Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #153

Once again we have Liz Strauss, Brand Strategist, Community Builder, and founder of SOBCon, choosing the words for our writing prompt challenge. Show her what you’re made of.

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. Tweet
  2. Ice cream 
  3. Knowledge
  4. Minute
  5. Dropped
  6. Splendid
  7. True
  8. Barn
  9. Tightrope
  10. Duck

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.)

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


154 Comments on “Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #153”

  1. Shane Arthur says:

    “Bobby, my knowledge ain’t too knowin’, dis is true, but ain’t it only been a minute or six since we talked about some tightrope of that there Chartrand lady-fella, and put some of that there Draino snowscreen on our skin, and now I’m hearin’ strange tweets but ain’t no birds?”

    “Billy, look at all this white ice cream we’s walkin’ through. It tastes splendid like mountain-oyster jam on ice.”

    “Bobby, duck! There’s a barn getting’ ready to dropped on your head! Wait! Don’t duck! Duckin’ ain’t exactly smart considering something’s fallin’ on ya! Run! The chickens dat be drivin’ da barn got knives from isle three and they’s lookin’ to slash prices!”

    • Whoa, man! Bobby and Billy get surreal on us. Either that or snowscreen has some powerful undesirable side-effects.
      I enjoyed this slight departure. It’s  the part you’re supposed to portray. LOL

      • Shane Arthur says:

        @Mitchell: I had the most fun where Billy tells Bobby to duck because a barns about to fall on him. I wonder how many people caught that. If something’s falling on you, duckin’ ain’t of much use. 🙂

    • Anne Wayman says:

      ah a paean to Tim Leary I assume?
      well done, guys. Keep breathing.

      • Shane Arthur says:

        @Anne W:

        “Hey Bobby. Who dis Tim feller Anne be talkin’ bout?”

        “Beats me Billy. Gaggle it online.”

    • C Rich says:

      Draino snowscreen!  You are too funny, Shane.  I’m going to have to find time to go back and read all of Billy and Bobby’s adventures.

      • Shane Arthur says:

        @C Rich: I need to get a few seconds free and post all of their adventures on one page. I believe I started them on CCC#107 or 109. Can’t quite remember. Glad you like them.

    • Chris Fries says:

      Whoa!  Psycho-delic-alicous!   Dey be trippin’!
      Too fun, Shane!

      • Shane Arthur says:

        “Bobby, what dat Chris feller talkin’ about with them Psycho Delis?”
        “Billy, I ain’t sure. Perhaps he’s so hungry he could kill a feller.”

    • Jen says:

      mountain oyster jam on ice? Too funny.

  2. The tweet said that there was free ice cream at the Cafe Splendid on the next block in Barn Street. It’d only take a minute, she thought to herself. But the boss was at the door again: she could see him from the top of the stairs. So she hopped into the elevator and pressed the button for the roof.

    They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing: and in Duck‘s case, that was certainly true. She’d been to the circus one time too often!

    Once on the roof she tied a piece of metal she found lying around to some rope, and threw it onto the roof of the next building, aiming for just north of the metal railing that marked the beginning of their staircase. She dragged it towards her and with a tug made sure it was stable. She walked the tightrope she’d just created, and within seconds dropped softly on all fours. With a hop, she was skipping down the stairs knowing that that ice cream was hers already!

  3. Mariken says:

    I am not sure: shall I tweet this or keep it my little secret?

    From a friend I heart about this Ice cream place. Just opened last weekend. On Saturday I dropped a visit. It only took a minute to order, but with the knowlegde I have now, after eating this splendid tasting strawberry ice cream, I am convinced this place will be crowded in no time. I imagine huges lines of fooks impatiently waiting for their turn to order. It is true, success can be killing.
    The parlour looks like an old barn from the outside. A wooden sign at the door, attached with a big tightrope saying “Ice Cream Duck“.

    • Mariken, I enjoyed this one. You supplied an unintentional bonus to these old eyes:
      huge lines of fooks
      I couldn’t settle on folks, fools, foodies or “is fook a word?” LOL
      So I imagined them all simultaneously and had a good laugh.

    • Lydia says:

      Some of the best food I’ve ever tasted has been served in repurposed buildings. You definitely cannot tell a restaurant’s quality just from what the outside looks like! 🙂

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Mariken: Welcome to the CCC. I love this glimpse into this characters thoughts. And now I was to visit Ice Cream Duck. 🙂

      So, what did you think of the exercise? Hope you liked it enough to come back every Monday and Thursday.

      Everyone welcome Mariken to the addiction. Adding your name and url to the CCC Community Links page next.

      • Cathy Miller says:

        @Patricia @Mariken-Welcome to the CCC!

        Maybe you saw it in a tweet or read about it on a blog. However you got here, we’re glad you came. It’s more fun than an ice cream cone on the first day of summer. The knowledge that this place exists is as comforting as a garden hose in 100 degree heat and a summer full of fun.

        Whether you dash off your prose in a tiny minute or labor over the next great series, at CCC your worries are dropped as you enjoy the splendid rush of words. Here you stay true to the writer inside.

        So, let the CCC become your storage barn of stories that walk the tightrope of dreams that duck into your heart.


        • Shane Arthur says:

          WHAT!!! So, let the CCC become your storage barn of stories that walk the tightrope of dreams that duck into your heart. So cool, Cathy!

          • Cathy Miller says:

            @Shane-thanks- I guess that makes you the barnkeeper. 🙂

          • KathleenL says:

            Cathy — wonderful description of the CCC “…your storage barn of stories….” Made me smile big… as I know you are right, once again and Yes Shane is the Barnkeeper!
            Patricia and Mariken — Welcome to the addiction.

    • Chris Fries says:

      Welcome to the CCC, Mariken!
      Great job on the prompt words — this read as smooth as creamy ice cream, which I suddenly seem to be very hungry for, for some strange reason…  ;^)
      Nice work!

  4. In the shade of the eucalyptus trees, The Lord of Hosts and the Tempter sat, licking cones of ice cream. A Mercedes 500 SEL sped past.

    “Devilishly clever, my brother. Your demonstration was a splendid refutation of the inherent power of good over evil.”

    The old serpent flicked out his tongue, catching a marshmallow before it dropped to the dusty ground. “Don’t forget the old saw, ‘Two wrongs don’t make a right.’ I prove that one every day!”

    Shekhinah puffed out a frustrated breath, glanced sideways at his sibling and relented. “True enough. Yet, two tweets don’t make a duck, either. So what purpose is really served by juxtaposing Yin and Yang in the hearts of men?”

    “It’s loads of fun!” Abaddon fairly wriggled with unsuppressed glee. His brother wasn’t often hot under the collar. “The Wise Old Man has a warped sense of humor, after all. Why else would he nourish the roots of one with the fruits of the other? It’s no wonder psychiatrists and lawyers make so much money!” He cackled and crammed the rest of his rocky road cone down his throat.

    Even Shekhinah had to laugh. “Indeed. Man is not introspective enough to see this. He still blames it all on the Apocryphal Apple.”

    “Whoa, whoa, easy there, hater. That was one of my best stories.” Abaddon smiled but couldn’t quite ignore the ichor dripping from the thorn piercing his thick skin.

    “Brother, Man can’t even decide which fruit came from the Tree of Knowledge.” Shekhinah shook his head. “They start listening to so many uneducated sources, leaping to uneducated conclusions and proclaiming uneducated truths through uneducated repetition.”

    “Speaking of repetition…”

    “Shut up.” Shekhinah swatted Abaddon, half-heartedly.

    “No, really. Speaking of repetition, the design of the human thought center is wicked in its redundancy. It’s that warped sense of humor, again. Disguised as choice, free-will or what have you, the brain is nothing more than a neurochemical map of the Tree!”

    “I know that, loser! It’s not like I was born in a barn. The thing I can’t figure out, though, is why man insists on creating a tightrope between good and evil, when all he needs is a bridge.” Shekinhah had neglected his cone and now looked at the sticky goo puddled at his feet. A dozen urchins had appeared out of nowhere, gently scooping up the remains of their fallen comrade.

    Abaddon chuckled. “How do you keep an Agnostic in suspense?”

    Shekhinah, bored, took the bait. “How?”

    “I’ll tell you in a minute.” Abaddon slithered away.

  5. Anne Wayman says:

    Hah! This one’s for Liz herself:

    She’s knowledgeable duck whose words are a sweet as ice cream, even when she tweets. She’s up-to-the minute, with splendid and true ideas. Not born in a barn, she’s dropped all negativity and walked the tightrope to success.

  6. margaret says:

    “Tweet, tweet, tweet” sang the little birdie
    when on the tightrope he heard-y
    that he and the duck were invited
    to the barn for ice cream…so delighted!!

    He even dropped  a big poopie
    at the thought of a lucious, cold scoopy.
    Within a minute all the animals knew
    that the rumor sure must be true.

    And a riot and panic broke out
    and the poor little pig hurt his snout..
    because there was not enough to feed all
    who showed up at the barnyard brawl.

    When you tweet, knowledge can spread quite quickly
    whether news is quite splendid or sickly…
    So beware what you say… there can be hell to pay..
    and people might think you’re a dick-ly!

  7. Jesse says:

    Loved this Monday morning chuckle.

  8. Jesse says:

    As they drove by the seemingly splendid city park with the bucolic red barn, they stopped for a minute to let the critter walk it’s tightrope across the busy street.
    “That’s not a duck, honey, that’s a goose.”  She went on to explain the conundrum of city parks and bird populations.
    It’s true.  Where there are birds, there is poop.  A little knowledge would help them watch their steps and navigate the smelly land mines.
    They parked the car to get out and walk with the flock.  Just as she tried to side-step a fresh pile, she dropped her ice cream.
    “Ewwww,” the youngest squealed, “Don’t pick that up!  It’s got stuff in it!”
    “Quick!  Let’s go home so I can Tweet about this!”

    • Lydia says:

      Sometimes I wonder what people who tweet all the time did before they joined twitter.

    • What??? No iPhone with a camera to upload the speckled ice cream? Bummer.
      In Philly, it was pigeons all the way to the top of Billy Penn’s hat. Yuck!
      I had a good chuckle at the youngest’s choice of words. If the ice cream didn’t have stuff in it, would she have okayed the pick up? ewww…

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Jesse: Such a neat, refreshing read. I can relate to this story. We live next to a farm with a lake and the owner has geese, ducks, and dogs, all with their own unique land mines to nagivate. 😉

    • Chris Fries says:

      Dang!  I hate it when my ice cream plops in the poop!!!
      Wonderful job, Jesse!

  9. C Rich says:

    The misadventures of Sam McGee:

    Sam shot the woman a quizzical look, taking her hand.  Her skin was warm and soft, her smile welcoming, but something about her didn’t seem quite right.  “Didn’t know I signed up for a contest.”  He cocked a grin.  “What’s my prize?”

    She gave him a once over, circling him.  “I thought I’d made that perfectly clear already.  What’s your name?”

    She ran a nail along his shoulder.  The sharp edge prickled against his skin as though he wasn’t even clothed. 

    This vixen was more than a little dangerous.  He felt like a wingless duck traversing a tightrope in a burning barn, but he couldn’t figure out why.  “True.  Just making sure.  The name’s Sam.” 

    The woman arched a brow, pulling him toward a table in the corner.  She settled onto his lap, wrapping her arms around his neck. 

    He felt the light touch of her lips on his skin.  She pulled his earlobe into her mouth, sucking his brain right out of him.  Maybe she could help him forget Kate?  Thinking was nearly impossible when she was doing that with her tongue. 

    Then she bit him, hard.  “Ow,” he said.  He inched away from her, pushing on her shoulders when she didn’t take the hint.  He touched his ear.  At least she hadn’t drawn blood.

    She sat up and rolled her eyes.  Her sigh was loud.

    She didn’t say much.  Every man’s dream.  Still.  “You got mine, now I need yours.  I’m sure as hell not going to call you sugar all night.”

    She laughed.  “As if you could last that long…Sam.”

    “You don’t know a thing about me…toots.  I might just surprise you.”

    “Oh, I’m sure you will.  Truth is I’m known by many names, legions in fact.  Take your pick.”

    Splendid.  He’d gone and attracted himself a hooker.  Did he really look that desperate?  “Alright…Autumn, how much?”

    She smiled.  “I don’t want your money, Sam.”

    Yeah, right.  “What do you want then?”

    She looked away for a moment.  When she turned back to him, he shuddered from the look she gave him.  It was the most carnal thing he had ever seen.  It was as though he were her favorite flavor of ice cream, cheese burger and fries all rolled into one.  “It’s not much, just a trifle really.  What if I told you – your soul?”  She laughed, but it didn’t touch her eyes.  In fact her eyes were as lifeless as moon craters. 

    Knowledge from deep within him screamed at him to leave this place.  Minutes ticked by like hours as she watched his inner struggle with barely noticeable interest.  He smirked.  “You’re too late.  Someone else beat you to it.”

    She dropped her smile like yesterday’s garbage.  “I know you’ve been hurt, Sam.  Let me ease your pain.”

    “Wouldn’t mind, but you still haven’t told me how much.”

    “Yeah, I did.”

    “Ain’t no one that good, sugar.”

    “So now were back to sugar, huh?”

    “Look.  As fun as this has been, I’ve got to work in the morning.”  Sam stood, bringing the girl with him.  He set her on her toes.  The pleading look she gave him should have sparked some sort of sympathy.  Unlucky for her, he didn’t feel anymore.  He glanced at her once before starting for the door.  

    She screamed at him, the echo’s of a demon.  They might as well have been the sweet tweets of a canary for all the attention Sam gave them.  He rode away feeling oddly liberated. 

    She watched him leave, hatred swirling through her.  This should have been easy.  She turned toward her companion.  “I thought you said he was ready?”

    He smiled.  No glow radiated from him.  He was as dark as death and just as seductive.  “No matter.  You can finish him later.”  He held out a hand to her.  “We have enough to keep us entertained for the evening.”

    She twirled on her heels.  He always knew how to brighten her mood.  He was right.  She would deal with Sam McGee another time.

    The seminar was torture to get through, but Sam had managed.  His head throbbed with thunderous pain.  His body ached as though he had been in a brawl last night.  The events were still a bit foggy.  He couldn’t quite remember everything.  There had been that woman.  He didn’t regret leaving when he did.  She had been off.

    He made his way back to his apartment in sort of a daze.  Traffic was horrible.  He had to take a different route than usual.  He sighed when the door thudded closed.  He opened the fridge, searching for anything edible.  No luck.  He groaned.  He didn’t feel like going out, and he had already had pizza this week.  He ordered Chinese and hopped in the shower.

    He was toweling his hair when a knock rang out.  He flicked the TV on and went for the door.
    “Hey, Lin, come on in.  I just need to get my wallet.”

    “Make it a big tip.  I got rent to pay tomorrow,” said the delivery boy.

    Sam laughed.  Lin was the only person he knew that had to pay rent weekly.  “When have I ever been a stingy tipper?”

    Sam couldn’t quite grasp what Lin was saying.  He was too distracted by the image on the TV.  “Hang on a minute.”  Sam sprinted to the remote and turned up the sound.

    Jo’s bar was ablaze.  Fire trucks surrounded the building.  Their attempts at controlling the inferno seemed hopeless.  Sam felt a tightness clench his insides. 

    The anchorman sat casually in his chair and straightened the papers in his hand.  “In other news,” he said in a tone better suited to forecasting the weather.  “A local bar burns to the ground.  Fifteen found dead in the rubble.  Names have not been released.  Tune in at ten for more details.”

    Lin walked up to Sam shaking his head.  “Yeah, I drove by there just now.  It’s why I’m late.  The place looks like a bomb went off.  Don’t you go there sometimes?”

  10. I read the tweet, and dropped my ice cream cone. I probably left my mouth open for a full minute before I could speak again.

    Sometimes a little knowledge is dangerous, like running on a tightrope. Sometimes it slides off your brain like water off a duck‘s back.

    This time it stuck, leaving a splendid warm surprise tickling my neurons and a spiritual uplifting floaty-gloaty feeling like I had a-seen the True Light an’ a-been barn ag’in.

    “You’re mumbling in that gadawful accent again,” said Shane.

    “Shane,” I said, “we’re on the NYT Bestseller list!”

  11. Shane Arthur says:

    programming note: It was only yesterday where I was a father enjoying F Day. Today I’m Mr. Mom so I’ll comment later tonight when everything isn’t crazy.
    Welcome to the new CCC folks! Great to have you.

  12. Was on vacation all last week, so this my first one in a while.  Here is today’s poem entry.

    Viral Message
    Ice cream dropped
    idiotic event worth no tweet
    yet splendid responses pour in
    minute knowledge spreading
    life statement as relevant
    as a duck leaving a barn
    true idiocy in simplicity
    and some think going viral
    as hard as walking on a tightrope

    • Welcome back, Justin. You’ve gotten right back into the groove with a thoughtful poem.
      It’s amazing the dumb stuff that goes viral. Like a summer cold…sigh.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Justin G: I missed your submissions, man. Great to have you back. And I love your style.

      • Thanks Shane and I feel bad that I am too busy to read everybody elses fine entries, I try to read as many as I can when I have the time, but sheesh sometimes with 130+ comments and some great stories are a thousand words long it is almost impossible to give everyone’s submissions a look.  I don’t know how you do it as site moderator, I would never have the time to commit to reading so many entries.

        • Shane Arthur says:

          @Justin: I know what you mean. It helps that I’ve done a TON of proofing/editing. I can read a 500-page book in three days. My reading has gotten faster through the years. But, yeah, keeping up with the CCC is tough. The last three months or so, comments come in so fast that they disappear off my admin screen and I have to go to the actual page to make sure I didn’t forget anybody. So far we have over 16,200 comments since we started this site. That’s awesome, but tough to tame.

    • Chris Fries says:

      Great to have you and your wonderful poetry back, Justin!
      I love this!  So many deep and insightful technological advances used for such inane and pointless stuff…
      <heavy god-like techno voice> “I bring you High-definition television using miracles of technology to bring you entertainment in your own home!” 

      …Ooohhh…  Jersey Shore is on!

      “I bring you the awesome power of the internet, allowing instant interconnectedness and imediate access to all the world’s knowledge of the ages!” 

      …Oooohhh…. I need to tweet that I just farted!

  13. Rebecca says:

    I remember it was a splendid day for the circus. We drove past a big, red barn on our way to the city. There was a pond in front of it with one duck paddling about. I could hear the birds tweet; it was a happy day. We pulled into the parking lot of the arena – it seemed to go on forever. I never saw so many cars in my life. I didn’t have much knowledge about the circus; I was only seven-years-old at the time. Mom held my hand while dad held my brother’s. There were so many people. I was so excited; I was allowed to have anything I wanted that day. I liked the elephants, but the clowns scared me. It was true what my brother said, “Clowns wear makeup so you can’t see their real faces. They don’t want you to see who they are.” I remember a man dressed in red introduce The Dragomir Family Tightrope Walkers. Dad said they were from Romania. I didn’t know where that was at the time. I remember looking up at them. They seemed tiny. And then it happened. The man, the tightrope walker, dropped to his death a minute after he stepped onto the high wire. My ice cream cone dropped from my hands and hit the ground. Splat!

    • Lydia says:

      Ugh, what a horrible way to end a day! That would be truly terrifying.

    • Reminds me of the traumatic even that Robin (from Batman comics) had at the circus and lost his family.

    • Isn’t it awful the way an otherwise beautiful day is tainted forever? This is so wonderfully written. I hope it’s all fiction, though. Because what you did with the tightrope and ice cream cone is brilliant!

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Rebecca: It’s amazing how your story popped open a memory in my head long since forgotten. I was three perhaps and at the circus. I remember the elephants and the people walking behind them with big pooper scoopers. Seems about the only thing I remember, that and the scary clowns. Nice write.

    • C Rich says:

      The great thing about this is that it feel real.  It has me wondering if it is, and that is a good write.  Wonderful job, Rebecca.

    • Chris Fries says:

      I loved the circus imagery, Rebecca!
      Although death and dropped ice cream kind of put the dampers on a fun care-free day…  ;^)
      Great stuff!  Well done!

  14. Lydia says:

    “Have you discovered anything yet?”
    “Yes. My ice cream saturation has dropped to a dangerously low level. We may even have to resort to frozen yogurt to save the patient. ” Decades of old documents piled around them.
    “Very funny, Ed. I meant about the case.”
    “I miss computers. They share more knowledge in a hot minute than these old papers dribble out in a week.” Marlene rolled her eyes.
    “Ok, what about Adela and Reverend Pritchett? Any information on their relationship or whether he was a smoker?”
    “No, but we can send away for Dr. Peter’s French Renovating Pills to purify your lady parts and ensure that your lover stays true,” he said with a grin, holding up an ad that had been laminated. “It’s only a dollar for the entire bottle!”
    “You do know what those pills actually did, right?”
    “The next time we go to the library google it. Or maybe Antoine could tweet about it again for you. Last night he said his tweeter friends are still re-twittering your last question.”
    “But do they agree on the answer yet? The Internet is only as smart as the dumbest person who answers any given question.”
    “Be that as it may the historical society closes at 6. Keep digging.” For a time Ed grew as somber as a blindfolded duck walking across a tightrope. As he reached for the next file folder a small book slowly slid out of one of the stacks like a drowsy cow walking back to the barn after a long day of grazing in the hot sun.
    “What is it?” Marlene asked.
    “I don’t know. A weather recording journal, maybe? I’ve flipped through half a dozen of those so far.” He opened the front cover and began reading spidery handwriting. J.P.
    This J.P. character sure does like the word splendid. Apparently everything and everyone in Paradise could be described using that world in 1908.I wonder if this is our Jonas Pritchett?” Another long moment of silence. “Do you remember those rejuvenating pills I was teasing you about?” he asked suddenly.
    Olivia Small rubbed her thumb against a deep scratch in the corner of her desk as a decade-old pop song bubbled through the receiver.
    “Paradise Police Department,” a pleasant voice suddenly dropped into the climax of the song cutting off the flow of the music. “Thank you for holding. This is Deputy Greene speaking.”
    ” Is Deputy Velasquez in today?”
    “Yes. One moment please. What is this regarding?”
    “The graveyard disturbance two nights ago.”

  15. Rebecca says:

    @ Lydia … Yeah, it was a bummer.
    BTW … I love the suspense of your story!

      • KathleenL says:

        Lydia — I have to admit this is my first installment of this story to have the pleasure of reading. I found myself wanting to read more. And to find out there is more… wonderful I am looking forward to the book and reading more as we go along.  I loved how you threw in the part about the old-time ad for the wonder-pills… and yah… some of us will be heading to Google to google it and see if there were ad for just the same. LOL

  16. maria says:

    “Marva, that outfit is simply splendid,” gushed the Fat Lady. It was true. LouAnn might have been as big as a barn, but she had intimate knowledge of fashion. As she slurped her ice cream, she dropped little hints about how I should accessorize. “Honey,” she began, handing me a silk scarf and some glitter for my hair, “the minute you tiptoe out on the tightrope, the crowd will be in your pocket.”
    Sidney, the man with the ‘talking duck’, stopped by our tent on his way to supper. “Whoo-ee, Marva! That’ll have ‘em talking!” I shooed him out, deciding to tweet my sister, when I heard a soft thump. I turned to see LouAnn lying face up, her face a ghastly purple. It was just my luck to have somebody drop dead in my tent right before our first show. Everybody that was anybody knew, that was bad luck.

  17. maria says:

    Shane, excellent job of dialog characterization.

  18. Rebecca says:

    @ Justin … OMG! I forgot about Batman and how Robin lost his parents at the circus. I wonder if that was in one of the Batman movies. I can’t remember.
    @ Mitch … Thanks! It’s fiction. I wrote the ending first and the rest of the story came together. I couldn’t resist the “Splat!” part. It’s a bit gruesome but entertaining at the same time.
    @ Shane … Thanks! I wasn’t a big fan of clowns for a long time. My aunt’s collection of clown statues used to freak me out as a kid. Years later, I read and watched It by Stephen King which really freaked me out. I’m much better now; I read a lot of self-help books on pushing past fear. Lol…

  19. Chris Fries says:

    Hey, sorry I missed yesterday  — I was totally swamped!  But here’s my offering for this prompt:
    Brother Mine

    It’s what any brother would do, right?

    John was five years older than me.  As a kid, I was his tag-along kid brother.

    Growing up, we spent most days with me following him everywhere he went, rushing to keep up like a waddling baby duck following its mother.  Most evenings, I would sit, rapt with attention, as the minutes stretched into hours while John imparted his great knowledge about the world to my wondering ears.  I used to take each word John said to be as true as the Gospel.

    John told me about cars.  He told me about baseball and which players were the best.  He told me about girls.  Out in the barn, he showed me the first Playboy magazine I ever saw.  He taught me about life.  John gave me my first cigarette, my first beer, and my first joint.  Thankfully, he never passed on any of the harder stuff he tried.

    John taught me how to defend myself in a fight, usually by sitting on me and pummeling me after he’d first dropped me to the ground.  He taught me how to deal with loss by stealing my ice cream.  He taught me how to conquer my fears by making me cross a tightrope he’d hung between two tall trees, and then, after I broken my leg in the fall, he taught me about getting stronger by kicking me while I lay there crying.

    John was a splendid brother.

    Still, after I left the farm for college, I managed to lose touch with him.  I saw him again after our parents died in the fire, but that was been the only time in three years.  He hadn’t changed; just gotten older.

    Another seven years later and I was living in Alexandria, Virginia and working in Washington.  I’d last heard that John was in Chicago, but I didn’t know much beyond that.

    Then I found out about the inheritance. 

    Who knew that we’d had a wealthy uncle all this time, and that we were the only heirs of a sizable fortune?  So, of course I wanted to find John.

    But I didn’t have an address, or a phone number.  John didn’t have any Internet presence, either — no blog, no Facebook page, no e-mail address that I could find, and he definitely didn’t tweet.  I had to hire a private investigator that I could trust, and we began to track down John through arrest records.

    Drug possession.  Public Intoxication.  Theft.  Burglary.  Assault.  A series of referrals to psychiatric hospitals.  It seems John had not been doing well.  He was last listed as being out of prison, although he was believed to be homeless.  But by canvassing the missions and soup kitchens, the PI managed to find John.

    I came to Chicago, and we came to where John was living — more or less — in a tattered pile of cast-off metal and cardboard in an alley underneath a stretch of the L.  He didn’t look good.  He was bearded, wrinkled, and smelly.  His eyes were rheumy and yellow.  He had teeth missing.

    But he was my brother.

    And a millionaire.

    So I thanked the PI and sent him on his way.  I wanted to be alone when I reconnected with John.

    He didn’t seem to know me when I first spoke.  He reeked of urine and cheap wine, and he seemed to have trouble focusing.  It took some prodding, but he finally realized who I was.

    I told him I was there to give him great news.  He initially didn’t believe me when I told him about the money, but he eventually came around.  I told him I was very happy to let him know about it and to give him his fair share.

    Then, I stood and, as a train roared by on the overhead, I shot him.

    Twice, just to be sure.

    It’s what any brother would do, right?

  20. Rebecca says:

    @ Chris … No, it’s my creation. I’m toying with writing in ‘first-person’ so I can feel and see how different it is from writing in second or third person.

    • Chris Fries says:

      @Rebecca:  No — I’m sorry.  That “put a damper on the day” I wrote was supposed to be totally tongue-in-cheek.  I LIKED the twists of the fall and the dropped ice cream and how the “plop” kind of worked for both.  I apologize for going for cute and not being clear.

  21. Rebecca says:

    @ Chris … Lol! Glad you liked the twists…

    • KathleenL says:

      Chris — I like this… tongue-in-cheek it is; great twist to your story. I can’t wait to catch up some and read more of your ditties.

  22. KathleenL says:

    It is a fine line… Isabella walks much akin to a  tightrope,  she
    thought … fear… fear that one dropped
    barrier will provide anyone, including strangers, access to the true knowledge of how she feels.
    Disaster she assures herself will follow if she lets the barn door open for even a minute.
    She stays hidden, ducking her
    deer-in-the-headlights eyes beneath the large casually sloppy brimmed sun-hat
    that aids in camouflaging the world for her.  She artfully lets her tongue trail across the
    wet smooth surface; a mix of warmth, cold and creaminess.


    “Splendid,” she
    says lightly to no one but herself.

     The tweeting of
    the bird above her trumpeted the pleasure she was receiving as her tongue made
    repeated contact with the Chunky Monkey ice

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Kathleen: What a character! I feel for Isabella here. I want to eat that ice cream with her and tell her she’ll be okay. More of this.

      P.S. How have you been?

    • Chris Fries says:

      Very nice, Kathleen!  The emotional content is gripping, and I’m left with a warm feeling of hope, from something as simple as an ice cream cone.

  23. KathleenL says:

    there Shane!

    know… Isabella is a hoot to me too. I love her. She may be some of the best
    of me…. LOL

    as for me… Sigh. I am ………. Okay, today. So much of my grief is
    overwhelming at times… but I spend more hours, and yes I did say hours,
    instead of minutes, smiling. Admittedly, I hate my new reality. It sucks. But
    that which does not kill us makes us stronger. Like the ballmoments when we have an inkling to
    call our loved one… to yah know… to do something simple like help lift
    something. L who would have thought
    that could make me cry, but baul like a baby it did. 

    charges having been filed and the one judge finding that, On Good Friday — in
    the 4-5 hours of testimony at the Preliminary Hearing there was enough
    compelling information testified to to bind the booooooogarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
    over for trial on 9 charges… we have the opportunity impending in … oh about September-ish,
    to stand up for Ethan. Many of us.

    have been blessed with a few weeks worth of visits with our
    not-quite-daughter-in-law. And that too has been good. I think she likes it
    because we don’t walk on egg shells around her, as she feels others are.

    am trying to figure out how to help the girls (my daughters age 18 and 15) get
    through this. And then I worry about the hubby. And the others in our
    layered-like an onion family, let alone myself. Really disappointed in myself sometimes…
    unprepared and all.

    My middle Stepson found out that his gal was pregnant the same week they found
    out about Ethan’s murder; asked permission to name the impending son after his
    brother. Little Ethan James Walton was born 5 days before the anniversary of
    his namesake’s birthday… in May!  I am
    going to write a booklet for the new little Ethan James so he knows all he can
    about his namesake.

    am trying to get back here more often. I have written. Written moving stuff.
    Been too sad at times… but today, today I am on the mend. I hope all is well

    • Chris Fries says:

      Hello Kathleen,
      Since I stumbled onto the CCC only a few months ago, I was unaware of the backstory behind your post until I read this, and then found the earlier posting by Shane, and then did some looking up of the articles regarding the case.
      I know they are only mere words, but let me tell you how much I am enraged and saddened by what happened; how deeply I felt the horrible loss of Ethan and the pain and trauma that his girlfriend had to endure; and how hopeful I am that — while it can never be forgotten — eventually some level of peace and closure may come to you and her and all the friends and family that have had to experience this outrageous tragedy.  I wish for a speedy resolution to the trials, with the deserved justice enforced, and for you and everyone touched by this horrible loss and trauma to be able to make it through the pain, and to eventually find serenity.
      You and your family all have my deepest thoughts and prayers of healing and support.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Kathleen: Be strong. Your CCC family had you in their thoughts. 🙂

      • KathleenL says:

        Chris — Yah… it’s been a tough year. Thanks for caring enough to look it up. I promise to keep trying to make it through this mess still standing on two feet. Welcome aboard, albeit belated, but you came during my absence LOL.
        Shane — you are right the CCC Family is STILL MY Family and for that I am grateful. Even when I am silent and/or lurking in the shadows (under the big floppy brim of a sun hat) I know that I have the prayers of many here… and they do help. More than I can say, but know that they comfort me… which enable me to comfort the others in my family. yah’ll are some of the wind beneath my wings.

  24. Anne Maybus says:

    To my knowledge, this is a true story.

    One splendid but hot summer morning when my grandfather was a boy, he wandered over to the barn, eating an ice cream as he went.    He heard a strange, guttural tweet from above and as he looked up he saw a bird swinging on a branch overhead.

    It looked like some exotic bird, ungainly and awkward as though balanced on a tightrope.  As he got closer he saw that it was a duck and it was having trouble gripping the branch with its webbed feet.   He knew the duck was going to fall and suddenly it dropped, beak first towards the ground.

    My grandfather says that he dived and caught the duck, cradling it safely in his arms.  He put it down on the ground where it sat dazed for a minute.

    The whole thing happened in the blink of an eye but the best part was that he didn’t even spill his ice-cream.  But he did share it with the duck.

  25. Chris Fries says:


    (Whoops! Hit the wrong comment link and so this didn’t get linked to Anne’s original post)

    Why that lucky duck — If your grandfather hadn’t come along, he would have broken his beak and not gotten any ice cream!
    Great story, Anne!

  26. Martha says:

    The little girl listened to the bird tweet its morning song.  It was a catchy tune, luring her into the summer’s day. In the distance she could hear the ice cream truck tinkling its bells in counterpoint to the birdsong. Nature was quickly forgotten as first her brain and then her mouth translated the truck’s message to certain knowledge that if she had enough money in her pocket, the ice cold treat would be hers within minutes. Too late, with the taste of strawberry almost on her tongue, she remembered she had dropped her birthday quarter in the piggybank just last night with a splendid clink, and she savoured the memory of the bank’s comforting solidness in her hand, the same way her dad would heft the new piglets to gauge their weight each week in the barn. She ran the tightrope of emotion in her heart: would she stay true to her dream to save up for her own little lamb or would she duck her responsibility? “Hey! Do you want an ice cream or not? The spotty teen’s harsh command blistered her ears. She stared, wordless, her lip wobbling.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Martha: GREAT, GREAT WRITE! So touching, sweet and heart-pulling. It reminded me of this huge pig piggybank I used to have as a kid.

  27. Jake says:

    Just need a break from Howard for a while….
    “Tired of walking the tightrope each and every minute, and having knowledge of the splendid dropped price of ice cream, Carlos decided to be true to himself, sent a tweet to his brother Lawrence, left the safety and comfort of the barn and made his way to the Frozen Duck.”

  28. Jen says:

    Darla ducked behind the dairy shed and made her way toward the threshing barn. The Community glowed under the vast rows of street lamps Patrick had had installed after her last attempt at escape. He had struggled to coax her back with splendid little lies, spinning his words in an endless spiderweb he no longer controlled, was not able to sustain.  Darla knew too much to surrender, but she also knew too much to fight him. Not then.
    For the next three weeks, she held the knowledge of his impotence on her tongue like ice cream, savoring the taste and texture of her rising power. She formed her plan, tripping a tightrope of her imminent betrayal while attending to her regular Community business. Finally, the day of escape arrived. Her plan flitted through her throughout the day, like a tweeting bird, reminding her of what to do and how and when.
    When she had first arrived here, the stillness of night descending on The Community calmed her. It seemed true, like a shimmering thing she could never have dreamed. As she crouched behind the shed and caught her breath, she reviewed the details. Patrick had known every single word that would make her stay. She hated herself for being so stupid. For being such an easy target. A walking bullseye for the bully he was. She heard the fall of footsteps in the distance and she tried to make herself even smaller, willing her vague shadow to shrink with her breathing.
    The footsteps receded, but Darla wanted to make sure. She thought of her first days at The Community. She thought how everything smelled clean, like a new baby, and how her tiniest wishes seemed to become reality before she knew she wanted anything.
    “Bastard.” She spat the whispered word into the dirt at her feet and began crouching for the barn. That pause behind the shed stirred up every minute detail of his wickedness. The reality dropped like acid into her stomach, made her feet fall silently past the lights unseen, into the barn where she could pass through into open pasture. Once on the other side of the barn, she picked up her pace.
    She heard the footsteps coming her way and then she heard her name. “Darla! Darla honey! You get back here.”
    Darla did not look back. She did not think. She pushed her feet into a full on sprint and prayed.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Jen: Another excellent installment. I’m not going to tell you why, but this submission reminded me of an excellent book called Manhattan Nocturne. You’d love it.

  29. Catching up. Just one more to go!

    Roger looked away, towards the bar, but it seemed like he was looking behind it, into the great nothingness. “You want to know the strangest thing about my little mechanical box? Every once in a while it would give off a little tweet.”
    Katie cocked her head. “You mean it has Twitter?”
    “No, it tweets. Like a bird. The box whistles. Not mechanical whizzes and whistles, but more like a song of a bird.”
    Over the speakers, the party host announced to the guests that ice cream was available at the concessions now. Roger and Katie didn’t budge. Their conversation was too deep now. Katie wanted to soak in as much knowledge as she could about this little box.
    “Ok, so what?” Katie asked. “Your box tweets like a bird. Anything else? I want every minute detail.”
    “I thought I dropped just about everything possible by now. I’ve only had it for the last week or so. There isn’t much more than that.”
    Splendid!” exclaimed Katie, with a smirk on her face.
    Roger made a questionable look on his face. “What? Why?”
    “If what you say is indeed true, you need to bring the box to a safe place. The first step is somewhere outside of the city.”
    “Where do you propose we take it?”asked Roger.
    “My family used to have a farm just a few miles outside of town. We could keep it in the barn.”
    “What do you intend to do with it once we have it there?”
    “I don’t know. Keep it safe. We’re walking on a very delicate tightrope right now. If we tell others about your box, they’ll either think we’re crazy or they’ll come after us; however, if we don’t tell anyone, then we’re stuck with the box. What do you think we’re supposed to do?”
    Roger gazed beyond Katie, looking for the right words for his reply, but before he could say anything, his eyes nearly popped out of their sockets. And he shouted, “Katie! Duck!”

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Matt: It was so cool reading this AFTER CCC 154. I feel like I”m watching a Terintino movie this way. Write on.

  30. Kelly says:


    A mile a minute, her brain went. Never could stop that girl when she’d learned something new. Knowledge dropped from her lips like rivers of ice cream down a cone on the 4th of July; true stories of blue ducks in mating season and enormous Amish hexes on barns, splendid statues to obscure antiheroes and tightrope-walkers over Niagara Falls. On and on she tweeted like a bird, until a month had passed and I could stand it no more.

    Oh, Lord. Yes.

    You got me.

    I confess!

    I threw her copy of Ripley’s Believe It or Not in the dumpster.

  31. […] out, quite a few of these seeds have taken root in the form of a prompt-inspired vignette , poem or philosophical outburst. All credit goes to the prompters and the tender care of the Muses. In fact, none of those writings […]

  32. […] out, quite a few of these seeds have taken root in the form of a prompt-inspired vignette , poem or philosophical outburst. All credit goes to the prompters and the tender care of the Muses. In fact, none of those writings […]

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