First Kiss

Combine the following into a story: school dance, cab driver, peas, wants their first kiss, romance/chick lit

FIRST KISS

Jen had been waiting for this for years, watching her sis go out with boys, being so cool. Jen couldn’t wait until she got older, until it was her turn to be cool.

And then, her time had come. Homecoming, her first dance in high school. And she was invited by her favorite boy, cute and funny Evan, who sat across from her in math. She could barely pay attention in that class, always distracted by his eyes, falling into his stare. And how he could make her laugh. She was so excited when he asked her out. Evan’s heaven… she thought to herself, he really is.

The night of the dance, Jen could barely contain herself, so excited for her first true high school experience. And maybe, if she was lucky, her first kiss. That was all she could think about, the dance and her first kiss.

Jen was so excited that she gobbled up dinner, chicken and peas, her favorite, her parents knowing how special this evening would be. After dinner, she went to her room and put on her prettiest dress, the blue one, the one she wore to her aunt’s wedding. Then a touch of makeup and her hair combed straight, one last check in the mirror, and she was ready. She was really nervous about what Evan would think; she wanted him to think she looked great.

When it was time to go, Jen emerged from her bedroom, her parent’s hushed, marveling at her innocence, her beauty.

“Ready to go?” Jen’s sister, Beth, asked; Beth, who wasn’t going to the dance, too cool for homecoming. She had a boyfriend and their first kiss was over two years ago; now they prefer more intimate settings, not high school dances.

“Yep, all ready,” Jen said as she twirled around, enjoying her dress and how it fluttered with her rotation.

“Great. We shouldn’t keep Evan waiting. Boys hate that.”

In the car, Beth drove Jen to their high school auditorium, the location of the dance. And the entire drive Jen thought about Evan: his eyes, his smile, his lips on her lips; Evan’s heaven… the words rang in her head.

After what felt like both the shortest and longest ride in history, Beth and Jen arrive to find Evan waiting outside the auditorium, holding roses and dressed in a beautiful rented suit. Jen thought he looked so cute; she cold barely contain her excitement, wanting to run to and kiss him immediately.

“I know you’re excited,” Beth says, “but you have to control yourself, otherwise you’ll seem easy. Guys don’t like that.”

Jen nods, calms herself. She never even thought about being too excited, and she definitely doesn’t want to seem easy. This is exactly what big sisters are for: to give you advice, to help make your first boy experiences amazing.

“When you get out,” Beth continues, “don’t walk too fast. Just wave to him, let him come to you. Let him do everything tonight, it’ll make him feel like a man. Guys like that.”

Jen nods, listening to Beth’s advice, absorbing it all in. Beth continues. “And when he kisses you, something that could take him all night to do, pretend it is amazing, no matter how bad it is.”

“It’ll be bad?” Jen responds, disappointed if that is the case, for it’s not what she expected.

Beth shakes her head. “Boys are terrible kissers until they learn better. Just hope he’s not a slobberer, or that he doesn’t stick his tongue down your throat. But even if he does, tell him it was great. Boys hate hearing they’re bad kissers, and you can teach him on your next date.”

“Okay,” Jen says, understanding Beth’s advice but hoping she won’t have to take it.

“Great! Then get out there, he’s been waiting long enough.”

Jen smiles, thanking Beth for the advice, for the ride, for being a great sister. She then exits the car, excited to for the wonderful time she’s about to have.

“Remember,” Beth says, before Jen can close the door, “don’t walk too fast. And I’ll see you at ten.”

Jen nods, then closes the car door and continues on her journey. Is this a good pace, she wonders to herself. Am I walking too fast? It is at this point that Evan sees her, and when he smiles, her insides melt, dissipating all the nerves that may have been building. He really is heavenly, Jen thinks once again.

Jen waves, just like Beth instructed. And like on cue, Evan waves back, then walks to her, reaching her with seemingly no time passing. “Hi,” he says.

“Hi,” Jen says back.

“You look…” and Jen can tell he’s nervous, just as nervous as she is. “I got you these flowers,” he says, offering them to her.

“Thanks,” Jen says as she accepts Evan’s gift, trying to show him that she appreciates it immensely. “I really like them.”

And with that, they head into the auditorium, Jen feeling great, being with Evan at her first high school dance. If only he wasn’t so nervous, he’s so cute and she likes him so much. He’s a gentleman, a great person, her best guy friend; Jen likes him so much that whatever he does, she knows she’ll love it. And right now, she really wishes he would hold her hand.

Inside, the dance is in full swing, the dance floor filled with students, dancing together. They’re such good dancers, Jen thinks to herself, and she has no idea how to dance. Beth didn’t give her any advice on this.

But none of that matters when Evan asks her to the dance floor; Jen may be timid but she’s been waiting for this for years! She puts down her flowers and of course says yes.

On the dance floor, Jen and Evan remain nervous, each keeping distance as they dance together. Definitely more distance than some other students, but Jen doesn’t mind, for this is her first dance, and it’s Evan’s first too; she doesn’t want to intimidate him, or him intimidate her.

And that’s pretty much how the night went. Jen and Evan dancing together, sometimes slower, sometimes faster. Jen loved the slow dances, when she could nuzzle in close and Evan would hold her. She loved how strong he was, how he smelled so good and how she felt safe in his arms. Evan’s heaven… when he held her, the entire world was perfect.

If only he would kiss her. She wanted it so bad, she could feel it, all throughout her body. This night so wonderful, everything going great. But why won’t he kiss her? They’re having a great time, dancing and snuggling and holding each other; why is he so nervous? Why won’t he kiss her?

Ten o’clock comes before they can believe, bringing the dance to an end, and still no kissing. And now’s the perfect time, Jen thinks to herself, the perfect way to end their perfect first date. Why won’t he do it? It was all she wanted: her first kiss. She’d even let him stick his entire tongue down her throat; that didn’t matter to her, she just wanted her first kiss.

As they exit the auditorium, Jen spots Beth’s car, Beth inside, waiting for her. Evan walks Jen over, holding her hand and keeping her safe, but still no kissing. Beth sees them coming and smiles at them; Jen smiles back, a happy smile but not a perfect one, for her first kiss is still missing.

They reach the car and say their goodbyes, and as they do so Evan closes up, his nerves taking over, knowing he should kiss her but unable to do so. But before he can leave, a voice rings out. “Did you kiss her yet?” It’s Beth: reading the situation, knowing they want to but lacking the courage to make it happen.

Evan goes flush, put on the spot, not knowing what to say or do. He looks to Jen, but she does nothing but look back, hopeful and excited, waiting in anticipation.

“Just do it already. Here, I won’t watch,” Beth continues, after which she turns away, giving them privacy.

Privacy, and quiet, darkness on this perfect night. Jen stands open and waiting, so excited for their kiss that she can barely stand it. And then, after what seems like forever, Evan finally leans in and kisses her lips.

Jen kisses back, closing her eyes and enjoying the moment. A moment that is everything she imagined, everything she hoped it would be. A moment filled with tingling inside and shivers down her body, shivers that cause her to go weak in the knees, her barely able to stand, it getting better and better as they continue kissing.

Finally, after who knows how long (seconds? Hours? Whatever it was, it was the perfect time), their kiss comes to an end, them breaking apart, opening their eyes and smiling together. Each one is in heaven, the moment better than either could imagine. And it is here that Jen finally takes the lead, saying goodbye to Evan, him giving her a night way better than imagined.

“Bye,” Evan responds, and Jen is so giddy, she’s on the verge of giggling as she gets in Beth’s car, thinking of nothing but she can’t wait to kiss Evan again.

Once inside, Evan runs to another car, his parents inside, waiting for him. And then, with him finally out of earshot, Jen lets it all out, giggling and smiling and oh so happy. Evan is such a good kisser, she thinks to herself; no tongue, no slobber; it’s like he’s been kissing forever.

Beth pulls out of the parking lot, not even needing to ask how Jen’s night went. For she can see it in her eyes, and also her laugh, her smile, her everything. It all makes Beth happy too, remembering her first kiss and how it made her feel. It takes Beth back, way back, so much so that she lets her car drift, out of her lane and towards a cab next to her. The cab driver honks, bringing Beth back to reality, him cursing and screaming, yelling at her to pay attention. Which she does, coming back to reality and going back to driving safely. But none of this affects Jen, for her night was perfect and nothing can ruin it.

Advertisements

A New Life

Throw a bunch of words in a hat, pull one out, and write a story using that word.

This week’s word: TEST

A NEW LIFE

Addie walks into the bathroom, the weight of the world on her shoulders. She had hoped there was another way, that the pharmacist could tell her, or send her to someone who could. Instead, he gave her a test.

She was so bad at things like this. So bad she couldn’t even finish high school. All the tests and assignments and fail, fail, fail, she’d even fail tests you couldn’t fail, like IQ and SATs. She failed her driver’s test twice before she finally gave up on that endeavor. What even is a blind spot anyway?

It doesn’t matter, because today is another one: a pregnancy test. The pharmacist said it could explain why her blood never came, but why couldn’t he just tell her? Why does she have to take a test?

In the bathroom, Addie drops her pants and panties, sits on the toilet, and sticks the test between her legs. She then covers the small end in urine, some of which splashes onto her leg. “Points off” her driving instructor says.

It doesn’t take long before she is done, her urine gone and her examination complete. Now, the results.

Addie sits on the toilet while she waits, thinking about her test and what would happen if she actually passed. What kind of a mother she would be? Much better than her own that’s for sure: always calling her stupid and a failure, even in front of her father, who never did anything about it. No, she’d have a smart baby, and she’d never have any reason to call her a failure.

Finally, her results appear: a plus sign.

She stares at the sign, in disbelief. “I passed?” she says, letting it sink in.

Then it hits her. “I passed!” she hollers as she bounds off the toilet, out of the bathroom and into her unkempt den. “I passed, I passed, I passed, I passed,” she cheers as she bounces around the apartment, unable to keep her excitement in.

“Passed? Passed what?” Don asks, Don being the guy on the couch, the guy watching football, empty beer cans and a bottle of Jack around him.

Addie bounds to him and drops her test in his lap. “I passed, I passed, I passed, I passed. The blood di’n’t come so I took a test, and I passed!”

Don holds the test up to see what it is, then sees the plus sign staring back at him. His eyes widen.

*****

“But baby, I doan wanta go,” Addie says, sitting shotgun as he swerves down the road, around cars and through traffic. “I doan wanta kill mah baby.”

“You shut up you stupid bitch,” Don commands as he skids off the curb. “Whatcha want? To ruin our lives?”

“I di’n’t mean to. I di’n’t mean fo’ it to happen.”

“Ain’t possible for a girl to get pregnant less she means it. That’s a fact.”

Addie did not know that was a fact. She didn’t think she wanted it, but pregnant she is, so maybe she did? Maybe deep down, in those secret parts of the brain scientists and doctors always talked about, maybe those parts wanted it and she didn’t know?

A red light. Don slams on the brakes, skids to a stop, just in time. They sit at the light, waiting. “I still doan wanta go,” she says.

Don doesn’t respond. The light turns green and off they go.

“I said I doan wanta go. Take me home.”

“No.”

“Take me home!”

“No!”

“Take me HOME!” Addie screams as she grabs the wheel, forcing a turn in the middle of the road. Don pushes back, then smashes his fist into her elbow, breaking her grasp and regaining control of the car.

“What the fuck!” Don screams as he slaps her face. “Don’t you ever do that again.”

A siren blares, a police siren, behind them. “Fuck!” Don screams again as he pulls the car to the side of the road. “You just sit there, keep your mouth shut.”

The officer stops behind them, then approaches and taps on their window. Don rolls it down. “License and registration please,” the officer says.

“He’s drunk officer! He’s drunk and he’s takin’ me to the hospital and I doan wanna go!”

“You stupid bitch!” Don winds up for another slap and-

“Hey! That’s enough!” commands the officer. Don listens, lowers his arm. “Out of the car,” the officer commands again.

Drunk and angry, Don exits the car. “I ever see you try to hit that girl again,” the officer threatens, “I will kill you. You got that?” He does. “Good. Now, walk this line.”

Don doesn’t want to but what can he do? He lines up and there’s no way he can do it, barely even able to stand. One step and it’s over, he’s on the ground, down and out. Addie can’t help but laugh. “Shouldn’ta drank all that Jack!” she yells as the officer cuffs him and takes him to his squad car.

Addie waits as the officer returns, Don safely locked away.

“Thank you officer,” she says. “That man was outta his mind.”

“Ma’am, I’m gonna need you to step out of the car.”

“What?”

“Out of the car, ma’am.”

What’s going on? She didn’t do anything. She doesn’t understand but she’s a good soldier and so she complies. “I’m gonna need you to walk this line.”

Oh no, a test. She’s no good at tests, fails them all the time. “But officer, I haven’t had nuttin’ to drink.”

“Just walk the line ma’am.”

Okay, she’ll do it, take this test. And you know what? She’s gonna pass, because today’s a new day and she passed her pregnancy test and she’ll pass this one too. Pregnant with the world’s smartest baby, who’ll read the entire dictionary and know all the answers on Wheel of Fortune and solve Sudokus without even looking at the page. Yes, the world’s smartest baby and she can surely pass this one test for him.

So she starts forward, walks a straight line. Then stands on one foot and touches her nose. And even the breathalyzer can’t fail her; she’s invincible, she passes them all.

“Well, you seem okay to me,” the officer says. “Just watch who you spend your time with. I’ll call you a cab.”

“I’m going to the hospital. Gonna have me a baby.”

The officer looks at her stomach. It’s normal sized, some belly fat but no signs of pregnancy. He looks back at her. “You just take care of yourself, okay?”

Addie nods. She will, her and her baby. She’ll take care of herself, her life, her world. Because now she can and now she will, passing her pregnancy test, passing another. Having a baby, being a mother. She will take care of herself, her new life, in this world.

The Engine Lab

Cristina and Scott meet after a failed experiment. One wants revenge and there is a near death experience involved. Write the story.

THE ENGINE LAB

It was supposed to be a simple experiment. They did it every year, Aero 351, turn on the engine and measure some shit, then go home and do calculations, write a report. That’s how it was supposed to be, how it went every year.

But not this year.

This year there was a leak. One of the injection valves, leaking gas into the engine. It’s an old engine, and used so rarely and who knows how long it’d been leaking for: a day? a month? All year?

No one knew, of course, no one knew it was leaking at all. The lab always stank of gas, so that wasn’t a warning, and how can you see a leak that’s inside an engine? No, no one knew, not until they turned on the engine and a fireball shot out the nozzle, right into unsuspecting engineering student Cristina Locks.

*****

Cristina was an aberration. There aren’t a lot of girls in engineering, even less attractive ones. But Cristina was the ultimate, sweet and cute, with a smile that could inspire you to greatness and melt your heart. All the guys either fell in love with or want to fuck her, but none had a chance, at least not her classmates, no way.

That was before the incident. Before the fireball covered her in burns and seared her face. She was lucky to survive, the doctors doing everything to save her, but they couldn’t save her face, her sweetness, her innocence.

Before the incident engineering was hard. It’s hard for everyone but it’s even harder for girls, entering a boys club, dealing with chauvinism and sexism and trying to fit in. It helped that she was cute, that the boys worship her, that they’d do anything to help and be with her. But now they treat her like a freak, gossiping and avoiding, or worse, giving her their sympathy; it was too much, that she couldn’t take. And so, by the end of the year, she dropped out.

*****

It was around this time, sitting at home doing nothing, that Cristina found him. Scott Bryant, local high school boy, ranting and raving about being rejected from his dream college. Cristina’s college, her very own department, had rejected him. And with no backups, no secondary plans, he’d been reduced to ranting on Craigslist. That’s where she found him.

His first rants were innocent enough, angry at the college, his parents, himself. But then they got worse, organizing protests, calling for action, for revenge against his dream school. This was perfect for Cristina, for she wanted it as well.

So Cristina attended his next “protest”. She was the only one there, the only one listening as Scott yelled at the university from its student union quad. And when he took a break she introduced herself, then said: “Why don’t we get out of here? Talk this through?”

*****

Of course he said yes. This crazy boy, with no friends and terrible social skills, and someone was actually listening to him? Someone wants to talk? Someone interested in what he had to say?

They met later that evening, a local diner, off campus and out of sight of any school action. Cristina dressed up for the date, ready to make this boy hers.

Not that she needed to, for this boy was crazy! Even at dinner he couldn’t help himself, ranting against the world, raving against the school. Filled with anger and disgust, spewing out conspiracy theories and other untrue stories; no wonder her college didn’t let him in. What does he have: ADHD? Bipolar? Borderline personality disorder? Doesn’t matter, for all she had to do was agree, let him talk and agree with everything. It was simple as that, she agreed with everything and they hit it off completely.

*****

For their second meeting, Cristina chose a library. It was a test, could he control himself? Could he be quiet, adapt himself, behave in a challenging situation?

They chatted and she watched him, observing, evaluating. He was nervous, yes, having lots of energy with no release. Being forced to stay quiet, not able to rant or rave; he was almost bursting at his seems. But he was trying, working hard to stay under control, and he did well enough, it getting easier and easier as time went by. He can control himself, she concluded; he just has to work hard to do it.

*****

She held their third meeting at her place, all alone, just the two of them. She knew it was safe, for not only could he control himself, but she could control him. And now, with some privacy, she finally could tell him why she went to his protest, what made her interested in him. It was something in his Craigslist posts, something about revenge?

Just bringing it up set Scott off again, that evil school and their conspiracy against him, the abusive system that’s ruining America and didn’t let him in.

“So what are you gonna do about it?” Cristina asked, focusing his anger, focusing him. Stop ranting, stop raving, get serious. Do something with your feelings, make something happen.

Scott falls silent. He’s never encountered this before, someone listening to his rants, encouraging him. What was she getting at? What did she want from him?

Cristina suspected he’d respond like this, and so she was ready. First, she told him her story: the dream student at the dream school, how everyone loved her and how she was doing great. And how they all destroyed it, destroyed her. Lit a fire and burned her face off. That’s real pain, even more than being rejected, real pain is being accepted then being destroyed, being ripped apart by the people you trust, the people you love. Deeds like that cannot be undone, they can’t be allowed and they can’t go unpunished.

Scott listened, agreeing with everything. He continued to agree as Cristina laid our her plan: to sabotage the lab, destroy that engine so it could do no more damage. He agreed with everything until she got to the finale: unfolding their plan during an actual lab, taking out all who would use such a machine. Scott didn’t like that part. Did death really need to be part of their plan?

Yes it did. They did this to her, she’s doing this to them.

Cristina saw that Scott needed more convincing, that revenge means more to her than it did to him. She needed extra to get him on her side, and it was at this point that she decided to sleep with him.

*****

At their next meeting, Cristina laid out the details: where to go, how to get in, how to sabotage the Aero lab engine. It was simple really, a couple incisions that she detailed for him, then the gas will seep in, just waiting to be ignited, just like what happened to her in lab.

After detailing her plan their meeting ended, but before Scott left, Cristina took off her clothes and fucked him again. Really good this time, giving it her all and even going down on him, making sure to give him the best feeling he’s ever had. Not that she liked it, not that she even likes him, but this was her insurance: him addicted to her, drowning him in pleasure with the promise of it forever; he won’t have a single other thought in his feeble little head.

All he had to do was this one deed. God knows it was needed, God knows they deserved it.

*****

And so, with sex on his mind and craziness in his brain, Scott went to campus, to the engine lab. The lab was outside (for “safety”), surrounded by barb wire and a chain link fence. Scott had to be careful getting past all that, climbing over the fence and sneaking in. But he was and he did, dropping down inside, he was in.

He went to the engine and poked various tubes and valves with a sewing needle, exactly as instructed. The result was holes so small they were guaranteed to go undetected. But even so, the leaks would begin, causing the engine to blow once it was ignited.

Once finished, Scott exited the way he came. He then went back to Cristina’s, ready to be congratulated and fucked again. But Cristina corrected him; his job wasn’t done yet. For the lab hadn’t been conducted yet, and he needed to be there to confirm their success.

And so Scott did what he was told, went to class and stood by the door, in the exact spot Cristina told him. And then, when the lab began and the engine was ignited, it completely exploded! One leak caused a fireball and this time there were ten leaks, twenty, who knows how many. Enough to take out the whole lab, the professor, the students, the fence and everything inside it, and even the random eighteen-year-old by the door outside the lab.

*****

The fire department rushed to the scene, a scene filled with smoke and numerous charred bodies, surrounded by students too scared to intervene. News crews arrived soon after, reporting on the carnage as campus police controlled the crowd, paramedics worked through the smell of burnt flesh and the screams of the student body.

The whole situation was a nightmare. This shitty professor, his lab a ticking time bomb, how did the department not learn from last year? What even happened this time? And who was that kid who was incinerated outside?

The Fire Marshall, studying the scene, immediately recognized it as sabotage. An explosion like that, with so many failures all happening at once, and on an engine repaired less than a year ago? That doesn’t just happen.

Also involved were detectives, identifying the bodies: the professor, the students, the random boy outside. The boy was tricky, and it took some legwork to identify him. But once they did, they match him to his rejection, and then to his numerous Craigslist rants. They then search his bedroom, finding his medication untaken, and with it several articles about Cristina and her accident. It was obvious he did it, sabotaged the lab as revenge for his rejection, then stood outside to enjoy it, no idea the amount of sabotage he actually did. It was an open and shut case, but for completeness the detectives did question Cristina: she didn’t know anything, never even met the kid.

*****

Now Cristina she spends her time alone, supported by her settlement with her war-torn school. The school was reeling: fifteen deaths (no survivors), lawsuits flying left and right. But there was one thing the school was lucky about: in the first incident Cristina survived. Cristina survived and simply wanted to move on with her life, although she would only do so for the right price. The right price which the school immediately paid, eager get this nightmare behind them, and least in part.

Yes, now Cristina lives alone, surviving on her settlement, enjoying a simple life. Except for every once in a while when a reporter stops by. Several had done so, each one looking for a survivor’s perspective on the “Aero disaster”. Cristina’s response was always the same: devastation and sadness for the tragedy that transpired, but also relief that the lab will claim no more lives. The reporters also couldn’t help but take her picture, her face representative of the damage the school did. And sometimes, the reporters would even ask about the perpetrator, the crazy kid hell bent on revenge. And to that Cristina always said the same thing: she didn’t know him, but he seemed like a troubled kid.

Broke At The Magic Mirror

Combine the following into a story: abandoned town, zerbra (zebra spelled wrong), Jack Daniels, broke [at] the magic mirror (the at was actually an ‘a’ crossed out, but I took it to be an at symbol)

BROKE AT THE MAGIC MIRROR

It was all she could do to get out of here. This place, this town, hell it was called, at least it should be, where 10pm hits and there’s nothing to do, where everything is closed.

Nothing except her trusty watering hole, The Magic Mirror. For good times, go to The Magic Mirror, nothing else to do in this stupid town.

She slides inside, past the bouncer, and takes her seat at the bar. “Hey Zerbra,” she says. “How’s it goin’?”

“What’re you doing here? Wasn’t yesterday enough?” Zerbra, the bartender, responds.

“Yesterday? What’s yesterday?” she asks.

“Yesterday? Wednesday?” but Zerbra gets no response. “The Jack? You finished that bottle, went home with that trucker from up north.”

“Oh, sounds like fun.” Zerbra serves other customers, he does not respond.

“How ’bout… how ’bout vodka this time,” she asks. “What you got?”

“Nothing. There’s no vodka here.”

“Sure there is. I can see it right there.” She points to some bottles behind the bar.

“Let me clarify. There’s no vodka for you here.”

“Oh.” She wasn’t expecting that, not a drop in her and already she’s cut off. Zerbra, the only one her charm doesn’t work on, the only one who cares about her. “Well then how ’bout-”

“There’s none of that either. Why don’t you go home?”

The girl laughs. “You didn’t let me finish,” she says. “How ’bout you let me play some pool?”

Zerbra eyes her; she’s playing games, playing him. But at least she’s not drinking. “Fine,” he says as he pulls out pool balls and a cue.

“Another one please,” she says, indicating to the cue. “I can’t play by myself.”

“Yes you can,” Zerbra says. “Otherwise you can go home.”

“No way, can’t do that,” she says as she takes her cue and heads to the table, her thin waist and swaying hips catching the attention of everyone in the room.

Zerbra watches too, for different reasons. He watches her rack up and start playing pool. This innocent girl who doesn’t belong, who should be home, asleep, getting ready for school. Oh well, at least she’s not drinking; he’ll make sure of that, it’s just him tonight. She won’t get a single drink.

It doesn’t take long before she’s joined at the table. Two college kids, locals, but she doesn’t know them, although the way they act, she probably should. They play together, the three of them, playing and flirting and what can he do? Zerbra the bartender with patrons to serve, stuck far away in his corner behind the bar. What can he do if they’re all over her, what’s he expect, with her seductive figure and easy demeanor, her flirty ways and sexy air.

And then, one of the guys breaks from their game, leaves the pool table and heads for the bar. “Three beers man. Buds, the good stuff.”

Zerbra looks on with disgust as he produces one beer. “Five bucks.”

“Hey man, you know how to count? I said three.”

“They can order themselves. Five bucks.”

The guy registers this response. He pulls out a five and drops it on the bar, then takes his beer and heads back to the pool table.

“She’s barely eighteen,” Zerbra says as he goes.

The kid stops, turns back. “Old enough old man,” he says as he continues on.

It’s the three again, Zerbra watching as best he can. Watching that they don’t share their drinks, don’t get her drunk. But there’s only so much he can do, him serving customers, making drinks, and then he sees it, the corner of his eye: them trading sips, sharing drinks. Them all over her body, more playing with her than playing pool.

From then on he stops serving them. He can see they are sharing, liquoring her up like he’s not even there. So no more alcohol for them, no more to share, he’ll keep her sober and eventually they’ll leave and then she’ll go home, go to bed.

It works, the college kids grabbing their things, getting ready to go. All it took was no service, being refused and ignored; college kids go where the alcohol is and with no alcohol here, they get up and go. A victory for Zerbra, them leaving, her safe and sober, until… what’s this? She’s packing her things, she’s going with them.

“Charlotte,” Zerbra says, finally stepping in. “Where’re you going?”

“Home, baby. Just like you said.” The guys put their arm around her and the message is clear: back off man, she’s theirs, not his. “Don’t worry, I didn’t drink anything. I’ll remember it all this time.”

With that she leaves, the guys laughing as she walks out with them. Zerbra does nothing, just stands there, watching; he has customers to get to but he doesn’t move, he just stands there watching, the three of them, two guys and that girl, sober as can be and still she goes, out with them, home with them, with guys who’ll treat her like shit, who don’t care about her, don’t care about anything. Not like he does; he just wants her to be safe, to be happy, to be safe at home.

“Hey man. Let’s get some service here!” a patron yells back at the bar. And with that Zerbra comes back to reality, to his job, to his duty. He heads back to the bar and starts serving more drinks; Charlotte is gone, she’s never going home.

Sunflowers

Use the following words in a story: nursery, reward, scallop

SUNFLOWERS

Trees and bushes and a million types of flowers. Dahlias, roses, tulips, all different varieties, so much to choose from. What did she want? Front yard, beside the driveway, her new garden, she said unique and beautiful, not cliche which eliminates roses. Tulips it is, tulips and a sunflower. That’s unique, like back in kindergarden, planting sunflowers in the school garden, that’ll be fun, that’s definitely unique.

He pays the cashier, takes his flowers, leaves the nursery, and heads home. A short drive, short enough to walk, but not when you have flowers to bring home with you.

He arrives, and what is this? On the sidewalk, in front of his driveway, it’s a little girl. It’s the neighbor’s girl, no more than seven. And she’s crying. What’s she doing here, all alone, and why’s she crying?

He parks his car on the street, then goes to her. “What’s wrong little one?” He asks, trying to be comforting.

“Mom and dad are fighting,” she says as she looks up from the ground, her face covered in tears.

That’s not good. Poor girl, he knows her parents, living next door. Good people but going through tough times, they love each other but they’re constantly fighting.

“You don’t like that, do you?” he asks, knowing it’s dumb but what do you say to a seven-year-old who’s crying?

“No,” she says, shaking her head.

“Here, I have just the thing,” and he reaches into his car, pull out the sunflower. “Take this. It’ll help solve things.”

The girl lights up; soft and gentle, she takes the flower in her hands. “Is it a magical flower?” she asks. What a strange question, but maybe not when you are seven.

“All sunflowers are magical. They stand tall and face the sun, capture its rays and happiness and share it with anyone who comes near it. See?” he say as he smells the flower and let out a big smile.

The girl does the same, lets out an even bigger smile.

“Now why don’t you go home, share it with your parents?”

She nods. She will. She’s much happier now. She gets up and heads home, careful to protect her flower as she goes. He watches her all the way, until she’s safe at home. Then he unloads his tulips and brings them inside. His wife loves them, they’re the perfect choice. They’ll plant them tomorrow and it’ll be a wonderful day, spending time together, gardening in the sun.

Tomorrow, for it’s too late now; it’s time for dinner and she made scallions, his favorite. As they eat he tells her his story, about the crying girl outside their home. His wife is moved, almost crying, she happy and caring and the scallions are delicious, a great end to a positive day, a great reward for good deeds done.

His wife disagrees: the scallions aren’t his reward; his reward will come later, in bed, tonight.

Spending Time With Uncle Dean

Cross these questions (chosen at random from a Scientology pamphlet) to create your prompt:  (#14) Would the idea of inflicting pain on game, small animals, or fish prevent you from hunting? and (#17) Are you usually concerned with the need to protect your health?

SPENDING TIME WITH UNCLE DEAN

My uncle Dean is in town again, and he’s crazy, Fucking crazy. Mom makes he hang out with him but I hate it. Hate him. He’s crazy. Kicked out of high school and also out of college. Lost his job, should have gone to jail for that last one, attacking that girl in the back alley, he said she was drunk, that she said she wanted it.

And now I get to hang out with him. Yay me. “Family,” mom says. This is not good.

Dean wants to go hunting. The worst idea imaginable, him with a rifle, a shotgun, how can he even have these things?

He picks me up, me too young to drive so I’m stuck in tow. My mom thinks I’m not man enough, not playing football or hooking up with girls, preferring to read and play the saxophone. She puts up with it but she hates it; that’s why she makes me do this.

We drive out of the city and into the woods, where after an hour or so we pull over, a lookout, nothing but trees and greenery and the road we came in on. Dean goes to his cab, grabs his rifle. It’s as big as I am.

“Ever held one of these before?” he asks, already knowing the answer is no. I don’t respond and so he laughs, then without warning: “Catch!”. He tosses the gun.

I freak, stick my arms out, catch it in midair.

“Nice reflexes,” he says. “Use that out there. If anything moves shoot it.”

“What about other people?” I ask, no idea what I’m doing.

“No one out there but you and me,” Dean says. “Just don’t step in front of me, cause…” Dean mimes a bullet entering his head, then it exploding. This is not good.

“Alright,” he says. “Let’s go.”

Into the woods. Through the thick forest, me with the rifle, him with his shotgun; are they even loaded? He didn’t load them at the lookout, so either they aren’t or he drives around with loaded guns.

He’s getting ahead, way more into this than I am. “Wait up,” I say, not wanting to get lost, then I’ll be a target, something moving in the woods. He’ll shoot me, I know it, shoot first and check later, then he’ll see it’s me, little scrawny me who’d rather be playing my saxophone, not hunting animals, not getting killed. He’d probably just shrug.

“Hurry up! You’re slowing me down,” Dean says without breaking stride. I run up to keep up.

“Will it hurt? Will they feel it?” I ask.

“Huh?” he replies. “What are you talking about?”

“The animals. Will they feel it?”

“Not if you do it right,” he says. Do it right? I don’t want to do it at all. He sees my fear and so he replies “Don’t worry, animals can’t feel shit.”

He keeps walking, must be going somewhere. Don’t know where but he’s fast and determined, passing all sorts of animals. Well not really, but a squirrel here, crow there. He’s too focused to notice, focused on his travels. So much for shooting anything that moves.

Finally, we reach it: a stream. Where the big game come, Dean tells me. Deer and beavers and maybe even a bear if we’re lucky. We take our hiding spot, settle in, and then he tells me about last time he was here: a bear came, he popped two in its head but it was still alive when he went over, had to gut it with his knife before it was dead.

We wait and wait. No animals coming, not that I mind. This is manhood? Sitting here bored, waiting for animals in the cold itchy woods, being attacked by insects just so we can kill some innocent creature? I’d rather be reading, or playing my saxophone.

An hour goes by, Dean cursing and annoyed, me lying quiet, hopeful and annoyed. Hopeful the animals stay away, annoyed at being stuck here, afraid of my uncle Dean, when he’s annoyed he does bad things.

Another hour, I think. I don’t know for sure, for I closed my eyes, tried to sleep, who knows how much time actually went by. Then Dean nudges me, points downstream. A hundred yards away, a deer, grazing by the river. Two actually, a mom and her newborn. They are beautiful.

“Shoot it,” Dean says, me with the rifle, them in my range. I shake my head. “Shoot him!” Dean says again, louder but still quiet enough not to alert his game.

“No!” I scream, taking a stand. “I won’t! Run deer run! Escape!” I scream loud enough for the deer to hear, to see us and save themselves by running away. They do, they look our direction as Dean grabs me and ducks down below, his hand over my mouth, silencing my noise, forcing me to hide. The deer don’t see us; they go back to their grazing.

Dean looks me straight in the eyes. “Don’t fucking move,” he says as he grabs the rifle out of my hands. Slowly rising from hiding, he settles himself and takes aim. Taking him time, the perfect shot, taking aim.

Bang! A huge blast, echoing loud, throughout the woods. But it’s not him, it’s me, shotgun in hand, aimed up at the trees, birds scattering and surprising Dean as the recoil knocks me off my feet. But it doesn’t matter, because the deer hear and instantly start running, sprinting away. “Run deer run! Escape,” I scream again as I jump to my feet. Dean takes his shots but he’s desperate now, all over the place, the deer on the run and Dean keeps on missing, then they are gone.

Dean stops, looks at me. Rage in his eyes, on his face; he’s unable to speak. Then he hits me. “Fucking prick! What was that shit?” he yells as I fall to the floor, him towering over me.

“Your mom was right, you are a little bitch,” he says as he grabs his things, including both weapons, then starts heading back the way we came.

I follow, happy to leave, careful to keep my distance. Bang! The shotgun goes off, birds scattering from the trees. “I’m killing something today boy!” Dean screams, “better hope you’re not it.”

Dean reloads, continues walking and I continue to follow, leaving more space this time. This continues the whole way back, him shooting from the trail, birds scattering as he cusses at nothing and I hang further back, further and further until I lose sight of him completely, only the bangs of his shotgun telling me where I’m going.

Eventually we make it back. Except I’m so far behind that he has to wait. And when I arrive, out of the woods and through the clearing, I find his rifle aimed, pointed straight at me. I freeze.

“Whatcha gonna do now big boy?” Dean says, taunting me. “How you gonna save this one?”

Save this one? Save me? I don’t respond, unable to breathe as Dean’s foot comes crashing down, squashing a bug underneath it.

“There, I killed something. Lets go,” Dean says as he gets in the car and I do too. “Never again,” he says, glaring at me, “let your mom deal with your shit.” Those are his last words and it’s a quiet drive home, where he drops me off. No loss for me, I don’t mind never seeing him again, even if he’s family. Soon I’ll turn 18, leave my whole family behind, but until then, if at least Dean’s gone, I’ll definitely take that. I turn away from the car and walk back to my house, no Dean, no family, I’ll definitely take that.