Week 27: Prompt

Hello there.

This week’s prompt is brought to you by regular contributor Sunil Sharma.
To quote him directly (so you can get the full feel of the prompt):

The Voice
Heard on a bus, train, tram; or radio show or on phone or an ad on TV. Voice that leaves one mesmerized!

So have at it, dear writers. Let’s “hear” what you can do.

bDQQM17AN

Week 24: Prompt

mswk24

A little late this week because, well, Mondays. Yesterday was a bit more tiresome than usual due to my classes starting up again and the fact that I am from Jacksonville. It has given me a lot to think about, regarding gun rights and violence and racial disparity. I will write about it elsewhere but essentially I am just saying, I absolutely lost track of time. It happens.

This week, due to my own hectic schedule and a suggestion from a contributor, I am changing the rules a bit. Double-double, two weeks, 1000 words. This prompt is very specific. Write about someone who is the last of something, anything you like, but something. Like maybe they are the last hot dog seller or the last member of a royal dynasty. Think about how it would feel to be the last of something, to know that no one after you will do what you do or think how you think. Once you figure out what your character is the last of, then I think the story will practically self-construct.

In a few days, I will make an announcement about some changes to Mercurial Stories but until then, focus on your stories. With so much time and so much space, I am expecting great narratives from you all (or as we say in Jacksonville (aka Jax), y’all).

Get writing.

Week 14/15: Prompt

Hi there.

For the next two weeks, I will be busy with other projects so I have decided to do something different here. I am going to double the amount of words and time you have. 1000 words due April 12th, 8 pm EST. Send to the usual place: mercurialstories@gmail.com.

And the prompt, which seems appropriate considering the double nature of this assignment: twins, in whatever shape or form appeals to you. If you need a suggestion, one idea is that you write 500 words from one twin’s perspective and 500 words from the other’s. Again, just a suggestion. Do what you like and enjoy the extra time and length.

I will see you in two weeks. Happy April.

And, because I will not be here, I went ahead and put the playlist together.

Volume 1 Issue 13: Jokes

This week we only have two stories, Last Joke by returning contributor Alex Carrigan and my own. This week’s prompt was a little difficult and I admit that I almost did not meet it myself. In the end, I just took the first joke that popped up when I googled “jokes” and forced myself to write the damn story. After all, that is the whole point of this project: to get the job done no matter the circumstances.

Next week’s prompt is going to be a bit different so tune in for that (most likely Sunday evening, my time). In the meantime, enjoy the stories (and the full moon this weekend).

Reader warning: these stories contain graphic language which may offend.

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Last Joke
Alex Carrigan

“Hey, I know the world is ending soon, but do you want to hear a joke?” Noah asked Irene.
“May as well. If we’re going to die, it better be a funny one,” Irene replied.
“Okay, here it goes,” Noah began. “So a guy stops at a truck stop and goes into the restroom. He walks up to the urinal and begins to pee. As he does, a little person walks up and starts to use the nearest urinal. The man looks over and realizes the little man has a huge cock. Like, he’s basically holding it over his head so he can relieve himself in the urinal.
“So the man is amazed by this little person’s big cock, but the little person notices this. He asks the man if he’s amazed by his cock. The man says yes. The little man asks if the man would like to know how he got such a big johnson. The man says yes.
“‘You see,’ the little man tells the man, ‘I’m actually a leprechaun. I have magic powers, and I can use my powers to give you a big cock like mine.’
“The man seems incredulous, but asks how. The little man says he can cast a spell, but he needs something from the man.
“‘If you want a big cock, you have to have sex with me first,’ the little man says.
“The man is taken aback. He’s straight, and he doesn’t want to do it.
“‘Don’t worry,’ the little man says. ‘No one has to know. We can just go into one of those stalls and get it done quickly.’
“The man starts to weigh his options. On one hand, he’s not sure if he can have sex with a man, leprechaun or not. On the other, he would like a big cock and the awesome sex he was sure to get from it.
“‘Sure, why not?’ the man says, and the little man leads him into a stall.
“So they start to go at it, and soon, the man is balls deep into the little man. As they fuck, the little man is curious.
“‘Say, what’s your name?’ he asks the man.
“‘John.’
“‘John, eh. And how old are you, John?’
“’32.’
“’32. And yet you still believe in leprechauns?'”
Noah stared at Irene and waited to hear her response. A wide smile grew on his face, while several wide lines appeared on her forehead.
“How was that?” Noah asked.
Irene stared at him.
“Want to hear a joke from me?” Irene asked.
“Sure, before the meteor crashes,” Noah replied.
Irene cleared her throat.
“If we meet up in Heaven, I want a divorce,” Irene said.
Noah’s smile disappeared. Irene closed her eyes and sighed.
“That was mean-spirited, I’m sorry,” Irene said. “Don’t take it so hard.”
“As hard as that leprechaun took it in the bathroom stall?” Noah asked.

Irene burst out laughing. She and Noah continued to laugh until the very end.

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Kangaroo
Tiffany Key

The girl was sitting by the curb outside of the library, her backpack beside her. The clock over the courthouse had struck six with a clang fifteen minutes earlier. She looked at the drawing of a kangaroo on the palm of her hand. The tail and ears were smudged. She spread out her fingers, determined to keep her fist open. Hearing a car approach, she looked up, hoping it was her daddy. It was not. She picked up her backpack and walked back to the library, thinking she would tell a librarian. Even though the lights were off, she pulled on the glass door. It did not move. She did not see them leave so she knocked on the door. Nothing stirred. The girl sighed and walked around to the back parking lot. It was empty. With the library and courthouse closed, nobody had any business in the small downtown.
She sat back down on the curb and began to cry. When she heard another car engine racing her way, she wiped her face quickly, forgetting the kangaroo. The girl stood up,
“Where is daddy?”, she asked as soon as her mom parked. Her mom got out of the car and went up to the girl.
“I’m sorry, honey, I know this is one of daddy’s days. But he had to work late. Like usual. He got so busy with a meeting that he forgot what time it was.”
The girl nodded.
“Oh, Gracey! What is all over your face? And your hands?” Her mom pulled out a pack of wet tissues from her bulky handbag and began wiping the purple streaks off of her face. When she tried to do the same to Grace’s hands, the girl yanked them away.
“No mom, you’ll ruin it!”
“Ruin what?”
“The kangaroo.”
“Why did you have a kangaroo on your hand?”
“So I would remember.”
“Remember what?”
“Remember the joke. If the kangaroo is not there, I’ll forget.”
“If you like, baby, you can tell me the joke now and I will remember it for you.”
“Like how you remember things for daddy?”
“Yeah, like that.”
“Okay.” Grace looked at her hand where the kangaroo had been. “Can a kangaroo jump higher than the Empire State building?”
Her mom tilted her head slightly, sincerely trying to figure it out. Finally, she said, “I don’t know. Can a kangaroo jump higher than the Empire State building?”
Grace began laughing before she managed to share the punchline. “Of course it can! The Empire State building can’t jump.” They both laughed and got into the car.
“Mom? What is the Empire State Building?”
“Oh, it’s just a tall building in New York.” Grace nodded and leaned against the side of her child seat, exhausted. When her mom carried her into the house, she did not wake, lost in a dream of New York, the buildings replaced by giant kangaroos.

Volume 1 Issue 12: Addy

Sorry for the delay folks. There were some technical difficulties over here but finally they are resolved and the show can go on as planned. Thank you for your patience.

For this week’s unusual prompt, we had three contenders toss their stories into the ring. Deb Felio with her story Regarding Addy, Tim Clark’s story The Boxer, and my own piece (that ran over the word limit a bit but due to time constraints, I will just overlook my violation). Hope you enjoy our story adaptations.

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Regarding Addy
Debbie Felio

     It’s been fifteen years and I remember like it was yesterday. Isn’t that what everyone says? Like it was yesterday.
    He knew this day would come. He raised me for it. After Momi died and Dadi got too sick to fight anymore, he knew he had to make me tough. Even when Charcoal died. No tears. Just strong face. Just another loss. We both had so much dammed up. So much we never talked about. I hated him. And I loved him. And I needed him, and I hated that he needed me. I would hit at him and he would mock me. ‘Harder!’ he would shout. “Harder!” And I wanted to show him I could and would, and I was afraid I could and would.
    The first time he hid his medicine from me when he asked me to get him magic water, I hated he didn’t think I was big enough to know. And I spit my hate into his water and took it to him. He swallowed it. Everytime. He was that tough – to swallow up my hate. Did he know then it was also my fear?
     Distractions were short term solutions. Cartoons on the TV. Coloring. My collection of special bugs found in the house – each one named.  Watching Jody and Jessi next door outside. I was so alone. And I wouldn’t leave. Until that day.
     That day Charcoal died and I hit Dadi too hard and he needed magic water more than usual and we just looked hard at each other. And then.That.Tear. Coming down his cheek. We held each other tight. We both felt in each other what we knew.  And when he told me to go outside, I did. Jody and Jessi came up and we ran off together. I knew.

It was like it was yesterday.

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The Boxer
Tim Clark

“In the clearing stands a boxer,

And a fighter by his trade,

And he carries the reminders

Of every glove that laid him down

Or cut him till he cried out.”*
He could have been somebody, but, he never was. He left all of his hopes and dreams scattered in broken pieces lying in ratty gyms and smoky halls across the lower half of the country. His heart was broken, and failing. His dreams had died, and he would have joined them had it not been for her.

The only thing he had was the girl, she was his life and all he could give was the love he didn’t understand.  His daughter, his protected, his protector.

She had a curious touch, a nurturing spirit, and she cared for everything. Including the boxer. He saw the world in her eyes, and her gentleness. He could never understand what it meant, but it was his world.

The only gift he could give her was himself, and it was given freely. And the only thing she could give him was herself and she did. They shared a bond born of extreme poverty and nourished by need.

They lived off the food they could grow, the chickens they shared their shanty house with. She fed the chickens with the insects she caught, and she nourished her father best as she could. Calling on her own magic she would spit in the medicine power she mixed in his water. When you have nothing you try everything.

In the end he lost the fight but he waited battled long enough to teach the girl everything he could. He hoped it would be enough.
*The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel

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Magic Water
Tiffany Key

Addy had been awake since dawn, occupying herself as quietly as possible while her father slept in the other room. She always did her best but her coloring books became boring and there were only so many times she could watch Brutus punch Popeye across the forest before she lost her patience. She was laying on the floor in her torn tee-shirt and cut-off jean shorts, listening to the chickens peck the dirty brown carpet for food that was not there.
The laundry was washed and hung up on the walls where the framed paintings of flowers doubled as a clothesline. She rolled onto her side to watch her hissing cockroach make its way slowly over the carpet. Addy reached out and scooped it back into its jar, turning the ice-pick punctured lid shut. Returning it to its place amongst the jars of crickets and stick bugs on the top shelf of the closet, Addy went into the kitchen to feed the cat. Yesterday’s food was still in the bowl but she did not realize it until she had already opened the can. It had been raining all day yesterday so the cat had probably just been holed up somewhere, waiting it out. Looking out the window, she saw the neighborhood children playing in the mud, laughing. Addy watched them for a moment then realized it was late enough in the morning for her to wake her father.
She went to his room and gently pushed his broad back. His snoring continued. Addy looked at the picture he kept tucked into his vanity mirror: her father, strong, glistening, a boxer ready to fight. Behind her, he stirred, coughing himself awake. He was sweating from his dreams and looked around a little dazed, remembering his reality.
Addy, get me some magic water.
She ran to the kitchen where the dirty dishes from days and weeks before surrounded the sink. She ripped open the powered solution and poured it into the glass before filling it with tap water. Then she lovingly spat into the mixture before stirring, carrying it carefully back to him so as not to spill it.
She was watching the children again when her father called her to the backyard. There, curled up into a ball, was the cat. Its fur was spiky wet and at first Addy wondered why it had just laid there, sleeping out in the rain. Her father had a plastic garbage bag in his hand and was just about to pick the cat up when Addy figured out what was going on. The tears rose up in her eyes before she could stop them. Her father must have felt her weakness and turned to her.
No, we are not going to do that, he said.
Addy nodded, wanting to be stoic.
Good, now show me your strong face.
It was too much.
Addy shouted no then ran into the house, leaving her father to bag the cat on his own. As he dropped it into the garbage can, he noticed the three children digging in the mud, smiling and sharing makeshift shovels.
He walked inside and was immediately attacked by his daughter, who wore his gloves as if they were hers.
That’s it, he said, delighted she was dealing with her grief like a fighter, bring it. Who’s the man?
I’m the man! Addy punched him hard in the chest.
The pain was immediate. His lungs constricted and he fell back into the armchair.
Addy, go get me some magic water.
She was quicker this time but he still managed to pop two of his heart pills into his mouth before she returned. He did not want her to know that it took more than her spit and seltzer water to keep him alive.
He drank it quickly and felt his pulse return to normal, his lungs fill with air once again. Addy stood before him, eyes wide and glistening with tears.
She looked so much like her mother. It had been over a year already. He let the tears roll down his cheeks as he pulled his daughter close.
Later, when Addy went to join the children, she turned for a moment and looked back at him, uncertain. He just nodded and thought, go on. Go on, my girl.

No. 10: Prompt

Hello, hello and welcome to week ten.

This week our prompt has been crafted by the illustrious regular contributor Debbie Felio. She writes:

“I’ve been thinking about the prompt. Because I like twists ( have you noticed?), I could suggest “when good goes bad” – good advice, good acts, etc.(something a little more than milk in the refrigerator).”

So there’s your post, ladies and gentlemen.
When good goes bad.

I look forward to seeing what you come up with. Remember, stories are due by Thursday 8 pm EST. Submit to mercurialstories@gmail.com.

Now get writing.

No. 9: Temper Tantrum: Stories

This week we have four stories of ill-temperments from Shane Guthrie, Linda M. Crate, Debbie Felio, and myself. Four very different instances of temper tantrums told in four very unique styles. Interestingly enough, all four stories happen to feature adults as the distempered.

Enjoy!

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Temper Tantrum
Shane Guthrie

My voice hurt from growling at you
To go to sleep
To be quiet
To lie still

You were screaming at me, and writhing around
You were kicking me and following me
When I tried to calm down
In the living room

But I was the adult, so it is mine to apologize

I’m sorry
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Leftovers for Jan
Linda M. Crate


Didn’t they say temper tantrums were for peevish children that weren’t getting their way? Asia shook her head as she looked at her husband laying on the floor screaming, and pounding his fists. She knew that he was tired and he had a lot of stress on his shoulders but so did she.

She was a teacher in addition to being a wife and mother. She just hadn’t felt like cooking, and didn’t see why her statement would illicit such a reaction from her husband. Her kids didn’t throw a fit about leftover night so she wasn’t so sure why a grown man was displaying such childish behavior.

“Mom, what’s wrong with dad?” her nine-year-old asked.

“I don’t know, honey. Perhaps the stress of his job caused him to lose his mind, but he is acting worse than either yourself or your brothers ever did,” she told her daughter.

This seemed to sober her husband Jan up really quickly. He pulled himself off the floor, and brushed himself off, blushing profusely. “I’m going to go take a shower and cool off.”

“You do that,” Asia snorted, watching  him as he walked away. She then turned to her daughter. “So how was your day today? Do anything exciting at school today?”

“If falling on your face during soccer in gym class counts as exciting then sure. I hate that I am so bad at sports. There are other girls in my class that are so impressive at sports, and then there’s me tripping over my own two feet. What a joke, huh?”

“I don’t think you’re a joke. We all have different talents and abilities, honey. That’s what makes us all so special and different from one another.”

“Maybe,” her daughter sighed. “I just wish I had better hand-eye coordination.”

“Well, maybe your brothers could help you practice after dinner.”

“Yeah?”

“Ew, no, Jamie, you’re a lost cause.”

“Yeah, you really suck.”

“Like really, really suck.”

“Boys, be nice to your sister. You can help her practice soccer. She used to help change your diapers, and she never complained. She used to read you books before bed, too, sometimes.”

“Okay, okay.”

“Geez, mom, you’re so embarrassing!”

“It’s my job as a mom,” Asia winked.

Her husband came downstairs a few minutes later pulling some meatloaf out of the fridge, reheating it in the microwave.

“Feeling better, dad? Your temper tantrum was a bit scary.”

Jan rubbed the back of his head, clearly embarrassed. “Yes, daddy just didn’t handle the stress of his job very well, but he’s doing better now.”

“That’s good because mom says we have to help Jamie learn how to play soccer and she’s pretty hopeless. We’re going to need your help, too.”

“Don’t be mean to your sister, you know she used to change your diapers, right?”

“Mom said the same thing,” grumbled one of the boys.

“Well, maybe you should listen your mother then,” Jan winked.

“Best advice I’ve ever heard you give,” Asia grinned.

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An Alternative
Debbie Felio

Throwing a tantrum is so classless
when there can be so much more harm
done with less crassness

you don’t have to look the crazy
to do the crazy and with enough charm
to make it all hazy

you’re enraged at what ever = it doesn’t even matter
keep your cool and at the party
on her spill the shrimp and sauce platter – oops

the seats on the flight are too narrow to flip
her long curls over your tray
so make a gradual four inch snip – so sorry

he’s late again, you can’t raise a stink
his whites with the reds
now he’s in the pink – oh, dear

In the parking lot the sports car took the last 3
spaces for nongreen cars
walk slowly beside it with your own sharp key – la di da

passed over at work – no place to shout
put on your hoodie with a pair of gloves
and pull the fire alarm on your way out –  whee

The gossip about you is too much to cope
send a well-timed letter to the culprit
“Personal! HIV test results” on the envelope. ohhh

There’s so much more evil in creativity
without showing your intention
you can get even and keep your pretty.  you’re welcome!

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The Locked Door
Tiffany Key

There was an empty bottle of sake outside the locked bedroom door. I had been at work all day in the neighboring city and was bone-tired. After I knocked on the door without a response, I went to the other side of the house to check on the kids. I opened the door and saw that they had fallen asleep in a huddle in my eldest son’s bed. I returned to deal with the locked door. We were staying at my parent’s old house until we got on our feet, giving me the advantage. I knew how to make those particular doorknobs give way.

Successful after a minute with the screwdriver, I walked through the master bedroom to the bathroom where my husband sat on the floor, back against the sink cabinets.
“What’s going on?” I asked. He just shook his head slowly back and forth.
I tried to be patient but eventually, in my exhaustion, said, “This is ridiculous.”
“Ridiculous? I am being ridiculous? No,” he stood, swaying on his feet like a boxer about to take a punch, “you are the ridiculous one.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Why don’t you think about what you did today? Huh? Like who did you talk to, huh?”
“I was at work. All day. I talked to you during my lunch break. I don’t understand what you are upset about.”
“You had quite the chat with him.”
“Him?”
“Yes, him. Ah, you remembered, huh? Yeah, yeah, I know.”  And he glanced over at the computer screen where my Facebook page was still open. My conversation with my friend from high school was up in the right bottom corner.
“But we didn’t talk about anything,” I protested.
“Yeah, but I told you not to talk to him. That I don’t like him.”
“You don’t really know him. He’s just a friend. I mean, look…”.

I turned to walk over to the computer, thinking that if we just looked at the conversation rationally then he would see how insignificant it was but as I took a step, I was grabbed from behind. He threw me against the open door so hard that the hinges were pulled clean from the doorframe. Shocked but somehow I managed to get to my feet and rush into the living room.

The alcohol slowed him down and so when I saw his fist, I had enough time to move out of the way. The impact against the plaster wall created a small spider web fracture. I
 ran through the kitchen, barricading myself behind the laundry room’s slatted door. I listened for his heavy footsteps coming my way; instead I heard the front door open and slam shut. I had the car keys in my pocket: he couldn’t get far.

After the silence remained unbroken for over five minutes, I went to the kids’ room, locking the door behind me. I climbed into bed with them and my youngest daughter grabbed onto my arm.
Eyes closed and mostly asleep still, she whispered, “Dad’s been having temper tantrums all day.” I kissed her downy head and put my free arm across the others, trying to stop shaking so I wouldn’t wake them all.

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