I’ll get by. . .

with a little help from my friends.

Here’s a quick 100-word story I wrote to a prompt from our prompt guru Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for Friday Fictioneers.

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

“You gonna reopen, Nate?”

“Nope. I’ve had enough.”

One by one we surveyed the damage and sat to commiserate. Then Pete came in and found a broom. We watched in silence as he swept mud and seaweed across the floor. He had trouble with one big pile so Janetta dug up a garden rake and helped him push that mess out and down toward the beach. Georgie swished Nate’s mop around, Mayor Greensom started scrubbing counters, Martha and I straightened up outside and Singh went to find industrial cleaner for the grill.

Nate was open for business in three days.

Join the fun! Write your own story, post it on a website and then click on the frog and add it to the rest!

Back in business!

A Scam in Two Acts

I first wrote this as a reply to a blog post (https://laurierking.com/2020/07/the-case-of-laurie-and-the-monegasque-prince/) by writer Laurie R. King, New York Times bestselling author of the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes books and many others. It was such fun to write that I decided to brush it up and re-post it here. My event is a bit dated now , but hers just happened, so don’t think they aren’t still out there!

Please be sure to follow the link to her blog to get the full flavor of the high-jinks!

Dear Laurie R. King,

I’ve never had the opportunity to correspond with a scammer via email, but I once spoke to a scammer on the phone. They managed to freeze up my computer and fill the screen with an appallingly scary message and an emergency number to call (purporting to be Microsoft, I think, but it was years ago).

I was freaked out, so I called — what’s the harm, right? The “technician” wanted me to pay them $3000 (via credit card number) to figure out what was wrong with my computer and “fix” it. I hung up, re-booted the computer and it was fine.

A day or so later I got a phone call from “the IRS” saying that my audit showed problems, but if I paid a portion of what was owed (via credit card number), I would not be arrested for tax fraud.

I played dumb and was able to string him along for a good hour. Finally I asked him what part of Ethiopia (I picked that out of the air) he was from. That’s when the accent really started coming out – he was not Ethiopian! He was furious! He wouldn’t tell me where he was from, though, no matter how nicely I asked.

Finally I couldn’t keep from laughing, and he screamed at me that the sheriff (which soon turned into an FBI agent) was on his way to my door so I’d better either pay up or run! I kept saying, “Well, they aren’t here yet — what’s keeping them? Are you sure they’re not coming for you?” It quickly degenerated into him screeching into my ear about how disgusting American women are and how dare I threaten him. The harder I laughed, the madder he got.

They are trained to stay on the line as long as they can keep you talking, but finally he couldn’t take any more and hung up.

It was a great story to tell over drinks.

BTW, I changed my number!

Sincerely, Eugenia Parrish

Have you had to deal with anything like this? I’d love to hear your story.

Choose Wisely, my Friend

A 100-word story again, because this picture just got me to thinking:

There is a game my family played with three dice marked L, R, and C. If L or R came up when you rolled, a penny went to the person on your left or right. If C came up, you put a penny in the center pot. Last one left with all the pennies won the pot as well.

I stood gazing at the parked trains. I could hop one heading left. I could hop one heading right. Or cut between them and keep hiking toward the horizon.

A sunlit horizon away from cities and people.

Center pot it is!

Come and join us at Friday Fictioneers! Write 100 words or less to the picture prompt and post your story on your blog or website. Then click on the frog to add your link to the others. Read our stories and leave a comment — we want to know what you think! (Be kind.) And if you post the picture, be sure to credit the photographer. All pics are for use of Friday Fictioneers only. Thanks!

The Shadow in the Wave

PHOTO PROMPT © Jean L. Hays

A 100-word story from long ago:

Water sluiced off her body as she sprang up from under a wave. The next rolling wall of water was translucent green, containing for a breathless moment an arching shadow. A dorsal fin. Her heart recognized the sweet smile.

“Look!” she cried to the others. “It’s my mother! I told you she’d come!”

Their ears were dulled by salt water. Laughter echoed across the waves.

“Scaredy brat! She thought it was a shark!”

“It’s just a dumb dolphin, babe!”

She didn’t care. The wave and its rider were gone. But there was a smile left behind in the sunlit sea.

froggie-1Join the fun! Write a story of 100 words or less (Beginning, Middle, End)  and post it online. Then click on the froggie and add your link at the bottom of the page. Read the other stories and tell us what you think! Remember, all photos are property of the photographer, donated for use in Friday Fictioneers only. They shouldn’t be used for any other purpose without express permission. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor credit. Thanks!

“the glimpse traveler”, by Marianne Boruch

I don’t usually do book reviews unless something strikes me as unusual. This is cliché Sixties memoir, except that it isn’t.

glimpse traveler

I didn’t want it to end. As a memoir it reads like most, meaning “This happened to me once and I’m still trying to figure out what it means.” Don’t get me wrong, it’s well-told, lyrical and she drew me back to my own youth, to the early Seventies when we all had lost our footing and become scared by the very things that had excited us: the mind-freeing drugs, body-freeing clothes, spirit-freeing music, the things that somehow had all gone beyond us and out there where most of us couldn’t follow anymore. And the ones that did never came back.

Like me, she observed more than lived through those years and managed to put her observations into this single pointed narrative of one small point in time, a narrative that I recognized. We both stumbled into road trips that promised we’d find answers (though no one was sure what the questions were). Then (with hidden relief) we went back to our babies and our careers and were reasonably happy but never again felt that aliveness, that breathtaking belief in the possible. Never even realized we had left it behind. Until we read someone else’s story and think, my god, that was my story too, only completely different. I was there, only somewhere else. Why did I forget? Not how could I, but why? Boruch doesn’t answer that, but I suppose none of us can.

Some revenge is good piping hot.

I’ve been a bit too busy to try the Friday Fictioneers prompt lately. But as I wrote a comment (a rather long one — 50 words) on Dale’s story, I realized maybe I could expand it to make a story of my own. So here it is:

PHOTO PROMPT © Todd Foltz

Catherine peeled an eye open at 4 a.m. Okay, today she would march over to her neighbors and complain. It might be natural for a rooster to crow at dawn. It wasn’t natural for the same rooster to crow at brunch… and lunch… and tea… and dinner… and high tea… and supper… and apparently just to say goodnight. Or was he just that good with the ladies?

But before she could open her mouth, her neighbor said, “Hi! I was just coming over to invite you and the rest of our neighbors to dinner tonight. We’re having chicken pot pie!”

Write your own story to the picture prompt, post it wherever you post things and then click on Froggie’s link and join the fun! Everybody welcome!

“Show, don’t tell” — does it just apply to writers?

Show me!

Every writer has been admonished, “Show, don’t tell!” There are blogs and articles and arguments galore. It refers to the use of words. It refers to using description to bring events alive in the reader’s mind and heart, rather than flat narrative that tells the reader what’s happening and how they should feel about it.

It occurred to me that the rule doesn’t just apply to writers.

There’s a lot on social media right now, in words to this effect: “You should wake up! You should understand! You should learn more! You should do more!”

I try not to use the word “should”. It’s too often used by someone who wants to tell the rest of the world how to live. I admire (and listen to) people who show me examples, show me ideas, show me the truth. Who don’t tell me what I “should” do.

And it’s not always other people who tell us that.

My aunt and I once sat in her lovely back yard, sipping ice tea. She moaned that she had been invited to volunteer at a local charity group, but she hadn’t gone yet. “I know I should, but I just can’t seem to make myself find the time. I feel so guilty!”

I said, “Don’t ‘should’ on yourself.”

She looked torn between confusion and laughter, but I meant what I said. If you sincerely believe it’s the right thing to do, then do it. If you don’t believe it, then don’t. And if you’re simply hesitant or reluctant, figure out why and look for answers – all the answers you can find. Don’t tell yourself what you should do. Don’t tell me what you should do. Show me what you’re doing.

And don’t let someone else tell you what you should or shouldn’t feel guilty about. Figure it out for yourself.

You can tell me what you feel guilty about. I’ll probably put it in a book. But I won’t tell my readers what it’s like to be you – I’ll show them how it makes you feel and what it makes you do. As soon as you figure out what “it” is.

So to quote Eliza Doolittle:

Words, words, words!
I’m so sick of words
I get words all day through
First from him, now from you
Is that all you blighters can do?

Don’t talk of stars, burning above
If you’re in love, show me!
Tell me no dreams, filled with desire
If you’re on fire, SHOW ME!

Hank Phillippi Ryan does it again

Just finished a 1st Readers ARC copy of Hank Phillippi Ryan’s new book, “The First to Lie“. Hold onto your seat – this book isn’t a roller coaster ride, it’s the Wild Mouse! Starts out slow and easy, but then don’t think you’re just going to go down – you’re going for a ride!

It’s almost too many lies to take in. My head was in a whirl for the first half, trying to follow who was who, even when I thought I knew (I never did). Three-fourths of the way in, it all starts to come together, but just wait! There’s one last dizzying reveal (or would that be two?).

It’s coming out August 4th.

How’s your COVID going?

I’m doing okay with my world. As I’ve heard many working writers say, for us, things haven’t changed much. I enjoy the birds chirping as I drink my morning coffee, have a quick walk on country roads and then go to my home computer and try to be creative. Same old same old. I will say, one nice thing about virtual writers-group meetings is that, since I’m not driving anywhere, I can have a nice glass of wine while we talk books, etc. Always accentuate the positive!

How about you? I know things are vastly rougher for a lot of folks, but hang in there. My father grew up in the Depression and sometimes a slice of bread with white flour gravy was what they had for dinner. Not because they couldn’t afford anything else, but because there wasn’t anything else to buy. Fear of want colored the rest of his life and sometimes his fear affected my life. We will not let this happen again. This country and its people are too strong. Together we will figure out new ways to cope.

Among other projects, I took a break to write a 100-word story from this week’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt, courtesy of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Click on the link to read her great story. Meanwhile:

PHOTO PROMPT © David Stewart

Sharon pulled her coat tight around her and stared at the still water in the city fountain. When she left the station, she’d simply picked a direction to walk. But instead of bars and hotels, she’d found dark office towers and shuttered government buildings. Life’s big question: keep walking nowhere? Or return to nothing?

She jumped when rainbow colors suddenly lit up the square. The still water, set free, danced high in joyous leaps. A city worker at the control module grinned and threw up his arms as if to say, “What better place than here?”

She laughed and agreed.

Feel like joining in? Click on the froggie, read other writers’ stories, comment, and then post your own! We promise to be gentle.

The Winter of His Discontent

It’s time for another Friday Fictioneers entry. The challenge is to write a 100-word story in response to a weekly photo prompt chosen by our host Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Follow the link to her blog for more information and join the fun!

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

She’d arrived early to get their old corner table. There was no one else in the room and she felt vulnerable. Floor-to-ceiling windows sent a wintry chill over her ankles and shoulders, but her shivers weren’t from that. He’d insisted on meeting at the same place he’d asked her to marry him ten summers ago.  Did it mean he’d changed his mind about leaving her?

He walked toward her carelessly, ignoring the empty tables. And his eyes were cold as the ice on the windows. Now she remembered. This was the just sort of thing he called “breaking it gently”.