Writing Adventure Group


It was an old Manila rope. We found it, like so many of our childhood treasures, in the city dump. We could not believe our luck. It was at least fifty feet long, and other than a few frayed spots, in perfectly good shape. What idiot would throw such a thing away?

My friend, Jimmy, shimmied up the tree, and tied off one end of the rope to an outstretched bough. The free end actually touched the ground, which meant there was plenty of slack to tie a knot with a loose loop in it, which would help us to hold on. The tree itself was sited perfectly, at the edge of the creek’s embankment, meaning that with a good running start we could swing out far above the dry creek bed. It was exhilarating, particularly for someone like me, who is afraid of heights. I got the same feeling of joyous terror years later when I discovered amusement parks.

On the occasion of my ninth birthday I begged my mother to let me go out and play while she prepared Sunday breakfast. My uncle was in town, a rare treat, and she really did not want me to ruin my Sunday best. But she relented, admonishing me not to get dirty. A fool’s errand that, sending a nine-year-old out to play, and expecting a presentable return.

I headed directly for the creek.

Jimmy, and a couple of my other pals, were already there, taking turns trying to outdo each other on the rope swing. Each one took a long arcing run, then leapt from the edge of the embankment. Our friend, Ray, impressed everyone by hiking his legs way up, and actually clearing the landing zone for a second full sweep around. When he landed I grabbed the rope, determined to match his feat.

“Watch this!” I shouted as I dashed off the end of the world.

For a few glorious seconds I was flying, screaming from the pure joy of it.

Perhaps the rope was not as substantial as we assumed. Perhaps our neighborhood terrorist, Blake, had sawn at the knot up in the tree. Or maybe the rope had simply rotted over the course of the summer from continuous cycles of sun, rain, and strain. At any rate, at the climax of my joy, at the very apex of my sweeping arc, the rope broke. Then I truly was flying.


By the time my friends reached me I had somehow managed to sit up. I was too stunned to cry, or perhaps there was just too little air left in my lungs to support a wail. Jimmy bent down to check me out. I saw his eyes grow big, and followed his gaze to my left arm.

It was obviously broken, mangled into an unholy configuration not meant for this world. Suddenly I somehow found my breath.

At the hospital, through the fog of pain, I heard bits of whispered conversations between my parents and the doctor.

afraid of doing further damage…
could sever the median nerve…
permanent loss of the use of that hand…

With these lovely sprites dancing in my head I was carted off to surgery.

When I awoke my mother was sitting at my bedside. She smiled, and welcomed me back to the world of the living. Then she explained that dad had taken Uncle Dan to the airport. “He had to catch his flight. But he wanted me to tell you, you’re one tough trooper, and that he loves you.”

“Is there any cake left?” I wanted to know.

She laughed, and ran her fingers through my hair. “Of course, silly. It hasn’t even been cut. We’ll have it tomorrow, with ice cream and presents.”

I cheered up a bit at that. Then I braved a look at my arm, laying atop the sheet. It was in a full L-shaped cast, with only the thumb and fingertips exposed. In bright green marker were the words, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!”, signed by someone I did not know. They had drawn festive red and blue balloons to each side.

My mom saw the puzzled look on my face.

“You came back from surgery with that. It’s the surgeon’s signature.”

I gave my fingers a tentative wiggle. They moved. I realized then he had given me the best possible birthday present, bundled up in half-inch thick plaster of paris wrapping – a fully functional left hand.

I can’t recall what Jimmy gave me.
(c) 2010, by J. M. Strother – All rights reserved.

Two Inspiring Ladies

This post is doing triple duty for me this week. First off, it is my #fridayflash. Second, it is my contribution to India Drummond’s Writing Adventure Group (#WAG on Twitter) prompt – Broken. Third, it is my entry in Deanna Schrayer’s first writing contest over at The Other Side of Deanna. It has a Birthday theme. So I pondered over “broken” and “birthday” for a few minutes when this concept sprang to mind. I was pretty pleased with it. Not too often I hit three birds with one stone, whether they’re in the bush or not. Thank you India and Deanna for the inspiration.


A shadow fell across the workbench where Dak was disassembling an old motor. Nothing was wasted in Hel. Every scrap was carefully recycled into something useful, even if as nothing more than ballast for the pumps on the windmills. Dak looked up from his work and saw Kevin standing there, an unreadable expression on his face.

Dak set the coil of copper wire he was unspooling aside. “Need something?” he asked of the big man.

Kevin jerked his head back toward the settlement. “Michael wants to see you.”

“What about?”

“He doesn’t tell me everything. He just wants to see you.”

Dak rubbed the grime from his hands onto his pants and fell in beside Keven who was already heading back.

As they descended the low hill just north of the village Dak saw a small knot of people gathered in front of Michael’s yurt. He scanned faces and realized all the elders were assembled. Only one face looked out of place—his partner, Lin, was standing at the edge of the group, looking anxious. He caught her eye, gave her a quizzical look. She shrugged, evidently as clueless as he.

Michael, seated in the sole chair in all of Hel, waved Dak and Lin forward. They exchanged glances, and stepped before him. Lin looked at the ground near her feet in deference, but Dak looked right at Michael, refusing to be cowed.

“I’m glad you could come,” Michael said, as if the visit were optional. “We’ve been watching you two a lot.”

Dak gave Lin a sideways glance.

“You do good work.”

Dak relaxed a little. “I do what I can.” What he could was damned little. Resources were scarce as hell—one of the things that lent the village its name.

“Your assignments thus far have all been tests. We have been debating about you, whether or not to have you join us in the Elder Circle. It would be a big move. You have not been here all that long.”

“The windmill you designed is brilliant,” Kevin interjected.

“All of your work has been brilliant.” Michael shot Kevin sharp look. He did not like being interrupted. “Your windmills have given us the water of life to make the valley bloom. For that, we are forever grateful. In fact, we think you may be suited for a leadership position. We are going to make you our Chief of Engineering.”

It was all Dak could do not to laugh. He was the only engineer in Hel. Instead, he said, “I am honored.”

Michael nodded, as if it were only proper Dak should be honored. “If you perform admirably in your new position we will induct you into the Elder Circle.” He made a sweeping motion with his hands to indicate the offer included Lin. “Do you know what that means?”

“Immortality.” Michael shot Kevin another angry glance, for speaking out of turn.

“We have some of the Nano Juice,” Michael said, returning his attention to Dak. He was referring to the vitality serum, reserved for the ruling class in First City—self replicating nanobots which worked at sub-cellular levels to repair frayed ends of DNA strands. A shot of the ‘juice’ gave the recipient virtual immortality.

Lin leaned into Dak, gave him an affectionate squeeze.

“We will discuss your new assignment tonight, in Circle.” Michael looked directly at Lin, but spoke to Dak. “Come alone.”

Lin once again dropped her gaze to the ground.

“Lin will get the juice too?” Dak asked.

Michael let out a heavy sigh. “Yes, of course. But she is not privy to our discussions—yet.”


Dak came to bed very late. Lin listened to him enter the yurt, strip off his clothes, then felt him slide under the skins to join her on their mat. She snuggled up to him, ran her hand over his shoulder and chest. She could feel the tension in his body.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

He lay there in silence for a long time. Finally he turned from his back to his side, facing her. She could see naught but his form beside her, but knew the look on his face was not happy just from the way he breathed and the tightness of his muscles.

“They want me to build a bomb.”

Lin sat up. “What?”

He pulled her back down, shushing her, drawing her close. “They have been gathering the components for years. That’s why they wanted an engineer, Lin. That’s why they had you recruit me. They needed someone to make a bomb.”

Lin lay there in silence, tears forming in her eyes.

“He wants to sabotage the nuclear plant, cause a meltdown.” He pulled her to him, wiped the tears from her cheeks. “He thinks that is the way to overthrow the ‘tyranny of First City,’ Lin. I do believe Michael’s quite mad.”

She lay there, trying to make sense of it all.

“I can do it voluntarily, and get the juice, or they will use you to make me do it.”

“What are we going to do?”

He pressed her to himself until it nearly hurt. “We run, and hope to God they don’t hunt us down.”
© 2010 by J. M. Strother. All rights reserved.

This story was inspired by India Drummond’s Writing Adventure Group prompt, WAG Topic #28: The Little Things. “Sometimes a small, unexpected thing has the power to affect big changes.” I’ve been kicking around the notion of nanobot DNA repair robots for quite some time. They certainly are little things, so I figured, what the heck. Thanks for the prompt, India.

Related story:

Organics – introduces the Dak and Lin characters.


Min Lee sat on the hard wooden bench, head bowed in shame. He did not look up as people approached, tried to ignore the whispers after they passed. Every sound in the Great Hall, even the most remote and inconsequential, sounded loud to his ears. He could hear his very pulse pounding behind his ears. Then he heard the sound he dreaded most—the click of the latch on the Master’s door.

After a moment of silence he felt compelled to look up. Master Mo Shuh stood there, just inside his office doorway. He looked older than usual, drawn and worn. His eyes were sad.

“Enter, please.” Mo Shuh turned away and stepped back into the room.

Min Lee rose and followed. He stopped a good three feet from the desk, as if afraid to come closer, and kept his eyes firmly affixed to the floor. This time, he knew, he had gone too far. The punishment would be severe. He listened to the wood creak as Mo Shuh took his seat. The old master did not suggest Min Lee sit too.

Again there was only silence.

Again, he felt compelled to look up.

Mo Shuh took his gaze and did not let it go.

“Min Lee.” It was a simple statement—an acknowledgment that a problem stood before him. Min Lee opened his mouth to speak, but Mo Shuh put up a hand to stop him. He remained silent, hardly daring to breathe.

“You have tried me sorely, Min Lee.” Again, the urge to speak, to beg forgiveness, mercy. Fear kept his tongue tied.

“Stolen pastries by a young imp I could overlook, all those years ago. Perhaps I should not have. Your pranks and antics these past several years, I tolerated. I know Shun Tzu put you up to most of them. Be wary of such friends.”

Min Lee wanted to look away, but could not.

“But this, Min Lee, this—cannot be forgiven.”

“Master, I…”

Mo Shuh’s knit brow was enough to silence him.

“Cheating is not tolerated here, Min Lee. You know that.”

He nodded. Swallowed hard.

“There is a caravan leaving tomorrow for Mauhn…”

Min Lee nearly swooned. “No! Please, Master!” He felt his chest tighten up and his stomach drop. “I won’t do it again. I promise. Please. Give me another chance.”

“Cheating is not tolerated here. You well knew that, Min Lee. The caravan…”

“You can’t expel me! This is my home!”

“It is unwise to carry a serpent in one’s pocket.” There was no mercy in Mo Shuh’s eye. Sorrow, but no pity. “There is no place for you here.”

Now anger welled up in his heart. He began trembling. So too did the various small objects sitting on Mo Shuh’s desk. Mo Shuh leaned forward, swept his hand out and across in a slashing motion. The items on the desk fell still. Min Lee gasped, fought to catch his breath, and could not.

“I only wish you had not advanced so far in your studies,” Mo Shuh said. “But that cannot be helped now.” He dropped his hand and Min Lee sucked in deep, desperate breaths.

“Gather your things. You have one hour. Master Quan will then escort you through the Dragon Gates. You can stay in the village tonight. The caravan leaves at dawn.”

Mo Shuh picked up a scroll from his desk and began to read. He did not give Min Lee another glance.
©2010 by J. M. Strother, all rights reserved.

I used India Drummon’s WAG Topic #25: Crimes and Misdemeanours, as inspiration for this week’s story. “We all break rules from time to time (just look at past WAG posts to see evidence of that!) and our characters usually have to do that in order to experience change and growth and to add a little spice and drama to our plots. So this week write about someone (a character or someone you observe) who is breaking a rule. It can be anything from a major crime to a breach of etiquette.”

Inida just sold her first novel, Ordinary Angels. Pop on over to her blog and read all about her Big News.  Congratulations, India.


We gathered at the bottom of the crumbling concrete steps that lead up to mammoth double front doors. As promised, it was the coolest haunted house ever. Several of the windows were broken. Overgrown brush nearly hid the first floor from sight. Everything four prepubescent boys could hope for, though I was really glad we came in daylight. While I would never admit it, I would not have gone up there at night.

“You want to go in?” Danny asked. We all exchanged glances and then looked at Randy, since he was the oldest.

He swallowed hard then shrugged and started up the steps. “Come on, you pansies.” One by one we fell in line behind him.

The steps ended at a short sidewalk that split – one fork going to rickety wooden stairs up to the front porch, the other wending it’s way out of sight around the side of the house.

Randy tested the first step before resting his entire weight on it. Then he took the second. By the third step his confidence had grown and he took it normally. It collapsed under him, swallowing his foot in a splintered mess. He let out a startled yelp and madly began trying to yank his foot free. Bill and I dropped down to help, and among the three of us we managed to get Randy’s foot extricated, undamaged.

“Hey, guys!” Danny had disappeared while we worked freeing Randy. “I found a way in.” He took off down the side path. We rushed to follow.

What Danny found was a side door, which had at one time been boarded shut. Fragments of a few boards remained, but the door was essentially uncovered, the lower window pane broken, and the warped door slightly ajar. Danny reached for the door knob, but Randy reasserted his leadership, pushed him aside, and peered through the grimy window.

“Whoa, cool!”

“What?” we all wanted to know.

“It’s the kitchen. And there’s some steps.” He leaned against the door. It opened a little, reluctantly, scraping on the old linoleum floor. Something in the kitchen shot off down the hallway as we entered. Danny screamed.

“It’s just a stupid cat,” Randy admonished him.

Slowly, we worked our way into the depths of the house.

It was really cool.

The interior was in just as bad shape as the outside. Exposed lathing showed where plaster had fallen from the walls. Water spots stained the ceilings, which visibly sagged in several locations. But the shell of its former glory impressed the hell out of me. There were arched doorways. Mottled multicolored light played eerily on the hardwood floors, courtesy of stained glass windows in the living room. Heavy pocket doors were permanently lodged in place, either jammed by debris or fallen from their tracks. A narrow servants staircase wound up from the kitchen into the gloom above.

Randy, still a little wary of wooden stairs, began working his way upward. Bill and I followed. Randy paused a couple of times to knock cobwebs from his path. Then he froze. We heard movement above.

“Is it the ghost?” Bill asked from behind.

“Shush!” Randy took another step, peered ahead, then took another.

There was a blood curdling scream. The three of us about killed each other trying to scramble down the steps. Then we heard Danny laughing. He had taken the main staircase and waited for us near the top of the stairs.

“I’m going to kill you!” Randy shouted. We ran back up, intent on murder. But by the time we got to the second floor all anger was gone. Instead of murder, we collapsed in hysterical laughter.

The second floor was even cooler than the first. There were mysterious closets to explore, dusty second floor windows to peer out of. One room had a ratty old mattress and empty beer cans on the floor. Thoughts of an escaped psych patient ran though my head. He could be lurking anywhere.

“No ghosts,” Bill observed. The words hung, almost like an accusation.

“We haven’t checked the basement.” Randy answered. With that we trundled back downstairs. Again something shot out of the kitchen as we entered, this time disappearing through the doorway to the basement.

“Cat.” Randy said, as if to convince himself.

Randy tried to open the door wider and it fell right off it’s hinges with a crash. We all bolted for the back door before recovering our bravado. We crept back to the gaping door frame and peered down into the darkness below.

“I’m not going down there!” Danny decided.

“You stay up here and be our lookout,” Randy told Danny. Danny looked pleased at regaining some of his dignity. He nodded assent.

Once more, Randy took the lead, this time downward, into the unknown.

Randy stopped near the bottom of the stairs, to let his eyes adjust. He was glad he did. The bottom step was missing. In its place was a makeshift step—a wooden crate. Just as he was about to step on it we heard sirens outside.

“Cops!” Danny shouted from above.

Bill and I turned to bolt just as Randy stepped on the crate. His foot broke through and once again he was ensnared by fragments of wood. “Hey! Wait up!”

I turned to see him struggling to get free. I glanced up to see Bill disappear, then turned back to help Randy free himself. Getting his foot out of the crate seemed to take forever, but finally he was free and we dashed up the stairs pell-mell.

No one was in the kitchen. The sirens had gone silent. We shouted for Bill and Danny, but neither answered. Without a second thought we ran for the back door.

As I squeezed through the doorway onto the back stoop a police officer rounded the corner of the building. We saw him at the same time he saw us. We turned to flee.

“Freeze, or I’ll shoot you in the back!”

Boy did we ever freeze.

Another police officer approached, gun drawn, and patted us down. He holstered his gun and asked the strangest question: “Where’s the girl?”

Randy and I exchanged confused glances. “What girl?” Randy asked.

“We got a call about a woman screaming in this house… possible rape. Where’s the girl?”

We let out nervous laughs. “Oh no, Officer. That was just Danny, trying to scare us.”

The two officers exchanged knowing glances. Just kids. Still, they had to check it out. One cop stayed with us while the other wormed his way through the partially open door.


We heard a holler and then, “Boo to you too, I could have blown your damned head off!”

Moments latter Bill came out, hands up, looking very sheepish.

‘I thought it was you,’ he mouthed to me.

Out on the street, as they were loading us into the patrol car Danny strolled by. We glared at him.

“You know him?” one of the cops asked. We all shook our heads, no.

“Move along, son, there’s nothing to see here.” Danny grinned and continued on his way.

I got grounded for three weeks.
©2010 by J. M. Strother, all rights reserved.

I wrote this story in response to India Drummond’s Writing Adventurer Group challenge — Unexpected. I visit the WAG challenge every week to see what’s up, and often come away with the inspiration for a new story. Be sure to check it out. Here is last week’s challenge:

WAG Topic #24: “Unexpected” – Surprise is the hardest thing to fake (in real life and in fiction), but something essential to a well-written story. So observe (or imagine) someone who is experiencing something they didn’t see coming. It can be something big or small.


He was asleep when I arrived, oblivious of the constant drone of disembodied announcements, beeping equipment, and carts clattering down the hallway. His daughter, Jean, was there sitting in a chair at his bedside. Jean and I had been an item at one time, way back in high school, but I had not seen her in years. She noticed movement, turned, and saw me. Her eyes crinkled when she smiled.

“I’m sorry,” I said as she started to rise. “I didn’t mean to disturb you.”

She continued up, moving over to the door in one smooth flow. She was still all lightness and grace. A twinge of what-might-have-been swept through me. I shoved it down, in silent admonition.

She embraced me in a hug. “It’s so good to see you, Jack. Oh, God, how long has it been?” She released me and turned back a bit to gaze down at her father.

“I heard he was… here,” I tried to explain, stumbling when I almost blurted out dying. But Mitch Conner was dying. Both Jean and I knew it. After years of fighting ALS Mitch’s body was finally giving up.

I looked down at him too, as we slid into the old familiar hip-to-hip embrace, our hands resting on each other’s opposite waist. It meant nothing, other than commiseration in the shared grief of the passing of this man.

He looked so thin and frail now. Once a tall, strapping fellow, with powerful arms and shoulders, he was now small and shrunken. His collar bones clearly stood out under his light blue pajama top. Drool seeped out of the corner of his mouth, wending its way through a two day stubble of beard. He still had color in his hair, more black than gray up top. I found that somehow comforting.

Where had the hero who saved three people from the burning Altmore Hotel gone? Where was the coach of my little league team? How could life be so unfair?

“You just missed Bill,” Jean told me. “He’s been here since ten last night. I told him to go home and get some sleep.”

Bill was my best friend, once upon a time. Terrible how people let things slip, important things, like friendship—and love. But I had not come to see Bill. Or Jean. I came to see Mitch. I came to say thank you.

“That’s OK.” We continued to stand there, in silence, for quite some time. Finally I asked Jean if her dad could still hear people, still understand what was being said. He could. So I waited, hoping he would wake up.

I need not have worried. There is no such thing as rest in a rest home. Inside of ten minutes a nurse came in, all business and brusk, to turn him in order to prevent bed sores. Mitch woke up, and grimaced. Jean explained to me that the grimace was in fact a smile, in his ALS affected world. The nurse did not bother to return it before hurrying on her way.

Mitch’s eyes caught my own, and I stepped closer to the bed. Jean sat back down in her chair, taking his hand in her own. “Look who’s here, Daddy. You remember Jack Martin?” He gave me a huge grimace. I smiled in return.

“Hi, Coach.” I reached out, almost ran my hand over his brow, but pulled back. Instead I let it fall onto his shoulder in a light pat. I could feel every bone.

“I just wanted to come by and see you, Coach. You were always one of my heroes, and well, I wanted to say… I just wanted to say thanks, for trying to save my Dad.”

We only lived two doors down from the Conner’s. I was away at college when my Dad had his heart attack in the middle of the night. My little brother had the presence of mind to run down to the Conner’s to summon help, while my mother made frantic phone calls. Luckily Mister Conner was off duty, therefore home. He threw on a pair of pants, and rushed back to our house in his bare feet as fast as he could. He applied one man CPR until the ambulance arrived. Alas, it was not to be. My Dad died on the way to the hospital. But not for Coach’s want of trying.

Jean looked up at me, a slight furrow on her brow. I knew this might be painful stuff, that Coach might consider this one of his biggest failings. He and my Dad had been very good friends. But I did not consider it a failing, and I wanted him to know, after all these years of silence, that I really appreciated what he tried to do—to dismiss any ghosts that may be haunting him. For here lay a true hero.

“I know you did everything you possibly could do, Mister Conner. I just wanted you to know that I, that our whole family, have always admired you for that. We all think of you as a real hero.”

Mitch Conner tried to lift his hand, and grimaced slightly. Jean turned away to hide her tears.
©2010 by J. M. Strother, all rights reserved.


For the first time in my life I am trying my hand at upside down tomatoes. I’ve heard about them for years, but have always had my doubts. Considering how poorly my tomato plants produced last year I figured this year I may as well give them a shot. Things could hardly turn out worse.

My Upside Down Tomatoes

So I bought four of those “Down Under” planters, rearranged the wind chimes (remember them?) and hung four plants from my porch eaves. Rafters? Roof? The thing in the picture. To my amazement they seem to be doing pretty well. I’d say confused, but healthy. If you look carefully you might see some actual tomatoes forming on the plant near the post.

The two on either side of the post are cherry tomatoes, my wife’s favorite. The other two are heirloom tomatoes called Old German. First time for heirloom tomatoes too. Rumor has it heirlooms taste better than the big name ones found most places. We shall see.

Hopefully this project will turn out better than my overwintering of the Poinsettia. Remember him? I was hoping a move to the outside in the springtime would rejuvenate the poor thing.

One Dead Poinsettia

Didn’t work out too well, did it?


Last week I wrote about the Writing Adventure Group, India Drummond’s online writing exercise. Each week she posts a prompt and asks each participate to write to it following their own muse. I suggested that people doing #fridayflash and at a loss of what to write could check out the weekly WAG and use it to get started. Last week I followed my own advice.

I really struggled last week with my #fridayflash. I started two separate stories, one a police procedural, the other a science fiction piece. Neither was going anywhere. This was frustrating as I’ve been trying to do the police piece for quite some time. But I can tell when an idea has yet to reach full fermentation and abandoned it once again. Friday was coming and I still had zilch.

As I was walking my dog I crossed paths with an elderly gentleman I’ve seen walking the neighborhood for thirty or more years. (Of course nowadays I need to watch who I call elderly—that nut’s not falling too far from my tree.) Then I thought of India’s WAG prompt:

The writing prompt for this weeks WAG was: “WAG #19: Pick a Pocket” Let’s do some stalking people-watching for this one! Pick someone out of a crowd and describe what (you imagine) is in their pockets.

As I watched the man walk off down the street I wondered what might be in his pocket. The gears started turning. I went home and wrote, Twelve Bucks, and posted it as my #fridayflash.

Thanks, India.


“Empty your pockets. Now!”

Larry just stood there, making no move toward his pockets, or anywhere else for that matter. It wasn’t that he was paralyzed with fear. It was more like stunned disbelief. The kid with the knife thrust it forward, to within inches of his face.

“Come on, old man. Your wallet. Hand it over.”

He walked this route every day, weather permitting. When Alice was alive they had walked it together—first as young lovers, loosely entwined; then as new parents, pushing a stroller; later, walking the dog; then grandchildren in strollers. When Alice could no longer manage he walked it alone. Afterward he would tell her who he met and spoke to, what was happening in the old neighborhood. In all his seventy-two years he had never felt threatened here.

Now this.

“I’ve got no money, son. I’m a waste of your time.”

“You’re a waste, all right,” the kid sneered. He pressed the knife to his throat. The other kid stepped behind him, riffled through his pockets, pulled out his billfold. He opened it, grabbed the bills, and searched for more.

“No plastic,” he told the guy with the knife. Then he counted the money. “Shit. Twelve bucks.”

“I told you. I’ve got nothing.”

The knife guy’s eye alighted on the chain around his neck. Before Larry could move the kid yanked on the chain, pulling Alice’s rings out from under his shirt.

“Oh, ho! Holding out on us, eh?” With a quick jerk the chain broke. Larry lunged for the hand pulling away from him, for the rings. Headlights came around the corner. The kid looked up, then shoved Larry away with all his might. “Cops!”

Larry made one last desperate grab for the chain dangling from the kid’s hand. For the second time the chain broke. Nothing broke his fall.

Someone knelt beside him. A bright light flipped on, shone in his eyes. “Hang in there, mister, an ambulance is on the way.”

Larry tried to answer, but nothing would come. The light grew less distinct, fuzzy, morphed into a full moon. He tightened his grip on the rings. The full moon faded away. Alice smiled at him, leaned down, and kissed him firmly on the lips.
©2010 by J. M. Strother, all rights reserved.


I used to do a little exercise called the WAG, the Writing Adventure Group, hosted by (as she was known then) Nixy Valentine. The WAG actually predated #fridayflash, though it was not my first foray into online writing, fiction or otherwise. The WAG went on a bit of a hiatus last year, though some of its participants still post regularly, some as #fridayflashers. I enjoyed the WAG in the past, and plan to participate again, as time permits.

Well the WAG is back, now hosted by India Drummond, the blogger formally known as… Yeah, same cool person, same weekly challenge, same rip-roaring good time.

I know what you’re thinking – yet another time commitment to try and wedge in. But if you do #fridayflash, you can do the WAG too, with no real additional work. Well, OK, you do have to send India an email with your link, but really, how hard is that?

I know a lot of #fridayflash participants use writing prompts to get started, at least occasionally. Some have suggested I offer a weekly prompt. I’m not too inclined to do that because I like the open ended nature of things as they are. But if you need a prompt to spark that creative spirit why not drop by India’s website and see what her WAG for the week is? Then write up your flash, post it as a #fridayflash, and then send India an email so she can list it the following week. I did several WAGs that way last year and it works out quite nicely. It’s also an opportunity for people who would rather do creative nonfiction. Fiction is not necessary for a WAG.

Nothing like killing two birds with one stone, and you’ll meet some very nice people.

Related post: Write What You See, my WAG for this week.

You can read the other WAGs for the week by Peter Spalding, Melanie Trevelyan, Mickey Hoffman, Kate McIntire, Marsha Moore, Miss G, and India Drummond herself.

You see, but you do not observe – Sherlock Holmes

Write about something invisible, she says.

Invisible! What?
tinkle tinkle tinkle

Well, not really invisible. Something real. Just something so common, something you see so often and take for granted, that you no longer really see it.

Well that’s just silly.
tinkle tinkle tinkle

I pride myself on really seeing things. tinkle I mean, its one of those skills a writer has to develop in order to write scenes that feel real, that connect. So there’s damned little around me that I just fail to notice.
tinkle tinkle tinkle

This was going to be hard. tinkle

Then it struck me. tinkle Or should I say, I struck it.

The wind chimes on the back porch! Of course. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run into them. tinkle tinkle tinkle And that black triangular one – it’s made of quarter inch thick steel. That sucker hurts. clang

Well, I finally figured out a way to keep myself from constantly walking into them like they were… invisible. I decided to try my hand at upside down tomatoes this year. The chimes are now interspersed with ten pound sacks of dirt. No one is going to not see big honking bags of dirt hanging from the rafters, are they?


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