OLWG · writing

OLWG# 230- Another Unfinished Story and the Three That I Fucked-up Accidentally (tacked on at the end)

An unfinished story. This one, written during a race against the clock (25 minutes) for OLWG# 230

Ferris found himself sitting at a table for two in the Polo Bar downtown. He was beginning to worry. He had swiped right when he saw Hester’s photo and profile on the dating app. They had exchanged messages through the app (maintain your privacy – never surrender your email address or your cell phone number) and both had agreed to meet here. Get to know one another. See if they wanted to take it any further.



Ferris had arrived early (about twenty after six). Since that time he had checked his watch at least 372 times. It now read six-thirty-four.

What if she had stood him up?

She had probably peeked through the window, spotted him and changed her mind? The photo he had used on the app looked a little like him, but a buff him, not the real him.

Maybe she was lost?

Had she been mugged walking across the park?

Murdered on the subway?

So many things could have gone wrong, and he was beginning to gnaw on his thumbnail when he felt a tap on his shoulder. He started and looked around. It was Hester, no doubt, she looked just like her photograph. She was beautiful, and she smiled.

“Ferris?” her voice was musical, her smile was bright, and her eyes sparkled.

“Yea, yes, uh huh, I’m Ferris,” he stammered as he tried to stand.

“I’m Hester,” she said with a giggle.

Ferris stumbled, a little, as he stood to hurry around the table and pull out her chair – ever the gentleman.

Hester nodded and took her seat. Ferris went back around to his seat. The two sized each other up for a moment before Hester took the lead.

“You look a little different from your picture,” she started.

“Uhm, sorry,” Ferris interjected before she could continue, “that photo was a couple of months old. I’ve grown a bit. You look exactly like your photo.”

“Do you think so? I’ve heard that the camera always adds a few pounds. I don’t know?”

“I’m having a Pepsi,” Ferris said. “Would you like something to drink? Appetizers?”

At that exact moment the waiter appeared at their table. His pencil hovered above his order pad and he stared at Hester, “Oui moiselle?”

“Je voudrais une bouteille de l’eau mineral. Non-gazeuse, s’il vous plait.”

The waiter put his pad into the pocket on his black apron. Without saying a word, he spun on his heel and disappeared back to wherever it was that he had come from.

Meanwhile, Ferris knew immediately that he was in love. He wanted to grab Hester by the hand. He wanted to kiss her hand, kiss her arm over and over, all the way up to her neck. Like that guy on that TV show, Don Addams or Gomez Addams with his wife Morticia. That was a good show, but he refrained from kissing her.

“You speak French, Hester?”

“Yes, yes, I do. I speak: well, English, of course, but also French, Leonese, and Klingon. That’s about it. What do you do, Ferris?”

Ferris worked nights, cleaning office buildings in the Financial District. “I work on Wall Street,” he said. “What about you?”

Hester would go to work at about 2:00 in the morning. She made donuts at Mojo’s, on Fifth Street. “I’m a pastry chef,” she answered.

“Cool, but with your language abilities, shouldn’t you be working as a translator? Maybe at the UN or somewhere like that?”

“I suppose I could do that, but I enjoy the creativity that comes with my current job.”

Whoops – Time’s up! Step away from the keyboard

This week’s prompts were:

  1. cotton to
  2. letters from strangers
  3. patiently lying

Here are the three I accidentally deleted…Sorry

Bill Miller went into his office that morning, as he did every other day. Just like there had been yesterday, there were dozens of tubs stacked against the wall by the office door. Each tub contained hundreds of letters and he intended to open every one of them. There were thousands of them. They were from members of his flock and most all of them contained cash donations. They were small donations, for the most part. There would be Five dollars here, Ten dollars there, but always folding money. Not always dollars either, he received donations from all over the world. He accepted blue money, red money, brown money; the currency mattered not. It was all spendable.

It was easy to fleece strangers who believed everything he said.


I’m sorry Professor; I just can’t cotton to what you’re saying. I think you have it all wrong. The world doesn’t work that way, people don’t act that way. It’s not that easy, it’s not that predictable, and it’s not always black and white, not binary.

But it is, don’t you see? We are creatures of habit. We are doomed to repeat our failures, our debacles, and our deeds. That’s the way we’re programmed. History has proven this time and time again.


Edna sighed and tried again, “No honey, that’s not where babies come from. Babies come from the garden. Your father and I found you when we turned over the leaves of the tomato vine. I really don’t know what you’re talking about.”

OLWG · writing

OLWG# 229- Father Malachi

Written for OLWG# 229

These days, when Father Malachi prayed, it was only because it was a necessary part of the ritual. He no longer believed in the power of prayer, but he would never admit it. Long ago, he had determined that God didn’t listen, or maybe she couldn’t listen; he didn’t know which.

He still believed though. How could he not?

How could he not believe when he looked up at the evening sky. When he absorbed the colours of the breaking dawn or watched the myriad ways that light can filter through heavy grey clouds at midday?

This week’s prompts were:

  1. almost never prayed
  2. she can’t hear you anymore
  3. notice the light

OLWG · writing

OLWG# 228- More Nondenominational Short Verse

Bits and Pieces, written for OLWG# 228

three six-packs
eighteen beers
put three back – express checkout


Milena let me take her to Montreux,
Firenze, and St. Tropez (where we followed in the footsteps of Bardot)
We climbed to the castle walls in Larochette
In Seville, I let her slip away.
She was a free spirit; I was never going to hold her for long.
I am thankful for the time we had together.


“See that large white house, across the water?”
“Uh-huh, I see it.”
“I want them all killed. I want the house burned down. Sift through the ashes and bring me what you find. I want the nails and picture hooks. I want their teeth, I want the gemstones, I want anything left after the fire.”

This week’s prompts were:

  1. burn it down – for the nails
  2. world traveller
  3. 15 or less

OLWG · writing

OLWG# 227- Song of Sánchez

Haibun, written for OLWG# 227

Sánchez downed the shot of Tequila in one and sucked the lime. Leaning to the side, he reached beneath the table to remove his boot and ended up tugging on the left one for what seemed an eternity. Finally, giving up and switching to the other one, which came off smooth-like. He smiled. His gold tooth shone in the desert sunlight, “Only have three toes on this foot,” he explained. He hooked his right hand around the boot heel, swung his arm back and launched the scuffed ‘Tony Llama’ at a pack of mangy curs that had been edging ever closer to us, looking, and hoping for a handout. The dogs scattered, but not too far. Single booted Sánchez waved to Maria, signalling for another bottle.


I smoothed my lapels
imagined Arizona
Someplace, not New York

This week’s prompts were:

  1. street dogs
  2. old shoes
  3. imaginary Arizona

OLWG · writing

OLWG# 225- Windows To the Soul

Haibun written with an ‘American Sentence’ for OLWG# 225

I sit next to Ilona, sharing a patio table at ‘The Overlook’, ringed by uncounted mountain ranges. To the west, the sunlight scatters, creating skies of bright yellow that slowly darken to a deep plum overhead before cycling through shades of ever-darkening wines until reaching the horizon, where it finishes dark and black as a Halloween cat in the east. I hold both her hands, studying the way the hues play with her skin tones, the highlights in her hair, and the blush of her gown.

Burgundy skies touch mountain tops and reflect in her violet eyes.

This week’s prompts were:

  1. burgundy skies
  2. look the devil in the eye
  3. all the tears in the world

OLWG · writing

OLWG# 225- The Building Downtown on 10th Street

Written for OLWG# 226

We all sat on folding metal chairs in front of Lawyer Redmond’s ostentatious wooden desk. She was reading Grandpa’s Last Will and Testament. It had been two years since Grandpa had passed, taken by the Covid in early 2021.

 I sat to the left of my dad. His new wife, Sukie, sat to his right. She was excited, squirming and bouncing in her seat.

Mom sat to my left. Her face fixed, stern, unsmiling. She wore her long grey hair pulled back and tied in a tight knot at her neck. The effect was severe. It was the first time she and Dad had been in the same room in the last fifteen years, although she and Ms Redmond had lived together for the best part of that time.

My sisters both stood at the back of the room. Eileen looked like she hadn’t brushed her hair in weeks. She gnawed on her already torn and chewed fingernails. Marie stood straight and tall, stoic, unruffled. Grandpa left the house in town to Marie, no surprise there. He left the ranch to Dad, and you could tell that Eileen was upset.

Mom got the art collection which was probably worth a pretty penny. I knew that she would keep it intact, though. She had loved Grandpa’s art. She would blend it with her own extensive collection. I didn’t know if the house she shared with Elizabeth was big enough to hold it all, but they could afford to build or buy a bigger one. She smiled silently to her partner, the attorney. Elizabeth allowed herself a quick grin back at Mom.

Eileen got the vehicles. Trucks, cars, tractors, motorcycles, the lot, she’d probably figure out a way to sell the trucks and tractors to Dad.

I was the only one remaining who remained unmentioned. Elizabeth Redmond cleared her throat and directed her gaze at me, “To my grandson, TN, I bequeath my old black woollen greatcoat and anything that might remain in the pockets. Note that this is the coat kept in the closet at the top of the stair, not the muddy one kept in the garage.” Lawyer Redmond set her stack of papers down and asked if there were any questions.

“What about the building downtown on 10th Street?” Marie asked.

“Per your grandfather’s instructions, that building has been liquidated. The proceeds then used to pay all outstanding debts or liens on his other properties and possessions.” Elizabeth looked everyone in the eye to solicit further inquiries, but no one spoke up.

Dad stood and left quickly; so he would not have to interact with Mom. Eileen tried to hide her disappointment. She followed Dad out the door. Mom went and stood behind Ms Redmond, possessively placing her hand on the lawyer’s shoulder. Marie smiled at Mom and again at me then, took her leave.

Elizabeth looked up at my mother and asked if she could have a moment with me alone. Mom nodded her head and followed Marie into the passageway.

“I hope you aren’t disappointed, TN.” She addressed me.

“Not at all,” I replied, “I know that coat. It belonged to my great grandfather. He left it to his son, my grandpa. I know that it meant a lot to him. I’m honoured that he chose to leave it to me.”

“I’ve got the topcoat here for you. I didn’t find anything in the pockets, though.” She handed me a long garment bag. I took the proffered bag, nodded to Ms Redmond, and mumbled my thanks. I got in my car and drove home.

That evening, I remembered what Mom’s wife had said about the pockets. I decided to go through them. Opening the bag, I removed the Melton wool garment and checked the flap pockets. A bit of lint was all I found. I checked the breast pocket and found a small roll of dollar bills from the ’60s. I looked for inside pockets and found a large ‘poachers pocket’ jetted into the back, above the lower hem. True to its name, it was big enough to stash a pheasant. There was no bird there, but I found a few cards. The first one I pulled out was a 1955 Sandy Koufax Topps Rookie Card. I reached back in and found a 1960 Carl Yastrzemski picturing him with his Boston Red Sox cap.

I was beginning to think that Grandpa had left me a fortune. I found a Ty Cobb Cracker Jack Card from 1914, a ’48 Satchel Paige, there was a Stan Musial from the same year. There was a Roberto Clemente 1955, and the crème de la crème was a Mickey Mantle from 1952. I knew that the ’52 Mantle card was worth at least a half million. I was going to have to get the others appraised.

Thanks, Grandpa

This week’s prompts were:

  1. spit out the sun
  2. play your horn, Leo
  3. baseball cards and overcoats

OLWG · writing

OLWG# 224- Two Stories

Written for OLWG# 224

General Zao’s Daughter

I first noticed Miriam at General Zao’s Daughter. That’s a Chinese Buffet in OKC. We made eyes at one another over the sneeze guards. After gathering our lunches, we sat together on opposite sides of a double booth. She was beautiful.

Dark hair – Dark eyes – Long-limbed – Possessed of an enigmatic smile, moist lips

She’d go back for more food: Kung Pao, Lo Mein, Char siu, Dim sum, and the like.

Me too. I wasn’t all that hungry but I wanted to stare into her eyes. I wanted to watch her put food in her mouth. I wanted her to keep smiling. I wanted her.

We had to pay again, but we stayed for dinner, and I asked her to marry me. She agreed and moved across to share my bench seat. We held hands, stole kisses, dreamed.

“What do you think?” I asked. “It’s only about 1100 miles to Las Vegas. We could do that in a couple of days, honeymoon along the way, get married in one of those all-night chapels on the strip.”

“Oh, I could never do that,” she said. “I’d need to get married before honeymooning.”

“We can drive straight through.” I urged, “It would probably only take about 16 hours.”

We held hands out to the car park. I followed her to her apartment so she could leave her Prius at home, we’d agreed to take my truck. She had noticed that there was more room in the truck and more room meant a more comfortable drive. I couldn’t argue with that logic.

I topped off the tank on the west side of town, and we got on the road. I-40 W would take us to Las Vegas. Miriam settled in on the passenger side, leaned back on the seat and pulled on her seatbelt. She started talking.

“Daddy, do you mind if I call you Daddy?” she started.

“No, I don’t mind.”

“Would you mind calling me Baby? I’d like it if you’d call me Baby. You can call me either Baby or Fritzie. I’ve always wanted to be a Fritzie.

“Uhm, sure, Baby.”

She smiled.

“How fast are you driving, Daddy?”

I looked down at the dash, “A little over the speed limit.”

“Call me Baby, or Fritzie,” she reminded me and playfully cuffed me on the shoulder.

“Make sure you don’t speed after the Texas line. Those Texas cops, they don’t suffer no speeders.”

“Oh yeah, I know.”

There was a bit of congestion at the Texas state line. Miriam cautioned me to slow down. She told me that I should stay in the right-hand lane. It’s less than 200 miles across the Texas panhandle. Baby talked the whole time. She chatted non-stop across New Mexico, too.

“Not so fast, Daddy…Careful, Daddy, you’re straying over the line… Watch out for that truck, there.”

“Baby,” I said, “you gotta quit telling me how to drive.” She stuck out her lower lip and stared out the window for a while. She mumbled something in baby talk that I couldn’t quite make out.

After a while, she began to hum. Some old Janis Joplin song, “mhmm hmm, hmm, hmm, hm, hm, BOBBY McGHEE!”

I thought we’d never get to Vegas, but Fritzie finally fell asleep. She was beautiful when she slept. So peaceful. We found a wedding chapel down the street from the Flamingo. I pulled up in front, and we jumped out of the truck. A sign on the front of the building read “Parking In Rear.”

“Go in and see how long the wait is Fritzie,” I said. “I’ll park the truck.”

She put her hand on my cheek and batted her big bedroom eyes, “Don’t be long, Daddy.” She hustled through the front door to look for the preacher. I walked back around the front of the truck and got in the driver’s seat. The key turned by itself in the ignition and the engine fired up, then slipped into a low rumble. I gripped the wheel at 10 and 2 and rested my forehead between my hands. I thought about what I was about to do, but only for a couple of seconds. Then I whipped a U-Turn and started driving back to Oklahoma, wiggling my fingers in the mirror, waving goodbye.

I saw Miriam again last week. She was coming out of an antique shop on Western Ave. She didn’t see me though; I managed to turn around real quick like. I’m going to be looking over my shoulder forever, now. A girl like that probably carries a straight razor in her purse. Probably holds a grudge too.

King Duck Szechuan

Miriam Chulaushi sat on the other side of the table from Detective Norcross. “Just tell us what happened, in your own words, ma’am.”

She began, “I first noticed him at a Chinese Buffet, here in OKC. It was the King Duck Szechuan on Gaylord Boulevard. I had stopped for an early dinner. It was almost funny the way he tried to flirt with me over the sneeze guards. I tried to ignore him and picked up a bowl of egg drop soup, a couple of beautiful spring rolls, and a generous helping of steamed vegetables. I took a table by the front window so that I could read while I ate. I was reading ‘The Lifeboat’ by Charlotte Rogan. I looked up and the man was standing next to my table with a tray heaped with food. He introduced himself as ‘Jimbo’ and asked if he could share my table as the restaurant was quite full. I nodded and returned to my book.”

Brown hair – Bloodshot eyes – Broad-shouldered – Not too bad looking but not very well educated

“He kept going back for more food: Kung Pao, Lo Mein, Char siu, Dim sum, like he hadn’t eaten in a week.

“I kept my head in my book and tried not to encourage him.

“After what seemed an eternity of awkward silence at the table he blurted out that he loved me and asked me to marry him. I asked him to please find another table.

“Then he said, ‘Oh, come on, Baby, do you mind if I call you Baby? It’s only about 1100 miles to Las Vegas. We could do that in a couple of days, honeymoon along the way, get married in one of those all-night chapels on the strip.’

“Oh, I could never do that,” I said in an attempt to discourage him. “I’d have to have a husband before I had a honeymoon.

“‘We can drive straight through.’ he urged, ‘It would probably only take about 16 hours.’ Then he snatched my hand and whispered, ‘don’t make a scene.’ He dragged me out to the lot and threw me into the passenger side of a large, red, Ford truck.

“He topped off the tank on the west side of town and got on I-40 W. I remember thinking how unreal it was that I had been abducted. The truck must have had a child lock on the passenger side. I couldn’t open the door. I crouched, trying to make myself small against the side of the truck as far away from him as possible. I hoped he couldn’t reach me. He started talking.

“‘You should call me Daddy,’ he started.

“I nodded my head, afraid to disagree.

“‘Would you mind if I called you, Baby? I’d like to call you, Baby. Or I could call you, Fritzie. I’ve always wanted a Fritzie.’

“He drove like a maniac. Doing at least 95, all the way to the Texas border.”

“I tried to fight. I hit him on the shoulder, the neck, and face hoping to cause him to drive off the road. He seemed impervious to anything I said or did. He only smiled, and we rode west in silence for a time.

“ ’Easy there, Baby, he said at the Texas line. These Texas cops, they don’t mess around. Don’t do anything to draw attention to us’

“All I could do over and over again was ask him where we were going, but he wouldn’t answer that question.

“There was a bit of congestion at the Texas state line, and he slowed down some. He kept it slow and stayed in the right-hand lane. We listened to cowboy music across the Texas panhandle and through New Mexico.

“I stayed quiet and tried to stay small, hoping against hope that he would forget I was there.

“After a while, he began to hum and then sing along with the radio; Eddie Arnold, Johnny Cash, George Jones and the like.

“I fell asleep and woke up outside Vegas when he started slowing down. He stopped at a wedding chapel down the street from the Flamingo and parked in the back.

“Stay put Fritzie,” he said. “I’ll check it out.”

“He put her hand on my shoulder and smiled, ‘you’re gonna be a beautiful bride’. He took the keys and hustled through the chapel door to look for the preacher. I slid over and got out on the driver’s side. I made a beeline down the alley and turned left. I turned right or left every chance I got trying to get away until I finally saw a Las Vegas patrol car and flagged ‘em down.

“That was 27 months ago. He got sentenced to 32 months and then got five off for what? Good Behaviour? I saw Jimbo again last week as I came out of an antique shop on Western Avenue. I don’t think he saw me though; I managed to turn around real quick like. I’m going to be looking over my shoulder forever, now. An asshole like that probably carries a straight razor in his hip pocket. Probably holds a grudge too.”

This week’s prompts were:

  1. my favourite kind of crazy
  2. the bride’s waiting
  3. I nailed the window shut

OLWG · writing

OLWG# 223- A Lesser God

Written for OLWG# 223

Not far outside Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the town of French Village, on Chebucto Peninsula lived an old man. He lived in a shack that hid in the wooded area near the end of Evelyns Lane, which lay south of Peggys Cove. Everyone knew the man as Tom. No one knew his age or last name, and it seemed that he had just always lived there.

Last year, in the grip of the pandemic, the Halifax Herald sent a reporter to interview Old Tom On the 10th of February. About a week before the third Monday, which is Nova Scotia Heritage Day. In 2020 Heritage Day was the 17th. Someone at the Herald had heard that Old Tom was the oldest living resident of the Province. The reporter that they sent was a young, ambitious journalist named Hanah Cote. Ms Cote was a rising star at the paper, an aspiring writer and photographer.

When Hanah found Old Toms house hidden in the trees, it was almost dusk. She rapped on the front door, where the blue paint was chipping, and waited. The porch light came on, and she could make out a stooped old man through the wavy glass in the window. When the door opened, he peered at her with squinted eyes. She saw a mat of grey hair beneath a blue toque. His face looked like it belonged on a fisherman, creased and weathered. He wore a knit sweater with a high neck, dungarees, and fur-lined slippers.

“Yep?” he queried.

“Are you Old Tom?” she asked, and without waiting for a reply, she went on, “My name is Hanah Cote. I work for the Herald in Halifax. We heard that you are the oldest living resident of Nova Scotia. We are hoping to do a feature story on you for Heritage Day.” She gave him her hundred-watt smile and waited.

They stared at each other for almost an eternity until Tom finally pulled the door wider and gestured her inside. “Really?” he questioned, “On me? Well, come on in. Get out of the cold.” Hanah stepped inside. The house was warm and decorated with a nautical theme. Paintings of ships and boats covered the walls. Old floats and traps, now converted into coffee tables and lamps. Crossed oars hung over the fireplace. “Can I get you a coffee?” he asked. Then he winked, “mebbe something a little stronger?”

“Coffee would be nice,” Hanah said.

Tom gestured for her to follow. He turned and headed towards the back of the house, to the kitchen. Dishes overflowed the sink. An old gas stove had a kettle warming on the back burner. Tom turned up the flame and pulled a stack of books and papers from one of the two chrome chairs at a table against the wall. He set the pile of debris so that it blocked the back door.

“Forgive my housekeeping. I live alone. I seldom get visitors, and I kinda know where everything is,” he said.

Hanah nodded her head and sat in the now empty chair, “I don’t even know your last name,” she said. “When we decided to find the oldest resident of Nova Scotia, everyone told us, ‘that’s gotta be Old Tom in French Village,’ so here I am.” She pulled a small notebook from her handbag and looked at him expectantly.

He poured a measure of Folgers crystals into a cup and then poured hot water over them. “Sugar?” he asked.

“I beg your pardon?”


“Oh, yes, please. About half a spoon.”

Old Tom looked around on the countertop and finally spotted a teaspoon. He pounced on it and wiped it clean with the ball of his thumb. Then picked up a sugar bowl that looked a bit dusty and set it along with the teaspoon on the table. He placed the cup next to the recently cleaned spoon. Then he sat across from her, waiting and watching as she put two heaping spoons of sugar into her instant coffee.

“Well, Tom, back to the interview. What is your last name, anyway?” All business.

“Mine?” he pointed to his chest. She nodded affirmatively, “My last name is Feinberg. I’m Thomas William Feinberg. When are you going to print this story?” He stood, turned and reached into a high cupboard to remove a pint bottle of whisky.

“Heritage Day,” she answered and pushed her coffee cup towards him.

Old Tom Feinberg screwed the top off the bottle and tipped a bit of brown liquor into Hanah’s cup.

This week’s prompts were:

  1. outside Halifax
  2. no god worth worrying about
  3. selling truth

OLWG · writing

OLWG# 222- Late Night at the Tumbleweed

Written for OLWG# 222

After stepping into the Arkansas Tumbleweed Lounge, Ben Jones slumped against the wall by the front door and surveyed the room. An old guy leaned on his elbows at the end of the bar with a frown on his face. He was talking to a young woman huddled over an overflowing ashtray. She, in turn, was doing her best to ignore him. The old guy looked as if he hadn’t had a good day. He had a shot glass upended on the bar in front of him, and he was nursing the bottom half of a glass of beer.

A middle-aged woman who looked like a librarian hovered at the other end of the bar. She dressed conservatively and tastefully but she was drunk. Waving her hands and shouting at Dominic, who was working tonight. Dominic looked as though he would rather be anywhere else in the world. Anywhere other than behind the bar listening to this manic librarian. Ben was glad he couldn’t hear whatever she was ranting about.

Against the far wall in the last deep booth sat a couple; sitting on the same bench seat, on the same side of the table; their hands intertwined between them, and their foreheads touched. The next booth held a foursome of polyester-clad sales guys, seemingly in town for the night. They were dishing up a lot of verbal insubordination to the piano player. Merv was the entertainment tonight. Merv was a crooner wearing a sequined blazer, the colour of Kambaba Jasper.

Ben decided this might be a good night for country-western music. It was not a night for crooners. He slipped back out the door to the street. Two blocks down, he would find Chubby’s diner. Where he knew that he could get a Salisbury steak and a strong cuppa Joe. They had Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, and Patsy Cline on the jukebox there. If he had luck on his side, Lanna would be working.

He didn’t think he could listen to Merv tonight.

This week’s prompts were:

  1. ungrateful
  2. another Mr Jones
  3. the colour of Kambaba Jasper

OLWG · writing

OLWG# 221- Lia Vitto of Polignano a Mare

Written for OLWG# 221

Lia Vitto lived in the ancient town of Polignano a Mare located at the top of the boot heel on the Adriatic Sea. Her husband, Enrico – gone now for over thirty years – had been respected and wealthy, a politician and landowner. Money doesn’t last forever, though, and Lia was beginning to run short. The kids were all gone now too. Cesare, dead in 1983, part of the multinational forces in Lebanon. Carolina passed in childbirth, her granddaughter lost at the same time. And, Luca, her baby boy Luca, killed for no reason by robbers in Roma when he was no more than 23 years old.

Lia felt tired. She was old. Her family was gone, she could not understand why she had to outlive her children. It was time to make her famous Berry and mascarpone dessert. The day she selected was fine. The mid-spring temperature was perfect. She went hunting for the fresh berries that she wanted to use. She wanted the black, sweet berries of the Belladonna that grew in the hills above town. Never having used these particular berries before, she was unsure how many she would need. She ended up collecting about 300 grams worth.

Back home, she cooked the berries for about ten minutes with sugar, a splash of water, and a squeeze of limone. Sbattili insieme. She mixed powdered sugar and vanilla with the mascarpone. Lia laboured to whip about 150ml of cream and folded it into the cheese she had already prepared.

Dipping finger biscuits into the berry sauce, she lined about ten of them up on a serving dish. Then spread the mascarpone in a thin layer before sprinkling more berries on top. Three layers of biscuits, cheese, and berries finished off the ingredients. There was only a bit of sauce remaining. She poured it over the top and placed the entire dish into the fridge to chill.

Lia pulled leftovers from the night before out of her small fridge. White beans that she’d simmered with garlic, peppercorns, and sage. She tossed the beans with tuna and splashed them with a bit of olive oil. A glass of Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi topped off the meal. She found herself craving the berries and mascarpone but ate only about a quarter of what she had prepared before sitting in front of the window to relax.

It seemed almost no time when she wished she had another glass of wine, but she couldn’t be bothered. She preferred to sit. Her vision was becoming blurry, the world beyond her window glass reduced to a haze. There was a noise behind the front door. It took a while for her to turn her head, but when she looked around, she saw her baby. Her Luca was standing just inside the door. His arms spread wide.
“Mamma,” he said, “Mamma, vieni qui, mia cara, mamma.”

This week’s prompts were:

  1. sacred or grotesque
  2. smoky girl
  3. poor man’s poison