Tag Archives: parents

Extreme Writing Challenge #58: “A Gift”

I can tell it’s fall by the fact that my fingers nearly froze as I was typing today’s story.  Brrrrr!  It’s almost the time of year where all of my free time will be spent curled up in a blanket with a book and a mug of hot chocolate.

The challenge today is: A story that contains at least 20 unique words containing all five vowels (a, e, i, o, u).  Hope you enjoy, and happy Monday!

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Maddie’s education ceased when she was 12 years old, the same year she became possessed by the beast called menstruation. That’s what her father called it—possessed—and every month he disappeared the day her cramps began, returning two days later when the hormonal pandemonium had settled down.

Maddie’s father had never been prepared for her mother to pass away. He read the obituaries in the newspaper every morning, like they were no different than the stories on the front page. The morning he read his wife’s, he vomited up his breakfast.

Maddie was homeschooled, her mother the teacher. She learned phonics, geography, and equations. Her favorite lessons were in writing: weaving together imagery and metaphors and dialogue to create a parallel universe. Maddie was ambidextrous and grateful for it, for when one hand got tired of writing she could give it a break and write with the other. She never wanted to stop.

When her mother died, Maddie’s father didn’t resume the lessons. He was unorganized and impatient, a man with a reputation as the person who never should have had children. Maddie approached the subject of her education often, always with precaution. But her father’s tenaciousness never faltered.

Maddie dreamed of writing for a newspaper one day, or possibly even a magazine. It was a revolutionary time for women. Maddie knew that, even at her age. Precarious as her ambitions were, they would not be stopped by her father’s stubbornness. She would not grow up to be a housemaid or a secretary. That was simply a facetious notion.

Every day Maddie wrote down a new thing she would like to write about. The Zodiac. Automobiles. Dentistry. Sequoias. When her father read her list and chuckled, she was not discouraged. He would never understand the euphoria of combining single letters to paint a beautiful portrait.

After her father perished in a car wreck when she was 18, Maddie auctioned off every item in his home. He wasn’t worth much, but it was just enough for her to enroll in the university. What he didn’t give to her in life, she took from him in death. With a small amount of change to spare, she purchased flowers for her mother’s grave. She placed them in front of the tombstone and uttered her appreciation for the gift of knowledge she’d always taken for granted.

Extreme Writing Challenge #50: “Traffic Jam”

Guess what?  (And despite what my husband says, the answer is NOT “chicken butt.”)  But really, GUESS WHAT.  It’s my:

balloons

When I started this blog, I wouldn’t have imagined I could possibly keep this up for 50 stories.  But here I am, and I’m loving every minute of it!

Tonight’s story strays a little from my “usual” challenges, but it was just as tough!  Give it a read and I’ll reveal the challenge at the end!

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Not again. The thought hiccuped like a broken record. The traffic gods were against Harvey. Horns cried out from every direction.

Harvey tried not to check the time. It only fueled his frustration. He looked anyway. His interview would start in seven minutes.

Oh, the strings Harvey had to pull to secure this interview. It was his second and, he knew, last chance. Traffic began to move.

Harvey missed his first interview thanks to a six car pileup. He’d practically had to beg Mr. Lin to reschedule. Harvey had six minutes and no more chances. He grew unbearably fidgety.

This job was Harvey’s lifeline. He’d finally hit rock bottom. It wasn’t all his fault, really. He blamed himself for some things, like the theater investment. He could’ve come back from that, though. Yes, that was one thing he controlled.

Five minutes left. Harvey was ten blocks away. Approaching the green light, he squirmed.

Joey, Jasmine, and Juniper. These were Harvey’s children—his triplets. He’d known for only two weeks that they existed. The phone call from Maria left him trembling terribly. Suddenly he was a worthless, unemployed daddy.

The triplets were six weeks old, Maria said. All comically chunky. Harvey gave Maria the silent treatment for days. She shouldn’t have kept it from him. Wrongdoings aside, an instant, overwhelming love for his children seized Harvey.

Brakes screeched and movement ceased. The traffic light showed no mercy for Harvey. Harvey’s death grip on the steering wheel loosened. He blew out a sigh of surrender—to failure, change, lost chances. When his phone rang, Harvey almost didn’t answer it.

“Hello?” he muttered, massaging his temple.

“Harvey Barnum, this is Angela Coolidge. I am Eric Yin’s executive assistant.”

Harvey swallowed, enduring the tang of bad news. With four minutes left, he had cut it too close.

“Mr. Yin encountered an emergency,” Angela told Harvey. “He’s asked to reschedule your interview this morning.”

Harvey’s cloak of stress unraveled. “Absolutely,” he mumbled in a daze.

Angela quickly scheduled a new interview. Harvey sobbed after he hung up. Grateful tears. He couldn’t—wouldn’t—let his babies down. The light turned green. Harvey laughed. He wouldn’t be late. He’d be two hours early.

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The challenge in this post was:  The number of words in each sentence was determined by the roll of two six-sided dice.