On 22 February 2017, these three words were chosen:
And these blurbs were written within five minutes….Enjoy!
ALANNA J. RUBIN
Clementine poked the belly of the stuffed animal that was sitting on the tattered couch and it bounced back like an uncooked marshmallow. This was the only thing that seemed to be unscathed by the fire that had torn through the house and the adjoining pumpkin patch outside, which means it must be what she was looking for. Clementine picked it up, examining the furry bear more closely and softly spoke some words in Latin. It’s eyes began to blink.
Solin watched the marshmallow melt in the dwindling fire as she pulled out the pulp of the pumpkin. It was the first time in ages she had found one that was ripe enough to eat and despite her mission, she was not going to pass it by. A quick nod to Garn and the small dragon breathed onto the fire, the peaks licking up to the sky once more. Solin set the pumpkin near it and Garn pushed it in with his nose. Solin watched the ships, far in the sky move overhead. They may not arrive at the conference first but they would be well fed. She smiled at the dragon. He was her first and so far they were getting along just fine. After the conference, the dragon riders association would meet and she would try out for an apprenticeship. It was all she’d ever wanted and she prayed that her guise of boys clothing would be enough. Garn snuffled loudly nearby, shoving a nose onto her leg. Solin gave him a pat and grabbed her bag to hand him a rabbit she’s speared that morning.
“Here, put this one over the fire,” Mika handed Dardon a squishy orange thing, and he looked at it suspiciously.
“It’s a pumpkin spice marshmallow,” Mika explained. “I got it when I went upworld last time.” Dardon didn’t look convinced, but he stuck the marshmallow on the skewer and held it over the flames, turning it to toast it evenly. “So, you said you wanted to talk,” he said in his gruff voice.
Mika nodded and hunkered down next to the much larger man. “Yes.”
“Then you’d better get to talking. I don’t have all night you know.”
Mika nodded, and tried to think where to start. “I’ve been having weird dreams lately,” he said.
Dardon raised an eyebrow. “Not really my field of expertise.”
Mika nodded again. “I know it’s unusual, but just bear with me. They started just after I went upworld.”
“Did you catch something?” Dardon asked. “Some kind of formidable illness that our healers don’t have a cure for?”
“No, I don’t think so. I mean, I feel fine,” Mika said. “It’s just the dreams.”
Dardon sighed. “You gonna tell me what these dreams are about?”
“Well, that’s the thing,” Mika gave a frustrated sigh. “I don’t know.”
Dardon stared at him, and stopped turning the marshmallow. “I don’t understand that.”
“Neither do I,” Mika said. “I know I dream, but everything is blank when I wake up. It’s like a chalkboard that someone wrote on then erased and handed to me.”
Dardon blinked, trying to comprehend this, but was distracted when the marshmallow burst into flame.
The scene was set. The lights were dimmed low, complimented by a couple of candles. There was wine chilling on the table with a couple of crystal glasses strategically placed next to a dozen white roses.
Travis couldn’t believe this was actually happening. He looked in the mirror one last time. She would be here at any moment.
Just as the thought played through his brain the doorbell rang. He almost ran to answer it, and as the door swung open the smile on Victoria’s face dissolved into the grimace that one makes when one is smelling the most horrible of scents.
“Is something on fire?” she asked. Travis turned “Just candl…” he was saying as he turned to see the roses were now in fact aflame.
He rushed to put them out.
He turned to see Victoria still standing in the doorway. “It smells like a Halloween campfire in here.” she didn’t seemed pleased. It was possible that choosing a marshmallow and a pumpkin candle did not in fact set the scene.
“Is it a bad thing if the guy at the ice cream store knows your order?” I asked my husband as I walked through the front door, a white paper bag holding the revered sundaes in one hand and my car keys in the other.
“He knows your order?” my husband echoed. I hung the keys on the hook by the door and kicked my shoes off, walking toward him as I started to open the bag.
“Yeah, as soon as I pulled up to the window, he was like, ‘oh yeah, marshmallow and peanut butter over chocolate ice cream girl, how you doin’?’”
I pulled out one of the sundaes and handed it over to my husband. He accepted it with a quizzical look. “He hey-baby-ed you?”
I gave him a curious look as I unearthed my own precious sundae, popping the lid with a satisfied grin of anticipation. I could barely wait to put down the bag and start eating. I looked down at myself, pointing slowing with the styrofoam container as I gestured to the fuzzy pajama pants, loose fitting tank top, and messy ponytail. I wasn’t even wearing a bra. It was like I’d run out of a house on fire in the middle of the night. “No, why would you ask that?”
“You said he said ‘how-you-doin’. Isn’t that code for ‘hey-baby’?”
“Maybe if it was 1995 and Friends was still number one on prime time,” I replied.
“You should have asked him for a pumpkin spice latte,” he suggested, “just to complete the desperate white girl thing you have going on tonight.”
“Who ever heard of a pumpkin marshmallow,” Alex said, moving the tiny piece of candy over the fire. “I can’t imagine how many chemicals went into making it that way.”
“Eh, don’t worry about it,” Patrick said, maneuvering two different sticks over the flame. “Sometimes you just need to eat the inorganic stuff. Something you just have to have the processed sugar.”
“My mother,” Alex said, “Would disagree with you quite a bit.”
“Yeah, well, your mother is a hippy.”
Alex tried to muster some indignation at that statement, but instead his marshmallow fell into the fire, and that took precedence.
“Dammit,” he said, reflexively reaching for it, only to pull his hand back before he roasted something else.
“Here,” Patrick said, giving him another, “No worries. We have plenty.”
“There’s plenty in the bag,” Alex corrected, “Not in the world.”
“Oh, you’re such a worrywart,” Patrick said, taking one of the globs—the skin all blackened like he liked it—off the stick and popping it in his mouth. His next words had a stickiness to it anyone at a camping trip would recognize.
“Live a little.”
Alex darkly chuckled, and looked out at the burned remains of what was New York. “Yeah, because living a lot is kind of impossible.”