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Much to prove

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The first time I saw a ewe give birth, I puked. A brand new lamb, bathed in my lunch.

The flu, I swear.

But the old farm hand asked with a sly grin, “Learn that in vet school?”

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A challenging prompt this week from Trifextra: Take the snippet The first time I saw… and add 33 more one-syllable words to create a 38-word story.

Trifecta

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2014 in Challenges, Fiction

 

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A fluke is worth a thousand pukes

fluke 2011_resizePhoto from Rufford Foundation

“Welcome to the Babuyan Islands! I knew you’d love it.”

“Love it? I think I just puked up my toenails. Does your grant money cover Dramamine?”

“Funny. As soon as you see the first spout, you’ll forget all about being seasick. Camera ready?”

“Always. How many re-sights did you guys log last year?”

“Fourteen. Our photo IDs prove the humpbacks breeding here are migrating to feeding grounds off the coast of Russia.”

“Does it get old, squinting through those binoculars day after day, on the off chance that in this roiling ocean you might actually spot a fluke?”

“Never.”

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In honor of its 99th challenge, Trifecta has mixed things up a bit. Instead of using the third definition of a provided word to construct a story of 33-333 words, participants this week are free to use any definition of any word found on page 99 of the Oxford English Dictionary to tell a tale in 99 words. One lucky winner will win a $99 gift card…provided there are at least 99 participants! If you’d like to play for a chance to win, head on over to Trifecta and link up!

 

I’d never heard of the Babuyan Islands until this challenge. Turns out they are a small archipelago, part of the some 7,100 islands that make up the Philippines. The islands are beautiful, but largely undiscovered due to their remote location. Getting to the islands is a challenge…the Pacific is particularly rough in that area…unless you are a whale. Humpbacks and at least 12 other cetacean species favor this northern Philippine locale as a breeding ground and/or stop on their migratory journey. The Rufford Foundation website, particularly Jo Marie Acebes’ final report detailing the results of her project funded by an RSG grant, provided the backstory for the above dialogue.

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2013 in Challenges, Fiction, Tuesday Tales

 

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Bond of brothers

bImage courtesy of fromoldbooks.org

Barely able to see through the slits in his mask, Billy struggled to keep up with the others. Big brother Blake was leading tonight’s mission, setting the pace the other three would follow. Begging him to slow down was not an option. Blake had carefully scouted their route and rehearsed the timeline for this operation, and no deviation would be tolerated.

Besides, the older guys had all doubted his ability to see this through, and he’d already had to agree to give up half of his share of the take just to shut them up. Being personally responsible for their failure to collect as much booty as Blake anticipated was not appealing. Beatings would surely ensue. Bountiful rewards were within their reach, he just had to keep up for a little…while…longer.

BANG!

“Billy, you dumb-ass, watch where you’re going!” Blake hissed from the top of the driveway.

“But…but…I didn’t see it ‘cause-a my mask,” Billy whimpered as blood started to drip from beneath the rubber Scream face.

“Break your nose running into a truck mirror, and Mom is gonna kill me. Boy, I knew bringing you was a stupid idea.”

“But you had to bring me!  Boys in high school can’t trick-or-treat without a little brother or sister. Better be nice to me, or I won’t come next year, and you guys won’t get any candy at all.”

Blake smacked the back of Billy’s head as he fished an old napkin out of his coat pocket, hating when the little punk was right. Bending down, Blake wiped the blood off the front of Billy’s costume.

“Buck up, we’ve got two more blocks to go, and you haven’t got us nearly enough chocolate yet.”

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Tried to cram two prompts into this one story. First, I took The Daily Post‘s idea of choosing one letter, and starting every sentence of the story with that letter. Then I snuck in the third definition of Trifecta‘s word of the week, “ass.” 

 

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A time for her

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While the rest of the house slept, she silently sipped her coffee and eyeballed the bag waiting by the door. Mentally, she inventoried its contents as she crossed the kitchen; she hoped she had not forgotten anything vitally important.

She grabbed the pen and notepad off the fridge and padded barefoot to the old pine table where she hastily scribbled a goodbye note to her family. Normally, she was the one left behind, as one by one as they departed each day for school and work. But today she was the one leaving.

The kids were old enough—they’d be fine on their own. Her husband—well, he had his work and he’d never even notice her absence.

She anchored the note to the table with a box of corn flakes, rinsed her cup in the sink, scratched the cat’s ears one last time. Opening the back door a crack, she drank deeply of the warm late-August air and prayed that this was the right decision, that in finally considering her own needs she was not neglecting those of her loved ones.

She stepped into her shoes, reciting a silent mantra: “You can do this, you deserve this.” Grabbing her bag from the floor and the car keys from the counter, she squared her shoulders and stepped out into the early morning, a sense of freedom and empowerment replacing doubt as she closed the door quietly behind her.

Today, she knew, would be the hardest. New starts were never easy, but surely if she could make it through today, the days ahead would get easier. Just as her children had each survived their first days of elementary then middle then high school, she reassured herself that, as a grown woman, she could survive this, her first day of college.

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Today’s flash fiction inspiration comes from Trifecta: Week Eighty-Six, a challenge to use the third definition of the word crack in a piece of 33 to 333 words (mine is 299).

3a : a narrow break : fissure <a crack in the ice>
  b : a narrow opening <leave the door open a crack><cracks between floorboards>   —used figuratively in phrases like fall through the cracks to describe one that has been improperly or inadvertently ignored or left out <a player who fell through the cracks in the college draft> <children slipping through the cracks of available youth services>

Today’s photo, other than the fact that it IS a crack, has nothing whatsoever to do with the story. I took the picture on my walk yesterday, oblivious to Trifecta’s challenge, because I was frankly stunned that after all the rain we had between April 2012 and April 2013 the fields could possibly be dry enough to crack so deeply. Guess that’s clay soil for you.

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2013 in Challenges, Fiction, Tuesday Tales

 

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Primitive Heat

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“It’s a bit crowded in here tonight,” he shouted above the din. “Fancy a tipple back at my place?”

The lingo still sometimes made her giggle, but like all the other American women she worked with in the London office, her knees went weak at the sound of a British accent, especially one as deep and smoky as his. He was sexy, dark-eyed and lean-bodied, and she’d enjoyed flirting with him as they teamed together during the pub quiz.

“That’d be lovely. Let me get my coat.”

Leaving the crowded pub, he linked his arm with hers and guided her through the misty night. As they ambled down the narrow streets of the village, he warned, “My place is nothing fancy.”

She’d been invited home by enough Englishmen in the last four years that she no longer batted an eye at those cautionary words. It was usually code for, “Please excuse my ancient musty, dusty cottage, with its sloping floors, low-hanging beams, icy cold drafts, and primitive plumbing.” She didn’t mind a cottage with a little character…it wasn’t like she was moving in. A quick romp, and she’d be back in her warm, modern London flat before sunrise.

“Here we are,” his warm voice informed her as they neared the end of the lane.

Shock stopped her dead in her tracks. In all of her dating life, she’d never been invited to such a crude abode. Thin tendrils of smoke climbed skyward, winding around poles that reached toward the hazy brightness of a moon that could not quite escape the veil of clouds. He stood beside the taut hide which formed a perfect cone around the poles and raised a flap, waiting with an outstretched hand to usher her into the softly lit interior.

Desire ignited when she spied a pallet of thick furs on the floor. The fire they were about to kindle in this wigwam would burn away all thoughts of the usual hasty wee-hours escape to a lonely London flat.

This is my response to Trifecta’s Week Eighty-four challenge, using the third definition of “crude” in a story of 33 to 333 words. I just made it, with 333 words exactly!

CRUDE
1: existing in a natural state and unaltered by cooking or processing <crude oil>
2 archaic : unripe, immature
3: marked by the primitive, gross, or elemental or by uncultivated simplicity or vulgarity <a crude stereotype>
4: rough or inexpert in plan or execution <a crude shelter>
5: lacking a covering, glossing, or concealing element; obvious <crude facts>
6: tabulated without being broken down into classes <the crude death rate>

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2013 in Fiction, Tuesday Tales

 

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Jogyesa

lanterns for Buddha's birthday at Jogyesa Temple, Seoul
Neither the honking of impatient drivers navigating the busy Seoul streets nor the happy chatter of awe-struck tourists distracted Yong-jun from his mission. In the courtyard of Jogyesa Temple, he stood shaded by thousands of traditional hanji lanterns hung in honor of Buddha’s 2557th birthday, just as he had each year since 1969. No longer a spring chicken himself, Yong-jun’s neck and eyes protested the strain as he read each of the prayer tags dangling below the brightly colored lanterns. The tags danced merrily in the soft May breeze, making his deliberate examination all the more difficult.

This one hopes for a good score on an exam, these two both seek romantic relationships, that one wishes for his new baby will be born healthy and strong, the one over there pleads for relief for her father’s painful cancer treatments.

Yong-jun was certain that all of these prayers were heartfelt and deserved to be fulfilled, but none was quite right. He continued to read, shuffling slowly down each row, mumbling the words of anonymous supplicants under his breath, frowning occasionally at an especially somber prayer, and laughing out loud at the triviality of others…praying for a Happy Meal instead of bulgogi for dinner, indeed!

With a gasp of surprise, Yong-jun’s gaze locked onto the neat hangul penned on the tag of a lime-green lantern. He knew those words because they were his, written sixty-two years ago in a letter to his infant daughter, hours before he placed the motherless baby in the arms of the matron at the orphanage and marched off to war. He had given explicit instructions that the letter be delivered to Soo-yun when she turned 18, for it contained the message she could use to contact him if she so desired. Now the words he’d been praying to read each May for the past forty-four years finally fluttered before his eyes: “This Seokgatansinil, the one called Perfect Lotus Blossom wishes to meet her father.”

I’ve chosen to incorporate two challenges in today’s post. The first is The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Pattern. Between the hanging lanterns and the painting of the temple itself, there is no shortage of pattern in this picture I shot at Jogyesa in the days leading up to Buddha’s birthday in 2009. I also wanted to work in the Trifecta: Week Seventy-seven Challenge, in which I was required to use the third definition of deliberate (3: slow, unhurried, and steady as though allowing time for decision on each individual action involved ) in a piece of 33 to 333 words (I did it in 327).

 

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Tag

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There wasn’t nobody in the park Monday, Billy and I checked. He stood lookout while I tagged the bin. I wanted to do a throw-up, but Billy says to lay low for a while since I just got busted last month. Won’t be no community service, them cops catch me again…judge says I’m goin’ t’ jail next time. But I ain’t no pansy. I ain’t gonna let worry infect me, keep me from writin’. I gotta practice, show some mad skills if I wanna get in with Billy’s crew.

But man, now I’m freakin’. Somebody been blowin’ up my phone since 2 a.m. with the same effin’ picture, over and over. Caller ID says UNKNOWN. CCed to UNKNOWN RECIPIENTS. WTF? Who’s doggin’ me like this? What’re they tryin’ to do to me? Who they sendin’ this picture to? If that judge sees this, he gonna lock me up for sure. If my mama sees it, I’m gonna wish I was in jail.

This post is a mash-up of challenges…First it’s a response to The Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge regarding a mysterious photo coming through on a cell phone at 2 a.m. It also incorporates Trifecta’s Week 69 challenge to use the third definition of the word infect (3a: contaminate, corrupt  b: to work upon or seize upon so as to induce sympathy, belief, or support ). Finally, it’s a shameless attempt to use one of my Iceland photos as a writing prompt. 🙂 

NOTE: I am NOT up on the current lingo used by young graffiti artists. If anyone has any suggestions to make the vernacular more realistic, I’d be very appreciative!

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2013 in Fiction, Tuesday Tales

 

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