
    ‘Later…’ she whispered.
    I heard the click of the door.
    ‘Let’s have some wine first,’ I said as I pulled her out to the balcony.
    ‘Sure. Whatever you were having,’ she said picking up the glass on the railing.
    The sun set.
    No time to explain.

    157 words.


  29. Robert J Becraft
    155 Words

    Soul’s Lament

    Regrets, there were none.

    Memories, too many. They came like waves rebounding and stinging, inspiring a smile, eliciting a giggle or outright laughter. Each wave tossed a single soul upon its wild and lost forever.

    Tears too dry to run anymore streaked towards the ground. They were a slow tribute, the concession to someone who was once entwined and now sundered from the joys and sadness that was life.

    Sleep, evasive in the strength of the memories, sweet in its embrace, wrought with dreams. Dreams that evoked the shadows of life, their realities more vivid than the memories now seemed to be in waking.

    Pain so full and striking it took the breath away, bereft of the physical blow that would make dealing with it easier. Breathing, in short gasps, the wet tears falling again.

    When will this end?

    The wine allowed no relief, the funeral was tomorrow.

    Good bye my love, simply, no regrets.


  30. Foy d. b.
    Word Count: 152

    A Man Looks at His Life

    Oh, Divisive Liquid,
    Growing up, only the devil’s communion cup held your true form. My mind, 7 years new, wondered at your power. Whispers said that uncle had fallen to amber temptation, and he was a big man.

    Off to college and curiosity crushed fear; I put away childish things. Beer was cheap but it bore your same chemical compound–CH₃CH₂OH. Forbidden fruit is sublime and how I hoarded it. Mother and Preacher would’ve disowned me.

    Next the military and drinks poured stiffer. With your cousin, Liquor, I killed trauma .

    After that, G-bay, and Spirits took a different role. Did you know a man can get drunk on alcohol pumped into his anus? We seared his conscience more than any fire could. I wonder where mine had gone.

    Thirty-nine years later and, Wine, you are my poison. Even now your crystal palace, ¾ empty, perches on the porch rail. Instigator, Enabler, Friend.


  31. Doubt

    “I know what’s going on,” I say, gripping the stem of my wineglass tightly, “I know that you’re trying to ruin my work.”
    “I’m only trying to show you the truth. Your pieces aren’t good enough. That last sculpture looked like a hunchback with a fungus problem,” you say to me, drinking casually from your own glass.
    “You think your opinion is reason enough to shatter what I’ve built? Hide my tools so that I look crazy searching for them?” I ask, the bitterness of my words making my mouth taste coppery.
    I drink to dispel the flavor.

    You turn and look at me.
    “You are talentless. I’m just trying to spare you embarrassment.”

    My husband comes to find me out on the deck.
    “Drinking alone?” he asks with a slight frown.
    “Never,” I say with a sigh.
    He stares at the lone glass on the ledge and says nothing, walking back into the house.

    155 words


  32. Beware, My Love

    WC: 160

    Beware, Beware.

    My Love, I’m warning you.

    Black-hearted soldiers

    Are chasing me and you.

    We both know the crime,

    We both know the judgement.

    Danger is upon us,

    Run, Darling, run.


    Beware, beware.

    My Love, I’m warning you.

    It won’t take long

    To find me and you.

    Kiss me one last time.

    Tell me I’m yours.

    Danger is upon us.

    Run, darling, run.


    Beware, beware.

    My Love, I’m warning you.

    Black-hearted soldiers

    Are closing in on us.

    Pull out the wine,

    Drug and set it out.

    Danger is upon us.

    Run, Darling, run.


    Beware, Beware.

    My Love, I’m warning you.

    Don’t go by day,

    Don’t go by night.

    Stay in shadows.

    Run away and hide.

    Danger is upon you.

    Run, Darling, run.


    Come here, come here.

    My Love, I’m begging you.

    Wait for me at the corner,

    I’ll get my freedom then.

    Who you can’t see hiding,

    Shouldn’t do you any harm.

    Danger is upon you.

    But stay, Darling, stay.


  33. Facsimile

    I labor to bring the facsimile to life. The stretch of water between Awon’s vantage and the island, the sun straining its gold above a cloud bank, the oak grain of the banister that steadies him—I become the scene from my locked archives. For him.

    As the firstborn on the colony ship, Awon took his first breath within my hull.

    “Sunset,” he murmurs, a statement tinged with inquiry as he’s never actually seen one.

    I thought it appropriate.

    “Is that wine?” The perfection of my memory means I see the babe rooting at his mother’s breast in the same moment I see the man’s sunken lips pull at the rim of the wineglass.

    My code is very specific: the archives are for the landed future only, not the interim population. But then, I wasn’t programmed with the capacity for love either.

    I twist myself into the saline breeze that Awon inhales. His crinkled smile makes the fatigue worth it.

    160 words


  34. The Northern Border

    Sara was sleeping uncomfortably on the dusty floor of the house. She could not use the house’s pillows, as they might trigger her allergies. We had run out of antibiotics months ago, so I could not risk the young girl getting bronchitis again.

    The abandoned house offered no antibiotics. The essentials had gone with it’s original residents when they split. Presumably, they had fled across the river.

    What they had left, was a cheap bottle of chardonnay and the contents of their wine glass cupboard. A water-spotted glass in one hand and the bottle in the other, I stepped onto the house’s back porch.

    The river stretched out parallel to the horizon. I could see the brown brush of the opposite riverbank. For now, that was freedom, but it may not be for long. We had to get across tomorrow and get as far into the north territory as we could before the Schism War redrew the borders once again.

    159 words


  35. Loneliness had been her frustratingly loyal companion for too long now. Sometimes easy to ignore, its often stifling presence would provide both an unbearable reminder of her isolation and a comforting familiarity.

    She looks at the solitary wine glass, so out of place in a busy bar full of glasses clinking in a chorus of togetherness.

    Things have to change. She resolves to say ‘yes’ to the next man who shows an interest in her.


    He takes another tight-lipped mouthful of beer straight from the bottle.

    She’s here just like he knew she would be.

    For the record he pulls out the log book, and makes a note of the time, date and place. He scrawls ‘blue dress’ in the margin, before returning it to his pocket.

    He watches her a while. It’s what he does best.

    She’s never seen him, but tonight that’s going to change.

    He walks to her table.

    “Mind if I join you?”

    159 words


  36. Ring Fingers.

    Beth snuggled in Stephen’s arms, sharing his glass, sipping the perfect wine. The balmy evening wrapped about them. Through teary eyes she gazed at the jewel again, sparkling upon her ring finger.
    She would say yes. She would turn and kiss Stephen on the lips; and say yes. He would take her away from here.
    “What’s that sound?” he asked.
    The dread ringing, distant but close.
    “It’s George,” she said, tears wetting her cheeks.
    “George? You’re husband?”
    She pulled away. Stood; took a step toward her glass vibrating on the rail. “Yes,” she whispered.
    “But he’s dead!”
    The pitch of the ringing spun higher and higher, surrounding them. George was doing it again. Then the glass shattered.
    Yanking her own hair with her fingers, Beth screamed, “Leave me alone!”
    Stephen was already scrambling down the veranda steps. The car door slammed. The Cadillac throttled away.
    “Won’t you ever leave me alone,” Beth sobbed
    And the quiet answered, never.

    @CliveNewnham – 158 words


  37. @MattLashley_
    156 words

    Jenny Got Another Chicken For Her Birthday

    Jenny continued plucking the chicken with her toes while Jerry sipped wine through a bendy straw. For the last twenty years, Jenny asked for the same thing for her birthday. This year she even spelled it out: D-I-V-O-R-C-E. Jerry still heard “chicken”.

    “Jenny, gaze upon the luminous auburn celestial sphere suspended over the jutting crags.”

    Jerry loved stringing fancy words together and often said, “Language is a muscle. You got to exercise it otherwise it could only do girly push-ups.”

    Jerry raised a leg and placed a fine Italian gerbil skin moccasin on the rail, kicking over Jenny’s feather pile in the process.

    The feathers stirred then settled, revealing the winning lotto numbers in ancient Sanskrit. Unfortunately Jenny had only taken a semester of Spanish in high school and Jerry, convinced a guy could learn more on the mean streets than in the classroom, had walked out of Pre-K during story time and never looked back.


  38. The Fall
    (153 words)

    Whisky was his sunrise, his only reason for greeting the day. He had lost the two reasons he used to have. He had treated them carelessly at dinner dates and family gatherings; at junior football games and birthday parties. (Yeah, he knew more than anyone, he was a real hero, right?)

    Cheap wine poured him into gibbering manic midnights; took him back to secrets that made him whimper. Sleep imposed abstinence shook him awake. Awake to crave. This new emergency schedule was killing him.

    But so was the old one. Comic book muscles and square jaw didn’t equip him for the evil he saw. No one had taught him how to keep it together. Not even his shoulders were big enough. No one had written a guidebook on juggling work, family and arch enemies. To whom do you explain the pressures of saving the world? And anyway, who gives counselling to super heroes?


  39. Promises Promises
    By Mark Driskill
    Wc. 150 words- without title
    Nadia sat trembling. The sunset peeked through her wineglass while the Merlot slightly teased her senses. She coaxed the last drop, lit a cigarette, and laid her head back in disbelief. There used to be two glasses sitting there.
    Red hot tears burned into her ears. This had been their favorite place to escape. They had held each other through a hundred sunsets. He had promised a life together. She believed.
    Then it happened. At dinner he announced. “It’s over. I’m sorry. I just can’t.” Then as quickly as it started, it ended. Life’s now an empty glass.
    She felt so betrayed. Inhaling deeply on her cigarette she blew out fire, “I’ll make him pay for leaving me! He will learn. You don’t break promises to Nadia.”
    Pouring herself another glass, she muttered, “Mister ‘suddenly I have a conscience’ is going to pay. I’ll get his wife and kids too.”


  40. First Draught

    It hit me sooner than I thought it would. They said food would slow the absorption process. A burning sensation spread from my gut through the rest of my torso, doubling me over.


    Not yet. The sun was still up. I should have waited until it sank below the horizon. I should have savored my last sunset. But I had finally acquired what I needed to do the deed. And in the adrenaline high after harvesting the final ingredient, I rushed it.

    I had waited so long. Nearly a lifetime to find him.

    Pain knifed the length of my spine, and I dropped to the wooden deck, crying out. I writhed, gritting my teeth against a scream. Just a few more minutes, and I would fly away from this place. Just a little more pain, and the transformation would be complete. And I would be free. One lifetime behind, immortality ahead. At last.

    155 words


  41. Mexican Wine
    I lost a sentence I wrote last night. I tried to rewrite it but couldn’t make it work, and so now I’m waiting in line at the missing sentence department. There is a woman in line ahead of me. She’s crying. When my turn comes, I ask about my lost sentence.
    The clerk points to two boxes of sentences one labeled good, the other bad. I search both without success. When I leave, I find the same woman standing outside, she’s still crying. I smile and say, “I could write a sentence for you. Just tell me what you want it to say.”
    “And?” she says.
    “And, I’ll write yours if you’ll write mine, or we could just share a glass of Mexican wine.”
    “Hey, that’s a nice sentence. Do you mind if I borrow it? I already know where it goes.”
    “Sure,” I said, “just don’t lose it.”

    149 words


  42. @stellakateT
    160 words

    One Glass, Two bottles.

    Everything looks better at the bottom of the glass. To be honest I’d probably say at the bottom of two bottles of wine. I savour the time between opening the first and finishing the second. In the beginning I feel the heady excitement of the first sip and at the end I’m inebriated, that’s a posh word for being drunk but only alcoholics get drunk and I’m not that.

    I send for my wine via the internet so the local shops don’t see how much I purchase. It’s only the delivery man and I that know. Collecting the children from school I stop at the bottle bank depository so the house isn’t cluttered with the empty ones. I like a tidy home.

    “It’s your liver” my doctor says
    “It’s cirrhosis of the liver” the consultant responds

    My skin is yellow but I’m happy, I’m never alone when I’m with my wine glass. Maybe one day I’ll see the children again.


  43. The Hum of Falling

    The hydraulic press chewed the aluminum sheet then molded it into a sellable part. He watched as the goliath purged the items into a plastic bin at fifty-four revolutions per minute. He smothered a yawn. Ten hours of his ambition and sanity gutted daily, like a decorative pumpkin.

    At break time, a lanky menace droned on about the Mexicans and any other non-white that wouldn’t kneel before the Confederate flag emblazoned on his mud-skimmed truck window.

    He annihilated a bologna sandwich as his cadre of lackeys squawked at every corrupt morsel that spilled out of his outdated mouth. Daniel observed in silence, nibbling on grapes, while waiting on the time clock to sing its song of escape.

    At home, he opened a bottle of red and spoke to the silhouettes crawling on the walls. They discussed art and gastronomy. Symphonies and poetry.

    Daniel eventually bade them farewell and set his alarm.

    He dreamt of being swallowed by uncouth machines.

    159 words


  44. Unholy Communion, by Mark Driskill
    Wc. 155
    “…and of the Holy Spirit, amen.” The words from Reverend Prince’s mouth seemed as sour and stale as the bread and wine going into mine.
    “You sure we’re okay now? I mean, after what we did?”
    “Son, listen, I’ve been doing this for years. We’re covered!”
    “But we killed a….”
    “An evil man who had to be punished. Trust me. We’ve done God a favor. Your soul is fine.” Then he just stared at me, as if waiting for something.
    I stood there telling myself that he was telling the truth. I had learned about religion from him. But can bread and wine cover a murder?
    “Wait, I feel funny. What’s wrong with me?”
    Sinking to the floor I clutched onto his robe. “What did you feed me?”
    Reverend Prince stood over me with a demonic grin, holding my empty glass. “Oh look at the time. Confession starts in an hour. I’d better clean up.”


  45. “The Betrayal”
    by Michael Seese
    159 words

    “I’ll wait.”

    A sunset, like a glass of Cabernet, never lasts long enough. At least the taste lingers. Though he knew Sophie was trying to help, Tom wanted to enjoy both in silence, unsullied by empty promises. Or hope.

    “Thirty years isn’t that long.”

    An incarcerated man, like a glass of Cabernet, longs only to breathe. He tacitly refused her extended hand. Why dream of warmth, when time—like his offshore accounts—had been frozen? Lying in their bed, Tom spent many sleepless nights wondering how the Feds found out.

    The glance at her watch confirmed it.

    “And with good behavior—” She coughed a little, then put a napkin to her dry lips. The spot of blood caught her by surprise. She looked at Tom, unaware that her face had taken on a shade not unlike his final swallow, which he now swirled contentedly.

    Revenge, like a glass of Cabernet, is dry, yet somewhat sweet. And the taste lingers.


  46. Compromise

    He sat on the veranda and uncorked a bottle of Merlot. He never developed a taste for wine and always pined for the spices in rum, but it didn’t seem right to drink rum again after giving it up for over fifty years.

    She’d hated alcohol. He loved it. Wine became the compromise. They survived fifty years of marriage on compromises like dropping red meat instead of becoming vegetarian, fruit juice instead of soda, bike rides instead of runs. These things helped him reach ninety. Unfortunately, they hadn’t worked on her.

    He stared at the waning sunlight and contemplated his waning life. He thought of everything that led him here, to the life of an old man alone in a lake-house. His veins palpitated with the realization that he never accomplished anything he’d wanted to. His life boiled down to compromises.

    That fact hit him, and he wept alone in the twilight. He missed the rum. He missed his wife.

    160 words


  47. Close of Day

    146 words

    The drink had been abandoned; its power evaporating, draining away with the last of the light. Silence drifted along empty corridors, staking its claim to rooms where laughter had once echoed and voices had sung the songs of life. Stillness was its consort and isolation its child and together they stalked the last of those who dared disturb them; overwhelming this erstwhile-patriarch with their presence and driving him out into the darkling light.

    This was the day he had hoped would never come but he had gambled everything and lost. At least his wife and son would be spared the knowledge of his failure, his humiliation; sightless eyes could not see his shame, they could rest easy.

    Nothing was left to him now, nothing but the shadows that gathered at the edge of the lake. And they had been waiting for him for a long time.


  48. Subjective Sepia

    Six sips and here I sit beneath the firmament. This hour of day mourns as if retracing my steps, school bus yellows and the sky’s gradation into boardroom blues with a filter of grey. There’s texture in the trees, a certain weight to the scene, mimicking the heft of my sodden soul.

    A canvas of silence as I sip to forget. 

    They say time heals all, though, I’m not sure who they are. Or if they’ve ever experienced a life of rejection. Day after day, leaving only rote remnants that nearly tuck you closer into the depths of a long season’s decay.

    To the onlooker, I’d be part of this vignette, this art of life. I’d be another pretty shame. Colors and brushstrokes to ooh and ah as intangible as the setting scene before me.

    All the words he spoke and nothing ever said. I’ve one last sip ready for my lips before night settles in, and all begins again.

    160 words


  49. In Vino Veritas

    Every year on our anniversary, I take two glasses of wine onto the deck to watch the sunset, as we always did. I relax in my deck chair and enjoy it—and the wine. I sip mine, to make it last, and I set your glass on the rail, where you always placed it while we chatted amid the dying moments of light.

    A good thing our little getaway is so remote. I can just imagine what a neighbor might think seeing me talk to myself.

    I feel compelled to keep you apprised of what’s transpired in the last year. You’re a remarkably attentive listener, much better than you were in life. I haven’t reached the point where I supply your side of the conversation, though, because, well, that implies madness.

    I talk, you listen, I savor the wine. Perfection. I raise your glass to the lake, so deep your body will never surface.

    ‘Til next year, darling.

    @unspywriter (Maggie Duncan)
    158 words


  50. The Third Half

    Laura spotted her, glass in hand, whilst they were attendant upon her in her grief en masse; the flock. Their eyes met from across the crowded room.

    “It was good of you to come,” Clare said.

    “You flagged it with me,” was the response. “To pay my respects.” Eyes watched over them as they exchanged their pleasantries.

    “I’m sorry for your loss,” Laura said simply, finally, into the void.

    Clare paused. “He loved you, you know.” Silence filled the gap. “I always knew it. Our third half. Pretty inopportune.” There was a wry half smile from the woman.

    Laura shook her head – deflecting the suggestion. “He made his choice. He stayed. You had your years together. I would have taken that if I could.”

    “Whilst his heart was with you,” was the answer. There was little else to say. They turned from each other afresh, to mingle – united in their loss of the man they had lain to rest.


    (160 words)


  51. Eternal Blessings

    I set the chilled Priorat on the banister. The lingering aromas of licorice and brandied cherries still fresh on my breath. The evening was complete. The night was just beginning.

    “The last rites … exquisite. Just as he would have wanted them,” Kathrine stated with a solemnness that beset the occasion.

    “Yes,” I replied. “After such prolonged suffering, it is good to see him off on such a beautiful evening.”

    “Herman was a pragmatist, wasn’t he?”

    “Even down to his last moments. He orchestrated everything. That was his way.”

    “I do wonder how he planned this sunset as his last.” She looked up. Her eyes remained locked on mine.

    “Was the sunset for him, or for you?” I chuckled as I stepped closer: my arm gently pulling her near.

    “Herman did love me.”

    She nestled her head against the inset of my shoulder. I kissed her forehead. “You were the world to him,” I said. “And now you are mine.”

    160 word count


  52. And Yet (160 words)

    In that moment between being and not being, Julian knew it was useless to try to prevent the not being. The moment something; life, a thought or a glass of red wine poured from a bottle, it was in the process of not being.

    As it would end. All things would end. And yet.

    Julian sipped, knowing that he was stacking the odds further in favor of the not being, reducing the wine only to a memory of its smell, the way its taste embedded within the layers of his tongue and the way at that moment, he knew he was seeing the most unique sunset; a shared collective oneness with all who saw that shading into the not being, as the sunset would end, too.

    These memories, too, would end, a nothingness in the void he left behind.

    And yet. There was something pulsing in the in-between. Some force, almost faint, stubbornly refusing the not being.

    So, Julian sipped.


  53. With an Empty Cup and an Open Heart
    147 words

    Michael looked at the setting sun, knowing he didn’t have that many left. The doctors had given him less than a year. How do you cram a lifetime of parenting into such a short time? His son was only six now, not old enough to understand, but what about when he was twelve? Sixteen? Twenty-one…

    He let his breath out as he felt the weight of wanting to be there for his son, all the while knowing he couldn’t.

    He filled his glass and began writing the advice he hoped he’d give his son but couldn’t.

    “Life is finite; Love infinite.
    Plan for the future, but don’t forget the now
    Love with all your heart, even if it’s breaking
    Don’t get lost in the ‘could have beens’.
    Greet each day with an empty cup and an open heart.
    They will be filled.”

    He hoped it was enough.


  54. Optimist Prime
    158 words

    “Is the glass half empty or half full?” The philosopher asked as the students filed past the podium. “You all know that question, and you know it is your outlook and experience that shape your answer… The optimist says it is half full, the pessimist says it is half empty…”

    “And they’re both wrong,” he heard one of his students quip.

    “And why is that?”

    The student stepped forward. Thomas. He should have know, Thomas was a pragmatic engineer- and he got at least one of them per class.

    “The artist sees the light and contrast
    “The spiritualist sees the void
    “The engineer sees a glass too large for the quantity provided
    “The Physicist sees a glass that is full of different things
    “While The Server sees a glass in need of topping off.”

    “And what do you see?”

    “Sand…. Heated to a temperature of 2,500 degrees Celsius formed and then allowed to cool.”

    Sadly, he was right.


  55. The Scent of Strawberries (158 Words)

    Poor darling, you’re so pale. With surprise, no doubt. You didn’t notice the scent of strawberries in your wine. That’s unfortunate.

    Did you wonder how I knew?

    You never were good at keeping secrets. I saw her in the lobby, pretending to be disinterested, but her eyes gave her away. She had voracious eyes. In the end you would have been miserable. I did you a favor. You’ll never know.

    I knew you married me for my money, but did you really think I wouldn’t find out about her or your plans? Murder for gain is so tawdry.

    You were clever to wait as long as you did. I’ll flatter myself and say we had some good years. But all good things do end.

    You always said you were deathly allergic to strawberries. If I hadn’t just watched you asphyxiate, I wouldn’t have believed it possible.

    Pity. I’ll finish my glass of pinot noir and call for help.


  56. The world spun around me, twisting the blurry fog of drunkenness which I had worked so hard to cultivate into an exquisite sharpness that cast my failure into sharp relief. As I fell, the claret followed me, tilting into the perfect sunset behind the stupendous harbor that lay at the feet of the miraculous city where I’d betrayed myself. Three days was all it had taken. Three days from the soft bounce of wheels on tarmac to the silky caress of a stranger’s lips to the hard crunch of bone on speckled stone. I tried to call for my wife, but I couldn’t find the words, and the words couldn’t find her, not now, now that she was so far away.

    The girl had been beautiful, there was no doubt. As remarkable in her own way as the cabernet which was mingling with my blood on the balcony. I wondered how long it would take to trickle over the edge.

    160 words