Microcosms 130

Feeling fit for a Friday flash fiction frolic? Welcome to Microcosms 130 — the first post of the third quarter of the year.

Apologies for the lack of reminder tweets about the MC 129 Contest last week — this was entirely down to me, not KM. I’ve set up a calendar reminder now, so this should not be a problem in future.


*** Please read the instructions carefully – ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE NEW TO MICROCOSMS ***

As is customary on the cusp of a new quarter, I’ve been looking back at the Results posts during the previous quarter. I’ve selected one of the favourite / favorite lines chosen by the judge in each of the 13 contests.

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:


117 – I measured time in cigarettes.

118 – Skin is weird.

119 – He didn’t look back as they dragged him away.

120 – He continued, resurrecting a smile.

121 – If you’re not there, you can’t put your foot in it.

122 – Oh, I’m sorry…did you think I worked for God?

123 – Everything was the same, right down to the missing mummy.

124 – That tea was mostly whisky; the woman had class.

125 – It must be ‘Bring a Nutter to Work’ Day.

126 – When you are tired of being alone and want someone to enjoy some vino with.

127 – I turn around and notice a person standing on the opposite sidewalk, just…watching.

128 – I’d like to say I did everything by the book, but that would be a lie.

129 – Around then, I’d had my nervous breakdown.



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


*** You may change the chosen line(s) slightly – names, gender, tense, punctuation, etc. – but it must still be fairly recognisable. 

*** Please tell us the word count and the favourite / favorite line(s) you have chosen.

*** There’s no need to specify character, location and genre this time round — you have free rein.

*** Don’t forget to give your entry a title — and don’t end the title with a full stop/period.





Judging this week is Microcosms 129 Community & Judge’s Pick, Nikky Olivier.

All submissions should be a maximum of 300 words in length, excluding the title.

You have just 24 hours until midnight TODAY (Friday, 07-JUL), 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 131
Microcosms 129

21 thoughts on “Microcosms 130

  1. @billmelaterplea
    298 unexpected drops of blood
    117 – I measured time in cigarettes.
    128 – I’d like to say I did everything by the book, but that would be a lie.

    The Blood Flowed Like A Rampaging River

    It was supposed to be a simple tail. I was at the ass end of my career and there wasn’t much I was interested in. Just getting by. Not a lot to ask.

    The client was a depressing little man with an arm brace. “Carpal tunnel,” he whined. He also squeaked when he talked. “I have to know,” he said. “I don’t want to, but I have to.”

    I didn’t feed him any condolences cookies. I told him my rate and that I’d do the dirty. “You want pictures?” I asked. They always want pictures, even when they say they don’t.

    The best he could do was nod. And write the cheque.

    He gave me a polaroid, told me where I’d find her. The Yoga Palace. Tuesday mornings. Ten.

    He left, and I poured two fingers of brandy, lit a Camel, and sucked in the searing smoke. In four minutes, I drained the jigger and fieldstripped the butt.

    I measure time in cigarettes. Drinking is too unreliable.

    Tuesday rolled around. So did she. She looked a little sharper than the photo he gave me. 5’ 6, maybe. Paper-bag brown hair. Her skin looked good.

    She bailed yoga at noon, drove out into the valley, parked at the head of a cul-de-sac, walked casually up to split-level, went in.

    I’d like to say I did everything by the book, but that would be a lie. I should have given it another day or two. Instead, I rushed it, slithered along the side of the house, peeked into what I thought was the bedroom, saw the kid, fifteen, sixteen maybe, naked, grinning, waiting, hungry…where was she, I thought? Where the hell?

    The camera was at the ready when she jumped me…slashed my throat…deep…and my blood flowed like a rampaging river.

  2. Twitter: @GeoffHolme
    244 words
    119 – He didn’t look back as they dragged him away.
    128 – I’d like to say I did everything by the book, but that would be a lie.

    Just for Fun Entry.

    Those of you with Twitter accounts may be aware of the daily #vss365 challenge, begun a couple of years back by @FlashDogs. Each day, you are given a new prompt word that you must incorporate into a tweet-sized (maximum of 280 characters) “story” or poem.

    Steph Ellis provided the prompts during June. Here’s a slightly-amended version of a story I recently tweeted as a thread that incorporated all 30 of them (highlighted). It has a darker edge to it, courtesy of my two chosen lines for MC 130.

    Neighbors from Hell, MI

    There’s a procedure for dealing with neighbor disputes. I’d like to say I did everything by the book, but that would be a lie…

    In summer, I never open the bedroom blind without a shudder. I always dread just what I see now — my neighbors, Jolene and Jeb, in their backyard, preparing yet another BBQ.

    I idly wonder how many forests were denuded to provide the charcoal that fuels these endless primeval feasts.

    Paws rubs up against my leg and meows for milk. Her tail dangles between her legs, the swell in her belly uncomfortable in this heat. I scratch her ear, and we make for the kitchen.


    When guests begin to arrive next door, the heavy metal starts. My fists clench tightly at the raucous roar as they ramp the amp on their sound system up to 11; they may as well be hammering sixinchnails… into my skull. My vision begins to blur.

    I visualise Jeb trying to break up his brawling buddies as tension brims over, leaving the grill to become a fiery pyre, cremating assorted animal parts, and puckering bacon slices into black, inedible shards, impossible to swallow.

    I head for the bathroom, run a cool bath and light scented candles, their pale, lambent flames conjuring relaxing images. I lean back and close my eyes.

    Then the gunfire and screaming starts…

    I didn’t look back as the officers dragged me away. I hope someone is looking after Paws.

  3. @VicenteLRuiz
    283 words
    122 – Oh, I’m sorry…did you think I worked for God?
    128 – I’d like to say I did everything by the book, but that would be a lie.

    A Difference Of Opinions

    Nakir split blood and shook his head.

    “I’d like to say I’d do this by the book,” he said, “but that would be a lie. This is going to hurt you, Aphaeleon.”

    “I didn’t even have to use my wings, Nakir,” Aphaeleon said.

    Nakir lurched ahead. Aphaeleon was expecting the move and started dodging, but at the last moment Nakir moved impossibly fast and hit him with his legs. Aphaeleon fell backwards; Nakir was upon him before he could stand up.

    To the outside world, they were just two men enjoying the early spring sun while having coffee and croissants at a Paris café. But had anyone Gifted with the Sight been around, oh what they would have Seen. It’s not every day that you get to watch two angels fighting. Not a usual occurrence, some would say.

    Nakir held one of Aphaeleon’s wrists.

    “You’re coming with me. You’ve been summoned!”

    Aphaeleon didn’t answer. Instead, he spread his wings, and then contorted his body, so that he turned around on the spot.

    “Where did you learn…?” Nakir started saying. Aphaeleon’s knee on his chin made him shut up and reel back.

    Aphaeleon pushed on, hitting Nakir with his feet once, twice. Three times. Nakir fell.

    Aphaeleon waited, and sure enough, Nakir also spread his wings and slowly rose.

    “You have been summoned,” he whispered. Blood dripped from his lip, cheekbone and left arm. “You’re coming with me.”

    Aphaeleon shook his mane, and his flaming sword appeared by his side.

    “I’m sorry…did you think I worked for God?” he said. “I’m a free agent now. You didn’t know? Ah, that’s why they sent you. That’s the way they work. Well, catch me if you can.”

  4. Twitter: @steveweave71
    300 words
    121 – If you’re not there, you can’t put your foot in it.

    Done Up Like A Kipper

    Lady Agatha lounged on the sofa, staring intently at the butler’s buttocks as he stooped to retrieve an envelope that had slipped off her lap on to a quite beautiful rug.

    “Exquisite,” she said, absentmindedly.

    “I’ve always thought that, Agatha,” responded her friend, Lady Daphne.

    They were talking of rug or buttocks? Who knew?

    The butler, Goodbody, handed the envelope to her Ladyship, poured sherries for the ladies and left the room. Coming towards him down the corridor and breaking wind like a rhino was Lord Rodney Kipper. His Lordship popped into the room where his wife and Lady Daphne sat talking.

    He nodded meekly at Daphne then turned to his wife. He couldn’t stand either woman. “Just off to the village. I–”

    “It’s noon,” Agatha interrupted. “You’re going to The Haunted Poacher, like every lunchtime.”

    “May just pop in for a livener, won’t be back for luncheon.”

    Agatha passed him the envelope. “Happy Christmas. Open it at the pub, you’ll need a whisky.”

    Rodney was taken aback. “Sorry, old girl. Didn’t get you anything. I say, are these tickets for that cruise you spoke of? Greek Islands? Crete, Rhodes and… er… Clitoris?”

    The ladies roared. Agatha said, “If it were Clitoris, you’d never find it.”

    Rodney stuffed it into a jacket pocket and left huffily, although his mood brightened the further he got away from that room. By the time he was halfway down the drive, there was a positive skip in his step and he began singing loudly:

    “If you’re not there, you can’t put your foot in it,
    Yes, if you’re not there, you can’t put your foot in it. Lalalala…”

    Daphne looked over at Agatha. “He didn’t realise it is mid-May and, therefore, nowhere near Christmas, Aggie. You gifted him the divorce papers, didn’t you, dear?”

  5. 300 words
    117 – I measured time in cigarettes.

    Hold ’em Stakes and Wedded Bliss

    I measured time in cigarettes. The sun was rising faster today. At high noon the axe would fall. Or so the Injuns would say. I spat on the ground and looked around me at the carnage of last night’s festivities. One-ear Jim was sprawled across the bar with his mouth agape. A fly buzzed nearby, debating whether to make his home in Jim’s mouth. Jim snorted. The fly scrammed. Billy nicknamed “the Goat” instead of “the Kid” for obvious reasons, was tucked away between the bosom of Sally, the Saloon singer. “Good for him, “I thought, then broke out in a cold sweat at the thought of my fate this damned day.

    She was a wily one, for sure. Looked as sweet as sugar on the outside but was as shifty as a fox on the inside. Drank tea and quilted with the other ladies but few knew that her teacup held mostly whisky; the woman had class. I am a simple man with simple needs, but she was having none of that. She wanted to expand the farm. Buy more heifers. She planned this day by beating my hand in Texas Hold’em. She told me to be at the town hall at twelve sharp. It was almost that now. I needed a shave, but the barber lay dead drunk behind the bar counter. Well, tough. She would just have to take me as I am.

    I walked towards the hall, my heart thumping in time with my steps. My mouth was drier than if I drunk a bottle on my own, which I had last night, come to think of it. I opened the door and took off my hat. She stood there in front waiting with the vicar. I would ride off into this sunset a married man.

  6. 237 words
    126 – When you’re tired of being alone and want someone to enjoy some vino with.

    The Rhythm of Life

    They had put their trust in the rhythm method; then along came syncopation, followed by the inconvenience of… me.

    My ‘Old Man’ came from the generation that never knew the luxury of a zip fly; he was a ‘correct me if you’re wrong’ kind of guy, who used truth like a knuckle duster, and honesty as a tactic.

    It was expected by everybody but me that I should join the family firm of cobblers, a prospect that never entered my bucket list.

    I didn’t set out to be a villain, but after many incarcerations — culminating in Hull Prison on the ridiculous charge of mowing down a Police Constable whilst riding a stolen bicycle — I learned enough to swallow what was left of my pride and return to ‘Cobblerville’… wild oats sown, lessons learned.

    I never received praise, encouragement or appreciation from the Old Man or his soppy brother, but punters would wait for me to be available. I can’t deny that felt… good.

    I sit at the graveside of an Irish fella who gave me time and an interested ear when I was a kid; so when I’m tired of being alone and want someone to enjoy some vino with, I go there and take comfort from his wisdom.

    With the Old Man now dead, and his brother as good as, I run the business. It’s doing well.

    My sons aren’t interest. We’ll see. It’s all cobblers anyway.

  7. @geofflepard
    299 words
    118 – Skin is weird.
    127 – I turned around and notice a person on the opposite sidewalk, just…watching.

    When Keenness Is Next To Godliness In The Celestial Plan

    I’ve always been keen. Keen on school, on Marjory Turnpike’s dimples, chess, Marjory Turnpike’s increasing bust… you perhaps get the picture. We married and I became keen on my shed and my bicycle.

    Keenness comes with a consequence. You volunteered a lot. It was inevitable that when Bolton-on-Sleeze decided it needed a greater provision for cyclists I would be involved. That morphed into a ‘reclaim the streets’ campaign led by Crichton ‘call me Rich’ D’Arbney.

    There are 12 of us ready to go when Rich announces ‘We ride in the buff.’

    I look around. No one protests, beyond the odd twang of disgruntled Lycra. Rich isn’t the sort to be contradicted.

    As Bolton has a micro-climate twinned with Stavanger it is unlikely there will be spectators. We strip off, careful to face outwards, avoiding what lies beneath. Skin is weird, and we epitomise that variety from Jonjo’s taught cotton to Albert’s recycled polythene. Our flesh tones range across the Dulux ‘with a hint of’ spectrum.

    It’s then I notice this person on the other pavement… just watching. Smiling. Laughing. Marjory.

    Our marriage has been underpinned by minimal exposure (apart from the Great Southend Embarrassment of 2001). Marjory has never seen one buttock let alone both. So much exposure renders her blind to identity. We are just so much flesh. Keeping my gaze high and my bladder taut, I watch her take a flyer and go. I’m all a tizz. But in an interesting way.

    She turns up every Friday, once with the South Crumblewold Knitting Circle, then her Darn and Yarn book group. I am one of several bottoms, the subject of her ribaldry.

    We both enjoy Friday nights. Occasionally I make cocoa with a chocolate digestive dunker while she loosens her corsets. Life is good.

  8. 300 words
    118 – Skin is weird.
    127 – I turn around and notice a person standing on the opposite sidewalk, just…watching.

    Done Manifesting

    I turned around and noticed a person standing on the opposite sidewalk, just… watching. Watching what though? That was the question. Actually, that was the second question. It wasn’t clear from this distance whether it was a man or a woman who was staring in my direction or what exactly it was that was being stared at. I suspected that I was the subject of his or hers interest. Things hadn’t been going that well of late. Sometimes it was the arms or legs that went wrong, I usually manifested the correct number but somehow they didn’t turn out quite right. I ran a quick inventory… Left leg? OK. Right leg? OK. Feet? Check, two, and they were even pointing in the correct direction, forward. Arms? Check, two, present and correct. Hands? Two, one on each arm.

    Being a demon living in a human world can be difficult. Humans have such a restricted repertoire, they pretty much all look the same. Demons? Well, we’re a mixed bunch and come in an assortment of imaginative shapes. Occasionally it’s all too easy to overlook that extra limb, or eye, or set of wings. Oh God, it wasn’t the wings again? Nope, must be something smaller, less significant. I looked at my reflection in a nearby shop window. At first glance everything looked fine. I was looking at the image of a regular human male, nothing seemed out of place. Then I realised. It’s happened to me before, skin is weird. At least I’d got the colour right, if not the shade. Although I have to say it worked out OK that St Patrick’s Day when I’d come out green. I always find shades of red difficult and have never understood this human affinity for fleshy pink. What was wrong with bright crimson?

    1. What a devilish tail — Oops! No, that’s fine too — tale, Tim. Good job.
      [ I might, though, have had a new paragraph after “It’s happened to me before”; then “Skin is weird.” would be a separate sentence, as per your chosen prompt. 🙂 ]

  9. @el_Stevie

    277 words
    118 – Skin is weird.

    Life and Death

    “Your skin is weird,” Marcus said, firing up the ink gun yet again. He had made more than one attempt at the design his customer had chosen but the skin repelled the tools of his trade, the ink refusing to bond with flesh.

    “Perhaps you’re not as good as you claim,” said the man, his arm remaining resolutely virginal. “Try again.”

    Once more the gun was applied to flesh and once more the droplets dispersed into the ether.

    “Again,” said his customer, at this apparent failure. “Again.”

    His insistence kept Marcus’s attention focussed on the arm until a grunt behind him made him jump. He straightened and turned, noticing for the first time the trail of ink on the floor. The drops wriggled amoeba-like towards something slowly forming before him. At present it only had the trace of an outline but gradually took on a greater solidity as the drops rose up to coat it with colour. He shook his head, an illusion, a left-over from whatever he’d injected the night before. But his hand trembled as he returned to his customer, tried yet again to create the requested image.

    “I can’t,” he finally whispered, ashamed at his failure.

    “Can’t? Take another look. Haven’t people always said how your tattoos look as if they’re alive? I thought I’d come and see for myself.” The man’s eyes had a reddish tinge, his breath a hint of sulphur.

    Marcus turned around, every bit of ink he had spilt in his vain attempts at tattooing the man’s flesh had combined into the vision before him. His design was living, breathing … a condition they shared, but only for short while.

  10. 299 words
    122 – “Oh, I’m sorry…did you think I worked for G-d?”

    A Face Like an Angel

    The scene was gruesome; Ellie hadn’t been aware that so much blood could fit into a human body. But it was all out there like water spilled from a bath, crimson and maroon and red so deep that it was almost purple. Lovely, really. In a strange way it made her think of birthday balloons, and then she was vomiting.

    Zach was already bent over Edmund, wrapping his jacket around the gaping hole in the middle of Edmund’s body. Ellie found that she couldn’t look back at her brother’s mangled form. The vomit all left her, tonight’s lovely, romantic dinner, her three cups of coffee, and then there was bile and then she was just dry heaving. “Do something,” she heard herself choke out. “Something, Zach. Do something.”

    “I am doing something.”

    “He’s dying, Zach!”

    “You stab your brother, and somehow it’s my fault that he’s dying?”

    “He would’ve told our father! It would’ve ruined everything! But this–this is worse–you said you could do anything, save anyone–”

    “Oh, I’m sorry…did you think I worked for G-d?”

    “You said you did!”

    “I lied, Elizabeth!”

    “You lied?”

    “Hey, you lied to your father about us! Is saying I work for G-d so wrong?!”

    “Who lies about being an angel?”

    “Me, apparently! I thought it would be worth it, to get with you–looks like I was wrong–”

    Ellie was heaving again. Her brother was dying, and her boyfriend was a liar to boot–but the sex had been so good, and she loved him, she really did–

    “Where do we go from here?” she begged.

    Zach looked up from Edmund, making electric eye contact with her. He looked like he was grieving. “I love you, Elizabeth.”


    The air was heavy with the smell of blood. Balloons, Ellie thought, balloons and sex.

  11. 274 words
    123 – Everything was the same, right down to the missing mummy.
    120 – He continued, resurrecting a smile.


    Mike backed out of the cavern with the empty sarcophagus, and turning, grimaced with fear as he made a split second decision and chose the left fork, following the tunnel toward what he hoped was the way out. He had suspected he was lost for the last hour but had been keeping the thought from his brain as if he could keep the knowledge from entering as well. So far, it was working. He wasn’t even thinking about being lost as the walls of the tunnel closed in alarmingly, making him have to twist uncomfortably sideways to squeeze through. He stopped to examine his chest through the rent in his shirt. A few bloody scrapes, that was all. His heart leapt when he saw the familiar tag at the entrance to the next chamber, but when he stepped under the archway, it became all too clear he was going in circles. Everything was the same, right down to the missing mummy. Exhausted, he put out a hand and leaned against the smooth cavern wall. His hand sank in before he could yank it away, and he was startled into breathlessness by the mummy appearing like a crypt keepers jack in the box, from the wall by his head. He screamed, a high, thin sound, like air being forced out of the narrowed neck of a balloon. He felt light-headed and knew he was going to faint. He swooped air in and out like a bellows, until the feeling went away. Ignoring the obscenely grinning mummy dangling before him, he continued, resurrecting a smile of hope as he staggered blindly off into the damp lightlessness.

  12. 298 words
    117 – I measured time in cigarettes.
    119 – He didn’t look back as they dragged him away.

    Smoke under the Ceiling

    It was one of those days when I didn’t know what to do with myself. Sitting in my favourite armchair, I measured time in cigarettes. The cloud of smoke lingering just under the ceiling made me think of German district of Ruhr, an area my mother – not German in any way – always mentioned when she wanted to point out how polluted something was.

    Just as I had resigned myself to the possibility that this was as exciting as the day was going to get, the shouting started in the street below my window.

    I could see the police surrounding the building across the street. There, on the ledge, was a man without even a leaf to cover him up, waving his arms and shouting incoherently. Through my closed window, I could hear him yell snippets from the Bible, the winning numbers in the latest Lotto draw and possibly the table of contents from a Rice Crispies box. As long as he didn’t start to sing “I believe I can fly” as that would have been worrying in his current position.

    Suddenly our eyes met, and he smiled and waved at me, losing his balance a few seconds, but regained it again. While he had been shouting earlier, everyone watching him did the same for that brief moment when he flapped his arms like a baby bird. We all sighed with relief as he regained his balance.

    An arm shoots out through a window grabbing the man who either wants to jump or have attention. As they drag him through the window, I hear him holler the names of the streets in the neighbourhood. He didn’t look back as they dragged him away, and I, I returned to staring at the smoke lingering just under the ceiling.

  13. Twitter: @The_Red_Fleece
    290 Words
    124 – That tea was mostly whisky; the woman had class.

    Burger Time

    “Did you find her?”
    I bite into my burger. Whatever the hell burger sauce is, dripped between the patties and onto the plastic table top. Not her style at all. Her dinner was whisky; the woman had class. The burger joint didn’t, but I wanted this conversation to happen on my turf.
    “Well?” Her paper cups is placed with precision next to my burger sauce stain. Someone over my shoulder turns the blinds, bringing dusk into the room.
    I swallow my latest bite. “Sort of.”
    “How do you sort of find someone?” She brushes red hair from in front of her face to behind her ear. The movement as smooth as her voice.
    “Oh, I found her. Quite quickly. The issue is more who she is.” I paused, waiting for the confession which will never come. I have another two bites before filling in the gap.
    “She isn’t your daughter. She was your lover, who left you for good reasons from what she told me. Not that I’m one to judge.”
    My client doesn’t do or say anything. Everything is happening in her head, working out her next course of action. I put a fifty on her reaching for her dinner. A bite later, I keep my bet. Once the cup is back where it started, movement ceases again. She has until my burger is finished.
    I wipe my mouth clean, scrunch the napkin into a ball and leave it to reform where my burger once sat. “Seems like our business is done. I’ll send through the final bill in the morning.”
    “Final bill?” Her usual smoothness cracks.
    “Aye. Unlike the movies, my life continues once I walk out of the door.”

  14. 299 words
    119 – He didn’t look back as they dragged him away.

    Corridor of Time

    It was such a peaceful September day with that glorious haziness that comes to England at this time of the year. In my mind’s eye, I looked back across the mellow mistiness of time to watch her as she struggled with her captors.

    Her small size was no match for those giants and, although she bellowed loudly and tried to root her feet to the ground, she was incapable of resisting and she knew it.

    She did not look back as they dragged her away, and I wondered, as I watched from the distance of time, why that was?

    After all, her whole world was behind her, encapsulated in the only woman she had ever really known and loved. And in front of her, a long unknown corridor leading to a long unknown future… alone.

    She was scared… very scared, I know that. And she was helpless because she lived in a world where the big guys were in charge and she was not.

    Before this moment in time, it had been so easy.

    She had known who the bosses were and understood the few rules she had had to learn. Most of all, she knew she was loved and that she belonged.

    But now all that had gone and she was thrown out into the abyss with other people taking over and a whole way of life that she had still to learn… and learn fast in order to survive.

    A voice broke into my reverie, bringing me back to the here and now.

    ‘We are waiting for you, Margaret.’

    I turned and smiled at the eager face looking at me.

    “Yes… sure… just needed a moment to collect my thoughts!”

    I followed her through the door and walked down that long remembered corridor…

    My first day as Head Teacher of Alumwell Infants School.

  15. 299 words
    120 – He continued, resurrecting a smile.

    Devil’s Pawnshop

    I stumbled in tentatively, pensive of the misery that led me to this godforsaken hole of a place. The smell of rotten apples and the dim light of the creaking shop made bile gather behind my throat. Hell must be here, and it is its Lord who’s sitting in the middle with three cigarettes sticking out his mouth.
    He was doing his crossword when I saw him.
    The ancient floorboards creaked under my weight, and he lifted his greasy head to see the intruder.
    I managed a shy ‘Hello’ and waited for any response from him.
    He nodded and flicked his cigarettes, leaving his pen and newspaper on the table, fixing me with an amused gaze.
    My heart was almost exploding and the words were all tangled in my throat.
    The corner of his mouth sloped upward and his husky voice traveled to my ear. “Are you gonna stand there all day looking flustered and watch me with that frenzied look?”
    I tried to talk, but my voice came out rough. The guy was laughing now. “Damn, you look like you’re about to have your soul sucked. Would you relax and come sit here like a civil person? You’re not the first or the last person who’s been through that door, so no need to worry.”
    I gained a smidgen of courage and sat across the table from him.
    “Ummm, my wife’s dead, sir, and I want her back.”
    He shook his head unimpressed. “Can’t do.”
    I started blubbering. “But you’re the devil. Why not?”
    He lost his temper for a second. “Do you know how hard it is to bring a soul back from heaven? No puny soul is worth that trouble,” he continued, resurrecting a smile. “But what’s your take on sacrifices? Say seven lives for one?”

  16. 297 words
    129 – Around then, I’d had my nervous breakdown.


    The car purrs, matching my simmering irritation.
    Gritting my teeth, I force a smile and raise my fingers in a slight wave then let them drop with a quick thud against the steering wheel.
    Thomas barely has the chance to wave back before I peel out, not wanting one more second of his attempt at a cheery but sophisticated smile that is just plain creepy.
    I slip on the radio, cranking the volume up to 14, blasting a new pop song. The previous hours replay in my head as I cruise along the highway, tapping my fingers along with the beat. Terrible luck. I have terrible luck with dates. Especially this year. Thomas seemed promising, he really did. Now I am regretting giving him my phone number. Why on Earth hadn’t I excused myself to the restroom, or found some other way to get one peaceful breath? Because I was trying to be nice. Instead, I just sat through three hours of “getting to know each other theories”. No, no let me rephrase that: “me getting to know him theories”.
    He went on and on about “questioning if time is actually a true form of living or an illusion played by imagination because the human mind can only comprehend so much and…”
    That was the first hour. Don’t get me started on the second, or nearing the third hour because around then, I’d had my nervous breakdown. I couldn’t take anymore, so I told them that I had to meet my mother somewhere (a total lie but he was zoned out anyways) my phone buzzes and I know for a fact it’s Thomas asking when I’m free next. You know what? I’m done being nice, I deserve better than the last eight. Actually make that nine now.

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