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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cross legged Dec 2, 2106

December 2, 2016                                                                                                           Judy Paterson

Prompt: cross legged. (5 minutes)

The group sat cross-legged on the floor in a circle. Carol shifted and put her legs straight out. That was worse. She lounged on one side but thought the posture too provocative for a self-help group.

The facilitator droned on, finally breaking through Carol’s discomfort with the words. “You’ll find sitting still difficult if you can’t settle your mind.” Carol thought she looked in her direction. It’s not my bloody mind, Carol thought, it’s my hips.

Seconds later the facilitator said. “If you are in denial about moving forward in your life you will find that your hips will be stiff.”

Oh f*** off, Carol thought. She adjusted her legs to wake them up.

“Oh, f*** off.” She said to the group as she walked to the door to move forward in her life well away from here.

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Was I in an ER? Or an intensive care unit? The wheezing in and out, the labored breathing, the gasping and straining somehow became a childhood memory …

In our family of twelve, our talents were, at first, simply appointed by our ambitious mother. I got the accordion ticket – but happily, not for long.

“Your writing is so cramped and tight,” said Mum, “No wonder you’re always constipated. Here,” she said, sliding onto the kitchen table a white plastic strip of sunken letters, along with an inkless pen. “Trace,” said Mom, “Over and over and over again, and soon your cramped script will improve. People judge you on your handwriting, you know. Tight, twisted letters signal a confused and even dangerous mind. Spaced letters indicate that you can think well. You can reflect about things before opening your mouth. So just sit down, shut up and do it.”

I began to trace the new life I hoped for and actually got into it. I also got out of the accordion lesson.

“I’ve changed my mind,” Mother announced at dinner, while ladling macaroni and tomato sauce (pre-mixed so there’d be no fights over who got more topping), “I’m selling the damn accordion. Mabel’s kids are naturals at music and she’s forking over twelve dollars for it – that’s a buck for each of you. Anyway,” she explained, oblivious of the huge relief sweeping the supper table, “talents are inherited. All of my children have high foreheads, a clear sign of intellectual acuity. So we’ll just let Mabel’s kids play the background ballad to your success.

Eleanor Cowan
November 18, 2016 – prompt: accordians

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His Last Text Was…….

His Last Text Was…….

The one he never meant to send. His emotions were scattered. One moment he was giggly and the next almost in tears.

He addressed his text to all his friends and family. He was so excited he wanted to tell everyone he knew.

He wrote: I have just won the Super 7 worth 50M dollars and I want you all to share it with me. Of course he didn’t mean it, but he felt kind of generous and heroic in doing it.

He read it one last time and then deleted the whole thing. – He thought‐ he deleted it, ‐ but in fact he sent it.

He suddenly panicked. He didn’t want to give away his millions of dollars. He might need it someday. He wanted to buy a boat and a Lamborghini.

Just then his phones all rang at once resonating through his home and he instantly knew what he had done. Oh my god he said, to himself.

His fingers flew over the keys as he “Googled” Merlin Travel for the quickest way out of town.

He left no note – left all his clothes and his car. After all he was filthy rich and he could buy whatever he wanted. There was one thing though, he really would be lonely without his fiancé, but maybe he could find another in Mozambique.

Sheila Musselman

From FreeFall Friday, July 10, 2015 prompt

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The Ugly Years

Using great effort and moving slowly,slowly down the garden path, Samuel, achingly struggled. Down a path strewn with yellowing, rotting leaves, and festering, melting piles of rotting fruit. What were once ripe red apples, fuzzy succulent orange and red peaches, orangish red nectarines with skin swollen with juice, was now just fermenting piles of oozing fruit mixed with dots of worms and maggots.

Samuel had been here in his youth, a youth that had been full of brightly lit thoughts and plans   A youth that promised to be lively and strongly lived.  One that held a promise of a future that would be unbelievable in it’s grace and grandeur.  He remembered those years fondly.  The years that he meet her. The beauty, the princess of wonder and wildfire.  Exuding passion with every languorous move her velvet touch and rich voice carried Samuel forward to every meeting.  To every dark, rich coffee gathering. Every chance to talk about an infinite future. The years would be delightfully light, floating down like the down of a new born gosling.  Those were the thoughtful years. The looking forward and dazzling, brilliant years.

They were gone now.  Lost to the cesspool that was left of this garden.  This unattended unkept place, this place of bleakness and desperation.  As she was gone. Samuel new that she was somewhere out there somewhere dancing and flitting in a place of new fresh growth. He knew it as much as he knew he would never find her, never hear her, never see her brightness, her freshness, her passion.  He had lost all. As soon as he trapped her, he knew she was lost to him. She festered under fetters, unable to move she wilted, her colour faded and darkened.  Her voice stopped. Her passion for life fled.  Samuel was still caught, still fermenting. He was just entering his ugly years …

Jack Patterson

From Freefall Friday, July 10, 2015 prompt

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In Summer

I never thought you’d leave in summer.

The hardest part of school was over, I’d marked my last exam, graded my last essay, and at last I could relax with you. Weren’t we going to go to the lake? I wanted to see you laughing on a boat. Lord knows I haven’t laughed all semester, nor you, nor have I tried to make you laugh.

And that’s it, I guess. I stopped trying, and we stopped relating to each other in any sort of a rhythm. I did my teacher thing, with teacher facts, just as I would write on a dusty chalkboard, but there’s no rhythm there.


Sean Crawford, June 5, 2015

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The usual….

The usual menagerie met Carl at the door, Sam the samoid dog, Krissy, their long haired fluff of a cat and Ben, his son carrying a small brown bag puffed up and folded carefully on top.

“What do you have there, Ben?” his dad asked scooping him and the bag up.

“It’s my new pets. Can I keep them, dad?”

“Can I see them first?” Carl was used to Ben’s pets. He also knew that a no response would lead directly to a tantrum, one where he would have to be the big bad father and send Ben to his room or take away a privilege.

Ben advised, “Be careful.” As he passed the puffed up bag to Carl. Carl made a big show of opening the bag slowly and extra carefully.

“Ben, there is nothing in here.”

“What? Ben stuck his nose right in the opening. “Oh, Dad, he smiled his huge three year old smile, ”They are right there on the bottom. They are my new pets.”

“Oh, Carl looked again. “What do they look like?”

“They are small and friendly and they live everywhere. Mommy said so.”

Carl felt a light bulb shine in his brain. “What did you watch on TV today?”

“The Nature of Things all about bac=bac=bacterneria”

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