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Writing Prompt Result: Heather Hawke

images-2I have to find out if I can take Nat with me. Although winter air stings my nose, I can remember the scent of him. When warned of the gruesome consequences of taking passengers, I’d shivered with the other recruits. Still, I didn’t know anybody who’d actually tried.

I start to walk so fast, snow flies up and sticks to my skirts, making me look like I’ve been dipped in powdered sugar. A man in a top hat passes me with a cocked eyebrow. I flush. If Nat could be here, he’d tease me until I pelted him with snowballs.

Lovers are always hard to leave behind, but Nat is different. Reassignment is a bitch.

I ease a finger along the bottom edge of my corset. I’ll be grateful when I can leave the year 1886 and strip down to the flapper dress underneath.

I face a line of coal dust blackened grand residences lining the side of the park. In forty years the house at the very center of the block will be a flophouse and Nat will rent a quarter room in the attic.

When she first laid eyes on me, his mother sniffed, “Na-tha-an-i-el (she always shoehorned two extra syllables into his name), I didn’t raise you to bring home a painted, jazz-dancing Jezebel.”

Nat fled their upperside bungalow soon after. When I last passed through 1926, I’d laughed at how he could only stand straight in one corner of his apartment. His smile was slow, like a rising sun. “I’ll crawl under greater weights than this roof to be with you.” He knelt and nuzzled my stomach. I bent down myself to kiss him, and afterwards, well, we hadn’t needed to stand anymore.

That will be a hot summer night. Today, snowflakes gather on my lashes. I blink them away like frozen tears. In two more jumps, I will pass Nat by forever.

I have to find out if I can take him with me to my next assignment. Nat won’t be alive in 2014 and I’ll never be able to come back again.

The man in the top hat stops at the roadside. If I can take him to 1926, Nat should survive a jump too.

As the man raises an arm to hail a hansom cab, a stretch of bare skin shows between his topcoat’s sleeve and glove. It’s all I need.

I jog as fast as my skirts will let me, then I am inches from taking the man to 1926. He could die. I snatch my hand back, then sprawl onto the road. All I can see are waving hooves. The cabbie’s curses finally reach me. “Half a bubble off plumb, you are…”

I rise to my feet. The horse snorts, but already lowers his head placidly. He doesn’t object as I put my arms around his neck. I jump.

It is 1926 and I hold a horse’s skeleton in my arms. Oh, Nat.

Heather Hawke is an Ecologist who finds chasing butterflies and slogging through marshes useful for writing young adult science fiction since nature’s truth really is stranger than fiction. She remembers life is short so flies as a sport pilot, zips around on a little yellow motorcycle or electric skateboard and fends off accusations of insanity. heatherhawke.com

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Writing Prompt Result: J. M. Cooper

images“Tally.”  Mom reached into her monogrammed tote bag. “You mind telling me where this came from?”

“A match?” I asked when her hand was finally revealed from her bag. I was expecting a paint can or a pack of cigarettes.  Something slightly more incriminating than a single match between her manicured fingers.

“Well,” she said as she reached back in and pulled out a handful, letting them scatter like pickup sticks all over the kitchen table. “The box spilled, but yes.  Why do you have matches in your room?”

“They’re not mine.”  I returned to making Grandpa’s turkey and provolone on wheat while she continued to clean out her bag digging around everything to make sure she got every last match.  I cut Grandpa’s sandwich into small squares, still all he could hold on to without it falling apart in his lap.

“You expect me to believe that.”  She began picking up each matchstick and placing them back in the box perfectly aligned, little red heads all bumping up against each other. For some reason it reminded me of the Ten Little Monkeys song.  I’d have thrown them in a Ziploc.

“Yes,” I answered her even though she hadn’t asked me a question, exactly, it was more like a statement of disbelief.  I sliced and salted a few garden fresh cucumbers, Grandpa’s favorite, and fanned them around the sandwich.

“I’m sorry if I’m paranoid,” she said.  “But the barn burned down four days ago, Tally.”  She pressed her palms into the table.  “It’s still smoldering.  You think I’m just going to let this go?”

I looked at her face for the first time.  Her coppery hair, usually in a fastidious pony tail, hung in strands around her pale skin.  The circles under her eyes were darker, I knew, from her long hours at the hospital and Grandpa’s accident.  There wasn’t a hint of light in her normally bright face.  I couldn’t look at her for very long.

“I have to take this to Grandpa,” I said, picking up the plate and leaving my mother with her suspicion.  I couldn’t tell her the matches belonged to Seth, that he’d spent the night only two days after the barn, smelling like campfire and fresh grass, but that I knew he didn’t do it despite all of the evidence that pointed otherwise.  Despite all of the matches that now lay like perfect little children in their perfect bed.

J.M. Cooper is currently working on an AFA in New Jersey and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults with Vermont College of Fine Arts.  When she is not reading or writing about fictional young adults, she’s raising three young adults of her own.

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Random Acts of Writing: Omnivorous, Arboreal & Marsupial

images-1In honor of NaNoWriMo, I’m  spending the month of November offering you all some writing prompts! Here’s the game: A few times each week I’m posting a picture and a setup. Your task is to write 500 words or less. That’s about a page (single spaced). If you want, you can email me what you come up with (linda dot p dot epstein at gmail dot com) with “writing prompt” in the subject line and I’ll pick a few to post on the blog. Please don’t submit your writing in the comments section, I’m not posting them there. 

imgresHere’s the task:  This is seen on a sidewalk in the city. Write the scene! You can use dialogue, but it should be <50% of the writing. 500 words or less. Go!

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