Over here in the States, we’re standing on the precipice of something that represents golden gratitude to a lot of people (although maybe the historical precedents aren’t quite there…). Give us another few weeks, and we’ll all be stuffing our faces, spending too much money, and acknowledging for a rare occasion how wonderful it is that we are so very comfortable and so very happy. And there is a lot to celebrate.
So, in order to acknowledge the goodness of the cosmos for showing us what kindness it does…
This week’s prompt is:
RULES AND GUIDELINES HAVE CHANGED! (again)
Read them below to participate! You may not be eligible if you don’t!
I know we’ve got Turkey Day on the mind here, but anything to do with gratitude whatsoever works for this prompt even better. Don’t feel obliged to include flightless birds of any variety, indulgent banquet spreads, questionably-treated natives, or brazen colonists in your story at all.
Instead, think about what departures you could take. A kindness could also be a mercy, the decision to take pity on someone less fortunate. Kindness can also be begrudging, something one does whether or not they really want to. My favorite angle on this at a glance is a tiny, insignificant moment, though. The sort of kindness which goes unsung, but warms you for the single moment you experience it. A gift left on a pillow. A chore done on your behalf. An important date remembered.
We got a lot of realistic fiction last time, and I think this prompt leans in that direction pretty hard, so take it on as a challenge: how can you represent a kindness in a more fantastical or supernatural light? (but of course, if you’d like to write something realistic, definitely go for it!)
Have fun basking in the warmth of this wholesome thing… even if you decide to write something less than wholesome! Wherever you take it, we’ll be grateful just to see your creativity.
Remember, this is part of our weekly Writing Group stream! Submit a little piece following the rules and guidelines below, and there’s a chance your entry will be read live on stream! In addition, we’ll discuss it for a minute and give you some feedback.
Tune into the stream this Friday at 7:00pm CST to see if you made the cut!
The whole purpose of this is to show off the creativity of the community, while also helping each other to become better writers. Lean into that spirit, and get ready to help each other improve their confidence in their writing, as well as their skill with their craft!
Rules and Guidelines
We read six stories during each stream, three of which come from this public post, and three of which come from the much smaller private post. Submissions are randomly selected from among the top ten most-liked of each post, so be sure to share your submissions on social media and with your friends!
- English only.
- Prose only, no poetry or lyrics.
- One submission per participant.
- Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
- Submit your entry in a comment on this post.
- You must leave a review on two other submission to be eligible, and your reviews must be at least 50 words long.
- No more than 350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
- Include a submission title and an author name (doesn’t have to be your real name)
- Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
- Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
- Please format your submission as “Submission Title” by Author Name and be sure to separate paragraphs. (Example Submission)
- Understand that by submitting here, you are giving us permission to read your submission live on stream and share it on our social media sites. You will always be credited as the author.
Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.
[…] this prompt was inspired by a story created by one of our own a while back, which you can find here. This is essentially the vibe we’re trying to capture. Not just a tiny beast but […]
(Fog of Obscurity Series)
Submitted by MisterWorst
Pattie watched as the strange creature stumbled through the forest. The only light, far and wide, seemed to emit from the tip of one of its limbs. Similar to one of those fish down at the sea, that lured its prey into its mouth by waving about the shining bulb at the end of its antenna.
Thinking about the fish made Pattie hungry. Food had become rare again, even with the rich harvest they had just had. To distract Pattie, Pattie continued observing the strange land light fish thing.
It behaved strangely when compared to the fish. Even the faintest sounds seemed to make it whirle about, shouting nonsensical sounds into the dark and holding its light high. As if to shine light into the dark. An useless endeavor, as any resident would tell you.
This thing clearly wasn’t one, or it would know that it was going right for one of the old pit traps the Fielders used to hunt with. Maybe it was from outside?
The Elders sometimes talked about the lands beyond the fog. With its strange people that didn’t have the large teeth and noses of the Roamers, or the big heads and eyes of the Professors. Instead it seemed to have a thick rigid skin, its light limb and one sharp tallon that glinted in its light.
Pattie decided that Pattie should simply ask about its origins.
Well that was even stranger behavior of what Pattie decided to call the Thick Skin. Just when Pattie stepped out behind a tree it looked at Pattie, shouted nonsense again and ran off! Now Pattie couldn’t ask where it came from!
Yes, if it was still alive Pattie could still ask it and if not it would make great nourishment.
Win, Win for Pattie!
Now she just had to go and thank it for it’s kindness, which ever it might provide.
Maybe it liked mushrooms?
Pattie was proud of the color and taste of the cap growing on her head after all.
With Neighbors Like These
Tom stood at his home’s entrance, a briefcase in one hand and a key in the other, breathing heavily from his long walk from the bus stop. He inserted the key halfway into the lock when he heard a familiar voice saying in a heavy breath “Gimme a hand, will ya, son?”. He turned around, and sure enough, he saw his neighbor, old Montgomery. He stood near his car and displayed his characteristic frown. This was the last person Tom wanted to meet right now.
“Why are you standing there for? Gimme a hand.”
Seeing an old man standing with a large amount of groceries made something in Tom’s chest twist uncomfortably. “Great,” he silently mumbled to himself, “now my conscious is nagging.”
“One minute. Let me put my stuff in,” huffed Tom, and mumbled “and breath too”.
“Sure, sure, take your time,” grumbled the neighbor. “Ignore an old man standing in the heat with heavy groceries.”
Tom opened his mouth to retort but thought better of it. Instead he said a quick “one second, dammit!”, ignored his neighbor’s “damn whippersnapper!”, put his briefcase just inside the house, locked his door, and went to help him.
“Start with that one, it’s the heaviest.”
While Tom expected the bag to be heavy, he did not expected it to be this heavy. “What do you have there, a body?” slipped out of his lips before he could stop himself.
In response Montgomery’s already impossibly long frown lengthened even more.
. . .
After they finished carrying the groceries, they stood with sweaty shirts, and Montgomery grumbled out a sheepish “thanks, I guess,“ as his frown finally eased a little.
Tom was surprised. He never expected to be rewarded with a “thank you” from him of all people. The surprised must have shown on his face, because Montgomery’s frown quickly went back to his usual length and he said “why are you looking at me like that?”
“Uh, no reason,” replied Tom as he got his expression under control, and didn’t let a big, goofy smile come up to his lips.
“Two Dollar Dragon”
Ichika clutched her two dollars in her fist and marched proudly around the Cheap Store. She had been so good all week, and finished ALL her dinner and even helped change Orangey’s litter. She had earned these dollars!
Now for the biggest decision of her whole life!
What to get?
She found a shelf of snowglobes and crouched down to look at the little teeny ones. She was about to pick up a cool one with a firetruck when she saw movement reflected in the glass.
Ichika whirled around and saw what had moved. It was a dragon! It was red and a little bit shiny, and almost as big as Orangey.
“Hi!” she tried to whisper.
She stuck her hand out — slowly, like Mom had taught her — so that the dragon could sniff. She had forgotten about the two dollars, which stuck out of her hand like a crumpled bowtie.
The dragon shied away at first, but then its head tilted, its eyes fixed on Ichika’s money.
Ichika instinctively drew her hand away, protective of her treasure. The dragon kept its gaze on the dollars. It looked . . . disappointed. It stretched forward just enough for her to get a better look, but stayed put.
Oh yeahhh. Dragons liked money! This one looked kind of thin, too, though she hadn’t seen any other dragons to compare. Did they EAT money?
She didn’t want it to starve. Ichika stared at her hand, deciding. Then she opened it and held out her two dollars to the dragon.
“Here. You can have this, ‘cause I’m your friend and I want you nice and happy and full.” She watched as the dragon hesitated, glanced at her. After a moment, it snatched the money in its lizardy teeth. It immediately skittered off somewhere behind another shelf, out of sight.
Ichika smiled. “Bone-apple-teeth!” she called, using a phrase she’d heard on TV. She stood back up, ready to go find Mom.
It was okay she wasn’t getting her firetruck snowglobe today. Ichika had helped a new friend.
A DRAGON friend!!!
An Ode to the Small Things by Matthew LaPorte
I woke up this morning and, much to my delight, the fairies had visited again. They left their kindness everywhere. I got out of bed and they had put all the dirty clothes into the hamper. They visited the bathroom too, and cleaned all of the surfaces and restocked the supplies. In the kitchen, I saw the dishes all washed and put neatly in their place. On the counter, a meal. A simple sandwich and fruit, with the sandwich cut into little triangles just the way I like. One of them even stuck around a bit, to wish me a good day at work. Some of my coworkers think that I’m crazy, and that this was all my family’s doing. But to me, a task done without asking is more fantastic than any dragon, and more magical than any spell.
“A Midnight Snack” Submitted by: elisabethwise
Under the sweltering coal-black blanket of night, in the parking lot of a hopelessly faded Texaco 25 miles outside of Arnette, Texas, Randall and Esther sat in the bed of their teal Ford pickup truck. Too late to go back to their last rest stop, too early to go to the next. Neither of them minded being caught in limbo—their god would provide in due course—but restlessness and hunger had begun to gnash rotten teeth and they needed to pull over lest they tear each other apart. The gas station was a beacon of light, of rest. They could stretch their legs, get something to eat after hours of driving. And, lucky for them, the place was empty.
One was all they ever needed to get them through the night. Esther made quick work of herself, and Randall kept watch for any passers-by. They had never been caught, and they never would be. No fingerprints would ever be left behind, no leads could ever be followed. Esther was a student of anatomy, knowing which arteries to cut where to make the victim’s passing as merciful as she could. Their meals never put up a struggle, Randall made sure of that. If anything, it was a kindness to that poor night manager: no more mindless purgatory, no more sitting behind a counter and listening to the radio for eight hours a day.
With their backs against the window, watching the moon inch across the sky, listening to the buzz of the cicadas in the trees, they sat in the bed of their truck and passed a thermos between each other. The blood had gone cold quickly, but it was thick and rich and just what they needed. Randall wrapped an arm around his wife, and she lay her head on his shoulder. Dawn would be approaching soon, and they would be gone. Places to be, more acts of kindness to deliver. But in the moment, nothing beyond their shared bubble existed, and they were content.
Jeh looked down on the papers before him. They were filled with words, talking about policies, the state of the country and how to move forward. Just like everyone else, Jeh needed to do his research. Elections were coming up again. Some assumed that he was ‘’all-knowing’’, he was a judge after all. But his image had been distorted over time, by his own hand. No, he doesn’t know everything. No, he can’t see everything. And no, he doesn’t have knowledge of what’s right or wrong. All he does is follow the book when judging someone.
He ran a rugged hand through his long, grey hair. Sweat stuck to his brown skin and sent the bright sunlight in every direction . Jeh looked at the light, surprised. He let out a breath and stood up, reluctantly. ‘Must have worked through the night again.’ he sighed. Not that day and night were separated for Jeh. The two seemingly ceased to exist a long time ago and had created an endless string along which Jeh just kept moving forward. There was a time when he was more laid back. Often Jeh would reminisce about those good old days. They were fun, but now he had to live with the consequences of his carelessness. And he took the task of fixing his mistakes seriously. This ‘’job’’, if you could call it that, was something Jeh did out of the kindness of his heart, not because he had to.
Both front runners for this term’s presidency look like bad choices. Jeh thought while he was slouching over to the bathroom. And yes, there are bathrooms up there. Which one should I choose? He straightened his back ‘I’ll just go with the orange buffoon, maybe his incompetency will improve the choices next time around.’ Jeh said while looking in the mirror and yawning. He hadn’t slept for almost two millennia, but he couldn’t start now. He wanted to be just and kind to his creations he wronged so long ago.
There was a knock on Jeh’s door. Gabe walked in. ‘Jehova, we await your verdict.’
Icebreaker, by Matthew
I needed a break from the day in day out cycle of pain and regret. You call it addiction; I call it coincidence. It’s not my fault every day continuously strives to find new ways to beat the life out of me. You don’t say a kid is addicted to ice packs if he gets bruises all the time! The alcohol just helps me to deal with the pain.
Things had been getting worse. When seven O’clock comes around, I jumped into my truck and headed to the Nomad Tavern downtown. By the time I made it inside, it began to snow. I skidded to a stop and practically ran inside. Needless to say, I got hammered and became a general nuisance. The bartender got sick of me around eleven, so she threw me out and told me to call a cab.
Defiant and reckless as ever, I blindly ignored her. After returning some beer to the ground from which it came, I climbed into my truck and drove off. I was far worse off than my cocky, intoxicated brain thought I was. My vision was blurred, but I thought was going a bit too fast. I stomped on the breaks and immediately felt my tires lose traction. There was just enough time to yelp “help me” before I plunged off the road and into the forest. I closed my eyes and braced for impact.
When I opened my eyes, I was immediately blinded by a bright green light. I thought I had died. Disoriented and inebriated, I lost consciousness. When I awoke, I was on a table, surrounded by inhuman beings of blasphemous proportion.
They seemed concerned.
I lost consciousness again. I woke up sitting in my truck, unharmed. They took me home. As I was stepping out of my truck to inspect the damage I glanced up just in time to see a spacecraft darting off into the night sky.
Alone in the Dark
The dark haze was impenetrable. The small torch in my hand barely illuminated anything around me, and beyond that I sensed something lurked. I could not see what was waiting for me, nor was going to find out an option; it could be a dangerous beast.
How did it end up like this? Over my mind, it seemed, there was a fog almost as unnavigable as the physical one.
Nothing was happening. Was this beast intelligent, knowing that I would eventually give in and go to it?
If so, as I thought was a reasonable assumption, then I would simply have to out wait it. Sitting down on the dirt floor, I prepared myself for a long wait.
Days went by, and I knew I would not last much longer. My only option would be to confront the creature. Steeling myself, I stood up-
At that moment, I heard a voice.
“Is anyone out there?” The voice said. Unable to think, let alone formulate words, I ran in the direction of the voice with all of my energy and willpower.
Soon the fog wasn’t as thick, and I could make out a figure holding a lantern. Once I got closer, I saw it was a man, maybe in his mid-twenties. I saw from his gear that he was prepared to travel a long distance.
When he saw me, I could see his eyes light up with relief. I suppose mine did as well.
“Do you have any food?” I asked, my stomach taking priority over politeness.
“I’m afraid not…” The traveler trailed off. He looked at me, coming to the same conclusion that I had about him.
We talked for a while, and he told me myths that his people valued. I, having no stories, made up my own. He and I laughed at my lack of story making ability.
With no food or water, we had nothing but each other and the small lantern. It was a joyous time nonetheless, and we were grateful for each other’s company.
That was the last day either of us saw.
I had to hold back a cry when I saw it, the telltale signs of petrification. In all our years of hunting Beasts and protecting our village, my partner had never even been grazed.
But now I am forced to stare down upon him, gashes and wounds all over his body turning to stone as he whimpers in fear.
I approach him, the only thoughts on my mind are of comforting him in his last moments, and of fear, fear of what life will be like without him. Kneeling, I take his hand gently and hold it to my face as his eyes are slowly covered.
“Please.” he whispered, “Please my love, ease my passage”
Placing his hand upon my heart, I lean in to kiss him, Tears streaming down my cheeks.
I straddle him, being careful not to place my full weight upon him. Drawing my knife I hesitate for a moment, knowing this will hurt me for the rest of my life.
“I can’t, I need you, life is empty when you are gone and I can’t bear the weight of knowing I’m the reason you won’t return.” I manage to say through my sobs, resheathing my blade.
“You must, I fear eternal stillness more than death. Please, I need you.” He chokes out, crying, both in pain and in fear.
I wipe my face and kiss him one last time, and as I do I grant his wish. Feeling my knife puncture his skin and heart.
“I love you…”