And the winner is…
Writing Challenge: Imagine yourself as the protagonist of an extraordinary journey. You are transported to a fictional world where anything is possible. Your task is to write a short story or narrative poem describing your adventure. Explore the sights, sounds, and emotions of this unknown realm. Let your creativity go to it’s limits as you encounter fantastical creatures, navigate uncharted territories, and face unexpected challenges. Share the triumphs, the trials, and the lessons learned along the way. Immerse the reader in the magic of your journey and ignite their imagination. The word limit for this challenge is 500 words. Let’s GO! Winner Gets $20.00 Via PayPal Or CashApp
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today, we gather here to celebrate the remarkable achievement of our writing contest's challenge winner. It is with great pleasure and admiration that I stand before you to congratulate
BJLeCrae, the brilliant mind behind the prose Fizzy and Mixx that earned them this well-deserved 20 bucks.
In conclusion, let us raise our glasses to Fizzy and Mixx, the charming characters of this writing contest. Your words have breathed life into characters, worlds, and emotions that will forever remain etched in the space time continuum of Prose.
Congratulations, your success is truly well-deserved, and I eagerly anticipate the literary wonders that you unveil in the future.
Fizzy and Mixx
"Dad's home. What are we going to tell him?"
"We're not going to tell him anything, Fizz."
"He's going to notice the fucking dog is missing, Mixx. He's not an idiot."
"Yes, he is. Mom only married him for his hair and biceps..."
"Yeah, don't remind me. We'll tell him we haven't seen Bailey and just play dumb."
"That's easy for you; you've only got a 167 IQ. I'm going to have to put on the performance of a lifetime."
"Four points, Fizz. Four tiny fucking IQ points, and I was hopped up on Paracetamol..."
"Hey girls, what's up?"
"Hey Fizz! You guys still working on the project?"
"Yeah, Mixxy's just working out some bugs."
"Bugs? It's almost noon. I would have thought you two would be celebrating unlocking the mysteries of the space-time continuum by now."
"It's the... time-space continuum, Father."
"Yeah... that's what they call it in this universe. So, what is this thing, Mixx?"
"Right now, I don't know what it is."
"Well, what does it do?"
"That's not true. It does something, we're just not sure what."
"Well, what's is supposed to do?"
"It supposed to facilitate the diffusion of molecules across a selectively permeable membrane between areas of higher to lower concentration, Father."
"Ohhh... so it's a ray gun!"
"Yes, it's a ray gun."
"Nice. Where's Bailey?"
"I don't know. I haven't seen him. Have you seen him, Fizz?"
"Well, I certainly don't see him now."
"Maybe he's in the back yard."
"Maybe... it's weird, he always greets me at the door. I figured he must be up here with you guys helping with your work on your ray gun thing..."
"Don't touch that!"
"Mixx! Fizz! Hold onto me!"
"I've got you!"
"What? What the hell? What's wrong with my voice? Are you hearing this?"
"You sound like a chipmunk... hahahaha! I sound like a chipmunk!"
"Why don't I sound... ooookay, I sound like a chipmunk, too. What the heck is going on, Mixxy? What kind of molecular diffusion... selectably permable..."
"Selectively permeable... it doesn't matter! That's not what it was. You wouldn't understand it anyway."
"Sure I would. Molecular diffusion... and selectively permeable... membranes and the... the other..."
"That's osmosis! I just gave you the definition of osmosis so you'd leave us alone to work on accelerator!"
"Accelerator?! What does it accelerate? Where the hell are we, Mixx?"
"I don't know! Ask Fizz! She's the smart one!"
"Only by four points! I don't know where we are! Everything's all fuzzy and blurry and..."
"Okay, let's all just calm down."
"Fizz! Fizz! Sit! Fizz! Mixx!"
"Who the heck is that?"
"It came from over there. Look, some... thing's coming."
"Sit! Fizz! Mixx!"
"Holy mother of crap! It's Bailey!"
"Bailey! You're talking!"
"Bailey talking. Good boy."
"Holy crap, Mixx. You've transported us into a parallel universe where dogs can talk!"
"What do we do now, Mixx?"
"I don't friggin' know! There's a 500-word limit!"
You as Me
Are we not so alike, you and I?
A conversation, it takes you,
never mind the particulars,
man, mutt, wall.
you can point to it,
something comes to mind?
Never mind, but before that.
Where is it?
My private hell,
you know it well,
Shameful pain, forever, hopelessly unredeemed.
Little White Rings
I don't usually tell folks about my own private Hell, and I had no intention of doing so here, despite the invitation, but a second invitation from LilEnigma has also arisen--something about vulnerability... about trust. What kind of horrible things have we donein our lives--which kind of lends itself to a type of private Hell. So why not? I'd often heard about "the gates of Hell," but I always figured the term to be sort of... fantastical. As it turns out, there actually is a gate to Hell just outside of Poughkeepsie.
Poughkeepsie-- all my life, I'd never known, or considered, for that matter, how to spell it. Strange though, the moment you see it, you know how to pronounce it, regardless of its many letters, and regardless of how one might think it would be spelled. I got stuck staring at it-- Poughkeepsie. I stared at it so long that there developed little faint white rings on some of the keys of my otherwise black keyboard--a tell-tale sign of someone who has found one of the gates.
There's divided highway east of town called Haight Avenue, which turns into Manchester Road coming through Arlington-- three lanes of traffic headed either direction. Officially, it's simply, Highway 55. About three miles east, you can take an exit onto a plain, two-lane road, Old Manchester Road, which immediately turns into Titusville Road beginning at the bridge over Wappinger Creek, then leads south into, you guessed it... Titusville.
The gate of Hell, to which I refer, is located almost exactly halfway across the 181-foot bridge over Wappinger Creek. In June of 2016, I stood on the edge of that bridge and decided to jump.
I did not. Instead, my phone rang, and it was someone saying they wanted to publish my book. The gates of Hell would have to wait.
Telling you about the gate is the easy part. I've done that so many times that it's begun to become numb. No, the intriguing part of this exercise is the vulnerability... the trust. So, let's try this.
In 2012, Kendall was 17, Ashley was 9, and their mother would harm me physically if I revealed her age at the time. Danielle. Danni. I had recently published (self-published) The Second Rape of Doctor Emily Pershing. Life was good-- damn good. Our family had been on a quest, seeking out information regarding Danni's birth mother, as she had been adopted as an infant and had decided to find out as much as possible about her past. We found out a lot. A lot.
The love was thick, heavy, wonderful. The proverbial cup had runneth over. We decided to share the story-- share the love, so to speak. Danni, Kendall, and I shared as much as we could remember, and the majority of it was handed down from Danni's mother, and a beautiful friend whom we desperately wished we could meet. The crux of this thing-- the book-- was that sacrifices were made in order to give Danni life, and in turn, give life to her daughters, creating every beautiful thing which filled the cup.
As much as I wanted to believe the story was well-prepared and researched and presented, I have come to accept that there is something missing. The reviews have been as exceptional as they have been rare. To my knowledge, fewer than ten people have ever read the thing. Call it what you will, the simple fact is... it's a failure.
On March 4, 2016, Danni's impossibly adorable brother, Percy, had treated the girls to a road trip to visit my parents, who had moved to New York for reasons that I still cannot fathom. One of our family quirks was that, whenever we saw something while traveling which made any of us wonder, "What is that?" or "Where does that road go?" we'd head off to solve the puzzle. I imagine, someone must have thought, "Why do they call it 'Manchester Road?'" Then they convinced Uncle Percy to exit on Old Manchester Road, to confirm whether or not Manchester truly existed.
A moving truck lost a wheel-- an entire wheel-- while crossing westbound on the bridge over Wappinger Creek, causing the driver to lose control and cross over into the eastbound lane. Percy, Danni, 21-year-old Kendall, and 13-year-old Ashley were hit, head-on, bouncing their minivan up and over the guard rail and into the creek, killing everyone inside.
My heart damn near chokes me when I think about how I used to joke that life was going to suck when Ashley turned thirteen. I thought she'd be such a tremendous pain-in-the-butt, so head-strong and argumentative. I thought she'd be impossible.
She wasn't. She wasn't. Dear God in Heaven, she was absolutely perfect!
I've found salt formations to be remarkably resilient. How they last under constant abuse is beyond me. The only thing which seems to break them down, other than some type of cleaning agent which I haven't the heart to employ, is the very thing which created them. And here I am, having once again, added more droplets, which will eventually dry, the salt crystalizing, reinforcing the little white rings.
The publisher who called about the book was complete BS-- wanted me to spend hundreds of dollars to have them redesign the cover, proofread it, and put absolutely zero effort into advertising it anywhere other than where it's already easily found... and that's the hard part: the vulnerability. Sacrifices were made, lives were uprooted, hell, lives were lost in order to ensure just the possibility of Danni's existence. Her life was made possible, Danni's children's lives were made possible, and I was, by far, the greatest beneficiary of those lives... and now they're gone. All there is, to demonstrate the awesome selflessness of the people and the extraordinary beauty of the sacrifices made, is this story--my contribution, my effort-- and as I stood on the edge of that bridge and stared into mouth of the gates of Hell, it was my greatest, most profound and contemptible regret, in this cruel life, to have known that in that effort, I had failed them. All of them. It's as if none of them were ever here.
And neither am I.
Misogyny & Wizards
When metal ruled the earth
Arenas belched clouds
Of brick pack dirt weed
Made it better
With perfect asses
And huge hair
Licked their lips
And lead singers
To mystical women
On their knees
Begging for hot
Love by force
And more cocaine
For the hot tub
Sing along orgy
As me and you
Smoked a toothpick
And agreed that
Dio and Iron Maiden
Were really good
And that Judas Priest
And Twister Sister
Were fucking stupid.
Deep red between the covers
like a book, except
no comforter in sight, and
I didn’t choose this
storyline – less adventure,
more memoir of a
I don’t remember
which nightgown he tore off me,
but I remember
the body he took from me
when I was just four;
I remember the knife he
pressed up to my throat –
the scar it left is still there,
burning, choking me,
keeping me quiet like his
hand over my mouth,
Daddy saying “if you tell,
I’ll skin you alive.”
So he returns to that bed,
with his stiff body
and his heavy knife, that night
and each night after.
The will to fight or cry leaves,
the body lay still,
frozen, numb, hoping, praying,
the knife goes deeper
into your esophagus –
surrendered to the silence.
The first time I tried acid,
I felt like I was pissing myself the whole night
like one of those sprinklers
watering a suburban lawn,
yellow sunbeams flying out of my pants;
I’d sprung leaks all over.
I smiled a banana smile
that stretched past my cheeks
and into the atmosphere
floating around my glowing head,
and that piece of pizza
I was trying to eat
was the funniest thing I’d ever seen:
a cartoon pizza
with pepperonis like moon craters,
a real revelation.
The next morning,
the trees were made of neon plastic.
I could see past everything
and into its fakeness
like a waking dream
inside of a cardboard diorama.
The birds outside my window
were screaming in my ear,
telling me I’d never be the same again
like Adam biting into an apple.
The next time,
someone had read an article
written by Tim Leary
and decided to close all the doors
and shutter all the windows,
duct tape the holes where light got in
to create a nothingness
ripe for creation
I willed myself out of existence
like a popped balloon.
I saw ashes floating on my eyelids,
opened my eyes to see nothing,
closed my eyes to see the same nothing,
and I was gone.
I screamed a dead man’s nightmare.
The lights flashed on.
My friends wore concern
like business suits.
I told them I was dead,
then closed my eyes into Heaven
where I watched the outlines of angels
fly circles through the holes in my brain.
I’d found Nirvana;
it was a counterfeit enlightenment.
The next time,
I saw a horse jump out of the television
and was taken on a zeppelin
to see God.
He was a giant robot
and scores of people
inside His juggernaut body
were standing on networks of ladders,
hammering out dents
in his metal skin.
We sat at a white plastic table
and He told me that
everything had already been done.
He opened his chest
like a dusty old book
and I jumped in.
I saw people searching shelves
in an ancient library.
I picked up a book and it was empty,
its pages like crumbling mud.
I tried another;
it was also empty.
The books were empty ad infinitum.
Language had disappeared from the world.
When I found myself,
I was lying in the grass
and the sun was rolling over me
like a steamroller;
it was like a massive yellow womb.
I convinced myself
that I was the last person alive on Earth
and walked towards the boundary
of my friend’s backyard.
My friend pulled me by my arm
like a worried parent.
I could see it happening
a million times over
in the kaleidoscope of time and space.
His mom drove me home in her minivan.
I told my parents I’d had a heat stroke
working beneath the summer sun,
but it wasn’t me talking;
I was no longer there.
I’d left the building.
Every time after that,
people were like zombie lizards,
their faces melting into darkness,
and I heard angels crying
like mourners at a funeral,
so I gave up on my dead end search.
My mind was like confused geese
trying to migrate,
but disappearing over the waves
beneath the twilight stars.
The dream wore off day by day
as time unrolled like a roll of duct tape.
I found the remaining shards of my mind
like a broken windowpane,
pieced them together
into something I could use,
and tried to blend in
like an undercover cop
who’d peeked behind the curtain
and could tell no one what he’d seen,
fearing he’d blow his cover.
His breathing was even now, his arm thrown heavily over my hips. I waited for the tell-tale drunken snore. It came. Finally, he'd passed out.
I slipped from under his arm and got up slowly. I didn't want to wake him, but I also had no choice. It felt like I had a broken rib to go along with all the brusies this time. Then there was the broken glass.
He never hit me in the face. Only where no one would see the evidence of his kind of love. He never meant to hurt me; just teach me a lesson he thought I could only learn at the end of his fist. Today, I didn't show sufficient appreciation for the flowers he bought for me with his hard earned money.
Flowers. Not for my birthday or Valentine's Day. Just because he loves me. And I had the nerve to be less than happy because it was 2 in the morning, and he woke me up. Pushed the flowers in my face and said
Startled, I gasped and swatted at whatever was in my face. The flowers flew out of his hand and knocked over the glass of water I had on the bedside table. It crashed to the floor.
"You scared me to death, Tommy."
"I bought you flowers."
"What time is it?"
"Who cares? I bought you flowers. Say thank you."
I heard the tone, smelled the liquor. "Thank you, Billy. Why don't I clean up this glass while you get ready for bed."
Did I mention they sell them at the local bar so all the guys can bring them home to the women waiting for their drunken partners to return home?
Ingenius, really. I suspect they sell out every night.
I didn't see the punch coming. I should have known better.
He cried afterwards. Apologized. Somehow made it my fault as he asked for forgiveness.
I went to the guest bathroom down the hall. I filled the tub with hot water and lowered myself gently. I sat there a long time not crying. Just thinking. By the time the water was cold I knew I was leaving. For good this time. I didn't need this kind of love. No one did.
I packed a duffle bag quietly. I didnt take much: two pairs of jeans, all my underwear and bras and some t-shirts. And three dresses and a pair of low heeled pumps for job interviews.
I wrote him a note and left it next to his car keys.
I can buy myself flowers
Write my name in the sand
Talk to myself for hours
Say things you don't understand
I can take myself dancing
And I can hold my own hand
Yeah, I can love me better than you can
I laugh at masters
Navajo white walled
Dives and marriage
Gibberheads and blockheads
Lines, forms, parades
Cosmic shell games
I double down sideways
On preachers and plaintiffs
Drenched in hysteria
They send me to the floor
Lighten up dummy
I laugh with you
Not at you
The weight of the little gun is comfortable, in the waistband of my jeans. My sweater hides it, so no one will see it until it decides to bark, and then the only one I will be looking at will never see anything, ever again.
He left me broken, bleeding, and probably thought I would never survive. He beat me bloody, used my body for his own selfish needs, then threw me into the swamp beyond the campground. My mother always warned me not to trust guys I just met, but he had money and cocaine, and I was naive and more than a little hungry for the nose-candy.
I played dead as I floated away from the little canoe. I had thought it was a very cool looking boat, when it was still on top of his van. I was so fucking dumb.
I remember I slowly turned my head just enough to grab a quick breath, doing my best not to scream at the pain that permeated my body. My face hurt bad; I didn’t know that worse pain was still waiting to happen, once the numbness wore off from my damaged nether regions. I chanced a small glimpse, and saw that he had rowed away. He obviously thought I was dead, and that the gators would take care of the evidence.
I floated there for at least 20 minutes, breathing shallowly, and on the alert for predators. I grew up in these swamps, and I knew that bleeding in the water wasn’t a wise idea. Luckily, the only critters I saw were a heron and some squirrels chattering in the trees.
That was nine months ago.
I healed, and after some minor surgery, I can even show my face in public again. The large dark sunglasses and hat are a perfect camouflage, and will allow me to get close enough to him to finish my plan.
I intend to stick this little pearl-handled beauty in his face, hoping he sees the barrel grow to enormous size, before I lean in and say “Next time you rape and kill a girl, do it right — oh wait, there will never be a next time.” I need to see him sweat just a little before I pull the trigger.
After that, who gives a fuck… I will have saved some girl from experiencing what I went through, so regardless of what comes after, it will be worth it.
© 2023 dustygrein
You asked what it is
It is not the rain.
It is not a deep well, or
anything else dark or dank.
It is not ash and flame.
It is green spring with unacknowledged birdsong,
applause for someone staring into space,
flawless sentences misconstrued,
love that doesn’t count.
It is habitual coffee, untasted,
a once-beloved book, unremembered,
a birthday text, unanswered,
untrusted and feared.