Zakia Sultana: Resistance and the Dream

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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January 2019 Prompt


(Please note: the images we will use as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)

Resistance and the Dream

By Zakia Sultana

“Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing.” Barry Finley, Kilimanjaro and Beyond.


“I wish I could be a bird. Then I would be able to play hide and seek with the clouds over the mountain. If I could just walk again, I would touch those clouds. Mom said that there was a forest on the top of that mountain. I would really like to go there and lose myself in the harmony of nature. If just I could climb the mountain. If…”

Neil was talking to himself sitting beside the window, looking outside with an unwinking gaze. Only when he heard his mother shouting his name, he gained consciousness.

His mother said, “Neil, can you hear me? It’s time to have your milk. The glass is on the table. Drink it…drink it all before it gets cold. And then don’t forget to take your medicine.”

“OK mom,” Neil said, rolling his eyes. He neither liked to drink milk nor to take medications. But he couldn’t say no to his mother. He knew very well that it would freak his mom out.

Neil lived in a small village which was surrounded by mountains. He used to be a very mischievous child. He used to run indoors and play with his friends all day long. There was an old tree beside his house. He used to climb that tree often. It was his favorite thing to do. His parents didn’t like it and used to tell him not to do it every day, but he didn’t listen.

His mom said, “Listen to me, Neil. Do you realize how much pain it will be if you fall? You could even break your legs or hands or even injure your head. Don’t do this.”

Suddenly one day he fell ill. He had a high fever. His condition worsened. No medicine seemed to work. His parents consulted with doctors. After almost twenty days his condition started to improve. But he was still physically very weak. One day, on a beautiful sunny morning, he wanted to go outside the house. But the moment he tried to walk, he fell. No matter how much he tried, he couldn’t move his legs. His parents called the doctor. After a checkup, the doctor said, “I don’t know how to tell you. There is no easy way of saying this. Your boy’s leg is paralyzed due to the fever. It’s not permanent damage. With proper physiotherapy, it will get better, but it will take time. Till then you have to be patient. Don’t let him lose his mental strength.” From that day on, Neil had been taking treatment.

Amidst all this, Neil never lost his faith and hope, although there were some moments when he became impatient and frustrated. All he wanted at those moments was to go outside. See the world with his own eyes, feel the ground with his legs. But then he reassured himself that everything was going to be good. Just a few more days and then he would be able to walk again.

It was one year and a half after that incident. Gradually he was gaining control of his legs. Though his legs were still weak, he could walk with the help of a walking stick. At that moment it was more than enough for him because as people say, “Something is better than nothing.” One day on a sunny morning he was watching the mountain through his window. He realized that the attraction he felt toward the mountain didn’t fade away, instead it had increased. He thought for a second. No one was home at that time, and his legs were better than before. He decided it was time. Leaving a note for his parents, he took his stick, filled his backpack with some dry food, a water bottle, a sleeping bag, rope, some emergency medicine, some bandages, and he went outside. Though he couldn’t run, he could walk. He was walking slowly but wasn’t falling down, and that was a relief. When he was outside, the joy he felt couldn’t be expressed in words. He touched the ground. The smell of the soil was mesmerizing. He looked again at the mountain and started his journey toward it. There was no way to tell from where he gained such courage. But the point is at that moment he felt like he could even climb Mount Everest.

So his journey began. He started to walk up the mountain. It was a thrilling experience. The higher he was climbing, the more this energy was expanding. He could feel it. He made sure to take regular short breaks to eat energy foods, rest briefly and to assess his direction. He also made sure to not linger too long where he was cooling down too much. Despite all his efforts, it was becoming difficult for him to continue because of his issue. Soon it was dark. So Neil settled in a suitable place to camp for the night.

The weather remained perfect the next morning.  Standing there, Neil started to look back from where he started his journey. He couldn’t believe that he came so far. It was only yesterday when he was lying on his bed, looking outside the window. And today he was here. So close to fulfilling his dream. He ate and then started his journey again. He had still a long way to go. He walked slowly collecting all his strength and courage. It was not easy at all. But he was not the type of person who would lose hope after failing once. He had a pretty clear idea of what he was going to get once he was out here, far away from home. The path was not smooth. The rocky path was making it hard for him to climb. He was getting tired. He fell two or three times and got several scratches. But now was not the time to ponder over those.

He looked below. Everything seemed so tiny. From this height, his village was looking miniature. He had to admit that once or twice the thought of quitting crossed his mind. But now he could tell that he was not going to quit. He looked above. His goal was near. He could feel his excitement. He resumed his journey.

He didn’t notice the time until it was 4:00 PM. His legs were hurting so much. But he paid no attention to that. Because the scene which was in front of him was worth dying for. It was indeed a breathtaking one. The sun was shining above the clouds. The clouds were beautiful. They were looking like big balls of cotton. Tender winds were flowing as if they were caressing the clouds. He couldn’t believe his eyes. If he could just touch the clouds. Unable to control his happiness he began to shout. He didn’t know what to say. He just shouted and said out loud, “I did it. Yes, thank God I did it. My lifelong dream…finally!!!”

Before he knew it, tears rolled down his cheeks. But he didn’t seem too concerned about that because it was tears of happiness. He dropped his walking stick. He figured that he didn’t need it anymore. It was the happiest day of his life. All those years whenever he saw the mountain, he had the feeling that the mountain was calling him. And now he was here, on the top of the mountain. The only place where he was destined to be…

Sometimes all you need is strong willpower to make the impossible possible, to conquer the resistance.

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Visit Zakia’s Booksie site and follow her wonderful writing. Click here: https://bit.ly/2S4Gh5o

Write the Story: January 2019 Collection

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Adam J. Johnson: Train Your Brain

Welcome back! Last time we talked about why mindset matters. A positive mindset causes action and confidence, but a negative mindset results in a lack of both. We also talked about the insecurities that cause a negative mindset. Now, everyone’s journey is different so your areas of focus will be different from others, but only you can truly validate what those areas are. We often just live with these issues and try to succeed despite them and actually, you can! However, if you don’t deal with these issues, you will never reach your full potential. There will always be a battle between your insecurities and your goals, so why not just address them? Be brutally honest with yourself, face your insecurities, and tell them that you will not be their prisoner any longer. So let’s hop right in and get to resetting that mindset!

We’ll start with developing a positive state of mind. Ultimately it’s the positive mindset that will help us attack our projects with more confidence. So, first thing we should start with is retraining our thought processes. Negative thoughts are natural, so don’t feel ashamed to have them, just identify them for what they are—a product of our experiences. Start with simply identifying when you have a negative thought. When that ugly thought surfaces, stop and make note of it. Say to yourself, “That was negative.” Once you’ve trained yourself to be constantly aware of the negative thoughts entering your brain, then we can start taking action against it! When a negative thought enters your mind and you’ve identified it, think at least three positive thoughts to follow. This may not come easily to all of us as some of us have become comfortable with negative thoughts. Some of us even glorify them and think that a cynical view of the world is smart and will keep you safe from being burned. This may be true to a small extent, but will ultimately hold you back from achieving your goals.

So, you are flooded with negative thoughts and are cynical in your view. Thinking positive thoughts can seem corny, right? That is simply a personal quirk that you have developed based on your life experiences and your need to feel comfortable. Even if it seems corny, convince yourself to follow up every negative thought with at least three positive thoughts for at least a week! After all, you can do anything new for a week, right?  I suggest keeping a journal of your thoughts and mood throughout the week and reflect on it after the week is up. I guarantee you that by the end of the week, your mood will be elevated, even if only slightly. What if you’re bad at thinking positively? Then it will take longer for you to reset your mindset, but it’s even more important that you do. Positivity exists everywhere and it’s up to each individual to see it. If you’re bad at it, then find three things that you do see positively. When a negative thought crosses your mind, repeat those three positive thoughts to yourself. Once you start to expand your outlook, start swapping out the three thoughts with new ones that you’ve discovered along the way until you can randomly pull three positive thoughts with every negative one.

Once you see it’s working, it should be no trouble to keep doing it moving forward. After one to two months, you will see a huge difference in your outlook and default mood. This may seem like a long time to sustain a practice, but think about it. We’re writers—we spend months or years on a single project and are usually content to do so. We make the investment in our work, so be courageous enough to make an investment in yourself. When you do, you will be more confident in your work and will be more aggressive in getting it out there.

Why do you think that is? It’s simple, really. The more confidence we have in ourselves directly translates to the confidence that we have in our work. If we are more confident in our work, then we will not be afraid to share it with the world! So, let’s recap.

  1. Identify negative thoughts.
  2. Train yourself to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
  3. Build confidence in your writing.
  4. Share with the world!

Now that we’ve established how to get the ball rolling on changing to a positive mindset, you are truly equipped to start beating insecurities!! I truly hope this has helped in any way and if you have questions, feel free to reach out!

Happy writing,

Adam J. Johnson

Sean Backen: Lyin’ Eyes

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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January 2019 Prompt


(Please note: the images we will use as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)

Lyin’ Eyes

by Sean Bracken

“You can’t hide your lyin’ eyes

And your smile is a thin disguise”

I know that I’m only tormenting myself, and yet I can’t stop playing the Eagles’ classic song over and over again on my classic Bush turntable. The words are torturing me. They evoke memories of Jessica’s smile. That smile that radiated from her entire face. That smile that captured my heart and mind forever. The words also remind me of the look in her eyes when I realised that she had betrayed me.

It seems like only yesterday, but in reality it was over six months ago when our plane landed in Orly airport. Our two-year-old marriage had been under strain for a few months, after our second application to become adoptive parents was refused. We had decided to take a three-week vacation in France. My best friend Billy lived in Val d’Isère and had invited us to come stay anytime we liked. The plan was to relax, enjoy some skiing and to work on our problems.

The holiday got off to a perfect start. The mountain village was picturesque, and Billy’s chalet was perfectly located, with easy access to the slopes. Billy and Jessica became instant friends and Billy went to great lengths to make us welcome. I could feel my tension disappear from the moment I arrived.

The first few days were fantastic. Hearty breakfasts were followed by fun on the slopes and high-spirited apres-ski parties. Jessica was in her element. It was her first ski holiday and she loved it. Her beautiful smile returned and I began to believe that we were back on track with our lives.

It was near the end of the first week that I started to become suspicious. Billy and Jessica had begun to find excuses to avoid the morning skiing, preferring instead to meet me for lunch and ski in the afternoon. I dismissed the idea, thinking there was no way my best friend and my wife could ever hurt me like that.

How wrong I was.

The following Monday morning, I took a chair-lift to the highest piste, situated on a glacier. The elevation combined with the ice provided for year-round skiing. As I skied away from the lift I began to take in the vista. The beauty of the mountain took my breath away. Standing above cloud level, I could see even taller peaks rising through. Bright sunlight reflected off the pristine snow and the sky was the deepest, intense blue I had ever seen.

I forced myself to turn away from the captivating sight and began to ski back down to another piste, determined to bring Jessica up to share the scene in the afternoon. Halfway down, a snowboarder lost control and collided with me as I traversed a very steep run. Luckily, I escaped with bruising down my left side and a nasty black eye. I decided to return to the chalet and soak my aches in a hot bath.

As I climbed the stairs I could hear giggles and laughter escape from behind the bedroom door. Even though I knew instantly what was happening, I was not prepared for the sight of my beautiful wife and my best friend sharing my bed. Both women tried to cover their nakedness, but it was the look in Jessica’s eyes that really shook me. All of the deceit, all of the lies, all of the treachery shone through her dark pupils. I never spoke a word to either of them. I was afraid that if I dared to speak, I would surely kill them with my bare hands. I stormed past the bed, grabbed my bag and stuffed my clothes and toiletries into it, before walking out of the room and out of their lives.

I found a small hotel on the far side of the town, changed into my favourite silk pyjamas and climbed into bed with a bottle of wine. The following morning I booked an early flight home, leaving my dreams behind. Streaks of mascara traced the course of tears down my face as I boarded the plane.

To this day I would give anything to have Jessica back. I’d sacrifice my money, my career, even my title. I used to love being Lady Sandra Byron. I used to love life. But nothing can replace my love with the lying eyes, disguised by her smile.

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Check out Sean’s website and be sure to follow him! https://sean-bracken.site123.me/stories/lying-eyes

Write the Story: January 2019 Collection

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“Lyin’ Eyes” Written by DON HENLEY, GLENN FREY  Copyright: ℗ 1975 Asylum Records. Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing, a Warner Music Group Company. © 1975 Asylum Records

Jenny Booker: The Climb

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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January 2019 Prompt


(Please note: the images we will use as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)

The Climb

By Jenny Booker

The chill of the air and only the sound of the breeze surrounded him—he felt like he was the only person in the world.

Just a little bit farther, he thought, looking out to the view of vast clouds below.

The high altitude, they warned him, could make the trip very hard. Some adventurous people who also traveled up with him had to turn around at the camp ending their dreams—but not him, and he was determined since the day he booked the flight a year ago. She made him promise he would, and he couldn’t turn back that promise—and he was so close to the summit. Taking the necklace out of the warmth of the jacket, he opened it and turned around to also take in the extraordinary view.

After what seemed like hours, the guide called out to notify him of the final climb, and he noticed the sky had darkened once more.

“Let’s do this Polly,” he whispered.

Making sure he had all his gear from the tent, he nervously proceeded to follow the guide, knowing that this was the last push but also the most dangerous. The last of the group were two other men and a lady—he got to know a bit about them at base camp drinking some tea in the lady’s tent to try and warm up from the cold.

The lady shared the same dream and the other two men had climbed mountains before. Apparently one of them was a blogger but had to leave his laptop at base, which wasn’t a happy sight to see before starting the climb.

The breeze now turned into something like a gale as they said goodbye to the last of the camps and the safety. His cheeks were burning and his legs started to really ache after all the walking. He was near the front and could see the others were also struggling as their axes tried to cut through the ice. The light on his helmet flickered, warning him of the impending danger.

Not sure how much longer he could last, he turned the corner, and then the gale started to calm.  A long way in front was a big flag—guessing a half-hour walk.

The sunrise finally welcomed them to the destination that some never made, as he noted on the route. But he made it. Overjoyed, he knelt down and a wave of tears started to clog his goggles. A hand patted his shoulder—turning to look and find one of the group or the guide—it was Polly.

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Please visit Jenny’s blog and like and follow her! https://itsjennythewren.wordpress.com

Write the Story: January 2019 Collection

Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau (baptized David Henry Thoreau) was born on July 12, 1817 in Concord, Massachusetts, to John Thoreau and Cynthia Dunbar. He was the third of four children. He was named after a recently deceased paternal uncle, David Thoreau, but since everyone always called him Henry, he eventually changed his name to Henry David, although he never petitioned to make a legal name change. Henry’s father was a businessman and active in the Concord Fire Society. His mother spent her time raising Henry and his three siblings, Helen, John and Sophia. 

Portrait of a young Thoreau
young Thoreau

When Thoreau was sixteen, he entered Harvard College, where he was known as a serious though unconventional scholar. Henry’s older siblings, Helen and John, Jr., were both schoolteachers. When it was decided that their brother should go to Harvard, as had his grandfather before him, they contributed from their teaching salaries to help pay his expenses. While at college, Thoreau studied Latin and Greek grammar and composition, and took classes in a wide variety of subjects, including mathematics, English, history, philosophy, and four different modern languages. During his Harvard years he was exposed to the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who later became his chief mentor and friend. 

After graduating in 1837 and into the early 1840s Thoreau was occupied as a schoolteacher and tutor. A canoe trip in 1839 convinced him that he should not persue a schoolteacher’s career but should instead aim to become established as a poet of nature. In 1841 he was invited to live in the Emerson household, where he remained intermittently until 1843. He served as handyman and assistant to Emerson, helping to edit and contributing poetry and prose to the transcendentalist magazine, The Dial

Thoreau's cabin at Walden Pond
cabin at Walden

Thoreau came to consider that he needed time and space to apply himself as a writer and on July 4, 1845, he moved into a small self-built house in a second-growth forest around the shores of Walden Pond. He stayed there for two years, two months and two days, sometimes traveling into Concord for supplies and eating with his family about once a week. Friends and family also visited him at his cabin, where he spent nearly every night. While at Walden, Thoreau did an incredible amount of reading and writing, and also spent much time sauntering in nature. 

In July 1846, when Thoreau went into town to have a pair of shoes repaired, he was arrested for refusing to pay a poll tax meant to support America’s war in Mexico. He spent a night in jail. His most famous essay, Civil Disobedience (published 1849), which in its call for passive resistance to unjust laws was to inspire Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., was a result of this experience. The journal he kept at Walden became the source of his most famous book, Walden, Or Life in the Woods (1854), in which he set forth his ideas on how an individual should best live to be attuned to his own nature as well as to nature itself. 

Thoreau left Walden Pond on September 6, 1847. After that, he resided again in Emerson’s house (1847–49) and then for the rest of his life in his family home. He occasionally worked at the pencil factory and did some surveying work. He also traveled to Canada, Cape Cod, and Maine – landscapes that inspired his “excursion” books – A Yankee in CanadaCape Cod, and The Maine Woods. By the 1850s he had become greatly concerned over slavery, and, having met John Brown in 1857, wrote passionately in his defence. 

Aware that he was dying of tuberculosis, Thoreau cut short his travels and returned to Concord, where he prepared some of his journals for publication. Although he never earned a substantial living by his writings, his works fill 20 volumes. 

Thoreau died of tuberculosis on May 6, 1862, at the age of 44. He is buried on Authors’ Ridge in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts. 

Resources: http://www.thoreau-online.org/henry-david-thoreau-biography.htm

Susan Staneslow Olesen: a Memory of Blue

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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January 2019 Prompt


(Please note: the images we will use as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)

A Memory of Blue

By Susan Staneslow Olesen

 

Cold bit into Loro’s face. He knew the cold would be brutal, but up here, with nothing to hide behind, the wind drove the cold through every stitch-hole in his clothing. His helmet kept his head warm, his goggles kept his eyes from drying out and his eyelids from freezing, but one still needed to breathe. Uphill, uphill, uphill, step, step, step, nothing on his mind but moving forward and upward. He wore liners under his wool socks, and his boots were rated to fifty below zero, but his hands could have been warmer.

Squeak. Squeak. Squeak. The snow up here was too cold to crunch, the granules so small and packed so close together that they slid past each other like buckshot instead of compacting under his weight. Up the hill, up the hill, up the hill. He had exactly six hours to complete his task; summer was short enough, but clear days were rare even in summer, and few people dared to wander far.

Loro was in his forties by now; it was hard to keep count, let alone remember. Time had lost a lot of its meaning, but he could remember the clear sunny days as a boy, the heat of the sun, the glory of running outside half naked, the smell of fresh-cut grass and the sizzle of rain on hot pavement. His children didn’t believe him, accused him of pretending he lived in a storybook.

Maybe he had.

Three thousand feet up now. Loro puffed his breath out with each footfall. His face covering was damp from the moisture; the moisture froze and chafed his face. Nothing to be done about it. The clouds had thinned to haze, the haze unworldly bright, frosted glass against the sky. Four thousand. Four thousand was the magic number. At four thousand feet, breathless from altitude, the city below would be visible. It was said to be a sight to behold. Perhaps a hundred people would try each summer; perhaps twelve might make it to the top of Mount Covasc, bringing back photos and tales of the bluest skies and clearest air imaginable. Photos would be blown up, placed over ceilings in public places and lit from behind, recreating the hidden miracle. Postcards would be printed with large arrows pointing to the clouds, You Are Here. No one had seen an aerial view of the actual city of Falls Landing in more than thirty years. Satellites had died, and drones died quickly in the cold.

Loro trudged onward. The light hurt his eyes, bolstered his spirit, revived his memories, and made him move faster despite his lungs heaving in the thin air. He’d been eight when the cold came. That summer had been the hottest on record, day after day of scorching heat, even in the valley. If anything, the valley seemed to hold the heat in worse, the mountains blocking the breezes that might disrupt it. Loro suffered sunburn no fewer than three times that summer. In September, the heat faded rapidly, followed by a month of rain that seemed to grow colder by the day. In October, the rain turned to snow, and snow, and more snow. The deep cold came in November, shattering records for the third month in a row. By January the snow was as deep as rooflines, and people were grumpy for not having seen sunlight in so long.

Little did they know.

Spring came on paper. Outside, the valley remained blanketed with clouds. The snows stopped, but the cold never left. The weathermen talked of inversions, of global change, of man-made disasters. The politicians blamed each other, and countries picked fights. Wars were rather fruitless; few countries were used to extreme cold, and invasions proved deadlier to the invaders than the invaded. Food for troops couldn’t be grown on frozen ground. Targeting cities with missiles didn’t work when clouds perpetually obscured satellite imagery, and electronics weren’t built to function in thirty-below-zero temperatures. Most of them failed. Planes couldn’t deploy troops when they couldn’t see to land. Neither could passenger jets, or cargo planes with supplies.

Twenty-six weathermen were murdered in a single year.

Loro’s son Lindan didn’t know what a weatherman was.

Loro’s reverie stopped as his face met with the frozen ground. Keeping up his mechanical pace, he’d stopped paying attention and tripped himself on his own skis. He frisked the front of his jacket frantically. The bump of his camera in his inside pocket, next to the warmth of his chest, was still there. Nothing seemed to shift or rattle, and he prayed it was intact. He didn’t dare take it out. Not yet. He rolled himself to his feet and reset his skis, and reset his attitude. A pole or ski sliding down hill over the ice could be his death.

Loro looked upward. The peak glowed overhead, not much farther, and he set out with fresh energy. Two hundred paces more, and the mists disappeared.

Opaque skies gave way to glaring light, making Loro blink even behind his goggles. Brightness engulfed him from all sides, blinding, yellow, unexpectedly strong. Overhead, clear skies shone in brilliant shades of turquoise and azure and gentian, while thin trails of gray and lavender clouds clawed the horizon.

“YES!” thundered from his lips, cold and unexpected, hanging before him in a ball of frozen breath. “I made it! I made it! I remember this!” Loro shouted, but it was impossible to hear him so far down in the valley. The sun was warm on his face, feeble as a butterfly, but it was real, it existed, brought the memories back. He lifted his goggles, pulled down his face mask, squinting at the brightness, drinking in the sun with every pore before replacing them.

He climbed the last few yards to the top and turned around. Falls Landing was invisible, the valley filled solidly with cottony mist and clouds. Looking at the city was like looking down at the top of a sheep, white and puffy and palpable, a roiling frozen sea. Nothing, in fact, was visible — no hills, no valleys, no towers, no landmarks, no people, just a field of white. From here on the mountain, Loro might have been the last man on Earth, all alone in the wilderness, invisible and as fabled as the sun.

“Hallooooo!” he shouted for the fun of it. “Halloooooo!” The sound carried a short distance, then froze and dissipated. How he wished Lindan could see it, but cold and distance were too risky for children.

Time was short. Loro peeled off his outer layer of gloves and drew his camera from his inside pocket. Twenty panorama shots of the valley below, more of the sky and sun and horizon. A half-dozen of Loro goofing off, taking selfies before the blue skies and sunshine. People spoke of building solar towers on the mountain, but no one had figured out how to do it fast enough to drag the materials up, build it, insulate it, and get it running in under two weeks. Nothing. There was nothing up here, not a tree, not a stump, not a tumbleweed. Anything useful had been removed, and the rest was buried under ice and snow.

Loro went to replace his camera, but his hands, without the heavy outer gloves, had grown cold and stiff. He had trouble working the zipper of his coat, struggling to grasp the oversized tab and pull. Tooth by tooth he worked it down enough to slide his hand in, only to lose his numb grip on the camera. It fell down onto the ice and began to slide.

“No! No! Stop!” Loro launched himself after it, skidding to a clumsy stop so that the camera slid to a gentle rest perpendicular to his ski. He bent down, but his fingers wouldn’t cooperate. Twice he got it off the snow, only to have it fall again. Again it slid farther down the mountain, and again he was able to stop it with his ski. At last he seized the camera using both hands and dropped it loose inside his coat. The elastic drawstring around his waist would keep it from falling out. Using the heels of his hands, he pinched the fabric of his coat to hold it, then drew the zipper up with his teeth.

Loro pushed his panic downward. Panic was dangerous. Panic killed. But time was now short, and he knew his hands were far colder than they should be. His hands were chilling the rest of him. His outer gloves — bulky, heavy, highly insulated — hung from their clasps attached to his sleeves, and still he needed ten minutes to pull them on using his teeth and his wrists. Insulated, yes, but meant to keep heat in, not create it. Instead, they would keep them nicely cold, just like a freezer blanket.

He couldn’t feel the poles in his hands. The straps around his wrists kept him from losing them, but his hands had no grip, and they slipped out of his grasp every time he used them. Without the poles, he didn’t dare build up too much speed down the mountain. Slow was the last thing he wanted to be.

By the time he was halfway down the mountain, the cold had worked its way inside him, and he began to shiver.

They shone the massive spotlights onto the main street, a beacon to anyone lost, a blinding beam for spotting anyone approaching the town. In such cold, search crews went out only if a child was missing. An hour past sunset, Loro shuffled slowly into sight, his skis moving scant inches with each effort. The front of his goggles and face mask and coat were heavy with breath-frost. Starnas and Kembel rushed out and grabbed him five hundred feet from the cleared entrance to the city. They held him by his frozen elbows and slid him through the gateway on his skis, the great snow-doors closing behind them to help keep out wind and drifts. His stiff body was carefully tipped onto a stretcher mounted on a Snowcrawler. They removed his skis, but left the poles in his icy clenched hands as they rushed him to the medical building, half a mile away.

Loro made a noise as Kembel layered warm blankets over him. “Camera,” came the faint groan. “Cooooat.”

“Your camera? It’s in your coat? Don’t worry. I’ll make sure they don’t hurt it.” It was the last thing Loro remembered for more than a week.

When he woke in the hospital, Loro’s face was still swollen. The skin was badly peeled and shiny with ointments, but he wouldn’t lose his nose or lips or eyelids. His toes hurt, but he could feel them wiggling against the sheets.

“My camera?” Loro’s throat was dry, and the words came out as a croak, weaker than he felt. “Photos?”

His wife Milla sat next to the bed. She smiled at him. “The whole town is talking about them. They’re the most beautiful photos anyone has ever seen, and the town council has promised to buy every one of them. The sky, the colors — people can’t believe it’s real. No one has ever gotten a sunset before. No one was ever crazy enough to be out that late.”

Loro’s hands were bandaged and resting on pillows before him.

His hands.

They hurt. Not just the painful fire of recovering frostbite, but the deeper pain of healing wounds.

“Shhh.” Milla dabbed ointment on his lips. “Let them rest. You lost four fingers to frostbite, and parts of two more. The doctor said you’ll be able to eat, and probably dress yourself, but you’ll probably never hold the camera again.”

Loro closed his eyes, his insides as cold and frozen as he’d felt at the base of the mountain. He lay back on the pillows, and let the memories of the blue, blue sky consume him.

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Please visit and like Susan’s Facebook author page! https://www.facebook.com/Susan-Olesen-Author-Page-200715809947435/

Write the Story: January 2019 Collection

Leah Pryor: Conquering the Mountain

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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January 2019 Prompt


(Please note: the images we will use as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)

Conquering the Mountain

By: Leah Pryor

The only sound Mitchell could hear was the crunching that the newly-fallen snow and the hard ice made under his ski boots. The air was thin up here and it took him really focusing on getting a deep breath to fill his lungs. He had no idea that it would be so hard to breathe! But the view from way up here was worth the effort. He had never in his whole life seen such serene beauty. There was no hustle and bustle way up here. It was as if he had left Earth and all the people behind.

Mitchell Pokerjack was a young man who had made a good amount of money at a young age. He had started a Pooper Service business when he was fourteen. He worked around the neighborhoods picking up turds on the weekend. The money he made from that he put in a savings account and let it accrue interest, never touching a dime of it. As he grew older, he got hired on at the local burger joint. He worked there in the evenings and worked his own business on the weekends still. Always saving his hard earned income. His parents were beyond themselves with pride in their son’s work ethic. They made a deal with their seventeen-year-old son to match whatever he had in his savings account the day he graduated high school. They kept their word. By the time Mitchell graduated he had a small fortune and decided that college was not for him.

He wanted to spend the next couple of years traveling. He spent his time off researching different travel destinations, motels he would stay at, and places he would eat. His first adventure took him to a resort in Rio where he spent ten days snorkeling with other tourists, riding around in cramped tour buses for hours, just to be rushed back on the bus seconds after getting to their destinations. He ate with people he didn’t know or care to know and sipped on expensive watered-down drinks adorned with fruits and little umbrellas. Although he loved Rio, he vowed never to go on another pre-made group tour surrounded by so many people he didn’t know again.

His next trip was well researched and planned out. He made all the calls and set up the schedule himself. Mitchell made his way through the busy and bustling streets of Cairo. He enjoyed his meals by himself and spent an extra three days taking in the sights before reluctantly going back home.

Now on his third outing, Mitchell found himself atop a solitary mountain in the Swiss Alps overlooking what would be a pristine town called Zinel, had the clouds that hung lower than the high peak he was on dissipated. Mitchell was no stranger to skiing. His parents often spent many a winter day hitting the slopes around their home town in Colorado. He had shredded enough snow to know what he was doing and felt he had a firm enough grasp to forgo the ski guide. Plus he wanted to be up here alone. Not because he didn’t enjoy people… he liked people enough. He had friends at home and made pen pals that he wrote to and spoke to frequently. He found that when he traveled with others, he often missed out on things like this:

The quietness of the mountain top. How he could hear his heart pounding, the snow crunching underfoot, and the wind as it whistled and blew little snow devils around the untainted scenery. If he had come up here with a group of friends or a tour group, he would miss out on the silence. It would be lost in the eager voices and the view would have been stamped out with footprints, skis, and camping gear. No, he preferred it this way.

Mitchell bent down to tighten his boots and check the conditions of his binding. Once he was ready he stood, took as deep of a breath as he could, placed his ski goggles over his eyes and guided his skis to the edge of the peak. With the tips of his skis hanging over the edge, Mitchell bent his knees, spread his legs apart to keep his skis from crossing, and pushed off with the poles. He took in another quick breath as he started downhill. The snow was fresh and soft as he slid over it. The acceleration started off slow, but soon enough he was speeding down the mountain leaning left and then right to dodge trees and jutting boulders that stuck out of the snow. He was alive now with the trees speeding past him and the wind whipping him hard in his face. This was what he needed. There was nothing else but him and the mountain. If he took his eyes off the prize, there was nobody out here to help him. He was in his element and his focus wasn’t on Mary-Ellen or the ring she gave him back before he left. It wasn’t the cancer that raged in his mother’s bones or the hospital bills that he promised to help pay. Here he was truly alone and his emotions were snuffed out by the speed and the pure adrenaline that ran through his body.

He knew this might be his last trip. His Dad needed him. His Mom needed him. He needed Mary-Ellen, even though she didn’t feel the same for him. But right now, right now he needed this. He needed to be in control of his surroundings and his own thoughts. He needed to feel unhinged and unencumbered. On this mountain, he was getting what he needed.

It took three hours to make his way to the base of the mountain, and he was sore and tired when he finally came to a stop. His legs hurt from the strain of keeping himself upright, and his arms ached from the effort of keeping them close to him while he flew down the mountainside. He plopped down in the cold, hard snow and looked up to see the monster he just conquered. It was majestic and white. The clouds were high at the top and covered the tip from his view.

Mitchell took in a deep breath; it was easier to do down at the base than it was up at the top. He thought about that for a while as he sat and stared. He thought about a lot of things as he took off his skis and packed up his gear. He knew this would be the last of his adventures for a while. His life was waiting for him back in Colorado, where he would spend the remaining amount of his money saving his Mom’s life and the rest of his time off winning back the only woman he had ever loved. He took one more look up at the mountain and one more deep breath before he stepped into the taxicab that would take him back to the airport and back to his problems.

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Please visit and like Leah’s author page on Facebook: A Sentence A Day 2019  https://bit.ly/2MdcZMJ

Write the Story: January 2019 Collection

David Reiss: Solo Ascent

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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January 2019 Prompt


(Please note: the images we will use as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)

Solo Ascent

By David Reiss

Mark pulled his goggles from his face and tucked them under one arm, squinting against the frigid wind; snowflakes scoured his face, but removing the fogged eye-protection allowed the field researcher to confirm that his wrist-computer’s screen was dead.

“Damnit,” he swore. Even with the sea of clouds whipping below the peak and obscuring the landscape below, Mark had been reasonably certain of his bearings. His tracker was working, at least; if he’d gotten too far off, someone should have contacted him. “HQ, this is Rover Three. I need a coordinate check. Where the hell am I?”

There was a pause. Mark shifted from side to side on his skis and waited.

“Rover Three, this is HQ. Hey, Mark.” The speaker’s voice was recognizable despite the scratchiness of the signal. Justin, Mark sighed to himself. The intern. “I put you right at site twenty-four. Good job.”

“Well, there’s nothing here,” Mark growled, shaking out his facemask and replacing it on his frostbitten face. “Not a damned thing. Site twenty-four is empty.”

“Uh…negative, Rover Three. There’s a strong signal from beacon twenty-four.”

“Then there’s something wrong with your equipment,” Mark bit out, feeling suddenly tired; it had been an eight-hour slog from the lower peak where the helicopter pilot had been able to let him off. Eight hours, for nothing! It was probably the intern’s fault. “Is Shelly around?”

Shelly was the expedition’s tech guru; she couldn’t be trusted within five feet of a pair of cross-country skis and her coffee was awful, but she knew the system better than the guys who designed it.

“Nah, Shelly’s sleeping in,” the intern replied.

“Well, wake her up,” Mark insisted. “Either I’m in the wrong place or site twenty-four turned invisible.”

“I’m gonna let her rest,” Justin chuckled softly. “She works too hard, y’know? Hold on, I got it. Rebooting now, okay?”

Shelly had horrible taste in men; she’d been flirting with Justin ever since the kid signed on.

From the sound of it, the intern reciprocated her interest; he probably thought he was doing her a favor, letting her sleep in even though official protocol was to keep the technical lead up to date if there were any anomalies. He was correct that Shelly would’ve been irritable upon being roused—her prickly pre-coffee disposition had become legendary among the other researchers—but she was going to be positively livid when she found out there were problems and she wasn’t alerted. Justin was sabotaging his own romantic aspirations…but Mark certainly wasn’t the type to offer unsolicited relationship advice.

The field researcher brought his hands to his face to breathe warmth into his cold-stiffened fingers, focusing on burying his irritation with every slow exhale. He was chilled, he was tired…but he had the open sky and a mountain to himself. And besides…once upon a time, he’d been young, too.

And, hell, maybe Justin would grow up a bit, Shelly would like him and they’d work things out. She was a good kid, she deserved a bit of happiness.

“Oh. Oh, shiiiii…” Justin trailed off. “Rover Three, this is Justin. I mean, this is HQ. Hunker down a minute, I have to figure this out.”

Hearing that kind of panic across the radio link should have been nerve wracking, but Mark was experienced enough to know better. He was alone up here, safe and secure, being treated to a view that few could ever have imagined.

Clouds poured across the horizon, whipped by chill gusts and swirling, eternal gales. Each breeze stabbed like knives, and the air was clear; Mark could see for miles in every direction, as though he had the entire world to himself.

Ten years ago, the weather would have looked completely different. That’s why the team was here: to study the changes and make sense of shifting wind patterns. Satellite footage and weather balloons could only tell you so much, sometimes you needed feet on the ground and local equipment. Site twenty-four should have had a small radio tower bristling with sensors (which needed regular maintenance, hence the team’s presence) and a survival shelter.

The tower could be only a hundred feet downhill and it would have been wholly obscured by the roiling mists.

“I was on the wrong screen,” Justin announced suddenly. “You need to head west. You’re not far off.”

Mark squinted, staring downhill where the mountain cut into the flowing clouds like a ship through the ocean waves. The wind was painful above the icy fog; heading lower wouldn’t be fun. In the emergency shelter, at least, he’d be able to get warm.

“All right,” the field researcher sighed and began shifting about to make sure that his gear was properly balanced for transportation. “I’ll head west.”

“You’re, um, not going to tell Shelly…are you?” Justin sounded so forlorn that Mark couldn’t help but bark in amusement.

Young, Mark thought to himself. Poor Shelly is going to have her hands full.

“No,” he chuckled. “Don’t worry about it, no harm done. This is Rover Three, going radio silent. Keep your ears on, I’ll let you know when I get to twenty-four.”

“Thanks,” the intern replied, relief palpable.

The old explorer laughed as he continued his own lonely, extraordinary journey.

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Please visit David’s website and click on his blog tab to find this story and other works and learn more about his books. https://davidhreiss.com

Write the Story: January 2019 Collection

D.L. Tillery: Lost in the Clouds

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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(Please note: the images we will use as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)

Lost in the Clouds

                      By D.L. Tillery

As life leaves me bare I seek the clouds of
                        despair.
If freedom was my mother I would suffer, I would feel the warmth of her bosom even in the coldness of her stare…Yet is it fear
               that’s put me there?
Here I climb to the peak, am I lost or am I
                           free?
        When I listen I hear you speak.
           ‘I am you and you are me.’
Yet here above it all, it’s not you but the
                 cold that frees me.  

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Please visit D. L.’s blog and follow her! https://authordltillery.wixsite.com/authorsite

Write the Story: January 2019 Collection

Michele Sayre: WRITING INSPIRATION BULLOCKS

I’m sure there is someone out in this world who would love to slap my mouth shut for putting those three words together in today’s blog title. But sometimes I feel like all I see when it comes to writing is finding the motivation and inspiration to write instead of complete works of writing instead.

So in response to all that glorious writing motivation and inspiration I say this:

You don’t have to write.

I know you may feel like if you don’t write your brain is going to explode or all your wonderful ideas and stories will just die with you and take a few million years to regroup from the stardust of your demise. But that’s not going to happen because you felt like you had to write, but because you went out and wrote then edited the crap out of what you wrote till it shined like a clean toilet.

I write despite all the bullshit that comes along with it. But I refuse to be all high-and-mighty and lofty and say ‘I have to write’. No, for me it is a conscious choice to park my butt and write the words and edit the crap out of them before I share them with the rest of the world.

For me it’s never been about having the need to write, but wanting to do it. It’s wanting to see the words hit the page, wanting to push myself to sharpen them to the brightest points, and hearing their truth not just inside my head, but with my own ears, too.

I know I don’t have to be in the perfect mood to write. I know my mind can be a mess and most of all, I know it doesn’t have to be set in a certain way. I can write in a flying-hot good mood, or in a dark and cold pisser of a mood. And I can always edit until I get it to where it flows the way I want it to. I don’t have to kill my darlings but instead keep at them until they make it out of the jungle of my mind.

I don’t need a room of my own, or a lot of time, either. And as for the thoughts that question the worth of my words and whether they’re good enough for others to see, bullocks to them. I know someone out in the world won’t like me and what I write, but I’ve kept on going despite being told that in more variations than I care to admit to. Every day I feel like I’m learning more and more how to kick that crap out of my way even when it keeps coming into my path.

So if you’re looking for any writing inspiration from me I’ll tell you one thing: write because you want to, and never mind the bullocks that comes along with it.

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Please visit Michele Sayre’s website:
https://tinyurl.com/yb42gyt2

A community for writers to learn, grow, and connect.