Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Destynee Week 89: Cup of Happiness

Destynee Cullen

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Picture 2

Destiny Cullen’s Choice: Picture 2

Cup of Happiness

There she was clutching her bright yellow cup filled with tea. I knew she was having a bad day because she always used that cup.

That smiling face on the cup looked so out of place with her lips downcast and that far away look in her eyes. She said that it gave her a reminder to always be happy.


“Amanda, why are you over here all alone?” I said, climbing underneath the bleachers.

She slowly looked over at me. “Just needed some time alone.”

I frowned knowing there was more to it than that. “Come on Amanda. I’m going to take you home. It doesn’t look like you’re going to go to classes anyway.”

“No, it’s fine, Jacob.” She clutched her jacket as a big gust of wind racked through the bleachers.

I pulled her up by her arm and threw her over my shoulder. “I’m not going to let you get sick, Amanda.”

“Jacob, please let me go,” she said, without much fight. She didn’t even try to get down.

“It looks like it’s about to rain and I won’t leave you there to get sick,” I said, as I let her down. She just looked up at me and sat down in my truck. “Don’t worry, Manda, I’ll get you smiling in no time.”

Once we were at my house I took her into the kitchen to get her something hot to drink. I was scouring the kitchen for a clean cup but I couldn’t find anything. Then the thought hit me. I got a gag gift a few years ago from my friends. They knew I’d never be seen drinking from a cup like that.

I put water to boil and I went to my room and went through my closet to get that undeniably happy cup. When I got back the water was boiling and Amanda was still staring out the window watch the rain start pattering against it.

I got my last tea bag and put it in the steaming water in the cup for her and set it in front of her. Without looking at it her hands instantly went around it to soak up the warmth.

It seemed like that's what she needed to get out of her blank state. She looked down at the cup and she smiled. It wasn’t her famous full blown smile but it was enough to know I did something right.

“Are you going to tell me what is wrong?”

She just kept looking at the cup and the smile seemed to get a bit bigger the longer she looked at it. “It doesn’t matter. You showed me that some people care even when you think you’re all alone.” Her eyes lifted off the cup and looked at mine. “Thank you.”


“Hey Manda,” I said, walking up to her.

She turned around and that far away look went away and in its place she gave me her famous beautiful smile. “Hi, Jake. What are you doing here?”

“I didn’t see you in Professor Ant’s class so I thought this was going to be a tea day and you might want some company, but it seems that cup has taken my place,” I said, with fake distraught.

She put down the cup and wrapped her arms around my neck. “No one can replace you.”

I smiled and hugged her tight around me.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Jessypt Week 89: Floating


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Picture 2

Jessypt's Choice: Picture 2


Maria watches herself in the mirror as she feels the music take over. With her eyes closed she loses herself in the feel of her muscles contracting and burning with exertion. As the music begins to build, she launches herself into the air, timing her gorgeous jete perfectly with the climax. Her feet hit the ground on the downbeat, and the exhilaration she feels is overwhelming.

This is what she has always enjoyed about dancing. She can be carefree, can allow her body and the music to communicate in a silent conversation to which only she is privy.

With each pulsing beat or slide of the violin’s bow, she allows the music to carry her away.
As the music changes to the piece she and Marcus worked on the day before, she closes her eyes, takes a deep breath, and gets into position. She extends her arms, one in front and the other behind, and gracefully moves across the dance floor, perfectly in step and as if Marcus were beside her.

She imagines his hand resting on her waist, the other resting just below her extended arm. With each note, her movements are succinct yet graceful. She can visualize herself on the stage, the black abyss of the audience in front of her, and she feels the familiar dancer’s high.

She feels alive. Passionate. Ravished by the music.

When the music comes to a close, only her breath and the sound of two hands clapping can be heard. She whirls around to see Jared, her coach, standing in the doorway, a huge smile across his face.

“Well done, dear one,” he says, pushing off the frame and walking toward her. He stops in front of her and presses an affectionate kiss to her damp forehead.

“Truly, Maria, that was your best performance of this piece to date.”

She beams at his compliment and silently chuffs that she did it without Marcus’ help. After spending fifteen years with Jared as her private instructor, she knows he doesn’t dole out unmerited praise. “Thank you, Jared.”

“Will you dance with me?” he asks, extending his hand.

Maria does not hesitate. It is rare she has the opportunity to dance with him, and she will gladly use this as a chance to learn from the best.

“I’d love to.”

He squeezes her hand and then releases it to restart the music. In position, Maria feels Jared grip her waist, just as she imagines Marcus would.

As the music starts, she lifts her leg, gracefully swirls her arms, and leans away from him. He pulls her back against him, effortlessly assisting her in the air and moving with her across the dance floor. Down on one knee he releases her as she floats away, pirouetting once then twice and landing on one knee. Together they move seamlessly, Maria lost in Jared’s strength and power.

By the time the music comes to a close, Maria is panting from exertion, and sweat is glistening on her face. She has always loved the music, but nothing could have prepared her for the way it feels to move like that.

Jared stares at her as she dabs a towel across her nose, cheeks, and forehead.

“That is what it should feel like, my dear. I chose you for this part for a reason. You have to feel it, even if your partner doesn’t.”

Maria nods, feeling uncharacteristically overwhelmed and too choked up to speak. Jared is right. While she feels nothing but fatherly affection for him, she saw just how powerful her own movements could be when she allows her body to move and her soul to swallow the music.

As he turns to leave, Maria reaches out and touches his arm. “Thank you,” she manages to whisper.

He stares at her for a second longer. “Get some rest.”

Maria watches him walk out the door, and for the first time in a long time she smiles.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Kimmydonn Week 88: A Private Beach


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Kimmydonn's Choice: Both


A Private Beach

Salt stung her eyes and filled her nose. Deb had looked forward to being on the beach, in the ocean, but she hadn’t expected this.

Russel had surprised her with the ticket.

“I have a conference in Hawaii. Can you believe it? I thought, maybe, you’d like to tag along.”

“Are you kidding?!” She looked at the printout in her hand. The flight was in three weeks. Spring break. She’d already planned to take the time off, but she’d thought she was visiting her sister in Vegas. Hawaii? Valerie would understand.

Not ten minutes off the plane, despite the cooler temperature and gray sky, Deb was walking the beach hand-in-hand with Russel. She didn’t care that it wasn’t warm. She wanted the seawater under her feet, the sand between her toes. Russel had been quick to oblige her. He spent the whole day at her side, until their toes grew cold and wrinkly. She couldn’t think of a better way to spend the day.

“I’m so glad you came with me,” Russel whispered as he pulled her into his side for a kiss. He felt so warm in the damp mist that had soaked through her top. She wished she’d been smart enough to bring a sweater or hoodie. Who would have thought it got cold in Hawaii? “But I have to do the conference thing tomorrow during the day. Will you be okay?”

“I’ll be fine,” she promised. “I can find something to amuse myself.”

“Just don’t be so amused that I can’t get your attention later.” He hugged her and let his hands slip into the back of her shorts.

“Never,” she promised, and their lips met again as the surf washed in around them.

The storm that had brought the cooler temperatures left Deb in the hotel room for most of the next day. She wandered the lobby and a few nearby shops, but couldn’t really spend time outside, to her disappointment.

She did, however, find an advertisement that piqued her interest.

Private Beach
Available Thursdays
Call for details

Russel would still be in the conference on Thursday, but he could meet her there afterward. The storm wasn’t expected to last more than a day, so Thursday should be beautiful. Deb called the number.

“Yes?” a man answered.

“Oh, hello, I’m calling about your private beach. I was wondering if it was available this Thursday. My boyfriend and I are only here for the week.”

There was silence on the other end.


“Yes, it is available this Thursday. When would you and your boyfriend be arriving?”

“Um... I’m not sure. Also, the ad didn’t say what you charge.”

“Oh, no fee.”

Deb’s brow furrowed. It couldn’t be free. “What’s the catch?”

“It’s my beach. That’s the catch,” he said, his voice husky. “I’ll be on it as well.”

“Oh!” Deb said in relief. “That’s fine. Well, Russel won’t be done until around five, but could I come by sooner?”

“You can come by whenever you like,” the man said, his words slow and thick. She wondered if he was Polynesian. He sounded vaguely like the girl at the front desk.

“Great! Where are you?” She jotted down the address, eager to tell Russel all about it.

On Thursday, Russel woke her as he dressed for his conference. “So, I’ll meet you over there?” he checked, looking at the address she’d put on his phone.

“Yeah, I’m going to head there soon. Go for a swim.”

“Have fun,” he said, kissing her cheek.

Donning a bikini beneath her shorts, Deb slung a beach bag with towel, lotion, book, and other incidentals on her shoulder. She decided to walk rather than call a taxi. It took her nearly three quarters of an hour, but the day was so nice after the storm, with the sun streaming through the palms, that she didn’t mind.

The last fifteen minutes were spent passing plantations. She could see row after row of mangoes and then pineapples. At last she came to an iron gate between stone pillars. There was an intercom fit into one of them.

“Hello? This is Deb. I called the other day.”

There was no answer, but the gate opened. She felt more nervous as she walked down the long drive to the mansion that was set at the end of it. She couldn’t be in the right place. She started to walk around the house and saw the ocean and beach that fanned out behind. The walk to beach was easily as long as the driveway to the house.

“Aloha,” someone called.

Deb turned and saw a man on one of the balconies of the house. He wasn’t Polynesian, not with dirty blond hair, but he was easily as tan as any of the natives. She shaded her eyes and waved up at him. His brightly patterned shirt was unbuttoned, revealing a chest more toned than Russel’s and lacking any hair. He had a tattoo on his left pec, but she couldn’t make it out. He was younger than she had supposed.

“Make yourself comfortable,” he told her, taking a sip from the coffee mug in his hand. “If you want a cup, come on inside.”

“Oh, I couldn’t,” she said, but the man turned and entered the house, coming out through the french doors at the back of the house.

“Please, come inside. At least a cup of coffee. The ocean isn’t going anywhere.”

She smiled and walked through the door he held open for her. “Thank you. You know, I never got your name.”

He chuckled. “I didn’t know yours either, Deb, until you rang today.” He reached past her to pull a mug from a cupboard. She glanced up at his arm and then down at his chest. The tattoo was an orchid. “I’m Vincent.”

“That’s pretty,” she said, reaching out to touch the flower. She pulled her hand back quickly. “I’m sorry, I mean-”

He laughed again, tracing it with his own finger after setting the mug down. “It is, isn’t it? My ex-wife’s favorite.”

Deb closed her eyes and cursed her own bad luck. “I really didn’t mean-”

“Oh, no, it’s fine. Water under the bridge. They grow here, so it reminds me of home.”

“It’s very nice,” she said again, fixing her coffee with cream and sugar. “Do you live here alone?”

He looked around the spacious kitchen and breakfast nook. “I’m afraid so. I have clients that use the place the rest of the week, but Thursdays are mine.”

“Oh, then you don’t want-” she started to set her cup down and back away.

He put his hand around hers on the mug, so she couldn’t let go. “I wouldn’t have offered my beach if I didn’t want people to use it. Please, let’s take a walk,” he suggested.

Deb felt a little nervous alone with the strange man who was only a few years older than herself. Walking helped with that, and the sounds and smell of the ocean washed away any anxiety that remained. They chatted amiably about the island and Deb felt a little less like a stranger by the end of it.

“You have a gorgeous beach, Vincent.”

He smiled. “It’s nice to have someone to share it with.” He reached out and brushed Deb’s cheek lightly with his fingertips. “Someone who appreciates it.”

She blushed a little and turned back toward the house, her mug empty.

“Let me take that. I have a few errands to run, so you can have a few moments to yourself.”

“Thank you,” she said again.

Deb barely waited for Vincent to reach the house before stripping off her shorts and running into the surf. She dove under and let the eddies and currents toss and turn her before fighting them enough to surface for air. She swam out a few hundred yards and floated, letting the swells carry her back to shore.

“There’s something I forgot to tell you.”

Deb sat up, startled at the voice. It was Vincent, and he was standing just behind her. She turned and looked up his bare legs, his bare... everything. She bit her lip and looked away.

He slipped a finger under her bikini strap and she jumped again, slapping her hand over his.

“There’s a no swimsuit policy on my beach.”

Deb started to pull away, but he didn’t let go and the strap snapped.

“Who do you think you are?” she asked, holding her suit together.

“I think I’m the owner of this beach. And I think I’d like to see you on the sand.”

“I don’t think-”

He smiled and held his hand out, not touching her, just palm out. “Just see. I understand you came with someone. He’s welcome to leave his suit behind as well.”

Deb stomach flipped a couple times. “You watch?” she asked, astounded.

“When I’m not invited,” he admitted. He knelt lower until his nose was nearly touching hers. “Unless you’d like to invite me?”

Her mouth worked on air. She should tell him to go to hell. She should grab her bag and march out of there. Instead, she had the odd desire to stay, to enjoy his beach. “You won’t let Russel know you’re here?”

His smile widened. “I can stay out of sight if you’d like.”

She licked her lips then eased the bottoms off her suit and released the other bikini strap. Vincent was true to his word and she only felt his breath. He was so close, over her collarbone, her shoulder, her ear.

“You look amazing, Deb. I hope Russel tells you that. Does he know how lucky he is? Does he make you feel the way you should?” His breath moved to her back now, blowing down her spine. She felt sand all over her, but grains were dropping as he breathed on them. She shivered.

“Can you show me how he makes you feel?” Vincent asked.

Deb’s eyes flew open. Vincent was still behind her but she could twist her neck to find his eyes, sea-green, like the ocean behind him.

“Can I show you how I’d make you feel?” He shifted on his knees around her and Deb’s eyes locked on his lap, on what stood there, taunting her.

“How many?” she managed to croak out. She couldn’t explain why she felt this way, why she didn’t turn and run, but she was too curious.

“How many what?”

“How many girls do you lure in?”

He sighed, and reached his fingers toward hers. He didn’t touch them, and she moved her hand the minute amount to lace her fingers with his.

“Almost none. You are the first to come alone in a very long time. In fact, you’re the first this year to call me. Very few stay.”

Deb slowly lifted her eyes to meet his again. “Don’t you dare tell my boyfriend,” she told him, then she slid forward and ran her hand over Vincent’s tattoo.

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” he answered, sweeping her hair over her shoulder so it hung curling down her back. Then he cupped her cheek and ran his thumb over it. “I really was just hoping to see you.” His eyes flicked briefly from her eyes to her chest. “And now I can’t seem to look away.” His eyes didn’t dart again, holding on hers as the waves crashed four times, five, six.

Deb couldn’t take the tension anymore. She leaned forward and kissed Vincent, wrapping her hands around his shoulders. He fell backward, pulling her atop him.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Alby Mangroves Week 88: Covet

Alby Mangroves

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Alby Mangroves's Choice: Picture 2


He looks like he’s waiting for someone.

Maybe I’ll pretend it’s me.

Any moment, he’ll turn his head and look my way; his eyes will light up like I’m what he wants, like I’m what he’s been waiting for.

Our eyes will smile at each other and our mouths will follow, and as I near him, I’ll reach out my hand and slip it in between denim and hot skin, caressing his neck and jaw.

He will lean into the palm of my hand and pull me closer to stand between his thighs, inside his warmth.

I’m excellent at pretending.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

KekahJ Week 88: Home


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KekahJ's Choice: Picture 2



She circled the room again. She didn’t need to. She had practically every square inch of the empty room memorized. From the warm neutral walls to the soft new carpet, she knew this room. This was her room. The thought didn’t quite register. Her brain seemed unable to wrapping itself around the concept. She owned this room and the three others attached to it.

Of all the rooms in her new home, this was her favorite. She already knew just where she’d put her bed: under the window so that she could feel the breeze on her face each night as she drifted off to sleep. She’d wake up each morning, the sun warm on her cheek. Letting herself get carried away by her fantasy, she laid down on the floor where she knew her bed would soon be, the sunlight streaming in through the window. She sighed, enjoying the feel of the carpet beneath her fingertips and her cheek as she rolled over, shielding her eyes with the back of her hand.

Pure bliss surged through her. She’d done it. Everyone had doubted her and said it wasn’t possible, but she’d done it. She had a place to call her own now; a place that was all hers.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

107_yroldvirgin Week 88: Some Things


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107_yroldvirgin’'s Choice: Picture 1

Some Things

Some things.

Some things never change. The way they smell or taste. How they feel.

The taste of an orange eaten in pure bright sunshine.

Rain on a summer day - flash storm catching you off guard with wet, slippery feet in flip flops.

The scent of pine needles and fallen leaves lifted by a fall breeze.

It amazes her that the smells never change, even as she ages. As she progresses and becomes more. More than a silly girl in plastic shoes. Or an awkward girl in clothes a size too big to cover transitions she’s not yet ready for. As she goes from being a nothing … into someone’s something. Their everything.

Because oatmeal still warms her tummy. And a fresh soda still tickles her nose. And pine needles still smell the same, no matter how old she gets.

Bundled in sweater and coat and scarf...under a hat and with gloves on her hands, she can smell it. Cold and crisp, the air is the same. The sensation is the same. But her eyes are not because she sees through his now.

Tiny feet pounding pavement beneath discarded leaves. Red cheeks pulled back in the brightest of smiles, bluest eyes alight with the purest of devotion. “Mommy,” he’s breathlessly catching up, those thick sneaker-clad feet threatening to trip with each push forward. “Mommy,” he repeats, higher and louder, as if she can’t hear him. As if her heart would ever, ever let her not hear him.

“What’s up, buddy?” She laughs, watching the warm air escape her lips in a puff of white.

“Wait for me!” He’s chattering, arms open wide to keep balance but maybe something more. Maybe an invitation. Always arms wide. Always learning. Seeing. Experiencing something new. Tiny curls escape from his hat and she bends, opening her arms wide too as he crashes into her, holding tight to her neck and squeezing until she’s sure that her very life has escaped from her lungs. Wrung out by her heart outside of her body on two very unsure feet.

She stands, holding tightly to her most precious thing in the world, cheek to freezing cold cheek as they both survey the world around them. So familiar, and yet always, always, always new. “What do you see?” She whispers.

He laughs, always full of laughter, fingers splayed open as if he could touch everything in the entire world all at once. “Ummm. I see trees!”

“That’s right. And what color are the trees?”

“Yellow,” he giggles, triumphant because he is correct.

She is filled with joy and nods, placing a kiss before allowing his feet to the cold ground. And as he runs ahead, arms open again and laughter spilling behind him to reach her ears, she closes her eyes and breathes in deeply once more. Cold and crisp, full of the scent of fallen leaves, pine needles and a little boy’s love that allows her to remain, for one moment in time, exactly the right amount of perfectly happy.


She’s pulled from her moment with smile, knowing that, just as smells are the same … and places are the same … she’ll keep that memory locked inside her heart with the prettiest of bows.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Jessypt Week 88: Gone


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Jessypt's Choice: Picture 1


“How long ago did you find her?” the officer asked.

I heard the question he asked, but I felt like my head was underneath water, or worse, like my whole body was trapped under a thick wet blanket and I couldn’t get out. Everything felt muffled and distant, with the exception of me. I felt cold. Bitterly cold as if the blood had suddenly frozen inside my veins.

Slowly, I turned my head and looked at him. I tried to lick my lips, to wet them so I could speak, but my mouth was dry. Bone dry. “What?” I croaked.

The officer squatted down in front me and placed his hand on my shoulder. “Sir, I know it’s difficult, but we need you to answer a few questions. Do you think you can do that? Is there anyone we can call?”

I shook my head, trying to clear it, to make sense of his words, as my eyes swept back to my wife’s body, lying on the floor.

I heard some shuffling and at some point a glass of water was placed in my hands. I sipped at it, mindlessly wondering how I could get a hold of our daughter. She was on her way to Europe for the summer, and just the thought of calling her and trying to explain that her mother was ...

I dropped the cup in my hand and crumpled down onto the floor, the numbness and confusion bearing down on me, crushing me, as the weight of reality and loss began to set in.

I heard whispers about next of kin and cause of death, but I couldn’t process what they were really saying. So, I sat there, my knees bent, head in my hands and prayed I’d make it through this.

After some time a police officer, one I hadn’t seen, helped me up and led me downstairs. I sat on the sofa and stared at nothing and everything. Pictures of our life, a pile of papers she’d brought home from the office, and her favorite purple blanket lay scattered around the room. It was overwhelming and not enough, and I wondered if I just closed my eyes if it would all go away.

The sound of someone calling my name jolted me awoke. I’m not sure when I fell asleep, but I sat up and roughly rubbed my hands over my face.

“Steven! Oh my God! What ha-how? I don’t understand ...”

I stared into my sister-in-law’s eyes and just shook my head.

“I don’t know. I just ... Lainey and I were going out to celebrate, and she wouldn’t ... I tried calling, but she didn’t answer her phone.” I sighed a deep shuddering breath. I felt my chest tightening, the burning prick behind my eyes. “The door was open,” I said, my voice barely a whisper as Jen’s fingers laced through mine and her arm wrapped around my shoulder. “I found her ... up-upst-” My throat closed up. All I could see were visions of her, lying on the floor, covered in blood. I willed the images to go away, but it was like my worst nightmare was replaying over and over again.

I squeezed Jen’s hand, and a sob broke loose, tearing through and eviscerating me from the inside out. I couldn’t survive this. I couldn't live without her.

Finally, empty and fully broken, I sat up and stared at the framed face of the woman I’d loved forever. She had always been there, waiting, supporting, loving, but as her name fell from my lips I knew she wouldn’t be able to save them. Not anymore.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Kimmydonn Week 87: Ladies, please


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Kimmydonn's Choice: Both

Ladies, Please

Standing at the edge of the lake, she shed her feathers, taking shape in a green gown. A boat was approaching, and the Lady of the Lake would meet it on two human feet, not webbed ones. She had seen the men in the boat, men armed as if for war. Although she was stronger as a swan, their faces bore fear, not violence, so she planed to use words rather than winds and rain.

The breeze off the water blew her hair back and carried to her the scent of the men. It was familiar and unappealing. She preferred the smells of the water, even the rotting smells, to the sweat of men and horses that wafted toward her. There was also the tang of blood. Although she preferred it to the man-smell, it did trouble her. Were the men injured or had they injured others?

“Ho! Madelac!” the youngest of the men called. As he moved she spied the coronet on his brow, glinting in the sun.

“Cormac?” she asked. Was this the son of her sister, the Lady of the Mountain?

“Yes, Aunt.”

“Dare I ask what brings you?”

“May we rest on your shore?” he asked with a weary sigh.

“Of course, please.” A surge of wind grounded the boat on the grassy plain at her feet. “Tell me, is my sister well?”

She watched the men falling out of the boat onto the grass, lying on their backs and breathing heavily. The blood was their own. Madelac quickly set to dressing wounds with the fluff of her rushes and using their wide blades to tie them.

“She is... well.” Cormac didn’t sound sure. Perhaps Mademon was well when he saw her last. “She is besieged. She and my father are being held inside their castle by the Morrigan.”

“The crow goddess,” Madelac murmured. “How did she draw her attention?”

“It seems I did, Aunt. I slew-”

“You didn’t,” Madelac cut him off. “You know the dragon is under her protection. Why would you-”

Her nephew’s manners were as good as her own. “To save a woman. The woman. The most beautiful, wise, wonderful woman in the world.”

Madelac shook her head. “A wise woman would never require-”

“She was being held by the dragon, Aunt.”

“Then she wasn’t wise enough to avoid such a fate,” Madelac snapped. “And you lacked the wisdom to leave her where her folly landed her. Let me guess, she’s in the castle with my sister.”

“Yes, Aunt.” Cormac hung his dark haired head in shame.

“Well, at least she’s safe there then. How did you escape?” Madelac crossed her arms, expecting this to be a fantastic tale.

“The sewers. We slipped from the moat where the attack was thinnest and ran. Obviously, it was a less than flawless escape.” He gestured to his men.

“Obviously. So, you’ve come for my help, have you? You will not get it, but my sister will. Did you really slay the dragon?” she asked in wonder.

“I think so. It certainly appeared dead.”

Letting out a sigh, Madelac gathered her strength. “Stay here. You will be safe enough. If the Morrigan comes, take your boat back onto the lake. My friends will help protect you.” Then Madelac sprouted white feathers and ran across the top of the water, taking flight. The swan headed North, but not toward her sister’s castle. She glided slightly eastward to the cave where the dragon nested.

The gore that surrounded the body was terrible. Rather than shift back to human the swan waddled, ungracefully, surveying the damage. Most of the wounds had crusted over, blood scabbing. There was no fresh blood to be seen. She put her beak near the dragon’s face and was blown back when it sighed heavily. It was still alive.

Madelac took to the air again, this time approaching her sister’s castle slowly. She reached out with her thoughts to the crows circling the grey stone tower. “Morrigan! Your dragon lives! Let my sister help me and we will heal him.”

The crows swooped as one and headed for the swan. Madelac dove for the moat, using the water to protect herself. Fountains sprayed up, scattering the black birds.

“Please!” Madelac called again. “We can help him. Let my sister out.”

“One Chance,” came the booming reply. The black birds settled on the tower, allowing Madelac to leave the moat and return to human form on the bridge.

“Mademon? Are you well?”

Her sister’s blond hair streamed in the icy wind as she stretched out of a window. “I am! Thank you Madelac. Is the dragon really alive?”

“Yes. He nearly bowled me over with his breath,” Madelac answered, smiling.

“Then I have another to bring with us.” She said nothing more, but met Madelac on the bridge with another woman. Her hair was as black as the crows above. In fact, they cawed and took flight when the young woman stepped out of the castle.

“I am Vessa,” she said. “I know the dragon well. I can help.”

“You were held by the dragon,” Madelac surmised. “How do we know you won’t injure him further?”

“I was studying the dragon. That is how he found and captured me. And I wouldn’t call it a capture. I simply... was prevented from leaving. As I had no desire to do so, I wouldn’t call it captivity.”

Madelac closed her eyes and shook her head. “But your son,” she looked into her sister’s icy blue eyes, “had to be the rescuer.”

Mademon’s smile was thin. “Indeed. Tell me you have him somewhere safe so I can be the one to take his head?”

Madelac laughed. “Yes, he’s safe. Let’s go. The Morrigan isn’t known for her patience.”

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Alby Mangroves Week 87: Then and Now

Alby Mangroves

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Alby Mangroves's Choice: Picture 2

Then and Now

It feels like a hundred years since we slept in just because we could.

Maybe more.

I guess we’ve more to keep us busy these days.

Back then, it was all about us.

We fucked everywhere, but we always came back to make love in our bed.

We’d nap and do it again, breaking for cigarettes, to see a live band, and catch up with friends.

We have a nicer bed now, and the pillowcases match, but I’ll never forget the electricity we generated in those days, on our crappy futon in our rented dive, when we fell in love.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Bronwyn Week 87: Coming Home

Bronwyn Keith

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Bronwyn’s Choice: Picture 1


Coming Home

Fall 1953
Camp Carson, Colorado

Beth nervously stood in the fall sun waiting for the train to pull in. It had been three years since Joey left to fight in Korea. He shipped almost immediately after their wedding. She would never forget that day. They had been teenagers and only married a few months. Over the years Beth worried that he had fallen out of love with her because she rarely received letters from him.

She clutched a new camera to her chest waiting for the train to arrive. She wanted a picture of his return home to hang in their house. All of the families of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment were huddled together; parents, wives, and children holding pictures and letters from their loved ones.

As the train came in to view, the families started cheering. Soldiers hung out of the windows waiving and shouting their greetings. The grinding of the brakes against the wheels made Beth shiver in anticipation. She watched the train stop and the doors open. Soldiers poured out of the train, scanning the crowd for their families. Wives and mothers ran to their soldiers to hold them. Children shied away from their fathers, because they were too young to remember the man in front of them. Beth watched the reunions with tears in her eyes as she waited for her own soldier to disembark.

Her eyes scanned the cars of the train, looking for Joey's familiar face. While he was gone, she slept with his photo on his pillow every night. She knew his face better than her own. As the last of the soldiers got off the train, Beth began to wonder if Joey had missed it. But her worries were chased away when he finally stepped off the train. In the time he was gone, she had forgotten how tall he was. He stood at least a head taller than most of the other men in the regiment. His eyes found her, his smile broadened taking her breath away. As he moved toward her, Beth's eyes drank him in and noticed some changes. He was more muscular and broader across the shoulders than when he left. His long stride quickly ate up the ground between them.

“Hi, beautiful.” His deep tenor gave her a small thrill. The forgotten camera crashed to the ground as Beth threw herself in to his arms. She buried her face in his neck, allowing her tears to flow. His strong arms came around her and held her against his chest. She held on to him tightly, never wanting to let him go. She reluctantly loosened her grip at the sound of a throat clearing behind them.

“Sergeant First Class Graham, sir?” A shy voice said from behind Joey. She heard Joey swear under his breath before he pulled away. As he turned, she could see a blonde soldier, not much taller than she was, waiting with his family for Joey's attention.

“Specialist Johnson, how can I help you?” Joey replied, quietly.

“Um, sir. I want to introduce you to my wife and children.”

Beth watched as Johnson reached for his wife's hand, seeking support from her. He was nervous around Joey. She couldn't fathom why. Joey was the most laid back and gentle person she knew.

“Nice to meet you, Mrs. Johnson.” Joey reached out his hand toward the woman. The small brunette blushed before taking his hand.

“Thank you for saving my Tommy's life, sir.” She said meekly.

“It's all part of the job, ma'am.”

“But sir, not many would've run in to enemy fire to save a fallen soldier. That was very brave of you.” She looked at her husband with tears in her eyes.

Beth remembered one of the rare letters she received after that incident. Joey told her about one of his soldiers going down in battle and returning to rescue him. Joey had taken a bullet to the shoulder in that endeavor, but saved one of his men at the same time.

“You have a brave husband, Mrs Graham.” Mrs. Johnson's attention turned to Beth. “Without him, many of our boys wouldn't have come home.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Johnson.” Beth said as she reached for Joey's hand. His large hand grasped hers and gave her a gentle squeeze.

“We'll let you get back to your homecoming, sir.” Specialist Johnson led his family away toward another soldier.

Joey released Beth's hand and pulled her back in to the circle of his arms. He rested his head on top of hers.

“Shall we go home?” He whispered. “I want to get out of here. I've been dreaming for months of just spending time with you.”

Beth smiled against his chest. She pulled away and looked up. He lowered his head and took her lips in a gentle kiss. When Joey stepped away, she heard the crunching of glass. Looking down, she realized that she had dropped the camera.

“Oh, no.” She knelt to pick up the broken camera. “I didn't get my picture of you. Instead I broke the camera.”

“Don't worry, Beth. There will be plenty of pictures later.” Joey chuckled as he pulled Beth to her feet. “I promise.”

Beth smiled as Joey lead her away from the train station toward their car.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Burntcore Week 87: New Beginnings


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Burntcore's Choice: Both

New Beginnings

The damp cold of the ground seeped through Alana’s clothes as she knelt. With trembling fingers, she traced the names of her parents engraved in the stone in front of her. The wind gusted, making her shiver. The weather was starting to turn and fall was forecasted to come early to the small New England town.

The changing of the seasons was a bit of a relief for Alana. It reminded her that life continued, that time marched on despite how crazy the summer in Wardville had been.

This was also the first time she had visited her parents’ graves. She had wanted to as soon as she got settled in Wardville, but problems with the resurgence of the Destroyers kept getting in the way.

As a child, she always wondered why her grandmother seemed so circumspent on any information or stories about her parents. Now she understood. After learning about her parents from David’s family and the town archives, it was clear why Alana wasn’t told very much. If Evelyn had told her a fraction of what she knew, it could’ve been harmful, even deadly to Alana. The less Evelyn talked about her daughter the better her granddaughter was, at least while the Destroyers were around.

Now, instead of endless questions, Alana was at peace with her family. She was still sad that she never got to know her parents personally, but was glad that she learned what she did, and the connection that she still shared with them.

Idly, she fingered her necklace with the triple swirls or triskele dangling from the silver chain. What she had once thought was a simple family heirloom was something much more. Alana would treasure it always.

Another gust blew by her body but instead of chilling her, it warmed. In the wind, she heard murmurs and whispered words. Her initial reaction was fear. This was how the Destroyers first started to get inside her head, but when she looked around, she realized she had nothing to fear.

Female spirits danced around her as she stood, ethereal in their grace, almost like ballerinas. She recognized the spirit of her mother and her grandmother and was overcome with emotion. These were her ancestors, the fellow Creators of her family. They whispered encouragement and love, occasionally reaching out to touch Alana. When contact was made, it didn’t feel like a person, but more like a feather, a barely perceptual sensation.

The spirit of her mother and grandmother stopped in front of her. Their forms solidified to the point that she could see distinct facial expressions. Evelyn and Cecilia had matching smiles as they looked at Alana. The other spirits continued to dance around them, their faint words a constant low rumble of love and support.

Out of habit, Alana continued to touch the pendants, relishing the connection to her mother and grandmother. She was wearing one thing that both of them had worn while living.

Cecilia cocked her head to one side as she looked at her daughter, then her face broke into a glorious, breath-taking smile. She whispered something to Evelyn before leaning towards Alana and brushing her hand along Alana’s abdomen. Evelyn did the same, pausing slightly before removing her hand.

Alana looked down at her stomach, confused. When she looked at her mother and grandmother again, their smiles could not be bigger. Evelyn seemed to laugh, a tinkling sound wafted through the air. Cecilia closed her eyes and shook her head gently. Together, they took their hands and laid them on Alana’s stomach.

Alana’s eyes widened in surprise as realization flooded through her.

“No!” she exclaimed, stunned. “Are you sure?”

The women nodded excitedly. The spirits around them got louder, their joy resounding across the trees.

Alana grasped her pendant again deep in thought, a smile trying to work its way out. Her mind was flooded with images, fluttering by too fast for her to focus on until they stopped and froze on one final image. She shivered with hope and excitement.

“I can’t wait to tell David,” she whispered. “And it looks like I’ll have to set one of these aside for her.”

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


The freedoms of the Internet allow us to do what we do. Do not let the US government try to control and regulate the Internet under the guise of anti-piracy. Piracy is bad, but the SOPA and PIPA initiatives are not the way to go about it.

Please check out the following links for more information.

And an interesting post by a writer against SOPA/PIPA:

KekahJ Week 87: The Fan


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KekahJ's Choice: Picture 2

The Fan

Rosalie sighed and scrubbed a hand over her face. As her fingers slid down her cheeks she opened her eyes and peered at her reflection in the mirror, watching the trail of pink the pressure from her tired fingers left behind. Tired. That was the perfect word to describe her. She felt tired from the tips of her blood red fingernails to the soles of her perfectly pedicured feet.

Out of the corner of her eye she caught sight of the rose again and a chill ran through her. At first glance it seemed so innocent, romantic even. A single fresh red rose in a crystal bud vase. For a split second when she’d approached her vanity and saw it sitting there, she’d smiled. Until she realized who it was from. There was really only one possibility. The smile had slid from her face and her hand had trembled as she’d read the card, the simple sentences burning themselves into her brain. How had he gained access to her dressing room? She shoved the thought aside and turned to the task at hand.

The lights that rimmed the mirror seemed brighter than usual, almost brutal in their intensity. They were meant to mimic the lights on the stage, and Rosalie couldn’t help thinking that if that was true, she was in trouble. Today the lines on her face seemed more pronounced than usual and the bags under her eyes darker than normal. She glanced down at the top of her vanity. It was littered with the various cosmetics she used to create the illusion that sold out audiences nightly. She sighed and surveyed the giant cup full of brushes of all shapes and sizes before selecting the one she needed. She picked up a bottle of foundation. Pushing down her feelings of exhaustion and despair, she focused on transforming herself into her alter ego.

In the background her laptop chimed, alerting her to an incoming email. Pausing for a moment, she moved her fingers over the mouse pad and the screen hummed to life. A few clicks later and she was staring in disbelief at the email she’d received, those same simple sentences burning themselves into her brain once again. How was this possible? How had he accessed her personal email? Another chill ran through her. With a surge of anger, she slammed the laptop shut and returned to her makeup. With a trembling hand, she selected another brush and got back to work, focusing on making her breathing as even as possible as she worked.

Slowly, her face began to look a little less haggard; the circles under her eyes a little less dark as she applied layers upon layers of creams and powders. Again, her laptop chimed, but this time she ignored it. When it sounded a third time, her hand shook slightly, causing the thick line of black eyeliner to swerve slightly. She cursed under her breath as she snatched a tissue up and tried to repair the damage.

As she was affixing thick black eyelashes on top her own thin ones, her phone rang, causing her to jump slightly. After staring at the screen for a moment, she answered it. The voice on the other end was like velvet; strange and familiar all at once. She felt her heart jump into her throat as he uttered the same words that she’d stared at twice now. Pulse pounding, she slammed the phone down onto the vanity, ending the call with the push of a button. She made a note to herself to get her phone number changed first thing the next morning.

Shaken, she returned her attention to her reflection and finished applying the eyelashes. Sitting back in her seat, she examined her reflection again. It really was an amazing transformation. If only her audiences could see the difference. If only they could see what was under all the layers of make up and paint. If only they knew the real person left behind when the lights dimmed and the curtain came down.

Surrounded by the silent calm of her empty dressing room, Rosalie felt a little more calm. It wasn’t the first time she’d dealt with something like this. It would pass, just like the rest of them had. His fascination would die down, and she’d hear from him less and less until he disappeared altogether. All she had to do was ignore him.

A knock sounded at her door to remind her it was time and five minute later she was standing on stage, blinking under the bright lights. It didn’t seem to matter how many times she stood beneath their glare, she never could get used to their blinding intensity. The time went by in a blur. Before she knew it, the show was over and she was back in her dressing room. She panted slightly, a sheen of sweat coated her face and arms. She pressed a water bottle to her forehead, her eyes fluttering closed at the cool sensation.

The knock at her door puzzled her. Most of the other performers had already gone home and the cleaning crew wouldn’t be in for at least another hour. Most people knew Rosalie usually stayed late and she was very rarely disturbed after the show ended. With the frantic rush of the pre-show commotion, she revelled in the relaxed silence of the deserted theater late at night.
She called out her permission for the visitor to enter. The door swung open slowly and she stared in disbelief at her visitor. How was he here? How did he get back here? She hadn’t seen him in his usual spot in the front row tonight and she’d assumed his interest had begun to wane already.

Clearly it had not. His interest was anything but waning as he walked towards her, one hand still on the doorknob as he locked eyes with her. She heard the door click closed and something silver and shiny caught his eye as it glinted from his hand. She took a deep breath and locked eyes with him, lifting her chin in silent defiance as he moved closer to her. She had no idea what would happen, but she knew one thing for sure: she wouldn’t go down without a fight.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Destynee Week 87: Music Soothes the Soul

Destynee Cullen

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Destiny Cullen’s Choice: Picture 2


Music Soothes the Soul

As I laid down on the floor of the woods soaking up rays sunshine, I contemplated my life and how I envied the trees I was staring at.

I bet trees didn’t have to worry about fitting into their parents perfect world. They didn’t have to worry about getting into the perfect college.

I took a deep breath and looked around my slice of heaven. It was a spot that I found when I was sixteen.

My best friend and I had a huge fight and the only place I could be alone was the woods beyond our backyard. I just stormed in there not know what I was doing but I found a small paradise.

There were rocks that created a small room for me and ever since then I always came back when things were on my mind. It was a place were I could forget about everything and listen to the wind go through the leaves creating music just for me.

I closed my eyes and let the peacefulness of the woods surround me. I felt myself slip from consciousness into that wonderful state between sleep.

There I could sort out my thoughts. Only there could I really think freely.

I woke up to a rock biting into my side. I pulled it from under my shirt and threw it away from me. I could the heavy weight of my stress lift off my shoulders as I got up and trekked back to my house.

I knew what I had to do. I knew what was best for me and I just hope to keep true to my heart and soul.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Jessypt Week 87: The Long Ride Home


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Jessypt's Choice: Both

The Long Ride Home

The platform was deserted, not a person in sight. I knew others would be arriving, but I had come early in hopes of finding some peace, of finding meaning in the confusing swirl of information and emotions that had plagued me for the better part of two days. In one instant, one ring of the phone, one cheerful hello and somber reply, my world had changed.

Slowly, I paced up and down the platform, relishing the silence all around me. Thick, grey fog blanketed the air, an unwelcome reminder of the heaviness of the day. I stared at the railroad tracks in front of me, waiting and wishing I was here for a different reason. None of it seemed real.

I closed my eyes, the heaviness almost too much to bear. It seemed like only yesterday we’d stood in this very spot, arms wrapped around each other, sharing kisses and whispered promises. The air was gay, full of frivolity and cheer. All around people surged, their lapels decorated in red, white, and blue ribbons, and said goodbye. Posters of men with fists raised in the air and tattered American flags with smoke billowing behind bore the battle cry to which we all marched.

Avenge December 7!

You looked at me, a sad but proud smile twisting on your lips, and promised you’d come home, that we’d start our family, that we’d grow old, loving and living each day to the fullest.

But as I heard the train whistle in the distance, my eyes opened, and it marked not the fruition of your promises but the sound of your death, a funeral dirge come home.

The platform began to fill as the train came to a stop, steam blowing out with a hot gush that reminded me of the way you’d freely poured out your heart, your soul to me. I watched numbly as men in uniform, grim expressions firmly in place, hefted your flag-draped coffin from the train and began the slow march to the waiting car.

Immune to the voices offering words of comfort, I followed behind, your ring on my finger and your child inside, feeling lost and alone.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Kimmydonn Week 86: Love Me


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Kimmydonn's Choice: Both


Love Me

I blinked my eyes, unable to recall where I was. Why was I lying on the grass at the park? I wasn’t even in the park. I was on the outskirts. I hurt everywhere, especially below my belly button. Had I fallen? I wasn’t the most graceful person around. I could easily have taken a tumble on the slippery leaves that made a soft cushion beneath me.

A gust of wind chilled my nethers, making me realize my legs were exposed. Not completely, but my pants were around my knees. What? That didn’t make any sense. It might explain how I had fallen, but I was pretty sure it didn’t. I tried, desperately, to recall an hour ago, two, but I came up empty.

I turned to sit and pull my pants up, sniffling a little at the pain it caused. The area between my legs was on fire and I must have had bruises on my bum because I could feel them when I sat. I rolled to my knees as soon as my pants were up to ease the pain.

My head sank to my arms as I tried to remember anything. What was the last thing I could remember? Being in Donnie’s apartment. We had planned a big day together and were starting it off the best way possible. My stomach turned at the pain that accompanied the memory of me with my ass in the air. It hadn’t hurt then, but it would now. The plan had been to show Donnie how much I wanted to be with him, how willing I was to do anything and everything with him. We hadn’t used the word yet, but I wanted to show him I loved him, and I wanted him to love me.

The afternoon had gone well. We’d made love and gone to a movie, where I’d blown him in the back of the theater. Afterward, he took me to dinner. His eyes were constantly undressing me across the table, making me eager to finish and get the bill.

“Want to try something new?” he asked, arching an eyebrow.

Always eager to please, I nodded and he added something to my wine.

My head came up. Donnie had done this to me? He’d left me in the park? My eyes were level with a tiny, West Highland terrier. He had to be the most adorable dog I’d ever seen. His warm brown eyes were fixed on me while his tail wagged behind him, almost like mine would have for Donnie.

Tears welled in my eyes. I was nothing more than a pet. So eager to please that I’d made myself less than a person.

The dog came and licked my forehead. I covered the rest of my face to hide the tears, the shame.

I had to get home. I had to tell Donnie that he had ever meant anything to me. I had to go back to my life as it had been, as it should have been.

I searched around for my purse or phone but found neither. Finally, I gave up and hiked home.

“Oh my God,” my roommate cried as I came in. “You’re okay.”

“What? I’m not perfect, but-”

“Donnie’s in the hospital, ICU. They don’t know if he’s going to make it.”

I stared at her with my mouth open. What had happened last night?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Alby Mangroves Week 86: Seeing Stars

Alby Mangroves

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Alby Mangroves's Choice: Picture 1


Seeing Stars

Shivering, Bella observes Edward’s fingers walking across her pebbled skin, traversing the distance from shoulder to shoulder. Along the way, the collarbone ridge and the dip of suprasternal notch form no obstacle to the cold, firm pads of his fingers.

“Did you know that you have tiny freckles here?” he muses quietly, the deliberate finger-steps easing into soft sweeps over Bella’s skin.

A lazy smile widens her mouth. “I do?”

Edward lowers his face to her chest and kisses lightly, following the hot trail his fingers left only moments ago.

“Mmhm,” he sighs, “A constellation of stars. You are heaven.”

Friday, January 13, 2012

Muse Calliope Week 86: Cinderella’s Gown - Trinity Shade Part VII

Muse Calliope

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Muse Calliope's Choice: Picture 2

Cinderella’s Gown - Trinity Shade Part VII

At the edge of the parking lot was an abandoned warehouse someone had converted into a Safe Haven luxury hotel. Croix had made reservations there for the penthouse suite and had a team of hair stylists and make-up artists waiting and ready to go as soon as Trinity stepped foot into the room.

First thing was for Trinity to employ a glamour that made her more human in appearance, turning her grey skin to a more human looking mocha. She contemplated changing her hair colour as well but ultimately decided to let it be; the mortals would dismiss it as hair dye or a wig and the Fae would just accept it.

Croix disappeared almost as soon as they past the threshold, leaving Trinity to the mercy of the beauty team. One hour seemed to stretch into eternity. The make-up artists plucked, plumped, and painted. The hair stylists straightened, curled and, ah, clipped. In both senses of the word. Some lady showed up with a selection of jewellery and put clunky, twisted looking diamond encrusted earrings on Trinity's ears. Another woman showed up with a pair of pumps; a glittery pale gold with a big clump of pearls dab smack on top and peek-a-boo toes.

Then, of course, came the dress. It … Trinity wasn't sure she had the words to describe it. It was white, pure white like fresh snow, with the poofiest tutu skirt (that's what you call those, um, mini skirts made up of gauzy layers, right?) Trinity had ever seen. The bodice was strapless and heavily embroidered with falling snowflakes. And Croix - or whoever - actually expected her to wear it?

"Yes," the man offering it told her, "he does."


All dressed up and ready to go, Trinity inspected herself in one of the available full length mirrors and wanted to scream. She looked like a bride that had gone one too many rounds with Edward Scissorhands.

An awkward grunt from the doorway let Trinity know Croix had returned. She turned and saw he'd spiffed up too, donning a white suit and pale blue tie. He looked, ah, cute, sort of like a big cuddly polar bear.

"Comment dites-vous? You clean up nice," Croix rumbled. "J'aime the hair."

Trinity rolled her eyes. "Gee, thanks. You don't look too shabby yourself. Will we be needing masks?"

Croix held up two white eye masks, both of them decorated with swirling silver designs, and handed the smaller one to her. "C'est une mascarade, ma belle; of course you must wear a mask. Now, venez, we have a carriage waiting, a ball to attend and, enfin, un masque à trouver."

With a sigh, Trinity took Croix’s proffered arm and let herself be led from the suite.

Three hundred fucking years old - she really should have known better that to jinx herself.

A/N: To be continued soon!