Michelle wore a 4-button black barathea wool tailcoat with satin-faced peak lapels. The tails hung to the back of her knee and the sleeves were short enough to show some cuff. Her wool trousers were cut high to accommodate the waistcoat. They had double satin braiding on the outseams and plain bottoms, no cuffs. Her waistcoat was rounded bottom; made of white cotton with a piqué weave. It was fastened with three buttons.
She wore a white cotton, single cuff, wing collar shirt with a piqué bib (to hold the starch) and a tab that fastened to her trousers. On her feet she wore cap toed calfskin shoes with a high shine. Her accessories were a top hat, mother of pearl studs and cuff-links, but she forwent the white scarf due to the time of year. Of course a white bow tie and a white pocket square completed her outfit.
She and Daniel were dressed identically, but somehow Michelle pulled it off better.
Daniel asked if, during the course of the evening, she would humour him and pull a rabbit out of her hat.
She replied with her crooked grin and a quick peck on his cheek.
Bruce makes pretty good money but not good enough for this.
He’s spent fifteen years at Williams Trucking, now he’s smoking on the edge of Piñon Street waiting for the cops to show up.
He listens to the Andrews kid who continues with his bitching and berating.
Bruce thinks that Danny Andrews is worried about the ass chewing he’ll get when his momma finds out what he did to her car.
Finally he can take it no longer and flicks his cigarette towards the Tesla as he walks back to his truck.
He’ll wait in the comfort of the cab till the authorities arrive.
He’s tired of listening to the ‘smack talking’ little trust fund baby.
This week’s prompts was a challenge and a lot of fun. It’s a story in and of itself. I thought about it a lot, but didn’t add much, I just chose a perspective and let it stand on it’s own:
“A driver, driving through a familiar neighbourhood of houses and condominiums, comes upon the completely out-of-place site of a two-tiered semi for car transport parked in the left-turn median. The truck is full of newer models of various cars. Nothing cheap, but nothing special. A generic, new-ish model sedan with its hazards flashing is stopped behind the tractor/trailer. What catches the driver’s attention is the young man standing on the sidewalk, taking pictures with his phone of the sedan. Another young man walks over to give the man a pat on the shoulder. The truck driver, who is also standing on the sidewalk, flicks his cigarette into the street and walks back to the truck’s cab.”
This week’s prompts are at the bottom. The words below were written for practice.
Practice makes perfect.
I met and fell in love with Esme twenty-three years ago. Of course, I never told my wife about her. On her part, Esme never told her husband, Angel, about me either. Our lives were both busy, but somehow we always managed to sneak in a few days together three or four times a year.
I loved Esme in all the same ways that I loved Becky. I loved both of them emotionally, physically, and intellectually. From my perspective life and the universe were perfect; the stars aligned.
And then the pandemic.
First Esme was taken. Less than a month later, I lost Becky.
I met Angel at Esme’s service. He seems like a great guy.
When Esme and Ted met and fell in love, they carried on in a wild affair for years. They met a few times a year to spend three or four days together. She knew Ted was married to Rebecca, but that never mattered. She had been married to Angel since she was eighteen. She loved them both equally.
When Angel was taken early in the pandemic Esme was shattered. She tried to call Ted. Becca answered his phone.
“Oh, hello,” Esme introduced herself, “I work out of the Roswell office with Ted. I’m trying to get in touch about the ‘Two Rivers Dam Project’ we’ve been collaborating on.”
“I’m sorry, Ted’s not available now. He’s been admitted to hospital. The kids and I are in lock-down. He’s not expected to survive the virus and I’m not even allowed to go visit him there.”
Esme’s breath caught as she re-cradled the phone.
I may have messed up on my numbering. I have called this #178 as I believe that there were two with #176. Sorry ’bout that. This week’s prompts:
Maria Andretti sat at the wheel of her shiny #12. It had been custom built to her specifications by her boyfriend and personal fabricator, Dodge Eisert. Dodge’s cars didn’t look like the ones her father had driven, back in the day, but Maria thought they performed well and handled adequately.
She smiled at Dodge and the rest of her crew as they manoeuvred #12 to the starting line, pole position to wait for the gun. She felt confident. She felt strong.
The horn speaker mounted atop the pole issued the command, “Drivers, start your engines,” and Dodge crouched behind #12 pretending to crank it over.
Maria allowed an appropriate amount of time and went, “VROOOM, VROOOM, VROOVROOVROOOOMMMMM!” #12 sounded great, all cylinders were firing and she crouched behind the wheel in anticipation of the gun.
She used her foot to check that her handbag was secure. She touched her goggles, and crossed herself the way her Nonna had done before each of her father’s races.
“BANG- and they’re off!”
This week’s prompts were picture prompts. I chose this one:
Back in the day I believe I chose the burning Christmas tree.
“Look, Grandpa, an old pair of ballet slippers.”
“Silver or pink?”
“Oh, those are mine.”
“Here’s a picture of a lady with a gun.
It looks like that gun over there, leaned against the wall.”
“Better give me that, boy. Don’t tell your Grandma ‘bout it, neither.
What else are you finding in that box?”
“Well, here’s a broken coffee cup, and a book, and there’s this thing.
I don’t know what it is.”
“Oh, you better give me that too; and don’t mention nothing ‘bout that
to your Grandma’ neither.”
This week’s prompt:
Objects in a Box: Write a post about the five things below you/your character find in a box.
A framed photo of an unknown woman in a WWII military uniform with 4 medals on her uniform holding a rifle.
A very worn pair of pink ballet slippers.
A cracked ceramic mug
A copy of the novel “Letters from the Earth” by Mark Twain with a handwritten note in an unfamiliar language on the inside cover.
A small, strange decorative brass box shaped somewhat like a clover, with a hinged lid and a three-inch panhandle
This week’s prompts are at the bottom. The words below were written for practice.
Practice makes perfect.
“Miss Tess, there is a rather unsavoury character to see you. He had the gall to come to the front door, but I have seated him in the pantry so your parents won’t have to deal with him. You might want to hurry before he finds the cooking sherry. Would you like me to accompany you?”
“Thank you, Gillian. What do you mean, unsavoury? Do you truly believe that I require an escort?”
“I’m sure I don’t know, Miss.”
“Very well; in the pantry you say? That seems a rather uncivilized waiting area for our guests, don’t you think? I’ll attend to him myself. Your presence will not be required.”
“Yes, Miss,” Gillian replied as she backed from the drawing-room.
Tess straightened her skirts, pushed her spiral curls up and headed towards the pantry. She found a tall lean man there, of indeterminate age. The skin on his hands and his face had leathered as though he had lived outdoors all his life. Crow’s feet radiated from the corners of his eyes; they etched and furrowed deep. He turned upon hearing Tess enter and his eyebrow twitched upward before returning to its rightful position on his face. He smiled displaying a mouthful of broken and rotted teeth along with a few gold ones. He wore a sailor’s tricorn hat pushed to the back of his head. The smell in the room was horrific.
Tess wrinkled her nose against the overripe aroma that emanated from the man.
“May I help you, sir?” she asked.
“Be you Tess Chadwick, the daughter of Lord Thomas, and acquaintance of Captain Thorne, master of the schooner, Quail?”
“I am,” she answered.
“The Captain sent me with a message for you Milady. He said to tell you that The Quail sails for the China Sea with the tide. Until that time he will be at the Black Horse Tavern on the waterfront. He asked me to give you this note.” He proffered a small envelope which Tess eagerly took and tore open. She read the note written in Benjamin Thorne’s hand.
My darling Tess,
I am sending this note in the hand of my trusted mate, Mr Géroux.
You can rely on him and he knows not what I write.
My ship sails with the tide, bound for the South China Sea.
I need to see you, Tess.
I want to ask you to wait for my return. I will wait for you
to come to the Black Horse, but the rising tide lifts all boats.
I cannot wait for long. Please come.
All my love,
Tess turned her face toward Mr Géroux, “When is the tide?” she asked.
“Not more than six hours, Milady.”
“Can you take me to the Black Horse?”
“Indeed, I can. We should make haste yet, time is getting short.”
“Wait here;” she instructed him, “have you a means of conveyance?”
“I have a steed Milady, but he is tired. It would be best if you had your own mount.”
Tess ran from the pantry to the kitchen where she knew she would find Gillian lurking nearby. “Gillian? Quickly have Matteo ready Dancer. I need a regular riding saddle, not a side-saddle. Make up a story to tell my father.”
“Very well, Miss. Safe travels. Come back again, please.”
Jessica had only planned to write a short story that night, so when she got the text from “Sitters-dot-Com” offering her a job with the Yates family at the big old house across from the cemetery (the actual address was #13 Cemetery Creek Road). She took it.
The dispatcher told her that there was only one pre-schooler that he was potty trained, that he had an eight o’clock bedtime, and that the parents should be home before midnight. It sounded like an easy gig and Jess could use the money. She could take her laptop along and finish the story she needed to write for her favourite prompt site before the parents came home.
Jess’ mom dropped her off at 6 pm sharp, “Sorry Jess, I’ve gotta run. You have your cell, right? Call me if you need a ride home.”
“Thanks, Mom.” Jessica looked across the street at the old graveyard. She thought about how it looked kinda spooky in the dark, tilting headstones, gaps in the old wrought iron fence (the fence that was almost overgrown by ivy). She heard the hoot of an owl, shuddered and turned her attention to the house.
The architecture was Queen Anne style with asymmetrical towers and fancy ornamentation. The paint was peeling on the wooden siding and a lot of English Ivy grew up the trellises and onto the roof. The name on the mailbox was Yates.
Oh, Jessica thought. The house is even more spooky than the cemetery! She began picking her way up the crooked walk to the front porch, where she knocked on the door and held her breath. She heard barking and growling from the other side of the door. It was obvious that the Yates’ had a dog.
Soon, she also heard a woman’s voice, “Ulf, get down. Go back into the kitchen. That’s a good boy, Ulf. Good boy.” The door swung open and there stood a petite lady. She looked about thirty years old. She had blonde wavy hair, cut short, but not quite a bob. The lady smiled at Jess with her mouth, but not her eyes. She displayed bright red lipstick painted on to make her face look as though her lips were forever pursed or puckered.
“Oh hello, you must be Jessica,” the woman said. “You have an excellent review on Sitters-dot-com and I’m so excited to meet you and introduce you to Rollin.” Then almost as an afterthought, she added, “Rollin is our son. He’s four years old and he’s having dinner in front of the television right now. Follow me, please and I can get you two acquainted. He’s a wonderful boy.” She turned and began to lead Jessica deeper into the house.
The house was larger than Jessica could have imagined and the two walked for what seemed like a long time. Finally, Ms Yates stopped at a door roughly midway down a long corridor. The walls were lined with identical doors and lots of paintings. They were primarily portraits of old-timey people. There were paintings of men with funny whiskers and ladies wearing elegant printed, or embroidered, gowns. There were young boys dressed in shorts with starched white shirts tucked in at the waist. There were young girls in frilly pink and white dresses with scores of petticoats evident beneath.
Ms Yates turned the knob on the door and pushed it open partway, she peeked around the edge of the door. “Rollin?” she queried, “are you in here?” Jess could hear the muted sound of the TV from behind the open door. Ms Yates pushed the door open further and beckoned Jessica to follow.
“Rollin?” she said to the small boy sitting on the floor with a plate in front of him. “This is Jessica. She’s going to be your babysitter tonight. You remember that your father and I must attend that horrible silent auction for whatever charity it is that he’s supporting this month.” She paused for a moment, “Say hello to Miss Jessica.”
“Hello, Miss Jessica,” Rollin turned his head before immediately refocusing his attention back to the television and his dinner. Jess could make out a heap of mac and cheese along with some sort of red meat on his plate. The meat was almost gone.
Ms Yates was glowing when she turned her attention back to Jess. It looks like he’s almost done,” she said, “When he finishes he might like to play Chinese Checkers or Go Fish. Those are his two favourite games. The Checkerboard and the cards are in that cabinet, there.” She gestured across the room at an ornate Chinese pantry. Then she moved over to a table, that looked more like a plant stand, by the door. Reaching down, she removed a small piece of paper from a silver tray situated precisely in the centre of the table. She proffered the card to Jessica. Who, of course, reached out and took it.
“Here is one of my cards,” she explained, “my mobile number is there. Please call me if you have any questions or problems. I have attached emergency numbers to the refrigerator with a blue glass magnet. To find the kitchen, go back the way we came and turn left. Please help yourself to anything in the icebox that you might want to eat or drink. I’ve got to go now or I’ll be late.” She stared at Jessica as if she were waiting for something.
Jess broke the standoff by saying, “Have a wonderful evening Ms Yates. I’ll take good care of Rollin.”
“I’m sure you will, dear,” Ms Yates said. She turned and left the room without another word.
Jessica listened to her move down the corridor and out a door. She heard a car engine start and move away from the house.
In her turn, Jess went over and sat on the floor next to Rollin. “How’s your dinner Rollin? It looks pretty yummy. I love mac and cheese.”
He looked at her and then turned back to the TV. “Good.” He said.
The boy seemed to be eating well and was fully absorbed in whatever it was that he was watching on the small screen. Jessica settled in, but after a while, she heard someone moving back in the house.
“Is anyone else here, Rollin?” she asked.
“My brother might be here.” He answered. “He’s big, like you.”
At that moment the door opened and an older boy, sixteen or seventeen years of age, entered the room. He wore an old fashioned suit made of dark velvet. He wore his dark hair stylishly long. It glistened as though it were wet. He seemed startled when he saw Jessica sitting next to Rollin.
“Hello,” he said, “I thought only Rollin was in here. Who might you be?” He smiled, and Jessica could feel her heart melt. She now knew what people meant when they said love at first sight.
Standing up, Jess walked toward the young man with her hand held out. “Hi, I’m Jessica. I’m here babysitting for Rollin. I’m afraid that Ms Yates has left for the evening.”
“Good evening Jess. I’m Rollin’s brother Ulf.”
The prompt this week was:
The “Four Food Groups” of a sentence game is fun! How to play: Create your own prompt by mixing/matching one phrase from each column. Example: On a ski trip, a deceitful novelist accidentally reveals a secret.
In a moonlit graveyard, a shy babysitter falls in love with the wrong person.
Several years ago an artist friend did a painting of a rooster that I really liked. She titled it “Cockamamie”.
She knew that I was a woodworker and she had just taken a commission to paint a birdhouse that looked like an ark. Soooo…. she suggested that it might be a good idea to trade the Cockamamie painting for a plain, wooden birdhouse that looked like an ark and that she could paint for her commission.
Of course I agreed.
Here are photos of both the ark and the painting.
Maybe a photo of an ark might help housing the photos of the pairs that Tish Farrell, writer and artist on the edge, is currently featuring?