Jan 292015
 

Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infectious disease of the lungs. Symptoms include chronic cough, fever, and weight loss (the latter giving rise to ‘consumption’, a common name for the disease.) It is the second biggest infectious killer behind HIV/AIDS. In 2012 1.1 million people died from TB compared to 1.5 million from HIV/AIDS, and 7.4 million from heart disease. Death rates are on the decline thanks to the Stop TB Partnership.

Anton Chekhov, born 155 years ago today, was ironically a physician as well as a writer, who ignored his early signs of TB and died from the disease aged 44. Chekhov is regarded as one of the greatest short story writers ever. Thankfully for us, his works are in the public domain to be enjoyed for free. The Lady with the Dog is a good place to start. As well as his writing, Chekhov left another legacy: Chekhov’s gun, an extremely useful piece of advice for writers:

Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.

Let’s celebrate Chekhov’s contributions to literature with this week’s photo prompt:

Photo Credit: Matthew Fern via CC.

Photo Credit: Matthew Fern via CC.

The Judge

Yours truly will be donning his judging hat this week.

What?

A story of between 90 and 110 words starting with WEIGHT and ending with LOSS and incorporating the photo prompt.

Who?

Anyone, but especially you!

Why?

Why not! Because it’s fun. Because it’s a challenge. Because the winner will receive their own winner’s page, their story on the winning stories list, a ‘who is the the author’ feature to be posted next week, entry into the ‘Micro Bookend of the Year’ competition, and a copy of this year’s winning stories compilation.

When?

Now! Get your entry in BEFORE 5:00 am Friday (UK time: http://time.is/London).

Where?

Here!

How?

Post your story in the comments section. Include the word count and your Twitter username (if you’re Twitterized). Don’t forget to read the full rules before submitting your story.

Anything else?

Please give your story a title. It will not be included in the word count.

Please try to leave comments on a couple of other stories. It’s all part of the fun, and everyone likes feedback!

Remember, only stories that use the bookends exactly as supplied (punctuation is allowed) will be eligible to win.

  146 Responses to “Micro Bookends 1.16 – WEIGHT [micro] LOSS”

  1. Relief

    (Word Count: 93)

    “Weight.”

    “What?”
    “The weight’s off, 0.2mg.”

    “You’re crazy!”

    “Am I?”

    He pulls a bullet from his back pocket and fills an empty chamber.

    “What’s going on?”

    “Field test.”

    He aims the gun.

    “Hang about…”

    Sweat swiftly patters the floor.

    He draws the trigger.

    BANG.

    The room echoes for a moment and a body stands shaking.

    A hole shoots a midday beam from the back wall.

    “See, were it on weight, you’d be missing your friend down there. You should be thankful.”

    A damp patch warms.

    “G…get out. No sale.”

    He shrugs.

    “Your loss.”

  2. KEEP WALKING

    Weight of the world on his shoulders, Sam Stanton trudged toward home. The firm had dismissed him. Now jobless and swimming in debt, he dreaded telling his wife. He considered leaving town, and the life he knew, and starting over. “Give me a sign,” he said, looking to the sky. When his forlorn gaze returned downward, it caught in the muck along the roadside an abandoned pistol–not the sign he was expecting. Was it loaded? Would it work? He quickly shook the thought from his mind. He may lose his marriage on top of it all, but would never leave life that way, no matter what the loss.

  3. The Tourist

    Weight, unfamiliar, the scent of nail polish clinging in the air. Hospes gazed down, inspecting the handgun clenched within his grip. The Tourist had checked out early, the disorientation from unexpectedly booting back fading with every second.

    Screams broke Hospes’ reverie. The bodies prostrate on the pavement before him the cause.

    A woman.

    A boy.

    Each scarred by a single gunshot to the head, crimson staining stone.

    What the hell? Tourists couldn’t use Baggage Handlers for this, even desiring something illegal forced a mandatory eject.

    Yet here Hospes was, gun in hand, as sirens split the skyline.

    Hospes dropped the handgun, pushing through the crowd.

    Fleeing someone else’s loss.

    109 words
    @imageronin

  4. .Fit for Purpose 102 words Kevin Sheridan

    Weight had been the reason Captain Slater had failed to get through SAS selection and now it had almost killed him. The IED had been so big it has blasted him out of the cupola like a champagne cork.

    Fifteen feet away stunned and shaking he woke up and stood up.

    Staggering to the back hatch he pulled Zajeck and Flannigan out and by the scruff of the neck, one in each hand, he dragged his crew a hundred yards before collapsing .

    Laying there, looking at the sky, he decided.

    Thirty pounds would be no great loss!

  5. its no good I am not really awake today 😉

  6. Losing

    Weight falling off me, great, fingers down throat after every meal, doing its job. That is until I look in the mirror, oh my, I’m still monstrous. Exercise until I’m exhausted, too tired to move, still can pinch loose skin, I’m disgusting.

    He loved my curves, Uncle Jim, so I had to get rid. Doctors say it was nothing to do with my size that it was his issue and if I was thin he still would have done what he did.

    Weighing scales are my weapon of choice they hang over me like a smoking gun.
    My curves are disappearing I celebrate their loss.

    word count 105
    @susanOReilly3
    #flashfiction
    #microbookends

  7. Rot in Hell

    Weight was placed on his palm. It was the familiar mesh of deadly plastic and steel, and an electric excitement ran through his nerves, combating the slow rot crawling and devouring his skin.

    He had volunteered to doctor on the island, hoping to redeem a life of sin, but this island was the outer ring of the seventh circle in hell.

    “We’re sorry,” the seemingly discarnate voice said.

    “I doubt that.”

    “You were never meant to die.”

    “Yet, here I am dying.”

    “We truly wish we could fix things.”

    “Oh, you will. You’ll torch the village, piss on the black, smoldering ashes, and chalk it up as a loss.”

  8. Doing one’s duty

    @geofflepard 110 words

    Weight of parental expectation, that’s our burden. Dad had it planned: George the title, me, the army and Henry, the Church only Henry was gay and, back then, they wouldn’t have him. When Henry died in that car smash, Dad said it was just punishment. Mum made me promise: ‘Join up, Jack. Just for me, eh?’
    I’m a Major. The Guards. Hate every second.
    Yesterday, George told Dad he’s renouncing the title. Bloody lefty. Dad exploded and we know what happens. Mum suffers.
    If I resigned my commission I couldn’t live with the consequences.
    I’ll save us all the trouble. They’ll blame me, of course but it’ll be their loss.

  9. The Game

    Weight hung on his shoulders, not even relieved by the fact that he had thrown the gun on the ground. He sunk to his knees in the muck, feeling as if it was quicksand that might pull him under at any minute.

    “Don’t shoot me,” the boy cried. His body was quivering.

    “Why shouldn’t I?” Devon asked. His hands trembled as he pressed them to the boy’s chest. Maybe he would just strangle him instead: a lot less mess.

    “It was just a game.”

    He picked up the gun. It felt heavy in his hand as he pulled the trigger.

    “Yes, a game that ended in a terrible loss.”

    @laurenegreene
    109 words

  10. Spree
    @hollygeely
    104 words

    Weight, height, eye colour; that’s easy. I’ll always remember what she looked like. My corpse is buried under some dirt in the park. I must have been buried with her gun; it’s in my other hand.

    “We will do our best to stop your murderer,” says the man at the desk.

    “Should I care about that?” I’m dead. She can’t hurt me now. She’s been after me for years and she finally won.

    “We’ll try to get her before she continues her spree.”

    He looks behind me. I glance back.

    My sister and brother both wave.

    The man says “I’m sorry for your loss.”

  11. FAD (F*ck Atkins Diet!)

    “Weight gain ain’t the reason you should diet, sunshine. Body Mass Index, that’s what you need to take into consideration. I don’t worry about my consumption. I’m on a seafood diet: I see food and I eat it! ‘The world is my oyster’, as Pistol said in The Merry Wives of Windsor… Or was it ‘The world is your lobster’? No, that was Arthur Daley in Minder.
    “Anyway, stop goin’ on about food, will ya? You’re makin’ me feel hungry! Fancy tryin’ that new fish restaurant?”

    “I’d love to but I’d better stick to the quinoa and alfalfa.”

    “Suit yourself, mate. It’s your loss!”

    @GeoffHolme
    Word Count: 104

  12. Sorry For Your Loss

    Weight… For some reason the air has weight.
    It’s heavy, bearing down on me,
    forcing me to my knees.
    I can see my whole world from this height.
    It is such a beautiful sight.
    I’m glad that this will be the last thing I see;
    I couldn’t pull the trigger, so I choose to free fall.
    I found out the hard way, that being a journalist isn’t an easy thing.
    Trying to do the right thing has consequences
    They threatened my loved ones, said they’d lose all five of their senses.
    I’ve made my choice, my life in exchange for theirs, which created this scene.
    I’m sorry for your loss.

    @Number1_Shina
    (110)

  13. The Conscript
    (108 words)

    Weight forcing me down, making me gain momentum, has my puny legs buckle and crumble under the load.
    ‘Get up!’
    I try again, my body railing against the pressure.
    Stretching out the stoop of overladen shoulders, I have no choice but to get up again.  I unburden and begin a stronger pace. I find better footing, this time, gain courage in numbers. I am bolstered by chants and steady rhythmic step.
    I march double time.
    But this quick march has me advance over land and time, and I see more than I should for my eighteen years.
    I return- survivor yet my family still mourns my loss.

  14. I’ve Got To Do It
    (107 words)

    Weight: still 150 kilos

    Feeling: suicidal

    I’ve been trying to lose weight for a long time. I followed every trends, has been yoyo dieting, and somehow my weight kept on increasing. I’m getting depressed; the chocolates seem to be my only friend.

    I’ve got to do it. She has been nagging me, pushing me to do this and do that. She won’t listen to my excuses. They’re quite hard and I just can’t do them.

    So when I found that gun in the forest, I knew what to do. It’s either her or me. I shot her, my useless fitness trainer… it won’t be much of a loss.

    Fiction
    Ladyleemanila

  15. Wait…

    “Weight.” The word itself has heft, a harsh resonance as it leaves the lips. Full lips, thin lips all mouths utter the word with a discordant plea. His lips were no exception.

    He had a smile that could wow a room and waylay a conversation long past the point of any interest in his pithy subject matter. His arm candy was always tall, blonde, lithe. They nibbled garnishes as I devoured hors d’oeuvres. She got my raise.

    We spoke. He chewed his words, but the blonde was mute. Weighted steel in the palm of a hand can make people unpredictable, but I was calm.

    His mistake.

    Dead weight.

    Her loss.

    @blackinkpinkdsk
    110 words

  16. Merriam, Webster, and I

    Weight: the amount or quantity of heaviness or mass; amount a thing weighs.
    (The weight of grief)
    Grief: keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.
    (My flinty sorrow because you succumbed to death)
    Death: the act of dying; the end of life
    (The life of a daughter)
    Gun: a weapon consisting of a metal tube, with mechanical attachments, from which projectiles are shot by the force of an explosive; a piece of ordnance.
    (Cold and mechanical, a man makes it dangerous)
    Clary: a girl who loved strawberries and dreamed in black and white; in her passing the world has suffered a serious loss.

    109 words
    @CaseyCaseRose

  17. With Heavy Heart

    “Weight of a bullet against that of a human heart. Hardly seems fair, does it?” Anubis loaded a glistening shell into the empty chamber of his pistol. “The old feather doesn’t do the job anymore. Mortals these days have such a clouded sense of guilt and an almost absent understanding of truth. We didn’t raise the bar, but your kind sank lower. We had to adjust the standard.”

    He raised the sights, leveled them on the man’s chest, and squeezed the trigger. With a bang the man was gone.

    Letting the gun fall to the ground, Anubis slumped back into his chair, “Do you think they even feel their loss?”

    110 Words

  18. Weight balanced across shoulders and hips
    that carried two children
    as days periodically sped up and slowed down

    Sexual symbols
    carried heavy backpacks
    For acquisition of important paper and debt

    Books in random boxes, clothes tossed into trash bags,
    Weight as I grab two small lives who belong in the middle of dreams
    Another flawed decision borne in whiskey and gaping hole in heart

    Death is his destination as we travel East in a strange truck
    I wipe cancer away from his brow,
    twelve hours until next stop, we meditate on loss

    92 Words
    @blurosemd

  19. CHRIS AND MIKE vs THE FOREST OF DEATH

    Brian S Creek
    109 words
    @BrianSCreek
    #FlashDog

    “Weight!”

    Mike froze like a statue. “What is it buddy?”

    “I don’t no,” said Chris. “Something doesn’t feel write.”

    Mike sighed. Chris had been off his meds too long and now his speech was suffering. “Its fine,” said Mike.

    “I see a path on the far side of the clearing.”

    “Ewe here that?” said Chris.

    Other than crickets chirping and the odd owl hoot, everything was quiet. Mike took another step and that’s when the ground swallowed his foot. As he slowly sank, he threw his pistol aside and tried to grab something solid. He turned to his friend. “Any ideas?”

    Chris just frowned. “Eye am at a loss.”

    • I’m loving Chris and Mike….. hope there’s a trilogy to come….. or a book 🙂

      • Thank you, Stella. It was a stand alone story to start with involving a lost father and son. But then I decided on the homophone joke and suddenly the characters of Chris and Mike were begging to be part of it so I rewrote. The real Chris and Mike are starting to get a bit snobby though and have been demanding royalties.

        And depending on the prompt next week, I think the trilogy is a sure bet. 🙂

    • I love this! I just taught a lesson on homophones today. Enjoyed the play with language.

    • Fun story. Supporting kids in class often exposes me to this sort of thing. Brightens up a sometimes trying lesson!

  20. Royal Hush

    Weight for me. That’s what her note said. With a face as delicate and edible as spun sugar and a body as luscious as a wedge of cheesecake, improper spelling wasn’t exactly a deal-breaker. She fled six days ago. I’m still weighting.

    My neighbor, Mitch, shuffles the deck. Poker night at the melancholy casino. His wife bolted two months prior and her departure is etched on his cracked face.

    “She’s in the wind, man. A paper ghost. Let her go.”

    He was right.

    “Just deal the cards.”

    He flicks his wrist. Queen of hearts.

    A regal gun.

    A red sniper.

    We bust-out laughing, our neurotic cackle heavy with loss.

  21. A Burden Lightened
    (107 words)

    Weight dragging him down, that’s all this was.

    He turned the gun over and over in hands steady now with no sign of the tremors that rocked them seconds (Minutes? Hours? Days?) before. That talk, even though it was with some kook that had wandered into his stretch of the woods, had made him feel better, lighter.

    He placed the gun on the ground and, with a final pat as if in thanks, walked into the woods.

    Behind a tree some yards away, the latest in a string of tenants at the rustic cabin watched the ghost of the original owner dissipate with a feeling of loss.

  22. @stellakateT
    105 words

    Questions and wrong answers

    Weight or wait I was never good at spelling. My teacher used to rap my knuckles when I couldn’t give the right answer. Tonight I’ll be asking the questions. They’d have to sit up and notice me. I have the glock. Found it in Granddad’s old chest, he told me stories about Austria, where it was made, where he danced to the Fuhrers tune. I wanted to be a soldier like him but I was turned down something to do with my heart. Dad said they probably couldn’t find one. Tonight I would get my fifteen minutes of fame and mothers will mourn their loss.

  23. Extreme Dieting

    99 words
    @el_Stevie

    “Weight down the body,” said Frankie.

    “Isn’t he heavy enough already?” asked Tony. “Doesn’t look like he’ll float any time soon.”

    The two men gazed down at the beached whale that was the late Louis Matturi. So much blubber and so very little brain, he had become a liability.

    Frankie wiped the gun and tucked it in the corpse’s jacket.

    “You know he should thank us,” said Tony. “All those diets, never worked. Now he can lose the flab without any effort.”

    “Perhaps that could become our new marketing ploy,” laughed Frankie. “Extreme Dieting – taking pleasure in your loss.”

  24. Looking Good!
    A.J. Walker

    Weight was dropping off Les like tiles in a hurricane. Everyone commented how well he was looking.

    ‘How you doing it?’ said Ivan, looking the thinning man up and down.

    ‘Nothing different really. Maybe a little more walking – less kebabs.’ said Les, patting his stomach.

    His mirror reflected a flat stomach he’d never had in his life.

    Les was buying new clothes, getting comments from ladies; who’d never given him the time of day before.

    The silent cancer gave him this month of looking good. Then the intolerable pain came. He’d beat the pain: his woods, his gun.

    Shallow people who’d discovered the ‘new improved’ Les soon forgot his loss.

    (110 words)
    @zevonesque

    #FlashDogs

  25. Peeling Back (110 words)
    @brett_milam

    Weight had become another “thing” to consider. Like waking, moving, breathing; his weight felt sentient.

    Harvey had become aware of these things, like skin, the way it seemed to ripple across his frame or the way he found the circulation of his blood to be overbearing on his ears, that he had descended into a madhouse of solipsistic droppings.

    Harvey’s life had become shipwrecked in some Steinian bottle. Nothing ceased to be something and something manifested into nothing.

    If only he was “he,” then his existence had been re-calibrated to be more in-tuned to he since he was all.

    But, Henry feared, if it true, then he was a loss.

  26. Shifts
    (110 words)

    Weight comes in many forms. Mine is Griff.
    When he disappeared two years ago, I floated above the world, waiting for his return, for the phone to ring, for him to reach across the mattress and hold me in my sleep. Over time, I sank closer to earth; I waited for them to find his body, his killer, his story.
    Life went on.
    Yesterday, a cashier said, “Where’s the smile, huh? It’s not so bad.”
    Don’t get me wrong—I work, eat, go out. It’s just hard to lift the corners of my mouth.
    Today, the police found his body, and a gun. The weight shifts, but still, it’s loss.

    @Emi_Livingstone
    emilylivingstone.wordpress.com

  27. — Theme From Exodus —

    “Weight of the wah-wah world is on my shoulders, fellas, which is why I’ve asked you here to the Kit-Kat tonight. Let’s review. Ted Heath, strangled with his own trombone. Stanley Black, garrotted by some goons. Syd Lawrence, wound up in a woodchopper. You, goombah: any idea who’s pulling the strings?”

    “Non, Signor Gunn.”

    “Enough grease, Mantovani, I’m not in the mood. And you, Humph – who’d have the brass in this quiet little town?”

    “Not me, Peter. Some bad penny. But I notice Joe’s got his overcoat buttoned up…”

    “That’s true. Swing by any of those murder scenes, Mr Loss?”

    109 words
    @edbroom

    • Another tour-de-force, Ed! Never heard of “Peter Gunn” before or indeed, “goombah”. But I’m old enough to catch most of the other references.
      Hat off to you, sir!

    • ‘Weight of the wah-wah world is on my shoulders’ – wonderful. (And I got some of the references 🙂 ).

  28. Final words –

    Weight is set on my chest. The Puritanical oppressors have strapped me to a platform and are piling rocks on my chest.

    The schoolmarm, leans over me, and through the spittle she asks, “Are you ready to repent?”

    “That’s a negative. You need to cheer up.”

    She cracks her ruled across my forehead. “More.”

    The accountant and the dentist carry another two rocks over and add them to the crushing pile.

    My ribs yearn with a desire to snap.

    “Never end a sentence in a preposition.”

    I glare defiance. “You should leave it off.”

    She signals more rocks. “Your loss.”

    100 words
    @michaelsimko1

  29. A Shot in the Dark (110 words)
    @howdylauren

    “Weight?” What kind of starting question is that? These sites have really gone downhill. Let’s just say I’m above average.

    “Age?” Old enough to know that this is a waste of time.

    “Occupation?” Unemployed.

    “Hobbies?” Ugh, hate these questions. But now that I think of it, I used to love hiking in the woods before… everything.

    “Why love, why now?” I guess I got tired of the backhanded compliments of how “strong” I’ve been since last year.

    Well, this is as ready as it’ll ever be. Submission time.

    “Loading…

    You have no matches.”

    I thought so. Maybe I’ll take one of those hikes again… and count it all as loss.

  30. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. (107 words)

    Weight? Never a problem. Hah!

    Billy sank into the sofa, the evening’s pleasures arranged just so. Munch, swig, joystick. And let no one tell him otherwise. Boy, would he get some exercise in San Andreas tonight!

    Wei Ching, here I come! Whadaya say? Care to repeat that? Bam! Laughing on the other side of your yellow slit-eyed face now, aintcha! Yaha!

    Bunch of kids. Pointing. At me? You dare point at me? Bunch of summer camp scumbags! You got it coming!

    Munch. Swig. Mighty good – burp – pizza, this.

    Shot ‘em down, torched the whole camp. Bunch of jerks. Skinny kids, the lot of them. No great loss.

  31. Farewell
    (106 words)

    ‘Weight … without substance …’ His words haunt me still. It is as though we are back in his bedchamber, present as his failing lungs struggle to process each tiny breath. ‘Is a hell I hope no one here need endure.’

    We knew he should have sought medical console at the beginning, but optimism and determination can be such stubborn bedfellows.

    Next to this journal is yet another handkerchief stained in my blood. I will not wait like you, my friend … I cannot.

    The gun feels powerful. Reassuring. I was not expecting that.

    I have no choice. Without a future I am at a loss.

    @koebnig

  32. Nepotism

    “Weight six pounds?”
    Anton sighed. “No, Darren. W8 6LB.”
    Kids today! Textspeak and emails; no concept of hand-written letters, postcodes. His grandson had rarely been further west than Bethnal Green; he’d probably never even heard of Kensington.

    The hit had been a Pyrrhic victory.

    Darren’s eyes glazed over as Anton, trying to staunch the bleeding, raced the Lexus eastwards along the A315. He crashed outside the Albert Hall and limped off through the trees at the edge of Kensington Gardens. His final mistake was failing to notice as the gun slipped from his blood-soaked hand.
    If he survived, this contract would definitely have to go down as a net loss.

    @GeoffHolme
    Word Count: 110

  33. Lucky Harry – 110 words

    “Weight in low volume was what was needed to justify leasing a wormhole tapping a planet so far from the core.

    “Who’s the Babe?” Harry was notorious, better known for striking out than scoring.

    “Oh, that’s Alice.” The bartender smiled. “You might finally get lucky tonight. She leaves with a new guy every night.”

    Back at Alice’s place, Alice pulled out some handcuffs.

    Harry grinned and thought, “Oh yeah, tonight’s the night.”

    Alice switched on the conversion gun. Lights on the barrel blinked as it warmed up. Strapped in and wetting himself, Harry asked, “Why?”

    “It is hard to explain Harry. Let us just say our gain is your loss.”

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