Another prompt, another round of great stories to choose from. Check the stories out below and vote for your favorite!
Up To My Eyeballs
“There’s too much to do,” I mostly say to myself, but she overhears.276 words by Bill Engleson (@billmelaterplea)
“WHAT?” she asks from the adjoining room.
“Huh?” I reply, pretending I am unaware that she heard me.
“Goofball, you said there’s too much to do.”
“So you did hear me?”
“You’re pretty loud. What’s wrong?”
“WRITING! That’s what’s wrong. I’ve got too much on the go.”
“Make a list,” she says.
Right, I think. That’s what she always says. She is a fanatical maker of lists. I hate lists. Where do you even start with making a list? And the time! List-making takes time. And what do you have at the end? Lost time. And a list that you hate. A list that doesn’t tell you anything you didn’t know already.
“Fine. Stew in your own hack-writer juices. I’ve got better things to do than listen to you whine.”
I can feel my head slowly creating a list. Not on paper. In my head. Lists are like a virus. A pandemic of chores, one after the other, fighting to get to the top. I’ve got half a dozen writing projects on the go. I like having half a dozen on the go. When I freeze up on one, I can jump to another.
Does this process work well?
I don’t know.
The thing is, most of them don’t need to get done. When I say that I mean, I am an amateur writer. I write for fun. Lists are not fun.
“Do you want some coffee?” I ask her.
“Do you have time for that?” she asks…snarkily.
“It’s at the top of my list,” I reply.
It was a thick day, so the forest loomed over the edges of the square cleared for the wereboar village. Poppy Briar was on a critical mission. Her first stop was Odbart’s Trading Post to provision for her quest, then she’d head to the shipyard to engage the services of a ship and navigator.
Wereboar construction was as sturdy as its makers. Even the children were taller than Poppy. Some boarlets were wailing a stitched ball raucously at one another. The game’s purpose seemed to be keeping the ball from touching the ground. The thunderous crack of each impact told Poppy that if she were on the receiving end, it would knock her flat.
She let herself into the stout trading post, drawing the silver-furred proprietor’s attention. Odbart raised a bushy eyebrow high enough to reveal one bright eye.
“Don’t get many fairies ‘round here. What can I do for you?”
“I need one of your best adventure packs,” Poppy planted her hands on her hips importantly.
“Oh? What sort of adventure?”
“I’m heading north to the shipyard to engage a navigator and find one of the lost islands!”
“Mmmm,” Odbart rumbled. “Haven’t been any shipyards in these parts for years. You’ll have to follow the shoreline nearly a hundred miles either direction to find one.”
“Oh,” Poppy sunk slightly, then set her shoulders back and chin up. “Okay, I need a pack for that, then!”
“Mmmm… Will have to be narrow to fit between your wings… Ah, this ought to do!”
Odbart passed a fully loaded pack over the counter with one hand. Poppy received it with both and was dragged to the floor by its weight.
“Thank you!” Poppy squeaked.
Pulling herself back up to the counter, she deposited a pile of mixed nuts and berries.298 words by David A Ludwig (@DavidALudwig)
He remembered growling and sudden pain. A blossom of fire. There’d been a voice, high-pitched and edged with fear. And then fade to black. He’d had a quest, and then he had failed.
He should be ashamed of himself.
But he was alive. He could go back and try again. He was a nobleman; he had no choice but to continue until his task was done.
A woman’s voice drew him into full consciousness. She was singing – a melancholy refrain, its words taunting his sense of honour. He shouldn’t be lying here when a woman’s heart had been bruised. He should try to ease her pain.
The door opened, and she entered his room, suddenly silent. He opened his eyes and saw her: bringing in a wooden tray stacked with potions and bandages. Her face was grave and lacking in humour, wrinkles marring her beauty. He didn’t want to hear what she was going to say: he knew it would be bad news.
She felt no hesitation, though.
“You’re finally awake, brave knight,” she said, her tone like a whip. “I wondered how long it’d be before you graced me with your presence.” She dropped the tray on the bed beside him, the taller of the bottles falling over. Its contents began to dribble out past its loosened stopper.
“I waited until the last moment before retreating,” the knight said, surprised by her ferocity. He felt small, stripped of his armour, knowing his singlet had been stained. He preferred not to dwell on how it had got spoiled – he knew his blood had featured little in how it had been dirtied.
“But retreat you did,” his nurse said, unrolling one of his dressings. “Your kind always does; you pretend until it becomes real – then you run away.”300 words by Mark A Morris
I Had A Plan
You have to understand. I had a plan. I did. I had an actual plan. I’d just quit work, and she and I had agreed I would retire. I did the math, if you want to call it that, and concluded, “Since I’m not working, and all that stress is gone, and I know that stress was hurting me, now that it’s gone, why not see if I can live without fluoxetine?”
It was a decision I consciously made. Pull myself off the fluoxetine that I’d been taking for eleven years. “I’ll try this and see what happens. I’ll remember to get outside, get fresh air, get sunshine. I’ll do the things I’ve been told by friends, relatives, cousins, and even my brother and his family, to manage without any drugs.”
That’s what I did. I stopped fluoxetine. November first, of last year.
At first, it went well. I went through the entire fall and winter without a depression problem. Everything was smooth. Everything was good. I was happy with how things were going.
Until June, if I’m honest. It was June when I started to crash. I didn’t really notice at first. But I started to take days off, days when I didn’t get a damn thing done. Gradually, that grew, until I had to fight myself to get anything done on any day.
Then August arrived. And I sat at my computer, and played video games, instead of working on the fence, watering the gardens, washing the dishes and laundry, working on what used to be our oldest child’s bedroom, and cleaning that up.
By September, even I had to admit the depression was back, and it was slowly wrecking me.
Like I said. I had a plan. Like most of my plans, it sucked.297 words by Silenced. (@mysoulstears)