May 282015

Welcome back! Previously on Micro Bookends

A soap opera is a radio or television serial drama depicting the interconnected lives of multiple characters often in a sentimental or melodramatic way. The first series considered to be a soap opera was Painted Dreams, which debuted on Chicago radio station WGN in 1930. Soap operas were traditionally broadcast during weekday daytime slots, making them particularly popular with housewives. The name soap opera comes from the detergent commercials broadcast during the shows, and the melodramatic story lines. One of the most popular soap operas in the UK is the Australian import, Neighbours.

Kylie Minogue, who celebrates her 47th birthday today, helped Neighbours achieve viewing figures of 20 million in the UK when her character Charlene Mitchell, married Scott Robinson, played by Jason Donovan. Since her soap-opera days Kylie has gone on to become the Princess of Pop, selling over 70 million singles worldwide, and receiving an OBE in 2008 for services to music. But Kylie hasn’t forgotten her acting roots, taking on some minor roles such as the Absinthe Fairy in Moulin Rouge! In 2005 she successfully underwent treatment for breast cancer and has since become a sponsor and ambassador for the cause.

Join me in wishing Kylie a very happy birthday with this week’s photo prompt:

Photo Credit: gfpeck via CC.

Photo Credit: gfpeck via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is Marie McKay, winner of MB1.07, MB1.25MB1.26 and MB1.32! Read her winning stories, and what she has to say about flash fiction here.


A story of between 90 and 110 words starting with SOAP and ending with OPERA 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:




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.

  142 Responses to “Micro Bookends 1.33 – SOAP [micro] OPERA”

  1. The Perfect Marriage


    Goddammit. Why can’t she ever get those herself? I’ve told her that I hate getting them. The cashiers always give me that look like: you should pick yourself up a set of balls. We stock those on aisle five, next to the self-respect.

    I mean, I don’t make her shovel snow or mow the lawn, but she’s always busting my chops about getting her tampons and doing dishes and rubbing her feet. She’s always saying, Jack does it for Nicole in ‘City Girls’. I swear, one of these days, I’m gunna smash that television. Maybe then she’ll stop getting ideas from that soap opera.

    109 words

    • Ha! Nice story and a good use of bookends too. Must say, my other half has bought tampons for me, but not for years. He said he didn’t mind, but maybe he was seething too 🙂

    • This made me chuckle (which is terrible of me). He sounds like he needs a readjustment of what makes a man a man. 😛

    • Chuckled at this; my husband has never refused to get what I need, he just flings it in the trolley with everything else, he doesn’t really care what the cashier might be thinking (he does the shopping, says he does it quicker, I shovel snow and usually cut the grass 🙂 )

    • lol very nice made me laugh x

  2. A Father’s Love
    (110 words)

    Soap box Sarah sang in swing time, swaying to the rhythm of a jazzy tune. Her father watched as kindhearted souls dropped coins rattling into the tin cup, while the less understanding hurried by in disgust.

    He cursed the creep that married his little girl who’d sang in the church choir, then used up her money and her youth, driving her to drink before tossing her aside. It had taken a year to find her. He’d have given his life to spare her the humiliation.

    “Come with me,” he said.

    The gin bottle smashed in the hard-packed snow as he helped her down.

    She giggled.

    “I can also sing opera.”

  3. Word Count – 110 without title

    Worth It

    Soap bubbles ooze between my lips, making me heave. I’m belching Imperial Leather mum says none of the cheap filth akin to what came out of my mouth. I didn’t care it was so worth it at the time telling Mr. Connor that he could stuff his shovel where the sun don’t shine and clean up his own pile of snow.

    He frogmarched me home, all puffed up with indignation and self-worth. He went on as if I’d been up in the sky throwing snowflakes down on his garden life confetti. I couldn’t help smile at the drama of it all, he sang his woes like Pavarotti in an opera.

  4. IF WALLS COULD TALK (104 words)

    Soap, sugar, shovels…we borrow anything. That’s the nice part about having neighbors so close.

    The downside is that the walls are fairly thin and the folks in Unit B are loud talkers. I guess that could be a deal breaker for most people, but to be honest, sometimes it was actually quite helpful to my wife and me.

    The neighbors would talk about their individual needs and boundaries and then work on ways to support each other and compromise. Those lessons probably saved my marriage.

    But, boy, I’d rather hear the ball game on my radio than their Sunday NPR Opera.

  5. Nice take on the prompt, Steven. Sounds like it’s based on fact to me – is it? I’ve lived in places like that where you can hear EVERYTHIING the neighbours do. Revealing stuff. Just a small note- you’ve spelt ‘loud’ ‘load’ in the second line if you want to change it.
    Great work around the bookends

  6. A last hurrah
    @geofflepard 110 words
    ‘Soap and cigarettes.’
    That’s what were reduced to. Barter.
    She spreads her hair like rationed butter barely covering her wholemeal scalp. Pimento lips defy the bark of a sun cured face as she drops the packets on my lap.
    ‘I’ll do the steps.’
    ‘Whenever.’ Her eyes glisten, rummy where once their twinkling killed me. ‘Stew. At 6.’
    She has to cook for two, a habit her heart can’t break.
    I sweep the porch, a shared space that once was too cramped for three but now we struggle to fill.
    The door is open. After dinner, I hold her hand, the love I never had reflected back in tonight’s soap opera.

  7. OLFACTORY SENSE (110 words)

    Soap that smells like flowers. Flowers that smell like perfume. Perfume that smells like linen. Those are the things my girlfriend wants. Give me a break. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I know a good smell when I sniff it.

    My baseball glove smells like a good cigar. My car smells like peppermint schnapps, and my grandpa smells like Old Spice. My problem is the gender cross-over.

    One time I picked a perfume that apparently smelled like moth balls. Then the roses I bought weren’t the “smelly kind.” Give me a break.

    Last night I got it right. She sang like she was in an opera.

  8. Soap flakes make excellent fake snow.
    I read that somewhere.
    Who is making fake snow? It’s like making fake pestilence.
    Two feet of snow yesterday, three feet due today.
    We only go outside to move piles of snow into slightly more orderly piles of snow before our stinging cold faces and sweat-soaked backs drive us back inside.
    Inside to the world of Snoopy wha wha sounds and the clatter of the inexplicable coming through the walls.
    What are they doing over there?! Bowling with cats? Making metal rain sticks? Rehearsing Pirates of Penzance?
    Cabin fever has amplified their sounds.
    Evening arrives, the snow continues, the neighbor switches to opera.

    110 words

    • Really good descriptions of the overheard noises – bowling with cats, rehearsing Pirates of Penzance. A great, enclosed feeling to it. I really enjoyed this.

    • It shows how easily difference in perspective can affect each reader: “It’s like making fake pestilence.” was jarring for me. What?! Snow, a pestilence?! But for a lot of people it is. 😛

    • I can sense the blood boiling, the ‘pressure cooker’ atmosphere growing; methinks there will be an explosion soon.

    • snow is pestilence to me hate it great write x

    • “Bowling with cats” – LOL, literally!!
      Given the bookends and the photo prompt, a lot of people went with the ‘noise through paper-thin walls’ idea. It was the first thing that occurred to me, but you made a great job of it.


    In the billow of the storm
    107 words

    Soap flakes flutter against my face.
    My brain tumbles. Do I mean soap flakes or snowflakes? Whichever – one flake melts. A prism caught in my lashes, the droplet cuts daylight into rainbow ribbons.
    I lie in the billow of the storm. Wonder how my wintry body came to be here, broken on stony steps.
    I’m sure I should get up, get warm. But I stay snug in the cold as flakes melt to music, prickling ice rippling into liquid melody.
    My heart slows to a backbeat. The refrain sweeps skyward, carrying my end song past clouds to the heavens.
    And there it flies – my own blizzard opera.


    The scold’s opera
    108 words

    Soap box out again, Dad lectures up a storm.
    My eyes drift to the window: fresh snow, a white crust awaiting a christening of boot prints.
    ‘Are you listening, Daniel?’ singsongs Dad.
    Without another thought, the door’s ajar and I’m slipping into wellies, the breeze skipping snowflakes across the kitchen floor.
    Dad’s voice – bass becoming alto – calls ‘Where are you going?’
    Do I stay for the lecture? Or snap that crisp shell of ice, weight pushing me onwards through the downy cushion until frost hugs me up to my knees?
    Coat forgotten, I plunge into knife-sharp air.
    I leave Dad to prepare his next sermon – the scold’s opera.

  11. Thud
    107 words

    “Soap…he slipped…his head…” Squeak—thud. Ten p.m., my neighbor Jean at my door, backwards nightgown, barefoot in the snow.

    Squeak—thud. I heard it through the bathroom wall. Squeak. So close I shot my arms out to catch him, but walls are still solid and living still cruel. Thud.

    Squeak—thud. I heard it and knew Jean would come. In the seconds between thud and knock, even as I moved to the door I imagined myself far away, tending sheep on a quiet hillside.

    But then the knock, then a deep breath, then Jean in my arms, her grief an aria in life’s savage opera.

  12. Neighbourly

    110 words


    Soap suds trickled lazily down the glass, their progress slowed by the freezing temperature. Frieda, pausing in her work, saw the post in Mr William’s mail box. She would have to move that before anyone noticed.

    “Nice to see people looking out for each other.”

    Frieda turned to the passing neighbour, fixed smile. “Oh, it’s nothing,” she said.

    Pleasantries, goodbyes. Then she was alone again.

    Taking the spare key, she entered Mr William’s house. He didn’t object. Hypothermia had silenced him.

    Frieda took the last of the money from beneath his mattress. Soon the thaw would come and she would be gone, no longer a pauper in life’s beggar’s opera.

  13. Self-Cleaning
    109 words

    Soap is what destroyed the world.

    The official story is that human obsession with cleanliness led to the spread of super-bugs that killed most of the population. That’s only half-true; super-bugs had nothing to do with it.

    Most of the survivors were brainwashed – but I was there. I saw it all.

    Scientists cientists advanced “self-cleaning” and created gallons of sentient suds. The soap was intended as a time-saver.

    It came to life and rolled out of the laboratory, squashing everything in its wake. Its mission was to cleanse the world.

    The soap monster felt no guilt. While it destroyed everything, it sang selections from the War and Peace opera.

  14. Ablutions

    Soap up the left arm. Big Brass Band.

    Soap up the right arm. SYMPHONY!

    Soap up the belly. Round the world, Bollywood.

    Soap up the legs. Charleston! Swing!

    Rinse off the left arm. Make it graceful with ballet.

    Rinse off the right arm. Raise the roof, hip-hop time!

    Rinse off the belly. Round the world, luau-style.

    Rinse off the legs. An Irish jig, m’lass!

    Cover up the left arm. Hum the Jaws theme.

    Cover up the right arm. Hum the theme from Jaws again.

    Cover up the belly. Leia’s theme from Star Wars!

    Cover up the legs. Tap dance, Fred Astaire!

    Breathe a sigh! Bruises hidden one more time. Opera!

    110 words

  15. Can’t Get You Out Of My Head
    110 words minus the title

    “Soap, John. We need more soap!” The walls are thin and I hear his wife’s shout like it was meant for me. In a way, it is.

    It means John’s leaving.

    I hear the screen door slam and count to ten before I pull on my boots. The snow crunches as I walk around the corner.

    John is leaning against his truck, a small smug smile across his face.

    “It took you long enough, Charles.”

    I growl and grab the loops of his jeans, pull him in close. “I’ve been waiting all goddam day.”

    “Where can we go?” John asks, nuzzling my neck.

    “She’ll never find us at the opera.”

  16. Ooh, nice – and you included the prompts so smoothly. Really nice, smoothly written and compact story. A pleasure to read

  17. The “Sound”(or Din) of Music
    (Word Count: 110)

    Soap Edwards hated music.
    He disliked the disruptive dissonance, dancing drearily between his dreams day in and day out. He silently seethed at the strange, psychedelic-sounding symphonies his neighbours would blare through the frost-chilled walls. The sounds were distorted, dysfunctional,
    It never stopped; while making his bed, while cooking his breakfast, even while shovelling the metric tonnes of snow from the front-door steps…
    Perhaps that’s why he didn’t realise that the music had changed from shrieking guitar to shrieking for mercy one lonesome night.
    Perhaps that’s why the crack of a gun going off caused him no surprise.
    For all he cared, it could have damned well been opera.

  18. @fs_iver
    WC: 108

    Shed from Grace

    Soap bites at Sajani’s eye-flesh and her Kumarimi scrubs harder.

    Outside the girl is Kumari: her body, a banyan tree; her neck, a conch, slim and smooth; her lashes like a calf’s.

    She squeezes her thighs tighter as the cleansing hand drops below her waist.

    Inside the goddess has left her vacant. She felt it on waking, truth hot and wet. In the morning brightness, red on temple-white sheets screamed impure, impure.

    Now, her heart lopes inside her lion-chest. The servant has reached her inner sanctuary. Soon she’ll pull away, fingers bloody, and expose Sajani.

    An over-peopled hovel will replace her palace. A dirge will silence her opera.

    • There are so many beautiful phrases and images… I can’t choose just one! “Soap bites” woah. You’re awesome.

      • Thanks! It’s a bit removed from the prompt but I couldn’t help but think of what it would be like to go from Nepali royalty to commoner.

    • Beautiful imagery for a tragic fall; I was cringing a little at having a servant cleaning the girl in such a personal way but then again, she was born into that life.

      • Thank you, Steph. I can’t imagine anyone having to dress me let alone wash me! But since the Kumari are chosen at a young age, they probably know nothing different until they’re thrust back into the real world. 🙁

    • I just listened to an NPR segment on Kumari – they are rich with stories to tell, I’m sure. You did a great job showing what must be, at times, a difficult lifestyle.

      • Thank you 🙂 guess you listened to that same segment and couldn’t get it out of her mind 😉

        • Oh, and here I was, all set to leave a comment about how erudite and learned you are! I had to resort to Wikipedia to find out what it was all about…
          Sad story, beautifully told Foy.
          [ I feel that both ‘Outside…’ and ‘Inside…’ should be followed by a comma, though. ]

          • Haha! And here I debated myself over those commas. Thanks for the feed back! And I’ll tell you a secret… I had to resort to Wiki to write it

    • So beautiful. Your writing is wonderful. Perfect word choice, and so descriptive.

  19. Emily Clayton
    107 words

    Mimic of the Heart

    “Soap out your mouth,” Fifi the African grey parrot repeats. “Bad girl. Soap out your mouth.”

    Halide glances down, watches Fifi challenge her rambunctious chinchilla, Tabitha. The reprimand isn’t directed at Tabitha; it’s a lingering blemish festering under Halide’s skin.

    It’s a scold for Halide.

    Her mother always threatened to snatch that bar of Sunlight soap. Did she carry it out? Never. An empty threat. A routine. A midnight warning when she stumbled home bleary eyed and reeking of whiskey. A way to acknowledge her ten-year-old daughter, left alone, dining on canned chicken noodle soup.

    “Six feet under, and still, you’re burning my life like an opera.”


    Brian S Creek
    103 words

    “Soap?” said Mike. “What do I need soap for?”

    “To clean out your ears,” said Chris. “Don’t you hear that?”

    “All I hear is the freezing wind, approaching prison guards, and you telling me that one of these doors means certain death. Which is crazy.”

    “One door offers safe passage to the prison interior, the other leads to an undisclosed death.”

    “Like a fatal security measure?”

    “Exactly,” said Chris as he slid the golden key into the lock of the left door.

    “Wait!” said Mike. “How do you know it’s that door?”

    “Don’t you hear the music?” said Chris. “My Dad loves opera.”

  21. A Clean Slate
    100 words

    Soap suds dripped from her hands. She paused in her work, captivated by the fluttering of snow outside the kitchen window. “Hush,” it whispered to her. “There is nothing to fear. Just tonight, anything is possible. The world is clean and new. Yours for the taking.”

    The slam of the car door startled her from her reverie. He was back. Drunk, no doubt. But tonight would be different. She would not be afraid. She dried her hands and reached for the kitchen knife. Tonight she would be the star in her own story; the heroine in her own soap opera.

  22. @stellakateT
    110 words

    Over the Hills and Far Away.

    “Soap and dirt, walk hand in hand”, yelled Old Ma Quinney. Anyone would think we lived in grime kingdom. She would pelt bars of soap at all us children, even when our Dad thumped on her front door threatening to stuff it down her Archie’s throat. Not sure he would sit for long without tearing my Dad apart. Crossed with the devil’s dog Mum would say.

    The day they carried her out of her home, we children stood watching. The men in black nearly slipped in the snow and Mum stifled a gasp as the coffin veered to the left nearly hitting Dad as he sung from the Beggars Opera.

  23. Jeremiah’s Patience, or a Manly Man’s Guide to Patience
    by Adam Houlding
    107 words (or 109 if you’re a stickler)

    Soap was never his friend. A man of haddock and tobacco, Jeremiah considered himself absolute in masculinity. Strong arms, strong face, strong gut. Certainly not some sissy boy.

    On Winter’s dawn with hot frankfurters, his televisual peace was interrupted. This silver spoon ready-to-wear youngster, with plastic smile and womanly hands, kept offering perfect insurance cover this and perfect cover that. Because we all get old, apparently.

    Clenched fist followed through and the young suit landed in snow. Jeremiah cared for insurance as much he cared for gonorrhoea. Ham fist hurting, shirt splattered red, he returned to television. Don Quixote or Don Giovanni. Or possibly some other opera.

  24. Nothing Left Behind

    Soap hope, the girl in 2b called it; because it slipped away as easy as a wet bar of soap. But that didn’t stop the little boy in 3. He plastered his melting snowman with muddy snow.
    But the weather warmed; his snowman turned to slush, and the girl laughed at him. He was happy though. At least there was still evidence of what he’d built.
    He wished his father had left something. When he asked his mother for a keepsake, she told him to forget about the bum.
    He’d cried and all his mother said was, “Don’t start your wailing. You’re not the leading lady of an opera.”

    110 words

  25. — Pure & Simple —

    Soap brought us together. Not Shield or Camay but that sitcom from years ago.

    “Hey, my dad used to watch that.”

    Tell her you’ve bought the box set for your dad.

    “He used to record them on our Betamax then write on the labels.”

    Tell her you’ve been trying to bump into her since she moved in.

    “Once, I accidentally taped Sapphire & Steel on one of his tapes. He went ape!”

    Tell her you want to marry her.

    “Anyway, if you don’t want to talk…”

    I start singing the theme tune.

    “That’s it! What a voice: you should try out for the local opera!”

    108 words

    • A great story with a really great title. And Sapphire and Steel? Only my favourite TV show when I was a kid. Can’t remember the theme tune, though 🙂

  26. Living Nextdoor to Bluebeard
    110 words
    Nancy Chenier

    Soap cannot clean the stains across my heart.

    He knows I know. He also knows I’m helpless to do anything about it. That’s why the coy grin over at me as he guides another drunk woman up the icy steps. I prune the camellias down to stubs to keep from going inside. From sharing that wall.

    But eventually I have to.

    On this side, I crouch in the tub and blast the cold tap.

    On his side, he turns up the stereo to drown out her wails.

    (Why not me?) There is never enough water to wash away my guilty desire.

    I scrub in time to soaring strains of opera.

  27. Deceiver
    Word Count: 101

    Soap only cleanses the outside. It can’t reach the deepest part of the soul that reeks of impropriety. Your shiny exterior can’t fool me. I can see the filth seeping out of your mouth, disguised in honey coated words meant to seduce, lead astray. You prey on the innocent, the downtrodden, the insecure. You entice them with the promise of a future and good times. It’s tragic. Homes are shattered, torn asunder. Broken dreamers are left to pick up the pieces of the lives they took for granted. You sit back and watch in delight, enjoying your own handcrafted soap opera.

  28. — LATE ENTRY —

    Grand Designs

    Soap Box Derby: that’s where it all began for me. When Dad took me to the finals in Akron, I was hooked.

    That winter, whenever snow fell, I cleared paths and driveways in the neighborhood for money – raising funds to pay for the materials that I’d need to build my very first soap box car.

    I steadily improved the design, until the year that I won the final. My prize was a college scholarship.

    I went on to work for a major automobile manufacturer, becoming the designer of an award-winning hybrid car.

    I consider these two designs my magna opera.

    Word Count: 100

    • D’oh! Fell asleep on the sofa and missed the deadline… But it was never gonna win a Pulitzer: I was trying to use this week’s very tricky bookends in an creative way.

    • “My magna opera” love this. 🙂 Man, if building racer derby cars comes with a college scholarship, I’d’ve taken up the hobby before promising my first child in college debt LOL

  29. Thanks, Foy – the benefits of a classical education.
    I think the college scholarship was the top prize for something called The Blue Flame Challenge for kids 16-18 with advanced cars. Not sure what period we are talking about and maybe the scholarship was only for an engineering course, so don’t beat yourself up about the first child thing 😀

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