JSW Prompt 2-13-2016 Response


I pushed through racks of clothing, searching for the fabled treasure of Grandma’s closet. The back. The smell tasted of mothballs and old, dresses clinging to their last memories of wear; velvet and satin and lace. Softness against wood brushed my fingers, and I began the journey back, stumbling over scattered shoe roots, bumping hatboxes stumps. Smell overwhelming.

I held a woman’s cloak, black and shimmery, seemingly made from lace and velvet and gauze. I no longer felt the material against my fingers, as if the substance of it had vanished in the harsh light of sun through windows. It was beautiful, like mist after dawn. I wrapped overlong material about my shoulders, clipping it at my throat; imagined myself a fancy lady preparing for the ball. A Cinderella not yet twelve.

A chill breeze kissed my face. I stared into a long, dark, tunnel, faint light shining from some distant end.



JSW Prompt – Trust Betrayed


Stiff-backed, he stood, staring at the carved statue behind the alter, blinking as he ordered his thoughts. Finally, he turned; raised both eyebrows at the priest standing behind him and off to the side.

The man gulped. One was always careful to speak respectfully to the King, even if he was… well, a word the priest would not use. He knew, however, he could not brush this away like he might have done before. Damn the boy. What, by the All-Mighty, could have gotten into his head?

“I am sure, Sire,” he started, hands clasped behind his back. He must, he decided, speak sternly to the boy once they were done here, perhaps even instill the lesson further with a silver-birch branch to the hide. “He meant no disrespect.”

A frown. “God means no disrespect?” His eyebrows rose further. That look; skeptical with the dark rumbling of a storm deep inside. “I allow no disrespect. I was led to understand that God was of a higher calling?”

“Yes, of course, Sire…” he stumbled on, “I meant.. this must surely be a test of faith.” He kept his eyes cast downwards. Men had been killed for less.

“Test.” Flat.

“Yes. There have been many times when humans…”

“Yes, yes,” he scowled, waving a hand to silence the priest. How he hated priests, the arrogant assurance they, of all people, held the direct line to a god he’d long suspected did not exist. Until now there had been no way to discredit the church without people rising against him. Now, he had his own God to follow.

“Hummm,” he mused, tapping a finger against his bottom lip, “if it is, as you say, a test then all is well. If I was mistaken to trust him, however, I suppose then I have no need for his help. Or his church.” Or priests, left unsaid.

“Perhaps this is a test as you say. Perhaps not. I shall have to ponder these thoughts for some time.” Stepping outside, the King stopped on the steps, looking down at the Captain of his Guard.  The man bowed his head.

“It is done, Sire.”

“Good.” He strode down the steps, dusting the stench of the church off his hands.  Reaching his Captain, he paused, taking in the ring of guards surrounding the Church, a torch held aloft by each man.

Another man, dressed in common clothes, appeared round the side of the church. “It is done,” he said eagerly as he bowed. “I said just what you told me to say.”

“I told you nothing to say.”

The man frowned then bowed again. “Of course not, Sire. I was mistaken.”

“And the boy behind the statue?”

“He will never be found, Sire.”

“Good.”  The King looked around once more, satisfaction swelling in his chest. This was how one ruled a kingdom.

“Do it,” he ordered.

Behind him, soldiers moved to the church, thrusting torches into the dying bushes tucked around the base. Tinder-dry wood burst to flames.

He walked away, events of the morning already done and forgotten.



JSW Prompt Response 1-22-2016


He didn’t understand their world. It was big and dark and confusing; arguments and yelling and other painful noises rattling around inside his head like shards of glass. He preferred the quieter life when his real friends came out to play, when he was not a child but an equal. His parents didn’t see them, didn’t hear them, but – like Winnie the Pooh – that didn’t make them less real. In fact, for him, it made them more real, made the world of his parents seemed shallow and fake and artificial, like the AstroTurf where his brothers played football every day after school.

His world lay underneath the AstroTurf, deep inside the heart of the earth where faeries were real and magic filled every cell in his body. Sometimes, at dinner or at some event with his parents, he’d distracted himself by thinking about that life. What his friends might be doing, what epic quest they might undertake next. No one believed him. His brothers had grown up far enough to forget. Maybe his parents were never small enough to remember. So he played with them in his room, or deep in the woods, reenacting stories past down through generations. Fighting battles. Winning wars. Saving the princess. Slaying dragons.

One day, he knew, he’d travel through one of those door and never come back, no matter what. He would, at last, be home.

He couldn’t wait.

Another Day, Another Dinner

If one of your late ancestors were to come back from the dead and join you for dinner, what things about your family would this person find the most shocking? From The Daily Post.

Modern Families

He looked a bit rough around the edges. Course, being in the grave for sixty years might do that to a fellow. Or maybe he’d been ugly-as-sin during life. For Grandma’s sake, I hoped the latter hadn’t been true.

In a woo-woo voice he intoned, “I have come to judge your worth.”

“Yeah, come on in Marley.” I stepped back, allowing him to half shuffle, half fall, into the hallway. I was so used to the kids odd friends that one more weirdo at the table wasn’t going to be a problem at all.

“Honey,” I called. “One more for dinner.” I could imagine her smile covering up some choice words I’d no doubt hear later.

“I know no Marley,” Grandpa protested, voice grave-stiff.

“No matter,” I assured him. “Just a joke that… obviously… went nowhere.” Does nobody have a sense of humor anymore?

I led him down the hall, through the toy-scattered family room, and into the dining room.  Everybody else was at the table. My wife, Honey, stood by the far end, smile pasted on her face.  She was dressed in the short black skirt and low-cut blouse I loved so much.

To her left sat Molly, our five-year old, and her friend Grace, both dressed in costumes depicting some unknown fluffy puppy-horse-cat-bear.  Long ears draped from their headbands.  Today they were Molly and Gracie, bay and Palomino horses respectively.

Next to the horses sat the goth component of our family and her friend, Sarah. Sarah and Suzie. Like in that old movie, a’ double blackout’ with pale faces, black lips, nails and eyelids.  Plus enough attitude to fill a hot-air balloon.

On the other side of the table sat Mark (our son), Jason and Jasper. The Three Musketeers. They had been working on their current backyard film project so all three were decked out in a variety of gory zombie makeup.

“You know I don’t like zombies at the table,”I said pointedly.

“Sorry, Dad,” Mark mumbled, his friends giggling under their breaths.

“Humph.”  I turned to Grandpa. “Grandpa, this is the family.  Family, welcome Grandpa.”

A chorus of ‘hi’s’ and ‘hello’s’ filled the air.  Grandpa looked around the table, eyes widening as they took us in one by one.  By the time his attention returned to me, it was all over.  Shuffling a turn, Grandpa raced down the hall as fast as his little undead legs could carry him.  The front door slammed shut.

“Damn Undead,” I growled.  “How many more relatives do we have, Honey?”

“About fifteen more I known about,” she responded.  “So, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

“Thank goodness.” I grinned, sitting. “Pass the pork chops.”

Tomorrow was another day.

JSW Prompt – Which Door Would You Choose?


The postcard arrived in the afternoon mail, addressed with a spidery script and a 5 cents stamp. Five cents? Been a long time since a stamp cost 5 cents. Nowadays, stamps start at 47 cents and up. This stamp was old, faded, with the image of a horse front and center. Or a unicorn. Hard to tell. On the postcard’s flip side, was the picture. A voice from above? Funny thing to put on a postcard.

Being in the midst of cooking and cleaning and soon-to-be-picking-up-kids from various activities, I tossed the postcard on the hall table and forgot about it. Hours later, kids home, meal eaten and kitchen cleaned, kids bathed, homeworked and in bed, floors swept, I headed into the living room to watch a few minutes of TV. I had some checks to write, emails to answer, and I could do them just as well in front of the TV as in bed. Hopefully, the TV would keep me from falling sleep, tumbling headfirst into the midst of my papers.

Even so, I began to yawn. Getting up at 4:30 am, working 12 hours then dialing up the chores of motherhood was exhausting. I was hoping, come summer,to find a place in the country and a simpler life. I’ve always wanted to plant a garden, to live off the land, but the right opportunity had never risen at the right time. I could do my consulting work from home as long as we had internet and lack thereof wasn’t very likely anywhere in this age.

A cottage in the country would be a dream come true.

Coming awake on the couch, I clicked off the TV, piled up the endless papers of my life, and headed off towards bed. As I stepped into the hallway, I stopped, rubbing my eyes sleepily.

A dream? Had to be. I was no longer standing in my entrance hall, but in a circular room with seven doors. Seven? I suddenly remembered the postcard. Automatically, I looked towards the hall table no longer there.  he postcard, however, lay on the floor.

Fingers trembling, I snatched it up, read it again and then again. Seven doors to seven places, all places I knew and loved as a child. Places I had always dreamed I might go, step into a world so much realer than the faded world around me.

What should I do? I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to open one of those doors and step inside. I wanted to get lost. But what if I really got lost? What if I stepped into a door and was unable to return to my comfortably-used house on the edge of the city.

And if I did enter one door… which one? I loved the Narnia series as a child. Now, as an adult, I like them, but I didn’t love them anymore. One down.

Neverland. Ditto the last. I love the thought of Peter Pan but I never wanted to step into his world. Two down.

Wonderland?  I love the thought of moving through a mirror into another world. When I was a child, I used to pretend I could looked through a mirror and see another world. The world I saw, however, was not Wonderland but the world inside my own head. Three.

Hogwarts? I like the idea of the books and I like that the books lured more kids to read, but honestly, I never read them all. Maybe by then, I was simply too old to open another window to another world. Or maybe that world was too simple for me, lacking the depth of the world alive inside me. Four.

Camelot. I love the image of Camelot. That time in history connects to my soul, at least the  fantasy of Camelot. Realistically, I know I’d never last long without a shower and indoor toilet. Can’t go a day without washing my hair. Is this the legacy of my time? Five.

Middle Earth. This would be my door. I read the books in the sixth grade and fell in love. Strider…. my kind of guy. The images of Middle Earth, my ideal of Middle Earth, helped to shape the reality of the world inside me. Of all the fantasy worlds, this one was… me. The start of a life-long love.

Westeros. I know the books, but again, this was never my world. Too old, too set in my ways or too many worlds and I just couldn’t admit yet one more world into my multi-verse. I admit I have never any of the books. Being told over and over that I will love a book, stubborns me into not reading it.

What to do? Children here? Freedom there? Or this all might be a joke. A dream. Too many dreams have vanished upon my waking.

Too frightened to choose, I turn back to the entrance hall blooming around me like a bed of strangled weeds. I kept the postcard, tucked away in my tattered old copy of The Hobbit.


“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”