Volume 2 Issue 5: Sticks and Stones


The first time I heard this saying was in preschool. I do not remember the specific context, most likely it had something to do with my fiery best friend with the sharp comebacks, but I remember my confusion. Yes, getting physically hurt was undesirable but surely words were stronger than fists.

A bruise will fade, a cut will scab over, a broken bone will mend, but verbal attacks become permanent landmarks in our memories. The sting of a paddle is far less than a carefully crafted verbal lashing. A victim of spousal abuse will stay with the abuser as long as there is an apology afterward, a declaration of affection and remorse. Loving words can override vile behaviour, over and over again and just as easily work in the opposite direction: vile words can override loving behaviour.

Maybe the true phrase should be “sticks and stones may break my bones but names (or words, as I learned it) will break my heart, crush my soul, and trigger World War III”.

This week, we have six stories that explore this old English rhyme.

(2) Verbal darts do not hurt by Sunil Sharma
(3) Eye on Pete by Copper Rose
(4) Sticks and Stones by Louis Kasatkin
(5) Wishing for it by Kira
(6) Boxed Collection by Kelli J Gavin

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6

Volume 2 Issue 1: Let Me Call You Sweetheart

Hey there and welcome to Volume 2 of Mercurial Stories.

My grandmother had always said she detested the smell of roses, called them funeral flowers, and because she was my first kindred spirit on this planet, I adopted this attitude towards the beloved bloom.

So when Frankie Oscar the Third showed up on Valentine’s Day at my junior high school with a dozen of them cradled in one arm and a heart-shaped box of chocolates covered in fake roses in the other, I found myself more nauseous than delighted. Nauseous and embarrassed. I had gotten a bigger present than any other 8th grader and from my high school boyfriend at that. I should have felt smug as well as delighted. But I did not.

The note he had included in the card made it all the worse. It read just like all his other letters, I love you, sweetheart. Again, wasn’t that what I was supposed to want to read? And yet I found it incredibly boring, the same sentence over and over, hastily scribbled on wide-ruled notebook paper.

My mom told me that I was supposed to keep the roses in the empty chocolate box, a sort of romantic trophy that I would eventually be sentimental for. So I cut off the flowers’ heads and tossed them into the box then stored it at the back of my closet. Later, on a laundry-washing weekend home from college, I came across the chocolate box when looking for an old marbled composition notebook. There inside were the rose heads, their red petals now shriveled and black. The sickly sweet smell flooded the room. I put the lid back on, walked out to where my father was burning a pile of leaves, and tossed the box in whole.

It might seem a little strange, in light of that story, that I should select, for a story due on Valentine’s Day, the prompt “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”. And yet I decided on it because I assumed that my writers would have wide-range of perspectives about the holiday. And I was not disappointed.

Today we have five stories with titles from the now extinct Conversation Hearts candy, the small candy with big messages.

(p. 2) MY SWEETHEART by Louis Kasatkin
(p. 3) Soul Mate by Anna Lindwasser
(p. 4) Flirt by Kelli J Gavin
(p. 5) XOXO by Annie Bien
(p. 6) Soul mate by Sunil Sharma

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6

Volume 1 Issue 25: On This Day…

Image result for stack of newspapers

What happened in the world on this day in the year you were born? That was what we were tasked with finding out this week, a rather overwhelming prompt, as I have been told. Even I could not narrow it down in time but did find many possible future stories (to add to my teetering stack of possible future stories).

This week we have two very interesting tales from different points of time and space by Kelli J. Gavin and Sunil Sharma. Reading these two stories connects us to the past while reminding us that some stories never change, simply change characters. Please enjoy some time traveling and be sure to come back again on Monday for our next round of writing and reading.


Cries For Freedom
Kelli J Gavin

Cries for freedom are only sometimes heard
Mostly ignored and trampled on
Turning the Bantu’s into slaves
An easy choice for early traders
Traded as slaves for centuries
The Bantu people continued their cries

Cries for freedom are only sometimes heard
Mostly ignored and trampled on
Ruled by countries they would never see
Fearful of losing all they had ever known
Speaking a language not their own
Their cries never ceased

Cries for freedom are only sometimes heard
Mostly ignored and trampled on
The Liberation Front fought long and hard
Independence gained not a moment too soon
Mondlane and Machel had a vision
Of a country ruled by its people

Cries for FREEDOM are only sometimes heard
Mozambique no longer ignored and trampled on

June 25, 1975

 


Bio-
Kelli J Gavin lives in Carver, Minnesota with Josh, her husband of an obscene amount of years and they have two crazy kids. She is a Writer, Professional Organizer and owns Home & Life Organization and a small Jewelry Company.  Look for Kelli’s first book of short stories and poems in 2019. You can find her work with The Ugly Writers, Sweatpants & Coffee, Writing In a Woman’s Voice, The Writers Newsletter, Writers Unite!, Academy of the Heart and Mind, The Rye Whiskey Review, Spillwords, Mercurial Stories, 121 Words, HerStry, Ariel Chart, The Basil O’Flaherty, PPP Ezine, Southwest Media, Otherwise Engaged, Pleather Skin, Paper.Li, The New Ink Review, among others.
Find Kelli on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @KelliJGavin

Blog found at kellijgavin@blogspot.com



Lessons
Sunil Sharma

He wanted to be part of history—before becoming history.

But history is not kind: It favours only few individuals and hates the masses—the first lesson delivered by his high-school teacher that resonated so well.

Initially, he had felt cheated. Father had always insisted that it was possible to rise up in society—even for a lower-middle-class, small-town, ordinary guy, in a vibrant democracy!

Soon, he realized, he was bypassed. Grim realities caught on —lost father; dropped out; became a sales-person in a shoe shop to support a large family.

Hardly 19 at that time!

Life—raw, prosaic and brutal! Dreams belonged to another age and class.

The man who wanted to be the king became pauper, instead.

He wrote in the diary.

Selling shoes to customers was a daily challenge. Surviving on a meager salary was another existential battle.

Democracy and its promise of deliverance—a plain lie!

An epiphany recorded as a diary-entry.

.

When he turned 25 on March 25, 2018— a marginal man and doomed to be that only—somebody suggested the second best option of entering the annals—by checking the famous people or events, on that date.

Cool!

If not a general or emperor, he could bask in the reflected glory of the great.

Inder Kumar was curious to know what happened on his birthday.

After going through many such sites on his smart phone, Inder Kumar, a lean man with a perpetual hungry look, embarked on a journey backwards in time and found few incidents as most exciting, on that hot Sunday afternoon, propped up against the stacks of shoes, re-visiting memorable incidents.

.

Here, the selection:

—1199

King Richard, the Lion Heart, killed.

.

—1965

The Third Selma to Montgomery March.

.

—1811

PB Shelley rusticated from the Oxford for his easy on atheism!

.

—1957

“Howl” by Ginsberg banned!

.

—1911

The fire in Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, New York, kills 146.
.

They met in the late night.

—What did you fish out from the dustbin of history? Asked his friend Raju.

—Some fascinating facts. Said Inder.

—What kind of facts? Asked Raju.

—Random things.  Made few internal connections between these occurrences separated by time and space, yet linked together, in an odd way.

—Tell me these discoveries made by a bright man, denied his greatness.

Raju did not sound sarcastic.

Inder recited the list of items culled from the belly of the past and offered his observations: That a king could be killed by a boy who is a commoner. People power can shake the well-entrenched system through a long march. Oxford and courts can ban writers on stupid reasons and continue to treat thinkers, as threats. That the poorly-paid workers can die in an inferno in an advanced democracy. Considered garbage by the capital! Yet, these disenfranchised guys made history in a modest way!

—Hmm!

—Alternative reading of events only!

——————————–

Sunil Sharma is Mumbai-based senior academic, critic, literary editor and author with 19 published books: Six collections of poetry; two of short fiction; one novel; a critical study of the novel, and, eight joint anthologies on prose, poetry and criticism, and, one joint poetry collection. He is a recipient of the UK-based Destiny Poets’ inaugural Poet of the Year award—2012. His poems were published in the prestigious UN project: Happiness: The Delight-Tree: An Anthology of Contemporary International Poetry, in the year 2015.

Sunil edits the English section of the monthly bilingual journal Setu published from Pittsburgh, USA:

 http://www.setumag.com/p/setu-home.html

For more details, please visit the blog:

http://www.drsunilsharma.blogspot.in/



 

Week 18: Prompt: Starting Over

Hi there.

Did you miss me? I know a few of you did and I do appreciate the messages of concern, truly. I am sorry I did not leave a note telling you about my extended absence but at the time it was a bit impossible (technical issues). All is fine now so we can press along.

This week’s prompt, appropriately enough, is STARTING OVER. 

Remember the rules?

500 words or less. Due Thursday by 8 pm EST. Submit to mercurialstories@gmail.com.

I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

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.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

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.

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