Tag Archives: Author Desiree Matlock

Woo the Assassin – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 21 March 2018, these three words were chosen:

  • Disagreement
  • Phallic
  • Board

And these blurbs were written within five minutes….Enjoy!

FEATURED AUTHOR

LISA BARRY:

I couldn’t look him in the eye with my body responding in such an unprofessional manner. I was here to take a contract out on someone’s life for God’s sake, not woo the assassin. I glanced around the diner only to have my eyes land on a phallic mask that I knew had something to do with the doctors that treated people with the plague.

I quickly looked away only to hear the last of a disagreement a couple was having behind me, where verbiage about appendage size was loudly announced to the room. The man must have gotten up so quickly that his chair hit the ground. He rushed out the front door, slamming it so hard the board in the bottom half fell out. I giggled. Martin chuckled.

And everything seemed normal again.

“I need my nephew to go on vacation,” I stated. “He’s deserved it with everything he’s done for this family.” Anger boiled under my skin but when I turned back to Martin, his lip curled slightly, and the anger dissolved.

“I’ll do it on one condition,” Martin said and leaned back in his chair.

I raised my brows.

“Let me take you to dinner.”

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

The huge stones were arranged in a series of circles around the largest one, sitting in the center of the formation, casting a vaguely phallic shape against the darkening sky. “So, what do we have to do?” Lily asked, a nervous tremor in her voice. “We have to wait until the first star appears, and then it will lead us through the stones, into another realm,” Maria answered with infinite patience. The place had been boarded up and signs warning of imminent death or fines tried to scare would-be trespassers away. Maria ducked under one such, but Lily remained outside, shifting her weight from one foot to the next. Maria sighed. She couldn’t believe they were still having this disagreement, and when they were so close. “Look, do you want to find out what happened to Billy and the others or not?” she called out, all patience gone from her tone. “Yes, but,” Lily faltered. “Look, we don’t have time for this,” Maria called back as she stood and looked up at the sky. “I’m going to look for them. You can come if you want, or not.” She found the first faint glimmer of a star, and followed it into the dark, disappearing from view. “Maria?” Lily called, more agitated than ever. “Maria?” When Lily ducked under the forbidding sign, she looked up to find a million stars glittering in the sky and no trace of her friend.

h under her chin.

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ERIKA LANCE:

This is not happening she muttered to herself as she opened her book to page 384. She scanned it quickly and only saw a phallic symbol in the middle of the page. She looked closer, it was actually an oil rig and not a …. Never mind she thought.

“Give me your book” she said as she reached for it. His face shifted ever so slightly in disagreement to her request and then he handed it too her.

She looked at the page and sure enough it was about a great sugar plague.

“What the hell….” She said under her breath as she began to flip the pages. There was page after page of history as written by Saturday morning cartoons.

As she looked though several more pages she looked up again to find that her ‘partner’ had pulled out a piece of poster board to begin the project.

“Where did you get this book?” She asked. It, by all appearances seemed as real as hers. “Prof. Dumbledore” he replied smiling as if this answered any further questions she had.

“I give up” she said as she sat back down in defeat.

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DESIREE MATLOCK:

Jack and I were out here in front of the college trying to collect signatures to save the endangered southern warbler from encroachment, and there was a small gang of coeds surrounding him waggling fingers. It looked like the disagreement was getting out of hand.

I could see I needed to intervene.

“What’s going on here, Jack?” The man was clutching his clip board close, looking like he was trying to turn beige and sink into the bricks behind him.

“This MAN was trying to coerce us into signing a petition and waved his phallic symbol in front of our faces yelling about what we needed to do,” said one of the ladies.

“Do you mean… his pen?” I asked, surprised. I spotted the same T-shirt on all the women. It said “GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS”.

“So typical of the patriarchy to just order us to do things. We don’t need your commands, MAN,” another one of the girls said, and everyone nodded. They obviously meant “man” as an insult.

“Well, here’s mine. Want to look?” Apparently my phallus, I mean pen, was okay, and the ladies signed and left.

“Sorry Jack, tomorrow we’ll go back to standing in front of the Target store.”

www.DesisTwoCents.com

JM PAQUETTE:

Jeremy followed behind her, unable to break her hold on his hand, glancing behind at the girl with a look of woe that would have torn her heart if she hadn’t spent more than half of her life listening to him whine and complain. No, not complain, she corrected herself. She recalled the lengthy diatribe she’d received when she told him that–apparently, to complain meant to write love poetry back in the Middle Ages, a fact that Sara found hilarious, but Jeremy was definitely not writing love poetry in her honor. He’d worn himself out over the centuries writing love ballads about his beloved anchoress, trapped behind her walls of stone, wrongly persecuted for a crime she was of course completely innocent of, a minor disagreement with the Church that ended with her judged to die in solitude for some no doubt phallic-inspired sin that Sara didn’t even recognize or care about.

She was really tired of listening to Jeremy’s lectures, of the way he bemoaned his past, the way he judged her every move. She paused. What was she doing? She could let him go back inside, leave him to the teenage witch, and be done with him.

Maybe this was what she was supposed to do all along. Maybe her trial was over, her long journey to the end reached, her score on the tally board of destiny even. She looked down at their linked hands, then back up at the wistful expression on the old ghost’s face.

She stopped walking in the parking lot. “Jeremy?” she began. “Do you…” She let the words trail off. Was she willing to let him go? She thought of the girl inside, so young, so eager, so…absolutely unequipped to deal with a spirit of Jeremy’s caliber. What was she thinking to cast off her burden to another so clearly unprepared for the job? This was probably why she had been cursed with the ghost in the first place. She was unworthy, unable to follow through to the end. She stared at him, perplexed as always when she wandered down this path. Jeremy knew the reason why, but he would never tell her.

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BRANDON SCOTT:

Some disagreements are sensible, and some are not. However, there is a third category of this that some might not consider or validate as such: and that is the ones that are so odd and out of the realm of normal conversation that they enter perhaps a different phase of human understanding.

This disagreement, held while shopping for a new board, a headboard for a bed specifically, was of that last section.

“I swear to you, on my mother’s grave, that man’s head was so phallic is represented the patriarchy.”

“You mean phallic symbols do?”

“No.” He shook his head. “No. His head, his head of all heads, specifically, represents men’s hold on this world.”

She stared at him for a moment, pondering this: considering this. Wondering as to what might have been going on for this baffling man. Then, with a deep sigh beforehand, she asked the only question that seemed obvious to her to ask. “Are you drunk?”

He did a double take and even looked a tad offended. “Umm, no? I think that man’s head is the avatar of sexism.”

“I want a divorce,” she replied immediately.

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Kalvin

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Strawberry Shortcake in Cuffs – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 21 March 2018, these three words were chosen:

  • Shocked
  • Fallow (not in use/utilized, light brown color)
  • Wordy

And these blurbs were written within five minutes….Enjoy!

FEATURED AUTHOR

ERIKA LANCE:

She slammed the book closed and stood up “Strawberry Shortcake is not a woman of historical importance!” her voice drawing attention from most of the other students in the library, some giggling.

He responded again without looking up “Did you turn to page 384?” his voice calm as could be.

Her emotions were teetering between shocked and angry. She was shockingly angry in fact. Why in the hell had she been paired with this… this.. she couldn’t even think of the word to mentally call him.

“That’s it” her voice still louder then she intended “I’m done!”

She started to gather her things when he stated “The great sugar fields laid fallow years after the great  sugar plague of 1983. The consumption having been diminished in the effort to remove the continuing threat.”

Now he looked directly at her.

She squinted her eyes and could only say “Your wordy made up story is laughable.”

He turned the book around to page 384 showing a picture of the fields and Strawberry Shortcake in cuffs.

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LISA BARRY:

I stumbled mentally as our gazes held. My heart thumped heavily and then twisted slightly. My eyes widened, shocked at what my body was telling me. Impossible. An assassin? Really? My usually wordy self failed me.

Martin cleared his throat in an effort to fill the sudden silence. He sipped his coffee and I took a bite of my muffin. I wondered if he knew.

A very short, fallow skinned fellow came through the door. He glanced at Martin, then at me, his eyes lingering for a little too long. I felt Martin tense and it confused me. The little man must have noticed, he turned away and rushed to a seat on the other side of the restaurant.

As I watched the man settle in to the table, a dark and melodic voice spoke.

“What can I help you with?”

My traitorous body swooned. Martin chose that moment to smile at me. I sighed.

“I need someone taken care of,” I whispered.

Martin leaned his head on his hand, elbow on the table and leaned in to me.

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

“The sad part of the whole tale was that the finest mind in all the realms was sentenced to lay fallow and go to ruin and waste, locked in a tower until the man died or the world ended,” James finished, only slurring a little, pointing dramatically at the ceiling of the pub. Trema leaned close to Halfard. “Does he always get this wordy when he’s drunk?” Halfard looked shocked. “Lass, he isn’t even close to being drunk.” Trema frowned, doubting the large man’s perception, but then she spied James collecting the coins from the other habitants of the pub with a hand that was steady and eyes that were clear and sharp. He looked up, caught her staring, and winked. She turned away, warmth infusing her cheeks, and didn’t look up until a thump and the protest of the chair announced that James had returned to the table. “Dinner’s on me,” he announced grandly. Halfard grunted, and took another chunk of bread. Trema nodded in thanks. “What was all that?” she asked. “All what?” James replied. “On the stage? Nothing. Remnants of a life best forgotten, my dear. By me, you, and everyone else.” He smiled brightly at her, but it didn’t reach his eyes.

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DESIREE MATLOCK:

Uh oh, Josh was up next. After Dee’s dental mishap, we knew the story was in need of some serious beefing up, and nobody but nobody could manage that quite so well as their resident Wordy McWordsmith.

Especially since this was a fantasy story, and not only had the second flash fiction speaker killed off the dragon – their only protagonist – but now we had yellow-toothed zombies running amok, and Jess was worried that they wouldn’t be able to get the story back on track before it got to Alina, their final contributor. She honestly wrote fantasy best, and would make it all end in a cliffhanger of epic proportions, which was great for once it was uploaded. Lotsa twitter followers from that. It would have shocked half the group into stunned silence if she ever ended anything without a cliffhanger. Josh stepped up.

“The zombies turned as one toward the fallow field away from the villagers, which frightened them more than simply attacking would have. As they all congregated on the ashes of where our dragon fell, those ashes rose from the ground and formed back into a mangled broken dragon, Smoke more than fire belched forth. The villagers cowered as a zombie dragon flapped before them, torn wing still working by some unknown magic. Now our noble hero knew that the villagers truly were doomed.”

Boom. Epic save. Over to Alina to wrap it up in a tidy little bow for the blog. They were totally gonna get at least ten new followers from this, Jess thought.

www.DesisTwoCents.com

JM PAQUETTE:

A gasp from a few feet away made her look up and she caught the shocked expression of a teenage girl standing on the other side of the coffee dispensers. Sara followed the line of the girl’s gaze directly to where Jeremy stood in all of his disapproving, judgemental glory.

She narrowed her eyes at the newcomer. What was this? No one else could see Jeremy. Her was her ghost, dammit, her burden to bear, her problem to solve, her crusade to….whatever. She cursed herself. Sometimes it didn’t pay to get too wordy. She had to do something, and fast.

The ghost was also noticing this new attention, and he lit up like a glowstick, preening in his elegant, ancient costume, preparing to make a leg at the young girl who was clearly looking at him, the first person to acknowledge him in centuries.

“Madam,” he began, and Sara shoved herself between them, breaking their line of sight, and hopefully their connection. His diplomacy skills had lay fallow for a long time–he didn’t need to rekindle them now. Not here. And certainly not with her.

“But–” the girl was saying, mouth open in awe.

“Oh no,” Sara told her, reaching out to grab Jeremy’s hand, knowing that he would respond to her touch as he always did, but to nothing else in the real world. “No freaking way.” There was no way her ghost was going to haunt her for all these years only to run off at the last second with some second-sighted tramp in a convenience store.

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BRANDON SCOTT:

“They left the field fallow, okay?”

“Fallow?”

“Yes, fallow.”

“Look, Kent, I get that you know a lot of words, but I…well, I don’t. English is a lovely language, perhaps use it?”

“I am using it.”

“But you’re being so wordy about it.”

“Okay, fine. My point is this: in my story, there is a tree, and the tree is very tall, and it has a lot of stuff on top of it that is very green.”

“Okay, now you are just being purposely child-like.”

“Yes, I am. It’s called sarcasm, are you shocked by it?”

“A tad—yes.”

“Why?”

“You’re not usually sarcastic.”

“Oh—well, fine, I guess.”

“I’m just saying. But, do tell me, what is the deal with the tree you’re blathering on about?”

“The tree that grew in that fallow earth?”

“Ugh, yes—that one.”

“Oh. I wanted to show you it.”

“So, this is a real tree?”

“Yep. Real tree. Come on, it’s got something on it, I wanted to show it to you.”

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Among the Humans – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 21 March 2018, these three words were chosen:

  • Sugar
  • Incongruous (doesn’t match/fit) not in keeping with the surrounding
  • Plague

And these blurbs were written within five minutes….Enjoy!

FEATURED AUTHOR

BRANDON SCOTT:

“All I’m saying is that sort of reaction is entirely incongruous to a normal human reaction.”

Skreet raised his eyebrow in annoyance. “And?”

“And, if we want to go among the humans, we are going to need to not do stupid things like eating someone’s head.”

Skreet was about to say something in his defense, but burped, and looked around for a moment as if being told something from off-stage in a play. “Okay, I can see how that might have been an overreaction, but he was pissing me off.”

“Sugar works better than acid,” Hew said to him. “Human’s are rather egotistical creatures.”

Skeet nodded to the wisdom and bent down to drag away the body that he had made in anger. He winced a bit as his hand touched the skin—disguise suit or not, he did not want to catch a plague from these filthy little meat apes.

“Fine, fine,” Fleet added as he shoved the body into a closet and sprayed a thin stream of acid onto the corpse. He hoped the smell would not be much of an issue, as it could potentially give him away. “But, please, let’s get on with it—I don’t want to spend much time on this freaking planet.”

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LISA BARRY:

Martin put another spoon of sugar in his coffee. He stirred, lifted the cup to his nose, took and long inhale and then put the cup back down. He went for another spoonful of sugar.

I was here, in this odd diner decorated with medieval influences of the plague and hoping to hire an assassin. Martin had come highly recommended. I was impressed with his attire. Sharp, custom suit in a navy blue, bold yellow tie. His green combat boots were an incongruous addition, but it worked somehow. His red hair was cut short and neat. I thought it odd that his eclectic dress would be conducive to being an assassin but since my father had recommended him, and my father pretty much thought everyone was incompetent, I overlooked the appearance.

After two more scoops of sugar Martin seemed happy with his coffee and took a sip. I was thinking that perhaps he was half-fae. I had lost count of the total sugar added but it seemed like it may have been half a cup or so.

Martin’s bright blue eyes met mine.

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

She walked into the old shop, assaulted by the smells of dust and mould and time. A bell chimed, but it sounded far away, and she didn’t think the store was that big. “Hello?” she called out, her voice tiny in the dim space. This was the right place, she had stood outside and checked the address written on the scrap of paper a half dozen times before working up the courage to come inside. She didn’t know what she was afraid of. It wasn’t as if she were going to catch the plague or anything horrible like that. “Hello?” she called out again. This time her voice bounced back to her from several different corners, making the hair stand up on her arms. She wished she had brought a jacket. As she kept walking through the shop, her eyes taking in the myriad of objects and furniture on display to the non-existent customers to keep her mind off why she was here, she noticed something that made her stop in her tracks. At first she thought it was the incongruous nature of the object – a shiny and immaculate tea set complete with sugar tongs and silver tray, sitting among such dusty and forgotten objects, but that wasn’t it. She stepped closer, and saw clearly what it was that had caught her attention from the corner of her eye. The pattern along the dishes was a repetition of the same symbol on the paper that had brought her here.

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ERIKA LANCE:

She eyed him suspiciously over her modern history book. “I do not think that there was ever a plague caused by sugar, or the lack there of.”

“Of course there was” he replied not daring to raise his head.

“This is what you intend to have our project based on?” her tone was somewhere between annoyed and the ooze of distain.

“Yep” he replied and began to scribble notes.

It was now time for her to assert her superior knowledge “That is incongruous to the subject of pivotal women in history which is the topic we are supposed to focus on.”

There was a brief silence and then from the other side of the book “of course it isn’t. A woman of history caused the great sugar plague of 1983. Her name was Strawberry Shortcake it is on page 384 and will done on the use of the word incongruous.”

She started turning the pages before it hit her what he had actually said.

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DESIREE MATLOCK:

Dee was motioning with her arms ferociously, really getting into telling her piece of tonight’s flash fiction exercise, way too overzealous, but since she’d eaten the entire delivery’s worth of sugar donuts while the rest of them worked on their Moo Goo Gai Pan and General Tzo, it made sense.

“It was then that a plaque of zombies descended on the peaceful villagers, and our noble hero was fending them off with his bat, when-”

“Wait wait – you mean a plague here, right?” Jess interrupted. “A plague can descend. Plaque doesn’t descend, well maybe, but very very slowly from the upper teeth.”

Dee looked confused, answering at a mile a minute. “No, I mean, it’s plaque, right? ”

“Unless your hero is a dentist, no.”

“Argh. Again?” Dee had apparently learned all her words from books, which made for some hilariously incongruous uses and pronunciations.

“We’ll wait while you look up the difference between these two words, love.” Jess said kindly. The rest of the group nodded. It had happened to them all at some point, although perhaps not at quite the same level.

Dee deleted, edited and continued on. She really was quite a good writer, as long as the rest of her friends were there to catch her misnomers. But, that’s what a writing group is for.

www.DesisTwoCents.com

JM PAQUETTE:

Jeremy was watching her as she fixed her coffee. His voice was bland when he spoke, “You want some coffee with that sugar?”

She glared at him, allowing the stream of white grains to trail slowly off before grabbing the stir stick to slowly, deliberately, mix her drink. “I don’t think you’re in a position to judge,” she commented, taking a small sip and closing her eyes in pleasure at the sweetness filling her senses.

“I just think if you’re going to have the pleasure of actual coffee, you should be able to taste it, to appreciate it.”

She took another small sip, the heat nearly taking the skin off the roof of her mouth, but totally worth it for the slice of heaven that exploded against her taste buds.

“I am absolutely appreciating it,” she told him. “More than you ever could.”

“What do you know?” he snapped. “You don’t appreciate anything you have.”

“Look,” she said, turning to face the ghost directly, his faded shape incongruous against the bright lights of the convenient store. She knew no one else could see him. She’d gotten good at having quiet conversations no one else noticed. “Just because you died during the Black Plague does not mean you get to judge me for every modern convenience.”

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Kalvin

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They Can’t Get Out – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 31 January 2018, these three words were chosen:

  • Shirk
  • Iron
  •  Friend

And these blurbs were written within five minutes….Enjoy!

FEATURED AUTHOR

BRANDON SCOTT:

“You cannot just shirk your duties like that,” Kalvin said. “Do you know what could have happened?”

“Yes, I am aware,” Howard said, rolling his eyes. “But, like, I just got myself some coffee, it’s not a big deal.”

Kalvin wrinkled his nose a little bit and frowned. “Is that…coffee, huh?”

“Irish coffee,” he amended and waved out his hands. “It’s fine. Nothing happened.”

Howard, as if the restraints were not still in place, looked down at the pit. The twin beings, both small and tentacled, floated in the sealed area they’d been in for the last one hundred years.

“Look,” Kalvin said, “just because we are friends, I am not going to report this. But you need to be more careful. We have records of these guys taking out entire solar systems. The screams of that star exploding are still coming.”

“But they can’t get out, can they?” Howard said.

“No…”

“Exactly. See? They just float there in the void forever. And there is nothing to do when I watch them—and I do watch them at least. Not something online. At least let me have some booze while I do so.”

Kalvin rolled his eyes. “No. Do it again, and I will report you.”

“Fine,” Howard said and waved out his hand in defeat. “I won’t.”

Neither noticed the iron ring on his hand, loose, sailing into the pit.

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LISA BARRY:

“What kind of friend does that?” I asked Hugh. He shrugged before scooping up another pile of dirt with the shovel and tossing it into the hole.

I looked at the body he was burying and shook my head.

“I would never, ever, ever do that. What a moron.”

“It was upsetting,” he commented as another pile of dirt went flying.

“Did you try to iron out everything with your girl?” I asked. As more dirt was tossed into the pile, I suddenly realized that meeting Hugh’s wife would likely not be a smart move on my part.

“I did, of course. No one else ever really means anything to her, she just likes a different flavor every now and again.”

I didn’t comment on the fact that feasting off other people really shouldn’t be considered cheating. I mean, I’ll drink from men, women, kids, even animals in a pinch. I don’t think of it as anything even close to shirking my spouse. Hugh was suddenly very scary, and I was thinking I should probably move. Like really far away.

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

Jaden took a step back, and the figure smiled. “Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Redial,” the man said and bowed low. “And who do I have the pleasure of addressing?” Jaden stared at him, pressing his lips together. “Oh, come now, how are we to be friends if I don’t know your name?” Redial said, his smile growing. “If you’re worried about the wizard, I can promise I haven’t done anything to him.” Jaden frowned. If that was true, then where was Shevin? Redial rolled his eyes. “Are you so enamored with him that you truly cannot believe he would shirk his duty? You don’t know him very well.” “I know enough,” Jaden said, stepping back again. “I wouldn’t go anywhere if I were you,” Redial continued the redness in his eyes sparkling in a hypnotizing way. “You have no idea what’s out there.” “What do you want with me?” Jaden asked. “I’m not going to hurt you,” Redial said. “If it makes you feel better, I want what Shevin wanted. To take you and,” he smiled slyly, “what you carry, to safety beyond the borders of the Woodland and the reach of the Iron King.” “And if I don’t want to go with you?” Jaden asked, drawing the knife a little further from its scabbard. “You’ll find you won’t have much of a choice,” Redial replied.

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DESIREE MATLOCK:

Pelonius walked into the arena, clutching his iron close. He hadn’t been able to refuse his friend’s request, after all, once, on a battlefield long forgotten by all but those who lived, Argus the Greek had saved his life. One could not shirk a blood debt.

The damned fool had stolen a cart, and now here he was right next to the thief. Shoulder to shoulder with him, leather clasps from his armor were even digging into Pelonius’ arm.

The announcement boomed out from the horns across the countryside, as their host pulled the last stragglers in from the plaza outside. Every penny he could make before releasing the “dragon” they’d all been hearing about being brought in from the far east, chained on the backs of forty camels. It was just Argus’ luck he’d been the prisoner chosen to fight it.

The gate began rising across the arena, and the two men shuffled for better position, already sweating into their eyes, ready for the worst.

The crowd roared in laughter as the “dragon” appeared. A beast not eight feet in length, fat and rolly looking was being poked by a trainer, trying to force it out of his cage. The arena manager was climbing down off his dias to help.

Argus laughed, “Ten soldi says we’ll be roasting that thing on a spit in two hours.”

I laughed, “Make it one, my friend, and I’ll gladly pay to lose. Watch out, I hear their spit is poisonous, and that’s from a better source than this idiot’s magical creatures dealer.”

www.DesisTwoCents.com

JM PAQUETTE:

Ralph tried to see the knife blade held against his throat, but only succeeded in pulling an odd face. “I really think we need to discuss the definition of the word ‘friends,’ Marley,” he commented, the feel of the iron cold against his skin.

“Are we friends?” Marley asked, the blade pressing just a fraction closer.

“I don’t know what you mean, man,” Ralph tried, wondering just how much Marley knew. “Of course we are.”

“Let’s talk about friendship for a moment,” Marley suggested, and Ralph started to nod but stopped himself from doing Marley’s work for him just in time.

“Sure thing, mate.”

“Friends don’t shirk their duty and pretend to be watching the walls so others can sleep in peace. Friends don’t leave their comrades open to enemy attack at any moment.”

Oh crap, Ralph thought. He knows about that.

The blade crept a smidgeon closer, if that was possible, scraping off the top layer of Ralph’s skin. “And friends certainly don’t abandon their posts to engage in illicit activities with the commander’s wife,” Marley growled.

Ralph thought once more of Rebecca, of her fair hair and her wide eyes, of her smooth skin and her sweet voice, then stared at his commander and waited for the final blow.

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ALANNA J. RUBIN

“What are you doing?” Shayla asked Maxin in a frustrated tone. “There’s no way you’re going to be able break these shackles, they’re like iron.”

Maxin sighed, “They are iron,” I corrected. Shayla gave me an annoyed look and resigned herself to being stuck in the damp dungeon. Only one torch remained burning, but it wouldn’t last much longer. Maxin thought back to how they had gotten into this predicament. Apparently, shirking even the tiniest of responsibilities could have some serious repercussions. He had hoped that his friends would soon realize that he and Shayla were missing.

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He Totally Deserved It – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 31 January 2018, these three words were chosen:

  • Killjoy
  • Fraction
  •  Slime

And these blurbs were written within five minutes….Enjoy!

FEATURED AUTHOR

JM PAQUETTE:

“But I don’t understand why you threw the ball of slime at him!” I shouted at Angela while dragging her along behind me down the alley. “You just started a war!”

“Don’t be such a killjoy,” Angela retorted, turning around quickly and raising her shield up just in time to deflect the arrows the angry mob had shot at us. They tinkled across the metal and skittered to a stop on the ground nearby. I was sure they were tipped with poison. You didn’t throw things in the face of the most beloved prince of all time and get away with it. If even a fraction of the people on the street heard what she had done, we’d be dead in minutes. “He totally deserved it,” Angela continued, sweeping her shield down and using it to parry another volley of arrows from behind us. She moved the arm I was gripping quickly, swinging me out and around the corner in  front of her, protecting my body with her own.

“How could he possibly have deserved it?” I shrieked. “Prince Lars is the best thing to happen to this kingdom in centuries!”

“Ha!” Angela snorted, letting me go for a moment as she drew her broadsword. “If you only knew,” she said smugly. “Throwing slime in his face is the nicest thing I could do to him.”

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LISA BARRY:

I inspected the slime on the counter. It was a light green with a hint of an orange glow periodically, or were those hairs? It was the oddest thing I’d seen in a long time. I was familiar with Joy Slugs, the killjoys that they were, but they left a light silver trail, not this mammoth hairy green trail. I looked at the barkeep.

“You say it was left by a person?”

“No, I said it was like a person, like a fraction of a person.”

“Can you help me out, man? Like what does that even mean? A fraction of a person…” I muttered to myself. How was I supposed to get to the bottom of this murder when the only witness is talking in circles.

“I mean, it was a weird blue man thing that looked slightly like a person.” The barkeep seemed to be as frustrated as me.

“Ok, well, tell me again what the man thing did, after he entered the bar and walked up to the deceased.”

“He took Hal’s beer mug, sniffed it and then broke it over Hal’s head.

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

“Shevin?” Jaden called again, a little louder this time, his heart thundering in his chest. A figure stepped out of the darkness, but it was too short to be the wizard. It also wasn’t wearing the luminescent uniform of an Ember Guard. “Hello?” Jaden said hesitantly, gripping the hilt of the knife in his belt. “Oh, don’t do that,” a cheerful voice tainted with the slime of cruelty spoke up. “It wouldn’t do you any good anyway.” “Where’s Shevin?” Jaden asked, his voice wavering slightly as he searched the shadows hoping the wizard would appear and rescue him. “It seems your protector has deserted you,” the figure laughed. “I don’t know why you would choose to go with him anyway. He’s such a killjoy, all that duty and honor nonsense he’s so fond of spouting, and yet, when it comes to it, he runs away and leaves his charge to fend for himself. If only he truly believed but a fraction of what he said, but alas, this world is no place for saints, and eventually the darkness will reign supreme in everyone.” “That’s not true,” Jaden said. “Oh? And how would you know that?” The figure stepped forward and raised its hood revealing eyes like Shevin’s clear silver orbs, but rimmed in red fire.

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DESIREE MATLOCK:

“That virtue signalling slimey smarmy bitch is such a killjoy. If she had a fraction of the humility and good graces she claims, she’d have saved the world already,” Geneva said, as she chucked her things onto the passenger seat.

“Whatever, I’m over it already”, I said, as I dropped my party favor next to her stuff on the seat, while the chair lift helped Geneva into the back seat.

We’d shown up at Laurie’s baby shower with a gift that was on the registry, only to find out that our much reviled hostess Becca had been making everyone donate to a save the bees charity in Laurie’s name, but neither of us had come prepared. So, when Becca announced the donation, she’d pointedly stared down those who didn’t contribute. A sum total of two folks, me and Geneva. Thanks for the warning, bitch.

She’d given us last pick of the lottery, fewer raffle tickets, etc. People had shunned us all through teh shower.

As we drove away, I congratulated myself on how well I’d handled it. I had known not to show my pain. I smiled, laughed, and talked about how great the shower was, while Geneva had been looking at me in puzzlement. I knew how to play the long game.

I was going to volunteer to be Becca’s hostess when that wheel rolled around. She had just announced she was pregnant on Instagram, after all.

www.DesisTwoCents.com

ALANNA J. RUBIN

Killjoys, that’s what we were called. It wasn’t a name we came up with ourselves, but we were mercenaries and hired to bring people in. Most of the time, we would crash social events or the occasional late night “social” call, so the name was given to us. Tonight’s mission started out no differently than most. We had to bring in Mr. Ting, a well-known bio chemist in criminal circles, but he had been tipped off and we found ourselves in a trap. Surrounding us was toxic white slime and touching it would cause serious pain or even death. “Don’t move a fraction,” I yelled at Varin, as one more step would have put her in immediate harm.

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BRANDON SCOTT:

“You are such a killjoy,” Olivia muttered, moving the barrel of her assault rifle away from the baby’s face. “Are you really suggesting that I—”

“Yes, I am,” replied Charles. “That is a monster thing to do.”

Olivia looked around at the small isolated town they’d entered not two hours ago, at the burning houses, and the destroyed cars, at the literal ten-foot-high pile of bodies. “Are you kidding me?”

“No, I’m not.” Charles pushed on the side of her gun, forcing it down. “We leave this one alive.”

“Really? Really…” She let the gun fully fall now. “What if it grows up to be the hero of the people and seek revenge, or something.”

“That only happens a fraction of the time, anyway. And—even when they do, it’s often just a virtue signaling little power boy slime, who can make fire with his hands or something. I’ve killed ten this week.”

“You do see the hypocrisy of that right? You just admitted to wanton murder, but one baby is too much?”

“Yes.” Charles frowned at her. “I only kill over eighteen-year-old children.”

“Killjoy,” she muttered again.

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Eyes Weren’t Watching – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 31 January 2018, these three words were chosen:

  • Shadow
  • White
  • Sunset

And these blurbs were written within five minutes….Enjoy!

FEATURED AUTHOR

NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

The sunset lit the sky in fire, and then the fire faded and died. Shevin watched the moon rise and the stars come out, sitting without moving and looking like a piece of the night itself. When he spoke, Jaden started with surprise. “We should break camp now.” Jaden nodded, rolled up his sleeping blanket and was on his feet in a moment. Shevin surveyed the shadows with his strange white eyes, eyes that saw more than they should. “This way,” the wizard said. Jaden followed him through the trees, trying to be as silent and swift, but his feet caught on roots and rocks that Shevin just glided over. Every night for the past week it had been the same, the pair traveling when other eyes weren’t watching, trying to make it to the border of the Woodlands without the Ember Guards catching them. “I have to stop,” Jaden called out, and doubled over, gulping for air and massaging the cramp in his side. He looked up to find he was alone. “Shevin?” he called out in a soft voice, hoping the wizard had not gone too far ahead. His only answer was the soft whisper of leaves.

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LISA BARRY:

I was waiting for the shadows to come before I went out for the night. What needed to be done did not need any witnesses. I dreaded the sunset for the first time in my life and had a very bad feeling that my life was going to take a sharp turn from ultimate white to deepest black. Just the fact that I was planning a murder was enough to make my knees shake.

“I’m heading the movies,” I hollered. My mother grunted acknowledgement as she turned the potion in the pot, sweat beading on her brow. I wasn’t going to waste my life with witchcraft, using up my strength and squandering animal lives on deities.

I stepped out of the house, three throwing knives strapped to my thigh, a gavotte on my pocket and a single phone number. Tonight would be my first kill, my first step into becoming the world’s greatest assassin.

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DESIREE MATLOCK:

I sat down at the bar and ordered a scotch, dark shadows everywhere concealing that most of the patrons were already drunk. I was tapping my nails on the chipped, grungy bar top until the drink arrived out of nerves, but arriving early was helping me cope a little better. First dates are hard enough, but ones that you’re being forced to go on by your stupid sister are even worse.

She’d sat me down and told me to make a profile. So I had. It had asked questions that I didn’t consider relevant. Single white female seeking… what? I didn’t know. My sister had filled it all out for me when I balked and walked away from the screen.

“Activities?” she’d yelled across the apartment.

“What?” I’d cringed.

“Come on, Lila, What do you like to do?”

“Long walks on the beach at sunset!” I’d laughingly shouted back.

“Seriously!” Joy had cried out in disgust. “Never mind, I’ll make shit up.”

Lots of mysterious clacking on the keys later, Joy had finished my profile, and set me up on this date, that she’d pushed me out the door to go to tonight.

She’d told me “Jon” was a Libra with a good corporate job. He arrived, and sat down. Not bad looking, but I was too nervous to really judge. He introduced himself, and then said, “So… loong walks on the beach, huh? I like those, too.”

I had no idea what to say. I couldn’t kill Joy, I couldn’t even blame her.

www.DesisTwoCents.com

JM PAQUETTE:

She squinted into the fading light of the sunset, trying to make sense of the humped shape she could spy standing at the edge of the water. “Is that…” She turned just enough to elbow John in the side, not looking at him. “Is that a horse?”

John sat up, the book he had been reading falling into his lap as he squinted into the fading light. She could see the early evening shadows playing amid the rocks along the edge of the ocean, the waves crashing into swirls of bleached out color. “It could be,” John said, but his voice was hesitant. He pushed his glasses up his nose as if that would help him see better. “A white horse,” he said definitively. “Definitely.”

She made a face. “What is it doing just standing there like that?” She stared at it, able to see the looming shape a bit easier now that the ball of the sun had dipped below the water. “It wasn’t there a second ago, I swear. It just appeared.”

“Were you watching a second ago?” John asked, picking up his book and putting it aside only after carefully marking his page with a bookmark. “I thought you were reading.”

“I was, but I paused to watch the sunset.” She sighed a little, remembering the colors, the sound of the water, the sensation of peace and well-being that rolled over her. “And then it just appeared, like some water-horse out of a dream.”

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ALANNA J. RUBIN

Henrick watched as the sunset gave way to night and the white of the stars began to shine. A blanket of cool air wrapped around him as waited for the shadows to emerge. There had been stories in the nearby village of the shadows and their hunger for light. They could not keep fires going or even the tiniest of flames on top of a candle. The instant they were lit, they were extinguished. Henrick had been chasing these shadows across realms for years, in search of answers when he stumbled upon the villagers stories, and tonight he had hoped the ritual he performed would call them to him.

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BRANDON SCOTT:

The two sat underneath the sunset, staring as it dipped lower and lower. Boy, girl: you get the idea. But something was off about the entire scene. The most obvious part: the shadows. They did not have them in any shape that was normal, human, or even within the laws of the light spectrum.

Sweeping tentacles attached to bulbous, though small bodies—round like engorged pumpkins.

The girl turned to the boy. “Was it at least fun for you?”

The boy turned to her, and his pupils were milky white and retained nothing of an iris. “It was okay, you know. Rather okay. I wish it could have gone on longer.”

The girl picked up a handful of dirt, black as the night would be without any electricity in the world. “I know, it really is a shame. But there will be other worlds, other spaces, other places. We can raze it to the ground too.”

The boy harrumphed. “I suppose. I guess. But I liked this planet—so many of them did something, tried to stop us. When has that happened?”

“On that one planet with the long-necked ones?”

“I guess,” he said, but he still looked unhappy.

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Just My Luck – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 17 January 2018, these three words were chosen:

  • Juice
  • Unwanted
  • Jelly

And these blurbs were written within five minutes….Enjoy!

FEATURED AUTHOR

DESIREE MATLOCK:

The bonfire of driftwood lit up the beach as the stars came out. It really was quite beautiful. It would have been better if I didn’t seemed to be the only person that the mosquitoes wanted to bite, which was just genetically unfair. The beach bodies that surrounded me honestly needed some flaw, and a few ugly mosquito bites only seemed fair. But maybe they just had better bug spray. I’d gotten mine at the health food store, which in retrospect looked like it might have been a mistake.

The brunette, whose name turned out to be Theo, plopped himself down on the sand next to my blanket, and somehow the sand that stuck to his leg in one spot looked like more of a Sports Illustrated carefully planned sandy patch than the one that was currently making my thigh itch.

“Hey,” Theo said. His voice was like honey. “Got anything to eat?”

“Um sure,” I rummaged again, glad to be this guys’ go-to for random items that the other folks on this beach hadn’t considered necessary. Maybe it would work out in my favor that I’d packed like a normal person. From what was going on around me, I guessed most of these folks had packed condoms and some party drugs. None of that was my style, and I didn’t see Sandra anywhere anymore. Oh wait. She was sitting over on the boat with one of the guys I’d tagged as probably not straight. Huh. I guess you never knew.

I found a juice box and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and handed them over to Theo. He smiled.

“Can I get two, actually?”

“Um, sure,” I repeated myself. I pulled out another one, and off Theo trotted, meeting up with the one who’d introduced herself as Tiffany, I think. OR maybe it was Luscious? Or was that the other one?

Just my luck I was the only unwanted person on this beach.

www.DesisTwoCents.com

LISA BARRY:

Margo pushed the unwanted glass of juice away and scowled.

“How can you lose a full-grown pixie?” she asked.

Dillon shrugged but barely moved his shoulder. If he had a tail it would be hanging to the ground.

Margo’s eyes blazed, a bit of gold sparked in them. She tried to hold down the fire. She picked up a slice of toast and spread two containers of jelly on it. Dillon had been smart to meet her at the diner. She would have been tempted to tear out his heart otherwise.

“Did you cuff her with the pokeweed like I said?”

He nodded.

“Did you play Mozart like I said?”

He nodded.

“Ok, so you should have had a sleeping, tied up pixie.”

He nodded.

“How,” she growled, “did you lose her?”

Dillon coughed quietly before turning slightly and pointing at a booth near the front door.

Margo paled. She saw not one but three full-grown pixies, including the one she had hoped to slaughter that evening, watching her with interest.

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DALIA LANCE:

So how did the vacation go you might be wondering. She at least figured many of her friends and co-workers would be asking her this when she returned.

Well, she would tell them. She spent an entire week avoiding unwanted advances. Trying to see any part of the beach without hearing or seeing her neighbor Tim. That was his name she found out.

She also only ate juice and jelly on toast instead of any real fruit for fear of the mysterious rash that Tim had shown her on his arm and thigh. Not his leg, but pulled up his shorts and showed an upper thigh.

By the time she boarded the plane she sent her boss a brief, but concise email letting him know she would be using another three days of her vacation time starting Monday. She did not explain why, but more so that it was happening and she wasn’t asking approval.

She decided that she would pick up supplies and have a vacation on her couch, in her pjs watching Netflix and pretending calories and Tim do not exist.

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BRANDON SCOTT:

Sasha winced, again, she knew that was the deal—she’d been offered the chance through some random dating app she’d been trolling for perhaps one decent guy in her city, but to be so blunt about it, well, she was not a blunt sort of girl.

“I guess so,” she said and stared off into the distance. For a long, profoundly awkward moment, they both sat there.

“Juice,” he finally asked, and she jerked her head back.

“Look, okay—they set these up, okay, and it’s always a little awkward.”

“How could you know –if you already…?”

The man darkly glanced at the ground, still holding a little glass jar of pear juice that looked heavenly to Sasha, she’d only eaten jelly on toast since she’d gotten here.

“Turns out, you always get five—everyone, by sheer math, always have five true loves in the world. If one becomes…unwanted, for whatever reason, or someone dies, they bring you back: for free.”

Sasha did not know how to take this data but did accept his offer of juice. Her head was swirling a bit, and full of something fuzzy. But, and she had to keep reminding herself of this, the matchmakers did claim they were true loves.

So, she took another sip, wished it were wine and looked him in the eyes.

He held her gaze calmly and said, “So, want to try it out?”

“Hell to it,” she muttered and kissed him so hard they fell out of the swing.

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Covered With What? – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 17 January 2018, these three words were chosen:

  • Rash
  • Wax
  • Phone

And these blurbs were written within five minutes….Enjoy!

FEATURED AUTHOR

ANNE CARGILE:

“Are you kidding me?” she screamed over the phone. “I thought you said this place was legit!”

“What do you mean?” I asked. “I’ve been going there for years.” I twirled the cord in my hand, wondering how bad it had been. Whatever, I thought, she deserved it.

“You told me they did the best Brazilian wax in the state!” Amber screeched.

“They do,” I replied mildly.

“Then what is happening? I’m covered!”

“Covered with what?”  I pulled out a treat for my cat, Numbz, short for Numbnuts. A private joke with the vet. Numbz liked the duck jerky, and who was I to deny him?

“This rash”, Amber gasped. I heard something that sounded suspiciously like scratching, and taking the cue, scratched Numbz’s ears, much to his delight. His purr sounded like a freight train and I grinned.

“Oh dear,” I said. “I have no idea how that could have happened. I’ve never had any issue myself.”

“I have a date tonight with Brad!” she screamed.

“Oh, was that tonight?”  I smiled at Numbz. “I had totally forgotten.”

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LISA BARRY:

Donna’s rash words still hurt as Sam sat on the couch and stared at the phone blinking full of messages on his side table. It had been less than a day but last night’s fight had impinged. If she thought that was going to steer him away from his goal, she was not the women for him. The shrill ring of his phone echoed throughout his half-packed apartment. Funnily enough, Donna’s scolding had only made the burn to leave the city that much brighter. A situation he couldn’t refuse. To go to a place that Donna had vowed never to return. His father has passed. His brother was missing. He was the only one left to take over the clan. He felt the pull like a magnet to steel. He had to go. It was his legacy, his duty. He was the strongest left of the lionweres and he would make a difference. Donna could not ever change that. He picked up the phone and waxed enthusiasm.

“Hello, Mother.”

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DALIA LANCE:

Shelly looked back to her cabana “I think that is my phone, excuse me” she turned and walked away not waiting for a reply.

She moved into her bedroom and released a sigh. She would have to figure out how to avoid him for the next week.

“Phones don’t work on the island” he was standing behind her. He wasn’t quite past the line where her patio ended and bedroom began but she felt invaded.

She looked around as if trying to find the noise she made up coming from something else “My mistake, I wonder what that was.”

He then crossed the threshold “Do you want me to help you look?” he asked and without a moment of hesitation she yelped “NO!” then a breath “No I am good. I think I will just take a nap”. A look of disappointment crossed his face as he turned to leave.

“Make sure you take the wax off of the fruit before you eat it.” He said as he was leaving.

“What?” she replied without thinking.

He turned back again “The wax on the fruit, it will cause a rash” and with that he turned and left.

Now she was confused, worried, annoyed and nauseous. She should have stayed at home for all of this.

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DESIREE MATLOCK:

Cathy’d been on the phone with the European Wax Center for twenty minutes already, getting passed from person to person. She’d been told to hold for the manager, and when the sultry smooth silky voice of the manager came on the line, and called itself, “Shiloh” she knew she’d reached the top of the line. Shiloh was a name reserved for Salon managers or hippies.

“How may I help you?” purred Shiloh.

“Um, did anyone already talk to you about my issue?”

“Please let’s begin fresh. Tell me how I can help you?”

Great. Nobody had bothered to explain to the next person why she’d called out of four people so far, so she’d had to re-tell the story, smack in the middle of her office, and by this time, she felt like maybe she’d need to raise her voice so that people more than two cubicles away could listen in better.

“Okay, so am I really definitely talking to the person in charge?”

“M-hm,” Shiloh intoned in a voice so soporific and calming that she almost forgot why she was calling. New age music whistled and bonged in the background at the wax center where she was calling, occasionally slipping past that voice.

“Fine. So I got waxed yesterday, and today I woke with a huge rash over the entire area.”

“What area might that be?” Cathy sighed.

“The private one,” she hissed. A giggle snort erupted from the cubicle to her South. Benjamin wasn’t even pretending not to be amused anymore.

“What private area?”

“How many do you have, lady? Let’s just call it the one so many Brazilians have.”

www.DesisTwoCents.com

JM PAQUETTE:

Angela stared at the burning candle, mouth twisting in concentration as the wax perched on the edge, seemingly defying gravity as it refused to spill down the side of the tall candlestick. “But…” she began, but the words trailed off. She looked from the candle to the beaker in front of her. More concentration, this time with her eyebrows joining the massive party of confusion across her face. “How…”

Arthur waited another long moment, seeing if she would articulate her issue, but her face was just too much, and he spoke, unable to keep the rash words inside, almost immediately cursing himself for the outburst. “What is it, Miss Price?”

Her face twisted even more, painfully at a loss, and sympathy suddenly overwhelmed his annoyance. “What?” he prompted, more gently this time. He had to remember that it was hard for first-timers. The stress of these tests was horrendous. He remembered those days. He should be kinder.

“It’s just…” again with the pathetic face, “how…how can I get the wax into the beaker?”

He stared at her for a long moment, wondering if he had heard correctly.

“I mean, it won’t even roll down the candle, so how do I get it into my potion like that?”

With a long-suffering sigh, he reached out and picked up the candlestick, tilting it so the wax ran freely off the side.

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BRANDON SCOTT:

The man on the swing chuckled and pushed away his oversized bangs. “They always do that, sorry if it made you nervous.”

She did not know what to say to him. When she’d signed up for the island’s program, she’d obviously know what it entailed—but that did not mean she really had a grasp on what was okay and what was normal in this place. She’d seen an awful lot of candles, thick golden wax candles, just lying around in a room marked first come, first served earlier.

“So…uh…” she trailed off and took a nervous step closer.

“Yeah, I know—it’s awkward. Just sit here, I don’t have a rash or anything.”

She did, after a few wobbling steps. He gave her a small smile, and then pulled out his phone. She did not know why, but she could not stop noticing how veiny his hands were.

The man flicked through a few things on his phone, before her own image sat there, smiling. She hated that look on her, but when they asked for a picture of her from the last five months, it was the only one she’d bothered to take—data limits sucked.

“So, then, your name is Sasha?” he asked.

“Yeah …”

“Well, Sasha, apparently you and I are potential true loves.”

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Create a Better Day – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 17 January 2018, these three words were chosen:

  • Match
  • Island
  • Swing

And these blurbs were written within five minutes….Enjoy!

FEATURED AUTHOR

LISA BARRY:

She lit the match and watched the flame burn down to just before her finger and thumb and then dropped it into the cove’s icy water. The island was supposed to be an escape, a salvation from her aching heart. But instead, it increased the awareness of what she was missing. The swing of the pendulum had only ended back where it started, with a shredded heart and a heavy head. The sun was just dropping down and it looked like it too was being singed to nothing by the horizon. Lifting her head to sky, Sorla gazed upon the slowly darkening heavens and wished on the first star she spotted. She breathed in the salty air, dug her toes in the cool sand and decided to create a better day. As long as she continued to get up, things could be better. It was in her hands… Sorla looked at her hands. The pale skin glowing and knew that it was indeed her hands that would change the face of life.

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DALIA LANCE:

She couldn’t believe her luck. She had waited her entire life for something like this to happen.

As she stared out of her cabana to the white sands and blue waters of the beach in front of her she could not imagine a more perfect place.

This was the island of her dreams.

Then she heard the sound that would plaque her forever “Hey there” came a nasally voice from her left. She turned to see a man, well he was at least male, sitting in a wooden bench swing that seemed to be propped between her cabana and her neighbors.

“Ummm” she actually didn’t know what to say.

He decided to get up and walk towards her “So, did you just get here?” he asked. His voice was like liquid nails on a chalkboard.

“Yes” she said trying to look for something to occupy herself instead of speaking with him more.

“Well then we will be seeing A LOT of each other” he continued, she winced “I am here for another two weeks.”

This vacation was ruined in a matter of moments.

This was a tropical match made in hell.

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DESIREE MATLOCK:

When I agreed to come out to the barrier island for an overnight, Sandra hadn’t mentioned that there would be so many strippers there. Maybe I would have worn a less grandma bathing suit, or maybe I wouldn’t have packed a picnic in a real live picnic basket like an idiot. Maybe I wouldn’t have brought my largest hiking pack, or a tent. But here I was, sitting somewhere between Caladesi and Seminole beaches on a large mexican blanket on a little spit of land in the intracoastal, with twenty people who belonged in Hollywood. Here I was wearing a large one piece sitting next to the three hottest men I’d ever seen, one of which looked like maybe he might swing my way. Didn’t some movie star start out out here?

Sandra was splashing in the surf, and I watched her in wonder. How did she even know these folks? Near her, two female strippers had on nothing but floss bottoms, and were currently doing lines of coke off a cooler of beer, which wasn’t really what I had in mind, so I dug my toes down into the sand off the edge of my beach blanket and pulled a sandwich out of my basket. Cucumber sandwiches were my favorite, and I’d packed enough to get me through until tomorrow morning.

Do you have a match? said a tall lanky brunette with six pack abs as he walked up with an armload of driftwood.

Um, yeah. As I rummaged, I thought perhaps there was an upside to being prepared for camping out.

www.DesisTwoCents.com

JM PAQUETTE:

“Are you sure this was in the brochure?” Aileen asked, glancing up at the swing hanging from the tree worked perfectly into the side deck attached to the cabana. She tugged the chainlink toward her and touched the black seat bottom. “I think this is real leather.” She looked up at her husband. “Just what kind of place did you bring me to?”

Mark looked at the swing, eyes crinkling as he considered the possibilities. “The brochure mentioned all this island stuff. You know, beaches and bikinis, and massages, and yoga and little drinks with umbrellas.”

Aileen gave him a look. “Seriously? Then what do you call this?”

“A yoga swing?” he tried, voice cracking as he took in the solid construction, the perfect height of the seat, the wooden decking beneath worn smooth by what must have been hundreds of feet over the years. Just because it looked like a sex swing didn’t mean it only had one use. “There are lots of reasons someone might want to swing out here. The view of the wooden fence is lovely, the full bushes perfectly obscuring any neighborly witnesses…” he trailed off.

“Yoga.” It wasn’t a question. “Does this form of yoga come with a matching pair of handcuffs?”

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BRANDON SCOTT:

“Are you sure it’s a good match?”

The boy, the one who did not appear to want her to know his name, nodded and gestured down to his phone.

“But, like, how can you be sure?”

He raised an eyebrow and rolled his eyes, but still did not speak. He had not spoken a word, not since they’d met—as if the island was not creepy enough as it was.

“Okay, fine…fine…” she muttered and continued walking along the path. The sand was too sifting, and the heat just a little bit too hot. She’d overestimated the wine’s potency and was not nearly as drunk as she would have liked.

The boy moved fast, tiny legs easily skimming over the hot sand, and went up a sharp hill. She, with a little panting, followed along, cresting the hill and looking a tad white. What she saw next seemed to undo any of what her time on the luxury island had done for her complexion. All that remaining tan went with a little sweep of emotion.

“Uh…” was all her brain managed, as she stood not too far from a man on a swing, kicking out his feet in little pushes and then coming to almost melancholy stops.

The boy pointed, and then, without a word still, ran back the other way—leaving her there alone with him.

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Catching a Unicorn – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 15 November 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Derail
  • Reflection
  • Sugar

And these blurbs were written within five minutes….Enjoy!

FEATURED AUTHOR

ANNE CARGILE

“You know, this plan isn’t very good,” Shane said. “Everything I’ve read about catching a unicorn has to do with a virgin or something. I’ve never heard of using sugar.”

Janice sighed and rolled her eyes. “Just stay close and do what I say, ok? I’ve read the instructions a thousand times. Since we don’t have a virgin…”

“No kidding,” Shane muttered.

“Shut up. Since we don’t have a virgin, the idea is to entice them with the sugar and then catch them in their reflection.”

“Um, ok, not to derail your wonderful plan, but what exactly will they be reflected in?”

“We know the unicorns come at dawn to butterfly pond, right? So we can spell the water, and when it goes to take a drink…”

“Gotcha!” they said in unison.

Shane grinned. “Lead the way.”

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LISA BARRY:

My plans were derailed when the sugar factory sent me the pink slip. Seven years I had slaved in the sales room and gotten some of the biggest contracts they had. They fire me because Nick Saint wouldn’t give me the contract. Well screw them. He was the smartest man I knew and seeing his reflection in the mirror behind me after a wild Friday night was worth every penny that I wouldn’t get this week. I sat on the edge of my bed and sighed. Now what? I wondered. A call flashed on my phone. I debated ignoring it as per usual but I needed a distraction from my current poor existence.

“Yes?’ I said into the phone, my voice still a little deep from my amazing weekend.

“How would you like to visit the South Pole?” a low voice said. My back went pole straight and my nerves flashed with energy.

“Mr. Saint? I can’t think of anything else I’d like to be doing right now.”

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

Everything was in place to derail the king’s coronation. The street urchins had been payed to tip the barrels of oil over the procession. The sharpshooter with the flaming arrows was positioned on the corner of the highest roof of the square, his arrow coated in black to dull the sun’s reflection on the metal.

“What do you mean, the coronation has been called off?” the sulky lord shouted. “They can’t call it off!”

“I’m afraid they can, and they have,” the elderly advisor said without sympathy. “It’s raining. They cannot hold a party in the rain.”

“When will they reschedule?” the lord asked. “They did not see fit to give that information to me,” the advisor said, only now the slightest signs of strain seeping through his carefully controlled demeanor.

“Well, then, find out!” the lord said, throwing himself across the feather bed pouting. “First bring me some mulled apple cider. With sugar!” he added in an imperious tone at the retreating back of the old man. The advisor closed the door to the lord’s chamber, and only now did his impassive face melt into a disgruntled scowl.

“Perhaps someone should plan your assassination, you spoiled little brat,” he muttered to himself, before he walked off to get the tea.

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DESIREE MATLOCK:

The reflection of the sugar glider in the lake was almost maybe starting to calm me… I hadn’t had time for a walk in over three days, what with my sister Carmen’s visit derailing every tiny detail of my usually impeccably methodical routine.

Firstly, booking a flight that arrived so late that she ended up on the last train out and got here to the end of the line at 3:20 AM. Neither early enough to require waking up early, nor late enough to conveniently allow for staying up a little. There literally couldn’t have been a worse time to need to be picked up.

I’d suggested Uber, but she’d never heard of it. Lyft either. And of course didn’t trust cabbies. She didn’t care about my fitbit circle, or my various yoga meetups. She still lived in the dark ages from before all these apps around which I’d built my life.

And it turns out she’d brought her dog with her, which on paper was a support animal, but in reality, my couch could barely support the damn thing. So here I was, distractedly forgetting to do my breathing exercises, alone at the park, just taking a fucking break from Carmen. Which didn’t move my fitbit count up one tiny bit, but I was too exhausted to care.

As I sighed, chilling out just looking at the glistening ripples of the lake, the sugar glider swooped by, depositing a little offwhite wet crap on my lap. Yup, that pretty much topped off the week.

www.DesisTwoCents.com

JM PAQUETTE:

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Jasmine said, downing another shot and putting her hand on Rebecca’s shoulder. She grabbed the next glass on the bar and downed it as well, coughing a little as she turned to face her friend. “Not a word,” she declared.

“Ok,” Rebecca agreed, ever the supportive friend, but her face was red with suppressed emotion, either horror or hilarity, Jasmine couldn’t tell, and she was starting to think it was a little bit of both.

“I mean it!” Jasmine insisted, turning to face her friend as the whiskey burned through her. “Not. A. Word.”

Rebecca mimed a lock and key in front her lips and sat perfectly still, the red in her face growing deeper with each passing second.

“I don’t ever want you to mention this again!” Jasmine snapped.

“Mention what?” Rebecca asked, turning away to face the bar, carefully not looking at her friend, suddenly very interested in her own reflection in the mirror behind the bar.

“Was it…” Jasmine let the words trail off. She grabbed the third shot, downed it, and faced her friend again. “Was it really that awful?”

“Do you want the truth or do you want me to sugar coat it?”

“Just hit me with it.”

“It was more than that awful. So much more. You certainly know how to derail a discussion, Jaz.”

Jasmine winced. “I know. It was terrible. I don’t know what came over me.”

Rebecca smirked, “Well, there are worse things in the world. Nothing comes to mind at present, of course, but I’m sure they exist.” She pondered. “Famine. Pestilence. War…”

“Ok,” Jasmine told her. “That’s enough hard hitting truth.”

“Are you kidding?” Rebecca asked. “That was sugar coated.”

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ALANNA J. RUBIN

“Oh sugar,” Cali exclaimed.

“Really?” Max replied. “You can actually swear you know. It’s not going to be a poor reflection of your character.”

Cali shrugged. “I just didn’t feel like saying it. Sometimes swearing derails my train of thought, but now considering this ridiculous conversation, I should have just gone for it.” Cali’s voice rose in tenor, the way it normally did when she was aggravated. “Now, where was I?” She asked no one. “Right,” she said answering herself, focusing back on the shovel in her hand and continued to move the dirt off the top of the coffin.

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BRANDON SCOTT

Coming soon!

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