Microcosms 70

Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone! And welcome to Microcosms 70. 


Cinco de Mayo has become a fairly big holiday here in the US. Many people mistakenly believe that it is to commemorate Mexico’s Independence Day, which is celebrated on 16 September. Cinco de Mayo is actually the anniversary of the unlikely victory of the Mexican Army against French forces at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.

It has become a more important holiday in the US than it is in Mexico. We could speculate on the reasons why, but for many Americans, it has become a time to celebrate Mexican culture and, of course, drink alcohol.

Other parts of the world celebrate Cinco de Mayo, as well, most of which are “American-style” celebrations. However, Vancouver, Canada has a Cinco de Mayo skydiving event, and the Cayman Islands hosts an annual Cinco de Mayo Air Guitar Competition. Who knew?

KM

 

(If YOU have an idea for a future contest and would like to be guest host, please contact us.)

 

Our contest this week begins with THREE things: character, setting and genre.

We spun, and our three elements are – character: Dancer, setting: Parade, and genre: Horror.


Write a story using those OR feel free to click on the “Spin!” button, and the slot machine will come up with a new set – you can keep clicking until you have a set of elements that inspires you.

*** HEY! Remember to include which THREE elements you’re using AND a title for your entry ***


  • Soldier
  • Bar Patron
  • Bartender
  • Parade Participant
  • Battle Reenactor
  • Dancer
  • Chef
  • Competitor
  • Skydiver
  • Pub/Bar
  • 1800s Mexico
  • Battlefield
  • Parade
  • Stage
  • Festival
  • Air Guitar Competition
  • Airplane
  • Falling Through the Sky
  • Canada
  • The Caribbean
  • Crime
  • Romance
  • Fantasy
  • Comedy
  • Memoir
  • Horror
  • Drama
  • Mystery/Noir
  • Poem
  • Science Fiction

Spin!


Our judge this week is Microcosms 69 judge’s pick Kelly Griffiths. 🙂

All submissions should be a maximum of 300 words in length. You have until midnight, New York time (EDT) to submit.

*** If you are new to Microcosms, remember to check out the full submission guidelines. ***

All being well, results will be posted on Monday.

Microcosms 71
Microcosms 69
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69 comments for “Microcosms 70

  1. 5 May 2017 at 2:51 am

    Soldier; bar pub; memoir
    300 bottles of beer on the memory wall
    @billmelaterplea
    http://www.engleson.ca

    Ottawa Release: November 11, 1964

    It’s darker than Hades. Smoke from a thousand embers flare. In the cellar, old men, the oldest men alive, if they’re alive, hunker down on bent oak chairs, chairs circling small round tables covered in worn brown felt piled deep with jugs and glasses.

    The place reeks.

    “Sit down ya long stick. Have a brewski.”

    “Leave ‘em alone, Deegan. Kid looks like he’s just escaped from a high security kindergarten. Aintthatright, kiddo?”

    I have escaped from a nursery. Truth is, I didn’t know how to play.

    I accept the invitation, pull up a chair and collapse into it.

    “You old enough to drink?” the man next to Deegan asks.

    My eyes go to his hands. His hand. He has only one. The other’s a hook affair. He reaches for a glass of beer with the hook, snares it, and levers it my way.

    “Don’t matter to me,” he grumbles. “You’re here. You must have a thirst.”

    I do have a thirst. There is no turning back. I have tried to enter the arena of men. And failed. I was not ready.

    “So, kid, was Boots right? You fresh bait? How come they let you in the Legion?”

    Ames’ death had been so quick.

    You are not supposed to die in peace time.

    He’d had been my friend, my basic training comrade.

    I was ready to split from day one. “If you’re gonna make here,” he’d warned, “you have to commit. You can’t just pack up and leave the army.”

    He didn’t have a chance to pack up. Three weeks earlier, he tripped. A simple stupid trip and fallen in front of the Three Ton supply truck. Crushed the life out of him.

    I weep as I tell them.

    “War or Peace,” Deegan whispers, “soldiers are always the ones to die.”

    2+
    • 5 May 2017 at 12:55 pm

      Nice one, Bill. Thoroughly enjoyed this. And that last line is a killer.

      0
    • Sian Brighal
      6 May 2017 at 5:23 am

      Lovely writing. I like the mix of dialogue and his thoughts, and the way the harshness weaves through in subtle terms, and the pragmatism offset with hints of empathy.

      0
  2. Profile gravatar of Ronel Janse van Vuuren
    5 May 2017 at 5:15 am

    Ronel Janse van Vuuren
    @miladyronel
    132 words
    Dancer/ Parade/ Horror
    The Death Dance

    Beads fell everywhere. Once every colour imaginable, they were now tinted with blood.

    People kept on singing and waving as the parade passed, not realising what was happening. The alcohol they were liberally downing weren’t from their world… and kept them from seeing how the life was sucked from everyone the beads touched.

    Kay kept on dancing. She knew that once she stopped, she’d join the numerous dead.

    Dancing had always been her passion, her escape and her world. Now it was her prison. Keeping her own fear at bay, her movements became wild as the music the Fae played energised her and made her forget about everything except dancing.

    She’d always wanted to dance for royalty. She never thought that dancing for the Dark King would be the end of her.

    3+
    • 5 May 2017 at 12:56 pm

      Ha! We seem to be writing on the same theme — hadn’t read this until I posted mine. Nice work!

      0
    • Sian Brighal
      6 May 2017 at 5:27 am

      Great story. I like stories that switch someone’s joy into horror.

      0
  3. Profile gravatar of Angelique Pacheco
    5 May 2017 at 5:43 am

    Soldier/Battlefield/Drama

    Word count:296

    Sere-ious

    The captain of the guard watched silently as two figures moved through the shadows. The moonlight gave away their positions, but only just. He dragged deeply on his cigarette, the red tip alerting the shadows to his presence. They half waved at him, grinning, and all you could see were pearly whites through the black paint on their faces. He nodded and settled down to watch as they slipped through the doors of the barracks.

    An explosion rocked Amos right out of bed. He dropped down and instinctively rolled under the bed. His heart was hammering away in his chest as he tried to assess the situation. Immediately he realized that tear gas was filling the room. They were all in danger. He could hear his mates calling out and coughing. Gun shots filled the air as smoke billowed around them. He began to crawl towards a window, choking on the gas that would render him unconscious if he didn’t get fresh air. So focused was he on getting air that he didn’t notice a moving shadow to his right. Too late he looked up to see a boot come crashing down on his face. Everything went black.

    A drop of water fell on his face. He wiped it away as he continued sleeping. His bed was somewhat uncomfortable and he shifted his weight. Pain shot up the side of his face as a bucket of water was dumped on him. Birds in nearby trees flew off in fright. He tried to open his eyes. He touched his face gingerly and realized that one eye was swollen shut. He gazed around him and saw he was in a makeshift cage with his mates. A voice behind him made his blood run cold. “Welcome to SERE training.”

    2+
    • Sian Brighal
      6 May 2017 at 5:29 am

      Fantastic! Love the build-up and the end that’s really just the start.

      1+
  4. Profile gravatar of Fatima
    5 May 2017 at 6:10 am

    @fatimat91
    300 words
    Bartender/Battlefield/Romance

    A Lifetime of Love

    We walk holding hands every workday to the bar where he mixes drinks for people. We take the right side of the road cutting through the footpath. Tom kisses me goodbye and I walk back to fix lunch and fret. He wraps me inside his big arms covering me with kisses when he gets back.

    We have our little Sam now. He’s big and healthy and I’m busy with him all day. Tom walks alone now. He’s an assistant supervisor and a mini-mart is attached to the bar. We love Sam but, we miss our walks terribly.

    Sam has been drafted. I have reservations but Tom says every young man of age must be proud to serve. I can’t convince them because of my migraines. I light candles for Sam everyday in church.

    Tom takes the train to work now because of his arthritis. He wakes up at night sweating and wheezing. The doctor says it’s a bad heart.
    Sam is dead. He was shot in the battlefield but survived only to die of malaria. I scream when I see Sam in my dreams but Tom is always there to hold me tight. We cry ourselves to sleep every night. I’m so glad I married Tom. I hope he lets me die before him.

    The war is over and Tom is retired. The mini-mart has swallowed the bar. I sometimes, volunteer at the museum. Tom plays Skat with friends who also lost sons in the war. They talk of the war and new beginnings.

    Tom wouldn’t get up this morning. His breathing wasn’t right either. The taxi man helped get him into the car and drove us to the hospital. They won’t let me into the theatre but I’m not worried. I have my bottle of cyanide here with me.

    1+
    • Sian Brighal
      6 May 2017 at 5:32 am

      Full of powerful hurting themes. I may be reading more in, but I do like how it seems they’re treating their love as some important mission, with a loyalty to each other that surpasses everything…true wartime comrades.

      0
  5. Profile gravatar of Angelique Pacheco
    5 May 2017 at 6:57 am

    Dancer/Stage/Memoir

    Word count: 294

    Dancerella

    As a little girl my head was filled with dreams of being a dancer. I dreamed of being on stage.

    Lights! Camera! Action! All the dancers are in place. Flash! The lights illuminate the stage. People move about slowly beginning their part in the scene. A leg begins to show. Flash! A hand unfurls and begins to sway gently. Flash! The smooth skin glows in the light as the dancer begins to move to the tune of the orchestra. Her lace, Spanish skirt billows out as she turns. It flows like satin. Her arms are outstretched as she waits silently. The leading man gently takes her by the hand. All his focus is on her. Her body moves to his prompting. Her dark hair flows freely as he guides her body to his bidding. He twirls her and lifts her until she feels free.

    I just had one teeny tiny problem. I had the worst stage fright ever. I had run off stage so many times they nicknamed me “Dancerella”. You know, she gets a fright at midnight and runs away from the ball, blah, blah, blah. I was so over it. I needed a plan.

    I decided to take my dancing to the streets. Not to perform, mind you, just to practice. I found a spot and danced. It was just me, dancing my heart out for the city. My confidence grew. I still got nervous, but I told myself that they would only see me quickly as they whizzed past.

    I was in a shop one day when I heard a man say, “That’s Dancerella!” I was about to run out when I stopped and looked at him. His eyes were filled with awe as mine filled up with tears of joy.

    3+
    • Sian Brighal
      6 May 2017 at 5:34 am

      Love how you described the dancing, so beautiful.

      0
  6. Profile gravatar of Jeff Messick
    5 May 2017 at 9:44 am

    Dancer/Parade/Horror
    An Accounting
    230 words

    Time slowed as the dancer leapt into the air, her eyes locking on individual audience members. Even under the harsh lights, she could see them all.
    Marsha, with her faux furs, covering shoulders; trying to hide the fact that her soul allowed a caustic tongue to flay innocents.
    Darrel, large hands at rest on the armrests of his chair, spent a majority of his home life with those hands in motion, striking his spouse and his children.
    Morgan, whose miniscule manipulations within the bank had defrauded hundreds of customers, all without their knowledge.
    The parade float halted long enough for her performance, her duty, and her vengeance.
    The dancer turned again, her lithe legs almost locked together, arms raised above her, reaching for the heavens. Her darkness and light battled within her, always. Her outstretched hand felt the fabric of the universe and she yanked it. The light inside her screamed, the darkness shouted in triumph.
    The streets beneath the rolling stage heaved, catapulting the gathered audience into the air, only to crash to the earth again. Blood, shattered bones, and screams of those not immediately dead, descended over the scene as the dancer came to a halt.
    “Justice.” She said, her darkness chittering in her head, with glee.
    “Three pay for their crimes.” Said the light. “Yet eighty more souls were taken.”
    The darkness snarled. “Interest.”

    3+
    • 5 May 2017 at 12:13 pm

      Jeff – I love it. Reminds me a little of Revengers! I just read it, so it’s on my mind. 🙂

      1+
    • 5 May 2017 at 12:57 pm

      Love that last line!

      0
    • Sian Brighal
      6 May 2017 at 5:37 am

      Wonderful read, thank you. The last line is just fantastic: harsh and bitter, and possibly quite fair.

      0
    • Profile gravatar of Bill Bibo
      6 May 2017 at 5:51 pm

      Powerful all the way through. I’ll try not to bank there. The interest is too high. Nicely done

      0
  7. Stephen John Lodge
    5 May 2017 at 9:46 am

    The Mystery Of The Kite Traps
    by Steve Lodge
    267 words
    @steveweave71
    Soldier/Battlefield/Poem

    Hidden somewhere in the dunes,
    Preparing to repel a sea landing,
    Sipping tea from an ageing flask,
    Scanning the coastline for movement.
    The Dawn Watch fighting sleep,
    The first line of a tired defence.
    Seagulls loudly and proudly proclaim,
    A fishing boat from a friendly port,
    Then brooding silence reigns again.
    Broken by the director’s scream,
    “George, lovey, pleeeease!
    You’re supposed to be a soldier.”
    Caught amidst the netting twine,
    Dancing like a puppet, demented,
    The star that failed to shine.

    This poem by Otis Cochise, was based on an incident during the filming of famed director Uwe Golem’s only British-made movie, “The Mystery Of The Kite Traps.” He will be remembered mainly for his black and white “expressionismus” vampire movies made in his home country, The Republic Of Belzon. Only one of these survived intact, the seminal “Return Of The Monster” (1920), which starred the infamous Dwight Love as Count Rafis, the legendary vampire of Belzon folklore. Golem described Dwight as an “absolute pleasure to work with,” despite the stabbing incident, in which Golem lost his spleen and other stories about the unpredictability of the star.

    The making of “The Mystery Of The Kite Traps” (1941), however, was marred by disunity and squabbling between Golem and the star of the picture, George Pants, culminating in Uwe beating his star rather badly with a pair of trousers. Insiders said the dressing room, where the fight took place, looked more like a battlefield than any scene in the film. After the film had its premiere in London, the two never spoke to each other again, even in subtitles.

    3+
    • 5 May 2017 at 12:59 pm

      Hi-freaking-larious, Steve! “Despite the stabbing incident…” I am laughing out loud.

      0
    • Sian Brighal
      6 May 2017 at 5:44 am

      Wonderful! Loved every line, thank you. Beaten with a pair of trousers….that’s showbiz for you.

      0
    • Profile gravatar of Bill Bibo
      6 May 2017 at 5:56 pm

      Excellent. “absolute pleasure to work with,” despite the stabbing incident. Ah, the Golden Age of Hollywood.

      0
  8. Frank Key
    5 May 2017 at 10:26 am

    Words: 298
    “We Are Not Afraid Today”
    Dancer, Parade, Horror
    @frankdaad

    Weaponized pellets of rain penetrated the umbrellas of their matronly guardians and the tutus of the young dancers. Shelter seemed impossibly far off as they abandoned the carnival season parade and ran as fast as their tiny legs permitted for the nearest structure with an impenetrable roof.

    Sensing its prey might indeed succeed with their get away, the storm intensified its assault on the clutch of large and small human females. Furious tornado winds focused the tip of their funnels on a batch of rural oil derricks and seeded the heavy laden clouds with oily residue.

    The condemned dance krewe slipped and slided their way from parade center stage to curbside gutter in only a matter of never forgotten moments. Some smashed their tender skulls against the concrete curb stones while others were swept with the pulsating current into the forsaken depths of the storm sewers.

    “Be forever gone, tiny dancers”, roared the Bacchanal gales of the storm, “you dared intrude on my gluttonous celebration with your cute faces, pale pinks, and lemonade yellows. Be forever gone, tiny dancers, never again infect my domain with the viral ahhs and oohs from adoring aunts and uncles. Be gone, I command, good and dead gone.”

    But in its haste to destroy the many unfortunates in its path, it overlooked one tiny dancer who clung tenaciously to a forgotten pin oak tree planted there nearly a century before by her great-grandfather who pledged at the time that the tiny sapling would one grow strong and save lives.

    With chin lifted high, she pointed a wispy finger towards the sky. She parted her tiny lips and began to sing. Nearby survivors quickly joined in as the rising chorus overwhelmed the storm.

    “We are not afraid. We are not afraid…”

    End

    1+
    • Sian Brighal
      6 May 2017 at 5:48 am

      Wonderful imagery…’weaponised pellets of rain’ was fantastic.

      0
    • Profile gravatar of Bill Bibo
      6 May 2017 at 5:58 pm

      Nicely done, the personification of the storm is thrilling

      0
    • Alva Holland
      7 May 2017 at 1:08 am

      Super opening line, Frank. Great story!

      0
  9. Alva Holland
    5 May 2017 at 11:31 am

    Alva Holland
    @Alva1206
    297 words
    Soldier/Falling through the Sky/Science Fiction

    The Weather Forecast Is Always Important To Farmers

    If his commanding officer could see him now, hurtling through black hole after black hole, rifle and bayonet miraculously still firmly attached to his uniform, tight black belt keeping his core together, his extremities battling to remain part of the picture, gleaming black boots spinning wildly at the end of his flailing legs, lobbing erratic space rocks into infinity, he wouldn’t be calling him wimpy. No Sir!

    ‘Take charge of your space, soldier!’

    He’d taken charge of his space alright; Earth’s space. Who knew the prototype rocket he’d been commissioned to guard would have such an easy access panel? Who knew the guarding soldier would go inside and realise that a self-locking door isn’t such a clever thing to ignore? Who knew that such a small insignificant red button would launch said prototype rocket into space, wimpy soldier inside and many hours later spit him out in a capsule which opened automatically releasing him into the wild black yonder? Surely someone foresaw these possibilities. The answer is clear.

    ***
    ‘It’s raining men, Hallelujah, it’s raining men,’ rang out from the far south field of farmer Nick’s holding.

    ‘For god’s sake, girl, will you stop singin’ that damn song.’

    ‘No, really, Da! Look! It’s raining men. Well, one man, in uniform.’

    Fearing he was losing his mind, farmer Nick reluctantly looked skyward to see said uniformed soldier hovering over his cornfield, above his daughter who had a strange look on her face.

    ‘Take me with you, alien soldier falling from the sky.’

    Farmer Nick watched, helpless as his daughter was whisked into the sky and a small white card fluttered to the ground.
    ‘Soldier Tom to ground control. Permission to marry your daughter, sir? I’d go to the ends of the earth for her. In fact, I have.’

    3+
    • Sian Brighal
      6 May 2017 at 5:51 am

      Fantastic, but that first paragraph is just simply amazing. I like how you turned this into sonething hopeful and sweet…being whisked off for love.

      1+
      • Alva Holland
        6 May 2017 at 8:00 am

        Thanks so much, Sian.

        0
    • 6 May 2017 at 12:29 pm

      Superb work, Alva. You’ve nailed it again! Really love how you turned this into something quite unexpected (and lovely). And I laughed out loud at the “It’s raining men!” line.

      1+
      • Alva Holland
        7 May 2017 at 12:23 am

        Thanks, Christina! I got there eventually. Needless to say, that song is stuck in my head ever since. It’s always been a favourite. Love how the Microcosms prompts bring out random memories and connections.

        0
  10. 5 May 2017 at 12:03 pm

    Dana Faletti
    @danafaletti
    Elements – Dancer, Parade, Horror
    Word Count – 300

    MISSING

    Palm trees whoosh in the wind, their leaves sifting the unwavering gust.
    We watch from our twelfth story window, as lightning bolts connect the sea and sky.
    The storm is menacing but distant. It won’t reach shore.
    “Mama, will you parade in the rain?” My daughter’s full lips twist into a pout, eyes betraying worry no five-year-old should harbor.
    “It’s the fifth, Gabi.” I graze fingernails along her cocoa skin, watching goose pimples rise from nothing. “The show must go on, love.”
    I adjust my headpiece, finger-curling magenta feathers.
    A knock at the apartment door. The sitter.
    “Come in, Justine.”
    “I don’t want you to go.”
    Gabi’s tiny voice sends shivers along my shoulders. Something feels off. I push it away.
    The show must go on.
    “I’ll look for you in the crowd,” I say, then kiss her cheek. She smells of pancake syrup and sleep.
    “Bye, Mama.”

    Slate sky. Angry water. The storm is swift.
    But the show must go on.
    Maracas sizzle, drums boom, and music is everywhere.
    Other dancers’ faces are painted exactly like mine. Stripey cheeks.
    I wonder if Gabi will recognize me.
    We perform the same steps over and over along the sand. Kick, twirl, arms out, arms in.
    I search the crowd, find Gabi’s eyes. She’s waving, perched on Justine’s shoulders.
    I mouth “I love you.” She claps tiny hands.
    A spin, a nod, and a wink to seal the words.
    But when I look again, she’s gone.
    Dread laces itself around my legs, crawls up my body and settles in my empty belly.
    She’s simply shifted positons, I tell myself.
    Out of my line of vision.
    But then I see Justine’s wide eyes, the silent scream on her lips.
    And I know.
    The mass of entertainers push forward.
    The show must go on.

    2+
    • Sian Brighal
      6 May 2017 at 5:55 am

      Great read. Dedication can be a terrible or wondrous thing.

      1+
    • Profile gravatar of Bill Bibo
      6 May 2017 at 6:02 pm

      Haunting.

      1+
    • Jeff Messick
      8 May 2017 at 10:21 am

      Like it a lot Dana. I agree with the earlier response, dedication can be dark.

      0
  11. 5 May 2017 at 12:51 pm

    Christina Dalcher
    @CVDalcher
    265 words
    Dancer / Parade / Horror

    The King Requests the Pleasure of Your Company

    Rex insisted on only two rules during the afternoon flight to the Quarter: all roses on his float must be as red as fresh blood and fire, and beads would only be distributed to the most fervent dancers lining the columned balconies of St. Charles Avenue. He needed to see the northern tourists sweat, smell their salt. Better if they ululated and whooped as they writhed in the south’s swelter, but dancing was the only requirement.

    Tourists would do anything for beads. Or invitations to balls.

    A congregation of young girls, plucked fresh from the colleges of New England, damn Yankees with no memory beyond their last manicure, flashed bare breasts toward the parade. Rex smiled at them, issuing instructions. “Invite them to the ball, along with their men.”

    He would enjoy tonight’s festivities, as he had since the great war that rent the country in two, the bloodshed that crippled his beloved south and took his woman. Two dozen of the ancient enemy would pay down another percentage of their debt when Rex gave the signal. Not enough, not nearly, but the Krewe of Rex would continue enticing tourists, beckoning them to the Crescent City, for many more centuries.

    From the gilded dais that evening, Rex watched with his ghost-queen as the children of the north — the seed of Grant and Lincoln — whirled endlessly, their bodies drenched and convulsing, until, on the stroke of midnight, the gowns and tuxedo tails erupted into fire — dancing, licking flames that shone like blood, that burned as brightly as Sherman on his own parade to the sea.

    1+
    • Sian Brighal
      6 May 2017 at 5:58 am

      That was excellent. Love how his disgust and anger and need for vengeance seep through at the start then hit you at the end.

      1+
      • 6 May 2017 at 12:21 pm

        Thanks, Sian!

        0
      • 6 May 2017 at 12:32 pm

        It was a lot of fun to write, particularly since the Krewe of Rex (the oldest in NOLA) was initially formed to entice northerners to the city. Plus, I really like writing about the north/south thing. Probably not very PC to defend this sort of attitude, but there we are. 🙂

        0
    • Alva Holland
      7 May 2017 at 1:03 am

      Loved this, Christina. ‘roses… as red as fresh blood and fire’ – such a vibrant image.

      1+
    • Profile gravatar of Bill Bibo
      7 May 2017 at 12:39 pm

      Nicely done. New Orleans has an air of mystery and being just on the edge of darkness enough to give it charm. You captured that feeling well. I’ve been to New Orleans (love the food and the music especially) but not during Mardi Gras. No desire to go then. This reinforced that.

      1+
      • 8 May 2017 at 10:35 am

        Ha! I am in complete agreement. The madness of Mardi Gras is something on my non-bucket list. I won’t even go to the French Quarter. 🙂

        0
  12. Profile gravatar of Stephanie Ellis
    5 May 2017 at 4:57 pm

    The Whistles Blew

    Elements: parade participant, battlefield, memoir

    275 words

    @el_Stevie

    The whistles blew and, for a moment, Owen felt as if he’d been transported back in time. A memory of glorious columns of colour and noise washed over him, life in all its beautiful vitality on parade, so much life. A warm breeze had tickled his cheek as he awaited the order to move off, he’d felt the expectancy, almost tasted the excitement of the crowds ahead. How he’d loved those performances, the sheer drama and spectacle of the occasion. How proud he’d been when he’d taken his son along for the first time as a participant, shown him how to march in time, how to go with the rhythm. And smile. That had needed no instruction. With every step and every cheer, his little boy’s grin had grown wider and wider, a sun even amongst his dazzling companions. The memory thawed the ache in his bones a little, and he felt his own lips stretch into the ghost of a smile, muscles aching slightly as they settled into this long-forgotten position.

    The whistles blew and Owen’s eyes flew open, looked for the marching band … it wasn’t there. Yet he was still on parade, standing in regular columns, surrounded by life in all its beautiful vitality but he had been there before; had marched out with hundreds, returned as one – beauty and vitality destroyed in the mud, cut down by the expectant crowds on the other side of the trenches. He looked to his left, and saw his boy. Father and son marching together again. But the lad wasn’t smiling. The sun had gone in and would never come out again. The whistles blew.

    2+
    • Sian Brighal
      6 May 2017 at 6:02 am

      Beautiful read. ‘It is sweet and honourable…’: still a lie. Like how you used the common theme of parade to compare joy and horror and slam home how the parades as a child are like a trick.

      1+
  13. Sian Brighal
    5 May 2017 at 9:03 pm

    Sian Brighal
    @sian_ink
    258 words
    Soldier / Pub / Poem

    Peace is the Hardest War

    Kept me going through it; the thought of this.
    Not a screaming sergeant nor dreams of home
    Nor thoughts of sweethearts with their sweeter kiss,
    But this here pint with its head of white foam.

    A much-needed anchor in stormy seas
    Undemanding comfort in this unease

    Some may whisper with a sneer bitterly
    That something nobler must run through these veins
    That have bled so quick for sweet liberty,
    But after that—the pain, woes—what remains

    After the million little deaths inside
    For sanity’s sake what was sacrificed

    Are those simple things, small enough to hide,
    Kept away from war’s constant swinging scythes
    Because at the end, not enough survived.
    For war takes much more than just time and lives.

    And that battlefield holds our shattered bones
    While we mourned, knelt, at our future’s headstones

    And the scars that paid for those safe returns
    Become unfamiliar territory
    That our loved ones no longer can traverse
    But they strive, recalling a memory

    Cos it’s all changed now and that life once known
    Seems so distant, fleeting, a life on loan

    Not understanding that the man who left
    Is still scattered and lost, not yet returned
    And you’re as widows, hurting and bereft
    Grieving for us dead yet to be interred

    And I get the pain, the feeling of hurt
    That this life isn’t what we should have earnt

    So this is why this cold pint gets me through
    Because I’ve already lost this peacetime
    Seems this is my wake, a last manoeuvre
    And my last mission is just killing time

    3+
    • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
      5 May 2017 at 11:18 pm

      A very poignant and moving piece, Sian, with a great title. I liked the rhyming scheme.

      [ There are two or three questions in your poem. Would you like to include question marks? ]

      1+
      • Sian Brighal
        6 May 2017 at 5:14 am

        Thank you, Geoff 🙂 So glad it reads okay. I think after ‘what remains’ should be an en-dash and its partner before ‘Are those simple things…’, so those two lines are almost parenthetical (if that’s the term?), so it was an observation, rather than a question. Sorry, Geoff, I’m not with it at the moment, so I can’t see the other questions 🙁 Sorry to have put it up with errors and then be clueless…lol

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    • Alva Holland
      6 May 2017 at 4:44 am

      Permission sought to ‘like’ this 20 times please? Geoff?
      Wow! Sian. I’m reduced to a wondering wandering emotional jumble with this. Stellar writing.

      1+
      • Sian Brighal
        6 May 2017 at 5:18 am

        Thank you, Alva! So glad you like it. Never written one that long before. I am still utterly cream-crackered.

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    • Profile gravatar of Angelique Pacheco
      6 May 2017 at 11:08 am

      I’m a sucker for poetry. Simply beautiful and moving. <3

      1+
      • Sian Brighal
        6 May 2017 at 11:27 am

        Thank you

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    • 6 May 2017 at 12:25 pm

      Wow, Sian, you killed me with this one! And you’re so brave to write poetry (I tried once. It was bad.)!

      1+
      • Sian Brighal
        6 May 2017 at 1:07 pm

        Thank you 🙂 fine line between bravery and insanity….glad you said brave 😀 Don’t know why I did a poem–I have no idea what I’m doing when I try–but it just seemed a good idea….famous last words.

        1+
    • Profile gravatar of Bill Bibo
      7 May 2017 at 12:41 pm

      Very moving and beautifully done.

      1+
      • Sian Brighal
        7 May 2017 at 12:53 pm

        Thank you 🙂

        0
  14. Profile gravatar of Bill Bibo
    5 May 2017 at 9:58 pm

    @bbibojr (newbie here, hello)
    298 words
    Dancer/Parade/Horror

    A Home Is What You Make It

    Tiffany and Brad were in the market for a new home. They had been looking for some time but never found the perfect house. One was too small, another too big, another had none of the amenities they were hoping for. This weekend was the Parade of Homes. Every year local contractors displayed their best ideas. Maybe they would find the perfect home there.

    Unfortunately, hundreds more had the same idea. Parking was scarce, lines were long, and none of the houses were close to what they wanted. These houses were big, flashy, each shouting “Look at me! Look at me!”.
    Driving home Tiffany spotted a hand printed sign, “Parade of Homes – Alternative”. It was the desperate look in her eyes that made Brad agree to stop.

    The house was far from distinctive. If this house shouted anything, you immediately forgot what it was as soon as you drove by. Inside was like a thousand homes in a thousand neighborhoods. It was so normal it set Tiffany’s teeth chattering.

    No salesman was there, just a business card on the kitchen table, “Fred Thomas, Diabolist/ Contractor”. A mournful melody drew them into the next room. There a child’s music box played as a tiny figurine of a pretty ballerina danced around and round. When the music ended a panel in the wall slid open revealing a stairway down into darkness. Tiffany grabbed Brad’s hand and headed down the stairs.

    Cold fluorescent lights flickered alive, illuminating a horrific scene. On the wall opposite were manacles and chains. To the left a gruesome display of knives, saws, and scalpels. To the right a garden hose and a drain to wash down the scene. It was a room meant for one cruel purpose.

    Tiffany turned to her husband. “Let’s take it.”

    5+
    • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
      5 May 2017 at 11:01 pm

      Welcome to Microcosms, Bill; we’re always pleased to have new people join us. I loved your creative take on the character and location prompts, and the twist in the tail. Great job!

      [ Please feel free to comment on other stories, and to vote for your favourite(s). ]

      2+
    • Alva Holland
      6 May 2017 at 4:41 am

      Oooh! love this, Bill. From the ordinary to the grim in under 300 words! Excellent.

      1+
    • Sian Brighal
      6 May 2017 at 6:06 am

      So happy you joined; that was a fantastic read. Nice when you find just what you’re after–and furnished, too!

      2+
    • 6 May 2017 at 12:27 pm

      Ha! I lurve this. What a killer of a twist. Welcome to Microcosms, Bill. Looking forward to seeing more of your work here.

      1+
    • Profile gravatar of Bill Bibo
      6 May 2017 at 6:13 pm

      Thank you , all.
      I stumble upon this through Twitter. I love working within the constraints. I find it very liberating.
      For a few years there existed a wonderful international site called Mash Stories. Three unrelated words, 500 word length, quarterly contests with pointed and relevant feedback and a monetary prize. They took all the stories that made their shortlist and hired voice actors to read them for their podcast. It’s amazing to hear your story read by a professional actor. Wow. I was shocked the first time. Unfortunately the practice wasn’t as sustainable as they had hoped and they closed last year. I am still in contact with many people there and can reach out to them about this community.
      It looks like fun. You’ll see me back.
      Thanks again

      1+
  15. Amelia
    5 May 2017 at 11:59 pm

    Dancer/Parade/Horror
    @Ames236
    300 words

    Title: My Exotic Lover
    She was always just beyond my grasp. I spent a year trying to catch up with her. We met on a sunny rain-slicked evening. The café provided me a view of her lithe body as she moved past. She slipped in a puddle and I rushed to help. I gazed into her eyes and broke the moment by apologizing. She laughed.
    Lilting and light, if I could bottle that laughter, I’d survive on its scent for days. Part Indian, part Arab, she was destined to be mine. She wanted to see the world before she was forty, thrived on rock music and binge watched foreign films. I tried to read her book on Egyptian myths. Red in the face, I stopped as soon as I heard her musical trill.
    Six months into our relationship, she revealed that she was a dancer. Anger surged through me. That meant that her body wasn’t just my own. She had opened another window into her world and I broke open the door and barged in. I followed her only to watch her graceful movements soaked by shifty eyed, ugly men in a dingy club. After watching her for the tenth time, I was convinced that she was having an affair with the bouncer. Like pieces of a puzzle, it all fit together. She wasn’t trying to gradually let me into her world at all. I made my decision.
    I hid a knife in my pocket as I took her for the Cinco De Mayo parade. The performance held her riveted. Flashes of our time together moved across my eyes and I found myself hesitating. I decided to give us another chance. My eyes grew blurry as I fell to the floor, her musical laughter filling my ears. That vixen was always one step ahead.

    1+
    • Sian Brighal
      6 May 2017 at 6:09 am

      Lovely read. Good twist ending.

      0
      • Dana
        6 May 2017 at 1:12 pm

        Really great piece!

        0
        • Amelia
          7 May 2017 at 12:55 am

          Thanks a lot, Dana.

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      • Amelia
        7 May 2017 at 12:54 am

        Thank you, Sian.

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    • Alva Holland
      7 May 2017 at 1:07 am

      Splendid images of simmering jealousy here, Amelia. Loved, loved the ending!

      0
      • Amelia
        8 May 2017 at 2:58 am

        Thank you, Alva! 🙂

        0

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