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Archive for the category “Promptly Penned”

Promptly Penned: Traitor

promptlypenned

Prompt: They say I’m a traitor. Maybe I am. All I know is that I did what I had to do.

 

“Hi, I’m Roxanne,” I said when she answered the door. “We spoke on the phone earlier.”

“I’m Alicia.” We shook hands, and warily, she invited me inside, leading me to her dining room table. I carefully moved some macaroni artwork off the chair before I sat.

She smiled, but she kept shifting in her chair as if she were considering running away. “I’m a little nervous. Can you tell me a little more about how this works? I mean how did you even get into this…business?”

I studied the woman across from me. Her hair was falling out of her messy bun. It wasn’t a cute Instagram messy bun. It was a straight up mess, complete with what looked like crusted baby food in there. Squash, if I remembered my pureed vegetables correctly.

I looked like her not too many years ago. Exhausted, frantic, inside out shirt, and a leaking nursing bra. Though, my kids prefered to slime me with peas.

“To be honest, I didn’t even intend to make it a business, but my brother-in-law left me no choice.” I sighed. “I don’t want to sound cold. I’m actually pretty fond of him, but when his kids were little and his wife was out of town, he’d drive for five hours, show up on our doorstep with his infant and toddler, and basically move in until his wife was back from her business trips.”

“He did not.” She looked furious on my behalf. I liked her already.

“Oh, he did. And he and my husband would sit around and play video games and I was stuck with five kids under the age of four. But my favorite was when my husband was at work, and my brother-in-law decided that that meant it was naptime for him.”

She leaned forward. “I have to know. Did you kill them? I think I would have killed them.”

“Honestly? I came far closer than I’m comfortable with. That’s when I started studying the occult.”

Alicia got up. “Keep talking, I’m going to get us some coffee. You want creamer?”

“And sugar, please.”

“Okay, so tell me more about how the occult figures into all this.”

I shifted in my seat. I was pretty sure I was going to stick to it when I stood up. “Well, I didn’t go full bore. I started out looking for protection spells and binding rituals. And while I was researching, I discovered sigils.”

Alicia placed a huge cup of steaming coffee in front of me. “I wanted to make a mocha, but all I had was Hershey’s syrup.”

I took a sip. “You know what? This is great. Trust me, I’ve made much worse. And I drank it anyway. Because caffeine.”  I took another sip then shook off the memory. “Where was I?”

“Sigils.”

“Right, sigils. These things are so incredibly versatile. You can use them for protection, hexing, attraction, but as far as I’m concerned, their best use is warding. It was getting so bad, that my brother-in-law was coming up two or three times a month and staying for three to five days at a time. I snapped. I couldn’t take it any more.”

“What did you do?”

“Dude is a pig. Seriously, doesn’t pick up after himself at all. So, I took a pair of his dirty underwear he’d left wadded behind the door and hair from the shower,” I shuddered, “various herbs and oils, and boiled it together under the light of a full moon. Then, the next time he called to tell use he was coming, I took a small brush and painted warding sigils on every side of the house, the garage and the cars. And I waited.”

Alicia had slid forward in her chair, her eyes wide. “What happened?”

I tried not to smile, but it was almost impossible. “He called a few times. Said he was lost. My husband thought he was pranking us, but nope. He turned around and drove the five hours back home.”

“No.”

I nodded. “Couldn’t find the place at all.”

“That’s brilliant!”

“When my husband pisses me off, I do it to him, too.”

She laughed and clapped her hands.

“These days, I let my brother-in-law visit every two to three months. And now that I’m not stuck at home with nursing babies, I leave, and let my husband and his brother parent all the kids.”

Alicia shook her head. “I’m impressed. Seriously impressed.”

I shrugged. Some people would say I’m a traitor to family togetherness.” I shrugged. “Maybe I am. All I know is that I did what I had to do.”

“You absolutely did. And,” she added, “you didn’t go to jail for murder.”

“Exactly.”

I pulled my spellbook out of my purse. Technically, it was one of those planners with all the stickers for things like doctor’s appointments and soccer practice, but it doubled and a mighty fine spellbook. And hey, I’m a busy mom, makes sense to combine the weekly menu with my side gig.

“Now,” I said, clicking my pen. “Who are we warding against? Tell me everything.”

That’s it for me this week. Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ stories, too.

Kris * Jess * Siobhan * Deelylah

Promptly Penned: One Last Time

promptlypenned

Prompt: S/he gripped the rim of the porcelain sink and tried to steady her/his hands.
“One last time,” s/he whispered to her/himself. “One. Last. Time.”

(I owe anyone who reads this an apology. I couldn’t think of anything until my husband made a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad suggestion. And of course, my brain decided to run with it. I’m so, so, SO sorry, you guys.)

 

Michael gripped the rim of the porcelain sink and tried to steady his hands. “One last time,” he whispered to himself as he dipped his fingers into the thick, white goop. Cringing, he began to smear it over his face and neck, covering every inch of visible skin with a slick layer of greasepaint.

He would have rather have used white foundation, but the greasepaint had a particular scent. One that would hopefully linger, long after he’d finished the job. At least, his employer insisted that would be the case.

Next came the red and black paint. He applied it to his face, trying to make himself look as much like the faded, ragged polaroid as possible.

“More red.”

Michael stiffened and looked in the mirror, toward the corner where the voice had come from. It was too dark to see much, but he knew Bill was there. Bill was always fucking there.

“Got it, Boss,” he muttered, dipping his brush into the red paint pot and adding a wider layer around his mouth.

“Don’t forget to outline it. Looks creepier that way.”

Michael nodded that he’d heard, and continued applying the paint. When he was finished, he dragged the motheaten wig onto his head, tucking in any hair that peeked out. He adjusted the stained ruffle around his neck and pulled on the gloves that hadn’t been white in years.

He glanced at his reflection and then toward the darkened corner. “One. Last. Time,” he reminded himself and Bill. Turning toward his boss, he picked up the recently sharpened carving knife and walked toward the back of the room and his employer. “Tonight’s the last one, Boss. After this, I’m out.”

The dummy’s eyes glinted, and his mouth opened, the splintered wood clacking as its jaw moved. “Last one, Mikey. Now, get moving. The show must go on.”

This is more than enough from me this week. Please read Jess and Kris‘ stories to wash away this awfulness. And again, I apologize for the fucking clown and dummy. I deserve whatever nightmares I’m plagued with tonight…

Promptly Penned: Rock Bottom

promptlypenned

Prompt: Well, apparently, Rock Bottom has a basement. 

I looked around the crowded bar. There wasn’t another server free. “Motherfucker,” I muttered under my breath. I’d have to take his table.

Sighing in resignation, I pulled the hairtie off my wrist and quickly pulled my hair up into a sloppy bun. I turned toward the bar where Veronica, one of my fellow waitresses, was loading up a tray with drinks and plucked the hot pink, prescriptionless glasses off the top of her head and shoved them on my face.

She glanced at me as she lifted the heavy tray off the scarred bar. “Got a creeper?”

“Something like that.” I grimaced and adjusted the glasses as I walked to his table.

He glanced at me then back at his menu. There didn’t appear to be any glimmer of recognition. Sometimes, a different hairstyle and ugly glasses were all it took.

“Are you ready to order?”

He did a doubletake. “Samantha?”

I didn’t respond. Unless glaring at him balefully could be considered a response.

“I haven’t seen you in class lately.”

I tilted my head to the side and just stared at him. The sheer magnitude of his douchery exerted a force too great for me to keep my head upright.

“No,” I finally answered. “I don’t suppose you would have. I dropped out.”

He sighed in seeming disgust. “Well, that was stupid.”

It was then that I noticed the hot, young blonde in the booth with him. I’d been so distracted by my dread of having to interact with this man, I hadn’t even seen her. She was a beacon of golden perfection, I honestly can’t understand how I’d missed her in the first place.

Something inside me snapped. I turned to address her. “Look, I know he’s hot. Smart is sexy and all that. But take it from someone who knows, he’s completely void of any kind of moral compass and has no business being an educator.”

I could hear my voice getting louder, but I couldn’t quite manage to quiet myself. Conversations around me in the capacity-packed restaurant sputtered to a halt. Too bad I couldn’t make myself do the same.

“He doesn’t give a shit about you,” I continued as the girl stared at me, eyes wide and lips parted. “He’ll fuck you, and then he’ll steal your research, slap his name on it, and when it comes time to defend your dissertation, you’ll have nothing. And you know what? The sex wasn’t even all that good.”

He blinked at me as I saw the night manager barreling my way from the corner of my eye. She looked pissed. 

I glanced back at my former advisor.

He cleared his throat and turned to the blonde. “Chloë, this is my former student, Samantha.” Then he looked at me. “Samantha, this is my daughter, Chloë.”

Well…apparently rock bottom had a basement. Fucking fantastic.

That’s it for me today, be sure to read Jess, Gwen, and Kris‘ stories!

Promptly Penned: Nancy Drew Shenanigans

promptlypenned

Prompt:  “Just call the police. No one has time for your Nancy Drew shenanigans.”

It was only day one of an entire month with my Uncle Joe, Aunt Tami. Hell, I hadn’t even seen my cousins, Joey and Tiffany yet, and I already wanted to scream. I understood that my mom wanted me to have the same kind of close relationship she’d had with her cousins growing up. In theory, it was a great idea. However, reality left much to be desired.

Maybe her aunts and uncles had made better choices than my mom’s only brother had. Even seeing my Aunt Tami for the occasional family dinner made me want to grind my teeth, but an entire month? I hoped my mom was prepared for the dental bills. Or to pay bail money when Aunt Tami had me arrested for throat punching her obnoxious children. I wondered if I’d still be allowed to start tenth grade if I had a record.

We pulled into the drive of their summer home. It was nice enough. And big enough that I had my own room when I was here. And I did like being on the lake. Though, I’d like it better if I didn’t have to constantly babysit Tiffany. She was awfully whiny for an 11-year-old.

We got out of the car and I followed Tami and Tiffany into the house, stopping short when my aunt gasped. It was trashed. There was broken glass and red plastic cups everywhere. Not to mention puke and the occasional candy wrapper and passed out teenager. In fact, Joey was lying on the couch, clutching a mostly empty bottle of booze.

“We’ve been robbed!”

I looked at Aunt Tami, and my mouth hung open for a second or two. “I don’t think so.”

“There’s broken glass everywhere and the whole place has been ransacked!”

I glanced around the room. “There’s empty bottles and puke everywhere. It looks like Joey had a party.”

She glared at me. “He would never!”

Shrugging, I said, “The red plastic cups and and the fact that he’s sleeping with a bottle of whiskey would suggest otherwise.”

“If he’s drunk, it’s because the robbers made him drink it.”

“I don’t–”

“Just call the police. No one has time for your Nancy Drew shenanigans.”

I pulled out my phone and stifled a smile. No cop in their right mind would believe the house had been robbed and Joey was a victim. This month of forced family togetherness just got a lot more interesting.

Okay, that’s it for me. Be sure to see what Deelylah, Jess, and Kris wrote!

Promptly Penned: Magic isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

 

promptlypenned

Heads up, guys. This promptly penned is probably going to to be super short. I’m heartsick (and terrified) at the latest (continued?) political shitstorm facing this country. But I’m going to give this a go anyway.

Prompt: Magic isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. For example, there are 20 spells for making tea but none to save yourself from falling off a cliff.

I stood in the richly appointed penthouse office, my feet sinking into carpet so plush, I wasn’t sure it wasn’t the entrails of enemies or something, and forced myself to maintain eye contact with this guy.

He laced his fingers together beneath his chin and stared up at me–charming smile firmly in place. “I’m surprised to see you. Our business has been satisfactorily concluded.”

“Maybe for you. I want it back,” I choked out.

He leaned back in his chair. “You know the rules: no refunds or exchanges. All sales are final.”

“You misrepresented the product.”

He smiled. “That’s called advertising.”

“There’s a difference between advertising and lying.”

“Tomato. To-mah-to.”

I sighed. Magic isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. “There are twenty spells for making tea but none to save yourself from falling off a cliff.”

“So, stay away from cliffs.”

“Funny.” I glared at him. “That was just an example.”

“Look, you sold your soul. You got the ability to do magic. I don’t know what else you’re expecting.”

“I expected to be able to fix the government. I thought I could make all this,” I gestured toward the morning’s newspapers spread across his desk, “go away. I thought I could make things better for people.”

He was laughing before I’d even finished speaking. Asshole. “There’s not enough magic in the world for that.” He made a shooing motion with his hand. “Off you go.  Why don’t you go make yourself a spot of tea.”

He burst into another fit of laughter as I stalked from the  room, stepping aside as his assistant headed toward him carrying a cup of coffee. I muttered a spell under my breath as she passed. I may not have been able to save the world from certain destruction, but I’d managed to manipulate a couple of the tea spells to include coffee. I hoped he had a padded toilet seat. He was going to be there for a while.

That’s it for me this week. Be sure to check out Jess, Siobhan, Deelylah, Kris, and Gwen’s stories, too.

Promptly Penned: Complete Douchebag

promptlypenned

Prompt: “Wow. Can we just pretend, for one second, that you’re not a complete douchebag?”

So this prompt fits a story that I’m working on really well, so I’m just going to  throw it at these characters and see what happens.

 

Eliza spotted her charge in one of the glass elevators, descending from the twenty-seventh floor, looking for all the world like he was still half asleep. Though, when the doors opened and he stalked into the lobby, he looked less sleepy and more surly.

Oh, good. The diva behavior continues. This is shaping up to be a banner fucking day. “The driver’s out front.”

Angus grunted in response as he walked past her toward the revolving door. At least, she assumed it was in response. For all she knew, that could be his way of saying “good morning”. Or “fuck off”. She knew which was more likely.

Whoever said “never meet your heroes” must have been talking about Angus. And it was just her damn luck she’d been assigned to babysit him.

Following him outside, she pointed out the black SUV the publishing house had hired. He got in and immediately shut the door, leaving her to go around the other side of the vehicle. And of course, it had to be the kind she was too short to climb into comfortably. Or gracefully.

Once she was seated, the driver pulled through the half circle drive and onto the street past hordes of convention-goers, many, if not most, cosplaying their favorite characters and waiting in line for the doors to open.

Angus blinked blearily at the lines of people then sat up and turned toward her, his expression equal parts confused and accusatory. “Where are we going? I thought the whole point of staying at that particular hotel was because the con was being held there.

Eliza took a deep, slow breath, held it for a couple seconds, then slowly let it go, trying to release the sudden stress spike with it. “That is why we’re staying there. But, with all the other con guests, the hotel couldn’t accommodate your reader breakfast, so we had to book the—”

“My what, now?”

She stared at him, growing sense of dread curdling her stomach. “Your reader breakfast.”

His dark brows drew together, and annoyance gave way to confusion. He was still ridiculously gorgeous. But every time he opened his mouth, that fact was getting easier to ignore by the second.

She crossed her arms over her chest. It was either that or strangle him. “Just out of morbid curiosity, when’s the last time you actually read a message from your editor? Or your publisher?” When he didn’t respond, she continued. “The breakfast was also listed on the schedule I gave you last night…which obviously, you couldn’t be bothered to read.”

“Nope. It’s still laying on my desk with my room key.”

“Wow. Can we just pretend, for one second, that you’re not a complete douchebag?”

He glared at her. “I don’t know. Can we also pretend that you’re not a ball-busting bitch?”

She stared at him, biting back every last thing she wanted to say. Things that would likely get her fired before the end of the day.

“No?” he continued. “Didn’t think so.”

Fuckyoufuckyoufuckyoufuckyoufuckyoufuckyoufuckyoufuckyoufuckyoufuckyoufuckyou!

Swallowing her internal scream, she maintained eye contact. “Eight a.m.: reader breakfast. 11 a.m.:panel: Near Future Sci-Fi — Genre of the Future or Too Close to Reality?” 

“Wait…I’m on that panel? I don’t even write Near Future Sci-Fi.

Eliza smiled sweetly. “Huh. Guess maybe you should read your email more often.”

That’s it for me this week. Now, I’m off to see what the other bloggers came up with for this prompt. Jess, Gwen, Kris, and Deelylah.

Promptly Penned: Three More Days

promptlypenned

Prompt: Three more days of this.

I looked at the calendar.

January 17th, 2021. 

Three more days of this. Just three more days, and the nightmare would be over.

That’s it for me this time–short and sweet. Be sure sure read the other bloggers stories. Jess, Deelylah, Jessica, and Kris.

Promptly Penned: Reliable Wi-Fi

promptlypenned

Prompt: “That’s what happens when you don’t have reliable Wi-Fi.”

 

Caleb squinted at the phone then looked up and did the same at our surroundings. He gestured toward a particularly dense area of forest. “It should be right through there.”

“We’ve been walking for hours. Are you sure you put in the right coordinates.”

He glared at me. “Yes. I’m sure. The Wi-Fi at the diner was shitty, but I’m sure these are the right coordinates.”

I glanced around. “I know the resort is supposed to be super exclusive and remote and accessible only by hiking, but this is ridiculous. What happens if one of their guests has a medical emergency? They can’t possibly be this far out in the middle of nowhere.”

“They have Wi-Fi–I’m sure they can get help if they need it.” Caleb hit refresh on his phone, then frowned, holding the device up in the air, clearly trying to get a signal.

“C’mon. Let’s just go back to the main road and head back toward that last little town we passed.

Still holding his phone up in the air, he ignored me and marched into the thick stand of trees.

“I don’t know why you’re bothering,” I muttered, following him. “It’s not like you’re going to get a signal now.”

He didn’t answer, but I really didn’t expect him to. My brother was nothing if not stubborn.

Another hour had passed by the time we stumbled across the log cabin that looked more like a large hunting shack than resort. I was pretty sure the blisters on my feet were bleeding, and I had to pee. At this point, I didn’t care what the place looked like.

Caleb pushed open the door and swept his arm to the side, motioning me in. Laughing in relief, I elbowed him as  I crossed the threshold, my brother close behind me. Turning, I glanced around the room, searching for a bathroom and stopped dead unable to take another step forward.

Every inch of wall space was covered in antlers. Antlers everywhere. Behind me, Caleb started humming the tune to Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. They cast long, grasping shadows wherever I looked. It was like we’d wandered onto a set for Hannibal

Peering more closely at the nearest wall, I swallowed hard. They weren’t all antlers. There were bones. So many bones. An icy chill ran down my spine as I continued to stare at them. Far too many of them looked human.

I grabbed Caleb’s arm and dragged him toward the door. “This,” I hissed. “This is what happens when you don’t have reliable Wi-Fi!”

That’s it for me this week. Be sure to check out Jess and Deelylah‘s stories, too!

Promptly Penned: Bruises and Glitter

promptlypenned

Prompt: S/he showed up at his/her door, soaking wet, bruised and covered in glitter.

Alex stood in line of the grocery store clutching the last bouquet of slightly wilted roses they had and red plastic shopping basket filled to the brim with all of Izzy’s favorites. He set the flowers and everything else on the conveyor and grabbed one of those reusable cloth shopping bags. She was always bitching about plastic bags. She’d probably appreciate the cloth bag. Hopefully.

“What’d you do?” the cashier asked.

“Huh?”

“Fancy wine, three different kinds of chocolate, and flowers.” He nodded knowingly. “You fucked up, bro.”

Alex pulled his debit card out of his wallet and as he finished swiping it, the other guy grabbed his wrist. Alex yanked his arm away. “What the hell?”

“Dude. Look at all that glitter on your arm. You can not go from the strip club straight into apology mode. Chicks hate that. Trust me, on this. Personal experience talking, here.” He nodded sagely as he handed Alex the bag. “Personal experience.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Alex squelched quietly to the car. Well, he tried, anyway. It was hard to be unobtrusive when his clothes were so wet he could probably wring out enough water to fill a kiddie pool. And how was it the cashier noticed the glitter but not the fact Alex had created a puddle in front of the register? Douche. 

With a sigh, he sat on the grungy beach towel he’d found on the floor in the backseat, hoping against hope it would protect his seat from the worst of the water and glitter. Putting the car into gear, he drove the few short miles to Izzy’s and forced himself to march up the steps and ring the bell.

The porchlight switched on, and he squinted in the glare.

“Alex! What happened?” She ushered him into the foyer. “You’re soaking wet! Are you okay.”

“I’m stupid. And I was so, so wrong.”

She brushed at his cheek. “Is that…glitter?”

He sighed. “Yeah.”

She lifted his hair off his forehead. “And a bruise?”

He shoved up his sleeve and showed her his arm. “Bruises.”

“What–”

“I promise, I’ll tell you all about it. But first I owe you a huge apology.”

Izzy’s eyebrow rose. “Oh?”

He shoved the flowers and goodies at her, waiting until she took them before he spoke. “I am so, soso sorry I ever said your job was a piece of cake.”

Her lips twitched. “Actually, I believe you said my job was a cakewalk.”

“Oh, it’s a cakewalk, all right. A cakewalk in the seventh circle of hell filled with tiny, demonic, soul-sucking monsters with voices so shrill I’m pretty sure my eardrums are still bleeding.”

“You don’t say.”

“I’m the worst little brother in the world for not believing you. Please say you’ll forgive me.”

She stared at him for a long, uncomfortable moment, until all at once, an evil smile lit her face. “You got assigned to a preschool room for student teaching, didn’t you?”

He nodded miserably as she laughed so hard, tears slid down her cheeks.

“Help?”

The only answer he got was more laughter.

That’s it for me this, week. Be sure to check out Deelylah, Jess, Gwen, KellieKris, and Paige‘s stories.

Promptly Penned: Too Late

Promptly Penned

It’s the last Promptly Penned of the year – yeah, I don’t know how that’s possible, either. Here’s the prompt, and my story’s down below.

It’s odd how life is rarely about those big important choices, but hinges on the small stupid choices you didn’t even realize were choices until it was too late.

 

Pink or blue?

Chocolate or vanilla?

Wheat or white?

Cake or pie?

Apple or cherry?

The waitress stopped at my table and pulled a handful of those little non-dairy creamer containers from the stained pocket of her apron and dropped them on the table–the plastic and liquid rattling strangely against the formica.

“I’ll be back with your pie, hon.”

I forced a smile. “Thanks.”

Coffee or tea?

Cream or sugar?

Dumping five of the little creamers into my coffee, I watched as the clouds billowed upward, swallowing the inky darkness.

Paper or plastic?

Pencil or pen?

Right or left?

Diet or regular?

I reached for the Sweet ‘n Low then changed course and grabbed the sugar container instead.

As she walked away, my dad came in from outside, his rig parked at the far end of the diner’s parking lot. He leaned over and kissed the top of my head before sliding into the molded plastic bench across from me.

Top or bottom?

Up or down?

Happy or sad?

It’s odd how life is rarely about those big important choices, but hinges on the small stupid choices you didn’t even realize were choices until it was too late.

“What’s so important that you wanted to talk to me in the middle of a haul, Abby-girl?” he asked as he glanced over a plastic laminated menu that had a sticky-looking jam smear across the front.

I shrugged. “Can’t a girl just want to spend some time with her dad?”

His eyebrows rose ,and he looked at me over the top of his menu.

Cash or credit?

Good or bad?

Boys or girls?

I took a sip of my still too-hot coffee and scalded my tongue. Quickly gulping the metallic-tasting tap water, I tried to cool the burn and figure out how to approach it.

“Abs?” he asked. “You okay?”

I closed my eyes. “Kevin and I broke up. I’m pregnant, and Katie and I are getting married. We don’t want anything from you, except for you to be there.” My words left me in a rush, and I cracked open my eyes.

He nodded once then turned to the waitress who was wiping down the counter. “When you get a second, hon, I’m gonna need a lotta  coffee–black. Oh, and all the coconut cream pie you got.”

She nodded, and he turned back to me. “Okay, how about you start at the beginning.”

That’s it for me this week, but please be sure to check out Jessica and Kris‘ stories.

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