Submitted by Cody_Fox23 t3_10cxt67 in WritingPrompts

#Welcome back to Smash ‘Em Up Sunday!




On Sunday morning at 9:30 AM Eastern in our Discord server’s voice chat, come hang out and listen to the stories that have been submitted be read. I’d love to have you there! You can be a reader and/or a listener. Plus if you wrote we can offer crit in-chat if you like!


##Last Week


####Community Choice


  1. /u/katpoker666 - “Time Stopper 3000” - A persuasive ad leads to canine shenanigans.

  2. /u/rainbow--penguin - “The Perfect Coffee Order” - After enough attempts you can perfect anything; even a meet-cute.

  3. /u/Susceptive - “Help Needed” - A witch helps a young boy move on from a traumatic experience.


####Cody’s Choice



##This Week’s Challenge


Welcome to the new year one and all. I figured I would get the year started off right with one of the most popular theme months we have here at SEUS: Genre Month. Each week I’ll be throwing a new genre at you. Writing in that genre will only be worth three of the points for that week of course. The rest of the constraints are inspired by that genre and might help make a story in it a bit easier as the building blocks are geared toward it though. So let’s see you flex your potential. Use tropes, motifs, and stock characters to your advantage and let’s explore some genres that may or may not be familiar to you!


Putting away our paradoxes and time machines we were left with many great stories of weird time. Thank you for your indulgence in my nebulous-concept-diguised-as-a-genre week. Up next we get back into actual genres. There is a point, or really many points in someone’s life where they have to grow up. The innocence of childhood is broken and the reality of the world comes on in and we gain a better perspective on how it all works. It is the disenchantment of childhood wonder, but not always a death in imagination or creativity that many spin it to be. Coming-of-age has many aspects and I think those themes would make for great exploration. We’ve done this once before in the first genre week when I used the informal title, but this week we’ll use the official title: Bildungsroman. So let’s see your stories of that transition between child to adult.


Popular Media:
To Kill a Mockingbird
[A Tree Grows in Brooklyn](
Treasure Island
American Graffiti
Kiki’s Delivery Service
Life is Strange
Final Fantasy X (I mean most Final Fantasies if we are being honest)


###How to Contribute


Write a story or poem, no more than 800 words in the comments using at least two things from the three categories below. The more you use, the more points you get. Because yes! There are points! You have until 11:59 PM EDT 21 Jan 2023 to submit a response.

After you are done writing please be sure to take some time to read through the stories before the next SEUS is posted and tell me which stories you liked the best. You can give me just a number one, or a top 5 and I’ll enter them in with appropriate weighting. Feel free to DM me on Reddit or Discord!


Category Points
Word List 1 Point
Sentence Block 2 Points
Defining Features 3 Points


####Word List

  • Age

  • Growth

  • Reflection

  • Misqueme v. to displease or offend


####Sentence Block

  • It had to come to an end

  • Their smile shone brightly.


####Defining Features

  • Genre: Bildungsroman

  • The story should include a tree.


##What’s happening at /r/WritingPrompts?


  • Nominate your favourite WP authors or commenters for Spotlight and Hall of Fame! We count on your nominations to make our selections.

  • Come hang out at The Writing Prompts Discord! I apologize in advance if I kinda fanboy when you join. I love my SEUS participants <3 Heck you might influence a future month’s choices!

  • Want to help the community run smoothly? Try applying for a mod position. Everytime you ban someone, the number tattoo on your arm increases by one!


###I hope to see you all again next week!



You must log in or register to comment.

rainbow--penguin t1_j4lvghy wrote

Diary of a Teenage Enby

It was puberty that did it.

Don't get me wrong, there had been stupid comments and snide remarks before that.

"That toy's not for you."

"You can't play with us."

"You're pretty strong... for a girl."

But, most of the time, at that age, I didn't have to think too much about gender. I wore what I wanted, with thin scraggly hair and without a care in the world for how I looked. I was often mistaken for a boy and didn't mind at all. In fact, I kind of liked it.

But it had to come to an end eventually. And that end was puberty.

The growth spurt hit, and my body changed into a shape I didn't recognise or want. Suddenly there were all these expectations for how I should look, what I should wear, and how I should behave.

I wish I could say that I stuck to my guns — that I kept being me with no apologies. But teenagers are cruel, and school is hard. So I learnt to play the part I'd been cast in. Someone who wasn't me. But at least she was happy — or good at pretending to be.

And that's how I got here. Unable to look at my reflection without my stomach tying itself in knots. Flinching internally every time I hear my name — hear myself spoken about. Trying not to blame the people who so clearly don't know me when I haven't even given them a chance to.

And instead of doing anything about it, I spend my time sitting under a tree at the bottom of the garden, scribbling all my secrets away in this journal rather than saying them out loud, too scared that my true existence will misqueme the world somehow.

I learnt that word in English today. Misqueme. Apparently, it comes from an old English root cweme, meaning agreeable or acceptable. I know that I should strive for the best. To be proud. To be happy. To be loved. But most days, I'd settle for acceptable, to be honest. Agreeable would be a bonus.

And the first person who needs to accept me, is me.

So that's why I'm determined that today is going to be different. I might still be sitting with my back pressed against the bark of the old apple tree in our garden, scribbling away. I might not say any of it out loud yet. It might only be a small step but soon, I hope to be able to accept my reflection a little more, because today, I'm ordering a binder.

I'm sure I'll tell you all about how it goes. After all, who else would I tell?


It arrived today, waiting on the porch when I got home from school. I grabbed it and hurried up to my room before I tore open the package.

Wriggling into it wasn't exactly dignified, and the fabric was stiff against my ribs. Constricting. But when I put my shirt on over the top and smoothed it down... It was the most comfortable I could remember being in years.

I couldn't stop smiling at myself in the mirror, joy bubbling up inside me until it boiled over into a fit of giggles.

It might not have been perfect, but it was more than just acceptable.

And it gave me the confidence to do what I needed to do.

Feeling its grip around my chest, as if embracing me in a tight hug, the stiff fabric was like armour for my heart as I marched down the stairs and into the lounge — to where my parents were.

And I told them. Not all of it. Not all the half-thought thoughts and questions and worries and secrets. But I told them enough. Told them about the lie of who I'd been pretending to be. Told them the name I'd picked out years ago in my head. Told them my pronouns. Told them who I really was underneath it all.

I'm fairly certain they didn't understand, not fully. But their smiles shone brightly through the tears. And I'm sure mine did too.

I know that the world isn't perfect. That they won't be perfect. That it will take time. But today I took the first step on a journey that I've been waiting my whole life to make, and of that, I am proud.

WC: 727

I really appreciate any and all feedback

See more I've written at /r/RainbowWrites


Cody_Fox23 OP t1_j4lw64d wrote

Thank you for your submission; it has been scored at 14 points!


gdbessemer t1_j5fswld wrote

> It was puberty that did it.

Nice starting line, it gave me a good indication of what the story would be about, the frame of mind of the narrator, and served as a firm but gentle hook.

> Suddenly there were all these expectations for how I should look, what I should wear, and how I should behave.

I feel like this might be stronger if you refer to specific to the expectations that were already there, but contrast with how they're now tighter. For example, pants getting replaced with dresses, the wild hair needing to be combed, details like that.

> So I learnt to play the part I'd been cast in. Someone who wasn't me. But at least she was happy — or good at pretending to be.

Really great line here!

> And

There's five or so paragraphs that begin with "and." I think it works better sparingly but this much feels repetitive. See if you can just chop off the and in a few places or switch up the word order.

> And the first person who needs to accept me, is me.

Having said that, this "and" I do love, though. Very level headed and grounded protagonist!

> It arrived today, waiting on the porch when I got home from school.

Since the story is a teenager writing in their journal, you might try leaning harder into the journal-ness and kicking the second half off with a sentence about how they're relieved, or their hands are shaking, or some other kind of line that a person would write when they've rushed back to their room to write something down.

> Not all of it. Not all the half-thought thoughts and questions and worries and secrets. But I told them enough.

Again really nice sentence that feels real and touching, especially the half-thought thoughts. I love how varied your sentence length is throughout, coupled with the repetition, it makes the reading more exciting and also feels true to how a teen would write.

> , and of that, I am proud.

I'm really on the fence here, I've tried taking this off and reading the last sentence without it, but I'm not sure if the ending works better with or without it. You might give it a shot too and see.

Thanks for the lovely, sad but heartwarming story Rainbow!


rainbow--penguin t1_j5ft9ko wrote

Thanks GD! Kinda tempted to try and do something more with this concept so the detailed feedback is really appreciated!


throwthisoneintrash t1_j5fdzic wrote


I am so used to your gorgeous, flowing words that when I read something by you that is more direct, it hits me like an avalanche.

This feels so honest and truthful. The clear steps in the character’s journey are filled with subtle tells from them, revealing the layers of emotion beneath the circumstances.

I loved this and was amazed at how well it brought me into a new perspective and helped me feel what this character was experiencing.

A+, as always. Thank you for your words!


nobodysgeese t1_j51i8l7 wrote

Maybe it was the garden, erupting in riotous growth. Or perhaps it was the trees, perfect for my youthful dream of a hammock. But whatever the reason, standing in the yard of my newly-purchased house, I felt young despite my age.

Of course it had to come to an end.

A noise made me turn and stare. A child was climbing one of my hammock trees. Their smile shining brightly, their laughter ringing high, misquemed me.

Upon reflection, I'd realize it was an overreaction. But even as the words poured forth, I felt my childhood dying.

"Get off my lawn!"

WC: 100



Cody_Fox23 OP t1_j551x7s wrote

Thank you for your submission; it has scored 14 points!


AstroRide t1_j4jkkft wrote

##Magic of the World

Uwe ran from the city. The concrete walls constrained him and stifled imagination. That horrid place caused all adults to be miserable.

“Uwe.” Mr. Schultz pointed at him. “Stop looking outside. Your obliviousness misquemes me.”

“Watching bird poop is more interesting than you,” Uwe replied.

“Rector’s office, now,” he says.

He saw small kids at the edge of the park. They played tag, and a few kids picked up sticks. Their smiles shone brightly. Age had a way of dimming those smiles. Uwe decided to join them. When he approached, they stared at him.

“Hello, may I play tag?” he asked.

“You’re too big for us,” one kid said.

“Yeah and weird.” The kid laughed and ran from him. Uwe was left alone.

“Uwe, I received a call from the rector,” his mom said. Uwe ignored her and went to his room. “Uwe come down here. I’m talking to you.” Uwe obliged. He stood in front of her with his arms crossed. “He said you insulted your science teacher and spit on the rector in his office. Is this true?”

Uwe turned away from her and didn’t answer.

“You have ten seconds,” she said.

“I did it.”

“Uwe, I’ll have to take away your video games for a week.” Uwe sighed. “You will be going to the Gymnasium soon. How can I trust you to behave there?”

“I won’t,” Uwe shrugged.

“Uwe, how can you forget your manners,” she said.

“Because manners are stupid,” Uwe said.

“Go to your room,” she yelled.

Uwe reached a small tree and sat under it. He looked up at the leaves and watched the sun dance through them. The leaves came alive and swirled around him. They cheered him up with their song. It went…it went.

He shook his head. The leaves weren’t able to sing. He put his face to the bark to listen to the people living inside of it. The people were hard at work, but they didn’t acknowledge him.

The roots were home to the anteaters that sucked water and worms from the ground. They were the friendliest parts of the tree, and even they treated him coldly.

All alone, he began to cry. He loved the nature around him. The life inside of it was available only to him. They told him that they showed themselves to children because children could appreciate it. Eventually, he wouldn’t be able to see them. It had to come to an end.

“Uwe.” His mother walked up to him. “Why did you leave?”

“You’re just going to punish me.” Uwe crossed his arms. His mother sat down.

“I don’t want to. I don’t like hurting the ones I love,” she cried, “Especially when something is bothering them.”

“The world is getting duller,” he said.

“What do you mean?”

“It used to be filled with magic and joy. Now, it’s all gone. I’m turning into an adult,” he said.

“Sweetie, the world is getting familiar. It’s part of growth, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t magic.” His mother touched the tree. “Like this. Do you know what xylem and phloem are?”

“What are those?” he asked.

“Well, the xylem is how the tree transfers the water it gathers at its roots. While the phloem is how it moves what the leaves make in photosynthesis. I told you about photosynthesis right?”

“Yeah, it’s the magic the leaves do to create air and their own food. I wish I could do photosynthesis,” Uwe said.

“There are a lot of reasons why you can’t do that. You could learn them by reading about biology.” She took his hand. “You are an intelligent and creative young man. However, those are meaningless attributes if you are hard-working and respectful. You may be losing the magic of youth, but there is a magic that comes with age, an understanding of the world. The science behind life is known and can be studied. Your reflections on your life can be made into art and literature. You can blossom in new ways, but you have to be open to accepting them.”

“Can’t I enjoy being a kid?” he asked.

“Of course, no one said that there isn’t joy in being an adult. Like me, I feel joy whenever I see your smile.” Uwe smiled in response.

“Thank you mom.”

She stood up with her hand in his. “Now, let’s go home. Though I loved our chat, you were still disrespectful today. As such, you must vacuum the floors and help your father with the lawn.”

“Mom.” Uwe slouched his shoulders.

“And you will write a letter to the rector and science teacher apologizing for your actions,” his mom smiled, “That’s a part of life.”



Cody_Fox23 OP t1_j4kv61a wrote

Thank you for your submission; it has scored 14 points!


ruraljurorlibrarian t1_j4xj74i wrote

A Fine Catch

Dilbert watched his father pry two gold teeth out of a skull and wished his grandmother was alive. She'd have prayed as soon as they found it, dangling as if chewing through the bottom of that metal mesh on the crawfish trap. She'd have made his father bring the bones to the sheriff or a church. Maybe baked a sheet cake to raise money to bury it next to that old willow tree that had Spanish moss for hair.

All Dilbert could do was watch as Walter took the teeth then threw the skull back into the murky water where no one would ever find it again. It sunk under the new growth of weeds, the weight of bone and age pulling it down.

He wondered if he'd known whoever it was. He watched his reflection in the water and didn't say anything. His father's hand was hard and he had enough bruises already. At night, he'd lift up his shirt and count them, trying to imagine them as blessings or marks of valor or anything other than strange purple lessons that ached even after he'd healed.

Walter drove a town over to their pawnshop, trading the teeth for fifty dollars and a faded Hulk figure for Dilbert. He didn't want a toy, he mostly wanted to forget what a person looked like on the inside. He stared at the green flesh of the Hulk, imagining it stripped bare. Just a Hulk skeleton.

Dilbert couldn't sleep that night or any night after. He saw a man much like his father only this man had a smile. He held his kid up on his shoulders and their smile shone brightly with bloody teeth. He dreamed they both tried to crawl in his trailer door, demanding he give back what was stolen.

He took his Hulk and a mason jar of peach moonshine his father brewed last summer and rode his bike back out to the river. His t-shirt was soaked by the time he got to the edge and the sun had almost set.

He sat by one of the trees whose roots had dug into the mud, and held up his treasures.

"I'm sorry," he said.

He threw both in the water, watched as they hardly made a splash. He blinked hard as a dark, disembodied hand, emerged from the water to grab them both.

"Thanks." The voice sounded like a chorus of grasshoppers all moving at once.

Dilbert screamed and tripped, getting some of the muddy water on his pants. He jumped on his bike and rode away as fast as he could, jerking the wheel in his haste.

He didn't dream of the man again and he was punished for losing his Hulk and the jar of moonshine but he figured it was worth it.

After that Walter didn't scare him as much. 

WC: 475


Cody_Fox23 OP t1_j51vuoa wrote

Thank you for your submission; it has scored 11 points!


gdbessemer t1_j4xlwmf wrote

Low Tide in Fel-Worth: Part 3

Read part 1! And part 2!

The story thus far: Dyarosa, a nymph and sister to Kellic the satyr, is being held captive by a gang. Kellic and Julia, a human witch, are searching for her.

Dyarosa wondered what Kellic would say if he could see her now, a captive to bandits. Probably call her a naive nymph–as if her very nature misquemed him–like he did when she dithered over their exodus from the cool forests of the Appalachians to this dusty city of Dallas. But they’d lived in such a fine, secluded grove, and–

Pelon poked his bald head through the plastic sheets. She almost dropped her shears in fright. She avoided his hollow gaze, focused on the delicate roots of the mother tree instead.

“Hurry it up,” Pelon said, gesturing with his fat-barrelled lead-belcher. “Or I will burn you and the hierba.

“Yes,” she replied hollowly. Dyarosa knew she was dallying; one whisper, and she could coax this mother kanab into a new pot. After that, they would transport the mother to another location, to harvest her limbs again. The kanab with its saw-like leaves and sticky flowers was well prized among even her kind since time immemorial, so Dyarosa understood the tree’s value. And her own.

Had she been naive? Had a thousand years of growth and reflection still left her with the mind of a child? She’d asked herself the same bitter question day after day since she’d been locked in this dank room.

She thought she’d been shrewd, working with a human whose eyes were open to the greater mysteries of the world. Pelon had seemed so kind at the start, his smile shining brightly. He showed her the sad state of his plant, and they struck a bargain: some human coin for Dyarosa’s services for two days. Kellic was always harping on the need for currency–maybe this would show her brother how useful she could be.

But the bald man had tricked her, cast a ward to lock her in. The pulse of chaos magic made her fine moss stand on end. Getting close to the doorway singed her skin. Two days had turned into two weeks, just her whispering to the mother tree to make her grow quickly, and giving the bandits cuttings to plant. She’d forgotten the kiss of sunlight on her body, and a touch of her head found the wilted husks of her once rampant crown of leaves.

In the first days of captivity she’d imagined Kellic coming to her rescue. Later, shivering against the dirt floor, she’d found a new dream: her hands, wrapped around Pelon’s neck. Even in an endless age of wandering, the thought of killing humans had never even occurred to her. It was like thinking of a world without love, or trees, or magic. Even in winter was the promise of regrowth, but in death there was but one promise. It scared her.

Voices shouted from the grow room. Her dallying had to come to an end. She clipped the last root and crooned to the kanab; the mother grudgingly lifted her bones from the dirt, and allowed herself to be settled into the new pot. Behind her came the crinkle of the plastic curtain. She turned, carrying the mother tree in her broad arms.

“I’m ready,” she said.

Pelon grunted and gestured. She felt a tingle as the ward vanished. Another hard-faced man, weapon unholstered, watched to see if she’d run.

Then, on the far side of the room, the sheet-metal door burst open. Her brother and a human woman spilled through.

“Kill them!” Pelon shouted, thunder erupting from his lead-belcher. Somehow, the bullets sprayed in random directions, hitting everything but the pair.

“Kellic!” Dyarosa shouted.

Her brother, stubborn as ever, charged headlong through the grow room, scattering boxes of flowers everywhere under the harsh fluorescent lights. Within moments he covered the distance, crushing the hard-faced human to the wall with his horns.

The human woman intoned something and gestured with her hands. Pelon grinned and gestured back. In the center of the room, the air cracked like glass, an eye-watering rent in reality.

Then Pelon leveled his weapon at Kellic, and fired. The bullets found their mark.

“No!” Dyarosa screamed.

She had felt anger before, but it was a candle flame to the inferno of fury roaring in her breast. She called to the thick roots deep under this building.

They answered.

Gnarled white strands shot up through the ground, piercing Pelon in a dozen places. The man spasmed once and died. Dyarosa expected to feel some sense of satisfaction, but she only felt tired.

Her brother still breathed, though he was a ruin of blood.

The short human woman holstered her weapon and held up her arms in placation. “Let’s carry him outta here.”

“Little sister…you killed for me,” Kellic gasped, as they lifted him.

She felt empty inside, like heartwood gone from an oak. “Like you always said, I had to grow up sometime.”

WC: 797

Liked what you read? Check out more at /r/gdbessemer!


Cody_Fox23 OP t1_j51w2i6 wrote

Thank you for your submission; it has scored 14 points!


katpoker666 t1_j5a9qlh wrote

‘The Canceled Savior’


Sixteen candles blossomed bright as stars from a cake shaped like a car. In the center, a small dish held keys to a 2023 jeep.

Cher grinned, her near-phosphorescent white veneers sparkling in the candlelight. “For me?” She crowed as she blew out the tiny wax staffs.

“You’ve earned it, honey!” Her mom appeared to smile, although it wasn’t one hundred percent clear due to all of the Botox.

“We’re proud of you, pumpkin. Your grades have been top-notch.” Dad put an arm around her. “We’ll get you into Harvard yet.

“I-I was thinking NYU’s art school, Tisch. Maybe go into acting or something.”

“Nonsense! Don’t make me take the keys away,” her father teased. “You need to become a lawyer just like your old man. I mean, no offense to your mom, but arts degrees don’t pay off.”

The older woman winced but said nothing.

“See? Even she agrees, and she’s been living off of my money for years. You’re like my little high-growth investment, honey,” he said, leaning in to hug her.

Two years later and Cher got part of her wish: NYU. Stern, the business school, not the arts program. But still, NYU. Her father was proud of this as ‘business can be a good basis for law and NYU has a strong grad program.’

Running late to class, Cher sprinted through Washington Square Park past the older men playing chess and the weed dealers.

Despite her tardiness, she dropped five dollars into the unhoused Al’s bucket by his usual sycamore tree.

“Hey, Cher! Thanks”

“Gotta run, but I’ll catch you this afternoon.”

While Cher excelled in her classes, she didn’t like most of them.

In Corporate Finance, she’d grouse, “Why is the focus always on shareholder satisfaction and not stakeholders?”

Marketing led to its own problems. “Why do we sell things people don’t need that are designed to break even quicker?”

As the semesters wore on, Cher’s followers grew to a healthy 1.5 million. The outspoken young blonde woman became a campus and cultural darling standing up for the rights of those less fortunate.

No cause was left unvisited. From equality to opioids, Cher had it covered.

“I’m finally using my popularity for a good cause. Growing up, I was coddled by my family. Many others weren’t so lucky. So, it’s my time to give back,” she intoned on any podcast that would have her.

On YouthBeat, she slipped.

“You’ve done a lot of wonderful things, Cher. What’s next after graduation?”

“I think I’m going to continue doing good as a social welfare lawyer.”

“Wait—you’re giving up all of your causes for law school? What happened to ‘using your popularity for a good cause?”

“Well, I could just keep up with my existing efforts…”

“So, you don’t need a job like the rest of us?”

The interviewer’s smile shone brightly, half jackal and half wolf. “You heard it here first, folks—Cher is letting us down. No surprise with her obvious white savior complex. It had to come to an end. I’m hardcore misquemed. Let’s cancel her NOW!”

In tears, Cher burst forth into the world.

At the tender age of twenty, upon reflection, Cher wondered if her life was over.


WC: 537


Thanks for reading! Feedback is always very much appreciated


Cody_Fox23 OP t1_j5f6nu8 wrote

Thank you for your submission; it has scored 14 points!


Susceptive t1_j5cal4x wrote

Cannot Be Put Down

Gladys Wells had a mortal enemy.

In whirlwind teenage style it all started over practically nothing. She said hello to the new student in class, they looked at each other and-- as her mother liked to say-- something went widdershins. Which naturally meant the universe started pairing them up at every turn. Lab assignments, seating charts, essay partners, everything. Loathing had a name, and it was Rebecca Johnson.

Everything blew up at lunch.

"Why do you talk like that?" Rebecca demanded. She gestured with a carrot stick. "All heh-oh instead of hell-lo and stuff? It's weird. Do you hate the letter 'L'?"

"My mam's Welsh." Gladys fired back, cheeks flaming and very aware of her accent. "Why does your face look like that?"

Then it was war.

By the time she got home Gladys was seething in angry reflection. The landscape caught her mood immediately: Bees steered clear. Grass flattened and flowers turned away. New growth reconsidered. Even Hickory Tom lifted his branches like he wanted nothing to do with whatever-this-is, thank you so much.

Her mother waited in the kitchen, teacup and cookie plate in hand. Witches always have good instincts. "Bad day, dear?"

"The worst." Gladys laid into every petty thing that made Rebecca evil. It took quite a while. Her mother listened politely, occasionally scooping at the air and neatly depositing the collected animosity into a pot. It looked like red-tinted pea soup, roiling and bitter.

"...and she's taking my friends," Gladys finished. Then slumped over, exhausted. Grudges drained a lot of energy.

"No one takes a friend, fy annwyl un," her mam chided.

"Sure felt like it." Gladys groused. She hate-chewed a cookie and thought. "How d'ya cast a spell for pleasant dreams?"

The elder Wells took on a distant expression. "An' be Middle English, most likely. Old country. Try au queme, or foreshortened queme. Queme nic breuddwyd." She chopped syllables until it sounded like bride-vood.

"So the opposite would be... misqueme? Aye?"

"Gladys Wells." Mother and daughter shared a lot: Round cheeks, thin lips, a calamity of freckles. But her mam's disapproving stare was an age beyond anything the teen could pull off. "Don't you think of it."

"I'm not," she muttered.

Oh, but she was.

And later that night, just before dawn, Gladys did. She sang misqueme nic brueddwyd into the night. What answered was small and weak, barely a palmful of shadow looking for purpose. She took it in hand, pouring in annoyance and mischief. Then she gave it a strand of Rebecca's hair and went to bed, grinning.

The next week began the same with angry stares and frosty silence. But as days passed Rebecca seemed to fade, losing energy. First she looked tired, then exhausted, and by Thursday practically zombified. Gladys' smile shone brightly through it all. Especially when her rival fell asleep and immediately yelled herself awake from a nightmare. In public!

But by Saturday the guilt crept in. Fun was fun, but nobody should have bad dreams forever. So when the moon rose Gladys spoke misqueme once again, calling it back for banishment. She expected a palmful of shadow. Weak. Easily handled.

What landed in her attic room was a bombshell of choking darkness.

Gladys yelped, then called green balefire into both hands to force the night away. "Ease off! What are ya?"

It seemed offended. What you made me, the dark whispered. A terror of the night.

Her room felt like it was going to explode with raw malice. "Well. Uh. Stop, now. Yer done, give back that hair. Leave off Rebecca an' all that nonsense. Go away."

No. This is my purpose, to consume her dreams until death.

For a long minute a stunned Gladys stood there, fire in both palms, really considering the idea of unintended consequences and personal responsibility. "How about... not doing that? And talk normally!"

"I cannot stop," the shadow hissed. It sounded the way running in nightmares felt: Hopelessly inescapable. "What we are, is. What you made me, I am. Could you stop being yourself?"

She thought that over. "Well, no. But I can change. Can you?"

It was the shadow's turn to consider. "A trade, then. Give me a purpose and a place to be."

"Okay, I guess-"

"And a name," it interrupted in a greedy tone. "So I will always know myself."

A wiser, more experienced witch might have balked. But Gladys was overwhelmed and it had to come to an end. So she offered up the fire. "Alright. Here, trade. Balefire for hair. I've got a handbag somewhere around here you can live in."

"And my name?" His eyes took light, blazing green in an ocean of night.

She thought, then shrugged. Why not name him what he was? Misqueme nic brueddwyd, the offender of dreams. "Nic."

WC: 798


« Back | 3 | Forward »


Cody_Fox23 OP t1_j5f6ren wrote

Thank you for your submission; it has scored 14 points!


Ninjoobot t1_j5dafio wrote

Eulogy for a Friend

"I didn't even know the word 'eulogy' a couple of days ago but here I am giving one. I know what advice Ash would give me. They'd tell me not to misqueme anyone. I'm sure Ash knew what a eulogy was. They had such a huge vocabulary and loved to use it, but they somehow never made me feel stupid when they used words like misqueme. I'll save you all the Google: it means to displease or offend."

I paused for some chuckles. I really hadn't known what a eulogy was and wish I hadn't found out. I also didn't have to give this eulogy, but my therapist thought it would be a good idea. My best and only friend was gone.

"Many of you probably don't know this about Ash and me, but we were more than just the same age: we shared the same birthday. February 5, 2052. 2-5-52, a palindrome. That's another word Ash taught me. We always said we were born to be friends. When we were together, we never needed anyone else. We couldn't remember when we became friends, but we just knew that we would always be friends."

I didn't really write anything ahead of time. As I said the words, I realized they were no longer true. I didn't understand what it meant to cry your eyes dry until yesterday. I looked down at the blank page I was holding to pretend I had prepared my eulogy. The podium had one of those extra shiny wood tops and I caught a glimpse of my reflection. I looked terrible from that angle.

"Ash always saw the best in me even when I couldn't see it. I did the same for them. We promised to always lift each other up and while I couldn't keep up my end of that deal, Ash never let me down. Not one time."

I realized I could raise Ash up one more time. We had planned on taking a trip to the moon for our sixteenth birthdays next month. Our parents agreed that we could go alone, so we had naturally become obsessed with it. I hadn't planned on going without her now, but I couldn't let Ash down. She was about to be cremated and her parents promised to give me some of her ashes. Is it illegal to spread them on the moon? I'd rather not know so I can plead ignorance if I can't, but I guess a part of her will make it to the moon after all.

"I really don't know what else to say right now. People keep telling me 'sorry for your loss.' But that doesn't feel right. I didn't just lose-the world lost. And what is there to be sorry about? That people die? That Ash died too soon? It just sucks. Plain and simple. It sucks. And it's not fair that Ash had to have a seizure in the shower and die like that."

I stared across the crowd at the large oak behind everyone. I was pretty sure it was a majestic oak since, well, it was pretty majestic. I could see Ash climbing the lower branches and mocking me for being too scared to even try and climb it. It had those weird bulbous growths on it and they creeped me out. I looked back at the crowd, trying to avoid Ash's parents. Seeing them would definitely make me find some tears to cry.

"Ash is the first person I've really known that has died. I would have preferred to wait longer to know what it's like to mourn someone, but I guess we all have to grow up sometime. Except for Ash."

I laughed uncontrollably. I looked to her parents to give them a look of apology, but they were both laughing, too. The rest of the crowd? Not so much.

"I'm sorry! But Ash would have found that hilarious. And I think that's my cue to leave. I miss you, Ash. And I always will."

I stepped down and walked by her. Ash had been so full of life but it had come to an end. Even now, their smile shone brightly lying there so peacefully.


Cody_Fox23 OP t1_j5fa2qn wrote

Thank you for your submission; it has scored 14 points!

Also it is wonderful to see you in the lineup again ninjoo. I hope you had a good new year and I look forward to the next story whenever it may come!


Ninjoobot t1_j5fon44 wrote

Good to see you again and that you're still flexing your mod muscles with SEUS. I'll try to pop in more this year, as SEUS is still the best thing on WP. No offense to everything else.


throwthisoneintrash t1_j5dnurc wrote

#The Measurement of Time

WC 312

The world moves so quickly. I find myself reaching out time and time again for another to share my journey, but they all slip away in an instant.

Of course, I have my siblings. I feel them dance. I hear their groaning, shifting words as they sing slowly and deeply. The song of a thousand mountains echoing through the valleys they overshadow.

My own voice is still weak, I fear I will misqueme them and so I look for lesser companions.

Animals are no use. They scamper around so hastily, that before I can track one of their short lives, I find out it has come to an end.

Trees are better. One particular oak grew on my sun-drenched slopes, drinking in the light and enjoying the shelter I provide. Its leaves twinkle in the summer light, their smiles shone brightly for a season before floating away to nothing.

The oak looked old before I really had time to consider it fully. They all age so quickly.

I’m left with a reflection in a lake below me. It’s me, but not really me. It mimics my moment, it copies the dance of the rocks that I continue to dance though the animals are gone, and the trees too.

All of that organic growth must have puffed away in the fires that warmed my slopes for a few thousand brief years. It all happens so fast. The lake is gone now too.

Maturity is what my siblings call it. Living through an extinction or two builds character. But I wonder.

I look into the sky. It’s clearer now, without the atmosphere, and I think about the stars. They move so slowly.

And I wonder.

who am I

am i the tree to them

am i brief and inconsequential to them

why do i feel so small

what is the reason for it all



Cody_Fox23 OP t1_j5fbbck wrote

Thank you for the submission; it has scored 14 points!


vMemory t1_j4oo8z4 wrote

The End of the World


<> <> <>

At the end of the world, nothing had changed. The phylogenetic tree carved into the tall, serpentinite wall of the museum still told the same tale. And what other tale was there to tell? Every story was fundamentally reducible to the same story about the lurching endeavors of humanity, man’s grasp gradually falling shorter and shorter of his reach.

The domed roof had caved in. Blue-green rocks fuzzy with moss and discolored by chemical decay had crumbled into slanted heaps. Magenta clouds swirled in the exposed sky above. Cracked Greek columns guarded the side walls of the main gallery, dark brown foliage creeping between the interstices.

“Not much of an inheritance, is it?” The old man’s voice croaked as he plodded through the rubble, his staff thundering as it hit the ground.

I sat on the stairs beneath the giant mural, chin on hand, studying his weary body as he approached. “I had never expected blooming meadows, but it is quite pitiful, father.”

“Ahhh-kh-khhh.” His voice scraped his throat. “So it misquemes you, does it? You’ll find a way. You have to.”

“And if I can’t?” I asked, but he didn’t reply.

The steady clack of his staff pounded in my head. His robe was muddied and rasped as it dragged across jagged stones like the injured wing of some flightless bird. He was on the steps now. Ragged breaths and long pauses. Beside me now, he perched a wrinkled hand on my shoulder.

“No alchemist, no ecologist, nor geneticist can save us now,” he said, gazing up at the wall.

“No historian will again steal through the night to save our story,” I said, rising and turning to face the tree.

“No inventor, no scientist, nor engineer will blueprint a machine to light us with glory,” he said, climbing with me, our hands around each other’s shoulders.

“And no poet,” I said as we reached the platform, “will ever travel to starless caverns before we have.”

“We were the first.” He retracted his hand from my back.

“And the last,” I finished, letting my hands fall limp.

Rain began to fall. Drops trailed and diverged on the grooves on the wall like a thousand splintering meteorites. At the root of the tree was a single node from which all others branched. Within it was etched a lonely word: Human.

Days after he passed, the sky burned black for the first time in months. Falling ash stained my teary cheeks and I collapsed on the gravel of the road. My cheek rubbed against coarse particles and I tried to find meaning in the pebbles, warring and internecine like TV tuned to a dead channel. I thought I saw his face traced there like lines in a zen garden, his smile shining brightly, but it was just pareidolia.

Months passed before I found another, her eyes wild and red and feral. She crawled like an animal and bared her teeth when I approached. When she saw what I was, she choked and convulsed. Her growls fluctuated as she struggled to fight the animal she had become. Not wanting to see her suffer, I turned to leave.

“Ple-laease, stayyy.” She managed to whisper, but I didn’t look back.

Years passed. Long years stretched by spasms of involuntary memory, lost somewhere in the overgrown streets of dilapidated cities. Short years ripped away from me like the health of the earth, flickering past like the pages of a cheap flipbook. I had more time for reflection about my father, about the dying world he and his generation had left us. More time to detox the bitterness from my heart, more time to let time let heal it. Our suffering wasn’t in vain; it only felt that way because the silver lining of it belonged to the people of the past. They had squeezed blood out of the heart of the world for their pleasure at the expense of the children of the future. It was that simple, nothing personal. We had been left for dead by a people who had never known us.

I trudged up the snow blanketed hill, wondering if he could see my growth. It hadn’t been his fault, I had realized. His generation was handed a world hardly better than we were. All was forgiven, even that which I could not bring myself to forgive. I focused on the distant horizon, listening to the crashing waves of sludge. The vortex of darkness parted like a dead eye opening, iris still white, at the end of the universe where crimson shafts of light spilt past the edge and mirrored off the toxic ocean and scattered into a handful of eyes that were still alive in a dead world or dying in a world that might still yet live.


Cody_Fox23 OP t1_j50582i wrote

Thank you for your submission; it has scored 11 points!


vMemory t1_j51h221 wrote

Can you try checking again? I think I included all the reqs; thanks


Cody_Fox23 OP t1_j51htmm wrote

You are missing the word "age" and the sentence "It had come to an end"


vMemory t1_j51ipp2 wrote

You’re totally right, I scratched that sentence. Sorry about that!


Cody_Fox23 OP t1_j51r13d wrote

Not a problem. If you edit it back in feel free to reply here and lemme know. Points can be updated until campfire begins :D


bookworm271 t1_j5c03l0 wrote

#Notes Left Under a Maple

"Nooo," Liz muttered Alex started crying. Half-brother was an appropriate term, she thought. Half the time, baby Alex seemed brotherly. The other half, like now, he seemed on a mission to misqueme her, to use a recent Word of the Day.

She heard Mom mumble something, and Steven get out of bed. They deserve to be woken up, Liz thought. They made him. As Alex's cries started to wane, Liz wondered if her mother would respond if she called out. She grabbed her phone and texted Mom.

"I'm awake too you know."

A ping sounded across the hall as the text was delivered. Alex let out a fresh cry. Liz sighed. It had to come to an end at some point, right?

She didn't get a response to the text.

First period was brutal. How one was supposed to understand math after being up half the night was a mystery to Liz. She found herself staring out the window instead.

"Having a moment of reflection, Elizabeth?"

She turned to see the instructor looking at her.

"Sorry," she mumbled.

When the dismissal bell rang, Liz glanced at the line of buses and frowned. She wasn't ready to go home yet, so she decided to walk. The route took her by a park, and Liz stopped to rest under the shade of a maple tree. As she sat down her hand brushed against something. Paper. Tucked under a rock at the base of the tree was a note. Curious Liz opened it.

"Sometimes I feel invisible."

Taking a pencil from her bag, she wrote a reply.

"Same. Even my mom left me on read."

She tucked the note back in place, then left.

She sat under the maple again the next day, lifting the rock and unfolding the paper.

"Dang, I wasn't expecting a response! I'm not going to leave you on read though. It's good to know someone feels like I do."

Liz paused, then wrote "Do you have siblings too? It was just mom and me until she remarried, and now there's a baby. It's like I'm an after thought."

She began to make daily stops at the tree. She learned her penpal was a middle child, with a high achieving older brother and an energetic toddler sister. "I get lost in the shuffle. I have some friends, but I'm more of an introvert. My family doesn't get that liking quieter activites doesn't mean I want to be overlooked," they wrote.

"I hear you." Liz wrote back. "My mom was a homebody, but Steven is an extrovert. Movie nights with Mom made me feel special. Now they've been replaced with dinner parties with neighbors and playdates for Alex. I don't need to always feel like this" - here she drew a stick figure - their smile shone brightly with colored pencil work - "but I'm feeling like this" - she drew another stick figure, black and white, head spinning.

There was rain the next day. Liz was concerned it would make her latest note illegible. Those worries seemed small as storm sirens went off, and teachers ushered students into the halls. Later, after the worst had passed, the news made its way through the school. High winds. The worst damage was to the nearby park. Liz's heart sank and without even thinking it through, she ran out of school to the park.

The maple lay across the grass, years of growth torn down in seconds. She heard footsteps and saw a boy, about her age, running to the tree as well. The two looked at the tree, then each other.

"I'm Liz," she said. "I wrote the notes."

"Drew. I did too."

"I guess....we could just tell each other what we were going to write?"

"We already left school, might as well hang out," Drew agreed. They sat near the ruined maple talking for an hour until four adults hurried towards them.

Mom, Steven and a couple Drew identified as his parents. Apparently someone assessing storm damage had seen them, and called the school who called the parents.

"I was so worried!" Mom said, hugging Liz. "The storm, then the school saying you ran off and - what's wrong dear?"

Liz had started crying. "You were worried for me?"

"Of course, Liz, how could I not be? I love you so much. I know it's been a lot of changes with Alex and Steven, but that doesn't change how much I love you!" Mom glanced at the tree and Drew. "Is this why you've taken to walking home?"

"Sort of," Liz admitted. "Can we have movie night soon and I'll tell you more?"

"Of course," Mom said. "For now, let's get home."

Liz gave Drew a wave. She might not have a neon bright smile, but her head was no longer spinning.

WC: 797


Cody_Fox23 OP t1_j5f6pl7 wrote

Thank you for your submission; it has scored 14 points!


Tomorrow_Is_Today1 t1_j5ct6ct wrote

“You should just leave.”

Charlie looked over at aer partner. “Just leave?”

“Yeah.” Alessia crossed her legs, skirt folding against the black sofa. “I mean, you keep stuff here at my place anyway.”

“So she doesn’t get to it.”

Alessia raised her left eyebrow, the way she usually did when Charlie was missing something obvious. “You keep a go bag packed at all times if you have to get away suddenly, and it has all your documents and legal stuff.”

“Yeah, for emergencies.”

“You can just leave. You can stay with me. You’re an adult now, she doesn’t hold guardianship over you.”

Charlie looked at aer hands. “I can just leave.”

Alessia nodded in Charlie’s peripheral vision.

“Just like that. Never have to see my sister again. No more family. No more…any of it.”

Charlie looked up at Alessia. “There’s nothing we’re forgetting?”

“How could there be?”

Charlie blinked. Ae smiled. “It can’t really be that easy.”

“I’d hardly call it easy. More like you’ve been prepared for years, and you finally have the chance.”

Charlie jumped up. Ae laughed. Once, twice. Then ae couldn’t stop. Ae grabbed Alessia and they twirled around the room, socks stumbling on teal rug.

Ae froze. “I have to get my stuff.”


“Can you come with me? I’m.” Charlie swallowed. “I’m scared.”

Alessia pulled Charlie close, the pair enveloped in soft smells of almonds and roses. “I’ll be there the whole way,” she promised. “Wherever you need.”

Charlie gasped a breath, cherishing the denial-driven distance ae had from aer emotions. The floodgate would open eventually. But not yet. Act quickly, and it won’t interfere.

“Let’s go.”


Alessia’s little blue car rumbled through suburbia, and Charlie felt every bump. Don’t think. It’s easier if you don’t think. Or fear. Charlie held an imaginary knot in aer hands, untangling aer anxiety layer by layer. It never ended. But at least ae was breathing.

Charlie stared out aer window at the maroon house as they rolled up. Maroon might be a nice color, if it weren’t for this and blood.

“Do you want me to go in with you?” Alessia asked.


Charlie didn’t realize ae’d responded so quickly until ae heard aer own voice. “No,” ae repeated softer. “You don’t need to go in there. I’ll go in alone and find things to grab. We can always come back anyway.” No we can’t.

“Okay,” Alessia said, and reached for Charlie’s hand. Hers felt warm and soft, and Charlie was in danger of losing grasp on aer numbness. “I’ll be right here whenever you need.”

Charlie smiled weakly at aer partner. Then to the car door, open and close. And up the driveway ae went.

No car outside. Charlie clicked in the garage combination, and found it empty too. She won’t be home. Thank God. Even still, Charlie held aer breath as ae walked through the house, like aer sister could pop out from behind any corner, like ae was trespassing in a space not meant for aer.

Room by room Charlie dug aer nails deeper into aer palms. Ae blinked and returned to a breathing rhythm every few moments. It was so easy to lose it here. In the kitchen where ae saw a younger version of aerself crouched behind a cabinet in terror. In the living room where ae cried alone after they lost their parents, where Samantha hurled her blame so often. In the bathroom where she busted in insisting Charlie not shower and pulling aer out before the suds rinsed away. Replay, replay, replay.

Charlie was surprised how few things ae even wanted to take. So much connecting aer to this place, so little worth keeping. Ae grabbed aer go bag and a few outfits and books from aer room, then stood in the doorway. This felt so anticlimactic, and still there was a pang of sorrow for leaving. The house itself never hurt Charlie, but ae never wanted to see it again.

As Charlie carried the bag out and closed the garage door, Alessia looked up. Her smile shone brightly, and all of a sudden the bag weighed nothing.

It was really over.


Lying in bed, Charlie untied aer imaginary knot of anxiety and found a recorder inside. Ae turned it over in aer hands, marveling at its horrid memories. Ae would never stop it pressing replay. But it would never hit record again.


Cody_Fox23 OP t1_j5fac1g wrote

Thank you for your submission; it has scored 5 points!


Helicopterdrifter t1_j4tal33 wrote

Duality: Harmony

Part 3

The two girls moved from one setting to the next as realities bled into one another. Where places had once been compartmentalized, they formed a Frankenstein construction where settings became rooms that adjoined distant places.

Harmony’s finger tapped incessantly against her bicep as she stood with her arms crossed. She replayed thoughts of Grace’s feigned ignorance as they both listened to the sound of Daniel’s assigned ringtone filtering in through a hole in the wall.

Grace bent over and looked through as the two stood in a darkened tunnel. The ambiance beyond was tinted fall’s orange and spilled onto Grace’s green iris. “It’s just some girl on a swing,” Grace said.

Harmony’s finger stopped. The repeated act had been misqueming, but this last remark was a crescendo. “Just some random girl?” she asked.

“Yep,” Grace replied. “She’s on a hilltop swing. And the sun is setting.”

Harmony raised her fists, then slammed them down to her sides as she thrust her foot forward, her kick driving into the back of Grace, whose face parted the wall like a breakaway banner.

With pinwheeling arms and a tumbling form, Grace boldly declared that she wasn’t named after falling. She careened across the grass, rolled to a stop, then pointed her aggrieved expression in the wrong direction. Her scowl evaporated when she turned and found Harmony stomping towards her.

“Just a random girl?” Harmony asked, her fist shaking at her sides. “Wearing your painted sweatshirt and leggings? Holding a phone that your fiancée is calling? Just a random girl?”

Grace raised her forearm as a guard from attacks and a barrier to keep their eyes from meeting.

The wordless space filled with the sound of Harmony’s flaring nostrils and the ringing phone held by a girl in the nearby tree-swing. Orange and yellow leaves broke away from the branches and tumbled past as Harmony’s eyes attempted to set Grace on fire.

“I’m sorry,” Grace managed. “I just---I don’t know what you want.”

Harmony raised her clinched fist, then snapped it out in a gesture to the swing. “How long are you going to keep pretending this elephant doesn’t exist? Damn you, Grace! Not looking doesn’t make it go away. It doesn’t stop. It never stops.”

Grace’s gaze started a cold war, her fear shifting into resistance as she locked eyes with Harmony. It had to come to an end though, and they both knew it. Grief seeped in when her resistance cracked.

She turned to the swing, then became the girl looking at her phone. Her reflection fled as the phone lit and rang anew. The caller ID displayed an image of Daniel hugging Grace where their smiles shone brightly.

“Hey, Danny,” she greeted, sorrow in her voice.

Harmony exhaled. I know it sucks, but you can’t grow while avoiding this. Her shoulders sagged as she moved and sat on the opposite side of the tree. She looked to the sunset and listened while the call ran its course.

“What’s got you so upset?” Daniel asked.

“It’s nothing,” Grace sobbed. “I don’t want you worried.”

“And you crying without explanation isn’t a cause for worry? Tell me what happened. I won’t let it distract me.”

“You promise?” Grace asked.

“I promise,” he replied.

“I had some tests done. They told me. They said... it’s in my stomach and progressed too far.”

“What has?”



“I don’t want to lose you, Daniel.”

You lose me?”

“Yeah... what will happen to us?”

You know I’m no good at these things. But I think I’ll be on the right.”


“The groom. Aren’t we on the right?”

“But didn’t you hear what I said?”

“Yes? But unless it means we switch sides, those things aren’t related.”

She sobs. “Why are you like this?”

“Again, I’m not the best here, but I think it goes ‘in sickness and in health.’”

“But that doesn’t count yet.”

“Sure it does. We’re just in the Grace-period.”


“It’s fine, Grace. This doesn’t change anything between us, and I’ll return as soon as this tour’s up.”

“I wish I was stronger... like you.”

Harmony’s attention shifted as a leaf fell into her lap. It’s a lie, Grace. You’re the only one capable of strength here. You both know you’re already on the train there’s no getting off of. You still have a task left undone which is something you should have been working ages ago.

Once you disappear beyond the horizon, his compass goes too so leave him something to find his way. Be strong. Build a lighthouse out of that strength, then mount it atop this train so that it can be seen above the horizon. Because without it, his only course will be to crash into the rock used in the gravestone you leave behind.

Save him, Grace.

WC: 800

I welcome any and all feedback! There's likely some tense shifting in here somewhere, so feel free to point that out! Thank you!

Previously on Duality: Harmony

Part 2

Part 1


Cody_Fox23 OP t1_j51uxsk wrote

Thank you for your submission; it has been scored at 14 points!


xo_pallas t1_j4xtqil wrote

(edited to include title)




There's too much time for reflection, these days. Too easy to sit up, sit down, say nothing. Their thoughts run quickly- too quickly- everything they say gets caught behind their teeth. That's not my name. You're a bit of a dick. What do you think you're doing? Can we leave now? I don't want to be here. I don't want to be here with you. I don't want to be with you.


But they don't try and interrupt. They sink into the couch, down, down, down. Watching the smiles and smirks they flash each other throughout the back and forth (his smile shone brilliantly- that's, perhaps, the only honest compliment they can give him).


Eventually their drink runs out, and they have a reason to escape from the conversation. They flow through the party wordless- a familiar specter flitting alongside drunken dancers and high spectators.


It's not the first party they've attended. Not the first party they've attended with him. They've gotten good at being able to tell how long they can spend in the bathroom, in front of the mirror. Just- staring. Their reflection looks tired. A little pale. When was the last time they'd eaten?


They haven't had much of an appetite, lately. Eating forces them out of their room, into the kitchen, makes them vulnerable for conversation with their roommates. They always feel like they've misquemed, somehow. That they committed some unspeakable wrong by returning to his side.


Their fingers twitch against the porcelain, too weak to strangle it. So what if they did? They can't tell them that- then there'd just be a litany of we told you so, you should've known, what did you think was going to happen?


Nothing. Really. Maybe they thought he'd have grown up in their years apart. Maybe they thought he'd gotten better, somehow. But he's just gotten better at talking. That's all. Talking them into coming back, into partying, into trying whatever's on the fucking table. He settles back into the well-worn grooves of their skin, a childhood friend turned lover turned-


They glance away from their grimace, down into the empty sink. A frantic, heavy knock rattles the door and they sink in on themselves, shoving off the sink and running a hand through their greasy, unwashed hair.


Their time alone had come to an end.


Returning back to the coach feels like a jury's verdict.


Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.


Cody_Fox23 OP t1_j551qwa wrote

Thank you for the submission; it has scored 10 points!


atcroft t1_j5ccq2t wrote

Two figures trudged across the windswept heath, approaching the solitary remnant of an archaic forest.

“Hello, old friend,” Ginger’s mom said kneeling at the base of the battered trunk, stroking it lightly.

“Why’d you leave?” Ginger asked as she dropped her backpack beneath its looming shadow.

Closing her eyes in reflection, she spoke softly, her words almost kidnapped by the wind. “Why does any child run away from home, barring a bad situation? Anger, naivety, curiosity, a feeling of mental superiority of youth over age. Maybe a little of all of it.”

She traced a sign on the bark with her fingertip, whispering softly. “It is me, Holly Seiliewight of the Fae, born in the year Edwin fell in battle against Cadwallion and Penda. I see the centuries haven’t been kind to you or your descendants.” A tear rolled down her cheek, until she wiped it from her cheek onto the gnarled bark. “I hope my leaving didn’t misqueme; you were my best friend.”

Ginger watched her mom. “What happened?”

“You have to understand, we are a very long-lived people; births are rare among us.” She looked up at her daughter. “At one time the Fates had been kind to us; their smile shown brightly. But as with all things the time of our people--it had come to an end. There had been no growth in us; in fourteen centuries, you and I were the last to be born among us.”

Holly turned, leaning against the ancient sentinel. “As man spread we retreated into the wild, untamed places they were not. They became as much legends among us as we to them; so much so I doubted their existence when I heard the stories.

“I was a mere child, barely a century a score and one when I encountered my first--a scraggly, emaciated thing, exhausted and on the run. He scampered from behind a tree, collapsing at my feet. When I carried him home my parents were furious. ‘You should’ve left it.’ ‘You don’t know where that’s been.’ ‘It can’t let others know about us.’ I was in shock--I’d never heard anyone talk that way about a living thing, much less a semi-intelligent one.

“I hid him in a delve beside the river and tried to nurse him to health. Alas, he was too sick and never regained his senses; I buried him at the base of the tree where I found him. But it made me curious about these humans who were spreading like locusts across our wildlands.

“For the next two centuries I secretly collected every scrap from humanity that I could--my collection grew to fill the delve where I had hid him. That was, until the afternoon my father found me returning with my latest find.

“He was wroth with me, said my collecting was dangerous and would be the downfall of the fae.

“I remember yelling back that ignorance and mistrust would be the downfall, that we needed to know more about them.

“He roared on that humans were evil, that they couldn’t be trusted, that they would break... everything they touched. Including my heart, if I let one that close.

“The longer we went at it, the hotter it got. That afternoon words were said on both sides, words that cut deeply and made wounds that took decades for me to get past,” Holly said sadly. “When I ran past him and out the delve, I didn’t expect that to be the last time I would see him.”

“You didn’t go back?” Ginger asked.

“Eyes bleary I ran until my lungs and legs burned; I don’t know how far I ran--I curled in a hollow as the wind howled and storm clouds crashed together through the night. In the morning I struck out in the direction I thought was home, but instead encountered a human hamlet.

“Their languages were easy enough to pick up, and my knowledge of the wood allowed me to find work as a healer. I moved from town to town, learned to be quiet but useful. If I admit it he was right, so I kept enough distance. Across the isles, the continent, and eventually to the Americas, I observed, I learned, I grew. It wasn’t until I turned a corner--smacking into your dad--that I lost my heart. But... if that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have you,” she said, smiling at Ginger.

Ginger smiled, focused on the stump. She traced again the sign as she had seen her mother make, exhaled, and stated firmly, “I am Ginger Seiliewight, daughter of Holly, born in the year of the swine flu.”

The sign began to glow, the ashen gray around the stump turning earthen and the sky brightening. A deep, sleepy voice boomed around them, “Holly?”

“Father?” Holly replied, startled.

(Word count: 797. Please let me know what you like/dislike about the post. Thank you in advance for your time and attention. Other works can also be found linked in r/atcroft_wordcraft.)

Part 1: Smash ‘Em Up Sunday: Urban Fantasy

Part 2: Smash ‘Em Up Sunday: Temporal Fiction


Cody_Fox23 OP t1_j5f6t48 wrote

Thank you for your submission; you have scored 14 points!


wordsonthewind t1_j5dcl8x wrote

Chloe knew from a young age that she didn't belong.

"What's wrong with you?" Her mother had asked her more than once. "We give you everything and you still complain. You know, most children actually look forward to growing up."

Chloe knew better though. Growth just made problems get bigger. She had to find a way out before she got trapped.

She joined a self-improvement chat, pretending to look for study tips, then followed the talks and links in private channels from there. That was when she'd first learned about hopping. Chloe had always thought you needed to use a time machine or portal magic to go to other places and times. But apparently, all you really needed was the power of your mind.

She looked up instructions and success stories. The Mirror Method seemed promising. You sat between two mirrors in a dimly lit room and repeated a set of affirmations. Done correctly, you would find yourself in a parallel world, shuffled there through the mirrors' infinite reflections. She'd had to scrounge a hand mirror from her mom's dressing table, but the bathroom mirror was big and she'd hoped that would make up for it.

But she was still here. Nothing had changed. Nothing would ever change, she would never get away, she would never be free.

She couldn't think like that. In all the worlds out there, there was one where things were better. If she couldn't go there, maybe someone could come to her. Someone strong and smart and brave, who knew her like she knew herself.

Chloe didn't know any methods for that, so she just closed her eyes and wished.

And just like that, there they were.

"Hi!" they said. "Am I you? That's kinda confusing. I'm me and you're you. Isn't that simpler?"

Chloe laughed. She was too old for imaginary friends, but she'd used the mirrors and done the affirmations. This was meditation. Having a mental mastermind meeting like in her dad's self-help books. Yeah, that was it.

"Would you like to see my room?" she asked her alternate self.

Their smile shone brightly. "I'd love that."

She swiped an old compact mirror from her mother's dressing table. Under the big old tree in the schoolyard, she opened the mirror and did her meditations.

"I don't know what your world is like," her alternate self said. "What if I get stuff wrong because things are different over here?"

The solution, they both decided, was to read more books over here and try to compare notes. Their school library didn't have a lot of books but the librarian was happy to help them out. She gave them one or two old books each week with strict instructions to be careful with them.

"What does that mean?" Chloe wondered one afternoon under the tree, pointing to a word in the book they were reading.

"Misquemed," her alternate self said. "Hmm. I think it means 'like a mosquito'."

Chloe skimmed the rest of the passage. It seemed strange to talk about mosquito-likeness here but she didn't know if it was wrong either. They copied the word, then went to the school library. Luckily, there was a big old dictionary all the way in the back.

"Well, it means mosquito-like where I'm from," her alternate self said afterwards.

Chloe grinned. "It's okay. I'm never gonna use it anyways-"

"Oh look," someone else said. "It's the freak."

Chloe turned around. It was Ashleigh and her boyfriend Henry. Why were they here? They always snuck out to the mall with their friends at lunchtime.

"They come here to hold hands," her other self whispered. "Henry thinks his friends'll call him a sissy otherwise."

Chloe stood a little taller. "It'll take more than that to misqueme me!"

Ashleigh sneered, but Henry stepped forward.

"You're talking funny," he said. "I'll fix your head real quick-"

He raised a fist, and that was when Chloe hit him with the dictionary.

Everyone left her alone after that.

They had to part ways sooner or later. Chloe was graduating this year, moving on to high school. A bigger class with students who hadn't known her or each other since they were all in first grade. A fresh start.

"I don't know how much longer I can stay here," her other self said. "I'll be busy with school too, so..."

Chloe nodded. Her parents had been clear that she had to stop staring into mirrors and do something useful with her life. "I understand. You taught me a lot. Thank you for everything."

Her other self laughed. "Thank you for letting me see your world for a while. Wanna know a secret?"

At Chloe's nod, she leaned forward and whispered in her ear.

"You don't need the mirrors. You never did."


Cody_Fox23 OP t1_j5fakt0 wrote

Thank you for your submission; it has scored 9 points!


Carrieka23 t1_j4nf0m1 wrote

I'm in Love with my Childhood Friend?!

WPC: 675


I could remember this day like yesterday. A poor little sad me, playing with a broken airplane that a couple of no lives decided to break. I was known as the sunshine kid, but they manage to darken it. I wouldn't mind the teasing and picking, but they went too far.

"Boom...boom..." I sadly put the airplane down on the grass, tears falling on the small roof.

"Umm, are you sad?" A voice causes me to look up. It was the same boy around my age, wearing the same summer shorts style I'm wearing. He reaches under his pocket and gives me a brand-new airplane.

My eyes quickly widened as I grab the airplane, hugging it tightly. "T-Thank you!" I said, looking at them.

"You're welcome. I'm Thomas!"

"Henry! Would you like to play with me?"

Their quickly nodded, sitting right next to me.

Since then, we both became best friends. We both knew at some point, it had to come to an end. Not our friendship though, but our little kiddy fun.

"You really have grown over the past couple of years, Thomas," I joked.

"You really think so? Be honest, how old do I look?" He asks, revealing his business suit he picked out. It was a normal black and white business suit, but he made sure to iron it extra good the day before.

"Age 20," I joked.

"I'm not talking about age here! Come on, man" He sighs. "Plus, we both promise to work together, so I'm doing this for you"

"Alright alright" I chuckle. "You look very handsome"

Thomas cheeks instantly turn rose red as he looks away, trying to hide his embarrassment.

"Thanks. I hope I get the job soon,"

"You will! Our boss is very nice" I grinned, wrapping my arms around him. "Now, I want to see that smile again. I miss it"

Thomas turns to me, their smile shore brightly, it made my heart flusher.

Both me and Thomas realize we have feelings for each other, but we both are guys. We did say if we continue having those feelings once we reach adulthood, we'd start going out. Obviously, we still have those feelings. It's now just the matter of who's going to confess first.

"Well, we're here!" I said, pointing to the huge building.

"It's huge" Thomas said, trying his best to control the anxious feeling.

"Hey, it's okay to be nervous," I said, gently holding his hand. "Just take deep breaths, walk in there, and demine an interview!" I joked. "But of course, I'm jo-"

Before I could finish though, Thomas immediately walks to the building.

"Wait, Thomas!" I shouted, running inside.

"Yay, I got the job!" Thomas shouted, jumping up and down excitedly.

"Yeah, and you almost did the joke," I sigh, leaning back against my chair. "Well, you know what you doing right?"

Thomas nodded. "But, why a call-center?"

"Well, for now it's the best job I could deal with. Later on though, I do want to become something more serious. Like a nurse".

"I'm sure you'll get the money someday, Kev," He grinned stroking my hair.

My face slowly begins to feel warm as I lean against his touch.

"Sorry, I shouldn't do it at work" He quickly pulls his hand away, hiding his red face.

A chuckle escapes my lips. I want to tease him so bad, but I don't want to break my professional.

"You know, I couldn't help but reflect".

"Hm? On what?"

"When we were kids. We would always play around and have fun. Now, we both are adults, and we have to take life very serious".

That is something both me and Thomas reflected on heavy. Life was fun, but slowly, it became more stressful and even unfair to us. What's even more unfair, is that we both like each other, but can't say it.

"Hey, Thomas. How about we both go to dinner after work today," I said, hiding my red face. Even though life is unfair, I decided to take the first step.



Cody_Fox23 OP t1_j504982 wrote

Thank you for your submission; it has scored 9 points!


oracleofaal t1_j5crr5q wrote

Cat's in the Cradle

Jacket zipped up tight, Natalie sat on the porch swing, her weekend bag tucked under, and one strap wrapped around her leg. She tapped the screen of the phone in her lap to wake it up and checked the time. 7:30 pm. Then she checked her notifications. Nothing from him.

She wrapped her fingers around the phone as though it were a softball and raised her arm overhead to throw it at the tree in the middle of the overgrown weed-filled yard that was threatening to invade the porch. Natalie grunted and dropped her arm. She had broken two phones this year and if she broke another, she knew that neither parent would get her another. Her eyes began to glisten and she sniffed.

Shortly after 8 pm, her mother opened the front door, wrapped her arms around herself and shivered.

“Why don’t you come in, sweetheart?”

“Did he message you?” Natalie asked in an accusing tone.

“No. No, he didn’t. And I wouldn’t expect him to talk to me. You know we don’t speak without lawyers present”

“I know.” She choked on a sob. “I had just hoped that this time…” Natalie trailed off as her mother unfurled, moved to sit next to her on the swing and wrapped her daughter in a fierce hug.

“Oh my baby girl.”

“Moooom. I’m 16! I’m not a baby.” Natalie’s mother cleared her throat and held her at arms length.

“I don’t care what age I am, or what age you are. You will always be my baby girl. I will always see you as the newborn I brought home from the hospital. The curious infant. The adventurous toddler. The strong-willed teenager. Let’s go inside before I freeze.”

“Okay,” the stubborn teenager replied and wiped her eyes with sleeve of her jacket.


The next morning, Natalie awoke to find a slew of text messages from her father received between 1 and 3 am.

‘I’m sorry Nat I got caught up at work’

“Okay,” the stubborn teenager replied and wiped her eyes with the sleeve of her jacket.

‘Are u mad at me’

‘You know I don’t mean to misqueme u’

‘Fine. I’m going to bed. Text me tomorrow. We can catch a movie or something.’

After reading through the messages several times, she groaned, rolled over and buried her head under her pillows.

A knock sounded from the door. Then a slight squeak as it was opened.

“Good morning slugabed. It’s almost noon.” Her mother’s pleasant voice was muffled by the pillows. A moment later, she felt the weight of her mother sitting on the bed next to her. Natalie grunted as she turned over, pulled the pillow off her face and sat up.

“I made your favorite chocolate chai latte.”

“Thanks mom,” she said as she reached for the warm cup in her mother’s hands. “He was apparently working late last night.” Nat sighed. “Wait, did you say noon?”

“Almost, it’s like 11:30.”

“I thought you had brunch with your book club today? Shouldn’t you be hanging out with them?” Natalie buried her nose in her cup to smell the chai and avoid her mother’s gaze.

“There will be others. I felt that my baby might need me more.”

“I’m going to text Dad and we’re going to go to the movies,” she said into her cup. Her mother reached out a hand and squeezed her leg through the layer of blankets.

“Well, why don’t we make brunch until he gets here? French toast?” Nat looked up, a shy smile spreading over her face.

“French toast with that berry stuff?”

“And whipped cream!” Their smiles echoing each other were bright. Her mom jumped up and danced out the door. The young lady still abed giggled.

That gave her enough motivation to respond to her father. She quickly searched for an evening movie that she wanted to see and sent the details to him. It wasn’t long before he responded.

'Jen msged, something about a leak, Imma go over and help her sorry kiddo, maybe next weekend will be easier’

Natalie stared at the message from her so-called father. Tears welled up in her eyes and slid silently down her cheeks. This ability to toy with her emotions; it had to come to an end. Fingers flying over her phone she typed her reply.

‘Joseph, upon further reflection, I have decided that until you are ready to make me, your only daughter, a priority, I don’t want to spend weekends or summer with you. If all I am is a checkbox on your to-do list then you are not really my dad. I hope that you and your work enjoy each other. Peace. ~Natalie’

She hit send. Tears dried up and she sat up a little bit as though a weight had been lifted.


(WC: 800)


Cody_Fox23 OP t1_j5f716g wrote

Thank you for your submission; it has scored 12 points!


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