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Round Robin Writing Excercise

by PCWG Craft of Writing Meeting 
Attendees: August 2017 Meeting

The lady walked into the hotel, with mascara running down her cheeks. She asked the front desk clerk if she could use the phone, the taxi driver left with her bags. Her bags were headed to the airport without her - bound for Bejing. So, she caught the next international flight out hoping to get there before they did. The aircraft, however, developed engine trouble and was diverted to Greenland. The snow was deeper than he had ever seen, even the time in Montana when he was attacked by Big Foot. As he walked gingerly towards the edge of the lake, he heard the ice crack beneath him. He had his cell phone but knew it would be of no use to him if the ice broke. Now, totally alone in this frozen wasteland, he knew God had not abandoned him and all was well within him and he could go on. Picking up his skis, he turned and stepped back into the warmth of his cabin and shut the door.

A Cougar Attacks

by Arleen Harkness

Irene was a cougar. But you couldn’t tell her that. Donned in a synthetic weave too dark to match her gray roots, a leopard print dress that hugged a lumpy midsection and too much mascara that ran black down her cheeks from a previous cry, Irene sat limp at the dining room table. Birthday candles stuck to a plate next to a cake that read Happy 55th Birthday, Nana. She hated the name Nana. It was what her daughter and son-in-law insisted their kids call her instead of grandma. She was grateful for that but preferred they called her Kit whenever their parents were not around. Irene straightened up. “I’m not ready to drop dead, yet,” she insisted to the empty dining room. With her fingers, Irene smudged out the 55 on the birthday cake. Then she grabbed the cake knife, cut out a large wedge, slapped it on a paper plate and ate it.

April 2017 Prompt

"Birthday candles stuck to the plate next to a cake that read..."​

Keeping the Company Going

by William N. Gilmore

The machine in the factory didn’t sound right. Upon inspection, the night maintenance crew chief asked it if it felt alright.

 

“I’m just not myself tonight,” the machine said. “Although it’s our slowdown period, I feel tired and worn out. I’ve got some aches and pains that have been getting worse, but there didn’t seem to be any hurry to do anything about them. Now, I’m afraid I’ve waited too long.”

 

“Maybe you have been overworked. You have been pulling quite a load," the chief said, sympathetically. “I know the big boss has other things on his mind besides maintenance, and some of the input has been less than stellar, but the company has been going strong for decades, and I’d hate to see it collapse because of you giving up on it.”

 

“It’s not just me; there are other areas of the company that I’ve heard complain. There’s talk of a strike. I’m not sure I would participate, but as long as I can continue, I won’t turn my back on the company.”

 

“It would really hurt me if they went on strike,” the chief stated. “However, you are too valuable and if you were to quit, I don’t think I would be able to find a replacement in time to save the company.”

 

“I can’t wait till retirement,” said the machine as it continually pumped the company’s red liquid through connecting tubes.

 

“I know what you mean,” said the chief, as small electrical charges flashed around him.

September 2016 Prompt

"The machine in the factory didn't sound right. Upon inspection, the night maintenance ..."

A Nasty Habit

by Bill Gillmore

Eva opened the filing cabinet to find the dossier on James Durrant; aka, Little Jimmy. It wasn’t hard to find; it was the only one there. In fact, Little Jimmy was the only client. He had kept the law firm; Robert Burrell & Associates on sole retainer for the past two years. As a reputed mobster, Little Jimmy needed the services of a good attorney at a moment’s notice.

Burrell looked up just as Eva, smacking her gum, tossed the file onto his desk, scattering some papers and turning over an empty shot glass.

“When are we going to make some real money, Bobby?” Eva demanded, popping a small pink bubble of the gum. “When are you going to become a real attorney?”

“I am a real attorney,” Burrell shot back. “I got Jimmy off that racketeering charge didn’t I?”

“Yeah,” Eva returned. “Right after he paid off the jury.”

“Well, I don’t know anything about that,” Bobby said, not bothering to look at his secretary.

“Just how long do you think he will let you keep his secrets, Bobby?’ She asked, between pops. “When he’s done with us he’s going to fit us both with cement slippers. We’re a liability. We know too much.”

“And what do you suggest we do with all this information?” Bobby asked, nodding at the file.

“We could blackmail him, or sell it to one of his rivals. Something so we can get paid and we could get out of here.”

A side door of Bobby’s office opened and Little Jimmy walked through. He was holding a large .45 caliber handgun with a silencer attached. As it was pointed at Eva, it made a couple muffled pops. It was the last pops or smacks heard in that office for a long while.

“Thanks, Uncle Jimmy.”

August 2016 Prompt

"Eva opened the filing cabinet

to find ..."

August 2016 Prompt

"Eva opened the filing cabinet

to find ..."

August 2016 Prompt

"Eva opened the filing cabinet

to find ..."

The Reminder of a Lesson Never Learned

by Jessica Smith

Eva opened the filing cabinet to find her marriage certificate when something caught her eye. Between the files peeked a square of folded paper. She opened it carefully and instantly recognized the handwriting of her ex. The weight of the world filled her chest as she read.

 

All signs pointed to disaster when they met, but still Eva’s heart fell for him. It had taken years… years of her life pining after him before she realized that he had never really loved her like she loved him. Looking back, it was clear in every photo. She clung to him with a smile, eyes aglow with happiness. His eyes held far away thoughts, face slack, no pleasure to be found.

 

Leaving was the hardest thing she had ever done, but he had told her to go. It wasn’t the first time, but Eva made sure it was the last. Only then did he yearn for her as she had done for him. Only then did he write the words that she had needed to hear for so long, but they came too late. She had finally moved on.

 

Eva told herself that never again would she suffer through another abusive relationship. Never again would she stay when her conscience told her to leave. She had said “never,” but she was wrong.

 

Glancing at the photo of her soon-to-be ex-husband atop the cabinet, silent tears began streaming down her face. Flipping through the files, she found the document she had been searching for and put the folded letter in its place.

August 2016 Prompt

"Eva opened the filing cabinet

to find ..."

Remembering the Grass

by Jessica Smith

The smell of fresh cut grass always reminded Bob of the tiresome work that was required to get

that smell. Just thinking about the scent, he could almost feel the blazing sun beating down on him with its fiery rays. Beads of sweat would always form on his skin as he struggled to push the vibrating mower onward. He once dreaded the thought of it, let alone the action, but not anymore.

Bob looked through his window and thought longingly of the clean-cut, peaceful neighborhood

in which he once lived. The weeds grew so thick when the herbicides stopped working that not a single blade of grass could be seen. Now, poison ivy creeped around buildings. Ragweed thrived. Dandelions peered down from the sky like thousands of little suns. Thistle with leaves baring barbs nearly a foot in length loomed overhead.

 

Unable to flourish in a world of life-threatening allergens, humankind was forced to travel

underground. Once a week, Bob would descend through a hatch in his basement and journey by foot through a series of tunnels to the market. An artificial breeze kept the tunnels cool while lamps lining the walls provided ample light. Mailboxes could be seen near hatchway entrances. Large signs indicated the locations of local businesses.

 

Yes, his life changed greatly in the last few years. At night, Bob would sometimes find himself

reminiscing about the past. He missed his hobbies of course, but longed too for the most mundane of things, even cutting the grass.

August 2016 Prompt

"Eva opened the filing cabinet

to find ..."

Remembering the Grass

by Jessica Smith

The smell of fresh cut grass always reminded Bob of the tiresome work that was required to get

that smell. Just thinking about the scent, he could almost feel the blazing sun beating down on him with its fiery rays. Beads of sweat would always form on his skin as he struggled to push the vibrating mower onward. He once dreaded the thought of it, let alone the action, but not anymore.

Bob looked through his window and thought longingly of the clean-cut, peaceful neighborhood

in which he once lived. The weeds grew so thick when the herbicides stopped working that not a single blade of grass could be seen. Now, poison ivy creeped around buildings. Ragweed thrived. Dandelions peered down from the sky like thousands of little suns. Thistle with leaves baring barbs nearly a foot in length loomed overhead.

 

Unable to flourish in a world of life-threatening allergens, humankind was forced to travel

underground. Once a week, Bob would descend through a hatch in his basement and journey by foot through a series of tunnels to the market. An artificial breeze kept the tunnels cool while lamps lining the walls provided ample light. Mailboxes could be seen near hatchway entrances. Large signs indicated the locations of local businesses.

 

Yes, his life changed greatly in the last few years. At night, Bob would sometimes find himself

reminiscing about the past. He missed his hobbies of course, but longed too for the most mundane of things, even cutting the grass.

June 2016 Prompt

"The smell of fresh cut grass

always reminded Bob of ..."

June 2016 Prompt

"The smell of fresh cut grass

always reminded Bob of ..."

June 2016 Prompt

"The smell of fresh cut grass

always reminded Bob of ..."


The smell of fresh cut grass always reminded Bob of the cemetery where they laid his mother. Her long fought battle with cancer ended more as a truce than a defeat. She agreed not to resist if the cancer monster agreed not to attack another major organ. But by then, the damage had been done. Like the Titanic with its perforated hull, she too was damaged beyond repair ... wounds without mercy.


Her departure was as much a relief for him as it was for her, thus leaving him with his own wounds without mercy. Unspoken words are always the hardest to say. He inhaled and let it out slowly and coughed. He thought about the mound of earth marking his mother’s resting place. It wouldn’t be long before it looked like all the others, and he wondered how long it would be before he was pushing against the sod.


He’d fought and won the battle with tobacco, but still the same gnarly monster which consumed his mother was eating at him. One cannot play Russian roulette with tobacco and not eventually feel the hammer drop on the firing pin.


Sitting on the park bench, Bob glanced down at his young son who played among the grass clippings ... glad he’d finally broken the cycle ... sad he’d not done it sooner. He determined to use the time he had left to say what needed to be said, and enjoy the smell of fresh cut grass as long as possible.

The Smell of Grass

by Bryan M. Powell

Departures

by Bill Gillmore

     The departure board at the airport listed every flight as canceled. Not delayed, not

arriving or departing, everything was listed as canceled. People began to gather around the flight boards and the conversation became more of a roar as all the complaining and even some cursing drowned out every other noise in the terminal.

     The weather was not a factor, and there were no reports of terrorist attacks or plausible explanations and the airlines or the airport officials didn't release a statement. Lines snaked from the ticket counters through the terminals and there were many that attempted to find a better place in line, sometimes by breaking into a place they did not have a right to be. This caused more than a few disagreements and a couple of altercations. People were getting mad.

     The announcement over the intercom could barely be heard over the ruckus, and there were police officers yelling for everyone to be quiet, but again, they were drowned out as well, or no one really paid much attention to them. Everyone yelling wanted their voice to be heard.

     One officer finally was able to obtain a hand-held bullhorn and after many attempts, he was able to get the crowd noise down to a manageable tolerance. What he told the crowd caused them to once again become almost uncontrollable. Many ran outside, some laughed, some just shook their heads.

     What the officer told them was that the skies had become unsafe to fly in due to all the angels in the air. As the officer was explaining to the crowd, people began to disappear. Not leave walk away, just all of a sudden, gone.

     People screamed, some fell to their knees, some ran and as more people began to disappear, the crowd thinned out. The officer with the bullhorn started to yell out again and in a flash, he was gone as well.

     Many knew what was happening, many waited the short time for their turn, and many waiting, would wait and wait, never getting the call. The flight board now listed all flights with a departure time as NOW and the destination; Heaven.

April 2016 Prompt

"The departure board at the airport listed every flight as..."

April 2016 Prompt

"The departure board at the airport listed every flight as..."

Regrettably Departing

by Jessica Smith

     The departure board at the airport listed every flight as on time for Edmonton, Canada. It is said that humans begin dying at age twenty-five. For those flying to Canada, our cells were transformed far sooner by ravenous cancers that caused death to begin prematurely. Terminally ill passengers, like myself, rested in the cramped lounge, each patiently waiting to reach the cure found in Edmonton. 
     When boarding began, I took my place in line, excited to be one step closer to the cure. Sweat slid down my forehead as the attendant took the ticket from my trembling hand. Heart pounding, I waited in anticipation. She reviewed the information slowly, but finally nodded, ushering me toward the terminal.
     Suddenly, I was blinded. My arms and legs grew unbearably heavy. Command them as I might, they refused to move. Vision clearing, I saw not the terminal, but my youngest daughter, Lillian. She stood painfully straight, struggling not to run at the sight of me. “I love you, Daddy,” she said quietly, gazing wide-eyed at my helpless, dying body.
    I tried desperately to tell her how deeply I loved her, but only gurgling grunts escaped my throat. She jumped back in terror at the sound. I wanted to take away that fear in her eyes, to make everything better again, but all I could do was stare back hopelessly. Regret engulfed what remained of my aching soul and I dreamt again of a cure, of one last chance to see her smile.

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