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LEAH PRYOR: COMING HOME

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 used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)

Coming Home

By Leah Pryor

The room had been cleaned out. Void of anything that resembled the life they made in it. The pictures that adorned the walls were gone. So were the vases that once held fresh cut roses from the garden, the bookshelves that were filled with the classics and catalogs, even the furniture that had been purchased with the dowry money from their wedding, were all gone. It didn’t matter, she could point out where everything belonged. She saw it in her mind the way it used to be. But it wasn’t that way anymore. The only thing left was the chair that sat in the corner by the small green closet door. Only it wasn’t by the door now. It had been pulled up to the small fireplace that once kept the cold out and the newlyweds warm. The warmth was gone now too. The cold found its way in through the old and dilapidated structure. Gone were the memories but not forgotten.

Martha didn’t want to remember this place as just another bare room. Her best memories were in this room. This was first place she had ever felt comfortable enough to call home. It was the room that she birthed their only child in. It was the place that they celebrated birthdays and holidays in. Just the three of them. Cramped but exceedingly happy. She hadn’t been here in nearly twenty years but could still feel the essence of the home that they made it.

She shook her head as she turned in the middle of the small area. She took in every inch of it. The cradle that never got used for more than storage once stood by the window. Adeline had slept in the bed with her and Frank until she was two. Than the cradle was sold and a small mattress was purchased. The mattress was placed at the foot of their own small mattress. During the day both mattresses were laid up against the wall and the small loveseat was put in the center of the room. The food was prepared in a Dutch oven that hung on a metal bar in the fireplace. She could almost smell the stewed meats, potatoes, and vegetables that would waft from the fireplace. Enticing smells that would bring the neighbors knocking. This was once home. This small green room that once was the cradle of their lives, held nothing now but her memories.

Martha sat in the chair. Her strength was waning. She was an old woman now. Frank had passed away some years back. Adeline was a mother. Her two grandchildren were no longer children, but young adults on their way to universities. They both had lives of their own. “What happened to the time?” she thought out loud. Her voice echoed off the hollow walls. It crackled back at her reminding her of an old phonograph. Reminding her of the fact that she was old enough to have owned a phonograph.

“It seems like yesterday, Frank, you were carrying me through the door of this place. Oh, Frank. If you could see it now. How small it really is. How many years did we spend here? We were happy, weren’t we, my love?”

Her echo was the only answer she got back.

“This place is going to be demolished, Frank. A big fancy motel is going to be put here instead. I don’t know why it bothers me now. I guess I thought it would be here forever. But forever is a long time, isn’t it, Frank? It was too long for you. Hell, it’s too long for me too. So I suppose it’s fitting that it should be torn down. Something new and useful should go here, I guess. But wouldn’t it be nice if we could go back? Do it all over again? I miss it, Frank. I miss Adeline when she was a wee babe. I miss you. I miss this place. I want to go home, Frank. I’m tired. I have nothing to live for. Nobody to care for. Now they all take care of me. I feel like a… like a… well, like I am an old fart. There, I said it. I feel old. And without you, I feel… I feel like I’m just waiting to die. Frank? Are you even listening to me? No. I suppose you aren’t. You barely listened in life, so why would death be any different. I came here to tell you that I love you. I always loved you. I loved our life. I loved this room.”

The tears were forming in big glops around her eyes. They stuck to her long lashes and dropped down her paper-thin cheeks. She felt as if this room was holding on to the last bit of life she had left. Once it was demolished she was sure she would die shortly after.

When Frank had come back from the war he had purchased a new tract home on the other side of town. They moved out of this room and into the new home when Adeline was nine. But the rent was so cheap on the room, they kept paying it. When Adeline turned sixteen, she and her friend moved in, but soon found the small room too confining for women of their style. They moved out, leaving the place empty. It didn’t stay empty. They were able to supplement their income by subletting to young couples and single people. It had been a godsend during times when money was tight. But it hadn’t been rented in years.

The building creaked and shuddered as the cold seeped in through the old home’s bones. Martha shivered from the cold. She felt it in her bones too. It was time to say goodbye. The space was starting to feel as empty as her heart. It took her awhile to stand up and straighten out. Before she left she would open the small green closet door just to see if anything of value might have been left behind by any of the room’s other occupants. The old bulb flickered as it warmed up and set the small closet ablaze with light.

The light blinded Martha. She put her hands over her eyes until the bright streaks faded from her vision. When she removed them she gasped in awe. She was no longer standing in the small empty closet of the empty room she once loved. She was standing in her home. The room was filled with all their things. The cradle was against the window where it belonged. She could smell the stew cooking in the Dutch oven as the fire crackled. Frank was sitting in the corner rocking their baby girl. Their sweet Adeline asleep in her father’s loving arms. He smiled brightly at Martha and her tears flowed freely.

“We’ve been waiting for you. You’re home now,” he said to her. He held their baby out and she took her child from him. She held her in her arms while she cried tears of joy. Frank stood and kissed her deeply. He welcomed his loving wife back to their happy life and back to her first home.

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Visit Leah’s Facebook for more of her writing and be sure to give her a “Like.” https://www.facebook.com/asentenceaday2019/

Write the Story: February 2019 Collection

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Larry Stephens: My Room of Choice

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 used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)

My Room of Choice

By Larry Stephens

How do you like my room?

True, it’s really not much to look at; nor is it well-furnished—not like the dozens of other rooms in this rambling, sprawling mansion where generation after generation piled more rooms on top of older rooms in a crazy, haphazard way that actually gives me a headache when I consider the overall construction of this… monstrosity.

There are older rooms in this place—some dating back to the first construction in the early 1700s, buried in the rolling hills of southwestern Pennsylvania. But I avoid those rooms. They scare me; feels like they’re haunted and they creep me out.

No, this is my Room of Choice, and while it looks old, I actually have not a clue how old it really is. There are no dates scratched in the paneling, no roughly-etched heart shape with two sets of initials bisected with a plus-sign. There’s no evidence that so-and-so was here in 19-something-or-the-other.

But the beat-up paneling tells so many stories, as does the charred fireplace and the worn, spotted floor, so really, it’s pretty easy to get lost in here.

I found a chair—like the most austere chair I could find in this endless cluster of windowless rooms, rooms with doors that open onto brick walls, doors that open to winding tunnels carved out of the raw earth—and brought it to this room. After all, a man’s gotta sit, right?

I come here every day; burn a little weed before I get here and wash it down with some Johnny Walker Blue, then I grab some H2oH, then trundle down some steps, out of the ‘waking world’ of sunlight into this room that time forgot where I take up my super-austere chair and then find a story.

I don’t have a creative bone in my body. You ask, ‘How can that be?’ And the answer is straightforward. Because I don’t. I’m not built that way.

It’s this room. Without this room, I’m nothing. There would be no best sellers with my pen name gracing the spine.

But this room…

There are so many stories that this room commands me to tell. Look here at this panel just to the left of the fireplace. What do you see?

Worn panel. That’s funny. And stupid.

Why is the paint on that panel worn differently than the ones on either side of it? Maybe it has something to do with the fireplace? Maybe that’s the perfect panel to lean against to get just the right amount of heat and light from the fire. The one to the right? Too hot. One to the left? Not hot enough. So why not lounge right there while puffing on a pipe while a lady perches right in front of the fire? Maybe she’s knitting.

Maybe it’s 1902 and she’s asking her man why he has drops of blood on his rough, wool shirt. Again. And perhaps this time he’ll finally tell her why. And then show her.

Understand? No? Okay, let’s look at that fireplace. Now some of these spots on the floor that look to be more worn than the rest of the floor. What’s that stuff telling you?

You’re cracking me up, but it’s good to hear that you’re a little more serious in your answer. ‘Favorite spots where people gathered ’round the fire.’

What if those people consisted of all one family? An entire family’s lives lived in one room. Think about that. Now, what if it were two families? And they were slaves.

But we know there are defectives in every group, right? All sorts of defectives; some with physical deformities and some with mental ‘problems,’ especially if there was inbreeding, which I heard was common in situations like this at the turn of the 19th century.

But folks were not stupid; they knew how to thin the herd no matter the cost in personal, emotional pain.

Doesn’t that just open up all sorts of possibilities? Now, look at that spot right there, right in front of the fireplace. Look at the color of that spot. Kind of looks like the floorboards are… stained.

Don’t look so shocked.

Now please leave me; the Room is calling me and it’s very, very demanding.

You can see yourself out.

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Visit Larry’s FB page for more of his work and ‘Friend him! https://www.facebook.com/Enzo.stephens.5011

Write the Story: February 2019 Collection

E. C. Fisher: The Ending Flame

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 used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)

The Ending Flame

by: E.C. Fisher

The seasons pass and winter is here

Alone I sit beside a roaring fire

The wood crackles and pops

The warmth seeps into my bones

As the icy chill blows

The dancing of the flames entice my eyes

Mesmerized by its roaring life

The crackle and pop my only companion

As the icy chill blows

Memories of our life together flash in the flames

The love, the fights, the cries, and the laughter

Only silence fills me now

As the icy chill blows

Behind our bedroom door, you sleep

Now you rest eternal my dearly departed

I sit here watching the flames dance

A mesmerizing tango of rage and fury

As the icy chill blows

Rest now my sweet, for I will be with you shortly

The last flicker of the flame smothers out

Our dance is at its end

The smoke rises through the chimney

Joined with you, together, our eternal sleep

As the icy chill blew out our fire

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Visit E.C.’s Facebook page and check out his work and give him a like. www.facebook.com/ecfisherauthor

Write the Story: February 2019 Collection

Lynn Miclea: Peace for humanity

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


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Peace for Humanity

by Lynn Miclea

Liam stood at the peak, gazing out over the view before him. For once, he was speechless. A sea of billowy clouds spread out below him in all directions. There were no sounds. There were no words. There was just complete, powerful peace.

He knew that down on the surface of the planet wars were being fought. There was too much anger, hatred, and fighting down there. It had to end. It couldn’t go on like this.

He pushed those thoughts aside. Liam had come up here, as he often did, to get a much needed break from the war. For now, he allowed the serenity before him to settle in his body. He felt a deep peace wash through him, as he took in the scene that surrounded him.

Up here he touched the incredible expanse of infinite wonder. The beauty and overwhelming grandeur filled him, and he felt his muscles relax and the tension in his body soften.

But time was running out. His eyes burned with tears. Liam needed to lead his troops into battle one last time. It needed to be the last war, the final battle, if humanity were to survive.

He took a deep breath, and his eyes took in the exquisite awe-inspiring magnificence before him. The incredible beauty and serenity of this place was not lost on him. This was what he needed, and what mankind needed, to survive. It was what made it all worthwhile.

It was time to return to the world below. The planet and all of humanity were worth saving.

Please, God, he thought, let this be the last war. Please.

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Copyright © 2019 Lynn Miclea. All Rights Reserved.

Please also see this story and like it on Lynn’s blog at – https://wp.me/p4htbd-nQ

Write the Story: January 2019 Collection

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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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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


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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


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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

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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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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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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Write the Story: January 2019 Collection

Calliope Njo – Snow Angel

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.)

Snow Angel


By Calliope Njo


I noticed her from a distance. I knew it would take a few seconds to reach her. I swooshed down the hill, came to a stop and looked around where she paused. A snow angel would be the sole remnants under that towering tree.


My old instructor would tell me to get my head out of the clouds and onto the slopes where it belonged. Funny thing though, my mind has always been on the slopes because that’s where she showed herself ever since that first day.


I climbed up all the way to the cabin I had been staying at. Cozy and rustic little place but it suited me. What I needed. Maybe if I asked that old man he could tell me more.


I couldn’t sleep and spent the night staring up at the ceiling. Her blonde hair swirled in the wind. Her icy blue eyes crinkled at the edges. Ah hell, nothing got accomplished lying down.


I grabbed a lantern by the door and held it up when I stepped outside. I didn’t expect to see anything, but a strange blue light floated in my direction. I waited there and somewhat hoped that light would disappear.


The blue light transformed into the mysterious woman. She stayed at a distance and smiled in my direction. Not sure what that slight tilt of her head meant but I waved her in. She backed up and with a gust of wind, disappeared.


I ran out to try to find any hint but no luck. I walked back to the cabin and closed the door behind me. I leaned against it and feared I lost my mind.

I settled down on my cot and didn’t expect to fall asleep but I must have. The next thing I knew the sun shone through the window.


Phoenix Constatine, the gay skier. Phoenix Constatine, a new patient in the mental ward. I laughed. It didn’t stop. I needed to talk to that old man.

A note on his door read that he had to go to the village to get more supplies and would return in two days. So much for that plan, because I won’t be here.


I spent the day skiing the mountain and no luck. She blew away someplace that couldn’t be found. Maybe I dreamed up the whole thing because of stress and exhaustion.


I had to return home to Colorado. As much as I wanted to stay I couldn’t. Maybe next time I would be able to find that magical spirit. I packed my stuff and put it by the door.


That night something whispered my name. I opened the door and she stood right in front of me. She reached out her hand. Curiosity got the best of me and I took it. So frosty, not warm like I expected.


She took me to a high mountain, a place above the clouds. Too beautiful to not look or wonder what lies below. I hated the thought, but I had to leave to get back home.

She shook her head. “You are home. Where you belong.”

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Write the Story: January 2019 Collection