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Weekly Short Story Contests > Week 246 (January 21-28), Stories, Topic: Time Lapse

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message 1: by Nicky (new)

Nicky (soundgirl) | 1272 comments You have until January 27th to post a story, and January 28th – 31st we’ll vote for which one we thought was best.

Please post directly into the topic and not a link. Please don’t use a story previously used in this group.

Your story should be between 300 and 3,500 words long.

REMEMBER! A short story is not merely a scene. It must have a beginning, a middle, and an end.

This week’s topic is: Time Lapse

The rules are pretty loose. You could write a story about anything that has to do with the subject but it must relate to the topic somehow.

Have fun!

Thank you to Jocilene for suggesting the topic!

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Interesting topic, Nicky! :)

message 3: by Nicky (new)

Nicky (soundgirl) | 1272 comments Thanks Leslie!

message 4: by Laura (last edited Jan 21, 2015 12:35PM) (new)

Laura R | 59 comments Okay so back to the fantasy for me! Feedback is always welcomed and appreciated!

Title: True Love Comes In All Sizes
Author: Laura Lavelle
Word Count: 2,645

“Come on Ashlyn!” I call behind me, running as fast as my little legs could carry me. I giggle, chasing the butterfly that flies before me in its unpredictable swirl of reds and browns. I reach out, chubby fingers trying to grasp it as I feel the soft pound of feet behind me. The butterfly dances before me some more before hopping on the next breeze and flying off into the blue sky.

I drop onto my butt, landing softly in the grass, gasping to breathe as Ashlyn stops before me; her tiny green scales shimmer in the morning light. “Oh Ashlyn, I wished you had seen it,” I say, exhaling as I reach a tiny hand up and stroke her head. Her yellow-gold eyes squint in joy as she purrs; a thin trail of smoke emanating from between her toothless grin. I giggle again as she rolls onto her back, her wings spreading out onto the grass.

Cecilia, it’s a beautiful day! We should plant the tree while we still have the sunlight. Her gravelly voice echoes within my mind and I jump up, smiling as she stands on her tiny feet; her claws gently sifting through the loose earth that lay hidden beneath the sea of green.

“I’ll race you!” I say as we take off, running back towards the tiny cabin that we call home. Mother stands in the kitchen, baking an apple pie, as we race towards the open back door. The cinnamon and brown sugar combined with the caramelized apples creates a tidal wave of flavors that hits us as we reach the steps.

“Cecilia! Ashlyn!” Mother calls to us from the kitchen and I know lunch will be ready soon.

Should we plant it now? She asks, tilting her head to the side; her tiny horns jutting out from the ridges along her eyes gleam in the light.

“Mom, we wanted to plant the baby birch tree. Can we do that now please?” I ask, my voice high like a whine.

“Come and eat your lunch. You have the rest of the day to plant it.”

I sigh, “Come on Ashlyn, we can do it after.”

We walk in, the heat from the fireplace and wood stove baking the inside of the cabin; the sweltering nearly suffocating me in the early June afternoon. Ashlyn sighs as she takes up her spot by the fireplace, circling the stone floor and eventually curling up and waiting for her food as I climb onto the chair at the table. Mother lays down a platter of smoked fish for Ashlyn whose stomach I can hear grumbling from over by the table. Eventually she places down the bowl filled with soup for me and I dig in, savoring the flavors of salmon and cream.

Is this sturgeon? Ashlyn asks, eyeing the large fish that lay beneath her pile of salmon.

Mother laughs, a tinkling sound that fills the cottage with light, “Grayson, the old man at the market, brought it here for you; he thought you’d like the change a little.”

It’s delicious! She purrs as she rips the fish apart with her gums, swallowing bits of it whole.

I giggle, “If you eat too fast you won’t be able to help my plant the tree!”

But it’s so good!

She downs the rest of her platter and I finish my soup; Mother looks down at our pleading faces and sighs, “Off with the both of you! It’s beautiful outside!”

I grin and we speed back off into the emerald forest, grabbing the sapling within its burlap sack and heading towards the middle of the field. “What do you think about right here?” I ask, eyeing the cabin from where we stand.

It’s perfect! She coos and we immediately begin to dig, placing the tree within the soft earth and covering it until it sits perfectly within the yard.

“It’s going to be beautiful!” I say as I lay down on the field, spreading my arms out like a starfish.

I can hear someone knocking on the door to the cabin. It was quiet for a moment and then I hear her scream. We both run back only to find my mother crumpled by the front door; her face buried within her hands. A man stands in the doorframe, his uniform crisp and his hat tucked beneath the crook of his elbow. Just beyond him is a shiny black car, something I barely get to see.

“Mommy?” I ask, placing a hand on her shoulder. Ashlyn quickly ducks behind the door, not allowing the gentleman to see her; a rule father had put in place before we said our goodbyes and watched him walk away with his uniform hugging him.

She looks up; her eyes, red and puffy, sit out of place on her angelic face. “Oh, Cecilia,” she says, pulling me into a hug.

I pause, “Is he here for Daddy?”

I feel her arms tighten around me before she lets go, “Cecilia…” she begins but pauses, “Daddy left to go fight, remember?” I nod my head slowly. “Well, today they tried to do the impossible. But the Germans… they never stood a chance, baby girl.” She pets my wild, blonde hair down as her hands shake.

“I’m sorry, Ma’am,” the gentleman at the door says, handing us an envelope before saluting us and leaving.

I hear Ashlyn come out from behind the door, tears shining on her green scales as she rubs her face against us, throwing her wings around our bodies before we embrace her in a hug.


It’s been ten years. Ten long, long years since Father passed. D-day is what they called it. Father was a hero. Ashlyn sits curled up beneath the tree we had planted that day, her tail circling her body. I sit beside her, leaning on her warm scales as I read my book. My skirt rustles in the light breeze as I turn the page, absorbed in the fantasy world that opens up within the pages.

We should go to that ceremony, Ashlyn says; her eyes remain closed as smoke sifts gently through the gaps in her teeth.

“Mother’s not going, why should I?” I say, my eyes still glued to the pages.

But Cecilia… she begins but stops. I lift my eyes from the page and look over at the tombstones that sit near the back door.

I slam the book shut, “If I go where will you be? You can’t be seen or they’ll take you away.”

She opens her mouth in a yawn, There are woods near the cemetery. I’m sure Jake would be happy to give you a lift in his car.

I groan, “All Jake wants is a quick fling. I’m not interested in him.”

But you too look so cute together! She coos, her jaws hooking up into a grin.

I swat at her, “Oh stop it. I want to actually go to the university this fall. Jake… he doesn’t think about the future.”

Aye, but I’m sure if you talked with him he would see it your way. Besides, I know you like him.

“I do not!” I insist, crossing my arms across my chest.

She shakes her head in laughter, You can’t lie to me, you know. Her head tilts up, He’s coming here now; I can hear his car. Go, I’ll stay here.

I look uncertainly at her; her golden eyes trained on me as I pause. I reach up and encircle my arms around her thick neck, holding her close. “I love you, Ashlyn.”

I love you too, Cecilia. Now go, before he comes back here and sees me.

I let go, kissing her green scales on her cheek before rushing back into the quiet cabin and meeting Jake at the door.


“Ella!” I call, standing just inside the back door of the cabin. My black dress in remembrance of what today stands for clings to my body. I see her running towards me, her golden hair bouncing in the wind as her tiny legs waddle towards me. Ashlyn walks just behind her, ducking her huge body down and pretending to chase the tiny child. Ella stumbles and I brace myself for the sudden burst of tears but instead the sound of laughter tinkles on the breeze.

“Have you found out anything about Ashlyn?” Jake asks, hooking his arm around my waist. I smile as he places a kiss gently on my cheek.

I sigh, “No. She’s the last of her kind,” I say, the sadness overwhelming me in that moment. I look up and watch as Ella ducks beneath the birch tree while Ashlyn pretends that she’s lost her.

“Why must you wear black? I know what today it, but it’s been fifteen years, Cecilia. You must be boiling hot in your dress.”

I pull out from his embrace, “It’s a reminder of the day when everything changed, Jake.”

He reaches out, his fingers gently caressing my cheek before he drops his hand, “I’m off to work. I’ll be home for dinner.”

I smile as he picks up his briefcase, strutting out of the front door and heading towards the car. I turn, rushing towards the tree and scooping up Ella in my arms. Ashlyn smiles and I look up, smiling back at her. “You two having fun?” I ask, a grin already plastered on my face.

She’s quick, got that from you. Ashlyn crouches down and Ella reaches out and grasps onto the horns that jut out from behind the plates that rest above her gold irises. Ashlyn’s wings spread within the field and Ella giggles as she lets go of a horn and reaches out to stroke the membranous wings.

We collapse onto the grass, the birch tree shading us from the summer sun as I tell Ella a story and watch as she passes out for her afternoon nap.

“You know, you’re not obligated to stay here. I know the small area must be cramped now that you’re full grown.”

I have no desire of leaving. I love you. I love it here. I love Ella and Jake and the stream that brings the salmon to me that rests only a mile out. You are my family and I will be here with you for as long as you live.

I smile as I yawn, my head resting against the familiar scales of Ashlyn’s body as we all close our eyes and nap.


“Grandma!” I hear as the door opens. I stand on shaky legs, my cane resting gently in the palm of my hand. The trio of children rush up and embrace me in a hug.

I laugh, “Oh stop it! You see me all of the time. I know who you’re really here to see.”

I grin as they rush out into the backyard, jumping onto Ashlyn as she rolls over onto her back beneath the grand birch tree. Ella comes over and hugs me. “Mom, I don’t think you should stay here by yourself anymore.”

“Oh, Ella, I’ve lived here all of my life. I have no desire to leave.” I smile as she looks back at me, a concerned look crossing over her face.

“Mom, Dad passed almost five years ago. I don’t like the idea of you being alone out here.”

“Child, I’m not alone. Ashlyn stays with me.”

She sighs, “Alright. Are you ready to head over towards the cemetery? The service should start soon.”

I close my eyes, trying to remember the day. “It’s been fifty years. Oh my, how the time has slipped through my fingers.” I laugh, giggling to myself, “I feel so young sometimes that I forget how old I am.”

“Come on, mom. Let’s get you into the car.”

“Not so fast! You haven’t said hello to Ashlyn yet!”

We walk painfully slowly towards the back door, watching together as Ashlyn tumbles on the grass, pretending the foam swords the triplets hold actually hurt. Oh no! I’m hit! She pretends to fall over, Don’t take my jewels!

“The treasure shall be mine!” Jonathan announces, standing with his foot up on Ashlyn’s arm; her other arm rests over her heart, a foam sword clutched in her claws.

I glance over towards the tombstones; the only reminders of my parents and my husband besides the gravesite. It’s silly to have tombstones without a graves, I know, but I always kept them as a reminder to myself of who the ghosts within the walls of the cabin are; my memories of them swirling about within my cloudy mind.

“Are you guys ready to head over there?” We turn to see Steven standing there in his black suit, watching as his kids pretend to be knights and a princess with Ashlyn.

message 5: by Laura (last edited Jan 21, 2015 12:35PM) (new)

Laura R | 59 comments True Love Comes In All Sizes

“Yes, I think we are.” I turn and head out towards the car; my cane wobbling within my grasp. A ringing sound fills the air and Steven reaches into his pocket and pulls out a blocky, cordless phone. “It’s work, honey, hang on.” He steps away and takes the call, leaving us standing on the front porch.

I sigh as the triplets rush by me, hopping into the backseat of the Honda. Ashlyn slinks along the side of the house, her head peering at us. I’m off to eat. I’ll be back before you’ll be home.

I smile and she shakes her head like a puppy before turning back around and heading into the woods. Steven comes back, taking hold of my other arm and helping me down the front steps of the cabin.

By the time I get dropped off at home I feel exhausted; my body hurting from the over exertion. I slowly make my way towards the back door, stepping out into the warm dusk. Ashlyn is already waiting for me beneath the tree and I smile as I slowly make my way towards her; the beautiful branches filled with leaves sway gently in the evening breeze.

Is everything alright Cecilia? She asks, sitting up immediately as I nearly stumble.

I laugh, “I’m alright, Ashlyn. Just a little tired is all.” Her scales wrinkle around her eyes as she looks at me with sadness. “I know my time is coming. I just wanted a little more time with you.”

I stop as I reach her, her arms reaching up and helping me ease down onto the grass beside her. I smile as I lean back, looking up between the leaves towards the purpling sky. I wish you could stay here with me.

“I wish that too, Ashlyn.” I lean on her muscular body, feeling the power rippling beneath the scales. “Where will you go?”

I don’t know. I will always be nearby for Ella and the kids. Maybe they’ll keep the cabin.

I sigh as I close my eyes, my right hand reaching up and stroking her smooth jaw, “You’ve been a sister to me ever since I was a little girl and found your egg in the forest. You’ve stayed with me ever since and I am beyond grateful that you have. I was eight when father passed. I thought you wouldn’t care but you cried as much as I did.

“You have showed me how to feel compassion when everything around me fell apart. You, Ashlyn, are the greatest gift that the world ever gave me.”

She lifts up her head and roars into the night, the earth shaking beneath us as the guttural pain echoed within her voice. I can feel her shaking beneath my frail body as I smile and let myself sink into her flesh. The pain from my bones leaves quietly and I feel at peace as I take my last breath beneath the birch tree my best friend, my truest love, and I planted all of those years ago.

message 6: by Nicky (new)

Nicky (soundgirl) | 1272 comments Wow, that was quick work Laura, I hope to read it a bit later!

message 7: by Laura (new)

Laura R | 59 comments Nicky wrote: "Wow, that was quick work Laura, I hope to read it a bit later!"

I try and get it done early otherwise I forget and end up not posting for the week! Hope you like it!

message 8: by Connie (new)

Connie D. | 656 comments I think you went FORWARD in time, saw the topic, then came back and wrote that!

message 9: by Nicky (new)

Nicky (soundgirl) | 1272 comments Laura wrote: "True Love Comes In All Sizes

“Yes, I think we are.” I turn and head out towards the car; my cane wobbling within my grasp. A ringing sound fills the air and Steven reaches into his po..."

That's a really clever tale, Laura, very succinctly told. I loved your combination of history with fantasy and the passage of time through the tale. the recurring themes add to the sense of generations passing.

message 10: by Joci (new)

Joci (kdemiweall) | 434 comments Amazing and lovely, Laura. Every time I read your stories I have something in my eyes. I don't know what it is and why :P You can count on me every week to read them. :)

This is the D-line:

"It’s been ten years. Ten long, long years since Father passed. D-day is what they called it. Father was a hero. Ashlyn sits curled up beneath the tree we had planted that day, her tail circling her body. I sit beside her, leaning on her warm scales as I read my book. My skirt rustles in the light breeze as I turn the page, absorbed in the fantasy world that opens up within the pages."

message 11: by Edward (last edited Jan 21, 2015 05:42PM) (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Title : The Borders of Time And Reason
Author : Edward Davies
Genre : Comedy Sci-Fi
Word Count : 1626
Rating : PG

The fact that everything about the room screamed nerd really did nothing for Michael’s sense of self-worth, even though he was a science major. He walked into the comic book convention, passing a grown woman dressed as a cat of some sort, and headed to the nearest stand.

He’d never really enjoyed comic books, but a girl he fancied really seemed to enjoy them. He tried reading the stuff she liked, but it all tended to be Japanese and generally involved gay men who looked like flat-chested women who enjoyed tearing their shirts off. Knowing that this was definitely not the sort of reading material he wanted his parents to find tucked under his mattress, he’d decided to try something else out instead.

What he’d found was truly remarkable.

The story had been amazing, almost Tolkien-esque in its sheer immensity, and had appealed to him immediately. The art was beautifully meticulous, and the story was so detailed that each twenty-two page issue took him at least forty-five minutes to complete. But there was one problem...

He couldn’t find issue seven anywhere!

People had always told him – that is, comic book nerds had told him – that generally the hardest issues to find were issue two or, in more recent cases, issue three. Issue ones always sold out – everyone bought them for their sheer collectability – but more often than not people neglected the next few issues, so they always had lower print runs. For a long time that meant issue two were rare, but now people had picked up on this and started buying the second issues as well, it seemed that issue three was the new issue two. But in this case, issue seven? It was most likely because the first story arc finished in issue six, and many people thought it was the final issue as issue seven didn’t come out for five more months, but by the time I realised this, issue eight was already on the shelves...

I’m boring you, aren’t I?

Anyway, out of sheer desperation, Michael had turned up at a comic convention in the hope of finding that elusive comic book.

Surrounded by people dressed as Transformers, Ninja Turtles, and many other popular characters from last summer’s action packed movies, he approached a section of the convention hall manned by a skinny man in his forties, wearing a T-shirt with the words ‘There’s no place like ‘ printed on the front. Michael didn’t get it.

The man stared at Michael, as if he was the retard for being in this place, then asked a simple question.

“Can I help you?”

Michael cleared his throat, “I’m looking for something,” he said.

“Aren’t we all?” the man replied, “You might want to be a little more specific, chum.”

“It’s a comic book,” Michael added.

The man looked left, then right, then stared at Michael. His stare said, ‘You’re an idiot’.

“It’s called ‘The Borders of Time And Reason’.” Michael explained.

“Oh,” the comic book guy grinned, “I imagine it’s issue seven you’ll be looking for.”

Michael furrowed his brow, “How did you know that?” he asked.

“It’s famous,” the comic book guy told, “don’t you know the story behind it?”

Michael shook his head.

“I thought everyone knew,” the man rolled his eyes, “well, what happened is, through some weird series of events, a vortex opened up in the very fabric of time itself, taking issue seven of ‘The Borders of Time And Reason’ and every single detail about it, and sent it hurtling into the future.”

Michael’s jaw fell open, “Seriously?” he asked.

The comic guy chuckled, “No, not seriously,” he said, “the guys who write it messed up, and there is no issue seven.”

“But the story doesn’t make sense without it,” Michael whined.

The comic guy shrugged, “Cry me a river, pal. What do you want me to do about it?”

Michael furrowed his brow, “Do you think they’ll ever publish it?” he asked.

“Maybe one day,” the man shrugged, “it happens sometimes. Remember how issue 20 of Spawn didn’t come out until after issue 25 back in the early days of Image?”

Michael stared blankly at the man, “What’s a Spawn?” he asked.

The comic book man turned away.

So now what was Michael to do? He couldn’t wait around, hoping that one day issue seven would magically appear in the shops. His personality wouldn’t allow it.

Luckily, he was something of a science wiz (convenient, huh?), so he headed home and started work on something that would hopefully help him out.

After several weeks of work, during which time issues eleven and twelve of ‘The Borders of Time And Reason’ had been released, Michael finally had it...

A Time Machine!

He was amazed at just how easy it had been to invent an actual working time machine. From what little he knew about time travel, it should have taken at least thirty years to finalize (at least, that’s what the Back To The Future trilogy had implied). It didn’t look like anything special; it wasn’t a Delorean, it didn’t look like Santa’s sleigh with a spinning wheel attached, and it definitely wasn’t a hot tub.

Michael’s time machine was a wrist watch.

How simple is that? He could just strap it on his wrist, set the time and date he wanted to travel to, and the watch would do the rest.

But to where should he travel?

By his estimate, a journey of just ten years into the future should land him in a time where he could find out when issue seven had finally been released. He began pressing buttons on the watch, changing the date on the digital display to 1st January, 2025.

Michael was plunged into darkness as the watch tore him out of his existing timeline and threw him into his apartment ten years in the future. He looked around, trying to adjust his eyes to the darkness, and peering around his living room.

Nothing had changed.

“It must not have worked properly,” he mumbled to himself, feeling his way around the room until he found a light switch. He flicked it on and looked at the wall clock. Maybe next time he should set a time, and not allow the watch to default to four zeroes - midnight. He twiddled with the watch, changing the default time to noon.

On further inspection of his flat, Michael spotted some small changes. His DVD collection had increased, and now included such unknown movies as Predator Versus Terminator, Toy Story 4, and something called Redezvous With Rama. Then a boxset he hadn’t seen before caught his eye...

It was called ‘The Borders of Time And Reason’!

“They made a TV series!” Michael said to himself, hoping beyond hope that it would include the episode that adapted issue seven.

A light came on in his bedroom, and Michael almost dropped the box set as he saw himself – albeit ten years older – walking into the living room in a pair of old man pyjamas.

“Oh,” the older Michael said, “Is that today?”

“You’re.. you’re...”

“Yes, I’m you,” older Michael finished younger Michael’s sentence, then looked at the box set he was holding.

“I wouldn’t bother with that,” he said, “as you can see, it only got one series. It was pretty lame.”

Younger Michael stared at his older self in disbelief, wondering when his hair had started to fall out, “So, what happened in issue seven?”

“Issue seven?” older Michael shook his head, “they never published an issue seven. They never published anything passed issue thirteen. It got cancelled when the creator got killed in a bus accident in early ’15 – not long after we invented time travel, actually.”

Younger Michael gaped in disbelief, “So why didn’t you go back in time and save him?” he asked.

“Because you can’t go back to your own time,” older Michael said.

Younger Michael looked confused, “But you’re me,” he said, “so if you’re here, then I must make it back.”

“Oh, we do,” older Michael explained, “but to 2016. For some reason the whole of 2015 gets locked out to us. Weird.”

“So there’s no issue seven?” younger Michael concluded, “and there never will be?”

“Sorry,” older Michael shrugged his shoulders, “I’ll see you then.”

“I’m not going back yet,” younger Michael said, “I might as well learn something about the future before I go back and make some money out of this.”

“You don’t stay much longer,” older Michael said.

“Why not,” younger Michael asked.

“Because, in the middle of your next sentence, you disappear, reappearing in 2016.”

Younger Michael laughed, “I really don’t think...”

And he vanished.

“Told you,” older Michael said.

Michael suddenly found himself in his flat in 2016, this time in the middle of the day. A year had passed in his flat, and it was only lucky he had all his bills set for direct debit. Grabbing a coat, he ran out of his flat and headed to the local comic book shop, hoping that he’d be able to get the last issue of ‘The Borders of Time And Reason’. He slammed into the shop door, running up to the counter, and smiling at the man behind it.

“Do you have the last issue of ‘The Borders of Time And Reason’?” he asked.

The comic shop man stared at him in disbelief, “Are you joking?” he asked, “Do you have any idea how much that thing goes for? It was the last thing the guy published before he got hit by that bus. It’s really famous. You really should have bought it when it came out. Were you living under a rock or something?”

“No,” Michael sighed to himself, “just in the future.”

message 12: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Laura wrote: "True Love Comes In All Sizes

“Yes, I think we are.” I turn and head out towards the car; my cane wobbling within my grasp. A ringing sound fills the air and Steven reaches into his po..."

Excellent story, Laura! I couldn't stop reading it!

message 13: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Edward wrote: "Title : The Borders of Time And Reason
Author : Edward Davies
Genre : Comedy Sci-Fi
Word Count : 1626
Rating : PG

The fact that everything about the room screamed nerd really did nothing for Micha..."

I really enjoyed your lighthearted take on this subject - it kept me smiling all the way through. Well done!

message 14: by Edward (last edited Jan 21, 2015 06:31PM) (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Anne wrote: "I really enjoyed your lighthearted take on this subject - it kept me smiling all the way through. Well done!"

Thanks Anne! I didn't realise how long this was going to be - I wrote it at work!

message 15: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9321 comments I'm going to try to get cracking on a story this week. This one is called "Boyfriend Stealer" and here's the deal:


David Jacobson, Lovesick Audience Member
Sarah Vaughn, David’s Girlfriend
Kathy Snyder, New Age Singer

PROMPT CONFORMITY: David’s “treacherous” act is recorded on a time-lapsed camera.

SYNOPSIS: Kathy does a New Age concert in which one of her songs is the beautiful and heartbreaking ballad “Slip Away”, originally by David Arkenstone and Charlee Brooks. During the performance, Kathy reaches out into the audience and holds hands with David while singing to him. David becomes emotional at this loving gesture, but is confronted after the show by his jealous girlfriend Sarah. David tries to convince Sarah that the loving gesture at the concert was only part of the show, but she’s not buying it and is actually considering ending their relationship over it.

message 16: by Daniel J. (new)

Daniel J. Nickolas (danieljnickolas) | 139 comments Cool story Laura. I like that you never describe Ashlyn as a “dragon”; it helped make her more believable as a mythical creature living in the real world. I also liked the oceanic imagery used in the first section of the tale, “sea of green” “like a starfish”, even that the characters had seafood for lunch. It gave the story fluidity (pardon the pun), and I think you could play with it even more.

I do have a few critiques as well. This first one is hardly a problem, but it did distract me: Ashlyn wants to plant the tree while they “still have the sunlight”, but it’s only lunchtime on a June day. Perhaps if it was dinner time, or if Ashlyn was worried about the late afternoon heat, etc.

Second, let the reader know a little something about Cecilia’s father, and how Cecilia feels about him, before the appearance of the man in uniform. It was hard for me to have sympathy during that scene because I didn’t really know the father, or how the family felt about him.

Finally, Cecilia in the final section reads like she’s about eighty or ninety, but by the calculations given she’s only fifty-eight. I’m not saying a fifty-eight year old can’t be weak and fragile, but it’s usually because they’re very sick, or have suffered a serious physical injury.

Otherwise, very inventive story. Great work.

message 17: by Laura (new)

Laura R | 59 comments Edward wrote: "Title : The Borders of Time And Reason
Author : Edward Davies
Genre : Comedy Sci-Fi
Word Count : 1626
Rating : PG

The fact that everything about the room screamed nerd really did nothing for Micha..."

I LOVED IT!! I always love a good Sci-Fi story, and this one was really well done. I especially liked the end when he goes back and is so distraught that he couldn't get the comic. Very clever!

message 18: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9321 comments AUTHOR: Garrison Kelly
TITLE: Boyfriend Stealer
GENRE: Romance
RATING: PG for interrupted sexual references and mild language

“The seasons change and age our temporary souls. Chasing fate along its winding road.” These were the lyrics being sung at the Rose Theater by the beautiful new age singer Kathy Snyder. The song was originally composed by David Arkenstone and sung by Charlee Brooks, but as Kathy stood there on the blue-lit stage singing this tune, she made it her own artistic creation with her trembling, sorrowful voice. Her lovely presence added to the heartbreak of those in attendance. She had long and shiny black hair, milky white skin, gorgeous red lips, and was wearing a green silky Celtic dress with no footwear of any kind.

The women in the audience had tears in their eyes while their equally emotional husbands held them tightly in their arms. One audience member in particular felt the sting of such loving words the most. He was a gentleman sitting in the front row named David Jacobson, a 30-year-old with fluffy black hair, thick rimmed glasses, a neatly trimmed goatee, and the brown dress jacket and blue jeans of a college professor.

“Close your eyes and drift into a shining memory. I’ll see you again where the sky touches the sea. And with your love, you’ve painted vivid colors on my heart.” As Kathy Snyder sung these enchanting words, she reached down and held David Jacobson’s hand with her own soft and smooth touch. David looked into Kathy’s eyes with wide pupils as his heart raced, his eyes moistened, his blood warmed up, and his scalp tingled, all of these feelings with a mixture of sorrow and delight. Kathy smiled her sweetest smile at him as he was going through these emotions.

The entire concert was Kathy Snyder’s rendition of the same David Arkenstone and Charlee Brooks album that “Slip Away” came from. By the time the tear-stained and heartbroken concert ended, she received a standing ovation from the audience, complete with clapping, whistling, and a few kisses blown her way. David Jacobson was too busy wiping his eyes and skin to clap for the performance. Kathy knew he was touched by her performance and that handholding gesture was a memory that would last a lifetime.

Slowly and patiently, audience members began to walk out of the theater with a case of the emotional sniffles and a need to hug each other. David walked among them with his hands in his coat pockets trying not to explode into tears again. As he made his way toward the sidewalk, somebody was blocking his path and he knew he was in deep trouble.

It was Sarah Vaughn, David’s girlfriend of ten years, who stood there with her arms folded and her sandals tapping against the concrete. She looked lovely enough with her long red hair, cool blue eyes, pink tank top, and blue shorts. She was hardly in a loving mood, however. In fact, she was pissed.

Sarah pulled out her smart phone and showed her boyfriend a time lapsed video of him holding Kathy Snyder’s hand while she sang in her beautiful voice to him. Videos didn’t lie even if they were multiple photo shots strung together to make cinema. Sarah said, “I don’t even want an explanation from you, David. You know what I’d rather have? Even more of a reason to slap you in the face right now!”

“Baby, it was just a concert. I was enjoying the music just like everyone else,” said a nervous David as he twiddled his thumbs and sweated some more.

Sarah put her hands on her hips and said, “Enjoying the music, my ass! You were fondling that woman and you know it! What, are you going to try and deny it now? I showed you the goddamn video! Yes, I’ve been following you this whole time! I was wondering where you kept going at night and now I’ve caught your ass!”

“I didn’t do anything wrong, Sarah! I wasn’t trying to come onto her! She’s married, for Christ’s sake! She did that because it was part of the show! Were you even listening to the lyrics? Do you even know what that song was about? Does that smart phone of yours even have audio recording?”

The angry girlfriend let out a sarcastic giggle and said, “Oh, that’s rich, David. Pass the blame on me. This whole thing is my fault because I don’t know the words to a stupid new age song. Don’t try to deny it, David: you love that woman. You wish you could have held her hand for even longer! Hell, you wouldn’t mind going into a cheap motel with her with a handful of condoms and…”

“Enough!” yelled David as he cut off his girlfriend’s last sentence. His hands trembled as he tried to control his anger, but failed at every attempt. He whispered, “Am I not allowed to have my own activities? What about you and your girls night out? Do I get to follow you with a smart phone every time you leave the house? How can we be together if we don’t trust each other?!”

“I don’t know, David, you tell me! No, I take that back. Don’t try to justify it to me. I’m seriously thinking of ending our relationship over what you did back there. Oh yeah! You feel the music now, David?! Are you jamming to the rhythm now, big boy?!”

David tried to give his girlfriend a hug while calling her things like “baby” and “sweetie”, but she slapped his arms away and yelled, “Don’t touch me! And don’t call me tonight! I’m staying in a hotel tonight and then I’m coming to the house to get my stuff! This is over, David! It’s over!”

Sarah felt a soft hand on her shoulder and she jumped in fright with her heart in her throat. She turned around to see that the silky touch belonged to Kathy Snyder herself, who apparently heard this whole conversation while standing in the background. Sarah put her hands on her hips and said, “Well, lookie here! It’s your new girlfriend, David! You can snuggle with her tonight for all I care!”

“I don’t want your boyfriend. I want the two of you to love each other,” said Kathy in a whispery voice.

Sarah let out yet another sarcastic laugh, put her hands on her hips, and said, “You’re funny! You’re a funny chick! If that new age crap doesn’t work out for you, you can be a standup comedian!”

Kathy held Sarah’s hands in her own and calmed her down momentarily. The new age darling said, “You should listen to your boyfriend when he says it’s all about the music. I held his hand because I was trying to comfort him, not because I wanted a new husband. The song that I was singing was called ‘Slip Away’. It’s about a mermaid who misses the love of her life and can’t bear life without him. Your boyfriend feels the same way about you. Just ask him.”

Sarah turned around to see David sucking in air in an attempt to keep himself from getting too emotional. She asked him, “Is this true, David?”

“Yes, Sarah. It’s very true. I didn’t come here tonight looking for a new girlfriend. I came here to look for a song the two of us could share together.” David held Sarah’s arms as gently as he could while saying, “I love you. I’m not going to screw up what we had for ten long years. I want to be in bed with you with that song playing on our stereo. I don’t want to simply have sex with you. I want to make love.”

Sarah’s eyeballs were getting dewy while Kathy’s plump red lips curled into a beautiful smile. David kissed his girlfriend’s hand and got on one knee, which made Sarah’s eyes even dewier than before. He took a while before finally popping the question that was eventually coming. “Sarah Vaughn….will you marry me?”

The emotional wife-to-be was breathing heavily as tears were flowing from her eyes and perspiration was forming on her hands. After a while of letting emotion wash over her, Sarah finally said, “Yes!” and hugged David as he got back up. The two of them hugged for the longest time while Kathy Snyder stood in the background smiling and wiping her own eyes.

Kathy said, “New age music is a labor of love. To achieve the peace we desire, we must have love. May the two of you have it for as long as you live and beyond.” She waved at the soon-to-be married couple and walked toward her limousine, which was parked only a few steps away. After opening the back door, Kathy noticed David and Sarah walking hand-in-hand down the sidewalk together and blew a kiss at them before getting into the vehicle and being driven away.

message 19: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments What a sweet, touching story Garrison! I'm glad you were able to bring it to life this week for us!

message 20: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9321 comments Thank you so much, Anne! :)

message 21: by Anne (last edited Jan 22, 2015 05:18PM) (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Comments / feedback are most welcome, especially to help me improve my writing. Thanks!

Title: Brave Heart
Words: 1325
Genre: Fiction

Colin pushed his cereal around the bowl, lifted the spoon to his mouth and made soft slurping noises. Not enough to get yelled at; just enough to sound like he was really eating. After a few “bites” he picked up his bowl and headed for the kitchen sink.

“I’m done. I’m going to school now.”

He dumped his breakfast down the garbage disposal and turned it on. He glanced at the table. As usual, his parents ignored him; his dad focused on the Sports pages, his mom reading her horoscope. He didn’t know whether to be glad or sad anymore.

This morning, however, he was glad.

He trod heavily to pick up his bookbag, slung it over his best blue and white striped button-down shirt, straightened out his black cotton pants, and pushed his mop of light brown hair out of his grey eyes. He fingered the first wisps of facial hair over his lip and briefly wondered if he should start shaving, not that anyone else had noticed yet.

He straightened his shoulders, marched out of the house, the butterflies dancing in his stomach.

He didn’t feel the cool October breeze that finally lifted the heat off the pavement.

He didn’t see the clouds passing overhead, periodically blocking the sun from flickering through the trees that lined the sidewalk.

He didn’t see Mr. Kennedy walking his black lab across the street.

He didn’t hear the sounds of traffic around him.

His throat was so tight he couldn’t talk and his arms and legs were twitching uncontrollably. He was trying not to think about what his stomach was ready to do.

He was terrified.

It had started after 8th grade graduation – the thought of going to a new school, new kids, new teachers, scared him. What if he couldn’t make friends? What if there were bullies?

It had been a terrible time to move across the country, he thought.

He’d made a few friends, kind of, but mostly the other kids just tolerated him. At least they weren’t too mean. He was careful not to stand out, to get average grades; to not look stupid, but not seem like a braniac nerd, either.

His anxiety got worse during freshman year. A couple of girls tried to be friendly with him, but he wasn’t sure if they were serious or making fun of him. What to do? There was no one to ask. So he avoided them.

His gym teacher wanted him to try out for the track team, but the thought of competing made his palms sweat.

Each time he was asked to speak in class, he tongue got twisted up and he started stuttering, the sweat trickling down the back of his neck. The laughter just made it worse.

Now, early in his sophomore year, he had to give his first real speech for his History class. He could bring notes, but not read it. This would be the longest 3 minutes of his life. The speech was supposed to be about what person in history he most admired, and why. His was on Alan Shephard, the first astronaut in space. He had a long standing fascination with NASA and hoped to someday write a book about astronauts.

He just dreaded the idea of talking about it.

He couldn’t get out of it, either. The last few times he was supposed to talk in front of the class, he pretended to be ill. But he heard the whispering and knew he wasn’t as convincing as he thought.

Inside the school, his heart started stuttering and he looked at his watch. He was way too early. Maybe going to the library would calm him down. Being around books always made him feel better. Walking down the hall, he was seized with the thought that he would give anything, ANYTHING, to be able to turn the clock forward a few hours. He was twisting and rubbing his watch as he walked into the library and headed to the back.

He stopped rubbing his watch and checked the time again. 11:00. He shook his watch. How could this be? It was just 7:45 a few minutes ago. It must have broken. No, he must have moved the hands by accident. He checked the clock on the wall. 11:00.

His history class - Speech time - was over.

He stared at the clock, then almost laughed out loud. His wish had come true. He felt so light and giddy he wanted to dance.

He had discovered the secret to make time pass more quickly. Just keep playing with his watch, that was the key. It must be a magic watch. He nodded his head to himself.

He walked to his next class. No one remarked on his absence from History. He sat in Advanced Algebra and actually volunteered to answer a few questions – a first for him. He was still riding on the euphoric wave of having blown off his History speech.

Walking to lunch after class, he passed by a poster:

Is This You?

Do you have a hard time making friends? Speaking in class?
Do you avoid social situations like dances, parties, group activities, because…?
• You break out in a sweat? Your heart beats faster? Maybe your throat feels tight?
• You get dizzy, faint? Or have trouble remembering things?
Do you sleep poorly? Have your eating habits changed?

If you have any one of these, come and see a trained counselor for a confidential one-to-one assessment.
We can help you!

He stopped and stared at the words a long time. Was this really him? Did he want help? He had just discovered the secret to avoiding everything that made him uncomfortable.

But did he really want to live like that? A big part of him desperately wanted to.

Then he thought of his astronaut report – how he had written about the bravery in going into outer space, something no one else had ever done. For all anyone knew at the time, that first astronaut might never have survived. Yet somehow Alan Shephard had managed to overcome his fears.

Could he be that brave?

He passed through the cafeteria line, grabbing a coke and an apple. He was still thinking about the poster when he walked past a group of kids from his History class. One of them grabbed his arm.

“Colin, hey, man! Wake up! Where are you going? You wanna eat with us today?”

Colin did a double take. There was Kevin, Pete, and Jake. He’d eaten with them a couple of times, but avoided them if they had girls at the table. Today a girl named Katie was sitting with them.

He took a deep breath, undecided, still thinking about that poster.

And almost dropped his tray when Katie said, her eyes sparkling with admiration, “That was an awesome report you did in History today. I can’t believe how much you knew.”

Jake piped up, “Yeah, and you made it sound so interesting. Made me want to join up with NASA.” He laughed along with the others. Jake was about 50 pounds overweight.

Kevin said, “And you didn’t even look at your notes once. Did you stay up all night memorizing it?”

Katie nodded and looked at him sideways, “Yours was the best report for sure.”
Then added with a slight flirtatious tone to her voice, “Maybe you could give us some pointers.”

They waited.

Collin’s legs started turning to rubber. He needed to sit down. He tried a weak smile.

“Yeah, maybe I will join you,” he squeaked out the words as his mind spun in crazy circles, trying to figure out what happened. Faint glimmerings of familiarity stirred in his consciousness. Had he really blocked it all out? Talked in front of the whole class without realizing it? Something about that thought made him feel even sicker than he had felt that morning.

As the others made room for him to sit, he thought – his mind still on that poster - Maybe I should go…yeah…I WOULD like to be that brave.

message 22: by Nicky (last edited Jan 23, 2015 02:08AM) (new)

Nicky (soundgirl) | 1272 comments Edward wrote: "Title : The Borders of Time And Reason
Author : Edward Davies
Genre : Comedy Sci-Fi
Word Count : 1626
Rating : PG

That's really clever and funny - Edward I really enjoyed reading it - I loved the narrator's little asides to the audience, it made me smile when you asked if you were boring us - as I realised I was just about to drift off - very clever!
Your style has a kind of modern Terry Pratchett vibe that's very readable. I thought it was very clever that you cleverly know enough about comic books to show how your character was lacking that knowledge. Loved it!

message 23: by Nicky (new)

Nicky (soundgirl) | 1272 comments Garrison wrote: "AUTHOR: Garrison Kelly
TITLE: Boyfriend Stealer
GENRE: Romance
RATING: PG for interrupted sexual references and mild language
I haven't been keeping up to date with the story thread lately but this is quite different from the style of story I'd read from you before. It was very sweet. I think the way you structure your dialogue have evolved and is forming into a 'Garrison style' which I'm looking forward to seeing where it leads you! Glad your writing schedule worked out!

message 24: by Nicky (new)

Nicky (soundgirl) | 1272 comments Anne wrote: "Comments / feedback are most welcome, especially to help me improve my writing. Thanks!

Title: Brave Heart
Words: 1325
Genre: Fiction

Colin pushed his cereal around the bowl, lifted the spoon to..."

Hi Anne, I enjoyed your story - I found I liked Colin immediately and he became very real and well rounded in a very short space of time. I liked your idea and thought it was very neatly tied up - I found I wanted to read on.

message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

Here is my short story submission for the topic: Time Lapse. Feedback is ALWAYS welcome!

Word Count: 795

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The vast world around us can contain awesome wonders or dingy, dark ugliness. It's all in how we perceive; optimist or pessimist. What do you see when you look out your window, down your street, around your city, your state?

Talyn Latimer's brows furrowed. She was determined to prove herself. Being the only girl on the Audio/Visual Squad had been quite intimidating. The boys had been deemed Nerds, Dorks and Geeks so she supposed she was in that category as well but, what were you when those Nerds, Dorks, and Geeks wouldn't even allow you into their own weird circle?

With a couple of minor projects under her belt, the high school senior thought she would have more confidence. She had been sadly mistaken. Her time-lapse photography of flowers and plants had been viewed as too "feminine". What the Hell?

Tears leaped into her pecan-colored eyes as she read the instruction sheet. "Paine Tolleson's gonna ace this," she mumbled.

"Create a fifteen-minute video, combo of still-frame and time-lapse photography." Terrance Lang, their skilled instructor announced. "Films must be done within the Tovar Hills community and will be graded, counting as a large part of your semester average."

Excited murmurs filtered through the male students as they began to discuss ideas.

"Oh, and the Tovar Hills City Council will watch the top three, select one as a promotional tourist commercial and grant a small college scholarship." Mr. Lang sat at his desk and began to shuffle papers. "You have one month."

"This could lead to job offers, man!"

"I can see dollar signs now!"


Talyn wrapped a tendril of long, dark hair around her pinky finger as she eavesdropped on her classmates' conversations. She would love to receive that scholarship but knew Paine Tolleson's father, the School Board President would pull all sorts of strings for him.

Inhaling deeply, the young girl held her head high. "Suck it up. Opportunities abound."

Mere days later, videos began pouring into the classroom.

Mr. Lang viewed each film but didn't allow a classroom viewing, only hinting at content.

"Each entry has been excellent thus far," he stated. "One about the school system has still photos of students and time-lapse of comings and goings into and out of our distinguished brick building of higher education."

Several hands patted Paine Tolleson on the back.

"Another about our school lunch program is quite comedic. Stills of various foodstuffs and time-lapse in the cafeteria really made me chuckle."

A short, chunky boy with bucked teeth grinned and turned slightly red.

Talyn placed a shaky hand to the side of her head. How was everyone doing this so quickly? How were they coming up with such great ideas? She had not even started. She didn't have a clue.

"Stop it," Talyn grumbled. "Remember, opportunities abound."

Immediately after school, camera in hand and backpack slung over her shoulder, Talyn Latimer walked down the sidewalk, through the play park and into the business district. She had lived in Tovar Hills all her life. There must be some inspiration in this sleepy, yet growing little town.

Focusing on a stray, yellow cat, Talyn snapped a few pictures as it skittered off into the alleyway behind an abandoned, boarded building.

Following quietly, she stopped short. Inspiration gazed down at the teenager. As she looked around, Talyn grinned.


One month later, an amateur photographer and videographer stood in front of the Tovar Hills City Council and School Board President.

"We have watched this several times and I must say, I want to watch it again," School Board President Court Tolleson beamed. "You have definitely captured the desired image of Tovar Hills."

As the lights dimmed, Talyn's video flickered to life.

A still photo of a large green billboard, TOVAR HILLS NEXT RIGHT in shiny white letters filled the wide-screen t.v.

Talyn's voice, sweet, yet professional, provided narration:

"Tovar Hills," she said simply. "My hometown. Your hometown."

The picture changed into a field of flowers, the storefront of Mrs. Steven's Bakery and then the small, stray kitten.

"Our hometown is growing. Growth is good." A short pause and then the screen darkened, replaced by a black and white photo of a trashed alleyway. Broken bottles, wadded newspaper and discarded boxes littered the space. Another, colorful photo showed graffiti scrawled haphazardly across a brick wall.

"Right?" Talyn continued, a bittersweet lilt enveloped her voice. "When we work together; men and women, boys and girls, Tovar Hills can be a wonderful world."

Time-lapse photography images showed hundreds of residents quickly working together; painting, sweeping and planting. A still photo of the newly-emerged beauty flashed and slowly faded.

"Look around. Opportunities abound." Talyn's voice dissipated ... as her smile shined on.

message 26: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9321 comments That's quite the feedback you gave me, Nicky! I hope I get to use my "Garrison style" more often! Thank you so much! You're a sweetie pie! ^_^

message 27: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9321 comments Laura, your fantasy story has the perfect mixture of cuteness and heartache. I love Ashlyn’s mannerisms such as rolling around and being all puppy-like. I also love that she was like a sister to Cecilia throughout her entire life, even during her final moments as an elderly woman. It was sad to see all of those people in the story die, but Ashlyn’s sweetness made the bitter pill much easier to swallow. Thank you so much for bringing such a cute, cuddly, and heartbreaking story to light! ^_^

Edward, you have this uncanny ability to brighten your readers’ days, even if they were already happy to begin with. Nerd culture can be a complicated thing and you made it into something we could all enjoy. I’m a nerd myself and I completely understood everything that was going on in your story. Basically, your story this week was one big giggly experience all the way through. Not only do you have a future in comedy, but also a present as well!

Anne, Colin’s experience in school was a lot like mine, so I could relate. I hated speaking up during class discussions, I hated giving speeches, I ate my lunch in a teacher’s classroom so that I didn’t have to be around other kids, and I was nervous around cute girls. Such is the life of a socially awkward introvert. I’m glad Colin decided to get himself some help by the end of the story. Counseling can do wonders for a teen desperate for help. There’s another area where I relate. Great job this week!

Hi there, Melissa-Pie! Talyn’s photography sounds like something I’d want to see someday, especially with that cute kitty walking down the street! You’ve taken this nervous girl who didn’t feel like she belonged and turned her into an artistic superstar in just a few short words. That’s quite the journey for somebody to go on. I hope she makes a career out of her talents and makes lots of money in the process. Good job, Melissa!

message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

Thank you for your kind words once again, Garrison! I am glad you enjoyed the story! I am about to settle in and get some reading done. Hopefully my goofy dogs won't interrupt so I can focus! :)

message 29: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9321 comments I want to snuggle with your goofy dogs and play with their ears! ^_^

message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

Laura - I loved your story! Ashlynn is the name of one of my granddaughters (I have three of them and two grandsons) but hers is spelled with two n's. She would be the little princess though and not the mythical creature. I am sure she dreams of those mythical creatures though! There was so much emotion packed in your short story, I seriously thought I was going to cry! Great job!

Edward - So funny! I love, love, loved the part where you ask if you were boring your readers! That was hilarious! I know we all wish we could fast-forward through time or go backward for various reasons. I'm not sure I would do so for a comic book but we all have something important to us that we are willing to take a risk on changing! Excellent!

Garrison - Just read your story and I must say that I really, really enjoyed it. I like this side of you. You should write more lovey-dovey stuff more often! :)

Anne - Very good and relatable story! I too was very much the introvert in school! As I have gotten older though I now have the mentality of I don't care if I make an idiot out of myself! (HAHA!) but I do still have some trouble when meeting someone for the first time. When I was in high school I was given the option of being in a Speech Class or being a Library Assistant. Which one do you think I chose!? Nose in a book has always been the life for me! Colin seems like such a nice fellow ... I know he will be fine!

message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

Haha, Garrison! I think our dog Cooper would let you .. he is a real sweetheart. Our other dog Ruckus would for like half a second and then he would be scratching you and annoying you like crazy! He's like a weird uncle ... someone you don't like but still love because he's family! WAH!! :)

message 32: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9321 comments Hehehehe! You have the silliest dogs, Melissa! And thank you so much for the comments on my story. I'll be sure to crank out more romance stories because I know you like them. It feels good to be appreciated. :)

message 33: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh, you don't know the half of it with my dogs! Ruckus is a 13-year-old Rat Terrier and he is very set in his ways. He sits with me in the evenings when we watch tv and if I get up he barks and barks and barks until I sit back down again!

And, yes, you are very appreciated! Keep those stories crankin'! :)

message 34: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9321 comments He's barking because he loves you! ^_^

message 35: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Melissa wrote: "Here is my short story submission for the topic: Time Lapse. Feedback is ALWAYS welcome!

Word Count: 795

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The vast w..."

What a lovely story, Melissa! A very creative way to depict the environment and the kind of character Talyn is - how she was able to appreciate the beauty of opportunities. You've become a real master at the flash fiction!

message 36: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Thanks for all the feedback guys, it's always appreciated!

message 37: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9321 comments We're always happy to give you some, Edward. :)

message 38: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Nicky wrote: " Your style has a kind of modern Terry Pratchett vibe that's very readable."

Hi praise Nicky! If only publishers thought that way! :)

message 39: by Daniel J. (new)

Daniel J. Nickolas (danieljnickolas) | 139 comments Garrison:
As others have stated, that piece was very different from your previous work – albeit I’ve been absent awhile, so I suppose it’s possible you’ve been going through a transitional period – and it’s always good to see someone stretching their range (it’s important). I, as a reader, would like to have a little more background into the relationship of David and Sarah as a way of sheading light onto Sarah’s character. I have to assume that after ten years, Sarah has a good reason (whether rational or not/having anything to do with David or not) for having trust issues. Good work, and I hope you don’t mind if I assume that there is a new love interest in your life, the effects of which have oozed out of your subconscious and into your ink well. Just kidding.

I like that you chose the topic about learning to be brave while a person is still young. Colin is at the age of self-discovery, and it’s very unfortunate that so few people learn to truly be brave at that age. If I could desire anything for your story, it would be a little more connection between the characters. Example: you mention at the beginning that Colin’s parents “as usual” are ignoring him; I feel like there is a story there that might explain some of Colin’s fear and anxiety. The connections don’t have to be that complex either: Maybe Katie was one of the two girls who tried to be friends with Colin Freshmen year. I think things such as this would give your story more fluidity.

I like that you have fun with your writing. I also like that you introduced me to the joke; I imagined a Wizard of Oz graphic on the comic book guy’s shirt after I looked the joke up (initially I didn’t get it either). This story evokes that frustration of getting really interested in something, only to eventually realize you’ll never have it all, despite the lengths you might go to in order to get. I’m not the only reader who’s ever experienced this I’m sure. This story contains a lot of plot in such a small amount of words, and I think it would benefit from being made longer. Example: I liked that you gave a detailed description of the kind of comics the girl liked, and by describing them you also made me laugh at the absurdity of Michael trying to force himself to like that type of comic, especially for the sake of girl. I think this story lends itself to having more moments like that one.

I liked your main character. She has very endearing qualities. I like that you had all the other student projects be focused around the school. This helped Talyn’s idea about the town, and its future, stand out as a grand idea when compared against the more narrow, day-in-the-life ideas of the others in the class. I also thought the title/message for the piece “opportunities abound” to be great little saying to live by. As a reader, I wouldn’t mind a little more information about why Talyn wants to be in the audio visual department in the first place. As it stands now, it kind of sounds as though she just wants to prove herself better than the boys, no matter what the activity, which is a message I don’t think you’re intending.

message 40: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9321 comments Felix J. wrote: "Garrison:
As others have stated, that piece was very different from your previous work – albeit I’ve been absent awhile, so I suppose it’s possible you’ve been going through a transitional period –..."

I don't know if this counts as a transitional period, but lately I've been feeling more thankful for the things I have instead of being a downer all the time. And I know you were just kidding, but I should probably say that I'm still single (though I've had lots of crushes in my life). If there was one crush who inspired this piece, it's Charlee Brooks, the original singer for the song "Slip Away" by David Arkenstone. Not only is she a damn good singer, but she's gorgeous too. Anyways, thank you for the detailed critique, Felix. It makes me happy to know my work is appreciated, especially if the audience wants to know more about the characters. :)

message 41: by Nanda (new)

Nanda Rajanala | 8 comments Title: The Quest for Bodhi
Author: Nanda Kishore Rajanala
No. of words: 4000 (sorry, the limit says 3500 but I couldn't edit it further due to time constraints)

Reality and Illusion are intermixed in a World where time and space are not constant, a dimension where events overlap in the past, present and future. Can the creator manipulate events in many Worlds of the Universe?

It was a freezing cold morning in Buffalo City. Several inches of snow pounded the entire state of New York after an unusual storm the previous night. Cold winds from the Arctic conspired with a frigid Canadian storm to turn anything that stood straight on the streets into icy popsicles. Alfred Fickler just returned home from Boston. But, he had to drive soon again in the storm to the JFK airport.
Alfred enjoyed being single. At thirty, he was happily wedded to his profession, a not so ubiquitous one though. He was a “Fantasy Hunter”, a profession that ensured that no date of his ended on a serious note or molded into a meaningful relationship with women. Alfred was probably one among a few hundred in the World who managed to survive with an odd career. The few friends he had mockingly called him as the “Jobless Indiana Jones,” since the whip-wielding adventurer at least had a tenured job as a professor to support his flamboyance. For the average man, Alfred did not come through as a serious person in life, his last name not boosting his personal image either. He just took up an assignment for a new client, a wealthy Jewish Businessman based in New York City. The two met in Boston the previous day.
Alfred chased fantasies, but only the ones that had an aura of mystery surrounding them. He did not chase elves but did go unsuccessfully after Big Foot in the mountains of Colorado and Nepal. He scraped dirt for years in an Egyptian pyramid to find an elusive cat’s mummy buried next to a less famous Pharaoh, which boasted of supernatural powers to the possessor. He was unsuccessful then too as he ended up digging the wrong grave. Everything that Alfred did fit well for someone who lived in 18th century Europe or in a Hollywood movie, but not the modern 21st century. Yet, Alfred somehow found clients from some corner of the World, willing to pay for his travel, food, clothing and shelter to do exactly this in life!
His new client, a Mr. Soderberg, never addressed himself by his first name. He met Alfred at the Andover-Harvard Theological Library in Cambridge, in a silent corner less visited by even the most curious of bookworms. Mr. Soderberg wore an expensive suit with a distinctive red tie that had delicate patterns of the Hindu symbol, Om. He had a tan on his face, probably from exposure to the harsh Sun over the years, suggesting that he was a well-traveled man. He was old, with silver-white curly hair, a freckled face and big, brown eyes. Mr. Soderberg did not share details of his current or past profession, but Alfred could take a guess that he was an adventurer and a part of high society in New York City. Mr. Soderberg made an offer that Alfred could not refuse- a jaw-dropping ten million dollars to find a mysterious entity – “Bodhi.” Alfred was all ears when Mr. Soderberg spoke about Bodhi when they met in Boston-
“Alfred, there are very few people of your kind remaining in this World. I know how you circled the World to discover Tiwanaka, in the eastern extremity of Siberia, a remote lake mentioned in centuries’ old Gothic literature. You fetched the seeds of the Gorshova, a rare plant that only grows near this lake and can cure certain kinds of cancer, a secret long lost but for among a few tribes in Siberia. However, I am interested in something different and I want you to get it for me, for real, and in person.”
On hearing this, Alfred raised his eyebrows and straightened his back to pay keen attention.
“Years ago, I traveled on business to the island of Tinos in Greece. One day, at the famous Church of Miracles of Virgin Mary, I met a heretic priest named Andreas Clemens. We shared a passion for adventure. He had an energetic radiance on his face. This priest raved about meeting a certain “Bodhi”. Some of the supernatural powers that the priest attributed to Bodhi amazed me! Bodhi was capable of disappearing into thin air and materializing whenever and wherever needed. The priest received a fruit from Bodhi, eating which a person begins the journey into a different World, an alternate dimension, the details of which I will not trouble you with. You will know about it when the time is ripe! A few days back, and I do not know how, I received a mail from Andreas Clemens. He had handwritten the following- “Found peace in life…need to escape maaya. Come meet Bodhi! Visit Tinos at the earliest - Clemens”
Alfred stayed glued to his seat. The eerie silence of the library added to the excitement as it was recounted in the soft, raspy voice of Mr. Soderberg.
“Now, Alfred. I am not sure if you see where I am going with this. There is a reason why the priest wants me to meet Bodhi. I would not have cared about this message but for this “fruit” of Bodhi’s. This is bigger than Science! This is bigger than reality! This is fantasy embarrassed by its own illusion. This is the true reality; I want you to help me get Bodhi. I am too old to travel on my own. I want to nudge humanity to rediscover the World yet again, this time by fighting against nature, the ultimate battle, the David of life versus the Goliath of death! Alfred, go on my behalf and let us change this World forever…”
Alfred took the earliest flight from New York to Athens. Once in Greece, Alfred planned to call Mr. Soderberg the moment he came into acquaintance with the still mysterious Bodhi. After a long flight across the Atlantic, Alfred reached Athens and took the last ferry in the evening to Tinos. It was late in the night when the boat tugged along the port and anchored. It was unexpectedly cold in Tinos and there was a chilly breeze blowing from the Aegean Sea. However, it was much better than the cold beating he received in Buffalo. He retired for the night in a tiny inn overlooking the ocean. The hosts were kind enough to make a late night meal for him. After a sumptuous Mediterranean feast, he sank into his bed. The next day was a big day for Alfred. He was planning to meet Andreas Clemens and then Bodhi too. If all went well as per the plan, he planned to chill out in Athens for a few days before flying back home.
The next day, it was a brisk and beautiful morning at Tinos. Alfred woke up early and prepared himself for the day. After having breakfast, he took a stroll along a narrow, rugged, stone lane on the Island on the way to the famous Church of Panagia Megalohari, the holy shrine of the Virgin Mary. This was Alfred’s rendezvous point with Andreas Clemens. It was the time of the year, when fewer tourists visited the shrine. Alfred reached the Church, walked around appreciating its architectural beauty, went in and approached a priest next to the altar.
“Sir, I am looking for a priest by the name, Andreas Clemens. Do you happen to know him?” Alfred asked.
“Well, yes, I am Father Clemens. Who are you? Do I know you by any chance?” The priest turned back and enquired.
Alfred beamed with joy in his face. He explained to Andreas as to how he came on Mr. Soderberg’s behalf to take Bodhi along with him. Andreas silently pointed towards a small garden outside the church and walked out with Alfred.
“Mr. Alfred, it is exciting that Mr. Soderberg sent you to Tinos! Bodhi gives only to a chosen few and they cannot share with others. I hope your mission is a success,” the priest said in a calm tone.
Alfred watched with a slight smile on his face as the priest continued.
“There is a reason why you were sent here…Nobody comes to this shrine without a reason...Bodhi told me to expect Mr. Soderberg soon. I am supposed to depart into my inner sanctuary, high up in mount Prophet Elias, far away from this maddening World! All I have to do is pass on Bodhi’s legacy to the next worthy contender.”
The priest had a broad smile on his face. It looked like he deduced in his mind the reason Alfred was here and felt at peace about it. But, Alfred knew he was just the delivery boy. He had nothing to do with Bodhi beyond the handover to Mr. Soderberg.
“I realized that you mentioned maaya in your letter to Mr. Soderberg. I simply could not contain my curiosity. What does it mean?” Alfred asked inquiringly.
“Ah, who can explain it better than Bodhi? Let us not waste time any more. We must get to Bodhi at the earliest. We shall start trekking the mountain of Prophet Elias the first thing tomorrow morning. Retire early and get some sleep tonight. Let us meet 5am sharp at the foot of the mountain,” the priest said before he gave a warm hug to Alfred and parted ways.
Alfred could not sleep the entire night. There was unabated excitement about the unknown and the unseen! He checked local maps identifying his destination and learned from the innkeeper that the mountain had a church of the prophet Elias that several tourists visited. Would it not be crowded? He wondered.
The next day, Alfred woke up early and headed towards the mountain. It was still dark and he stumbled on the loose rocks at the foothills. A faint voice in the distance called him. As he strained his eyes to look, he saw the priest waving his hand at a distance. He was wearing a white robe that showed in the surrounding darkness.
“If you trek east, you will arrive at the church where visitors crowd during the day. We will take the western route nearby. Watch your step for any snakes as this is not a path that many take. After all, this is called as the island of snakes, ophiusa! You tread the treacherous path overcoming enemies filled with venom to reach your goal…,” the priest explained as he pointed towards two adjoining mountains and paced his steps along a familiar path.
The Sun started rising across the Ocean behind them. The beauty of the black rocks glittering from the sun’s light amazed Alfred. The wind was crisp. They trekked the slippery slope for hours until Alfred grew tired. The mountain was decked with loose pebbles separated from ancient rocks, perhaps cut by the strong winds from the Sea. Alfred did not have anything for breakfast and he was famished. The priest looked at him with kindness in his eyes and handed over a small nut to munch on. It looked like a dried fruit, felt chewy, like a fig! Within moments of eating, Alfred felt a surge of energy in his body. They continued their trek and finally reached the mountaintop in the evening. The Sun started descending into the Ocean and it was becoming dark. All that Alfred could see was the faint light in the distance of the Prophet Elias church. There was a huge tree, alone on the mountain distinguished by miles and miles of dried mountain grass. Right next to the tree was a small shack built with the same grass that acted as a camouflage. Alfred believed the priest probably built it as his final resting place!

Alfred entered the shack and sat down with the priest. He wondered what Bodhi was doing in such a lonely place. He was not to be seen anywhere either.
Looking at the curiosity in Alfred’s face, the priest explained, “It is night time; Bodhi is asleep now…We have to wait for Bodhi to wake up in the morning. You should also get some sleep. You have traveled far beyond time to reach here!”
Alfred and the priest rested in the shack. It was modest in set up. They had to sleep on an elevated mud platform that seemed suspended from the ground through some means along the two corners of the room. Alfred grew restless initially as he never embarked on such a journey in his life. But, there was something peaceful about the surroundings....to be continued in next post

message 42: by Nanda (new)

Nanda Rajanala | 8 comments ....The Quest for Bodhi...continued - Nanda Kishore Rajanala

While the full moon shone bright, the leaves of the giant tree outside made a pleasant musical sound as the calm wind blew from all sides. It made Alfred feel at peace with himself. In a few hours, it was time to meet Bodhi.
However, the night seemed unusually long. Alfred carefully rolled on the narrow platform bed every few minutes. Alfred was not feeling hungry since the time he had that little nut. He felt something weird as well as special about this place. As the night lingered on, he eventually caught up with some sleep.
A brisk shake of the body woke up Alfred from his slumber. Alfred opened his eyes and saw the priest silently point towards the window. The Sun had risen. The priest stepped out and stood in front of the giant tree, humbly folding his hands in obeisance. Alfred watched the priest and stared at the tree. As he was about to turn the other way and view the ocean, he heard a stranger speak.
“Welcome Alfred. I was waiting to see you for years. I am glad that you have come,” said a voice coming from the tree. Alfred looked at the priest in surprise and tried to peek behind the tree to see who was talking. Maybe it was Bodhi, he thought!
The priest saluted the tree with palms together. His cheeks were flushed with delight as he lifted his hands and touched a leaf from the overstretched branches of the tree.
“Who is talking to me? Is it Bodhi? Why can’t I see him,” Alfred asked the priest.
The priest looked at Alfred and laughed.
“Who do you think is talking with you? It is Bodhi indeed,” the priest said with a twinkle in his eyes.
“You mean the tree! I do not see anyone else here,” Alfred said with a stunned look on his face.
“Whom do you think I was talking about all along? Didn’t Mr. Soderberg tell you?” The priest asked.
Alfred opened the palms of his outstretched hands, shrugged his shoulders and nodded his head sideways.
“Why in the World would a tree talk? It is absolutely impossible!! What will I do with a tree? How can I take it to Mr. Soderberg?” Alfred whispered in a low voice to avoid being heard.
Alfred raised his eyebrows in a pensive mood as the tree started talking again.
“I am Bodhi. You came looking for me as much as I wanted to see you. I was never created in this World; I exist from a time beyond creation, a time with no beginning or end. I bear a special fruit once every century that only a few creatures get to benefit. I am the tree responsible for the creation of humanity through mutation of matter and energy in my nucleus. I am the agent who created knowledge of the scientific Universe, interpreted through Nature by all living beings. My roots control the Earth, my leaves control the Wind, my branches control the Ether, my radiance controls Fire, and my canopy controls Water. My flowers spread wisdom and my fruits aid in escaping maaya, the illusion I imparted to my creation to survive in this World. It is this illusion that makes Man think he is in control of his self, the World, the plants, the animals, the mountains and the space around him! Science, is a mere mirror I provide to the curious to identify my actions.
It was under me that the Buddha achieved enlightenment. I am here, I am there, and I am everywhere, wherever you want me to be. Man does not know me, as he never tries communicating with trees, the only beings and the true source of sustenance. Man’s five senses are limited in their capabilities. He only knows to use his limitations, not fathom the limitlessness of his opportunities. Alfred, you are ready to take my fruit as you chose to pursue it with all sincerity through ages of your soul’s existence. You led a selfless life over thousands of years in pursuit of me, the ultimate wisdom. The materialistic wealth you gained in this lifetime, you chose to relinquish. The power you earned, you chose to ignore, all for me… Instead, you pursued the ultimate truth- that the essence of all existence is non-existence; the body is just a cover around your soul. The body fools your soul to accept the unreal; you are now ready to be you, peeled away from your body, to unwrap the ultimate reality!”
Alfred blinked his eyes rapidly and stood dazed. Staring at a talking tree on a bright, sunny day on a lone mountain was surreal. He wondered what deeds he did in the World that made him the chosen one, and why not Mr. Soderberg, the man responsible for him coming here.
“Forgive my skepticism. I see no benefit in talking with trees to gather wisdom about an unknown life. I neither am aware of any acts of mine that deserve this special attention. Anything I receive should truly belong to Mr. Soderberg. The fruit you give shall be his,” Alfred said.
“You are a sum total of your collective actions beyond what your memories carry in this life. You did one thing that none does in this World, the act that separated you from the rest. You let go of your present, to go back to your past and relinquish this World for the future,” Bodhi explained.
Alfred could hardly comprehend what he heard. Something within his mind made him more eager to understand the depth of Bodhi’s message.
“Well, I guess we may never agree on anything here. You may please give me the fruit. I shall take it to Mr. Soderberg and end my quest,” Alfred said in a delirious state of mind.
“Pick the fruit from the inner branches of my canopy. Eat, for it is “you,” who is destined to consume it. The fruit is the path to the other World you seek to travel. Your adventures in this World are now complete!” Bodhi explained.
Alfred picked a ripe purple colored fruit from the tree and bit into it. As he finished eating the tiny fruit, he suddenly remembered that the fruit was meant for Mr. Soderberg. He looked back at the tree and found there were no more fruits to pick!
“It is now time to say goodbye! You have accomplished what you came for,” Bodhi said.
It was getting dark. Bodhi went silent and Alfred got no further responses to his request for another fruit. Alfred wondered what he would tell Mr. Soderberg after going back. That he met a godlike tree and its name is Bodhi, a tree and not a real person! That he ate the fruit meant for Mr. Soderberg in a state of trance while conversing with a tree!
But, the fruit did seem to have mystical powers. Alfred had this strange feeling that he was now an accomplished person. He no longer saw anything as wanting in life. At a very young age, there were people who helped him travel the World, see things and do things that an ordinary mortal would have seen as sheer madness and avoided. He never hurt anyone, helped many people and never had any regrets. All he had to do now was to apologize to Mr. Soderberg for the failure of yet another mission.
Alfred suddenly noted that he forgot about the priest this entire time. He turned around and could see no one. The priest did mention that his mission was over once he handed over Alfred to Bodhi. Alfred called out the priest’s name but to no avail. The priest had disappeared. Alfred called aloud once more, much louder, until his sleep broke! He took a few moments to realize where he was. He was sitting in the same hut, but the priest was not there. As he stepped out, Alfred was almost blinded by the bright Sun. He could not see Bodhi, the tree, either. It was just plain, dry, brown grass all around the mountaintop. He again called out for the priest and only heard his voice echo. He strolled around the mountain unsuccessfully looking for the priest and then descended. Alfred had no idea what was real, what he had to believe and what he had to toss away as a fantasy!
Alfred finally reached the base of the Island and walked towards the Church. It was indeed a miraculous affair for him. Alfred entered the Church and enquired for Andreas Clemens, hoping that he may find the priest there. A Head priest and nun looked surprisingly back at him and said there was no one by that name ever in the history of the Church. Alfred’s repeated argument that he indeed met the priest and walked with him to the Mountain merely amused them. It was now late afternoon. Alfred walked back to the Inn and picked his phone to call Mr. Soderberg. The call repeatedly went to his voice mail. He tried again and received no response. As he sat in his room at the Inn wondering what next, he recognized that he had no other means of reaching Mr. Soderberg. They only met at the Theological Library in Cambridge and never exchanged any other information about their whereabouts. The next day, Alfred took his bags and flew back to the United States.
It was a very tiring yet adventurous week for Alfred. He stepped into his apartment and accidentally kicked an envelope placed at the entrance door. He tidied up his apartment, took a shower and walked towards his desk to open the envelope. It seemed strange; there was no postage stamp and no details of the sender. He tore open the cover and pulled out a banker’s check for ten million dollars in the name of “Alfred Fickler Soderberg”.
Alfred Fickler Soderberg was a wealthy New Yorker, an adventurer, a man who performed many great deeds in life with a selfless attitude. Mr. Soderberg learnt about Bodhi when he visited Tinos. The priest, Andreas Clemens, gave Mr. Soderberg a peek into the many Worlds that humans exist in, alternate dimensions of reality that do not connect with each other, blind to the other entity’s comprehension, but still interconnected through events happening at superluminal speeds. Andreas Clemens was merely a mental illusion of Mr. Soderberg’s own making to realize Bodhi’s existence.
Through a series of dreams, communicating with Bodhi through the priest, he realized the only path to catapult him into the other World, the one where illusions are no longer a reality, is if he could go back in time and sow the seeds of his future. Mr. Soderberg had to readjust time to get to Bodhi. He needed his younger self, Alfred Fickler, to venture into that dimension. His past and his present had to cross each other through maaya. Mr. Soderberg met his younger self and sent him off on the journey to Tinos. The young Alfred himself could only fathom the presence of Bodhi through the power of his dreams, initiated in the hut through the guidance of the priest. The illusionary priest, the guide to the miracle fruit, lived in Mr. Soderberg’s past and his present, eventually disappearing into the other World through Bodhi’s illusion. Alfred Fickler Soderberg entered his desired destiny in the present through the help of his own self in the past. All that the young Alfred had to do in the past was to add a new last name to his identity and enjoy the benefits of his materialistic wealth, in an unknown anticipation of his inimitable future!

message 43: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Felix J. wrote: "Garrison:
As others have stated, that piece was very different from your previous work – albeit I’ve been absent awhile, so I suppose it’s possible you’ve been going through a transitional period –..."

Thanks Felix, you brought up some good points - thanks for your perspective on my story.

message 44: by Daniel J. (last edited Jan 24, 2015 12:14PM) (new)

Daniel J. Nickolas (danieljnickolas) | 139 comments A Gallery
By Felix J. Nickolas
Word count: 3,300

A painter must have the ability to see a moment in time as it occurs and replay that moment later as though the memory of it was the first time it happened:

Painting One

The painting that hangs in the lobby of the Crestview Community College Auditorium is a towering colossus, yet inattentive passersby mistake it for a simple change of pattern on the wall. The texture and style of the painting is done with great care and skill by a committed hand, deft and well trained. A boy, who possesses a repulsive handsomeness like that of a ferret, stands waiting for a theatre class to start, with a friend of his by the name of Rebecca, who was like a fruit bat.

“Is it supposed to be in black and white?” Rebecca asked her friend Tyler. She fluttered from one side of the painting to the other, trying to take in the image. She searched for metaphors as she did with all art, always blind to the aesthetic. The painting evoked a valley tree in misty mid-winter, seen just as the sun turns the morning horizon cyan-grey. Rebecca’s question was not unfounded, for color certainly exists at such a time and place, but can be difficult to find. Rebecca could find none of these colors because, instead of understanding what she saw, she was too busy inferring what wasn’t there.

“There’s a lot of color in it.” Tyler said, burrowing into small sections to observe little details. “The outline on the woman’s neck has color in it, and the sky fades from white to grey to dark blue, not black.”

“It’s strange.” Rebecca reexamined the painting, waiting for clarity to rise above the mystery. Nothing came to her. “I heard that a student painted this, but I don’t know if I believe it; is seems too good. Like, couldn’t the school get something done by a professional?”

“Maybe it was a financial thing.”

“I guess. It seems like a real painter might donate something to a school. Every year hundreds of new people would see their work.” Rebecca’s posture straightened; a counter melody had begun over the conversation. It was a percussive click that was fluid and precise. The sound didn’t vibrate hollow like a drum, but was solid.

Mrs. Schwartz stopped at the painting next to Tyler and Rebecca. Now still, her high heels no longer echoed the sweet click-clack through the cavernous lobby. “You two are early for class. I appreciate the commitment, but extra credit doesn’t come so easily.”

Rebecca’s attention was still given mostly to the painting; she acknowledged her teacher’s presence only as a means of clarifying her own curiosity. “Mrs. Schwartz, do you know who painted this? I heard it was a student, but I didn’t know if that was true.”

Mrs. Schwartz let out a small but intellectual laugh. “There’s a name plaque right next to the painting, here.” She took a few steps to where the canvass ended, and pointed to a small plaque with title, date created, and artist name all in silver on oak. “It always pays to look.” Mrs. Schwartz walked away. “Don’t be late.” she said as the clicking of her heals dissipated into the auditorium.

“I know this guy.” Rebecca said as she scanned the plaque. “At least, I think I do.”

“Who is he?” Tyler had turned his back on the painting and stood facing the entryway to the auditorium. There was disinterest in his voice.

“He has American History with me. I actually see him in the lunchroom after Method class.” (Method class was the common name for Theatre 203: Method Acting with Prof. Schwartz). “I would have never guessed he had such an artistic fire in him. We should go meet him.”

“You’re weird.” Tyler put his arm around Rebecca’s shoulder, both as a sign of friendship, and as a means of guiding her into class. Like any wandering mind, Tyler and Rebecca would have forgotten about the painting and its creator, except that a person cannot leave the auditorium without becoming the painting’s audience, if only for a short while. This is especially true for people heading to the lunchroom, the place Tyler and Rebecca always went after Method class.

The lunch area was two separate rooms, normally divided by an accordion wall, which blurred together between the hours of 10:30 am and 2:00 pm. The second room, the one without an attached kitchen, was a large open grey space used for studying, socializing, or eating, depending on time of day. Most student art was displayed here among the great throng of young minds, the place where it was most likely to be ignored. It smelled of different foods that had been kept warm for several hours, and the economy carpet hosted a number of captivating stain patterns. If a person looked hard enough they could find images, like with clouds.

“There he is.” Rebecca pointed out the artist of the colorful black and white lobby piece. He sat in a plastic teal chair, reading an Art History textbook, in a far corner of the room.

“He sure is weird looking.” Tyler, being unable to see the face behind the textbook, only assumed. Unfair perhaps, but there are many social cues by which a person may be judged, even before they are ever seen.

Rebecca shushed her friend with an inane fear that the artist might be able to hear him.

Tyler, finding Rebecca’s reaction amusing, went on. “I’m just saying, he’s talented, I admit, but I don’t know if that makes up for everything else.”

“Tyler, stop it.”

“Sorry.” He had to cautiously subdue his laughter, like a thumb on a champagne cork after the wire is removed. He sighed heavily, growing almost instantaneously bored. “I don’t get why we’re here. I mean you don’t have a crush on him or anything, so what is it? Do you want to be friends with him?”

The question struck Rebecca as odd. “Well ... no. I’ve never talked to him before. I just thought it was interesting ... I didn’t know he was a painter.”

“Okay. Do you want to go over and introduce yourself?”

“I don’t know. Should we? He is all alone.”

“This isn’t high school Rebecca; people only eat alone when they want to be alone. Anyway, I’m hungry. Do you want to get a sandwich?”

“Maybe.” She continued looking at the artist in the chair. She heard Tyler say something about saving her a place in line and felt his presence scurrying away from her. She became self-conscious of the fact that she was now alone, worried someone might see her just standing there, staring. She decided to follow after Tyler. Before she did, she noticed the artist get out of the chair and walk across the room with a stride of purpose, as though he had somewhere to go. Tyler had been right, she thought. Rebecca wouldn’t have considered it further, except that after she and Tyler finished their lunch she saw the artist, for a moment out of the corner of her eye, sitting in the plastic teal chair again.

Painting Two

“He comes in every week to look at paints for about thirty to forty minutes and buys whatever catches his fancy and leaves.” Mary Hanger of Hanger Arts Emporium speaks to a friend of hers. She speaks about a man who is coming through the door. “I can’t imagine he actually uses all the paint he buys.”

message 45: by Daniel J. (last edited Jan 28, 2015 01:54PM) (new)

Daniel J. Nickolas (danieljnickolas) | 139 comments The voice of opera singer Joan Sutherland sings Eb-6 over the sound system.

“Interesting.” Carrie says. Carrie is a woman with heavy makeup and an even heavier bundle of layers to protect her from the winter cold outside. A wind gust rattles the window and rustles the leaves of the tree by the store front. “He has a sort of intensity about him doesn’t he?” Carrie leans against the checkout counter and peers over her shoulder. The artist whom the women are gossiping about is peculiar and intense about buying paints. He picks five or six color swatches and arranges them in different patterns. In the first experiment each swatch is different. In the next he takes five swatches of one color and a sixth of a different color to see how the one looks when surrounded by the other. He scrutinizes each paint brush by twisting the handle with his thumb and finger but examines the bristles with his eyes.

“He kind of makes me sad I think.” Mary says as Joan Sutherland’s Eb6 continues to ring irreverently against all other notes. There is too much of this strange music for Mary to be sad.

Carrie opens her mouth to speak. “Why?”

“I don’t know. He always comes on Saturdays at the same time and spends about a quarter hour here. He never says a word except maybe ‘excuse me’; he gets so absorbed in the brushes and the swatches that he sometimes bumps into people.” Mary’s thin fingers comb her black hair.

“What does he say when he comes up to buy his paint?” Carrie’s thick fingers comb her powder blue hair.

“I don’t know. ‘Just these today’ or he’ll say something like that.”

“Don’t you ever say anything back to him?” Carrie scratches a mole on her chin while her suspicious eyes look to her friend. “If he is really here every single week I would expect you to start an honest conversation.”

“I think about it sometimes.” Mary bats her innocent eyes. “He doesn’t seem like one of those people who like small talk.” Mary watches the man as he carefully puts each color swatch back in its rightful slot. He is meticulous. Mary respects him for it. She wonders why the responsibility of conversation should fall on her. Each swatch is now put away and the man goes over to the tubes of paint to pick out the ones that correspond to the swatches that intrigue him most. A moment now passes.

“Here he comes.” Mary shoos away her friend.

“I have some errands I need to run anyway. Call me after you close up.” The coat hanging lackadaisically around her shoulders is buttoned against the cold. Carrie exits into the winter mist.

“Hello again.” Mary says smiling. It is the same obligatory smile she offers to every customer, to all strangers, but she hopes it will mean more this time.

The customer raises his collected purchases, held together in a double fist, to the counter. “I’m taking only these today.” A brief chaos ensues as he sets the items down on the checkout stand.

Mary begins scanning the tubes of paint. She scans them not by the alphabet but by their place in the spectrum. The brick and the flamingo are first. Is she scanning them to the rhythm of the Sutherland song? Mary must be quite musical and “You must be quite the painter?”

“I guess you can say that.”

“Do you paint professionally?” She scans a tangerine and a buttercup.

“I haven’t quite my day job.” He directs his smile at her, but the act of doing so weighs heavily on his eyes because the smile coming back to him does not match his own. An understanding followed by a lack of willingness appears in his grin and begins to pull his gaze to the ground.

Mary laughs. “What do you paint?” A Christmas wreath and several moonless midnights are passing over the price checker.

“Whatever I feel like painting.” Mary notices now that he struggles to reconnect the eye contact. She cannot tell whether he is trying to look at her or not look at her. “I try to incorporate color into paintings that are primarily grey. I want people when they first look at my work to see it in black and white; then if they look closer they’ll see the color. That’s how life is.”

“That explains this.” A single plumb is followed by a handful of charcoals. Chalk, pumice, and granite rocks precede a jumbo sized onyx. Smiling she expects him to laugh at her observation. He doesn’t. She’s frustrated though her effort has cost her nothing. She puts all the paint in a plastic bag with her surname stamped across the front. “That’s a neat idea.”

“Thank you.” He says obligingly while taking the bag. “But not a lot of people get it.”

Mary hopes he’ll elaborate. Her customer ties the handles of the plastic bag into a knot so nothing will fall out and turns to walk out of the store. She finds this abrupt exit slightly odd and begins to wonder if she has acted wrongly. Joan Sutherland’s Eb6 continues to ring with a selfish joy and teaches Mary that such a reaction might be unfounded. But Joan is out of breath. Her song ends before the door shuts.

Later this evening Mary will call Carrie as promised. She will talk about things not worth remembering, mistaking platitudes for substance as she always does. Eventually the subject of the conversation will come up and Carrie will be anxious to know how it went. Mary will recount all she can remember. She’ll end the topic by explaining to Carrie that the customer really is a person who just doesn’t care for small talk. Also, that she gave him a free tube of cerulean sky as a gesture of good will.

“That was an empty gesture.” Carrie will say.

Painting Three

There was a general stride in the hired collective of wait staff who maneuvered around the flow of critics and admirers. One member of the collective scurried over to take empty bottles away from the wine bar, while another walked around placing stickers on the wall to indicate an item as sold. Not a single one of them interrupted the aesthetic experience of the admiring guests. The artist on display found himself apprehensive about the exhibition, an emotion that surprised him. Most of these paintings had already been seen by the public in other galleries, and the Artist of the Hour had experienced too many rejections over the years to still be concerned for them now. There was one thing, however, that still worried him.

“What do you think Tom?”

The artist’s agent looked over as though he hadn’t realized anyone was next to him. “What about?” Tom asked.

The Artist opened his mouth to repeat the question, but hesitated; Tom’s opinion mattered. “What do you think about my new work?”

Tom chuckled. He reached over to straighten the bow tie his artist wore. “I wish part three had been painted in time for this show. Numbers one and two are excellent, but I doubt they’ll sell as an incomplete set.” Tom referred to the Artist’s most recent endeavor called The Blue Set. “I had a feeling you wouldn’t finish before tonight. Trying to make - how did you phrase it - ‘make blue catch fire’. It sounds like an impossible undertaking. Blue is a cold color, you know.” Tom finished with the bow tie and, after brushing a flake of dust from the Artist’s indigo button up with, was satisfied.

“You mean a cool color. Blue is a cool color, but there is a fervid intensity about it. It can be a color that burns. That’s what I wanted to convey in the Blue Set.”

“What do you care what I think anyway? This is your first truly important show. It’s one step down from a museum tour, and we made it happen before you’re fortieth birthday.” Tom spoke playfully. “You’re the artist, and I’m the guy who gets everybody interested in your work. You’re talented, but even if you weren’t, I wouldn’t care so long as your paintings still sold.”

The artist turned his head away from Tom. “You don’t have any opinion on it do you?” He looked to painting number two, and appeared to be talking to no one at all. Number two had been the last transitional piece; he accomplished the intent of his work with perfect precision in number three, and everything preceding number three was now part of a dead past. And there was number two, a ghost with one foot in the living world. “I thought it wouldn’t be as lonely on the other side.”

“You’re not making any sense.” Tom spoke frankly. “I understand that you’re nervous about the gallery showing, but keep it together.” The Artist continued to gaze at the specter. The blue in it was the color of smoke from kindling about to ignite.

Tom continued. “This catering company has a tendency to pick less than stellar wines, but the Shiraz they brought tonight is fantastic. Let me get you a glass; it will relax you.”

The aura that held the Artists attention must have left at that moment, for his eyes broke their focus and now looked down to Tom’s shoes. The Artist noticed that Tom’s socks didn’t match. The color of one was so close to the color of the other that only in gallery light, designed to emphasize the uniqueness of each hue and shade, could the difference be seen. “No thank you Tom. I’m not nervous.”

“I’m glad to hear it.” Deciding on a glass of wine for himself, Tom turned and left.

“I just thought you’d have an opinion.” The Artist said to empty space. He agreed with Tom, that he too wished the third painting of the set could be here tonight. It was, in fact, finished.

The gallery show ended. The Artist went back to his apartment, among the empty tubes of paint which he often let pile up into an impeding mound before finally recycling them. The gallery showing was a success, as much as could be expected. He had sold five paintings.

The Artist loomed over the large fireplace in the living room, a brick chamber acting as an alternative to central heating. The room was cold, so he made a fire. He watched the kindling wood nurse the match’s infant spark into a handsome flame. “Difficult.” He said to the fire. “I try not to be, but I am difficult.” It wasn’t the first time he’d been upset with himself for mistaking a professional relationship for one of friendship, but Tom had been more convincing in the latter role than anyone else before.

He saw a fleeting blue flame at the fire’s core. He loved to spot those momentary blue flames, somehow magical and brave, but always fleeting. “I surrender.” He smiled contently, and placed a log in the fire. The words were nearly mouthed, but managed to escape on a thin whisper.

The Artist walked over to the other side of the living room where a curtain hung over a large square leaning against the wall. He pulled the curtain off. The object was a large canvas, number three from the incomplete gallery set. He ran his hand softly down the dried paint. There was still a sense of surrealism surrounding the existence of the painting. He remembered every minute of the countless hours he’d spent on it; he remembered every tube, and brush, and trips to the sink to empty the dark water from the cleaning jar. Despite the experience, there remained disbelief that the painting was his. It was his style, his technique, his voice – his voice perfected. He couldn’t bring himself to admit to Tom that it was finished, not until he knew the reaction to numbers one and two.

His hand reached the point where it could brush down no further. He moved it back up the painting, careful to remain as soft as before. “You are too difficult.” From his toolbox he retrieved a pen knife, used to cut away excess canvas from a frame. Guided by his hand, the knife ran a slit down the center of the painting, and then cut across the top and bottom so the painting opened like a set of French doors. From the doors, he cut strips. He took one strip at a time and whenever he saw a flicker of blue, he'd tossed the strip in the heat. He repeated this process, until nothing was left.

message 46: by Phillip (new)

Phillip Stephens | 76 comments As I've been following the stories I know Jessica said be loose with the rules, but as I was working through my story line I had a horrible thought and I looked in every dictionary I had access to, and, sure enough, time lapse is not the same as lapsed time.

According to all of the dictionaries, time lapse is a photography and film term where the camera is set to specific intervals to give the appearance of speeding up time.

So I could have gone with a more loose interpretation and lapsed time, but I threw out the story lines I was juggling and felt like I had to start from scratch. I'm cleaning it up now.

Kudos to the writers who wrote time lapse photography stories.

message 47: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments A good time lapse photography story - 'The Sundog' By Stephen King

message 48: by Phillip (new)

Phillip Stephens | 76 comments Title: Network Drift
Author: Phillip T. Stephens
Word Count: 3483

Part Three

08:00 am

Louise sleeps alone in her bed, facing away from the western window, covered only by a sheet which falls from her hips to her ankles. Her left arm is draped over her face, her right arm under her pillow. Her platinum hair spills across her pillow and her husband’s. His side of the bed hasn’t been slept in. She wears a gray silk negligee, Lilian Casanova, which she has twisted so it pulls away from her left breast, exposing most of it to the morning air. Her nails are painted with the same color gray. Her eyebrows are as pale as her hair, and her skin pale as well, suggesting her blonde coloring is completely natural.

08:15 am

Louise sleeps facing the window. She has kicked off the sheets and lies completely exposed, her knees tucked into her chest and her arms around her pillow. An overhead fan stirs the air in the room. Otherwise everything is still.

08:30 am

Louise sits naked at the foot of the bed facing a southern window, both palms flat on the matress. Her negligee lies in a heap next to her hand. She sits perfectly still, as though frozen in time. The window shades are open allowing her to enjoy the view of the side yard. A Lichtenstein hangs three feet to the right of the window, a brunette woman holding a phone to her ear and gasping in dismay. The walls are painted off-white, almost peach. Louise, the woman on the bed, staring out the window next to a women in Lichtenstein painting, could be a picture herself.

08:45 am

The bed is empty. The room is empty. A hint of steam drifts across the bed from the direction of the bathroom.

09:00 am

Louise stands naked in front of her bed, blow drying her shoulder length hair with a battery operated dryer. After seven years of marriage she remains in good shape, her waist as narrow as when she married Eric, her ass as tight, her breasts with the same lift. She works hard at the gym to keep in shape even though Eric only seems to care when he can parade her for business associates.

She would love to open the windows to catch the scent of the cherry blossoms outside, but Eric insists on keeping the house closed from what he calls environmental contaminants.

She figures she has three to five years and the son-of-a-bitch will trade her in for a younger model. He’s probably test driving one or two right now, considering his options.

She appears perplexed, as though something seems out of place.

09:15 am

Louise sits at her vanity in front of the mirror. She brushes her hair, counting each stroke carefully. Seventy four. She flips her wrist slightly with the stroke, enjoying the pass of the vintage sky blue guilloche enamel brush through her platinum hair. The design is art deco. She found it in the back of a dusty vintage relics store on the edge of Chinatown. She spent four hundred dollars.

Eric fumed when he bought it, even though he earned that much in the fraction of a nanosecond. “You could have bought a new brush online for a pittance,” he said. At the time he’d just opened a bottle of Chevis Regal Royal Salute—50 years old. It was worth ten thousand dollars. Just one bottle in a case he wagered the house on. He said he was celebrating sealing a deal with some Hong Kong brokers. She found out later that one of those brokers had legs even longer than hers and was wearing a peignoir that he bought her for twenty-five hundred. So forgive her for fuming over the cost of a brush.

She wears her La Perla Maison floral lace robe. She loves it, far more than she could afford before Eric, but it is far below their means. Not that Eric would budget for more. “You need to spend money to make money,” he always says. Especially for cars, booze and whores. He, for instance, came home from London last week with half a dozen dressing gowns. Hand-tailored. He didn’t even bother to clean the scent of Oud Wood from two of them—a scent she didn’t use.

People often wonder when love turns to hate. In her case, the night after the wedding vows.

09:30 am

Louise stands at the southern window, toying with the fringe on her feather hem top. She holds apart the curtains to enjoy the view of the cherry blossoms. She insisted on cherry trees even though Eric threw a fit. Cherry trees surrounding a koi pond with a stone bench where she could sit and watch the koi swim on lazy fall afternoons. She loved fall, even though she preferred the colors of a real New England fall from her childhood.

She also insisted on a zen garden next to the orchard, with three bonsai trees and an ornamental rock pile. In the summer she can rake while Eric rants, “It’s just sand, for Christ’s sake. You’re just fucking moving it from one place to another.” She’s never quite sure if she enjoys the koan, or the fact that it could trigger so much rage while she blissfully tunes him out.

A black throated warbler sits in the branches and watches her back. She realizes that only an instant before she was looking into her eyes in her vanity mirror and running her brush through her hair.

09:45 am

She stands at her bed and runs her negligee between her fingers, testing the fabric, uncertain how she came to be here, dressed in a La Renta top and Lela Rose pencil skirt. Eric bought her two expensive outfits, one for day casual and one for evenings. For when he needs to show her off. He told her today would be a show off day.

But more importantly, she’s trying to grapple with the fact that her last glimpse was standing at the window and watching a warbler in the branches of a cherry tree, as though her life were skipping ahead minutes into the future and then only for an instant in time. But she remains aware of everything in the room, the fine threads in the silk, the slight breeze from the overhead fan, the scent of the cherry almond candle on her dresser.

She should be listening to the Sia album she played every morning. Instead she detects only a scramble of sound, like scaling through the dial on her car stereo....

10:00 am

She discovers she’s sitting on the bed, her hair curled between her fingers as she twists it into her fists. Her Charlotte Olympia appliqué pumps lie on their sides waiting for her feet. Today is happening in fast forward freeze frame. She digs her bare toes into the wool plush pile, not to relax, but with frustration. Her last memory, last image, last thought was of standing before the bed holding her negligee between her fingers, testing the fabric, uncertain how she came to be here, dressed in a La Renta top and Lela Rose pencil skirt, trying to grapple with the fact that her last glimpse was standing at the window and watching a warbler in the branches of a cherry tree, as though her life were skipping ahead minutes into the future and then only for an instant in time.

10:15 am

Louise stands in front of the bed where she stood earlier in the morning with her hair dryer. She faces the bedroom door, feeling the panic build, having jumped in an instant from facing the bed with fabric in her fingers to sitting at the foot of the bed pulling out her hair to staring at Roger standing in her doorway and wondering how the hell he got a key to her house.

And yet Roger stands in the bedroom doorway, with a glass in each hand. She can guess the contents of each glass. The left hand holds a Lafitte Pessac Leognan Blanc for her, the right holds liquor—no doubt pilfered from Eric’s study. Also, no doubt, Eric’s prize bourbon. The Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select. If Roger had the balls for Scotch he would have have drained the Royal Salute and given their affair away months ago when Eric, who measured each swallow, discovered some missing. It’s one of the reasons she kicked him to the curb and took away his key.

She intends to demand an explanation for his presence.

10:30 am

Louise sits at the foot of her bed. She can barely hold her glass. Her head spins. She knows something is wrong. The day is wrong. The day’s been wrong since she rose that morning.

Roger stands in the doorway, grinning like he’s about to pick a feather from his teeth. Bastard. As bad as Eric. Seemed like such a great guy, let her cry on his shoulder, listened to all of her problems, but the more she wore away the fabric of his shoulder away more she could see Eric underneath.

10:45 am

Louise lies prone on her bed, sprawled on her side, one leg tucked toward her hips and the other extended over the edge, her thongs and suspenders on display. Her left arms crosses over her chest. Her right arm is draped across the bed with her hand falling off the side, palm open. The wine glass lies on its side in the carpet, what remains of the wine soaking into the fibers. Her hair falls across an open and empty bottle of Percocet. Her chest barely rises.

11:00 am

Louise lies prone on her bed, sprawled on her side, one leg tucked toward her hips the other extended over the edge, her thongs and suspenders on display. Her left arms crosses over her chest. Her right arm is draped across the bed with her hand falling off the side, palm open. The wine glass lies on its side in the carpet, the wine soaked into the fibers. Her hair falls across an open bottle of Percocet. Her chest is still.

11:15 am

Louise lies prone on her bed, sprawled on her side, one leg tucked toward her hips the other extended over the edge, her thongs and suspenders on display. Her left arms crosses over her chest. Her right arm is draped across the bed with her hand falling off the side, palm open. The wine glass lies on its side in the carpet, the wine soaked into the fibers. Her hair falls across an open bottle of Percocet.

to be continued....

message 49: by Phillip (new)

Phillip Stephens | 76 comments Part Four

11:30 am

Louise lies prone on her bed, sprawled on her side, one leg tucked toward her hips the other extended over the edge, her thongs and suspenders on display. Her left arms crosses over her chest. Her right arm is draped across the bed with her hand falling off the side, palm open. The wine glass lies on its side in the carpet, the wine soaked into the fibers. Her hair falls across an open bottle of Percocet.

Nick St. Bohr leans over her body and takes her hand. He says gently in her ear, “It’s time to come with me.”

She pushes herself up in the bed, and realizing how much her skirt reveals, blushes and pushes the folds downward. She brushes off her blouse and looks around her bedroom. She notices the Percocet with a bit of puzzlement and then, suddenly relieved, asks, “I’m back in normal time?”

Nick sighs, “Not in the sense you’re used to, but if you’ll come with me, I’ll explain it to you.” He offers his hand again and she takes it.

“You have a retro sense of fashion,” she comments, not trying to cover the caustic tone in her voice. She refers to Nick’s eighty-year-old fashion lapse—a six button gray double breasted suit, club tie and two-tone Oxfords. He wears a handkerchief the same color and material as his tie folded to three points in his suit pocket, and a wide-brimmed black Fedora.

She sits at her vanity to pull on her stockings, but grips her shoulder. “Trust me, you don’t need them. Or your shoes.”

“Nonsense,” she huffs. “A girl can’t go anywhere without her shoes.”

He lifts her gently by the elbow. She tries to push him away, only to discover her feet are gliding next to his as they drift toward the bedroom door. She tries to pull away, but they seem intertwined, as though made of the same stuff. The door rushes toward them as though time no longer jumps haphazardly but accelerates....

11:15:01 am

One step beyond the door the house falls away and they step onto a slender thread connected to thousands of threads arcing in every direction—interweaving, intertwining, splicing and threading, sprouting roots, overreaching and ducking under and between. The thread on which she balances seems as delicate as silk, as do they all—vibrating, dancing, shimmering and pulsing at the same time, each with a different color and rhythm. Some oscillate, some alternate between tense and slack, some alternate dots and dashes like marquee lights, others transmit energy pulses, still others waver, shimmer and swing. They hum different pitches, different keys, quavering harmonies like a million competing choirs, each barely audible, just beneath the threshold of sound.

Louise thinks she might tumble from the thread on which they balance if it weren’t for Nick’s steadying hand at her elbow and she still has no idea who he is. As is reading her thoughts he tells her, “I’m Nick St. Bohr, quantological detective. Or, rather, I’m his avatar. Which, you will be both upset and relieved to learn, is significantly less than you are.”

She feels faint. Nick grabs her by her shoulders to keep her from collapsing. “Imagine you’re on solid ground,” he advises. She wants to turn and run, but his fingers seem to be rooted in her arms, as though they’ve become intertwined. She continues to struggle and he continues to hold her, the sensation of rooting creeping down her arms and into her ribs, her hips, her legs, her ankles and suddenly she feels rooted to the platform beneath them. Only it isn’t a platform. She realizes she’s standing on solid ground. She wiggled her toes in the dirt.

She looks down. She can see the soil between her toes. She flares her nostrils, detecting the scent of cherry blossoms. She glances around and realizes they stand in the center of her cherry orchard, just a few feet away from her koi pond. She might be relieved if Nick didn’t still have his hands gripping her arms. “This can’t be real,” she says.

“It isn’t,” he assures her. “Now turn around and look back at what happened this morning.” He releases her and she turns hesitantly. Behind her she sees a series of image frames cascading upward. Hundreds of images recorded over weeks. Each frame is time stamped fifteen minutes apart, and she’s the subject.

“Time lapse photography of you in your bedroom, specifically your bed and vanity. Ordered by your husband Eric,” Nick explains. “He suspected you were having an affair with one of his executives, Roger Grossefinger, and ordered this surveillance installed. Nick, the real Nick, wanted video, but your husband thought the fifteen minute time lapse capture would be sufficient. Instead it captures what appears to be your suicide.”

Louise twists the collar of her blouse. She feels the blood drain from her face, only to realize that she has no blood to drain. “I didn’t kill myself,” she protests.

Nick zooms the vital frames and walks her through the way they make her appear to kill herself. Louise wants to pull her hair again. “But where’s Roger?” she demands. “He gave me the wine.” It dawns on her. “He must have killed me. That rat bastard. He killed me. Why would he kill me?”

And then the biggest epiphany of all. “If I’m dead, how can I be here talking to you?” She feels her body begin to dissolve, but fights to hold together. She isn’t going to float away from this. Instead she storms to her bench and drops defiantly into place. She crosses her legs, swinging her free leg angrily. “What am I? A ghost? What did you call me, an avatar. Like in video games?”

Nick pulls his iPhone 6 plus from his suit pocket. “Your situation couldn’t have happened until recently. Fortunately for you, a ghost became quantum entangled with my iPhone. Or rather Nick’s iPhone. Now, somehow the entanglement has drifted across the entire agency network, although I don’t think Nick knows it.”

What she wouldn’t give for a glass of wine right now, Louise thinks. It wouldn’t have to be the Lafitte, a California Sauvignon Blanc would do. “You know I’m not a rocket scientist,” she says. “I didn’t even make a good English major.”

Nick rearranges the frames in a horizontal sequence. Louise can see a specter floating between her form in the different frames. “My point is that when we captured your death in the photos, your ghost became encoded in the frames. Once the first ghost I encountered became quantum entangled, your quantum entanglement became possible as well. Which is why I came to extract you.”

Louise insists, “I didn’t kill myself. Roger must have killed me. He brought the wine. He must have put the Percocet in the wine and left the bottle on the bed afterward. I remember being so surprised when I saw him standing in the door.”

“Convenient isn’t it,” Nick says. “When your husband Eric orders time lapse photography instead of video surveillance, Roger can avoid being captured on frame. As long as he knows when the frames will be captured. And I checked the order. Eric insisted the frames be captured precisely on the quarter hour. Nick, the real Nick, would recommend random exposures so that no one could predict when the shots would be taken.”

Louise sits forward, feet flat on the imagined plane. “I don’t follow.”

Nick sat beside her and took her hand. The real Louise would be offended but then Louise imagined the real Nick would probably not cross professional boundaries. Avatars, she realized had more freedom. “It means Roger knew when the shots would be taken. He could stand in the bedroom door when the frames were exposed, then move freely about the room in between. As long as Eric provided him with the shot schedule.”

“So my husband and Roger conspired to murder me?” The orchard fades around her. She and Nick remain alone, surrounded only by the threads in the network.

“How did you meet Roger?” Nick asks.

“Eric introduced us at a dinner party,” she says. She puts her hand to her mouth as she realizes the implications. “Eric hired Roger to murder me from the very beginning. Roger never loved me at all.”

She takes his hand again. They remain alone in a womb of vibrating threads. They have no clothes now, they are beings of light, sound, vibrance. “No,” Nick thinks, “the plan was for Eric to come to Nick and say he suspected you were sleeping with Roger. Instead the camera would catch your suicide. Nick would provide both with an alibi for your murder.”

He leads her by the hand up one of the threads. “That’s it?” she asks. “They kill me and use your boss to get away with it? Can’t you do anything about it?”

“I’m an avatar,” he tells her. “Nick’s the real detective.” He pointed further up the thread. “But this thread will take you to all of your husband’s accounts. You’re entangled with the network now. You’re no ordinary ghost. Just imagine the havoc you can wreak when you haunt him through his finances, his email, his business affairs....”

She giggles. She hasn’t gigged since college. She skips up the thread. She hasn’t skipped since high school. Why not try some ballet? A ballonné or ballotté? Anything’s possible.

Nick woke in the middle of the night. He grabbed his iPhone from the night stand and thumbed through the stills of Leslie Frankel’s last two hours. Cameron Maverick rolled over. She was going by the name Dusty lately. She pushed her auburn hair from her eyes then ran her fingers across his shoulder. “What’s bothering you?”

He scratched his salt and pepper beard. “Where did the wine come from?”

message 50: by Phillip (new)

Phillip Stephens | 76 comments Title : The Borders of Time And Reason
Author : Edward Davies

This was a fun story and the ironic twist was better than expected,

Here's the catch on those authorial asides: Some people think they're witty and urbane and other readers hate them, so when you're in groups expect to take some flack. Especially from the critics who heard somewhere that they are taboo, and some purists who come from the Hemingway, Flaubert strictly 3rd person school think so.

And yours seem to come from nowhere. I don't mind them, I just found them a littlle startling.

I use them, and I've always experimented with the best way to work them in (as footnotes, parentheticals), but just to throw them into the text may be too much for some readers. Look at how other writers do it, and think about ways to finesse. You may find more subtle ways to do it, or you may decide you like it this way.

If you ever take a CW class for a grade, and your instructor doesn't like it, take my word for it, sacrifice the practice for the grade. It's 16 weeks of your life and you pick up another tool for your kit.

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