Trade-off

PHOTO PROMPT© Liz Young
Genre: Realism; Word count: 100
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Trade-off

— It looks fabulous!
— What does?
— Isn’t that heaven?
— Those are elevators.
— Can I go on one?
— No. You have to take the stairs. You don’t have a golden pass.
— Why not?
— You can’t afford it.
— But I have money!
— It’s not just money. It’s talking a certain way, shopping at the approved stores, socializing with the proper sort, voting for the prescribed party.
— Well, I’ll do all those things then.
— Okay. But first I have to tape your mouth shut, blindfold you, tie up your legs and lobotomize you.
— And then I’ll get to take the golden elevators?
— Yes.
— Okay.

Knowing Me, Knowing You

photo prompt © Krista Strutz

Knowing Me, Knowing You

I watched him.

Rather queer really, how his eyes held the same question as my nestlings when they dared to look over the edge of their eyrie.

Here was a grown man suddenly struck by the mystery of being: “I see the eagle. The eagle sees me. We see each other. Why?”

This man meant nothing to me yet I pitied him as he drifted past on his piece of wood.

I raised my pinions, taking flight on the warm current of wind. There was only one mystery that mattered: how to know the One who freely gave us life.

Genre: Realism; Word count: 100
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Rivers

PHOTO PROMPT © Penny Gadd
Genre: Realism; Word count: 100
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Rivers

The first murder set it into motion, the river of death running red with blood, black with vengeance and lust. This rivulet was one of many winding their way past graveyards. At this bend, she kissed him goodbye for the last time. Just twenty and off to war.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of death
Thou art with me . . . .”¹

Once she had thought that death had the run of the land. Now sitting on the bank, praying with her daughter before beginning her home school lessons, she knew there was also a river of life.


1Psalm 23 [A Psalm of David.] (KJV)

The LORD [is] my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Waiting for Michaux-Perreaux

photo prompt: Brenda Cox

Read more about the Michaux-Perreaux here, a French bicycle company that later invented the steam velocipede, one of three precursors to the modern motorcycle. I chose Michaux-Perraux for its rhyming allusion to Godot in this semi-allegory.

Genre: allegory; Word count: 100
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Waiting For Michaux-Perreaux

Every day, after work, the old cleaning woman sat on the bench staring at the Michaux-Perraux half in, half out of the building’s side. She was as much an oddity as the bicycle. Sometimes she was seen wiping tears away. Usually she sat poised expectantly. Nothing ever happened. Then, bowing her head, she would walk slowly away.

One day, an earthquake shook the town. The building was evacuated. As everyone watched, debris began falling, the wall with the bicycle cracked, and people screamed and ran.

All except the old woman.

The bicycle fell loose. Smiling, she rode it home.

Tomato Soup for You

Heavenly Father,

I’ve always stood out. Indian child. Small town. No friends really. A lonely thing with a big moon that followed her. I thought about you a lot. Didn’t know you thought about me too. You know the story. You loved me even when I didn’t.  I wanted to DO something. Never did. I trained with pretty great chefs, one from Paris. They agreed all I did right was making tomato soup. What could I do? I opened a stand-out “All-Things-Tomato” take-out. Some can pay. Some can’t. I do it for You, Lord. May it be to Your glory.

Photo © Dale Rogerson. Click her name for more on the photo.
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The Mole People

Rochelle Wisoff-Fields very kindly invites us to join the Friday Fictioneers in their weekly creative quests of a hundred words or less prompted by a photo. Click here and join in! Photo prompt © Anne Higa  

The Mole People

In the underground caves we lived the squalor that passed for life
Each of us coveting the other’s baubles, driven by transient desires
One took another’s wife, someone her neighbor’s pearl of contentment
Deceived and deceiving we lived as opulent moles in a darkness unrelenting.

We were aware of an abundant life above ground, one richer in life and meaning
We yearned to quench ourselves in the unfathomable joy of its Light pouring
Through the dim recesses of our shadowed being, but mechanically going to and fro
We multiplied our labors seeking promised pleasure in glinting mirrors of craving eyes.


Dear reader: A little background to the above poem. In reading the 20th-century philosopher René Girard, one can’t help but be struck by how the last of the Ten Commandments focuses exclusively on covetous desire, something that the second tablet of the law enumerates to a certain extent. Thou shalt not covet. Girard finds the breaking of this law to be the root of violence in every culture. Here’s how he explains his theory of mimetic desire:

In reading the tenth commandment one has the impression of being present at the intellectual process of its elaboration. To prevent people from fighting, the lawgiver seeks at first to forbid all the objects about which they ceaselessly fight, and he decides to make a list of these. However, he quickly perceives that the objects are too numerous: he cannot enumerate all of them. So he interrupts himself in the process, gives up focusing on the objects that keep changing anyway, and he turns to what never changes. Or rather, he turns to that one who is always present, the neighbor. One always desires whatever belongs to that one, the neighbor. Since the objects we should not desire and nevertheless do desire always belong to the neighbor, it is clearly the neighbor who renders them desirable. In the formulation of the prohibition, the neighbor must take the place of the objects, and indeed he does take their place in the last phrase of the sentence that prohibits no longer objects enumerated one by one but “anything that belongs to him [the neighbor].” What the tenth commandment sketches, without defining it explicitly, is a fundamental revolution in the understanding of desire. We assume that desire is objective or subjective, but in reality it rests on a third party who gives value to the objects. This third party is usually the one who is closest, the neighbor. To maintain peace between human beings, it is essential to define prohibitions in light of this extremely significant fact: our neighbor is the model for our desires. This is what I call mimetic desire.

René Girard, I See Satan Fall Like Lightning, pp. 9-10. (Click on the title for more of this excerpt.)

Humble Singh and the Giddy Widow: A Good Friday Story

It was Good Friday morning and Humble Singh was watching the clock.

He had done this every Good Friday for as long as he could remember, even while his wife, Millie, was still alive and before he had sold his business and moved to live with his son and his family.

It was a quarter to nine. Soon Jesus would arrive, cross-laden, at Golgotha. His face is beaten to a pulp, Jewish and Gentile spit mingles with his blood, and he is struggling with exhaustion and pain as long strips of deeply scored flesh lie open on his back from the scourging, and every nerve in his body screams in anticipation of the crucifixion. The soldiers hurry him along. They conscript a bystander to carry the horizontal beam on his back.

Ten till. Humble sat in his sitting room at the back of the house. Suddenly he leapt up and went into the back garden. Red tulips. Purple hyacinths. Large burgundy magnolia buds like the bruises that covered Christ’s body. The Roman soldiers had mocked him with a purple robe and a crown of thorns while beating him repeatedly. The Jewish priests and their hitting, spitting and slapping needed their scorn driven home. But it was their hour of shame. “His blood be on us and on our children!” the crowd had cried. The mob must have its victim. Even if that victim was pure, blameless. The Lamb of God.

A minute till nine. They lie him down, stripped, arms held down on the cross beam. Humble looks up at a movement in the shrubbery. A bunny had scurried through the open garden gate. Humble hurries to close it.  Piercing nails. Blood running free. Writhing agony. Joints stretching in excruciating torture. The crowd gathers round. Women sob. Many watch in satisfaction.

“Humble! Yoo hoo, Humble!” a woman’s voice sings out. It was Prithi, known in the predominantly Asian neighborhood as the “Giddy Widow.” She approaches him with a broad smile and with nowhere to run, unlike the bunny, Humble returns her greeting. She comes into the garden, her heels clicking on the pavement, bangles bouncing on attractively plump arms and her rouged face a pantomime of coquetry.

They wander around the garden, Prithi chatty, Humble surreptitiously checking his watch. It was a large garden, professionally tended, an arbor here, a fish pond there, a large oak in the middle of the grounds, shady trees of cherry, plum, and maple. No olive trees. Unlike that garden where Christ sweated huge drops of blood at what he would be enduring today. “The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.”

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The Burlap Bag

One wintry Thursday morning, under a queer blurry sky, an old woman trekked down a bustling city street with an unsightly burlap bag hanging from her shoulder. The people that passed her noted her appearance which seemed awfully ordinary except for the bag, of course, which couldn’t possibly be a handbag.

Every once in a while she would stop and ask a passerby something, then shake her head and keep walking. This happened from early morning to evening so that the people who passed her while on their way to the office or store would pass her again on their way back. The ones she had already stopped and spoken with would give her a wide berth more often than not. She really did seem strange, but in a familiar sort of way.

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Elder Norbit’s Walk in the Park (cont.)

(This is the second of a two-part story. For the first, click here.)

cyclist_colored_framed
© Wallie’s Wentletrap, all rights reserved.

It seems a blur and to this day Norbit is hard put to explain exactly what transpired in the moments after his foot’s encounter with a figure in a shimmering suit and hat of purple riding what appeared to be a bicycle, playing what looked to be a miniature keyboard.

Continue reading “Elder Norbit’s Walk in the Park (cont.)”

Elder Norbit’s Walk in the Park


cyclist critters cut
Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. (Hebrews 13:1-3)

Elder Jud Norbit was a wizened old man, weathered by work and age. He left for his office at a quarter past seven and returned at a half-past six every day except Sundays. He was met at the door by his manservant, Pritcherd, who wore a sympathetic look just as effortlessly as he anticipated every movement in his boss’s routine. There was a nod that passed between them, a glance aside for the mail and afternoon paper, a glass of whisky at his elbow as he sat in his armchair by the fire in the winter, by the window in the summer, and then a decent meal with Mrs. Gray serving in her white apron, followed by a steaming cup of cider in the winter, tea in the summer, on a polished silver tray at his desk in the study. A quick look at the accounts and the necessaries on his computer, a brief email sent here and there, and he closed his browser and rose and stretched. It had been a long day.

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Lemuel and Qoheleth

sunset-in-the-forest-of-senoches.jpg!Blog

Two kings there were in ancient times, Lemuel and Qoheleth. They lived in neighboring lands and in the days of their boyhood had been eager to visit one another under the indulgent eyes of their parents. As the years rolled by, however, the duties of their royal crowns served to keep them apart till, in the shadow of their old age, they met again under the cedar trees where once they had played.

As they walked together, they talked of many things, of perils in kingship and of victories in war, of great gain and of equally great loss. They talked as easily and naturally as if there had been no lengthy passage of time since their childhood rambles. At length the evening shadows fell and they paused to listen to the sound of running water from a nearby stream and the whisper of light breezes among the forest ferns and leaves.

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Untinned Djinns: The Tale of Oomani

Matthew So-Yohu had thought it was a day like any other when the unthinkable occurred. Pushing aside that inherent illogic, So-Yohu grimaced internally and continued his speech. His unnameable audience was transfixed. So-Yohu’s grimace grew. He felt it stretch within his soul like a rubber band as large as Archimedes’s hypothetical lever. Would the grimace grow until it exploded his soul’s natural capacities or would his soul expand in its turn to accommodate the increasing proportions of his grimace, thereby proving itself infinitely flexible, gargantuan, and monstrous?

At this point the grimace transformed into a grimmus, which in fact it had been all the time, and So-Yohu was able to relax. The grimmus, however, could not.

So-Yohu’s grimmus got to work at once, as all grimmuses are compelled to do. It began with an ordinary 16-oz can of tomato sauce that So-Yohu inexplicably Unknownpurchased on his way home from work. That was the unintentionally easy part since djinns can abide in anything but prefer the packaged effect. The intentionally easy part, of course, was summoning the djinn. Like cherries in an Anatolian cherry orchard after a moderately hard winter, plentiful spring rains, temperate sunshine, and only a modicum of infestation, djinns are everywhere. One doesn’t have to know where to look. The grimmus had only to choose. And that was the difficult part, though Who made it so, the grimmus knew very well.

So-Yohu’s grimmus did actually settle on one djinn but he ended up summoning another. Their little joke. But in cases like that and otherwise, the grimmus understood, the outcome was predetermined.

So the djinn claimed occupancy of the 16-oz tomato can that its owner, placidly unaware of its contents, carried in a large paper bag all the way into his domicile.

Continue reading “Untinned Djinns: The Tale of Oomani”