Podcast Sprints

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Today’s Prompt: What if someone who can’t forgive needs forgiveness?
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Here he was, in the waiting area of Cantonese House, for the last time it seemed. There was no reason to come back to this side of town, except for special dinners on occasions like this, and Tommy had no desire to ever endure another occasion like this one. 

He’d really blown it this time – and the scene needed to be set just right. 

What did she expect, though, he mused, traveling as much as she did for business, leaving him to fend for himself. There was no one there to greet him when he got home, the kids having left for college and all the dogs having long since gone to their eternal resting spots in the backyard. There wasn’t even the happy chatter of a canary available to keep him company.

Tommy brought his mind back to the restaurant and noticed for the first time the hostess was just a bit taller than his own daughter.  He got up and meandered over to the corner of a room near the hostess stand where a fish performed idle circles in a dirty tank as the children waiting for tables distracted themselves tapping by on the glass.  It was a thinly veiled attempt to get a better look at the girl in a non-creepy way – she just reminded him of his daughter, is all. Millie had reached five seven and a half the last time he’d measured, and then had stopped asking – volleyball and debate club friends having long since replaced any curiosity about whether or not she had “finally caught up to Daddy.”

“Some day she’ll be sorry she’s not around to hear my good advice,” Tommy whispered to the fish. 

“Burke, party of two,” the hostess said. Tommy walked to their table with his head held high, the same way he’d done on the evening of their proposal. As he passed the same sea of anonymous faces, all of course turning in his direction to see the handsome and obviously very important man who had just entered the room he remembered the ridiculous sensation, so many years ago, of the the ring literally vibrating as though it were desirous itself to leap from its hiding place in his jacket pocket and onto Toni’s finger. He’d wanted so badly to capture her, he realized now. 

“But she’s not a woman you can keep, not that way, at least,” he mused, as the waiter blathered on about the specials. Tommy allowed himself to be talked into a decent red and then glanced over at a fidgeting sap in a suitcoat that obviously belonged to his father, working desperately to impress a young girl in a cheap dress who looked astonished at even being able to afford to go to a place as fancy as Cantonese House.

“That’s what I should have done,” Tommy mused, “found myself a girl willing to accept this as fancy.” He chuckled and bit into one of the crispy breadsticks the restaurant offered, decoratively placed in tall glass vases in the center of every table. He munched it in haste, taking big greedy bites.

Today’s Prompt: “‘Twas the night before NaNo and all through he house…”
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“Never have three words given men more ire than “some assembly required,” Jerry said, launching the multi-fold rectangle of yellowing paper across the room.

Actually, due to the heft of the paper, it flopped pathetically to the floor rather than launching, but I knew what he’d intended by the motion, so I was prepared to be appropriately sympathetic.

“Yeah, it’s kind of hard to put this together,” I agreed, glad nothing more was required of me, as I sat happily assembling the Lego dollhouse I’d purchased for the girls. 

“Well, this is ridiculous and unnecessary,” he grouses.

You were the one who insisted JJ would want a unicycle,” I say, sorting through the tray for another white one-by.

“At least my gift is for him,” Jerry says, and I remove and set down my readers.

“What, exactly, is that supposed to mean?”

“It means, you don’t seem to be ‘struggling’ so much to get your gift put together. I don’t even remember seeing “dollhouse” on the girls’ list, much less, “lego dollhouse,” though I do seem to remember your childhood tales of folding down the corner of every page featuring the lego building kit back when your Mom still got the Sears Roebuck.”

“Look, just because you drew the short straw and had to deal with JJ’s gift this year-”

“We did not draw straws.”

“We’ll, you’re the man, you should be the one to buy the boy’s gifts.”

“But you’re the one who actually shares his interests! You should be the one buying for him.”

“Jerry, if I got him a lego kit, he’d want to put it together himself.”


“Wait, what are we even arguing about?” I say, after a diffusing moment behind my glass of iced tea. 

“I’m just frustrated,” Jerry says, and I have to cover my laugh with another sip of tea. My poor husband is ankle deep in chrome and rubber and gaskets and bing crosby is ridiculously singing “silver bells” in the background.
“What’s so funny,” Jerry asks, noticing my laugh, after all, I guess.
“Nothing. I say. I stand and move to where he is and slip my arms around his waist. I lay my head on his chest. “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole comes on and we stand quietly for a moment. I am glad to hear Jerry’s heart settle into a gentle rhythm alongside the music.

 I am enveloped in the love and light so celebrated during this season of hope, and think about our many blessings and trials since the last time we were in this room together, doing this very thing. I become overwhelmed with love.
Just as I’m  beginning to wonder if things might turn romantic, the disc jockey picks that moment to spin “Dominic the Donkey.” Jerry of course starts moving his knee in a bobbing motion along to the song, and I know exactly what needs to happen.

“He-haw, he-haw”, I sing along, and jerry starts galloping around the room as thought riding a horse. 

Laughing, I pick up an allen-wrench and retrieve the directions.

“Now, let’s see if we can tackle this together.”

Today’s Prompt: Location, location, location…
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“I should have known it would never work.” Karen jammed the cigarette into the overflowing ashtray with a ferocity that belied the even her of his voice. 

“You ran the numbers, it was a promising investment.” Kevin flipped the folder he was holding closed and slid it gingerly across the desk to his client.

“I’m sure you’ll want to liquidate. You should give me a call when you’re ready for me to bring in my people.” he stood to leave, but she said his name, and he turned back to look at her. For the first time in forever, he saw her the way he’d seen her for the first three years of their relationship, when she had still been able to make time for rollerblading in the park and submarine sandwiches down by the pier. 

Her suit was well-tailored and her eyes were dry – she’d laid crying aside as easily as she’d shed her second skin, or maybe it had been her third, her first being the woman she thought she’d become during grad school, her second being the woman she was when she’d been married to him – but still she looked like a little girl behind that big polished desk. 

“What is it?” he asked, recognizing he was letting his fear drive his impatience. He closed the door and turned to give her his full attention. 

She pressed her lips together, and he thought he might have noticed the glint of a tear. Finally, after an eternity during which every moment with her spun through his mind in a dizzying array of conflicting emotions, when the turmoil she’d caused him since the day she’d walked into his life started to feel unbearable, she spoke.

“I really appreciate what you’ve done for me, but I will no longer be requiring your services.”

Today’s Prompt: “If only the directions had been more clear.”
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Time Allotted: 15 minutes (timer has already started when livestream begins)

He had only been to Ikea once. It was to buy that ill-fated bookcase, the one upon which a stack of novels sat, waiting to be read – until the day he left, as it turned out – with nary a mote of dust disturbed on the slick, glossy covers.

He wondered now about the fate of the other objects in that rented room – the refrigerator with the slow leak, the stove with only three working burners. He wondered if they stood, like sentries, watching over the comings and goings of new tenants, or if they, like the bookcase, had met a sad end. 

“Could have got a nice bit of money for that fridge at the scrapyard,” he mused, then cursed as he realized he’d said the words out loud – at least according to the raised brows of the lady in fancy shoes having coffee with her red-faced girlfriend at the counter. 

He picked up his fork and shoved the hashbrowns around on his plate, but his appetite was gone now, spoiled like that old bookcase. 

He’d left it for her – this first thing they’d ever purchased together. He remembered making the decision to do so as intentionally as he had made the decision to propose all those tumultuous years ago. 

And she had put it on the curb.

He remembered seeing it for the first time, in a mid-november drizzle as he drove past – only three months after he’d moved out, and only two days after the new orange Chevy started parking overnights in her driveway.

He’d driven by to see it – the nightstand, not the Chevy, though its monstrous form in the driveway looked every bit the challenger – every day thereafter, knowing on Wednesday morning the trash collection made its weekly rounds.

More than once, he’d thought about picking it up.

Only once, on Monday night, he’d stopped.

Today’s Prompt: Use these five words: nut, thoughtless, jewel, order, analyze
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It was thoughtless of me to make a nut roll for the gift exchange. I knew about the allergies and dietary restrictions. Somehow, I couldn’t bring myself to care as I dug in the pantry for last halloween’s stale marshmallows and cobbled together enough powdered sugar from the remnants of four opened bags. 

I looked at those ripped empty sleeves – one of them apparently ripped open by my teeth in a moment of frustration (will those kids ever learn to put those scissors back?!) and marveled at how much powdered sugar I managed to go through, in spite of my resistance to anything remotely considered ‘domestic.’

“That’s the allergy I have,” I mutter to myself. I’m allergic to homemaking.

“Mom, I just got a text from Jenny,” my teenaged daughter enters the room as though a fleet of trumpeteers had just minutes ago announced her arrival. I love her confidence and admire the work she has done on her posture but I make a mental note to order that parenting CD I’ve had sitting in my Amazon cart for the past two weeks.  “She is bringing Craig to the party. Can you believe it?”

“After the way he treated you? What kind of friend is that?”
“I know, right?” Her anger is as flimsy as the top she is wearing and it disintegrates like gelatin in warm water when she sees my mixing bowl on the counter.

“What are you making?” She has that certain look on her face so I pre-emptively correct her.

“Keep your hands out of that bowl, young lady.” She frowns, then picks the bowl up and sniffs.

“Smells good.”

“It ought to. I used that expensive vanilla your Dad’s boss brought us from Puerto Rico.”

“What is it? Or are you somehow punishing me by withholding that information?”

“Don’t you want to be surprised?”

“Absolutely not! You know how I feel about these things. I need to know there’s going to be something at least remotely palatable before I go so that I can eat in advance if I have to.”

“How does that work?” I shake my head. “I spend an arm and a leg on all thse ingredients-”

“Mom, you literally scrounged this stuff from the back of the cupboards.” 

“…and that’s what is supposed to feed you tonight, not still more food from my vastly depleting reserves.”

“Okay, so I guess I’m hitting Burger King beforehand?”
“Unless you think you can fill up on a heaping helping of nut roll.”

“Uum, no. I’ll see you later.”

Today’s Prompt: Use these words: conceive, debut, weapon, advance sandwich

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“See that guy?” Jerry lifted his head in the direction of a tall, skinny man leaning against a shovel.

“Yeah, I see him.” Kevin was annoyed that the digging had stopped, but figured as he was the new guy on the crew it was best he keep pace with the foreman. He took advantage of the opportunity and slipped his hands out of his workgloves, drying them on his jeans. He wondered absently if he had a dry pair in the car. He grimaced.

“Wouldn’t likely matter none,” he thought, “I’d sweat right through them in a matter of minutes.”

“Anyway, that guy over there, we call him ‘Wimpy.’”

“Wimpy?” Kevin removed his mopcloth from his back pocket and swiped at his neck and forehead with it. “On acconta he’s so scrawny, or what?”

“Oh, no,” Jerry laughed and rocked back on his shovel. “On accounta he’s so much like that tubby fella from the Popeye cartoons.”

“Popeye?” Kevin arched a brow. “You’re aging yourself, bud.”

“I know, I know.” his grin widened. “Anyway, that guy there is already into me for one advance sandwich. He’s not aware that I charge interest.”

“What kind of interest are you talking about?” Kevin’s own grin was now artificially widened. He really just wanted to get the story over with and get back to digging. 

“Hey, Wimpy,” Jerry put his hands to his mouth in an attempt for his calls to be heard over the ruckus of the worksite. “Come on over here.”

It took a little bit more shouting and some grand hand gestures to communicate to the skinny fellow, but he eventually set his shovel against the wall and trotted over.

“Hey, there, Wimpy. This is the new guy, Kevin.”

“Good to meet ya.” The young man grabbed and pumped Kevin’s hand with a decent amount of vigor, but Kevin grimaced at the feel of the sweat-sodden rawhide against his own dry palm.

“Look here, Wimpy,” Jerry continued, “I was just telling Kevin here how you owe me for that sandwich I gave ya.”

“Oh, it was a real good one, too.” The kid’s eyes drifted closed and he leaned backward and made large, dramatic circles on his non-existent stomach, which he appeared to be attempting to protrude.  “I sure hope you told Linda how much I appreciated it.”

“I did, I did indeed, Wimpy,” Jerry said, and winked at Kevin. “In fact, she got so flustered hearing me talk about how much you liked that sandwich, she sent me another for you today, and a big old piece of icebox pie to go along with it.”

“She did not!” The young men’s eyes flew open and he snapped to attention so quickly Kevin had to turn away to hide his laughing reaction.

“She did, indeed!” Jerry said. “And she was wondering… you know… if you might have some time after work tonight.. I mean, if you have nothing going on, if you might help her out with that new garden bed she was thinking of putting in on the other side of the property.”

“Oh, yessir. You mean that piece you’ve been planning on digging up yourself for some time now.”

“That’s the ticket,” Jerry said. I shook my head, incredulous, but I was also impressed. It seemed like a match made in heaven.

“Well,” Jerry said, “We can’t stand here yacking against our shovels all day. Let’s get back to it.”

“Yes sir,” I said, and resumed digging.

Today’s Prompt: “I’ve Been Framed”
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Brian read the headline as he chewed a bagel. It was the first he’d heard of the Merriweather case and he found it an interesting diversion from the mess that was waiting for him back at the office. The woman making the statement was one Alexandria Merriweather. She’d been busted for inside trading and was looking at a considerable amount of time inside.

Brian gave a low whistle as he ran his eyes over the image of the distraught Ms. Merriweather. He wondered what it would be like to see those lashes, and those legs, in person. As he took another bite of his everything with green onion schmear, he allowed his mind to fantasize that Alexandria Merriweather had, at his behest – maybe he needed her help with a fashion decision, choosing an outfit for the upcoming company Christmas party, let’s say –  left her interview with the fellow in DC and hit the road immediately to come to his aid. By his calculations, she should came walking through the door of the Waffle House right about…

 “You need anything else?” The waitress who appeared with a pot of coffee and sloshed some into his still quite full cup was not not Alexandria Merriweather live and in technicolor. She was a dumpy middle-aged woman wearing cheap clothes and a dirty apron. Her hair fell from a ponytail in long, greasy strands. Wispy sprigs of it sprung from the top of her head in a halo of frizz.

“Yes I do,” Brian said, folding his paper and then his hands upon it. “I need to know why you choose to come to work looking so bedraggled.”

“Excuse me, sir?” The waitress did not seem angry, only confused.

“Here, young woman,” He said, reaching into his pants pocket. “I’m going to give you one hundred dollars.”

“Gee, thanks, sir!”

“On one condition.” Brian held the folded bill up, elbow bent and on the table. He leaned toward the girl and squinted up at her nametag. “Daisy. Is that your name?”

The girl also looked at her own nametag, as though she was not sure, herself.

“Yes, sir.”

“Okay then, daisy. You take this money, and you get yourself together. Maybe get your hair done. Buy some new work clothes. Okay?”

“Gee, thanks, mister!”

Brian slid from the booth and tapped the brim of his hat to the line cook on the way out.


“Shoot. Did he just do what I think he done?” Scotty hopped the counter to stand next to Daisy.

“Sure did. Left me a hundred smackers.” 

She beamed up at him.

“It’s going to be a fun weekend.”

Today’s Prompt: Attempt to use these words in your story: Moral, Palace, Behead, Support, Employ
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Allison wasn’t sure what to make for the potluck. She was tired of her usuals – soda cracker candy, melted white chocolate over puffcorn. She knew she’d disappoint the children, but she was determined to bring something savory.

She opened her Pinterest boards in search of inspiration. Sadly, nothing she had saved in any of her folders piqued her interest – that is, until out of the corner of her eye she saw a bright red font proclaiming, “Impress your friends with this unusual dish.”

Allison smiled and knew this was what she would bring to the potluck.


Teresa glanced at the clock and winced. Thirty minutes. She had thirty minutes before she was going to meet her best friend’s new girlfriend. That meant she had thirty minutes to figure out how to stare the woman she wished most in the world would vanish off its face and still remain pleasant.
It shouldn’t be difficult, she’d been raised to handle such matters with decorum. Unfortunately, the signs that this meeting would go well just weren’t there – Tommy had made it clear that she and his new main squeeze shared very little in tastes.

“Except for in one very particular area,” she groused silently as she purchased a container of discounted donuts – (Tommy’s favorite variety, nonetheless, score!) through the self check out lane.


Each girl arrived and looked with disdain upon the offering of the other. Allison did not care one bit for Teresa’s nasty stale donuts, and Teresa didn’t even know what to think about Allison’s tomato aspic.She decided to remain silent until she could think of something positive to say.

Today’s Prompt: Attempt to use these words in your story: Moral, Palace, Behead, Support, Employ
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Jennifer was twelve when she learned the fate of Marie Antoinette. The truth was revealed to her by a copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica she’d chosen out of desperation while stuck in her piano teacher’s sitting room waiting to be picked up after practice.

The reasons for Marie’s execution held no interest for Jennifer, but the manner of her death fascinated and terrified her.

The idea consumed her thoughts as she scuffed down the rain-slicked sidewalk to her mother’s waiting Subaru.

 Beheaded, she thought, her hand on her neck as she watched the droplets of rain chase each other down her car window. Later, she asked her older brother for supplemental information. She’d asked him because he was crazy about history. 

Unfortunately, his favorite part of the Antoinette story turned out to be the “cool science” behind how a human head behaves once disconnected from its host. “My history teacher told me, they could still wink after.”

“You’re making that up,” she said, in a voice far more confident than she felt.

“Am not.” It was obvious to Jennifer that he couldn’t care less whether she thought he was making it up, or not. Still, he explained.

“Some guy wrote down how he asked his friend – he headed for the chopping block, you know.” He slid an index finger across his adam’s apple. “He asked him to try, if he could, to wink after the act. And guess what?”

Of course, Jennifer knew the answer: what motivation would her brother have to tell the story if the outcome wasn’t spectacular? Still, she couldn’t speak. Her hand went to her throat again as she gave a weak little shrug.

“He held that severed head high,” her brother demonstrated, extending  a straight arm with a fist at the end, and looking critically at some imagined person’s residual decapitation (? LOL)

She somehow managed to put the idea of beheading out of her mind for a few days; Monday happened and brought with it times tables tests and new spelling words, but the word, “palace” appeared there, and she jumped when her eyes fell upon it, as though the word had leapt at her from its hiding spot behind a tombstone in a dark cemetery. Of course, she wasn’t scared so much as jolted back into that scene her brother had painted for her – a severed head held high giving the world one final jaunty wink.

Today’s Prompt: NO PROMPT But I wrote a Drabble.
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To celebrate, we each wrote a Drabble – a 100 word story.
Since writing a Drabble is a particular challenge (pieces MUST be EXACTLY 100 words), the ladies on the podcast voted not to have to also perform a sprint today.
I can’t say as I blame them. It is difficult to get an entire story out in just one hundred words, including a beginning, middle and end. It is much MORE difficult to do that and then make sure you have not gone OVER the word count limit!
See? ^^^ 105 words already and I haven’t “said” anything! :p

Anyway, tune in today at 10 AM Eastern to hear our Drabbles and a selection of Drabbles created by our AWESOME audience! (that’s YOU!)

And before I go, I want to say, “thank you.” YOU, the VIEWER or LISTENER of our podcast are the reason we have been around for 100 episodes! So, thank you so very much for your support and encouragement.

Here’s to 100 episodes, and here’s looking forward to hundreds more!

See you on the podcast!

Today’s Prompt: “She had never seen a place so beautiful…”
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Katerina turned the ring over in her hand. It was the last thing her grandmother had given her before leaving for the new world – a world Katerina now believed she would never see with her own eyes – large and brown, like her Nanas.

She slipped the ring onto her finger and the stone swung to hang like a swinging peach on a skinny branch. It would be years before she would be able to wear it, she knew, but all good things came in their time, Nana always said.

“Rina, lunch,” her mother had finished the chores early. She would be in a good mood. Katerina slipped the ring back into it’s black velvet box and tucked it into her apron pocket.

“Tell me about Nana,” she said, when she’d grown tired of pushing her spaghetti-os around in the bowl and they’d started to remind her of the secret she had stashed beneath the table. Her mother grumbled, as she always did, about not having time to sit and chew fat, but perched, as she always did, on the cracked yellow vinyl of her combination step-stool and bar chair, removed her kerchief, and shook out her hair with one of her large, capable hands.

“Your grandmother is dead to me,” she said, in a tone that was supposed to let Katerina know she did not care one bit. But Katerina knew she cared. She cared about Nana’s ring.

“She had to go, Mama. She took a trip with Grandpop there. “To a place called, “Kentucky.” She said she had never seen a place so beautiful.”

“You know where is a more beautiful place?” Mama snapped her kerchief. “The most beautiful place is where your family is.”

She was off, then, about Grandma’s obligations to the family, the vacuum she had left in the community.
But she never said a word about any of Grandma’s dreams.

I went to my room and pulled the little velvet box out of my pocket.
I squeezed it as hard as I could, and I prayed that Grandma was thinking of me, perhaps while plucking something exotic from the skinny gnarled branch of a Kentucky fruit tree.

Today’s Prompt: “Spend the entire sprint describing the physical attributes of a single character.”
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Paul stood about six foot one, but he claimed an extra half inch to anyone who stopped long enough to listen. He took his coffee one cream, one sugar, though the list of people who knew this fact was dwindling, and he didn’t see opportunities to train a new “go fer” anywhere on his (admittedly, very short, now) horizon.

He had a hooked nose which he wiped with a hanky when he felt a drip, or when he felt nervous, which was mostly anytime he was talking to a lady, the unfortunate result of which being the big misunderstanding between he and Mrs. Lafferty about an allergy to her gooseberry pie. Of course, once the matter was settled, the married women in town sent their pies via husband-delivery service and the single ladies and widows remembered to mention how high the pollen count was the last time they checked it when they stopped by to sit on the porch a spell and drop off a basket of fried chicken or a bowl of layered ribbon jello. 

He had an old dog who spent most days sleeping near the toe of his worn work boots. He always wished he was a fancy enough man for cowboy boots, but something about a pointed toe didn’t go right with his stocky physique. Trying on cowboy boots was the only time he complained much about his build, though – he appreciated being strong, able to take on most chores that needed doin in spite of the fact that the face he took his blade to each morning seemed to have more creases to navigate lately and the whiskers that tickled the back of his neck from the place where they’d fallen into his shirt collar were salt and pepper now.

The coon dog didn’t seem to care how old he got, and the feeling was mutual. He’d seen the dog’s own decreptitude as a sort of mirror of his own, mostly believed watching the aging mutt was the one thing that kept im in check and aware that his life was slipping away.

“It’s okay,” he thought, “It can keep on slippin.”

He’d had enough of the struggle to stay in one place. The farm going back to the bank was just the first step of the long slide back, back to where he’d come from, back to the time before Lorraine and the kids and the drought and the terrible fights that sent her back to Chicago and the kids away to Art School and San Francisco.
He reached for his flask and braced himself for the punch of the shine on his lips, the way he had since he first tried the stuff as a boy of nine. He wondered: if anyone his Pa knew saw him today, would they think him a spector? Some sort of remnant cut away from the fabric of a man who had managed to accomplish something with his meger 45 years?  Paul had six on him and was fixin’ to start from scratch.
He bent down to pat the coon dog and muttered, “good boy,” then he put the flask to his lips again.

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