60-second Story Project (2010-2011)

A year-long project to spark creativity and improve skills

Each day, for an entire year, I wrote a story from a prompt word. The trick? I only had a single minute in which to write the tale. This creativity project revolutionized my writing and my life. It also inspired the creation of the Flash Your Fiction workshop.

June | July | August | September | October | November | December | January | February | March | April | May | June 2011 |

June

6/27/10: The Velvet Room was her favorite book. In some ways, she’d lived the story of heartbreak and longing. Neither she nor her dad would ever be the same, but Isabelle knew that whatever the cost, she would find him again. (velvet)

6/28/10 (fossil) The fossilized skull stared at me from empty eye sockets. The mystery deepened. Where was it from? What kind of animal had three horns and such an elongated snout. It was my job to find out.

6/29/10 (carve): “If you could carve out just a minute of your time,” Ms. Johnson said, “I’d love to speak with you about your son’s predilections for playing with skulls.” “Certainly,” Sheila replied, “but I must warn you, he comes from a long line of skull crushers.”

6/30/10 (tide) The tide rolled in and covered her face. “Please,” she thought. “Please let it work this time. But still as the water flowed into her nose and eyes, as its thundering heart filled her ears, she remained alive. (tide)

July

7/1/10* (trend): “Sure, it’s the latest trend,” Marcia declared artfully arranging her suit as she sat back down at the long mahogany conference table. “But should we really all shave our heads just because Angelina did?” She shook her head and her long, auburn hair fell in a shimmering curtain. “Maybe I don’t want to be that fashionable after all.”

7/2/10* (salute): The one-fingered salute, her older brother called it. Yeah, she was a badass and was going to flip off the next person who got in her way. “Susan Mapleton, where are you going?” Mr. Richardson’s peevish voice cut through her reverie. “Out. It’s time for some lunch.” Susan flipped him the bird, turned her back, and sauntered out of the school.

7/3/10 (common): “In common parlance, ‘whatever’ means, ‘Eh, so so.’ Supposedly, it means that you don’t care what will happen,” Jody said. “But I will prove that when the defendant said, ‘Whatever,’ what she really meant was ‘If you do go out with that other woman, I will be forced to punch you. Hard.'”

7/4/10* (pawn): “Pawn to Queen 4,” Patricia announced gleefully as she moved the small black piece across the board. “Check mate, grandpa!” “Well, well, let’s see now,” Mel Stoddard ran his hand across his wizened face as he surveyed the board. He smiled with pride at his granddaughter. “You know? I think you might be right. Nice job, kid.”

7/5/10 (mud): Don’t think, just jump,” Patrick goaded his little brother. “But it’s too big,” Matthew said. “I’ll get my feet all muddy. “Are you a pirate or a wimp? We have treasure to find.” Patrick replied as he shook own his feet. “I guess I’m a pirate,” Patrick replied dubiously. He paced back a few steps, leaped and promptly landed squarely in the ditch. “Mom is going to kill me,” he predicted darkly.

7/6/10 (myth): “The Greek myths tell tales that explain how the world works. For example, why we have seasons, which is the Demeter/Persephone myth. What explains the passionate pursuit in matters of love (Apollo/Daphne)?” The professor cleared her throat and continued. “But mostly, they are incredible stories, and they’re larger than life. Hopefully, some of you will see that as the term progresses.”

7/7/10* (chaos): “CHAOS. Wasn’t that the name of the bad guys on ‘Get Smart?'” Eileen asked as she prepped her Sub-Atomic Molecular Disturber. “Yep,” Jason replied as put the finishing touches on his brand new Freeze Ray. “And if we’re going to model our super villainy on anyone, it might as well be them.”

7/8/10 (order): “Order is crucial to the survival of the species,” the professor argued. “But, a certain amount of chaos is crucial also,” Ellen replied as she defended her thesis. “Because otherwise, there will be little room for genetic mutation and therefore evolution. In other words, everything will get bored and just sit around watching tv.”

7/9/10 (bear): “Bears, black bears to be exact, are bigger than you think they’re going to be up close.” Mariah adjusted her backpack and read on from the camping guide. “It says here that we shouldn’t leave our food in our tent.” “Um duh,” Sebastian replied. “Who would do that?” “You’d be surprised,” the twelve year old said wisely. “You’d be surprised.”

7/10/10* (generate): “When completed, the sub-atomic particular disturber, will generate enough surplus energy to power a small city, or so it says in the instructions,” Sebastian called. “Not sure exactly why we’ll need to power a small city when after this there won’t be any cities.” “Hush up and hand me that screwdriver,” his mother said as she tinkered with the Disturber. “Or we’ll never conquer the planet.”

7/11/10* (scoop): A scoop of ice cream is 2.5 oz according to the rules and regulations at the Baskin Robbins. But Missy never felt like it was enough, especially not for her crush, Brian Thompson. So, whenever he came in, he got at least four oz. She felt the discrepancy was a small price to pay for getting to marry him someday.

7/12/10 (secure): “Secure the main line,” the skipper yelled to Joanna. “This storm is coming on quick.” “Oh crap,” she thought as she scrambled to the rigging along the slick deck. “All I wanted was to sail in Martha’s Vinyard for a week. I didn’t sign up for this.” The skyscraper of a wave bore down on them with the speed and ferocity of full tsunami.

7/13/10 (forgotten): Long forgotten were the letters, the pink lace ribbon with which she’d tied them in a bow, and the love that had sprung between them that sweltering summer at the cape. But Moira still remembered his eyes – the deep blue of the ocean at midnight – they remained with her.

7/14/10 (lease) Your lease is up on the 31st,” Mr. Linkletter exclaimed. “You’ll need to let me know in writing if you want to re-up.” “Sure,” Shannon answered as she squinted at him through the piercing New Mexico sun. “Absolutely. We’ll want to stay.” Shannon knew that her exploration of the tunnels she’d found below the house would take her at least three months and if the map was accurate, she’d need at least that long to find the Seal of Coronado.

7/15/10* (pleased): “I’m pleased that I can keep myself open to anything,” Amanda commented as she tucked a stray bit of hair behind her ear and arranged her artful chignon. “Because otherwise, this spy stuff would stress me out.” Harry automatically strapped the .22 into his ankle holster as he gazed adoringly at his wife. “Darling, that’s just one of the many reasons I love you, your equanimity.”

7/16/10* (leash): “Grab the leash and we can walk Bentley together,” Zelda called. “Okay mom, but I’m not really sure that’s a good idea,” Martin said dubiously as he hastily snuffed out the flaming coffee table. “Why not?” she asked. “Well, aren’t dragons supposed to be housebroken by the time they’re four? ‘Cause he’s already six and he might set the neighbors’ house on fire again.”

7/17/10 (element): “I’m in my element whenever I walk the highwire,” Kenny announced as he lightly stepped onto the clothesline he’d tied between the brown velvet sofa and his mother’s brand new dining room table. “I’m going to call my act, ‘Death Defied.'” “Yep,” Marshall replied as the table started to scrape along the shiny, oak floor, “this is going to end well.”

7/18/10 (bronze): The squat, bronze statue reeked of blood and was covered in the dry brown substance. “I daresay, I believe we’ve found our murder weapon,” the Inspector Dashiel declared as he straightened from the hole in the floorboards in the opulent library of Brushmore Manor. “Well, Lord Brushmore, do have something to share with us, now?”

7/19/10 (lens): Marla looked through the lens and brought her image into stark focus. “There you are, Big Bird,” she whispered as the almost featherless bird lazily chewed its way through several thick oak branches. The Crested Dodo hadn’t been seen in decades but this remote part of South America boasted the largest population in the world.

7/20/10 (commit): “If you can’t commit to eight weeks of flight training school, how are you going to commit to five years up there?” Martha asked reasonably. “But mom, training school is going to be boring,” Jared grumbled as he moped along the space station’s winding Lunar Corridor. “We’re just going to do zero G stuff and then flight deck stuff, and I’ve already done all that. I want to be out on Triton actually doing something.”

7/21/10* (vase): The vase teetered, rocked over, and shattered on the hardwood floor. “No!” Isabella cried as she raced forward. She knelt among the broken pieces, and her tears flowed onto the shards. “This was my mother’s. It’s the only thing she carried out of Poland, and now it’s gone.” Michael knelt in front his mother and kissed her cheek. “It’s ok, mommy. It’s still here. It’s just different now.”

7/22/10 (plank): “Walk the plank! Walk the plank!” the shout carried across the water. One-eyed Steven stood at the edge of the board and stared at the churning surf below. “But I didn’t do nuthin’ cap’n,” he implored to the Pirate Captain. “You shaved his belly with a rusty razor,” the Captain accused. “And that means you walk the plank!” “Aye aye, sir.” Steven gathered his courage. He walked back to the far end of the board, ran to the edge, and cannonballed into the city pool.

7/23/10 (driven): “Janie’s too driven,” Martha said as she gave her eyelashes one final coat in preparation for her Pulitzer Prize award dinner. “She needs to find another interest besides work or she’ll end up a lonely, bitter, old hag.” “Nonesense,” James replied lightly cupping his wife’s silk-clad shoulders. “She just takes after her mother.”

7/24/10* (sudden): The sudden drop in pressure told him everything he needed to know. “Bring up the mainsail,” he hollered to his crew. “The squall is almost upon us.” The tiny vessel tossed like a child’s bathtub toy as the crew fought to keep it on course. “Captain,” the first mate called through the intercom. “Your orders?” “Head into that cloud, Reynolds.” Captain Zorick replied, “”If we can make it into the nebula, we’ll be fine.”

7/25/10* (complete): “You have one hour to complete the test,” the proctor announced as it picked up its computer. “After that, you will be summarily thrown out.” “Now that’s a way to inspire confidence,” Marika whispered to her classmates as they all looked uneasily at the clouds of whirling space dust just outside the three-inch think porthole. “I mean, after all, ‘thrown out’ doesn’t exactly mean just out of the class.”

7/26/10* (half) Jonas tore the map and gave half to Buddy. “Here. You get half and I get half.” Buddy rubbed at his streaming his eyes and looked up at his older brother. “But that way neither one of us can find it alone.” “Exactly,” Jonas replied wisely. “So, you go live with Mom, and I’ll go live with Dad, and when we see each other again next summer, we’ll find the treasure together.”

7/27/10 (strung) Loretta strung the colored lights carefully as “Jingle Bells” played merrily on her iPod. “I don’t care what anyone says,” she remarked. “I celebrate Christmas whenever I feel like it.” “Yeah,” Antonio replied as lathered on suntan lotion before his Ultimate frisbee game. But do we have to celebrate it every month? I mean, it’s June for Pete’s sake.”

7/28/10 (maid): “Tell the maid to clean that up,” Alexandra stood over her wine spill and addressed the butler. “Looks like you take after your mother after all,” James stated as he walked into the opulent parlor. “What? Oh James,” Alexandra turned and carefully arranged her features into a cold mask. “I didn’t know you were coming by today.” “Just seeing Justin,” he replied as he took in vivid blue eyes, artfully arranged hair, and haughty expression. “Yes, definitely your mother. Both in looks and demeanor.”

7/29/10 (made): He’s a self-made man,” Marc remarked as he led the tour group through the model home. “If it wasn’t for Jay Johnson, this whole town would have fallen on hard times, but his invention of the self cleaning dish shelf turned us around. Now, we no longer have to load dishwashers. We only keep the dishes on the shelves, turn this little switch and voila clean plates!”

7/30/10 (near): “Is it so close? Is it near or far? How do I even begin to answer that question if I can’t find the right painting?” Amanda thought as she sifted through the art forgeries furiously. Nothing about the previous twenty four hours made any sense. If Johnassen didn’t want her to follow his trail, why would he leave such titillating clues?

7/31/10 (miles): “It’s like being sixty miles into a 100-mile trip and being pissed at yourself for not having gotten there yet,” Marianna said wisely as she pulled around in front of a minivan full of kids, moms, and soccer balls. “Whatev, Mom. All I want to know is when I’m going to be able to drive myself,” Jason replied tartly.

August

8/1/10* (decorated): The newly-decorated apartment shone with vivid reds and golds. It was Shoshana’s first, and she would live here alone. Others of her Family had tried before her, but Father always brought them home. She was different. Her mile-wide streak of independence had served her well and promised to do so again. “I will make it,” she announced as she removed her wimple for the last time. “And no one is going to stop me.”

8/2/10* (nun): “Sister Mary, wait up,” Melissa cried as she sped towards the three women in wimples and habits. “I didn’t want to leave without saying goodbye.” The steel-gray eyes surveyed Melissa as the nun’s face creased into a wide smile. “You never leave here, child,” she admonished lightly. “You simply go visit elsewhere for a time.”

8/3/10 (none): “None of this makes any sense,” Mariella stated emphatically as the evidence techs worked diligently all around her. “If Davis wanted to kidnap his children, there were easier ways to do it. He could have just picked them up from school, but instead, what? He landed a helicopter on the front yard and grabbed them in broad daylight? No, this was a hired Doppelganger job, and we’re going to solve it.”

8/4/10 (fences) “We’re going to have to mend some fences eventually,” Sheila said. “There’s always a need to make peace with family even if you don’t particularly like them.” “What? What are you talking about?” Barbie asked petulantly. “Nothing,” Sheila said as she pushed her sister’s stroller. “Just thinking about our future.”

8/5/10 (cross): “Don’t cross me,” Reinholdt warned ominously. “You won’t like me when I’m angry.” “Hey, you sound just like David Banner on that old Hulk show,” Martin replied as he laced up his shoes. “Do you think you can tone it down some for the T-Ball championship game?”

8/6/10* (escape): “There’s no escape.” Mylo thought desperately as he clawed his way higher. “I’m going to be stuck here forever.” A tall straightaway with parallel wooden slats inched toward him and suddenly a giant skin-clad arm reached, stretched out to him. He backed away anxiously but the arm inched closer. Closer. Mylo screamed as the firefighter plucked him out of the tree and brought him down to the ground.

8/7/10 (mission): ‎”Our mission is to infiltrate the Mags stronghold and retrieve the Stone of Markiand,” Sholo said as his team prepared for the onslaught. “But sire,” one of the new cadets queried, his lavender eye wide. “Won’t it kill anyone who comes into contact with it?” “You just take care of the Mags,” Sholo replied as he fitted his shield onto his chest. “And leave the stone to me.”

8/8/10* (created): ‎”Must be a trick of the light,” Julie thought as she gazed intently at the painting. “But, someone is sitting among the tall grass blades.” She had created it in an effort at realism but this was a little too real. The day before, the waterfall had begun to seep onto the easel below. At first she thought it was the upstairs neighbor’s pipes overflowing, but now, the little gnome had moved from atop the great rock.

8/9/10* (whiskey) Mike’s Midnight Tavern held the last dregs of its evening crowd. Steven slammed his whiskey glass on the bar and grumbled, “Hit me again.” “I think you’ve had enough,” Selena said replacing the glass with black coffee. “It’s not enough,” he replied defeated. “It won’t ever be enough until I find my son.”

8/10/10* (flashback): The sky burst into colors of blues, purples, greens and a deep magenta hole where the sun ought to have been. “Wow,” Carol cried into her mic as her P-32 fighter rolled through the dazzling sky. “Did someone just turn on a huge disco ball or am I having the mother of all flashbacks?” “Neither,” the reply came through her headset. “Just make it back to Base…if you can.”

8/11/10 (kettle): The kettle sang its song as Martha arranged cookies on her favorite Disney Princess plate. “No thanks, Janie. I think I’m just going to stay in and have my own personal girls’ night,” she sang into the phone. Tonight, it was just her. Mark had the kids, “Drop Dead Diva” was on TV, and she had oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. What more could she ask for?

8/12/10 (sponge): “Oh no.” Deirdra cried as she ran to get grab a sponge. “Mr. Cavalaro, I’m so, so sorry.” The red wine had already darkened his linen suit pants as Deirdra returned. “It’s ok,” he smiled at the comely waitress. “If it were white wine, I’d look like I had an accident, but with red, it just looks like you did.”

8/13/10 (probable): Police cruisers blocked the street like a 72oz steak squatting in your belly as Detective Reese Monaghan entered Maggio’s. A handcuffed man sat dejectedly at a far table while ME techs buzzed around the crime scene. “The probable cause was what? The fact that the suspect happened to eat spaghetti today?” Monaghan stepped around the body to peer at the mounds of pasta pooled on the restaurant floor. “Do you have any idea how many people eat spaghetti in New York City every single day?”

8/14/10 (seconds): “I can do it in sixty seconds flat,” Regina boasted as she climbed up the monkey bars. “No way,” Marc responded. “First, it can’t be done. Second, you’ll totally get caught.” “Just you watch.” Regina climbed down and loosened her limbs for a bit. “OK, ready? Now, time me.” She backed up a few paces, and at Marc’s “Go!” ran pell mell to the teacher’s lounge to steal Mrs. Johnson’s favorite eraser.

8/15/10 (saved): ‎”Whew, saved by the bell,” Marcie said as she ran into the room and put her bag down on her desk. “What do you mean,” Marshall, her TA, replied as the students settled in for third period. “The bell just rang, and you’re late.” “Yes, but the vice principal wanted ‘a word’ with me and you know what that always means. So, literally, I was saved by the bell.”

8/16/10 (delight): “‘You take great delight in vexing me,'” Marla read from “Pride and Prejudice,” as she slowly swung upside down on the trapeze. “Mom, what does vexing mean?” “It’s when your father decides that it would be a good idea to take your brother swimming in the moat without his water wings and then tries to get the dragon to babysit while he sneaks off into his laboratory,” Genevieve replied as she dusted the grand organ.

8/17/10 (eternally): “I will be eternally grateful to you if you can find my uncle’s watch,” the leggy blond purred as she lit another long black cigarette. “OK, doll,” I ground out as I tried vainly to see her through the haze. “Now how’s about you tell me what’s really going on?”

8/18/10 (blast): Johnson blasted through the lock with the .44, pushed open the door, and looked cautiously inside. “Maryann? Mrs. Thompson, are you in here?” Detective Johnson leaned into the door frame and edged her way inside, low and slow. The chaos in the living room spoke eloquently. Maryann had fought. Johnson just hoped she hadn’t lost.

8/19/10 (fallen): The fallen leaves shushed along the path as Mariah trudged up the hill toward Hutchins Manor. Their shared secret had parted them for decades. But now old Mr. Hutchins had asked specifically for her to return to care for him and for the only home she had ever known. “His love for his home is nothing compared to my love for him,” she thought as she gazed at the dilapidated building. “And so I’ll keep silent.”

8/20/10 (stood): I stood alone at the edge. The earth fell away before me and revealed air, the sheer cliff face, and far below, the rushing water at the bottom of the canyon. “Every time,” I remarked to Jason as he carefully walked up behind me. “Every time I stand at the edge, I wonder if this time, I’ll be able to fly.”

8/21/10 (under): “So, what happens under the rainbow?” Shannon asked reasonably as the “Wizard of Oz” credits rolled. “I mean if there’s all this awesome stuff that happens over it, something amazing ought to be under it. “I bet it’s treasure,” Timmy cried rocking his wheelchair to and fro. “No silly,” Shannon said as she picked up her brother to carry him to bed. “Treasure is always at the end of the rainbow.”

8/22/10 (understood): “They’re gone!” Malin breathed as she stood in the doorway of the main dormitory. Devora understood the answer but somehow she didn’t grok it. “What do you mean the children are gone?” she asked shocked. Her fear spread like the scarlet sunrise on Rigel 7 on the holy days of Maranok. “They can’t have just disappeared. It’s too soon.”

8/23/10* (overhead): The sky overhead howled its siren song. Part azure infinity, party roiling darkness, it drew Paul upward as it had for decades. “Fine!” he said as he finished gassing up his small, twin-engine Cessna. “You want me, you got me.”

8/24/10 (rustling): The rustling papers told Evelyn that Cedric had awakened. “Back to work already?” she asked as she walked into the study. “Yes,” he replied as he continued his search. “My grandmother’s stories weren’t just fantasies she told me at bedtime. They happened. I believe she found the Cross of Coronado, and her journals will prove it.”

8/25/10* (mist): She appeared to Myles through the mist. Silver droplets clung to her hair as she approached and her long sheer gown sparkled. “My God,” he breathed awestruck. “I’ve waited for you all my life.” “Shhh,” Marianna whispered as her arms snaked around him. “The time for talking is over.”

8/26/10 (bleak) The evening had turned bleak in the blink of an eye. “What do you mean, ‘time apart,'” Melissa asked qui­etly as she corked the bot­tle of wine. “I mean time apart,” Simon said ner­vously. “Look, you know we were never going any­where.” Melissa sat, now obliv­i­ous to the white linen table­cloth and the tall, crys­tal gob­lets. “Joan was mostly right about you,” she choked out. “She said you were weak, but she never said you were cruel.”

8/27/10 (overjoyed): Mrs Conroy introduced her champions with all the pride of a coach who had just won the Olympics. “I am overjoyed to present to you, the county-wide fourth grade spelling bee champions, Marc Walker, and Isabella Swarthington.” She wasn’t sure when spelling had become cool, but the two winners were not part of the “in” crowd and this would up their street cred for sure.

8/28/10 (moon): The moon shone brightly over Shadow Lake. Night animals had stilled and silenced as the two young women approached the shore. “Do you really think it’s okay to be here without the priestess,” Maricka asked anxiously as she vainly tried to keep her blue student’s robes clean. “Shh,” Sharnon replied. “The only way to learn the secrets of the Lake is to seek her teachings and that’s what we’re going to do.”

8/29/10 (indistinct): His footsteps indistinct among the clatter of horse’s hooves and sheep brays, Collin stealthily approached the barn. He stole a look through the doorway and was rewarded by the vision of Linda in full swing. Hair flying, muscles straining, she threw bales of hay like they were child’s toys. “I never tire of watching you work,” he remarked appreciatively. “Well,” she wiped auburn hair out of her eyes. “You could see me do it even more if you got off your ass and helped.”

8/30/10 (loft) Marla strode into the large Manhattan loft as if she owned it. “OK, Davis, where did you hide the paint­ing?” she asked. “Hide it? Why would I need to hide it,” he replied scorn­fully as he pointed to the far wall where Abstract in Blue and Green hung promi­nently dis­played. “It is mine after all.” “Yours? It was my grandfather’s. You know it and I know it,” Marla cried. “Besides, you know the curse as well as I do, and you don’t have the balls to tempt fate.”

8/31/10 (cheek) Ramon’s lips hovered just an inch above mine and anticipation of our first kiss sparked in the air. He was everything I had ever wanted: tall, lean, with those dark romantic eyes that made me dream of silken nights on tropical islands. Trouble was, I’d just found out that he’d been providing that dream to Brooke, Deb, and Tracy as well. At the last instant, I turned my head so his lips met my cheek. With a sweet, “I think we should just be friends,” I said my goodnights and gently slammed the door in his face.

September

9/1/10 (trees) “The trees they do grow high, and the leaves they do grow green” Maggie repeated the bittersweet first verse of the tragic folksong as the entire audience wept openly. As the last strains faded, she said “He died young, the boy she married but in the brief time they had together, they loved a lifetime’s worth.” Those who caught the Terminator reference were cheered by the thought and those who didn’t would have to wait until the next set of reels reignited their spirits.

9/2/10 (sign) “Flight 4327 is now boarding rows 26-38,” the announcement reverberated through the terminal. “Show me a sign, and I’ll be more than happy to get on that plane,” Barbara demanded of God, the universe or whatever you want to call it. “But until you show me that Justin hasn’t been cheating on me with every Tammy, Dee, or Harry out there, there’s simply no way I’m going to meet him in Timbuktu to give him his Micky Mouse thermos.”

9/3/10 (invention): “Wow,” Brian marveled as he entered Deborah’s small bungalow. “This place is a shambles. What are you doing?” “Necessity is the mother invention,” Deborah answered as she dug through the closet for a bucket, an umbrella, three candles, and a door hinge. “If I’m going to make that time machine by Friday, I need all this and some almond oil.”

9/4/10 (discuss) “What is the nature of the doughnut hole? Is it negative space that is satisfied to remain thus?” Professor Stockington asked his Philosophy 101 class. “Or is it an emptiness crying out for substance with which it may be fulfilled? Discuss.” The professor strode to the podium and waited expectantly. “Holy crap,” Holly whispered to Jason as the rest of the class stared at the professor in open-mouthed silence. “I think he’s serious.”

9/5/10 (raise): Sirens screamed through the night air as the earth shook and rattled. When it was over, buildings sat at crazy angles and the damage would take weeks to determine. Molly looked over her son’s science project with a critical eye. “J.V? Honey, I think you still need to raise this Plate a little higher,” she called into the other room. “Never mind, I’ll do it for you myself.” Molly grabbed the Plate called X-32V and tugged and on Earth sirens shattered the air once again.

9/6/10 (cousin) “Miley, you’ve got to see this!,” Ashely cried as she ran toward the river. “Wait up,” Miley tried to keep up with her older cousin but her shorter legs were no match for Ashley’s longer, runner’s stride. She arrived at the river’s edge and stopped short in surprise. The nest they had being built all summer, and which had been empty the day before, now contained several small, light blue eggs.

9/7/10 (calling) Maria had spent the evening subtly showing off her engagement ring to each person at the party. Everyone had eventually seen and admired it except Rachel. When Rachel saw the lovely diamond on Maria’s fourth finger, she murmured a “Nice ring,” and continued on. Five minutes later, the cry reverberated throughout the party. “Oh no! It’s the Clue Phone calling, and it’s for me.”

9/8/10 (stroller) Miss Crenshaw rocked the baby’s stroller to and fro’ as she critically watched the other children play on the monkey bars. “Honestly,” she complained to the other nannies, peevishly. “If they were meant to play like monkeys, God would have given them tails.” Overhearing this comment, Gabriel Worthington ran up to the nannies and plainly said what was on everyone’s mind. “Wow, Miss Crenshaw, who pissed in your Wheaties?”

9/9/10 (tilt) “Wahoo!!” The roller coaster careened along full tilt and James loved every second of it. “Slow down,” the doctors had all advised. “No excitement. It is ill-advised for your cardiomyopathy and we want to extend your life as long as possible, now don’t we?” “Yes,” he had nodded his head in seeming agreement and then immediately headed toward Cedar Point. The world sped by him and his heart felt full to bursting. Now, this was living.

9/10/10 (hats) The old oak tree on Wrangler’s Hill had worn many hats throughout its long and auspicious life. It had been a fort, a hideout for pirates, a home to lovers’ trysts, and Madison Grove’s mascot. It had survived droughts, storms, hurricanes, just about anything mother nature had thrown at it. Until today.

9/11/10 (horses) “The horses ran free here at one time,” Laughing Bear spoke quietly but his words carried the weight of generations before him. “The clouds roamed by unhindered, the rains came and went with the seasons.” “And now?” Joanna asked as she looked out over the plains. “And now,” he sighed. “Now, everything walks in opposition. The clouds are stingy with their rain and the horses wear saddles and walk children around the paddock.”

9/12/10 (upstairs) “The control is upstairs,” Mina called urgently as the RobTron 2000 now began systematically disassembling the entertainment center. “I’m sorry Mom,” Reginald said as he raced downstairs holding the smaller silver remote. “I guess we need to look at his word interpretation program. When I told him to clean *up* the living room, he must have understood, “clean *out* the living room.”

9/13/10 (den) “Back when I was a child, we didn’t have these types of machines,” Uncle Ben puffed on his pipe as he made himself comfortable in the den. “What do they do anyway? “Well, they record and play movies,” Sara laughed gaily. “Hmph, new fangled. Back when I was a child…” “Yeah yeah, I know, you walked to school uphill both ways.”

9/14/10 (pouch) “Enjoy your flight,” the ticket taker checked his boarding pass and Tankersley put the ID back in his travel pouch. “Do you think it’ll work?” McNamara asked as he nervously popped another stick of gum in his mouth? “Sure,” Tankersley replied sarcastically. “All we have to do is get to the Eiffel Tower, place the cameras, secure the top floor, and catch the Jackel when he comes to pick up the money. Easy as pie.”

9/15/10 (punch) “May I offer you some punch?” Maurice handed Gabrielle a glass filled to the brim with the red liquid. As he watched her carefully lean forward to take a sip, he was rewarded with a splendid view of her décolletage. “Ah, these Sunday afternoon school mixers really are a delight, aren’t they,” he remarked with guileless smile.

9/16/10 (chuckles): Chuckles, guffaws, and helpless peals of laughter – they all greeted Myron whenever he stepped on stage. He didn’t even have to say anything to evince it. Just seeing him made everyone crack up. “All I want to do is serious theater but no one will ever cast me for Hamlet or MacBeth if my soliloquies leave ’em splitting their sides,” he whined to his agent, yet again. “Damn all those trickster gods in my family tree!”

9/17/10 (involved) “You know, the police always ‘Don’t get involved,'” Margaret commented as she finished putting the proper headlock on the mugger. “They’re probably right,” Jimmy the Knife struggled futilely to get out of her rather simple but effective maneuver. “Except this time,” she said as she called the police with one hand. “This time, you probably shouldn’t have tried to mug Mrs. Bandolini. She can scream for help like nobody’s business.”

9/18/10 (becomes) “‘Morning becomes Electra,'” Justin read aloud. “What the heck does that mean?” “Oh hell, I don’t know,” Sharon replied as she furiously flipped the pages of her huge “Norton Anthology of Literature” in preparation for the morning’s English Lit final. “Either it turns into her or it somehow makes her more attractive. You know, I really wish I’d stayed a biochem major. At least in biochem, there are some absolute truths.”

9/19/10: She couldn’t reach him across the great divide that now separated them. “Really, Steve, I don’t know what to say,” Jenna said gently. “I thought we were friends. I hoped we might be more someday, but marriage? After our second date?” “What can I say” his tortured eyes accused her. “You’re my soulmate. I knew it the second I saw you, but if you don’t feel it, I guess I’ll have to go find the next one.” (divide)

9/20/10: The motel sat at a crossroads on the flat desolate plains. Dust, wind, dead grass, they were its only companions. “There’s nothing here but death,” Jock commented as he and Whalen emptied the contents of their van. “Yeah, but it’s death that pays fifty bucks a set and a night’s lodging,” Whalen replied as he pulled his weather beaten guitar case out of the van. “And that, my friend, is enough life for me.” (motel)

9/21/10: “This is a formal affair,” Shania asked as she buttoned her blouse. “Yes, black tie with cocktails and dinner at 9pm,” Nathaniel had righted his clothes and had begun searching for his shoes. “Well,” Shania touched her lips to his lightly. “Now that we’ve gotten to know each other a little bit, I guess I’ll go out with you.” (formal)

9/22/10″ “‘Just tell me what it is about you. I can’t go on in this world without you.'” “Oh my god. Have I gotten that trite?” A horrified Devon viciously scribbled out the lyrics she’d just written. “Yeah, I’m afraid you might have if those are what you’re coming up with,” Michael, her writing partner and guitarist commented. “I mean, I know you need a hit, but you really don’t need one this badly.” (without)

9/23/10: “I got nothin’,” Marika said as she tried Johann’s “Watch” one more time. “It’s supposed to tick once an hour on the hour as long as he’s breathing, but it’s dead and that means…” She quieted. “Wait,” Harlan cried, alarmed. “What does it mean? This “Watch” is tracking his whereabouts. If it’s not ticking anymore…” “He’s either dead, or off-world,” she replied. “Either way, he’s gone.” (watch)

9/24/10: “‘Help help I’m being held prisoner in a Chinese fortune cookie factory!'” Megan laughed as she crumpled the little strip of paper. “You know, I’ve heard of people actually getting this as a fortune, but I always thought it was an urban legend.” “It is an urban legend,” replied. “This person must really be in trouble.” (help)

9/25/10: The note was made up of letters cut out of newspaper headlines. It was stark, and it meant business. “I’ve taken your candy bar hostage. I am willing to negotiate for its release but only if you promise to stop eating my all potato chips and buy me a new bag of Ruffles. Stay by your phone. You will be called with the details of the exchange.” (hostage)

9/26/10: “Mom, this package came postage due,” Marty said as he held the small brown paper wrapped box up to his mother. “Hmm, the return address is Kenya,” Mary Barton studied the package. “Why on earth would we get something from there?” “Um, Mom? Remember how you told me that if I’d better eat my Brussels sprouts because there were starving children in Africa? Well, I sent them over there and they must have not wanted ’em either.” (postage)

9/27/10: “Waiter, taste my soup,” Mike called to the waiter. “I’m sorry?” the waiter replied. “Taste my soup,” Mike answered. “Okay,” the waiter looked around the table and said, “Um, where’s your spoon?” “Ah Hah,” Mike said triumphantly as Marleen giggled helplessly. “I can’t believe you two just acted out that whole joke,” she said wiping tears from her eyes. “Joke? Actually I was being serious,” he said. “I needed silverware.” (waiter)

9/28/10 “Okay, what exactly are sick jazz hands?” Melanie asked her roommates plaintively as she waved her hands about vaguely. “That was the critique they gave me at the audition. ‘Your jazz hands were SICK!’ Is that anything like having the rockin’ pneumonia and the boogie woogie flu?” “No, hon,” Rachel replied as she continued to work her pliés. “Actually, they liked what you did because ‘sick’ is the new cool.” (jazz)

9/29/10: “Heh, I got nuthin’. I’ve had such a hectic schedule for the last four months that absolutely nothing comes to mind to write about today,” Martin wrote in his blog as he floated through the empty corridors. “I guess I figured six months up here would be a great opportunity to finish my book, but I can’t even make it past, ‘It was a dark and stormy night.’ Of course, ‘dark and stormy’ looks a whole lot different from 15 miles up.” (schedule)

9/30/10: “Don’t put that glass down on the table,” Jerry screamed as he rushed into the kitchen for a towel. “Use a coaster, for Pete’s sake!” “Wow,” Ronda replied as she stood up, grabbed her purse, and picked up her glass. “Nobody ever talked to you about optimal first date behavior, did they?” (coaster)

October

10/1/10: “You have the patience of a saint,” Sister Margaret commented to her Mother Superior as they gathered the day’s books, papers and other classroom detritus. “I couldn’t teach this bunch of misfits.” “They’re not so bad,” the Mother Superior replied. “You know, it’s a very good thing I was a psychology major because B.F. Skinner was right. The only thing that I’ve ever needed to do was show them the ruler and they’ve been perfect little angels ever since.” (patience)

10/2/10: “There’s swimming and there’s drowning. Which one are you gonna do?” Lucas Pendleton ran his unit with the precision of a tactical strike team. “Um coach?” Marcie Cohen raised her hand boldly for one so young and inexperienced. “Do you want to take it down a notch or three? This is summer swim class 101, not the Invasion of Normandy.” (swimming)

10/3/10 “Grandmother, where do you want this box of letters?” Dominique asked as she hauled the last of her grandmother’s things down from the attic. “You ought to decide which of these you want to keep.” Amelia dabbed at her eyes with an embroidered handkerchief. “Silas used to send me love letters,” she said softly. “But that was before….” “Before what?” Donique asked as she hauled the box onto the table. “Before the war, before I married your grandfather, before everything ended.” (used)

10/4/10 “Oh what a tale I have to tell,” Mr. Timuppins declared as he walked into the pub. “I just met the Queen of Fairy, and she tried to get me to come live with her in the Land of the Silver Sky.” “Well now, sit down, have a pint and tell us all about it,” Maeve placed a tankard of frothy brew in front of him. “Hmph,” Benny whispered to his cohorts as they watched the exchange. “Looks like this gambit to get free beer is working like a charm.” (tale)

10/5/10 The yoga students swayed to and fro’ like buildings in a San Francisco earthquake. “try to find your center, your equilibrium,” the instructor said as she moved between students adjusting and guiding their Mountain Pose. “You can find balance anywhere. At a cliff edge, where the sea meets the sky, or even here, in the Costco parking lot.” (buildings)

10/6/10 “Take a walk on the wild side,” Marni encouraged Myra, as she coated her lashes with silver mascara. Myra studied her sister in the reflection of the yellowing mirror. “This is what you call the wild side? Hanging at the Cushion and Cue and sharking the old men at pool?” Marni added a layer of cherry red lipstick to her rosebud mouth. “It beats sitting at home on a Saturday night and they never expect me to be good so I get some nice pocket change.” (walk)

10/7/10 Sue had always been the tallest in her class: gangly, string bean long, and head and shoulders above the rest. The boys never asked her to dance. The girls called her Frankenstein. Then Dave moved to town. He was almost six feet tall – huge for a sixth grader. In ninth grade, they went on their first date. In twelfth, he called her a tall drink of water. In March, they celebrated their thirtieth anniversary. (tallest)

10/8/10: Reggie’s patent leather shoes clanged against the parlor floor as he stomped his feet in frustration. “Mama, stop fussin’ at me. I’m grown,” he said petulantly. “I can do it myself.” “Hmph,” Cordelia sniffed as she shook her head. “No one who is really grown ever says they’re grown. They just know it. Now get over here and let me tie that tie for you.” (grown)

10/9/10: “There’s only one straw left,” Mikey declared as he brandished it aloft. “So now, we decide who’s going to jump out of the balloon and who’s going to live.” “Dude,” Peter reminded him as he gently cuffed him upside the head. “First of all, you need at least two straws to choose between. And second, we’re still on the ground.” (left)

10/10/10: “There was a lot of chatter on the wires, but it didn’t make any sense,” Darren said as he removed his headphones. “What happened” Liam asked worriedly. “Here’s the last thing I heard.” Darren said as he flipped the playback switch. A voice rasped, “They’re they’re coming. Oh my God. they’re coming. They’re com…” and then it all went silent. Deadly silent. (chatter)

10/11/10: The skull glinted dully in the sunlight and the desert air sizzled with waves of heat as the team conducted its investigation. “What do you think, Dr. E?” Detective Gonzalez squatted down beside the County Medical Examiner. “How long has smiley here been hanging out under this saguaro cactus?” (sunlight)

10/12/10: “How can you say I don’t love you,” he said as she pushed him away. “How many times must I say it? What must I do? How many must I kill for you to finally accept that I adore you more than life itself?” “Words are meaningless,” Myra replied scornfully. “Actions make the man!” “Fine then, I’ll say it again in the sunlight,” Vladimir pushed open his coffin lid. “Maybe then you’ll believe me.” (sunlight [again. because they didn’t update the prompt word])

10/13/10: “Ah, I love flannel sheets,” Anne sighed luxuriously she dropped her overnight case and climbed into the four poster bed. “What? That’s all you need?” Walter asked. “Damn, I thought I’d at least need to buy you dinner to get you into bed.” (flannel)

10/14/10 “Take out a single sheet of paper. We are having a surprise writing assignment,” Mr. McDonald announced to the class. “I want you to write a 500-word essay on the meaning of public nudity, roofs, and my car’s paint job. How do they relate and what might have caused someone here to paint naked women on my car and hoist it on the roof of the school.” (sheet)

10/15/10: “O great Mother Bear, hear me. I humbly ask for your presence, and I wait for you to claim me,” Laughing Deer called to the spirits as she stood in the clearing beneath the full moon. Her vision quest would be complete only if the Great Bear chose to come. The trees stood silent. The stars watched. The Earth herself closed her eyes and waited. (bear)

10/16/10: “Dammit! You stretched out my sweater with your 36 Ds,” Marcia complained from her bedroom. “Your sweater? The red one? Why would I have borrowed it?” Jeanne asked innocently. “Ah HA,” Marcia cried. “How did you know it was the red one I was talking about?” (sweater)

10/17/10: The tiny object moved toward the Earth in a curiously straight line. “Wait is that Retlong 185,” Dr. Holcomb asked as he gazed into the telescope. “It’s in the right quadrant, but how can that be? It wasn’t supposed to be visible again for another 35 years.” “Um, Dr. Holcomb,” Neville swallowed nervously. ‎”We just got the Infra Red test results on the comet. It’s not made of rock at all. It’s made of some kind of alloy. It’s…a hull.” (telescope)

10/18/10: “Have a seat,” Dr. Carruthers motioned to an empty chair. “Now, what is it you wanted to see me about?” “Well,” Doug replied as he perched uneasily in the plush brown chair. “I keep having these strange dreams. Sometimes, I’m a tepee and sometimes I’m a yurt.” The doctor rose stiffly. “Is this some kind of joke?” she demanded. “No,” Doug replied. “I think I’m just too tents.” (seat)

10/19/10: In the silence of the deep, the shape appeared on the radar without warning. “What the hell?” the Chief of the Boat double checked his instruments as the submarine traveled quickly. “Captain, we’ve got a bogey at eleven o’clock and closing fast. We’re not going to be able to out run it. It’s big, really big, and it’s…holy crap, it’s an octopus!” (octopus)

10/20/10: “Put the bags on the table,” Johanna said as Blake stepped into the kitchen. “No problem,” he hefted them onto the table and gave Johanna a rare moment to watch him unnoticed. She had long since stopped worrying about where to store the mountains of extra groceries. “Do you need anything else?” he smiled. “No,” she said quietly. “I’ll see you next week.” (table)

10/21/10: Marla donned the glimmering costume and prepared for the evening’s festivities. “Where do you think you’re going?” Madam Dupree cried as Marla left her room. “Tonight, you stay in.” “Oh no! You’re not going to Cinderella me,” Marla said as she brushed past the Madam. “I’m going to the ball and you can put that in your pipe and smoke it!” (costume)

10/22/10: Margie’s whiskers quivered slightly as she lightly sniffed the air. “A storm is coming,” she said as she leaped over the chain link fence of the junkyard. Tiger carefully cleaned his paw as he perched atop the carcass of an old car. “Well then, we should find shelter for the night, because you know how much I dislike getting my fur wet.” (whiskers)

10/23/10: Sheila’s love of lightning was always a solitary pursuit. As a baby she stretched up in her crib to see the slashes of light split the sky, but would quickly sit back down if anyone entered the room. As she matured, she developed the need for connection, and she decided to share her passion. “Hey Toby,” she whispered in Home Ec class. “Watch what happens when I put this fork in the microwave.” (microwave)

10/24/10: Dr. Marcus slid back the stone panel and revealed the jade statue. An elephant in full charge, the statue glowed eerily in the darkened room. “Oh sir,” Mahir whispered. “We should not disturb it. The curse upon it states that he who touches it, shall die.” “Well,” Dr. Marcus removed his gloves and reached out for the jade figurine. “I’ve lived for almost 650 years. And I am finished. So, this will do very well, indeed.” (panel)

10/25/10: “It will take four weeks to send your replacement trap,” the customer service rep said. “Four weeks?” Mrs. Rutherford fumed. “But by then the pests will have taken over.” “I know ma’am but it takes that long to grow the bait. If we try to rush it, we’ll break child labor laws.” “Fine, just send it when it’s ready” she replied. “Very well. We’ll be sending your VampBeGone by November 27th. In the meantime, you might try hanging some garlic on your property. It’s a good temporary deterrent.” (weeks)

10/26/10: Stroke, stroke…stroke – Wendy pulled through the churning surf slower and slower. “I can’t,” she gasped as she stopped moving all together. “I just can’t.” “Keep going,” Larry panted as he moved leaden arms and legs. “I can see the shore. It’s not much farther.” He spoke to air and water; the tide had already claimed her. (shore)

10/27/10: “Please, my lady, if you would, angle your head slightly toward me,” Johannes spoke softly as he stroked vivid paint onto canvas. Gwendolyn covertly gazed at him through lowered lashes. Oh if he only knew of her yearning, surely he would respond in kind. Her breath quickened. Her heart raced. She sat in serene repose. (serene)

10/28/10: “What is that?” Captain St. John caught the barest sound. It washed over him softly, seductively. He turned the big ship’s wheel to starboard. He heard it, just out of reach. The siren’s song compelled him. “Captain, no!” his first mate cried as the ship moved perilously close to jagged rock. “That’s not open sea. That’s not open….” Lailani smiled as she watched the last of the ship disappear. (siren)

10/29/10: Splat! “Nah, nah. You missed me,” Sheldon smirked down at Lena as the water from the popped balloon flowed down the wall. Quickly, he ducked his head below the window. Then, things got quiet. Too quiet. “I know you’re out of ammo. Might as well give up now,” he called.” “Dammit,” Lena stomped her feet in frustration. “He’s right.” “Hah! I win! I win,” Sheldon shot up and claimed victory. Splat! This time the water flowed down his face. (missed)

10/30/10: “Tonight we sail. Tomorrow we die!” Thomas shouted into the raging wind. “Hoist sail, come about to starboard, now to port,” he yelled to his crew of scurvy dogs. No, really, they were scurvy dogs…well at least they were dogs. With their faces lifted to catch the breeze from the A/C, Moxie and Mini, his mother’s two terriers sat patiently and awaited new orders. (sail)

10/31/10: “May your lives together be a great adventure, and I now pronounce you husband and wife,” Reverend Colby said proudly. “You may kiss the bride.” Narkin and Miarah turned to their respective avatars and kissed them passionately. “Woo HOO!” The cheer went up from the audience on both sides of the wormhole as the first holographically televised wedding went off without a hitch. (adventure)

November

11/1/10: “Of course, the prompt word would be ‘fangs’ on Halloween,” she thought as she dutifully wrote her story for the day. Behind her, the soft pad of footsteps sounded but she was too wrapped in words to pay it any mind. Closer he stepped, until his breath fanned her hair. “Honey,” she said. “Wouldn’t you figure they’d put fangs as the prompt…” She stopped, turned, looked up wide-eyed, and her blood sprayed wetly across monitor. (fangs)

11/2/10: 60-sec: Roses, check. Candles, check. Tablecloth, check. Music, check. Ivan set the perfect stage for seduction. Eva would melt when she saw the elaborate evening he had planned, and her arrival was imminent. The soft jazz would soothe her. The setting would thrill her. The smells of the succulent meal would intoxicate…. “Oh crap!” Ivan cried. “I forgot to cook!” (stage)

11/3/10: “Ah, the magic elixir,” Savarino cried as he brandished the glowing bottle of potion for all to see. “It will bring unimaginable riches to the poor. It will bring passionate love to the forsaken. It will perform miracles.” The crowd pressed in as the bottle’s golden light grew intensity. Suddenly, the potion’s light fizzled out. In the ensuing darkness, Savarino cleared his throat nervously. “Oh, that’s what I was supposed to do,” a voice cried from the wings. “I was supposed to change those batteries.” (elixir)

11/4/10: “They’ve been feuding for generations,” Jeb remarked as he and Seth rocked back and forth in front of the general store. “Yep,” Seth replied. “But even they have to admit that together, they’re greater than the sum of their parts.” “Really? You think so? Well, we’ll just have to put it to the test and see what’s what.” Jeb unwrapped another Reese’s peanut butter cup and bit in gleefully. (feud)

11/5/10: “Did you bring the first aid kit?” Joshua asked worriedly as he and Nathan finished packing their camping gear. “‘Cause if I get stung by a bee or bit by a snake or fall down…” “Wow, Josh,” Nathan replied. “Just exactly how much danger do you expect to find in my backyard?” (kit)

11/6/10: “‘Space, the final frontier,’ my ass,” Ensign Powell said as she served drinks to the Commander and Chief Engineer. The ship had been sailing through the Double-Helix Nebula for three solar days, and she still hadn’t even caught a break to see it. “We’ll need to adapt the sub light speed engines to run in hyperspace,” Commander Yarick said to Engineer Hevon. “Without it, we’ll be sitting in this nebula forever.” “Commander, there’s just no way to do it,” Hevon said as he sipped his bourbon. “I’m afraid we’re very much stuck.” “No, we’re not,” Powell grabbed her chance with both hands. “There’s an easy fix.” (adapt)

11/7/10: The submarine lay in wait in the deep. “200, 150, 100, 50, 25! Twenty five yards and holding,” Mitchell kept his eyes glued to the radar screen. “Holy crap Sir!” he called to the Captain. “She’s huge! And this might be our only chance to capture her.” “Capture Nessie?” Old MacCaffrey scoffed from his post. “That’ll be the day. Look again, Mitchell. She’s already long gone.” (radar)

11/8/10: “Mr. Hembly, don’t you look well today,” Mrs. Hutchinson came in with coat fluttering and hat akimbo but her cheerful nature remained undiminished despite the storm. “How would I know? I can’t see,” came his curt reply. “Well, then what shall we read today,” she settled in at the table. “You’re the reader. Why ask me? I’m powerless here,” he replied testily. “Mr. Hembly, there’s blind and then there’s blind,” she said. “You’ll have to choose which you’ll be.” (reader)

11/9/10: “What a lousy day,” Debbie said as she slumped on the couch and opened her beer. “We had 24 Births and 19 Deaths and the paperwork got all screwed up so we didn’t know whom to send where. And on top of that, the damned white light got turned around so the Births kept following it back where they came from and the Deaths just kept hanging around in the dark waiting for some clue as to what to do next.” (lousy)

11/10/10: “OK, Samuel, moment of truth,” The omnipotent Queen Mother declared as she put her bag on the table. “Must I?” Samuel would have preferred twenty lashes with a laser whip or walking the plank of a galactic cruiser, but he handed over the the dreaded document. “Hmm,” his mother smoothed out the report card. “Well, well, well, young man. What do you think of these marks?” “They’re all above average,” he replied, prepared to defend his stance to the death. “They certainly are, especially your creative writing skills.” (average)

11/11/10: I can’t think of thing to write tonight. Nothing is coming. And just sitting here isn’t helping one iota. So, I’m writing whatever comes into my head and then I’m going to sleep. After all, tomorrow, as Scarlet O’Hara said, is another day. (helping)

11/12/10: “Are you certain that you locked the doors when you left?” Detective Donovan asked as he prowled around the museum like a big jungle cat. Ms. Havershem all but fluttered her eyelashes at him. His hooded, slate gray eyes, his dark hair just a shade too long for propriety, and his long, rangy body all spoke of dangerous, dark nights. “Of course I am,” she answered with her fingers crossed behind her back. “I will want a full investigation, Detective. Be prepared to spend a great deal of time here for the foreseeable future.” (certain)

11/13/10: “Take out your writing materials,” Professor Sterling said as he stepped up to the podium. No one moved. “We will be having a pop quiz today,” he continued to deafening silence and complete stillness. Slowly, he walked to his left and stepped directly into the trashcan. “Take out your writing materials,” he repeated as he balanced inside the can. And the students erupted into motion. “Now that’s you how control your class,” he thought with a satisfied smile. (materials)

11/14/10: “How on Earth are we going to market this?” Nate slumped back in his chair and pressed his fingers to his eyes to ease the headache that raged there. “Well,” Taylor replied. “Well, we’ve done it before. Just look at platform sneakers.” “But Bubble Gum with nicotine in it? For kids? Really?” Nate said. “You know what? I’m done. I’m just done.” Nate stood, closed his laptop, and walked out. (market)

11/15/10: Maurice and Tyler ran through the junkyard. They climbed on ancient wrecks and slept on tattered, leather car seats. They hunted raccoon, rat, and the ubiquitous squirrel. The mountains of smashed and flattened cars were their playground, their nation, their world, until the day old Mr. Grindell finally called animal control. (junkyard)

11/16/10: After a full day patrolling, Ariadne carefully climbed up the ivy and back into her house. She only had a few days left before it got too dry and brittle to hold her weight. But in that time, she planned on scouting the rest of the DuPont Circle area. After all, she had been assigned as its Guardian, and it was her responsibility to keep the citizens safe from mice, pigeons, and rats. (ivy)

11/17/10: “Easy there, cowboy,” Marlena caught James as he stumbled against the front door. “You never could handle your liquor,” she continued as she helped him to the sofa and then placed her weapon on the table. “You don’t understand,” he slurred as she removed his weapon from its holster as well. “And you won’t believe me, but I saw her. Kimberly. She’s alive.” (cowboy)

11/18/10: “Herman, duck!” Susan called as they raced pell mell between the dense trees. Like Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker, they just barely managed to avoid the low overhanging branch that threatened to clothesline them. Happily, their pursuers, had obviously never seen the movie and their screams echoed through forest. (duck)

11/19/10: “The sneaker joke killed tonight,” Marty said as he and Myron walked off the stage. “Yeah,” Myron replied as he mopped his face, “but I think all those puns about being callous, acting like a heel, and taking things step by step just massacred them, and not in a good way.” (killed)

11/20/10: “Yesterday’s mythology is today’s science, and today’s mythology is tomorrow’s science,” Mr. Talbott said as he faced the class. “Tell me what that means.” “Well,” Matthew shrugged in his Letterman’s jacket. “There was a time when we all thought that the sun revolved around the Earth and there were all sorts of myths and explanations associated with that. But now we know that it is in fact not the case. Now we know that everything revolves around me.” (science)

11/21/10: Malina was a magnet. She was a magnet for dangerous men, for grand adventures, and for trouble with a capital T. Any man who would hook up with her was on seriously borrowed time. “Still,” Thomas mused as he took in her impossibly long legs, lush figure, and flashing green eyes, “Some things are just worth dying for.” (magnet)

11/22/10: (might be a tad disturbing): “You make it a habit to be right, don’t you, Gabrielle?” Myron moaned as the restraints tightened. “Well,” she replied as she gave the rack’s wheel another turn. “I do think it’s the right thing to do to apologize when you inconvenience someone and even more so when you eat their last cookie.” (habit)

11/23/10: Long after the tremor faded, the flakes of ash danced on the air currents. They landed on the sloping hills and scorched the earth raw. The few humans still alive cowered in caves and avoided the boiling oceans. Rock and tree, bone, and sinew, the Earth’s crust erupted again and the world turned to blood and fire. (flakes)

11/24/10: “No one rides the rails anymore,” Jacob complained as he lay back and stretched his legs. “Of course no one rides them anymore,” Marty took a swig of his beer. “You wanna ride now, you have to pay out your nose. And besides, these trains today are too fast to leave in between stations, if you know what I mean.” “Yep, I miss the days of the old railroad, when a man could hitch a ride and see the countryside.” Jacob said as he pressed the food replicator button on his Cook-o-matic. “Nowadays, it’s all rush, rush, rush.” (railroad)

11/25/10: “First, her head spun around and then, she spewed juice, like all over the place,” Randy said. “It was so cool!” “Yeah, of course it was,” Michael tousled his younger brother’s hair and then tucked him back into his bed. Randy’s nightmare all but forgotten, his natural enthusiasm had returned full force. “From now on though, I don’t want you to watch any of those ‘Scream’ movies without me.” (juice)

11/26/10: Macy understood what it meant when Darren said, “I love you.” It meant: “I need you. I want you. I want you take care of me. I think we should make a life together. We would have beautiful children. I trust you.” About the only thing it didn’t mean was, “I love you.” (understood)

11/27/10: “You always use your turn signal, I like your feet, and I think you have great teeth,” Miranda read as she craned her neck to see the sky. She glanced at Thomas. “So let me see if I can say this just the right way. Some people express their affection by sending flowers or giving candy,” she admonished him gently. “Generally, they don’t hire sky writing planes to spell out their list of the things they like.” (affection)

11/28/10: Jane closed the door as she stormed out of the house. Well, “closed” might not be the right word for it. Slammed or shattered might be more apt. Certainly, the hinges strained and the wood wept at being so abused. But, Jane had a point to make and make it she had. Emphatically. (closed)

11/29/10: “Well, I’ll be hornswaggled,” old Mr. McIntyre cried as he gave his shovel one last good, albeit futile, heave. The rutabaga crop had turned up some beauties this season and he had an eye to winning the “All-County Largest Vegetable” contest at the county fair. But, this last root tenaciously clung to the soil like a tick on a dog’s butt. McIntyre just knew he had a winner right here and he rolled up his sleeves to try again. It was now or never and he wasn’t ’bout to be bested by no plant. (rutabaga and hornswaggled)

11/30/10: “Orangutan, orangutang, I’ve heard it both ways,” Marshall whined as the class filed into the primate house. Everyone remained silent because to do otherwise would be to incur his attention and that would mean more whining of increased volume and duration. See, Marshall was like Forrest Gump only with whining. With Forrest, it had been “Why walk if you can run?” With Marshall, it was “Why speak if you can whine?” (orangutan)

December

12/1/10: “Holy crap, this beer is yeasty. I feel like I’m drinking a piece of bread,” Mitchell said as he sipped the cloudy lager Darren had poured for him. “Hey man,” Darren replied. “Cut me some slack. It was my first home brew.” His voice quieted. “And whatever you do, don’t tell Maria. She’s been giving me crap since I bought all the equipment,” he motioned to the two 50-gallon copper barrels that currently dominated his kitchen. “And if it tastes like crap, she’ll make me get rid of all of it.” (copper and yeast)

12/2/10: “Traditionally, the wood spike has been used to kill vampires,” Professor Von Sumbrink said as he brandished the sharpened oak weapon in front of the Mystical Creatures 401 class. “And yet, some of the newer vampyr, especially those from your generation, are immune to its sting. They seem to require something more to the point and more flamboyant. They require lasers!” He pressed the button on his Laser Pointer and a brilliant blue halo laser shot out and cut down the entire class. (spike and flamboyant)

12/3/10: “You can either transport the piece by boat, or you can do it the old fashioned way and swallow it,” Mr. Jergenson said as he polished the tiny platinum object. “After all it is shaped like a broccoflower,” he smiled. “Actually, Mr. Jergenson,” Drake replied. “It’s a fractal and it is the only thing that will run the Haynes Altimeter or our entire defense system will crumble.” (transport)

12/4/10: “My bunny!” Petunia screamed petulantly as she grabbed it out of her little sister’s hands. Maria was too surprised to cry at this show of proprietorship and dropped on her little rump from the force of the bellow. “Heh,” Paul the Bunny said as Petunia held him tightly. “If you aren’t going to place nice, you’re not going to play at all.” He used his hind paws like a battering ram, knocked Petunia on her butt as well, and took off. (bunny)

12/5/10: “You-are-a-diz-wit. That-is-not-a-gir-affe. That-is-a-ze-bra.” Moltar punched his younger sibling in his appendage as the ship hovered below the belly of the beast. “You-are-wrong,” Boodan replied. “Look-at-the-stri-a-tions. De-fin-ate-ly gir-affe.” “Let-us-ask-the-giant-mop-pet-stand-ing-there.” “Mop-pet,” the ship’s speaker blasted in ultra high frequencies at the seven year-old boy who was visiting the zoo. “What-an-i-mal-is-this?” “Mom,” Timmy squeaked. “Look, it’s a space ship! It’s a space ship!” “Oh, Timmy,” Mrs. Butterman replied. “You have such an imagination. You keep seeing space ships everywhere. Have you never heard of the ‘boy who cried Wolf?'” “But I’m not crying ‘wolf,'” he said. “I’m crying ‘spaceship.'” (prompt words: moppet, zebra, dizwit)

12/6/10: The great telescope slowly rotated into position and showed an immaculate picture of the night sky. Nebulae, stars, quasars – it revealed them all to Dr. Moriarty’s practiced eye. He ignored his assistant who was still putting the finishing touches on their new lab. Suddenly, the picture in the scope became fuzzy, then blurry, and then disappeared all together. “Charleston!” Moriarty bellowed as he saw the nail imbedded in the scope’s body. “What have you done?” “Sorry, Doctor,” Charleston held a framed poster of a kitten hanging off a tree limb. “I was just trying to make it a bit more homey.” (nail)

12/7/10: “Okay, I admit we had to absquatulate, but wasn’t it worth it?” Caleb asked as he and the others removed glitter and pixie dust from their, well, everywhere. “Totally worth it!” Dave waved his spoils of war around like a banner. “Dude,” Mallory answered as he checked underneath the couch for fairies. “A panty raid on the Seelie Court was only worth it if they didn’t follow us back here.” (admit and absquatulate [this last is Julie’s word for the December “give me a prompt word game.)

12/8/10: “Wow, check hers out,” Milo whistled appreciatively as another woman walked by the two men. “And this one’s are long and pointed. And that one over there? She won’t even show hers. Darn.” “You know, Milo” Duncan shook his head. “Most guys look, like you’re doing. Most guys appreciate, like you’re doing. But most guys? Well, most guys aren’t talking about their teeth.” (teeth)

12/9/10: “Woo Hoo!,” Myron cried as he swung from taut rope to taut rope. He and Jonathan had spent the summer setting up this funicular obstacle course/Tarzan’s playground. And now, he was going to get to swing at least once from every tree in the woods. Swing! Swing! There was just one tree left, and he was gunning right for it. “Dude!” Jonathan screamed as Myron reached for one of the surprisingly loose ropes on the last tree. “Those aren’t ropes, that’s a Weeping Willow.” (willow and funicular [Tom’s word])

12/10/10 “Yeah, yeah, I know it’s a cop-out, but I’d be amazed if anything but gibberish came out of my brain after two gigs and tons of miles driven,” Izolda said as she collapsed on the couch. “Come back tomorrow, and maybe I’ll make some sense.” (amazed)

12/11/10: “Now, I’m a believer,” Roger breathed as their lips parted. “What?” Meredith asked dreamily. Roger practically shuffled his feet in embarrassment. “You know the old Monkees song. ‘I thought love was only true in fairy tales. Meant for someone else but not for me….’ Well, up until this moment, I never thought this, love, would happen to me, but now I’m a believer, too.” (believer)

12/12/10: “Hold it! Don’t move.” Professor Spearhead held his hands out like railroad crossing stop bars in front of the immense chasm that opened before them. “What? What is it? I want to know what it is. Don’t you dare keep it from us, Professor! Tell us what it is.” As a student, Penelope was beyond reproach for her knowledge and her curiosity. As a person, she could be a bit too persistent. And the Professor? Well, the Professor had had enough. “You know what, Penelope?” He lowered his hands with glee. “Come and look for yourself.” (immense)

12/13/10: “You know, I think it’s a distinct possibility that we’re lost,” Brenda said as she and Bridget wandered through the maze of “Men, Emotions, and Relationships.” “And what’s more, I think the torch is about to go out,” she gazed apprehensively at the dying ember of the Hope Torch. “Don’t bother me with pesky details,” Bridget replied impatiently. “I am going to find Mr. Right tonight, if it kills me. He’s out here somewhere, and I’m going to make him mine.” “Yeah, but if you can never find your way out of the Maze, it won’t really matter. It’s all doomed anyway,” Brenda said as her Torch flickered and died. (possibility)

12/14/10: Colonel Ames rushed into the SatCom Chamber. She flipped the communications switch for a Global Send. “This is Ames at NORAD. Stand down! We are not at Code Red. I repeat. We are not at Code Red.” She turned to the intruder. “What the hell are you doing?” The Colonel rarely lost her temper. But this time? This time Rudolph had gone too far. “For the last time,” Ames snapped as she pressed the button that turned off the vivid red beacon streaming across the sky. “NORAD will not install a Reindeer Signal.” (temper)

12/15/10: “Well, that’s the last of them,” Sheila licked the last of the stamps onto the envelope. She’d never thought she would ever write a “Dear John” letter but when you found out that your boyfriend, coincidentally named John, had been sleeping with Sue Ellen, Marcia, and Peter, well something had to be done. This one detailed all his faults and shortcomings in black and white before it told him to go take a flying leap off a short pier. And it beat taking her daddy’s hunting rifle down from its perch and using it for its intended purpose. (stamps)

12/16/10: “You will have many successes, ‘between the sheets,'” Katie laughed uproariously at the Fortune Cookie add-on that was a moral imperative at the end of any visit to Foo-Young’s Chinese Restaurant. “Katherine,” her governess’ imperious voice cut off the merriment like a sharpened sushi knife. “We do not use those words at the dinner table.” “Sorry, Miss Beechum,” Katie said contritely. “It should have been ‘You will have many successes in bed.'” (sheets)

12/17/10: “Oh that’s just wrong,” Juliet said as she backed up two steps out of the living room. “What? What do you mean?” Justin slithered out of the jello tower and wrapped himself up in a towel. “It’s my self-expression and if you can’t support it, then, you can just leave,” he said. “Don’t get your panties in a bunch,” she retorted as she picked her way through the green, gelatinous mess and perched on a chair. “All I’m saying is if you’re going to bathe in jello, everyone knows you have to use cherry, not lime.” (wrong)

12/18/10: Lorgan’s walking stick thudded on the path as he moved through the forest. The trees grew dense and thick here in the lowlands, but he knew his way intimately. The last rays of the setting sun burnished the tips of leaves with copper and the first night creatures stirred and rose. “Master Lorgan, it’ll be getting dark soon. We should stop for the night and rest,” Ronnie spoke in the hushed tones of the fearful. “No, my lad,” Lorgan replied gravely. “We must press on for if the sun sets before we reach Gandohar Seat, we will never rest again.” (stick)

12/19/10: “First I was afraid, I was petrified,” the the defiant song emanated from the Green Room as Miss Lacie Faire warmed up for act. “Oh I don’t think so,” Miss Lotti D’ah threw the feather boa over her neck and strode into the dressing room. “Darling, don’t even think about trying to sing ‘I Will Survive’ in tonight’s review,” she skewered Lacie with a look. “That’s my signature piece and always will be.” (boa)

12/20/10: I remember one night when I had a paper due, I stayed up and typed it in the hall of my dorm. I borrowed someone’s Selectric typewriter and sat on the floor type up my American Politics paper on a political party of my own invention. It was 4am, I was bone tired, and each click of the keys drilled into my head like a tiny neutron bomb. And then, came the moment when I got a typo. God, I love my computer. (typewriter)

12/21/10: 60-sec: “Don’t you mess with that, young mistress,” One-eyed Munsell admonished. “A cannon is serious business!” “I know it is,” Felicity replied as she meticulously finished loading the powder. “See that tall ship over there?” she pointed off starboard. “Aye, that I do,” Munsell backed up a step in the murder in her eye. “Well, that’s about to be John Sullivan’s short-ship or half ship, or sunken ship, because I just found out that he slept with that floozy Moira Banks while he was supposedly on a mission for Her Majesty’s Secret Service.” (cannon)

12/22/10: “I’m pissed and I don’t know why,” Marla complained bitterly as she plopped on the couch. “Everything is great and still I feel like crap!” “Well, what’s going on?” Dana had grown accustomed to helping her sister through these gray moods. She couldn’t really call them black moods because Marla never really lost her sense of optimism. It always remained, just underneath the miasma of woe like an ember buried under ash and soot. But still, Dana mused, the moods grew darker every day and something needed to flare that ember back to life before it extinguished completely. (optimism)

12/23/10: The bitter sting of rejection still tormented Myron. To this day, he had never forgotten the trauma of hearing the word “No.” She needed him to be taller. She needed him to not wear or need glasses. And most of all, she needed him to love and be great at science. “That’s impossible” he had cried. “You need me to be a tall, science wonder with perfect eyesight?” “Yes, Mr. Byron,” Colonel Barbara Thompson said as she closed his file. “That is exactly what the Astronaut Training Program needs for you to be.” (rejection)

12/24/10: “I’m going to do it,” Chris said as he strung the next one on the line. “It’s going to be magnificent. All others will pale before it.” He slipped another delicately into place. “They will praise it in song and story from here to eternity.” “Dude, really?” Jim carefully skirted the mass of shining silvery metal. “You desperately need a life. This isn’t the invention of the light bulb or the internal combustion engine. It’s a chain of paperclips.” (paperclips)

12/25/10: My alter ego runs with the wolves. She swims with the dolphins and flies with the eagles. I, on the other hand, run late, swim laps, and fly coach. (alter)

12/26/10:”It didn’t work!” Exhausted, Melissa lay her head on the altar. This summoning had been her last chance and now…. The candles in the room flickered as a breeze blew from nowhere. Behind Melissa, lights pulsed. Spinning light and shadow now writhed where the wall had been. The angel stepped out of the kaleidoscope. “You’re here,” Melissa cried as she fell to her knees. “And, it’s about time you called me in,” the angel replied as it looked around the ashes of the sanctuary. “What were you thinking trying to handle this alone for so long?” It sighed softly. “Never mind, we have a lot of work to do. So, let’s get to it!” (altar)

12/27/10: “Agh, it’s so obvious that the butler did it,” Cavanaugh threw his napkin at the TV as the Mystery of the Week went to commercial break. “I ought to write these movies. I’d do a helluva better job,” he scoffed to Punk. “Yes,” Punk thought as he delicately cleaned his whiskers. “You are so smart. So very smart. You don’t even realize that I licked your entire Salisbury Steak frozen dinner while you were in the John.” (obvious)

12/28/10: “Lucky, huh? No, I’m not feeling lucky,” Lucky said as he looked at the now worthless scraps. “I’m feeling bamboozled.” “What does that mean, boss?” Myron had never been quick, but polysyllabic words had always slowed him down. “It means,” Lucky crumpled the paper slips into a ball. “It means that next time when someone tells me that a horse named No Va is a sure thing, that I’ll check to make sure the darned animal isn’t from South America.” (lucky and bamboozled)

12/29/10: “Until it sparkles, Rebecca. Until it sparkles,” Mrs. Havershem spoke with the arrogance of leadership. Certainly, the job fell to Rebecca to polish the tarnished silver. She was the newest maid at Tourney Manor and those jobs all fell to her. Count Tourney had not entertained since his first wife had died and this would be his first event since that tragic day. Sadly, not even the brilliance of his family’s jewels and silver would brighten his morose disposition. He was a man now possessed by melancholy and nothing would change that. (tarnished)

12/30/10: The night insects busily sang as Rosebud gazed up at the round moon. Her eyes welled with angry tears but she refused to let them spill over. “Wishin’ on the moon is an old Chippewa practice,” Grandmother appeared silently beside her to give her usual blend of comfort and wisdom. “The important thing is to know what it is you are wishing for.” (wishing)

12/31/10: “I’d say it’s far better to split infinitives than it is to split infinities,” Skyler opined as he lazed in the student lounge. “Really? And why would that be?” Rogerson poured sherry out of the decanter on the credenza. “Well,” Skyler replied. “When you split in an infinitive, you get to boldly go somewhere, but when you split an infinity, you stay right where you were before.” (split)

January

1/1/11: The library opened new worlds for me, but only after I turned eleven. Until then, I had made my adventures outside. I climbed trees in search of exotic, indigenous species. I dug for buried treasure in the rich soil. But, after I discovered the library, I did adventuring in the dense forests of Borneo and in the exotic lands of the Far East or off on other planets, or heck, other universes. And that has made all the difference. (library)

1/2/11: “Ed, it says here that, ‘Route 66 is the most dangerous road in the country,”‘ Mrs. Lewis read from her guidebook as the car made its way through the desert. “Do you suppose that’s because it’s so barren,” she looked out at the desolate landscape. “No Lonnie,” Mr. Lewis replied as he navigated the winding road. “It’s because they tried to mark it with the Sign of the Beast and call it Route 666, but the Devil was too devious for that and removed that last 6.” (route)

***From here until the end of the month, each 60-second story will fit into the novel I am writing for IzNoWriMo. I will go back to stand alone stories on February 1st.***

1/3/11: He made the drive to the Georgetown campus without incident, which surprised him because usually the streets in Georgetown teemed with people out on the town. Tourists, students, and locals jostled for space in the cramped quarters between M and 28th streets and the campus. He further performed a minor miracle and successfully parked Lola on a side street near the Walsh Building. “Here goes nothing,” Donovon steeled himself for anything. (success[fully])

1/4/11 The shrill ring of Cassie’s mobile phone sliced through her reverie. She reached into the drawer hidden in her oak reading table, pulled out her purse and grabbed the phone. “You’ve reached Cassandra. How may I serve?” “Serve? What?” Lieutenant Freeman’s irate voice could have cut through steel. “Cassandra, is that you?” “Yes, Lieutenant,” she replied. “Great, I have a job for you. Get to the Walsh Building at Georgetown, Room 32A. This is something that will need your special talents.” He didn’t bother to give her any other information. He knew she wouldn’t need it. “Right, okay,” she replied. “Oh and Cassandra? Stop saying, ‘how may I serve?’ You sound like a waitress,” he hung up. “Okay, if even the Lieutenant hates it” she sighed. “I guess I need a new catch phrase.” She grabbed her purse and keys and headed to Georgetown. (phrase)

1/5/11: “Lac Frangelico,” Barbara intoned the phrase as she poured the golden liquid into the clear, crystal chalice. “Are you sure you’re adding enough,” Michelle breathed as the chalice became cloudy with the mixture of the two liquids. “Yes,” Barbara said as she glanced at the Grimoire again. “If you want to make a white Russian but with Frangelico, you add two fingers instead of three, to cut the taste.” (pharse, again)

1/6/11: “This is all crap. It’s all fiction,” Donovon raked his hands through his hair. “There’s no way you can know when he’ll kill again and what’s more, I’m going to prove it.” “Fine,” Cassie stood and looked at him squarely. “Try to prove me wrong. You’ll fail, we’ll all waste a bunch of time, and another woman will die.” (fiction)

1/7/11: “Okay, everyone, strap in. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride,” Captain Marshall held the throttle full on to overcome the strange repulsion of the planetoid’s anti-grav field. The ship tossed and swerved and those who had eaten lunches desperately tried to keep them. “Think of it! We will discover new lands, new plants, new species,” the Professor cried as the ship decelerated into Atmo and shuddered like it was one of those old-time snow globes being shaken by a crazed five-year-old. “Yeah,” Marshall replied. “But first, we have to survive the landing.” (discover)

1/8/11: “I understood you perfectly,” Simone snapped as she thrust on her coat. “You think we should see other people, and that is because you are a dirty, rotten, black-hearted, douche bag with the soul of a four-day-old turd.” “Actually, it’s because I’m an intelligence agent, and I could endanger you if we’re seen together too often,” Reeves replied, “but your version is much more colorful.” (perfectly)

1/9/11: “You can’t go out like that. It’s not decent. It’s not respectable,” Christine spoke with the weight of experience. “Respectable? What’s that?” Myra asked as she unbuttoned her blouse to anything but a respectable level. “You’ll never find a good husband looking like this,” Christine admonished. Myra turned from her dressing mirror and laughed gayly. “Well, then that’s the answer, Mother. I don’t want a good husband. I want a bad man.” (respectable)

1/10/11: “And, we will ensure that transportation remains smooth and orderly.” Thomas raised his hands above his head and made the universal peace signs with his hands. He stepped off the stage and quickly moved to the door of the auditorium. “We will stand by you. We will succeed where others failed. Thank you for your support,” Thomas glad-handed his constituents as filed past him. “Honestly,” Katie said to Debbie as they left the assembly. “You’d think he was running for President rather than Junior Hall Monitor.” (support)

1/11/11: “Ninety-one. Ninety-two…” Paul drew in a ragged breath as he counted out push-ups. Out of the corner of his eye, he craftily gazed at Rachel and Lisa as they walked by. “Wow, Paul, are you really doing a hundred pushups?” Lisa marveled. “Yeah, well, I need to stay in shape,” he said modestly. “Well, you’re looking good,” Rachel remarked as they moved out of sight. Paul dropped to the ground with a groan. “I thought they’d never leave,” he moaned. He’d almost had to do thirteen push-ups and twelve were his absolute limit. (ragged)

1/12/11: Helena dabbed at the ink blotches on the paper but only succeeded in staining the entire sheet. “Dammit, they won’t come out,” she despaired. “What does it matter?” Marjorie asked as she nabbed another cucumber sandwich of the delicate porcelain tray. “It’s a ‘Dear John’ letter. It’s not like you need for it to be pristine.” “Yes,” Helena replied. “But I had some real zingers in here, and I’d hate for that bastard not to be able to read them.” (blotches)

1/13/11: “Wake up, Mommy,” Amanda sobbed. “Please, wake up.” Audrey heard the words dimly, as if from a great distance. She stirred and her eyes fluttered open. “What? What is it, sweetheart?” she cradled her daughter’s face in her hand. Amanda stilled as the creak of the seventh step on the stairs sounded the alarm clearly. She simply said, “They’re here.” (wake)

1/14/11: “Why, I remember that summer day as if it were yesterday,” Mrs Sheedy said as she swept her stoop sparkling clean. “Old Mr. Thomason beat that Johnny Minelli black and blue when he caught him kissing Martha. And then, he swore on his life that boy would never marry his granddaughter. Mark my words,” she punctuated each one with a snap of her broom. “He’s come back from the grave and that Minelli boy won’t live to see the sunrise.” (summer)

1/15/11: Sondra acted on neither a whim nor leap of faith. She weighed the pros and cons. She worked out the philosophical differences in the various schools of thought. But, in the end, none of that mattered because either she was going to be honest, or she would forever wonder what might have been. Thus, Sondra threw her metaphorical coin into the fountain and said, “So, Jerry, how do you feel about Chinese food?” (whim)

1/16/11: The stale Archive air pressed in on them as they continued their search. “Malcolm, I’ve found it! This is a first edition of ‘The Last Words of Henry Tydings,'” Lydia breathed as she held up the frayed book. “No, that’s impossible,” Malcolm replied. “Every last copy was seized and destroyed at the end of the War to End All Wars.” “Well, they were wrong,” Lydia carefully opened the tome. “And now perhaps we will learn what really happened when they assassinated Archduke Francis Ferdinand.” (edition)

1/17/11: I suppose I ought to have some idea of what to write. Tonight, though, every innovative thought I’ve ever had has spiraled down the creativity drain into a parallel universe to arrive in some far away land of bright-eyed thoughts and busy-tailed ideas. Perhaps, tomorrow, I will be able to use the pipe-cleaner of inspiration to reclaim those brilliant snippets of sixty-second fun. For now, I’m going to sleep. (drain)

1/18/11: “Run you, jackass! RUN!!!” Sam screamed and slumped back against the EZ chair in defeat. Beer splattered all over the rug. Pat quickly dropped a homemade cloth napkin on the spill and efficiently cleaned it up. “Um, Sam, you sure love the Ravens,” MadDog said as he cautiously sipped his beer. “I’d have thought Pat would be the football fan. “Heh,” Sam replied as she took a swig of her beer. “Pat couldn’t care less about sports. He’s more of a macramé kind of guy.” (sports)

1/19/11: The recipes you can make with clouds are endless. You can have the icy cold of frozen, crystalline cirrus clouds, the popcorn texture of cumulus clouds, and the lasagna layers of stratus clouds. There you go. It’s an appetizer of popcorn, a main course of lasagna, and ice cream for dessert. (recipes)

1/20/11: Hmm, nothing’s coming to mind except other people’s stories. “Spiderman, spiderman, does whatever a spider can…” That one still thrills me and yes, I know all the words and will sing them unprovoked. Or, “Along came a spider and sat down beside her, and she said, ‘Hey. How’s it going?'” That one’s from “Lenore, the little dead girl.” Or, then there’s “Charlotte’s Web” which made me cry. What is it about spider stories that leaves such a poignant and lasting impression? (spider)

1/21/11: The sky stretched out in an endless wave of sparkling indigo. Myriad stars burst into life around us yet everything lay hushed and waiting. “It’s only a few minutes until moonrise,” Joshua sat beside me on the cold, desert sand. He handed me the thermos. I unscrewed it and poured myself hot chocolate. “We missed the first star, so we can’t make a wish,” I lamented with a smile. “We have the night, hot chocolate, and each other,” he answered. “What else is there to wish for?” (endless)

1/22/11: “Don’t hold the paper too close to the candle or it’ll catch on fire,” Rory warned. “Yeah, but heating it up is the only way to see today’s clue,” Susan replied. The paper warmed and revealed a single jaggedly written word. “Hey, it’s the same clue we got yesterday,” Susan moved the paper away from the flame. “It says, ‘endless’ again.” “Man, this game is lame. I thought it’d be a cool mystery, but everything just repeats itself,” Rory slumped into a chair. “No,” Susan smiled. “Don’t you get it? It’s not repeating itself. It’s just ‘endless.'” (endless, again)

1/23/11: “Ah crap! The furnace is out again,” Deborah fumed. “You have to go down there and restart the pilot light,” Lola advised. “I know, Mom, I know.” “Why, I remember when your father would go down there and take care of these things. That was man’s work back then,” she reminisced. “Yeah, but then he left so now it’s women’s work,” Deborah replied as she grabbed flashlight and matches. “Funny, how he left, though” Lola mused. “One night, he went down to restart that furnace and then he never came back.” She paused, looked toward the basement door and said, “You know? It’s not that cold. Maybe we don’t need the furnace running tonight.” (furnace)

1/24/11: Marge poured over the entry. The numbers, quantities and descriptions mystified and thwarted her at every turn. Suddenly, she snapped the book shut. “I know the secret. I’ve solved it!” “You did? How wonderful!” Michael looked up from his papers expectantly. Then, he noticed the book she held. “Um, honey, what exactly did you solve?” “The Mystery of the Non-Collapsing Cake, of course,” she replied smugly. “If you want one that doesn’t deflate like a dead balloon, you simply order it from http://www.justdesserts.com.” (solved)

1/25/11: “3-2-1 Blast OFF!” Mason flipped the last switch and flames burst forth from the fuselage. The ground shook beneath their feet, and the rocket gracefully lifted off and spiraled into space. “Wow, look at that,” Billy craned his neck and watched the rocket disappear. “I can’t even see it anymore,” he shouted excitedly. “Well, you’d better see it,” Hannah stopped her bike in front of her little brother. “If it lands in Mrs. Harrison’s petunias again, Mom is gonna have your head.” (rocket)

1/26/11:”Wheeeeeeee!” Lizzie shouted as the red toboggan saucer screamed down the basement steps. Thud! It landed against the mattress Tammy had placed at the bottom. Lizzie arched through the air, landed, and sprawled on the mattress. “Woo HOO,” she cried. “I bet that’s just what flying is like!” “Yeah,” Tammy replied. “Except, generally you don’t do it on one of these red saucer things.” “No, don’t you get it?” Lizzie asked. “It’s a flying saucer.” (basement)

1/27/11: The occasional sniffle broke the silence. The mourners wore black, except Mrs. Thorndue, who looked smashing in a teal De La Renta gown. Roger Thorndue walked silently through the open doors and toward the front of the parlor. “Why so glum everyone? The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” he stated. “Daddy?” Anna stammered. “I-I can see right through you.” Thorndue looked at his arm and saw the light through it. “Well,” he said with his customary aplomb. “Perhaps they weren’t so exaggerated after all.” (reports)

1/28/11: “I need a break,” Munsell said as he rubbed his tired eyes. “But Daddy, you promised to have the rainbow done by mommy’s birthday,” Zoe reminded him. She looked at his progress with a practiced eye. “Daddy, it’s a rainbow circle,” she laughed. “Mommy will like that even better.” (break)

1/29/11: “We’ve had reports of a raving raven in Quadrant 3, over.” Marcus’ voice cut through the static and chatter. “What?” McMillen opened the hailing frequency. “Are you friggin’ kidding me? That’s great news! We haven’t had a confirmed raving raven sighting in months.” He sat back in his chair in relief. “Well, this proves that the Propriety Control Measures are finally losing their effectiveness. Someday, the High Governor won’t have the power to tell anyone to even excuse themselves after burping much less controlling the thoughts and actions of the entire human population. Someday,” he sighed. “We will be free.” (raving and reports [again])

1/30/11: Ooh, I dropped the ball. I thought I could do a bunch of extra sixty-second stories and get ahead but that’s not going to happen. So, there will be a wee little break of a few days, but they’ll be back next weekend. In the meantime, have a great week, y’all. (dropped)

1/31/11: “Wow!” Jenny’s shocked voice sliced through the silence. She rubbed her eyes in the vain hope that the chaos would miraculously disappear when she looked again. “Nope, it’s still here.” Their house now tilted at a crazy angle and the fire hydrant in from of them belched a gelatinous green fluid. The furniture floated around the house as if held there by some gravitaitonal force. Periodically, the objects’ orbits brought them together to form a single word, “Bertram!” Sharon read the word as she walked up behind her sister. “We should have known. Well, however he did this, you can bet there will be consequences.” “Yeah,” Jenny replied. “Now let’s make him face them.” (wow, consequences)

February

2/1/11: Michael had always had trouble keeping his horns hidden. Most people’s horns remained invisible, or at least unobtrusive. But with him, any time he got jealous or envious or greedy, they sprouted like newly-planted corn. “Well,” Gabriel said after the umpteenth time Michael had rushed in trying vainly to hide them from suspicious witnesses. “You saw another hot woman on someone else’s arm, didn’t you? Listen, you either need to get seriously zen or join the Renaissance Festival circuit. They like horns there.” (horns and zen)

2/2/11 and 2/3/11: “Danger! Do NOT feed the Hedgehogs.” The sign, with its many exclamation points, warned them away, but Tish had other plans. “Oh come on,” she goaded Tina as she removed the plastic bag filled with baby carrots from her pocket. “They’re just carrots. What harm can it do?” She threw the carrots into the enclosure. The hedgehogs devoured their treat while the girls sat back and enjoyed the sunny day. Scrabble! Scrabble SCRABBLE! The hedgehogs had climbed the enclosure wall and now sat on top, noses busily seeking more food. The leader zeroed in on Tish and as one they jumped down the wall and pursued her. “Throw them the rest of the carrots,” Tina cried as the girls ran. “I don’t have any more!” Tish panted. The girls ran back into the science museum building with the hedgehogs hot on their trail. They slammed the door and leaned back against it to catch their breath. “Wow,” Tish gasped. “They must really like baby carrots.” “No, you idiot,” Tina cried. “Didn’t you read the whole sign? “That’s why they’re out there by themselves. They’re carnivorous hedgehogs.” (danger, feed)

2/4/11: They faced each other like duelists. Neither gave an inch and held on to pride like it was their only lifeline. “Okay, fine, I love you! Is that what you want to hear?” Shannon stood trembling. He tore the words from her throat as if he had reached in and wrenched them out. “Yes, that is what I want to hear,” Max slowly reached into his pocket and produced a small, velvet box. “If I am going to ask you to marry me, it definitely helps to know you love me.” (wrench)

2/5/11: “But this is career suicide,” Angelo screamed at Bobby. “I don’t care,” Bobby said as he finished cleaning his Walther PPK. “It’s what I’ve always wanted to do.” Angelo took a deep breath and tried to calm his nerves. Bobby was always the cool customer and Angelo usually took his lead from his more experienced colleague. “Bobby,” Angelo pleaded. “Hitmen don’t travel the Barbie Doll convention circuit showing their collections. It’s just not done!” “It is done, Angelo,” Bobby replied. “It’s done, and I’m going to do it.” (suicide)

2/6/11: “That’s IT!” Gertrude threw her headset against the window, where it shattered. “I am FINISHED!” She kicked over a trash can as she stomped out of the room. “Hey, what’s going on?” Randy asked nervously. “Oh, she’s just mad because her husband forgot to buy peanut butter again,” Megan replied. “For some reason, every time he goes grocery shopping he forgets to buy the peanut butter, and I guess this time it ticked her off a little.” “A Little?” Randy cried. “Oh yeah. You should have seen what she did when he forgot to pick up the dry cleaning. Heh, you’d think an air traffic controller would have a cooler head.” (controller)

2/7/11: “Red pills, blue pills, purple pills – you give me so many nowadays,” Mrs Hutchinson said as she lifted the paper cup to her lips. “Well now, you know it’s for your own good,” Nurse Park’s condescending smile didn’t come close to reaching her eyes. “You have to take these to get better.” Mrs. Hutchinson paused and then spit the pills back into the cup resolutely. “You and I both know I’ll never get better, Nurse Park. And if I’m going to get worse, I’m going to do it on my terms.” (pills)

2/8/11: “He’s here! He’s here! Everyone run!” the scout ran this way and that as he raised the alarm. “What is it? Who’s here?” Marlee ran over to the opening and looked out. “Oh no!” she breathed. She scurried over to the war room to give her report. “General, we need to take action,” she stated. “We thought he was gone for good, but I was just at the tunnel opening to the living room, and it’s true. ‘Whiskers’ is back from the veterinarian’s.” (alarm)

2/9/11: TThe old stone house moaned under the assault of the wind. Those inside shuddered as rain beat against the windows. They had gathered at the old Sumner place, once again, to remember. But one had returned to find answers. Of all of them, Marcus alone remained certain. “She was just here, a minute ago. I’d swear it!” Marcus inhaled the rich, spicy scent of her. “Yes, it is redolent of Mariana,” Mrs. Taylor agreed as she too sensed that fragrance. “But darling,” she laid her hand on Marcus’ arm. “Mariana died. Twenty years ago.”” (fragrance)

2/10/11: The chilly evening had turned into a frigid night. Icicles hung like frozen swords ready to strike down the unweary. And yet, Myron scurried into the bar wearing only a t-shirt and shorts. “Heh, you just took the coward’s way out,” Randall gloated as he took in his friend’s attire. “What? I did not!” Myron replied. “I wanted to come out here like this. It’s brisk and invigorating.” “Right,” Randall drew the word out. “It’s not because Michele threatened to kill you if you walked out of the house wearing that filthy sweater and jeans you always wear, again.” “No, it’s not!” Myron asserted. “It’s because everything single piece of winter clothing I own is wet in the wash.” (coward)

2/11/11: “There is actually very little difference between regret and revolt, don’t you think?” Marcia pondered. “I’d say they’re closely related,” Alan agreed. “In fact, you could say they’re interchangeable. You might regret the night you spent with a revolting guy, and you’ll revolt at the thought of regretting eating that last chocolate doughnut.” (revolt)

2/12/11: It was like looking for a needle in a haystack, Marjorie thought as she studied her instruments. Or rather, it was like looking for a microscopic needle in a million haystacks. “There’s just one that’s going to work,” Marjorie stated. “And we have to find that one.” “But that’s crazy,” Reginald replied tartly. “there has to be more than one gigantic Class 6, uninhabited planet that can restrain and sustain this thing.” “I’m sure there is,” Marjorie said. “But we need to make sure that it can’t find enough resources to get off-planet, ever again.” “Darn those ‘no capital punishment’ protestors and their lobbyists.” Reginald grumbled. “I think once a Planet-Eater has eaten its fifth populated planet, it forfeits life, without parole.” (needle)

2/13/11: “‘The way to get ahead is to have a Take Charge attitude.’ Or at least that’s what it says in the Golden Rules of ‘You Too Can Get Everything You Want,'” Tammy read as she held the book in one hand and scrubbed out old fudge tins with the other. “Sure,” Roberta busily rinsed out used sundae boats. “A ‘take charge’ attitude is terrific, unless the only thing you get to ‘take charge’ of is a mop and some sponges. Then, it pretty much just sucks.”

2/14/11: Sheila stood frozen. It loomed large in front of her. Round, metal, with a meshed netting, it scared her witless. She was rooted to the spot. And then the terrible, terrifying sound came. Part screech, part siren, it reached the farthest reaches of the room and reverberated back. “Go on, Sheila,” Barnaby called to her softly. “There’s only one way to beat this thing.” Sheila gathered her courage, nodded bravely, and stepped forward. She took a huge breath and sang into the microphone. (microphone)

2/15/11: “Hmm, I wonder if the fact that it’s Valentine’s Day has any bearing on the word they chose today?” Alexis said as she searched through the X0X-12-LV database. “In fact, the words massacre, heart, cupid, chocolate, and love are all highlighted here,” she murmured as the soft light of the monitor reflected the words in red. “But, only one of these really typifies the sweetness and joy of the holiday. Only one provides that everlasting fulfillment and happiness.” “So, which one is it?” Michael asked curiously. “Why massacre, of course.” Alexis smiled as she neatly slit his throat with her machete. “What else could it be?” (chocolate)

2/16/11: She had style. She had flare. She wore pink pigtails in her hair. Lady Goo Goo was the epitome of a fashionista. When she turned one, she insisted that her booties be Manolo Blahniks. And her diaper bag? Dolce and Gabbana. She was workin’ it, until the day she met Mario. With absolutely no designer label to be found anywhere near him, he blazed his own trail. He was the bad boy of the daycare center. (flare)

2/17/11: “You pulled the wool over my eyes for the last time,” Mrs Kitrich yelled down the stairs. If steam could have actually poured out her ears, it would have done so right then. For years, her husband had told her that the best way for husbands and wives to sleep well was to peck each other goodnight and then go to their separate bedrooms because that way they would both sleep soundly. “But I just read Ashley’s “Glamour” magazine. And I’ve learned,” Mrs. Kitrich shouted again. “It’s not solitude and quiet that help you sleep better. It’s regular orgasms.” (wool)

2/18/11: “Ah crap! I give up!” a frustrated Melissa moved away from the chaos. “It’s all the babies’ fault. They tangled it all up; they should unravel it!” Even Alexander the Great would have been daunted by the knots in the think, silk webbing. “But Mom said that we need to detangle all of it before she gets home with dinner,” Timmy reminded his big sister as he kept working at the web. “Or else,” pointed to the back of the room with a free pincer, “the fly will get away and all the babies will go hungry.” (tangle)

2/19/11: “Five minutes ladies,” Noel the Assistant Stage Manager poked his head into the room but nervously averted his eyes. His love for Maureen was legendary in the exotic dancer circles, but he had yet to even ever say her name. “You know,” Sally drawled as she removed her corset made entirely of slinkys. “One of these days, you really ought to give Noel a chance, because before you know it, those perky tennis balls of yours are gonna wind up swinging around your knees and then it’ll be too late.” “They have yet to invent something that can keep my breasts from being perky,” Maureen looked in the mirror and nodded in satisfaction. “Until then, he’ll just have to invent reasons to come and *not* talk to me.” (invent)

2/20/11: “What I really want to know,” Mr. Thompson said, “is about romance and also about my Cat-A-Life invention.” Miranda shuffled the deck and laid out the nine-card spread. “No, I’m afraid it’s not in the cards,” she said. “You won’t meet a tall dark stranger. You’ll end up with a short, blond neighbor. You won’t make millions with your invention of the computerized cat that wants food, scratches the furniture, and actually wets a litterbox with oil from its servos. Instead, you will invent the Cat Reincarnat-a-Tron, and the name describes it very well. You know those nine lives cats are supposed to have? Well, you’re going to make that, for real.” (cards”

2/21/11: “He is a sage, a wise man, a man with *vision*,” she intoned in a terrible yet vague Eastern European accent. “Really?” Izolda stepped away from the microphone as the director yelled “CUT.” “You really want the accent to sound like I just walked off a bad episode of the “the Transylvanian Edition Psychic Friends Network?” “Yes,” Turner replied. “We want it just like that. In fact, make it bigger, if that’s even possible.” (sage)

2/22/11: “No, honey. I said we needed to go to the outlet mall,” Mrs. Freter-Chakrate said into her headset. “The regular malls don’t to carry it.” “Are you sure we have to,” her husband asked. “I hate going to the outlet mall. There are too many people, and they always look at us funny.” “Now, dear,” she replied as she adjusted the GPS coordinates. “We’ll be in and out, I promise. But we do need a new Ionic Subatomic Particle Converter or I simply won’t be able to make breakfast.” “Oh all right,” he grumbled. “But I’m engaging the cloaking device.” (outlet)

2/23/11: Pat and Milo swaggered into O’Malley’s and took two seats at the bar. “You know what I’d like?” Pat said. “I want a mango margarita!” “Are you kidding me? That’s a girl’s drink,” Milo snickered. Pat swung out one strong arm and lifted Milo off his feet. “You dufus. I am a girl.” (mango)

2/24/11: His ammunition cocked and ready, Evans zeroed in on his target. He was coming in at a steep angle but the wind stayed with him and he’d be able to pull out in time. “And bombs away!” He released the projectile onto the bench and its occupant with pinpoint accuracy and pulled out of his nosedive. Mr. Adams jerked as the full force of the ammo hit him on the head. He raised a flailing fist and yelled, “Damn Pigeons!” (bench)

2/25/11: “The Barber of Seville, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street – I tell you, barbers have gotten a bad rap.” Mr. Mitchell sharpened his straight razor on the leather strip. “It’s like they think we’re all murderers who will slash your throat as soon as look at you.” Now, he checked the edge. It glinted starkly in the pale light of the room. “Really,” he placed the razor against Mr. Hawthorne’s neck. “If I wanted to kill the man who was sleeping with my wife, I would find a more expedient, less traceable way to do it. By the way, Mr. Hawthorne,” Mitchell smiled faintly. “How did you enjoy your complimentary tea?” (barber)

2/26/11: “She turned the tables on him and got away with both halves of the million dollars in gold doubloons. No one else had thought to look inside the corpse, but the Mortician had ferreted out the secret. It was just too bad that he would never live to spend a dime of it,” Moira read aloud from “the Curious Death of The Last Mortician.” “‘Turned the tables,’ just where the heck does that expression come from?” she mused. “Wait,” Henry turned to her in surprise. “You’re reading about gold doubloons being stitched into a corpse and what puzzles you is where ‘turned the tables’ comes from? Aw, honey,” he smiled. “I knew I married you for a reason.” (tables)

2/27/11: “Be fit. Be strong. Sing it proud in a song. Eat Farb Vitamins and live long. You’ll look great and belong.” Natalie calmly closed her laptop. “Yes, she said. That’s it.” She carefully unplugged the power chord from the computer’s base. “I’m done.” She moved over to the window, pushed it open, and inhaled the sweet spring air. She threw her laptop to fall twenty stories below. She smiled. (strong)

2/28/11: “There’s just one key on the keychain and that’s the one to the attic. If you use it, you’ll never come out again.” Elyssa finished reading the note, crumpled it, and threw it away. She walked toward the attic door, inserted the key in the lock and entered. The last words she ever said? “Who the hell wants to stay here, anyway?” (keychain)

March

3/1/11: “How could you be so cheap?” Shannon stormed out of the cafe and float-jumped toward the Archimedes Crater. Lars followed her, but his suit hampered him. Unlike Shannon, he hadn’t thought to maintain backup antigrav settings for Lunar/Outside. “You promised me a real vacation,” her voice boomed in his headset. “But honey,” he pleaded as he frantically tried to prep his suit’s settings. “It is a real vacation. It’s a cruise. It’ll be great.” “A cruise around Venus? Without even touching down? That’s like going to Vegas and not setting foot in Caesar’s Palace. Mother was right. I never should have married a Martian. You’re all skinflints!” (cheap)

3/2/11: “It’s your basic confidentiality agreement,” Mr. Rogers spoke softly as he stroked his mustache. “After you sign it, you will be taken to the ship. Once there, you will put on the baby doll pajamas. You will tape lollipops to your arms, and you will smear chocolate pudding into your hair. At precisely 1pm, you will approach the Captain’s quarters. You will knock on the door and when he answers you will sing ‘I Honestly Love You,’ while letting him suck on your hair. Are we clear?” “Yes,” Antoinette replied as she finished signing the document. “But honestly, this isn’t even close to the strangest thing I’ve ever done. Why the need for ‘my lips are sealed’ papers?” “Heh, Mr. Rogers answered. “What guy is going to admit he likes ‘I Honestly Love You?'” (basic)

3/3/11: “Lunatic!” Doris stormed into the apartment, slammed the door, and shot her purse across the room. “Um, which specific lunatic were you referring to?” Like a very smart turtle Neal slowly poked his head up from behind the sofa. He knew to be on his guard before she came home on Wednesday evenings. Wednesday was her Bridge night and with the ladies of the All Women’s Fifth Infantry, AKA the Blazing Amazons, anything could happen. “That Morna,” Doris seethed. “She bid a 7 No Trump when she had no Aces.” (specific)

3/4/11: Mitzi had memorized every word of each of the books. She had prepared arguments and counter arguments for every possible question on the Landmarks in Literature final. But then, her complete lack of sleep illuminated her place in the Universe and the interconnectedness of all things wherein she realized that brevity was the key to good communication. So, when she saw the question on the exam, she supplied the only appropriate answer. In capital letters, yet with beautiful penmanship, she wrote the single word: “Whatever.” (final)

3/5/11: “I’ve had just about enough,” Mrs. Sugarman marched toward the back of the room. “We need to control the vandalism in this school, and we will begin with you, Miss. Tripplehorn.” She grabbed the book out of Myra’s hands and brandished it before her like a sword. “But, Mrs. Sugarman,” Myra said. “Mrs. Sugarman,” she repeated more firmly. “I think it’s only vandalism if you deface someone else’s property. That’s my book. I wrote it.” “What?” Mrs. Sugarman peered at the cover. It clearly read: “Do Your Own Thing And They Can’t Touch You” by Myra Tripplehorn. (control)

3/6/11: “Let’s take Mozart for example.” Marshall stated. “His use of intervals and progressions was second to none. His music transcends time, space, genres. It resonates with all.” He strode over to the piano and sat down. “Just listen to this!” He encouraged. “It’s universal.” The entire class leaned in and waited with bated breath. And then, it happened! The first note sounded! Marshall sang rapturously along. “‘Twinkle, twinkle little star. How I wonder where you are….’ See?” he turned to them. “Universal.” (example)

3/7/11: Hi picked her up, and he handled her. He took her in his arms and he swept away. No, I mean that literally. She was Reginald’s favorite broom. (swept)

3/8/11: “Do you really need all this stuff?” Marcia unpacked her old Parker Bros Ouija Board. “I mean, all we’re doing is playing with the board.” Mason fiddled with his recording instruments, adjusted knobs, and fine-tuned his antenna array. “Almost got it,” Mason muttered as he nudged one last antenna into place. Now, he turned to Marcia. “Look, my grandmother has been looking for those darned things for the last twenty years. It’s all she talks about. So, if we’re going to ask my grandfather where he left his doggone dentures, I sure as heck am not going to miss his answer.” (almost)

3/9/11: “Wheep! Wheep!” The sirens sounded in the bay. “Sir, are you ready for departure? The drone is prepped and primed.” The foredeck ensign saluted. “Aye Aye, Ensign. Locked and loaded.” Maretti smiled as his eyes looked everywhere at once. “Maretti, niner four oh one,” he called into his headset. “Preparing for departure and temporary deattachment from the hive.” “You’re cleared for take-off. Coast is clear. Have a good run,” the air traffic controller signaled back. “Hey, Maretti?” he called to the bee. “May the pollen be with you.” (bee)

3/10/11: I’ve often wondered what it would sound like to play the quadratic equation according to its notes. Minus b plus or minus the square root of b squared minus 4 ac all over 2a. So, if a minus is a flat and a plus is a sharp and the numbers are the number of times you play it, then there has to be a melody in it somewhere. That’s it. This is now a moral imperative! Stay tuned. (wondered)

3/11/11: Holding yet another box of clothes, Joanne stopped short in front of her daughter’s door. She studied the red, green and white flag that hung across the threshold. “Mariel?” she called into the room. “When I said the back bedroom was yours, I didn’t actually mean that it belonged to you.” No answer came from within the room. Suddenly, a piece of paper was shoved under the door. Joanne picked it and read, “The Independent State of Mariellia’s Statement of Confederation. Article 1….” “Well,” Joanne sighed. “Since you have a flag, I guess it does belong to you.” (statement)

3/12/11: The scarves curled around her willowy neck like snakes cascading down the branches of a tree. She loved them and wore them often, especially in the summer. Today, when the temperature threatened to scream past 100 degrees, she wore four of them. If someone were to ask her why? She would shrug, arrange them artfully and say, “Why not?” (scarves)

3/13/11: “That’s it,” Isabella threw up her hands in disgust. “She’s just obsessed with her image. She won’t stop staring into the mirror.” “Now darling,” Cameron attempted to calm his wife. “It’s a phase; she’ll get over it.” “Oh, I’m sure she will even if I have to get rid of every single mirror in the house, but in the meantime,” Isabella watched as Elizabeth Morning Glory Tisdale admired the sheen of her own shining hair. “How are we going to get her out there to compete? They’re calling for the teacup breeds and we can’t get her away from that mirror!” (obsessed)

3/14/11: “Do you think you could wave that magic wand and make it stop raining?” Noah mewled as he bailed yet another puddle of water out of the ship. “It’s been forty days and forty nights. Everything is soaking wet, and Mother is having a devil of a time keeping the llamas dry.” “No,” Sarah replied haughtily as she tossed more rain powder into her cauldron. “You promised me that your mother would never come live with us and then she not only showed up, she brought all her pets!” (wand)

3/15/11: I have always lacked organization in the truest sense of the word. Instead, I have relied on my excellent memory, but as I’ve gotten older and my brain has gotten more full, I’ve had to create another method for remembering the important things. Thus, I created Edna. She is the librarian who lives inside my head and she looks like Edna from “The Incredibles.” Whenever I need to remember something, I ask her to wander the vast head room full of filing cabinets and seek the answer. Once she has it, she brings it back to me and the recedes until I need her services once again. (wander)

3/16/11: “Okay, now try it.” Fiyero encouraged Dorothy. “Click your heels and say, ‘There’s no place like home.'” “What, are you crazy?” she cried. “Have you seen the workmanship on these things? These are Ruby Red Swarovsky crystals. The only way those heels will be clicked together is if you pry them off my cold, dead feet and do it yourself.” (heels)

3/17/11: Heh, I got nothing. I can figure out something I suppose, but nothing good. I can go do some yoga and while that might benefit my figure, it won’t do a thing to help out this story. Sometimes, I wish I had a set of instructions to writing these stories. You know, “See Figure 1. Now put tab A into Slot B.” But mostly I reckon, I just have to keep writing and hope that whatever comes out means something to someone. (figure)

Ms. Thornton gave two sharps blows of her whistle. “All right everyone,” she called. “Today we’ll be running laps. So, limber up and get going,” “Ms. Thornton,” Henrietta lightly patted her hair into place as she approached the instructor. “After careful consideration, I don’t believe that gym will be part of my academic process.”

3/18/11: It would have been great if Mike had caught the stray foul ball and won the game. It would have been awesome if he had made the last second free throw after Farber fouled him in the last game of the basketball session in gym. It would have been terrific if he had not gotten a cramp that made his relay team finish last, dead last. As a result, no one wanted him on any of their teams. Not only was he picked last, sometimes he wasn’t picked at all and instead ended up playing the games by himself on the sidelines. He would throw the ball high up in the air, catch it like a wide receiver and then do his own special touch down dance laughing all the while. “You know, you’ll never win this way.” Faber said one day. “On the contrary,” Mike grinned. “I get to play all the games, but absolutely never lose a thing.” (gym)

3/19/11: All Timmy wanted was to get off the piano seat. He wanted to practice. He wanted to learn the instrument and be great, but he also wanted to stand up when he played. See, Jerry Lee Lewis was his hero. Timmy had grown his hair into that slicked back style, and he’d cultivated a crush on a much younger woman, a six-year-old. And last, Timmy wanted to play the piano like a gladiator attacked an enemy – standing. But his parents forbade him to follow in Lewis’ footsteps any further. Timmy understood only part of their fights about his devotion. “There is no way, I’m letting my nine-year-old set any balls on fire,” his mother said. “‘goodness gracious’ or not.” (wanted)

3/20/11: “See that street? On the left?” Bailey pointed out the car window. “You mean the one with the ‘Do Not Enter’ sign?” Rachel asked. “Yeah, that’s it. Turn left right there.” “But….” Rachel left the rest unsaid, shook her head, and turned. Red and blue lights began to flicker behind them. “Hey,” Bailey relaxed back against the seat and stretched out his legs. “It’s your first day at the Police Academy, and we were going to be late, but with this shortcut, we’re in pretty good shape.” (shape)

3/21/11: “Oh!” Jenny pushed back from the table. “I’m going to be sick.” “Well,” Tara looked at her friend sympathetically. “Maybe you shouldn’t have eaten that whole cheesecake,” she said gently. Jenny looked blearily at her best friend. “That rat bastard broke up with me on Facebook,” she. “And he posted it unlocked so everyone could see it. So I deserved that cheesecake!” Jenny rose from her chair purposefully. “Now, get me over to Carl’s place because he totally deserves the technicolor yawn I’m going to make all over his car!” (whole)

3/22/11: At my high school radio station, we made it our policy to stay neutral, to turn the other cheek, and to basically be peacnik weenies until the day someone from Southfork High School’s station dissed not only our school, but our radio station, on the air. The staff dispatched me to exact sweet payment for his slander. I called him. I pretended to be a hot girl red-headed girl named Kim, and I got him so hot and bothered, he let his station lapse into dead air for an entire two minutes. From what I understand, the FCC frowns on that sort of thing, but we didn’t care. In this case, revenge was a dish best served silently. (policy)

3/23/11: “Oh dear,” Mr. Morrisey sighed in concern. Perhaps, our visit to the Music Museum might be to dangerous after all. Listen to this,” he said to his wife. “When you encounter a band of Great Brass in the wild, approach it with extreme caution,” he read out of the the “Lonely Planet Guide to Symphonies and Orchestras.” “The trombones have vicious crooked hooks with which they will grab at you. The French Horns will try to use their horns to knock you down like rams might do, and the tubas, the largest of the brass species can literally swallow you whole.” (approach)

3/24/11: In some alternate universe, I wrote a brilliant mini-tale and put it up and everyone loved it; however, in this one, it was just another “Aww, you tried very hard.” (however)

3/25/11: Her words were woven one into the other. When she spoke, they floated on air currents and interlaced with one another to form a tapestry of sound. (woven)

3/26/11: “Please sit down, Mrs. Mundsen,” the teacher’s overly dulcet tones had immediately put Molly’s teeth on edge. “To be honest, I’m not sure why you wanted to see me,” Molly perched on the edge of her chair.” “Well,” the teacher’s hospital tones continued. “We’ve had some … challenges … with Timothy. It appears that he needs to have his time constantly structured.” “Why is that?” Molly asked. “He is a bright and curious child. Surely, that can’t be a bad thing.” “No,” the teacher steepled her fingers together in front of her pursed lips. “It’s not a … bad … thing. It is just that during recess, he spends his time organizing his class to protest lunch room noise policies and the approved elementary school reading list. And I’m sorry, Mrs. Mundsen, but we just can’t have that kind of individuality here at the Oceanian School.” (structured)

3/27/11: As the smoke from their last exchange cleared, Balthazan and Myiercoff once again faced off in the arena. Each now reached into his Bag of Tricks™ and rummaged for just the right potion. “It’s the classic blunder,” Marty crowed as he watched the bout on the holograph vid-screen. “You never, ever let another wizard see your spells being cast!” “But I thought the classic blunder was to never get involved in a land war in Asia,” Portia said. “Don’t be dumb,” Marty sniffed. “That’s only if you don’t have a Level 3 Wizard in your ranks. Both of these guys are at least Level 4. They ought to know better.” (classic)

3/28/11: “Shhh,” the lady two seats over quieted the people in front of her who were settling into their seats. “The show is about to start.” “Wow,” I turned to my husband. “She means business.” “Yeah,” he said as the lights darkened. We hushed as we waited for the curtain to rise. And then, “Ting Tink Ting Tink,” a cellphone chirped. “Hello?” the “business” lady said. “Yeah, I know I didn’t pick up the dry cleaning, Elmer.” The conductor lifted his baton high and the orchestra began the overture. “No I didn’t forget that your meeting is tomorrow.” The music swelled. “Yes, I will get it first thing,” she fought to be heard over the music. Suddenly, the conductor silenced the musicians, turned around, and waited. Finally, she realized that the entire audience was looking at her. “Uh, Elmer,” she stammered. “I have to go.” She closed her phone, put it away and folded her hands in her lap. “You may continue,” she decreed. “Thank you,” the conductor replied. “But first, either leave, or turn off your cellphone.” The entire audience gave him a standing ovation. (audience)

3/29/11: “Can it be a digital submission or do I need to give you a printout?” Marian asked while the rest of the class filed out of the dome. “No, digital is fine,” the professor replied as he gathered his books and placed them into his anti-grav satchel. “I’ve always preferred paper but now that we’re down to the last 100 trees, I can see how it is more efficacious to do things via vidscreen.” (digital)

3/30/11: “So what you’re saying is that the President is the Chief Executive,” Debbie said. “Yes, exactly,” Brian replied. “He runs the executive branch of the government. “So, in other words, he’s like a Chief Executive Officer of a company,” she continued. “Well, yes,” he replied. “So, that means that if the government is losing money like crazy and people are either being laid off or are totally unemployed and the environment is in crappy shape, then he’s kind of doing a piss poor job,” Debbie asserted. “Well, er, yes,” now he hesitated. “Um, where are you going with this, Debbie?” “The way I see it,” she said, “is that if the boss can’t keep his employees working, happy, and healthy, then he needs to be replaced.” “Yeah,” he agreed. “But you can’t fire the President.” “Yeah, you can, it just takes a while, like four years.” (executive)

3/31/11: I got nothing. I went to sleep that night and I trusted that everything would be just fine in the morning. But while I slept, the cat got out and he hasn’t made it home yet. I am scared I’ll never see him again, and that just kills something inside of me. I’m trying to stay hopeful…. (trusted)

April

4/1/11: “‘As long as you do it on purpose, you will do it properly. Otherwise, you’re just following patterns you learned years and years ago,'” Pamela read from the “instruction manual.” “What the hell is this talking about?” She asked. “I have no idea,” Roger answered. “But it’s the hokey pokey so how difficult is it supposed to be?” (purpose)

4/2/11: “You lied to me!” Lenora cried. “I thought we were just going for an afternoon sail!” The boat jostled to and fro’ as she violently crawled its length. “Now we’re lost, and you brought no food or water. How could you have possibly thought you could cross the Pacific in a dinghy?” Despite all appearances to the contrary, Rutherford claimed, “I know exactly what I’m doing!” “Really?” she replied. “Oh I get it. You were just betting that your ego would inflate large enough to sail us across in no time at all.” (ego)

4/3/11: I just want to thank the entire galaxy and everyone and everything in it for bringing my kitty home to me. (galaxy)

4/4/11: “Do you have any plans tonight?” Larry shuffled his feet and looked at the ground as if he were studying some fantastic, new life form. “Um, what are you looking for?” Patricia was so fascinated by his study of the sidewalk, she completely forgot his question. “Huh?” he said, now staring up at the top of the nearest tree. “I want to know what you’re looking for,” she repeated. Now he painstakingly scrutinized the exposed brick of the school’s wall. “Never mind,” she shrugged and walked away. “I want a partner, someone to share my life, who will love what I love, or at least be interested in it,” He gazed longingly at the back of her head. “Ah, never mind,” he said to himself. “Dammit, I’m never going to get a date.!” (plans)

4/5/11: “I thought that went brilliantly,” Watson gave his satchel a satisfied pat. “Not at all. In fact, I would say we failed miserably,” his companion replied. “Well then how do you define success?” Watson asked as the two men strolled along Drewrey Lane. With a flourish of his great coat, his cohort stopped short. “We have not yet found the last and most vital answer.” “I daresay, we’ve more than done our duty, here,” Watson continued. “We were engaged to ascertain who murdered Mrs. Cromwell, and that we did with alacrity.” “My dear Watson,” Holmes cried. “We only know who committed the crime by his small size seven shoes and muddy footprints. We do not yet possess the knowledge of how a man with no hands, and only one eye could have shot her from two-hundred yards away, in the dead of night.” (success)

4/6/11: She had the strength of ten men, the will of the most stalwart warrior, and the temper of a rabid wolverine. And yet, Martha could be benevolent when it suited her. Unfortunately, it suited her so infrequently, that her parents called her “The Holy Terror” until her fifth Birthday. At which point, she became “She’sNotMyChild.” Eventually, Martha became “Katana,” the premiere intelligence agent of a Black Ops entity called, “The Shop.” Never heard of it? That’s okay. If you had, we’d have to kill you. (strength)

4/7/11: “Maura,” Marcie whispered. “We’re going to get caught.” “Seriously,” Ruthie huddled close to Marcie. “It’s against the rules. And if there are any stray sparks, we could totally get expelled. “One more cable, and we’re all set.” Maura ignored her friends’ dire warnings and pressed on. “There, that ought to do it,” she connected the last wire, turned off the lights, and the room was bathed in an eerie blue darkness. “Are you ready?” She turned to her comrades as she opened the roll of winter green lifesavers and popped one in her mouth. “Prepare to be amazed.” (connected)

4/8/11: Sometimes, these prompt words bring absolutely nothing up. Try as I might, I sit there like a lump of clay, gray, misshapen, and slightly moist. No, wait. I didn’t mean it like that. I meant that regardless of the dead state of my brain, I am determined to write something. Oops, there goes the bell. I’ll try again tomorrow. (determined)

4/9/11: They faced each other across the wide expanse of table like gunslingers of the Old West. “Show some integrity. Own up to what you’ve done,” Terry grated out. Sam calmly dabbed at his lips but stayed silent. “Look,” Terry continued. “There’s only one way this is gonna end. You’re going to have to come clean, and I’ll forgive you. I promise. So, if you took the prize out of the cereal box, just say so.” (integrity)

4/10/11: Young and old, they stood at attention as the ancient tome was carried into the room. “Sisters and brothers,” the leader intoned as he held the book aloft. “We gather here tonight, at the stroke of midnight to pay homage to our predecessors. They braved ridicule and censure to gather and learn. And this sacred text was the first!” The entire room swirled into motion as the alumni brought out their copies. “Now,” the leader cried. “Let us sing the ancient songs!” They erupted as one: “Now is the month of Maying, When Merry Lads Are Playing fa la la la la la la la fa la la la la la….” (alumni)

4/11/11: “There she is,” Marshall whispered to Davy. Davy rolled his eyes and didn’t bother to look toward the door. “Oh Cindy,” he fluttered his eyelashes as he taunted his friend. “I love, love LOVE you. Please marry me and let me have your children,” he continued. “Oh shut it,” Marshall hushed him and forged once again into the fray of getting Cindy to notice him. Cindy sauntered up to the bar. “I have a thirst…” “For knowledge?” Marshall tried to end Cindy’s sentence. “Uh, no,” she replied. “I have a thirst…” “For power,” he supplied this time. “Oh hush up,” she cried. “No, dude. I have thirst for a rum and coke.” (thirst)

4/12/11: “No, I don’t think it’s even,” Mrs. Solomon studied the bookshelf’s placement with a critical eye. “Which way does it need to go? To the left or right?” Sonny of Sonny and Sons Movers asked. “Oh no, dear,” she replied as she withdrew her magic wand from her robe and waved it in an intricate rune. “You really must stop thinking in only two dimensions,” she continued as the bookshelf neatly slid up the wall and hung suspended in the center. “It’s perfectly fine from right to left. It wasn’t even top to bottom.” (bookshelf)

4/13/11: “Ah crap! Two seconds after I bought this thing, it became obsolete,” Miranda605 tossed her iVid560 into the Deconstructor Can™. “What are you talking about?” Steven2560 asked as he opened the protein bar the Deconstructor Can™ had just spit back out to them. “Gah, Steven, turn on your TempleChip™. If you didn’t keep disconnecting from the Grid™, you’d know they just announced the iHolo9. Ah crap,” she said again. “And you know the iHolo will be obsolete in two seconds, too!” “Come on, Mir,” he cajoled while he chewed on the bar. “You know, Energy™ is Energy™. If you don’t like the iHolo9, you can just Deconstruct™ it into something else.” (obsolete)

4/14/11: Marnee debuted a new haircut at the sorority rush party. Some would call the shaved and zebra-stripe painted left side and scarlet and orange mohawked left side severe, but she had grown tired of her blond hair and Laura Ashley party dresses. Tonight, she was going to put the FU in Phi Upsilon Omega. (severe)

4/15/11: “I had done nothing wrong. Nothing. And I tell you, he became hysterical,” Mrs. Robinson anxiously picked at her sweater like she was trying to rend it apart with her scarlet fingernails, but Sherif Johnson noted that her eyes darted to the side in the classic “tell” of the liar. “Really?” the Sheriff smiled tightly. “You’re saying my deputy somehow developed a uterus as he gave you your speeding ticket? Really, Mrs. Robinson, just take your lumps and pay your fine.” (hysterical)

4/16/11: “What are you doing?” Maggie cried. “Are you trying to kill us both?” “What?” Lorenzo held the can close to his chest. “I know what I’m doing.” “Dude, you’re putting out fire with gasoline.” “Stop being so melodramatic,” he replied. “I was just tipping a hat to David Bowie. (gasoline)

4/17/11: Mariah ran her fingers through her now luxurious, blond hair. She had cut it, colored it, styled it, and given it a hot oil treatment with olive and coconut oils. She’d done everything she could think to do because sometimes just washing a man out of your hair simply wasn’t going to cut it. (luxurious)

4/18/11: “So,” Myron said to the cool blond next to him as he slid onto the bar stool. “Do you know the difference between Scottish and Irish whiskey?” Danielle slid her eyes from the tips of his ears to his toes. Casually, she reached for a napkin. Sensuously, her long fingers opened his jacket pocket; slowly she withdrew a pen. She wrote on the napkin, which then turned toward the hapless Myron. On the napkin, was not her phone number as he had prayed. Instead, it was, “the letter E.” Danielle said. “The Scots don’t have it and the Irish do. And now you do as well,” she continued. “Because, I’m giving you an ‘E’ for effort, too.” (whiskey)

4/19/11: “Oh man, the acoustics in this room are perfect,” Jay breathed in awe. “I don’t know about perfect acoustics,” Mary replied, “but I do believe it’s soundproof.” She moved to the light switch and glanced back at her soon to be ex-boyfriend. Before she plunged the room into total darkness, her long, thin stiletto glinted under the dull band room’s fluorescent lights. “After all,” she continued as she advanced on him silently. “We wouldn’t want to disturb the other students.” (acoustic)

4/20/11: “Good evening,” his piercing eyes locked onto hers. “I’m Reeves.” Allie turned on her barstool and studied all six feet plus of him in his dark suit and slightly scuffed shoes. His blond hair fell onto his forehead and she ached to brush it back with trembling fingers. He extended a hand and when she touched him, a jolt ran all the way up her arms and down to her curled toes. “Crap,” she cried. “Control, cancel Scenario 501.” Reeves crumpled to the ground, and the room’s furnishings dissipated into a blue and white checkerboard pattern. “What happened, Allie?” came the concerned voice on the intercom. “It’s nothing,” Allie rubbed her arm. “The damn robot shorted out again, and shocked me down to my toes.” (robot)

4/21/11: Nowadays, there’s a new gadget for everything – what you see, read, hear, and feel. About the only thing left is a gadget that tells you what you think. No wait, that’s what my iPhone does. (gadget)

4/22/11: “And I solemnly swear to defend you against all wars, foreign and domestic,” Walt said as he slid the ring on Dottie’s finger. “Uh, Mr. President,” the Secretary of State/Best Man whispered urgently. “I don’t think that last part was meant to be part of your wedding vows.” (foreign)

4/23/11: “UGH! WHY WOULD YOU EVER USE STYROFOAM CUPS?” Jenna’s fury erupted. “You know how bad for the environment they are!!! They fill landfills and take forever and I mean forever to break down, and they use an incredible amount of resources just to be made. What were you thinking? I just can’t believe you!!!” Jenna’s diatribe surged unabated. By the next morning she had still not run out of steam. Eventually, OKCupid, turned off her account. “But,” Nelson typed into the her last chat box. “All I wanted was to take you on a picnic.” (styrofoam)

4/24/11: “‘Strike while the iron is hot.’ Have you ever wondered what that actually means,” Judy asked. Dave wisely remained silent. The last time he’d tried to answer one of these philosophical questions, it had been about, “Never put off tomorrow what you can do today,” and he’d ended up spending his Sunday cleaning out the garage. “Does it mean that you should forge the sword while the iron is till malleable or does mean it that you should get all the ironing done before the iron cools?” She continued as she paced the room excitedly. “Or maybe,” she turned to Dave. “Maybe, it just means that I should go on strike and never do any ironing at all.” (iron)

4/25/11: The graffiti blasted across the police station’s wall in riotous colors. Lt. Susan Garimbaldi stood in front of it and frowned. “You look puzzled,” Milo walked up and handed his boss a cup of black, black coffee. “Well, yeah,” Susan replied as she studied the graffiti. “It says, ‘Cops Suck!’ But then it gives a name and phone number. Why on earth would someone do that?” “Well, I’m sure it’s not the person’s real name and number,” Milo answered. “Milo, it’s the same handwriting, and there at the end it says, ‘No it’s really me.'” (puzzled)

4/26/11: “‘Just what lies at the intersection of the present moment and how your past has made you who you are? Is it that tiny fulcrum from which you can fall forever like the proverbial child’s nightmare of falling endlessly until you end up in China? Or is it more like a pendulum swing where you rocket from one extreme to the never without ever quite knowing where you will end?'” Morgan shuddered slightly as he read the document over Priscilla’s shoulder. “Next thing you know, you’re going to be ‘standing at midnight at a crossroads with the moon guarding your back,'” he commented. “Geez Louise! No more iced mochacchinos and Pringles binges for you. I’m cutting you off.” (intersection)

4/27/11: “Hey look, I’m making a trailer,” Ziggy waved his hand to and fro’ like a Dead Head at a particularly good show. His hand left imprints in space as he moved. “I wonder what it’d look like if I used my whole body,” he unbuckled his restraints. “Du-u-u-u-de,” an extremely sarcastic Carston turned his head to face the back of the shuttle. This had the curious effect of making him look like Linda Blair in “The Exorcist.” “You are making trailers, you idiot. We’re almost at light speed and parts of your physical self are having trouble catching up to the rest. Now stay strapped in or you’ll leave your entire body at 186,281 miles per second.” (trailer)

4/28/11: “WooNoo, WooNoo, WooNoo!” The siren screamed in his ear as Dr. Doom Deathknell frantically worked the problem. “You’d better figure out something fast, Dr. Deathknell, or we’re all done for,” the captain’s gruff but slightly scared voice spoke volumes. “If my calculation is correct,” Deathknell said as he toggled switches and pressed buttons. “We ought to be able to ricochet around the sun and go back in time to before we broke Mom’s vase.” (calculation)

4/29/11: Like the cemetery next door, the house sat silent. A single lit candle threw all shadows into dim relief. As Nathaniel reclined on his grandmother’s divan, he sipped bourbon out of an antique glass. The turning of a key in the deadbolt sounded like the crack of a rifle. The door creaked open and moonlight lit a path into the room. “Well, Mr. Robinson,” Nathaniel calmly poured a second glass and refilled his own. “Will you join me for a nightcap?” Robinson entered the room warily. “How do I know you haven’t poisoned it?” “Come now, Robinson.” Nathaniel took a generous swallow. “I’m drinking it myself.” “True,” Robinson perched on the edge of a chair and took a single sip. The glass slipped from suddenly nerveless fingers and Robinson folded onto the floor. His eyes dashed to and fro’ in panic. “You must be asking yourself, ‘how did he do it?'” Nathaniel continued to sip his bourbon. “Well, then. Have I ever told you of my enduring fascination with magic?” (deadbolt)

4/30/11: “Are they angels?” Joshua stared in awe at the chorus of breathtaking women in white. Together the women sang a Dominum and their harmonies lifted Joshua’s spirit and helped it soar to the heavens. His own books fell to the floor forgotten as he kneeled in worship. “This happens every time,” Roland sighed. “They’re the North Point High School Belles,” Roland said as he pulled his friend to his feet. “They win Nationals pretty much every year.” (chorus)

May

5/1/11: “‘Each with his bonny lass, upon the greening grass…’ Hey,” Jonas abruptly stopped singing. “Does that mean what I think it means?” Ms. Palmer quieted the rest of the choir and turned her attention to her Number one tenor. “What do you think it means?” she asked. He fidgeted a little. Ms. Palmer was hot and talking about this with her was going to cause him some discomfort. “Well, you know, they’re lying on the grass … and … kissing and stuff.” As the eighth grade choir tittered, she smiled at Jonas in sympathy. “Actually,” she replied, “while I believe there was plenty of kissing and stuff, why don’t we just look at it like they were looking for four-leaf clover?” (clover)

5/2/11: “Strobe lights suck,” Genevieve grumbled. “They always make me feel like sick to my stomach.” “Honey,” Miles said as he handed her a cup of strong, black coffee. “That’s not a strobe light. It’s a fluorescent bulb and it’s flickering a bit. I think you’ve just drunk one too many.” (fluorescent)

5/3/11: “So, a pink bandana indicates that you like girls?” Mason thumbed through the rainbow of bandanas on the rack. “Yeah, and a blue one indicates that you like boys,” Taylor replied as he chose a sheet set. “So, what do you need if you like both boys and girls?” Mason asked. his eyes gleaming. “Why I guess you’d need a purple one.” (bandana)

5/4/11: “My favorite dinosaur is the Triceratops,” Abigail’s pigtails flew behind her as she skipped over to the exhibit. She stretched her small arms up to reach the three great horns on the fossil’s snout. “What’s yours?” She turned to me. “Mine?” I answered before I could stop myself. I shut my eyes as I staggered away from her, from the dinosaur, from everything. “She’s not really here. She’s not really here,” I repeated again and again. “Abigail is dead. She is dead.” (dinosaur)

5/5/11: “Hello. You’ve reached, Camp Tanglewood. We are a full service survival facility, where you can find the latest in militia gear and training. We are ever vigilant and ever ready, prepared to respond to any emergency instantly. All of our operators are currently assisting other callers. Your estimated wait time is 47 minutes. Please leave a message at the tone. BEEEEP!” (camp)

5/6/11: Maureen had a routine and she stuck to it. She wore sensible clothes, low-heeled shoes, and a pale pink lipstick that complimented her creamy complexion. She was always perfectly proper, elegant, and demure. That is, until those times when she brought the Dark of Night eyeliner out of her compact makeup case. The second she swooped that cat’s eye whirl at the outer corner of each eye, she transformed into a raunchy, rowdy, badass whose idea of proper meant that someone would end up getting arrested or at least caught naked on the White House lawn. (eyeliner)

5/7/11: “Argh!!!! I don’t believe this $%@^#%# ##$*!” The batter splattered out of the bowl and landed on the floor … and on the kitchen table … and on the wall. Sheila stopped in mid-blue streak and took a look at the mess. It made a curious pattern on the wall, almost like art, if you like that Jackson Pollack crap. Sheila smiled, reached for her iPhone, snapped a shot, and posted it to Facebook. “Oh well,” she sighed as she dipped a finger into the “art” and ate some batter. “I could never follow a recipe anyway.” (recipe)

5/8/11:”Do you think I care?” Thomas caught the waver in Ashley’s voice. “Yeah,” he turned. “I do.” He closed the distance between them but stopped just short of touching her. The air sparkled between them as, like magnets, they attracted and repelled each other. In an effort to regain equilibrium, Ashley closed her eyes. Yet, instead of calming, her thoughts whirled out of control, and she crumpled. Thomas caught her in his arms. “Put me down and leave,” she demanded furiously. “I want to be alone.” “I don’t think so,” he answered as jolts of desire flew through them both. “In fact, I think I’ve left you alone far too long.” Suddenly, he stood perfectly still. “Look at me,” he demanded quietly. “Look at me and tell me you don’t want me, and I’ll go.” Ashley raised her eyes to his, determined to dismiss him, and crushed her lips to his in a searing kiss. (waver)

5/9/11: “Push! Push! Breathe!” The sobs tore through her as she tried, valiantly. I counted to ten and then turned myself just a bit more toward the opening as her muscles worked around me. I wanted, if I could, to make it easier on her. My shoulders compressed as I twisted down and down and bore closer to the light. Omniscience sucks, actually, because you remember each time, the pain you cause someone else as you complete this process. See, I had been “gifted” with the memory of every birth, every death, every lifetime. They said it was for my own good, but I think it was just a punishment for trying to steal the Gods’ Reckoning Book. They thought they’d hidden its location from me, but that’s the thing about omniscience. It means you know everything. And this time? This time I had a plan…. (birth)

5/10/11: The crew of the USS Montessori worked together like a well-oiled machine. Everything that was borrowed, was given back. Nothing that was taken out was not put away. And anything that was broken was fixed. These Midis had done so well in their first year, they were going to rock second grade. (crew)

5/11/11: Her parents tried mightily, but no one could console Anna in her grief. He was gone. Troy was gone. They couldn’t bring him back. No one could. Never again would she gaze into his dark eyes. Never again would she hold him as she fell asleep. Her only consolation was that her parents agreed to bury him in the backyard under the tallest oak. She swore she would never forgive Rex for ripping him limb from limb. And neither would her mother. She was finding stuffing all over the living room for the next three months. (console)

5/12/11: The pool of red and brown liquid bubbled in the ditch. The few remaining bones in the middle of the depression gleamed dully in the fading light. “It’s a right mystery,” Sherif Atkins talked out of the side of his mouth as if he was afraid a fly would sneak in and take up residence inside. “There’s just no reasonable explanation for what would cause them to disintegrate like that.” He made the mistake of stepping too close to the shallow pool and his shoe began to sizzle, pop, and dissolve. “What the hell?” he cried as he ripped off his shoe and threw it across the road. “Well now, Sheriff,” M.E. Bryson donned rubber gloves and took forceps out of her case. “I’d say you’ve just walked into the most reasonable explanation of all – acid.” (bones)

5/13/11: The Hunter’s long coat rustled the fallen leaves as he strode into the forest. He carried a rifle, netting, and a long sharp knife. The knife was his favorite weapon and he had cleaned its glowing blade on many a fallen victim’s body. From werewolves to vampires, from brownies to manticores, he had faced and dispatched them all. Until tonight. Tonight, he hunted the basilisk. No one had ever slain one and lived to tell the tale as one glance at its face turned the victim into stone. The Hunter stopped in a small clearing, removed a swath of black fabric from his pocket and tied it securely around his eyes. If one look would kill, he would simply make sure he couldn’t see. (glowing)

5/14/11: “Forties Wasteland!” Humbert spoofed The Who song as he drove down I-66. No one believed him when he said he was going urban legend hunting. All his life he had devoured urban legends. Most of his life he had wanted to find out if tales like the Hook Man, the Lady in White, and Bloody Mary had any basis in fact. On his 40th Birthday, he had bought an old Delta 88, sharpened a wooden stake, and purchased some silver bullets on Ebay. He’d posted a sign on his front door that said, “Gone Hunting,” and disappeared into the night. (wasteland)

5/15/11: “I can see clearly now, the pain has gone,” Marianna thought as she sipped her most recent vodka, neat. Davis had not made contact at the appointed time. That meant either he had been captured or was already dead. She closed her eyes and sent a prayer that it had been quick and painless. “The tulips are brilliant in Amsterdam,” a soft voice murmured in her ear. “But not better than the paintings in Louvre,” she answered automatically as she turned into him. “You took your time,” she said softly against his lips. “Let’s just say, I had complications,” Davis replied as he signaled for a drink. “The army moves on Salik’s compound tonight, and yeah sweetheart, it’s our job to stop them.” (vodka)

5/16/11: “Why I’ve forgotten more things about remembering than you will ever know,” the Great Santoroni he waved his arms emphatically. “Heh, you’re a hack. You always were and you always will be,” replied Marco the Magnificent. “You can’t even remember your own mother’s name,” Marco continued. “What? How dare you,” Santoroni cried. “Of course, I remember my Mother’s name. It was … It was … Margaret? No, Marjorie. No, it was …” “It was Marlene,” Tom, the night orderly, opened the door and settled the usual Wednesday night argument. “Now, you two be quiet and go to bed,” he said. “Some of our other guests here at Abracadabra Retirement Community need their beauty sleep.” (forgotten)

5/17/11: Josie slowly turned the key in the lock and slipped into the house. She made it just past the living room when a small sound stopped her. She turned and made her way back. “Good evening, Ben,” she said quietly. “Hello, dear,” he emphasized the word slightly. He took in her stiletto-heeled boots, fishnet stockings, and bright red lipstick. “You had quite a night,” he continued. “You should probably get to bed.” “Aren’t you even the least bit curious to know where I was?” she countered. “Not to worry, darling,” he twisted the word as he patted his shirt pocket. “I have video.” (curious)

5/18/11: “You certainly took your time to answer,” Malcolm said in her ear. “I was tempted not to answer at all. I can’t believe you forgot my Birthday, again,” Lynda replied as she navigated her car into the driveway. “Well, if you hadn’t,” he laughed lightly. “You wouldn’t know where your present is.” “What,” she jerked the car to a stop. “You remembered?” “Look in the glove compartment,” he replied. Lynda popped it open and a small blue, velvet box fell into her hand. “Try it on,” he said. Lynda opened the box and gasped at the beautiful sapphire ring inside. She slipped it on her ring finger. “It’s a perfect fit,” he said. “Wait a minute,” Lynda cried. “How do you know it’s a perfect fit? And how did you know I’m in my car?” “Because,” he answered. “I redirected F1-AFAR Satellite to look in on you. And you’re on the main monitor here at Base Camp.” He turned to the rest of his team. “Say ‘hello,’ fellas,” he said. And the entire Mars 1 Outpost Colonization team yelled, “Happy Birthday!” (tempted)

5/19/11: “We have a mole,” Johnson whispered emphatically as the team prepared their materials. “There’s no other way they could know.” “Oh please,” Myerson retorted. “Your imagination is working over time.” “Oh yeah?” Johnson cried she stirred the giant pot under the “Williams County Chili Cook-Off” sign. “Then how else could they know our secret ingredient was watermelon seeds?” (mole)

5/20/11: In my Freshman year of college, I took a class in Domestic American Politics. Before the class, I was pre-med, but once I took it, I changed quickly to pre-law. And I promise, it had nothing to do with how incredibly hot I found my TA. Yeah, he was tall with striking blue eyes, and he had a smile that could make angels weep tears of joy. But in the end, I just wanted to be President. (domestic)

5/21/11: “Please, explain further,” the Professor stroked his short beard as he pondered Lara’s hypothesis. “Well, Professor,” she swallowed her panic and continued bravely. “I believe that it’s not the wind that makes leaves shake and flutter. Rather, I think that the trees are dancing and their movement creates the breeze.” “And how would you test this hypothesis,” he asked. “I am going to the park armed with an iPod and speakers,” she replied. “I will play a bunch of vastly different types of music and see how differently they dance to each one.” (professor)

5/22/11: “Fear my wrath!” Myron screamed as he brandished his older brother’s blue, plastic lightsaber. The lightsaber glowed blue in the dingy gray hallway and everyone trembled before it. “Put the, er glowing sword down,” Mr. Richards tried to calm the sixth grader. But Myron had had enough. The day had come. No more would Steve-o Dittmyer take his lunch money. No more would Butch Archer stuff him into a locker. And from here on in, no one would make him eat paste, ever again. “Sorry, Mr. Richards,” Myron declared. “I’m going to go Jedi on their asses. And the Force is with me.” (wrath)

5/23/11: Steven walked into the bedroom and promptly dropped his two glasses of champagne. “What on earth are you doing?” he cried to his wife of four hours. “You look like a pretzel!” Kendra rubbed her feet together and turned her head to face him. Ordinarily, he would have found the come hither look on her face, hot, but tonight it was mitigated by the fact that her feet framed it as they crossed behind her neck. “Coincidentally, this pose is called pretzel pose in English,” she smiled. “Come on, honey,” Kendra gracefully removed her feet from behind her head and floated up to a standing position. “Just think of it as prep for the wedding night.” (pretzel)

5/24/11: Angelica used fingers and toes to find the smallest crevice. She climbed steadily up the sheer face of the building under cover of darkness. Anyone below who glanced up in her direction would see only shadows and hear only silence. She wore all black. She had covered the soles of her shoes in felt so they would leave no mark and make no sound. Her midnight hair hung in a plait inside her clothes and next to her alabaster skin. She took great care to ensure that no trace would remain of her visit save the missing diamonds. After all, as a Master Thief, she had a reputation to protect. (thief)

5/25/11: Myra ran along Madison Avenue. “Crap!” she cried. “There just aren’t any.” She ducked into an alley, shrugged off her backpack, and pulled out a swath of purple material. Next came black boots, purple leggings and a black leather vest. The alley’s resident rats looked on while she transformed from mild-mannered museum curator to Victory Girl. She repacked and hid her backpack behind a dumpster. “Damn,” she sighed. “What I wouldn’t give for a good ol’ fashioned phone booth.” (booth)

5/26/11: Dear guy at oneword who chooses the words. I appreciate that you have taken the time to create this website and to drop a new random word on us (almost) every day. I have utilized your fabulous site for the last eleven months to write these little one-word stories. However, I must protest how often you use the same words. I’m pretty sure that torch came up before. Surely, there must be other words you can find out of the one-hundred-seventy-thousand and some-odd in the English language. So, what do you say? (torch)

5/27/11: The relentless sun beat down on them and the sand scoured away the upper layers of their skin like they were potatoes that had been boiled too long. Mitchell suffered worse than most; he had been raised in Four Falls, Washington, the rainiest place in the US. Nothing had prepared him for the broiled sandpaper conditions in which he now found himself. “Hand me the canteen, will you?” Mitchell licked his lips and tasted only desert. “Dude, it’s been empty for hours,” Knowles croaked. “I know,” Mitchell replied. “But a guy can dream, can’t he?” (canteen)

5/28/11: “So what you’re trying to tell me,” Patricia said as she unwrapped the silver foil packet, “is that these mints are minted at the mint.” “Precisely,” Mr. Spear replied. “And if you don’t figure out how to fix the press, no one will have Peppermint Patties in time for Christmas.” (mint)

5/29/11: Amid the cacophony, Laurel hung her head in despair. As usual, the prize slipped through her fingers like star systems through Grand Moff Tarkin’s. “Dammit, Laurel, get your head in the game,” she snapped out loud as she marched back to the free-throw line. This next shot meant the game, and everyone knew it. Laurel closed her eyes, pictured her favorite small, green-skinned guru, and threw the ball. Everyone hushed until the soft swoosh that meant, “Nothing, but net.” Laurel lifted her fists in the air and cried, “It’s not easy being green!” (despair) —This one took a bit longer because I just couldn’t decide between “It’s not easy being green,” and “Do or not do, there is no try.” In the end, I went with Kermit, but I’m left wondering if I should have just stayed with the one that made more sense. :)—

5/30/11: “Oh crap, they’re still growing in!” Patrick wailed as he ran from the mirror. “Mom,” he shouted. “They’re coming back.” Megan Reese stopped in mid laundry-folding as her son barreled into the room. “Sweetie, we talked about this,” she soothed. “It’s a normal part of growing up.” “But, but, I don’t want to grow up,” tears welled in Patrick’s eyes. “I never want to be an adult and this means I’m going to be an adult no matter what.” “Believe me,” Mrs. Reese replied. “There’s a whole lot more to being an adult than being able to grow sideburns.” (sideburns)

5/31/11: “Why, I remember it like it was yesterday,” Margaret giggled like a school girl. The old album creaked as she opened it. She turned page after page of yellowed photographs until she came to the one she sought. “I’d just gotten off duty at the hospital. Some friends and I were planning to paint the town red. And here came this tall, handsome army man,” she said. “He grabbed me, spun me around, and then he kissed me.” Now she held up the album for me to see. The iconic image had faded but had lost none of its fire. “I never saw him again. But three days later, I received this photograph in the mail.” “I wonder who sent it to you,” I pondered. “Does it matter?” she answered. “Does it really matter?” (remember)

June 2011

6/1/11: A montage of possible story ideas danced in front of my eyes, but I discarded each one almost as quickly as it passed by. A kid who wants many toys, a grandmother looking at old photographs, a private detective going through his notes – none of them felt remotely exciting enough to share. I have to remember not to try and write when I’m this exhausted. Oh well, as Miss. O’Hara said, “Tomorrow is another day.” (montage)

6/2/11: “Twenty-five days,” the words reverberated in her skull like the clanging of some gong as she made a bright, red X on June 1st. She flipped back to May and saw the thirty-one Xs there. Five months and five days ago, they’d told her she had six months to live. And, now she only had twenty-five of those left and every day she finished vertical, she added another X. Amy stuffed the calendar into a pocket, hoisted her backpack onto her shoulder, and left the motel. She smiled at the flatirons in front of her and said, “I took the one less traveled, and that has made all the difference.” (backpack)

6/3/11: “Relax, kitten,” Samantha purred as her leg rubbed up and down Jack’s thigh. “You’re going to do just fine.” She angled closer to him, and he fell into the depths of her indigo eyes. The moment lengthened and Jack fumbled for the limo’s phone as its ring pierced the silence. “Uh, hello?” he said. “Reese! Where are you?” Mr. Thompson’s voice sliced through Jack’s already fragile control, and he dropped the phone into Samantha’s tumbler of whiskey. “Crap!” he cried anguished while fished it out and vainly tried to dry it on his shirt. “I’ve only had this job twenty-four days. And now, Thompson’s going to fire me.” “No he won’t,” Samantha said. “Why not?” he asked hopefully. “Because I’ll tell him not to and my husband always does what I tell him to do.” (limo)

6/4/11: “Okay, we’re going to take the twenty-third caller,” the DJ announced. “Mom, mom, I need your cell phone,” Claudia cried from the back seat. “I know the answer!” “Honey,” her mother explained patiently. “You’re not calling in.” “But I know the answer is Lorna Luft and Liza Minelli, Judy Garland’s daughters,” Claudia pouted. “They haven’t even asked the question yet; you could at least pretend like you don’t know,” her mother turned off the radio. “You’re not going to let me call in, are you?” Claudia asked. “I don’t know. You’re the world’s foremost psychic,” her mother replied. “You tell me.” (radio)

6/5/11: “All right, Joey. I’ve had just about enough,” Ms. Riggs strode over to Joey while he hastily jerked his arm back to his side. “You will write the following on the chalkboard twenty-two times,” Ms. Riggs announced. ‘I promise I will not keep trying to taste Susie Wilson’s hair.'” “But it smells like strawberries,” Joey pointed out reasonably. “I was just trying to see if it would taste like them, too.” (chalkboard)

6/6/11: “When exactly did plaid come back in style?” Shannon held up no fewer than twenty-one pairs of shorts. Each one was a garish parody of a Scottish clan tartan. “There are literally no shorts on the racks that aren’t in plaid. I swear,” she continued. “Those Scottish Lairds are spinning in their graves.” (plaid)

6/7/11: On her left foot, Eliza had all shades of pink. Her right foot sported purples and mauves. Her left hand bore every shade of green she could find while her right had coppers and other earth tones. She painted each one of her twenty nails a different color. The twenty first? She left that one clear. (painted)

6/8/11: “Aren’t you forgetting something?” Judith pointedly looked down at her wedding band. “I don’t think so,” George replied as he loosened his tie and began to unbutton his shirt. “Today is the 19th,” she prodded him none too gently. “So it is,” he looked at his watch, and hid a smile as he turned away. “It’s our anniversary,” she said through gritted teeth. “Yes, my love, it is,” he replied as a knock sounded at the front door. “Who could it be at this hour,” He made a show of frowning and hurrying toward the door. He opened it, and the musicians, caterers, flower bearers, and dancing girls poured into the house. “Oh darling,” he called. “Your anniversary present has arrived.” (forgetting)

6/9/11 Ellie stood on the corner and ruminated on her life to this point. She’d hit the road at thirteen. She’d turned tricks in Chicago and New York. She’d muled for a drug cartel in LA, and now, on the day when so many might be celebrating being “adults,” she instead wore a big floppy-eared dog costume as she carried a sign that pointed the way to a new gourmet hot dog stand in Des Moines. Happy f*cking eighteenth,” she murmured as she brandished the “Dog Eat Dog” sign like a sword. “Happy f*cking birthday to me.” (corner and 18)

6/10/11: “I’m doing my report on 17,” Mitchell said as he walked to the front of the class. “So why 17,” Ms. Abrams, the teacher, raised her hand and asked. “What makes it so special to you?” “Well,” Mitchell replied. “It’s the first one that doesn’t really mean anything. It’s like this: 2 has all those dualities. 3 is father, son, and holy ghost, or life, death and rebirth. Five has five elements. 7 is luck. 11 is the first in the double digits, plus you know, the whole 7-11 thing. And 13 is unlucky or at least it’s gotten a really bad rap. Then, comes 17, and basically it’s just a prime number.” (teacher and 17)

6/11/11: “Come on, Zoe, you need to rise to the occasion. Go out there and show ’em what you’re made of.” Dan Robbins smoothed his daughter’s hair away from her face. “I can’t go out there,” she replied tearfully. “I can’t ever show my face again.” “Come on, honey,” he put a finger under her chin and gently nudged until she met his eyes. “You aren’t the first girl to spill Grape punch all over herself on her sixteenth Birthday. And you won’t be the last. Now go out there and show ’em what you’ve got.” “Okay,” she sniffed. “But if even one person mentions the big purple stain down my front, I’m gonna go Carrie on their asses.” “That’s my girl,” he patted her head until her fangs receded and her horns retreated back into her head. “You’re going to be just fine.” (rise and 16)

6/12/11: “Grandma,” Sarah called patiently as she pulled up at Taggart’s Final Rest Mortuarium and opened her car door. “This is the 15th funeral you’ve been to in the last week.” Yep,” Grandma Turnbull replied as she swung her cane, legs, and tiny frame into the car. “Sometimes, you just need to double up and do two a day. Besides, funerals are the only places that serve Pigs in a Yellow Blanket anymore.” “Wait,” Sarah said. “You go to these funerals because they serve hot dogs wrapped in bacon all surrounded by American cheese?” “Yes,” Grandma Turnbull pulled open her bag, drew out a specimen and popped into her mouth. “They serve them at every single one nowadays. I guess they figure if the grease kills you right there, they have more of a chance of getting your business.” (funeral and 15)

6/13/11: “My beloved,” Franz spoke softly and still his breath hissed through his fangs like a thousand whispers under a midnight sky. “Please, allow me to make you immortal. Then, we shall be together, as one, in eternity.” Myra languidly opened her sapphire eyes and gazed deeply into his. Tantalizingly, she moved her soft, perfectly-formed hand to his face. Just before she reached his cold, sallow skin, she balled her fingers into a fist and punched him on the nose. “Dude,” she said, “I’m only fourteen. There is totally no way I’m going to be stuck at this age forever. If I am, I’ll never be able to get my driver’s license.” (beloved and fourteen)

6/14/11: Many people say 13 is an unlucky number. Me? I’ve embraced it. I mean, look. There are 13 full moons in a year, which is cool because that means that sometimes we get Blue Moons, and while they’re not blue or anything, they’re still pretty cool. There were 13 people at the last supper, and while some people might think it’s a bad thing, I say, no because Jesus had company, you know? There are 13 players on a rugby team and I think rugby rocks! But mostly, I love the number 13 because last Friday the 13th, I bought a lottery ticket, picked the numbers 1, 3, 13, 26, and 39, and won 13 million dollars. (embraced and 13)

6/15/11: “Take me to the station for Channel 12,” Madeline commanded as she got in the cab and slammed the door smartly. “I’m going to give them a piece of my mind.” She settled into the seat in a huff and reached into her large, pink bag. She brought out her knitting. For a moment, the click clack of her needles made the only sound in the cab. “Um, Ma’am?” The cabbie twisted in his seat to look back at her. “We don’t have a Channel 12 in this city.” “Well of course you do,” Madeline lay aside her knitting, reached back in her bag and withdrew what looked like a cross between an XM radio receiver, a satellite dish, and a spaceship. She flipped it on and a hissing zapping sound filled the space. “Do you hear that?” she cried. “How can they use that kind of language in public?” “Ma’am, I don’t hear anything but static,” he replied and then he noticed the sweater she was knitting. It had room for four sleeves, and two heads. Quickly, he glanced back at her and saw the slit eyes behind her horn-rimmed glasses. “But,” he amended. “I’ll definitely take your word for it.” (station and 12)

6/16/11: Kylee frowned as she turned the map upside down and then right side up. “Honestly, Jake,” she said. “I can’t make heads or tails of this thing. We might as well be in Poughkeepsie for all the good it’s doing us. “Take the 11 train into town, and you can’t miss it,” Mr. Rogers came up to them. “Um excuse me,” Jake said. “But how do you know where we’re going?” “Heh,” Mr. Rogers replied as he took out a joint and lit it. “You’ve got backpacks, ratty hair, and tie-dye shirts on. Either you’re trying to go see the Dead and you’re fifteen years too late, or you need to find the youth hostel.” (train and 11)

6/17/11: “Smile, there’s only eleven days left,” Marlene encouraged me. “Yeah,” I sighed. “But then what a I going to do?” “Oh come on,” she cajoled as she braided my hair for the night. “You’ve been saying how much you hate all this practically from the beginning. And soon it will all be over. “I know,” this time my sigh shot right past melodramatic and straight toward maudlin. “Being Miss Universe sucks! And what do I do after this? What’s my next challenge?” My drooping tentacles spoke volumes. “I mean it’s not like they have a Miss Dark Matter contest.” (smile and 11)

6/18/11: “Come one, come and see for yourselves,” the Great Scaroni cackled and coughed. “It’s the biggest one you will ever lay your eyes on. I daresay say it’s the Tenth Wonder of the world,” he implored the crowd. A dubious Tim decided to bite. “What is it,” he asked. Scaroni cleared his throat, spat into a large tub sitting beside him and proudly stated, “It’s the world’s largest collection of spit.” (wonder and ten)

6/19/11: “Do you share the common belief that nine is a magic number?” Reginald asked as he approached Darlene. “What?” she turned her cornflower blues on him and his well-rehearsed come-on disintegrated. Uh,” he stuttered. “You know. The number nine. Three times three and it makes nine.” “I know my multiplication tables,” she continued scanning the books on the shelf. “Well,” he tried one last, desperate gambit. “Did you know that if you add the two digits of any two-digit multiple of nine, they all add up to nine? Like 27. 2+7 equals 9.” “Yes,” she replied and tugged a stray bit of honey-gold hair behind an ear. “I also know that Pi is infinite, that density equals mass over volume, and that the limit of sin X over X as X approaches 0 is one.” And then Reginald noticed Darlene was searching for a book in the Higher Mathematics and Statistic section. (belief and 9)

6/20/11: “Do you share the common belief that nine is a magic number?” Reginald asked as he approached Darlene. “What?” she turned her cornflower blues on him and his well-rehearsed come-on disintegrated. Uh,” he stuttered. “You know. The number nine. Three times three and it makes nine.” “I know my multiplication tables,” she continued scanning the books on the shelf. “Well,” he tried one last, desperate gambit. “Did you know that if you add the two digits of any two-digit multiple of nine, they all add up to nine? Like 27. 2+7 equals 9.” “Yes,” she replied and tugged a stray bit of honey-gold hair behind an ear. “I also know that Pi is infinite, that density equals mass over volume, and that the limit of sin X over X as X approaches 0 is one.” And then Reginald noticed Darlene was searching for a book in the Higher Mathematics and Statistic section. Immediately, he dropped on one knee and asked her to marry him. (belief and nine)

6/21/11: “They looked at each other over the cards. Neither gave an inkling as to what they held in their hands. The entire room sat hushed “It’s to you,” the dealer said softly as she held the rest of the deck in her nimble hands. “I’ll take two,” Marissa placed two cards face down on the table. The dealer dutifully placed two cards in front of her. “Call,” Murphy said. “Fine,” Marissa smiled as she turned over her 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7. “Damn,” Murphy placed his own 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7 on the table. “I wish I’d held on to that eight because then I’d have beaten you.” (held and 8)

6/22/11: The class stood in hushed anxiety while they eyed their instructor. He had a reputation and not all of it good. But still, his classes tended to fill up quickly even if there was almost a five percent daily attrition rate, once the class got going. “And now,” Professor Sommers snaked around the room and poured the clearly-labeled bleach into the beakers set on every lab table. “Now, we will predict which will cause the biggest reaction.” Without missing a beat, he reached for the well-marked Hydrochloric Acid. He made the barest of pauses and turned in a full circle to make sure the students saw what he held. No one stopped him. Almost sadly, he moved to the first beaker to pour. “My poor eyebrows,” he lamented quietly. “Professor wait!” Sheldon Bowerman yelled right before the first drop left the bottle of acid. “Yes?” The professor froze. “That’s – that’s acid.” “And?” the Professor continued. “It will explode!” Sheldon cried. The Professor grinned widely. “Well,” he said as he capped the bottle and quickly moved it away from the beaker of bleach. “I’m glad someone was paying attention.” (predict and five)

6/23/11: “One cell, two cells, four cells – they all divide, and then after nine months, you get a baby.” Marcia desperately reached for the best explanation she could come up with under the circumstances. It wasn’t every day your eleven-year-old asked you about the birds and the bees and Taylor had taken her by surprise. Marcia sighed inwardly as she thought she’d acquitted herself quite well. And then she made a crucial mistake and said, “Does that answer your question? “Actually, no, Mom,” Taylor replied. “‘Cause what I’d asked wasn’t where do babies come from. What I’d asked was how do people have sex?” (cells and four)

6/24/11: “Father, son, and the holy ghost. Chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. Earth, sky, and sea. See? They all come in threes.” Jackson careened around the room and yanked on his hair as he named all the triads he could think of. “Life, death, rebirth. Solid, liquid, gas. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Oh man, it’s all so intense!” Now he stared up at the ceiling as if it would yield the secrets of the universe as murmured more triads. “Um, dude,” Toker raised his head off the floor blearily. “Speaking of breakfast, lunch and dinner, did you eat any of the brownies I had in the fridge? The ones that said, ‘do NOT eat these’?” (intense and three)

6/25/11: “This is only the second time in history that anyone has attempted this,” Charlie Charleson called the play-by-play from a safe distance away from the action. “It’s just unbelievable. He is absolutely fearless! He’s coming straight up the center. He’s not letting anyone or anything stop him. Folks, we are about to see some serious fireworks. He’s taken the steps. Now, he’s ringing the bell. The door is opening, and he’s in there. Folks, we’ll soon know if it’s even possible to survive the fallout from missing your fifth anniversary by being out at the bar, buying drinks for women who aren’t wearing any tops and who let you do shots off their cleavage.” “Charlie,” Tom turned around as he stood at the door. “Shut up.” (history and two/second)

6/26/11: For many months during this project, I kept thinking that I was going to fail and if I had failed, I would have been sorely disappointed in myself. It wasn’t a Herculean task like so many other people might face, but it was a goal I set for myself, to write one of these suckers a day for a year. As it is, for the last month, there have been times when I just didn’t want to keep writing. So, I came up with a way of counting things down. I counted backwards until tonight when I reached the number one. Interestingly enough, the number one also brings me to the last part of this project. There is some philosophical discussion to be had about the juxtaposition of something being both first and last but that’s for another night when I’ve had at least one glass of Amarula. It’s been a pleasure to write these stories, and an honor to see that so many of you have read them. I can’t wait to share the next phase with you and that’s all coming soon….(failed and one)

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