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 Hike Through the Woods

A Hike Through the Woods

Another completed prompt for January, huzzah! This was also from that prompt book I received as a Christmas gift. It too came with ten words I had to use, and this time, I didn’t miss half the prompt in writing it. And here are the words I had to use:

  • backpack
  • collar
  • covert
  • fireball
  • leprechaun
  • pity
  • nausea
  • practice
  • snoop
  • wart

I had fun incorporating magic into this little prompt. I hope you enjoy it!

I adjust the straps of my backpack, tugging it more firmly against my back. The wind is brisk, and I hope that once I step into the woods that the trees will help serve as a bit of a buffer against the wind. I wonder if I should have worn a thicker jacket but I know, after hiking for a bit, that I will grow warm. I always do. I run hot.


I like to take these hikes alone. I like the quiet, even though quiet isn’t really the right word to use. The woods aren’t quiet. Creatures are moving around underfoot and overhead, the breeze blows through the leaves causing them to rustle. Occasionally, an animal will sound the alarm, or maybe yell at another. But it feels quieter than the sounds that I am used to. It isn’t the loudness that I equate to a city. It isn’t the honking of horns and the curses of fellow humans. I would much rather deal with animals cursing than humans.


Everyone tells me I do not need to make these treks alone. Especially this one. I can see the pity in their eyes, hear it in their voices. It doesn’t bother me as much as it used to. I remember how it made me feel so angry, and I still don’t know if I was angrier with myself or with those who wore pity in their eyes like their life depended on it. It was not like it ever led to action on their parts, no true action at any rate. They do not deserve my anger or even annoyance. I do my best to push it down. It shouldn’t — and it doesn’t — bother me these days.


My shoulders relax as I make my way further in the woods. My boots making tracks in the mud. There will be no hiding that I have been here, at least not today. There is no rain in the forecast, nothing to wash away the evidence of me. That bothers me, and I’m not sure why. I tug the collar of my shirt up higher around my ears. I’m not cold. I just have a sudden urge to hide as much as I can. To tuck into myself. It’s the thoughts rolling around in my brain that are making me act like this. It is not like I’m on some sort of covert mission.


Huffing out a sigh, I tell myself to snap out of it. I hike ever onward.


I remember when I was a child, when I used to snoop in my grandmother’s office. It was a room that we grandkids were not allowed in. I never heeded that warning, never thought that it really applied to me. There was a black-and-white picture on her desk that I was obsessed with. The photo was of a young woman, smiling shyly at the camera. She wore a witch’s hat, cocked lopsidedly over one eye. There was a large wart on the tip of her nose. The photo fascinated me. I always wanted to ask my grandmother who that woman was.


I never did because that would give away the fact I had been in her office.


But I always wondered. Wondered who she was and why she looked like a witch. At least, like a witch told in stories to children to make them behave. She looked friendly, though. I couldn’t imagine her trying to eat children or whatever outlandish lies the story books told.


I am playing with a fireball in my hand as I take a brief rest. I know I should eat, especially since I am needlessly using my magic. I can hear my grandmother’s voice in my head, telling me to not waste my abilities. But playing with fire has always been how I calm myself. I like having control over something that can destroy. I like how hot it makes my hands feel. I like how dangerous it is.


“Still playing with fire?” A voice asks somewhere to my right.


I recognize the voice. I don’t look up, or acknowledge the leprechaun as he takes a seat on the fallen log that I have claimed as my chair for my rest. I don’t know how old he is. He has looked the same throughout the years that I have known him. Always offering more of a hindrance than any genuine help. Though my grandmother originally sent him to keep an eye on me, I think he cares, too, that I succeed.


“You know I’ll never stop,” I say, after a silence has lapsed between us.


“You should eat,” he says, and he says it gentler than I have ever heard him. I don’t think that I knew his voice could sound like that. It makes my stomach hurt.


“I’m not very hungry,” I say. Maybe I was a few minutes ago, but that hunger has gone away now.


The leprechaun sighs and I feel him get off the log. I finally look at him, and he is watching me. Eyes gleamed over with that look of pity that I have gotten used to. I had hoped he wouldn’t waste that look on me.


“Be careful. Do not do anything foolish,” he says.


I grunt a reply, dropping my gaze to look at the fireball in my hand. I toss it lazily to my other hand.


The leprechaun doesn’t say goodbye. He just vanishes with a loud cracking noise. I stay on the log for a little while longer. I don’t eat even when my stomach grumbles for food.


Nausea hits me a few hours later. I am still hiking in the woods, knowing my destination won’t be reached for another hour at the least. I regret not eating during my rest earlier, and I am forced to stop. I shrug my pack off my shoulder and reach inside of it for a granola bar when a memory hits me like a punch to the gut.


Suddenly, I feel like I am thirteen years old again, on my first hike. I didn’t eat then, either. I was too excited. I could hardly make myself take a break, but it caught up to me and I reached into my pack, and pulled out homemade trail mix from my grandmother.
I feel twenty again, still eating the same trail mix. Desperate to prove just how much of an adult I thought I was.


This is the first year that my hand comes back with something else. I can’t tell anymore if my stomach hurts from not eating, or because of something else.
I eat the granola bar even though it tastes like cardboard in my mouth.


I reach my destination little over an hour later. My legs burn from the exertion. I’m out of shape. I ponder, like I have the last few years that I have done this trek, about getting in shape. Taking walks outside of this hike. Somehow, I doubt I will. In the day’s light, out of these woods, that kind of work seems pointless.


I am in a clearing with a small river that runs to an edge of a cliff. The water doesn’t flow down the edge of a cliff; it doesn’t pour down it like a waterfall; it doesn’t drip-drip-drop. It is like gravity has stopped. An invisible wall halts the flow of the water.


The air is thick with magic.


I remember feeling like the surrounding air was suffocating me the first time I came here. I panicked. The leprechaun had appeared then and reminded me to relax. I did, just barely. I struggled to remember the breathing exercises that my grandma and others had taught me. But eventually, I did. And then I had realized the beauty of the place. The majesty of the magic.


Each year I must make a pilgrimage to this spot. I must absorb the magic placed here by my ancestors and leech some of mine out. It has taken a lot of practice to do so. I am fairly certain that in the first few years that I didn’t exactly take or give any magic. Everyone told me not to worry, that I would figure it out, eventually.


And I did.


I sit down at the edge of the cliff, ignoring the steep drop. I can’t look down or else I will panic. I don’t like heights. I feel like I was made short for a reason. I close my eyes and I concentrate. I can feel the air grab at me. I let the air, or magic, or whatever it is, pull some of my magic out of me. I do not panic, even when it hurts. I lose track of time. I don’t know how long I let the flow of magic leave me. But, eventually, I stop and then stand up, legs wobbly. I feel weaker than I have in years of doing this.


I should have eaten more.


I move to the stream, and I dip my hands into the water. It is cold. I bring it to my lips, and I open myself up again. I drink the water; it is thicker than water should be. I feel a sudden burst of fear that it won’t go down my throat. That I will choke on the thick-water and die. But I don’t. The water goes down, and I open myself up to it, allowing that magic that has infused in it long ago, to replenish what I let seep out of me at the cliff’s edge. I drink and drink until I feel uncomfortably full. Then I stop.


I feel stronger.


I feel ready to take on the world again.


I feel ready to face it without my grandmother.

Bree Finds a Teacher

Bree Finds a Teacher

Howdy! This is a little scene I wrote that involves my D&D character, Bree. She is a young halfling rogue. Fresh into adulthood. She was separated from her family at a young age, and grew up on the streets of a city. She’s now in Waterdeep with a group of companions that she thinks of as friends. She’s a little uncertain of it all, but she is embracing the adventure of it. This is a story of her finding a teacher of sorts. At one point, Copper is referenced. Copper is a pseudodragon, to help with the mental image.

Please enjoy!


Bree had been in Waterdeep for a while now. She lost track of exactly how long it had been, and things were busy ever since she met Orryn, Fenn, and Solara. She now had a place to call her own at Trollskull. A room of her own, even. But Bree was still waiting for the other shoe to drop. Waiting for the others to realize she wasn’t worthwhile to keep around. That she was more of a hindrance to them all and their business. She did her best to quell that little voice of hers, stamp it and bury it down.

But at night, when she was alone in her attic room — seemingly far away from everyone else — the thoughts came to her. Unbidden, but never quite forgotten. She would climb out of her bed and sit on a chest that she had shoved beneath the small window in the attic. Sometimes, gazing out of it, looking around at all rooftops near Trollskull. Other times, she would look up into the night sky, and see a smattering of stars. Not as many stars as she knew there to be. She could remember the road to Waterdeep and how when you weren’t in a city, the sky was so full of stars. Sometimes, she climbed out of her window and onto the roof. She would just look out into the city, watching it. Feeling both like she was home and like she wasn’t. Like she belonged and like she didn’t.


It was mid-afternoon and Bree found she had nothing to do. Solara was holed up in the library, and Fenn was in her room with her plants. Orryn was tending the bar, but Bree didn’t feel like being his shadow. She slipped out of the tavern and took a stroll. Aimless, really. She was trying to get a feel for how the ground felt beneath her feet. Her boots were made of leather, the cheapest available, so thin that she could tell the difference in texture from one road to the next. Some streets were in better condition than others. And she knew how different the roads and walkways felt between the richer and poorer areas of the city. Bree closed her eyes, focusing hard on ground beneath her feet, trying to encourage them to memorize how the ground felt.

She walked right into the side of a building, and it hurt. Bree opened her eyes, and craned her neck up to see on the sign, a picture of a book. She peered through the windows, and sure enough, shelves upon shelves of books lined the space. She didn’t think about it and walked in.

“Can I help you?” Asked the oldest halfling that Bree had ever seen. Her voice sounded ancient, and Bree realized that she was staring.

“Oh, uh… sorry. Just… looking.” Bree mumbled, feeling ashamed.

The halfling stared at her.

“I’ll chop your hands off if you steal anything,” the old one threatened.

“I won’t,” Bree promised, and she didn’t. What she did instead was spend hours among the shelves, feeling a strange pull towards the books. Her fingers itching to take one, but she heeded the old halfling’s warning, and instead of nicking the book like her fingers wanted, she paid for it.

It felt heavy in her hands as she walked out, as her coin purse felt lighter. She couldn’t read, and she didn’t know what she would do with the tome.


Bree was outside of Trollskull when she heard the shouts of children. She wasn’t too concerned, Orla had a pack of kids, and their friends, in and out of her house at all hours of the day. There was often the sound of shouting. She had learned that silence was when she ought to worry The shouting died down and Bree stood up, stretching. She then moved towards where the shouting had been, thinking she might see if the kids wanted a snack. She enjoyed cooking and baking for the kids. They could be harsh critics, but they were also always willing to try whatever it was she made, even if it looked gross.

But when she rounded the corner, she was surprised to see a single kid — not quite a teenager, but close — seated on the ground, furiously wiping at their face. Wiping at tears, Bree assumed.

“Are you okay?” Bree asked.

The kid looked up, startled, and Bree could see their face turning red with embarrassment.

“I’m fine,” the kid sniffled.

“You don’t look it,” Bree said, realizing she was pointing out the obvious. The kid looked at her.

“Fine… I… Bram said that I can’t come with him n’ his friends on the account of me being a girl. That I won’t be able to keep up with ‘em.”

“What are they doing?” Bree asked, her head tilting to the side like a confused Copper.

“Tryin’ to break into an abandoned building,” The girl said, and then she clamped her hands over her mouth. Like she had said something she shouldn’t have. Bree knew it was dangerous, and foolish, for the kids to be breaking into an abandoned building. They could get hurt. But Bree also remembered all the dangerous places she had gone to as a kid. And, maybe, if she taught the girl a thing or two, then the girl could teach the arrogant Bram a thing or two.

“I could help you,” Bree offered, and the girl looked confused.

“Help me with what?”

“I could teach you how to break into buildings. You’d scare the hell out of your brother and his friends. I could teach you how to do it proper, and how to be careful about it so you don’t hurt yourself.”

The girl was looking at Bree like she didn’t believe her. Bree wasn’t sure what part the girl didn’t believe, and it rankled some, but she tried to ignore that feeling.

“What’s in it for you?” The girl asked suspiciously.

Bree hesitated before answering. She was on the verge of offering the girl food whenever she wanted. Baked goods too! But then words tumbled out of her own mouth, words that took her by surprise. The human was no longer the only one blushing.

“You could teach me how to read.”

Shame burned deep. Bree looked down at her worn and thin leather shoes. She didn’t want to see the scorn and cruel amusement on the girl’s face. She had gotten used to looks like that, but they still hurt. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the girl spoke up.

“You have a deal. Should we shake on it?”

Bree held out her hand, and they shook on it. It was an hour later that Bree learned the girl’s name was Elle.

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 Awakening

September Prompt: The Awakening

I really want to write a longer story based on this world. I am doing my best to keep my prompt responses under 1,500 words. But, anyway, I think the world I have created here would be fun to explore, so maybe I will write something a little longer! I hope y’all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.


Today is the Awakening. 

I adjust my white robes—they don’t fit properly, but I notice that most people are fidgeting with their own. Gathered around me are all kinds of people. Some distant relatives of the people who sleep, others family friends of those who passed on before the Awakening, and some look old enough to have possibly even known the individuals who sleep. I work in the facility, and I am tasked with being there for Isabella, no last name, who has no one left to greet her. That happens sometimes. Not everyone falls asleep and has loved ones to find them. According to Isabella’s records, it took a month for her to be found. 

It should not take anyone that long to be found these days — in ten days specifically — when the Sleeping occurs, thanks to GPS and smartphones. But I am getting ahead of myself. 

“When do we go into their rooms?” A woman named Regina according to the name tag affixed to her own ill-fitting white robes asks. 

I realize she is asking me. Everyone keeps asking me questions, and I suppose it is fair. They all know I work at the facility, that I have been tasked with keeping their loved ones or loved ones of dead loved ones alive. 

Not that it is hard keeping the Sleeping Ones alive. It isn’t like they can put themselves into any danger just lying there. But all these people in this room, they all seem to think I know things about their people. Like what their personalities really are like, even though I don’t. All I know of these people is their sleeping patterns, that some snore really loudly and others drool so much we have to swap out their pillows more frequently. 

I have never been to an Awakening before, though. And any information that I have these people have in packets they were supposed to study before coming. Still, I plant my customer service smile on my face.

“In about ten minutes,” I say, with a quick glance to the clock ticking in the room’s corner. My voice is higher-pitched than normal, a voice that I can only use when I am in the mode.

“Oh,” the woman says, and I find myself feeling guilty. She is nervous, I think. And I understand that too, because so am I. I have never met Isabella before—not really. Sure, I know her sleeping patterns. I know as much as her records tell us, which isn’t too much. Not much was known about Isabella. None of her neighbors at the time knew anything about her, or where she had come from. There were whispers of gentlemen (and some women too) callers coming late at night, but nothing  concrete. 

What am I supposed to say to this woman? Who fell asleep a hundred years ago? I suppose I will figure it out in less than ten minutes.


This isn’t the first time that I have been in Isabella’s room. Her body is still connected to all the wires that monitor her. The dull beep, beep, beep of machinery that tells all of us she is doing okay. She looks peaceful, the same as when she fell asleep, because that is one of the stranger things about those who fall asleep. They don’t age. Their bodies don’t decay. They seem immune to illness while they sleep, though we still give them vaccines for when they return to the world.

Return to the world. Even that phrasing is odd to me. 

They do not know the world anymore. Technology, it has advanced so much. Telephones and cars were relatively new when she fell asleep. I don’t think television existed and I wonder how you are supposed to explain computers and the internet to them. Oh, I know in that packet I studied, there were guided conversations. Suggestions of how I could breach the topic of all that has changed with Isabella, but none of it sounded natural to me, and why should she trust me?  She doesn’t know me.

I know her, though. I know how her face looks when she dreams. I can’t see what she is dreaming, but her monitors pick up on it. If the dream is pleasant, she has a tiny smile on her face. If the dream is unpleasant, she doesn’t frown. Her lips just fall into a neutral expression, but if you look close enough around her closed eyes, you can notice crinkles that aren’t normally there. She doesn’t talk in her sleep — some do—but she sighs occasionally. 

I have studied her file too. Even if there isn’t much in it. Her’s isn’t the only file I studied, and her sleep isn’t the only one, either. I have worked in this facility for years. I interned here in college, and once I graduated, they offered me a job. My bosses like my insight, apparently. They like how I treat the Sleepers. My curiosity, they say,  is at an appropriate level. 

I can’t really imagine working anywhere else, and I am going to be sad to see all these Sleepers leave. But I know, in ten days’ time, I will have new Sleepers to look over. 


I am seated in my favorite chair in  Isabella’s room. It came from her house and has withstood the test of time. We try to do that when we can, place items from the Sleeper’s lives, around their room. Usually people have albums and pictures, but not Isabella. All she has is this chair, and the dresser in the corner filled with knickknacks and clothing. 

The beeping on the monitor changes and I find my eyes daring towards Isabella. She sits up and stares with a confused expression at all the wires connected on her. Then her eyes land on me.

“I fell asleep, didn’t I?” she asks, her voice sounding rough from lack of use, but at least she still has a voice.

“You did,”  I say, suddenly forgetting everything that I am supposed to be saying to this woman. All the words of comfort and reassurance. At least she doesn’t seem like she wants to rip any of the wires out. She seems calm, and maybe a little too calm, but I will take it. 

Isabella’s eyes land on me, in her chair, and then drift away towards the rest of the room. Taking in the small television in the corner, the dresser that was in the room she was found in, and all the monitors that monitor her health.

“Things look mighty different,” she says, and I notice a hint of an accent. 

“I’ll bet,” I say, and I know that I should say other things. Asking how she is doing. Checking on her vitals and things like that. But she seems so calm, and not at all confused. I suppose by the time she fell asleep, we humans knew the routine. It had been happening for so long. I still think it would be a shock to fall asleep and then wake up a century later, but… not everyone is like me, I suppose. 

“Can I get something to eat?” Isabella asks.

The question makes me laugh.

“Technically, we aren’t supposed to let you eat right away.” I point out.

“I have had nothing to eat in a hundred years. It hardly seems fair to make me wait even longer.”

There’s a glint of amusement in Isabella’s eyes as she says this. I think I probably have five or ten minutes before she really puts up a fuss about food. I also decide that I like her, and maybe this won’t be so bad. Reintroducing her to the world.

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.

September Prompt: Eggs & Roses

September 2020 Prompt: Eggs & Roses

The first prompt I have written for September. Here is my take on Eggs & Roses. It went in a direction I hadn’t expected from it. To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to write until I sat down before a blank document, and then with the magic of 5am (more accurately it was probably 5:30am when I started) words began to flow. This prompt is written in the first person, something I rarely do, but have been compelled to do twice for prompts, interesting! At least, interesting to me. Anyway, please enjoy the prompt. As always, very minimal editing (mostly a read through or two).


“He has been coming every day for the last two years,” May pointed out, with a nod to the older gentleman at one of the booths near the back of the restaurant. 

“He always orders the same meal too,” added April, who had been walking by with a stack of plates balanced precariously on her arms. She shot her twin a look just before she entered the kitchens. 

“She doesn’t like us gossiping about him. She thinks he’s sad,” May explained, pausing a beat before adding, “but you saw how quickly she jumped in to talk about him.” 

“Do you think he’s sad?” I asked, doing that held tilt that always made May laugh. She said it reminded her of her puppy. I liked to make people laugh, it was a compulsion of mine. It didn’t matter if people were laughing with or at me. 

May didn’t laugh but her lips quirked up into an amused smile before she shrugged her shoulders. She gave the old man one more look, and I couldn’t quite read the expression on her face as she studied him. 

“I don’t think that he’s just sad,” May said slowly, “there’s more to it.” 

I wanted to ask May what she meant by that, but April had come back out from the kitchens, and the withering look she had given the two of us, had been enough to spur us into action. There were tables to attend to.


I had been working at the diner for over a month now. It was my first waitressing gig. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the work, but it paid the bills. April and May were a few years older than me. Fraternal twins who looked nothing alike. April was tall with long blonde hair that was always pulled up into a tight bun. She was the more serious twin. May was shorter with hair so dark it looked black, she kept her hair short and buzzed at the back. She had been the one tasked with training me, but May was easily distracted and had a tendency to wander off mid-sentence or training. April seemed to have a sixth sense about that, though, and she would swoop in to save my ass by explaining what her sister had not.

It was a family-owned diner, and it was rare that they hired new staff. Everyone made me feel welcomed, my coworkers, and most of our customers too since they were regulars. I still felt a bit like an outsider, though. Accepted only on the surface level. I had no intention of staying at the diner for years and years like most of the wait staff, and maybe, that was why I felt like I did not quite belong. Maybe everyone else sensed it too, even if they were nice, I never quite felt a real connection with anyone there.

If I managed to make everyone laugh at least once a shift and I got decent tips, then I considered that shift a win. 


“What can I get you today, sir?” I asked, and as I looked up it dawned on me who I was finally waiting on. The older man who came in every day, and sat at this booth.  He was dressed nicely, way too nice for what the diner actually was. I  noticed, for the first time, that he had a bouquet of roses. He must have seen me looking at the roses because he smiled.

“These are for my daughter, she’ll be joining me. I’d like some scrambled eggs, and an orange juice, please.” 

“Should I leave a menu for your daughter, then?” 

“That would be nice.”

I left a menu with the man and walked back towards the kitchen. I did my best not to peek over my shoulder at him.  I couldn’t remember if I had seen him with roses before, but something told my gut, that he probably always came in with them I had just never noticed before. I had never gotten close enough. 

I was distracted for the rest of my shift. I kept glancing at the old man, his table, and the door. Other patrons made jokes with me because they were used to me joking back, but everything felt kind of flat to me. Every time I checked on the old man, to bring him his food and then refill his orange juice, he smiled and seemed happy. Excited even about the prospect of seeing his daughter. But after a few hours, he had gotten up and left. His daughter had never come. He left a decent tip and the roses behind.


“He’s always waiting for his daughter?” I asked May.

We were seated outside of the diner. May’s back against the wall, and an unlit cigarette perched in her lips. She was not actually smoking it, she never did. She just always kept one on her for smoke breaks. I was on my fifteen-minute break, timed just so I could bother May with my questions.

“Always,” May replied, pulling her cigarette out of her mouth and pretending to exhale. 

“And she never comes?” 

“Never,” May stuck the cigarette back between her lips and squinted at me.

“Does any—…” 

“No one knows anything, Bev. He just comes every day, and orders his scrambled eggs with orange juice. He gets exactly one refill of the orange juice and eats his eggs. He eats them slowly and after two or so hours, he leaves. Always leaving the roses and a nice tip behind. No one wants to ask, no one knows what to ask. April is right, you know?  It isn’t our business.” 

May then stood up as I said nothing. Mulling over everything she had just said. Wondering if maybe I should be the one to break protocol and just ask those questions. May studied me for a few minutes, her eyes narrowed like she could read my thoughts. I could feel my face beginning to grow warm under the scrutiny of her look. 

“Don’t forget about the trash,” was what she said instead, before walking back inside. She stuck her unlit cigarette into her apron pocket, next to all of her pens. 


I ended up working at that diner for just under a year. I waited on the old man with his eggs and roses a couple more times. His daughter never came into the diner and I never worked up the courage to ask him anything. I guess, I realized, it was not my place or my business to ask.  Or maybe I could always just feel April’s laser-like eyes boring into my back. I really did not want to deal with her quiet wrath. 

august 2020 prompts: rains

august prompt: rains

The old man had been right, the rains had come early. It had been raining for three days straight, and according to the weather reports, there was no letup in sight. It had started as a slow trickle, more a drizzle than anything else. The parched ground sucking whatever wetness up that it could get. There had still been work to do, prepping life for the rains. My family and I had gotten a headstart on that prep work, thanks to the old man.

He lived on the property nearest us. His house was more of a shack, really. One room with a roof that always looked like it was falling in, and windows that looked like they would leak but never did. His back was hunched with age, and he had wrinkles all over his face. He had been this old for as long as I could remember— even my parents could not remember him looking any younger. He had made the walk, knocked on our front door with his gnarled cane.

“Rains will be here early,” he had said, his voice gravely and rough.

“How early?” my father had asked, he had gotten up from the table where he was reading the weather reports.

“I suspect tomorrow the earliest, but pro’lly the next day.”

“Do you need any help?”

“Been doin’ this longer than you’ve been alive. I don’t feel up to fixin’ anyone’s mistakes, but thank you.”

And with a nod to the rest of the us, he had turned around. We watched as he made a left instead of a right at the end of the driveway, and we knew he was making the rounds. He would walk all day, knocking on doors to tell anyone who would listen to him that the rains were coming.

“We should get to prepping,” Father was saying.

I had picked up the discarded weather reports, looking them over with a frown on my face. The reports were saying no rains for a month. The reports were often wrong— off by a day or two— but never a month.

“But the reports sa—…”

“He’s been around longer than the people doing the reports. The worst that happens is we prep too early, and then can relax at the end of the month.”

“Yes sir,” I said, with a glance at my siblings. No one else said anything as we ate in a hurried silence.

Two weeks into the rain and what had started off as a drizzle had turned into a torrential downpour for five days, before letting up some into a drizzle once more. We had just finished our work before the hard rains had hit. My father and brothers were checking on the fields and barns, making sure that everything was still patched up and letting out the animals who would not mind standing around in a constant drip-drip-drip of rain.

My mother had stopped me short of going out to help. She had been cooking all morning in the kitchen, up before any of the rest of us had gotten up. The rain season meant we all could sleep in, and we took that chance. It had been the smell of the food she was making that had wafted through the floorboards and into my room, that had woken me up. I had drooled some on my pillow, my dreams had become haunted by food thanks to the smells.

“You need to make some deliveries today,” she had told me.

I had my boots on, the ones that went up past my knees. I had on pants designed to get wet and keep me dry. A raincoat, and some gloves that would help me keep a grip on packages of food I had to carry, and a hat.

“Take this one to the old man, it is his favorite.” My mother said, lightly tapping the package on top. “Then to the Maybells, Mrs. Rigsby, and the shop.”

I knew there would be an order to take home from the shop. I set the packages down on one of the wagons we had, designed specifically to not get stuck in the mud. Though, often, it did. I organized the food packages, making sure they would not spill or fall out of the wagon, and then began my journey.

The ground was flooded and I knew that in a week’s time, we would be stuck in the house until the floodwaters receded. Today, with the drizzle, was likely one of the last days to run these errands. The ground squelched under my feet, my boots sticking to the hungry mud. I shivered slightly in the wet and chilled rain, tugging my hat lower on my face. I decided to visit the old man first, as his house was the nearest but also in the opposite direction of everyone else.

The dog barked before I could knock on the door. The old man’s dog was large and barely moved past the man’s porch these days. I could vaguely remember when the dog had been a puppy. I had been a kid back then, and I remember the puppy would always run into our property to chase us around. Now the dog was old, slow, and crotchety. But he seemed to like me, and his bark of a greeting was not aggressive.

“What’s that?” the man said by greeting.

“Food. Mom made your favorite,” I explained as I held up the warm package of food.

“Oh, good. Come in and drink something warm before you go on,” the old man said.

I nodded my head even though he had turned his back to me. I bent down to pet the old dog, who let out a satisfied woof before I stepped into the house. I stood, dripping in what was the entryway of the one-room place. I stood on a mat, knowing it would not make much sense for me to remove all my rain clothes. There was a fire lit, and the place was warm. Cozy. The roof that looked like it should be leaking, just like the windows, did not leak. There was nothing wet in the shack house, except for the mat and that was only because of me.

“Looks can be deceivin’,” the old man said, as he noticed where I was looking.

I let out an awkward laugh. I have never been the best with small talk, even with all my neighbors that I have known all my life. I took the warm mug of tea that was offered to me.

“Thank you,” I said, instead of inquiring how he prepped for the rains.

He sat down on a chair near the fire, and I drank the tea as fast as I could without burning my tongue. It warmed me to my core and tasted sweet. I just had nothing to say to the old man outside of pleasantries, and he seemed to have nothing to say either. I finished the tea, and he nodded towards a small table.

“Set it there, and I’ll be seein’ you. Thank your mom for me.”

“Yessir,” I said and then I left.

I gave the old dog one last ear scratch and began the long, wet, and muddy walk to town.

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.