Two Prompts: word: twenty dollars, genre: science fiction

I think that I shall never see,
A bill as hard working as a bee
Indeed, if I’m not given money,
I’ll have to work for my honey

Under an indigo sky is the Ares spaceport
In the distance the hives of the strath
If I don’t get money from old man Gort
I won’t even have coins to take a bath

I walked to the great hive, and held out my phone
I have a new app, is anybody home?
Workers brushed past, but finally stopped—a drone
Buy my app, I said, it’ll make you buzz and moan

Humans speak with sour nectar he glarred, is your name Hector?
I am not he, I will not steal, not from you, do we have a deal?
In the indigo sky a sled went by, howling
I was desperate, stomach growling

The drone glared, but ran black fingers over my screen
He like the deal, it seemed like a dream
Now I have twenty dollars, my heart’s in a whirl
Back to the spaceport, to see my girl

On a day with such nice weather,
I have the cash, we’ll bath together

Sean Crawford, October 27, 2017

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Prompt: To Marie

Once upon a time there was a Marie in our group. Young with shiny dark hair falling to her shoulders. A lilting voice, revealing roots in a maritime island. A cheerful, kind soul who seemed to extract as much pleasure from the group as she got from exercising her craft.

And then she was gone. Yes, there was warning, some suggestions of using technology to keep in touch, but none came to pass.

I wonder at her whereabouts now. Does she think of us in our old room? What would she think of this new room, grand but impractical for the art of writing and reading.

The remaining members of our group still persevere, working our magic together – separately, but spiritually briefly touching. Close for a few moments, gelling into a cohesive effort. Becoming satisfyingly one before drifting apart again, loosing each other for the days in between.

Like a monarch butterfly we drift back together, maintaining the cycle of gathering, creating and scattering again, knowing the cycle will repeat. Just not with the butterfly of Marie.

How many other butterflies are scattered across the continent, some part of them thinking, “It’s 10 o’clock on Friday, I wonder if the group still meets?”

Is our group actually so much larger than the faces we see around the table? Is the power of creation so much more extensive than what we physically acknowledge each week? Just how many butterflies still fly, or have broken wings, we will never know.

Cynthia Philp

FreeFall Friday February 24,2017

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A slow regard of silent things

I like to think that I can feel the vibration of the ship through the walls. Nonsense, of course, but I can, and the ship is a she.

I know she hurtles through the void at unimaginable astromomic speeds, but outside the cold window, the unfriendly stars are still. They don’t wink, they don’t twinkle, they just glow in careless little points. ‘we don’t care about humanity’ they seem to say, ‘you are nothing to us, you are on your own.’ And so we are.

Sometimes I feel thumps and bumps through the wall and joy surges. “Bump some more,” I say, “oh fellow humans.” Maybe there is sound too. I can’t know, not until that far off day when our systems come back on-line. Until then, my ear implants can’t be fixed.

Are you reading this a hundred years in the future? Running freely under a warm sun, hearing children’s laughter, breezes in leaves, gurgling streams, feet tumbling over a red arching bridge? I hope so. I hope there is some purpose to all this. My kids are frozen somewhere, deep in the ship, to be nurtured and grown someday. Maybe you share their last name. Are you my descendant?

Adults sacrifice for kids, they say. I try to tell myself that, but it’s all very abstract. I think the mighty engines are rumbling through the walls, taking us like an arrow into a mighty future. I look at the stars, I look at the walls, the walls, the walls, and I breathe. I feel a slow regard of silent things.

I breathe.

Isn’t that what the community has always done, as children beneath the cliffs that house the saber tooth tiger? We breathe. We listen in the night, and the wind blowing down off the hills every morning and we go on.

She goes on.

January 27 Sean Crawford

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Tick Tock Clock

Tick Tock Clock

‘T’ is for tentative – space flanked by tiny lines, the distance between ‘five to’ and the solid hour – the time to define, be clear and exact, all without great loss to you.

There’s a way of saying ‘no’, but if much of one’s life has been about earning love, winning brief moments of attention, counting down to a fleeting second of approval, then saying ‘no’ can be as dangerous as tripping upon a smashed time piece.

But ‘no’ can be a victory too – a triumph that spins round and round to years of joy.

“It’s never too late,” said Gramma. “In the grand scheme of things, the time taken to forge a new path means little. It’s the road itself that means so much – a real option for those coming next.”

“So you said ‘no’ this time?” asked Sharon. “You actually did it?  You didn’t change your mind an hour later because you couldn’t tolerate the discomfort you felt?  You didn’t vacillate or collapse?”

“It’s true,” said Gramma. “This is my third act, my last chance to be real. I’m giving myself permission to be authentic at last!

Tick tock tick tock – a wise investment made

Not in hours, not in days,

But in her voice – new routes paved!


Eleanor Cowan,

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Baby Shoes

“A Hanukkah gift for each of you,” Bev Steinberg smiled as she handed each of her colleagues a hand-carved Longhorn at the last staff meeting before our Christmas break.
Once a soaked chunk of wood at her husband’s forest retreat, now a symbol of strength, the calf still stands on my mantel, a single baby shoe at either end of its pastoral impression.

Baby steps – such dear, warm, darlings, my neighbor’s kids, such obedient children. When their father showed young Neil the ropes – how to slap two cellophane-wrapped T-bones against his hairless chest, how to stuff ground round into the special underpants meant to hold the meat, Neil stole well. A little heavier he’d lumber with his dad to the cash with their baleful portion: a jar of peanut butter on sale and a loaf of day-old bread. Looking up at the female clerk (Dad preferred grey-haired staffers), Neil smiled the shy smile that usually earned him a cookie, a piece of chocolate or a pat on the head while Dad breathed heavily searching for coins.

Sissy waited in the far parking lot with the red wheelie cart into which the purloined goods plopped. They head home – the week’s shopping well-accomplished.

“I was taught to steal,” complained Neil, his oversized running shoes akimbo on my kitchen doormat. “I got used to it. Since Dad died, it’s still kind of fun to smack those fat packs against my ribs – and then laugh my way back to the meat station where I wrapped them.”

“You practically own the whole store now,” smiled Sissy, adjusting her newborn’s hand-knit booties with a deft touch. ” You sure as hell turned that rump roast around!”

Eleanor Cowan

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What’s in a Name?

Gopherville actually exists somewhere on the border of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. I thought I was being creative creating a scene in a town of Gopherville. Names say something, a history or a characteristic have meaning. What’s in a name?
Betty’s, a washer woman’s name, name of a downstairs servant. I tried to change my name to Elizabeth as a teen. Did I know an Elizabeth that I admired? And anyway, Betty is a name passed down two generations. Names that spell something mean good luck. Mine spell ELM.

On a walk, I met a man with a dog. Like many retired people I struck up a conversation forgetting that I don’t hear well. “What’s the name of your dog?” I ask and add, “My neighbor has a pug like yours named Raisin.”

“Oh, for the face,” the man replies and after a pause says, “My dog’s name is Betty.”

“Really? That’s an odd name for a dog,” I say astonished.

“She’s sweet, my own little Betty,” he replies lovingly.

I stand tall, thinking I’m big Betty when the man says, “the only trouble is that she shsss a lot.”

“Shits a lot?” I ask, for that’s what dogs do.

The man reaches down to the dog, caresses her back and shows me his furred hand.

“Oh, sheds,” I say, thinking I almost got it right and think this man is quick, a show-not-tell type of man; a man not shocked by shit coming out of an old lady’s mouth. I don’t mean that literally, not actual shit coming out of my mouth, just the word. Taking a breath, standing tall, I tell him, “Actually, my name is Betty.”

“It’s a sweet name, “he replies and continues his walk.

As he heads down the street I think of a dog named Betty. Well, it’s not a harsh name like Mac. Dogs need a one or two syllable name, a name that commands so they can be trained.
It’s odd how the hard of hearing can hear their own name without seeing it spoken. Like a dog, you get the hard of hearing’s attention calling their name.

Betty Millham  December 2nd.

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My mother would weed in the garden and my uncle Jack would stand on the pavement. For him it was an old habit, because the communists in Eastern Europe didn’t have the Geneva Convention: They would hide their landmines.

When Uncle Jack took me fishing we always set down our gear left to right, neatly lined up. Like the parts of a stripped down rifle, he said, and always be able to find your clothes in the dark. Maybe he was just trying to make life easier for my mother, but I didn’t think of that then. One day we were fishing in the rain, talking in low voices, and he told me a bout the Geneva conventions for land mines. He said, “You’ve seen the TV shows where the police tape says do not cross?

“Uh, yes,”

“Well, every minefield is to be taped off, with strong white canvas mine tape.”

But then the bad guys know where they are.

That’s OK, mines never stopped anybody, they are only for slowing people down. You tape off the field. Do you know how you safely dig your mines back up again?”

My face froze with concentration. At last I said, “I don’t know.”

Easy. You make a chart, like a treasure map.


Wow, indeed. You start with a boulder, or a tree, something that won’t move. Then you pace off and every few paces you plant a mine. And you do this in rows, all paced off. It’s real easy to lift them up again…” Uncle was a long time tamping fresh tobacco into his pipe. At last he said, “The communists never made any charts. That’s why we all despise them… He sighed. “It’s always the young who make the worst communists.”

Years later I thought of Uncle Jack when Abdul down the road started acting weird. Jack used to say, “You never know when there’s an anarchist under the bed.” Another one of his saying that sounded like a joke until I grew up.

Years later, one day Mother said I had to be nice to Jack, go easy on him, because his old buddy had committed suicide. Jack remembered stuff I’ll never know.

Sean Crawford November 2016

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