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February 2018 Writers Challenge

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  • 02 Feb 2018 7:04 PM
    Message # 5715356

    The waiter pours you a bottle of water, a young woman you've never met brings it to you and sits down across from you. The smile on her face is alluring but you feel apprehensive. Where will this picture take you and your readers.

    Happy writing 

  • 03 Feb 2018 10:12 AM
    Reply # 5716004 on 5715356
    Gil Alligood


    He was strong in his Christian faith. The day had been especially daunting, but he had survived and stopped at Muncey’s tavern to ponder on events of the day. I just had to do it, he mumbled to himself. What would they do without it? His wife was having her third chemo treatment for cancer that day. His daughter was beginning her second year at the state university. Mortgage payments, credit card payments. The world was closing in on him.

    He had seated himself at a table in a corner. It was only 4:30 PM. The usual crowd was just beginning to amble in. He had never stopped at the tavern before. His moral principles just would not approve. He did not understand why, nor did he even realize he had entered the tavern, but when the waiter came to his table he ordered a Martini.

    The pressures of family demands and inadequate finances had burdened him until he realized that recovery was beyond hope.

                    He was the junior vice president at Quest Bank. It was the primary bank in his small community. That afternoon a secretary from the local General Motors car dealer in town brought a deposit for the company receipts of the previous day. Most transactions had been made through on-line bank transfers, but a local engineering company had purchased six new vehicles for use by company employees and paid for them with a cashier’s check. Yes, a check in the amount of $174,321.54. The secretary asked that the check be credited to the car dealer account.

                    He had never met the secretary. Bob usually brought the daily deposit and simply did the transaction at a teller window. Yet, she asked for him by name. The bank greeter escorted her to his office where he welcomed her and invited her to be seated. She then told him that she wanted him to accept the deposit that she had.

                    Because of the pressures from family and finances, he was cordial but not interested in conversation. She began talking and discussed a number of topics, including the success of the car dealer she worked for. She handed him the cashier’s check and said, “take care of this for us.” Then she said, “thank you,” and simply stood up and exited his office.

                    He sat for a while as he seemed to receive numerous thoughts and visions as though he were in a dream. After about fifteen minutes of that confused thought, he looked at his computer screen and observed that he had deposited the cashier’s check in his personal account. At first he was confused and shocked. How could that have happened, he pondered? But then he realized that he now had enough money in his account to pay all of his past due accounts with some extra for future expenditures.

                    The thrill of realizing that his financial woes had just vanished was followed by the realization that he had violated his most basic morality in life. That feeling was deeper and more devastating than the trauma of facing bankruptcy. Bankruptcy would cause his dismissal from employment at the bank. With that moral shock reverberating in his mind, he got up, retrieved his coat, and departed the bank without speaking to anyone. As he was departing, the bank greeter observed that he was not acting normal.

                    As he walked along the sidewalk he had no thought as to where he was heading. Now I have made things worse, he thought. I am crushed and facing the penalty of breaking the law.

                    A waiter approached his table. It was not the male waiter who took his order for a Martini. She carried a bottle of water. She also carried a Martini cocktail glass that she placed in front of him. She began talking to him. She slowly poured water from the bottle into the glass. As the water flowed from the bottle he seemed to sense a presence that he did not understand. It was confusing yet consoling. He watched the water bubble into the glass until it seemed to become a vapor. Now the voice of the waitress faded and he heard a consoling voice from the vapor. “I AM a spirit,” the voice sounded. “Worship me in spirit and the truth.” After a brief pause, more words from the spirit, “Know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” Then, “Trust in me.”

                    That was a beautiful woman, he thought. A beauty that I did not think could exist. Who, or what was it? Then he realized that she was not there. He did not even see her leave, if she had in fact even been there.

                    The original male waiter approached the table and said to him, “The water is free. Oh, yes, water is life-giving and can be redeeming.”

    * * * *

    He left Muncey’s tavern and walked to his house that was only three blocks away. His daughter met him on the walkway, “Daddy, I got it! I got the scholarship. It is for full tuition and dormitory room.” She threw herself on him and hugged him tightly.

     Immediately his wife met him on the walkway and approached with a shy but knowing smile. “Cancer free! The doctor said there is no sign of it!”

    “Are you sure,” he replied?

    “Oh yes, he had results from various tests, and an MRI. He said there is no doubt.”

    * * * *

    Even in his confusion, that night he slept well. Except for a voice that spoke to him. “Your faith has made you well.”

    The next morning he opened his computer expecting to find tragic records. But his personal account did not show any deposit from the previous day. The $174,321.54 check had been credited to the car dealer’s account.

    The spirit and the water. Oh, yes, they are indeed refreshing! He felt like a new person.

  • 06 Feb 2018 11:59 AM
    Reply # 5724150 on 5715356

    Found Family

    He felt nervous sitting at the back-corner table of a watering hole near work; he didn’t come here often but the staff knew him. He swirled a glass of bourbon on the rocks while waiting for the mystery woman who had texted him—damn his nephew for giving her the number without asking first. It felt like a blind date, except then he would have at least seen a picture and known something about her.

    The bartender poured a drink for a slender, young lady, and pointed towards his table. He stood as she approached with an alluring smile, but her attractive appearance only made him more apprehensive.

    “Jack?” she asked.

    “Yes, and you are?”

    “Sorry, I’m just so nervous,” she said. “I’m Emily.”

    When they had both sat down, she continued, “Actually my mother named me “Li Xiu Ying” when I was born in Hong Kong, but I was baptized as “Emily” when I become a Christian. So that is the name I go by now.”

    He had served a deployment in Hong Kong when he was in the Navy, so that was one clue to the mystery.

    “How did you find my nephew Ted?”

    “I sent a salvia sample to a DNA service; you know the ones that claim to tell you the country that your ancestors came from? I also signed up for their genealogy service, which costs an extra fee, and so had your nephew, and they matched me with Ted. They said that we both shared a male ancestor.”

    “Ted has many male ancestors, so how did you decide that I was the one you were looking for?”

    “My mother said that my father was called ‘Jack’ and Ted said that was what people call you. And he said that you had been in Hong Kong the year before my birth.”

    “What was your mother’s name?”

    “Liu Yang,” she replied while digging in her purse.

    The name rang a bell, and then she pushed a picture toward him. He recognized the woman; she had waited tables at a small bar that catered to American sailors. Though he knew the woman, he was puzzled because he hadn’t known her in the Biblical sense. Instantly his guard was up; was this some sort of con game?

    Then Emily pulled out a worn, wallet-size photo. The face that stared out bore a striking resemblance to him.

    Suddenly he remembered that he had introduced Liu Yang to his brother George, who had enlisted two years after he had. They had met up when George’s ship had docked in Hong Kong, and he had taken George to that bar.

    “My mother also kept this,” she said while handing him a ring.

    Jack turned it over and saw the initials “JGS” engraved inside. He was named “John Gregory Smith” after his paternal grandfather, and his brother was named “Jackie George Smith” after his maternal grandfather.

    Jack stared at the ring for a long time. He had envied his brother who had married his high school sweetheart right after graduation. Then George and Sue had three kids in quick succession, and he had lived long enough to hold his first grandchild before cancer took him. On the other hand, Jack had only married after getting out of the Navy, and two years later, had divorced with no children.

    Jack didn’t blame his nephew for the confusion; he just didn’t know how the military worked. It didn’t matter what you wanted to be called; they were going to use your first name. In the Navy, he was called “John” and George was known as “Jackie”, or more often, “Jack”.

    Sue wouldn’t take this news well. She idolized George, especially since his death, and would be devastated to learn that he had cheated on her. A step-daughter would get a very cold reception.

    Jack looked up into Emily’s anxious face.

    “Your mother never told me that she was pregnant. Now, tell me all about my daughter.”

    Last modified: 06 Feb 2018 12:20 PM | Michael Worthington
  • 07 Feb 2018 8:40 AM
    Reply # 5725942 on 5715356
    Sherri Hollister (Administrator)

    I love to see the different styles of writing and the different stories one picture can evoke. Gil and Michael you have presented two unique stories. Both stories show strength of character and faith, yet both are different. Thank you for sharing your work. I hope to see you both at the conference in March.

  • 22 Feb 2018 1:31 PM
    Reply # 5872399 on 5715356
    E.M. Satterley

    Mrs. Rousseau

                “Good evening Madame. My name is Marcel and it will be my pleasure to serve you this evening. May I suggest a glass of our fine imported Rosè while you look over our menu?”

                “Marcel, huh?”

                “Yes, Madame.”

                “Well, Marcel, I haven’t seen you before, have you been working here long?”

                “Actually, this is my first week, Madame.”

                Mrs. Rousseau could not tell whether Marcel was forcing a French accent or it came naturally. Either way was acceptable. She came for the ambiance and the excellent service, she told herself.

                “Where is Pierre? He usually waits on me.”

                “I’m sorry, Madame, Pierre has taken ill. I would be more than happy to serve you.”

                “My husband and I are celebrating our fiftieth wedding anniversary this evening and I would like to wait until he arrives. Will you please give me a few moments?”

                “Of course, Madame. Would you like a glass of Rosè while you wait?”

                “Yes, Marcel. Rosè sounds good. Your best, please.”

                “Very well. And congratulations.”

                Mrs. Rousseau was dressed, you might say “adorned” in a white-laced ball gown with just a hint of blush on both cheeks. She felt a tingling of anticipation for her husband and she fidgeted in her chair while ever-so-diligently glancing at the front desk for him to make his appearance. It took most of the afternoon to get ready but it was worth it because she wanted everything to be perfect for this special night.

                I can’t believe it’s been fifty years since Martin and I have been married, she thought to herself.  It seems like it was just yesterday that we were frolicking on the shore at the beach house and then enjoying a frosty treat at McCallister’s Ice Cream Parlor. Where has the time gone?

                Martin and Frances are very much in love. They are a team. They laughed together and cried together. They solved problems together and relished in the many successes. It’s been almost twenty years ago that his father succumbed to an unexpected stroke leaving Martin in control of the very lucrative family business. Martin and Frances are very well off financially and give generously to various charities. They were not able to have children together, something they sorely regretted, but it gave them the frequent opportunity and freedom to slip away to Europe for both pleasure and business purposes.

                Visibly frustrated, Mrs. Rousseau asked herself, “Where is that man?”

                Marcel came to the table wheeling an ice cart and a bottle of chilled wine. He poured just enough wine for a swirl and taste and set the glass before Mrs. Rousseau. “Here you are Madam, the finest Rosè.”

                “Yes, this will do quite nicely. Thank you, Marcel.”

                “You’re very welcome, Madam,” he said as he poured six ounces. “Shall we wait a bit longer, Madam?”

                “He’s usually not tardy for any appointment he has undertaken. Yes, would you mind?”

                “Of course, Madame, I will check back with you shortly.”

                “Thank you, Marcel, you are a patient man.”

                Mrs. Rousseau was now regretting that she and Martin had discussed the use of cell phones. “Never at the table and never while driving the Rolls. For that matter, not even the Porche. Of course, have-at-it when Roland is driving.”

                She contemplated requesting a telephone from Marcel but thought better of it.  I’m sure he’ll be here momentarily, she convincingly told herself. Several minutes turned into many minutes, and she was feeling sorry for Marcel having to wait so long for her order.

                “Madam, do you think your husband has been delayed? Perhaps you would like to order an appetizer?”

                “That’s a wonderful idea, Marcel. Would you bring me my favorite, please?”

                “I’m sorry?”

                “Excuse me, Marcel, I forgot that you’re not Pierre.”

                 Marcel tried to smile, but his patience was not as solid as Mrs. Rousseau may have thought.

                 “Saumon Fumè, please.”

                “Thank you, Madame,” Marcel said as he turned on his heels toward the kitchen.

                Thirteen minutes later, Marcel returned with the appetizer and set the silver server on the table. “May I bring you anything else, Madame?”

                “More Rosè, please. In fact, bring me the remainder of the bottle.” Frustration was also entering Mrs. Rousseau’s spoken demeanor. Soon frustration evolved into worry. I hope nothing has happened to him, she thought. It would be awful if something happened to him on our fiftieth anniversary. No, that’s just not possible, he’s probably just tied up in a meeting.

                “Marcel,” she called out.

                “Yes Madame.”

                “I would like to place my order now, please.”

                “Yes Madame, and what would you like?”

                “Something light. Ahh…perhaps Saint-Jacques Sauce Gingembre et Citron Vert?”

                “Very Good choice, Madame. The Scallops are fresh, just today.”

                “Thank you Marcel,” Mrs. Rousseau said as he handed the menu to her waiter.

                Mrs. Rousseau took her time eating her meal. She politely dabbed her lips with the napkin as she decreased her glance to the front desk. Now she was more interested in getting home and going to bed than spending more time waiting for her delinquent husband.


                “Yes Madame. Did you enjoy your meal?”

                “Very much so. I guess I was quite hungry after all. May I have the check, please?”

                “May I bring you anything else? Coffee?”

                “No thank you, just the check. It’s getting late.”

                Mrs. Rousseau left the signed portion of the check in the black folder with a very generous gratuity. She slowly rose from the table and gracefully left the restaurant.

                Marcel saw the disappointment in Mrs. Rousseau’s face as she left and he, too, was disappointed for her.

                In the kitchen, Marcel caught the ear of one of his co-workers. “That elderly lady I was waiting on? She is celebrating her fiftieth wedding anniversary and her husband didn’t even have the courtesy to show up. That’s terrible. I feel so bad for her.”

                “Who? You mean Mrs. Rousseau? Not to worry. She comes in here about twice a month and waits for her husband to show up. He never does. She’s such a sweet lady, but a little mental.”

                “What do you mean,” Marcel asked?

                “Somehow she has it in her mind that if she continues to have these fiftieth anniversary dinners, he will eventually show up. Truth of the matter is, he will never show up because the poor man died a year after they married.”       


  • 25 Feb 2018 11:50 AM
    Reply # 5876568 on 5715356
    Gloria A. Gould-Loftin

    “Zero Day”

    Tiki had heard village elders talking about something called “Zero Day,” but it meant nothing to her.  The well in her tiny village had run out of water a few days ago and she was walking to the nearest town that was many kilometers from her small village hoping to get enough water to give to the children in her care.

    She walked through the golden dirt, waves of dust wafting up and chocking her every breath. The dust so deep and  heavy it felt like she was walking through mud.

    Burdened down with a yoke with two large barrels attached, and her child; sickly and near death attached to a sling across her chest, she trudged on only one goal in mind, life giving water.

    The air became thicker the closer she got to the town.  Fire, flickering with violence came to life right next to her on the road.  With nowhere to hide she ran as fast as she could to the only safety she saw; a cave buried into the side of a small cairn.

    Tiki pushed herself  and her child as far back as she could into the cave.  At least the fire could not reach her and the cave was cool and damp.  She prayed that the fire would pass quickly, like it often did in the Veldt.

    The cool air in the cave worked as a soporific on her mind and she fell into a  deep sleep; the first since the water had started drying up near her village.

    Tiki dreamed of a cool breeze scented with the prevalent eucalyptus trees that used to flourish around her village.  She felt the soft breezes caress her still young face and wrap around her body like the young men of her tribe were always trying to do.  She dreamed of life for her family and friends. She dreamed of an end to the drought that has plagued her village since before she was born.

                When she woke she realized that the dreams she had would not come true for her peoples and that she was the only hope for the children in her village. 

                The fire had gone out and she exited the small cave and trudged back to the road to begin the rest of her journey. Her child began to cry and she raised her to her breast that had swollen with  life giving milk.  She wondered just how much longer she would be able to feel her child.  She had not had sustenance or water for days it seemed, but she trudged on.

                Walking along the road, clouds of  burnt arid plants reached into her sinus cavities and made it almost impossible for her to breath. She tore off part of her clothing to wrap around her face and the face of her child.

                She became tired and disoriented.  The sky above turning dark and oppressive.  She kept on walking not even realizing that rain had started to fall on her emaciated body. Still she kept on one step at a time.

                She reached the town and started to walk to the well to fill her barrels.  People rushed up to her and took the burden from her shoulders.  They raised her face and gave her a life giving cup of water. They took her child from her and laid her on a soft bed in the town Chief’s home.

                “Child,” said the wife of the Chief.  “Where have you come from?”

                Tiki raised her head and took in the cool and welcoming surrounds and said.  “I have traveled days from my village to reach this town to bring water to the children in my care.”

                “Where are the men of your village, that they would let you set out on this by yourself.” The Chief said.

                “They all left us to hunt for food to sustain the people that are left in my village.”  Tiki tells them.

                Thunder boomed just outside the home and startled Tiki. She had never seen such a display in the African sky. A heavy rain began to fall and she fell down and wept at the miracle of it. This life giving rain would fill up the wells at her village and others near them.

                Later after she had fallen into a dreamless sleep, she awakened to find that it had not all been a dream and her people would not suffer again.

                This has been a story of caution for the Earth we live in.  We may not always have the water and air we do now.  We must be better guardians of the world we live in and must remember that this is the only world we have and treat her with reverence and love.


  • 26 Feb 2018 6:28 PM
    Reply # 5878920 on 5715356

    E.M. Satterley, I enjoyed the story. The pacing was excellent, and the ending was a surprise.

    Gloria A. Gould-Loftin, Your allegorical tale is timely, and you did a great job of creating the setting.

  • 28 Feb 2018 8:39 AM
    Reply # 5881426 on 5715356
    Sherri Hollister (Administrator)

    The dry, gummy paste that coated my mouth made breathing difficult. I tried to spit but there was no moisture to remove the thick coat that covered my tongue like cotton batting. My head ached, my muscle trembled, my bones were rubbery and insubstantial. Still, I pushed on, determined. Sweat trickled from my brow, drying on my skin before it reached my tongue or I’d have sipped it for sweet relief.

                    The noise around me faded to nothing more than cicadas on a summer breeze, unnoticed by a native.  My attention rivetted to the blue bottle that stood like a temptress, the color catching the light and refracting like a prism, filling the room with disco lights. Droplets of life-giving water slid down the delicate curve of the plastic, pooling on the table. I would lick the puddles if I could only reach it. My feet slapped against the tiles. Lifeless and numb, they beat out a rhythm. I longed for the cool, refreshing water against my cracked lips. My eyes burned but they were too arid to cry.

                    The music continued, as the instructor smiled, gleeful in her torture. She ordered us onward. “Lift your leg, tap your foot,” the instruction continued. I followed several steps behind on leaden feet. My arms, like dead fish hung to my sides, slimy and sweaty from my exertions. The air was heavy with the humidity of so many gasping lungs. The instructor asked if anyone wanted a break. My groans echoed at their denial causing a twitter of unease.  I staggered, my feet tangling with each other I pleaded for surcease. Blessedly, she granted my request. I half crawled, half lunged for the last bottle when nimble feet scurried past scooping up the others leaving only the bent, stooped bottle. I cared not that it was imperfect. The plastic not as blue, the curves slightly dented and out of contour. It was the most beautiful bottle I’d ever seen.

    I reached for it, my fingers too thick and rubbery, unable to hold it. It leaped from my grasp, shooting over the table and rolling across the floor. I dove for it and missed. The sob escaped my dry lips. I dropped to my aching, swollen knees and crawled beneath the table, searching for the allusive blue bottle like a treasure hunter on a quest. Flat on my belly I scooted on the tile. My sweat soaked tee shirt and shorts clinging to the cool floor like soft rubber on pavement. I strained and stretched trying to reach the last bottle of cool refreshing…

    “We have more water in the cooler,” a chiding voice said from above me. “Here, let me help you.” She grunted only a little when she pulled me unsteadily to my feet. She handed me a bottle of water. It was slick and cold, and slippery in my fingers. I held tight and fumbled with the lid.

    “Would you like me to open that for you?”

    She must be an angel, my new best friend. She handed me back the opened bottle and I poured the precious liquid down my throat, emptying half the bottle without taking a breath. I sighed. “Thank you,” the words loosened from my parched throat sounded like a toad frog in the bottle of a trash can.

    “This your first time at Zumba?”

    I nodded.

    “I thought so.”

    “How can you tell?”

    “I didn’t remember anyone making those noises before.”

    I frowned at my new friend, the unearthly glow fading with each utterance.

    “My grandmother came with me one time. I think she made similar noises but at least she kept time with the music.”

    I narrowed my eyes at her and guzzled the rest of the water, wishing it were beer or whiskey or even cyanide.

    “Oh, time to get back in line,” she smiled and waved as she bounced back out to join the rest of the class.

    Tossing my bottle in the vicinity of the trash can, I shuffled back to join the torture. 

  • 28 Feb 2018 9:05 AM
    Reply # 5881500 on 5872399
    Sherri Hollister (Administrator)
    E.M. Satterley wrote:Mrs. RousseauWhat a fabulous story and the surprise ending, I was expecting him to be on his way and died, truly wonderful. 


  • 28 Feb 2018 9:10 AM
    Reply # 5881504 on 5876568
    Sherri Hollister (Administrator)
    Gloria A. Gould-Loftin wrote: “Zero Day” Gloria, you have an wonderful, interesting mind and an old soul. The stories you write could be ancient, great job. 

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