Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #152

Our own Anne Wayman of AboutFreelanceWriting choose today’s words. Show her what you’ve got.

BET YOU CAN’T do this writing prompt. Take the 10 random words below and, in the comments, crush writer’s block by creating a cohesive, creative short story tying all of them together! And remember: after (if) you finish, highlight your words and click the bold button to make them stand out and help you determine if you forgot any words. (If you’ve missed previous writing prompts, we BET YOU CAN’T do those, either.)

  1. Hit
  2. Boy
  3. Girl 
  4. Seminar
  5. Stellar
  6. Resources
  7. Timeliness 
  8. Feral – Existing in a wild or untamed state
  9. Eucalyptus – the tree
  10. Hobby horse

NOTE: Don’t copy and paste from MS Word. Use a program like notepad that removes formatting or just type in the comment field itself. Also, finish your submission, THEN bold the words. Thanks. (And don’t forget to tweet this and share it with your friends.)

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Resources you should check out:
Thesis: Best Damn Theme on the Web
Collective Ink Well: Personalize Your Thesis Theme
Third Tribe Marketing: Marketing done the right way
Story Structure Demystified: Best damn writing book out there

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167 Comments on “Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #152”

  1. Shane Arthur says:

    Boy, Bobby, dat James girl is one mean, feral pussy cat. She done took our case of Shiraz, pointed a gun at us, and threatened to hang us from a Eucalyptus (whatever that there word done means) if we didn’t demonstrate some timeliness, gather up our hindquarter resources, and hightail it outta there.”

    “Billy, a Eucalyptus is a large cactus dat be growin’ in Gater’s Crossing where we hung James’ assassin from. She be talented and all with all dat writin’ of hers’, but I know Geeoo-graphee and ain’t nobody got a rope dat long. That James probably done fell off her hobby horse while playin’ her gee-taar and hit her noggin I thunk. But, you’s right. She’s one mean mofo.”

    “Bobby, we didn’t even get no chance to practice our sales pitch we done learnt at that Walmart sales seminar we went to. We’s stellar salesmen.”

    “Billy, we ain’t never sold no stellars. Matter of fact, we ain’t never sold nothin’. Now, shut up and pass me dat snowscreen lotion.”

  2. Cathy Miller says:

    Maria pulled on the conference door, feeling the weight in her lower back, similar to the weight on her nerves. The speaker was the latest big hit in the social media world. Eyeing the crowd, Maria thought at least they moved on from the boygirl divide from her school days.

    The seminar was marketed as stellar with loads of resources and the timeliness of what the world needed now. How could it promise so much? Making her way down the aisle, Maria felt like a feral child, isolated from all human contact.

    The lights dimmed and a large screen displayed a eucalyptus tree, blossoming with its distinctive flowers, right before her eyes.

    “Do you remember the last time you noticed nature?”

    “Or enjoyed a simpler time?”

    The flowering tree evolved into the image of a hobby horse, beautiful in its simplicity.

    “How would you like that back?”

    And so Maria launched her baby, her years of work, and silently prayed.

  3. Oh, boy… I can’t believe this is actually happening.

    Devin Allerdyce was excited, he finally got the call.  He was being called up to go on a special mission with the Captain and his top staff.  The timeliness of the event couldn’t have been planned any better.  He received notice while he was talking with his mother back home in Australia.   Mrs. Allerdyce mirrored her son’s excitement which meant the world to him.

    Back home they thought he was crazy to dream big.  They told him he’d never leave.  He didn’t want to end up like his father.  He didn’t want to have to settle finding a local girl, cutting down Eucalyptus trees, and running the family Hobby Horse business.  Devin saw himself more than that.

    I guess I was a hit at the seminar last month.

    Devin had given a presentation on interstellar navigation using natural resources.  In which the Captain was in attendance.  Afterwards, he came up to Devin and commended him on his presentation. It meant the world to Devin.

    His time was now.  He was moving up the ladder.  He could sense promotion and more responsibility overflowing to him.  He was going to make his mark on this mission to cement his name as a “go to” guy.

    Just then his communicator went off and he tapped the badge on his chest.

    “Kirk to Allerdyce, we are all set to move out.  Transporter room in five minutes.”

    “Aye, Captain!”

    This was it.  He was minutes away from exploring a feral environment with Captain James T. Kirk, Federation Legend.  He had his phaser already set to stun and looked extremely awesome in his freshly pressed red uniform shirt.  What could go wrong?

  4. margaret says:

    If I could teach a seminar
    for a boy or girl to reach their star,
    timeliness would be a must..
    from hobby horse till they bit the dust.

    Like the Koala on the Eucalyptus tree
    I would teach them to run wild and free.
    I would show them resources God has provided,
    and that their future has not been decided.

    Like a feral momcat I would protect them
    from anything that might deflect them
    from reaching their dreams and aspirations
    no matter what their daily frustrations.

    Life can be stellar, or hit and miss
    It’s up to the person to persist.

  5. margaret says:

    Thanks, Shane…I guess I just looked over all the words and in my head saw a common thread to tie them all in…..boy and girl/childhood/hobby horse……..I have feral cats in my yard and the moms are very protective….teach your children well and they will grow to fulfill their dreams (look at Sean 🙂 )

  6. I have one, but it’s a little racy (includes the word sex and the word vibrator. No actual sex.) Is that okay here?

  7. Anne Wayman says:

    here I am… and this is true… happened today:
     

    Geeze, hit twitter with a live chat. Lots of boys and girls. Like a feral seminar. Stellar actually, with many resources, most with a certain timeliness. I need a nap, under a eucalyptus tree so I can get off my hobby horse!

  8. Chris Fries says:

    Hi all!  This is the first time I’ve done one of these in quite a while where it wasn’t part of my “Look of Murder” series — I’d almost forgotten how fun it was to improvise and come up with something totally off-the-cuff, taking the story where-ever the prompt words lead me. 

    I like where this one led…  I hope you do, too.

    I Bring You Wonders!

    The traveler stepped from his gleaming craft.  He’d covered millions of parsecs, traversing the stellar vastness in a vital quest with only one purpose.  All his elaborate technological resources were devoted to a single goal.

    He pulled out his instruments and took readings.  The air was suitable, rich with oxygen and a sweet hint of indigenous foliage, like jasmine or perhaps eucalyptus.  Liquid water was ample, as the approach to the brilliant blue planet had clearly shown.  Temperature was moderate, and the atmosphere prevented extremes in radiation. 

    Satisfied with the preliminary data, the traveler moved on to the next stage — finding signs of intelligent life.  He scanned the horizon and confirmed what his orbital study had revealed.  There was a subtle glow towards the west — light from artificial sources.  Clearly the inhabitants were adequately advanced, not feral beasts.

    Excellent. 

    The success of the traveler’s voyage depended on precise timeliness. The inhabitants must have reached a specific level of development — too low and they would not appreciate what the traveler brought; too high and they would no longer have need for it.

    The traveler advanced towards the glow, eager to meet the beings that generated the light.  He soon encountered a smooth surface, stretching past him and leading towards the lights in the distance.  Another positive sign — facilitated transportation implied at least a rudimentary economy of some sort.

    In a short while, the traveler came upon further signs of basic technology and commerce — lit displays and signs and lights meant to illuminate crossroads.  The traveler’s spirits rose even further.  This could be an ideal situation.

    Eventually, he came upon a dwelling.  There was a cultivated yard of some sort surrounding the premises, and two small, bipedal creatures were scampering and vocalizing.  Judging by the significantly larger sizes of the entryways on the dwelling, the traveler assumed these were evidently offspring, and he interpreted their frenetic actions as a form of play. 

    The beings appeared to be of slightly different physiology — evidently the beings were split into two sexes.  One, the traveler took as the girl, was chasing the other, assumed to be the boy.  The girl caught up with the boy and hit him in the back, knocking him off of a long metal device that reminded the traveler of a toy hobby-horse.  The boy sprung back upright and both he and the girl made sounds that the traveler could only construe as a form of laughter.

    As the traveler watched, he collected data on their sounds and processed it into a basic understanding of their language.  It appeared to be a simple construction of only a few root vocalizations. 

    The more he observed and learned, the more pleased the traveler became.  All signs were pointing to a very successful landing.  But he was certain that the young beings would be of little use for him.  He needed to contact the mature life forms.

    The traveler moved closer, revealing himself to the youngsters.  They stopped in their play and watched.  The traveler could sense their fear, but also their underlying curiosity — another excellent sign.  The boy and girl fled into the dwelling.  He’d learned enough to be able to understand the essential gist of their vocalizations.  “Mother! Father! Come see the shiny man outside!”

    Two larger beings came from the dwelling, both more mature versions of the boy and girl.  They stopped and studied the traveler.  He sensed an aura of protectiveness, but also that same underpinning of curiosity.

    Perfect. 

    The traveler made his approach.  The result of his vast journey and all his efforts and expenditures of resources would soon be determined.  The traveler was optimistic.  He pulled out the material he had prepared as he neared the two adult beings.

    “Greetings!” he said.  “I have come from far, far away to bring you a wondrous and marvelous thing, that it may benefit and enlighten you and all the members of your society!”

    He held forth the material and offered what he hoped they would interpret as a smile.

    “Please come to a fabulous seminar that I will hold tomorrow, so that you might learn the power and financial benefits of multi-level-marketing!  Invite two friends and receive an extra bonus.”
     

  9. Casper says:

    The feral look of Professor Vladimir Tashlitsky didn’t quite blend in with stellar seminar hall of the university.But the timeliness of his discovery was such that, the professor and his little girl had to be flown in from the rainforests in Australia.
    Dr.Tashlitsky had often been derided by his peers for his obsession with  eucalyptus trees. Discovering the medicinal values of it had always been his hobbyhorse.But when the news hit the headlines, that with limited resources the professor had cured a 12 year old boy from the extreme stages of cancer,the world of science had to give him his due.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Casper. Super write, Casper. And a great message, one I wish would come true soon. Like how you used hobby horse here.

    • Chris Fries says:

      Very neat, concise, and filled with powerful, dramatic tension.
       
      Excellent job, Casper!

    • Great topic and well presented, Casper. Let’s just hope the world of science gets it before the greedy pharmas do. The drug companies would just shelve it…(Did you see that recent episode of Shark Tank?)
       
      Cheers,
       
      Mitch
       

    • Very nice work. Hobby horse puts me in mind of a cross between hobby and albatross, almost as though it’s a burden, but he can’t give it up.

      • Casper says:

        @Kate….thank you.Hobby horse sounds like such a simple word,but I don’t think I came across it often.Anyways I like the ring of it….hobby horse.

    • Cathy Miller says:

      @Casper-boy, wouldn’t that be a grand day? I am participating in my 8th 3-Day, 60 Mile Walk for Breast Cancer in November and every year the list of those affected by cancer gets longer. The good news is there are more and more survivors.

      Great story.

      • Casper says:

        @Cathy….Wow that is amazing.When I was a kid I never understood the purpose of these marathons.But when i began to see the awareness ‘n understanding it brings among the people, I realised its impact.It is something that cannot be substituted by millions of dollars.Appreciate your participation in such a noble cause and wishing you a successful event.

  10. In the shade of the eucalyptus trees, a feral child considered its meager resources. Youthful androgyny favored neither gender – the boygirl was a scrawny, filthy nondescript waif. An equally decrepit cloth drawstring bag lay near the child’s feet. From this bag had come the contents now being scrutinized with all the care of a jeweler gazing through a loupe: a bright red rubber ball, a dead frog, three dingy calf-length socks and a fork that was so black, it must have had silver at its core. Selecting one of the socks, the child replaced the other items in the bag and drew the string tight. Looking around furtively, the little urchin began stuffing dirt into the sock.

    Abram watched impassively from the chilly vantage point of his idling Mercedes 500 SEL. He was not going to put up with these ruffians and their aggressive panhandling. Quake or no, civility still reigned in Cherrywood Heights. Abram and his partners had slid into the vacuum created by lawlessness and the break-down of local government. Their brand of protection was effective enough to not only restore order but also to maintain it. Perhaps Pyrrhus of Epirus would have had a laugh at Abram and the other remaining Californians who had chosen to tough it out while their great state slid slowly into the Pacific Ocean. Be that as it may, the socialites of Cherrywood Heights demanded – and received – excellent service. Said service included the forcible relocation of undesirable elements. Abram was a practical man. The timeliness of last week’s seminar at the country club was not lost on him; the topic had dealt with alleviating overcrowding.

    With sock fully loaded, the child rounded on the big black car. Purposeful strides did not break, even as the vehicle revved. In seconds, the urchin was within striking distance. It wound up the sock, looking for all the world like a heroic David. Careful aim. Left eye closed against the sun. There! The sock hurtled toward the windshield.

    Abram gently touched the gas pedal. The 500 shot out of the standstill like a hobby horse come to life. A solid thunk, an explosion of dust and it was over. A second later, the sock landed where the car had been parked. It hit the curb, settling into the invisibility of a gutter full of refuse. Abram looked away from his rear-view mirror. When he glanced again, he was unable to pick out the sock. He shook his head to refocus on the windshield. A stellar red bloom momentarily obscured his centerline of sight. A flick of the wipers corrected that nuisance, allowing Abram to drive away to other, more pressing business.

  11. This was a lot of fun. I’ll definitely be doing this again. It scrambled my brain, but in a good way! Anyhow, here goes:
    It should have been a stellar evening. Take one boy and one girl; well, man and woman really, but why be picky? Drop them into a seminar on sex and surround them with all the beauty of romantic Italy. What follows should be a textbook example of the intersection of timeliness and resources: boy hits on girl, girl hits back, and magic ensues.
    So at the dinner break, there they were outside under a warm, starry sky, engulfed in the strong smell of eucalyptus. Well, overpowering smell really, but why be picky? The smell, and the girl, and the afternoon spent discussing vibrators had him feeling almost feral. It was time to make his move.
    He smiled.
    She smiled.
    He asked.
    She answered.
    He frowned.
    She smiled.
    He shrugged.
    They walked away together.

    It turns out she was just there to check out the new Hobby Horse line of vibrators, but she said he was welcome to join her. He was going to say no, but then he thought-why be picky?

    • Kate, this is simply great! I could also say superb, but why be picky?
       
      I love the pacing at the end. Got right to it!
       
      Cheers,
       
      Mitch
       

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Kate: Standing* ovation! Super 1st submission. I love your method of repetition and tieback here. Fun, fun read! See you each Monday and Thursday fellow editor. We need escapes like the CCC.
      I added your name and url to our CCC Community Links page. I’m sure everyone will welcome you with open arms.

      *pun intended

      • Cathy Miller says:

        @Kate-Welcome to CCC!
         
        You’ve hit upon a place like no other. Boy, girl, young. old – everyone is welcomed at CCC. The place is more inspiring than any high-priced writing seminar – and a whole lot more fun.

        You’ll find stellar resources for your reading and writing entertainment. The stories impart their own timeliness, as creativity knows no bounds. Like a feral beast, we defend our right to words.

        So, tell your story and watch the simple bark of words bloom into a luscious eucalyptus tree of hope as we rock our hobby horse of dreams.

        Welcome!

    • Chris Fries says:

      Bwaaahh-haaa-haaa!   :tears-rolling-laughter:
       
      That was excellent, Kate!  “Hobby-Horse Vibrators”  Oh, my, my…  Sheer brilliance!
       
      Welcome to the CCC!
       

    • C Rich says:

      Too funny, Kate.  I liked the banter at the end leading to the unexpected.  Good job.

    • Lydia says:

      Welcome, Kate. What a great first entry!

    • Jen says:

      Oh, my. Super fun. Love the repeat lines.

    • Casper says:

      @Kate…great work.Very picturesque flow of words.It is like watching a 20-30 seconds ad with a complete story.

  12. C Rich says:

    The ongoing chronicles of Sam McGee:

    Sam shook off the chill that iced his bones.  He’d had too much to drink.  It wasn’t anything more. He stumbled toward the door, a wave of nausea hitting him, taking his breath.  That was all he needed now.  His boss would never forgive him if he missed the seminar in the morning.  Timeliness is a given when you work in human resources.
     
    He lumbered his way into the latrine.  Ugh, what was that smell?  It was a cross between a rotting carcass and budding eucalyptus.  That was it.  He lost it.  A urinal wasn’t meant for heaving your guts into, but it would do.  At least he hadn’t done it in the sink.

    Jo had really let the place go since Mary quit.  Stellar didn’t even begin to describe the woman.  This had been the only bar in town, until recently, where a man didn’t have to worry about running out of toilet paper or, worse yet, soap.  She had been the one to hang the picture of the hobby horse beside the towel dispenser.  Said it should remind a guy about his responsibilities.  It should, but it didn’t always.

    Sam opened the door, belting out, “Hey, Jo, you’re out of soap.  I kind of made a mess in here.  Bring a better air freshener, too.  Whatever died decided to crawl back up the pipes.”

    Silence. 

    Sam craned his neck around the corner.  He hadn’t been imagining before.  Everyone was gone.  Laughter so light he almost missed it sounded from the corner of the room.
     
    He crept along the outside wall.  “Who’s there?”  He was being ridiculous, but the feeling surrounding him still teetered on the edge of menace.

    There it was again — laughter, but not any ordinary kind of laughter.  It was Kate’s trill.  She knew that sound drove him crazy with need.  Damn.  He missed her. 

    Did she come here with Derek to sink the ice-pick deeper into his heart?  He clinched his fists, refusing to think about Kate anymore.  She’d made her choice.  She was no longer his concern.  He turned away.

    “Just where do you think you’re going, handsome?”  That wasn’t Kate.  The tone was too confident to be her.

    Sam turned slowly.  A goddess stood before him:  sundrenched hair, rosebud lips, curves he could sink his teeth into.  She flashed a smile.  A feral thing disguised as a woman.
     
    “What do you want?” Sam heard himself bark.  What was he doing?  He could get lost in a body like that.

    She gazed at him through fringed lashes.  She didn’t have to say a word.  Her eyes told him everything he needed to know.  He felt a smile inch up his face.

    She held out a hand, her blood-red nails sharp as talons.  She said, “Boys and girls, we have a winner.”

  13. Anne Maybus says:

    The smell of eucalyptus hit her in the face as hard as a flicking branch.    Freshly broken saplings were a tell-tale sign that they had been here recently.  The bush was full of natural food resources even though they couldn’t eat the gumleaves.

    Signing to the boy and girl with her to stay still, she crept forward as quietly as she could.

    “We’ll see them in a minute” she whispered.

    Timeliness was important.  Too soon and they’d be grazing, too late and they’d be on the move again.

    With sly and stellar stealth she stretched out her long, tanned arms and parted the bushes. In front of her there was a clearing and there they were.

    It never failed to thrill her when she saw them lazing around in the sun after their midday meal.  It was like watching a silent seminar where everything was communicated in the flick of an ear or the turn of a head.

    An assortment of grey bodies lay reclined in post-prandial abandonment, soaking up the heat of the sun and the hot clay ground.  They were still and drowsy, drifting to the tune of the field flies drone.  The big daddy of them all sat apart, rocking on his powerful hindquarters like a child on a hobby-horse

    It was so peaceful.

    She signed to the kids to tiptoe up to take a look.

    The excitement of seeing so many kangaroos must have been too much because they forgot to be quiet.  The sounds of leaves scrunching  beneath four thunderous boots shattered the peace of the scene and drowsy kangaroos scrambled to their feet.

    Looking at each other and peering around for the hidden threat, they bounced off into the protective screening of the bush.

    “Feral animals” she muttered to herself, not meaning the kangaroos.  There’d be nothing more to see today.

    • Kids, right? That was a great description, Anne. I had never read anything about kangaroos in their habitat. Everything I know about them, I learned from that ridiculous movie with Anthony Anderson.
       
      I loved the flowing alliteration and rhythmic use of F-words and B-words.
       
      Cheers,
       
      Mitch
       

    • Chris Fries says:

      Great piece, Anne!  I felt I was there, every step of the way.  I would truly love to come to Australia to see the kangaroos in their natural habitat!   Although… I must admit that I have no keen interest in seeing your many poisonous snakes and spiders.  ;^)
       
      Fabulous writing, Anne!
       

    • C Rich says:

      Smooth read.  I loved the imagry.  You nailed the description of the kids.  Great job!

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Anne M: Haha! That last line was the best. One line says a whole chapter of characterization. Love it!

    • Jen says:

      Can’t take those kids anywhere, I tell ya. This was fun.

    • Cathy Miller says:

      @Anne-Paint-a-picture beauty!

    • Anne Maybus says:

      Thank you all.  Come on over for a visit.  Chris. the snakes and spiders are nothing!  It’s the kids you’ve got to be wary of.

  14. Lydia says:

    “It could be. Or maybe it was an act of love.”
     
    “Where do we go from here?”
     
    “To sleep.”  As soon as their heads hit the pillows that is exactly what happened. Several hours later a persistent ringing jerked Ed back to the land of the living.
     
    “Hello?” he grabbed his cellphone, visions of feral eucalyptus trees inching forward malevolently to a flock of blissfully unaware hobby horses. (Untamed and bloodthirsty as they may have been in dream land a tree can still only move so fast!)
     
    “Ed, this is Pastor Small. There’s been an incident. Someone has dug up that grave you and your wife were asking about last week.”
     
    “How awful,” he said, the corner of his mouth twitching. “Who would do such a thing?”
     
    “That’s what we’re trying to figure out. Tampering with graves is a crime. Do you have any information that would help us solve this?”
     
    “No. We’ll be there after breakfast to help, though.” Marlene rolled over and opened her eyes as he ended the phone call.
     
    “We could wrap our…stuff back in those old blankets and hide them in the trunk while we figure out what they know,” she said.
     
    The graveyard whistled with activity. Pastor Small smiled as Ed and Marlene walked to where she stood at the edge of the upset soil.
     
    “What have you discovered so far?” Marlene said.
     
    “Not much yet,” came the reply. “Our resources are limited and the police weren’t much help. I was hoping you might have some information for us. Has anyone you’ve spoken to acted nervous or agitated?”
     
    “Not at all. Everyone has been stellar.”
     
    “Have you discovered anything that might be potentially embarrassing for the families of the people involved in your relative’s life?”
     
    We’ve actually moved on to a less macabre project. It turns out that our family stories were incorrect after all. Do you know if Paradise Presbyterian or the county has any old personal correspondences from the ministers who served the Presbyterian community over the years? We’d like to do something to honour all of you for your hard work. Of course, we’d need to start from the very beginning.”
     
    “That’s a lovely idea. I’m teaching a seminar tonight but I will check the rectory tomorrow morning. You could drop in at the county historical society in the meantime. I’ve heard there’s quite a story behind the founding of this church!”
     
    “We’ll call you tomorrow, then. Good luck with your investigation!”
     
    “Come on, girl. Don’t quit on us now,” Ed urged as the car choked to life.
     
    “Oh, boy,” Marlene said. “We should plot out the potential timelines as soon as we’ve searched the historical society’s record. If they don’t have anything maybe we can figure out what most likely happened by eliminating what would have taken too much time.”

    • Lydia says:

      Sorry, that should be “visions of feral eucalyptus trees inching forward malevolently to a flock of blissfully unaware hobby horses still dancing in his head.”
       

    • Chris Fries says:

      I really like the smooth way this episode reads.  Great job holding the reader’s interest and moving the story forward.  And I love the way you wove ‘feral eucalyptus’ and ‘hobby-horse’ into the cool dream imagery.  Nice!
       
      But lugging around stolen remains in their trunk and lying to the preacher to cover up their own grave-digging?  Hmm, hmmm…  That’s gonna generate some bad karma, I just know it.  ;^)
       
      Wonderful story, Lydia!
       

    • C Rich says:

      Great job, Lydia!  I loved that dream scene.  The thought of feral eucalyptus made me chuckle.  You’ve got me wondering what these two are up to.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Lydia: Your two characters are as smooth as silk. They’d make good criminals … wait! 😉

    • Lydia, I love your characters! They are exciting, yet not so reckless that they’ll blatantly act in their own self-interest. Lying, sneaking…that’s the human way!
       
      Cheers,
       
      Mitch
       

  15. Rebecca says:

    The seminar concluded and another ‘self-help’ guru gave a stellar performance. He was capitalizing on the onslaught of peoples’ fears about 2012; the timeliness was perfect. People were coming out of the hotel when the runaway girl ran into the crowd. She had to get away from the boy who hit and beat her. He took her wallet but she was smart enough not to put all of her money in it. She felt like a feral cat on the move, trying to get away from the madness. She didn’t have resources to ask for help – she was homeless. She found an ally and took shelter by a dumpster. There was enough distance between her and the boy. She looked up and noticed a hobby horse sitting on top of the other garbage. It brought her back to a happy time in her childhood but that memory was wiped out in an instant. She started to lose consciousness and drifted off to her safe haven. Australia was far away and inviting. She found herself among the eucalyptus; a koala bear was happily chewing on leaves.

  16. Rebecca says:

    @ Shane … I never heard of ‘snowscreen’ lotion before. Good one!

  17. Rebecca says:

    @ Cathy … “Do you remember the last time you noticed nature?” I love this. Very inspirational piece.

    • Cathy Miller says:

      @Rebecca-I’ve had those moments where I suddenly realize I’m noticing nature again-it happened about the time I left 30+ years of Corporate America to freelance as a writer 🙂

  18. Rebecca says:

    @ Shane … Thanks! I’ll have to ponder the ‘plot’ and where the story will go. Stay tuned!

  19. Jen says:

    The seminar room at The Community seemed always to smell vaguely of eucalyptus branches. Any other fragrance would have been fine with Darla. Anything; even raw sewage would have smelled better to her than the beckoning scent of those fat bluish leaves. Every time Darla had to attend another session in that room, she steeled herself for the onslaught. What she found was that the odor only served as a conduit, opening up the sluices of memory she had fought to close down forever.
     
    It never failed. As she stepped across the threshold to the room, The Community’s attempt at a soothing atmosphere, the stench hit her hard in the olfactory sense; each time she called upon her inner resources to keep her from puking all over the plush sage green carpet.
     
    Instantly, she was back at her mother’s house, standing over a boy and girl who sat on the floor, staring up at her with hollow, hungry, feral eyes. They clambered after her as she tried to leave the room; they were stellar examples of what crack and Jack will do to a fetus. In her memory, she watched herself kick over the worn down hobby house that served as table, chair and plaything in the overpopulated shack of a house. She watched herself lurch down a short, dark hall to the bathroom.
     
    A splattered counter held an array of shampoos, ashtrays, needles, unused cleaning products, empty cigarette packets, and a beautiful ceramic bowl, stuffed with dusty blue leaves that struggled to emit their allegedly healing scent. Her foster family had given her the dish before she moved back with her mama, who promptly claimed it as her own.
     
    That’s why she stayed at The Community as long as she did. She walked out the door, heard the hinged door smack its resolute goodbye and, with no idea of her timeliness, she marched away from there. She figured, if the worst thing at The Community was that one little smell, it was better than where she’d been. She could not have know what had happened back at the house. She could not have known, when she met him, that Patrick would be one more incarnation of what she’d been fleeing.

  20. maria says:

    I sorted out the boys and girls in my new Sunday school class, taking aside a feral young man named Roger who hit a girl named Kate about the nose and eye.
     
    “She stole the hobby horse!” he cried, and I knew the boy wasn’t right. His father was at a church seminar and couldn’t be reached until noon, so I sat Roger down with a stellar chart and some pencils, hoping he would ‘draw me the solar system.’ The activity seemed to occupy him for about half an hour.
     
    “Oh, no, look at Roger!” a little girl screamed. I spun around to find him hanging out the window, eating the eucalyptus leaves right off the tree. My resources as a caregiver were just about exhausted, and as I collapsed onto the ratty beanbag with Roger in my arms, I prayed to a God that I didn’t believe in for Roger’s father’s timeliness, just for today.

    • Lydia says:

      My parents were pastors when I was growing up and more than once we ended up with unruly kids in sunday school. Some had medical reasons for their behaviour (ADHD, developmental disorders, etc), others came from what we later learned were abusive and/or neglectful homes.

      It was wonderful that they had at least a few hours a week when they knew they were safe and loved…but wow was it a lot of work for the sunday school teachers! Looking back I don’t know how the teachers were able to stick it out with some of those kids.

      Anyway, I’m sharing all of this because I really empathize with the main character. As I read it I wondered what Roger’s home life was like and whether his father was as much of an upstanding citizen as the narrator (probably) assumes.
       

    • Well done, Maria! This picture is at once disturbing and enlightening. It seems the caregiver bit off more than she could chew, with no faithful safety net 🙂
       
      Cheers,
       
      Mitch
       

    • Cathy Miller says:

      @maria-what a great, unique use of the words-great story

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Maria: That last line was fantastic. Says so much, in so few words, about this caregiver. Nicely done.

  21. Rebecca says:

    @ Lydia … Thank you! I’m not sure how it will end. I never do with some of my stories. Lol…
    I never heard of “The Little Match Girl” before. It sounds like a great short story.

  22. Rebecca says:

    @ Mitch … It’s definitely an oxymoron. Most people attend self-help seminars to become more aware, more ‘one’ with everyone on the planet. However, they still don’t notice what’s around them. Plus, they stay the same because they’re not ready or don’t want to change. It’s a conundrum. 🙂

  23. Rebecca says:

    @ Cathy … Thank you!

  24. maria says:

    hey, thanks so much for all your feedback. I wanted to continue with the story about the alcoholic mother but it was set in old west times and I couldln’t for the life of me figure out how to insert ‘seminar’ and ‘stellar’ into that story.
     
    Thanks again

  25. Jake says:

    Howard quickly jotted down a note to remind himself to reschedule his meeting with Jim Harper.  He dropped his pen on the desk and leaned back in his chair.  Glancing out of his office window, he had a stellar view of most of the DenonCorp Township.  Built upon a once beautiful hillside, DenonCorp towered over much of the area.  Homes, businesses, parks and schools all stood within the shadow of the hulking factory.  Like a tyrannical gatekeeper, the company seemed to watch each and every move of this small slice of stale Americana.  “Is there an upside to every downside?” Howard muttered silently.  He hit his hand against the arm of his chair and got up to pour another drink.

    The timeliness of the factory bells alerted him that it was time for lunch.  They faithfully sounded each hour, becoming more welcome as the day wore on.  The once irritating drone of industry regulation sirens were replaced with the pleasant resonance of a chorus of bells, tolling twice on each hour; three times at lunch.  It was DenonCorp’s subtle and pathetic attempt to enhance the work day experience.   “For whom the bell tolls” became the comical common greeting among employees upon the audible prompting of each hour.  “It tolls for thee” was the expected response, followed by a sigh at the realization of the truth behind the well intended witticism.

    Howard took a long sip of vodka and strolled over to the small refrigerator in his office to get his lunch.  He made his was out of his office and to the stairs at the end of the hall.  A small seminar was concluding in the conference room and Howard caught a glimpse of Tiffany clearing the table of legal pads, napkins and empty coffee cups.  In addition to being his secretary, she also helped with other office administrative work with other departments, predominantly human resources.  She waved and gave him an obligatory and rather emotionless smile.  Her eyes met his with a silent and encouraging “Hang in there”.  He smiled back and returned with a thumbs up.  She playfully flipped him the bird in return.  He unconsciously laughed out loud.

    Outside in the common area, Howard sat down to have his lunch.  From behind a eucalyptus tree, a scrawny feral cat emerged and strolled over to settle down next to him, in hopes of him sharing his mid-day feast.  He tossed him a piece of bread, to which it eagerly devoured.  “Hungry, my friend?” Howard whispered and handed him another scrap.  His lunches were boring and routine; usually a turkey or ham sandwich prepared by Carol the night before.  She always included a small bag of chips and the occasional desert.  Howard’s spirits rose just a bit as he discovered the Twinkie lying undetected in the bottom of his lunch bag.  “Don’t even think about it!” he jokingly snapped to his feline lunch guest.  He tossed him another scrap of bread and finished his sandwich.

    Howard gazed out over the parking lot that ran adjacent to the common area.  On the opposite side was a small retention pond that bordered the elementary school park.  A boy and girl were playing on the worn and rusted playground equipment and as he watched, Howard again thought of his son Carl.  The boy slowly made his way across the monkey bars as the girl rocked rhythmically on something that resembled a hobby horse. The boy leapt to his feet, raised his arms in the air as if declaring some sort of victory and ran toward the girl, who continued rocking with halfhearted enthusiasm.  Howard remembered Carl playing on the same playground, seemingly only yesterday.  He had fallen one Saturday afternoon, from the top of the same monkey bars that the boy had just jumped from.  His forehead lay split open as blood ran down his face, mixed with tears and dirt.  Howard instantly scooped Carl up in his arms, and without missing a beat, sprinted to the township hospital three blocks away.

  26. I really hate falling behind because of all the work it is to catch back up. But I’m going to do it anyways. Here’s episode 7 of Roger’s Box.
     

    “Ok, that really hit the spot,” Katie said after taking a large gulp of some scotch Roger found for her when they got back to the ballroom. She took another large gulp to finish off the glass. Some ice flew out and the glass nearly broke when she slammed it down on the table. “Oh boy. I think I’m ready for you to tell me more about this box.”
    “Have I told you what the voice sounds like?” Roger asked.
    “No, not yet.”
    “It has the voice of a little girl. This is the reason I want to believe it. Anything that sounds so innocent as a little girl must be telling the truth.”
    Katie raised her eyebrows. “You believe it just because it sounds like a little girl? You don’t know what it is or where it comes from, but you believe the voice of a little girl?”
    Roger shrugged his shoulders. “Why not?”
    Katie almost said something, but a colleague interrupted her.
    “Have you guys heard about the seminar next week? I hear Don Hubbard is going to be giving a presentation on time management. You guys should come. It’s going to be stellar.”
    “Rick, this isn’t really good time. We’re discussing the resources we need for Roger’s side project. It’s a very important conversation. Can you just send me an e-mail instead?”
    Rick said he could and walked away. When he was out of earshot, Roger continued, “And it really isn’t just about the girl’s voice. There’s also something about the box’s timeliness.”
    “What do you mean?” Katie asked.
    “It came into my life when I was beginning to care less and less about everything. I didn’t care about myself. Maybe you noticed I had started coming into work later and later.” Katie nodded. “I was turning feral, and the box saved me from myself. It started asking me to do random things. Like feng shui in the house. Did you know I have a little forest of eucalyptus trees in my bedroom now? It doesn’t make any sense, but I feel a lot better. I don’t know if it’s from the feng shui or from the box treating my like a hobby horse, but something worked in bringing me back from the brink.”

  27. Kelly says:

    POSSIBLY-CLASSIC LOVE STORY

    He had his patents. Stellar, every one. She was headed for a very big IPO. Together, they had all the resources to make a hit.

    Once it was only a hobby; horses couldn’t drag him away from it now. He knew more about the dangers of genetically engineered eucalyptus than anyone in the field. She didn’t know he existed, and timeliness aside, she wouldn’t care, but right now she was hungry for that knowledge. She’d barely slept a wink, worried she’d be exposed for a fraud. Now she was all icy edges, every muscle on full alert. Her heart pumped wildly as she walked to the podium to give her PowerPoint.

    Then he saw her face. Green eyes hovered on him in the front row for just a moment too long. Her head tilted as if to ask his help. Every malicious instinct flowed out of him, an avalanche of molten righteousness, and he forgot that he’d intended to grill her in the Q&A.

    A boy, a girl, a seminar on feral koalas.

    Is there anything more romantic?


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