prompt: a camping trip in which no one has been camping before

a camping trip in which no one has been camping before

howdy! remember when I messed up the very first prompt I posted from my prompt book (the piano bar)? welp, this new prompt I may have muddled up a little bit. technically, all of the characters featured in it have never gone camping before, but that seems to be mostly background information. so, please enjoy! I am not exactly pleased with how this one turned out, but here it is. the words I had to use were:

  • constellation
  • ketchup
  • royal
  • gear
  • atmosphere
  • expand
  • livid
  • example
  • luminous
  • moonlit

Cadence looked at all the gear that lined her small living room. She was trying to keep her cool. The last thing she wanted to do was see Trevor’s hurt face. He had this way of looking like he was going to cry, but he never quite did. His eyes got watery, and there would be something akin to a pout in his expression. She didn’t want to dash his hopes or dreams. Didn’t want to be accused of holding him back, or belittling him. Trevor never said those words to her. He never expressed it like that, but his friends did. Cadence was running out of fingers to count the number of times they accused her of something like that.


She wanted to yell back at his friends that she wasn’t doing any of that. But she also wouldn’t lie to his face and tell him that everything he wanted and everything he dreamed up would happen. She built him up, she really did. But she didn’t do so on false hope. False hope was a weak foundation.


“What is all of this?” She asked, attempting to keep her voice pleasant.


“Griffin wants to go camping so that he can propose to Sarah,” Trevor said, as if that explained why their living room was filled to the bursting point with camping equipment.


“So we are holding onto Griffin’s camping stuff until then?” She asked, with more hope than dread. She still thought it was obnoxious that their living space held the stuff. She also hoped that Griffin wasn’t surprising Sarah with a camping trip. Sarah was probably the nicest person Cadence had ever met. The kind of nice that made her seem fake at first until you realized it was all real. That was Sarah. She would be too nice to say anything, she wouldn’t hide her surprise, but she would look over at Griffin and say how excited she was. And maybe she would be. But maybe she didn’t know how to tell someone off when they needed it. Maybe Cadence needed to give her some lessons on that.


Trevor looked confused. That confusion made Cade nervous.


“No…” He said, and she could hear that almost quiver in his voice. She didn’t understand how it worked. He never actually cried. He just sounded like he was on the verge. “No,” he said, and this time his voice was a little sturdier. “This is for us.”


“For us?”


“Griffin invited us along.”


“He invited us to his proposal?” Cadence stopped trying to keep her voice neutral. She was sure she was also wearing her confusion mixed with something else on her face.


“No, not to the proposal itself. He’s planning a romantic hike the second day. But, he doesn’t want Sarah being suspicious. He wants her surprised.”


Cadence stared at Trevor, and she saw that hope had once more wriggled its way into his expression. She didn’t want to go camping. Didn’t think the atmosphere of it would suit her. She saw how hopeful Trevor looked. She could also imagine the expression on Griffin’s face if Trevor told him she decided not to go camping. She didn’t want to think about that, or what Griffin would say.


“Sounds fun,” she said, willing her voice not to sound sarcastic.

“When are we going?” She added, regret already wriggling its way in.


The four adults and all their camping gear were shoved into Griffin’s compact car. It surprised Cadence the trunk could close. She kept waiting for the thing to pop open, and for all their camping equipment to fly out. There was a cooler wedged between her and Trevor. Trevor, who was practically been bouncing with every step he took. Trevor, whose excitement was palpable.


Sarah turned to face them from the front seat. She had a royal blue knit cap pulled low on her head, partially obscuring the perfect waves of her equally perfect blond hair.


“Are you excited?” She asked with a smile. Her teeth white and straight, another example of her perfection.


“We sure are!” Trevor said, and Cadence wanted to reach over the cooler that served as a barrier between her and her boyfriend, and she wanted to grip his hand. Try to signal with that grip that he should cool it with his excitement. She worried Sarah would sniff out that there was a big surprise waiting for her in a day.


She didn’t seem to notice. Instead, Sarah looked away from Trevor and stared directly into Cadence’s eyes. She had a way of making eye contact, even with people who didn’t like it.


“I’m happy you could make it, Cade.” Sarah said.


“Yeah, me too.” Cadence replied, and she wasn’t entirely sure if she meant it or not.
Sarah wriggled underneath people’s skins and make things seem better than they actually were.


The campsite was pretty. They secured a location big enough for two tents, with some space between to give the illusion of privacy. There was a small path between the trees that led to a tiny river behind where the tents would be. And then another path led to the outhouses. The campgrounds had showers and toilets too, about a ten-minute walk from their site. Cadence watched as Trevor and Griffin grabbed the tents from the trunk and set to work on erecting them. Sarah startled her by bumping into her, gently.


“Let’s not watch this. Griff has been watching YouTube tutorials on how to put up a tent. He thinks he’s a pro. I think it might be a little painful to watch,” Cadence marveled at how Sarah said that. The words near the end sounded mean, but her tone of voice was pleasant. Friendly, even. Just a joke, but Cade knew if she had made the same joke, she would have delivered it wrong. Trevor would have pulled her off to the side to tell her to be nicer.


Cade followed Sarah to the picnic table that was at their site. Sarah began setting up what looked like the fixings for sandwiches. There were different deli meat and cheeses, a couple different loaves of bread, and condiments like ketchup and mustard.


The two men could not get the tents up without the help of Cadence and Sarah. Sarah, who seemed immeasurably more patient with everything that Griffin did. Cadence tried to channel some of that patience for herself. Trevor kept looking at her with a sheepish expression on his face. She and Trevor got their tent up, and kept it standing before Sarah and Griffin got theirs up.


Cadence knew it had not been a competition, and yet, she was proud of herself for it. Proud of Trevor, too.


It was dark, and Cadence did not know what time it was. Her phone had died a few hours ago, and she hadn’t wanted to ask Griffin to use that portable battery of his that he had brought. Sarah had told her that Griffin spent days googling which kind of battery was the best for charging phones while camping. The battery itself apparently charged when the car was running. But Cadence was well aware of the looks at Griffin gave her. They weren’t friendly. Maybe she would just spend the weekend with no phone.


Trevor grabbed her hand and asked if she wanted to go for a walk. She agreed and felt anxious. She didn’t like how dark it was at the campgrounds. Her heart thudding hard in her chest. Her palms a little sweaty, but Trevor said nothing about it. She didn’t know why she was so anxious. She wasn’t necessarily afraid of being hurt or anything. But there was fear within her all the same.


They reached a small moonlit beach. Trevor led the way to a picnic table and Cadence climbed it to sit on the table portion, her feet on the bench. Trevor let go of her hand, and she saw him wiping both his hands on his pants. Her cheeks warmed up and she was grateful now for the dark.


“Thanks for agreeing to come,” Trevor said, and she knew he was looking at her. She trained her gaze up to the sky.


The amount of stars she saw surprised her. She wasn’t used to seeing the sky so full. She pointed to a cluster of stars.


“Any idea what constellation that is?” She asked, remembering that Trevor had once taken an Astronomy class in college.


“No idea,” he said, and when she looked in his direction, she noticed he too was staring up at the sky. She looked away from him, and once more focused on the sky above them.
“We should make up our own constellations then,” she said.

Trevor slipped an arm over Cadence’s shoulder, and he pointed to a cluster of bright stars. Brighter than all the rest.


“What should we name that one?”


“Clownface,” Cadence suggested, and she did not know why she did. She felt a little goofy for it. Trevor was squinting at the luminous stars, and then he laughed. It was infectious enough that Cade laughed too.


“Clownface it is, you goof.”


Hearing him call her a goof made Cadence feel warm on the inside.


Cadence and Trevor finally settled down into their tent to sleep. It took Cadence awhile to get used to the noises of the surrounding woods. She was one of those people who slept with the fan on. She needed that kind of white noise. The noises made by nature were different, though. Somehow, it was both too loud and too quiet.


Eventually she fell asleep.


And then the tent collapsed on them.


Cadence yelped, and Trevor shouted. She found the flashlight she had put beside her sleeping bag, and flipped it on, accidentally shining it into Trevor’s eyes. He winced, and then the two of them laughed.


Griffin yelled at them to be quiet.


That only caused them to laugh louder.


Eventually, they settled down and were able to erect the tent once more. Was it possible to gain muscle memory for a task that they had only done once before? Cade didn’t know. But it impressed her they could do this in the dark, with only a flashlight as their guide.


Cadence woke up to a shout. Trevor ran out of the tent before she could stop him. She struggled out of her sleeping bag, her heart racing. She heard Griffin and Trevor talking, but she couldn’t make out the words until she left the tent.


An animal had scattered trash and food all over the camp. Cade ignored the men and made her way to the cooler. Thankfully, whatever had gotten into the trash and foodstuff that was carelessly left out on the table overnight, hadn’t been able to pry open the cooler. She spied Sarah crouched on the ground with a bag. She was picking up the trash.

Cadence looked back at Trevor and Griffin. Griffin was animatedly throwing his hands up into the air. Griffin was livid while Trevor was calm and placating. Cadence shook her head and found another bag. She helped Sarah clean up the mess.


Sarah flashed her a smile.


“Thanks,” she said.


“No problem, it’s the least I could do.” Cadence said, and she hoped the boys would notice the two of them cleaning up. She hoped Griffin would stop his railing against nature and calm down. Sarah didn’t look like she noticed how Griffin was behaving, but it unsettled Cadence. She wondered about Sarah and Griffin; and how their relationship worked.

That then made her wonder if others looked at her and Trevor with the same confusion.


Trevor eventually calmed Griffin down and soon everyone was cleaning up the mess.
Sarah made a comment, and Cadence forgot what it was almost as soon as she heard it, but she knew it was funny so she joined in with the laughter.


Sarah and Griffin went off for their hike. Cadence watched as Trevor gave his best friend an encouraging thumbs up. She thought Griffin looked like he was going to be sick. The campsite felt too quiet without the other couple. Cadence felt awkward around Trevor, in a way she hadn’t in a long time.


She hadn’t realized that a new location could trip her up like this. Or perhaps it was just the newness of the situation. She had never gone camping before, not even as a kid. Her parents had been city dwellers, and the closest they got to nature was the walk to the small park in the neighborhood. She wondered if that was why she was ill at ease. But, as far as she could remember, Trevor had never gone camping before. Neither had Griffin nor Sarah, at least not since adulthood. None of them seemed as ill at ease as her.


She watched as Trevor pulled out some drawing supplies of his. He settled down at the table and sketched the trees. Cadence studied him for a few minutes before she grabbed a book from the tent. She settled down next to him on the bench of the table. She could feel his body heat radiating. It was a comfort.


She relaxed into the moment.


Occasionally they would talk to each other, but mostly they kept quiet. They did their own thing, and it was nice. It was like being back at home, but now she had the sounds of nature playing in the background and not some TV show no one was paying any attention to. She felt her love of nature suddenly expand.


She lost track of time, and so did Trevor.


They were both startled by Sarah and Griffin returning from their hike. The two of them with matching smiles too big and vibrant for their faces. Cadence spied the ring on Sarah’s finger. Trevor gave Griffin a high-five and Sarah came to Cadence with a hug.


“Congratulations,” Cadence said.


And it felt like she meant those words. At least right in that moment.

Prompt: A Piano Bar

Prompt: Piano Bar

I got a book for Christmas from my Mom, filled with all kinds of writing prompts. This is the first prompt in the book. I kind of messed up on writing it as the prompt is actually: A Strange Request at a Piano Bar. I forgot all about the strange request part. Another thing about these prompts is that they include ten words you are supposed to use for them. I used all ten of them (that was my main focus and probably why I forgot about half of the actual prompt itself). Here are the ten words I had to use:

  • Carnival
  • Sprained
  • Mask
  • Oxidation
  • Awkward
  • Apple
  • Juvenile
  • Controversy
  • Twirl
  • Sassasfras

Anyway, look for the words in the prompt, and please let me know what you think of it!


The carnival is in town. Tents and rides are being set up as campers and trailers pull into the lot next to the site. It isn’t set to open until the following night, but there is a kind of hustle and bustle going on. Everyone working in that space knows what to do. They work in a forced harmony. The kind that comes from years of doing the same thing, over and over, in cities across the country. Sure, there are subtle differences in each city, quirks of the lots that they set up in, but overall, the setup and takedown are the same. 

“There’s a piano bar not too far from here,” Caleb explains, a half-eaten apple in his hand. 

Caleb runs one of the games that seems impossible to win. Oh, people get close enough to winning, but they rarely ever do. His prizes are getting old. Some stuffed animals that he has on display are likely older than him. He has been with the carnival his whole life. His parents met in a town just like this, his Dad running the very same game he is. His Mom, a recent and young widow. They fell in love during that week the carnival was in town and his Mom ended up leaving her old life behind, to travel with his Dad. Caleb was born a year later. He’s somewhere in his late twenties to mid-thirties. His age hard to pin down. Sometimes, you think you can guess it based on something he says. But usually, you can’t tell. It has become something of a game to him, one that his parents are in on. 

“A piano bar?” Jilly asks, her head tilting to the side. Her long and braided hair falling in front of her tattooed face. There probably isn’t a space on her body that is unmarked by ink. She has been traveling with this carnival for a couple years now, but before, she worked with another. She doesn’t talk much about her previous experiences. Jilly is another one whose age is difficult to tell. She looks young but the way she talks about her life when she does, it makes her sound older. 

“Fras you should come,” Jilly says, to the newest member of the carnival. 

Fras, or Sassafras, looks up from the task she was working on. She has heard Caleb bring up the piano bar before. He’s been talking about it, on and off, for a month, maybe more. Fras frowns before answering. She knows that Jilly is rolling her eyes at the frown, even if she can’t see her do it.

“We have so much work to do…” She says, trying to appeal to their tendencies towards working hard. 

“And we’ll finish it soon. You are nearly done anyway. Caleb, pick us up in an hour.”

Caleb flashes Jilly a grin, and then he bows low before he speaks up, a twinkle in his eyes.

“As you wish.”

He walks away, tossing that apple core in a trash bin.


“And then I stabbed him in the gut!” Jilly exclaims.

With a twirl that makes her braids whip around her head, she goes to face Fras with a frown.

“She isn’t even listening to us, Leb.” 

“I hate when you call me that, Illy.” Caleb retorts, but the nickname Illy has never bothered Jilly. Everyone knows that, even Caleb.

Fras sighs and looks over at her two companions. She is in a funk, and she knows it. She needs to pull her head out of it. But she feels an immense amount of guilt over what happened with Rigsby in the last town that they were in. She knows that a sprained ankle in the grand scheme of things isn’t  terrible. But Rigsby’s job requires him to be on his feet all the time, and he’s been out of commission. Even Rigsby himself has told Fras that it wasn’t her fault, but she doesn’t believe him. She knows she has been needlessly awkward around him. In Fras’ defense, she is an awkward person even in the best of times. 

“I am just thinking about Ri—….” 

“Stop thinking about that old man,” Jilly says. She slings an arm around Fras and pulls her tight against her. Fras can smell whatever perfume Jilly uses, a scent that she can’t readily recognize. Something that reminds her of flowers, but none that she can name.

“I—…”

“Jilly is right,” Caleb says, with a look back at the two of them. He has a kind of nervous energy, jittery tonight, that Fras isn’t sure she has ever seen from him before. “Besides, Rigsby is over it. I think he’s been enjoying bossing everyone around to help him out.”

Fras knew that Caleb had a point with that. Everyone has been grumbling about it, wondering if his sprain has improved and he is just milking now. Still, the guilt swirls around in Fras, but she tries to tamper it down.

“Okay,” she says.

“Okay what?” Caleb prompts while Jilly gives a one armed squeeze that Fras knows is supposed to be comforting and not suffocating.

“Okay, I will stop worrying about him.”

“Good!” Jilly and Caleb say at the same time.

It causes Fras to laugh, a true one, not one of her forced ones. 


“There are too many juveniles in this bar,” Caleb says aghast, as they enter. 

Fras gives a quick look around the place, and sure enough , there are a lot of kids in the place. Or maybe the more accurate description would be that there are too many families in the place. She doesn’t know what time it is, but it must be after dinner. It wasn’t dark on the walk to the bar, but it will be soon.

“Don’t cause a scene, Leb.” Jilly says, with that patent eye roll of hers. She tugs a mask over her face as she says this. The mask has been around her neck, and Fras originally thought it was a scarf or something she was wearing.

“Don’t cause a scene you say, as you pull a mask over your face?” Caleb asks, the tone of his voice fighting amusement. 

“You can still see my eyes,” Jilly replies, as if that matters any. 

Jilly moves away from them, heading towards the bar where a man in an ill-fitting suit is seated. She leans against the bar, catching the man’s attention. Fras can picture the look that Jilly is giving him. The man’s face is red, and Fras can’t remember if it was red from before he looked at Jilly, or after. Caleb lets out a groan as he watches all of this, and then he is tugging Fras towards an empty table not too far from the piano.

“Won’t it be too loud near the piano?” Fras asks, but Caleb ignores her.


Caleb stays in a dark kind of mood while they enjoy their first round of drinks. Others from the carnival make their way to the piano bar, and soon their small table is feeling a little cramped. Jilly is still talking to the man in the suit, she hasn’t bothered to look their way once. Fras feels a little like she is suffocating and extracts herself from the table with no one shouting drink orders at her.

She makes her to the bar and leans her elbows on it. She is next to Jilly and the mystery-ill-fitted-suit-man. She can just make out what he is saying to her through the din of voices. A lackluster stroke of a piano key sounds.

“And the oxidation of the wine…” 

Fras wonders how long Jilly has sat at this bar, listening to the man drone on and on about a drink he isn’t even drinking. His glass looks like it is full of some dark liquor, and she also wonders how many drinks Jilly has gotten out of him.

“Why are you wearing that mask, anyway?” The man asks, as if he suddenly just now noticed that Jilly was wearing one.

The bartender notices Fras, and she gives her order. Out of the corner of her eye, she notices Jilly shrug of her shoulders. 

“Boredom,” Jilly replies.

“Oh,” the man says, a little uncertainly. 

“I work for the carnival,” Jilly continues.

“That makes some sense,” the man says, and then hurriedly he adds, “because I haven’t seen you around here before.” 

Fras gets her drink. She thinks for a moment about placing a hand on Jilly’s shoulder, making her presence known, interrupting this odd ritual of her friend’s, but she decides not to. She takes her drink, tips the bartender, and then wanders away. She doesn’t go back to the table.


The piano player has finally begun to play. Caleb seems to be in brighter spirits. He is sitting closest to the piano, his chair turned away from the rest of the table but no one seems to mind. No one even seems to notice. Fras wonders the last time she has seen Caleb look like that, and she doesn’t think she ever has. She doesn’t think it just has to do with the music, either. 

She stops studying Caleb, and instead, turns her focus to the man seated at the piano. He is wearing clothes that have seen better days, but he doesn’t look shabby for it. Maybe it is just all in the way he carries himself. He has an effortless sort of confidence, and he plays good. Probably better than is actually needed at a place full of drunks. She sees him stealing glances at Caleb, never once missing a key, never once making the piano sound discordant. He looks damn near as happy as Caleb. 

Fras stops watching the two of them, feeling suddenly like she is intruding on something. Rigsby gets her attention by asking for another drink. She feels guilty again, and offers to put it on her tab.


“He started talking about the controversy of wine, Fras. He doesn’t even work with wine or drink it. Says he can’t stand the taste, but he’s fascinated by it all the same. He said, life has cursed him. He should have been a sommelier, but he can’t be.”

Jilly is drunk. Drunker than Fras has seen her in a while. They are walking back to the lot with a group of other people from the carnival. Caleb isn’t with them.

“He shouldn’t be as attractive as he is, Sassy.” Jilly groans.

“I think you drank too much,” Fras says.

It wasn’t like the man was unattractive but Fras doesn’t know how Jilly spent so many hours talking to him. 

“He gave me his number,” Jilly continues. “Maybe I’ll call him in the morning.”

“See if he is still fascinating in the light of the morning, and with sobriety?” Fras asks, not necessarily unkindly, but the way Jilly reacts, it makes Fras think she should have watched her tone. 

“Yes,” Jilly says, stiffly. Embarrassed, even though embarrassment isn’t something Jilly usually exhibits. 

“Sorry, tell me more about your non-wine-drinking-sommelier,” Fras says, trying to undo whatever it was she just did. 

Jilly hesitates all of a fraction of a second, before going back to talking about the man in the ill-fitting suit. Fras wonders if she ever got his name.

December 2020 Prompt: Pots

Prompt: Pots

A prompt! Huzzah! I have missed writing these so much. Writing this one was a bit of a struggle at first. I knew I wanted to write from the point of view of the pots (and I went with cooking pots and not like plant pots) and I wrote about 500 words with a bunch of different pots before this idea came to me. It’s from one pot’s point of view, so please enjoy!

There was an odor wafting through the kitchen. Most people who could smell it would likely call it a bad odor. Not terrible, by any means, but not good. There was a young man standing in front of a stove, cooking… something. All kinds of things were being tossed into the concoction — a concoction that resembled food if you squinted — and nothing seemed to help the smell. It was a faintly burnt kind of smell, hadn’t quite crossed over into the stench category yet. The young man, arguably the chef of the evening, seem undeterred. He had a look of concentration on his face, and a hum leaving his lips. 

He seemed satisfied with what he was doing. 

The pot he was using, on the other hand, was an old one. It had been gifted to the young man as a graduation present, and it had sat in boxes throughout the young man’s college career. Mostly forgotten about until he found an apartment with a decent kitchen, and a woman to impress. The pot, it had missed being used for food. It had missed being in the thick of things, hanging from a rack in the kitchen, and always being around. Always knowing what the family was up to. Being used to make things that tasted good, according to the family. That smelled good, according to whoever was eating. Pots… they don’t have noses.  They don’t have mouths, either. It isn’t like they can taste what is being put in the them. Not… not in the traditional sense, at least. But, this pot, it had been around for awhile before its temporary retirement into an old box. It could remember when decent meals were cooked with it. It might not be able to taste a thing (or thankfully smell) but it knew that what it was being used for was… a monstrosity. 

The pot didn’t know whether to feel happy with finally being put to some use or not. Was it truly better to used for something like this than to waste away in a box?  The pot wasn’t sure. It liked to think that any culinary experience it provided was… was better than wasting away. 

“Are you almost done, Gavin?” A voice the pot didn’t recognize asked, entering the small kitchen space. Not like pots have ears to hear with — but they do hear all the same. 

“Almost, Cyn!” Gavin said, exuberantly.

“It… it smells interesting,” and then a head peeked over Gavin’s shoulders to peer into the mess in the pot. “Looks interesting too.”

Gavin seemed undeterred by the tone of voice. Nothing, apparently, could bring him down. The pot had always liked that about Gavin, it supposed. And it wished it could make the food taste better than it knew it would. 


Time doesn’t really mean much to a pot. All this pot knew was that it was being used, more and more often. Not always by Gavin, sometimes by Cyn and a few memorable experiences of being used by Gavin’s mother once more. The pot had really missed her cooking. The pot was happy, overall, to being used again and Gavin seemed to be turning into a better cook, each time he attempted a meal. 

“This is Cyn’s favorite,” Gavin said, and the pot knew that Gavin was speaking with the brand new puppy the couple had bought to match their brand new house and new kitchen. If anyone cared for the pot’s opinion, it really liked the new kitchen.

The puppy was sleeping on his bed that had been dragged into the kitchen. It didn’t respond to Gavin, and while the pot wished it could, it didn’t either. It also had some pointers it wanted to give to Gavin. Life would be much easier for cooking utensils if they could help their people out. Because the pot knew all about what recipe Gavin was attempting.

It was ambitious for him. The pot also knew Cyn by this point, and it knew that even if the food tasted like tar in her mouth, she would smile and say it was delicious. Gavin seemed nervous and the pot wondered if it had to do with the meal he was butchering, or something else. The pot could read and understand Gavin the best in the house. Probably since it had known Gavin from his childhood. 

“I hope she says yes,” Gavin said, and the pot felt like Gavin was telling it that instead of the puppy. 


It was a house, a couple of kids, and another dog later. The pot had long ago been joined by newer pots and pans, but Gavin always had a tendency to gravitate towards it. The pot was happy with that because none of the newer ones seemed to enjoy the creative license that he took when cooking.

No need to remind the pot that it too hadn’t really appreciated those odd little experiments and cooking shortcuts that Gavin took in the beginning. But, these days, it did. 

“We are going to make something special for Mom, okay?” Gavin was saying to the young children standing around the stove with him. The pot had no idea how old the kids were. All it knew was there was no longer a lot of crying, and spit up. The kids were mobile and sometimes the pot was used as a drum, being banged on by spoons and other silverware. It didn’t think it made good music but the kids seemed to enjoy it. 

“Okay!” said one of the small children. 

Gavin smiled at the excitement in the child’s voice, and he bent down to tweak their nose. Then, he began to explain what he was doing. The pot wanted to correct Gavin on occasion, but it wasn’t like it had a mouth to do so and besides, it seemed like the kids and Gavin were having fun with it… with whatever it was they were making. 


The pot had been placed back in a box. It had no idea how long it had been closed up in the box, jostled around occasionally as it moved. It wondered if now it was finally retired, a sad life of nothing but darkness and no interesting smells, no interesting food being made with it. The pot, it wasn’t ready to retire. It felt as sad as an inanimate object could feel. 

Suddenly, there was light, and a head peeking out at it.

“Hang on, Mar!” The head said, and then hands were picking the pot up, and placing it on a small stove top with only two burners. The pot was in a kitchen again, one that was small and cramped. The kitchen reminded it a lot of where Gavin had lived so long ago, but somehow, more cheerful.

“What are you going to be making, Darcy?” Asked a voice that the pot did not recognize. Darcy was a name the pot knew. Gavin’s oldest daughter and it looked as if she had grown up too. The pot, it felt happy, and a little anxious too as memories of Gavin’s first solo meal in it flashed through its mind. 

“My Dad’s favorite,” Darcy said, “only better.”

The pot wanted to laugh at that, and maybe even cry. Mostly, though, it was happy at being in a kitchen again. 

October Prompt: Rat Doctor

October Prompt: Rat Doctor

This prompt took me a bit to write, and I hope y’all enjoy it! It was a lot of fun to write once I got to writing it. So, enjoy!

His nose twitched as he took in the scent of illness all around him. His scrambled up the back of the human, perching on the human’s shoulder. The human tensed, but did not run. The rat nestled his nose against the human’s ear, breathing in for a moment. Trying to get a smell that was not illness. He was tired of that stink. Then he spoke—human language was difficult for him because his body wasn’t quite built for it—his words quiet, and his voice rough from lack of use.

“You are caring for these humans wrong. The sickness, it isn’t what you think it is. I can help you.” 

The human was tense. He could feel the tension in the their shoulders. Muscles that needed relaxing, but the rest of the human, smelled healthy. 

“You’re a talking rat,” the human said, voice high pitched with fear. The rat couldn’t really hear the fear in the voice, because the rat didn’t really understand the different cadences that human voices could have. But he could smell the fear, he could sense it, he could tell in a rat way, that fear was evident in the human’s voice and body.

“Sure, and I can help you. You need my help,” the rat said, trying to remember what it was that last human he had worked with had told him. A saying, or something. “You have nothing to lose,” the rat said, memories washing over him. Too many of them, and it made him sad, sad in a way he felt was more human than ratlike. 

The human sighed, and then nodded their head. 

“Okay, help me. What am I doing wrong. What is this sickness?”

The rat felt surprise. He had anticipated it taking more time to convince this human to accept his help. But, he supposed, as he looked around at the sick all around him that this human was desperate. He scrambled down from their back, his body not as spry as it had once been, and he jumped. He landed clumsily on a table, some tools clattering to the ground, and he heard the human gasp.

“Those were sterile! I’ll need to—…”

“You won’t be needing those,” the rat said, without looking back at the human.

“Come,” he said, and he led away from those useless human tools. Humans always used more things than they truly needed. They made things more complicated than they needed to be. The rat’s own life, his body even, had been overcomplicated by humans in that lab oh so long ago. He had rat friends, he supposed. But none that wanted or could make a family with him. He was lonely, and had been, for such a long time. He wondered if that loneliness was what had prompted him to finally come out of hiding.

He didn’t know. Didn’t really care to know the true answer. He hated that he thought abstractly like this. He had had so much time to think, and he was tired of it. He was grateful for this puzzle of human sickness. Grateful he had a reason to think outside of himself and of something else. 

“I’ve seen this illness before,” the rat explained. Still surprised, really, that he had this human’s attention. “You need old medicine.”

“We’ve tried all the medicine we can think of. Nothing we have works, and the new st—…”

“You aren’t thinking old enough,” the rat said.

“How old?” The human said after a beat and the rat gave a shrug of his shoulders. As much as a rat is capable of shrugging.

“Human time doesn’t make much sense to me. But, here is what you need.”

The rat sat down on his haunches, and began to explain. He pointed to items that looked familiar. That smelled familiar. He asked questions too because he knew that humans liked to change things. But he thought they had enough to help all these sick people around him. It took hours, and he was tired, but in a good way. In a way he hadn’t been tired like in so long. 

“Thank you,” the human said as the rat walked away, going back to his hideyhole.

“Do not thank me yet,” he said, before he disappeared. 


He didn’t know how much time had passed as he kept hidden in his little house in the walls of the hospital. This hospital wasn’t where he had been born or anything. No, he had been born of two rats in a lab some miles away. His own parents had had brains more advanced than other rats, but they were not quite like him. His brain had been more human-like, and some minor tweaks to the rest of his body. It had made it impossible for him to mate with other rats, and the humans hadn’t thought to make another like him. Or maybe they couldn’t. He didn’t know, and he stopped asking questions a long time ago. His parents had died, and once the humans realized just how special he was, he had been moved away from the rest of the rats in the lab. 

He thought of his past a lot. Especially in the quiet hours — not that hospitals really had too many quiet hours — and he both loved and hated that he thought of his past like this. His life… had been special. He had a lot of fond memories with the humans who had helped make him the way he was. He missed the lab sometimes, but he hadn’t missed the continual experiments. He was grateful that Emmy and Ellie had gotten him out of the lab. 

They were the ones who had brought him to this hospital. All because he had a theory on how to stop the illness that was spreading through humans like wildfire. That was a strange expression to come to him, and he knew he had gotten it from Emmy or Ellie. He had never seen a wildfire before. Hell, he hadn’t ever seen any kind of fire before. 

He thought more and more about Emmy and Ellie in the quiet moments. He knew humans cried when they felt like this. Sad, but he didn’t. Or maybe he just couldn’t. 

He didn’t know how long he sat in his hole, in what he called his little house, before he snuck out again.


“You are back,” a voice startled him. He knew it belonged to the human he had helped the last time he had shown himself.

“Yes,” he said, sitting on his haunches and watching them. 

“I wanted to thank you,” the human said, and they reached behind to pull out a block of cheese. The rat hadn’t had cheese in so long. He tried not to look too excited by the prospect. “I didn’t know what you would like, but…”

“You don’t need to thank me,” the rat said, finding that the more he spoke out loud, the easier it was to remember how to do it. The easier it was to get his voice working. 

“Yes, I do. What you suggested… no one would have thought… how did you know?” The human asked as they handed him the piece of cheese. He took the cheese and bit into it. He wanted to cry even though he couldn’t. He remembered Emmy and Ellie talking about how beautiful things sometimes made humans want to cry — and he felt like he finally understood that sentiment. 

“Who are you?” The human asked.

The rat shrugged his shoulders.

“I’m just a rat.” 


“You are old, Just A Rat.” 

“I am.” 

“I can’t find any records on you. That lab that you say you came from closed down about thirty years ago.” 

“Your human time means nothing to me, you know that.”

“I also know rats don’t live thirty years, and you are older than that.” 

“We should check on those patients of yours.”


“Why are you sad?”

“I hate that you won’t let me tell anyone about you, Rat. Or that you won’t give me a name. I know you must have had a name before.” 

“That name means nothing now, and you know how humans are, if you tell people about me…” 

“But I don’t deserve all this praise that I am getting.”

“Yes, you do. You helped all those people.”

“Only because you told me what to do.”

“You used the tools presented to you. You deserve credit for it.”

“So do you.”

“I don’t want human credit.”


The rat sighed. His human was getting old. He had refused to ask for a name from this new human. Refused to to allow himself to get to know this human outside of the hospital. But he knew that the human would be retiring soon, and that he would have years again, of being alone. He had tried to steel himself and protect himself. He had tried not to grow attached, but… of course he had. 

“This is your last day, isn’t it?” The rat said, nodding his head towards the balloon the human had attached to their wrist for some reason. The balloon said ‘Happy Retirement’ on it, but the rat hoped if he didn’t read those words too often, they wouldn’t turn out to be true. 

“It is,” the human said, and the rat could feel some nervous energy exuding off of them.

“What is it?” He asked.

The human sighed, “I want you to come with me, but I have a feeling you won’t.” 

“Leave the hospital?” The rat asked. 

The human nodded and in that moment they reminded him of that younger and uncertain human he had met so long ago. He had only known this hospital and before that the lab. He had never been to a human’s house before. Not even Emmy or Ellie had ever extended that invitation to him.

“You don’t have to. I’ll be around visiting still, the hospital can’t get rid of me that easily.”

He let the human ramble on for a little while as he thought. As he allowed himself to imagine a life outside of these walls. His heart ached in a way it had never ached before. 

“Okay,” he said.

“What?” The human asked, shocked.

“I’ll leave here with you.” 

He had lived a long life and would probably continue to live a longer life. Perhaps it was time he experienced it elsewhere. And, he liked this human. He could care for them as they grew older and older still. 

The human smiled.

“Hop into my bag then. Let’s get out of here.” 

September 2020 Prompt: The Bitch is Dead

September 2020 Prompt: The Bitch is Dead

Here’s a little prompt that seems more fitting for October. I had fun with it. To be honest, I have fun with all the prompts. I hope y’all enjoy my take on it!

‘The bitch is dead,” Claudia said, gazing out at the small gathering of people. The youngest of whom was eight and the oldest around sixty. The energy changed at that moment—after those words were pronounced. A low wailing began and it was slowly picked up by the rest of those who were gathered. Even the eight year old began to wail, her pitch not quite matching the cadence of the others. Claudia gazed out at the small crowd, her expression unreadable. She didn’t join in with the wailing but she watched for a few minutes, before she turned around and entered the house.

The crowd stayed outside and wailed for ten minutes, before they dispersed. Claudia watched them through the window of the door. Her shoulders tense. She waited by the window until everyone was gone, and then she allowed herself a moment to cry.


The day of the funeral was bright; the weather perfect. The sun bright, and nary a cloud to be seen. It was the kind of day that their pack leader would have loved. The kind of day where she would have gathered all the young pups up, and forced them to go on a hike through the property of the camp. Most of the time older folks would tag along too, and an impromptu picnic would happen. Everyone would enjoy one another’s company and the good food. 

Claudia wanted to match the energy of one of those better and happier days. She figured Pippa would have approved, but she was having such a hard time of it. She couldn’t even muster a smile. She hadn’t cried since that moment by the window. It was as if her body was frozen with grief. Her shoulders tensing with the responsibility that she knew the pack would want to place on her shoulders. The burden of leading she had always known would fall on her shoulders if something ever happened to Pippa. And with that illness, without anyone being able to heal her sister, she should have known that day was coming sooner rather than later.

She gripped the sides of the podium, knowing she needed to make a speech. Knowing it was customary of someone in her position. She had struggled and failed to write something down. Bags under her eyes from lack of sleep. She hadn’t been sleeping much those last few weeks of Pippa’s life, and Claudia could not remember if she had gotten any sleep at all in her grief of the last few days. She felt weak on her feet. It didn’t help matters that tonight was a full moon, her body already preparing for the transformation to come. 

“Pippa would not want us to mourn her for long,” Claudia said, her voice weak even to her own ears. She smiled sadly, surprised that her lips could even quirk in that direction but supposedly it took more muscles to frown and maybe she just didn’t have the strength to do it.

“She would want us to be outside, basking in the sun. She always said that a lot of sunlight was good for us on the night of the full moon. No one — especially not me — will be able to replace our Pippa. But, we all know, she would not want us crying over her for too long. She would want us to celebrate her life, celebrate what she and all of us, did for ourselves and the pack.” Here Claudia’s voice shook.

Pippa had changed things for the better with the pack. She had fought hard for the rights of werewolves, and for other people like them. Other folks who changed into creatures during the full moon. Pippa had helped the world realize just how human werecreatures were. How, most of the time, they were human. And when they weren’t, it wasn’t like their creature side was any less monstrous than some people who stayed human all the time. Pippa had encouraged the rest of the pack to stand up for themselves, to crawl out of the shadows, and to stop living in fear. 

And Claudia she had been there with her sister for every step of the way. But it had been easier, then for her to fight, because she had had Pippa’s passion and belief to fall back on. She knew though that she wouldn’t or couldn’t give up on the future her sister had envisioned. She would have to learn how to fight just as hard and passionately as Pippa had. Even while drowning in grief. 

“Tonight we will mourn and celebrate as only wolves know how to do. And tomorrow, we will begin again, the vision that Pippa dreamt for us all.”

There was a smattering of claps, and a sob or two from the audience, as Claudia stepped away from the podium. She couldn’t bring herself to look at the casket. She did cry again, tears wet and warm, sliding down her face.


Night was falling and everyone was spread out. Claudia could feel her bones and her body protesting the change that was about to begin. The moon didn’t need to be out fully before a transformation occurred. It started just as the sun was going down, before the moon was fully up, and it was painful. The human body preferred to stay in one shape. It didn’t like bones and limbs rearranging. Sprouting coarse fur out of fragile human skin hurt too. People yowl, cry, and scream during the transformation. It wasn’t any wonder the terrible rumors and stories of werecreatures persisted for so long. 

Eventually, the pack were all transformed, and gazing at Claudia with expectancy. She knew she was supposed to lead the pack in their romp through the forest, in their hunt for food for the night. She wasn’t ready to lead. But she also didn’t have an excuse.

Pippa always said that Claudia had it in her, and the bitch was dead. It was time for Claudia to take up that mantel. 

She tilted her head  back, and howled at the moon. Grateful that her fur hid the tendency of her skin to blush at such a stereotypical move. The rest of the pack picked up on the howling. It was mournful and beautiful even if it was a little cheesy.

And then she ran. And everyone followed her.

September Prompt: The Coffin

September 2020 Prompt: The Coffin

This prompt is about a … coffin! Again, mostly written around 5am and 6am. As always, not much editing done, just a few rereads. I enjoy not really editing these things. Speaking of enjoy, I hope you enjoy the story!


The first time she saw the coffin she had been five years old and playing hide and seek with her cousins. It had been in the basement, not exactly hidden or anything. She had had no idea what it was, just that it looked like the perfect place to hide in. The top of the thing was up, exposing an opening plenty large enough for her to climb into. So, she had, and she scooted down into the thing, full of giggles. Then she heard her cousin come tromping down the stairs, and he looked everywhere but the coffin, before he ran back, and she giggled even more.

She couldn’t remember how long she laid, curled up in the foot of the wooden thing. She hadn’t been afraid of it, honestly. She hadn’t realized at five that a coffin was where dead people were put. She had actually felt safe in it, secure, and maybe a little warm after a while. 

Eventually, her cousin found her, with the help of her brothers, and the rest of her cousins who had been playing. Everyone had screeched when they had seen where she was at. Someone called her a weirdo, and another person a freak. She hadn’t really known the meaning of those words, just that the tone had implied they were making fun of her. That was when she began to cry.


She was ten when she finally asked her grandma about the coffin. The adults were in the process of moving Grandma out of her big house, the house with three levels and a basement. Except no one went up to the third level. All the kids knew the third level was haunted by ghosts. The adults just said there was no reason to climb all those stairs, but Maisie knew that that was just a cover. Grandma was seated in her favorite chair, a pair of sunglasses perched on her nose even though she was indoors. She had one of her adult drinks, a cocktail was what she always called them. It looked like juice but tasted something awful (Maisie may have tried a sip of it once when she was younger, on a dare from a brother, and all she could remember was the burn of the drink and how it had made her cough). 

“Sit and supervise with me, Maisie-bee,” Grandma had said, and Maisie had taken that invitation to climb into the chair with her grandmother. She snuggled close, and they sat together. Grandma occasionally sipped her cocktail, and barked out orders to Maisie’s aunts and uncles. 

“Grandma, what is going to happen with that coffin?” Maisie asked.

She found herself thinking about that coffin a lot. She was now grossed out with herself for having hidden in the thing when she was younger. Dead people lived in coffins! Had a dead person been in that coffin before? Maisie had never known a person who had died before, but she had had a pet cat by the name of Griffin. He had been gray and old most of her life and had died when she was six. Her best friend at school, Charlotte, had had an uncle who had died and she had gone to the funeral. She had told Maisie all about it. Charlotte was where Maisie got most of her information from these days. 

“It is coming with me,” Grandma explained. 

“Why?” 

Grandma didn’t answer the question right away. She just took a sip of her drink, most of the ice had melted by then, and the glass was slick with condensation. Maisie was beginning to wonder if perhaps Grandma hadn’t heard her. She was on the verge of repeating the question a little louder— Charlotte said that sometimes old people just couldn’t hear— when Grandma spoke up.

“It’s mine. I bought it a long time ago.” 

Maisie stared at her grandmother, a frown on her face.

“But you aren’t dead,” she said, puzzled. 

Sudden worry bubbled up within her though. What if her grandmother was dead. Or a vampire! She had seen a vampire movie before, and she knew that the movie was supposed to be fake, but what if it wasn’t?  Not all movies were about fake things. Her Dad liked to watch documentaries on wars, and he said, those battles actually happened. Except, vampires usually looked a lot younger than her Grandma did. But… Maisie realized that her Grandma was wearing sunglasses inside.

“Are you a vampire?” She whispered in awe. 

Her grandma laughed at that question and Maisie never found out the answer because her Mom called her away after that to help with moving some boxes. 


Maisie was fifteen years old when Grandma was buried in the coffin. The day of the funeral was cloudy and muddy. Maisie’s Mom cried a lot, and so did most of her older cousins and relatives. She couldn’t muster any tears at the funeral, or even after finding out that Grandma had died. She was sad about it, and she knew she would miss her grandma, she just couldn’t cry. 

She remembered the way the coffin was lowered into the ground and the speeches that people made. Maybe not the exact words, but the context. It was a lot of talk about how vibrant of a personality Grandma had had, right up until the moment she had none because death had taken it. 

No one talked about the coffin that Grandma had had with her. The one that had moved from house to house with her. Maisie had thought that was a little strange, how no one wanted to really bring up death even though they were at a funeral. She thought that her grandma might have liked it if someone had talked some about the coffin. If Maisie could speak in front of crowds like Charlotte, then maybe she would have given an ode to the coffin, but crowds even if it was a crowd of family, made her anxious. 

She did say a silent goodbye to both grandma and the coffin once they were buried beneath the earth. 


At twenty Maisie bought her own coffin. 

She had stared at rows and rows of the things. Half listening as the man (was he an undertaker?) explained about the different woods and things like that. He asked about her loved one, and Maisie had been confused for a half a second before she had smiled.

“This isn’t for a loved one. It’s for me.”

His eyes had gone wide for a moment and Maisie realized that he probably thought she was sick and dying. Technically, everyone was dying from the moment they were born. But she had every intention of living a long life like her Grandma had.

“I’m not sick or anything. It’s just… It’s a family tradition,” she explained.

It wasn’t, but Maisie was hoping to make it one. The rest of her family had used whatever money they received from Grandma after her passing to buy things like computers or help pay for cars. Things that they technically needed to make life a little easier. She had been fifteen then, and her parents had told her she had to wait until she was eighteen to spend the money.

At eighteen, she hadn’t wanted to. 

Now at twenty, she knew in her gut, just how to spend the money. She was pretty sure that her Grandma would approve.

august prompt 2020: spinach heist

august prompt: spinach heist

Danica adjusted her mask as she glanced down at her wrist. Exposed, for the moment, was a wristwatch. Ticking, ticking, ticking away the time. She pulled the sleeves of her nondescript black shirt over it. Adjusting her gloves in the process. Each member of her team, and there five of them total, was dressed identically. Black cargo pants, with a ridiculous amount of pockets. Black boots tied tight. A black long-sleeved shirt, black gloves. A black cap to cover hair, and finally, a mask. Just eyes were exposed because they needed to see where they were going, and what was happening.

Her team had thought it was overkill but, they wanted the job and quickly stopped complaining about it. They could leave no hint of their identities behind. There would be a manhunt for them after this heist. Product of this quality would fetch a high price on the black market—on any market— and it meant that they would be set for a while. Bills could be paid, and savings begun. This would fix all of their lives if they succeeded. If not, then rotting away in jail would be all of their futures.

“Let’s move out,” Danica whispered, and her crew began to move.

First was Bailey, the youngest member. She had been trained as a gymnast in her youth. She had spent hours on the mat; flipping, jumping, stretching her body. And then, like the rest of the motley crew, she and her family had fallen onto hard times. Prepping her for the Olympics fell by the wayside. She still retained much of her skills, training on her own without the help of professionals. Keeping her body in shape as much as she could. She had even tried to teach the crew some. Learning how to fall, to land properly, was important. Danica’s body, though, could not bend and stretch quite the same way that Bailey’s could, but at least she could land now from certain heights without hurting herself.

Teaming up with Bailey was Ivy, the oldest member. No one quite knew how old Ivy was. Her skin was covered in tattoos. Her hair a bright white, too white to be as natural as she claimed it was. She was the joker of the crew, a boisterous and loud laugh, wherever she went. She made the young members blush sometimes, her humor borderline too crude. Ivy was the one who had found Danica when Danica first… well, Ivy was a lifesaver.

The twins came next. They were not identical, but near enough. Maci was the taller one, but only by half an inch. She kept her hair cropped short, pulled back in tight braids. She hardly ever spoke and if she did it was usually through her sister, Mari. Mari had her own hair in braids, but they were longer. Today, they were tucked up into her cap. Mari was quick-witted and acerbic with her tongue. Sweetness reserved just for the quiet Maci. No one could get out of either twin the true story of how they ended up where they were. Danica always snapped at Bailey for trying to ask. Stories of the past had every right to stay there.

She followed the shapes and shadows of her crew. Eyes having adjusted to the dim light provided by the lamps overhead. She could smell the river on the breeze as they ran towards the docks. They had a window of about ten minutes to do this successfully. They had run through this, over and over. They had practiced this run at docks similar to this, in all kinds of weather. They had planned and plotted for hours. Each member knew exactly what they were supposed to do to secure their bounty. Adrenaline ran through her body, and given the little jump that Bailey had just done, Danica could only assume adrenaline was coursing through her teammates’ bodies too.

Hiding spots were taken and within a few minutes, the truck pulled up. The barest of shadows moved, silently leaping onto the top of the truck, and moving towards the cab. Other shadows began to move and Danica only noticed because she knew where to look. She took a deep breath, and then cocking her gun at the ready, she moved out of the shadows.

Dull thuds of bodies dropping to the ground could be heard. She saw Maci scurry under the truck, looking for any tracking beacons on it. Mari was working on the sides of it. Ivy and Bailey continued to dispatch the crew members, leaving them unconscious. A set of keys were tossed to Danica. Passed down the line from Bailey to Ivy to Maci to Mari and finally, Danica herself. She used them to unlock the back door, her hands surprisingly steady.

Stacks and stacks of the best spinach grown in over a decade sat in the truck. It was better even than she had heard it would be. She was about to shut the door and lock everything up when a figure jumped out at her. Deftly, Danica sidestepped it.

The figure stood up and Danica’s heart lept to her throat as she recognized the man before her. Memories that were too vivid played before her eyes. Hands held in secret. Promises made that could never be kept and in the end, a betrayal that could never be forgiven. His eyes widened and she knew he recognized her. How many times had they stared into one another’s eyes?

“Da—…”

Danica shot him.

The noise rang out loud. Too loud. Her ears rang as he fell to the ground, and then the shouting from her team. She had shot him in the leg, in the same spot he had shot her all those years ago.

“Move out!” She hollered, over the shouts of everyone else around her. She jumped into the back of the truck, bracing herself. Mari climbed in after her and she did not look at the prone man bleeding on the ground. The truck roared to life and drove away.

Danica stared, watching as the bleeding man, grew smaller and smaller. Mari had to physically pull her away from the door so that it could be closed as the truck picked up speed. She could read the questions in Mari’s eyes, but they were dull to the press of memories that now haunted, and taunted, Danica.

august 2020 prompt: mug

august prompt: mug

The mug was her favorite and it was found at a secondhand shop. Ordinarily, she would be a little grossed out about buying cups, bowls, mugs, or silverware secondhand. Even if she knew they were cleaned before she bought them, even if she knew she could just wash it once more when she got home. Scour it clean by hand and then in her brand new dishwasher. If it had been a normal day or a normal mug, she would have look at it and moved on. Perhaps a little longingly, but she would not have pulled out her wallet to buy it. But there was something about this mug, it called to her.

It had a handle that was a bit too large for the body of the mug. Like whoever had been manufacturing the mug, had messed up. There was a painted image of a city she had never been to, on it. It was a city she had had no real desire to ever visit, either. At least, before she bought the thing. Now, as the years with the mug drifted by, she felt the itch to see that city. To see if the painting did it any justice or not. Perhaps it had changed since that city-scape had been painted. She wanted to bring her mug with her, and show the mug the city in real life. Inanimate though the thing was, she thought that it might enjoy it all the same.

The body of the mug, the parts not covered by the painted city, was an off white color. She had no idea if it was originally that color, or if it had aged so. Coffee stains were difficult to get out of the thing, but she managed it with a lot of scrubbing and hacks found on the internet. Perhaps, time had stained the thing, making it offwhite. She wondered, in the quiet of the night as she drank sleepy-time tea from it or maybe in the morning as she drank the strongest coffee she could brew if perhaps she bothered the mug by scrubbing it clean. Maybe it liked stains and who was she to remove them from it?

She drank from it a least once a day, but usually twice or sometimes three times. Her other mugs and cups, she knew, were getting jealous. She was grateful they were not capable of moving on their own. Images of all-out war among her drinkware would flash before her eyes. Not the war itself but the aftermath, of shattered ceramic and glass. Remains that she would have to sweep up, and maybe she would miss a piece. One with the painted city on it, and step on a shard of ceramic one day. Would her foot bleed, and if it did, would it bleed a lot? She had never stepped on a bit of ceramic before, and supplying that mental image, never quite stuck. But she could always almost feel the sharp, shocking pain, of it.

Her day never quite felt right on the rare occasion that she tried to spread a little love to her other mugs. If she decided to use that adorable cat-shaped one for her morning brew. Those mornings would stretch long, and she would feel a little restless. Something in the back of her mind, a nagging feeling like she had betrayed someone. Or like she had forgotten something. It always set a certain edge to the day, the kind of edge that was hard to name and even more difficult to shake off. Agitated was what she would be, and it was all the cat mug’s fault. And that broke her heart a little because she did love her other mugs still. Honest. They just. They were not the special one.

Sometimes she bought a new one, and she would show it to the city-scape one. Some voice in the back of her mind telling her that she was absolutely crazy, but it was a voice that was easy to ignore. It felt proper to introduce new ones to her favorite. Her mug could probably use some friends, friends who were not tainted with jealousy over the lack of use. Okay, so maybe she was a little crazy, but at least her brand of crazy only involved mugs and putting too many feelings into inanimate objects. A harmless crazy.

She loved City-Scape, as she named the mug. It stayed with her, the steadiest companion in her life. It survived moves even when every other glassware or ceramic ware in a box ended up shattered. It was there for the aftermath of children being born. So much coffee, tea, and miscellaneous drinks poured into it. And then one day, the woman’s daughter asked to take the mug with her to college, because her school was in that city. It seemed fitting, even if it was a little painful to say goodbye. But the mug was destined for new adventures, and so too, was the woman. A new life awaited them both, and at the very least, they would still be able to see each other.

august prompt: dread

august prompt: dread

It was not the dark that filled her up with dread, but the light. She liked the dark, enjoyed the quiet of it. Her house was old, the walls filled with memories, and most of them were not hers. There was history in the texture of the walls, the layers of old and peeling wallpaper. Stories of times forgotten because no one was around to share them. In one room of the house, the one she called the drawing-room (even though she had no real idea what a drawing-room really was), there was a large mannequin. It had come with the house, and it was old and made out of wood. She had found a slightly musky smelling hat in the attic, and it had reminded her of gangsters from the twenties, the ones who ran liquor during prohibition. She, herself, had not witnessed the 1920s but she had watched enough movies to make an educated guess, and that hat had seen illegal booze runs, she was certain of it. She had placed the hat at a cocked angle on the mannequin’s head and named it Jeb. At night, in the dark, Jeb leered at her with his hat, but it never bothered her.


No, it was not the dark that filled her up with dread. It was the light.


As sunlight began to bleed through her windows, windows that still needed curtains because the ones that had come with the house had been too ratty, too moth-eaten to salvage, her heart always caught in her throat. Sunlight showed all the imperfections of the house too clearly. Imperfections that she could dim a lot easier, weave into magic when darkness clouded them. Sunlight, more than the artificial light of lightbulbs, showed clearly what needed doing, what needed fixing. And often, it was too much.


That peeling wallpaper — layers and layers of it — foretold hours of work to come. Fingers getting sore from it because the tools she had bought, tools that were supposed to help with removing wallpaper never seemed to work. It was like a magic spell kept the paper on. And each time she felt a sense of victory, each time she removed on a layer, dread would pool in the pit of her stomach as a new layer was revealed. How many families had come through this house? Owners eager to make changes on the walls and the only way all of them seemed to know how to do that was to glue paper to them. In the dark, she could at least pretend like the layers did not exist. Pretend like she was actually making a dent in that work.


During the day, Old Jeb, in all his wooden glory leered at her. The hat looked less like something a gangster would wear in the day, and more like a cheap costume. She could not pretend the hat was nearing a hundred years old during then. No, she had to be reminded, as she gazed at it that the owners’ of the place just before her, liked to have themed costume parties once a month. That hat was a cheap imitation of the real booze running hats of the 1920s. Daylight made her realize the truth while in the dark, at night, she could romanticize Jeb and the fashion choice she had made for him.


During the day, as sunbeams streamed through the windows — dust falling like near-microscopic snow — she would see how worn and beaten her wooden floors were. Floors that the realtor had promised she could easily fix-up. Floors that were original to the house! But she noticed patches of newer wood, mixed in with the original. A hodgepodge that had been hidden under rugs during showings. Old and new mixing together, and maybe it could have been beautiful, but whoever had done the patching had done it quickly. Had not cared to match the wood properly, or maybe just had no idea how.


At night, as moonlight streamed through her windows, she could dance barefooted on the wooden floor and pretend they were fine. Every grain matching like it was supposed to. Each old, and original to the house. In the moonlight, the floor looked nice. Her feet pounding a beat that only she knew. The kitchen, oh she did not even like to think about having a kitchen during the day.

No. During the day dread filled her as she could no longer ignore the mounting bills to pay, the leaking pipes, and the roof too. That had begun to leak about a month ago, and the roofer kept canceling on her. Buckets were placed strategically around the house, anything to salvage an unsalvageable floor. Day time the pinging of rain in the buckets screamed to her what a money pit all this house was but at night? At night it was a soothing symphony, thunder shaking the house, and rain tinkling merrily in the buckets.


Moonlight meant magic to her while sunlight was nothing but dread.