April 29, 2015

The therapist crossed her legs and clicked her pen a few more times. The impatience in her otherwise professional demeanor was obvious, but he couldn’t help it…. It was really difficult to get comfortable on that silly little couch.

Why did therapists’ offices come with couches anyway? Were they fainting couches? How many people passed out in their therapist’s office, exactly, to make such a thing necessary?

He flared his nostrils and drew a deep breath, wriggling on the couch in an attempt to find a position that didn’t crumple his wings beneath him…. As it was, he’d already shed feathers all over the tastefully decorated office.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “Would it be possible to have our next session outside?”

“I’ll look into that,” she said, mouth turning downward in a slight frown.

He bet she would. Cleaning up feathers was irritating enough. Glittery feathers made the situation much more unpleasant.

She let the silence hang for a minute, clearly waiting for him to break it, before she started speaking again.

“So,” she began. “You mentioned on the phone that you had some specific issues to discuss? Why don’t you elaborate a little on that?”

Have you ever seen a winged unicorn cry, reader? Because it isn’t pretty. And this one in particular turned an unattractive blotchy pink as tears leaked down his long face.

“I’m sorry,” he said, avoiding eye contact. “I’ve wanted to talk about this to someone for a while.”

She kept her tone level as she answered.

“Talk about what, exactly?”

“My self-esteem issues,” he sniffled. “They’re really started to affect my life.”

“Self esteem issues?” she said.

Most of her clients were, admittedly, conventional…. She’d dealt with depression and paranoia and all manner of things. Self esteem issues were run-of-the-mill. But what kind of self esteem issues did a freakin’ unicorn have?

“Yes,” he said, shamefully. “I find myself feeling really inadequate. I don’t spend as much time with my friends as I want to, because I’m constantly comparing myself to them. And I feel like I just don’t measure up.”

“According to the medical information you submitted, you’re in perfect health,” she said. “Where do these feelings of inadequacy stem from?”

“Well…..” He blushed a bright pink all over, clearly embarrassed by what he was going to admit. “It has to do with my horn.”

“Your horn?” She did her best to keep her tone neutral.

“Yes,” he said. “I just…. I feel like my horn isn’t big enough. It’s too small…. And my friends…. They all seem to have these big, huge horns…. It just seems unfair.”

“Your horn looks perfectly fine to me,” she said.

“Well, it would…” he said. “I guess… I mean, there’s nothing wrong with it. And I shouldn’t feel inadequate about it. And, you know, everyone says that size doesn’t matter.”

“Does it matter to you?”

“It does,” he said, a little louder than he meant to. “I just feel like, whenever I’m around people…. That they’re staring at it. That everyone’s thinking about it.”

“Has anyone ever commented on it?”

“No… but I always feel like they’re thinking about it,” he said. “Like they’re looking at me. And they’re judging me.”

“Why do you think that?”

“I…. I don’t know.”

“Have you always felt that way?”

“No… but for the past few years, the feeling’s gotten stronger and stronger.”

“I see.”

She pursed her lips and looked at him critically, hooves, wings, too-small horn and all.

“I think that this issue will take some time for us to unpack,” she said.

She pasted a bright, professional smile onto her face, and looked directly into his dark brown, horsey eyes.

“Our time is up for today, but I would like to pick up this thread up again next week,” she said. “And we can arrange to meet outside next time.”

“Thank you, Doctor.”

“Of course,” she said. “Your comfort is of utmost importance to me.”

“Thank you, Doctor… You don’t know how much this means to me.”

“Just remember,” she said. “You are worthy of love and respect. You are beautiful.”

“Thank you,” he said quietly.

“Same time next week?” she asked.

He nodded, whinnying, as he cantered out of the office.

She pushed away from her desk, standing up and walking to the window just in time to see him galloping across the field that butted up against her office.

“That,” she said. “Is one crazy horse.”

Writing Prompt:

(write for) 15 minutes * A Mythical Creature or Idea * unresolved issues

Writing prompt courtesy of:

http://panthermoon.com/generators/generator5.php

Image Courtesy of:

http://www.morguefile.com/

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April 22, 2015

The opening and closing of his bedroom door did not wake him, nor did the patter of feet shushing against the carpet.

“Dad… are you awake?”

The whispered voice came through the darkness.

He rolled away from the sound, covering his head with his arm in a sleep-ridden attempt to ignore the noise.

“Dad?”

“Hmong…hmm..hrrrong.”

The incoherent noises that emerged had little in common with human speech.

In the silence that followed, a rather sharp, pointy finger jabbed insistently into his shoulder.

“Daaad! Dad?”

The voice grew more urgent, although it still didn’t rise above a whisper. Finally, he rolled back over and faced her.

“What?” he said, half-glaring at her in the darkness. “What happened?”

“Nothing happened…. It’s just –“

“What?”

“I thought I heard a noise coming from downstairs… Like someone walking around.”

“Not again.”

“No – really. I heard something.”

“You heard something.”

“Yeah.”

“What did it sound like?”

“I told you…. It sounded like footsteps. Heavy footsteps.”

“Did it sound like that time you thought you heard something on the porch and it turned out to be a squirrel?”

“No…..”

“Or that time you swore you heard something on the roof and it turned out to be hail?”

“No…”

“Or last week, when you thought you heard someone ‘trying to break in’ and it was a church group slipping pamphlets under the door?”

“No…. It’s – it’s different…. I heard…. Something.”

“Fine,” he grumbled, slowly moving to disentangle himself from the sheets. “Whatever you heard, I’m sure it’s – “

She never found out what it was, because his words were broken by sound of shattering glass. It echoed, a bright tinkling sound that would be almost magical at any other time, but just now served only to scare the crap out of both of them.

“My God,” he whispered. “Someone is in the house.”

Writing Prompt:

(write for) 15 minutes * dialogue * shattered glass

Writing Prompt Courtesy of:

http://panthermoon.com/generators/generator3.php

Image Courtesy of:

http://www.morguefile.com/

April 20, 2015

There are some things that one cannot be expected to resist. Some things for which it seems the word ‘irresistible’ was invented.

Like a bar of chocolate, sitting on the counter, just waiting to be eaten, to be broken off, piece by piece, and devoured. Like the perfect dress in the perfect color, hanging on the sale rack at the store you were walking past and just decided to go into on a whim.

Like the hot pink feather boa draped across the mirror in your older sister’s room.

She knew she wasn’t allowed in there… Certainly wasn’t welcome in there by any means. She had heard the words “Stay out of my room!!” screeched across the house at top volume frequently enough to understand that getting caught in Kasey’s room would be no small crime.

Kasey was seventeen now and did not take encroachment upon her property lightly. Miranda remembered the earring incident of last year very clearly – when she had ‘borrowed’ a pair of sparkly hoop earrings and somehow managed to lose one. The rage had echoed through the house then.

This was different, she somehow convinced herself. Kasey had loved those earrings – or at least sort-of liked them. The boa had sat neglected for months…

Kasey wasn’t home. And she had play rehearsal after school, so she wouldn’t be home for hours yet.

The boa had been flung carelessly across the top of the mirror – Miranda caught tantalizing glimpses of it on the rare occasion that the bedroom door was left open. Kasey didn’t even wear it anymore. Something as beautiful as that, Miranda reasoned, deserved to be worn. It deserved to be loved.

So she really could not be blamed for slipping quietly into the room and liberating the boa from its imprisonment. She wrapped it around her neck with a swish, posing and blowing kisses at herself in the mirror, her heart beating a little faster from the illicit thrill of being in her sister’s room.

She stroked the feathers gently with her fingers. Maybe she would take the boa with her and hide it away in her own room. It wasn’t as though Kasey would miss it, would she?

She swirled it around her neck and twined it around her arms, covering herself in feathers, and gave her mirror-self an exaggerated pout. She did a little twirl, allowing the feathers to fly.

She decided she liked that… and that was when she started twirling, going round and round the room until she got dizzy and knocked into the dressing table.

Grabbing onto the table with both hands to steady herself, she looked into the mirror and saw herself, flushed and happy, and, of course, covered in pink feathers.

The house was completely silent. She could hear was the sound of her own breath and the blood rushing in her ears…. So she heard the slamming front door loud and clear.

There was only one person who slammed the door like that. And, judging by the way she stomped up the stairs, loudly enough to do some structural damage, Kasey was already pissed.

Miranda wasn’t sure who the rage was directed at this time, but she didn’t want it to be her… She had, she discovered, exactly enough time to run into the closet and shut the door most of the way behind her. Or at least she discovered it as Kasey threw open the bedroom door, slamming it behind her without noticing the additional presence in her room.

To be fair, she didn’t look around very much, immediately throwing herself onto her bed with a sound that was somewhere between a growl and a sob. Miranda held her breath, watching through the crack in the closet door, as her big sister picked herself up off the bed, moving slowly now, as though each movement caused her pain.

Kasey sat up on the bed, and ran her fingers through her hair, attempting to compose herself before slumping over, letting her face fall into her cupped hands.

Both girls jumped when a cell phone rang out, buzzing and chirping out some pop song, out of Kasey’s back pocket.

She pulled it out and looked at the screen, hesitating only for a few seconds before answering.

“Hello?”

Miranda had never heard her sister’s voice sound so hesitant before. She couldn’t hear the voice on the other end, but paid attention when her sister spoke again.

“Yeah, I’m ok,” she said. “I went home… I just didn’t want to be around him, you know?”

The voice on the other end spoke.

Kasey let out a heavy breath before answering again.
“Yeah…. No, I don’t think he would… I don’t know.”

Then, quieter still.

“Yeah, I took it. It was….. It was positive.”

The voice on the other end of the phone let out a shriek that even Miranda could hear.

“I don’t know,” Kasey said. “I just … I don’t know.”

The voice continued her side of the conversation in shrill, panicked tones.

“I said, I don’t know,” Kasey said, voice still quiet, but now firm, edging towards angry. “You’d better not tell him.”

The voice squeaked something else.

“Because it’s none of your business, that’s why!”

The shout was almost a relief.

“Look… I can’t talk right now,” she said, after a brief silence. “I’ll call you later, maybe.”

She pressed the end button, letting the phone drop off the side of the bed without checking to see where it had gone. Miranda watched as Kasey grabbed a pillow, clutching it tight and curling her body around it like a comma.

And for the first time in a long time, and without quite understanding why, Miranda watched her beautiful big sister cry.

Writing Prompt:

(write for) 10 minutes * a child * feathers

(exceeded time limit, obviously)

Writing Prompt Courtesy of:

http://panthermoon.com/generators/generator2.php

Image Courtesy of:

http://www.morguefile.com/

April 15, 2015

Pizza. It used to be pizza. It was a little hard to believe that this desiccated disc, with some sort of rubber where the cheese used to be, was pizza.

It certainly had been, she reflected, a couple of days ago, freshly delivered and hot and melty, as it should be…. Now it was just gross. It was also the only near-edible thing in the fridge.

She weighed her options. It would be a couple of hours before the parents got home, presumably with food. Until then, she thought grimly, this was her only choice.

With as little hand-to-food contact as possible, she picked up the Tupperware container with the pizza in it, placed the objectionable food item on a plate and shoved the thing into the microwave.

Nothing ever stayed. Why couldn’t pizza be like….. like… her mind dug for a metaphor.

Peanut butter. Why couldn’t pizza be like peanut butter?

Peanut butter, she reasoned, never staled. It always tasted the same. You could depend on peanut butter. You could use peanut butter for anything – you could put it in a sandwich, or bake with it. You could put it in noodles and make fake pad thai. It had protein in it. Peanut butter was good for a plethora of things. Pizza was just pizza.

Peanut butter was constant. Peanut butter never disappointed. It was stoic, like the brave warrior of the pantry.

Maybe, she reckoned, she was giving peanut butter a little too much credit. But its reliability could not be denied.

She could, she thought, use a little more peanut butter in her life.

Brian, she reflected, was most definitely pizza.

Cute and smart and funny…. Seemingly perfect. At first, anyway. Until you noticed that his smile never seemed quite genuine. And you couldn’t help but notice the way that his eyes followed other girls around the room. The cute and smart wore off fast after that.

She shook her head, trying to get thoughts of him out of it. The cute and the smart definitely wore off after you caught him making out with some chick in the janitor’s closet.

No regrets, she thought, looking at the pizza rotating sadly on its plate in the microwave.

She was about to retrieve her dismal dinner from the microwave when the doorbell rang. Speak of the devil – she could see him through the beveled glass, shifting nervously from foot to foot on the front step.

Dammit. She might’ve been able to ignore it, but he knew she was home. Her car was in the driveway and her backpack was on the floor, visible through the glass.

She allowed herself ten more seconds, closing her eyes to compose herself and hoping her hair wasn’t a mess, before swinging the door open.

“What do you want, Brian?”

Her eyes followed the track of his Adam’s apple as it bobbed up and down.

“I wanted to apologize,” he said. “And explain.

“It’s ok,” she said, crossing her arms over her chest. “You don’t have to.”

“It’s just…. What you saw… It wasn’t what it looked like.”

She looked him up and down. He was back to shiny, she saw. Still very cute, with the dimple that would appear in the corner of his mouth whenever he smiled. It didn’t matter.

“It wasn’t?” she quirked an eyebrow.

“Yeah… I… I’ve been having trouble with physics and… Marie, she volunteered to help me study, you know, because she’s a whiz at it… and we were just…. Studying,” he finished lamely. “It was a mistake.”

“Brian, it’s ok.”

She gave him a long look up and down.

“It is?”

A bright smile crossed his face, hopeful now.

“Yeah, it is,” she answered. “You’re just not what I’m looking for.”

“I’m not?”

“No,” she shook her head. “You’re not.”

She looked down at her feet for a moment, wriggling bare toes against the tile of the entryway before answering.

“You’re just pizza, Brian,” she said. “And I need peanut butter.”

“I’m pizza?” he asked. “But don’t you like pizza? Everyone likes pizza. Who doesn’t like pizza?”

She shook her head.

“Bye, Brian,” she said, closing the door and enjoying, more than a little bit, the stunned expression on his face.

Writing Prompt:

(write for) 10 minutes * female character – under 18 * Pizza

(I don’t know why this thing got stuck on characters under 18 and pizza…)

Writing Prompt Courtesy of:

http://panthermoon.com/generators/generator2.php

April 14, 2015

The street was the same as it was every day, except, of course, for the rain, lending a particular gray shimmer to the sidewalks.

That was the only good thing about the rain. That, she thought, and the way it always made the trees look greener. She wasn’t inclined to think too kindly of the rain, especially since it was presently soaking through the soles of her sneakers.

Every day, she walked down the same street, stopped by the same café and bought the same coffee to drink on the bus on the way to work. She imagined that warm cup would be particularly comforting in the cold rain.

Every day was the same. Right down to the homeless man on the corner. She supposed this was his corner; his turf, so to speak.

She’d always, somewhat guiltily ignored him, not even acknowledging his presence, stepping around him on the sidewalk, like he was furniture, or worse.

Unbidden, something she’d read earlier popped into her head…. What was it exactly? She tried to unscramble the words, like a strange word puzzle in her mind. She couldn’t remember, but the words hovered at the back of her mind, like an itch she couldn’t scratch.

Finally, she pulled the magazine out of her bag and flipped through it like a maniac to find the quote. Ah, there…

“No one can give money to everyone who asks. But when you come upon one of your species who is struggling, you need to let him know that you see him. Look into his eyes and let him look into yours.”*

There it was. The simply dignity of acknowledgement. Which she hadn’t been doing. At all. Generally speaking, she’d thought it was a better idea to avoid eye contact. You were less likely to be hit up for money, or time, or a signature. You were less likely to be chased down the street by someone who was incensed because you wouldn’t give them any change.

But maybe she was wrong?

The man on the street always sat there, quietly. He’d never directly asked for anything. And now, he sat, quiet and docile and sad, in the rain.

She supposed she could do better than simple acknowledgement. A rainy day seemed like a perfect day, designed for small kindnesses.

When she was getting her own latte, she also ordered a small coffee. On her way out, she grabbed a fistful of mini-creamers and sugar packets.

When she presented the coffee to the man, sitting in a puddle of gray cloth on the street, she expected him to take it.

“What’s that?” he asked.

“It’s coffee,” she replied. “For you…. I thought it’d be nice to have something to keep you warm.”

“Coffee?”

“Yeah.”

She pasted a bright smile on her face and presented the cup again.

He eyed her drink, which she held in her other hand.

“You couldn’t have gotten me a latte?”

“I…. I don’t know.”

“I mean, you got yourself a latte.”

“That’s because I …. Like lattes?”

She hated the way her voice curled up at the end, turning into a squeak.

“Oh.”

The man glared at her.

“And I don’t like lattes,” he said, somehow managing to make the words accusatory. “Because I’m not like you, of course I’m not entitled to a latte.”

“I just…. I’m sorry?”

Again, the squeak. She hated the squeak.

With a glare, he finally grabbed the coffee out of her hand.

“Is it at least decaf?” he asked.

“No… it’s regular.”

“Regular? You trying to kill me?”

“No… I just… I …. I gotta go.”

Behind her, she heard the shuffle and clank of the bus, the fuss of people getting on. Grateful, she walked away as fast as her feet could carry her, mounting the steps of the bus as though her feet were on fire, with mutterings about inconsiderate young people and high blood pressure trailing behind her.

It is true, reader, that kindness is important in this world, and that small kindnesses can make a great deal of difference.

It is also true, as she learned that day, that you should not believe everything that you read.

*Elizabeth Berg, as quoted in the most recent Reader’s Digest. Or at least the most recent Reader’s Digest as found at my local Jewel the other day.

Writing Prompt:

POV – third person (limited) / Homeless person / coffee

Writing Prompt Courtesy of:

http://panthermoon.com/generators/generator2.php

Image Courtesy of:

http://www.morguefile.com/

April 10, 2015

There times, few and far between, when the thunder growls like a savage beast at the door, when the lightning tears the sky, reaching for the earth with greedy, grasping fingers. The rain pounds the roof like a stampede, and you are grateful for the barrier, for the meager protection of your home, for the warmth of your comfortable blanket on your cushy couch, in your brightly lit living room.

You will be surprised then, as your feet carry you from the comfort and warmth of your couch, walking you to the front door. You will receive an even bigger surprise as your fingers work, seemingly without your permission, unlocking your door. Your feet propel you out into the storm.

And as you feel the squishy wet grass between your toes, and the rain drips, running through your hair to send chills down your spine, you will wonder why you have chosen this. You will be stunned at yourself, pondering why you have chosen to go out in the darkness, in the middle of the night, in one of the worst storms you’ve ever seen.

You will see images of yourself, looking bedraggled and confused and very, very wet, reflected up at you in every puddle you pass, and you will barely recognize yourself as your feet carry you onward.

Relax, dear reader.

Do not question yourself or your own mind.

Be comforted in the knowledge that you have not chosen this path.

With every step you take down the muddy road, know that you have no power here…. That every cell in your body, every bone and muscle and fiber, is at this very moment responding to the call of something far greater than you; something that you have never stood a chance of resisting.

Does the leaf wonder why it is tossed by the wind?

It does not.

Nor should you wonder, reader, for there is little comfort in such wondering.

You imagine the trail of wet footprints left in your wake, as you step, purposefully, along the path into the woods. You think of the police and firemen dusting the trail for evidence and you know there will be nothing left to find, your steps washed away by the torrent of storm water.

The woods are dark, split with the occasional flash of lightning, uselessly illuminating the blackness for mere seconds at a time. You do not stumble. You do not trip over roots or fall into hidden holes in the earth. Any other time, you would be covered in scratches and bruises, but this time, reader, your feet know their path. They are no longer under your command.

Finally, the dark striping of trees ends. These woods are familiar to you, the playground where you spend your sunny days, walking and reflecting on the beauty of nature, but you’ve never seen this clearing before. Or perhaps it is merely unrecognizable, with lightning dancing through the air like a strange symphony, all around, moving so quickly that it is difficult to make out the figure standing at its center.

Your feet have brought you to a stop at the tree line. The air tingles with barely controlled energy and you shiver, not knowing what is to come, but knowing, with a subtle ache, deep in your bones, that it won’t be good.

It’s difficult to see clearly, but the figure in the center of the clearing appears to be a child; a little girl. You can see her blonde hair whipping around her face, the rags of what used to be a white nightgown flapping around her legs in some kind of manic rhythm. Her feet are bare and you can see her toes wiggle in the damp dirt, an act that brings none of the childish joy you’d expect, since her face remains stony and focused.

Her face stays serious, until she turns to you and smiles. It is only when she looks at you that you can see her eyes, blank and white and expressionless. When she smiles, you understand that this is no child, this tiny figure poised at the center of a storm. This is a power as old as time and just as cruel.

She smiles at you, crooking a finger. And as your legs carry you forward, feet stepping and knees bending against your will, you understand that this is the end.

Have you ever thought about the people who disappear during thunderstorms, reader?

Have you ever noticed the way that the grass glows greener after a storm? The way that flowers bloom brighter? That trees seem taller and the world seems washed anew?

The great world goes on.

But there is always a price to pay.

Writing Prompt:

POV – second person / female character – under 18 / Thunderstorm

Writing Prompt Courtesy of:

http://panthermoon.com/generators/generator1.php

Image Courtesy of:

http://www.morguefile.com/

April 7, 2015

“Another cup of coffee for you?”

He looked up and nodded, offering her a weak smile.

“Thank you,” he said, his eyes on her hand as she poured more liquid into the heavy-duty ceramic cup.

His leg jiggled nervously under the table, making a jingling noise as his pocket full of change jingled along with it.

Sooner, rather than later, he’d be pulling out what few bills he had in his wallet, segmenting out the change to try to cover his order and tip. All he’d had that day were fries and coffee. Refills on coffee were free, thank God.

“Just let me know when you’re ready for your check, ok?”

“Sure.”

She gave him a small, professional smile and walked away.

That was his favorite part, oddly enough, watching her walk away. He liked talking to her, although he never seemed to have much to say. He liked it when she smiled at him. But he loved watching her walk away.

Sometimes she reached up, fixing her hair, readjusting her ponytail, or shifting the collar of her shirt around her neck, and her shirt would lift up, just an inch or two, revealing bare skin at her waist.

And, just for a few seconds at a time, he could catch a glimpse of her tattoo. A wild, rambling red rose, scrawled across the skin of her right hip. He’d only managed a quick look, a handful of times, but it was enough for him to take note of the rose, with deep green leaves, blooming across her skin. The green of the leaves, he thought, matched the green of her eyes.

He wondered, when he allowed himself to, just how far those brambles drifted; if she had vines trailing across her body, down her thigh, imagining a neat little vine twined around her ankle.

He would not, had not, allowed himself to ask.

“What does it mean?” he wanted to say. “Why did you get it?”

To ask would have been to acknowledge that he saw it, that beautiful expanse of skin. As a general rule, he didn’t speak to her. Or at least not much. Nothing more than it took to request a check or another cup of coffee.

Still, every other day, every day he could manage, really, he would find himself in a dingy booth, ordering soggy fries and bitter coffee. He’d go there straight after school, sometimes pretending to do homework, sometimes not.

But always, whether or not there was a pen in his hand, hovering uselessly over the notes of some as-yet-unwritten essay, his eyes followed her, watching her as she moved, gracefully, thoughtlessly around the diner.

She smiled at everyone. And he thought how lucky they were, without knowing it, to be on the receiving end of that smile.

Maybe, someday, he’d actually do it – talk to her, using complete sentences and all. Ask her where she came from and how she’d gotten that rose.

But that day was a long way away.

And until then, he would sit at the dingy, cracked booth, sipping his coffee and poking at his cold fries.

And that was fine.

Writing Prompt:

10 minutes / male character – under 18 / tattoo

Writing Prompt Courtesy of:

http://panthermoon.com/generators/generator1.php

April 6, 2015

The things that occur to me late at night….

She didn’t notice the shift in the shadows, or the way the room grew slightly darker. Of course, one tends not to notice such things, especially when one is asleep.

The screaming red glow of the alarm clock by the bed dimmed just as the minute changed over, from 12:36 to 12:37. Not that the minute, or the time in general, had anything to do with it.

He was always watching.

She did not notice as a large black shadow grew on the wall opposite her bed, swelling into a night-black portal, an oval, man-sized gap in the fabric of her room. The man, if he could be called that, stepped delicately through, footfalls soundless against the carpet.

Although he was man-shaped and man-sized, he could not truly be called a man, this creature of shadow. He moved in silence, his figure outlined only by the complete absence of light, as though it refused to adhere to his form… except of course, for the little light that clung to the metal blades, glinting like steel, that formed the ends of his fingers. You did not have to feel them at your throat, reader, to know that they were razor sharp. And the little remaining light glinted on the blades as he drew closer to the bed.

He was not a man, reader, in spite of his shape. It was not because of his gait, an odd, slippery slide, so that he seemed to almost slither across the floor. It was not because of his absence of features – the complete darkness where a face should have been. Nor was it because of those terrifying steel claws, so ready to slice.

It was, reader, because he had no heart. And a man without a heart is no man at all.

Silently, he watched the girl as she lay, dreaming and peaceful.

He watched as she wriggled in her sleep, moving as though she was trying to remove someone’s hand from her shoulder. The movement caused the sheets around her to shift, the blanket sliding down to reveal one pale shoulder.

He smiled, hidden face twisting in the darkness, and stepped closer.

One claw extended, reaching toward the bed, and snagged gently against the edge of the blanket, pulling against the fabric, tugging it upwards until the blanket rested just beneath her chin, all flesh concealed.

Comforted by the warmth, she snuggled deeper into the blanket, cheek turned in toward the pillow. Her dark hair lay in a messy explosion against the pale pillow case, radiating out like a strange halo. She smiled in her sleep.

Giving the blanket a final tug, he stepped away from the bed.

“Soon,” he whispered. “Soon.”

April 2, 2015

She paced around the kitchen, listening intently to the voice on the other end of the line.

“I see much success in your future,” the woman on the other end of the line said.

The woman had said her name was Lynette, but Lord only knew if that was true. Nothing about her was particularly convincing.

“Much financial success and lots of travel,” the woman said, trying to make her voice sound a bit ethereal, trying to add in a soft lilt. It didn’t do much good, not with the thick New Jersey accent.

“Really?” she asked. “Where to?”

“You will travel for work,” the woman said. “To many exotic locations. I see Spain and Italy and…. Argentina.”

“Argentina, huh?”

“Yes,” the psychic answered. “You will travel the world. And you will travel far before you find love.”

“Really?” she said.

“Yes. There is much excitement in your future.”

“Well, that sounds dandy,” she said. “Thanks for the consult, but I think I’ve got what I need.”

“Wait…. I need to tell you about your…..”

Click.

She’d never find out what the woman was going to say, not that it would have been particularly enlightening. She plopped down on the couch next to Oscar and took a little comfort in stroking his black-and-white head.

“They’re always such fakes,” she told him. “They think they can just make crap up and get away with it?”

“Meow,” Oscar said, sympathetically.

“You’re right,” she said. “I suppose they can.”

She stayed silent for a few moments.

“None of it is ever real,” she added, sadly. “There’s so little magic in the world, even for those who want to see it.”

Travel, indeed. She thought of her anemic bank account and mounting credit card bills. Sigh. She knew she wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon – certainly not anywhere interesting. Adventure, indeed.

“Not gonna happen,” she said out loud.

She gave the cat a final pat on the head before hauling herself up off the couch to go shower and change into pajamas before bed. He watched her disappear around the corner.

Slowly, lazily, he twisted, stretching and curling across the couch, in the way that only cats can. Cats have no qualms about taking up their proper space in the world and this one took up as much as he could, covering half of the couch like some sort of huge black-and-white comma.

He blinked at the doorway she had just gone through.

“Oh ye of little faith,” he said, with a funny little feline smile.
Writing Prompt:

500-1000 words * A Spiritual Advisor * a pet

Writing Prompt Courtesy of:

http://panthermoon.com/generators/generator5.php

Image Courtesy of:

http://www.morguefile.com/