Long, March 17, 2023


This Show Case features six pieces submitted in response to our thirty-eighth Writing Prompt: Long. You can see responses to each prompt in the drop down menu for the Show Case page. Try an item. They are all delicious. We hope they stimulate your mind, spirit, and urge to write. Maybe they will motivate you to submit a piece for our next prompt, which you can find on the Show Case home page.

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In Short

by S.T. Ranscht

Image credit: Baqer Hassan, Unsplash


In No Condition, part one

by Mimi Speike

Sly and Dee hear hacking behind them. While they were engaged in conversation, Delly was at the grapes, with predictable results. She’s gaging, choking, she’s in extreme distress. Sly leaps up, whacks her on the back of the neck. Dee grabs her by the feet and, upending her, shakes her good.

“Ale!” yowls the cat, as panic-stricken as the hung-upside-down hen. “Ale, to wash the blockage down.” Dee’s mug is filled to the tippy-top. Delly, set in front of it, sucks up a good snoot-full.1

“Sweetie!” Sly cries. “You all right, doll?” He turns on Dee. “You over-did there, Doctor. We’re lucky you didn’t give her a heart attack. This gal, she’s gonna make you a ton of money. And not by peering into a hunk of glass, dreaming stuff up.” 

“That was Kelley, not me. And he didn’t … huh!dream stuff up. He was a jackass, yes, but he prognosticated much that proved marvelously accurate.”

“Such as?”

“He foretold the Queen would pay me a great honor. I hang a plaque beside my front door: ‘Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth paid a visit to these premises on June 8, 1578’, didn’t you notice it?”

“In a word, no.”

“If my hospitality delighted our Queen and it did it cannot fail to please any who might be considering taking advantage of my package deal, a delicious repast bankside, me with my violin, taking requests, followed by an afternoon of enchantment featuring the antics of my feathered prophetess, my raven.”

“Kelley predicted that, did he?”

“Her Majesty passes me on her way to and from her palaces upstream, but she’d never previously stopped. She once dispatched Leicester to consult me on a matter,2 but had never dropped in herself.”

“Everyone gets lucky once in a while.”

“I believe in him, no matter what you say.”

“If I’d toppled from the heights you once held, I’ll lie to myself too. You had it all, honors, offers, the admiration of your peers. Why’d you thumb your nose at all that, come back home, to live hand-to-mouth?”

Dee stiffens. “I chose to serve my country, sir. The concept of loyalty to a homeland is obviously foreign to you.”

“I can accept that,” says Sly. He’s thinking, Let’s get O-ek in on this, with good cop, bad cop.3 The word of a cacodemon has to count for more than that of a cat.

“What a snoutband!” spits O-ek.4 

“He’s a patriot!” scolds the cat. “You probably don’t get that, to be attached to the bit of soil from whence you and your forbears sprang. I do. I understand this fool better than you, though you are a flipping demon.” 

“No top-dog demon, you idiot! A cacodemon is a functionary, taking orders, not giving them.” 

They go at it, until one of them screeches (Sly’s dropped the precise vocal characterization in the heat of the moment), “Dr. Dee! Give Delly a try-out. Delly! Show the gentleman what you’re capable of.”

“Don’t be nervous, hon,” whispers Sly. “I’m going to walk you through an easy step. You can do it, I know you can.”

O-ek takes over: “Just as,” he shoots Dee a severe look, “just as I know she’s receptive, or will be when I get through with her. She has the potential.” He swats himself on the side of the head, prodding his alter ego to action. “Cat! Get off your butt and help her out!” 

Dee is dubious. “A chicken, receptive? Hogwash!

Your bird prognosticates. You just told me so.”

“It’s an act, you moron! She’s no more receptive than my bedroom slippers.”

“Uncalled for!” snaps the cat. “No need to be rude. Ignore the creep, hon,” he tells her. Follow my lead. Grunting a beat, he slides right. She slides right. Leaning against her, he kicks a leg. “C’mon, girl,” he coaxes. “Your turn.” She kicks, with difficulty. The exertion, combined with propping up a dance partner who towers over her, her stability impacted by a long, greedy guzzle of ale, have had an adverse effect. She staggers, then collapses, motionless but for labored breathing.

Dee’s glad of an excuse to be rid of her. “You sit with her. I’m wanted on stage.”

O-ek won’t hear of it. “You do not budge from this spot without me. I do not budge without her. Walk away from this sweetheart in her condition can you be that heartless? By Zirp the Agb, I’ll see you regret it.”

Dee’s back on his bench, muttering. Sly lies beside the moaning hen, stroking her gently.

* * *

  1. Chickens also enjoy beer, and get sloshed on a very little bit of it.
  2. In 1558, Robert Dudley called on Dee at Mortlake, requesting he discern the best date for Elizabeth’s coronation.
  3. Cop: An archaic word for the head. 
  4. Snoutband: Someone who interrupts a conversation, typically only to contradict or correct someone else.


Not So Long Ago

by John Correll

Three years previous, El stood across from John at a party for Jerome’s second ballet film. An artsy assembly, where a hundred actors, film crew, and guests clustered with growing boisterousness at the Belvedere Island mansion of an associate producer. El regretted coming because everyone ignored her, and worse, John didn’t recognize her. He hiccupped and finished off his drink without noticing anybody. And to add further frustration, Gino, her date, a dancer and actor, chatted with John’s wife, Josie. She had been a professional dancer with Gino before her marriage. And the two dancers re-kindled a broken relationship with total disregard for their perplexed partners. 

A waiter strolled by with a tray of the party’s theme beverage, martinis, and John grabbed a second drink and gulped it down. Then Josie gave him her full glass, which he held for a few seconds until he finished that too. He glared around the room, rolled his eyes, noticed Gino, and turned away. 

El tramped off to find the party’s host after ten minutes of boredom. She had met the host, Jerome, in high school when he produced a commercial for her uncle’s company. And during the filming, she developed a teenage crush on him until she discovered he worshiped himself more than anyone. Still, she found his wit and charm amusing. And she had the added perk of being an extra in his commercial, where she discovered that acting bored her into higher education. But she kept up her friendship with Jerome, mostly because he kept inviting her to parties and film sets in places she’d never visited.

After the tenth iteration of Jerome’s next big film project, where the telling gained greater and greater slurred drama, she tramped again. This time she found John reclining on a sofa with six empty martini glasses lined up on a coffee table. He sipped a seventh, watching his wife and Gino doing more than flirting. Maybe John would remember her, or so she hoped. So she entered his atmosphere of gin and sat next to him. He immediately lost interest in his wife and studied her with unsteady, blinking eyes instead.

“Forgive me. I’ve forgotten your name. I’m totally blitzed on this stuff.” He raised his glass.

“Martini. I’m Elizabeth.”

“Martini? Never heard that name before. Italian?”

“No. Elizabeth.”

He closed his eyes as if falling asleep. “I love that name. Elizabeth. You remind me of this girl I met at work before I met my wife.”

“Oh, do tell.” 

“I shouldn’t tell you.” He pointed to a gold ring on his finger. “Shh. Married. Can’t you tell?” 

El shook her head. “Not really.”

John’s face brightened. “She was cute, but she had this awful boyish haircut and those horrible thick plastic glasses, and she was chubbier than you. But I liked her. We talked and talked. Then she disappeared.” 

El reached into her purse and put on her thick plastic-rimmed glasses. “Glasses like these?”

John paused, confused as if he got on the wrong bus. “Hey. Yeah, exactly. But.” He leaned closer. “You look beautiful.”

“You’re drunk. So you went out with her?”

He laughed to the point of crying. “I wish. Sometimes life really doesn’t play ball. I’m like this really stupid rat in a love maze. And every good-looking avenue ends up wrong.”

“But didn’t this girl give you her number?”

“I almost didn’t find it on the couch.” He looked down at the space between him and El. “Like I sat on it.”

“She did leave a number then. Good. Did you call?”

“I did. A week later, but you won’t believe this, do you know who she was?”

“Oh, I think I will. Tell me.” She touched his knee, but he didn’t notice.

“My boss’s niece. Hamish Mann’s. What about that?”

“He’s famous, isn’t he?”

“So true. Jenny told me.” John wrinkled up his nose.

“Jenny?” She let his knee go and raised an eyebrow. Jenny, that woman that dragged him away just as he reached for his card. She ruined her life, and El almost imagined the world being a sweeter place without Jenny.

“You know. From work.” He shook his head. “She knows everything.”

“Yeah. I bet she does.” El nodded and crossed her arms.

“Jenny said, ‘don’t mess with that girl.’ No way.” He rocked his head back and forth and shook his index finger. “And she was so right.”

“Really? So, you didn’t call? Even Though Miss Knows-everything was wrong.”

“Wrong? No. It took me a week to work up my courage. And then, guess what? You’ll never guess.” He placed his hand on top of hers.


“A man answered.”

El scratched her forehead. Maybe John read the wrong number, or it was Peter. “I imagine it could have been her visiting brother mistakenly taking her phone that day.”

“Brother. Ha-ha. You’re funny.” John shook his head and lightly squeezed her hand. “No. I don’t know her name. So I asked if the phone belonged to the niece of Hamish.”

“Mann, her name is Elizabeth Mann. And, so, then what?” She placed her other hand on top of his. He was far more relaxed than the first time.

He topped her hand with his own. “No way. You’re Elizabeth too. That’s so amazing.” 

“No, it isn’t. Elizabeth is a very common name.”

“It’s cool. I mean, I liked her, and I like you. What are the chances of that?” 

“A hundred. So, what did Peter say?”

John looked around the room as if the President was hiding at the party. “Peter, who?”

“Peter, my bro — I mean, the man you called about — the other Elizabeth.” Did she look so different with long hair and makeup that he couldn’t piece her faces together? Not that it mattered. He’d wake up tomorrow without any idea who he talked to. And he deserved whatever horrid hangover pounded him.

“Right. Peter. He wasn’t nice. Not at all. He said, ‘Fuck off.’ Really rude. There I am, hoping to find the love of my life, and he tells me to fuck off.”

“That sounds about right for Peter,” she said. Peter always messed things up. But then, what about John? If she was the love of his life, then why did he marry that limping, unfaithful, overweight, bubbling ballerina? If an injury hadn’t ended her dancing days, John wouldn’t have met her, and then El might have run into him again. Especially since her uncle was always inviting her for lunch in the city.

John interrupted her speculations. “Not Peter. Her. Can you believe it? She gave me the wrong number.”

“No. You’re wrong.” She slid her hands away.

“Yes. It’s true. I tried three more times. Rich people are mean. It’s depressing. I thought — I don’t know — we had…”

“But I’m not mean. And you had a real connection, maybe?” 

“A connection? No, No. Much more. I like you. What’s your name?”

“What do you mean, more?” A passing waiter paused with a puzzled look. He offered her another Martini, but she waved him away.

“Elizabeth. I love that name. Elizabeth. You’re Gino’s girlfriend. Aren’t you?” 

El leaned forward and glared at the two dancers. “Second and definitely last date with Gino. And I am most definitely NOT his girlfriend. Your wife can have him.” El looked at Josie. “Why did you do it, John?”

“What? Do what? My grandmother’s called Elizabeth. Isn’t that weird?” 

“Why did you ask her to marry you?” She leaned back and re-crossed her arms. John’s lack of romantic foresight began to piss her off.

He shook his head. “No. That’s not what happened. You’re mad at me.”

“I’m not mad at you. But you are married.” 

He squinted at her. “She asked me. That’s what she did.” 

“She asked you?” El rubbed her chin. Maybe she grabbed him at a drunken moment, or she was desperate. “Then she’s pregnant?” 

“Who’s pregnant?” He looked behind the sofa, worried.

“Her.” El pointed at Josie.

“But she doesn’t want kids. You know, between you and me. Just you and me. I think she wanted a big wedding, and Gino didn’t.” 

“So, she’s not pregnant.” El waved her hand over her belly.

“She’d tell me that. Don’t you think? She’d scream.”

“I don’t know. Do you truly love her? Why couldn’t you have called me earlier, you jerk?” It must have been a drunken moment.

“Call who at work? You know the minister, the guy performing the cere — cere — mony, said we might not be — what did he say — compatible, something or other. I guess we love each other. But, I wouldn’t mind kids. Maybe six.”

“Oy. Six? Do you love her?” She counted to six with her fingers. Nobody wants six kids these days.

He rubbed his cheeks. “Stop asking me. Of course, I must. We’re together. After Pensal, I deserve some — some — happiness.” 

“Who’s Pensal? An ex-wife? But seriously, six?”

“Ex? No, my First Sergeant. No. I’m not going there.” He covered his eyes.

She laid her hand on his thigh. “Where?”

He squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head. “Stop it. Stop being angry.” 

She caressed his knee. “I’m not angry.” 

“Yes, you are.”

What ghosts had she stirred up in his befuddled mind? His eyes fluttered, frightened to stay awake. 

Then John shook himself from slumber. “Why does she want to convert?”

“Who? To what?” El asked.

“Josie to Judi — ism. She goes to this place. Saturdays.”

“The Synagogue.” 

“That must be it.” 

“Are you serious? Gino’s Jewish. He only dates — oh, I get it.” It all made some sort of warped love triangle sense. Gino split with Josie because she wasn’t Jewish enough, and now she’s trying to win him back despite being married to John. And John didn’t have a clue. Josie would hit him like a miss-timed one-ton stage backdrop crashing.

John pointed his glass at their partners, spilling half of it. “Do you think your boyfriend is flirting with my wife?”

“That’s an understatement.”

“Un-Determinant? What?” His head drooped back.

“Uhm.” She finished his martini and placed it on the table as John fell asleep.

El watched Gino and Josie leave the party at one in the morning, expectedly together. Half an hour later, John staggered around the dying party, searching for his departed wife. El took pity on him and took him to his home at 2 in the morning in an Uber. 

He slept on her shoulder in the car between bouts of apologizing profusely, “I’m sorry. I hate Martini-weenees. You shouldn’t be doing this for me. I’m really sorry. I owe you so much. My head feels weird. You’re my best friend. My bestest. What would I do without you? You’re so nice. Sorry, but you’re beautiful. What’s your name?” 

She dumped him on his living room couch and returned to her Berkeley apartment. She gave his marriage a year, but it didn’t last that long. 


Under the Night Sky

by SL Randall

Bowknot Bend and the Milky Way by SL Randall

Forward: I took GD’s suggestion to heart. Here’s Dunia’s back story. I’m still not happy with it, but I wanted to get this ready for showcase … It needs more work. As always suggestions are welcome. From the last showcase …“He needed to escape the stewing stomach acid overheating his entire being. He needed fresh air.” This line of John’s stuck in my head. As GD put it “The line is a beautiful example of “show-don’t-tell.”

I tried to capture that in this piece. I have looked at it and picked over it so many times … it’s a torrid mess to me at this point! At least I have something to work with … and I can see the scene in my head … just need to convey that in text! The struggle is real! 🤣

The ribbon of green water glinted in the late afternoon sunlight as it meandered from the northeast through stark, arid topography rich in hues of rust and sage, to loop around the mesa in a near perfect circle before continuing its southwesterly journey.

Dunia contemplated the life and death of her father from her perch on the mesa, high above Bowknot Bend and the murky green river. The relics of her father rested in her lap; a folded American flag and a thick manila envelope. She searched the slowly advancing darkness for answers, for a way to ease the anger and hurt. She felt robbed of retribution, of vengeance. How dare he die before suffering for his sins? How dare he die before she could wring an apology from him?

The tread of heavy boots interrupted her thoughts.

Darren crouched beside her. “I almost didn’t come. I do not deserve your anger.” 

The hurt in his voice hit her in the stomach. She felt tears but long practice held them back. “I know. I’m sorry.”

Silence stretched as darkness rolled toward them. “You said your dad was an asshole the first time we met.”

Dunia nodded. “He still is, even though he’s dead.”

“Want to talk about it?” he shrugged. “I get it if you don’t, but all that anger you unleashed on me this morning says you’re headed for a meltdown.”

Vicious acid rose defensively. “Who are you to decide when I’m going to have a meltdown?” 

Darren stood. “Look, I’m just the guy you work with. I’m not your punching bag, nor am I the cause of your hurt or anger. I’m offering to be your friend and listen, but I will not take your abuse.”

He waited in silence for a long moment before turning to leave. 

In that moment, she wrestled with her pain, her anger and her fear to find her voice. This time, when the tears came, she couldn’t stop them. Stifling a sob resulted in a choked plea. “Wait. Please. You’re right. I need to tell someone. It’s just so …” she trailed off, “…hard.” 

“Will a fire help?” he asked softly.


The sun slipped below the horizon. Darkness hovered just beyond the glow of the cheerful, warm blaze. Darren expertly tended the fire, its crackles and pops deafening in the silence. Still bruised from her anger, he didn’t want to push her to talk before she was ready. He’d only been working with her for three months. This was the first time he’d seen her lose her cool. It scared him. They worked in dangerous, high-pressure conditions. She handled those situations with ease and confidence. He reasoned the loss of a family member was traumatic for anyone. Personally, he didn’t know.

Dunia’s voice slid through the quiet, like a knife. “I was four when my mom died. It was cancer, but at four I had no clue. I just knew she was sick.” 

Darren looked up from the fire. She was looking at the sky, but he could see she was trying to control her emotions. He remained silent.

“Marko, my brother, was fifteen. He never liked me. When no one was watching, he would torment me. At four, I was pretty good at avoiding being alone with him. When mom got sick, dad forgot about me, but Marko didn’t. I did a lot of hiding.” Dunia’s voice lost the hollow edge as she eased into storytelling.

“I’ll never forget the day mom died. The wail that came from my dad still echoes in my soul. I hope to never hear a sound like that again.” Her face twisted in a blend of revulsion and fear. She shuddered, then continued, “Is there such a thing as a honeymoon after death?” her mirthless laughter chilled Darren. “The entire week after mom died was the best week of my life. If I had known, I would have taken my chances with a kidnapper.”

Darren fed more twigs to the fire. He couldn’t look at her. He didn’t know if it was the shadows from the fire or phantom emotions, but the manic mask that covered her face frightened him. 

Dunia didn’t notice Darren’s discomfort. The story was emerging, clawing its way from the dark hole in her soul. She wanted it gone. “People loved my mom. They came after the funeral and brought food, cleaned our house, washed our clothes, gave me toys, and spoke kind words. Like the spring run-off, by August you’re lucky if there’s a mud puddle in the creek bed. By the time I turned five, hell descended and moved into our house. Dad found his demons at the bottom of a liquor bottle, or in Marko and me.”

Dunia stared into the fire for a time. Darren opened his mouth to ask questions, then decided it was better to let her talk.

A weary sadness replaced the manic mask. “Marko ran away for a few months and dropped out of school. All my dad did was complain and drink more.”

Darren meant to keep quiet, but he blurted out, “Who took care of you?”

That cold laugh made him shiver. “I did. I found food. I figured out how to wash clothes and bathe myself. I even got myself to school. School was my happy place, even though the other kids were jackasses. None of them were as bad as Marko. Then he came back. I was sixteen by then. Dad ignored me if I stayed out of his way. Marko barged back in and decided he was in charge. 

Dunia stopped talking. A vile memory played out on her face. She turned away from the fire and Darren. He waited while she wrestled with the memory. When she spoke again, her voice was low and rough. “He knocked me up.”

“What?” Darren wasn’t sure he heard her correctly. “Your brother did what?” 

Dunia collected herself and laughed raggedly. “Yeah, and daddy dearest? He blamed it on me.”

“Did he know it was,” he could barely spit the words out, “your brother?”

 Dunia’s cold laughter snaked down his spine. He shivered.

“He knew. Said it was my fault for being a girl. The beating that followed made sure I didn’t need an abortion clinic.”

“Dunia, I’m so sorry.”

She turned, face shining in the firelight, wet with tears. “How ironic, an apology from a man who’s done nothing wrong and the asshole escapes through the pit marked death.” Her tear choked laughter, ragged at first, turned to soul-soaked sobs. She hugged her knees and rocked as she cried. 

Darren didn’t know what to do. He hugged his own knees and stared into the fire. He wanted to hug her, wanted to fix it, but out here there was just darkness and a dying fire. Her pain echoed into the night while he watched in agony.

 Slowly, silence returned to the desert night, broken by an occasional sniffle or a quiet sob. The flames turned to embers. 

“Ah shit.” Dunia broke the stillness.

Darren, immediately alert, “What? Are you ok?”

She laughed. The sarcastic Dunia he knew was back. “I’m alright. Just meant to burn these stupid mementos.”

He sat back. “We can build the fire back up.”

She sighed, “Naw. I read somewhere, there’s a proper way to burn the flag. It’s my dad I hate. Not the flag.”

“What about the letter?”

“I haven’t opened it and I doubt there’s anything he has to say I want to hear, but it’s a thick envelope. Maybe there’s a picture of my mom in there, or maybe even some money. It would be silly to burn money.” 

Darren nodded, then said, “How are you feeling?”

She looked upwards. “It’s not as dark out here as I thought. I’ve never noticed the beauty of the night sky.”

Darren used his best tour guide voice. “Utah has some of the darkest skies in North America and is an excellent place to view the Milky Way.”

Dunia’s laugh was a fresh breeze after being locked in a dank cellar. “It’s so big! It stretches from horizon to horizon.” 

Darren smiled, relieved the emotional storm was over. He yawned, looking forward to his warm bed. “It’s getting chilly. I think we should either restart the fire or head back.”

“Thank you.” Dunia briefly squeezed his arm. He marveled at how quickly she reverted to her usual self. He hoped she wasn’t hiding her trauma again. “To answer your question, I feel drained, but in a good way. I feel like I lost a sickness in my heart.”

“Glad I could help.” He didn’t want to ruin her peace with too many words, nor was he certain how he felt now. Her past was visceral. He suspected she had a long road yet to travel.

They doused the fire. Once their eyes adjusted, they slowly made their way back to the village. Feeling light, Dunia wanted to savor the beauty of the night sky.


Jenny Was My Girl

by Perry Palin

Jenny was my girl. A year younger than me, she was smart and confident, and I liked to be with her. When I had an idea about something, she had a way of asking questions that got me to sometimes strengthen my resolve, and sometimes see the folly of what I was thinking.

She worked in the family garden and she drove the tractor when her father and brother were baling hay. In the summertime she had a tan on her face and her arms and her legs, and a dozen freckles on her nose and high on her cheeks. 

Jenny had the athletic build of a middle distance runner. She was blond with her hair just more than shoulder length, and she kept it in a ponytail or up on her head in a claw clip. She had blue eyes and her nose turned up just a little. 

I sat on the couch between Jenny and her little sister. Their mom was in the kitchen. Their dad sat at the kitchen table reading the newspaper. Her little sister leaned on me and looked up and smiled. 

I liked to watch Jenny from behind when she got up to walk across the room to get a Coke, and I liked to watch her turn and come back toward me. She smiled and wrinkled her nose then, and she was my girl. 

Jenny went with me to school parties and out to eat and to the movies. We held hands in the movies. She went with me to sit on the rocks at the upper falls on Little River. She had only one fault. It wasn’t an affirmative fault, but just an insufficiency in her education. She said she couldn’t see the trout in the deep water below the falls, and she didn’t see the trout in their futile attempts to jump the falls to go upstream. I was sure this could be cured with time and experience.

When we came up from the river to where I had parked in the woods, I would pin Jenny against the side of the car, and we would laugh and then she would let me kiss her before I let her go. 

After high school, I went away to college. It was a big change for me. New routines, more students in the lecture classes than we had in our entire high school, and high stakes for the future. Also many new friends and new places. A need to think about what I wanted to do going forward.

When I heard that Jenny was engaged to be married I was shocked. I was blind in my grief. I was disgusted with myself for my stupidity, for my ignorance, for my selfishness, for my arrogance. I had left her behind. I assumed she would be there always. I was wrong. I have remembered all of that for a long time now. 


Star-Crossed Longings

by S.T. Ranscht

Image credit: Antony Hyson S, Unsplash

39 responses to “Long, March 17, 2023”

  1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

    Thank you to all who submitted their worthy work. May they give long-lasting joy and satisfaction to all who read them.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Sandy Randall Avatar

    Sue, your son’s Chicago river picture was fantastic. I transferred to Chicago, from Hawaii on 17 March 2002. Flying in, you could see the green. I love Chicago. Though I was born in Indiana, Chicago feels like my home town … Go Cubs Go!🤣😁😎
    I have more to say about the showcase … but the dogs are begging for a walk …

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

      Thanks, Sandy. Hawaii to Chicago, huh? There’s an extreme change of culture! I was born in Racine, Wisconsin, so my first experiences in Chicago were as a very young child. The last time I was there was about 14 years ago. I agree it has a lot to commend it, but Brylan, born and raised in San Diego, is learning what Winter really is, lol.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Sandy Randall Avatar

        Yes … Chicago winter … not for the faint of heart. My mom was born in San Diego. When she and my dad got married they moved to Hammond, where he grew up … which is why I was born there. She’s in Hawaii now. I tell her it’s warmed up to fifty degrees and she nearly faints lol and that’s just Washington … Chicago … nope. Not during the winter anyway.
        Racine Wisconsin … San Diego is a culture change as well. I’m happy with my midwest roots, but the West called my name and I’ve never looked back … except during the world series in 2016 … my heart was in Wrigley field. I would love to see THAT happen again … Thinking the Seattle Mariners have a slim shot this year. I’d settle for that as well.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

          I was 5 when we moved to San Diego after a year in Cleveland. All our relatives were still in Racine, so we visited fairly frequently. Lots of good memories from those summers! But I wouldn’t live anyplace other than SD now.

          Liked by 2 people

      2. John Correll Avatar

        I left Chicago in 89 exactly because of those arctic winters. Nose bleeds, raw chapped hands, even with gloves, and wind knocking you to the pavement, no thanks. All that wonderful misery and then my ex-ballerina wife ran off to NY city to be with her former dance partner. I had no reason to stay…

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Sandy Randall Avatar

          Hmmm something familiar in that ballerina story ….

          Liked by 2 people

  3. Sandy Randall Avatar

    Happy Top O’the mornin’ showcase readers! It be me lucky day!
    I enjoyed all the reads!
    Sue, In Short
    I like your playful use of words here. It made me think that Tom Bombadil would sing this tune while wandering about his beloved forest. Lu Wong, an unfortunate musician? singer? I admit I went to spotify and I did find a hip hop artist under the name, the music not so musical for me … lol

    Mimi, In No Condition, part one
    You had me on the edge of my seat … Poor Delly! I liked Sly’s back and forth with O-ek. Brilliant play on words with Cop. I did get a bit lost in the back and forth and had to read slower, but I think that’s just me.

    John, Not so long ago
    The plot thickens! I like the back story. It gives us a better idea of the game Elizabeth plays. I think she’s going to need to be a bit more straightforward with John. He doesn’t seem the type to understand subtly. Also, who’s Jenny? That name confused me. (I think Perry’s looking for her…) Keep going with this story. I feel like you’re starting to get a direction with it.

    Can you see Dunia and Darren atop the Mesa? I actually like the slightly pixellated version of this picture … it hides my rough edges! lol
    As for the story … being away from it for a few days … I’m not hating it as much as I was when I submitted it … but I still see the rough edges pixellation can’t fix lol.

    Perry, Jenny was my Girl
    Sorry Perry … John stole her… lol
    I think what I find very interesting is how a love story is viewed from a man’s perspective. When I was a girl, the angst at wondering what guys think was terrible. The fruitless conversations I had in my head trying to figure it out! At this age, I have learned those conversations are ridiculous. I simply ask my husband straightforward questions and take him at face value as he does me. Communication is so much clearer that way! Reading your stories as a young woman would have cleared up some mystery earlier in life!
    By the way this pieces reads more as a person looking through an old yearbook and remembering times past, rather than your typical lyrical style. I like it a lot.

    Sue, Star-crossed longings
    Perfect follow of Perry’s piece. I could see Perry putting together a collection of memories (real or fiction) of a man musing over his loves and losses. This poem would fit perfectly at the beginning. There is a term ‘complement’ “a thing that completes or brings to perfection” … This lead me on a search and I still can’t quite convey what I’m trying to say, but it’s close … anyhow, the bonus find was the following link …

    Click to access The-Anatomy-of-Poetry.pdf

    And now I am way off topic! lol The long version of saying … As always Sue, your work inspires me to try harder, write better and think critically!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. mimispeike Avatar

      Yes, it is a problem, that back and forth. Maybe Sly/O-ek should have the pronouns they/them. Or give each voice its own paragraph?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Sandy Randall Avatar

        Or maybe since O-ek is an otherworldly being … do italics when O-ek speaks?
        Stephen King uses parentheses when his character does inner dialogue … I struggle with that as well and choose to use ‘ ‘ rather than full on ” ” around inner dialogue. Though I know what Sly/O-ek is doings isn’t inner dialogue, but same character split conversation … yeah not so good with writing anatomy …

        Liked by 2 people

        1. mimispeike Avatar

          I’ve reworked that speech. Is it easier to follow?

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Sandy Randall Avatar

            Yes it! I can tell when Sly is Sly and when Sly is O-ek.

            Liked by 2 people

            1. Sandy Randall Avatar

              Dang … I forgot ‘is’ … poor ‘is’ … left to ‘unbe’ …

              Liked by 1 person

    2. Perry Palin Avatar
      Perry Palin

      Candor between you and your partner is good.
      You wrote about Jenny Was My Girl, “(r)eading your stories as a young woman would have cleared up some mystery earlier in life!” Well, I had five endings to choose from for the narrator in this little bit of fiction, each of them tailored from “endings” that I have known or witnessed. I would have had more if I thought about it. Mystery unsolved.
      Thanks for the comment.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Mellow Curmudgeon Avatar

    @ Sue — In Short
    Aye, ’tis a fine way to be observin’ St Pat’s Day.  A loud laugh from a limerick is better for yer health than a big glug of green beer.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

      LOL, and with an accent!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. mimispeike Avatar

    Perry, once again, you are the easiest to comment on. I bought it all until: “I assumed she would be there always.”

    I need to see some evidence your character had a right to think the girl was waiting for him. Why wouldn’t she form another attachment? I see no reason for him to take the news so hard. Just because you say it doesn’t make it work for me emotionally. His pride might be hurt, but I can’t see him being ‘blind with grief’.

    Other than that, nicely written.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Perry Palin Avatar
      Perry Palin

      Excellent comment. I chose one of five possible endings, I should have then gone back and changed a phrase here or there to foreshadow. Very important in something this short, where there’s little room for character development.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Sue Ranscht Avatar

    Two to start and two yet to come.

    Mimi – You’ve created a subtle and intriguing imbalance between Dee and Sly. Their egos being equally overblown, Dee has the upper hand in power, while Sly persists with his O-ek deception to try and level the field. Great characters.

    John – I love this brilliant phrase: “…where she discovered that acting bored her into higher education.” Okay, this scene takes place three years ago, but John and El met sometime before that and talked and talked. It’s clear in his romantic fantasy mind (drunk or sober, I’m guessing), he projected more on their interaction than was justified. Apparently, she wanted more, but she still doesn’t convey any reason why. Is she just hurt that he didn’t follow up when he found out she was related to the boss? Does she actually see something worthwhile or desirable in John’s lost little boy persona? Maybe if we had some insight into what was so memorable about their first conversation, there would be a reason to care about them. Right now, I just feel impatient with his over-the-top, stereotypic drunkenness and her unbelievable choice not to just tell him they’d met before. What if you were to begin with their actual first meeting? And how long ago did John marry Josie? It felt like it must have been at least two years ago, but then we find out that it will be over in less than a year after it began, still in the future of this moment three years ago.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. mimispeike Avatar

      My thought also: “Maybe if we had some insight . . . there would be a reason to care about them.” I’m still thinking about this. I’ll elaborate later today.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. John Correll Avatar

    Sandy, truly a heartfelt Dunia story. Well done. I was revolted by her father, who comes across as pure evil. But I wonder if there is a backstory there. He seems to have loved his wife deeply, so why would he turn against his only daughter? Just because of drinking? I was hoping for some better understanding of why he was so nasty.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Sandy Randall Avatar

      Good point John … Dunia failed to mention his ptsd from viet nam … which was in an early version … after his wife died the ptsd took over, along with the self medicating … Dunia is a constant reminder of what he lost …
      Perhaps that was what was frustrating me as well as I was working it out. It definitely felt like something was missing. still the father was tortured … the son was evil.
      Thanks John. That helped … a lot!

      Liked by 3 people

  8. John Correll Avatar

    Sue, Diminutive tenor – ha-ha. In the second poem, Star-crossed longings, my cynical view keeps deleting the Not from ‘not to die alone.’ It might add a bit of mystery, I thought?

    Thank you for your comments on my piece. As always, very insightful and helpful. I submit stories, or in this case, a part of one, both praying and dreading that you will point a stern finger to explain precisely what’s wrong or right. Please don’t stop. The dread comes from knowing how right you’ll be and how much more work that means in order for me to fix things. And the prayer comes because I know how much better my writing can become with your thoughtful comments.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

      I hope any laughs a reader gets out of “In Short” are tinted with an awareness of a limerick’s traditional bawdiness. Metaphor is our friend.

      Deleting “not” from “not to die alone” is an interesting cynical notion, but wouldn’t that eliminate the “star-crossed” aspect of the two longings?

      Honestly, John, I never start out intending to be stern or dread-inducing, but when a story begins to frustrate me as a reader, it’s because I can see so much more potential hovering out there that the author could take charge of. A horse might be able to run really fast, but it takes disciplined training and a strong jockey to get it to the Winner’s Circle.

      Liked by 3 people

  9. John Correll Avatar

    Perry, A very beautiful story of a young love, but I have to second Sue’s comment that I didn’t understand the assumption that she would always be there for him.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

      John, I think that was Sandy’s comment. I haven’t had a chance to respond to Perry’s story yet. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

    2. John Correll Avatar

      My apologies, Sandy. I agree with your opinion. Sometimes I get lost in the comments section.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Sandy Randall Avatar

        I do too John, but the comment belongs to Mimi. She has the eagle eye … as to the assumption, I bought it hook line and sinker. Perry drew me in well enough the line didn’t stand out to me. I got lost in thinking … “Oh! So this is how men in love think!” lol

        Liked by 2 people

      2. John Correll Avatar

        My apologies to Mimi. I need to do more research before I rely on my assumptions. Maybe Perry is right after all.

        Liked by 2 people

  10. mimispeike Avatar

    Sandy – A lovely self-contained scene. I am wondering how it fits into your larger narrative. It suggests that Dunia is the focus of your story. Am I correct? Your story is, I believe, set either far in the future or on another world. This sounds awfully contemporary to me. If you plan to use it in your full work, I’d like to see a bit of the flavor of that other world.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Sandy Randall Avatar

    I have to be honest Mimi, I’m not sure. I initially set off to learn more about Dunia … She started off as a man in the story and a suggestion by Mellow, that the character was a women, sent me back to the drawing board with this story. In doing so I needed to know who the hell this woman was lol. The story is evolving bit by bit for me.
    The bonus side effect, I am seeing improvement to my writing skill.
    I do know that Dunia, Darren, Sophia and Bepé are my main characters… I know that makes no sense at the moment since Dunia and Darren are the two everyone has spent the most time with …. But for the moment Dunia is in focus, for now.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Sue Ranscht Avatar

    Sandy – I did notice Dunia and Darren on the mesa with the fire between them, although I might be imagining a trickle of smoke rising from the fire. You’ve used some vivid descriptions that could go even further if you challenge yourself to avoid adverbs that tell rather than show the reader what the description means. One example: “Vicious acid rose defensively.” Rather than having the acid merely rise and telling us how it rose, maybe have it do something defensive. We’ll know exactly what you mean and possibly carry a striking image with us forever. I am not advocating an adverb extinction event. I am a big fan of the unexpected, creative use of adverbs. (If you haven’t already read Douglas Adams’s body of work, please do. He has more fun with adverbs than Stephen King could even imagine.)

    Dunia: I think her indiscriminate full throttle anger is one of the flaws that make her human. It helps us feel both sympathy and pity for her, and I would anticipate she will begin to regulate it as she grows with the story. You’re right about including her father’s PTSD as part of his background, and you might have to make how he sees her since his wife’s death more explicit. I’d be cautious about labeling her brother as “evil”. Maybe he has some mental health issues that have gone undiagnosed and untreated or maybe he was abused by a trusted aunt, but is anybody born evil?

    Darren: Clearly, he is an empathetic, self-aware, strong, confident male who can assert himself without being defensive or accusatory. He acknowledges when he oversteps. He wants to be Dunia’s friend and listen to her anguish. Anyone that evolved won’t ever devolve into a blowhard except by suffering a severe, personality-changing brain trauma. I think you’re going to need someone else to play that role if you decide you must have a blowhard in the story.

    You’ve adopted the omniscient third person POV here. I don’t recall being aware of that in any of your other pieces, but I can see how being able to know what both of them are seeing and thinking in their own heads is helpful in getting to know them. I’m not so sure it would be the best POV for the entire story. You are well on your way.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. mimispeike Avatar

      Sue, I have to disagree with you on this:

      “I’d be cautious about labeling her brother as “evil”. Maybe he has some mental health issues that have gone undiagnosed and untreated …”

      The story is written from Dunia’s viewpoint, not yours, or society’s. Hers is a visceral, not an intellectual reaction.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

        If it had been Dunia who described him as evil, I would agree with you. But that was Sandy’s description in a comment after acknowledging she hadn’t included the information about Dunia’s father’s PTSD as a factor for his awful behavior. In describing them to John, Sandy said, “the father was tortured … the son was evil.”

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Sandy Randall Avatar

          Thank you Sue and Mimi,
          Both of you have offered some very helpful insight. As to the comment about evil … My comment should have been … I don’t intend the father to be evil, just tormented from ptsd … the son on the other hand, is the result of that mess … He and Dunia grow up with the same parents, but vastly different experiences and was of dealing with the experience. Sue is right on that count, as for Dunia, she shies away from really talking about her brother. He’s the bad taste in her mouth she can’t get rid of. I haven’t decided how much more of her background I want to explore. Talk about a rabbit hole.
          Sue you nailed my angst over the show don’t tell. Adverbs and I struggle. I did read read Douglas Adams. In my family we use the ‘So long and thanks for all the fish line’ a lot lol.
          I agree about Darren. It’s frustrating when your characters don’t want to fit your vision!
          I think this piece is close to my starting point for the story.
          We know Dunia’s backstory and can guess at Darren’s … I think I need to move forward again.

          Liked by 3 people

          1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

            My adverb awakening came while I was reading Dirk Gently’s Wholistic Detective Agency and came across the line, “She was heart-thumpingly beautiful.” It opened new vistas. I have had a glorious relationship with adverbs ever since.

            Liked by 1 person

  13. Sue Ranscht Avatar

    Perry – The enumeration of his activities with Jenny seems very clinical. Almost like a warning sign. This is a fine cautionary tale for all young men who seem to think girls are mind readers. The only way to be sure the other person knows what you want or that you know what they want is to talk about it. Don’t any of your characters have mothers to ask for advice? Where do they get their ideas about boy/girl relationships? I read your stories, shake my head, and laugh.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Perry Palin Avatar
      Perry Palin

      Well, my mom died when I was ten.

      My friends, models for many of my stories, had mothers but we didn’t share stories about moms’ advice to sons on teen romance.

      I don’t write romance. I write about people, and not always but sometimes the people are of each gender.

      My target audience is not women. At least you laugh, Sue. Some of the women who read my stories are disgusted, and some attack me. My wife just rolls her eyes. It’s interesting to track the responses.

      I wrote a romantic tragedy for a writing class a few years ago. The woman instructor and the women class participants said it was a lovely story, but come to think of it, the instructor laughed too.

      Liked by 4 people

  14. mimispeike Avatar

    John, this conversation is baldly feeding us information. Many interesting ideas here that could (and should) be spun out into one or more chapters. You’re moving too fast. Believable interaction suffers.

    Liked by 2 people

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