Tag Archives: writingprompt

Kelli J Gavin: Sledgehammer

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.)  

Sledgehammer 

By: Kelli J Gavin

Stop telling me what to do.

I don’t need your guidance.

I have the instruction manual right here! 

It is in English and I can understand each of the simple steps!

If you say “Righty Tighty or Lefty Loosey” one more time I may punch you in the throat.

It’s a screwdriver, not a sledgehammer.

You continue to act as if I never fended for myself before I met you.

How do you think all of the Ikea furniture was assembled?

Do you think I haven’t replaced a license plate on my car?

For the love of all things Holy, go find something else to do.

I am not a child who needs supervision.

Believe it or not, I was the one who attached the new knobs on the kitchen cupboards and drawers.

You even told me how great they looked. 

Did you think they magically appeared?

Maybe I applied them with duct tape and they miraculously stayed in place?

If you can trust me to function on a daily basis and run this household, why is it that attaching a new doorknob must be above my skill level?

I GIVE UP.

Take your stupid screwdriver. 

The screws are on the floor.

Do it yourself.

If you need me, I will be in search of the sledgehammer.

This is the perfect example of why I love listening to other people’s conversations. Kelli

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Please visit Kelli’s blog: https://kellijgavin.blogspot.com/

Enzo Stephens: Eye Drive

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.)  

Eye Drive

By Enzo Stephens 

“Wilhelm—”

“I still love you, Carla.”

“Damnit!”

Silence. One could construe it as being uncomfortable, but so long as the Love of Wilhelm’s Life hovered on the other end of the call, Wilhelm was just peachy-keen fine with it. Then,

“Love was never the problem, and you know it.”

She wasn’t going to change her position here, Wilhelm realized, and that realization came crashing down on him with knee-crippling finality. He struggled to keep the tears out of his voice; to keep the whine and the tremor at bay, at least until he got off the phone with… her. “Carla, no—”

“I can’t do this anymore Wilhelm—”

“Carla, please.”

“SHUT THE FUCK UP SHUT THE FUCK UP SHUT THE FUCK UP shut the fuck up shut the fu…” She trailed off into sobs and Wilhelm’s heart just about burst out of his chest at her anguish.

“Carla—”

“You’re fucked up Wil; there’s something wrong with you—with your brain.” Wil felt a sharp stab of his own anguish at her words as she stopped her tirade with a long, deep breath.

“It. Ends. NOW. I’ll have your stuff sent to you. I don’t ever want to see you again, and you should be glad that I’m not calling the cops!” The click of the call disconnecting sounded like a shotgun blast. Wilhelm dropped the cell phone—it clunked on the floor, sustaining damage; he, in turn, dropped heavily onto a rickety aluminum chair he’d picked up from a second-hand shop. 

He stared at the charred and chipped Formica surface of a small round kitchen table that kind-of matched the el-cheapo chair and thought of… loss. Emptiness. Life without Carla.

Which was an oxymoron. Life without Carla was NOT life. It was a void. 

If only.

If only he’d been able to control…

Don’t think about it!

oOo

There was therapy. Endless sessions exploring his past, relationships with his parents, digging, digging; the questions nonstop and never-ending, they drove him to rage. Blind, unthinking, irrationally violent and inexplicable rage that had no focus and was always utterly useless.

There was no clinical reason for Wilhelm’s… predilections. 

Some believed that he was lacking in the proper formation of synaptic pathways in and throughout his brain. Others postulated early over-stimulation of specific pleasure centers that gave birth to desires that grew more outrageous; hungrier as the years wound by. Whatever. Fukwits all!

Then along came Carla. Sweet, delicious Carla. Beautiful as the dawning sun on a cloud-speckled sky and as tempestuous as a summer thunderstorm. The girl rocked Wilhelm’s world with her tough-as-nails attitude wrapped in a sweet warmth that drew him into her and held him there, completely enthralled.

Wilhelm’s lusts were pushed aside… for a while. But eventually, as they always do, they won out and he spent more and more of his time indulging them and not Carla until she grew weary of his bullshit excuses and impatient with his feigned weariness. Then she discovered the tip of his iceberg.

oOo

Shadows walked across the scabbed and yellowed Formica surface of the table as Wilhelm sat there, his mind blank and empty and just a little bit terrified at the prospect of facing the yawning gulf of loneliness that stretched out before him. He’d faced this before; it wasn’t fun then and it would be no picnic, no walk in the park now.

On the table—right in the exact center of it, stood a tall, narrow crystal vase in which a single withered and drooping red rose bulb clung to its stalk. A collection of crumpled petals lay scattered at the base of the vase. He gave that to her… and she immediately demanded it adorn this poor excuse of a table. That’s how she rocked.

Beside it lay a small plaque, its satiny varnished finish glistening in the creeping afternoon sunlight. Immediately before the wooden plaque rested a small brass rectangle, upon which was etched ‘Carla Escobar, EVP, Purchasing’. It was a prestigious position the woman earned through huge amounts of hard work and a little bit of luck. Wilhelm promised to mount the nameplate to the wooden plaque for her, but here it lay, forgotten in the mists of a demolished relationship.

‘It’s not what you know, but who you know,’ popped into Wilhelm’s head as he contemplated these items lounging idly on his kitchen table. 

“FUCK!” His massive fist crashed down on the table and everything jittered and danced while the vase tottered and wobbled, finally toppling over, which was rather anticlimactic since Wilhelm’s thunderous blow also ended the life of one of the table’s three legs. It crumpled like a paper straw in a tidal wave.

Everything crashed to the floor; Wilhelm jumped from his chair sending it skittering across the floor to hammer into pencil-thin drywall behind him. He stood and surveyed the mess, rage causing his hands to clench and unclench spasmodically at his sides.

Something rolled its way out of the mess and finally came to a halt just before his feet. He stared at it, then sunk down into a cross-legged seat, the object of his sudden interest now resting before him on its side.

It was a screwdriver. Stubby (just like him), a thick, worn hard-plastic handle that once had bright red paint all over it (so it would be easy to locate in a cluttered toolbox) dwarfed a four-inch rod that poked out of the bottom of it. At the end of that rod was a Phillips-head. Also known as a cross-hair.

From the bowels of Wilhelm’s mind spewed the following factoids: originally invented by a John P. Thompson out of Portland Oregon, who applied for a patent for both the screw and the screwdriver in 1932. They went together, you see?

But the patent was awarded to a Henry F. Phillips in 1933 “By Direct and Mesne Assignments,” which was odd. Phillips worked as a manager of the Oregon Copper Company; Thomas as an auto mechanic—not exactly a marriage made in manufacturing heaven, but still conceivable. 

The patent was awarded directly to Phillips, though no info was on file as to why Thomas transferred the rights to Phillips. Had that not happened, it could be called the Thomas-head.

It was a mystery, but it wasn’t enough to quell the lifeless chasm that lay before Wilhelm at the loss of Carla. But still…

He studied the Phillips screwdriver distantly, his mind focusing intently on the minute nicks and knocks in the stem. He noted the worn edges of the cross-hairs and wondered how many screw-heads had been stripped over the lifetime of use this simple tool had seen.

How much profanity had this thing heard in its existence?

“Do you know?”

Maybe.

“Maybe what?”

Maybe I know what happened to Thomas and Phillips. Maybe I know the answer to your pain. Maybe I can tell you about all the colorful profanity I’ve heard.

“You’re talking to me?”

You’re talking to me.

“A fucking talking screwdriver with snark.”

And yet, you still have more questions than answers.

“Piss up a rope.”

Ha! That’d be a neat trick, don’t you think?

“Unbelievable. I’m so screwed I’m having a dialogue with a screwdriver. Pun completely intended.” He laid a hand on his forehead, leaned back to rest his back against the upturned chair; legs poking uncomfortably into his shoulders. He didn’t have the energy to adjust the chair against his shoulders. Besides, a little pain never hurt anyone; maybe it would help divert his runaway-train thoughts from Carla—

Not likely, wimp.

“Leave. Me. Alone!”

Spineless. Ball-less. You’re a useless sack of shit.

Wilhelm stared at the little screwdriver, his eyes as wide as he could ever recall (as if that’s something worth recalling). What the hell? WHAT THE HELL?

Was it his mind screwing with him? Was that weird little voice actually his inner self bitching at him, telling him stark truths?

Or was the screwdriver actually talking to him?

No.

The former was far easier to deal with than the latter. And yet—

And yet, skidmark, you’re never really gonna know, now are ya?

“Skidmark?”

Oh yeah, skidmark. You’re a sicko all right; one of the worst I’ve ever seen, and believe me, I’ve seen more than my share. 

“Stop.”

Stop? Did that little boy beg you to stop too?

“Fuck YOU!”

You’d probably get off on that too, skidmark.

Wilhelm raised his knees before him and leaned his forearms on them, providing a place to lay his beleaguered head. “I can’t deal with this…”

There’s only one way to get me to stop, skidmark.

Visions of a laughing Carla fluttered in Wilhelm’s mind. “How? Who do I gotta kill?”

Nothing.

He lowered his knees to sit cross-legged again and reached out to take the screwdriver in his powerful fist. He stared at it intently, willing it to speak, to open up and spill its secrets. “HOW?” he shouted.

We gotta get good and close, skidmark. Closer than kissing cousins.

“What the hell are you talking about?”

Look at my point.

Wilhelm turned the screwdriver so that the point faced him directly. He studied the point, noted the worn crosshairs again as well as the blunted tip. “Is this close enough?”

Nope. Not close enough. You’re wasting time, and I have so much to share with you.

Wilhelm inched the thing closer to his face, and now the imperfections caused by generations of use began to reveal themselves to him. Discolorations in the metal of the stem; uneven wear of the crosshairs; a blotch of a remnant of a stain…

Yeah, I’ve wrecked many a screw, and sometimes it’s been not a big thing, but sometimes it’s been a mother. But you know…

The pause seemed indefinite; time seemed to be whizzing by this very tableau in this very time and space at dizzying speed, yet it was motionless. Wilhelm was unable to tell the difference; his eyes were glued on the tip of that screwdriver. “What?” he whispered.

Closer.

Wilhelm moved it closer and closer until the head filled his vision, and closer still until the vision blurred into two iterations that blinked back and forth between merging into a singular head and back to two.

Suddenly Wilhelm wanted answers to questions that plagued him throughout his screwed up life. Why was he so dominated by his filthy lusts? Why was he a wimp? Why could he not sustain a relationship? Any relationship! Kicking around with fucked up jobs; just a loser. Why? WHY? “WHY?” A surge of rage caused his fist to shake.

Closer. Closer than kissing cousins.

And closer Wilhelm moved it so that the tip was practically touching his eyeball. His lashes fluttered against its hard steel every time he blinked and it was pretty unpleasant, so he vowed not to blink.

Still no answers. Still the universe remained dark to Wilhelm.

As you seek, so shall I find for you. 

Wilhelm screamed his rage.

Closer, skidmark.

“Stop calling me skid—” Wilhelm moved the screwdriver closer with enraged force; pain erupted and exploded in his skull; blinding, searing, stomach-heaving pain, followed quickly by a spreading numbness.

As the darkness welled up and over him, the answers he sought were revealed.

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Please visit Enzo on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Enzo.stephens.5011

Lynn Miclea: The Handyman

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 Handyman

by Lynn Miclea

Jenny stared at her kitchen cabinet. No matter what she did or how she tried to fix it, the door to that one cabinet still hung crooked. Frustrated, after working at it for weeks, she finally broke down and called a handyman. She hoped it was worth it and the cabinet door would finally be fixed.

The handyman was due to arrive any minute. She made sure the kitchen was reasonably clean, and she hoped the worker, whoever he was, did not have a short shirt and show a plumber’s crack. Other than that, she hoped he just did a good job.

Ten minutes later, the doorbell rang, and when she opened the door, she felt her eyes open wide. A young, handsome man stood there, dirty-blond hair falling over his forehead. Deep blue eyes gazed back at her. There had to be a mistake. Maybe he was at the wrong house, and the real handyman, an old, fat, hairy guy, would still show up.

The young man looked up at her. “Jenny? I’m Chris, the handyman.” He smiled and the warmth reached his eyes. “Can I come in?”

Jenny swallowed hard. “Yes, of course, I was just not expecting someone… um, so young.”

Chris laughed. “I get that a lot. I’m 28, ma’am. And I’m licensed and have been doing this for over ten years. My dad was a great handyman. He did everything — electrical, plumbing, remodeling, repairs… He was really good. And I worked alongside him for years, so I learned a lot.” He smiled again. “I promise I’ll do a good job.”

Jenny laughed nervously and pulled at her long hair. “Yes, of course, come in.” She led him to the kitchen and pointed to the cabinet, where the door hung at an odd angle. “That’s it. I’ve tried to fix it myself, but it would never stay right. So I finally called an expert.” She looked at Chris. “That’s you.”

“I’d be happy to fix this — I’m sure it won’t take long. Let me just take a look at it first.” He examined the door latches and attachments. “Ah, I can see the problem. The latch here is loose because it was not attached to the door correctly when it was installed. It’s in the wrong place, and it’s weak right there. I’ll fix it for you.” He opened his tool kit and searched through his tools.

He looked up at Jenny, a pink flush rising to his cheeks. “I’m so sorry, ma’am. For some reason, my Phillips-head screwdriver was not put back in my kit. I always have it with me, and I’m so embarrassed. Would you have a screwdriver here I could borrow?”

Jenny nodded. “Yes, of course.” She opened her supply drawer and handed him both a Phillips-head and a flat-head screwdriver. “Are these good?”

Chris reached for them and let out his breath, a look of relief flashing across his face. “Yes, perfect, thank you so much. I’m so sorry. This is not like me. I think my nephew had gotten into my tool box and taken it out. I’m usually so careful with my tools. I can’t believe—”

Jenny interrupted him. “It’s okay.” She was touched that he cared so much about it. “It’s fine, I’m glad I had them here.”

“Me too.” He laughed. “Thank you again. This won’t take long.” He took the Phillips-head screwdriver and got to work on the cabinet door. Jenny sat at the kitchen table and watched him work. She was mesmerized as his movements were careful and precise, and his eyes closely examined everything he did. It was like watching an artist at work, someone who loved what he did and took pride in every movement.

Fifteen minutes later, Chris turned and looked at her. “All finished. How’s that?” He smiled and opened and closed the cabinet door, showing that it worked perfectly and hung straight.

Jenny was impressed. “That is great — you do good work. Thank you.”

“My pleasure, ma’am.” He bent over his tool kit, his muscles flexing, and then stood up with a piece of paper. “Let me just write up the bill. I’ll give you a discount because it was an easy job and you’ve been so nice to me.”

Jenny felt herself blush. “Thank you,” she said softly, wondering if he had a girlfriend. She smiled and handed him a check, a little sorry that it was over so fast. As he took the check, his fingers brushed over her hand, and she felt a tingle rise through her arm. She bit her lip as she felt heat rushing into her cheeks.

“Thank you so much, ma’am,” he said, turning to leave.

“Jenny. Please call me Jenny.”

“Yes, ma’am. I mean Jenny. Well, it’s been a pleasure. If you need anything else, please call me again. Have a good day, Jenny.”

He left, and she stood at the doorway watching his slim but muscular body stride down the walkway to his truck, his dirty-blond hair curling around his collar.

He glanced back once to her, waved, and then got into his pickup and drove off.

She shut the door, feeling an emptiness settle in the house. She didn’t realize how much she liked having him in her home, even for the short time he was there. For the rest of the day, her thoughts kept drifting back to him. Something about his easy manner, his honesty, and his integrity touched her. She wished she could know him better. But what was she doing? It was absurd. She was in her mid-thirties, too old for him. She was probably just too lonely, that was all. He would never be interested in her. She needed to stop these ridiculous thoughts and let him go. But somehow the longing persisted.

For the rest of the day she looked around the house trying to find something else she could call him to come back and fix. There must be something that needed fixing. She chuckled to herself as she considered breaking something to have him come back and fix it. Nah, she needed to let it go. She needed to let him go.

The following day the phone rang. “Hi, Jenny? This is Chris, the handyman from yesterday.”

“Hi, Chris. What is it?”

“I’m sorry to bother you. I just realized that I still have your screwdriver — I took it home by mistake. I’m so sorry. I was just so used to having one, and I automatically dropped it into my tool kit. Can I come by and drop it off?”

“Of course, yes. Come by any time. I’ll be here all afternoon.”

“Wonderful. I’ll be there in twenty minutes. And again, I’m so sorry.”

After she hung up, Jenny wiped her damp hands on her jeans. She felt giddy and nervous. She kept telling herself he was simply returning the tool, he was not interested in her. But she couldn’t stop smiling and she couldn’t wait to see him again.

When the doorbell rang, she jumped up, nervous and jittery. Feeling slightly breathless, she opened the door.

Chris stood there, a sheepish grin on his face. “I have your screwdriver,” he said, shrugging.

“Come in, please.” Jenny led the way to the kitchen. “Would you like some iced tea? I know it’s really hot outside.” Her mouth was dry, and her words sounded foolish and desperate to her ears.

He smiled. “I’d really like that. Thank you.” His voice was soft and tentative.

She placed two glasses and a pitcher of iced tea on the table. “Sit, please, make yourself comfortable.” She silently berated herself for sounding like a desperate teenager.

“Thank you, you are very kind.” He sipped the iced tea. “This is really good.” He licked his lips and then took a few large gulps.

“You’re very good at fixing things.” She hoped that didn’t sound too lame.

“Thank you, that’s very nice of you to say. I love what I do. I used to think I should do something more professional or impressive or something. You know, like go to college and learn some fancy profession.” He shook his head. “But I really love this work. It’s fun for me. It’s both challenging and rewarding. It’s like figuring out a puzzle and creating something.” He seemed to glow when he talked about his work.

“It sounds perfect for you. It suits you.” Something about him was so sincere, open, and honest. She didn’t want the conversation to end. Gazing into his blue eyes, she wished she could spend more time with him and get to know him better. But no, that was not appropriate.

He tapped his fingers on the table. “You have to love what you do. When you really enjoy it, it’s not work, it’s play.” He finished the iced tea and put his glass down. “Well, I’m really sorry about the screwdriver. That was totally my fault.” He fumbled in his kit and brought out the tool and placed it on the table in front of him.

“It’s okay, I understand. It was an easy mistake to make.” She wondered if he was going to hand it to her or if she should just take it.

He looked at her for a few moments and then pushed the screwdriver toward her. “Here you go. Sorry for the mistake, and thank you for the iced tea. I really enjoyed that.” He stood up to go.

She wanted to ask him to stay, but she knew that would be wrong. Standing up, she walked him to the door. After saying their good-byes, she closed the door, and silence filled the room.

Again, the house felt empty. There was something so warm, fun, and wonderful when he was there. There was no way around it — she would have to find something to call him to fix so he would come back. After walking around the house a few more times, she finally found it — a door that squeaked.

After waiting a couple days so she wouldn’t seem desperate or pushy, she called him again and told him about the squeaky door. His voice was warm and professional, and he promised to be there the following day.

Nervous with anticipation, she kept telling herself to calm down, that this was a professional young man just doing his job, and she was being too presumptuous and ridiculous. What was she, a horny teenager? She had to get over this.

The next day, she opened her door to find Chris there, toolbox in hand. “Hi Chris, come in. Thank you for coming on such short notice.”

He gave a warm smile, which lit up his face. “My pleasure. So you have a squeaky door?”

“Yes. It’s actually squeaked for a long time, and I thought it would be good to take care of it.” She showed him to the bathroom door that squeaked.

Chris checked the door, moving it and looking at the hinges. “I can fix this.” He bent down to his tool kit.

“Need a screwdriver?” She gave a nervous laugh and hoped he didn’t think she was being stupid.

He laughed. “No, I double checked this time. I know I have it. But thank you.” His blue eyes sparkled, and Jenny tried her best to not smile too hard.

Ten minutes later, he turned to her. “All fixed.” He moved the door back and forth. “See? No more squeaking.”

“Thank you,” she said, her voice barely above a whisper.

“Half price for you, since you’re such a good customer.”

She felt the heat rise in her cheeks. “You are so kind.”

After she paid him and he left, she again felt let down. She obviously needed to find more things for him to fix.

Over the next few weeks, she called him back four more times. Each time he went there, they chatted and laughed a little more easily with each other.

At the end of the most recent job, they sat at the kitchen table sipping iced teas. He gazed into her eyes. “Um, can I ask you something?” His voice sounded shy and hesitant.

“Yes, of course. Anything.” She wondered why he seemed nervous. Maybe he knew what she was doing and he was tired of being pursued. Maybe she had pushed too hard and he was about to ask her to stop and find a different handyman. That would be understandable.

He hesitated. “Um, well, I know this is not appropriate, and I apologize in advance…”

“What is it? Is everything okay?” Her voice was soft.

“Would you like to have dinner with me tomorrow night?”

Heat flooded through her body. “I would—”

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked. I was just hoping… I mean, you are so beautiful and so nice, and it feels so comfortable and easy being with you, and well… I’m sorry. Please forget I even asked.”

“Hey, I would—”

He pursed his lips. “No, I apologize. I’ll leave now. I should not have bothered you. Thank you for the iced tea.”

“Hey, wait a minute.” She touched his arm, gazing into his deep blue eyes. She saw fear, hesitation, and longing mixed in his eyes. She placed her hand over his, feeling the warmth of his skin. She felt an instant connection with him and saw his face grow pink. “C’mere.” She slid her fingers into his hair and pulled his head toward her. His eyes grew wide and he hesitated, then slowly moved forward to meet her, as she pressed her lips to his. She ran her tongue along his lips and then kissed him passionately. Finally, she pulled back and looked into his eyes. “Does that answer your question?”

His face was flushed as he looked back at her. “Yes, I think so.” His voice sounded higher than usual and he cleared his throat. “That does change things.”

“Good. Now that that’s settled, just tell me when to be ready for dinner tomorrow. Oh, and I also got you a small gift.”

“What? A gift? For what?”

She giggled, turned and picked up a small wrapped package and handed it to him. “Here.”

Joy shone on his face as he unwrapped the oddly-shaped package. His mouth fell open and he laughed. “Just what I needed,” he said, a big grin on his face, as he held up a new Phillips-head screwdriver.

“Hey, just in case you need a backup. They’re good to have around.” She reached over and squeezed his hand, sending a jolt of electricity straight into her body.

He laughed. “Thank you, Jenny. That was really nice. I mean, the gift… and everything.”

“You mean this?” She kissed him again, moaning and sucking on his lower lip.

When he pulled back, he looked dazed but happy. “Jenny, you are so beautiful and by far the nicest client I’ve had.” He chuckled. “This has been the best handyman job ever.”

She laughed. “Hey, thanks to that screwdriver. That was the best screwdriver in the world.”

“You’re not kidding.” His voice was husky as he ran his fingers through her long hair, leaned in, and kissed her again.

—————————

Copyright © 2019 Lynn Miclea. All Rights Reserved.

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Please also visit Lynn’s blog, like the story there, and follow her at – https://wp.me/p4htbd-qT

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

Anita Wu: A Story About Sami… "Screw It"

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.)  

A Story About Sami… “Screw It”

By Anita Wu 

“No, no, no,” she shrieked when she woke up and felt the empty space under her pillow. She pulled aside her blanket, her pillow, and the bedding. The wooden floorboards stared at her, bare. Her mind whirled as she dashed to her bag of clothes next to her discarded sheets. It wasn’t there. She scanned the rest of the small room, empty aside from the other bed across from her. Where did it go?

“Sami, shut it, would you?” her roommate groaned from his bed. He pulled his blanket closer and closed his eyes further, curling his body as if it would get him away from her morning screams.

“Nothing,” she calmed her voice as her mind frantically thought of the possibilities. It was not anywhere she would normally stow it. It had to be stolen. It could not have just disappeared like that.

The door to their shared room swung open and slammed into the wall. Sami spied Orel as he passed, roughly opening the other doors as he sauntered down the hallway.

“Get to your stations. You especially, Sami. Misbehave again, and you’ll lose more than your stupid screwdriver,” he shouted. Her eyes narrowed, and she ground her teeth. She cursed herself for being a heavy sleeper. At least she knew who had it. She would get it back later.

For Kamal, she thought.

When she reached her cutting station in the kitchen, Zah elbowed her arm. She flashed a smile, charming as always with her brown hair tied into a ponytail, curly strands escaping its hold. 

“Why so sullen, Sam? The day has just started,” she chirped as she quickly diced carrots without cutting her fingers. 

“Orel stole my screwdriver,” she said quietly so the other apprentices in the kitchen wouldn’t hear. Zah’s hands stopped moving halfway through her carrot. Sami looked over to find Zah staring at her. Zah’s brown eyes had a mischievous glint to them. Her lips twitched at the grin she tried to hide. She looked back at her cutting board and continued dicing, the smile broad on her face.

“Then we steal it back,” she whispered. Sami found herself smiling too as she started cutting her own basket of vegetables for the soup this morning. Zah was most definitely Kamal’s younger sister. There was no denying that.

As her hands moved, Sami found her thoughts wandering to their conversation. She thought of where Orel would keep the screwdriver, how they would take it from him unnoticed, and when they would best execute their plan. It would be good practice. After all, they were thieves.

“The man won’t take the screwdriver with him to the bath,” Zah declared after swallowing a mouthful of rice. They sat cross-legged in Zah’s single room. Zah had an actual mattress in one corner, and a table and chair in another. A dresser that held her clothes adorned the third. 

One of the higher ranked thieves doted on her, so she got the luxury of privacy despite being an apprentice. Even those who despised her for being Kamal’s blood did not touch her. Half the crew hated her for Kamal’s actions. He wasn’t here, so they directed their anger elsewhere. Sami wondered if she had to pay a price for the luxury, but she never dared to broach the topic. 

“I wouldn’t put it past him, though,” Sami cautioned between bites of chicken. “The man does hate me.”

“Because you stole an extra yam here and there?” Zah scoffed. “He’s too petty. He doesn’t rank anywhere near the top to have privy to an extra snack anyways.”

She downed half the glass of water on the floor. “You let him boss you around too much, Sam.”

“What can I do? We’re just apprentices, and he is in charge of us.”

“That’s only what he wants you to think. Our crew is built upon power, Sam. If we prove that we can outsmart him, we’d stand higher than him. Screw apprentices.”

Zah took another bite of rice, and her eyes twinkled. “What if they even kick him out?”

Sami looked up at Zah as she quietly ate her food. Zah was a dreamer, even more so than Kamal. Her imagination was grander, her ideas wilder, her ambition unmatched. She even confided to her once that she wanted to leave this crew and go solo. She believed she could do much better than this three-story building with over thirty thieves. Sami didn’t doubt her. Her beauty would keep her near the riches, and her youthful face made her seem more innocent, more trustworthy.

Sami could not do it. A childhood of poverty before being found by this thieving crew had left her bony and gaunt. Stress lined her forehead, and sleepless nights marked her eyes. The crew was only slightly better — she had food every day at least. She didn’t have the charm to make people trust her like Zah did. 

Zah picked up her cup and extended it to Sami, the rim tipped toward her. Her eyebrow arched up. Sami took her own cup and cheered with hers.

“To us.”

“To us,” she mimed.

Sami faked a stomachache during the last hour of training. She kept her head down and hugged her stomach as the instructor yelled at her in front of all the other apprentices. Each pair continued exchanging jabs with knives, but she knew they were all listening. She saw from the corner of her eye that her partner smirked at her. He struck out his tongue like a child, somehow proud that she was getting a scolding and not him. 

“What are you doing standing there?” the instructor barked at her partner. “Join another pair. And you,” he turned to Sami again, “operations don’t pause when you have a stomachache. Get out of my sight.”

Sami staggered away from the yard and toward the rooms on the ground floor. She found Zah waiting for her in the shadows near the bathroom. As soon as she saw her, she signaled for Sami to follow. They sneaked their way past other thieves on their way to Orel’s room. 

“He walked into the bathroom with a towel and change of clothes a couple minutes before you came,” Zah updated Sami as she picked the lock with some hairpins. “No screwdriver on his body.”

The lock clicked softly, and Zah opened the door just wide enough for them to slip in. Sami scanned the room, its layout like Zah’s but with a window next to the table. She immediately saw her screwdriver discarded on the floor next to a pile of clothes. She grabbed the translucent red handle and ran a finger down the grip, feeling for Kamal’s name. Sami smiled. 

Zah returned a grin and nodded for them to leave. As soon as she turned, though, the door slammed open, and a large man filled its frame, his hair dripping wet, his face emotionless. 

Orel’s eyes shifted between Sami and Zah, and his mouth twitched. His hand immediately reached for Zah’s neck as he dropped the clothes he was holding. He slammed her against the wall, her feet barely touching the ground. 

“No!” Sami shouted, taking a step toward them.

“Stay the hell where you are,” Orel’s voice boomed as he glared at Sami, stopping her mid-stride. Her fear engulfed her, and she couldn’t move. 

He turned to Zah, her hands grappling at his large one around her throat. Her mouth grimaced, and her eyes shone with pure malice.

“You were Yoren’s little toy, so we didn’t touch you. But you’ve gone too far this time.” He spat at her face and tightened his grip. Zah tilted her head higher and opened her mouth as she gasped for air. But she still didn’t give in. She swung her leg with as much force as she could muster, and she hit him between the legs. 

The impact caused him to release Zah as he bent forward. Zah caught herself on the short fall and didn’t let the opportunity slip away. She grabbed Orel’s lowered head and kneed his face.

Sami found herself then, her grip on the screwdriver stronger. She exhaled and ran the two steps to Orel curled on the ground, his hands to his nose. He saw her above him and reached out with one of his fists.

“You little…” he hissed. Sami dodged his arm and brought the screwdriver down on his neck. She watched as his eyes went wide. 

She felt Zah’s hand on her arm, pulling her away. Sami kept her hold on the bloodied screwdriver as she let Zah lead her to the window. They climbed the table and jumped out onto the paved sidewalk.

Zah ran, and Sami followed.

When they reached a park, Zah stopped and slumped down beside a tree. She was panting, but a smile was plastered on her face. 

“What are we going to do now?” Sami asked between breaths. Zah looked up at her, a laugh escaping her throat. She stood up.

“First of all, my Sam, I am so proud of you.” Zah hugged her then, a tight, long embrace where Sami felt her heart beating against her chest. Sami didn’t know what overcame her when she struck Orel with the screwdriver. She just knew that she couldn’t stand there unmoving when Zah fought against him even in a hold. She didn’t know if her hit was fatal or not, but she didn’t really care.

When Zah let go, she held Sami by the shoulders and stared into her eyes. “And second, we do what I’ve always wanted to do. Let’s do our own thing, away from that wretched crew.”

“Maybe we’ll find my brother again,” Zah started sharing her dreams again, her ambitions, “when our names are well known. We’ll tell him how we left with a bang, far better than he had in the middle of the night. And maybe then, he’ll tell us why he gave you a screwdriver of all things.”

But Sami already knew the reason. Screw it, he had always said. She bet he never intended for her to take it literally.

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D. A. Ratliff: The Tool

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 Tool

By D. A. Ratliff

“Twas the night before Christmas, my ass. More like the nightmare before Christmas.” Jason Bartow lamented softly to himself so as not to wake anyone. He sat cross-legged on the living room floor, bits and pieces of toys and an unassembled bicycle spread across the floor. Dropping his head in his hands, he sighed. “My kingdom for a screwdriver.”

He rummaged once more in the old metal toolbox that had been his father’s, looking for a Phillips-head screwdriver. Any screwdriver. There was nothing inside but four wrenches that were the same size, two rusty hammers, an adjustable wrench big enough to take the tires off a monster truck, and more Allen wrenches than he cared to count. He dumped everything out only to find a handful of electrical wire connectors in assorted colors, a bunch of screws, and a box of nails lurking at the bottom of the toolbox.

Not one screwdriver found among the lot.

The grandfather clock in the foyer chimed midnight. Crap. The kids would be up by five am, six at the latest, and he hadn’t started putting the toys together. How could he? No screwdriver.

He stood. There had to be one somewhere.

Starting in the kitchen, he rummaged through every drawer and cabinet. Sonja or the kids must have used the screwdriver and didn’t put it back, leaving the tool wherever they had it last, just not in the kitchen. Next, the laundry room where he checked in the junk drawer. Clothespins, rubber bands, old bottle caps, assorted appliance manuals, some objects he didn’t recognize, but no screwdriver.

Giving up, he went back to the kitchen and got a knife from the silverware drawer and headed to the living room. Sitting on the floor, he picked up the first plastic toy and inserted a screw. Rats. The knife head was too large, wouldn’t fit into the recessed area where the screw sat. He tried another toy and another toy, and none worked. He threw the knife down, which startled the cat who was sleeping on the couch. The cat uttered a sharp meow.

“What are you looking at? Get over here and help me.”

The cat stared, circled on the pillow, and went back to sleep.

“Yeah, Peaches, I thought so. Okay, where else can I look?” He spent the next half-hour checking every closet, every drawer, every hidey-hole on the first floor. He found assorted balls, cat toys, dog bones, and a Barbie doll but no screwdriver.

“Okay, back to the garage.”

Frustrated, he returned to the living room with a hand file and tried the pointed end in the hole. That didn’t work, and he tossed it aside. It struck the stone hearth eliciting another angry meow from the cat. It was now after two am, and Santa’s toys for the kids sat in pieces on the floor. Sonja was going to kill him.

Time to risk going upstairs to look, but the kids and Felix, the dog, were asleep, and he didn’t want to risk waking them and blowing Santa’s cover. Standing in the middle of assorted plastic parts, he decided he had no choice.

Stealthily, he climbed to the second floor. Felix, the family dog, was asleep in the hallway between the kids’ rooms. The Golden Retriever raised his head but settled as Jason scratched his ears. He realized there were limited places to look, but he had to try. A quick run through the guest rooms turned up nothing, nor did a search of the bathrooms and closets.

He opened the door to the master bedroom as quietly as possible. Sonja lay curled up on the bed, facing away from him, sleeping soundly. He used the light on his phone to check the bed table drawers, and desperate, the chests and closets. The master bath was as disappointing. He leaned against the sink, head down, when he spotted Sonja’s eyebrow tweezers. Small, flat—maybe they could work. Grabbing them, he raced down the stairs, Felix bounding behind him.

Buoyed by his find, he grabbed a toy part and started to assemble. The tweezers didn’t work. The tips were flat but slanted and couldn’t get a grip. He dropped back against a chair. What was he going to do? He was tired. It was now close to three in the morning and no toys. Spotting the plate of decorated sugar cookies and cup of cocoa the kids left for Santa, he ate a cookie, gave a cookie to Felix, drank the cold cocoa, and promptly fell asleep.

He woke to a whimpering noise. He was very groggy but was aware that Felix was wagging his tail as a rotund man was rubbing his head. The man wore a white glove and spoke with a soft but jovial voice. Jason struggled to wake up, but he felt drugged, unable to move. The man turned his head as Felix whimpered again, then turned toward Jason. “You are right, my boy, the spell is wearing off.” A flick of a wrist and Jason saw sparkles of light race toward him and then blackness.

A cold nose against his chin brought him to consciousness. “Felix, stop. I gotta get this done. Shouldn’t have fallen asleep.” A glance at his phone told him it was three-thirty am. He had to figure this out. Sitting up, his hand brushed against something. A red plastic case was sitting next to him, a note attached to the top.

He unfolded the note and uttered a small gasp as he read it.

My dear Jason, you have always been one of my favorites, and finding you here trying to assemble these toys melted my heart. Parents are so touching. They always think they do this, but I only allow them to think that. I make sure the memory of putting them together is present, but I assemble the toys. However, your determination has inspired me. This year I will allow you to assemble the toys and the bicycle. You deserve that honor for your perseverance. Next year, however, leave this to me. Oh, and please don’t eat my cookies again.

Merry Christmas, K. Kringle.

His fingers trembling, Jason opened the plastic box to find a set of every screwdriver made. He laughed. “Come on, Felix, we have work to do.”

At six-fourteen am, a sleepy Sonja and two wide-awake kids came bounding down the staircase and into the living room. With squeals of delight, their son and daughter began playing with the toys Santa left them.

“You look tired, were you up all night doing this?”

“Yeah, I was.”

“Such a good dad.” She kissed him and then walked to the couch to sit down. “Ouch.” She stepped on something and bent down to pick it up. “How did my tweezers get down here?”

Jason shrugged. “I couldn’t find a screwdriver. Thought those might help.”

Sonja pointed to the table. “There’s a whole set of screwdrivers. They look brand new. Who gave you those?”

Jason smiled as he touched the note, now stuck in his jeans pocket.

“A friend.”  

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Visit Deborah’s blog: https://thecoastalquill.wordpress.com/

Write the Story! December 2019 Prompt

Write the Story! December 2019

Our twelfth prompt.

A year has passed since we began the Write the Story! project.

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. As we close out the first year of WTS!, I 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.


For the last prompt of 2019, we decided a simple image would be appropriate and perhaps, a bit difficult. Enjoy!


See you in 2020 for Year Two of Write the Story!

The December 2019 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 want 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 Messenger to Deborah Ratliff. Put “Write the Story” in the first line of the message. WU! 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. The November prompt is below… write the story!

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: the images we will use as prompts are free-use images)

Kelli J GAvin: Honor

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.)  

Honor

By: Kelli J Gavin 

When my grandmother passed, I felt defeated and utterly broken. She was the last of my grandparents left and I mourned the loss of our truly great matriarch. She was bold and vibrant, loving and forgiving, and an inspiration to anyone who had the honor to be in her presence. Her loss spurred such a season of mourning and grief in my life, that I worried I would never pull myself from the miry pit where I seemed to dwell. 

Receiving a phone call from my grandmother’s attorney was the last call I expected two months after her passing. My grandfather passed away the summer before and I was under the impression that in their old age they had spent everything they had and what was left were the social security and survivor benefit checks that faithfully arrived each month in the mail and the equity in the roof that covered their heads. When the attorney left two and then three messages on my answering service, I knew I needed to make time to return his call. 

“Ms. Garlow, thank you for calling back. I was concerned that you had moved or that I was going to have to stop by your place of business to ensure contact. I would like to request a meeting as soon as possible. I have sold your grandparent’s home, liquidated a small life insurance plan which paid for your grandmother’s funeral and final expenses, and hired a small company to clear out their home. Anything that is sentimental, and all furniture, is now housed in the dining room on the main floor, and the rest of the home is vacant. The final sale will be complete the first of next month and I need you to claim anything that you wish to keep and give me the final instructions for the disposal of the rest of the physical property. Could we meet this Friday morning at 9 a.m. at the house? We should be finished by 11 a.m. Please bring a truck or trailer and at least two people to carry and pack the furniture and belongings.” Mr. Smithers spoke so quickly, I wasn’t tracking.

“Mr. Smithers, I am sorry. What did you say? 9 a.m. this Friday? I already have a truck and don’t anticipate wanting to keep more than I can haul. I will hire two men to arrive by 9:30 a.m. and they can start loading while we finish any paperwork and other business,” I replied. 

“Splendid. I will see you then. You should know that there were instructions about a few pieces, but we can talk about all that when we meet. Have a good day and I look forward to seeing you.” Mr. Smithers quickly hung up the phone. 

Pondering Mr. Smithers’ comments about instructions on a few pieces, I found my mind going down rabbit trails the next few days. Calling to secure a team of two men from the local college service agency, I also made sure that I had plenty of thick blankets and paper boxes for anything that I chose to take with me. Busying myself with preparations for the meeting on Friday made me feel better. I noticed by Thursday morning, I didn’t feel so sad constantly. I was still mourning, but didn’t think that sudden tears were threatening to flood my cheeks at any time. 

Friday morning as I pulled up to my grandparents’ home, I couldn’t help but smile as all of my childhood memories came rushing back to me. Times spent running in the backyard sprinklers, sitting on the back porch eating watermelon with my grandfather, and helping my grandmother decorate the large home each Christmas. Beautiful memories that I knew I would always hold dear. 

Mr. Smithers greeted me at the front door as I reached the top stair of the front porch. “Wonderful, I am glad there was a close parking space by the curb. This street is usually quite full, even during the day. I have the papers ready to go here in the dining room.” 

We both sat down and he pushed two pens in my direction. There were flags on each page and I had no desire to read each document, so I quickly sifted through and signed each spot. Three packets had been prepared for my signature. Two pertaining to the sale of the home, and the last pile was for the distribution of a few small leftover investment assets, liquidating and closing bank accounts, and selling everything that I didn’t want. I also signed a form which reimbursed Mr. Smithers for his extra time spent on everything involving clearing out the home and hiring packers and movers. 

My hand cramped near the end of the third packet. As I passed the signed pages and pens back to Mr. Smithers, I glanced around the room at all of my grandparents’ belongings. Knocking on the door and hearing conversation, the moving men entered the dining room and introduced themselves. Quickly giving instructions about belongings that I knew I wanted immediately, I asked the two young men to take the china hutch, the two side tables and coffee table that were once in the living room and sideboard from the dining room. I located the china and kitchen dishes that had been carefully packed and labeled and my grandmother’s jewelry, my grandfather’s World War II memorabilia and all of the photo albums, journals and family keepsakes. I found my grandfather’s black trench coat and my grandmother’s furs. Not sure that I wanted either, I knew I wasn’t yet ready to part with them. I placed a star on each box I wanted and then moved a few vases that were still sitting on the sideboard to be wrapped and also placed in my truck. I didn’t have a need for any of the beds, dressers or the dining room table or chairs, but knew I still needed to locate the sheets and towels. My grandmother had the most beautiful pillowcases I had ever seen and I always knew someday that I would want those hand-embroidered pieces of art so that I could continue to treasure them in my own home. 

As I made my way to the back of the large row of labeled boxes, I found the sheets and pillowcases in the very last box on the floor placed next to my grandfather’s chest. An audible gasp left my lips as I remembered the last time that I saw the chest as a child. 

“Never, ever touch that chest. That chest is your grandfather’s and no one is allowed to touch it,” my grandmother declared. 

“But what is in it?” I asked.

“That is none of your business. I have never been allowed to touch it either. Just promise me, your hands will never even grace the hinges. Promise me.” Never seeing my grandmother so serious before, I instantly promised her I wouldn’t touch the chest. I was fascinated by the fleur-de-lis metal adornments and the rope handles. It took everything that was in me to not touch the chest which sat in the basement of their old home. I always wanted to even get a glance of it down at the bottom of the rickety stairs. And then one day, it was gone. I knew not to ask about the chest and then I just forgot that it seemed to be missing from the bottom of the stairs. 

“Ms. Garlow. You should know that one of the things that your grandmother had listed in her final instructions was in regard to the chest. Your grandmother wrote that under no circumstance was I to disburse of the chest on my own. That the chest was for you and it needed to go to your home. That opening it wasn’t an option. You have to take the entire chest, contents and all.” I smirked at the attorney’s final disclosure. That sounded exactly like something my grandmother would request. 

“I will take the chest and I promise not to open it until I get home. I think I am done with putting a star on all the boxes. Those movers have done a great job loading all the furniture. I am going to go outside and make sure that they started loading the boxes safely for transport.” When I went outside, I found only one box that should be moved as it was lighter than all the rest. 

Returning indoors I perused the boxes to make sure that each one with a star had already been taken outside, and pointed to the chest. “Don’t open it. Just put it on the floorboard of the front seat of the truck.”

“Of course ma’am,” the second mover quickly replied. 

Mr. Smithers had also been given strict instructions from my grandmother to tell me about who had purchased the home, once purchase papers had been signed and the final sale was pending. 

Once everything was loaded, I decided to do one final walk through of the home. The amazing home that I loved as a child. Saying a silent prayer for the family that purchased the home, I prayed for the children, that they would enjoy each room as much as I did. I prayed for the parents that would raise their kids in the home the same way my grandparents raised my mom and her siblings. Heading home, the two moving men that I hired followed me in their car. So pleased with their hard work after they had brought all of the furniture and boxes into my home and positioned each where I had requested, I paid the two gentlemen in cash and tipped them well. I remembered what it was like to be a struggling college student. 

I had requested that the chest be put on the coffee table in front of the couch. Sitting down slowly, I steeled myself for what I would find. Slowly, as the chest creaked open, the smell of cedar and lavender wafted out. My grandmother had placed the cedar chips and lavender swags to fight against any musty odors that may have sunk in over the years. Sitting in front of the open chest, I stared in disbelief. 

Apparently, the Purple Heart that had always been rumored to have been awarded to my grandfather, had found its resting place inside of the scarred chest. My grandfather had never spoken of his wartime experiences, and even denied being hurt during the war and subsequently sent home. He had mentioned that so many of his friends had lost their lives, and he was grateful to ever make it home. I remember my mother questioning if he thought he was diminishing the experience of those that served and gave their lives when he was only wounded and had the rest of his life to live. Whatever the reason, he valued the Purple Heart enough to keep it and store it for safety. 

Next to the treasured medal was a picture of my grandmother and grandfather. Oh, how young my grandmother looked. I believed the picture was from when they were dating, and turning it over I received confirmation. A handwritten note from my grandmother read, “Come home to me. I will be waiting for you. You are loved.” Tears poked at the corners of my eyes. 

Underneath, I found my grandfather’s class ring from high school, his class ring from college and the small framed award he had received when he had reached 25 years on the job. I also found my grandfather’s watch and wedding ring which my grandmother must have carefully packed away after his passing. Beneath all of these beautiful items, I found something I never expected. There was a single envelope addressed to my grandmother with her maiden name from my grandfather when he was stationed in Europe during the war. The envelope was never sealed, nor was it torn open. The flap had been neatly tucked inside of the envelope. 

“April 11, 1942

Lovely,

I miss you more each day. Know that I will always love you. I won’t overwhelm you with the details, but I am struggling and concerned that I may never see you again. My friends are dying. More and more every day. I have seen so much killing, so much death. I can’t imagine how I will make it three more months, even three more days. If we are not meant to be married, if I do not return, know that I want you to be happy. Find someone who loves you the way you deserve, someone who will treat you like a queen and give you all the babies you want. But promise me you will be happy. Promise me. I need to know this one thing. I love you. I love you. I love you. Always. 

Love, 

Me”

Tears streaming down my face, I took the envelope from the table. The envelope had never been posted. My grandfather wrote this letter and never sent it to my grandmother. Checking the date on the top of the letter, indeed, he returned just over three months later to the United States. He loved her the moment he met her, when he was drafted and was forced to leave her, all while he served his country, and he loved her the moment he was reunited with her after a thirteen-month tour of duty. He loved her and this letter wasn’t meant for her to see, as he planned on returning home to his soon-to-be bride. It also wasn’t meant for me to see either. Until now. 

That day was the day when I knew that things wouldn’t always be so hard. It wouldn’t always hurt so much to continue each day without my grandparents. I would always miss them, but grief would no longer be so heartbreaking.

Thankful for these treasures, I opened the china hutch which was placed in the new desired location in my dining room. The Purple Heart, the wedding ring and picture, the watch, both class rings and the letter in the envelope were all placed accordingly on the top shelf. A shelf of honor.

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Visit Kelli on her blog: https://kellijgavin.blogspot.com/

D. A. Ratliff: The Casquette

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 Casquette

By D. A. Ratliff

The diary was old. The handbound leather cover worn and cracked and the small brass lock tarnished. Jolene Lamont had found the diary and its tiny key tied to a ribbon in a small old trunk in her grandmother’s attic one day when she was fifteen, rummaging for old clothes for a school play. She rushed to her grandmother with her find.

Her grandmother’s eyes softened as she gazed at the leather tome and motioned for Jolene to sit beside her. In her Cajun lilt, her grandmother explained.

“When I was a little girl, I found this diary and brought it to my mother. The writing is in French, and at the time, I could not read it. The diary records the story of how our family came into existence. Mama said when I learned to read French, I could read it for myself. So, I did and made the same charge to your mother, who was more into science than a silly diary. So, I now charge you to learn French and when you do, the diary is yours.”

Jolene’s fingers traced the faded gold-lettered name painted on the cover. She accepted her grandmother’s challenge and not only took French in high school but also minored in French when she entered Tulane. It was at her college graduation when her grandmother handed her the diary and she had learned the story of Blaise Marceau.

She unlocked the diary, carefully turning the fragile linen paper to her favorite entries.

June 4, 1704

I am Blaise Marceau, and today I begin a new life. A few short months ago, I was an orphan, raised in the convent. When word came from the Lieutenant Governor of the first colony in the Louisiana settlement that he wished for young French women to come to the colony as wives for the soldiers, Sister Marie Josephine insisted that I be one of them. My station in life had been among the aristocracy until my father murdered my mother in a rage of jealousy. Unfounded jealousy but he lost his head regardless, and as an orphan, the convent was my only choice.

I now stand on the dock on Dauphine Island, where I and my fellow travelers await our transport to our new home. My meager belongings are in an old trunk the Sister found for me. Constructed of inexpensive wood with only rope handles to carry it by, the trunk had held a surprise. I found this diary and a note from Sister Marie Josephine inside. Her words stay in my heart. She wished me the happy life I deserved and as I read and write, she asked that I record my experiences so that one day perhaps she would know my fate.

So, for the Sister, I will record my life in this new world.

August 19, 1704

My fellow Casquette Girls, as we became known due to the French word for the small trunks we arrived with, settled in the home of the Lieutenant Governor, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, de Bienville. His housekeeper, Madame Langlois oversees our well-being and she has been teaching us the finer points of being a wife. She is the widowed cousin of Monsieur Le Moyne but a few of the girls think she may be more than a housekeeper. I refuse to speculate on such matters.

She has been teaching us to cook. There are native tribes here that she has learned much from about preparing the native foods. I am finding that I love the exotic food we are learning about here. As I can read, I am helping the girls who cannot learn. Madam Langlois is also teaching us to sew, as well. I had been learning embroidery from my mother before she died, not mending, and I find sewing instructions to be upsetting as I remember my mother’s kindness. However, if I am to marry a French soldier, I will need to know how to mend. The Sister told me I should learn everything that I could, and I will honor her. 

September 02, 1704

Music and dance lessons have begun in earnest, for Monsieur Le Moyne is holding a dinner party for some of his officers. His home is near Fort Louis de la Mobile and there are often soldiers visiting. The Monsieur forbids us to meet them, but we often hide on the second-floor balcony to watch them arrive. They are most handsome in their uniforms, but one of the girls, Giselle tells us that most of them are older and the highest bidder will take what he wants. Madam Langlois shushed her and told her that no such thing will occur. That the Monsieur will protect us and not give or sell us to anyone as our needs are also important. Giselle insists she is correct and many of us are now frightened.

October 19, 1704

The night of the dinner party has arrived. I am excited. The Monsieur had gowns made for each of us to wear. Mine is a soft green brocade and I have new slippers. I have not had a new gown for several years.

Monsieur Le Moyne allowed us to have dinner in the dining hall but at a separate table from the guests. As we helped prepare the dinner, we were happy to hear the approval of the soldiers. After dinner, we retired to the grand parlor. We sat in chairs against one wall waiting for a dance request.

As the music began, Monsieur Le Moyne invited his guests to ask his wards to dance. I was shaking, afraid no soldier would choose me but more afraid my dancing would not be acceptable. I was not extremely graceful. It was no surprise that the soldiers chose the lovely Giselle and some of the other girls as soon as the harpsichord and violin began to play. However, I was shocked when one of the younger soldiers walked directly toward me and held out his hand.

His name is Lieutenant Antoine Desper, and by the end of the evening, I was in love.

December 24, 1704

Monsieur Le Moyne was extremely strict on the manner in which the soldiers could court us. They could call twice per week, one on a mid-weeknight and for the Sunday mid-day meal. Since the dinner dance, Lieutenant Desper had not failed to call. Madame Langlois was present for all the visits and she forbade touching, not even holding hands.

As tonight is the eve of Noel, the Monsieur invited the officers to attend the burning of the yule log. We prepared a feast and it was this night that Lieutenant Desper announced he was going to ask Monsieur Le Moyne for my hand in marriage.

January 17, 1705

The morning of my marriage has arrived. I am nervous as I am about to become a wife. Giselle and the others have filled my head with what my wifely responsibilities will involve. I am frightened but prepared. My heart fills with love, and I trust Lieutenant Desper will be kind.

~ooOoo~

A staff member roused Jolene from her reading. The last stock delivery had arrived and as she waited for the driver to bring in the cases, her thoughts drifted to Blaise. Each time she read the story, the emotion it stirred surprised her. But no more than on this day when she was embarking on a new adventure of her own. Love had found her as well and now, so much of her life was similar to the life Blaise experienced. With a couple of her employees putting the stock away, she returned to the diary.

~ooOoo~

November 29, 1705

A joyous day for my beloved Antoine and me as our son, Phillipe Jean-Baptiste Desper was born. He is healthy and we are happy. Madam Langlois attended me, and Monsieur Le Moyne promoted my beloved to Captain on that day.

On the day of my son’s birth, I received my first letter from Sister Marie Josephine. I had written many to her, always including copies of my daily diary entries but had not heard from her. The joy in my heart only grew as I read her words of happiness for my safe journey and good life.

~ooOoo~

Jolene skipped the entries about the growing years of Phillipe and the arrival of his sister, Marie Josephine. They were wonderful years for the Desper family. Antoine continuing to rise in importance within the military and remained in loyal service of Monsieur Le Moyne de Bienville. On this day, she especially wanted to reread the years when the city she loved had come into existence.

~ooOoo~

 May 9, 1718

I have never seen Antoine so excited. Monsieur Le Moyne is once again governor of French Louisiana and has founded a new city on the crescent of a mighty river. It will be a while before we move there, but the Monsieur has told Antoine that he will be among the highest officials of the city’s government.

October 10, 1719

Flooding of the crescent land along the river has slowed the progress of building the new capital city but not the enthusiasm for the change in our life. There has been talk of leaving the capital in Biloxi, but with the shifting sands making the area unstable, the Monsieur will not have that. He vows to build the new capital, which he will call La Nouvelle-Orléans” in honor of Philippe II, Duke of Orléans. Antoine will be traveling there a great deal to oversee the city’s construction and that of the port. Phillipe begged to travel with his father, and I have reluctantly agreed. Marie Josephine and I will leave our quarters at the Fort and stay with Madam Langlois while they are gone.

November 02, 1721

We arrive in La Nouvelle-Orléans to start our new life. Antoine secured a home for us in the new Vieux Carré. Marie Josephine has grown into a lovely young woman and many suitors have already called. Her papa, however, is not happy at the attention. Phillip is now seventeen and will soon join his father in the military. Giselle’s husband died in an accident on the docks, and we invited her and her two small children to live with us. With Antoine so busy and Phillip about to become a man, I enjoyed having her with Marie and me.

June 30, 1736

Relations with the Chickasaw tribe deteriorated, and Monsieur Le Moyne de Bienville returned from France to become Governor once more. He appointed Antoine as his Lieutenant Governor and we moved to a larger home in the Vieux Carré. Then near tragedy struck when our Phillip suffered a severe injury in a skirmish with the Chickasaw.

Once again, Monsieur Le Moyne was my savior. For this same year, a French sailor and shipbuilder, Jean Louis had left an endowment for the construction of a charity hospital in La Nouvelle-Orléans. The Monsieur had personally overseen the hospital construction and it was there the doctors were able to save his life.

Our family was growing. Antoine, Marie, and I now lived with Giselle and her children and our son and his wife, Victoria, and a granddaughter, Honoré.

 December 24, 1742

This is a bittersweet Noel for us. Monsieur Le Moyne is returning to France. I fear this is the last we will see of a man who has meant so much to my family. My only consolation is that Madam Langlois will remain. She has not been well and wishes to stay in the city she has also grown to love.

 Marie Josephine is now married to a cotton and wheat broker and has two young children, Etienne, and Ronin. Giselle’s children are also married but will be here tonight for the burning of the Yule log. Monsieur’s departure has caused Antione to consider leaving the military and entering into a business.

I do not know what the new year brings, but I am thankful my family is here.

 July 17, 1743

Antoine is excited, more so than I have ever seen him. Today, he and Phillipe are opening a tavern in Vieux Carré for the growing tradesmen. Phillip’s injures left him unable to continue as a soldier and now with his father retiring, they have started a business. Giselle and I will cook for them. Madame Langlois’s cooking lessons of years ago are serving us well.

I received word only a few days ago that Sister Marie Josephine was near death and I feel in my heart that she is no longer with us. Many days have passed since the Casquette Girls left the convent in Paris but most of the girls married well and have had a good life.

As we embark on our new journey in this new world, I think back to the night when the harpsichord was playing, and Antoine asked me to dance. I loved him with all my heart that night and I love him still.

~ooOoo~

Jolene sat, elbows on the polished wood bar and thought about the night she met Robert. He had asked her to dance and she had been in love from the start. A shudder of warmth passed through her as she remembered the shock, then joy on his face when she proposed they open this place in the Vieux Carré, better known now as the French Quarter.

Today was her day to be joyful. She walked behind the bar and stood before the niche that held Blaise’s casquette. Tucking the diary inside the trunk next to the ribbon-bound letters from Sister Marie Josephine, now aged and faded, she closed the lid.

Robert joined her. “Ready, baby?”

A grin as large as she could muster crossed her face. “Yes, I am.”

Jolene flipped the light switch and downlights cast a glow on the trunk and illuminated the sign above.

The Casquette Tavern was open for business.

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Author’s Note:

This story is a work of fiction and I took some liberties in the telling of this story. However, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville is an actual historical figure and considered the “Father of New Orleans.” He was the first person to find the crescent-shaped bend in the Mississippi River and identify it as an excellent port.

Also, concerned about the fraternization of his soldiers with the local native population, de Bienville called for French girls to immigrate to the Louisiana Territory to serve as brides for the soldiers and settlers. He recruited orphans from convents in France as pure and proper wives. The girls carried their belongings in small trunks called casquettes and they became known as the Casquette Girls. While not proven, the cooking lessons given by Madam Langlois using local foods exotic to France possibly gave rise to Creole cuisine.

Madame Langlois, the Charity Hospital grant from shipbuilder Jean Louis, the Chickasaw War, and the building of Vieux Carré, now known as the French Quarter, are real people, events, and places. A monument stands in New Orleans to recognize de Bienville as the founder of the city.

Resources:

https://www.southalabama.edu/org/archaeology/colonists.html

https://www.al.com/living/2015/09/when_french_orphans_called_cas.html

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Please visit D. A. Ratliff at https://thecoastalquill.wordpress.com/

Kenneth Lawson: The Family Trunk

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 Family Trunk

By Kenneth Lawson

The old trunk had been sitting in the closet for decades. 

He knew about the box in the vaguest terms, but only that it had existed, and he had even vaguer memories of seeing it. He’d heard it talked about by older relatives, all who were gone now.

He dragged it out onto the floor. He couldn’t make out any of the writing on the small label tacked to the front of it just under the lock. He lifted it to the nearest table. It was heavy. He wasn’t sure if the weight was because of the trunk itself, or what was in it. Although he suspected most of the weight was the trunk, which appeared constructed of solid wood. 

Shining a proper light on the label, he was barely able to make out a name and date. The name seemed to be that of his grandfather, Robert Brown Strong. The date looked to be early 1900s, around the turn of the century. He had vague memories of the trunk. He’d seen it when he was much younger, as a small child, but didn’t remember anything about it.

Locked—he assumed there had to be a key somewhere. He rummaged through the drawers of his grandfather’s desk and found an old set of small keys. He’d never seen them before, but he’d never gone through the old desk that thoroughly.

To his surprise, one of the keys fit. After carefully jiggling the key, the lock finally opened. The cast-iron hinges squeaked in rebellion, but after much resistance, he lifted the lid.

The light from the lamp off to his side cast a shadow over the insides, making it seem darker than it was. He shifted the light, which gave him a clear view of the inside of the small trunk. The amount of dust inside a sealed box was surprising. He sneezed and coughed as the dust stirred from its resting place of decades. Finely he unearthed several small objects. One was a small notebook, and the other was a pocket watch and various small pieces of jewelry. Now covered in dust and lint and general grossness, he couldn’t tell what they were.

Picking each piece out carefully, he laid them on the desk, in the order that he’d found them. When the box was empty of everything save the dust that didn’t float up into his face and cover his hands, he placed the trunk over on the side table.

He sat down and looked over the collection, removing dust as he fingered each item. He dared not be too aggressive in removing the dust for fear of what too much rubbing or handling could do to the fragile pieces. 

One of the pocket watches seemed familiar. He had hazy memories of the trunk opened by big hairy hands. He seemed to be eye level with it, which meant he’d been pretty small. Something else was playing up in his mind, but he couldn’t quite see it. The memory was a feeling or a shadow of some kind. He tried to force it to his mind’s eye, but it wouldn’t come. 

Setting the watch down, he picked up the ring. It too carried memories. Those memories were brighter. Then it occurred to him. The brightness he remembered was the sun. A bright summer day and a pretty hand wearing the ring was holding his smaller hand. He remembered more as the memories came in flashes. His grandfather, standing at a station of some kind, holding the pocket watch in his hand, the chain dangling between it and his vest. 

Shaking his head, he laid down the jewelry and stood up. Memories that he didn’t want to remember kept rushing back. Pacing back and forth in his grandfather’s old office, he knew what was next.

He closed his eyes, and for the briefest of seconds, the eyes of his mind flashed the shadow of the train as his mother fell into the track. Seconds later, he remembered landing on the wooden deck next to the track. All they were able to find was his grandfather’s pocket watch, which had broken from the chain as it flew out of his pocket when he jumped to save her. His mother fell under the train, and they only found her hand with the ring on it at the scene. 

Pushing the images from his mind, he opened his eyes. This was the twenty-fifth year that they had held a memorial service. And each time it tore him up when he had to speak. He cleared his throat and tucked the watch and ring in his coat pocket. His family was waiting in the parlor for the service to begin, and he knew he wasn’t going to give the speech he rehearsed.

“Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in a moment of silence in remembrance of my grandfather, Robert Brown Strong, and my mother, Mary Jeanne Strong. Then I will tell you about the family trunk.”

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Please visit Kenneth on his website: http://kennethlawson.weebly.com 

Caroline Giammanco: The Hope Chest

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 Hope Chest

By Caroline Giammanco

A lone watchman sits, leaning back against the stone wall of the mountain tower, as he wearily gazes across the desolate valley below. The once verdant fields are mere dreams now. The rolling thunder in the distance is no promise of replenishing rain, but instead is the ever-present rumble of artillery. The land, and its people, are all but ruined.

The world wasn’t always like this. I remember my grandfather’s stories.

Closing his eyes, he could smell the delicate aroma of his mother’s cooking wafting, mixing with the earthy smell of the wood fire as rain poured down outside their modest home. Sitting at the foot of his grandfather, wise and respected, a man of honor and integrity in their village, young Milo gazed at the old man in complete admiration. The soft fur of the bear rug upon which he sat mingled with memories as he took a passage back in time. His grandfather sat in the well-worn rocking chair, taking puffs from his pipe as he amused the children with tales of far away places and of a time when their land was full of peace and plenty.

“Tell us again about the ancient war, Grandfather.”

“Oh, my child, you have heard that story so many times. Surely you are tired of it by now.”

A chorus of young voices, pleading for him to tell the story, won the old man over—as everyone in the house knew they would. Milo’s parents shared a wink across the kitchen as they prepared the last of the evening meal. They knew their beloved patriarch would not miss an opportunity to tell one of his favorite tales. That’s all it was, they knew. These stories were nothing but lore that had passed from generation to generation. There was no more truth to them than the stories of imps and fairies. How could there be? It did keep the children occupied, however, and it gave the old man a chance to bask in their attention.

“Well, it was a long time ago, back when we didn’t have the modern conveniences that we do now. We were still a prosperous people, though. For centuries, our people farmed this valley. Life was wonderful, and everyone had more food than they could eat. Our cattle and goats were fat and sleek. No one saw the trouble that was coming. Our people were content, and sometimes when we become content we lose our watchfulness. Fat and satisfied, we were blinded to the evil approaching.”

The children huddled together. A gentle shudder passed among them. Lex, Milo’s older brother, wrapped a blanket around Milo and gave him a reassuring hug.

“It was the end of the harvest season, and oh, what a harvest it had been. The trees hung heavy with fruit that fall, and the silos overflowed with grain. Mounds of vegetables sat in everyone’s cellars, and the women were busy preserving as much food as they could from daybreak to sundown. The men labored in the fields to bring in the last of the abundance.”

“What did the children do, Grandpa?” Shia, Milo’s little sister, was smart for her age. At three, she was as involved as the older children in listening to the tales.

“The children?” Grandfather stopped to shake out his pipe and refill it with tobacco.

Impatiently, his audience nudged each other, eager for the story to continue.

“Yes, Grandpa, the children,” Shia said in an effort to prod him.

“The children, like children will do, played and made up games.”

“What kind of games?”

“Those with sticks and balls and races—the types of games I’m sure you all enjoy once you are done with your chores and your studies.”

“Races are my favorite.” Milo beamed. He was known as the fastest boy in the village.

“You are quick, my little one, and Shia is quick in her own way, aren’t you, dear?” His wrinkled hand patted her on her head. “Shia’s curiosity and Milo’s speed remind me of the heroes of this story.”

Milo and Shia blushed from the comparison.

“Before we can talk about heroes, however, we must talk of the terrible, terrible things that happened.” 

The faces of the children fell. They knew this story. 

“The marauders swept down from the north in a fury. Their horses were fast and their hearts were cold. They killed and destroyed our people and our land. We fought back, however, and the war raged for many, many years. Starvation raged, and many of our people died from illness. Fierce battles took a toll on them as well.”

Shia and her cousin, Ana, clasped hands and held each other. A tear trickled down Ana’s sweet face.

“The war went on for years, and even our wisest and bravest leaders didn’t know how to overcome our enemies.”

“Were you alive then? Did you see this yourself?” Pater, Ana’s older brother, was always a skeptic.

“No, son, I was not alive then. My great-great-great-grandfather wasn’t alive when this happened. This story has been handed down for centuries, but it is true.”

“What happened? How did our people live?” Milo brought everyone’s attention back to the moment.

“We had all but given up. Our people were ready to surrender and be massacred. But then, two of the children saved us.”

This, of course, caused the children to sit up straighter and to open their eyes wide.

“There was a boy.” Grandfather nodded at Milo. “And a girl.” He glanced at Shia. “They were clever young children. Always curious, even in the midst of war, they played their favorite games. One was hide-and-seek.”

“We play hide-and-seek all the time!” The children wiggled with excitement that they carried on an ancient tradition of their people.

“Yes, you do. Now one day these two children, Oli, the boy, and Ara, the girl, went far beyond the boundaries of the village. They ran deep into the forest where they found a cave. This was no ordinary cave. It was in the base of the Holy Mountain.”

Looks of awe swept across the children.

“Down, down, down they climbed into the cave. They were so amazed that they forgot to hide from one another. The wind gently whistled through the cave, and they were drawn to a glowing room. In the center of this room—it was no bigger than this house,” Grandfather motioned his hands in the air, “was a chest. A beautiful wooden chest with sturdy metal hinges.”

“And on the top of the chest there were words, weren’t there Grandpa?” Shia knew. She knew the importance of the words.

“Yes, my child. The words said, ‘He who possesses this can never lose. Carry this into any battle you are facing, and you will surely never fail.’ Oli and Ara carefully lifted the trunk by the handles and carried it to their village.”

The moon had risen by this time, and the light from the fire flickered on Grandfather’s face. 

“As they approached their village, they saw terrible carnage. Homes were on fire, and the marauders were killing families as the darkness began to fall.”

A whimper escaped Ana’s lips.

“Ara and Oli were afraid, but they were brave—braver than most grown men who have faced battle many times. They knew how to return to their village unseen. Their hours of playing hide-and-seek had taught them nooks and crannies that most adults walked past unnoticed.”

The screech of an owl outside caused everyone in the room to jump. Even Grandfather jerked ever-so-slightly. Mother and Father had stopped their activities in the kitchen and were also listening. The story was so powerful that they couldn’t deny it their attention.

“Tell us, Grandpa. What happens to little Ara and Oli?”

“It was dangerous, and they tired from the weight of the trunk. Several times they dodged flaming arrows and once Oli was caught in the tangle of a fence. Death surrounded them everywhere. Finally, exhausted, they gently knocked on the back door of their cabin. Their mother ushered them inside, shocked by the trunk they dragged into the house.”

“They had to be so tired and scared by then.” Little Shia had concern in her voice.

“The children collapsed onto the floor as their parents read the message on the top of the trunk. Their mother called for the oldest son, Link, to find the king, which was no easy task given the battle raging throughout the valley. Find him, he did, and the leaders gathered around the trunk, eager to find what magic it held that would allow them to win any battle.”

By now, Milo’s mother and father knelt on the floor alongside the children.

“The wise men of the community opened the latches on the trunk as a bright light radiated through the crack in the lid. Carefully, oh so carefully, they lifted the lid off the chest as blinding light rushed out of the trunk and shot in all directions. Inside, still glowing, was a golden plate with one word inscribed upon it. ‘Hope’ was all it said. Hope was all our people needed.”

The cold wind across the desolate valley brought Milo out of his reverie. He had volunteered to be the watchman for what was regarded as a foolhardy mission. 

“You’re stupid to believe the rubbish of fairy tales, Milo. Be realistic and flee with the rest of us,” he was told as the rest of the village scrambled to escape to the rugged mountains of Ryon.

Milo and Lex would not give up, however. They could not accept surrender, even if their plan may be no more than a misplaced homage to their grandfather’s long-ago stories. Lex had ridden his horse, through dangerous enemy territory, to the base of the Holy Mountain. Now Milo waited as the watchman to see if it had been in vain.

As the ashen sun set, Milo saw the nearly imperceptible movement of his brother’s large bay horse across the valley. A distinct amber hue, one bright enough to be seen even at this distance, radiated around the horse and his rider.

When all seemed lost, they had found hope.

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Please visit Caroline on Facebook and on her website: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009880805237