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Wild Words

Wild Words

Автором Robert Holt

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Wild Words

Автором Robert Holt

Длина:
407 pages
5 hours
Издатель:
Издано:
Jan 6, 2014
ISBN:
9781310560606
Формат:
Книге

Описание

Whether you are young or old, writing can be an enjoyable experience, a great hobby, or a decent job. Yet at times, writers need a little help generating ideas for things to write about. Doubtless, you have heard of “writer’s block,” the dreaded condition of being unable to think of anything to write. Sometimes, a writer, just like an old car, needs a kick-start. That’s where our group, The Writers Kickstart Group comes in. Twice each month, we gather and share short stories based on “prompts” provided at the previous meeting.
A prompt is an idea, usually given as a few words, or a phrase, and submitted to the group by its members. Usually, two or more prompts are presented, and the individual writer may use either one as the basis for a short story, or combine them, or simply generate their own ideas. If you’ve been skimming through the Table of Contents, you have already seen forty-four examples of prompts, the Chapter headings.

It doesn’t even matter whether the word or phrase appears in the story, the prompts are simply available to stimulate ideas for writing. And you will see that each writer derives wildly different stories or poems from each prompt.

For streamlining our group meetings, we have only one rule...a very loose rule...that each author try to limit the text to about five-hundred words, which technically makes it “flash fiction” (stories of less than 1000 words), so that everyone has a chance to read their story to the group during each meeting. That doesn’t always work, but we have found that up to twenty members can easily read their work to the group within a two-hour time frame.

Each chapter of our anthology provides one example of a prompt we have used within the past year, and some of the wild ideas our various authors have written based on that prompt. You will note that while some of the prompts generate a great many good ideas, some completely fizzle, and our authors choose something else to write about. You will also find that some of these stories could be assigned to more than one prompt, as their authors have combined two or more prompts for that particular story. It’s something that’s often fun to try, and sometimes it works amazingly well. At any rate, you’ll find quite a bit of variation in what different writers have written with each prompt. You’ll note that we have elected to begin each chapter with a short poem. Oh, you’ll also find that some of the stories and poems are definitely adult fare, and NOT for the children.

Издатель:
Издано:
Jan 6, 2014
ISBN:
9781310560606
Формат:
Книге

Об авторе

Robert Holt is a retired field biologist, having performed biodiversity surveys, and a former science teacher, having taught earth science, biology, chemistry, and physics at the secondary level. Beyond writing science curriculum and providing technical editing for science text books, he is currently working on two anthologies of speculative fiction, and two novels. Phil’s hobbies include nature photography and collecting fossils, rocks and minerals. Although he and his wife presently reside in Washington, his mind is often somewhere on Mars, or out in space, because...well, after all, his father was from Alpha Centauri...but that’s another story...

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Wild Words - Robert Holt

Preface

Whether you are young or old, writing can be an enjoyable experience, a great hobby, or a decent job. Yet at times, writers need a little help generating ideas for things to write about. Doubtless, you have heard of writer’s block, the dreaded condition of being unable to think of anything to write. Sometimes, a writer, just like an old car, needs a kick-start. That’s where our group, The Writers Kickstart Group comes in. Twice each month, we gather and share short stories based on prompts provided at the previous meeting.

A prompt is an idea, usually given as a few words, or a phrase, and submitted to the group by its members. Usually, two or more prompts are presented, and the individual writer may use either one as the basis for a short story, or combine them, or simply generate their own ideas. If you’ve been skimming through the Table of Contents, you have already seen forty-four examples of prompts, the Chapter headings.

It doesn’t even matter whether the word or phrase appears in the story, the prompts are simply available to stimulate ideas for writing. And you will see that each writer derives wildly different stories or poems from each prompt.

For streamlining our group meetings, we have only one rule...a very loose rule...that each author try to limit the text to about five-hundred words, which technically makes it flash fiction (stories of less than 1000 words), so that everyone has a chance to read their story to the group during each meeting. That doesn’t always work, but we have found that up to twenty members can easily read their work to the group within a two-hour time frame.

Each chapter of our anthology provides one example of a prompt we have used within the past year, and some of the wild ideas our various authors have written based on that prompt. You will note that while some of the prompts generate a great many good ideas, some completely fizzle, and our authors choose something else to write about. You will also find that some of these stories could be assigned to more than one prompt, as their authors have combined two or more prompts for that particular story. It’s something that’s often fun to try, and sometimes it works amazingly well. At any rate, you’ll find quite a bit of variation in what different writers have written with each prompt. You’ll note that we have elected to begin each chapter with a short poem. Oh, you’ll also find that some of the stories and poems are definitely adult fare, and NOT for the children.

We hope you enjoy!

Chapter 1: Standing Here Naked

TRUTH ON THE BEACH

D. Ellsworth Hoag

Clothing optional read the sign on the landward side of the beach

The words I understood, the full meaning I couldn’t breach

But I’d come here from some distance to stroll along the shore

To listen to the seabirds call and hear the ocean roar.

So fully dressed I began to walk with my shoes in one hand

And only my feet naked with toes shoved into the sand

Then I turned around and breathed in deep the golden day

And watched as tiny wavelets washed my prints away.

Back on course, to my amazement, a multitude was there

Wearing only glasses and occasional ornament in the hair

Now this I find quite strange, as strange as it can be

I was embarrassed as the only clothed one I could see.

So now I’m standing here naked, as naked as can be

With my pudgy little belly and my festoons hanging free

And I’m feeling rather silly for with my body type

Being a nudist is just ridiculous, despite all the hype.

NAKED

Neely A. Stratton

The truth is she barely heard the first few speakers. She stood and clapped at the right cues. She nodded in understanding when it was expected and gasped in disbelief at all the right moments. But her mind was dwelling in a parallel universe, imagining herself in the current speaker’s place. She wondered if she would get applause or commiserating nods.

She knew logically that if she just spoke her truth, the others would understand, but she had never spoken publicly before and the fear underlying her own expectations had almost bolted her to her seat. It was coming up on the time when she would have to raise her hand, stand and walk to the podium. She had been working toward this moment for more than a month.

Should she tell them about the last black out, the moment when she flew back into her body in a dark alley, bags of trash cradling her body? The bum standing over her with his rotten breath extended a hand to help her up and she took it, ashamed and beaten. That was the moment she knew she would have to confront herself, rewrite her truth.

She wondered how detailed she would need to be, how much honesty she could afford herself in a room full of strangers. Did she mention the binges and the strangers she had known intimately? Did she talk about her preferences, the cool slide of a shot of tequila down her inflamed throat? Would she mention the family parties, the times when her own father had escorted her to the door and asked her in his gruff and guilty voice to leave?

She lacked a back story, a reason for her addiction. She couldn’t compete with the tales of abuse and mental illness. She simply liked the taste of liquor and had ever since her first drink in college. While her friends saved their parties for the weekend blowouts, she was secretly sipping her poison between classes and late at night in the privacy of her single dorm room. A room she had applied for primarily because she didn’t want to share her secret vice with anyone else.

She left college only two years into it, in pursuit of a good time that slowly eroded into drunken episodes and a crazy patchwork quilt of temporary jobs lost and found. She thought maybe, if she could do this, embrace those twelve simple steps, perhaps she would be accepted back into the bosom of her beloved family. After all, she was only twenty. She had a life ahead of her if only she could reach out and grasp it.

The time had come; the applause for the speaker had died down. The host was asking for volunteers. She tentatively raised her hand, slowly wiggling her fingers in the air. The host beckoned her forward and she climbed the three stairs to the stage, gripping the podium and staring out at a sea of curious faces. At first, she was stricken speechless until she met the host’s eyes and he nodded slowly and smiled at her.

Hi. My name is Leslie and I am an alcoholic, she said, her voice rising gradually as she spun into her story. Afterwards, she couldn’t even remember what she said, but they clapped and they commiserated.

In that moment, when she was standing naked in front of her peers, she finally felt free.

STANDING THERE NAKED

Susan Brown

Standing there naked, I realized I had made one, or perhaps two, very poor choices. As the spray from the fountain dappled my goosebumped skin, I stepped forward into the waiting arms of the law.

Have you got an explanation for this, lady? A wide-bellied cop, name tag Anderson, draped a coarse blanket around my shivering shoulders. His tired eyes declared he had seen it all, so I turned to him with relief. I needed desperately to unburden my plebeian soul.

It was because of Tristen, I said, somehow thinking that would explain everything. Of course if he had known Tristen, it would have explained everything.

Tristen Alexander. Even his name has class. I met him three months and eleven days ago, when I waitressed the opening of some big art exhibit. Tristen glided around the room in his silk suit greeting people, making witty remarks and oozing the charm and education that set him apart from every other man I had laid eyes on. Naturally he would never have noticed me—a short, slightly rounded, slightly worn-down waitress—if it hadn’t been for the blonde who made a snide remark, then klutzed into my tray, sending champagne glasses flying. One glass sprayed her hair, then dripped like a sleazy advertisement into her scant cleavage. Another spewed itself over Tristen’s perfect suit. The rest splattered indiscriminately across anyone in a four-foot radius. The shattering glass was epic.

I should have groveled, mopped up, and otherwise acted out my lowly position. But I have this problem. Just when you think this shy, sloppy, not too well-educated female is going to accept the role the universe slapped on her, she (meaning me) gets damned ornery. Seeing the stick blonde sputtering and swearing like a slum queen struck me as crazy funny, so I started to laugh. A full belly laugh, not an appropriate smirk and tinkle. Tristen’s blue eyes widened, and then he started to laugh, too. So there were the two of us, dripping bubbly, standing in the ruins of elegance, laughing like a pair of hyenas.

And it was love at first sight. Or lust. Who knows? I went home with him that night. We showered ourselves clean of champagne, and I moved in with him a week later. For about two months, it was all champagne and laughs and me feeling like I had won the lottery with this gorgeous, rich, elegant man. He called me his Original Woman and Feminine Masterpiece of Unspoiled Reality. (Tristen tended to talk in capital letters, or maybe italics, depending on his mood.)

I went with him to art galleries, art films, and operas. I liked the paintings, especially Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, thought they should have used color in the movies, and wished I could understand the glorious songs coming from the throats of those singers. Tristen was not interested in my family get-togethers, popular movies or baseball. He said that part of my life was a cliché that he declined to perpetuate. Stupid me, I thought that was funny, too.

It became less funny a couple of months later when he stopped calling me an Original Woman and started on Poster Child for the Masses. I was still caught up in the champagne, silk suits and glorious feeling of being singled out and special, so I ignored it. Within a week, I’d lost the title of Feminine Masterpiece of Unspoiled Reality and became Someone Without an Original Thought in Her Head. To give him credit, Tristen tried to expose me to classic original thoughts. We watched a clip of the streaker on the Academy Awards when David Niven never missed a beat. He read aloud from The Stranger. (My recommendation—give it a miss. You wouldn’t want to even meet these people, let alone read about them.) We watched about twelve more art films.

It got a bit ugly when I asked, if he was so damned original, how come he sold other people’s art, read other people’s stories, and watched other people’s films instead of making them himself.

I could see the big breakup on the horizon, and I wasn’t going quietly into that good night. That’s when I came up with my genius semi-original idea.

We were scheduled for a big charity ball at the ritziest hotel in town. Tristen was doing his damnedest to leave me out, but like I said, there is this stubborn streak in me, and I wasn’t buying.

When we got to the party, he started flirting with the stick blonde of the spilled champagne. I watched for awhile, endured a few pitying smirks, then put my plan into action. In a secluded alcove behind a palm, I dropped all my fancy clothes. Taking a breath, I streaked through the party, zig zagging and shrieking like an opera star. Just when the dropped jaws were starting to flap, I winged a balled-up Dear John letter at Tristen and shot out the front door.

The plan was to retrieve the gym bag of clothes I’d left in the bushes earlier. Fiasco. The bag was gone. I wasn’t singing like an opera star now. For a few minutes I huddled behind the shrubs, but when the security guards started shining flashlights around, I bolted across the front entrance, praying I could grab a taxi. No luck. Circled by flashlights, I dove into the hotel’s fountain.

When I heard the sirens, I gave up. Rising like Aphrodite From the Sea, I emerged into Officer Anderson’s arms. When they interviewed Tristen, he made such an ass of himself that Officer Anderson loaned me fifty bucks to pay the fine. I repaid him by getting baseline seats at the next home game. We toasted Tristen with draught beer. A few months later, when I stood naked on my wedding night, I realized I had made one or two very good choices after all.

NAKED

Karl A. Kummin

He stood there naked when his brother introduced him to his future sister-in-law. Jake was home for the wedding, had just finished his shower when Jerry and his fiancé, Kelly came down the hall. The house of his parents had been built in the late 1950’s, there was no vent fan. Jake was in the habit of opening the door to void the steam during and after his poaching.

And this is my brother, Jake, he heard Jerry say. Hi, Kelly, welcome to the family. Jake learned years later as told by Kelly, that Jerry had then taken her to his bedroom and shown her the way Mom folded his tee shirts. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, Kelly thinks. Where am I? I meet his naked brother, now I’m listening to a garment creasing lecture. Jerry learned to launder and fold his own clothes.

Accessible skin remained of significance to Jake in all his years of being. He often wondered over the question when he heard it as a young boy, if you had to choose, would you rather be blind or deaf? The sense of touch was never considered. It was granted, a fixture of humans, it was there and could not be lost. Jake had been to the dentist, had surgery, had sutures, he knew it could be lost if only temporarily.

Years later Jake had heard a story on NPR long before it became National Republican Radio. The piece told of a woman who had lost her sense of touch due to a very rare illness. No sense of pain, no sense of space, she felt most comfortable in a swimming pool. The story ended with her plea, i want my body back.

You are the most unembarrassed, most unassuming man i have ever met. Jake was standing naked in her bedroom. They had met online some weeks before. He had never been interested in undressing as a part of foreplay. What gave rise to him both literally and figuratively was, and is, her fingers, his fingers running, exploring gently, at times heavily the vast canvass, the grand covering of human form. Jake marveled how skin, the large external organ, fit the body stretching over bone, vein, muscle. In the young with no wrinkle, the old showing hazards of gravity. If beauty was skin deep, it was a very good start. He would at times liken a woman’s breast to a ski slope. The top beginning slowly, the curve down increasing quickly at the mogul of the nipple, abruptly changing upward, then a cliff, a reverse curve in the overhang, another steep curve downward melding to a gentle repeal. Skiing without snow, his hands knew these slopes, they had become familiar in the 40 years he had with his wife.

Illness killed her, Jake was learning a new topography, a different yet similar terrain, this environment of touch. Old enough now, they needed emollients, lubricants, unguents to enhance that slipperiest of unions. Liberally they applied them. Naked they reveled.

STANDING NAKED

Orion T. Hunter

Clay, step away from the hatch. Come on, that’s a good boy. Keep coming.

Soft words flowed into his mind. They urged him to move. Why, he couldn’t quite grasp, but he reluctantly followed their orders. He was a soldier and he followed orders.

Shuffling along, he noticed he was bare-footed. Didn’t feel right, bare feet on the hard rubber matting. Hands clasped his arms, warm hands against his cold skin. A blanket materialized, shrouding his shoulders and body, itchy and coarse.

Looking around, he found his bunk mates and Sarge ringing him like a living fence. Cold metal walls and ceiling surrounded them. He frowned. This wasn’t any place he recognized, and he was sure he’d at least seen every single area aboard their small raiding ship.

Clay, asked Sarge, do you know where you are? His words were gentle, soft, sounding odd in his normally brash, commanding voice.

He shook his head. No, Sarge, I don’t reckon I do. Why was his own voice so thin and quiet and raspy?

"You’re on a heavy cruiser, the Black Star. The Wolverine was destroyed."

Then he noticed the missing faces ringing him. Taps and Radio and Singleton. Louie and Bobs and Andy. And Rhianna.

He spun, scanning the faces around him, looking over their shoulders and down the dark narrow passageway. Where was Rhianna? Why wasn’t she there? She’d always been with him, fighting beside him, helping him, keeping him focused. Loving him.

Rhianna? One word, with so much meaning, so much longing, that Sarge averted his face before answering.

She’s gone.

Gone? Gone where? She’d never leave me! Even to his own ears, he sounded desperate, his voice rising in panic.

Sarge squared his shoulders, staring straight into Clay’s eyes. She died in the battle. Explosion took out the whole bridge.

His mind summoned up an image of Rhianna, laughing up at him as her graceful hands flitted over her comm. board, then waving him away to his own duties below. Her short auburn hair danced about her face. Light from her screen twinkled in her dark eyes. Her uniformed body was neat and trim, but all he could think of was her naked body beneath his.

His last image of her, before the klaxons blared their warning. The system defense fleet had attacked their incoming raiding force. Swooping out of hiding behind a moon, there’d scarcely been time for him to shrug on his safety harness before he was firing his cannon at the fast moving ships.

Everything after that came to him in brief flashes. The ship lurching, like it was falling out from under him. Himself pelting toward the bridge. Being caught and held by Rafe before he could reach Rhianna. Seeing a fist coming roundhouse at his face.

Then nothing. Nothing but blackness.

He cried out in anguish, his knees giving way. Many hands cradled him, lifting him from the hard floor, bearing him away, away from the airlock he’d been trying to open.

Chapter 2: I Believe

LEGENDS

D. Ellsworth Hoag

Legends are fun to explore

Though they always bend the truth

Once I even believed Them

In the innocence of youth.

But as reason took over

I found them hard to believe

I guess I just got jaded

And no longer am naïve.

I.E. look at Helen of Troy

Whose face launched a thousand ships

It’s hard to believe it was countenance

I rather believe it was hips.

THE FARMER WIFE'S GOD

EE Orme

I will not pass through your angelic doors—to be made insignificant by your lofted buttresses, shining alters and painted glass. I will not feel small in this world—my world, the place where my mother walked with her mother back to the beginning of time. Keep your sky god—a never-wandering, never-breathing, never-living god, who lets his children slip through his fingers into hell fire.

My God rests upon the world, an invisible guest filled with heady love, riotous in his moments of childlike joy. As one we live a life of love and laughter, blessed by the magic of a stocked pantry and a well-made stove belching out good scents: hot fresh bread, new beef stew, hot apple tarts pulled from the heat just as the crust turns golden. This is a good use of fire, the right use of fire, a fire that feeds and nurtures as fire should. My God is a hearth god, an earth god, a plentiful smiling god, His feet treading the wheat rows at my side from planting to harvest.

During long winters, my prayers are answered with the birth of a child, the well-wishing visits of old friends and neighbors, the scent and flavor of roasted ham and salted lentils. My God is here, his feet under the table. He blesses us when the sun hardly shines and we have only our stories and each other to pass the time with.

So I say to you now, Threaten no one with your false doctrines, black-clad papist man, for fear has no place among the peaceful. I’ve seen your cathedrals rising high into the clouds, calling the frightened to worship in dread of hell fire and false magic.

My cathedral is my hand-made house. My pulpit is a faded arm chair by the fire. My doctrine is that of the farm: rise early, feed good fodder, share your bounty with your neighbors and always close a gate. Be kind, even in the kill, for kill we must to lay our table. As the fire heats the meat, my God and I give thanks and are humbled by the beauty and bounty of the day.

I need no sky god’s magic, no promised afterlife, no cathedrals dripping in gold to know that I am loved, heaven-made and purpose-bent. I need no holy man to guide me to the heaven I already know, not while the hills call, the cattle low and there are sheep to be sheared.

When my time comes, my God will hold my work-roughened hands that have fed people, birthed people, raised up the sick and buried the dead, and He will know that I have always been grateful to be alive. That is the very best kind of worship there is.

BELIEF

Karl A. Kummin

I believe in death, he thought. When he was a young boy until the fourth grade, Shaw was a preacher’s kid. His dad had not been a fire and brimstone, snake handling, holy rolling, tongue speaking, bible as fact pontificator. Rather, he taught Shaw and his brothers that holy words had survived as oral tradition until the time of Constantine some 300 years after the dubious conception of Mary and a deity with benefits. From him Shaw learned that sacred text from any religion need be viewed as parable, allegory. It was a way for folks to understand, explain the unknowable.

What had set Shaw’s beliefs during those early years was the compulsory conscription of attending church. With his liberal view of script why would his dad force Shaw’s company? Parishioners might well wonder why the preacher’s own tribe of Christian soldiers were not in country. While his presence was mandatory he would occasionally listen to some of his dad’s stories.

One had to do with fresh fish. Others who competed with the man who brought the highest price for his catch tried to mimic what he did. They knew he brought them to shore still alive in a tank aboard his skiff, which was copied. Still, there was some element missing. The competitors were just that, rivals without the advantage. The man took his young son who wanted to learn the fishing skill. On the boy’s return one friendly adversary asked the young man, what he had garnered from his dad?

The prized fish in this lake had a predator. Once these were hooked all the other fishers would toss them back, or worse, kill them. The boy told the friend that his dad would put one of the marauder fish in with his catch to keep them vigorously swimming. But your dad would lose some of the take, wouldn’t he? Yes, said the boy, but the price he gets for his fish is beyond the loss of one or two.

Shaw had heard his dad say on many occasions; new life springs forth from each generation. The seemingly simple statement had him thinking of the cycle of life and death since his early years. In his job he had worked with astronomers and physicists. Through discussions and reading he had learned that everything in the universe, including the universe itself, has a lifespan. Stars are born, die, some explode in supernovae; the guts of which provides all the heavy elements that make livable planets, and the life on them.

Believing in death for Shaw was an affirmation of life. Death allowed for new life. It was with this belief that he faced the killing illness of his wife, early onset Alzheimer’s. In the beginning stages of the disease he wanted to prolong the life of his lover, his confidante of 40 years. Yet he knew the core of dementia could not be stopped with nothing short of dying. Indeed, when her illness had progressed to the terminal agitation many experience in hospice, Shaw embraced her death

Chapter 3: First Date

FIRST DATE

D. Ellsworth Hoag

'Neath a palm tree in California is where I would like to be

For a very special memory is waiting there for me

The memory is exciting, it really is first-rate

For I’m sitting 'neath a palm tree eating my first date.

FIRST DATE

Toni Kief

She was pretty girl, but she never realized it, she acts bold, but is actually shy. She really couldn’t understand why one of the school football stars would ask her to homecoming dance, but he did. Why he would even notice her, she could not imagine. She had been angry that she wasn’t allowed to date until after her 16th birthday. Seemed like her parents were too strict, but then again no one had exactly asked until days before the auspicious occasion. Teased by Dad about being sweet 16 and never been kissed, she knew that this is the night that should change her forever.

New lime green angora sweater, matching slacks and a coiffure from Thelma’s beauty shop. Nothing says true beauty in 1964 than an intricate configuration of helmet hair, as the soft loose hippie styles are still in California. Never doubt it truly takes a couple years for fashion to hit the Midwest. She has never felt so glamorous, so grown up, and the excitement was electric. She spent all day shopping and getting ready, trying not to be half as anxious as she truly felt. She has followed Mother’s instructions, and has enough money for a phone call and a bus ticket. Never quite sure there are buses running from the high school that time of night, but it feels as if all of the rules of small town have changed that morning. This is a day that will be remembered while hundreds of other memories fade.

She is all brushed and fluffed, and trying not to watch out of

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