Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 14

**NOTE** Flash! Friday is on Washington, DC time, which means we’ve changed clocks for Daylight Savings. **

WELCOME!!  What a fabulous week it’s been — if you didn’t catch superfreelancer Carol Tice‘s interview, chock-full of meaty publishing/marketing advice, be sure to do so (here)!!! — and I’m still rolling in laughter at #WarmupWednesday’s crazy genre mixup (for which, ahem, I wrote a poem, which may or may not have behaved itself). Y’all prove over and over again your master ability to stick your writerly tongues out at whatever challenge you’re given, and triumph over it. Here’s to doing so all over again today! 

DRUM ROLL: Visiting us in our next Tuesday #Spotlight interview is clever and hilarious Jeff Gerke, who is beloved for lots of things, not the least of which includes several books for Writer’s Digest (take Plot vs Character or The First Fifty Pages for starters). I’m mentioning this now because on Tuesday, Flash! Friday will give away a prize of a professional 2-page excerpt (or query letter) critique by Jeff in connection with this interview. Will you win it??      

WALL OF FLAME: The Wall of Flame is where you will find the current Ring of Fire badge holders. Starting next week, writers can begin claiming eligibility for a MARCH badge. Remember: prizes at calendar year’s end from among those with the most badges in 2015! Details here.


DC2Judging today is Dragon Team Two, consisting of fiery dragon captains Tamara Shoemaker & Mark King. (Be sure to follow this team on Twitter, where they cause all sorts of mayhem while salivating over your stories.) Git those stories OUTTA THE BOX, they both say. Pit your protagonist up against a heap of trouble, says Mark. Rip out your heart and give it to me, says Tamara. Don’t ask for much, do they?!     


Awards Ceremony: Results will post Monday. Noteworthy #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner post Thursdays.  

Now, grab your Muse and write!

* Word count: Write a 200-word story (10-word leeway on either side) based on the photo prompt.

HowPost your story here in the comments. Include your word count (min 190 – max 210 words, excluding title/byline) 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 Thursday, and your name flame-written on the Dragon Wall of Fame for posterity.


(1) Required story element (this week: character. The below character type must be the central focus of your story–NOTE: read a good description of this character type here):



(2) Photo prompt to incorporate:


Black and White House. CC2.0 photo by Scott Ableman.

Black and White House. CC2.0 photo by Scott Ableman.

605 thoughts on “Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 14

  1. Paidia’s Questions

    The privileged and elected few who live here, never know the multitudes who live next door. It’s the way things are.

    But I don’t know how to explain that to Paidia, my four year old daughter, as we shuffle from one alley to another, hoping for some warmth, some rest, some safety.

    Moving between those who are here by choice, courtesy of drugs and alcohol; watching for those who are here by necessity, driven by schizophrenia or some other psychosis; and hoping for kindred souls who are here by economic upheavals, victims of outsourcing, downsizing, and whatever new term they dream up to explain poverty.

    For most of us it’s some combination. The streets will make you crazy, even if you aren’t born to it. The streets will offer you chemicals, wearing down your resolve until a moments anesthesia from real life seems worth it. But I have to hold it together for Paidia.

    Paidia, the girl next door to the president. Paidia, who is one of hundreds, maybe thousands.

    Paidia wants to know if she can be president when she grows up.

    I don’t know how to answer that anymore.

    191 words


  2. In the Shadows
    (209 words)

    Everyday Erica looked through the gate at the fine mansion across the lush green lawn. She often wondered what it would be like to live in that other world.

    She pitied those who were stuck behind security gates and cut off from society. Erica wondered how people could live like that, hiding away behind immense white walls and great pillars.

    On weekends, expensive cars would pass by her as the rich attended fine dinners at the mansion. Most times she couldn’t see the occupants through the darkened windows. One time a limousine stopped for a moment, the window rolling down part way. A gloved hand held some money out of the window and a veiled woman told Erica to buy herself some food or warm clothes.

    As the window slowly closed the woman told Erica that if she worked hard enough, she could have her own mansion one day.

    But her cardboard box was Erica’s mansion. Ragged clothes were her fine wardrobe. Discarded food from a restaurant was her exquisite cuisine. She lived in a world that was incomprehensible to all who passed through the magnificent gates. Erica was the girl next door that lived in the shadows of privilege and wealth.

    Erica wouldn’t have it any other way.


  3. @RL_Ames
    (210 words)


    On the outside, everything seems perfect. The glare of the spotlight, the pop of a thousand flashbulbs; even they can’t see beneath the carefully crafted façade.

    Behind closed doors, once they’re alone: that’s the closest they ever come to normal. But even then there’s always someone lurking in the shadows, watching, waiting, making sure she doesn’t step out of line.

    At first, it had all been so thrilling: a man of such power and importance wanting her. There’d been dining and dancing, and the paparazzi seemed like a heady new drug she was quickly becoming addicted to. She’d been their new darling, a girl next door turned fairy princess, and the press gobbled it up.

    But then the magic faded, and she was left with a man she barely knew and a small army of heavily muscled, sunglass-wearing, silent but unyielding babysitters.

    Now she spends much of her day staring out the window at the expansive and immaculate lawns of her new home. The bars that are meant to protect her, shield her from the dangerous world seem more like a cage: gilded and beautiful, but a cage nonetheless.

    She wonders what it’s like beyond her wrought iron prison; tries to remember what life was like before she was Cinderella.


  4. @bex_spence
    196 words


    The gate a keep, the house a hold. The boys peered through the iron railings, hoping for a glimpse of her pale moon face. she appeared at the window sometimes, a waif figure trapped in a dream. The boys rode their bikes past each day, creating stories in their minds. They imagined the house was full of secret tunnels, passages to the unknown. At home the drew up plans on graph paper, seeking for the secret entrance that would carry them to her.

    She never smiled, their apparition, just stood at the dusty window, staring out to the world. One rainy day she held up her hand to the window pane, drops streaming, window crying. The creases of her palm pressed into the layers of dirt, calling for companionship. the imprint stayed for days after, though the girl didn’t reappear.

    They hoped her adventures continued, that she had found a story to tell. They didn’t dream of her loneliness of her crumbling fading soul. She never made it out of the house, stayed trapped within. The boys rode their bikes past, stole a passing glance. The girl next door was gone, her window was shut now.


  5. Why?
    Ian Martyn (@IBMartyn)
    207 words

    I’d glimpsed her in the garden so many times, the hem of her dress caressing the manicured lawn as she strolled. Always a book in her hand, her left hand, yet I never witnessed her sitting or reading, only walking. But there was nowhere to go behind the solid walls and protective gates. I was drawn to those gates, to peer through, to watch and wonder. It wasn’t infatuation, although I admit she was pretty in a detached, unsmiling way. No, I felt sorry for her and at the same time intrigued. When you could imagine anything why imagine that? All straight lines and symmetry. Denying the blissful company of flowers and the trees the joy of leaf. And then you imprison yourself.

    One day I called to her. She feigned ignorance of me. But from the way she tucked her hair behind her ear I knew she’d heard. Perhaps I should have been offended and crawled away like a jilted lover. But we weren’t lovers and I had to know. What had happened to her in life. What horrors had she had visited on her or seen, that in this of all places, she chose to shut herself away, hiding behind such modest, banal, colourless conformity.


  6. The White House Episode
    by JM6, 210 words, @JMnumber6

    “No one told me it would be like this,” he said in a ghostly whisper.

    “That’s right. Tell it to the camera.”

    “It was just a job. No one said I would have to stay here forever. I didn’t even like it when I was alive.”

    The camera swung around to reveal the host.

    “That’s right, folks. This is Conchita Tanaka-Smith for GHOST-STALKERS and we’re here interviewing the ghost of President William Henry Harrison, the ninth President of the United States and the first to die in office, IN THE WHITE HOUSE!”

    The camera swung around to face the ghost again.

    “Why? Why is my soul trapped here?”

    “President Harrison,” Tanaka-Smith said, “when did you first realize that anyone who dies at the White House is bound to it for eternity?”

    “Why?” the dead president kept muttering. “Why?”

    “Ignore him,” another ghost interrupted.

    “And who are you?” Tanaka-Smith asked.

    “I’m Letitia Tyler.”


    “Letitia Tyler, First Lady for President John Tyler, the *tenth* President. I died in the room next door to old Tippecanoe, two years after he did, and the man has never stopped complaining.”

    “Cut!” Tanaka-Smith said. “Please leave. No one cares about the ghosts of First Ladies unless it’s Jackie. Okay! Let’s take it from the top!”


  7. Learning How to Fly

    We stream into school like reluctant anti-matter, trapped in the pull of a black hole. The school motto, etched proudly above the crumbling lintel, is redundant as we are compelled into the void of pointless learning.

    I slouch into my splintered chair and ritually scan the room for her. It’s Tuesday and she has to wait for her dad to get in from the nightshift, so she’s late, but while our embittered teacher battles for quiet, she slips in past shelves of shabby text-books and takes her place at the desk next to me. I smile at her but her head is bowed as she takes out her books.

    We have surrendered to a life behind checkouts. My kid sister still comes home dreaming of being a vet or a doctor or a princess. Truth is, in ten years time, she’ll be fighting off a STD and serving pizza. Any aspirations we had have been crushed out of us but her, this girl next door, she dares to dream; longs to shed this second-hand living, run past the gates and inhale freedom.

    We never speak, but this morning she passes me a note.

    ‘Why don’t you come too?’

    A slightly healthier 198 words


  8. Western Values

    I am a prisoner.

    That’s what you think, isn’t it? That I am trapped by these iron gates and peer out on a world I can only dream of. To you, I am shrouded in darkness; shackled and bound. You think you hold the key.

    I am dangerous.

    You think I have something to hide, that I wish you harm. You cross the road, suspiciously guiding your children away from me. They point at me and ask questions and you shake your head, shrug your shoulders. I see you looking at me, judging me. But have you looked into my eyes? Do they show hate? Go on, look. Come closer. I dare you.

    I am repressed.

    You pity me; you think I have no life. You feel sorry for me, but not enough to ask me out. You think I should be free to go dancing, drink vodka and get laid like you do. Every weekend. Poor girl, stuck at home.

    My prison walls are built with your stones. My burka is my freedom, my choice. I am your sister, your daughter, your friend.

    I am the girl next door.

    192 words


  9. Role Model
    200 words

    Charlotte sat for breakfast, ignoring her Mother’s disapproving glare.
    “Dear,” her Mother said, “can’t you make a little effort to look—“
    “Look what, Mother? Like Miss Prim-and-proper next door?”
    “It certainly wouldn’t hurt. She’s always well presented. Takes pride in her appearance.”
    Comparisons to the Elsbeth were regular, and Charlotte had learnt to ignore them. Telling Mother about the rumors of Elsbeth’s extra-curricular activities had been pointless. The girl was as sacrosanct as the President.
    “Can you remember and come straight home?” Mother asked. “The Housemans are coming over this evening.”
    Charlotte nodded, finished breakfast, and ran for the bus.
    When Charlotte got home the house was in darkness.
    No answer, but there was a sniffle from the front room. Her mother was sat with a half-empty brandy decanter and a half-full glass.
    “He’s gone,” her Mother said.
    “Dad?” Charlotte’s stomach lurched. “What’s happened? Where is he?” Images of a plane crash, or car crash filled her mind.
    “He’s left me for someone else.”
    “What?” Charlotte’s fear turned to surprise. “Who?”
    Her Mother laughed, a strangled noise which turned into a bout of sobbing. She sniffed. “You’re friend from next door,” she said.



  10. Chasing Fireflies
    Word Count: 193

    Growing up, I had a crush on the girl next door. She lived in the massive white house with columns. When I was little, my dad would talk about Richard Nixon and the White House, and I thought Amanda was the president’s daughter. She wasn’t the typical girl next door—no plain Jane.

    She had a tongue on her, Amanda did. First, it was pigtails, mud pies, and wiffle ball games—she always beat me. Later she used that tongue, stuck it in my mouth while playing H-O-R-S-E. I hadn’t even made the first move. She had our marriage planned before I was eighteen. I was just strung along.

    We live in a white house now, one without columns. My son is obsessed with his own girl next door. I told him to be careful, before she traps him the way his mother trapped me. But honestly, I don’t mind. My best memory is of us sitting on top of her Ford, catching fireflies and staring up at the moon, with her hand securely tucked into mine. Hopefully, my son’s girl next door will be as bold as mine was, and still is.


  11. (209)
    Neighbourhood Watch

    At the quiet times she would look forlornly out of the basement grill and just catch a glimpse of the most famous house in the world. She hugged her doll tightly as the morning sun shone through the white house.
    The house that represented the people; well, maybe the brave ones.
    The house that was the symbol of the home of the free.

    Her eyes filled with the same old tears. She wasn’t brave, and had never been free.
    Except in her dreams. There she prowled steaming jungles as a tiger, swam warm blue depths as a shark. She stood tall on misty hills as a gorilla, joyfully sloshed her family with red mud when an elephant.
    She dreamed as animals as they were infinitely better than humans. She dreamed herself strength as the life she lived was one of weakness.

    He was calling her now, his voice wheedling through her reverie. She swiped the tears angrily, and slid off the small window shelf. It was a busy day, no time to be sad. The clients didn’t like it. Clients came first, especially those from the most famous house in the world.
    Some of the men who worked there paid a lot for her. Weakness was valued by some.


  12. The Doll’s House
    (209 words)
    Mummy Doll is in the bedroom behind the veil of the four poster bed. Daddy Doll is in   the library sitting on the stripy chair.  He doesn’t have the same face as Real Daddy.
    Mummy Doll is taking one of her naps. Daddy Doll is reading one of the miniature books with a great big smile on his face that never fades.
    Dolly Me is in the kitchen making cookies for Mummy Doll; it is important not to disturb Daddy Doll.
    Now, Dolly Girl is knocking at the front door. She’s from next door.
    Dolly Me doesn’t answer the door. That’s Daddy Doll’s job. Daddy Doll straightens up and jumps down each step with sack race legs.
    Dolly Me doesn’t look as Daddy Doll, still smiling, pushes Dolly Girl into the livingroom. Where the computer should be, there is a tiny grandfather clock standing in the corner alongside a tiny fireplace, its warm glow painted on.
    Dolly Me doesn’t hear Dolly Girl’s tiny sobs. Instead, Dolly Me rattles tiny pink pots in the tiny pink kitchen.
    Dolly Me doesn’t hear Daddy Doll’s rasping whispers.
    Dolly Me bends her elbows so her moulded hands reach her ears and she won’t hear Daddy Doll tell Dolly Girl, ‘Don’t tell. Don’t tell.’


  13. The Lady in White
    Margaret Locke (margaretlocke.com or @Margaret_Locke)
    202 words

    He doesn’t notice me. Not really. It’s the people around me he comes to see.

    Day after day, I stand here, watching, waiting for him. He’s all I can think about. Those dashing blue eyes, that shock of blonde hair. Boots that glisten in the sun.

    I long to get close to him, but there are so many barriers in our way. Physical, emotional, social. He remains a fantasy. I, a wallflower.

    What would it feel like for him to touch me? For me to enfold him, welcome him in? I can’t see that happening, though. The fences between us are mighty.

    Sometimes I think he must feel it, too, this longing. Why else would he return, day after day?

    There’ve been others before him. There’ll be others after. They flock to me, the well-adorned spectacle. They can’t stay away. But they can’t approach, either.

    If only everyone weren’t so overprotective. If only I were free. I’d make myself approachable. I’d welcome him in with doors wide open.

    As it is, I stand here, as I have for hundreds of years. A lonely edifice of self, serving others, but rarely seen for who I am.

    I am so much more than stone.


  14. One ring to ruin them all,

    The vacuum in my ear matches the one in my soul. Siobhan, the girl next door, is doing our cleaning again. She screams when she rounds to the couch where least night’s dalliance took place.
    She pulls her earbuds. “Gian. Why are you sleeping out here?”
    “Nita, or Malinda, liked the idea.” I stand up, not caring about my lack of clothes. As a POW, we weren’t allowed clothes. If I can take batons and scorn, then I can handle being naked in front of her.
    She, however, seems less comfortable with this. But she doesn’t turn away. They never do. Not since 95% of the men in our generation failed to return from the war. Not since women realized they have to trap us into marriage.
    Unconsciously, I thumb the lock on my ring finger—the male chastity belt. It prevents women from sliding a ring on there and claiming me. The better girls try to sleep their way into marriage, and I’m happy to let them try. But too many of my friends have woken into marriage to not wear protection.
    “Gian, a quick question.”
    Siobhan shoves a rag in my face. “What does chloroform smell like?”

    200 Words


  15. F. E. Clark

    209 words.

    International Sign Language

    “Oh-mi-gawd! It’s HER” Susan stopped dead. “Look!”

    A wraith like figure stood at one of the windows of The Big House.

    Susan and I were on our morning march through the estate

    “Do you think she speaks English?” I wonder.

    “She looks SO young. That dirty auld goat.” said Susan.

    “Shhh, someone will hear you.” I hiss.

    The village had been rumour riven for weeks, fuelled by lack of information. The laird had a new, much younger wife, a ‘foreigner’. We had waited for the welcome party, but nothing happened, except the shiny black Landrovers zooming in and out of The Big House drive.

    “So what?”

    We were both looking now. The girl in the window looked down at us.

    “She looks so lost and lonely.”

    “No wonder, never been out of that house, no one has seen her since she arrived – he’s keeping her prisoner in there. If only we could get a message to her…” Susan was rummaging in her day pack. “Let her know she’s not alone, that she doesn’t have to be used like this……….”


    “She could stay in my spare room for a while.”

    “Eh, SUSAN.”

    I nod towards the window.

    The poor child bride of Archie McLeod was giving us the finger.


  16. @colin_d_smith
    200 words

    When Tessa’s parents were sent on a diplomatic mission to Nigeria, naturally she came to stay with us. Our parents were close, and she loved our white mansion and wide open fields.

    I was thirteen, she was sixteen, and I crushed hard. Her long blond hair, the poise of her walk, the curve of her face. She wasn’t overtly sexual, but her subtlety, charm, and modesty drove my hormones to distraction.

    This made conversation awkward at first. I’m not easy-going with girls. But she seemed to find my stumbling attempts at communication amusing, and gave me the benefit of her pity. She sat next to me at meals, and would talk to me about the food, the weather, and what a delightful home we had.

    Then at night, she would visit from the room next door, clothed in her long white neck-high nightgown, and perch on the end of my bed. That was when she would tell me her secret dreams. Travel. The kind of man she wanted to marry. How she wished she had a brother so she could understand boys.

    Perhaps that was why I was the only one left alive in the house the day she disappeared.


  17. Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda (209 words)

    Rhonda’s ears were always in need of a Q-tip. She smelled like tater-tots and hand lotion which isn’t really a good combination. Rhonda was heavy. Rotunda was her nickname. I kind of was forced to go to prom with her my senior year in high school. Bummer, right? Rhonda’s dad was my dad’s best friend. My dad went to college with the guy and they lived directly behind us. My dad told me if I took Rhonda to the Senior Prom he would give me his old Chevy Impala. That was a no brainer, right? I ditched her as soon as we walked in under those goofy balloon arches, but the nerdy photographer geek snapped pictures to record my humiliation for all of mankind. She said she had the best night of her life. Crazy, huh? I took off from home after graduation and got hitched my freshman year in college. We got married while still in school because, well, we had a baby. Hey, things happen ok? Rhonda, as we all know, is the the first women President. Yes, that Rhonda. I know, right? Last night on the news she was giving a speech in the Capital Rotunda. Crazy, huh?


  18. Hopscotch Dreaming (210 words)

    Claire has no one to play with. Sure she has all the toys any little girl could want. She receives gifts from visiting dignitaries and world leaders. Children in classrooms around the country write her as a school project and send her little things. But there is nobody her age to play with. She likes most of her tutors. The math man is a little too touchy feely and she actually may tell her mom soon. The lady that brings art supplies for “creative time” is neat even though she’s a little hippy dippy and smells like strange smoke sometimes. Claire spends the most time with “daddy’s men” as she calls them. The Secret Service agents never leave her side except when she sleeps or uses the bathroom. They don’t seem friendly because they never smile, but her mom and dad say they are her friends. Claire was thinking about that last night and she cried herself to sleep. She doesn’t want these statue men as her friends. Claire wants a girl who lives next door and wants to play like normal kids. Maybe, she wonders, if she tells someone about her daddy’s girlfriend he won’t get elected again and they can go home.


  19. Fall Out Girl (200 words)

    Sue was a daddy’s girl. When her father left for the war she was devastated. She didn’t eat for a week and missed almost a month of school. Sue refused to drive in the car with her mother because she once heard her dad mumble something about “women drivers” and she believed everything her dad said. The year before he left she had gone through some rough patches. Sue just turned thirteen and had begun to hangout and drink with some new older friends. Daddy drank with his friends, so she figured it is what one is supposed to do. When he caught her and told her it was wrong for his little girl, she never even thought of doing it again. As her little brother Joey grew older she saw him as competition. Sue would hide his baseball glove or puncture his basketball. She wanted her dad all to herself. Now her hero was gone; taken by the government to the scary places she would see on nightly news programs. She wanted revenge. The drone, she stole from Joey. The explosives, she learned how to make from the internet. Now Sue was on the evening news.


  20. America’s Got Talent

    Washington Daily Star

    It has been three years since the country demanded serious reform of government institutions.
    “After the constitution spontaneously combusted it seemed like a sign,”- the platform of many who helped implement the be voting system.

    “Hi, I’m Holly Monroe, I’m your typical girl next door, but don’t let that moniker fool you! I love to ride my bike in the mud when I’m not singing. My grandpa used to tell me I had the voice of an angel before he died. Singing saved me when I was diagnosed with skin cancer and had to have a significant portion of my leg removed. I sing through my troubles and help lift the spirits of everyone else going through hard times. If you vote for me I promise that I have the skills to keep the country happy and every day I will sing for and with our nation’s brothers and sisters across the world.”

    Soon to be President Monroe, Miss Monroe’s campaign statement, along with her video of her singing “I Will Always Love You” received 189 million votes online. She follows former stand up comedian Nathan Amrite and talking dog, Sylvester, to become our third one-year term sitting president in our new post-modern democracy.

    209 words


  21. The Reflection
    205 words

    She sits beside the fountain, fresh-faced, milk-fed, sun-kissed. She wears a short gingham dress. Delicate freckles splash her nose and cheeks.

    She never moves from her perch beside the fountain. A large house rises behind her, complete with columns and manicured shrubberies. No one has ever seen her enter the house.

    The neighborhood boys peer through the gate to watch her, mesmerized by her tanned sleek thighs and full breasts. They make a bet about who might win the favors of the girl next door.

    A bold youth climbs the wrought-iron fence. “Why do you never leave the fountain?” he asks.

    Ancient sorrows tinge the girl’s eyes. “I cannot leave until my true love comes.”

    “I’ll love you,” he offers like a true gallant. “I’ve been watching you so long I already do.”

    “Look at my reflection,” she says. “Then tell me you love me.”

    The youth casts his gaze into the fountain’s murky waters.

    A deathly queen leers back at him. She wears a crown of burned love-letters, a corset made of flesh, and a necklace of skulls. Red rage swells in her eye sockets. She wields a vicious blade.

    “Give me your heart,” the reflection hisses. “I have been starving for so long.”


  22. “The Girl Next Door”
    210 Words

    The girl next door.

    I hate that shit. Conjures up too many male fucking fantasies.

    But that’s how they see me. Plain Jane.

    Doesn’t help my name’s Jane.

    They said I’d never amount to much. A secretary maybe.

    But I proved them wrong.

    I got me a job in the White House.

    I’m a cook there.

    I can’t tell you how many politicians and foreign dignitaries I’ve made the most exquisite food for.
    It’s pretty exciting really. Stressful, but exciting.

    You’d think people like that would act the part, but they don’t really. The men and women you see smiling in the newspapers and on the web aren’t the people I know. You think politicians would act more politically correct and foreign dignitaries more dignified.

    But I can’t tell you how many “innocent” hugs I’ve received or how many lewd comments I’ve heard under the breath.

    Mostly men of course.

    Men of power, who can make or break nations.

    Oh how I hate how they puff themselves up and think they can get away with whatever they want when the cameras aren’t flashing.

    Sure, they have power.

    But I have power too, you see.

    I can spit, or put whatever, in their food.

    Not bad for the girl next door.


  23. Word Count – 196


    A beautiful flower, preserved
    never given a change to grow
    secreted away, by one who
    says his reason is love

    Allowed freedom of the house
    as long as she’s silent
    dreaming of the outside world
    locked away, if visitors arrive

    Everything fine until she was eleven
    he looked at her differently
    whispered “my, how you have grown”
    and swore to protect her

    He smashed every mirror
    left her one, cracked
    just like his mind
    she’s long since given up reaching

    She sits at the window
    gazing at the sky, pen poised
    this is her escape
    what keeps her sane

    Today no words will come
    she’s utterly heartbroken
    what else is there for her
    can’t see any way out

    Her mother was a beauty
    departed this world long ago
    she envies her, her release
    and longs to see her again

    She takes the tablets slowly
    relishing the dryness of each one
    penning her goodbye, drifting away
    he got his way, she’s forever young

    She does not live next door any more
    Escaped to a new world forever
    He weeps nightly over a lock of her hair
    If he had let her go she’d still be here


  24. Jenny’s Side
    209 words

    Whose side are you on?


    Her name was Jennifer. I fell in love with her dimpled smile. The first time she kissed me it felt natural.

    Jenny. Brown hair, brown eyes, cut-off jeans, flip-flops, colourful tank tops and oversized button-ups. Sure, she had the antennae, but everyone’s got their flaws. I didn’t judge.


    I assumed her parents were loaded because they lived in that gigantic house. I used to stop and look at it through the fence and wonder what kind of movie star would be able to afford it. It was prettier than the White House.

    I was right.


    One day she said “Marianne, we need to talk,” and I thought she was breaking up with me. Instead, she patted my knee, flicked one of her antennae, and said “I’m an alien.”

    Her parents were alien space-drug smugglers. They lived on Earth for the fertile soil.


    She looked sad when she told me. couldn’t see why.

    “It’s not your fault your parents are drug dealers. Why would I love you any less?”

    It turned out she was more worried about the alien thing but I didn’t care about that either.


    We were happily married until the invasion.

    Now guess which side I’m on.


  25. Inside Looking Out
    210 words

    “Daddy, who is that girl is over there?”
    The President lowered his newspaper as daughter gestured out the tinted window at a woman and girl in worn clothes by the northeast gates. He frowned. “Just a homeless girl, sweetie. Not to worry, she can’t hurt us.” He flipped the paper back up and resumed reading.
    “She looks like she’s about Mel’s age. Why do you think she’s homeless?”
    The President closed the paper, folded it onto his lap, and followed her gaze. “Sometimes people make bad choices and get into trouble. Or sometimes events happen you can’t control and you lose things, like your car or house.”
    “Do you think she needs our help?”
    He glanced down at his daughter, her brown eyes still fixated on the pair outside the gates.
    “Now, Sash, we have programs to help girls like that. One of the things we work on every day is improving opportunities for people who need help. Let me work on that. You focus on preparing for school and that spelling test.”
    Sasha watched the girl as she stared through the fence at her sister and dog, playing on the front lawn. The girl gave a slight wave to Melanie before running after the woman and out of sight.


  26. Outside Looking IN
    207 words

    “Mama, who lives there,” asked a little voice. Sasha peered through the gates while her mother re-packed their bag.
    Angela paused, her back smarting as she straightened it to follow the girl’s gaze. She had stopped to reposition their belongings under a heavily leafed tree on the sidewalk by the White House North Lawn. An early morning rousing had sent them scurrying from Lafayette Square.
    “The President lives there, baby, with his family. Now c’mone, let’s go. You need to get to school in time for breakfast.”
    “Are they like our neighbors, Mama?”
    Angela smiled slightly. “I guess so, baby.” She returned to repacking the bag.
    “Mama, look! There’s a girl and a dog! Do you think she’ll take him to the park like Mrs. Morris and Roscoe?”
    Angela stopped her packing again and looked down at the hopeful look on her daughter’s face. One calloused hand reached out to stroke the girl’s hair. “Maybe another day, baby. Let’s go now. What’s test is today?”
    “Spelling,” Sasha reluctantly released the fence and followed Angela down the street, glancing again at the girl across the lush green lawn, who was now staring back. She raised her hand in a slight wave before turning to trot after her mother.


  27. Reblogged this on The Mom Who Runs and commented:
    Outside Looking In
    207 words
    “Mama, who lives there,” asked a little voice. Sasha peered through the gates while her mother re-packed their bag.
    Angela paused, her back smarting as she straightened it to follow the girl’s gaze. She had stopped to reposition their belongings under a heavily leafed tree on the sidewalk by the White House North Lawn. An early morning rousing had sent them scurrying from Lafayette Square.
    “The President lives there, baby, with his family. Now c’mone, let’s go. You need to get to school in time for breakfast.”
    “Are they like our neighbors, Mama?”
    Angela smiled slightly. “I guess so, baby.” She returned to repacking the bag.
    “Mama, look! There’s a girl and a dog! Do you think she’ll take him to the park like Mrs. Morris and Roscoe?”
    Angela stopped her packing again and looked down at the hopeful look on her daughter’s face. One calloused hand reached out to stroke the girl’s hair. “Maybe another day, baby. Let’s go now. What’s test is today?”
    “Spelling,” Sasha reluctantly released the fence and followed Angela down the street, glancing again at the girl across the lush green lawn, who was now staring back. She raised her hand in a slight wave before turning to trot after her mother.


  28. In Our Town
    209 words

    In our town are many fine old houses, with big front yards. Some have green lawns, carefully tended. Some have wildflowers. Our town embraces diversity. Our town welcomes all.

    In our town, there are a few rules. Odd-numbered houses must water on odd-numbered days. Recycling must be placed in the designated bins and sorted–glass, paper plastic. In the winter, walks must be shoveled along the common way. This is for the good of all.

    In the summer in our town, there is music in the park, and people walk along the main street eating ice cream. The movie theatre has been newly restored, a palace with a bright marquee. Now Playing “The Girl Next Door” starring our town’s most famous citizen, Jana Landry. I lived just down the street from her.

    It’s been years since she went to school here, yet who could forget her flashing eyes and bright smile. Even then, people knew she was going places. It’s true, she was arrested, once. A minor incident involving a fire at the high school, in which there may have been blood. And there was the time in the forest preserve with that boy who was never found.

    Jana always lived by her own rules. She’s making horror movies, now.


  29. The Speech
    (210 words)

    “She was not just a girl next door.”

    “She was America’s girl next door.”

    “When I spoke with her parents, I was offered a glimpse into her life.”

    “She was a cheerleader. She loved to help others and be there to cheer them on to victory. She believed in the ideals of America, that everyone should have a chance to grow and become more than they were the day before.”

    “Her smile could light up a room and it drew everyone to her, as our great nation is a light of freedom that draws people from around the world in search of a better life.

    “Her sacrifice in this war will not be forgotten.”

    “You can rest assured that even though the flags are at half-mast across our great nation, our resolve to defend our freedoms and way of life has never been higher.”

    “God bless America.”

    The president left the podium and returned to the oval office. He smirked as he leaned back in his chair and clasped his hands behind his neck. His smirk turned into a grin as he put his feet on the desk.

    He was sure the well-rehearsed crackle in his voice and crocodile tears should help move his numbers up in the popularity poll.


  30. Not Her Dream House
    (209 words)

    Sometimes it felt like a prison rather than the White House. The weight of the history swallowed her like a great white whale, and Judith fumbled in rooms afraid to bump into the sacred objects of great men’s lives. Lincoln slept in that bed. Dolly Madison had rescued this painting. Taft had splashed in the bathtub. Pat Nixon roses bloomed in the garden.

    She wondered where the Roosevelt children’s rabbit was buried in the lawn. If her dinner plates had stared at Winston Churchill.

    She longed for her parent’s comfortable three-bedroom ranch house in the suburbs, the house built just for them, raw and new and free of memories. Her husband even asked her when they’d moved in yesterday, “Tell me again why we fought so hard to live in this house?”

    They only had a four-year lease.

    If it was her house, she’d paint it a soft ivory. Something to show it had mellowed in the centuries. The facade looked like an over-whitened smile, too bright to be believable. She’d plant a cottage garden full of hollyhocks and haphazard old-fashioned flowers in front. Put climbing roses on that ugly metal fence.

    It wasn’t her home. She was merely a president, another person swallowed by the great White House.


  31. Different Lives
    (210 words)

    Amy grips tightly onto the gates outside of the house. It isn’t the biggest building in the world, but to her it’s a mansion: she can imagine long, impressive hallways, a large dining room with a full spread on the table, and a bedroom decorated with cushions, blankets and toys.
    In the window, there’s a boy about her age playing with a train. Amy is the new girl next door, at least for now. The boy’s hair has been brushed neatly and his clothes are simple but clean; to him, they’re probably everyday things, but to Amy they’re symbols of a loving family. She watches the boy with interest. She wonders what he worries about: his grades, losing his toys, how late he can stay up each night. He plays happily, a picture of childhood innocence.
    Amy’s lived near many children who’ve had no worries, children living in enormous houses who enjoy the privileges of family life without recognising how lucky they are. To her, they live in luxury. She’s lived near them, next to them, but she’s never experienced how they live.
    Amy releases the gates, letting out a long breath. She spins around, settling back down on the kerb and wrapping herself in her blanket.
    ‘Spare change, sir?’


  32. @betsystreeter
    206 words


    Sitting legs-out crashing Matchbox cars on the hot concrete driveway, he hears a sniff and looks up.

    An eye fills the hole in the fence. Bright blue, big as the sky. The eye blinks, then disappears.

    School day. The door slams and a blonde ponytail pops above the fence with each squeaky sneaker skip.

    “I’m go-ing to be pres-i-dent,” she sings, and disappears up the sidewalk.

    Rolling down the driveway, backpack slung over one shoulder, his board’s wheels hop the curb and grind in the street. Her new puppy chases him but just to the edge of her lawn. He pushes off and gains speed.

    Backing out the car, his dad tensed up tight on the passenger side. Please don’t crash into the fence. She’s right there. He avoids the fence but kills the engine. His face reddens. She pretends not to see.

    Packing up. He wedges a laundry basket into the back seat. What’s the drive, six hours? Maybe seven.

    He crosses the driveway.

    I’m sorry, she left two days ago. Studying political science, of course. Text her when you get down, she’d love to hear from you. Good luck at school, son. Oh okay, ma’am. Thanks. The door clicks shut.


  33. David and Bathsheba: And Who is My Neighbor?

    “His name is David Henderson, but he is not addressed as King David. The custom is to call him President Henderson.”

    “President? Are you sure?” asked the monarch.

    “Yes, your majesty. The story we are using to couch this meeting is ancient and times have changed.”

    The queen, drummed her eight blue fingers on the table.

    “I apologize, your majesty, I don’t mean any disrespect.”

    “So my name will be Bathsheba?”

    “If you wish, but that name is ancient. I suggest Mary DuMont.”

    Her majesty turned, and stared at her most trusted aide, who became most troubled.

    “Mary is a highly trusted name. DuMont will sound foreign to him, covering any places where our research fell short.”

    Her majesty turned back to the mirror and the aide started breathing again. Just then the lights in the room flashed from white to blue and back. It was time; they were in orbit.

    The queen flipped a switch in her armor, changing her appearance. She was suddenly a skinny human girl with a blue peasant dress, green eyes and straight black hair.

    Nodding approval, she was transported to the oval office. She bowed before the president, playing the part of the girl next door, just four galaxies over.

    206 words
    @CharlesWShort (Second Entry)


  34. The Gatekeeper

    205 words

    Feet shuffle forward as the gate opens and we press together in the hope of admittance. Few will be allowed through. The gatekeeper briefly surveys our never-ending queue of hopelessness. Cold eyes close us out of both sight and mind, leaving us stuck in our own private hell, unable to move on or go back. Limbo has claimed us.

    Did she see me? Would she remember me if she did? When she had been this side of the gate all those years ago, she had lived next door and together we had travelled the same roads. Then she had jumped the queue and moved on to another life.

    At last I reached her and she opened the gate. But she would not allow me to enter.

    “It is not your time,” she said.

    I could see figures looming over her shoulders. Faces I recognised from days gone by. I missed them all so much.

    “No,” she said, softer now. “One day the gate will open for you but not yet. You must go back. You must open your eyes …”

    A strange sound made me turn, the queue was fading. I heard a bleep and then a voice, “He’s coming round”.

    I opened my eyes.


  35. First Daughter

    No one ever saw me when I was lived here. Now, every once in a while, a Secret Service agent will cringe when I pass him in the hall late at night. A First daughter saw me as she snuck down to the kitchens for a snack a few years ago, and screamed. Caused all kinds of alerts, folks running around with guns, but that didn’t bother me.

    You can’t kill a ghost.

    Daddy said I had to be kept out of sight. A President can’t have his bastard daughter appearing at public events, not when she looks so much like her old man. That hair is hard to hide, he says. Those eyes. That nose. So my nurse kept me in my rooms, and no one ever talked about the little girl who lived upstairs. Back then, people were better at keeping secrets.

    Of course, when I died it was harder to keep things quiet. They smuggled my body out at night, and took me to the family plot. My stone doesn’t record my real name, just my age. Ten. Daddy kept his secret from the history books.

    It’s like I never existed.

    Only problem is, I haunt the White House. Put that in your history books.


    • Yes! I’ve read every story and this is MY FAVORITE. Ghost bastard girl haunting the halls of the White House. Amazing concept. I can see this apparition scaring Secret Service agents and First family members for all of eternity. Those eyes. That nose. This ten year old ghost will be reminding people of the randy President that once held office. I love her attitude: “Put that in your history books.” I’ll remember this one for a long time. I just made five friends read it. Great job Eliza! This made my day.


  36. The Temptation of Elliot Ness.
    209 words

    Candles flickered as the storm raged. I watched shadows while Catherine draped herself over a chaise lounge. Stockinged legs, silken lingerie, and sinful suggestiveness.
    “Elliot,” she said, “How lovely to see you.” She shifted, the silk house coat slid to reveal suspenders snaking up her thigh; a thin, ivory colored, invitation to perfidy. “Have a drink, and let’s talk.”
    Her butler appeared with a glass half full of bourbon.
    “Really, Catherine?” I said.
    “It was worth a try. You weren’t always dry.”
    “It’s also a long time since you were the girl next door.”
    “I bet we’d still be good at doctors and nurses together.”
    I smiled. We probably would. But life had taken us in different directions.
    “So, what’s this all about, Mr. Ness?” she asked.
    “You know why I’m here, Catherine. A huge lawn and big gates don’t make you immune to the law.”
    “Oh darling, Elliot, of course it doesn’t.” She laughed. The innocent tinkling sound I remembered was now harsher, more knowing. “Being fabulously wealthy does that.”
    She walked me to the hall, holding my arm. After putting my hat and coat on I opened the door, and pointed to the wind and rain.
    “This is nothing, Catherine” I said. “There’s a real storm coming.”



  37. Word Count – 210


    Jealous I was, couldn’t believe her good luck. Stuck in this hellhole of an orphanage but she always said she wouldn’t be long the girl next door.

    Within six months she was gone got a job as a governess. She made the house sound fabulous, all rich reds and greens and covered in the most fabulous tapestries. I lived for her letters, loved the way she wrote my name Mary.

    I never saw her again and the letters stopped many years ago, she didn’t do the house justice or its owner, he’s ethereal, god-like, flowing long blond hair but needs a manicure, his nails are longer than mine.

    He beckons me in with a curtsey. I have to contain my giggles my set defence when confronted with gorgeousness. I ask him about Terri tell him I had always wondered what had happened to her.

    He informed me that they are married and extremely happy and would I like to see her. I’m beside myself with excitement but this can’t be Terri she looks exactly the same but younger somehow. It’s like she’s been frozen in time and miserable with it.

    She clasps me firmly not the hug I was expecting ‘Tobias fetch us a drink, I’ll have a bloody Mary.’


  38. Genesis Reflux

    @geofflepard 209 words

    She screams like her soul is being waxed – her words, filtered by brick and plaster to an incoherence of despair, but I understand. Does she hear my moans; do they interrupt her divine demands? At least I know He hears me; she’s still debating away her doubts but she will learn. I will teach her.

    The staff confide she’s a challenge; if I concentrate I can hear them as they meet her challenge. She moans then; she doesn’t know yet but He hears.

    Last week I saw her outside, across the lawns and through the fence to the main house. She was dancing while two unbelievers held dog leads attached to her wrists. She wouldn’t let me meet her eyes but she will and they will be golden. Prophet’s eyes.

    The signs appeared, yesterday, in the lines they mowed on His green page, in the message He shadowed through the trees. She is my Eve.

    Today when they come, I will be ready. They will not neutralise my soul. He has called me.

    She’s calmer now, she hears their steps. Soon, Eve, your Adam will be with you and we will exult Him in our frenzy. They will be gone and Eden will be ours at last.


  39. Title: Knocking
    Words: 209

    Knock Knock
    I opened the door.

    “Hi Peter. Before we go I want to make it very clear that I’m not the girl next door. Well, literally, I am a girl who lives next door. But I’m not “the girl next door.” You know the type – perfect hair, smile, teeth, and outfits. She’s pure and perfect in every guy’s fantasy. And you’ve only lived on this block a couple weeks so you don’t know me.

    Well, let me tell you, I don’t live in the white house with a cast iron fence. I don’t smile through the pain and wear makeup every day. I wear mismatched socks and don’t brush my hair. I’m emotional, not poised. I’m brutally honest, not fashionably kind. I drink. I have sex. I am not some untainted rose for you to pluck. So, if you came knocking on my door expecting to see your “girl next door” fantasy, it’s the wrong door.

    I’m going to close the door now. If you’re still interested knock three times and we’ll go out. If you were expecting your fantasy instead of me, then go back to your house.”

    I closed the door.

    Knock… knock…

    And I heard his footsteps walking off my porch.


  40. SUMMER OF ‘95

    Brian S Creek
    208 words

    Jodie Jenkins. That was her name. She wasn’t the prettiest girl in the class except maybe on the inside. I wish I’d understood that better back then.

    Her family moved in next door when I was five and we grew up on opposite sides of the same garden fence. We stayed friends despite the later years when we drifted a little (girls become girls and boys will be boys) but there was always that look, that nod, that smile that comes from growing up together.

    It all changed in the summer of ’95 when we left Tommy Wainer’s party holding hands and kissing. That summer felt like a life time; I was on cloud nine and Jodie was my whole world.

    Jodie forever. Jodie I love you.

    Sometimes I wonder what I’d give up to see her again. My job? My house? My family? But I know I can’t, not in my position. Something like that would tarnish my reputation and reputation equals votes.

    So I keep that summer with Jodie locked up deep inside where it will never change. Instead, all I can do is wonder; wonder how she’s doing, wonder what she’s like, wonder if she still thinks of me.

    Jodie forever. Jodie I loved you.


  41. Mark Morris: High Office – 185 words

    Rosemary Schroder stepped out of the people carrier, her retinue of protectors forming a ring around her. She’d fought to become President against the odds, her opponents eventually giving up when they realised she was whiter than white; a person with the support of most of the minorities and all of the main groups in the voting public.

    Never parted from her brother, he’d been her main support throughout the whole campaign. Never leaving her side, he’d deflected most of the difficult questions, his keen analytical mind and his quiet voice always at her service.

    And now she was going to take control of the most powerful nation on earth.

    Walking together, Rosemary and her brother entered The White House to a hailstorm of camera flashes, the two of them standing clear of their ring of followers for the first time. The world media and the paparazzi loved them, everyone else in the world knowing of them and the struggles they’d both faced to get here: Rosemary Schroder and her brother Charles; the world’s first conjoined twins to rise to the highest office on the planet.