Repeat After Me

Prompt: Repeat Fortune

lucy and ethel

I was watching a rerun of I Love Lucy on TV. I was watching a rerun of I Love Lucy on TV. The one where she and Ethel worked the factory line, and the chocolates they were meant to be wrapping kept coming faster and more and more again and again until Lucy and Ethel had no choice but to stuff some of them in their mouths. The chocolates were not all different, oh no. They were not unique but chocolate-coated replicas of previous centres: praline, caramel, cherry, strawberry cream.

I ate popcorn: first one kernel, then another just like it, and another. Repeat until bowl is empty and only the identical outcast, salty shards of the unpopped remain!

My mother walked into the room. Walked out and then walked in again. She wondered what I was watching. I told her I was watching a rerun of I Love Lucy on TV. The one where she and Ethel worked the factory line, and the chocolates they were meant to be wrapping kept coming faster and more and more again and again until Lucy and Ethel had no choice but to stuff some of them in their mouths. The chocolates were not all different, oh no. They were not unique but chocolate-coated replicas of previous centres: praline, caramel, cherry, strawberry cream.

Oh, she said. Oh.

I have a recurring dream where my mother walks into the room, then walks out, then walks in again.

If as I child I misbehaved, my mother would say, “Repeat after me. I will not copy my homework from Susie.”

“I will not copy my homework from Susie,” I would repeat. “I will not copy my homework from Susie.”

Susie is my twin sister. We both liked reruns of I Love Lucy, especially the one where she and Ethel worked the factory line, and the chocolates they were meant to be wrapping kept coming faster and more and more again and again until Lucy and Ethel had no choice but to stuff some of them in their mouths. The chocolates were not all different, oh no. They were not unique but chocolate-coated replicas of previous centres: praline, caramel, cherry, strawberry cream.


Guess what our favourite movie is?


  • Fortune is the same prompt as December 20, 2016. 

Just Got Born

Prompt: Territory

portage by Winslow Hammer

Dear Wednesday,

I think, for some reason, of the early explorers of North America when I think of the word “territory”, today’s prompt. They had names like Ponce de Leon, Champlain, Cabot, and in the north were rugged and crazy, and did things like portage their canoes for miles and miles in search of I forget what. And that, my friends, is about the sum of what I remember from Grade 8 Social Studies.

Completely unrelated is this selection of some of my favourite cartoons!cartoon nobody moo

cartoon baby text

cartoon stretching

The last one cracks me up.

Have a cracking good day and week!



Prompt: Elixir

girl shotgun 3

Tequila. I will have one more, ’cause Andy is no longer in front of me at the bar, but being awakened in the middle of the night by armed men.

While she was shot eight times, I was in the truck, stuck in the mud on a side road leading to the lake. I was angry, depressed, and drunk. No one likes a fierce argument with someone they love. She accused me of shit. I can’t take shit any more so I left, with a bottle.

She went to bed.

From the truck, I called my boss at the firehall to tell him I wouldn’t be in the following morning, though I don’t remember making the call. I guess I sounded as bad as I felt, because he called the police. “Please check up on Rick. He has PTSD. He sounds like he might harm himself.”

“Is he armed?” asked the dispatcher.

“I think so. He had a fight with his wife. She’s still at home.”

She was so pretty. Her hair was the color of cocoa, straight as a sheet of iron, glossy as Pettie Lake on a still day. She was just a little thing; she loved dogs, cooking shows, and could shoot the whiskers off a groundhog.

“I had a fight with Andy,” I told my boss. “She chased me out of the house.” That wasn’t actually, physically true. I meant “drove me out of the house”.

“Is she ok?”

“Mad as hell. I can’t get home, I’m stuck. She’s alone.”

“Do you want me to check on her?”

“Nah, it’s ok. She’s got the double-gauge,” I apparently told him.

My boss told the dispatcher that my wife was armed and angry. So they sent out a patrol car to check on her, in addition to someone to look for me.

My wife was awakened by a noise. There was a man at the window. There were no flashing lights. The shotgun was leaning up against the wall in the bedroom. She picked it up. There was a knocking at the door, then a pounding.

She opened the door and raised the rifle, in that silky, expert way she had.

When they found me, I was passed out. My wife had been dead for three hours.

Shhh. Think of how she looked that night we met, how she flirted with me. How she twirled her cocoa hair around her fingers. The way she started to hiccup when she laughed. Her long eyelashes. The warmth of her body.

Shhh. Tequila.

  • This story was adapted from a RadioLab podcast about a real incident in Florida. I couldn’t get it out of my head so wrote it down with my own paltry embellishments. The actual, full story is much more detailed and complex, and you can listen to it here.


Prompt: Purple


Andrew stayed in his bedroom with the door closed until the last minute.

His mother had called for him at least half an hour ago, maybe to double-check his hair, nails, and suit, and he ignored her. He would emerge, if he did at all, when there was no time left to think.

“I hope you’ll come to love him,” his mother had said. She watched too many television dramas. Her view of the world was simplistic and, frankly, annoying. That’s why she only spoke to her father, Bernard, once, one time, on the phone before dropping Andrew off on his doorstep and leaving him with a complete stranger. They mumbled at one another, and then the old guy showed him his cats, which was weird, then they drove in his cab to the zoo, as if Andrew was a kid, followed by a major freak-out on his grandfather Bernard’s part and a visit to White Spot which was the only decent part of the day. Ok, his grandfather turned out to be not awful and was closer to him now than almost anyone, but his mother had no way of knowing that would happen. People did idiotic things like that on TV, and the plot twisted and turned and everyone had a laugh and it all ended up neatly tied with a bow.

Even Andrew knew that’s not how the world worked. He would not come to love Randy. He didn’t hate him or anything, but Randy was not the sort of person Andrew could love. His mother was delusional. So was Randy, if he thought he could be an effing “father figure”. He’d tried that on, tried to tell Andrew what to do. No way.

Andrew thought about moving out, but he wasn’t finished high school. He could maybe move in with his grandfather, but had a feeling Bernard would tell him to tough it out for his mother’s sake. Sophie said something similar. “Be happy for your mom’s sake,” she’d said. Andrew tried, he really did.

He heard a knock on the bedroom door, softly at first, then more strident.

“Andrew?” His mother. “Bernard will be here in five minutes; are you ready or what?”

There was a full length mirror on the inside of the bedroom door. Andrew took all the old jeans and t-shirts off the hooks and threw them on the bed. This was the moment of truth.

There he stood, in a dark blue, single-breasted suit, with a ever-so-subtly ruffled purple shirt and navy bow tie. The shirt was a fine purple, soft yet striking, the tie was clip-on, and Andrew looked like a perfect fool. He had to wear this outfit, as one of Randy’s groomsmen. Honest to god, his mother, sometimes.

He was hard-pressed to decide which was worse, Randy joining the family, or his having to appear in public in a clown outfit chosen by a delusional mother who watched too much television and thought purple was ok.

Bernard’s old taxi backfired a lot. Andrew heard it and went to the window. It was time to go downstairs.

Dream Sequence

Prompt: Acceptance

My dear Wednesday,

Since I am having a problem accepting the fact that I am not posting something every day, even though that is precisely the tagline for this site (“Let’s write something every day”), I will indeed try harder to write something every day. The problem is, my heart lies with my little flash fiction pieces, about Leep and Lily-Rose and Envy and Radical, and they need time. It has always felt odd to write about myself. I enjoy blathering on about ME, honestly, but I can’t imagine anyone wanting to read it. So, I may make some shit up about my life, in future, just so you know.

Meanwhile, I have some favourite cartoons to share, the first one tenuously connected to today’s prompt, Acceptance:

cartoon accept no freedom

Guys, it’s never acceptable to catcall, unless…

cartoon effective cat calls

It’s always acceptable to make a little fun of Hollywood types:

cartoon dream sequence

Accept the things you… oh, never mind. Just have a good week!



Prompt: Conquer

yin yang fish

Beth wondered how much to tell him, as she snuggled close, her arm draped over his waist and her middle finger idly stroking his breast bone while he slept.

It wasn’t love. It wasn’t just lust, either, exactly. It was an almost Zen contentment, a match, a yin and yang, a yearning perfectly met. Theirs was a playful relationship, without intimacy, but with good food and fun and flirting and far too long in bed. Beth was reeling from the intoxication of it, she walked just a bit above ground, she was just a bit too forgiving, a bit too ready with a smile that couldn’t be contained.

There was no reason she should feel ashamed of anything in her past. Ok, her military husband left her for a man while she was pregnant. Ouch that did hurt, but didn’t really reflect on her, since in the end she was well rid of the bastard.

A single mom then, basking in the attentions of a rich man, who some might say bought her “services”. She didn’t look at it that way. Roman was lovely, attentive, in love, and Beth was young and desperate and tired of the struggle. Who could condemn her for that?

And Deborah. Beth had never really approved of Deborah’s husband, Vincent, but Deb was like her father— there was no stopping her when she wanted something. They shared a healthy ego, confidence, and the sense that the world owed them a happy life. He hadn’t met Deb yet, hadn’t heard the story of Vincent’s murder. How would it sound to him?

Vincent was out walking late at night (why?). He was robbed. It happens. But how often does the robber shoot their victim in the face? It was more than a robbery; Beth could feel it. No one had ever explored any other motive for the crime. But Beth could add. She knew Vince. Something happened that night.

And Beth didn’t know how to explain it to Geoffrey, or even if she should try. She longed to talk about it with someone. Geoffrey, deep in a dream adventure, was breathing heavily next to her, smelling strongly of his cologne, Makizmo.

Yes, and that scent had to go. It had been Vincent’s cologne too. Very musky and sweet. The smell of it upset Deborah, and even Deb’s strange friend Leep noticed it.

Beth had a little gift for Geoffrey on the night stand. A new cologne. Musky, grassy, citrusy, fresh, and not Makizmo. It was called Conquer.

A new cologne. Beth knew how foolish it was to set landmarks in relationships, but she set one anyway.

Conquer meant both defeat and victory.

Beth moved even closer, and Geoffrey, in his peace and comfort, started to quietly snore.

Louisa J

Prompt: Controversy

ole opry 3

“You sure you want to do this?”

“It’s a bit late to back out now,” said Cheryl-Ann. The Muleteers were almost finished their set; the kind of music Cheryl-Ann liked, lots of fiddles and banjos. It was upbeat, and she needed upbeat. She was about to perform in a real live opera house: The Grand Ole Opry House, to be specific.

Jerry fussed around her, not letting anyone near. Giant electric fans did their best to keep the backstage cool without destroying elaborate hairdos, but Cheryl-Ann could feel a trickle of sweat roll down her belly from under her breasts. More likely stress than heat, she thought. She should have had a calming shot of bourbon, except that she didn’t drink any more. Jerry tried to look confident and cheerful, but instead had a puppet smile stretched unnaturally across his face and the whites of his eyes showed, just like the feral cat Cheryl-Ann had shooed away from the chickens. She turned away from him and put the earpieces in, nice and snug. She’d be able to listen to the broadcast with the earbuds, and hear her cues.

All the sound and commotion were immediately muted, and Cheryl-Ann took a deep breath, exhaling noisily to clear her throat. She hadn’t peeked out at the audience; that would make her too nervous. She knew the place was packed. She knew that she— at least Louisa J— was the big attraction this afternoon. Her first real public performance, to be recorded and televised. Jerry had carefully released a few publicity photos, once Cheryl-Ann had learned who Louisa J was and agreed to a promotional tour.

Sure, she’d been mad at first. Jerry was crazy. Crazy like a fox, as her daddy used to say. She wondered if this was all a big mistake. She loved her life on the farm, the baking competitions, the cruises. Now Jerry had bought her a big touring bus, and made her buy new clothing with sequins, and held so many rehearsal sessions she thought her knees would buckle under her from fatigue. But he said: We go all the way or we don’t go at all. She agreed. That’s how they rolled, she and Jerry.

Her outfit was a long red satin skirt with a matching peplum jacket, hand-embroidered and sequinned with an elaborate J. They used the Opry studio hairdresser, who did a serviceable, puffy bob and a flip, though Jerry might have to take a hammer to it before bed if she was to sleep comfortably that night.

Jerry leaned over and kissed her on the cheek, his face close to hers, smiling, and he said something, his final words of encouragement, which Cheryl-Ann couldn’t hear. She hoped he’d said, “We are ready. You are ready. Just do like you did yesterday and you’ll kill ‘em!” That would be encouraging for sure.

He slipped the dark glasses over her eyes. Now she was almost blind. The host would guide her to the middle of the stage, where the microphone was, and point her in the right direction. All the production staff anticipated loud and long applause for the courageous little blind woman with the big voice. Louisa J, in person, at last.


Luck be a Lady

Prompt: Luck

A few random thoughts about todays prompt…

I don’t find Sinatra’s style sexy (see above video), but what a buttery voice and pristine timing.

Luck is always a lady. But ladies are not mommies. Luck doesn’t love you best.You roll the dice, you take your chances.

Is luck real? Or is it just the esoteric, superstitious entity we credit or blame for the turns our lives take?

Though I did have good luck at the racetrack, a long time ago, when I intuited that a certain non-favourite horse would do well. I think I saw the signals. I think the race was rigged. That’s a different topic.

Happy St. Pat’s!

Walking into Traffic

Prompt: Instinct

Dear Wednesday,

When I think of instinct, I think about how people don’t rely on theirs enough. Think about how much sensory data we absorb in a day, or a week, or a year— far too much for our feeble, impressionable conscious minds to decipher. But our brain still tucks away all the bits and bobs of information, filters out the truly irrelevant while looking for patterns, and then regurgitates them back to us in the form of instinct or “intuition”. But with so many daily, persistent distractions we seem to listen to our instincts less and less.

This doesn’t seem like a good idea. Instinct is an evolutionary and necessary skill in the same way that common sense is. Without them, we’d be walking into traffic, falling off cliffs, dating psychopaths, and sending all our money to Nigeria. Is it just me, or does it seem like people are doing exactly those types of things more and more?

When we ignore a random comment from a new acquaintance, our instinct does not. Our instinct notices a light switch that suddenly doesn’t work. A creak in a floorboard… when there aren’t any floorboards. A stranger who is too kind. When a child says, “I’m fine” our idiot conscious mind says, oh great! Our instinct analyses differences in posture, expression, voice, and circumstance and says, something is wrong! While we consciously rationalize and deny, our instinct notices and alerts, all with the goal of informing us and protecting us from harm.

It takes only seconds to stop and listen to that little niggling feeling. Facebook can wait for a few seconds, can’t it? It is far better to face an unpleasant thought or inconvenience immediately than allow it to gather mass like a snowball until it smothers us.

On that light note, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons, loosely connected to the day’s prompt, instinct, by way of animal instinct, featuring humans, tigers, kitty cats, and a dog.

cartoon tiger 2

cartoon new cat

cartoon grr

Happy week!


The Strange Beauty of Virtual Worlds

Prompt: Immerse

Video games are busy places. Gamers are constantly in battle, or saving worlds or destroying enemies or facing impossible challenges. These worlds aren’t meant for leisurely exploration, but are settings for action and adventure. Unless, that is, you are writer and gamer Andy Kelly (ultrabrilliant on YouTube), who has found a way to break free of the gameplay long enough to film some of the most popular environments in gaming. The haunting soundtracks in theses videos are taken directly from the game scores.

Dunwall, a dank, dangerous, plague-ridden city, which reminds me vaguely of post-Industrial Revolution London (though industry has taken a very dark turn) is the setting for the video game Dishonored. Clearly an adult game, there are warnings about blood and gore, intense violence, sexual themes, and strong language. Yet, Andy Kelly captures the innate beauty of Dunwall in all its stunning detail.

Portal 2 offers up a completely different world, with robotics as compelling as any vista in the city of Dunwall. Described as a first person puzzle-platform game, it eschews the bloodshed for a darkly humorous, clever, physics-inspired experience, as you navigate the sinister Aperture Laboratories.

Another favourite in the series is Columbia, the floating dystopian city in the violent first-person shooter BioShock Infinite. Set in 1912, the protagonist sets out on a rescue mission, only to become ensnarled in the bleak conflict between the brutal ruling class and the rebellion. BioShock Infinite is the third in the series, and it is an absolute visual feast, demonstrating what talent, imagination, and virtually unlimited resources can accomplish.

Andy Kelly has more than 75 Other Places videos available on YouTube, each featuring a different game and location, in celebration of the beauty of virtual worlds, the most recent (Hitman) uploaded only a month ago. I find them inspiring, to say the least.