Another week looms, and with it… feels. Mountains of feels. Oodles, even. And based on the phrasing of the prompt the community chose this week, not all of the particularly good. So, prime your lacrimal ducts, because…
This week’s prompt is:
But You Gave Your Word…
RULES AND GUIDELINES BELOW!
Make sure you scroll down and read them if you haven’t! You may not be eligible if you don’t!
This one doesn’t bear too much analysis, I don’t think. “You Gave your word”. Clearly, this week is going to be about promises.
Remember, though: promises aren’t all explicit. Some are implied, extracted, extrapolated. It isn’t always “I will always love you.” Sometimes it’s the simple act of buying a car together, owning a home together, bringing a new life into the world together.
We can make promises without words.
If there’s one particular part of this prompt very much worth picking at, it’s that one operative word, “But”. That means this isn’t just about a promise, but about a promise, implicit or explicit, broken.
So, everybody ready their heart wrenches. We’ve got some work to do.
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 the 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.
- Submissions close at 4:00pm CST each Friday.
- 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.
- Write something brand new (no re-submitting past entries or stories written for other purposes).
- 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)
- No fan fiction without explicit permission from the source’s owner, and no spoilers for the source material if you are writing a fan fic.
- Original art may be included in your submission, but is not guaranteed to be shown on stream. Only .jpeg format images shared via a direct link will be accepted. (Example Submission) (Information on “Direct Links”)
- No additional formatting (such as italics or bold text) will be applied to the text of submissions. Symbols or instruction indicating such formatting may render your submission ineligible.
- You must like and leave a review on two other submissions to be eligible, and your reviews must be at least 50 words long. If you’re submitting to the private post, feel free to leave these reviews on either the private or the public post. The two submissions you like need not be the same as the submissions you review.
- Understand that by submitting here, you are giving us permission to read your submission aloud live on stream and upload public, archived recordings of said stream to our social media platforms. You will always be credited, but only by the author name you supply as per these rules. No other links or attributions are guaranteed.
Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.
Although I admire your acumen for writing such brief yet brilliant stories, I am compelled to address the dreadful conundrum you have beset us with.
You see, you state that you didn’t write “something”, i.e. the statement “Ottz wrote something” is false.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary gives among other definitions of the verb “to write” this one:
“c: to spell in writing”.
Referring to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, we find that writing is “the act or art of forming visible letters or characters”.
Since the words claiming that you wrote nothing were spelled in the act of forming visible letters or characters, you wrote something by definition. I.e. the statement “Ottz wrote something” is true.
This means that you, dear cobber, contradict yourself in this piece. I cannot condone it from a logical standpoint, although the artistic merits of it are certainly outstanding.
“Dawn of War” Submitted by: Exce
The sky was filled with the sound of battle, even as the shroud of the night hid most of it.
Below, the streets were filled with flames and debris, blocking paths and leaving mangled limbs jutting out of mounds of brick and wood.
They had come out of nowhere.
Winged men and women with blazing circlets over their heads, and their weapons of gold and death.
Woken by the screams of the dead and dying, the forces of the Aravwin had risen in the sky to face their enemy, but where the defenders were struggling for each kill, their enemies took dozens at a time.
In this chaos one Aravwin hurried through the city, carrying a small bundle in his arm as he leapt over debris and evaded enemy soldiers. They would only have to reach the edge of the island, which was floating high above the black, bottomless sea.
Amphiel knew that their chances were slim. But he had to try.
For his sister.
As they passed a crossroads, one of the attackers’ weapons lay on the rubble, and without thinking, Amphiel took the golden sword in his free hand.
It was not much further to the edge, just one more street and a small wall…
He stopped, teeth gritted as he put his sister down. When she looked at him with a confused expression he pointed to the wall.
“Go ahead, I’ll just make sure nobody is following us… I will be right behind you.” He gave her a slight push, and she began walking to the wall with her small white wings unfolding from her back.
As she hopped over it, Amphiel turned around.
One hand with the golden blade, the other crackling with energy. In front of him the smoke parted, golden flames throwing deep shadows over fine faces.
As the small Aravwin beat her wings, slowly escaping the island, a shockwave hit her in the back, sending her stumbling through the sky.
When she turned around, the stretch of street where her brother had stood was wreathed in fire and debris…
(fanfiction after Grimm’s — https://www.pitt.edu/~dash/grimm002.html)
A proud cat sat in the church where he last saw a mouse he had called friend. He missed her sometimes; the house had gotten awfully dusty without her cleaning. But their shared pot of fat had tasted wonderful, and so had she.
He was contemplating finding another rodent to flatter into partnership, when four misty figures appeared in front of him. Three kittens he didn’t know,
And one mouse he did.
The cat leaped up, startled. “Are you coming to teach me?” he asked hopefully when he had recovered. “Three ghosts to show me my sins, and at the end of the night I am a changed cat?”
The mouse cackled. “‘Tis not that story, friend. You had your chance, and you betrayed one weaker than yourself. There is only one end today, and that is vengeance!”
Her voice rose to a screech at the last, and liquid movement came from across the church-hall. Hundreds of mice boiled from every shadow, charging straight for him. Before the cat could flee, they swarmed him, pinning his paws and knocking him to the ground.
“Do you not recognize your godchildren?” sneered the ghost. “I will introduce you. All-Out!” she said. One kitten came to sit by the cat’s nose, and even more mice appeared.
The second kitten joined them. It had a white ring around its neck, and the cat feared it was an omen. “Half-Gone,” said the ghostly mouse. Across the church, something glinted. A great steel knife, carried by six big mice.
His old friend stood tall, shining brightly. “THIS is the way of the world, feline fiend! You hurt one of us; we bond together and rise up. Your head will stand monument to all those who would betray us. NEVER AGAIN will the weak cower alone. We will have justice!”
All the mice cheered, and the ghost beckoned the final kitten close.
“Here is your final godchild. Meet . . . ”
The knife-bearers lifted the steel high overhead, just over his neck. The cat closed his eyes and heard his old friend’s final words.
“He Who Swears on the Prussian Flag” by Simon D. Field
I step into the dimly lit cabinet. Colonel-General Blaskowitz greets me warmly, and this raises my already high expectations.
I start by depicting the harrowing state of affairs in Poland. Employing all my eloquence, I tell him that what he saw and complained about three years before is being constantly exacerbated and show letters from the East corroborating my account.
Blaskowitz tactfully nods. However, when I gingerly mention the necessity of rescuing Germany by the only way that seems possible, that of a coup, the general’s expression turns sour. He stops me with a gesture.
“Mister von Hassell,” he says. “As any soldier, I feel disgusted and repulsed by these crimes committed in Poland by representatives of state authority. But you propose an impossible plan, even if you overthrow and remove the Leader. Firstly, you would create a martyr for the Party. Secondly, you would cause a war between the Party and the Army. Thirdly, regardless of my opinions, the Leader is the commander-in-chief, and I have sworn an oath to him. Fourthly, a German officer must not degrade himself and his men to active political partisanship. Finally, we can ill afford a coup against the man who has the loyalty of the nation in this pivotal time for our people.”
His logic is flawless if bounded by a military standpoint.
But I decide to make one more attempt, appealing not with my mind but rather with my soul, “The Corporal doesn’t have the loyalty of the nation, mister Colonel-General! There are many eminent men sympathetic to our cause, of both civilian and military merit and impeccable conduct. Follow their example, mister Colonel-General, I implore you, and help us save the Fatherland.”
He paces across the room and fiddles with his peaked cap. I watch his fists clenching and unclenching until he turns to me with a strained expression and looks me in the eyes.
“I wish you luck, mister von Hassell,” he says firmly, as if reassuring both me and himself, “you have my sympathies. But I swore an oath.”
“But you swore an oath,” I repeat, utterly defeated.
I doubt I could have come up with a better review than Brick, but I shall try.
This is a brilliant use of minimalism, and yet it conveys everything. I, PERSONALLY, feel like the one being lied to, the one feeling the betrayal of a trust broken. In only two words.
And yet…with you having written two words, you have, in the truest technical sense, written something. LIED TO AGAIN!
I laughed for a full five minutes when I read this, I love how you took the prompt on a completely different turn than any of us would have thought of. Though I feel you might have been a bit too wordy for the purposes you were aiming for. A series of ellipses that spanned a few lines feel like they would have been enough to convey your message.
By Margaret Couplet
Nelan knelt on the cold stone floor, arms chained behind his back and eyes covered in a thick cloth to block out all light or ability to see. He took a deep, filling breath and finally relaxed.
“Why?” A voice like the darkest, sweetest poison said.
“Two years ago I was captured by pirates working for the Mergo Throne. They didn’t realize what I was at first and when they did we were already on dry land.” Nelan started to explain.
Another person scoffed, female by the sound. “This is going to be an utter waste of our time. Let’s just execute him and be done with it.”
“Quiet, Amelia!” The man barked before talking to Nelan. “Continue.”
“They threw me in a Mage Breaker. I barely survived without going insane but only because I don’t think they wanted me to break. When I was finally set free I had to give the prince a Favor.” Nelan spat.
He’d been so sure back then, so confident that Matthew was different from the rest of his family. He’d been a fool of the highest order.
“Fuck.” A new voice breathed and Nelan had to push the familiarity of it away, lock up that memory or he’d do something they all would regret.
“A week ago he called it in.” Nelan laughed bitterly.
The prickling at the corner of his eyes aching but he would not cry, not now, not over that. Matthew wasn’t worth it, clearly, even if Nelan once thought he was.
“I didn’t want to but…” Nelan trailed off, trying to get his emotions under control.
He hadn’t. He had never wanted to betray his country, to try to kill his king. He loved King Vicra just like everyone else who had ever met the man for more than five minutes.
But, magic was both a blessing and the worst curse anyone could ever receive.
“But you promised.” The first man sighed, then cursed like a sailor.
This is the perfect embodiment of the prompt. By posting you make a promise to your readers and then you break that promise. While this barely qualifies as a story, and is probably too modern for some tastes, it is a great joke response. Also, the way you use the title here is very interesting, making it part of the story.
“Regrets” by gregovin
Rayna had refused to train for 3 days.
George decided to go talk to her.
George knocked on the door to her room while preparing his patience for the difficult conversation ahead.
Rayna said “what do you want?” a little defensively.
“Just checking in. You good?”
“You gonna come out and train?”
She started to sob. “I’m sorry, but I made a promise to the universe. I can’t do this anymore. I’ll do it again, and I can’t allow that to happen.”
“I’m not sure you’ll have much of a choice”
“What are you talking about?”
“You do realize the army is advancing on the building you call home, and if they attack you will use lethal force on instinct. The sword was probably a bad idea, you could get away with less, but you will need to train if you want anything to change”
She paused, thinking.
“How long do we have?”
“I don’t know, probably a few more days”
“Do you think I could actually fight without killing?”
“I don’t know, but it’s worth a shot”
She paused again, then she opened the door.
I finished pouring the salt to create my circle of protection and then sat in the office chair and began the incantation. As I finished, the smell of brimstone infused the air.
I opened my eyes, and before me sat the child. Granted, he was no ordinary child. Purple-black horns curled off his temples, framing his spiky green hair, and red leathery wings sprouted from the back of his black dress shirt.
“What is it now?” the demon asked, his nasal voice saturated with irritation.
I held out the contract in my hand. “I gave you my soul, you gave me your word!”
The demon glanced at the contract without actually looking at it. “Yeah? What’s the problem then?”
“The problem? The problem is that I didn’t get my end of the deal! They turned me down!” I stood, furious.
The demon boy laughed. “Did you bother reading the fine print? You asked for a chance. A chance! If they gave you a refusal, it means they actually saw you, right?”
I tore the contract into pieces and flung them into the air. “Give me back my soul!”
The individual pieces burst into flames, transformed into smoke, and the smoke drifted into the child’s hand, where they reformed back to the contract.
“See here,” he said. “The part where it says you wanted a chance at this…this…whatever. I gave it to you.” He pointed a finger at the contract.
“You little bitch!”
The demon expanded in size, becoming monstrous. “Don’t you dare call me that!” he boomed. He advanced on me, but came to the edge of the circle of salt. Suddenly he shrank back to child size and glanced down at the circle.
Then he grinned back, and blew. The salt flew into a cloud, and the child stepped through it, sat in my office chair, and spun whimsically.
“Next time you sell your soul, clarify.” He laughed at the irony of his statement. “Also, never summon just any old demon. You never know when you’ll get the Prince of Lies. ”
“Bargains” by Magan (Legends of Dracora series: Modern Dracora, post-Human Settlement)(350 words)
“Dracorians don’t usually come here, beastfolk,” the man said. “What brings you?”
The cloaked half-blooded fox sat at the shadowy table, ignoring looks from the tavern’s other humans. Her red fur revealed bluejay patterns as she took the offered mug. One foreleg seemed carved from solid emerald up to her shoulder, movement painfully stiff.
“I have no love for you, star-demons,” she said, “But I need your services. I’ll pay handsomely.”
The human scoffed, gesturing to the other two at their table, “I doubt it. Your ‘glazeberries’ are useless off-world. But if it’s any comfort, we don’t all like you freaks either.”
“I know,” she smirked, tossing a sack onto the table. “Half your payment.”
The man opened it, revealing oddly-shaped gemstones. Perfect replicas of body parts, the larger pieces smashed. All foxes, but beastfolk were double Earth-animal size.
The second man plucked a ruby heart from the bag, horrified. “Lady, you’re sick. I want no part of this.”
“More for us,” the third man pulled a sapphire head from the sack, spotting similarities to the living fox, “Literally selling us your family… And buying?”
The vixen gave a predator’s smile, “Greater treasure than you can dream of.”
* * *
The she-fox ignored their dying screams, eyes only for the dragon-lich feasting. She prostrated herself, earth magic holding black corruption at bay. “My Lord! I redeem my family’s honor! You are free!”
She gestured through the glass-like labyrinth, to the path bored by technology, braces keeping the magical walls from shifting.
The lich finished the last human of the excavation team and stared at her blankly and hungrily…
She backed away, confused, as its eyeless gaze drank her strength as it drank everything else. “My Lord? Will–will you not remove your bloodline-curse? Have I not done enough?”
Her god-king advanced, ashen tar pooling against her wards, silent except for its pulsing abyssal heart.
Her demigod brother lay where she’d stabbed him, barely alive. He was a griffon-esque creature of bluejay and jackal called a canvid.
His pleading warning echoed in memory, “You’ll doom us all!”
What had she unleashed?
“Necessity for Fangs” Submitted by Connor/Dragoneye
Virgil placed his satchel of goods on the table while the taxman scribbled away on paper.
The Lady and her “economy”. Portions of a hard week’s work for sweet sweet blood. It was subpar, but enough for anyone who struggled to keep themselves alive.
The taxman unveiled a new bag, a hide pouch. However, its size was significantly smaller than the goods he provided.
“What is this about?” protested Virgil.
“Move along, you have your share.”
The lowly farmer clenched his fist in fury, shouting, “This is only 1 portion of blood. I gave you 2 portions, I should have 2 portions of blood.”
The collector looked up from his paperwork and calmly said, “You must have not heard. M’Lady has drawn back on her blood supply. We are running low and need to conserve.”
“This is absurd! I can’t feed my girls with this!” As Virgil closed his distance to the taxman, the accompanying guards stood between them. Their wolven snouts snarled and huffed, the bony spines on their backs ruffled like a bird’s feathers.
“Then I suggest you either conserve it yourself, join a hunt, or starve.”
Virgil trampled away in frustration, but happy that they at least had something. Anything.
Lia greeted him at the door to their humble abode, out in the shaded brush of Kalonia. “I’m sorry, honey. We’ll have to make do with what we got,” Virgil said, holding up the blood he received. His wife pulled him into a deep hug and whispered in his ear, “It’s ok, we’re all here.”
Then, a loud thunderous boom deeper in the woods shattered their moment of embrace.
“You Promised” by Samantha Realynn
You wore that title so proudly, didn’t you? Defender of the weak, vanquisher of evil. You swore to defend the innocent, to protect those who could not protect themselves. You would stare evil in the face and shove your sword through its gut. Even if you were outmatched, you wouldn’t back down. If you gave your word, you kept it, no matter what.
You promised me the same.
A shadow hung over me since before we first met. I was terrified of it swallowing me, of dragging me to someplace dark and evil. You swore that you wouldn’t let it, that you would protect me with all that you had. Despite all the danger, you never faltered, never wavered. Instead, you devoted yourself to your oath to me. You would keep it, no matter the cost. You always kept your promises.
You promised to protect me.
You promised that you would never abandon me.
You promised that you loved me.
When the shadow came for me, you didn’t let it take me.
You gave me to it. You pushed me into its embrace. You looked me in the eyes as it swallowed me whole, ignored my cries and pleas for help. I fought it, but without your strength, I was weak. Because of your betrayal, I couldn’t fight it anymore. My worst fears had been realized, because of you.
You gave me your word that you would help me, protect me. You let me lean on you, depend on your strength. You told me that with you around I had nothing to fear. The shadow couldn’t touch me if you were with me. You promised me. You said that you loved me.
You promised that you loved me. You promised. You promised. YOU PROMISED!
But then you left me to the shadow, to the darkness. You gave me to my worst fears. You abandoned me. You broke every promise you made to me. I’ll never know why. I don’t think I want to know. Not that it matters. Nothing does anymore.
Oh, what eloquent beauty you have graced us with, dear Gage! I am moved beyond words at the brilliance in such a composition. How can I even begin to express the transcendent heights to which you have brought my hungering soul?
But I must start somewhere, and so I will first sing of the wonderful depth of expression and character in the protagonist of the piece. Clearly, this is a very complex character, brought out in so few words! Only one of talent and an understanding of the inner workings of the ever-mysterious human psyche would be capable of such incisive inference, able to translate those functions into concise wording. And with absolutely no dialogue at all, we get a feel for the deadpan wit of the main character. Truly an impressive feat.
And then there are the themes. Irony, contradiction, philosophy! How would this be complete without mention of the paradoxical nature of the piece itself, its very existence rendering its own message conditionally invalid? It inspires an existential knot in the reader, bordering on horror as one realizes the power of untruth over reality itself. A point to ponder long after the piece has been finished, it’s a sobering thought.
And finally, a note on the answer to the call to write. The piece is an eloquent expression of the prompt. Truly, I cannot see a more efficient way to answer it, and for that I commend you SIR!
Mine eyes have passed across these wondrous words dozens of times now, and each time they fill me with awe. A thousand thank yous for a piece that brought light into my day and joy to my adjective heart.