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Kathleen Treubig: Chair

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.)

Chair

By Kathleen Treubig

I wanted to come before the sale. Before Uncle Tom’s spirit was left a guest in his house. The room is void now. The empty void that welcomed the silence free of Tom’s barbs. His empty chair in his empty house. Restless spirits wandered my Uncle’s farmhouse. I wondered if Tom’s spirit joined the others or wandered alone.

Uncle Tom did not want to die, but karma caught the tail of his coat. Cancer. The ultimate equalizer. Tom’s bravado was eaten by cancer, along with his eyes. God’s interesting choice to take Tom’s vision; Uncle Tom who thought his view was always correct, efficient. Tom was efficient but not correct. Stop it! Don’t do that in my home! Get off! Clean that! But those were decorations to the biting remarks not made but shouted from his eyes, “You’re less, you’re less, you’re small.” Uncle Tom’s words cut through my spirit like a vicious teenage joke, and I was small.

I didn’t feel his spirit in his room. It was empty of feeling. The chair looked at me. Take me, the chair said. Take me away, cried the chair. I could not. The chair had become one with the house and Uncle Tom. No. I’m not small, Uncle Tom.

No, I don’t want your chair, your karma or memory.

I left.

I heard the chair cry.

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Please visit Kathleen’s blog and follow her! http://www.failingfifty.com/chair/

Write the Story: February 2019 Collection


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Roger A. Legg: This Old Chair

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.)

This Old Chair

By Roger A. Legg

“It’s empty,” said the large man in coveralls. His head was bent down to look at the old lady. He was monstrous against her slight frame. His coveralls were dirty and worn. So many years of moving furniture had taken their toll on them.

“Did you leave the chair?” asked the old woman.

“Yes,” was all the man said. He wanted to get the last of this woman’s things on his truck so he could get home. It was Friday night and the sun had already set.

“You know, that old chair was here when I moved in,” said the old lady as her eyes wandered into a past that only she remembered.

The large man wanted to be polite, but knew if he asked he would be drawn into another story. No, another memory, still sharp in this old woman’s mind. Jonathan picked up two boxes stacked on the ground and placed them in the back of his truck.

It was as big as he was. With a sixteen-foot box. This old truck had moved thousands of household goods all over the state. But this trip was different. His truck was mostly empty.

The old lady had so little, and now she didn’t even have her home. He was to move most of her stuff to a storage unit that had been rented by a man he assumed was her son.

The rest was to be delivered to a retirement home thirty miles away. With the last of her stuff on the truck and truck’s braces installed to keep the load from shifting while he drove, Jonathan jumped down from the truck. He felt the pain of all 320-some pounds as his knees bent from the shock of hitting the ground. He would soon have to start climbing down as his body wasn’t as young as it used to be. Mortality was catching up with him more and more each year. Jonathan looked at the old lady sitting on the curb. It was warm and the sun had been out all day. About four hours ago she had planted herself in a folding chair and had not moved since. She watched as everything she owned was moved out of the old house and placed on the truck. She said little. Now a tear was on her cheek and her eyes were lost in the past.

“Ma’am,” said Jonathan.

She didn’t answer.

“Ma’am!” Jonathan raised his voice a little. He didn’t want to scare the old woman.

“Oh. I’m sorry,” said the old woman. “Are you ready to leave?”

“Yes, Ma’am,” said Jonathan, wondering who was going to collect the old woman.

“I should go back inside.” The old woman started to get up, but the folding chair was lower than she was used to and she was having trouble.

Jonathan raced to her side. “Let me help you,” he said, and with his huge hands he helped her to her feet. She was frail and Jonathan almost snapped her out of her chair. She couldn’t have weighed more than a buck-ten. Her arms were so thin. Jonathan could not help it. His heart ached for this woman. She was alone, her house empty, with the exception of the old chair.

Jonathan snapped up the folding chair and followed the old lady into the house. It was not her home anymore. Her home was piled on his truck.

The old lady walked into the living room where the chair sat in front of an old fireplace. Unlike most homes, this old house had wood paneling which had been there for decades. The paint was faded in some spots and peeling in others. It had been a happy shade of green some decades before. Now it just looked old and moldy with gray wood peaking through some of the areas totally devoid of paint.

“My husband painted this wall when we first moved in,” she said, pointing at it.

“That must have been some time ago,” said Jonathan with regret as it indicated that it was in such a state of decay.

“1931,” was all the lady said.

“What?” asked Jonathan in surprise.

“That’s right,” said the old lady as she sat in the chair. Despite her slight weight, the chair creaked as she sat in it.

“Yep, just before David was born,” she said, as if Jonathan knew the names of her children.

“Wow,” Jonathan said, looking at the wall. “That’s old.”

“He died in the war,” said the old lady as her eyes left him again.

“Who?” asked Jonathan.

“Steven,” she said. “In June of 1944 they came to my door and said that he died.”

Jonathan hung his head. “I’m sorry.”

“They didn’t even bring him home. They said there were too many and that they buried him somewhere in Europe.” Tears were rolling down her face.

“I’m sorry.” Now Jonathan knew it was hopeless. He would be here until someone came and collected her. His big heart could not leave her here alone.

“Is David coming to pick you up?” asked Jonathan.

“Oh, no. He died in ‘68,” she said matter-of-factly.

Jonathan was sorry he had asked.

“He was in some jungle, but they brought him home and he is buried in Arlington,” she added.

“He was in the military?” Jonathan asked.

“United States Air Force,” she said proudly.

Jonathan paused for a moment trying to word his next question right. “Who is coming to pick you up?”

“Janet,” was all she said.

“Your daughter?” Jonathan asked.

“My great-granddaughter,” she said with pride. Then without being prompted, “She is my second son’s daughter’s child.” There was a pause. “He died in 2001. He was in New York.”

Jonathan’s heart was killing him. She had two sons and a husband taken from her by war and violence, yet she was still here. He was afraid to ask of any other family as it might be yet another story of loss. He remained silent. Jonathan looked at the old wall in the pale yellow light of an incandescent lamp that hung from the ceiling. It looked so grotesque in this light.

You could see nails that once supported pictures and the faded outlines of where they once hung. Then as if he could not help it, “How many kids did you have?”

“Four,” she said, without hesitation.

“And?” Jonathan asked with a great deal of misgiving.

“Dead,” she said with a pause. “All of them.” Again she paused as to gather her thoughts of each and every child and how they died before her. Memories that had to be painful. Slowly she said, “Deboria died of cancer after her third child. You see, they only found it after she was pregnant, and if they treated her, it would have killed the baby. She declined treatment and was dead by the child’s first birthday. She was the delight of my eye as she was the only daughter and such a princess. Then there was Tom, my adventurer. He was a reporter and loved to write. He would have won a Pulitzer if he had survived the IED in Afghanistan. Instead his work was blown all over the desert.”

Jonathan was glad that he was getting the Reader’s Digest version of her life as the details would have been too great to bear. This woman had lost everything and now was losing her home. Jonathan was fighting back tears. He had so much compared to this old woman. His kids were healthy and his oldest was about to get married. No great calamity had struck him or his family. He still had drinks with his father on Sunday afternoons and his wife’s parents dropped in once in a while as they were traveling from one retired adventure after another.

His life was good and full. He looked at the old woman. Frail and alone. A tear was welling up in the corner of his eye.

Just then the flash of red and blue was seen through the window. Jonathan walked over to it and looked out. It was a police officer and he was walking up to the door. Jonathan walked to it as well and opened it. The officer told him to stay where he was and had placed his hand on his gun. Jonathan was surprised. He was black, and though not wealthy, it was predominantly a white neighborhood. Johnathan put his hands up.

“What are you doing in this house?” the officer asked.

“I’m a mover,” Jonathan stammered. “That’s my truck.” He looked in the direction of his truck as he did not want to move his hands that were above his head.

“Who asked you to move the contents,” the officer asked.

“The owner, she is sitting in the living room. Go ask her.” Jonathan again indicated the direction with his eyes. They were large and brown and the whites were so white right now. It was not hard to see what direction he was indicating.

“Until I sort this out, I’m going to need you to put your hands behind your back and let me cuff you,” the officer said. Just then a second police car drove up and the officer sprung from the car and raced to the door. She had her weapon in her hand.

Jonathan complied and did not fight. He turned slowly and put his hands behind his back. This was not his first run-in with the cops and he knew if he was cool, everything would work out.

He was cuffed and the second officer entered the premises. She was only about five-foot-four, but stocky. Most likely from the bulky bullet proof vest they wore. She checked each space carefully as she made her way to the living room.

Jonathan watched from the entry as the police officer bent down to the old lady. She asked her, “Are you okay?”

The old lady did not look at the officer. “Yes,” was all she said.

“Ma’am.” The officer tried to get the old lady to look at her. “Did this man hurt you?”

The old lady became very animated. “Oh, no! He is very kind.” The old lady looked at Jonathan. “He stopped to listen to an old fool.” Then looking at the officer, “Not many will do that these days.”

“Ma’am,” the officer asked, “what is your name?”

Jonathan thought that was a strange question. And who called the cops? Something was wrong with this picture, and how was it that they didn’t know who the old lady was. She’s the owner…

“Ma’am.” The officer was trying to get the old lady to look at her again. “Ma’am, this is not your home,” she said as a statement of fact.

The hair on Jonathan’s neck was tingling when he heard the statement. Not her home? Oh, crap! Whose stuff was in the back of his truck? Instantly Jonathan turned to the police officer that was standing next to him, “Officer, I was hired. By her. To…” he stammered. “I’m an honest businessman.” He thought for a moment. “The work order to remove all the stuff is in my cab with her signature.” He paused. “I swear.”

The police officer thought about it a second and then turned to Jonathan. “Let’s go take a look.”

Jonathan tried to relax as he was taken to the truck with his hands behind his back. Neighbors were starting to gather, and the name of his company was plastered all over the side of the truck. All Jonathan could think about was how this was going to hurt his business. One that was built on his reputation more than with advertising money. This was bad.

Once at the truck, the officer placed Jonathan on his knees and then opened the truck. He climbed up and found the clipboard that had the contract. Sure enough, it had the address, phone number and signature that made it legal. The officer scrutinized it for any flaws, but there were none. He looked at Jonathan. “How did she contact you?”

“She called and said that she had to move before this weekend. I told her that I had just had a cancellation and could help her on Friday. She accepted and here I am,” Jonathan explained, with some hope in his voice.

The officer walked away and talked on his radio. He waited with his back to Jonathan. It was obvious that he did not consider him a threat. The radio confirmed that Jonathan was the owner-operator of his business and that everything was up to date and accurate. The officer turned and walked back to Jonathan, helped him up and removed the cuffs.

Jonathan rubbed his wrists and looked at the officer for an apology or explanation. The officer did not offer either.

Just then a black SUV pulled up in the driveway and a woman got out. She was dressed in a colorful nurse’s outfit with blue scrub pants, crocs on her feet and a multi-colored smock. She looked at the officer who said nothing and headed for the old house.

“Do I get to know what that is about?” asked Jonathan.

“I guess you deserve that much,” the officer said and signaled for Jonathan to follow. They entered the home and found the nurse and the female police officer talking to the old lady. She was talking too quietly to hear, but she was nodding her head and seemed in good spirits. The female officer got up and came over to her partner. She signaled for them to walk outside.

Once on the lawn, she told them what she knew. “The old lady, Helen, was one hundred and four years old as of two days ago. She disappeared from her apartment that evening and apparently ended up here. The door was not locked and she helped herself.” She looked at her notes. “The homeowner is in Florida and could not sell the old place so they were keeping it until the market got better.”

Jonathan broke in, “So all the shit about her husband, kids and this place was bullshit!”

The male officer whose name tag Jonathan finally read, Bret, broke in, “She’s one hundred and four, don’t you think you should give her a break?”

Jonathan pointed to his truck, “I just loaded someone else’s stuff in the back of my truck, which took me all afternoon, and now I have to take it all out?” He looked around. “I’m sure her check will bounce as well.” This was not the real point. The real point was that Jonathan believed her story. Felt sorry for the old lady and even shed a tear for her. Needless to say, he was angry.

Bret, the male officer, pointed to the SUV. “I’m not so sure the check will bounce, that SUV cost at least 60k and she has a personal nurse.” He looked at the house. “She might have a few screws loose, but she’s got to be loaded.”

Jonathan looked at the officer. “You don’t mind if I talk to her and her nurse, do you?”

The officers looked at each other. “I guess not,” was his response.

Jonathan walked back into the old house and entered the living room. The nurse was still talking to Helen in a quiet tone. When she saw Jonathan enter without the police she rose to meet him.

“I need to talk to her,” he said in a flat tone.

“She’s had a long day and she’s tired,” said the nurse.

“She’s had a long day?” Jonathan said, exasperated. “I’ve been loadin’ someone else’s stuff in my truck all afternoon and now I have to unload it all.” Jonathan was not ready to accept such a feeble excuse.

“She will compensate you,” said the nurse in a cold manner.

“Lady, that old woman told me such a sob story, she…” He paused, not sure if he wanted to admit that he’d been sucker-punched by a centurion. She might have been old, but she sure could spin a lie. “Well, she was playin’ on my feelings.” He looked away. “Ya know.”

“I know,” she said with a tone that showed that she too had heard the stories.

“And just because she’s over a hundred, we’re supposed to just let her?” Jonathan was not really looking for an answer. What answer could the nurse give? Helen was over a hundred.

“We will compensate you for your time. Besides, we have already contacted the owner, and he was going to clear the place to get it ready to put it on the market. You don’t have to unload all of it, just the appliances, and I need you to put that chair in the back of my vehicle.”

Jonathan was about to say something, but the request was a bit odd. “The chair?”

“Yes, it’s hers,” she said, pointing at Helen. “Steven made it for her as a wedding present.”

“Wait, Steven was her husband?” Jonathan was confused.

“They were all real stories,” the nurse said.

“And the way they died?”

“Yes.” The nurse paused and then looked at Jonathan as if he was to follow her. She walked into the barren kitchen and turned to Jonathan who had to follow. He had to know what was truth and what was false.

“Most of what she told you was true.” The nurse looked back toward the living room. “Her father died on the Lusitania, her husband at Normandy, her oldest son in Vietnam, and her youngest was running up the stairs when the towers fell.”

There was a pause, so Jonathan asked, “What about her daughter?”

The nurse responded, “Oh, she died of cancer.”

“So it’s all true.” Jonathan didn’t know whether to feel bad or not. She did lie about this being her house and for wasting his Friday afternoon.

“I really shouldn’t tell you this, but you seem like a real nice guy,” said the nurse.

“What?”

“Well, you see, Helen is a writer. A kinda famous one.” The nurse looked around as if someone was listening. She lowered her voice and continued, “You’re going to be famous.”

Jonathan’s face contorted at this statement.

“She does these little excursions every time she wants to find a new lead for a book.” The nurse looked down. You could see she was not happy about something.

“What?” asked Jonathan.

“It also means I’ll be gone soon,” the nurse said sadly.

“What?”

“Well, you see, we’re in the book right now, and to protect everyone’s ignorance I will be written out,” admitted the nurse.

“You’re as crazy as she is.”

“At least you will be famous.” She looked out the window.

“I’m not in a book, this is me in the flesh.” Jonathan patted his chest. He could feel the impact of his hands. He was real.

“Oh, you’re real alright, but out there.” She pointed up.

“You’re nuts, lady,” said Jonathan.

The nurse looked at him. “Okay, where do you live?” She paused. “Or where were you taking her stuff?”

Jonathan thought about it. He didn’t know. He didn’t know where his office was or where he was going to take the old lady’s stuff. It was supposed to go to a storage unit, but where? He stammered, “I… don’t know.”

“That’s because she hasn’t written it yet.”

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Please visit Roger’s blog and follow him. https://ralegg.blogspot.com/2019/02/this-old-chair-its-empty.html


Write the Story: February 2019 Collection


Familia Suarez Jimenez: The Chair

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 Chair

By Familia Suarez Jimenez

The Chair let out a creak
As she tiptoed down the hall
Expecting to see him there
But there was nothing there at all
Once fires, built, from his chest
As grand as she was tall
But now only ashes covered the hearth
And he wasn’t there at all
She returned to her room
And buried her face in her blanket
Only to hear a scratching
Coming from the room adjacent
So she tiptoed, back, down the hall
Looking to see who came
But still, there was no one there
Only the wind teasing the window pane
As she crept back to her room
Chastising her imagination
She could feel the air change just then
And she began to lose her patience
She turned around, in time to see
Smoke filling the room
Of the fire built from his chest
And The Chair no longer
As empty as his tomb

cj Suarez 2.2.19

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Familia does not have a blog or author page yet but wanted to participate. Please like and comment on her poetry and check back next month for more of her work.

Write the Story: February 2019 Collection


Kelli J Gavin: The House in Maine

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.)

The House In Maine

By: Kelli J Gavin

My husband asked if I wanted to take one last look. One last look at the house, the remaining contents, everything I was leaving behind. I wasn’t sure I could. Could I walk back into the home where I grew up and not be blasted by every beautiful, every breathtaking, every heartbreaking occurrence that took place within those walls?

The trailer was packed, and so was the car. Only enough room left for the two of us in the front seat. I sifted through everything in the house as quickly as I could, leaving donate piles, garbage piles and clear instructions of what furniture should be sold and what should be loaded onto the trailer that would return to my home. I carefully packed keepsakes and treasures myself. I located the wooden crate in the back closet next to the fireplace in the living room, which contained my grandmother’s journals which she had begun keeping at the age of ten. That crate would be loaded into the car. I found her beautiful costume jewelry and scarves and handbags, and pulled a special few to be packed away for me. Treasures of which I had used as a child when I liked to play dress up. Such a simple time. When all that mattered was that my diamond earrings sparkled and that my handbag matched my shoes.

My mother and I moved in with my grandmother when I was seven. Mom said cancer in her bones would take her within the year, and she wanted to make sure that I was well taken care of. Where would this cancer in her bones take her? I didn’t understand but also didn’t ask any questions. I had never met my grandmother before. She lived in Maine. What was Maine? I was told it was a state very far away from Chicago where we lived. My mother never spoke of my grandmother and only mentioned her name when I asked my mother if she had a mother. She smirked at me, “Vera, everyone has a mother. Some are just better than others.”

We arrived at the worn-down home in this odd place called Maine that smelled of fish and mold. Everything seemed dirty, and boots were needed just to walk outside as the rains had turned the ground to thick mud that you would sink into if you didn’t keep putting one foot in front of the other. Grandma, or Gran as she requested to be called, was short and thin with beautiful white hair. She wore sweater sets with matching shoes and brooches and pearls. Gran looked exactly like what my seven-year-old mind thought a grandmother should look like.

We were welcomed quickly, ushered in swiftly and tucked into our quarters immediately. I do not believe that Gran was slow at anything. Everything was done in haste as if there were bigger and better things to do next. Always something to be done. Something to be accomplished. Gran never sat still. She polished silver, she organized the china hutch, she folded and re-folded linen napkins. She applied lipstick and smoothed her skirt that didn’t need smoothing. She smiled larger than necessary and poured more tea even when it wasn’t requested or had already been refused. Gran was a nervous force to be reckoned with.

My mother slowed down quickly after we moved in. She began to request meals on a tray be brought to her room two weeks after we arrived in Maine. Gran and I were happy to oblige. Constance, the housekeeper, arrived every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning at 8:00 a.m. sharp. She cleaned and cooked and did the laundry and often left me Butter Rum Life Savers if I helped hang the laundry on the lines. She was kind and sweet to my mother and hummed hymns as she worked.

Mom died six weeks after we arrived in Maine. She passed quietly in her sleep. I lay next to her for half a day before going with Gran to the kitchen. My grandmother arranged everything with her local church and funeral home. The funeral would be in a couple days. I sat with tears in my eyes looking at Gran as Constance poured us both a cup of tea. “What happened with you and my mother? Why didn’t I know about you until now? Why have I never met you?”

“Vera. I loved your mother very much. She was my only daughter. I hurt your mother a number of years ago and she was never able to forgive me. I told her last night that I loved her and how sorry I am that we wasted all of these years away. I told her how enchanting you are and how I was learning to quite enjoy being a Gran. Vera, I am sorry. I will love you like you are my own daughter. You can live here as long as you like. When it is time to go to college, everything will be taken care of. This is where you can call home.” Gran leaned over and gave me an awkward kiss on my forehead.

My young mind couldn’t figure out how Gran had hurt Mom years ago. I thought about it for a number of years but then I eventually stopped caring. Gran and I developed a great relationship. She enrolled me in school, helped with my homework, and encouraged me to get involved with extracurricular activities. She had Constance drop me off at church on Wednesday nights for Youth Group, and a local mom brought me home. I made friends, I enjoyed school, and I learned to like living in Maine.

I always missed my mother. Nothing could fill that void in my heart. I started writing and found that stories of my mother and Gran were what I enjoyed the most. I went to the local college and majored in Creative Writing. I received my Masters in English with a focus in Literature. Gran couldn’t have been more proud. She began to decline in her later years and Constance had passed away when I was an undergrad. Lucille came to clean our home and take care of Gran. I would go home on weekends. To visit and smile and read to Gran. Our time together was nothing short of magical.

When Gran passed, I found it difficult to return home. I should have rented the home out. But I couldn’t stand the thought of anyone else living there. I married the love my life and we enjoyed living in New York City. My husband told me it was time to sell the home as it had fallen into ill repair. We hired a team and it took us three days. The project was complete. And the final clear-out enabled the home to be put on the market as is. I prayed for some amazing home improvement lover of broken homes to come along and restore the home to its original glory.

After walking the perimeter of the home, I went in for one last look. “Are you leaving that chair, ma’am?” one of the movers asked as I was startled.

“Oh yes, just for a few minutes please.” I approached the chair next to the fireplace and gently sat down in Gran’s chair. Gran had always liked this chair. It wasn’t particularly comfortable. But I came to find out it had been her father’s chair. Gran said she felt close to him when she sat in it. I closed my eyes and breathed deeply. I could swear that the house still smelled like Gran’s perfume and Constance’s chocolate chip cookies. I savored these smells, these memories, and wasn’t sure I was going to be able to remove myself from the chair anytime soon.

I heard a heavy shuffle of feet behind me and a gentle placement of hands on my shoulders. “I have made a mistake. I need this chair to come with us, honey. Can you find some rope and figure out a way to strap it to the top of the car? This chair can’t be left behind.”

My dear husband. After I finished making my rounds of each room of the house, I found him outside with rope in hand securing Gran’s chair in place on top of our car. I smiled as tears poked the corners of my eyes. Yes. Now I had everything I needed from the house in Maine.

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Visit Kelli’s blog to find more of her writings and be sure to follow her! hehttps://kellijgavin.blogspot.com/2019/02/the-house-in-main.html

Write the Story: February 2019 Collection

Kenneth Lawson: Things Best Left Forgotten

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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February 2019 Prompt


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

Things Best Left Forgotten

by Kenneth Lawson

The fire had long ago burned out. There was nothing left but ashes.

I turned toward the door, forgetting about the lone chair in the room, and tripped, sprawling across the floor. I got up slowly, right knee stinging, but kicked the chair out of my way. The grating sound it made as it scraped across the wooden floor was satisfying. Damned chair.

I grimaced as I gave the chair a wide berth and walked to the door. I turned the old worn knob, its luster long gone. Hell, the door and knob, even the chair was older than me. In another time I had sat in the chair reading by candlelight and the glow from the fireplace. Music from a long-ago era had filled the room. Now the room was only the remains of a life I had known decades ago.

Returning to my grandfather’s dilapidated homestead had been a mistake. As I walked into the entry hall, memories crept into my mind. Grandma baking cookies. Grandpa playing cards. The hours I spent with him learning to hunt and fish. His old shotgun still sat leaning in the corner next to the entry door. I picked it up, cracking open the double barrel and the breach. Sure enough, it was loaded. The brass ends of the shells were now corroded from years of sitting in the gun untouched and uncleaned. He would have been appalled. Grandpa never let anything get dirty, least of all his guns. I put it back.

I pushed open the front door and exited the house. The porch once held a hanging swing where I’d spent many an hour listening to him tell tall tales while we drank lemonade. It was now barely recognizable, lying on the rotted deck in a broken heap. The once beautiful lawn he’d kept was now a sea of overgrown weeds and hay, dotted with the occasional flower that managed to eke out an existence in the tall grass and weeds.

Plowing my way through the weeds I found his old truck. After a bit of a struggle, I pried the door open. The interior was covered in dust and junk. The tools he’d used last were still sitting on the passenger side of the bench seat. He’d died in this truck—heart attack hit him, and he was gone. Grandma died a month later from a broken heart. I shuddered, the memories were becoming overwhelming. Slamming the door shut again, I spun so fast I was dizzy, but I had to get back to my car and away from this place.

“Robert!! Wake up!! You were dreaming again.”

I blinked from the glare of the sun streaming through the window and sat up, rubbing the sleep from my eyes.

She sat on the edge of the bed. “You dreamed about the farm again?”

I nodded. “Yes. this time I made it to the truck.”

“But you didn’t see the box?”

“No, I didn’t see the box. I don’t know where grandpa hid the money.” I threw the covers back and got out of bed. “All I have are these nightmares from the damn drugs. They aren’t helping me remember what happened all those years ago.”

“You told me there was a box of money. You saw him hide it.”

“I was sixteen years old when he died. I thought I knew where he hid it but when we searched the place it wasn’t there. I just can’t remember where it was. Damn it, Charlene, it’s been nearly twenty years.”

“But baby, no one’s been there since your grandparents died but us. We’ve gone over and over the place. The only way we’re gonna find out where he hid the box is for you to remember.”

“All the damned drugs you’re shoving down my throat are giving me a headache and flashbacks to things I don’t want to remember.”

“But baby, it’s a lot of money.”

Those baby blue eyes of hers were misty as she gazed at me.

“Okay, I’ll keep taking the drugs until we find the money.”

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Visit Kenneth’s blog and follow him! http://kennethlawson.weebly.com/

Write the Story: February 2019 Collection

Write the Story: February 2019 Prompt

Here’s the plan:

You write a story of 3000 words or less (doesn’t matter, can be 50 words or a poem) and post it on the author site that you want to promote. Please edit these stories. We will do minor editing but if the story is not written well Writers Unite! reserves the right to reject publishing it.

We have chosen not to do full-editing. This project is based on the writer attracting new readers with their work. Therefore other than common grammar error editing, we will not edit content.

Send the story and link to the site via Facebook Messenger to Deborah Ratliff or email daratliff07@gmail.com. Put “Write the Story” in the first line of the message or subject line.

WU! will post your story on our blog and share across our platforms, FB, Twitter, Instagram, etc. WU! will also add the story to the Write the Story page on our blog…where it be for all to read along with the other stories.

We do ask that you share the link to the WU! Write the Story page so that your followers can also read the works of your fellow writers.

The idea is to generate increased traffic for all. May take some time but it will happen if you participate. The other perk of this exercise is that you will also have a blog publishing credit for your work

DO NOT post your story to this prompt. The idea is to have your story or poem published on your site, the WU! blog and shared to gain followers for your writing. We will not accept a one- or two-line caption. For the most part, we are fiction writers and poets…. please write a story or poem, not a caption.

If you have any questions regarding this, you may ask the question in the comments. Please note: you do not need to be a member of the WU! Facebook group or follow the blog to participate. If you want to join us, however, that would be great!

Thank you.

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

Now… go Write the Story!

 

Thank you!

*** Write the Story ***

As we close out the month of January, I want to thank all the members of Writers Unite! who participated in our first month of the Write the Story project. The participation was stronger than we expected for the first month and the stories were excellent.

Thanks also to all of you who took the time to read these fantastic stories and to visit the authors’ pages, blogs, or websites. The focus of this project is to have fun and do a creative exercise by writing a story from a prompt and then sharing the story to increase everyone’s following. I can say that I saw an increase in followers on my blog after my story posted. I hope everyone else did as well.

We are about to do this again! February’s prompt will be revealed tomorrow. Warm up your laptops or open those writing apps… time to write February’s story!

If you are not a member of Writers Unite! on Facebook, you can still participate. Write your story and submit it to daratliff07@gmail.com and include Write the Story – February in the subject line.

If you missed any of the January stories or would like to read them again… you can find them HERE!

Thank for kicking Write the Story off to a successful start!!!

Doug Blackford: The Endless

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 Endless

By Doug Blackford

The Endless. That’s what they called it. It was easy to see why. The cold air was almost painful and the acrid taste of ozone was bitter on my tongue, but they barely registered in comparison to the sweeping vista of clouds. The smell of rain came and went as air currents carried it to my nose and then away again. The whisper of the wind was the only thing that balanced the silence. The endless ocean of clouds in every direction balanced my soul. I knew it wasn’t real — that it was just electrical signals being pumped into my brain, but that didn’t change how it felt. It wasn’t even a true reflection of reality. There was no breathing at this altitude and the cold itself was deadly. There were definite advantages to virtual reality, but it was all just a sales pitch — a sophisticated sales pitch.

I had stood on the peaks of Mount Everest and K2, and had even been to the “Top of the World” on Olympus Mons. They were each impressive in their own right, as every peak was, but the view on this one had an air of mystery the others lacked. It was, for lack of a better word, otherworldly.

I gestured with one hand and adjusted the virtual interface to begin the narration. The female voice was sultry without being provocative, with just a hint of a Jamaican accent. It was too perfect to be anything except an AI voice, but damn if it didn’t sound authentic. I wondered what information in my profile prompted the accent.

“Hello, Sebastian. Thank you for considering Starline Industries for your travel needs.”

Nice touch. Make it personal.

“Terra Centauri is roughly 4.3 light-years from Earth in the Alpha Centauri system. As the first and closest of the three known habitable exoplanets, we have been there the longest. All basic needs are established with educational, corporate, and government services available.”

“Are those needs and services included in the cost?”

There was always a catch. I had actually had to buy my own air when I trekked Olympus. You’d think a travel package designed for Olympus Mons on Mars would include air, but no, not so much. It’s not like you can do without it, so yeah, always a catch.

“Excellent question, Sebastian. Basic needs such as housing, food, water, air, medical care, and anything else needed to ensure your safety, security, and survival are included in the basic package during transport and while on planet. Things you can actually live without are not. You can, however, upgrade from the basic package to include better or additional services.”

There it was. When they said basic, they meant you’ll-be-miserable-but-you’ll-live basic. I’d done enough traveling to know what wasn’t being said.

“Shall I continue?”

“Sure.”

“Due to the indigenous life on the planet, surface travel is regulated carefully and by permit only. Our presence is mostly restricted to habitat constructs in order to minimize damage and contamination of the natural biome. The planet is slightly cooler than our own on average, but is fully capable of sustaining Terran biologicals.”

“What kind of indigenous life?”

I knew what the public data said, but SI might have more updated information.

“Plants analogous to our own, but completely different species. Although some microbial fauna have been discovered, thus far there has been no sign of more complex life forms. Is that a sufficient answer or would you like more scientific detail?”

“No, that’s good. Thanks. Proceed.”

“The highlight of our most popular travel package is what you are experiencing right now. Centauri Mons is the tallest mountain in the Centauri system with a height of just over 11,320 meters. That makes it taller than any other known peak except for Olympus Mons on Mars.”

“Been there. Done that.”

It wasn’t that I was bragging. It was just a statement of fact to prompt the AI to not tangent off in that direction.

“I know. You are quite the accomplished mountaineer and archaeologist. You’ve conquered the highest peaks in our system. I think you might enjoy the challenge of expanding your accomplishments to include another star system. You’d be the first person to conquer every peak over 8,000 meters in two systems.”

“Nice try, and I’ll admit I’m tempted, but you’ll need to do better than that. Convince me.”

“If you insist. Challenge accepted.”

I knew it was just me projecting my own expectations, but I swear I could hear a smile in her voice when she said it. AI agents had become virtually indistinguishable from actual people in the 70 or so years since the Precursor technology had been discovered. That discovery in my early teens was what had driven me to become an exoarchaeologist. I was pushing 90 these days, and even though I was projected to live to around 220, give or take, climbing mountains was for young people. As a middle-aged male, I had other priorities. Still, that view was stupendous.

“Give it your best shot.”

“As an exoarchaeologist, you are no doubt aware of Precursor artifacts having been discovered in several locations in system — Luna, Titan, Mars, Ceres, Vespa, and even right here on Earth once we knew what to look for and how to look for them.”

The VR slowly shifted and morphed to simulate versions of each environment she named.

“I know about them, yes. Are you saying they have discovered artifacts on Terra Centauri?”

Of course I knew about them. I had studied most of them. I had even discovered one of the several that were located on Mars. If they had found artifacts on Terra Centauri, that would have huge ramifications. There were several theories regarding the Precursors, but no real evidence about where they had come from or where they had gone. They were obviously an interstellar civilization, as our own star drives had proven based on their technology, but no other evidence had been found regarding any star system other than our own.

The VR showed a recently uncovered obelisk in one of Earth’s jungles. It appeared unmarked by the passage of time. I could feel the humidity and smell the eucalyptus of the jungle. The simulation began shifting again, but the obelisk remained. All of the plants changed to types I didn’t recognize, and the humidity dropped considerably. There was a strange scent that seemed familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it.

“I do not have access to that information, so can neither confirm nor deny such a discovery. It is not an impossibility for Precursor artifacts to exist on Terra Centauri, therefore, it is certainly possible that they do. If they do, but have not yet been discovered, imagine if it was you who discovered them. As a certified exoarchaeologist, you have access to special packages that are unavailable to non-certified citizen travelers. Would you like to hear what packages are available to you?”

“Special packages? What kind of special packages?”

I knew she was using logic manipulation, but it was still intriguing. I had accessed the SI node more out of curiosity than anything else, after having heard that SI had the best VR representation of The Endless. My curiosity was now aimed in another direction. The AI was good and had piqued my interest.

“In addition to the citizen travel packages, you are authorized to apply for three special packages according to your certifications. Technically, they are called science packages, but we just call them the professor, researcher, and resident packages. Unlike the traveler packages, which you pay for, science packages are paid for by a sponsor.”

I knew how sponsorships worked. I’d had several fellowships and grants, not to mention the countless contracts I’d worked over the years.

“Do any of them have open sponsorships available?”

“Yes, Sebastian. Each science package has sponsors open to candidates who meet their certified qualification needs.”

“Tell me about the packages.”

It wasn’t that I was seriously considering traveling over four light-years to another planet, but it wasn’t that I was totally set against the idea either. I was curious. Always had been. There was always more to know. Mother Sabine used to tell me that some feline DNA must have gotten into my mix. I had thought she was serious up until my early teens, when I figured out what she really meant. I did get my DNA checked, though, just in case. No feline.

“The professor package is for Centauri University and includes a one- to three-year work visa to teach at the university. Various fields of study are available, including exoarchaeology.”

“No, not ready to hang up my boots just yet.”

I might be middle-aged, but I was still too young to retire to a classroom.

“The researcher package includes a three- to five-year work visa and has interested sponsors in the university, corporate, and government sectors. The fields of research available depend on which sponsor accepts your application, but all three sectors include at least one exoarchaeology research position.”

“Field research?”

“Both field and lab research positions are available across the sectors. Would you like more detailed information on this package, Sebastian?”

“No. Not right now, anyway. Tell me about the last one you mentioned. The resident package?”

“Immigration requirements have been modified to now allow certified individuals to become permanent residents of Terra Centauri. This fact has not been advertised to general citizens due to the probable over-response of applications. Only certified individuals that fill a specific need are considered for permanent resident status. Considering your skills, accomplishments, and certifications, as well as the ongoing search for Percursor artifacts, you are a prime candidate for the resident package.”

Why would I want to move there? An even better question might be, what benefit would being a resident provide?

“Why would I want to move there? I get that it’s prime territory for an exoarchaeologist, but what possible benefit would be enticing enough to actually move there? I would think a field-researcher position would be perfectly adequate.”

“I’m glad you asked, Sebastian. Pending a successful application, you would be allowed to live on Terra Centauri for a probationary period of five years, after which time your probationary resident status could be converted to permanent or you could return to Earth. During that first five years, you would be obligated to do some guest lectures, teach some classes, and perform some research. You would have a little more freedom to pursue the research of most interest to you, and not just what was assigned to you. After the five years, should you stay and become a permanent resident, you would be allowed to form your own research expeditions. Also, you would be given first-class accommodations on your trip there, if that matters.”

“Really? My own expeditions after five years? I can’t do that with the researcher positions?”

“I’m afraid not, Sebastian. All research expeditions are supervised by resident experts and conducted according to their requirements and goals. As a researcher, you would answer to them. After five years, you would be one of them. The five-year arrangement is to provide adequate time to become familiar with the planet and its eccentricities. If there is more to it than that, I do not have that data.”

I had earned the seniority and experience to form and lead expeditions in many places on Earth, but nowhere else. True enough that I had been the lead scientist on expeditions to both Mars and Luna, but they were someone else’s expeditions — the United Western Alliance for this one, Luna Corp for that one, International Solutions for another one. It took decades to earn my name on Earth. It would take decades more to earn it for the rest of the system. Earning it in five years was …

“Five years? Really? What’s the catch? There’s always a catch. I mean, besides having to become a resident. Who is the sponsor? Oh, never mind. It would have to be the government. Right?”

“I’m sorry, that information is classified. I can provide details and I can submit applications on your behalf, but I cannot access or reveal specific sponsor names. The system is set up so that specific sponsors are anonymous until after your application is accepted. At that point, things progress according to their process and they will provide you with all pertinent information.”

For that kind of benefit, the name of the sponsor didn’t really matter all that much. It mattered some, but probably not enough to be a deciding factor. I had accessed the node for The Endless strictly for my own entertainment, and now I was actually considering moving to another planet. How did that happen?

“Five years. Seriously? How long do I have to make a decision?”

“Open positions cannot be reserved or held open for potential applicants. You have until someone else is accepted for the position. That may not happen for another year or more, or it may be filled within the hour. Applicants are considered in the order of their application. I will tell you that although I am currently hosting 7,237 other virtual tours of Terra Centauri at this time, none of them are potential applicants for a resident package.”

Could I move to another planet? Should I move to another planet? It wasn’t like I had any permanent attachments. Friends, sure. Peers and colleagues, of course. No family, though. No offspring. No significant other. Not anymore, anyway. In fact, not even a current contract or expedition. There was nothing really keeping me on Earth. I had been off-planet for years at a time before. This wasn’t that different.

“You win the challenge. Do it.”


The seventh time was just as spectacular as the first. No, as spectacular as the second. The first time had been a VR experience. It had been an exemplary simulation, but it hadn’t compared to the real thing.

I had made the trip from The Ark to the summit of Centauri Mons every year since I’d landed. I’d had to beg a ride for the first five years, but since I’d converted to permanent resident, the research skiff at my disposal ensured I could go on my own timetable. I had cut it close this year. The ion storms were due in less than a week, but I had an expedition scheduled for right after, so this was my only available window.

“Bas?”

The voice in my head startled me out of my reverie. It had been good while it lasted. Thirty minutes of uninterrupted peace. The environmental suit was so advanced that I hardly noticed it. Terra Centauri got first dibs on all of the latest advances. It was almost like being alone atop the mountain, except I was never truly alone anymore.

One of the requirements I’d had to agree to when becoming a resident was getting chipped. It wasn’t the same as getting an identity chip. That was just an implant under the skin with my SIN and other information — medical, security, financial, everything that defined my data print. No, this was a chip in my head. It had two primary functions. One, it connected me to the network. Always on, always connected, anywhere on or around the planet.

The second function was an IA, an intelligent assistant, that existed in my head. Every resident had a version of the IA in their heads, but user customization ensured that each one was unique to them. It had proven quite useful, but it also bugged me to no end. I preferred it that way. I never wanted to get so used to technological integrations that I began thinking they were part of me. They were part of me in a literal sense, but they were not me. They were separate. I had intentionally tweaked my IA to be sarcastic, blunt, and profane. He was a pain in the ass and I didn’t like him very much. He didn’t like me very much, either, so it worked out great.

“What, Pita?”

“You’re going to die.”

That was obvious. So was everyone at some point, but I doubted he had just stated a fact like that out of nowhere. Something had prompted it.

“Why do you say that?”

“I am detecting an ion wave — no, wait. Yes. I had to verify the data burst with satellite sensors. Farside Arcology has gone dark. It sent out a data burst just before signal loss, and satellites confirm that an ion wave front is progressing. You. Are. Fucked. Wait, so am I. Shit.”

The storms were one of the planet’s “eccentricities,” as I had once heard them called. They were always preceded by a wave front, but usually not by more than a few hours. They had never been categorized as separate events. That meant the storms were early. That also meant I was screwed unless I found shelter at a lower altitude. The storms themselves were seldom lethal to biologicals, though they could temporarily scramble your neurological system and generate substantial shock voltage. However, they could completely fry unprotected electronics. Considering that my very survival depended on working electronics at the moment, now was a bad time.

“We need to go.”

“No shit.”

I was running before the words even left my mouth, not that I needed to say them aloud. Pita had the skiff flight-ready by the time I was in the pilot’s seat, and I was halfway down the mountain before I asked my next question.

“Time before intersect?”

“On your current heading, seventeen minutes. You cannot make Oceanus Prime.”

“I know, but I might be able to reach the canyons.”

The next few minutes lasted forever, but went by too quickly.

“I don’t want to die. Go faster.”

“We’re not going to die. Damn!”

A ground stroke reached up and killed the electrical systems. The skiff turned into a gliding brick.

“Help me level her out! We’re going down!”


When I opened my eyes, I saw a wall with strange carvings in front of the windscreen.

“Welcome back, Bas. I rebooted hours ago. It seems you’ve discovered a Precursor site.”

“Holy shit.”

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Visit Doug’s blog SmithandScribe and follow him! https://bit.ly/2MECQNN

https://smithandscribe.wordpress.com/2019/01/27/the-endless/?fbclid=IwAR3IGxcpJnP3vjVPD3iKEBd-YnAW1uDTvezsxV3YZ14q5c-60G1_kGI3Yko

Write the Story: January 2019 Collection

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D. A. Ratliff: The Journey’s End

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 Journey Ends

By D. A. Ratliff

Dalton reached the pinnacle. The spot he loved more than any other on this miraculous world. Day after day he made the arduous trek to the top of the mountain to gaze over the vast valley always covered in thick rolling clouds. Their colors stark white to deep gray and ever changing. What lay beneath the clouds was anyone’s guess.  

His father had taught him to ski on these slopes. As a small child, he had relished the freedom of sliding across the snow as the wind chilled his cheeks. While other novice skiers marveled at his prowess, he was proudest of how his father’s chest puffed out each time he mastered a new skill. Long before the others, he moved to the intermediate level where he traversed among the valleys and ancient trees.

The sensation of being free encompassed him. Breathing crisp, chilled air, the glare of sunlight on the pristine snow, days when the sky was a brilliant blue or days when thick snow fell and the world was silent, brought joy to his existence. As the years passed, he became the master. On his seventeenth birthday, he had skied to the top of the mountain, an expert trail, and had stood with his father overlooking this incredible vista. On that day, his father had given him the skis and poles he now used. The old-fashioned equipment once belonged to his great-grandfather who had brought them with him the day he left home.  

He shuddered as he thought of his father. He had lost him the year after first scaling the summit. A freak accident had taken his life and left Dalton alone. He had lots of friends his age, even younger, and his dad’s best friend, Hal, was trying to be a father to him, but no one understood the bond that he had with his father when they were skiing.

His mother died when he was two years old, killed by marauders. It was then that his father had taken the job that brought him to Argus. His childhood was spent with the children of the families who made a living transporting minerals. They attended school together and then he had chosen training as a tech engineer, but the only time he felt alive was on the point where he now stood.

The silence at the top of the mountain, save the soft howl of the blowing wind, filled him. Here he was happy. Here he was at peace.

Then the alarm on his com sounded. He closed his eyes to savor the image for as long as he could. When he opened them, the mesh gridded walls of the rec chamber surrounded him. The hologram tucked back into the server.

The attendant’s voice floated from the com. “Sorry, Dalton. I know you had thirty minutes left, but there’s a problem in the mineral testing lab. Hal sent for you.”

He gave a small salute to the attendant in the control booth and headed four decks above to the lab. Hal was tinkering with a piece of equipment the geotechs used to determine mineral purity. He looked up, grinning as he watched Dalton enter.

“You’re gonna turn into a popsicle if you keep hanging out in that cold hologram. Went once with your dad, told him he should turn the heat up.”

“Has to be cold for the real effect, Hal.”

“Yeah, well, give me the beach hologram that the captain added. Hot sun, hot sand, warm water, and nearly naked women, some of them not human. My kind of afternoon.”

Dalton took the cover off the malfunctioning machine to look at the internal drive. “I’ll admit, I like the beach too, but the slopes of Parendor are my favorite place.”

Hal stared at him for a second. “Dalton, I know you think that Parendor is going to be like the hologram, but word has it civil war broke out there. It may not be the place you think it is. Besides, the Argus won’t arrive there for another eight months.”

“It’s where my dad said we could leave the Argus and not wander from mining planet to mining planet for the rest of our lives. I have to do what he wanted. He wanted our journey to end.”

“Son, I just don’t want you to be disappointed.”

“Dad created that hologram from a holovid he bought on Xandora when I was nine. The Argus had just added the rec chamber.” He turned to Hal. “Not sure I want to leave the Argus, but I have to ski the real Parendor for my dad.”

Hal squeezed his shoulder. “Martin was the best friend I ever had. He’d be proud that you love skiing as much as he did.” Leaving him to repair the device, Hal departed saying he was heading back to the ship’s engineering department.

Dalton smiled, glancing at the old skis leaning against the workbench. Skis his great-grandfather brought from Earth decades before. It didn’t matter what the conditions on Parendor were, he would find that slope and discover what lay beneath the clouds, and he would make his father proud. It was time for his father’s journey to end.

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Please visit D. A. Ratliff’s blog. the Coastal Quill and follow her! https://thecoastalquill.wordpress.com/2019/01/26/the-journey-ends/

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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Write the Story: January 2019 Collection