Transition: (Final) Day 31 of the Story A Day Challenge

Today, the final day of the challenge, the prompt is to write a story of transition.


The hood of the car dipped under the weight. They leaned back and let the car hold them as they search for shooting stars. Tomorrow she would leave. Tomorrow was a new life, a new person she got to become. She’d miss the creative writing classes and contests. They were part of her childhood, and it was time to put childish things away. She could still write on her own or something if she wanted to.
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215: Day 30 of the Story A Day Challenge

Today’s prompt is the number 215. This story is a start, and it is on my list to keep writing into a full story.


Everyone gets 215, then they die. We know that. What we don’t know is: 215 of what? Some people’s 215 seem obvious: car crashes, black-out drunk nights, heartbeats. People that’ve figured it out tattoo their visible skin: hands, feet, necks, heads. People whose loved ones’ 215 happened too fast tattoo their hidden skin. The most tragic stories push out into daylight.

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Start A Riot: Day 29 of the Story A Day Challenge

Today’s prompt is to write a story where a riot is started. I mulled this one over all day, trying to figure out exactly what and how I wanted to tell it. So, I decided to go with a classic.


Published on the front page of Sun Valley High School’s website, May 29, 2014 12:35 AM CDT, following the May 28th lunch riots.

The unanimous declaration of the women of Sun Valley High School and their true allies.

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Holiday: Day 28 of the Story A Day Challenge

Today’s prompt is to write a holiday-themed story. I’m a little crunched for time tonight (giving myself about 30 minutes to write this), so it is just a beginning.


 

The first Christmas Eve is an embarrassment of presents. The first grandchild is here. Adults outnumber children, even counting one teenage aunt and one teenage uncle as kids. Amongst the plastic, newborn toys are eight “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments, handpainted on glass. Grandma found them to preserve this moment of change in the family.

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White Out: Day 27 of the Story A Day Challenge

Today’s prompt is to write a story based on this illustration:Image


 

“Uncle Bo! What’s on your leg?!” Aw, crap. He wasn’t supposed to let her see that until she was at least 10.

“Um, nothing?” She laughed like she always did at his I’m-not-hiding-anything-I’m-definitely-hiding-something voice.

“You’re silly.” She moves his hand where he was trying to pull the cargo shorts back over his ink. “It’s a funny little guy! Did you draw that? Mom says you shouldn’t draw on yourself, ’cause you’ll get poisoned.” He got a little spit shower on that word. “But I can show you how to get it off! One second!” And she ran off. Should he just tell her? Or pretend it was somehow magical? Magic would probably mean she would draw on herself. Telling her would mean … well, either way, his sister was going to be pissed. (She really needed to relax.)

Casey ran back in with her Little Mermaid washcloth, dripping a water-trail behind her. She squatted down and started to scrub. He watched until she got that determined but frustrated look she had when she knew something was supposed to work but didn’t. “Maybe it needs soap.”

He caught her and tickled her and hugged her tight before she could get away again. “UNCLE BO! I HAVE TO GO GET SOAP! LET ME GO!”

“Case, it’s not gonna work. That little guy is permanent.”

“No. You just need to wash it better.”

He laughed. “True. But all the washing is not going to get it to come off. It’s a tattoo. I got it when I was a teenager, and it’s gonna be on my skin forever.” Her face looked exactly like her mother’s when she had first seen it.

“Why would you do that?”

“I have no idea.” He tickled her again to erase that face. “No, kidding. I … I was young and dumb. But – I don’t know – I like him. I just… He reminds me that the things I’m scared of, scared to do, are totally ridiculous and I should just laugh at them. He makes sure I don’t take myself too seriously.”

“BO! WHAT. No, cover that up. Don’t tell her about that.” His hand was instantly on his shorts, putting them back in place.

“Uh, too late?” His sister rolled her eyes.

“No, Mom, it’s okay. It helps Uncle Bo.”

“Helps him how?”

“It makes him laugh.”

“Really? That’s what you told her? Did Uncle Bo tell you the part about how he wished he’d never gotten it?” His face flushed. He didn’t want to tell her that part. His niece is looking at him with a question.

“Yeah. I mean, I – if I could do it again, I wouldn’t have gotten it, I think. But it’s mine, so … yeah.”

His sister walked over and picked up her daughter, accusing him with her eyes, but saying as nicely as she could, “Dinner’s ready.”

#

His dream was suddenly tickling him. Which was unfortunate because the beach scene where he was hunting for a single, seafoam green eye melted away into his room. The beach was nice. He couldn’t remember why he needed the eyeball. He felt a brush on his leg and automatically kicked away.

“Hold. still, Uncle Bo. I’m fixing it.”

“Casey?” His eyes were starting to adjust; he could make out the faded purple Minnie Mouse nightgown. “What are you doing?”

“Mom says this is how you get rid of mistakes. Your tat. toooo. was a mistake, right?”

“Um, kinda, yeah.”

“Then I fix it! Hold still.” She reached out with some white brush and painted his leg. He sat up, trying not to disturb her work.

“What is that?” She held out the little bottle, and he took it. He leaned over and flipped on the bedside lamp. White-Out. He started laughing. “Oh, Casey. You clever little girl.” She beamed. He handed her the bottle and slid his tattooed thigh closer to his niece.

Talent Show: Day 26 of the Story A Day Challenge

Today’s prompt is to write a story about a character that is not going to miss their kid’s talent show.


 

Of course they were stuck in traffic. Of course. This couldn’t just for once be easy. Lacy slammed her hand into the horn. She never honked at people, but laying into that sound scratched the frustrated itch under her skin. The were going to be late. Jack yelled from his car seat that the horn was too loud. When she stopped honking, he told her it doesn’t make the cars move.

He was still in his ballet stuff, because she had this scheduled down to the minute to make sure that everything was covered and that they got to the show on time. She wondered if maybe she and Jo had taken on too many foster kids.

Jane never did anything outside of school. Lacy had gushed so much when she told her that she had signed up for the talent show that the quiet twelve year old turned red. She had offered to help her practice or whatever she needed, but Jane said she wanted to do it herself. It was going to be a surprise.

The cars started to inch forward. Her phone started ringing, but she hit ignore without looking and put the phone on vibrate. Nothing was going to distract her from getting to the show. It was probably Jo wondering where she was. Mike’s basketball practice ended earlier and was closer than ballet, and Lacy was sure there was no traffic for Jo (who was supernaturally lucky with these things). Anyway, she was pretty sure she would just start screaming about traffic right now if she answered the phone. Glancing at the time, if they started moving at speed, they would only be ten minutes late.

The phone buzzed in her bag. Damn it, Jo, I’ll be there as soon as I can.

The cars were moving and then moving at speed. Lacy whipped around a couple of them and got to her preferred 12 miles over the limit. The cars in front of her broke open more, and she pushed up to 20 miles over. She was getting to this show.

The parking lot looked stuffed, so Lacy didn’t even try to find a closer space than the back row. Jack already has his straps undone when she opens the door. She popped him on the ground and told him to hurry. Her phone was buzzing again. Jo! Stop it. I’m here.

Jo was at the door talking to another mom when she sees them and waves. Her hand abruptly stopped, and she looked confused. Lacy stopped in front of her.

“Where’s Jane?”

“What? You brought her.”

“No. I brought Mikey. You were … Wait. Who was supposed to get Jane?

“SHIT.”

“Jack, go inside and help Mike save our seats.”

Lacy pulls out her phone and looks at the missed calls. All the house phone. “I forgot -”

“We forgot -”

“Can you call Jim? I’ll call Fred. One of them has to be home, right?”

“You call home first and tell her -”

“Yeah.” Lacy dialed and listened to the longest set of rings. “Come on come on come on. Pick up.” Voicemail, shit.

“Jim’s already got her. Jane, that smart little sucker, already found herself a ride.”

“I am a terrible terrible mother.”

“Yeah, you are.” Lacy punched Jo’s arm harder than playful. “Ow. I was just kidding!”

“We owe Jane a big something.”

#

Mike and Jack ran into Jane’s room and jumped onto her bed. “Hey! I was sleeping!”

“It’s first Saturday! What are you going to do today, Jane? Huh huh huh?” Her foster brothers started Jane’s First Saturday Talent Show Breakfast after she just made it to the school one. Jane did a number from Wicked, and the two of them decided she needed to do more. She was always at their recitals and basketball games.  Jane wasn’t a morning person except on first saturdays.

Pancakes wafted from the kitchen. Lacy and Jo always made her favorite for this day, guilt still playing in their eyes for forgetting to pick her up. She was still a little mad, but suddenly she felt a lot more noticed in the house, more a part of it. So that was something.

She got out of bed and slipped on her costume they bought her after that night and went down stairs to put on a show.

First Time: Day 25 of the Story A Day Challenge

Today’s prompt was to find a contest or submission deadline with a theme we liked. I found this one after searching probably for too long. Content warning for panic attacks, dissociative episodes, and suicidal thoughts.


 

The venti latte wasn’t hot anymore. He hated cold coffee, which was why he’d braved the cocked eyebrows when he ordered it, an oasis of heat in a desert of frappucinos. He didn’t drink it right away, cause he thought she would be here soon. Then he didn’t drink it so he could convincingly say, “Oh, it’s fine. I just got here right before you.” Then he finally took a sip to look like he had a reason to be sitting at the table and it was cold.

He’s stared at it, annoyed at the waste, and wondering what to do. His head jerked up at the sound of the door for the hundredth time, but it’s another soccer mom with fanny pack. He dropped his head down again so fewer people could see him wipe away a tear.

What a shit week. Overdrew his checking account (he’d forgotten to deposit his tips from the bar). Ripped his favorite pair of jeans (they made girls (and boys) turn and stare at his ass). Injured his right knee (he helped out his 78 year old neighbor … in his favorite jeans). He had just been off somehow all week, not quite himself. No one else seemed to notice. But now this.

He looked out the window one last time. A laughing couple walked by. He saw her golden hair, pink lips, and his silvering hair and laugh lines, but he understood them as dead, skeletons pretending at life. His eyes darted back to his cup. Air staccatoed in and out of his lungs. His entire body prepped for danger under the soft jazz and the caffeine-infused conversations. The room shrunk around him. His latte spilled over the cup, ran across the table, and rained into a puddle on the floor. The cup followed, shattering, becoming what his mind new it already was.

The shop saw his terrorized eyes as this giant, strong man tried to leave as quickly but casually as possible.

Outside he drew the fresh air into his lungs. The part of himself that was still latched onto reality told him this was a panic attack, but the lost part of him screamed back that his panic attacks don’t come with hallucinations. He started moving, cursing himself for choosing a spot so far from home. He couldn’t get on a bus right now, couldn’t touch people right now. No cab either. No, couldn’t … just dangerous. Can’t do that right now.

He looked up into the face of the regular homeless guy on the corner, hand out for change, and the empty sockets of a skull grinned back at him. Don’t look at people. He looked up to the sky, still walking, just trying to get home. The twenty story apartment complex fell away into a gutted, bombed out shell of a building. Don’t look at buildings. This city was just people and buildings; he couldn’t just walk home with his eyes shut. Holding up a hand, needing to find some sort of anchor, he only saw his own death in the delicate play of the wrist bones turning his hand over.

His eyes went to the ground directly in front of his feet. He walked faster. The concrete was breaking, threatening to fall away; death was chasing him. The steadily shrinking aware piece of him repeated that it was not real not real not real and just get home just get home. The sounds of the city fell away, shooting his stress level higher. Piercing through the swirl of chaos was one, clear thought:

If this is my life, I will kill myself.

His head shot up and his jaw clenched. He started running, almost faster than his brain could make skeletons of the pedestrians, focusing on his target. The sharp pain in his knee threatened to stop him, but he screamed it into submission just in time to meet the five flights of stairs to his apartment. They were solid, not yet crumbling away. He doesn’t remember most of getting here, but he can’t think about that now.

He takes them two at a time until he tripped on floor three and slammed his right kneecap into the edge of the stair. He howls out his pain, but he keeps going, crawling up and dragging that leg behind for two flights until it was ready to work again. The 78 year old opened her door as he pulled himself to standing at his door, fumbling the keys.

“Are you okay, dear?” He couldn’t look at her. Looking at her would wish it on her. He whined out his nose and waved her back into her apartment. “Let me know if I can help.” He heard the door click closed and finally found the key that went with this lock.

Inside his apartment, he let the door slam (against apartment rules – the downstairs neighbor was going to say something again) and slid down the wall onto the floor. His body shaking, refusing his orders stop.

His kitten padded in and mewed at him. He forgot not to look at her, but she was okay, for now. She looked at him and mewed.

“Daddy’s not okay right now, kitty.” He closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the wall. She climbed up into his lap and stood on his legs, paws on his chest, to reach his face, licking away the salt between his eyebrows and purring louder than should have been possible. Her welcome home greeting. He cuddled her to his chest and then slid them both into the kitchen (this would be the only time that he would be thankful for the incredibly small space).

He gave her a treat (or maybe seven, he couldn’t focus on counting) and then poured himself a glass of red wine. The taste promised calm and soon. He flopped onto the couch, shut his eyes, and waited for the liquid to enter his veins.