Jul 022015

Welcome to Micro Bookends 1.38. I’m introducing a new feature this week – the wildcard:

You’ll notice an asterisk after CHILD in this week’s bookends. This symbolises a wildcard character. Feel free to replace it to form another word – CHILDREN, CHILDHOOD, CHILDCARE etc. Of course you can still use CHILD as it stands. The usual rules on punctuation still apply.

A child star is someone who achieves celebrity status, usually through acting or singing, during their childhood. Some child stars struggle to adapt to adulthood due to their early fame. Another difficulty they often face is dispute over ownership of earnings. Jackie Coogan (who went on to play Uncle Fester in the Addams Family TV show) earned millions of dollars as a child actor but saw almost none of it as it was squandered by his parents on their luxury lifestyle. This prompted the 1939 California Child Actor’s Bill (also called the Coogan Law), which states that all earnings by a minor are the sole property of the minor and 15% of earnings must be placed in a trust fund.

Lindsay Lohan, who celebrates her 29th birthday today, began her career with Ford Modelling Agency at the age of three. Lohan made her first television appearance age 10 as Alli Fowler in Another World and made her breakthrough performance alongside Jamie Lee Curtis in the 2003 remake of Freaky Friday. Unfortunately the curse of the child star struck Lohan, and today she is just as famous for her frequent run-ins with the law as she is for her award-winning film performances.

Let’s wish Lindsay a happy birthday with this week’s photo prompt:

Photo Credit: via CC.

Photo Credit: Cliff via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is Foy S. Iver, winner of MB1.18, MB1.23 and MB1.37. Read her winning stories and what she has to say about flash fiction here.


A story of between 90 and 110 words starting with CHILD* and ending with STAR 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 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, including hyphens and apostrophes, is allowed) will be eligible to win.

  230 Responses to “Micro Bookends 1.38 – CHILD* [micro] STAR”

  1. @PattyannMc
    WC 110

    Indigo Mourning

    “Childproof your heart,” My Obstetrician said after my fifth miscarriage. “No more, it’ll kill you. Hysterectomy,” he insisted.

    Shattering anguish, I gently rocked my stillborn baby in my arms, singing him a lullaby, weeping. All my dreams disappearing into vapor.

    My first gaze into tiny sleepy eyes ~ his first smile ~ first steps ~ kindergarten ~ stick-ball in the streets. All those firsts gone forever, shredding my soul. At eight months gestation, my uterus couldn’t sustain him, killing my son.

    I’m learning how to breathe, how to exist. I gaze at Indigo heavens through mourning eyes and I feel his presence in my heart.

    In the midnight beyond, my baby’s the brightest star.

  2. Name: @dazmb
    Words: 110 words

    Title: Double X

    Childhood was a short season that summer.

    We’d been swiping bruised plums from street stalls, squeezing them between our fists, laughing as the juice bled off chins to backs of hands.

    On the corner, Jimmy hollering for a bat, pretending to be his namesake Jimmie Foxx. 58 homies, legendary.

    No-one knew it was Jimmy’s dad come staggering round the corner.

    ‘Dumb drunk’

    The beating was a blur. The look on Jimmy’s dad was animal.

    Holding up the scabbed flowers on his knuckles.

    ‘A present for your ma’

    Later, Jimmy ended up in and out of prison too.

    We knew different, but Jimmy would just shrug, mumble about a bad star.

    • Jimmie ‘Double X or The Beast’ Foxx hit 58 homes runs in the 1932 season playing for the Philapdelphia Athletics.

    • So much to love about this piece. Your opening is wonderful. Bruised peaches and scabbed flowers on knuckles- great. Also love the piece of dialogue. I could go on…Excellent.

    • Agree with Marie’s comments. Love the visual of the bruised plums. Great work Daz!

    • Lots to love here. Your writing is always so visual!

    • ‘Childhood was a short season that summer’, wonderful opening sentence bringing an immediate sense of the pain and suffering to follow.

    • Like how you’ve stripped down the story down to the emotional core. And the plum juice on the hands against the scabbed knuckles – neat image pair.

    • Thank you all! Another great set of stories this week!

  3. Sorry David. Please can you delete the last line and then extend the previous line so that it reads…’We knew different, but Jimmy would just shrug, mumble about a bad star’.

    The word coutn remains the same. Thanks very much.


    Brian S Creek
    107 words

    “Children and animals,” said the director. “That’s what they say.” He was stressed.

    I watched as Monica was taken off set. Poor girl was in tears. Like the rest of us, she didn’t want to be here.

    In an ideal world we would be at home with our families or at school playing with friends.

    Instead we’re here, trapped in a dingy warehouse, performing for that beast of a man.

    The director let out a sigh and made his way over to me.

    “And what’s your name, darling?” he said.

    “Jasmine,” I replied. I gripped the rusty nail tight.

    “Hello Jasmine. Do you wanna be a star?”

    • Lovely story – I felt their annoyance.

    • I really like ‘gripped the rusty nail tight’. Takes the story to a much darker place…

    • This is a gutsy piece. Gutsy and gritty. The rusty nail, lent a dark tone to the story and made me realize these children have lost more than playtime. Well done!

    • Chilling. Reminded me of circus animals.

    • Being ‘trapped’, performing for a ‘beast of a man’ in a ‘dingy warehouse’ all points to a more chilling setup, an undercurrent of something darker.

  5. Pencilled
    (96 words)

    Childhood shapes haunt the landscape as if a 4-year-old god had sketched the world. Grey stickmen and grey stickwomen can barely hold their grey stickbabies with their bobble heads and half-formed faces. Forked fingers point out the disproportionate nature of this place: sketchy people living sketchy lives.
    The fleshed out world where children play, and laughter beats, and colour breathes is on a different page from here.
    Until one day. A different form appears.
    It  rises high in a distant corner, and the grey people’s complexion radiates to a bright silver under the light of this shining new star.

  6. YOUNG AT HEART (110 words)

    Childlike is a lot different than childish. My father, more than anybody, knew this. He taught me to hold onto that innocent sense of joyful whimsy and perpetual curiosity.

    I remember him teaching our son to fly kites and skipping along in the sand giggling, trying to catch the kite’s tail.

    He would spend hours in the woods turning over rocks and rotted tree stumps searching for salamanders to bring back for his homemade terrarium.

    At 83 Dad bought a karaoke machine and played all his favorite old songs. He’d dance around the house with the microphone.

    Dad would beam. “Never too late to be a star!”

  7. The Forgiven
    (100 words)

    Childish fantasy turned nightmare navigating the netherworld.

    Gray writhes of cloying mist clouded his vision. Gnarled limbs of lifeless vegetation snagged cloth, impaled flesh. Voices of the vanished vanishing forever wailed in the distance, striking fear of eternal consequences. Desperation drove his feverish search.

    Bad idea, ill-wishing away the kids playing stick-ball because they’d excluded him again and again, until the vitriol of rejection spewed forth. Vengeance hadn’t been as sweet as envisioned. If only they could be found in time.

    Imploring hands reached out. Hardened heart yielded. And his forgiveness, their last hope, guided them back by the star.

  8. @AvLaidlaw
    109 Words


    Childhood evenings when we played wolf-cub games on the sticky tarmac streets with the smell of petrol in the summer air, when the girls came to play their skipping games but between the thwack of their ropes kept cat-calling us useless ragged boys, when Nina glanced up from her cat’s cradle and with her steady brown eyes watched me throw the ball over and over, when in speechless agreement we sneaked off through the shadows of the stone faced buildings to the patch of waste ground overrun by ragwort and ghostly dandelion heads, when we held hands and looked at the darkening sky and wished for a falling star.

  9. The day I learnt to love my brother

    @geofflepard 110 words

    Childish the adults called him; the kids said stupid or fat. Or both. He was ten years older than me but wanted to play with us. ‘Take Jose,’ Mum said, like I had a choice. He’d lumber around, like a day old steer, all goofy smiles. He didn’t care but I did. Hated them. Hated him. Hated everybody.
    ‘Go home, Jose.’
    Then we got a bat and ball. They gave Jose the bat to make a fool of both of us. ‘Give it me.’ He wouldn’t, just stood there, smiling.
    Javier pitched. Fancied himself, let it rip.
    Jose sent it soaring, rewriting both our histories with that magic shooting star.

  10. Sunset on Santo Jorge and Sunrise of Jorge
    By Adam Houlding
    109 words (or 110 for you double-barreled haters)

    Child Prodigy then, Slum Bohemian now.

    I was sixteen, and my favela sculptures became the orgasm of the wealthy. Papa dragged me from our poverty, to ‘defend my divine gift’. A ‘boy of intelligence’ shouldn’t be surrounded by murderous thugs and stinking garbage. I paid for our passage to Estados Unidos, where my creativity flourished.

    He hated San Jorge favela, yet named me Jorge. Papa was never smart.

    Today I returned to the semi-gentrified favela, condominiums among colourful ruins. The thugs and garbage remain, but made easily digestible. Street children attempt street baseball for gullible tourists, providing me new inspiration.

    My new gallery opens tonight, at The Janeiro Star.

    • Nice use of the bookends and photo prompt. Good to see Jorge is giving back to his hometown.

    • Inspired by his home town. I’d love to see those sculptures! Interesting that he found the thugs and garbage more easily digestible. I’d like to know more. 🙂

      • If only we had a longer word count, Originally it was more pessimistic but alas people love a happy story in a poverty-stricken background.

    • Nice to see success rising from the slums, gives hope to those other street children.

  11. The Blackest Night (107 Words)

    Child of darkness creep through the shadows deep.
    Find the crooked ways through the awful days.
    Hide from others’ sight until blackest night.

    Children playing ball make a swift withdrawl,
    Down the dirty street when they hear your feet.
    Shiver in cold homes, hearing hungry groans.

    Peasants run away, robbing you of prey.
    Fierce your hunger grows, odours fill your nose,
    Need intensifies, hackles start to rise.

    Helpless life is found, taken in one bound.
    Rip apart with jaws, rend with vicious claws.
    Lick the bloody drops from your wicked chops.

    Child of darkness creep through the shadows deep.
    Wander near and far, follow your dread star.


    Brian S Creek
    110 words

    “Children notice things,” said Chris.

    “From the state of the bodies we saw,” said Mike, “I hope they didn’t.”

    “Just ask one of them.”

    Mike crossed the street to where four kids were standing. “Hello. Do any of you know about the recent animal attacks around here? Maybe you’ve seen something that might help our investigation?”

    The children stood silent, grinning.

    “Mike,” said Chris.

    “What is it?”

    “I think we should go.”

    Mike turned and saw that more children were gathering. A lot more children. “I think you’re right.”

    They both started backing away down the street. The children followed.

    “When I review this town,” said Chris. “It’s getting 1-star.”

  13. Letter From Mom
    95 words
    Sydney Scrogham

    Child of mine, you’re first in my heart.

    Child of mine, I never wanted you to be picked last.

    Child of mine, don’t let your baseball dreams come apart.
    Just because they wouldn’t give you a chance.

    Child of mine, stand in the rain, dare to dance.
    Step up to the plate.
    Take that first swing.
    The first will be last, and the last will be first.

    Child of mine, when you show them your skill, the over-lookers will thirst
    and wonder why they left you far.

    Child of mine, you’re the next swinging star.

  14. Name: @dazmb
    Words: 110

    Title: Havana, 1999

    Children in grubby t-shirts playing stickball.

    I stop, let them pitch, raise my camera…

    ‘Hey, Señor…’

    I’m surrounded with offers to be my tour guide, asking me where I’m from.

    A woman leans over crumbling balustrades, shouts down the faded pastel peeling from the façade; tells ‘Ernesto’ to leave me alone.

    He smirks.

    Later, ancient ladies, lives etched on their faces, pose for photographs, huge Cubans dangling from their mouths

    A waiter brings rum.

    Asks if I’m American; says Americans fought the Spanish here to preserve slavery in the South.

    It’s recorded in their flag.

    A secret society – have I heard of it?

    The Order of the Lone Star.

  15. Real Star
    110 words

    “Childless, penniless and alone, I stare through windows like those children on the streets who have nothing but a soggy newspaper and an old ball that once belonged to a dog.”

    “That’s not in the script,” Sally said.

    “No, alas, it is the monologue of my life.”

    “Well yeah, Jim. You hate children and Canada doesn’t even make pennies anymore.”

    “I wasn’t being that literal.”

    “This is a rehearsal. What’s got into you?”

    “Tequila,” Jim said. He held up a silver flask and took a swig.

    Sally hated these no-budget productions. Someday she was going to direct a real play, and instead of a drunk she’d have a real star.

  16. A Crushing Blow
    109 words

    “Childish fantasies will get you hurt.”

    My mother. Squashing dreams since the dawn of time. I defiantly ignore her warning and head out to the game. Today is the day I learn what it’s like to fly.

    The instructions were simple: sneak over to the pile of balls by the pitcher’s foot, curl up tight as you can, await the throw, the contact with the bat, and enjoy your flight.

    The pain that the “contact” would cause was conveniently left out of the instructions. My last thought before getting knocked unconscious? My mother was right. My last sight? The sun setting on my dreams and the night’s first star.

  17. Lengthening Shadows
    110 words

    Children played in the streets, he heard their squeals and shouts through the thin glass of his bedroom window. The day had started to cool; the ice cream van had been and gone, it’s arrival having caused cries of excitement and a sudden rush inside to beg for money.

    David didn’t beg. There was no point. The water had been turned off this week. The drips that fell from the tap didn’t quench his thirst, but were the only sustenance he had.

    Lying on his bed, he watched as the sky flamed reds and golds. He would wish again for his mum’s return once he saw the evening’s first star.

  18. American Dream
    107 words

    Childhood memories were all he had of Havana – playing stickball in the street, chasing strays.

    His mother knew they were poor.

    The boat was leaving under the cover of night. She’d worked hard, saved for years. There may not be another chance.

    “Mamá!” he cried, watching as she disappeared with the shoreline, not understanding why or that her tearful goodbyes were forever.

    The seas were rough, but it wasn’t long before he learned that words – ones like “communism” and “embargo” – had the power to keep them apart.

    Sixteen years later, there were still nights he looked up and wondered if they were wishing upon the same star.

  19. Wistful Wishes
    103 Words

    “Child, don’t be in such a hurry to grow up,” the old woman urged her granddaughter as the toddler reached for everything she saw.

    Her stroller wasn’t big enough to hold everything she wanted, ‘when she was bigger.’

    ‘Gamma, want,’ was the youngster’s battle cry, as she struggled to get what she wanted, and she wanted everything.

    Secretly the old woman wished her grandchild would never grow up.

    One fatal moment, where all the stars aligned in the wrong way, and the child was gone.

    With bitter tears, the woman lamented,’be careful what you wish for, when you wish upon a star.’

  20. Code Cameron
    108 Words

    “Childhood Engineer CL13, Sir.”
    “Says it’s a Code Cameron, Sir.”
    “Doesn’t the woman understand wool?”
    “I tried to explain it to her, Sir. She said she never took to knitting. Rather literal I’m afraid”
    “Nevermind. Put her through.”
    “Vice Chancellor Commons.”
    “Yes, K6. What have you got?”
    “Genuine Code Cameron, Sir.”
    “Come again.”
    “All the declared traits: constant brooder, injustice claimer, hot cross bun rejecter.”
    “Yes, well, we can’t really expect—”
    “Change de-man-der.”
    “Hold a minute.”
    “Send a team over. Round ‘em up. No telling how many it’s infected.”
    “Family too, Sir?”
    “That kind of thinking doesn’t breed itself.”
    “Yes, Sir.”
    “Yes, Sir.”
    “Gold Star.”

  21. @firdausp
    Sweet Dreams
    (110 words)
    Childish innocence still clung to the corners of her mouth, although, her soul had morphed into a gnarled, old woman.
    She meandered around girls playing hopscotch, and a group of boys playing cricket, in the alley. Her steps didn’t falter, she kept moving towards the big house.
    She could hear her mother yelling, “No time to play, they need you at the big house. Go help with the baby.”
    That was when she was seven – herself a child.
    “…go cut vegetables…”
    “…mop the floor…”
    “…wash the clothes…”
    At ten, she was a human mule – an adult role.
    Only nights were her own, to dream. Ride the moon…touch a star.

  22. A Second Life

    110 words


    Childish delight greeted the approaching vehicle. The twelve were ready to meet their mysterious benefactor before they escaped the misery of the sweatshops forever.

    Dr Nayyar pulled his minibus in at the kerbside.

    “Your results were truly phenomenal,” said Mandeep Singh looking out at his rejuvenated employees. Decrepitude and senility had been replaced by youth and vigour; life had become recyclable, his workforce sustainable.

    “All thanks to your investment in our age-reversal trials,” said Dr Nayyar. “You had faith.”

    The unsuspecting ‘children’ clambered onboard, only realising their mistake as the doors locked behind them. And the sun that had shone so brightly on their new lives became a dying star.

  23. Dull Silver
    Word Count: 105

    Childhood is supposed to be golden.
    Fathers are supposed to wake up, bright and early, and make breakfast.
    Bright and early, Papa put the barrel of his shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.
    Mothers are supposed to tuck their kids in at night.
    Mama cried tears of salt and cigarettes when the judge found me a new home, but she never visited.
    Not even once.
    Friends are supposed to stick up for you.
    The whole baseball team disappeared the day the bigger kids came for me.
    Childhood is supposed to be golden.
    Mine was the dull silver of a dying star.

  24. Good stuff, Isky.

  25. The Baseball Star
    110 words

    “Child! Hush.” Margaret screeched and eyed the stoplight, praying for it to change.
    The group laughed.
    “Miss! Money?”
    “Miss! Food?”
    She wished her automobile had windows like her cousin’s.
    The miscreants quieted. A growing unease twisted in Margaret’s stomach. Children were never quiet, unless they were scheming.
    The sound of wood striking an object broke the silence. “Miss! Here!”
    Margaret held her breath, captive in this place. Then, bam, the smack of an orange against her face. Juice trickled down her neck and Margaret couldn’t take it anymore. “Scram! You scoundrels, you wastes of space!”
    The boy smiled through dirty teeth. “Miss! You’re wrong. I’m gonna be a baseball star.”

  26. Thank you so much KM. 🙂

    • Opps! Sorry asgardana, my cursor jumped and placed my comment in the wrong place! 😀

  27. The Game-Changer

    “Children are among God’s greatest gifts,” said Peter. Beads of sweat played dodgeball across his forehead.

    “Children are our future,” said Peter. “They represent the best of our hopes and dreams.” His throat hurt. Was he growing hoarse? No matter; he had to keep going.

    “We don’t own the present,” said Peter. (Please work. Please.) “We’re merely borrowing tomorrow from our children.”

    “Quit your yapping, old man; pretty words aren’t going to save you. And for heaven’s sake, turn us a bit more to the right,” said the Lost Boy. He spat a watermelon seed at Peter’s trembling feet. “We’re heading toward that second star.”

    105 words

    • Poor Peter Pan. Now he understands what it’s like to be a crocodile! Great story and love your use of the picture prompt.

    • This is what happens when you choose to grow up. Lol

      Love that you went with Peter Pan! (Second star on the right and straight on til morning.) Nice connection to make between “child” and “star”. Good twist.

  28. Conjunction
    109 words

    “Child, let me,” I say gently (which Lorna says sounds like a yoga instructor leading a class with his foot clamped in a bear trap).

    “I’m not three, Pops.” Rex flicks a glance at my hands until they curl themselves away into my pockets.

    The telescope jiggles like his little-league bat once did. Back then he let me show him how to steady it.

    “Cool,” he mutters.

    “It’s only this good once a decade.”

    “Hmm.” His phone screen illuminates his grin as he texts his way back into the house.

    Alone on the deck, I watch the smaller planet eclipse the larger until it merges into a single star.

    • Ah, teenage angst. How they think they know what’s important. Great story.

    • This makes me sad because there are so many parents who don’t care about spending time with their teens. A lost opportunity I think Rex will regret later.

      • Thanks! Yeah, here’s hoping that once through puberty, he’ll come back around (a hope for any parent of teens I imagine–mine’s still an obstinate pre-schooler, who still likes to do stuff with mum).

  29. @stellakateT
    110 words

    Three C’s

    “Child, is that short for something?” the teacher asked my mother.

    “No. When he was born his father said it’s another child and that’s what we called him, Child Chester Cubbins, Chester after my great uncle.”

    She didn’t elaborate that after eight children they were fast running out of family names. Being the ninth child meant I could run free. Didn’t see much of teachers and school too busy learning to be the best cricketer this side of the tracks.

    Years later my friends would laugh that my initials were the same as the County Cricket Club, destined to be in the trophy cabinet, my name enclosed in a star.

    • Awesome that you used the first bookend as a name. Great story.

    • I felt bad for this youngest child, who at first doesn’t seem important enough for a “proper” name. But then we see he’s making the most of the situation. Lol

  30. Understanding
    Word Count: 109

    “Children are getting more ridiculous by the year, Headmaster.” Miss Periwinkle sneered from behind her horn-rimmed glasses. Jeremy clung tight to the baseball in his left fist.
    “How so, Miss Periwinkle?”
    The tall, white-haired man turned to face her, eyebrows raised in surprise.
    She stuttered for a moment before going quiet and looking down.
    Jeremy looked up at the Headmaster.
    “What are you here for, Jeremy?”
    “I broke a window playing baseball outside.”
    The Headmaster turned to Miss Periwinkle.
    “How is that any different from our childhood?”
    No answer.
    The Headmaster kneeled down. He took Jeremy’s hand.
    “All this means, son, is that someday you’ll be a baseball star.”

  31. Making Mum Happy

    ‘Childline number?’
    Mum swayed, fumbling with the bottle. Tilly clinked two ice cubes into a glass for her.
    ‘Planning to grass me up?’
    Tilly said nothing. She’d been caught. Graham’s laptop; the only thing Mum hadn’t flung out the door. Tilly’s cheek still throbbed. The row had been all her fault.
    Mum splashed vodka onto the ice. ‘Remember those street kids on that programme? Abandoned. Fending for themselves. No food. No telly. Making their own entertainment, poor kids. You don’t know how lucky you are, Tilly.’
    Mum grabbed the phone, smashing it into the fireplace. Tilly wished Graham was still here. Smiling. Making Mum happy. Calling Tilly his little star.

    110 words

  32. Great story Sal… felt like calling childline myself for Tilly!!

  33. @firdausp
    Lesser god
    “Children of a lesser god.”
    “What?” I looked at my fifteen year old son.
    He pointed to the alley across the street. I could make out children from the nearby slum. Half clad, little brown bodies running around, screaming excitedly. They seemed to be playing cricket.
    “The title seems so apt for them.”
    “You think they are made by a lesser god than our’s?”
    “Look at us!” He raised his hands, gesturing towards our highrise luxury appartment, almost accusingly.
    “And them…”
    “There’s only one God.”
    “Or maybe there isn’t any.”
    “Of course there is!” I insisted.
    He smiled wickedly, ” Then why do you always wish upon a shooting star?”

  34. Hitting the Sweet Spot
    A.J. Walker

    “Childish behaviour!” said Sally.

    Gwen grimaced. “Let them play. They’re children.”

    Sally scowled.

    Ryan threw back his bat like he’d seen real baseball stars do whilst Sam wound up his arm – he was no slouch but Ryan was magical.

    “They’re in the street they should be on a field. Someone could get hurt.” Sally said. “Not to mention my windows.”

    Gwen shrugged. “It’s a tennis ball.”

    “Hey! Stop that will you. You could take someone’s eye out.” Sally shouted.

    Ryan connected sweetly; the yellow ball flew unerringly, like a Cruise missile through the Baghdad suburbs, planting itself deep into Sally’s mouth.

    Gwen clapped.

    “Ryan,” Gwen shouted. “You’re a fucking star!”

    (110 words)

  35. Dreams
    107 words

    “Child, you come back here now!”

    He was already gone. Chores can wait, it’s game time. He knew the belt would await him later, but adrenaline was driving this decision. Ducking left, he accelerated up the cobbled street towards the corner of Cortina and Carmen, narrowly missing the mami’s and their goods. All he could think of was the game.

    Curling his fingers over the ball, he looked at the hitter. In his head he was Cuba’s own Mike Cuellar, in the U.S. pitching for the Red’s. Slowly he coiled, then released his first slider of the afternoon. Strike one.

    Today however, he would be the star.

  36. Silhouette Shift

    Childlike silhouettes play, illuminated briefly as clouds shift. Night is their playground, whilst unknowing eyes sleep. They roam where they will, though none stir, save occasionally, to see them pass. Shadow cloaks them, hidden if needed, for those who wake to seek. Mirroring Grandmother’s footsteps, they merge amongst black buildings, turning pitch length. Motionless, they wait, before hopping into action – tagging others “It”. Time turns briefly, before the sylphs’ skipping slows, as they tire. Cat-like, they yawn, arms stretching wide. Their cradles are waiting. They turn myriad towards doorways, disappearing beyond. Inside, small bodies shift, eyes flying wide – their pupil and iris swallowed dark, save for a pinprick star.


    (110 words)

  37. Memento

    “Childbirth,” she said promptly.

    “Really. You’d go with childbirth.”

    “Absolutely. No question.”

    “Not imagination, or emotions.”

    She stared at him. “Emotions? How can you ask that? Haven’t you seen what emotions do?”

    “Of course; all we have to do is look outside. But surely we’ve all wondered.”

    “There’s a big difference between wondering and wishing.”

    “If you say so.”


    “I find your choice… curious. They’ve been extinct, what, a hundred years? The smoke’s just now dissipating. And yet you’d spend your one wish on human childbirth.”

    She turned away without answering, her mechanical fingers rubbing, rubbing, rubbing at the gnarled blue scrap’s gentle script. Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.

    109 words
    Apologies to my fellow humans for destroying the world two weeks in a row.

    • I don’t know… this is more like… trying to bring it back. I like it!

    • Oh. And I should add: the connection to the photo is from all the kids standing there watching one child play. It’s the watchers who inspired this story of what thoughts may swirl in a post-civilization society.

    • Feeling a bit apocalyptic lately, are we? Do you know something we don’t?

  38. — Big Shot —

    “Child, pass me my glasses.”

    I hand Aunty her trusty bifocals.

    “Lord. There we are.”

    She’s staring hard at the screen.

    “Is that Mum leaning against the wall?”

    “No, that’s me.”

    “Looking fly, Aunty!”

    “Indeed, child. Indeed.”

    I take another look.

    “Where’s Mum?”

    “I should tell you?”

    I nod.

    “She came home one day with chalk on her skirt. A few weeks after, she went away. Six months later, you popped out.”

    My mouth’s open.

    “And this pretty boy, here,” – she rests her finger on the hitter – “well, let’s just say he could send a Spaldeen into the sky like a shooting star.”

    108 words

  39. Grandmother Told Me

    “Child- I’d run if I was you” says the fat bully.

    “Give my ball back!” I shout, as the thin bullies and the tall bullies and the mean looking bullies laugh behind.

    The fat bully hits me with his stick that’s as dirty as his face and he bats my ball under the businessman’s car. The businessman hits me as I try to crawl under.

    “Go back to your old grandmother!” Screams the fat bully. They always make fun because I live with my grandmother and not with my mother. “You dirty orphan!”

    “My mother is not dead!” I start to cry. “My mother is up in the star!”

  40. Acceptance

    Children can be so cruel. I can still hear their taunts in my mind.

    “Hey fatter fatter batter! Hey fatter fatter batter!”

    Even now as the man of the moment, waiting for them to call my name.

    “Hey fatter fatter batter! Hey fatter fatter batter!”

    When I’m up on stage, it’ll be my turn. They’ll hand me the golden statue. I won’t be drippy and thank God as is custom. Instead, I’m going to rip into those ghosts from long ago. My agent said it’s a bad idea, but I know better… all publicity is good publicity.

    So I’m going to do it. I’ll be a vitriolic movie star.

    109 words

  41. Sonatina (108 words)

    Childhood isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Sure I like the smell of my piano teacher’s freshly washed hair, but there is this: the supple contour of her back, the flutter of her soft eyelashes, the self-conscious way she has of touching her lips. And when in that dreamy tone she says semi-quaver, I quake. The other kids are playing stickball or clambering on those ghastly monkey bars whereas I, on the other hand (and oh, how she loved puns), have my eyes glued to a Scarlatti sonatina. But, in the end, all I get for feigning an abiding love of music is a lousy red star.

  42. Authentic, with no hint of falsehood. A joy to read.

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