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Writers Unite! Anthologies: Dimensions of Science Fiction

Writers Unite! Anthologies


Dimensions of Science Fiction

The universe—vast, unknown, mysterious, existing as a playground of imagination. From aliens older than time itself, an archaeological dig that portends the fate of Earth, a sentient planet, developing races, colonization, a world fighting for its existence, these and more stories await you within the Dimensions of Science Fiction. Join the authors from Writers Unite! as they take you on a voyage across the universe.

eBooks will be available for pre-order on June 15, 2020 and will be delivered to your readers on June 30.

Paperbacks will be available for order on the publication date of June 30, 2020.


Write the Story! June 2020

The red bench from May’s  Write the Story! inspired a lot of wonderful and varied tales. If you missed any of the terrific WTS! stories last month, check out the May 2020 archives.

Writers Unite! started this project to assist all of us to gain followers to our blogs, websites, and author pages and to gain experience as writers. We didn’t do this for accolades or critique but for enjoyment and to share our work with others. Now in the second year of WTS!, we thank all writers who have participated and all who have read and supported the authors. The admins appreciate the positive support you have given the authors.

The JUNE 2020 Prompt!

Here’s the plan:

Based on the image provided, 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 wish to promote. Please edit these stories. We will do minor editing but if the story is not written well WU! reserves the right to reject publishing it.

Send the story and link to the site via Facebook Messenger to Deborah Ratliff. Put “Write the Story” in the first line of the message. You may also email your story to writersunite16@gmail.comWU! will post your story on our blog and share across our platforms, FB, Twitter, Instagram, etc. We do ask that you share the link to your WU! Write the Story! post so that your followers can also read the works of your fellow writers. The idea is to generate increased traffic for all. It 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.

Periodically throughout the month, we will post the current prompt as a reminder. 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. Thank you.

(Please note: all images used are free-use images that do not require attribution.)

D. A. Ratliff: The Confession

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! 

Please note: the images used are free-use images and do not require attribution

The Confession

By D. A. Ratliff

Harper Anderson turned onto the street where her parents lived, hoping she was wrong. She wasn’t. Cars lined the normally quiet residential street along the river, giving no doubt that the wedding festivities were in full swing. She found a spot to park three houses past her destination and decided her suitcases could wait. It was July in Beaufort, South Carolina, and too hot to drag them that far down the street.

Two years had passed since she had been home for Christmas. Two years since her divorce. She shuddered in the afternoon heat not from remembering the stupidity of her marriage but why she had fled Beaufort in the first place. At least the reason she left town nine years before was no longer around.

Opening the gate, she walked around the side of the house, following the laughter. It was Saturday, and her “personalized” wedding itinerary said this was the first of two bridal showers she would have to endure this week. As she turned the corner into the backyard, she took a deep breath. Were there enough Bellinis in Beaufort to get her through the next eight days.

A squeal coming from the garden room stopped her, and she braced her body as the bride-to-be, her younger sister Hannah, ran out the door. “Harpy.” Hannah leapt and flung her arms around Harper.

Footsteps echoed on the sidewalk as she hugged Hannah before pulling away. “Do not call me Harpy.”

“But I love calling you that.”

“You heard your sister, please don’t call her that.” A gentle hand pried her from Hannah and drew her into an embrace.

“Thank you, Mom. Good to see you.”

“You too, darling. Where are your suitcases?”

“I had to park in front of the Clowers’s house, too hot to drag them.”

“Well, give your keys to your father when we get inside. He’ll get them. Now, Grandma Ester and Nana are waiting to see you.”

Harper looked toward the glass-enclosed room, and her mother laughed. “Don’t look so anxious. There’s wine punch, we’ll get through this.”


It had been a long time since she woke up in her parents’ home alone. She stretched and sat up, gazing out the window at the broad river flowing toward the Gulf of Mexico. A sight she had treasured since she was a little girl and no longer had to share a room with Hannah.

She plopped back on the bed. So many thoughts running through her head. The last time she was in her old bedroom, she had a terrible fight with her now-ex. That fight continued during the return trip home to Atlanta, and three days later, she filed for divorce. She had not been able to come home yet, but Hannah’s wedding changed that.

Her phone dinged. Her mom. Get down here, breakfast is ready. Leaving for church in 90 mins. She laughed. Just like the old days, summoned by Mom. She got out of bed to start the busy day.

Coming down the stairs, she heard children’s laughter, which meant her brother and sister-in-law were there with their kids. She stepped through the kitchen door, hearing Aunt Harpy as her niece and nephew ran to hug her. At Harpy, she glared at her sister, who just smiled.

“Clarise, good to see you!” She kissed her sister-in-law on the cheek then turned to her brother. Older by two years, he had always been her rock when growing up, and she felt that security wash over her as he hugged her.

He whispered, his eyes twinkling. “Harper Anderson, good to see you.”

“Hampton Anderson, good to see you.”

Her mother shooed everyone to the dining room, and as they headed there, Hampton pulled her aside.

“Harp, you okay? We’ve all been worried since you kept refusing to come home. I think Hannah just got engaged to get you here.” Her shocked look must have surprised him. “No, no, not really, but we were all happy when you said you would come.”

“I couldn’t stay away. You know that. Besides, I’m in the wedding party, so I had to come.” She grinned. “Now that might have been by design. And to answer your question, I am fine. I realize now that I am here, it was foolish to think this would be hard.”

“We’ve always got your back, Harp. Nothing that happened was your fault. You married him for love, but he wasn’t capable of loving anyone but himself.”

“And maybe every other woman in Atlanta. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t love. Maybe just the hope for love, but I have learned my lesson. I won’t stay away any longer. Let’s get in there, I’m starving.”

Hannah’s fiancé, Allan Stapleton, joined them for church services where the couple received blessings on their upcoming marriage. After the service, Hannah walked her through the decorations planned for the sanctuary, every minute detail. Thankfully, her mother intervened, there were lunch reservations.

Lunch was at the Beaufort House, a converted residence setting along the river. The Federalist-style antebellum house was 180 years old and beautifully maintained. Turned into a bed and breakfast and restaurant, the beautiful setting was the site of the wedding reception the following Saturday night.

Harper was enjoying Bellini while nibbling on a cheese and bacon omelet as Hannah went on about decorations for the reception. She tried to zone out and not listen to the joy in her sister’s voice. Her wedding reception to Jacob had been a quiet affair in her parents’ backyard, but then she didn’t marry a congressman’s son as Hannah was. Listening to her sister, she came to the realization that she had never felt that joy when she married. She should have. Maybe it was just the wrong person—definitely, the wrong person. But that was over too.

Hearing her sister call her name—actually, Harpy—interrupted her self-imposed inattention. She refocused on her sister’s beaming face catching her in mid-sentence. “…. love the photos we have planned here. We are going to take a lot of photos on the river path where you used to read.”

She could swear her sister’s eyes were taunting her, but Hannah would never be that cruel. Everyone knew why she avoided the river path. The memories of the small picturesque cove and the bench that sat there hovered in her mind. A sigh escaped her, it was a beautiful spot, and her sister had the “Martha Stewart” flair of wanting everything perfect. Photos taken there would be magical. Time to face the past and maybe the nagging hurt would finally go away.

Excusing herself, Harper walked out onto the wide veranda that wrapped around three sides of the house. She leaned against a post on the east side of the porch and gazed out at the broad river. She could see the path winding along the water’s edge, and she allowed herself to walk it in her memory.

Her mother’s parents lived about equidistant from the cove in the opposite direction of the Beaufort House. She, Hannah, and Hampton went to their grandparents after school and in the summers while her parents worked. She discovered the bright blue bench at the cove the summer she turned fifteen. The blue was ugly, and she had always wanted to paint the bench her favorite color, red. It became her chosen place to read. It was there that she met him.

Harper sighed. No need to dredge up the past, it was over. She turned, intending to rejoin her family in the dining room, but stopped in her tracks. The last person she hoped to see was blocking her way. Her ex-sister-in-law, Lucy Blakely Watson.

‘Harper Lee,” Lucy paused. “… Anderson. Momma was so happy to hear you had gone back to your maiden name.”

Taking a deep breath, Harper debated whether to simply walk past the woman or slap her. She decided slapping someone was generally frowned upon regardless of how tempting.

“Glad to know your momma is happy about something, I didn’t think that was possible. Now if you will excuse me.” She attempted to brush past Lucy, who stepped in the way.

“You stay away from Jacob. He was devastated after you threw him out, but he has remarried, in case you hadn’t heard. I don’t want you making trouble for him.”

Seething with anger, Harper wanted to scream, I threw him out because he was having an affair, but she didn’t. Hands clenched, she smiled. “Did he marry the one he had an affair with when married to me or cheat on her too?”

Jerking her hand away, she walked away as Lucy called after her. “You heard me, stay away from him.”

That evening was another shower given by Hannah’s sorority sisters. The house was full of laughter and squeals as it was a lingerie shower. Sitting with Clarise in the corner of the front parlor, she was surprised when her sister-in-law commented.

“Honestly, Harper, I didn’t even know they did these kinds of showers anymore.”

“I know, and well, it’s kind of embarrassing.”

“I hate to admit it, but I’m not certain what some of those toys are.”

They both laughed, but Harper sensed Clarise was staring at her.


“From where I was sitting at lunch, I saw you talking to that vile Lucy, and I was wondering what she had to say.”

“She warned me to stay away from her brother. Like that would be an issue.”

“When he returned here after the divorce, he went to work for his dad. Hampton heard his dad has caught him a few times with his hand in the till. I’m glad you got rid of him.”

“I never expected him to move to Atlanta to work for the same sports PR company where I worked. Handsome, charming, and well, I was lonely, and prime for the picking. He only wanted my connections. The fight we had here at Christmas was not only about his latest conquest, but I found out he had stolen two of my large accounts. Went to my boss as soon as I returned, and he was livid. Jacob had presented him with forged documents showing I had released the accounts to him. You know I filed for divorce the same day the company fired him for his actions. He tucked tail and ran home to mommy and daddy.”

“Harper, I think you should know…”

Hannah interrupted. “Harper Lee, Clarise, get over here. I am about to open y’all’s presents now. I am sure hoping they are silky cloth and not silicone.”

As they rose to join the others, Harper paused. “What were you going to tell me?”

“It’s okay, it can wait.”


Monday and Tuesday passed in a whirlwind. The days filled with last-minute fittings for all the bridesmaids, a minor catastrophe with the florist—the centerpiece roses were not peachy enough. Wedding presents were arriving by the truckload, and Harper and two sorority sisters oversaw cataloging them. Harper collapsed into bed on Tuesday night, exhausted, hoping Wednesday would be a quieter day.

After breakfast on Wednesday morning, were last-minute seating arrangements for the reception before they dressed for the family luncheon at the country club. Harper had seen little of the men in the family and was looking forward to spending time with them.

Her hope for a quiet Wednesday ended when, near the end of the luncheon, her grandpa Franklin collapsed.


The nine-mile trip from the country club on Lady’s Island to the hospital felt like an eternity to Harper. Her father driving, her mom quiet, but her eyes never leaving the ambulance carrying her father.

She sat in the backseat, texting with Hannah, who was riding in the car behind them with Allen and his parents. Her brother was in a third car with her dad’s parents and Clarise and the kids. Allan’s brother stayed behind to deal with the restaurant.

As the ambulance pulled into the emergency bay, her dad parked at the curb. “Harper, take your mom in. I’ll park the car and be right there.”

The emergency room was quiet. Her mom joined her parents as soon as he was in a room. As the minutes passed, the rest of the family arrived. They waited.

When her mom came to the waiting room, the look of relief on her face allowed everyone to breathe easier. “Not a heart attack, or a stroke. The doctor,” she paused and glanced at Harper, “believes a new med his doctor just put him on is the culprit. Doctor… uh, the ER doctor… is calling Dad’s doctor now. I think we should…” 

Harper’s grandmother appeared at the ER door. “Your dad is asking for you.”

“I’ll be back in a bit.” She gave Harper a quick glance before she returned to her dad.

Harper felt the unease in the room. It was more than Grandpa Franklin’s health. She was about to ask Clarise what she was going to tell her earlier when the answer walked into the lobby. She was certain from the chill that flooded her body that all blood had drained from her face. It was him. The man she loved. The man who had left her.

Dr. Garrett Frazier’s eyes darted around the room until he found her. Harper was rooted to the floor, keeping her from running. When he spoke, the voice that she loved so much flooded her with heat.

“Good to see all of you and glad that I have good news. Franklin had a reaction to a new prescription, and I have spoken to his doctor, who is calling in a new drug for him.”

Hannah was beaming. “Then, he’s going to be able to come to the wedding?”

Garrett smiled. “Yes, I want him to rest for the next couple of days, but he’s cleared to attend your wedding.”

As Hannah hugged Garrett, Harper spun and ran from the emergency room.


The afternoon passed, and in the early evening, Harper was in her room, staring out the window. A knock on the door brought a sense of dread. Someone wanted to talk about Garrett. It was inevitable, so she called out—come in.

Her mother and Hannah walked in, and her mother started the conversation. “Darling, we have a confession to make.” Looking nervously at Hannah, her mom continued. “We knew Garrett was back. He accepted the position of Medical Director of ER and came to see me shortly after he arrived. He wanted to know about you. His mom told him you had divorced, and well, he was hoping you would talk to him. He said he missed you a great deal.”

Hannah took a deep breath. “It was my idea to surprise you at the wedding. He’s invited, and well, we were hoping at the reception you would talk to him.”

Harper didn’t speak for a moment, and she could tell it made them nervous. Good. They should be. “You should have told me. When Garrett decided to turn down the residency in Atlanta for the hospital in Chicago, he broke my heart. I had already taken the job in Atlanta, thinking he would be there. He didn’t even discuss it with me.”

“Harper, we should have. I am sorry.”

“Mom and I talked about this, if you are uncomfortable with him being there, I will ask him not to come. His mom was coming with him, but I am certain she will understand.”

“No, don’t do that. I can deal with this. No more talk about it.”


The next two days passed in a whirlwind of more final fittings, last-minute details regarding the reception, the bridesmaids’ luncheon and rehearsal, and dinner on Friday night. Their Saturday morning consisted of a family breakfast, then off to the salon for hair and makeup. It wasn’t until she was waiting to precede her sister down the aisle that she allowed herself to take a breath. All she had to do was get through the next few hours, and tomorrow she could go home.

As the music started and the procession began, she promised herself that she wouldn’t look for him. Three steps into the church, and she spotted him. He was staring at her, and she felt anger that morphed into desire. She wasn’t over him, but she was going to be. She had to be. Taking a deep breath, she concentrated on her sister’s ceremony. Her problems could wait.

Next came the photoshoot along the river path. She was dreading it as the memories were now very raw. As they approached the cove, her heart skipped a beat. The blue bench—it wasn’t blue. It was red. Her favorite shade— red pepper red. When did….? She turned to Hannah, who smiled. “A little surprise for you.”

“I remember how you always wanted this bench to be red.” 

Garrett. She turned. “Did you do this?”

He stepped closer. “I have a confession to make. I did. It helps to have a mother on the city council. She got approval, and I bought the paint and painted it.”


“Because I never forgot you or what I did to you. You were so proud of your job in Atlanta and angry with me for changing my mind at the last minute that I just walked away. I wanted you to be happy, and I thought the job was what made you happy. I was hoping this would make you happy.”

“I was never happy when you left. But you never came back.”

“I thought you didn’t want me.”

Harper clenched her fists. “I always wanted you. You broke my heart.”

Garrett placed his hands on her upper arms. “Well, I am a doctor. Maybe I could put your broken heart back together?”

“Are you that good a doctor?”

“I am.”

She leaned against his chest. “Then start healing me.”


Author’s Note:  I am going to attribute this story to a Hallmark moment. Try as I might, this red bench just spoke romance to me. As I don’t normally write in the romance genre, I asked my best friend for some assistance. The main character and the good doctor’s name and profession came from her, and the story followed. Stacy, I wrote this story for you to enjoy. I think I will return to mysteries! 

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Please visit Deborah on her blog: https://thecoastalquill.wordpress.com/

Rylee Black: A Touch of Magic

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! 

Please note: the images used are free-use images and do not require attribution

A Touch of Magic

Rylee Black

March 2010

The storm seemed to come out of nowhere. One minute the skies were clear, the sun was bright making the spring day unusually warm, and then the wind whipped up throwing up dirt and whipping tents and awnings, making them snap and groan. The sky grew dark, and big heavy raindrops began to pelt the dusty fairgrounds. Nelson Peppernick, who had been cruising the fair for girls, made a mad dash for the closest cover, a deep blue tent with a heavy flap. It wasn’t until he was standing inside dripping and enjoying the warmth that he realized where he was. It was the tent of the soothsayer. The sign read ‘Madam Benovich welcomes you. Please, come in and find out what your future holds. Will she predict for you love and happiness or will it be loneliness and sadness? Madam Benovich sees it all.’

The woman at the table turned to him and he drew in a sharp breath. Her dark skin was deeply lined and craggy, but it was her eyes that startled him, they were pure white. The sign by the flap was wrong, Madam Benovich didn’t see it all, the Madam didn’t see anything. When she spoke though, her voice was soft and melodious. If pressed he would admit it was almost hypnotic.

“Welcome Nelson Peppernick, I’ve been expecting you. Come and sit. I know the desire you hold dearest to your heart and I have a message to give you.”

Nelson shook his head both in denial and to clear it of the inexplicable fog in his brain that made thinking difficult. How could she have known his name? How could she have even known it was him when she obviously couldn’t see, and he hadn’t even said anything for her to recognize his voice.

He took an uneasy step back. “Oh, no thank you ma’am.” Much to his embarrassment, his words came out shaky and cracked. “I’m not interested in any messages. I just came in to get out of the rain. As soon as it lets up some I’ll get out of here.”

The old woman tsked and shook her head. “You didn’t step in here by chance, Nelson Peppernick. There are no coincidences in this world. You and I were preordained to meet this day. Come. Sit. Let us fulfill destiny.”

This time he was unable to resist the pull and he stumbled over to the table and sank down into the chair across from her. Her smile transformed her, and he caught a glimpse of the beauty she must once have been.

They sat there, teenaged boy and old crone, each considering the other in silence. Then, rather than consulting the cards or crystal ball before her as he expected, she lifted something from her lap and slid it toward him. It was a bright red envelope about the size of a small greeting card. It was face down, and he could see that the flap was sealed with a blob of wax with an ornate letter B pressed into it. When he tried to take it, she held firm, her grip surprisingly strong.

“I want you to take this with an open mind and open heart, Nelson Peppernick. The right moment to read it will present itself with obvious clarity. Do not open it before that moment and when you do, believe what it says without reservation. It will be wonderful, Nelson. I can see it now.”

Nelson’s brow furrowed. “See what?”

She scowled. “Promise me.”

“But what do you s …” He let his question slip away at her scowl. “Fine. Yes. I promise.”

She released the envelope then stood and walked to the back of the spacious tent and disappeared behind a partition without another word. Nelson bolted to his feet and stumbled out into what was once again a bright, warm, spring day.

He didn’t have time to wonder at the unexpectedly dry dirt and bright skies because a group of friends called out to him urging him to join them for a trip into town.

He stuffed the red envelope into his pocket and later into the glove box of his Mustang and promptly forgot all about it.


March 2020

Nelson Peppernick’s classic Mustang sputtered, lurched, and emitted a heart-stopping bang just before losing all power. With a sigh, he eased his ailing vehicle onto the shoulder and turned the key to the off position. How could this have happened? The car had barely been out of the shop a week. A silver lining of sorts to this grim turn of events was that given that this trip had been embarked upon on a whim, the shenanigans of his temperamental car wouldn’t make him late for anything. But it was a rather disconcerting predicament to find himself in. 

Another positive was that due to his mother’s gentle insistence, he was a card-carrying member of an auto club that provided free roadside assistance. And again thanks to his mother, the number with which to contact said club was pre-programmed into his cell phone. He pulled the phone from the handy dash mount his brother Micah had given him Christmas last only to find he had no signal.

Perhaps it would help if he got out of the car. He looked over his shoulder to check that it was safe and when he saw the road was empty in all directions, he stepped out into the warm spring day. It was only when he stood outside his car that he looked out at his surroundings. So engrossed in his audiobook had he been that he’d failed to notice he’d been driving through trees. How had that happened? He must have driven some distance to be where he was. This was a forest. Having lived all his twenty-eight years in the city, this was the first time he’d seen one in person. It was quite beautiful.

His mind went suddenly to the fair he’d attended almost a decade ago and the wizened old woman in the blue tent.

That late spring day had grown suddenly chilly on the heels of a freak storm that had kicked up in what had previously been a bright sunny day. The tent had been an unexpected find. When the flaps had fallen closed behind him with a weighted thud, the old woman had turned his way, eyes white with cataracts. She’d called him by name and then taken him aback when she’d told him she’d been waiting for him. As unsettling as those declarations had been, her next words had made him truly nervous.

In retrospect, it hadn’t really been a bad kind of unease. It had felt more like barely subdued anticipation, though at that moment he hadn’t realized there was anything to warrant such anticipation. After finally giving into the pull of her voice, he’d sank into the chair across from her. She’d pushed a red envelope across the little table with its starry midnight blue cloth. When he’d reached for it, she’d held it firm and asked him to give his word that he’d open his mind and accept whatever it said without reservation and do what it asked.

He’d never opened the envelope. Where had he put it? He thought back to that day so long ago. The glove box! Could it possibly still be there? With a sudden unexplained urgency, he yanked open the door, knelt in the driver’s seat, and leaned over to open the box. There it sat right on top and still as bright red as the day he’d tossed it in there. Its being on top made no sense. He’d dug through that box hundreds of times over the years. It was a wonder it was even still there.

He slid out of the car and back into the sunshine to study the envelope. When he turned it over, he found the seal was still intact. With hands that trembled just a bit, he broke the wax and lifted the flap and pulled out a yellowed slip of paper.

 Greetings Nelson Peppernick.

 I’m so pleased you found the courage to open this note.

The thing you long for most is true love. Ten years from

today you’ll find your soul mate in the forest on a red bench

 by a lake. Her name is Emmaline Banks and she is pure

sunshine and happiness.

Be patient and wait for the one who is meant

to be yours.

With love and light

Madam B

Nelson looked up at his surroundings in awe. The woman had said he’d know when the time was right to read it and she was right. If he’d not been upset about Lizzette breaking up with him and taken this drive, he doubted he’d ever have been anywhere near the forest. Was it possible this was the right time? The right place? What were the chances of there being a lake through those trees? And more importantly, did people even put benches by a lake? And why would they paint them red? Did he dare to take the chance? Of course he did. He locked the car, put the keys, his useless cell phone along with the note safely tucked back in its envelope into his back pocket, and with trepidation stepped onto the path leading into the trees.

He was alone. All alone. In the woods. As a man born, raised, and with a life firmly entrenched in the city, the woods were a place he could quite honestly say he’d never imagined himself and he possessed a most vivid imagination.

He wasn’t sure how long he’d been walking and was hot and sweaty when he caught sight of something red through the trees. His breath caught and his heart sped up until it thudded wildly in his chest. He was almost at a full run when he broke into the little clearing. It was indeed a red bench facing a beautiful lake. But there was no one there. The bench was empty. No woman sat on it and definitely no soul mate. Disappointment surged through him as he sank dejectedly onto the bright red slats. How could he have been such a fool as to believe the words of a crazy blind old woman?

A branch snapped somewhere behind him and his heart leapt painfully in his chest. What was that? Was it a bear? Bears lived in the woods, didn’t they? What had that TV show he watched the other day said to do when one confronted a bear? Another snap, this one much closer, yanked him out of his rambling thoughts. Should he turn to look? Which would be the better death? To let it sneak up and surprise you and end your being you without ever seeing its face? Or would it be better and perhaps more noble a way to leave this plane of existence to meet death head on? A startled gasp of a feminine nature caused him to turn without hesitation.

There on a path coming from the opposite direction he’d come from stood a girl. No, a young woman. And she was beautiful. Her blond hair was a mass of curls that didn’t quite reach her shoulders. Blue eyes that perfectly matched the flowers on her tank top were round with shock and full pink lips were parted. Her face was a mask of shock and fear. Finding a strange man in the woods must be terrifying for a woman alone. Not sure what he could do to calm her fears, he did the only thing he could think of. He slowly reached into his pocket then held up the red envelope.

Her expression changed to one of wonder and her smile could have lighted up the darkest dreariest day. She ran over to sit beside him and he swung around to face her and saw that her look of excited anticipation matched his own. She reached around to pull something from her own pocket. When she lifted her hand, he saw that she held a red envelope of her own complete with the broken seal with a barely visible letter B. Her blue eyes sparkled. She reached out and grabbed both his hands with hers.

“Hello, Nelson Peppernick,” she said in a soft voice. “I’m Emmaline Banks. I’m so very, very happy we’ve found each other at last.”

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Please visit Rylee on her website: https://www.ryleeblackbooks.com/

Enzo Stephens: Battleground

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! 

Please note: the images used are free-use images and do not require attribution


Enzo Stephens

William and Sue Ann seated themselves on the beautiful red bench overlooking scenic Moraine Lake; a 6,000-acre lake formed from centuries of rain runoff from the Allegheny mountain foothills.

The lake was serene, well, at least it was at this time of the day. Late morning, mid-June; light summery breezes tossing Sue Ann’s thin hair annoyingly over her ears. Annoying in that the hair would eventually find its way to stick in her eye or get caught in her teeth or — worst of all, flutter right into the fantabulous cone of swirled soft-serve that currently occupied both her tongue and her attention.

It was absolutely critical to get every single bit of the sweet wonderfulness, lest it go to waste decorating her “Rock of Ages” tee shirt or her “I Love Pink” shorts with the lace frill on the legs. Simply put, the Best. Shorts. Ever. Sue Ann hoped she wouldn’t ever develop curvy hips like her mommo, but like mommo always says, “You’re just a little colt yet; you’ll bloom into a beautiful woman soon enough.” 

Which would mean the end of the Best. Shorts. Ever. It was a depressing thought, so Sue Ann pushed it out of her mind to focus on the little slice of heaven resting comfortably in her dainty, long-fingered hands. She glanced to her immediate right at William. Sloppy, noisy William.

William slurped at his cone wetly; everything he did was noisy and… obtuse. That was the new word Sue Ann learned this morning during their dictionary lesson. Obtuse. Very cool word. But Sue Ann felt that she might have not used it properly when describing William’s current pig-fest. She resolved to investigate this conundrum further when she could settle before her tablet later this evening.

William was Sue Ann’s twin; younger by a precise 200 seconds (according to mommo who was also known among some circles as ‘Time-Kwon Dork’). The thought brought a smile to Sue Ann, just as William exclaimed loudly in anger.


“William! That’s a Bad Word!”

“Oh fuck-o with your bad words!”

“William!” Sue Ann’s outrage was palpable.

He looked at Sue Ann sheepishly. “I’m sorry, sis. But every time I get one of these, a chunk always breaks free and plops all over me and then I’m a mess, and you know what mommo will do.”

“It’s okay. Let’s see the damage.” Sue Ann scanned William’s black “Eat Me” tee shirt and his denim shorts and yes, sure enough, there was a grand, slobbery mess of soft-serve drippings down the front of his tee and right over that… bad spot where the zipper of his shorts was.

Mommo was gonna be pissed!

Both were ten years old, but Sue Ann felt like William’s mother sometimes, and this was one of them. She reached over, snaring the bottom of his tee, then raised it up to smear at the dappled mess on his tee shirt, exposing his fish-belly white abdomen. “Hey!” he shouted in half-hearted outrage.

“Whatever. Knock that chunk of chocolate off your shorts.” The chunk of chocolate was the hard-shelled ‘dip’ that William absolutely adored, and of course, he had to have the Large. Not something moderate like Sue Ann’s soft-serve.

He looked at Sue Ann with huge, doe-brown eyes. “Don’t you think it’s weird that mommo would let us have Dairy Queen in the morning?”

“Shut up.” He was going to grow up a fat piggy, and that made Sue Ann chuckle. Besides, Sue Ann didn’t want to think about how mad their mommo seemed to be all the time, or where poppo was. 

William swept the slab of melting chocolate hard-shell onto the concrete upon which the bench rested.

Mommo snapped at them from the Moraine bike trail, even though she wasn’t on a bike. “Let’s go, or I’ll leave you here.” That was a tone that was best to not ignore.

Both jumped, and of course, the remainder of William’s ice cream flew out of his cone and plopped on the concrete slab. But before he could start whining about it, Sue Ann snagged his sticky hand and pulled him toward their mother, who was angrily grinding out a cigarette butt with her sandal.


The black queen sensed it almost as soon as it happened. Sugar was in the air and on the ground, and it wasn’t far off. She tapped and flicked, commanding her scouts to set forth, and she gave them approximations as to the location. 

Chitters and taps clicked throughout the black colony, and she knew that a cadre of capable scouts was assembling at the primary point of egress to the colony, and she was pleased. The sugar would feed her young upon hatching and feed them well, and she sensed it was a significant amount of sugar (though she really didn’t identify it as ‘sugar’ per se. To her, it was… nirvana).

“Get it. Get it now!” she commanded, and she felt her quick, powerful scouts gather, then surge forth into the open.

But the black queen was not alone in her sensory ecstasy; the red queen also ‘knew’ almost as soon as the goods hit the ground, that nirvana was at hand. She also tapped and flicked and commanded her scouts to gather and go forth to bring nirvana back to the colony. A red team was ready and waiting for her command to launch, and when she felt there was sufficient number, she commanded them to go forth.

Red scouts poured in a single-threaded stream from the colony out of the main egress point, their focus, the red queen’s coordinates.

Black scouts surged forth from one side of the concrete slab upon which the bench that overlooked the scenic Lake Moraine perched; single-file, well-spaced; tapping, clicking, pushing forward.

Moments later, a single-file emerged from the red colony on the other side of the bench, pushing steadfastly toward the plethora of sugar that littered the concrete slab.

Black scout met red scout.

The blacks were easily three times the size of the reds, and so, individually, there was no contest. The black scout shredded the first of the red scouts in milliseconds. But immediately behind the first of the red scouts was a single-threaded stream of red scouts, all driving toward the sugar-nirvana.

The first black scout tapped a warning of alarm to the black queen. “Reds!”

She tapped back; “Destroy. Establish a beachhead.”

The stream of reds was non-stop, no matter how many the black scouts were wiping out. The carnage of reds was astounding, yet they continued to pour forth. But the numbers were beginning to tell, despite the destruction.

Red scouts tapped back to the red queen. “Blacks!”

Her response? “Engage! Reinforcements on the way.”

And so they engaged. And were promptly destroyed. The blacks were supremely powerful; kings of their domain.


And the stream of reds continued, undaunted, engaging in immediate combat with the massive, powerful blacks, who were slaying reds left and right. But the black scouts were not daft; they knew what was what, and they tapped out an alarm to their queen. “Send warriors!” The stream of reds was relentless.

“On their way now,” she responded, confident in the outrageous power and capability in the mandibles of her warriors, and they gathered at the main egress point, chittering furiously. With a single thunderous tap of her antennae to the ground, she released them, and they surged forth in an angry black, destructive wave.

The warriors met the beleaguered black scouts, then surged past them, decimating the stream of reds, tracking the reds back to the main egress to their hive. Hundreds of reds lay in scattered twitching tatters as the black warriors gathered at the egress point… and waited. 

The black scouts found the nirvana and began plucking pieces of melting chocolate in their powerful mandibles; reversing their original path back to the colony to deliver the goods. Nirvana was on its way; the sweetest, heavenly elixir that enabled the queen to ramp her egg-production into overdrive.

The only trace of the reds were the silently twitching corpses that were not yet aware that their miserable little red lives had been extinguished by the superior species.

The black warriors – strutting and proud, cavorted in front of the main egress to the red colony. They were confident that they would utterly wipe out their opponents. The reds would end up being food for their spawn. One of them tapped to the black queen, “We’re at the door to the reds. Do you want us to take them?”

The black queen held her antennae from the ground, avoiding a response. Should she order her warriors to take the reds? Doubt plagued her and she hesitated in issuing her next command. She remembered how her scouts were being overwhelmed by the reds, and that knowledge gave her pause.

They just didn’t seem to care how badly they were being destroyed. They just kept coming. Maybe that was it from them? But that did not seem likely.

What if she underestimated the numbers of reds? Her cadre of supreme warriors would be overrun, leaving her colony ripe for a red-host takeover; the death and destruction of her colony and her babies, and that would never do.

“Pull back and guard the scouts and workers I am sending to collect the Prize.” There was a bit of anxiety there, but she resigned herself to that being the best move at this point in the proceedings.


The red colony was in an uproar, the red queen pacing her chamber angrily. But not one red ventured beyond the entrance to the main egress, where hundreds of red warriors were clustered.

Her scouts had been slaughtered by the blacks. She knew they were there; knew the approximate location of their colony but had been reticent to engage because of their obvious physical superiority, and yet, she knew in her heart that with her overwhelming numbers, she just might have a chance.

And she wanted that nirvana as badly as the black queen.

The red queen began tapping out commands.

“Set princesses at each egress point. Guard each egress with a contingent of warriors. Be ready to make for new territory in the event of a colony takeover.

“Amass warriors and workers at north and south egress points. Send a contingent of warriors to the forward egress point and wait for my command.”

She had a secret weapon. The sap from the maple tree at the very end of her colony’s reach. The blacks hadn’t discovered it yet, though it was just a matter of time before they did, so this battle was going to happen, one way or the other.

The red queen decided the battle would happen on her terms, and it would happen now. “Send the forward warriors to the Prize and engage the black warriors.

The queen’s Word is Law, so the red warriors erupted from the forward egress point in a seething, purposeful wave, driving inexorably toward the harvesting blacks. In moments blacks and reds engaged in combat, and the battle was savage; blacks shredding red warriors left and right.

Red queen felt the dying chitters of her warriors, but what was happening was a necessary sacrifice. She waited, waited, waited, then whacked her antennae together, commanding north and south contingents to engage.

It was a classic pincer move, and the blacks never saw the pincers close until a red wave of death exploded into the black workers behind the immediate forward battle. Reds swarmed over the black warriors and ripped them to bits, then turned their attention to the scurrying black workers, wiping them out in a brutal onslaught.

Tides had turned. Reds were at the door to the black colony, where they waited for their queen’s command.

The black colony was wiped out in under an hour; the queen the last to be engulfed by swarming red warriors.

By sunset, it was over. Black eggs had been carted off to the red colony as a food source, and they too were a worthy prize. But the real prize; William’s chocolate-covered ice cream, was now the property of the red colony. Let the celebration commence!


The next morning was another beautiful, summery morning with light breezes that carried the scent of Lake Moraine over the beautiful red bench perched about 20 yards up from the bank of the lake. A concrete boat launch angled into the lake just off to the right of the bench, and a couple guys were setting up paddleboards with considerable commotion.

The weather promised to be a scorcher, so hopefully the twins would be able to go swimming later in the day.

Sue Ann slowly, lovingly peeled the wrapper from her NutriGrain bar (blueberry), which was her favorite. No way she’d be slopping soft-serve down her favorite “I Love Pink” shorts.

William was burrowing into another Large, dipped soft-serve, which was already melting and dripping from the pointed bottom of the cone. “Dude?”

He looked up at her, his mouth encircled with melted ice cream. “What?”

“It’s dripping.”


“Bad Words, dick-weed!”

“Leave me alone. I’m not losing this one today.” And he dove into the thing with gusto.

The concrete pad upon which the bench rested looked as though it had been swept clean; there was no residue of yesterday’s accident whatsoever. Sue Ann wondered if there was someone who was paid to come along and hose off stuff like this.

The twins enjoyed their morning, chowing down, the serene lake holding their attention captive, while their mother smoked her smokes on the trail behind them, snarling into her phone as a large black ant tumbled from the top of the back of the bench to land on the concrete pad behind the twins. It righted itself and scurried off into the dirt.

The stench of stale cigarettes wafted over the two pre-teens clad in completely inappropriate tee shirts, and they felt their mother’s hands on their shoulders. “Time to go, guys.”

The two jumped off the bench; William dropped a significant chunk of hard-shell. He tried to snag it with his reaching, questing tongue, but it fell nonetheless, flopping to the concrete. William gazed at it longingly; thought about applying the 5-second rule, but mommo called, and when mommo called, you moved, and so William moved and pushed the lost chocolate from his mind.

As the trio stepped back toward the trail, the woman’s tennis shoe squished the lone black ant that tumbled from the bench earlier. Its dying chitters went unheard.

As soon as the chocolate hit the concrete, a regal pair of antennae twitched in anticipation and excitement, and her entire colony responded.

The brown queen prepared her forces to claim the Prize.

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Lynn Miclea: Sounds of Love

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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Sounds of Love

by Lynn Miclea

Melissa glanced across the room at Kyle. Something about him made her insides flutter. She wasn’t sure if it was his warm, boy-next-door looks, or the way the corners of his mouth curled up in a shy manner when he caught her watching him. Sweet, quiet, and soft-spoken, there was something about him that drew her to him.

She bit her lip and smiled to herself as she sat in the adult-education medical terminology class and watched him. She quickly focused on the instructor again, realizing she was missing his words.

The instructor paused and looked out over the class, his gaze falling on each of the adult students, and then he continued. “So now that we have covered all the prefixes, root words, and suffixes,” the instructor said, “next week we will practice putting them together and deciphering what the full words mean. This is where it all comes together and starts to really make sense.” He glanced at the clock on the wall. “Okay, everyone, that’s it for today. I’ll see you all next week. It will be fun, I promise.” He nodded and smiled as the students gathered their belongings and prepared to leave.

Melissa closed her notebook and glanced at Kyle. He turned to her, flashed a quick smile, and then hurried out of the room.

Her feelings crashed. She had hoped to talk to him. She always arrived at class early, hoping to catch him before the class started, but he seemed to arrive late each day and sit in the closest available seat to the door, which was never next to her.

What was his story? Why was he there? Why did he run out so quickly each time? She sighed, gathered her purse and notebook, and left the room, heading down the hallway and out toward her car. She shook her head. Maybe he wasn’t interested in her, or maybe he was just extremely shy. Hopefully one of these days she would get to talk to him.


After lunch on Saturday, she walked the few blocks to the park and walked around the lake. Her favorite spot was the red bench at one end of the lake, set back in the trees, and she hoped it was not occupied. As she rounded the corner she looked … there it was, and it was free. She sat on the bench, let out a long breath, and relaxed.

As she thought about the class and Kyle, a cute, squirmy, brown puppy approached her, wagging its tail. “Oh you are so cute,” she cooed, reaching forward to pet the wriggly dog. The puppy wagged its tail even harder and licked her, making her giggle.

Her gaze followed the leash up to its owner — Kyle! Her eyes opened wide and she quickly smiled. “Hi,” she said, hoping he would sit for a while.

Kyle gave a shy smile back and waved. “Hi,” he said, his voice sounding awkward.

Melissa felt giddy and nervous. “It’s nice to see you outside of class. Do you live around here?”

He looked confused and then nodded. “Yes,” he said softly, swallowing the word as he said it.

Her brow furrowed. “Are you okay?” She patted the red bench. “Please sit for a while.”

Kyle’s face flushed. “I’m deaf,” he muttered, touching his ear and then his mouth, the sign for deaf, as he slowly sat on the bench. “I don’t always understand what you say.”

Understanding and compassion rushed through her. “Oh!” She immediately brought her hands up and started signing to Kyle, as her hands spoke her words. “Do you use sign language?”

Kyle’s face instantly lit up and he quickly signed back. “Yes, you know how to sign?”

Melissa smiled and her face became animated as she signed back, speaking with her hands. “My grandmother is deaf, and our family learned to sign so we could talk to her.” Kyle nodded, and she continued. “I am also taking sign language classes and hope to become an interpreter.”

Kyle’s face broke out into a huge grin as his open hands pushed forward, signing, “Wonderful!”

A surge of warmth and deep sense of connection flooded through her. Tilting her head, she continued the conversation using sign language. “How did you lose your hearing?”

The puppy settled down on the grass at their feet as Kyle sighed and signed back. “I was ten years old when it started. I had a virus and then developed a middle ear infection, otitis media.” He slowed down as he finger-spelled the medical term. “It was painful, and I went to a few doctors.” He shook his head and then continued. “They treated it, but it kept coming back, and it caused permanent damage and hearing loss.”

“Can you hear at all?”

He shrugged and signed. “Very little. The hearing loss was gradual, and now I have lost most of my hearing.”

“That must have been hard, especially as a child.” Feeling moved, she circled her closed fist over her chest as she signed, “I’m sorry.”

He smiled. “Yes, it was hard. I was still the same person, and I needed support. But other kids made fun of me, and I felt ostracized and misunderstood. So I withdrew and became isolated.” His face grew sad and wistful. “I just wanted to fit in. I wanted friends, but I lost all my support.” He shook his head. “It was too hard to participate in group activities. I was either teased, or ignored and left out. So I became a loner.” His gaze searched hers, his eyes pleading. “I just wanted a friend.”

Her heart ached for him as she imagined that sense of isolation and loneliness. “I’m so sorry. Was your family supportive?”

He nodded. “Yes. At first I got a hearing aid, but it was uncomfortable. Background noises were amplified as well as voices, and it was difficult to make sense out of what I was hearing, so I stopped wearing them.” He glanced away and then back. “Then my family and I took classes and learned sign language. That helped a lot.”

“Did you have any friends who support you?”

“I had one friend who learned a little sign language and wrote notes to me.” His face warmed up. “But then he moved away. It seemed that no one else saw me as an equal, so I have been isolated since then.”

Melissa reached out and squeezed his hand, compassion and caring reflected in her eyes.

His gaze fell on her face, a look of longing showing in his expression. “I saw you in class, and you seemed so nice. You are very beautiful.” He glanced away and then back at her. “But I was afraid you wouldn’t like me if you knew. And I didn’t want to be disappointed again.”

Melissa felt desire run through her as she gazed at his honest, open, and attractive face. She rubbed his arm, then pulled her hand back and signed. “You are such a sweet and kind person. I see you as a full person, no different or less than anyone else. And very handsome.” She smiled, then continued. “I’m so sorry you went through that. But you are not alone. I do understand. And I would love to be your friend.” Maybe even more than a friend, she thought.

Tears filled his eyes and he looked away for a few moments. Then he looked back at her, a shy longing in his eyes. “Thank you,” he signed.

She looked at him questioningly as she signed. “Why are you taking medical terminology?”

He signed back immediately. “I was hoping to find work in the medical field, typing up reports or keeping records.” He shrugged. “And if that doesn’t work, at least I met you.”

Feeling her face grow hot, she giggled and pointed to the puppy. “How do you talk to your dog?”

He laughed. “I sign to my dog. My dog is deaf, too.”


He nodded. “Yes, my dog learned signed commands.” Kyle showed her the commands he used for sit, stay, lie down, and come.

She laughed. “Wonderful,” she signed.

They signed to each other easily for a while, and Melissa felt the connection between them grow stronger. As they talked, she grew more attracted to him and longed for something deeper. Then Kyle stopped and his gaze fell to her lips. He slowly moved toward her.

She smiled and moved forward to meet him. His soft lips pressed against hers, and her lips parted, kissing him back, as a tingle rushed through her.

After a few minutes, they pulled apart and gazed into each other’s eyes.

He smiled and signed, “Thank you.”

“That was nice,” she signed. A flow of desire filled her, and she shifted closer to him and leaned against him, feeling the warmth of his body. Resting her head on his shoulder, she smelled his sweet, masculine scent, and sighed.

After a few minutes, she sat up and looked at him. His face had softened and seemed warmer and more open.

They signed for a while longer, their hands and faces animated and expressive, and a feeling of intimacy continued to grow as they talked.

He stopped, looked at her tentatively, and then moved in for another kiss. Melissa responded passionately, deepening the kiss, her fingers entwining in his hair.

Pulling back, Melissa gazed into his eyes, seeing a kindred soul return her gaze. Feeling a wave of heat, she knew she had found a true friend and possibly much more, and she could feel that he felt the same.

As the puppy moved and started pulling on the leash, Melissa and Kyle stood up and looked at each other. Melissa’s heart felt full. It seemed that by signing to each other, their hands could more easily speak and express the words from their heart, as though they connected on a deeper level than merely spoken words could possibly touch.

She reached over and took his hand, and he quickly squeezed back, as they walked down the path, his warm hand holding hers. A deep affection for him filled her and she felt herself flush. Their hands, words, and expressions spoke volumes that their hearts could hear much easier than ears could.

True sounds of love.


Copyright © 2020 Lynn Miclea. All Rights Reserved.

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Please visit Lynn’s blog and follow her at – https://wp.me/p4htbd-sV

Please also visit Lynn’s website for more information on her books – https://www.lynnmiclea.com/

And visit her Amazon author page at – https://www.amazon.com/Lynn-Miclea/e/B00SIA8AW4

Jenny Booker: The Bench

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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The Bench

By Jenny Booker

Legend has it that there in the woods,

Stands a red bench that was made by a powerful widow.

It sits by the lake in a secret place, its location moves each time after it’s discovered.

Many people seek it, but only those that really need it will find it.

For this little red bench has magic.

That when you sit on the glossy red wood,

Those that you have lost will join you.

Some even say it cured them of their illness.

Its shine never fades with the seasons,

But the time spent on it is limited.

The believers call this bench a portal,

A link between the two worlds.

A healing bench or more.

The holy grail of treasures,

A wonder of this world.

The bench of health and happiness,

When all that’s lost is found.

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Alfred Warren Smith: A PLACE FOR PEACE

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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By Alfred Warren Smith

The bright red of the painted bench seemed an act of rebellion in and of itself.

Since his discharge from the army, the prospects for his postwar success dried up like raisins in a drought. The rooms for rent grew cheaper and seedier, but never free, and a man can only descend so far.

He was down to just carrying his duffel bag, the last of his money, at the end of his rope. Swallowing the bitter pills of the last of his pride, he left the hot, dirty building for the hot, dirty streets.

Didn’t think I’d be sleeping under the stars again so soon.


The city’s citizenry were increasingly uneasy with the rising homeless population. They were less helpful, more hostile, and there were bullies and worse who thought nothing of preying on them.

Fighting over there had prepared him. Still, he was aware of every nervous tic and twitch that made him look like a shell-shocked, restless bum. All too aware of every movement and every sound.

He saw the bright red bench gleaming like a rising red sun on a green sea; there was no one around, and he decided to take a rest on it. Perhaps even a nap.

I hope the cops don’t roust me; that could end badly.


He searched his duffel bag, rooting around: with his fingers he shoved the medals aside and peered into it. He still had two camouflage jackets, two journals bound with black leather covers, and a knife with a large, wicked looking blade.

He repacked the medals and threw the knife in the manmade lake. Curious, he opened one of the journals, but it was too dark to read it clearly now.

The park was emptying as people went home to their lights, warmth, and loved ones, but he had nowhere to go.

He went back in the duffel and took out one of the jackets, placed the duffel under his head, and stretched out to sleep. Where his previous training would have had him on edge listening for sounds that meant he was a target of someone hiding in the trees, he felt no sense of danger and vulnerability now.

Sleep took him under its wing.

Through the night, the dreams and nightmares played tag.

He relived it all.


The long, hot nights with working girls that gave an artful illusion of love for a few hours in smoky, perfumed places.

Running across the killing fields, legs pumping on adrenaline as bullets tugged at the extra cloth on his uniform as he fled, the splattering of broken, busted flesh with bones poking through skin at odd angles as the man running next to him was suddenly no longer there, and he couldn’t hear his own screams or his heart hammering in fear.

The slap and flutter of well-worn cards played by small fires, and eating silently in the dark on stormy, starless nights.

Sleep was as rare as finding an uncut diamond in plain sight, and far more precious.

Taking stock when the skirmishes were over: the dead, the soon-to-be dead, friends, and some precious few he’d named as brothers.

The scent of blood, the cacophonous clusters of crows, flies, and vultures.


Something hit his head, jolting him; he’d fallen asleep, slipping off the bench, bumping his head.

He felt light and unburdened somehow.

He knew the dreams had been dark, but couldn’t remember them at all. Everything he recalled seemed innocent, even innocuous.

All the memories of war’s ravages were gone.

How did I get here? What am I doing here?


In the morning a jogger found him and called the police.

The EMTs zipped the body bag closed as the birds began to sing and a rind of orange sun turned the night clouds shades of pink and blue.

The cops went through the duffel, saw the medals.

“All that combat,” one said, “and he gets to go out peacefully in the most quiet place in the park.”

The ME took a look at the bright red bench with an expression that got the cop’s attention, so he looked at the bench too.

“Something wrong, doc?”

“Nothing. Just, it’s not the first time it’s happened at this spot, and a lot of old veterans seem to find their way over here.”

“No kidding. Why do you think that is?”

The ME came out of his reverie, looked at the cop and shrugged.

“I don’t know. Guess it’s what you said yourself: it’s the quietest place in the park.”

“Makes it easier to slip away?”

The ME looked at the bench again, the red gathering some vibrancy in the growing, paling light, then at the midnight black body bag loaded in the back of the ambulance as the doors closed.

“To be finally at peace? Yeah, that ends all kinds of wars.”

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Lisa Criss Griffin: The Night Dive

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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The Night Dive

By Lisa Criss Griffin

The sun was shining brightly overhead by the time Wes and Kari finished setting up their campsite close to the clear, sparkling water. Naturally spring-fed, the old abandoned limestone quarry was now only open to certified scuba divers. Divemasters used it regularly to teach PADI certification classes, from novices to various specialties. Other divers used it recreationally, as various objects of interest peppered the bottom. Wes and Kari had logged many dives, but felt a need for some time underwater before their upcoming dive trip to the Bahamas. 

They noticed a group of fellow divers on the other side of the quarry, laughing and generally having a good time. The couple waved to the group and enjoyed their lunch on a lovely red bench next to their campsite. 


“What the heck was that?”

The group across the way burst into laughter and began to pull on their dive equipment in preparation for their next dive. The couple scanned the hillside beyond the other divers. A group of small white goats made a sudden appearance, calling to each other as they stood on top of the hill overlooking the lake. There was one goat making a pitifully mutant sound, and it was almost impossible not to laugh when the poor old thing bellowed!

“Meheheheh-ack-ack-ack. Uuuuuh…mehhhh!”

Kari tried not to choke on her sandwich as she stifled a laugh. Wes pounded her gently on her back, while he struggled to keep Pepsi from spraying out of his nostrils all over the pretty red bench. The ridiculous bleating faded back over the hillside, offering them a respite from further culinary disaster.

The mystery of the mutant goat bellow solved, Wes and Kari prepared for their first dive. They checked and rechecked their equipment, as was their habit. Safety had been solidly drummed into their diving skills by their instructors. Each had a bungee-corded plastic knocker around their air tank. When pulled and released against the air tank, the knocker made a loud sound underwater, and easily drew the attention of the other dive partner. They always stayed within eyesight of each other while underwater.

Wes took a giant stride from the rocky edge of the quarry and disappeared into a splash of cerulean blue water. He popped up like a cork and gave Kari the required okay signal. She stepped off the edge, enjoying the instant relief of the cool, clear water as she sank and then felt herself rising quickly back to the surface. She let Wes know she was okay before they let the air out of their buoyancy compensators and sank into the relative quiet of the stunningly beautiful underwater world.

Colorful bluegill darted playfully around the stone walls, easily avoiding the intrusion of the divers. Large bass calmly watched Wes and Kari’s progress to the bottom of the quarry, their dark round eyes following the rising trail of silver bubbles wiggling their way towards the surface of the lake. 

A submerged cabin cruiser lay upright, but listed slightly to the starboard side on the bottom of the quarry. It was just one of the large items of interest scattered about the lake for the divers. Schools of tiny fish fry flicked quickly into the shelter of the boat cabin as they approached the sunken craft. The two divers adjusted their equipment and became buoyantly neutral, allowing them to hover in place effortlessly. 

Kari loved scuba diving the moment she discovered she could breathe underwater. It was a calmer, quieter world, unless something large was feeding. She had seen feeding frenzies during ocean dives, but even then, it was the speed of the strikes that amazed her, not the sound. Sounds were different underwater. It was almost impossible to hear what direction a sound was coming from, and sound carried a long way underwater. However, the closer a sound was, the louder it became. In the ocean, she could usually hear the generator of the dive boat before she could see the vessel’s dark underbelly silhouetted against the surface of the saltwater.

Wes caught her eye and they finned lazily over to the small airplane around the corner. The plane was tilted at an odd angle, resting on the tip of one wing and the edge of the lower main fuselage. Kari had never seen an airplane underwater. It felt slightly eerie to see it interred in such an unexpected final resting place. 

She shook off her otherworldly impression and twirled in slow motion under the wing, surprising several small fish resting in the shadows under the metal. Kari came out from underneath the wing and swam over the cockpit, enjoying the gadgetry that had been left intact for divers to view. She had heard the visibility in this place was outstanding. It was. She could see clearly for at least one hundred feet before objects began fading into the blue haze of the water. 

The sound of a loud metallic clank drew her attention. Wes pointed to his dive computer and signaled it was time to return to their entrance site. Kari checked her air pressure on her dive computer, noting she had used most of the air in her tank also.

They swam back past the sunken boat and began a slow ascent to the surface. The pair leveled off around fifteen feet and hung effortlessly in the water by the rocky wall. They always took a five minute safety stop at the end of a dive in order to prevent the bends. 

A curious bluegill swam up to Kari’s face mask. It looked her boldly in the eyes before it unexpectedly rushed up and pecked her mask directly in front of her left eye. Surprised, she sucked in her breath, then began laughing as the fish devoted itself to thoroughly pecking the front of her mask. Silver bubbles wobbled their way upwards every time she laughed. 

Bluegill could be aggressive little creatures, but she was impressed that her relative size meant nothing to the persistent little fellow. She could hear Wes laughing at the antics of the persistent perch as it rammed her face mask, over and over. She checked her dive computer, noting it was time to surface. The bluegill circled in front of his territory in triumph as they slowly kicked their way to the surface.

They removed their regulators from their mouths and climbed out of the clear blue water, still laughing at the audacity of the peckish bluegill. The pair shed their equipment, changed out their tanks and spent a few minutes soaking up the late afternoon sun.

“I’m so hungry!” Wes finally admitted.

“Oh my gosh, me too!!!”

Kari opened the cooler and the pair ate several sandwiches, Fritos and apples. They washed it all down with a couple bottles of water. One of the nice perks of scuba diving was an increase in body metabolism. Kari could eat anything she wanted when she was diving and never gain a pound. There were a lot of great perks to scuba diving in her opinion. She was already looking forward to gorging herself on S’mores tonight after their night dive! She unwrapped a stray Hershey bar, savoring every delightful bite of the delicious chocolate. Wes smiled at her, knowing she had brought more chocolate than she could possibly eat. And then again…maybe not.

Wes gathered some twigs and stacked a small pile of firewood next to their campsite fire pit for use after their night dive. They passed the necessary time between their two dives talking about their previous dive experiences and laughing at the random bellowing of the poor old mutant goat across the lake. 

The other group of divers were well into a night dive as the pair began to suit up for their own night dive. The moon had come up, casting an ethereal glow over the landscape. A light breeze wafted by, carrying a faint aroma of smelly goat along with it.

“It is obviously time to get in the water and away from this pungent goat odor for awhile!” Wes laughed as he did his first equipment check.

“Ooooo…phew! I agree. But I have to say those goats have presented a singular memory for me to record in my dive log later!” Kari giggled.

They did their second equipment check and performed a mutual check of each other’s dive equipment.

“Where do you want to go on this dive?” Wes asked as he clicked on his powerful dive light.

“Let’s go the other way along the quarry wall until we see the sunken caboose. That should be interesting, and I think there is also a fun obstacle course to swim through close by the train.”

“Sounds like a plan!” 

Wes splashed into the silvery surface of the water and reappeared, waiting for Kari. She stepped off the rocky ledge, the memory of the insistent little bluegill causing her to smile as she rose back to the surface. They dropped down the side of the quarry wall together and leveled off about thirty feet down. Ambient light from the full moon still illuminated the crystal clear water at that depth. The intensity of their dive lights brought clarity to interesting details.

Kari was following Wes, enjoying the serenity of the night dive when her light ran across something unusual. It had an unnaturally pale cast to it and was barely visible from under a protruding rock ledge below them. Her curiosity peaked, she dropped farther down the quarry wall to see what it could possibly be. The overhang appeared to be the top of a shallow cave. The moonlight disappeared at this depth, and she could only see what was illuminated within the cone of light from her dive light. Except for the sound of her breathing through her respirator, the underwater silence was deafening. 

She could still see Wes’ dive light a little above and in front of her. Her light slid down the rocky overhang and paused on the pale thing protruding from beneath the ledge. She swam closer, and then closer to it, her mind not wanting to make sense out of what she was seeing. Kari quickly stopped, gasping in horrified disbelief at the sight in front of her. Waves of sheer panic washed over her as she struggled to maintain her composure!

Ten feet in front of her, an unnaturally pale, bare human leg rested on the floor of the rock ledge. Loose rocks covered everything above the calf, suggesting an unexpected rock slide. Kari’s eyes dilated as she reached back and clanked her tank to draw Wes’ attention. She began to hyperventilate and realized she needed to get to the surface. She continued to clank her tank as she carefully made her way up to the smooth moonlit surface of the lake. She spit out her regulator as her head broke the water.

“Shit!!! Holy shit!!! Oh my gaaaaaawd! Oh…my…gaaaaaawd!!!” 

Kari thrashed in the water as something tickled her leg.

“What the HELL!!” 

Kari tried to calm down as she realized bubbles from Wes’ regulator were rising underneath her and tickling her legs. She could see his light as he made his way to the surface next to her. She was still hyperventilating as he pulled the regulator from his mouth in concern.

“What’s the matter, Kari? What is wrong? Are you hurt?”

Kari shook her head no. She could see the concern in his eyes, but she couldn’t seem to talk. 

“Okay…take some slow, deep breaths. In….out….in…..out…. That is better. Start slow. Tell me what is wrong.”

“Dead guy…dead guy down there!!!”

“What???” Wes replied incredulously.

“His leg…sticking out…rock slide!”

“Can you show me?”

“What? No! Are you fricking kidding me?”

“Kari, if that is what you saw, we need to get some help. Please, we need to be sure. I will be right there with you. We don’t have to get too close to know. You don’t need to be afraid with me there. Wouldn’t you want somebody to be sure if it was one of us?”

Kari took several deep, cleansing breaths as Wes reached out and put her trembling hand between his two warm, steady hands.

“You’re right, Wes. We need to be sure. It is almost directly below us. But, you go down in front of me. It is about forty-five feet down…I think.” 

Wes and Kari checked their dive computers even though they had only been down less than fifteen minutes. Everything checked out.

“Alright Kari. No matter what we see, we will come back up and do a five-minute safety stop at fifteen feet before we surface. Agreed?”

“Yes. Yes, of course.”

“Okay then. Let’s go do the right thing. Ready?”

Kari nodded, put her regulator back in her mouth and let the air out of her BC. They allowed themselves to sink back down into the grayish moonlit depths, descending closer and closer to the unthinkable horror that awaited them in the darkness below. 

Wes saw it about the same time Kari clanked her tank, illuminating the rocky overhang with her light. The foot and leg were still there, motionless in the still, black water of the old quarry. She could hear Wes utter some muffled expletives as he dropped down a little closer to see what it was for himself. She hung back, not wanting to add to the visual carnage already burned into her brain. 

Wes looked up at her and signaled for them to go up. They did their safety stop, grateful for almost full tanks since they were both sucking their air quickly. Kari found herself shivering, even though the water was pleasantly warm. They surfaced together. 

“Holy shit, Kari! We need to get some help. Come on.”

The two horrified divers climbed out of the silent, silvery water, removed their dive gear and changed into dry clothes. The other group of divers across the way were sitting around a roaring bonfire. Their unintelligible conversations and laughter drifted over the lake through the cool night air.

Wes folded Kari into his strong, protective arms and kissed the top of her damp head lovingly. He felt her arms squeeze him lightly before she stepped back. Wes grabbed her hand. They used a bright flashlight to pick their way around the quarry’s limestone perimeter towards the group of divers.

“Hello…fellow divers!” Wes called before they reached the group.

“Hey! Come join us!” a deep, jovial voice boomed.

Wes turned off the flashlight as they stepped into the warm glow of the bright firelight. Orange sparks exploded into the night sky as someone tossed another piece of wood onto the bonfire.

“Want a beer?”

“Yes!!!” Kari exclaimed.

Two cold beers were quickly pressed into the couple’s hands and introductions were made all around. The booming voice belonged to Big Sal, who was the divemaster of the group.

“Soooo…do you know what all the excitement was about earlier? We thought we heard someone have a bit of a meltdown,” Big Sal confided.

Kari walked up to Big Sal and looked him straight in the eye.

“There is a dead guy down there in the quarry.”

“What? What are you saying?”

“I’m telling you we saw a dead guy down there! His foot and leg are sticking out from under a ledge. It looks like the rest of him is buried under a rockslide.” 

There was a moment of horrified silence before Big Sal burst out laughing.

“Ooooooh shit! Bahahahaha!!! I’ll be danged! She found your missing leg, Gregory!”

Big Sal doubled over in laughter as the rest of the group hooted and laughed with him.

“What the hell, man! This isn’t funny! There is a dead guy down there! What the hell is wrong with you people!” Wes shouted.

“I’m sorry…I’m so sorry, man!” Big Sal choked out between guffaws. “We are rescue divers doing our certification training this weekend. You found one of the props we were using that SOMEBODY couldn’t find! Oh man….”

Big Sal exploded into laughter once again as a sheepish Gregory walked over to the couple, apologizing profusely.

“Well, thank goodness!” Kari breathed in relief. “No offense, but I don’t think this particular dive specialty is something I want to pursue, folks! That was freaking creepy!!!”

“Well, Kari…Wes. If you ever change your mind about rescue diving, I will be happy to teach you both at a discounted rate. We really are sorry to have unintentionally ruined your night dive. Say, would you like some burgers? Or some S’mores? We were about to toast some marshmallows,” Big Sal offered.

“S’mores, you say?” Kari asked with enormous interest.

Gregory pulled up a set of lawn chairs next to the fire for Wes and Kari.

“All the S’mores you want, honey….” promised a repentant Gregory.

Wes smiled to himself. When it came to Kari and S’mores, the rescue divers would find themselves unable to keep up with this girl. It was a small price to pay for losing a leg.


Copyright © 2020 Lisa Criss Griffin

All rights reserved

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Lynn Miclea: Endless Connection

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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Endless Connection

by Lynn Miclea

Jenna stood there, staring into the open grave. A layer of dirt, thrown on there by the shovelful, now lay on top of the casket. How could her brother Jake have died so young? It wasn’t fair. Glancing away and focusing on a nearby tree, she sucked in a breath and shuddered. Then she looked back into the grave as tears ran down her face. Anguish, regret, and grief overwhelmed her, and she covered her face with her hands. How could she live without him? Jake was more than her brother — he was her twin and her best friend. They were bonded together. He should still be here. She shook her head as grief engulfed her. It made no sense.

Choking, her breath ragged, she left the cemetery and drove to a nearby park. After parking the car, she walked along the dirt path that circled the lake. At one end, a red bench sat nestled in the trees. Exhausted and overwhelmed, she settled on the bench and gazed out over the clear, blue lake.

“Why, God? Why?” She looked up at the sky, but she knew there was no answer.

Her thoughts drifted back to the last time she had seen him, just a few short days ago. He was wearing that red and black flannel shirt that he loved, a silly, goofy smile on his face, his light brown hair hanging over his forehead. The image brought a sad smile to her face. She loved his goofiness — he could make her laugh no matter what. And she loved him in that shirt. In fact, she insisted that he be buried in that shirt. It suited him and was the way she would always remember him.

He was her twin in many ways. They were like one person so much of the time. They could read each other’s thoughts, finish each other’s sentences, and just look at each other and know what the other was thinking. It was like they had a psychic connection. And now … now her soul yearned for that connection, but he wasn’t there. Her heart felt crushed. Empty. He was her other half, and she kept expecting him to be right there. How was she supposed to survive without him?

She took a deep breath, listening to the sounds of the gentle waves on the lake and the leaves rustling above her in the trees. Something drifted down in her line of vision — two beautiful, soft feathers. She held out her cupped hand and caught one of them, while the other fluttered to the ground. She looked at the feather in her hand — it was silky and red and black. “Jake? Is that you? Did you send this to me?” Silence answered her. She could only hear the soft rippling of the lake and the rustling of leaves.

Looking down at the dirt near her feet, she saw the other red and black feather. She smiled. It had to be Jake. Two feathers for the two of them. Bending forward, as she reached for the feather, a spot of color caught her attention. Immediately under the feather was a small, torn corner of a blanket. Soft fleece in red and black. Too much to be a coincidence.

She picked up the second feather and the fleece. “Jake? I know it’s you. But what are you telling me?” The corner of the blanket felt soft and comforting. It felt like peace. Her smile widened. Was he telling her he made it and he’s now comfortable and at peace? She hoped so, and it felt right.

Letting out a long breath, she whispered to the air, “Thank you, Jake. I hope you’re okay.”

A soft whisper of wind gently caressed her hand, causing the two feathers to dance in her palm and then settle down.

She shook her head. The yearning for Jake was too strong — she must be imagining things. Her gaze drifted out over the lake one last time as she started to get up. Pushing herself up from the red bench, she stood and gazed at the two feathers and the piece of fleece in her hand. Something fluttered under the fleece — what was that? A thin piece of paper peeked out.

She picked up the small piece of paper and read the words printed on it.

I am home. I am at peace. I am with you.

She convulsed into sobs and then stuffed the feathers, the fleece, and the note into her pocket. There was no mistaking the message or who it was from. But how was that possible? She knew they had a strong, psychic connection, but could he do this?

“Thank you, Jake. I love you,” she whispered to the air.

She started down the path toward her car. As she walked, a sweet woman’s voice, singing a lullaby, drifted through the air and grew louder. As she walked farther down the path and got closer to the sweet voice, a young woman pushing a baby stroller came into view, and the young woman was gently singing to her baby.

Suddenly embarrassed, the lady blushed and stopped singing. Then she smiled at Jenna. “It’s a beautiful, magical day, isn’t it?”

Jenna stared at her for a moment, then quickly collected herself. “Yes, yes, absolutely. Beautiful and magical. Definitely.”

She smiled at the lady and then walked by, hearing the woman begin singing the lullaby again. Jenna turned around to glance at the woman, but no one was there. The path was empty.

It made no sense. None of it made sense.

But Jake had sent her a clear message. The scent of his aftershave washed over her, and she could feel his warmth.

Yes, a beautiful and magical day indeed.

He was still with her. A connection that was truly endless.


Copyright © 2020 Lynn Miclea. All Rights Reserved.

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Please visit Lynn’s blog and follow her at – https://wp.me/p4htbd-sF

Please also visit Lynn’s website for more information on her books – https://www.lynnmiclea.com/

And visit her Amazon author page at – https://www.amazon.com/Lynn-Miclea/e/B00SIA8AW4