Apr 022015

Welcome back to Micro Bookends. After last week’s tricky bookends (PRIDE [micro] PREJUDICE), I’ve made sure this week’s are a little simpler. First an announcement:

I have in my hand one golden ticket for inclusion in the 2nd FlashDogs Anthology. This ticket will be up for grabs in NEXT WEEK’S contest. More details in this week’s results post on Sunday. Right, back to today’s business:

The Emperor’s New Clothes is a short story by Danish writer, Hans Christian Andersen. It tells the story of a vain emperor who is tricked by two weavers who promise him a suit of clothes so splendid it is invisible to anyone who was unfit for his office, or who was unusually stupid. Not wanting to appear stupid or unfit, the emperor and his ministers all claim they can see the non-existent clothes. It is only when the emperor is parading through the town that a child speaks the words, “but he hasn’t got anything on.” The emperor’s new clothes is today used as a idiom for situations where a majority of the group privately reject a norm, but incorrectly assume that most others accept it, and therefore go along with it.

Hans Christian Andersen was born on this day in 1805. He wrote many fairy tales that are still popular with children and adults today, including The Little Mermaid, The Snow Queen, The Ugly Duckling, and The Nightingale. Andersen was born in humble surroundings and was sent to a school for poor children where he received a rudimentary education. After finding success, in 1847 Anderson met one of his literary heroes, Charles Dickens. The two formed a friendship that was terminated by Dickens after Andersen extended a brief visit to Dickens’ house to a five-week stay, much to the distress of Dickens’ family. One thing the two literary greats had in common was their exploration of the plight of the poor, especially children.

Let’s celebrate Hans Christian Andersen’s contributions to literature with this week’s photo prompt:

Photo Credit: Adam Jones via CC.

Photo Credit: Adam Jones via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is me!


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


Anyone, but especially you!


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.


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




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.

  91 Responses to “Micro Bookends 1.25 – NEW [micro] CLOTHES”

  1. Rumors

    “New kids appear and disappear weekly, the article says?”

    “I’ve heard they sacrifice the children to pagan gods. That’s why they’re never seen again.”

    “I’ve heard they’re ghosts.”

    “There is no such thing as ghosts. It’s probably just some spot where they traffic kidnapped children or harvest their organs.”

    “That’s horrible. How could you say that? If it were true someone would’ve put a stop to it, wouldn’t they? It’s probably just a community where they abandon children they can’t afford to feed.”

    Faces turn to me. They’re all wrong. I know because I had lived there. How could they know that? I have a new face and new clothes.

    110 words

  2. Lost Moments of Childhood

    New things were rare for Keyse, it frustrated him.

    “Mama, why can’t we get a generator like Feysal’s family?” he asked.

    His mother continued pounding corn, grinding it for bread. “We don’t need one.”

    Keyse knew the tone and wandered outside before she decided to assign him extra chores. In the courtyard his goats snuffled at tufts of hard vegetation. The kid looked up and wagged its tale as if ready to join in whatever activity Keyse was planning. The youths shared a moment, desire to be free and explore cut across the species divide.

    The nanny goat nudged her child.

    “Feysal, come and wash your clothes.”

    107 words

  3. Ancient Sound
    (101 words)
    New layers of architecture rise beyond the minarets. The  old muezzin looks up to see the changes, for the physical world is no different at eye level: children  impoverished still naively play, kicking up the dust of decay.
    The muezzin sits mute. He draws his eyes down knowing there are other changes for those who stay the same. The cacophony of the city’s noises are transformed. The diminished soundscape tires him: the blend of chants for prayer now a single electronic voice.
    Taciturn he shakes his head, another layer, another coat that strips the ancient city of its old but colourful clothes.

    • How fun. Easy to see why someone losing their job wouldn’t be thrilled by the changes.

    • Feel sorry for the muezzin, I hate machines taking over a human’s job – it does detract from the colour of life.

  4. Flying
    110 words

    New was a word that didn’t exist in Sher’s vocabulary. His father had given him an old tire, instead of the kite he had asked for so he could fly in the festival.

    He folded his body into the tire, his putrid clothes sticking to him like mold to cheese. He gained momentum, tumbling down the hill, like flying, as he caught glimpses of rainbow colors adorning the sky. So fast, when he heard the snag he didn’t even realize what had happened.

    He wobbled to a stop at the bottom of the hill.

    A little girl pointed at him and said, “Mommy, that little boy is wearing no clothes!”

  5. Happy endings don’t just happen

    @geofflepard 110 words

    ‘New here?’
    The boy nods, eyes prematurely wary.
    When do we realise new doesn’t equal good? Change isn’t progress? Revolutions take you back to the start?
    His new life isn’t better than his shell-shattered old one, just different. Life in camp’s not a fairy tale. Stay here and he’ll not wake up one morning, swan-like transformed.
    I learnt that too, from my new father. He offered my mother a choice. Keep me and risk making my life miserable or let me go. Her transformative cruelty will be my redemption.
    I am offering this boy a different future, full of hope; and all for the price of a box of clothes.

  6. Lucky Feyd

    New places to scrounge were rarely safe, but Feyd didn’t care. The hunger in his belly was too strong to ignore so he’d scavenge anything he could, anywhere he could.

    Small for his age, Feyd used that to his advantage. The others might follow at a distance or try and claim what he found as their own, but for a few brief moments he could dream.

    The rest of them were always so scared, but not Feyd. He knew the two-legs found his bleats endearing.

    “Mama, come quick! If we catch this little goat we can eat him and make a fine set of clothes!”

    103 words

  7. Eye of the Beholder (110 words)

    New and old are relative concepts. Anatoli understood that anything he saw for the first time was new. New things excited Anatoli, he was always searching for something new.

    On Anatoli’s birthday his mother gave him a new blue scarf. It had been his grandmother’s. His brother gave him a new tattered tunic he had outgrown. His father wanted to give Anatoli a toy. He traded some rope for a tire and presented it to his son. Anatoli rolled his new toy everywhere.

    Anatoli thanked his family. He loved his presents, and of course, like all kids, new toys were better than new clothes.


    Brian S Creek
    110 words

    “New plan,” said Chris. “Run!”

    The creature’s roar pursued Mike and Chris down an alleyway. They rounded a corner, narrowly missing two goats and a small boy. Mike scooped the boy up without breaking stride.

    They ran on, zigging and zagging, as the jaws of death closed in behind.

    Once clear of the village, Chris turned and held out a golden amulet, one which channeled the suns energy directly at the creature’s chest.

    The lizard man exploded.

    Eventually the villagers emerged from their homes, cheering. Mike put the boy down and picked a few chunks of meat from his hair.

    “Great,” he said. “I didn’t bring a change of clothes.”

  9. Daydream Believer

    New day… same old routine.

    “Fetch firewood, Ali.”

    “Yes, mama.”

    He’d done the same chore every day, almost since he’d learned to leave his bare footprints in the dusty ground.

    He’d always worked hard, once gathering surplus enough for Mrs Qureshi to trade a tread-free tyre, his one plaything.

    But the work grew harder. He trudged further now, collecting thorny branches that tore his ragged djellaba.

    He dreamed of finding a cave filled with gleaming gold, precious jewels – the stash of robbers.

    The older kids ridiculed this fairy tale nonsense. But he knew.

    One day, he’d live in a palace…with servants… and wear ruby rings and richly embroidered clothes.

    Word Count: 110

  10. Enchanted,

    “New divination time Gadjo?” the urchin taunts.

    I beam as I pass her, thinking only of my fortune-telling muse.

    Mirela’s caravan door opens before I knock. She hugs me tight.

    “Did you bring me anything?” Her cerulean eyes contrasting her dark skin pull me further into her spell.

    I slide the necklace she desires around her perfect neck. She kisses me fiercely. Lavender, coriander, and cilantro assail my tastebuds—and I don’t mind a bit.

    That evening, as I leave, I ask if she’ll go with me to my work Christmas Party.

    She giggles, which always costs me money. “We shall see, if you buy me appropriate clothes.”

    109 Words

  11. Home

    New love, a feeling quite unlike any other.

    That first kiss. Or smoke beneath the bleachers with fumbling fingers and staccato chortle coughs. Or the night jump over the outskirts of Fallujah when my toes went numb. 

    My third tour, and the Iraqi boy with hunger in his eyes and his friend—shoeless, but grateful for his pink Hello Kitty sweatshirt—followed us. We had a soccer ball and some pens to give. 

    I’d Skype with my wife once a month. She was my pink sweatshirt in the midst of beige bile fear; I’d mask.

    Images linger, inquisitive eyes.

    I hold new life today. New love. Little toes, pink clothes.

    110 words

  12. Tire
    107 Words

    New people came and went all the time. The little girl with the tire meant nothing to me until weeks later.

    Old Man came out to feed us that morning as usual.

    “Morning, Ben.”

    “Maaaa,” I replied.

    A truck sped down the drive with the little girl in the back. She threw a bag at Old Man.

    “Your payment,” she said.

    “That won’t even cover the tire,” Old Man said.

    The truck sped away. Old Man opened the bag and a pile of old clothes fell out.

    That’s all I know. I might have the details wrong, though. I mean…I’m a goat. I don’t even wear clothes.

  13. Springs Eternal

    New buds of hope continue to spring up, fresh and green within her mind despite the heels of the world that will often trample them.
    She sees a broken dish and imagines the mosaic it might become.
    Tires abandoned as useless when they no longer move a car forward have the potential to move her forward, and even back again, and around, when hung from a tree.
    Big plastic jugs become scoops and shovels used by to explore the earth for dinosaur bones.
    She lives a richer life than one would imagine but it’s easiest to see only the dirt on her clothes.

    103 words

  14. The Covenant

    110 words


    “New for old, new for old.”

    The cry echoed up and down dry, dusty streets although few heard it. This voice was meant only for those whose time was spent. Like balding tyres, they had outlived their usefulness and there was little more they could give … except themselves.

    Louder now. “New for old, new for old.”

    And unable to withstand the summons any longer, ancient bones responded, hobbling out unresistingly into their final dawn.

    But even as age closed its eyes, wombs quickened in a rebirth of both life and hope. This had been promised; a brighter future, another path, and a chance for children to wear different clothes.

  15. @stellakateT
    110 words

    Market Romance

    New ideas that’s all we need thought Hussein’s father. Tourists buy anything if it looks older than yesterday. The tyre his son played with gave him no inspiration but the old bits of pipe work looked interesting. Chipping small pieces into mosaic shapes he got his son to paint and varnish them with bright colours. His wife shook her head bemoaning about wasting what little money they had. She said Allah had blessed her when they married. With all his pieces of mosaic sold to tourists believing his marketing ploy that they were stolen from the Tombs of the Last Kings he bought his wife what she deserved beautiful clothes.

  16. Clothing Drive

    New developments in Yemen. Even as reports confirm that Yemeni President Hadi has fled to Saudi Arabia, the US continues to offer intelligence and air support to the Sunni government against the Houthi insurgency. The primarily Sunni Arab League has also offered support against the Shia minorities. Secretary Kerry announced yesterday that, “Cooperation is imperative in the initiative against those that would destabilize the region.” He refused to comment on whether the US was courting Iranian involvement against Sunni Islamic State strongholds in Northern Iraq.

    In related news, UNESCO is seeking donations for those in harm’s way: canned goods, school supplies, lightly-used clothes.

  17. — Look At The Charm Of Every Stitch —

    “New NGO poster campaign for the latest godforsaken trouble spot. Who’s up?”

    “Me, Simon. Take a look.”

    “Nice. You know we do this stuff pro bono?”

    “Yep. Whole shoot came in for £50.”

    “No way!”

    “Seriously. I took next door’s kid to that M25 medieval village. He’d already been with the school. That delightful smock is from Cancer Research, ditto the T-shirt covering his pierced ear. And thanks to that handy tyre, you can’t see his Vans.”

    “The goat?”

    “…wandered over from the gift shop. Boy’s a natural, I tell you, but he couldn’t wait to get out of those stinky clothes.”

    • That’s made me look at it in a whole different way. The camera never lies …

  18. – Bringing the Charity Online –

    “New potential contributors access our website every day,” said Marco. “We need to put photographs on our site that will pull at their heartstrings.”

    “How about this one, Marco?” said Carol handing him a photograph from one of their new freelance photographers, Adam Jones. “This starving child looks directly at the camera. I can’t help but be drawn to his plight.”

    “I agree. We’ll put this photograph on the home page. When our website is finally up and running, we’ll move into the twenty-first century and make a real difference.”

    “We’ll feed the world’s children and get them some much needed clothes.”

    102 words

  19. Holy Cargo
    110 words

    New shipments come once a decade, but not clockwork enough for reliable gods.

    They want me to assign a sinner. Fear swells as Year 10 thins, fear that we won’t receive a boon from our ancestral stars.

    As fourth born into an oraclular family, my destiny as star-reader was assured. My atheism, too. I scribble in the dust under the light of twin moons, hinting at the name of an old man nearing death anyway.

    The shipment comes a week later. The villagers secure sacred treasures: rubber rings, dented containers, even colored plastic eggs.

    I’d embrace the Belief if the ships, just once, would deliver something sensible like winter clothes.

  20. Ghoats
    A.J. Walker

    New ghosts haunted Philipe each time he closed his eyes; on a good day he dreamt of his mother or of new shoes and fresh socks. He was sure his skin and clothes were now intertwined and he would wear his garish Spiderman t-shirt now for eternity.

    Marie waved and pushed at the tyre swing. “Philipe! Come and play!”

    Philipe couldn’t hear her and pushed passed the bewildered girl. He was drawn inexorably to the goats, like a snake to a vole; all he could see was goat kebabs, the opportunity for spanking new moccasins and plush snuggly clothes.

    (100 words)

  21. Safekeeping
    (109 words)

    New colors displayed proudly on his head, he runs through the narrow lanes pushing the tire. The goat kid leaps crazily alongside, kicking up dust.

    Auntie brought the colors with her, when she came. She pulled them from her bag and handed them to him for safekeeping. Once, he tied all the colors she ever gave together and ran through the streets with the rainbow, holding it high.

    His sister is quiet. She lost her husband in a flash of color and noise. She didn’t smile at his rainbow, doesn’t smile now. She turns away, looking out the window.

    Auntie knows. She’s sewn patches of color into sister’s clothes.


  22. The Vagrant


    “No; G-N-U. Like a big deer.”


    “No; D-E-E-R. Think African plain.”


    “No; P-L-A-I-N. You know, zebras, lions.”


    “Don’t watch much TV, huh? L-I-O-N-S. Look, where’s your mommy? You got one?”


    “No; O-N-E. You’re cute, kid; but mine’s an expensive restaurant. You shouldn’t be loitering here. Or alone.”

    “A loan?”

    “No; A-L-O-N-E. And when’s the last time you ate?”


    “No; A-T-E. You’re awfully scrawny. Somebody should feed you. Got any dough?”


    “No; D-O-U-G-H. Sure hope someone helps you, kid; you look about to faint. Some mayor we’ve got, ignoring all you homeless folks. Anyway, move along; it’s time for me to close.”


    109 words


    New dawn for me. Great view from the plane as we are passing by the Indian Ocean. I can’t sleep, I thought I would. Too excited, me. Going back home to see my mother, friends and family. Being warm again after the strong wind and snow here in Bavaria. Anyway, two weeks of being home is not that long, but will give me enough fun and memories to charge my batteries again. I’ve got everything planned and booked. My Mom is preparing a big welcome party for me, then we go to different islands. And of course, to the mall first for new clothes! (104 words)


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