Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 25

AT LAST AT LAST! I’ve been having waaay too much fun flinging dragon mugs this way and that, flashing dragons on my car, dancing with dragons round my neck…. that I’m (finally!) inviting y’all to join the party. Craving a bit of fiery flash inspiration? Here’s your chance. Note that a small percentage of each purchase goes to support the work of Flash! Friday, so we can continue awarding cash & other prizes as often as possible. (Of course, direct donations are always gratefully accepted; click the PayPal button in the sidebar.) So…. here goes! Click on the image below to visit the Dragon Emporium. And thank you!


And as though unveiling the Dragon Emporium wasn’t enough, it is now my tremendous pleasure to introduce to you our BRAND NEW PANEL OF DRAGON CAPTAINS!!!! These teams will start on July 3. Take a moment to give them a fiery welcome! (Their fiery new judge pages are linked to their names.)

Team 5
Holly Geely & Foy Iver

Team 6
Josh Bertetta & Steph Ellis

Team 7
Nancy Chenier & IfeOluwa Nihinlola

Team 8
Voima Oy & A.J. Walker

Ring of Fire! Today’s your last chance to earn the May #RingofFire badge — should have been a breeze this month, with its FIVE Fridays. Have you submitted stories at Flash! Friday at least three times in May? Check out the details at the Wall of Flame page & let us know here. Not only can you flash the fiery badge on your own blog (you’ve earned the right!), but each badge means a chance at a Flash! Friday prize at year’s end. More badges = more chances!


DC2Judging today for their LAST TIME is Dragon Team One: Captains Image Ronin & Joidianne. I’ve loved this pairing this round, their combined quirky darkness, their passion for textured shadows and what lies beneath. They both graciously gave of their time and talents to the Flash! Friday community; the value of their participation and contributions is immeasurable. I encourage you to leave thank you comments on their judge pages (linked above), Twitter, or following your stories here, to let them know how much their efforts are appreciated. From the bottom of our hearts, IR & J: thank you.     


Awards Ceremony: Results will post Monday. Noteworthy #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner post Thursdays.   Now let’s 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: theme. If you want your story to be eligible for an award, your primary theme must be “defeat”): 



(2) Photo prompt to incorporate:

Construction of the Statue of Liberty's Pedestal

Construction of the Statue of Liberty’s Pedestal. CC2.0 photo by National Parks Service, Statue of Liberty ca 1875.


491 thoughts on “Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 25

  1. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 194

    Potpourri Dreams

    Dried rose petals litter the table, their edges cracked and dusty, their dead scent stifling in the still air. They are the last gasp; all the reconciliation attempts line the years like stair steps—each gesture more desperate than the one before.

    When do you stop the construction of a dream? When do you open your eyes and let daylight with all its reality crush you?

    For so long, I’ve traced a wisp of your hair, every morning wrangling my dream self to face its reflection in the mirror of wakefulness. I’ve gathered the pieces of us together, adhered our torn edges into whole pictures, but the image that comes is fractured and lined, and along its fault-lines, weakness trembles.

    My fingers salvage what they can, but with a deft twist, you systematically unscrew the bolts, unhinge the doors, remove the nails. With years of practice, you pull me apart, piece by broken piece, until I am a shivering shadow, a shade of my former self.

    Like a house of cards, pieces of vision crash into stillness, flattened beneath the weight of indifference, dried up and dead like the last faint ghost of potpourri dreams.


  2. @colin_d_smith
    200 words
    Title: “Future Hope”

    There was silence in the car all the way home. I had cried away all my words on mother’s shoulder once we were outside the Convention Center. As we pulled into our driveway, my mind still held on to that last devastating moment.


    “Sorry, that’s incorrect.”

    Inside, Mom offered me a glass of Coke. But all I could think of was the gasp from the audience, magnified in the echo chamber of my imagination.

    That evening, as I pushed food around my plate, Dad took me by the hand to his workshop.

    “Here, James,” he said, showing me four small pieces of wood tacked together into a square shape. I looked up at him, confused. Without another word, he took a piece of wood and tacked it to the others. Then he tacked another. And another. Soon I was helping him build this square up, adding more wood, neither wanting to corrupt the sound of our labor with conversation.

    “Okay,” he said after about half an hour. “That’s enough.”

    I stared at the half-pyramid we had made.

    “It’s for your trophy, son.”

    “But—I lost, Dad,” I said, my voice small and weak.

    Dad just smiled. “For next year.”


  3. Josh Bertetta
    My Country ‘Tis of Thee
    208 Words

    They dusted their hands. The irony not lost on their faces, they congratulated one another for a job well done, though they knew it signified the fact they’d conceded defeat. At least it was over now. Once and for all…and for good.

    The war’d lasted decades. They’d held out hope, the whole damned lot of ‘em. But in the end, they’d come to realize it was a losing battle, a war they, despite the overwhelming numbers in their favor, could never win.

    They’d started with the torch, then moved to the crown on which those who’d heeded the blazing light’s siren song impaled themselves.

    Most of them knew the declarations they held on to for so long were nothing but empty promises, and the freedoms…well, they too nothing but illusions.

    “Behold!” cried one as he raised the good ol’ Stars and Stripes on the vertical. “The Stars and Bars!”

    How could they win the war? Those 99 percent?

    How could they when Lady Liberty’s sister Lady Justice, that blind bitch, bent to the one percent’s every whim? They say blindness heightens other senses. Lady Justice’s olfactory system must have adapted to the smell of green.

    They’d taken Lady Liberty down.

    America, that grand experiment in freedom, had failed.


  4. In Limbo

    He finishes reading the book and observes the minute of silence typically had after rereading the last line; the simultaneous feelings of being satisfied and not, tug on what most writers would call his heart. The melancholy grows, and he decides to distract himself by writing.

    The fan blows warm, thick air around him, and he is reminded of his old construction job. This gives him an idea, and he starts filling the pages of a word document on his laptop.

    He writes about a construction worker (Stan), who bets the devil he can build an edifice to heaven. After he lays the foundation, a municipal worker informs him he lacks the proper permits. Stan is fined and forced to stop. He loses the bet and his soul. As Stan laments, God strikes him down for attempting to reach heaven.

    He stares at the screen. It doesn’t feel good enough. He is unsure if he should polish or delete the story, but he already knows what will happen. The story will survive for days, in a sort of limbo, on the laptop, being neither saved nor deleted. After a while, the computer will choose for him, entering into an update and restarting. His work will be lost to the ether.

    210 words


    • “…the simultaneous feelings of being satisfied and not…” Such a familiar feeling at the end of a book. Loved the indecisive struggle of how he views his own work; also a familiar feeling. 🙂


    • “The story will survive for days, in a sort of limbo, on the laptop, being neither saved nor deleted.” I know this feeling well. A great and creative take on the prompt.


    • Lovely first lines – I have that moment of silence but also extended by that realisation that you’ve returned to the real world and you have to get your bearings once more (almost like a period of mourning 😦 ). Can really relate to the feelings about the quality of a story, is it good enough – or not? In this case yours is 🙂


    • Its tough to kill a story and a character. The title aptly describes the feeling of “where do I go from here.”


    • I have done this very thing, except my laptop won’t do automatic shut-downs for updates and it gets snarky if I go too long between re-starts… so I have to make that decision. It’s killer to make.


  5. A Tower to the Heavens
    203 words

    “Build me a ziggurat.” they said. “It’ll be fun,” they said. I thought then that definitions of fun must have changed since I was a kid. But the money was to good to turn down, and a ziggurat is pretty much a pyramid, and any architect worth his salt secretly wants to build a pyramid. It’s a structure you learn about early, so early it might even be genetic memory, maybe all architects are descended from the guys who designed the original pyramids.

    That’s getting away from this ziggurat though.

    So I designed a real beauty: High as a mountain; long sloping platform; sides stepped at an elegant angle; celestially aligned to the Pole Star, and the summer solstice. I also keyed in a whole bunch of other mystical dimensions for the initiated to work out, just for the hell of it.

    We started building on a really sweet piece of real estate. The land was flat and bedrock was only a few feet down, there was a river nearby and, we made bricks – real modern construction methods.
    It was going fine until God got all angry about something. Me, I blame Nimrod. And I didn’t even get paid for my design work.


  6. The Hospital


    208 words (separators not counted)


    She comes with her distended belly and eyes of wonder.

    “I love you so much,” she says to the bloodied face of her new-born, as his screams of life fill the wards of hopes and dreams. His life yet to be lived, he stands at the plinth of liberty.
    She comes with her skeletal body and eyes of knowledge.
    “I love you so much,” she says to her soulmate, as they loosely clasp hands of blotchwork gnarls. She barely hears his whimpers as they hum in the sterile corridors of suffering and pain. Her husband’s life lived; he stands at the plinth of liberty.
    His swaddling is a soft blanket. He suckles greedily. His time is yet to come and death is but a lifetime way.
    His bedding is a waterproof sheet. He feeds on liquid, drip, drip dripping from a bag. His time has been and death has been a shadowy stalker for manyayear.
    They leave through the front doors, with smiles, banners, soft toys and balloons.
    They leave through the backdoors, in silent, darkened vehicles.
    The hospital sees it all. Even in this place of a death, it knows, in the end, that life cannot be defeated. For everything that has ever lived is reused and reborn.


  7. ‘Your Huddled Masses’
    205 Words

    The picture was yellow with curled edges. Siobhan held it lightly and looked at her grandfather. “So one of these men is great-grand-pappy?”

    “Sure is. Right there. Foreman of one of the crews working on the base.”

    “I never new that.”

    “I never told you before. But it’s good to know things like this. It ties you right in to the history of the city, and if you want to be Mayor, you need to know where your ties are.”

    Siobhan looked up. Her grandfather was staring out the window, toward the Statue of Liberty.

    “You know,” he said, “that was only three years after he got off the boat from Ireland. Came, worked hard, got respect for that. He was one of the ‘huddled masses yearning to breathe free’. It’s a promise that’s eroded over the years.”

    Siobhan stared into her grandfather’s rheumy eyes, held his thin, dry, hand.

    He carried on talking. “Appeal to the people who want to work hard, wherever they‘re from. Tell them they can do it in a New York Minute.” He coughed. “Tell them we’re attacked, but never defeated. Re-light the lamp by the Golden Door.”

    “I will Pappy, I will,” Siobhan lied.



  8. The Battle
    210 words

    It was over.

    From her spot in the air, Sylvien saw the tide of black clad soldiers advance upon the green Forest Guard. From her position, she watched countless numbers of Forest Guard soldiers fall. No matter how many fiery attacks she and the rest of the dragon guard showered down on the enemy, they seemed never to decrease in number. The enemy casualties were insignificantly few.

    Sylvien felt a lump rising in her throat. The dark knights herded their prisoners, all that was left of the Forest Guard, into a tightly guarded circle. Then archers stepped forward, raised bows to the sky, and began to shoot the dragons.

    Sylvien didn’t stay to see any more. Wheeling around, she flew away from the slaughter, away from the dark knights’ conquest, away from the Forest Guards’ defeat.

    A tall pine loomed ahead of her, but a single breath turned it into a raging inferno. Sylvien flew through the fire, undisturbed by the flames licking at her scales.

    She flew for a long time. Where could she go? With this one victory, the dark knights had invaded the home she loved.

    Night came, and she grew weary. Sylvien found a cave, and collapsed there, to be haunted by dreams of defeat.


  9. @stellakateT
    210 words

    Travelling We Will Go

    “That’s your Great-Grandpa”. My mum pointed to a man in white without a hat. He looked modern compared to the other men in the photo.

    “How come he was in America building the Statute of Liberty?”

    “It was only the pedestal” Mum pursed her lips together. When she did that she looked bitter and mean like her mother. I never liked Grandma Collins. She always pulled at my clothes trying to make me tidy, threatened to take her dressmaking scissors to my hair when I announced I was growing it like Dad. I’d found some old photos of him before he went away. Grandma made that noise that sounded like her false teeth clacking together saying all the men the Collins women married were wasters. Not much hope for my wife I wanted to retort. Mum’s look made me stop.

    “Shall I iron this?” Mum picked up my favourite T-shirt that I was about to stuff in the holdall. “It’s fine Mum”

    “Your Great-Grandpa was looking for a better life when he went to America. He came back home when his Father died” I could see defeat in her eyes, another man in the family setting sail. I was only going up the M6 to university. Traversing continents was next.


  10. Respect Your Elders

    The day after Mam died, my brother’s family fought over her possessions like laughing hyenas.

    ‘I want the television,’ my nephew said. He stole money from Mam’s purse and thought she didn’t notice.

    ‘I want the hi-fi,’ my niece said. She refused to visit her grandma because of the ‘old-person smell’.

    ‘Take whatever you want, kids,’ my brother said. ‘God knows she gave us nothing in life.’

    I knew anger would turn to tears, so I went out into the garden and lit a cigarette with shaking hands. He was ten years younger than me; the fallout from Dad’s horse coming in at twenty to one and the drinking binge that followed. He didn’t know Mam and Dad like I did. Didn’t know about the beatings Mam and I took at the hands of that tyrant until the day he left us. Knew nothing of how Mam had raised two children with no money and the shame of an absent husband. Was ignorant of the sacrifices she’d made.

    I sat on Mam’s favourite chair and sucked hard on my cigarette.

    Let them squabble, I thought, as I rocked backwards and forwards on the patio Mam and I had laid together. Her legacy is more than mere possessions.

    207 words


  11. Decomposition
    194 words

    He couldn’t bear to see it now she was gone, the looking glass reflecting only emptiness. He’d thought to smash it to smithereens, at first, but his heart had carved a pedestal in his mind for the woman he had loved; the bride for whom his hands had carved this wedding gift.

    A gentle deconstruction, then.
    He placed the wedding gift, the dresser he had composed, back in his workshop.
    He set aside its ornate knobs and its secrets. Compartmentalised. Tucked in drawers. He whittled away at the shape of it, cleaving the dovetails, carving new lines.
    But the stillness of the rocking horse only reminded him of the children they’d never conceive.

    He hewed it more, a different design. But this time its outline formed the story of how she would never sit opposite him again, and it whispered through the grains of it how she’d chosen to sit opposite another.

    Frenzied, in this defeat, he sawed at the spindles of his newly made chair, chipped at its core, sacrificed and split the back of it, turning the heart of it to trinket box that would house the cheating splinters of her inside.


  12. Early
    202 words

    “Why are you running?” Fritz asks.

    Another child runs past followed by an angry mother. “Nein!” she scolds.

    I walk to the starboard railing and look out over the waters to avoid the chaos. And the Question. It’s still too soon to disembark.

    “Greta and I heard about the opportunity for work.” I spot something odd on a nearby island some distance from the larger land. “What do you suppose that is?”

    Fritz squinted. “It looks like some sort of platform. Ah, I’ve heard about it. It’s the pedestal for the Lady Liberty, a symbol of hope.”

    I frown. So we are too early then. First I was too early for my parents and now I was too early for hope.

    “Eran,” Fritz says my name. “Warum?” Why?

    I shake my head. I can’t.

    “Not now,” I say.

    Not ever.

    The mother and child have disappeared below deck, and I try to relax but can’t. What would it have been like to have a mother? If only I hadn’t been too early.

    “Alright,” Fitz murmurs, and he walks away.

    I ask myself why I don’t run after him. But several more children appear and come between us. This time I’m too late.


  13. @stellakateT
    210 words

    On The Losing side

    He woke up screaming. His gut wrenched with terror, pyjamas soaked in sweat, his jaw locked with anguish. His wife tried to calm him, held his hand whilst he returned to reality. She said if he told her what he saw; it would make the nightmares go away. He said he couldn’t remember but he did, vividly, the action like a block buster of a movie.

    Speaking many languages; he was of different nationalities, a man fighting on God’s side. He was principled, honest and true but he was always losing life’s battles He fought at Agincourt, singing Te Deum in French. He fought at Saylers Creek and saw his beloved confederate flag burned to ashes and the pain of the bullet that stopped his heart.

    He recalled working on the construction of the Statue of Liberty. His pride when he saw the photo in the local newspaper of the building of the pedestal. He was the one in white, hatless, the next week he was dead due to Sean’s carelessness with the chain saw, no health and safety rules then.

    His wife begged him to consult a Doctor; problem was he preferred the other world, dream land. It was thrilling like a roller coaster. One day he’d conquer defeat.


  14. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 207


    You eye me from your position as you have every morning for what feels like eternity. Our standoff won’t end until I crush you in ignominious defeat, obliterate you into nonexistence, send you to the hell to which you so obviously belong.

    I did not invite you here, cretin. You crossed my borders and invaded my territory, setting up your fortress where you had no right.

    I hold the majority; my strength is greater than yours. Yet fear holds me captive, and our unspoken parley drags on for minute after eternal minute.

    You make your move, and I counter, gasping, my weapon held aloft. You freeze again, and we return to our neutrality, nothing solved, no resolution reached.

    What is it about you that paralyzes me, that cements my movements in painful indecision? You have become my arch-enemy, my nemesis, the crumbling destruction of any carefully built edifice.

    I will not end in such a way. With determination born of sheer desperation, I advance. You scramble away, and with the high-pitched scream of horror, I bear my shoe down upon your eight legs and rid my bathtub of your eight-eyed stare.

    At long last, with shuddering breath, I wash the vestiges of my fear down the drain.


      • I can relate to this 🙂 that is almost me but I feel so guilty about killing spiders that I usually trap them in a tub at very stretched arm’s length and chuck them into the garden, that or getting husband/son to remove them although they tend to kill them and then I feel even guiltier. Funny and cleverly done.


      • Ooh, Steph, you’re braver than I am. I remember when I was a kid, crying for hours (literally), because my mom made me carry a bowl from the cupboard outside in which I’d found a dead spider. Not a lot has changed since then. 😉


      • LOL! Yes, please do keep dear Ashley far away from me. It would not go well for either of us if we were to get within sighting distance of each other. She would die of massive intestinal damage, and I would die of pure horror… 😉


      • Lol! Yes indeed. In case you didn’t guess it, I have severe arachnophobia. The protagonist in this story is actually much braver than I. I would have burned down the house rather than face it with a shoe… 😉


    • No one has mentioned the amazing symbolism. Every line except the last few could be about other people arriving at Ellis Island. Unfortunately, we here in the good ol’ USA did not welcome all the huddled masses. The irony of the Statue of Liberty has bothered me since I was a little kid in elementary school. Eight-eyed spiders aside, this piece is all about wide-eyed people coming here for a better life and then having a severe reality check. Scary and depressing and perfectly told.


      • Wow, thanks, Steven, that’s a wonderful compliment, and I really appreciate you pointing that out! Admittedly, I’m rusty on my history, so your comment is even more appreciated. 🙂


    • This is hysterical! Such a terrific description of the battle between arachnid and arachnophobe. I need to show this to my sister…


  15. SLOWLY FADES by E.F. Olsson
    208 words

    Johan’s funeral was small – just me and a couple of his closest friends. Most of his family had already died or still lived in northern Sweden. He looked peaceful in the casket. I whispered a final goodbye to him in Swedish. He had taught me the language after my father died in a construction accident when I was a boy. Johan and my father came over from Sweden together and began building many of the structures in our area together. Johan always had a story to tell while I drove him around on his errands, and it was always in Swedish.

    We gave each other a connection to the way life was when my father was alive. He was able to share stories of his homeland while I could get a sense of my heritage. As they lowered him into the earth, a part of me was buried along with him – the words and memories would fade away.

    I asked my son to learn Swedish. I told him I would teach him. He would have fun learning the traditions as we practiced together.

    “What’s the point? We live in America. Most of them speak English anyway,” he told me.

    Now, I sit here as it all långsamt blekna.


  16. Nothing Can Stop Them But . . .
    (210 words)

    The golden orb sat high in a cloudless sky as heat shimmers rippled across the never-ending sand. Hankatel paused from smearing mud-clay on the next layer of stones to wipe salty droplets from his brow.

    “Do the others know why you’re doing this?” Hankatel whispered to his friend.

    “Shh,” Jehuran hissed. “No they don’t. And the less you question my plan, the better.”

    Hankatel breathed a silent prayer to Moloch within whose belly he’d made his offering in the morning light. Moloch hadn’t heard his plea for respite from the heat. Perhaps his supplication at the altar of the “unknown god of heaven” would be more fruitful.

    “Why do you want a towering monument to yourself?” Hankatel asked. “Your pride could offend the gods.”

    “The gods forgot Babel a long time ago. I, Jehuran, will unite all men into an unstoppable force.”

    A shadow covered their position, bringing the cool Hankatel had prayed for. He sighed in relief until he looked up. The hand reached down from heaven, pushing on the top of the tower.

    “What is that?” Hankatel shouted.

    “I don’t understand,” Jehuran screamed.

    The tower trembled under the pressure then collapsed with a roar.

    “Was ist das?” Hankatel shouted.

    “No lo entiendo,” Jehuran said, looking puzzled.

    (Genesis 11:1-9)


  17. Josh Bertetta
    “Be Careful What You Wish For”
    205 Words

    “If you build it they will come.”

    That’s all the blueprint said.

    Knowing neither what “it” was nor who “they” were, they built it anyway.

    Abe, the aged wanderer, hoped “they” would give him a place to rest his weary bones. On work release, Mo, the law-breaking career criminal, wanted freedom. Mary, a young woman, prayed for a baby so she might give the love she never received. Long ignored by his family, Joe, the youngest of twelve brothers, wanted power and recognition. Justifying her drinking for being bored with life, Teresa the lush sought none other than God.

    Upon completion an inscription appeared above the threshold.

    Abe read in it “Invitation.”

    Mo saw in the word “Instruction.”

    Mary, “Incarnation;” Joe, “Interpretation.”

    And Teresa? “Intoxication.”

    They argued over who was right and who was wrong. They called one another names. Some even threw punches.

    And the doors finally opened, a light pouring out from within.

    They stopped, their mouths agape. Some fell to their knees, believing their dreams about to be realized.

    Then “They”–the demons of jealousy, anger, greed, self-centeredness, and self-righteousness–came.

    They saw what had become of the five, how they debased themselves in their wanting to be right.

    Then, They conquered.


  18. The End of The War
    204 words

    The War was over.

    That’s what we called it. “The War.” It needed no adjectives. No country or cause needed to be appended to it for people to know which war we were talking about. It was The War, and we had been fighting it all of our lives.

    I grew up in the shadow of The War, knowing that, one day, I would be asked to give my life to it. It didn’t matter *which* faction claimed me. Sooner or later, I would be taken by one of the factions and expected to give everything I had for the support and defense of my faction.

    What I didn’t expect was what happened on my eighteenth birthday. Just as I was preparing myself to enter the fray, The War was over.

    *No one* suspected it. How could they? No one ever really know what The War was for or why we had to wage it.

    Now, I have a job building pedestals for the victory statues. I hear some of the older workers actually missing “the good old days” of The War, saying it’s only a matter of time. I try not to listen to them. I, for one, welcome our new alien overlords.


  19. Great Granddad
    208 words

    “This is the house Fizzroot almost built,” Dad said.

    The decaying rubble wasn’t interesting.

    “Who’s Fizzroot?” I asked.

    “Your great-granddad. I’ll tell you about him.”

    The history books say the old city blew up because of a chemical spill, and there’s some truth to that. Thing is, Fizzroot’s the one who spilled the chemicals, because he fell asleep at the wheel. A van collided with the company’s truck and kaboom! There went the city. Fizzroot almost died.

    He blamed the driver of the van.

    Fizzroot got a free pass to the new city and his pick of the land. He chose the best lot and tricked some of the others into helping him lay a foundation. Eventually he was sitting by sipping lemonsour while they did his work for him.

    He got married and they had a kid. After the baby was born, his wife realized he was useless; he never did a thing for that child. She took her son and left.

    Before she went, she told everyone what Fizzroot was about. They abandoned him. Fizzroot had no idea how to build a house. The flimsy beams collapsed on him and killed him.

    “Don’t be like your great-grandad, Bubblestem,” Dad said.

    I wish I’d listened to him.


  20. I’ll Never Know Your Answers

    “I don’t know how to find our history.”

    Does it matter my child? If the history is sharp with pain? You have enough.

    “Why wouldn’t you tell your children who you were?”

    A man in a uniform called out “Jones”, my husband turned around, turning was consent. The sighs and loud words and flying hands that punctuated the air over our paperwork ceased. Our new name was written, rubber stamped, and branded in my husband’s hopes. Our old name was left behind with our old life.

    “What were we good at? Were we bakers? Weavers? Doctors?”

    My husband worked as a mason, I worked in a sewing factory. We pretended this was a privilege. We glanced at headlines that spoke of news from our former side of the ocean. More pain, more persecution. How could we say who we had been was worth fighting to maintain if we were dead.

    “You danced around the edges of a lost culture. How can I ever reclaim it?”

    Our prayers had gone unanswered. It was not always so hard to turn away. There were holidays we honored only in our hearts. Or my heart, at least. When our sons were born they were American through and through. It was what my husband wanted.

    210 words


  21. @AvLaidlaw
    205 Words

    The Pedestal

    The world seemed unreal as he stepped outdoors. The sunlight was too bright and the clatter of the horses and the carriage wheels on the cobblestones too loud. For the past months he had locked himself away in his office, in the fug of cigar smoke and coffee that had kept him awake during the long night hours drawing and redrawing the blueprints.

    Now he gripped the blueprints in his hand. The pedestal for the Statue. Thirty five meters high. Made from solid granite. Classical design fit for Liberty herself.

    They didn’t have the money. Economic downturn, you know. Knock off eight meters, and forget about the granite. They puffed on their cigars. They buttoned their waistcoats over plump bellies. Okay, you can face it with granite blocks but it’s got to be concrete. Doesn’t matter, nobody’s going to see it.

    The street stank. A cab driver whipped his horse and the blood from the creature’s back sprayed across his hands. He hitched up his trousers. They belonged to a more prosperous man well rounded by success and not the shadowy failure he had become over these past months. He dropped the blueprints into the gutter and watched the horse hooves and boots trample over them.


  22. Surrender
    By Laura Carroll Butler
    196 words

    Each morning I wake and I think “One more day, one more hour, one more minute.” I will eat my breakfast, I will go to work, I will smile because that is what is expected of me. In the evening, I will go home and fix our dinner, numb myself to sleep and escape in my dreams. If I keep the cycle going, I keep the darkness away.
    When the days are sunny, I try to trust what he tells me. We are building something wonderful together. He needs me to smile and I need to believe. The darkness is behind me, I think. But I know it’s not; it’s inside me still, waiting for a cloudy day when I’m too tired to fight.
    One more day, one more hour, one more minute. He doesn’t know that the dark is stronger and I am tired of building. I want to crush the delicate fabrication that binds us and let the darkness win. When it’s dark, I don’t see my hand in front of me. I don’t see him. I want to lay down and disappear. No more days, no more hours, no more minutes. Just sleep.


  23. Shedding the Load

    200 words


    The scales stubbornly refused to budge. Marion leaned forwards, backwards, stood on one leg but still the arrow pointed in the same direction.

    Reg called her Pig these days, said he was disgusted at seeing her snout in the trough at mealtimes to the extent she barely ate anything anymore. And still the weight stayed the same whilst the only thing that diminished was her self-esteem.

    Carefully Marion wrapped herself in the scaffolding that contained the flesh which so revolted him, pausing to look in the mirror, survey the monolithic monstrosity she had become; steeled herself.

    George was sat in front of a full English. She watched as he cut and stabbed at the bacon, gorged himself on the sausage, shovelled fried egg into his cavernous mouth – all without pause. It was too much.

    He was saying something, stabbing his knife towards her but she couldn’t hear him. All Marion could see was the food going round, mixing, congealing, revolting. She’d had enough.

    Her diet had failed but she could still lose weight another way, help her husband lose a few stone. She moved behind him, pressed the button on the electric carver. Time to see those pounds drop off.


  24. Between the Gods and the Eating Sea
    @geofflepard 203 words
    ‘Grandpa, why are we building the Boat?’
    ‘The Wise say the Eating Sea is coming.’
    ‘Father, when will the Boat be finished?’
    ‘When the Wise say it is big enough?’
    ‘Son, it is time you took command. Time you understood.’
    My life is the Boat. Every Orb Day I go to the Sight Point and ask the Wise. They show me the Eating Sea, how close it has come. Grandpa told me of the time the land was linked, before the Eating Sea came, when other tribes shared the land, when food was plentiful. It won’t be long now but the Sun is brighter than I recall, my eyes are nearly gone and Joshua will have to take command. Today is his first day at the Sight Point.
    ‘When the Pointing Rock disappears, you will collect the stores and the food and the young and the fit and ready the Boat.’
    ‘What then, Father?’
    ‘The Gods will decide.’
    ‘Why is this happening, Father? Why are the Gods punishing us?’
    Each generation asks that question and there is only one answer handed down to us. ‘Once upon a time we thought we could defeat the Gods. Now they make us pay.’


  25. The Company Line
    206 words

    I kissed her cheek and secured my overcoat.

    “Don’t do anything that may kill you,” Ann pleaded. Her concern was justified; four had fallen to their death only yesterday.

    I walked out the door without comment. She hadn’t seen the bruises on my shoulder or mentioned the cuts on my knuckles. She did not need to know that I had fallen too.

    It was nearly sunrise and the half-constructed monstrosity loomed in the distance. Our duplex, like all Company funded homes, lined the street leading up to the project. With our shelves empty, it did not matter if I came home bruised and broken. I only needed to come home less destitute than when I left.

    The overcoat pressed against my bruises as I wrapped it close, blocking dust from unpaved streets. Pavement was a luxury and there were no luxuries here. I thought of the dustcastles Marlon and Marie made and of their smiling faces.

    It may hurt, it may diminish my lingering pride, but I needed to provide for them.

    I walked up to the site and under the morning light I could see the sign on the fence:

    Occupancy Full – No Workers Needed.

    I stumbled to the ground. We would go hungry tonight.


  26. 207 words

    NOTE: All dialogue to be read in Monty Python voice.


    The King’s head pops up over the castle wall. He juts his chin and sticks out his authoritative beard.

    “Good morning, peasants,” the King says down his beard.

    “Morning King,” say the peasants with less-authoritative beards. Especially the women.

    “Now, then, what’s that you got there, peasants? Some sort of contraption I see?”

    “Oh, no, nothing at all, just us peasants,” say the peasants. “Just us and our – wheelbarrow, that’s it. For the harvesting of the crops, you know.”

    “Good. Carry on then,” the King says, and goes to breakfast.

    Next morning, the Kingly chin juts some more. “Morning, peasants.”

    “Morning, King.”

    “Well that’s a sizable wheelbarrow, there.”

    “Yes, better to move the bigger crops, see, Jack’s Beanstalk and James’ Giant Peach and all that.”

    The King nods. “Ah. Carry on then.”

    Next morning: Squeeka-squeeka-squeeka. The King opens his eyes. The contraption rolls past the courtyard window.

    “Now then, what’s with bringing that thing in here? And isn’t it bigger than yesterday?”

    “No, just looks bigger close up, that’s it,” the peasants say.

    “Ah,” the King says.

    “We brought it to show you. Just take a look, right in here. See?”

    The King leans in more, more and the door shuts.



  27. Heed the Women
    210 words

    “We’ll build a tower,” King Sargon said. “So high it will reach heaven. Everyone will envy us.”

    The men conferred over materials and designs. The women whispered warnings: “Pride is folly. God values humility.”

    The Tower’s base was soon completed. The men drank like gluttons, celebrating, forgetting everyday life in their lust for glory.

    Tower work consumed every moment. The hauling and hammering never stopped.

    “Give me time to tend my crops,” a journeyman begged Sargon.

    “God demands sacrifice. Keep hauling.”

    Crops wilted. Goats died. The women grew thin. Babies starved. The men lived on palm wine and dreams.

    As the Tower advanced, new work began: the digging of graves. Soon the dead outnumbered the living.

    Sargon, crazed and angry, screamed, “Higher! Faster!” He trembled with malnutrition.


    A foreign legion rode into the city.

    “Vile place,” a soldier muttered. “It stinks of death.”

    But the commander gazed greedily at the Tower. “This will be mine. Take the city.”

    The soldiers torched the dilapidated fields and put Sargon’s head on the Tower gates.

    “You are defeated,” the commander called to the gaunt women, the only survivors. “I’m Lord of the Tower now. We’ll build it so high—”

    Grim laughter rippled through the women. This time they whispered no warnings.


  28. Part Of The Sum

    One set of skinned knees in shorts. Two long socked legs hop – jump – skip. Year Three of six, added to, equalling Eleven Plus. Percentages determine geography’s equation, history recorded. Divided, two part – their sum presently unknown. One minus one is one.

    Two promise as one, united faithful before their countless congregated. Twinned rings are exchanged, separate inscriptions catching the light. Confetti mingles afterwards amidst her dark hair. Three tiers of carefully constructed confectionery stand tall mid table by evening. Two added are one.

    Three form from two – wails announcing his arrival. Paired smiles contrast with intermittent cries, interspersed with sleepy silence. Blankets swaddle tiny tufts sprouting from an as yet misshapen head. He is held two armed, encircled by four. Two multiplied is three.

    Two stand as one, dark clad arms holding each other, apart from a crowd. Four trickling lines of moisture glisten across their faces, as they stand before a lone marble tablet bearing two dates, mere digits apart. Two minus one leaves two.

    One faces one, the table separating them. He puts his pen to the paper, scrawling. “I’m can’t anymore,” he says. Brow furrowed, she shakes her head – pauses – signs – without meeting his gaze. Divided, two part. One minus one is one.


    (210 words)


  29. The Darkest Night (210 words)

    Albert was all-too aware of his blackness, like a scratchy coat upon his bones.

    He wanted to do something special for Florence tonight by the Statue’s pedestal: have their first kiss.

    But with darkness came the unspooling of risk. In particular, it was his darkness that was risky.

    A former slave as a boy, Albert had hitchhiked to New York, buoyed by the words of other freed slaves, offering a life without cotton.

    Not long after, he found himself sweeping the sidewalk in front of Florence’s home.

    She wasn’t like any white woman he’d known. She didn’t shy away from his muscular blackness. Instead, she offered a hello as she walked by him.

    That “hello” altered both their fates, intertwining them like tripwire between America’s forward consciousness and its past.

    That night, standing by the pedestal’s construction site, Albert had no way of knowing that Florence’s brother was a Klan’s man. And that he had followed them with his Colt .45 he’d been issued by the Army.

    Running on rum and racist fumes, the brother aimed the Colt at the darkness.

    Instead, lead found white flesh. And in that moment, the promise of tomorrow became a cruel joke burning through Albert’s black skin.

    Albert never did get to kiss her.


  30. The Monument
    205 Words

    You pull me towards the statue, laughing and telling me how wonderful it all is. You chose the location, you set the itinerary and everything seems perfect in your eyes.

    I follow along because I love you, and your laughter could almost carry me out of the depths… almost.

    You’re excited now as the ferry pulls away from the city and brings us to the foot of the monument.

    You laugh about how, if it were polished, it would shine like a beacon, brighten everyone’s day and all I see is 125 tons of oppressive concrete weighed down by the ashes of the fallen.

    You see the shine of what is hiding under oxidized copper, and all I taste is the bitter tang of blood.

    You take my hand, wanting to fly to the top of the steps, but every step inside the monument reminds me… we are the crawling things crushed like grapes beneath the weight of the machine.

    You would reap a fine wine— but I would only get vinegar, and that is the difference between us. You think we can win, and I know we’ve already lost.

    Yet your smile makes me believe that you will be the one to break free.


  31. October 28, 1886

    “Grover! Grover! Wake up. You were talking in your sleep.”

    “My apologies, Frances. An occupational hazard for a politician. Surely you have learned that by now.”

    “Of course. Was it that same nightmare again?”

    “Yes, my love. The same. A giant wave rolls into New York City and crushes Lady Liberty.”

    “It will be a fine ceremony. The papers say they expect hundreds of thousands to attend. The only wave will be a giant wave of celebration, a celebration you will lead.”

    “Yes, my sweet. I am sure the day will unfold as it should. That marvellous statue has taken her good time to arrive but today, finally, we will reveal her in her majesty.”

    “And what of the wave?”

    “I am President only because hordes of Mugwumps deserted their political allegiances to support me. THEY are the wave, Frances. My Presidency is built on the cowardliness, the opportunism of my opponents.”

    “Be that as it may! Let’s enjoy the day.”

    “We will. Still, come the ‘88 election, I may win the people but it will all will turn on the Electoral College. THAT is the unsettling wave I truly fear.”

    “The President should not be fearful, Grover. The future is nothing to fear. It just is.”

    210 words


    • You really set the scene prior to the celebrations, hinting through the dream and what his presidency is built on that something major was going to happen (and I want to know).


      • For me, these wonderful prompts are guiding me into areas of research I probably wouldn’t go to if left to my own devices. I confess, as a somewhat political Canadian, that I had no awareness of Grover Cleveland. My little tale was inspired by the fact that he married whiile in office, just a few months before the Statue of Liberty was unveiled. Frances was less than half his age, barely out of her teens. When he was defeated for his second term in the’88 election, she predicted they would be back in the White and they did return 4 years later. This is probably too much information but I am enjoying the creative diversion of writing dialogue driven scenes, especially using historical characters. No doubt the quick turnaround may engender inaccuracies but I do write fiction, and relish my precious inaccuracies.


        • This is why I like flash written from all parts of the globe, snippets of info are dropped in about which I know nothing and sends me off into cyberspace to find out more.


      • It’s probably sad that you know more about Grover Cleveland than I do (because guess where hail from)… I always liked him because of his underdog status. I like how this interchange makes him more of a human (and less simply of a hero).

        Liked by 1 person

        • I knew nothing about the man prior to this (being from the UK) but you gave such a good description I felt I’d learned something.


  32. A Steak Day
    210 words

    Uncle was cooking a steak when I got home. I smelled it from outside, but came in anyway, sitting down in my school colors and face paint.

    I saw Uncle at the parade; he must have stopped to buy the steak on his way home. Hadn’t I behaved well? Why was it a steak day? Uncle stood tall and still while the meat hissed. Then he sat down and it was time.

    “I saw you at the parade,” he said, serrated knife sawing. “You seemed quite pleased with yourself.”

    “Our Statue of Liberty float won third place,” I replied.

    “You misspeak—third place is not winning. Third place is a puff of smoke on a windy day.” The lines he composed while cooking. I was not to speak again.

    He took a long drink of water, silent to bait me into speech. “Do you take pride in defeat?” he continued. “Some children distinguished themselves in that parade, as individuals. Drum major, Junior Miss Greenville—do these honors not interest you?”

    I broke. “Me and Melinda built the base of the statue. It’s the most important part! I used chickenwire.” And because he would hate it: “It was fun.”

    Uncle cut the steak into smaller pieces—this was far from over.


  33. Bitter Pill
    (209) words

    Defeat is a truly bitter pill to swallow.

    Frank, Joseph and Arron had all seen defeat when the Confederacy’s Army of Tennessee lost at Nashville. Knowing that the project they were working on commemorated the freedom of all men insulted the way of life they fought for. Inside, it shredded them and cut away at their soul.

    Tobias had owned a plantation in Georgia. He lived in grand house that once held large celebrations and feasts for other rich plantation owners. Across the fields the slaves lived in ramshackle buildings that held misery and subjugation. He lost it all when the union army confiscated his property and drafted his slaves for their army.

    Other men such as Jesse, Horatio, Jeb, and George spent time in union prisoner of war camps. Once proud men of the south, they became mere shells of the men they were.

    After the war, they went home. But they were never the same, they were defeated men.

    That defeat was rammed down their throats when they couldn’t find work. It trampled their souls when they had to take a job working on the base for the statue of liberty.

    They all smiled when money for the base started to run out.

    It was their victory.



    Brian S Creek
    200 words

    Some men ask why we do this. Why bow our heads as slaves and snuggle up beside tyranny? Why bleed and sweat for a nation that despises us?

    To them I say pride.

    I understand that there is reluctance to assist the enemy. I know it will not bring back our loved ones. I know it will not give us back our land. But we are not traitors to our history for doing this.

    We have been given the opportunity to build something truly magnificent.

    Governments crumble. Nations rise and fall. But somethings can be made to last forever.

    This monument, this mighty stature, will be just such a thing. It will gaze out across the land and be seen by all for miles around.

    Our enemies will claim ownership of it, of course they will. They will brag to any that listen about how they are mighty, how they should be feared. They will try to impress the world with this statue standing at the centre of their Empire.

    But we will know, our descendants will know, that it was our people’s hands that built it.

    We may be without freedom, but we will be forever strong with pride.


  35. Yellow Rose of Texas
    (208 words)

    “The union might have won the war, but you bunch are dumber than a load of bricks.”

    Laughter rang throughout the construction site as the losers grumbled at the base of the massive project.

    Most thought he was just a dumb southern boy. They thought he’d spent too much time drinking moonshine and playing in the cotton fields to have any intelligence. To them he was the embodiment of why the south had lost. But they were wrong to underestimate him.

    “Ya’ll know I was the best cottonwood tree climber in all of Georgia,” Jeb boasted with a grin on his face. “Hell, some of them Cottonwood trees grow bigger than this here thing we’re working on.” The comments drew snide remarks and angry stares. “Why I bet you union boys never climbed anything in your life. I bet I’d beat ya’ll to the top. I’ll even let you use the ladders.”

    It was on. There was no way some dumb southerner was going to win. Men began scrambling and looking for ladders. But only Jeb thought to run up the stairs on the right side of the project.

    He laughed and sang Yellow Rose of Texas as he danced atop the base of the statue of liberty.


  36. Double Edged
    209 words

    Rising high against the horizon a monument stands, proclaiming for all who see that ‘here stood the victors, those allies who won and carried on.’

    Each man who looks upon it, sees what is in their hearts: glory; honor; liberty.

    It calls out across the miles and the centuries, causing hearts to swell with pride and joy, but it is not the monument that does this, but rather the memory.

    The call to victory is strong, stronger than fire or pain. To the victors belong the spoils, that is the way of war.

    But what of war? What of victory? Look behind the lines, look into the cracks between the plating in the tarnished image of the lady we all love.

    For often we forget, when we feel that pride singing in our veins – that every victory is someone else’s defeat.

    The park ranger frowned as he read the letter. It gave him an uneasy feeling. He wasn’t sure if it were a threat or longing for some forgotten dream.

    He handed it to his supervisor, who simply shrugged and told him not to worry about it.

    He bowed his head as he looked at the part of the letter he had saved.

    Defeat is a double edged sword.


  37. The Singers
    210 words

    They came from the shadows, after the flaming skies and falling towers, out of the numbness of the rising waters. While others cheered the end of false idols, they sang songs of the dark times on the street corners. They sang of the vanished days of job creators, of a Land of Opportunity across the sea.

    They slept in the subways, under the bridges over the expressways. They lived in abandoned warehouses and rusting steel mills. When there was nowhere to go, they set up tents in the green parks and vacant lots, the city skyline in the distance.

    In one of the tall buildings, shadowy people gathered in a polished conference room, their faces reflected in black glass. “Who are they?” One of Them asked. His face was known on all the view screens.

    “Zombies,” one suggested. She was the best and brightest, a promising new talent. The others laughed.

    “They may be brainless, but they are dangerous,” the most shadowy of Them spoke in a voice of smoke and mirrors, ancient deals and brimstone. “We can’t afford to underestimate them, now. So close to final victory.”

    “But they’re not angels, are they?”

    In the streets below, the singers gathered. Their voices chanting forbidden words, “Freedom, Justice, Peace, Love..”


  38. @AvLaidlaw
    210 Words

    The Golem

    I meet Avram and we look across the bay to the Statue of Liberty. They brought it on a steamship with clouds of dirty soot and noise ten years ago, our first month in America and Avram thought the statue was built just for us.

    “Ain’t she beautiful?” Avram is a young man now and carries his university books. But ten years ago he was a little boy and thought the statue was a Golem. He loved those stories about Rabbi Loew and the Golem that saved us from the pogroms. I told him the statue had no Divine Name and could not save us. Nothing could have saved us the night the Russians burnt the shul and beat his uncle so black and blue we couldn’t recognise his face. We tried to stop them but what could we do? Old men and young boys. We failed. They left us nothing but our names.

    He asks me how I am.

    “Closer to the grave.” I tell him about some boys who tried to steal my yarmulke.

    “Pa.” He speaks like the Irish. The wind ruffles his hair. He doesn’t always wear a yarmulke himself, to his mother’s sorrow. “Kids making mischief.”

    “Avram! Such words!”

    “I prefer Abe. It’s more American.”


  39. The New World
    (204 words)

    “…Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”

    The bronze plaque gleamed at me from its mounted pedestal at the feet of the great green woman. Her blank expression mimicked the compassion I’d experienced so far: aloof, proud, distant.

    I pictured my father bent over a hammer, whacking this statue into existence, hope flooding his veins like blood, his hands covered in thick calluses. How many years had he poured his sweat into this new world? Not many. He died of pneumonia just last winter.

    I turned and stared out over the frothy harbor. Ships of immigrants chugged across the grey Atlantic, obeyed the call of the giant green siren.

    “It’s better to die a free man, than live forever under someone else’s thumb.” My father’s words echoed in the vast emptiness of my heart.

    But freedom doesn’t fill my stomach. Liberty doesn’t buy my sister’s medicine. And no amount of praying can change it. My father’s hopes died with him. I look at this world and see if for what it is: one giant labor camp.

    Pulling on my threadbare jacket, I flicked a cigarette butt into the sea, and caught the ferry back to New York City.

    By Valerie Brown


  40. Success Be Meanin’ Defeat
    210 words

    They’s callin’ this “Lib’ty Island”, but we always been calling it “Home”. E’er since that boat was kin’ enough to drop Grandmammy and Grandpappy off next to here island (l’il bit a swimmin’, but Grandpappy swears t’was a glorious send off with loud cheerin’) we had us a joyrous life. Lots of soft, warm mater’als for making us cozy homes in the walls of the Soldiermens buildin’. Soldiermens eatin’ and sleepin’ and leavin’ they deli-cacies ‘bout for our consumption. T’was a wonderous life which nobody can’t deny.

    We didn’t need no Constructionmens coming ‘round with they’s loud hammers and them smashin’ boots. Thinkin’ they has the rights to squash all the misfortunate residents of here place.

    So, we decided we was gonna fight them off. Divide and conquer, we was thinkin’. Half the group was gonna get they’s food stores, ‘cuz that’s the number one way. The other half was working to bite down they’s supports on that block wall they buildin’. Figured ita slow them right down.

    Well, they musta admitted defeat, ‘cuz today we found these delicious treats spread out on the ground. You know we couldn’t resist. Only, they don’t seem to suit so well, ‘cuz e’erbody gettin’ so, so sleepy and don’t be, don’t be wakin’…



    Brian S Creek
    206 words (although the ellipses make it more)

    “It’s no use,” said Major Might. “There’s . . . no escape.”

    Thunder Boy’s breathing was shallow. “We’ve been trapped before and always escaped.”

    “I fear this time our luck has . . . run out.”

    Frustrated, Thunder Boy yelled as he unleashed another mighty bolt of electricity at the solid walls. As before the energy was absorbed leaving only the faint blue glow from the sidekicks clenched fists.

    “We’ve had a good run, my . . . crackling comrade.”

    Thunder Boy slumped down next to his mentor. “I can’t believe, after everything we’ve done for this city, everything we’ve done for the world, that this is how we go out; trapped in a cold, dark tomb.”

    “I should have killed the Rock Ranger when I . . . had the chance.”

    With tears in his eyes, Thunder Boy looked up at Major Might. “No. Your greatest achievement was never crossing that line. You are a man of honour.”

    The Major embraced the son he never had. “Thank you,” he whispered. He then used his super strength to snap his sidekick’s neck.

    “Suffocation is not a . . . pleasant way to go, my friend.”

    Major Might wished then for the human burden of breathing as he realised he would be spending the rest of his life alone, in the dark.


  42. Tomorrow

    “Hey, Maggie,” I say, giving the uniformed figure a wave as I reach her station.

    “Hey,” she says. “Back again?” The woman smiles, her eyes remaining sombre.

    “Another day dawns,” I respond. “Besides, she’d miss me if I wasn’t here.”

    The corners of Maggie’s mouth tilt. “Go on in,” she says. “She’s ready. Unless she’s sleeping.”

    I nod, passing through the doors to the bed. “Hi,” I say. “Thought I’d pop by, seeing as I was passing.”

    A quizzical look greets me. “It’s me. Mum,” I add, without a response. “Remember?”

    “Here,” I say, gesturing to the frame on the table. “This is us. Together. D’you see?” My fingers brush the gilt. “Dad, too.”

    “My Tom,” she says. “You know my Tom?” Her voice lifts. “Is he coming?”

    “Not today,” I say. “Tomorrow, perhaps.”

    “Tomorrow?” Mum repeats.

    A pause. “Yes. Tomorrow,” I say. “You’ll see him then.”

    Her face lights up. “I’ll see him. Then,” she says.

    “Yes, Mum. Then,” I confirm. “Okay?”

    The door opens. “Not so good today?” Maggie asks, with a glance.

    I shake my head – knowing the memories cannot be fully reconstructed, however carefully – certainly not today.

    “Tomorrow, perhaps,” Maggie says briskly.

    “I’ll try again tomorrow,” I confirm, avoiding her gaze. “Tomorrow she might remember.”


    (210 words)


  43. A Taste of Freedom
    210 words
    Nancy Chenier

    I chanced across the bird while foraging at the Old Coast. It roosted on an exposed concrete slab. Its hooked beak drooped in sleep. My stomach did cartwheels as I fumbled with my sling. Our sector hadn’t seen fresh poultry in years.

    I was just about to bean the bird when it blinked open an amber eye and very clearly said, “Are you free?”

    Huh. I hadn’t encountered many live animals beyond roaches, but I was pretty sure they couldn’t talk.

    “Are you free?” it asked again, fanning bedraggled wings.

    “Sure.” Our sector had leisure time one day a week—if you could call foraging in the Outbounds leisure.

    It hopped toward me through sludge.

    “I used to gyre about her beacon!” he wailed. “We triumphed over tyranny!”

    Nothing triumphs over tyranny, I thought. Not if you want to eat.

    “We were too dazzled by our victories to notice the tyranny we perpetuated.”

    Parrots, yes, I remember from the kiddie clips. They could talk. But weren’t they green?

    “See?” It fretted at the rubble. “Her entreaty has eroded into a command.”

    I stooped to see what it was so upset about. Words carved into stone: Give me.

    My stomach rumbled. I let fly.

    Freedom, for all its brevity, was delicious.


  44. The End?
    217 wordth
    Mark Morrith

    Godwin swung the thurible vigorously, choking on the acrid fumes it trailed in its wake. “Oh my Lord,” he coughed, wiping his eyes with his free hand. “Excuthe me, Jethuth. I meant no inthult,” he added as an afterthought.

    The priest’s assistant sniggered into her sleeve. “I’m sure he’ll understand.” She opened the monogrammed case she was carrying, checking the integrity of the vials of Holy water it contained. “We’re good on all offensive and defensive measures. Fifteen shots of aqua sanctus, ready for use. Demon ass for the kicking of!”

    Godwin nodded back, his eyes still streaming. “In that cathe, we’re ready to lock and load. Path me the Apothles’ Rifle.”

    The undercroft of the church suddenly rocked, the shelves of dusty hymnals to either side falling into a pyramid above them, showering them with the forgotten words of the the already dead. The earthen floor mushroomed up between them.

    “No! Not now!” Davina stepped back, the forgotten weapon dropping to the ground. The apparition rising up gained solidity; firming up, its eyes glowing demonic red.

    Balthazar towered over them, turning to face Godwin. “Prepare to die, priest,” he growled.

    Godwin sank back on his heels, his robes collapsing to the ground beneath him. “This is it,” he said. “Defeated by the Plinth of Darkneth.”


  45. In Lady Liberty’s Head
    206 words

    The ink one uses to pen the accounts of human history is merely fluid prejudice. Truth is an abstract – an ideal – a utopian idea left moldering in a dumpster of forgotten debris.

    Thus does the record of wholesale tragedy and individual accomplishment become a defeated thing slowly crumbling into dust.

    I stand, as I have stood for centuries, atop this granite pedestal built on Liberty Island, torch aloft and tablet proudly clasped to my breast – my face turned away from the land I symbolize. There are many who say I attend the eastern waves to welcome new visitors, proudly lighting the way to a new country which will “take in the tired, and take in the poor, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

    I now watch across the waves as the rest of the world scorns this land of plenty brimming with degenerates and predators who swiftly wield that prejudicial pen in a final, mad attempt to paint themselves in a more favorable light – covering the filth-buried truth with a final coating of pretty lies.

    The world has seen through this poisoned ink, and comes en masse to sterilize the festering wound.

    I turn my back, so as not to watch the final defeat.


    • I love the first line! And the others as well… This was such an apt description of so much about this country…


      • I found a variation of that first line in a blog post draft I mostly finished writing, but hadn’t done the photo work for yet. I knew it was going to end up here this week when I found it. I’m just glad I got a situation and photo prompt that worked so well with it.

        thanks for the read!


  46. Emily Clayton
    209 words

    Picnics with Sally

    You know that scene in Snow White where the seven dwarfs set off to work? Swinging their axes, keen to create something magical.

    Powerful moment. I was like that once. Helped build the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Fine example of suspension engineering.

    I would set off with a jaunty tune and a peck from my sweetheart, Sally. She’d slip love notes into my lunch pail, and I’d sip on sunshine while I breathed in metal filings. Beautiful girl, my Sally. Always wondered why she said yes, but damn glad she did. Those twenty years were bliss in a basket.

    Earlier this year I coughed up blood. Felt the slick ooze bubbling. Felt it retch from my throat like sugared syrup. Too bad it didn’t taste that sweet.

    My doctor checked my x-rays. Muttered something about a tumour.

    “Excuse me?”

    His eye twitched. “Sorry, old chap, looks like those construction days are back to bite you.”

    Sitting here in my hospital gown, I stare at the bridge. Not the bridge, but a bridge. Cough. It’ll collapse; I can read the signs from here. Cough. Cough. Like me, it’s worked its magic, put itself out there, destined to be swept away.

    Sally, I could sure go for your sunshine right about now.


  47. As If We Never Met

    As the tower stretched towards the moon, we started thinking ourselves gods that could shape earth to our wishes. I, however, felt very small and mortal every day when you walked past my front door. You were an angel in a world of wood, mud, and bricks. You never saw me at the window, too scared to speak.

    At night I stared at the moon, wondering if you would live there with me in the perpetual silver light. I’d work myself to the brink of death if it meant that I had something to offer you. That we could be together.

    The building grew slowly and each day I stared at my angel passing. Until, one day, I waited until you came and then went out the door. But I could only smile like a silly teenager. No words would come to me.

    The building crumbled on the day we finished. I fell when I ran, cracking my head on fallen masonry.

    I awoke in the hospital; my voice not my own, speaking a strange language – a medical marvel to be studied

    You saw me the day I returned home. I introduced myself, but you did not understand me and kept walking.

    And I wished we’d never met.

    Words: 208


  48. Defeated Draugr

    We uncovered the grave while digging foundations for a tower that would reach to the stars. Layers of dirt weighed the barrow down and we dug greedily, talking of mounds of buried treasure among the defeated dead.

    Layer by layer we removed time’s dirt until we found the sealed barrow entrance. A red light flickered from behind the doorway. Drawn by the promise of gold – or money paid by collectors – we broke away the rotting doorway of wood and stone.

    Yellow light shone from the tomb. Inside among golden treasure, on a stone pedestal, were two figures; a man sitting with a shrouded woman in his arms. He was crying, unaware of the corpse lights or his own death.

    “She said she would never leave me,” he moaned, rocking slowly. “She said she would wait for me. And now she does not wake!”

    Yellow light flickered around the corporeal ghosts caught forever inside the tomb’s imprisoned time.

    “She said she would never leave me,” he cried in vain.

    We left the gold, jewels, and the dead lovers and built for them a new door. We were unable to tell others what we’d witnessed. There was no language for such deep sorrow, no hope for forgetting that voice defeated by time.

    Words: 210


  49. The Gilded Age

    “How many did we lose,” asked the Major. Around them lay crumbled scaffolding, cracked concrete and scattered lumber. A veteran of the Union Army, he had seen his share of carnage during the Great Rebellion, but this struck him hard mostly because this loss of life was needless. He had warned they were moving too fast, pushing crews too hard. The financiers heard none of it. The Major had seen his share of profiteers as well; to them everything, everyone, were mere dollar signs. Workers covered in dust and grime hurriedly removed debris. Shovels and bare hands filled ox carts with rubble.

    “Eighteen unaccounted for, sir,” Johnson replied. Several men pulled a limp body into the daylight. Their foreign babble, despite being unintelligible to him, was clearly reverent as they laid the body gently on a sheet of canvass.

    “Who are they,” he asked.

    “Masons. Mostly Italians, sir,” he answered. “Some Pollacks, maybe.”

    “I meant their names, Johnson.” The Major toed a hammer at his feet, its handle worn. All around them a modern city emerged, a new Colossus being fashioned of gild and stone and blood. “Their damn names, son.”

    He held the hammer in his hand, a 1/2-pound sledge with the initials B.G. carved into its flat end.

    210 words
    Slightly longer version at http://wp.me/p5u9VI-eb


  50. The Straw the Broke…
    206 words

    Jana took a sip of her martini and looked at me. “We all start out by putting it on a pedestal,” she said, taking another sip “I’ll be the teacher who makes a difference! I’ll show them the path to get out of their wretched existence. Education is the answer to poverty’s grasp!”

    I nod slowly, remembering the bright-eyed days of undergrad, when I couldn’t wait to invest my energy into changing lives. “And then…”

    “And then you pour your very being into the lives of children who don’t give a damn. You threaten, cajole, even bribe. Anything to convince them to try to reach beyond their desperate lives. And sometimes it works.”

    I close my eyes. “But most of the time it doesn’t.”

    “Nope. You read a few years later about an arrest. Drug-related. Or run away.” A larger sip.
    “Or dead. I can’t.” I take a shuddering breath. “I can’t believe he did it. I really thought he’d be one of the ones who’d make it.”

    “Bullied, they said. I loved that kid last year. One of my worst readers, but he tried so hard. Makes you want to throw in the towel.” She finishes off her drink.

    I haven’t even touched mine. “Yeah.”


    • Sorry this is so depressing. It’s a response to the news I got this afternoon that a former student (in another school this year) committed suicide. I’m not where my characters are at, but it’s been a hard afternoon.


    • Heartbreaking and real; I can relate to this, you work with kids with difficult backgrounds, try and give them some hope, ambition, kindness and then send them off into a world where you know, that despite everything, some of them won’t make it.

      Truly sorry to hear your news – it’s a difficult place to be, thinking perhaps you could’ve done more, should’ve done more, but what exactly? Be kind to yourself.


    • From a teaching background myself, I completely get this. So sorry to hear about the tragedy. It’s not possible for one individual teacher to make a difference all at once, but you sound like you really care and the more teachers/ people who care the bigger the difference. Your story is very thought provoking. Hope you’re feeling better.


  51. “The Great Flood”
    by Michael Seese
    207 words

    When the Great Flood comes, you alone will be spared the pain.

    If he was not meant to preserve the human race, why did his parents name him Noah, like the architect of the ark? It had to be his destiny. But this flood would be different from the first one, the voice had said. A boat would not withstand the roiling seas. He would need to find a way to rise above it.

    The neighbors’ derision rolled off his back like the sweat of his noble labors. When the tower grew so tall as to threaten to scrape heaven, Noah stopped building.

    And he waited.

    After forty days and forty nights – or maybe it was two – his wife joined him.

    “Honey, it’s time to come down,” she said gently.

    “But the voice said the oceans would rise.”

    “What voice?”

    “The voice in the magic box.”

    “You mean the piece about global warming we heard on NPR? Noah, you need help,” she said, her cheeks stained by tears which had flowed for forty days and forty nights. Or maybe it was two.

    Or perhaps years.

    Noah looked at her. He said nothing. He felt nothing.

    When the Great Flood comes, you alone will be spared the pain.


    • A great peek into the mind of one who clearly needs help. Way to use the time confusion to help relay that point.


    • Nice sense of confusion in time with the 40 days/2 days/years reference. Reflected the state of mind of both characters. Sad piece.


  52. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness
    Margaret Locke (margaretlocke.com or @Margaret_Locke
    205 words

    Nobody notices me. Nobody marks my presence. My absence.

    They never have. Never will. I like it that way, or so I tell myself.

    Invisibility served me well as a child, when my older brother, Jimmy, took papa’s guff, crying out as I hid in the corner. Unscathed.

    Invisibility served me well as a young man, when they needed recruits for the War. Called up every man between fourteen and eighty, they did. But not me. Nope, not Tommy Tuckerson.

    I didn’t count. I never have. Never will.

    Look at them, standing there, top hats on their heads, acting as if they were somebody. Building the American Dream, they say.

    Been working here months, and not one of them knows my name. Not one called me down to be in the photo-graph.

    I’ll show them.

    A lifetime of invisibility is enough. I surrender. I give my life over in defeat. I accept my nothingness, a lack that has always been, a lack that will always be.

    Will they notice, I wonder, when my body hits the ground? Will they stop their labors, their self-congratulations?

    Or will my blood be one last testament to a life wasted, one quickly washed away?

    This is no dream, boys.


  53. A New Babel
    Immigrants who spoke a variety of languages argued among each other in the universal language of construction workers—profanity. Fists spoke a universal method of communication. Bloodied combatents quit and valuable time was consumed in brawling. But foreman O’Grady would not accept defeat.

    “Friggin’ estupida ding,” one man protested. “Why the hell we builda this?”

    O’Grady looked at his crew in disgust.

    “This is Lady Liberty’s platform we’re building, you idgets,” he yelled. “Not that new arena they’re planning ! Ya gotta treat this place with a respect. It’s like– sacred.”

    “She ain’t the Virgin Mary. She’s just some big French dame with a torch in her hand,” muttered one of his workers.

    “Yeah. Some gift. Here’s your giant statue. Now find a place to put it.”

    “She’s supposed to be a welcome to all the jerks like you . Who in this lot didn’t come here in a boat? ” O’Grady yelled. “I came here with my Da as a lad of five. My village in Ireland was starving to death . Why did you come to the States?”

    The grumpy group of laborers fell silent.

    It might be Babel, his tower. But soon they’d all speak the same language in their hearts, if not tongues.



    • “Here’s your giant statue. Now find a place to put it.” Laughed at that. Even with all those languages, they find a way to banter 🙂


    • ‘The universal language of construction workers – profanity’ – so true! Like the way the foreman brought his crew together by reminding them of their common heritage, their reason for being there.


  54. The Fall of the Colossus
    206 words

    A whoosh of gas vanished into a thwump of flame, and Brian eased the knob clockwise, reducing the pressure until he held the perfect cutting tool. He looked down from his perch at the top of the hunk of copper and steel he was standing on, and his mind spun. He wished he could have slept, or eaten, or something, before taking on a job of this magnitude, but he couldn’t eat wishes, and they wouldn’t buy him a bed.

    Truth was, he was lucky to have this work. Plucked from men huddling against a fence, if he survived the day, he’d get some money and a chance to get the hell out of this place – maybe somewhere he could breathe. The air in this city was toxic, centuries of refuse outgassing disease and death.

    It had taken a lot of work to build something like this, Brian mused, but a lot less time to tear it down, and by the time the sun was nothing but a golden glow, they’d reduced it to scrap. Whatever the lady had stood for, she was gone now. Brian lifted his oxyacetylene lamp one more time, looking for anything left to do, then let the island fall into darkness.


  55. Cover Story
    A.J. Walker

    The idea that the Statue of Liberty was nice gift from the people of France is nonsense – it’s much more important that.

    It goes back to the mines of Manhattan- which have been scrubbed from history. These were the richest gold mines in the world, paying for the city’s rapid development; New York thrust into the sky showcasing the bravado of engineers and designers – and the desire to leave the earth.

    Manhattan miners were the toughest thing on the planet bar diamonds until the ambitious deep mine crunched through the crust to previously unimaginable depths. At these hitherto unexplored regions the tough miners came face to face with rock goblins and mantle trolls. The beasts made short work of them with their wooden and iron tools. It was said a rock goblin would use a man’s pick axe as a tooth pick; only if a man was not available.

    Defeat was rapid and horrific, the risks obvious; the decision was made to cap the mines. The men worked tirelessly constructing a humungous cap. The official story was that the construction was a plinth for a beautiful present; the city could only find a gaudy giant. To this day Lady Liberty stands above the shaft preventing forgotten monsters from entering Manhattan.

    (210 words)


  56. The Attempt to Go Back
    (198 Words)

    James Atkinson

    When This World was new, and while Jupiter and The Six helped to establish the survivors from the First World in it, there were those he could not settle, who sought to rebuild all they had lost.

    This group, many of whom had been hedonistic Helios hangers-on, left to build a new tower. They began by trying to locate the stones of the tower that was but Mother had buried them when she lay down and became the earth.

    To the forest they turned and began to fell it, beginning the construction of a New World large enough to house the survivors as well as the Tree of Life, a small party having gone in search of it.

    Jupiter often visited, seeing both hope (for a grand shelter) and doom (for it could never be what they wanted) in the project, hoping to make the builders see it as he did, as it truly was; but they would not do so.

    Neither could, or would, they foresee their eventual defeat- for you cannot recapture what has passed, to go back and undo the past. The future is the only place one can go, can seek, can plan for.


  57. _The Best Man_
    -Maven Alysse

    You were always the best man. Steadfast. Loyal. A friend to any in need.

    You bested me in every endeavor. Grades. Romance. Promotions.

    Over and over again I stood beneath your feet, head lowered and shoulders slumped in my defeat.

    No longer.

    It started as a wager:

    The pedestal nearly completed, the cornerstone would be capped at week’s end.

    The offerings were done secretly, but the men would brag about what they planned to appease the gods.

    You smiled, “The gods bless those with the more perfect offerings.”

    “That’ll be me,” I blurted.

    “Care to make a wager?”

    “What kind?” I asked warily.

    “A favor.”

    “Deal,” I shook your hand, stomach churning with nerves.

    “May the best man win,” you grinned.

    As days progressed, you spoke of that which you would place within, each item more wonderful, costly, and perfect.

    I nearly despaired, but I’d spent long enough defeated.

    “Strange how he just disappeared,” the foreman mentioned.

    “Oh, I’m sure he’s still with us, in spirit.” I smile, standing upon the cornerstone, head unbowed and shoulders straight. I didn’t even mind losing out on the favor. After all, you’d always been the best man.

    (words: 203)


  58. The Resistance

    How did they defeat us? We were stronger, faster, meaner. We were willing to do things they were not. We brought the darkness, casting it down upon them. They were supposed to cower at our feet. To kneel before us as loyal subjects. We had spies in their military, poised to betray their brothers when the time was right. We had planned for every eventuality, strategically prepared for their feeble resistance. It was all supposed to be easy.

    In the end it was not the soldiers that defeated us. It was the housewives, the children, the teachers. As we brought darkness, they radiated light. They huddled together and formed bonds we could not break. No matter how hard we pressed, they would not kneel. They filled their boys belly’s with soup, their souls with hope. They mended their uniforms and combed their hair. Clean underpants were a must. To die disheveled was not an option.

    We took everything from them, their homes, their schools, their loved ones. The only thing left was their dignity. They clutched it to their chests and refused to let go. With their wives and mothers behind them, they stood immovable. Our unstoppable force was not enough. They fought for their liberty, and won.

    208 words


  59. The Building Blocks of Victory
    208 words, @pmcolt. (I apologize in advance for this.)

    A great statue waited in perpetual incompletion. Mikey gazed teary-eyed at the construction zone, as silent as the other miniature figures looking on. The building blocks of the pedestal were set firmly in place, but all work had halted.

    “Did you give him a C-H-O-C-O-L-A-T-E-B-A-R?” asked Mikey’s dad.

    “What’s a Cho Cola Tea Bar?” his mother replied.

    The dad sighed. “Why is he crying?”

    “He can’t find the missing piece.”

    “Can’t he use one of the hundred others?”

    “You know he’s very particular.”

    “Can we exchange the kit at the toy store?”

    “Not once it’s opened.”

    His dad knelt and wiped a tear from Mikey’s cheek. “Look, son, it’s just a missing Lego block.”

    Mikey bawled.

    “Son, let’s look for your missing block.” The dad took one step, then winced. Mikey’s missing gray building block was lodged firmly in his right foot. “Argh!” Another step: Mikey’s dad blundered into his son’s Lego pile.

    Mikey beamed as he recovered the proper piece. The pedestal completed, he resumed construction on the miniature Statue of Liberty.

    “You saved the day,” Mikey’s mother said, but the compliment fell on deaf ears. While Mikey reveled in the thrill of his Lego block victory, his dad was preoccupied with the agony of the feet.


  60. Mother of Exiles

    They could have called us The Losers. To the boss man, we were Day Shift One, but we were a motley crew of ex-convicts, deserters, Confederates, Molly Maguires, red injuns, and Mohammedan Turks. Years later, I would wonder if any of us understood the irony that we, who had all known utter defeat and humiliation, helped to build what would support the symbol of a concept we gave up on—liberty.

    Despite our obvious differences, we were more alike than most of us would admit. We had all lost friends, homes, countries, even. And, yet, we never questioned why we broke our backs, scraped our knuckles raw, and lived with exhaustion, low pay, and working conditions worse than war.

    After we finished our work in New York, we scattered. On occasion I would spot an obituary with a familiar name. One or two of us moved beyond our loser status and made a life, a good one.

    As for me, I returned every year on July 4 until I couldn’t anymore, but I waved no flags. My salute was the middle finger of my left hand. The right one, amputated by a falling stone, is buried beneath Lady Liberty’s feet.

    @unspywriter (Maggie Duncan)
    201 words


    • I like the feeling of proud defiance (despite the odds against him). Also, I now have the Town Pants song “Make Way for the Molly McGuires” stuck in my head 🙂


  61. “Battered Freedom”

    The steps creaked beneath my silver High Tops. I skipped every other one, feeling weightless, until I reached the top.

    My legs became cinderblocks. The roof of my mouth became sandpaper against my tongue, as I tried to swallow.

    I wiggled my toes in my sneakers and stared at the door. “My life.”

    Through the space under the door, I slid the damp letter, sweaty from my hands.

    I turned from the door. From the apartment building. From the mess I should have ran from years ago.

    Today, I win. I defeat you.

    Outside, I slammed the car door behind me. The thud synched with the beat of my heart.

    I flipped down the mirror above my head, then swished it back up where it belonged. Make-up could do a lot for a girl’s face, but not for mine. The pounding purple under my eye was here to stay.

    Two cardboard boxes sat in the backseat. My only possessions. The only things worth keeping from this hellhole.

    I shouldn’t feel liberated. Free.

    I should feel scared.

    As I put the car in gear, I lifted my chin, proud as the Statue of Liberty.

    A dark figure sprinted out into the street in my rearview.

    Morgan Vega
    205 words


  62. Foy S. Iver
    WC: 200something


    You look ridiculous. Okay, the brass is cool but you know you’ll always be my baby brother, right?
    Your face might be menthol smooth but all I see is me chasing you up stairs, down stairs, around stairs, kissing those downy cheeks.
    I’m not trying to embarrass you – promise! I’m just letting you know I’ll always be that pain in the ass troll sister.
    Remember that time I talked you into a make-over. What, were we in 3rd? 4th grade? Papa came home to find his boy in nude pumps and “cherries in the snow” lipstick. We hid in the crawl space ‘cuz cobwebs and Headless Hamish were safer than he was that night.
    Then, there was that time I got you to steal the school mascot my senior year. Principal O’Malley was purple! You got suspension and wouldn’t talk with me for a solid week.
    I could convince you to do anything.
    Except stay.
    Papa was so proud the day you signed up. I was pissed. Tried to talk you out of it but you couldn’t disappoint. Had to go build liberty in a country burning it down.
    We miss you.
    You should know, you always were my hero, even when you weren’t in uniform.


    WC = 191 (05-29-15)

    “My fort: it shall protect you, My Lady. Within its star-pointed brilliance my body shall brace against the chain of tyranny and slavery. My back shall staunchly support your feet as you stand for liberty and enlightenment. My heart shall beat with yours in this quest for agape of fellow man.

    “My defiance against the injustices of the world shall be built on this pedestal, my body. The tempest cannot destroy my foundation for it holds the hopes and dreams of generations, the plans of those who kept faith.

    “I defeat the scourge as you seek the light of the world, as you open the way, the path to freedom. I hunt the abusers of innocence and free thought. I take down all who would shadow free will. I clear the path.

    “I am the lion of open minds, the lion of forethought, the lion of alliance. I am your steadfast grounding where the world seeks stability.

    “Lady Liberty, step confidently upon my spine and broad back. Lay the broken chain about my mane for all to see. Hold your lamp high in the darkness. Together we open that Golden Door.”