Friday, February 22, 2013

Non-fiction Friday--This Year

 Shuffle off, on repeat  

Ever-ceremonious Janus has loftily hoisted his skeleton keys and closed firm the gates to the transition, wanted or not, into a new season. Our own small mortal's revenge is that we have banished him from our sights for the remainder of this year, and he, with his lists and ledgers filled with empty promises, loose resolutions, and false hopes, will not bother us again 'til after next.

The rituals of purification associated with February seem mostly lost - Lent aligns itself with the same hollow devotions as the unkempt contracts of mere fortnights ago - they are Janus' shadow as he marches into battles around the globe, away from us, and back to us.

Daughters are growing older and stronger and braver and lovelier, opening like blossoms into the fierce sunlight, closing up for the rain--not because they are too delicate to weather the drops on their faces, but because they recognize the value of working only on drinking in the nourishment when it comes to them.

I take care of them.
I address governing bodies and small whispers.
I engineer and judge.
I create and dispel.
I reign and serve.
I establish order.

We start again.

The world so far has not come to an end, despite the best efforts of some.

There are still no hover boards or promises of definite dates by which we will all have our hover boards, despite the demanding outcries of many.

The new cycles or old apocalypses are leaving us out in the cold, one way or another. Our manufactured tenets of change may mock us well enough, and our cleansing seasons are traded for sugar comas without much notice.

Still, we see, despite our seemingly complete incompetence, that change is real, and growth is true, and damn if we don't desperately need that little germinating flower to succeed in it's rise through the frozen earth, where we find we are risen with it--ready to hold dominion over all the new heights and depths and small voices that we've been graced to command. Or, at the very least, to start again.


Read more essays from this prompt:
Moody's submission

Want to make one of your own? Next week's prompt is FLASH FICTION.

Write a short story from the starting point, "Fairy Tale with a Twist." 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Flash Fiction Friday--Salmonella


The machines were still stopped.

The machines were never stopped.

Three days had come and gone and still no word from the plant manager. The union president was outside attempting to rally the workforce with his promises. "You all need your work to feed your families! I promise you now, somebody's losing their job over this!"

But who would be getting the ax? Who can you ask to take responsibility for this kind of mistake? After all, it had been in production for over forty days; none of the assemblers caught it, and why should they have? It's not on their task list. Before that, the test batch flew through all four levels in R&D. "This color is perfectly on-trend for this year. Guaranteed to sell."

Before that, it was in the hands of the marketing team, fresh from the design department, where some intern had scribbled into the margins one of the lunch ramblings of the just-a-little-too-inspired team lead, which definitely included the discussion of this color. "It's like a warm coral. Maybe with a touch of pinks. Walk into a room that looks like this vibrant orange, but smells like baked cookies. That's our target. Salmon meets vanilla. Salmonilla."

Whether they intended it or not, the name, having been noted on the paperwork and heavily referenced as it progressed toward production, made its way into the title of the collection (already a gross oversight), but the spelling error really brought  which was in production for nearly six weeks before the incident report was sent from House Depot HQ, explaining that a Mrs. Houghner (plaintiff) had vomited in their aisles after finding an aggressively marketed new line pleasing to her eye, and picking up the order catalogue only to find every item's color listed as Salmonella.

"Vomited in the aisles?"
"That's what the email says."
"...How many aisles?"
"At least four are mentioned."
"From smelling the paint?"
"No. Just looking at the cards. We - somebody at Mayer Design Co. - thought it was a good idea to name a signature paint color Salmonella, and the whole product line is modeled after it."
"How can that have happened? You can't be serious."
"Don't even ask. But the real kicker is that she fell in some of her vomit and had to go to the hospital, where they discovered her problem. She has PTSD. So she's going to sue House Depot and us for medical expenses and treatment. Our spelling error, or name, or whatever happened there, triggered her fall and diagnosis."
"I... I just can't believe it."

Three interns and two managers were fired that week, but the whole company went down shortly after. It was such a young design firm, and it really couldn't afford a mistake like that. The union's fines, the reprints, the lawyer's fees. Or even just the psychiatrist alone.


Read more stories from this prompt!
Moody's submission
Jeffery's submission
Josiah's submission

Want to make one of your own? Next week's prompt is NON-FICTION.

Write a short essay from the starting point, "this year." 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Non-Fiction Friday--Family Traits


I do it. My dad does it. His brothers, my brothers... for all we know it could go back 100 generations, and we're just the latest in a long line of ancestry carrying on the family trait.

Our tongues stick out when we concentrate.

It's almost as though our anatomy has somehow been programmed to say, "Attention systems: this is a high-focus issue. We can't have that willy-nilly, attached-at-only-one-end, loose cannon of a muscle over there causing problems. We've got to pin that thing down!"

It happens a lot playing video games. You might think that's the connection right there--that a stimulated brain trying to accomplish something assumes the body must be working too, and creates an action to compensate for the fact that you're sitting on your rear and exerting nothing more than your thumbs. Not so. Working through problems - even physical ones - it happens. I ran down a muddy hill once, and there is was again, sticking out like a ransomed captive, willing my feet to step carefully, to avoid slipping and falling to my demise or embarrassment. "Well, if I actually did fall, it would be a stupid time to be holding my tongue between my teeth," I mused as I arrived safely on the drier sidewalk, momentarily thankful that 'tongue stitches' was a phrase I'd never yet had to utter in an emergency room.

I spent a lot of time, once I got past the age of, oh I guess twelveish, intentionally training myself out of the involuntary habit. Let's be honest, it's not the most attractive of attributes to display. It's not terribly embarrassing, since it was fairly easy to stop once I'd decided to. It still surprises me sometimes, though, like in the hill-running incident, or when trying to cut something very precisely, and as I quietly tuck my tongue back into its rightful place, I marvel at the persistence of the quirk, wonder how long it went unnoticed by my own perceptions, and admit, by the slight flush of my cheeks, that I kinda hope no one else saw.


Want to make one of your own? Next week's prompt is FLASH FICTION.

Write a short story from the starting point, "Salmonella." 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Flash Fiction Friday--A Life Story


It’s an interesting question, and honestly not one I’ve been asked before, so I’ll give you one for finding that. But no, you’re right. My real name isn’t Shane Amos.

It’s Seamus McLeod. I’ve always hated it.

Kids were mean, you know? And they’d say the most idiotic stuff, not even being bright about it, like, ‘Seamus is a shame-to-us. Seamus riding on the bus.’ Dumb kid stuff that shouldn’t matter.

I told my mom I wanted a cool name. I’d be going by Sam from now on.

She didn’t even turn to me. “You were named for your great grandfather,” just kept scrubbing at some dishes or some such.

Irish guilt is wily and strong. I can’t shame a dead man by not accepting at least part of his name. There I’m trying to escape this idea of shame and it’s coming right back, shaming me into keeping it around.

So I told her, “Fine. Samus, then. Sam for short.”
But I wasn’t allowed to play video games. I didn’t know there was a game called Metroid with a hero called Samus. I didn’t know SHE WAS A GIRL.

So, yeah. I didn’t go by Samus very long.

Shane Amos was what I started using in boarding school. It stuck pretty well, and since I found nearly all my bandmates there, after I’d been doing open mics in pubs and such, we formed the group around the sort of stage name that became the only name I heard myself called by.

So that’s how we got our band name too, Shane Amos and the Blanks. If we’d known then we were gonna be inducted into the rock & roll hall of fame all these years later, we probably would have thought about it a bit longer, I think.


Want to make one of your own? Next week's prompt is NON-FICTION.

Write a short essay from the starting point, "Family Traits."