Microcosms 156

Another Friday, another year… Welcome to Microcosms 156, the first post of 2019. Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you all had a great festive period.

Yes, we’re moving effortlessly (I wish!) into the fourth year of Microcosms… astonishing! I trust you are all raring to go with a new set of flash fiction challenges in the next 12 months.

January, as you probably know, is traditionally thought to be named for the Roman deity Janus, the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past.

With this in mind, once again, I’ve been looking back at the entries received during the last quarter of 2018. I’ve taken one of the favourite / favorite lines chosen by the judge in each of the 11 contests – the last two posts were ‘Just 4 Fun’ challenges .

There’s no “slot machine” of elements in this round. Your task is simply to select just ONE or TWO –DEFINITELY NO MORE! —  of these lines and incorporate it/them into your entry:

143 – There were always interesting treats lurking in his pocket.

144 – “We opened the gateway to the wrong dimension!”

145 – Also, never tickle a person who has diarrhoea.

146 – It’s early days in the history of time travel and teething problems can be expected.

147 – Doctor, I’ve already told you, you can’t do that.

148 – Is that why you hate cabbage so much?

149 – I’m retired. I’m just an ordinary member of the public now.

150 – Nosy old fart.

151 – Tell me everything! Our readers demand it!

152 – Hurt anything enough and it will hurt you back.

153 – Man, they cranked them out like counterfeit bills back then.

 

*** DO NOT USE THE CHOSEN LINE AS THE TITLE OF YOUR ENTRY ***

*** Incorporate it somewhere in the story / poem ***

 

You may change the chosen line(s) slightly – names, gender, tense, punctuation, etc. – but it must still be recognisable. You may use whichever genre you like this week.

Please tell us the word count – excluding the title – plus the Round Number AND the favourite / favorite line(s) you have chosen (in the format used above). There’s no need to specify the genre this time round.

And don’t forget to give your entry a title.

Geoff

 

*** NO FAN-FICTION, PLEASE, and NO USE of COPYRIGHT CHARACTERS ***

 
Judging this week is Microcosms 153 Judge’s Pick, David Lewis Pogson.

 
All submissions should be a maximum of 300 words in length.

 
You have just 24 hours from 00:00 to midnight TODAY (FRIDAY, 04-JAN), New York time (EST), 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 157
Microcosms 153

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25 comments for “Microcosms 156

  1. 4 January 2019 at 2:25 am

    http://www.engleson.ca
    @billmelaterplea
    300 words
    149 – I’m retired. I’m just an ordinary member of the public now.

    The Mentor

    I saw Mac Sweeney in Centennial Park recently. Hadn’t seen him in years. Mac was the neighbourhood bull back in the day. I was still a skinny snarky snot that final time he’d rousted me. Rousted? More like he turned my head into a cauliflower.

    I’d been acting as lookout for the Red Visors whose primary criminal enterprise was ripping off warehouses, mostly local businesses.

    Creepy stuff they were doing…we were doing.

    Krikee, he tossed me around like I was a windshield wiper. Finally, he hurled me into the bank of trash cans back of Mickey Low’s Chow’s On Chinese Restaurant joint. That knocked the stuffing outta me. That and the fact that the city was three weeks into an ugly garbage strike. The whole alley stunk like stink.

    “Come on, bucko,” he’d said, and then cut loose with a loud “pee-yew,” looped his meaty hands into my belt buckle right above my butt crack and frog-walked me home.

    The old lady was busting a gut until she smelled me. Then she shooed me upstairs to take a bath. Before I jumped into the tub, I spilled my guts. Mac rushed away, and I heard he busted the lot of them.

    I straightened up after that.

    So, when I saw him that Saturday, I sauntered over and cracked wise with, “Hey, Mac, Bust any young punks lately?”

    He smiled, said, “Nope, bucko, that’s behind me. You know that. I’m retired. I’m just an ordinary member of the public now. Mac Q. Citizen, that’s me. What about you?”

    “Oh, yeah. Following your lead. The streets are full of little turds like I was.”

    “Trust you’re gentler than me.”

    “Have to be. Too many cell phones.”

    “Right. Say, let’s get a coffee. Shoot the shit.”

    “Good idea, Mac,” I said. “About time.”

    5+
  2. Angelique Pacheco
    4 January 2019 at 5:11 am

    298 words
    145 – Also, never tickle a person who has diarrhoea.

    Memor-reeks

    “Watch where you’re going, you old fart!” some kid yelled as I swerved my car dangerously away from him and almost into a hydrant. They took my licence away from me some months ago and I was once again trying to master the almost forgotten art of driving. It was nice to escape from the home once in a while. “Old fart,” I thought as I chuckled. It reminded me of a story.

    We were in the trenches, Spikey and me. Like brothers, thicker than thieves. Old Charlie was our troop’s cook and he was plumb awful. He could take a squashed-by-a-tank squirrel and make stew from it for twenty men. I shudder to think what else went in there.

    When Malloy, a freshly scrubbed face of a boy arrived with excitement in his eyes, Spikey and I took it upon ourselves to ‘show him the ropes’. Malloy was a sprightly fellow who was apt at playing pranks. It got old fast. One night, after a particularly unsavory meal by Charlie, I had what I can only describe as a watery undercarriage, interspersed with slight winds. Malloy was in a particularly mischievous mood that day, and when I was on my way to the makeshift shower in the corner butt-naked, he promptly pounced and tickled me mercilessly. Well, let me tell you: the proverbial poop hit the fan as well as everything within the meter, including Malloy. This prompted him to retch all over.

    Spikey looked up from behind his newspaper and sighed as he stated, “Also, never tickle a person who has diarrhoea.”

    Last time Malloy ever played a prank in the trenches, but not because he was mollified by what he had done. Poor boy died two weeks later, a hero. I miss that funny sod!

    3+
    • 4 January 2019 at 12:01 pm

      Well dung, Angelique. This was a popular prompt, clearly a favourite amongst certain class of flash fictionistas.

      2+
      • Kelly L Griffiths
        5 January 2019 at 1:04 pm

        This comment is a winner! Story too!

        1+
  3. 4 January 2019 at 7:44 am

    @geofflepard
    297 words
    145 – Also, never tickle a person who has diarrhoea.

    It Doesn’t Matter What You Do As Long As You Dress The Part

    Margery Strool opened the door with her hip, her hands full. The Prime Minister’s office seemed empty. ‘Gerald?’ Where the hell was he? ‘You wanted a word about tactics for the meeting with the POTUS and… Oh shit, no.’
    Gerald Marlene emerged, arms wide open. ‘What do you think?’
    Margery deposited the files. ‘So this is how we restore the Special Relationship, is it?’
    ‘See,’ Gerald said, adjusting the holster, ‘this is how I see it. Chuck is from Milwaukee, right? He’s all good ol’ boys and rhinestones so this,’ he waved a hand at the embroidered waistcoat, the chaps and the dusty boots, ‘will make him–’
    Think you’re a pillock, Margery thought but didn’t say.
    Gerald spun the Stetson toward an ormolu hatstand. It missed. ‘Tony Blair did it with George.’ He affected a cod-American accent, ‘Yo, Blair.’
    Margery slumped on the sofa. ‘He’ll think more Yo-Yo than Yo. We should focus on policy…’
    ‘…boring…’
    ‘… or the new head of NATO…’
    ‘… Dullsville…’
    Margery peered with a jaundiced eye. ‘Do you need one of your pills?’
    Gerald tutted, practicing a quick draw that sent the six-shooter across the room and into a novelty coal scuttle made from a troll’s foot, gifted by Norway. ‘I like this approach. Homely.’
    ‘Why not ask him what he wants to talk about?’
    ‘Oh sure. That’s the verbal equivalent of tickling a man with diarrhoea. Come on, your my PPS. Who’s after Chuck?’
    ‘The German chancellor. And no you can’t wear your lederhosen. You know that’s reserved for party conferences and undecided voters.’
    ‘My Brunhild? I could use the false breasts the last chap left?’
    Margery turned away, wondering what she’d do when he realised that he was down for dinner with a party of shamans from Easter Island.

    4+
    • 4 January 2019 at 12:06 pm

      Geoff, I will be rereading this flotilla of feculence for days to extract every creative morsel. I did wonder whether you gave a thought to naming Margery Strool, Margery Stool? Then I thought, that would be too much.

      0
  4. Steve Lodge
    4 January 2019 at 8:46 am

    @steveweave71
    300 words
    149 – I’m retired. I’m just an ordinary member of the public now.

    Obscured By The Magical Moon

    Oh, it’s all going too fast. Since I moved back to Long Chaney and met up with Sally Forth again, I’ve been acting like a bloody teenager. Truth is, I’m retired. I’m just an ordinary member of the public now and I have to chew soup. 50 years ago, me and Sally kissed behind the school bicycle sheds and she looks as good today…although 50 years ago, I probably had my eyes shut. Kissing with your eyes open. Weird or exciting? The jury still doesn’t give a crap.

    Why did I rush things now? It was a bit of a leap, letting her see my celebration dance so early in our relationship. I wasn’t even sure we were exclusive. But my celebration dance is kind of spontaneous. Partly, I like to do it to prove that the replacement hips haven’t slowed me down. Well, it’s done now. She’s seen it. As it turns out, I’m glad she did. It set off a chain reaction.

    She’d seen my dance so now, she said it was only fair that I should hear her sing. It is impossible to say if I’d heard the song she selected before, but I’m pretty sure she murdered it right there in her backyard. She just wouldn’t stop, and she thinks she has such a lovely voice. If I agreed with her that she had the voice of an angel, then we would both be wrong. I think she misread my crying too and some high notes she reached for may have loosened a couple of my teeth and dislodged my undescended testicle.

    I really thought coming back to my home town and being with Sally again was like I’d bought a ticket to Paradise. But, if this is Paradise, I don’t like it now I’m here.

    2+
  5. 4 January 2019 at 10:17 am

    @GriffithsKL
    300 words
    143 – There were always interesting treats lurking in his pocket.

    The Perks of Galactic Transport

    Uncle Asbestos brings me presents when his tour is done. There are always interesting treats lurking in his pockets. 

    He removes his helmet with a wry smile and dramatic sloth. My fidgeting betrays my impatience.

    He inside-outs his pockets and a slew of tiny, multi-colored creatures fall out. I squeal. We play with them until they run out of battery life. Uncle says I just need to let them recharge. I suggest hooking them up to a v-tube to see if they’d stay animated longer, but Uncle Asbestos laughs. 

    “It would blow them right up, little one. Just enjoy them while you can. I’ll get more next time.”

    “Where do they come from?” I ask as I toss the wiggling creatures into the air and catch almost all of them. Their noise reminds me of the frantic whirring of tine bugs, pests that nest in the humidors. Uncle says the toys are made of calcium. Can you imagine? No wonder they break so easily. 

    At school, I pull them out of my pocket and dump a pile of them on the lunch table. They try to scrabble away, but we make a corral out of trays and silverware. I’m the envy of all the kids. 

    “I wish my uncle was a galactic transporter.”

    “Me too.”

    All my friends agree Uncle Asbestos has the coolest job ever. I get the best gifts.

    Suddenly, a loud sound (for them) issues from one, and then it loses all animation. 

    “Careful,” I rebuke my friend. “You squeezed it too hard.”

    “Sorry. Can I keep it? It’s broken anyway.”

    “Yes, but not too long. They stink once the batteries go.”

    She tweezes the limp, pinkish creature with four appendages and one dense tuft of fur. “So strange…where’s he get these again?”

    “Earth.”

    5+
    • 4 January 2019 at 12:32 pm

      This is a lovely bit of memoirish tale-telling. Bravo.

      1+
    • Deanna Salser
      4 January 2019 at 8:04 pm

      That was fantastic! What an idea! Seems wasted on a mere 300 words…

      2+
  6. Susan O'Reilly
    4 January 2019 at 11:06 am

    @SusanOReilly3
    298 words
    143 – There were always interesting treats lurking in his pocket.

    Awakenings

    If I don’t fall asleep, it will be my turn to see Santa. I wonder if there are always interesting treats lurking in his pocket. My brother Tommy says he’s seen him loads. It has been a week of early nights, and finally, it’s Christmas Eve. I get all the cookies I’ve been hiding and place them on a plate. They’re for Santa and me as Mum says not to eat them or I won’t be able to sleep. I hope it’s true. Maybe that’s why Santa eats them – to help him stay awake. I go down to say goodnight.

    “Georgie, sleep tight or Santa won’t come.”

    When everyone’s asleep, I grab the plate and make myself comfy by the dying fire. I don’t remember falling asleep but must have as I wake up having been placed in my bed. I can hear Tommy’s giggle, snooze you lose, but I feel I’ve won; I heard Mum tell Santa to hurry up. He kissed my forehead and I looked sneakily through my lids. Mum kissed him. I swallow my gasp and hug my secret tight. When Daddy was sick before he went with the angels he said Mum would meet someone special. I thought it was Ben; I wouldn’t have guessed he meant Santa. Ah, just when I was getting to like Ben too. I’ll talk to Tommy tomorrow, I realize I didn’t see Santa Claus properly, but I saw Mum kiss him. That has to count.

    For the first time ever, I’m last up on Christmas Day. Tommy’s in the middle of the sitting room, wrapping paper strewn everywhere, Ben and Mum smiling indulgently. Ben kisses my Mum’s forehead and she snuggles in. I realize I can never tell. That kiss was just Mum’s thank you to Santa.

    1+
    • Susan O'Reilly
      4 January 2019 at 11:54 am

      sorry forgot the word count without the title is 299

      0
  7. 4 January 2019 at 11:15 am

    @ArthurUnkTweets
    https://arthurunk.com
    231 words
    144 – “We opened the gateway to the wrong dimension!”

    Sometimes It Doesn’t End Like You Want It To

    It was a tense moment on the bridge — the culmination of a lifetime of work displayed on the view screen. The crew of the Rasputin trespassed into the military-protected zone a few hours earlier. Dimensional travel was deemed too dangerous, but a gateway bordered on a cardinal sin.

    Captain Han broke the silence. “Ready?”

    “Yes sir,” Jonah replied.

    The process began with a small nod and the push of a button. The silver disc on display spun in quick, complex geometrical patterns. Trails of light bent to the shift in gravity. The ship shuddered as the gravity began to shift.

    The disc disappeared; only a globe of pure darkness remained.

    Han looked towards the ship’s scientific advisor. “What is that, Jonah?”

    “A gravity well, sir, and it’s growing.”

    “Falon, move us away from that thing.”

    “We’re trapped, sir! I can’t back us out,” Falon said.

    “We opened the gateway to the wrong dimension!” Jonah exclaimed.

    The Rasputin plunged into the terrifying unknown.

    Bruce Han opened his eyes to discover he was alone in his chair. A quick scan of the ship confirmed he was the only one aboard. Han activated the distress beacon. The computer revealed that the ship’s location did not match any of the known star charts on file. Panic washed over the Captain as he began a deck by deck search for any clues as to what happened.

    2+
  8. Harrietbelle
    4 January 2019 at 12:08 pm

    212 Words
    150 – Nosy old fart.

    Mrs N.P.

    Mrs Nosey-Parker sets out into the day
    To stick her nose in everything
    And make sure she has her say.
    She listens to conversations
    And if they have a theme
    That Mrs Nosey knows about
    She has to intervene!
    The mothers in the bus queue
    Having their morning chatter
    Do not know the woman behind them
    But, hey, that does not matter!
    As they discuss their babies –
    Really no business of hers –
    She twitches for opportunity
    To stick her nose in theirs!
    She has wisdom on every subject
    From child-birth to death
    And once she’s started holding forth
    She does not stop for breath.
    She talks as if she’s an expert
    Her knowledge quite profound,
    And if anyone tries to argue the case
    She will always stand her ground.
    From gardening to child-care
    From bunions to cancer,
    She knows the score on everything
    And always has the answer.
    If anything is private
    Or not for Nosey’s ears,
    She feels quite frustrated
    Because she always fears
    That if it’s not her they are asking
    How on earth will they sort it out?
    For only she can tell them
    What life is all about!

    For everything and anything
    She surely knows by heart
    And never hears them mutter,
    ‘Sod off, you nosey old fart!’

    2+
    • Harrietbelle
      4 January 2019 at 12:11 pm

      Geoff, before you correct my spelling of ‘Nosey’ I must inform you that I have chosen (as I always do) the U.K English spelling for the word as my preferred spelling as a citizen of this Great United Kingdom!!

      1+
  9. 4 January 2019 at 12:14 pm

    @j_writes_stuff
    298 words
    146 – It’s early days in the history of time travel and teething problems can be expected.

    Porridge

    The message reached me via my breakfast porridge.

    Meet me in the usual place. Tomorrow at two. Herbert.

    The words were etched in the burned residue at the bottom of my saucepan. I threw the pot into the garbage can. No use in trying to clean this mess.

    The usual place was a bench in the park close to my apartment. So the next day at two in the afternoon I was on a high-speed train, leaving the city as far as possible behind me. With my face buried behind a newspaper, I almost felt safe. Then a shadow fell upon me.

    “Is this seat taken?” a well-known voice asked.

    I didn’t answer.

    “You know, I always find you.” Herbert sighed and sat down on the seat opposite mine. “Why don’t you just meet me in the park?”

    I lowered my newspaper and turned to the woman on the other side of the aisle, motioning to take off her headphones. She did and gave me a questioning look.

    “Excuse me, is the seat opposite mine taken?” I asked.

    The woman raised an eyebrow.

    “I mean, I think the guy who sat there left his backpack or something,” I explained to her. “Could you check?”

    The woman leaned over and examined the seat occupied by Herbert.

    “Nope, nothing there,” she said. As she put her headphones back on, I finally acknowledged my pursuer.

    “That enough of an answer for you?”

    “Oh, you still think I’m a hallucination?” Herbert sounded seriously offended. “Just because no one else can see me?”

    “Yes,” I snapped. “And ‘cause you follow me and ‘cause you leave ominous messages in my fucking porridge!”

    “I’ve told you before,” Herbert spoke calmly, “It’s early days in the history of time travel and teething problems can be expected!”

    4+
  10. 4 January 2019 at 12:47 pm

    298 words
    146 – It’s early days in the history of time travel and teething problems can be expected.

    Adrift on the Seas of Time

    Have you ever fancied a do-over? An honest-to-God total reworking of your life so far? The kind of thing where everything stops, gets taken apart, then gets reassembled just the way you want it? I did. I went back in time, fixed a few things for the better, or at least thought I had and I’ve regretted it ever since.

    The funny thing about time travel is that you can’t prove whether or not it exists. Time travellers are shady creatures who don’t go looking for attention. They are intent on one of two things – either examining the past from a historical perspective or meddling in the flow of time. I accidentally come across a time traveller and was fortunate enough to be taken on as a temporary companion. I soon found that I needed to learn an entirely new vocabulary and syntax to enable me to cope with the dizzying complexities of travel through time, what with all the ‘back to the future’ and ‘forward to the past’ malarky.

    From where I stand, it’s early days in the history of time travel and teething problems can be expected. My mentor was from my near future. In some complicated way, he’d inherited his time machine from an ancestor… Don’t ask! Anyway, he agreed to help me rearrange my life. A nudge here, a decision changed there, anything to improve my lot. I had it all planned out to improve my future prospects, but to no avail. Everything I tried seem to loop endlessly back to my becoming a time traveller. My former ordinary life was over. I had become a man out of time. Doomed to continuously finesse my life’s decisions yet never reach a satisfactory conclusion. Now a time traveller, adrift on the seas of time.

    2+
  11. Ted Young
    4 January 2019 at 1:38 pm

    287 words
    149 – Tell me everything! Our readers demand it!

    The Kid Done Good

    The kid had imagination: he could get a story out of anything, he ran the college magazine. So it was was no surprise that he landed a job with the local rag.

    He served his time as a tea boy, sweeper-up, message-runner and all-round dogsbody – knocking all the glamour out of journalism.
    Then old ‘Digger Knowles’ died, leaving the obituary column begging. The kid was offered the opportunity, but he nearly lost it – and his job – by kissing the editor, ‘Crazy-Horse’ Malone, on his bald head.

    For weeks, the kid went about the job with as much flair and creativity possible; the only joy was seeing his name, Billy Penfold, emblazoned at the end of his column.

    Then it happened that a ‘Notable’ died: an alderman, no less, and Billy was on the case. As the man was a biggish fish, the kid employed his long-buried skills to find the real man obscured beneath the whitewash. Secretaries, party activists, even family members fell to the personable probing of this charming young man.

    As he sat on his Lambretta scooter afterwards, Billy’s conscience battled with his ambition. Alderman Wellbent, although well respected, was a lecherous, thieving villain. What do you do with stuff like that?

    I’ll tell you what Billy did. He wrote two versions of the story – one prettied up, one factual – both of which he presented to Crazy-Horse.
    “I daren’t use this, Guv,” said Billy, waving the hatchet job under the editor’s nose.

    “Tell me everything! Our readers demand it!” bellowed Malone.

    So with the reckless speed and grace of an off-road nun, ‘Billy the Kid’ made it to the top.

    The moral of this story is…they’re hard to find in tabloids.

    2+
  12. susan
    4 January 2019 at 2:07 pm

    x

    0
  13. Sarah Mosedale
    4 January 2019 at 2:18 pm

    @mosed14
    291 words
    143 – There were always interesting treats lurking in his pocket.

    Butterfly Wings

    There were always interesting treats lurking in his pocket. That wasn’t why they visited him, not at all. No, they felt a bit sorry for him, and since he was the lollipop man at their primary school, he was harmless, surely? They were nice small-town girls, Brownies, well brought up, doing well at school. He was ancient to them, a tall, ruddy-faced, stooped man who always had a big smile and a friendly word as he shepherded them across the main road to the school gate, often pressing wrapped toffees into their hands as he waved them off.

    They weren’t sure how to respond when he started inviting them round to his house. It seemed a bit odd, they couldn’t understand why. One of them asked her mum about it. Her mum thought it would be fine, if they wanted to go; but if they didn’t want to go, that would be fine too. She explained he was probably lonely since his wife died. So they talked it over and decided to go. It seemed like it would be a kind thing to do, and they were in favour of being kind, if it wasn’t too much bother.

    His house was small, a bit scruffy, nothing special. They went two or three times but it felt awkward; they didn’t really know what to do in an adult’s house when there were no other children to play with. One day he gave one of them a book. It was The Complete Works of Shakespeare, tiny type on brown, tobacco-scented pages as thin as butterfly wings, of no interest whatsoever, even to a ten-year-old as bookish as this one. She felt embarrassed, thanked him as well as she could. They didn’t go back.

    1+
  14. Deanna Salser
    4 January 2019 at 5:07 pm

    @beadanna7
    300 words
    146 – It’s early days in the history of time travel and teething problems can be expected.

    Too Many of Me

    Of all the things I had been warned to expect, meeting myself was not one of them. Sure, I had read the manual, and it wasn’t like I wasn’t experienced; I was. I had done this half a dozen times, with perfect results. But this time was different from the get-go.

    The standard warnings were about things like temporal backlash and timeline prepping, but I had done my homework. The math worked out beautifully every time I modeled it, so I saved the program to my flash and headed for the temporal displacement grid.

    With a green light in my headgear, I plugged in my flash and clicked on the program. Immediately I knew something was wrong. The pain was so intense I passed out, and I must have thrown up, because I woke up lying in a pool of cold puke.

    “Well,” I told myself as I cleaned up in a gas station bathroom. “It’s early days in the history of time travel and teething problems can be expected.” But this baby had sharp teeth, because the person waiting for the bathroom was me.

    As soon as I saw him, he flew apart, his particles streaming into my body, each one slamming into me with the force of a Mack truck. I stood there, trying to get my breath back, when another me walked around the corner. I held my breath but the pain forced it out of me, again and again. As soon as I could breathe, I ran. I avoided eye contact with everyone I passed, but each one was unmistakably me. I couldn’t take much more incorporation. The next one would kill me, surely. Then she stepped out in front of me and our eyes met. Eyes wide open, I watched my molecules leaving me.

    Ouchie.

    3+
  15. 4 January 2019 at 5:42 pm

    @alysia_ascovani
    300 Words
    152 – Hurt anything enough and it will hurt you back.

    Fragile

    “We’re done here.” She twisted my wrist sharply as she freed herself and ran to the front door.

    “Wait! I’m sorry.” I raised my uninjured hand to stop her from leaving. I’d screwed up, I realize that, but I can’t lose her.

    She turned back, halfway down the steps, her eyes cold, shockingly unlike her. “Why should I stay? You don’t care about me.”

    “I do! Jenny, I love you!” My voice was so smooth, I wasn’t sure if I believed me.

    “No, if you loved me, you’d act like it. People don’t treat those they love the way you treat me.”

    I clenched my fists. “You don’t understand. I didn’t mean to, you mean everything to me.”

    She shook her head, her eyes slightly softer. “I’ve already given you three chances. For my sake, I can’t give you a fourth. I’m worth more than how you see me, I know that now. I won’t let you take that from me again.”

    “I can do better, I swear.”

    “No, I’m sorry, Mason, but I don’t believe you anymore. You say that every time. I hope you get help, hope you become a better person. But I can’t be with you. I need to be away from you in order to help myself. I hope someday you understand that.”

    She walked down the rest of the front steps to the street, her hand on her car door as she looked back at me. “I’m sorry, but this is goodbye.”

    I stood, frozen, watching her get ready to drive away, trying to think of how to stop her. But I didn’t know how.

    She looked back through the window, then pointedly looked forwards.

    I rubbed my wrist as I watched her go.

    Apparently, if you hurt anyone enough, she’ll hurt you back.

    2+
  16. Heidi MacDonald
    4 January 2019 at 9:30 pm

    296 words
    148 – Is that why you hate cabbage so much?

    The Whole Story, With Emphasis, Comes Out

    “Dad, you haven’t touched your cabbage rolls,” I said. “Is there something wrong with them?”

    “No, I’m sure they’re fine. I’m just not too hungry tonight,” Dad replied. But a painful grimace toward his plate revealed his true feelings.

    Mom and I were devouring our cabbage rolls but my dad wouldn’t touch them. He just made a face at his plate like it was painful to even look at. He ended up having dessert for supper that evening – apple pie and ice cream – a somewhat balanced meal, although over-balanced in the “sweet” category.

    After supper, I washed dishes while Dad sat at the kitchen table reading a copy of ‘Nebraska Farmer’ magazine. My mind was bugging me. I just had to know.

    “So…why won’t you eat cabbage rolls?”

    That pained grimace passed over his face again. He regained his calm composure and allowed himself to reveal a story from his boyhood in Germany, growing up during World War I.

    “I don’t like bringing up the War Years,” he began. He looked right into my eyes as if he was going to burn this memory of his into mine. “You know that when I was growing up in Germany, the War was going on. There was no food, nothing at all, except cabbage. It was cabbage soup for breakfast, cabbage soup for lunch, and cabbage soup for supper. Cabbage, cabbage, cabbage…NOTHING but cabbage!” He grimaced again, like the memory was leaving a taste in his mouth that reeked of cabbage.

    “And that’s why you hate cabbage so much?” I asked.

    “Yah, and don’t ever try to feed me cabbage again!” he firmly stated. Then he smiled…and farted – right through his farmer overalls – just so I wouldn’t forget!

    3+
    • 5 January 2019 at 2:01 pm

      Duly noted. I will likely be eating cabbage rolls tonight at our annual Denman Island Ukrainian Christmas dinner. I will avoid going back for seconds.

      0
  17. TEXAS MACDONALD
    5 January 2019 at 1:14 am

    Sounds like my kinda fella, they say a Farting horse never tires so a Farting man is the man to hire!. great story.. Texas..

    1+

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