Jul 232015

It’s great to be back. Hope you’re all well. Ready to rock and write? Read on:

A stage name is a pseudonym adopted by entertainers such as actors, singers and musicians. There are many reasons why an entertainer may choose to adopt a stage name. Their own name may be considered boring (like Reginald Dwight, who legally changed his name to Elton John), they may wish to dissociate themselves from a famous relative (like Mike McGear, brother of Paul McCartney), or they may want conceal their heritage to avoid potential discrimination (such as Farrokh Bulsara (Freddie Mercury) and Ramón Estévez (Martin Sheen)). Some change their name to better fit their image, like today’s birthday boy, Saul Hudson, also known as Slash.

Slash was born in London fifty years ago today. He is best known as the lead-guitarist of hard rock band Guns N’ Roses. Time named him the second greatest electric guitar player of all time behind Jimmy Hendrix. In 2012 he, and the rest of Guns N’ Roses, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The band have attracted controversy throughout their career, the original cover art of their album Appetite for Destruction and a cover version of the Charles Manson song, Look at Your Game, Girl, being particularly controversial. More recently they have been criticized for tardiness at concerts such as at the 2010 Reading and Leeds Festivals, where they arrived an hour late and their sound was cut after they ran over by thirty minutes prompting a sit-in protest from the band.

Let’s wish Slash a happy big five-oh with this week’s photo prompt:

The lone protester

Photo Credit: Dan Phiffer via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is Donald Jacob Uitvlugt, winner of MB1.39. Read his winning story and what he has to say about flash fiction here.


A story of between 90 and 110 words starting with STAGE and ending with NAME 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.

  151 Responses to “Micro Bookends 1.40 – STAGE [micro] NAME”

  1. what’s in a name ..?

    (w/c – 105)

    Stage names were in principle, she thought, an okay idea.
    She could understand why someone would want to change the name they were given. After all, a name’s just a name. Right? She’d asked herself many times before if she’d like to be called something else and couldn’t decide one way or the other.
    Her fingers continued to leaf through the coloured sheets of paper contained in the metal briefcase.
    She knew she’d need to change her name soon though. You couldn’t do what she’d just done and expect to get away with it.
    She’d first need to alter her appearance then pick another name.

  2. Death by Haiku
    (96 words)

    stage left kimono
    of roses, footlights show gun,
    stage right reveals him

    two lives once entwined
    green dragon jealousy ripped
    leaving only fear

    fear plays tune on spine,
    a gagaku flute song of
    melodies from past

    Geisha girl getas
    flee hooded boy in shadows
    obsession blinded

    trembling under stage
    life in the balance of breath
    held and no sound made

    footsteps heighten fear
    not him, not now, not here, not
    the flash of gun barrel

    beautiful actress
    playing oriental role
    mistaken for real

    deed done he shuffles
    away in the snow, clutching
    billboard with her name

    (Note not to be included in word count: Each stanza follows traditional Japanese 5-7-5 seventeen syllables, not words, structure.)

  3. Derelict
    W/C 109

    “Stage is my name, I am homeless, need charity”. His cardboard read.
    I found his name and the intensity with which he begged, funny.
    Had his parents christened him ‘Stage’?
    Tonight, our car rumbles by. Eight teens meshed together and loving it. Gabriel just got his drivers’ license. We’re celebrating.
    Stage is standing right in the middle of the road as we round the bend.
    The car screeches to a halt.
    I tumble out, drunk.
    “Are you crazy?” I yell.
    “You die,” he croaks. “All of you die, tonight.”
    I stop; fear replacing the alcohol in my system.
    He disappears into the night with his cardboard and his name.

  4. To Create
    98 Words

    Stage one: Clean, empty, innocent. Light shines upon it and is absorbed by it.

    Stage two: Expectance. The vacuous need of an image.

    Stage three: A frenzy of bringing into being. Walls without windows, doors without handles, a bleached, beached whale shrunk to the size of an acorn.

    Stage four: Sleep and dreams of failure, eyes closed to the desire for success, the flutter of imagination, the inaudible heartbeat of hope.

    Stage five: Re-entry. Dashes, arcs and arches, loops and inky stabs. Tangled and teased and pulled straight into lines of your own making.

    Stage six: A name.

  5. Dave’s List
    (100 words)

    ‘Stage One,’ Dave wrote on his paper headed, “Changing the World”. He underlined the words, chewed his pencil and continued writing: ‘Rally protesters. A big group’.
    ‘Stage Two,’ Dave paused. ‘Agree on location, date, time’. Somewhere central, he thought, public and in the middle of the day; somewhere that will cause the biggest stir. ‘Stop traffic’. Dave circled the words. ‘But peaceful,’ he added.
    ‘Stage Three: Borrow megaphone. Get placards professionally made – tall handles for waving above the crowd.’
    Dave sat back smiling, then he frowned. In front of Stage One, he scrawled in capital letters: ‘THINK OF A NAME’.

  6. Debut
    Word Count: 105


    “Isn’t he beautiful?”

    “Odd name don’t you think?”

    “These are odds times, Hector. It suits him.” Tereasa wrapped her newborn tightly in the threadbare blanket. She looked out at the vacant auditorium, the shadows of people past still lingered in the seats.

    Wincing, she tried to get up.

    “What are you doing?”

    “We have to keep moving. They’ll find us.”

    “They’ll be sure to find us if you pass out in the snowy street. Lay down.”

    Hector took his son in his arms and looked at his wife on the hard, dusty floor.

    “Stage, huh? Well, I guess it’s as good as any name.”

  7. Time to leave
    101 words

    Stage one of leaving was complete. I was in fact now a long way on in my escape, after leaving home, leaving behind the nastiness of my wife, and facing a few nights sleeping rough. The release of pressure was freeing and the cold air and snow whipped against my skin to add a necessary freshness.
    Walking the high street I managed to commandeer a large piece of waste card. Hitching a lift was probably my warmest option. Pulling the card in front of me, I pulled a sharpie from my back pocket. On it I simply wrote your town’s name.

  8. Stages of Love
    110 words

    Stage 1

    Was when we met on the subway. You, in your overcoat and hat. Me, sneaking glances over the paper I was pretending to read.

    Stage 2

    Was when we found out we weren’t alone in the relationship. You, shaking in the doctor’s office. Me, holding your hand.

    Stage 3

    Was when I asked you to marry me. You, too sick to walk. Me, standing in the snow with a sign proclaiming my love.

    Stage 4

    Was both the happiest and saddest time of my life. You, beautiful in your wedding dress. Me, in tears both times I wore that suit.

    Beloved Wife. The tombstone bears your new name.

  9. Exploited Hand
    (110 words)

    “Stage right!”
    All John wanted was to help his son with his debut theater performance. Somehow that translated into building a stage…in a blizzard.
    “Where?” John asked. “I don’t know anything about theater.”
    “Over there, guy.” The director pointed to his left.
    The pain in John’s shoulder sang as he lowered the wood.
    “Go get the rest, guy.”
    John’s teeth clenched, the vein on his forehead throbbing each time the director spoke.
    “Guy, we don’t have all day.”
    John kicked up snow as he spun on his heel; he had enough. His body felt hot despite the cold and he growled as he eyed the man. “I have a name!”

  10. The Low Point of My Career
    110 words

    “Stage the play at the Golden Stage You will find the details in this envelope.”

    I’d seen him carting it through the snow with a grin on his face. The envelope was packed tight with paper. Judging by the way the man’s nose was up in the air, I was in for some supposedly-artistic garbage.

    Business isn’t great. I take what I can get. I wish I’d been more careful.

    “The Golden Stage is booked solid,” I said.

    The shoe hit me square in the nose. Yeah, that’s why it’s crooked. It healed wrong. I would have pressed charges, but he fled, and I never even learned the guy’s name.

  11. Pandora
    100 words

    Stagecoach packed, they set off. She clutched a small box.
    A crash outside, a screaming horse, and the stagecoach stopped. Voices yelled to come out. She glanced at the box, ignoring the whispered warnings of her companion.
    The sun burned her eyes as she faced the three highwaymen. One holds flame. She glimpsed the slumped over, smoking driver.
    She tossed the box in the road between them. “Take all I have.”
    Greedily, one snatched the box up. Upon opening it his eyes widened and scalded in his skull. Wailing, he crumpled to the ground. He shuddered, last exhale a name.

  12. Curtain Call

    Stage lone protest against my eviction, it was all I could do

    But my performance was cut short on that snowy night, the driver skidded and swerved but he didn’t swerve hard enough.

    I reach a waiting room, and they give me a ticket, number twenty six, my age, my end.

    Others are already sitting, standing, some are travelling light others with years of baggage. A child comes and holds my hand, she was playing in the street making snowballs.

    Her name and number are called, she steps forward towards the bright light and I wait for them to call my name.

  13. @stellakateT
    105 words

    The Actor

    Stage fright was one thing he’d never experienced, too cool for that. All his life he’d grabbed opportunities with gusto. Never look back was his motto. Walk forward with purpose he’d had tattooed on his chest. Admiring it each morning he wished he’d had it written backwards so he could read it in the mirror. Tonight he’d stand in the snow on his makeshift plinth and pledge his troth. He hoped he’d attract a big crowd, he’d anonymously told the local radio and TV station what he’d planned. He wanted to be on a reality show and hoped Amy would help him make his name.

  14. Director’s Cut

    100 words


    Stage it, they said, as long as it looks real, that’s all you need to worry about. Arrests were everything. And getting Hoffman would send them to the top of the league.

    Tonight though would be Roland’s last time and he intended to follow a different script. This was for his sister, for Rosie.

    From the shadows, he could see his actors clustered beneath the flickering streetlight. He spotted Hoffman walking towards them; girls like Rosie, desperate for their next fix. The snow made even this ugly scene beautiful.

    Roland gripped the knife tighter. Prepared to move. Determined that the last thing Hoffman would ever hear would be Rosie’s name.


    Brian S Creek
    109 words

    “Stage two, if we’re lucky,” said Chris.

    “Think we can save him?” asked Mike.

    Across the street, the man they’d been hunting through New York since midnight was now coming towards them, ploughing through the snow that covered the sidewalk.

    Chris pulled the antidote from his pack. “Guess we’ll find out.”

    As the man reached the pair, he raised his grey, clawed hands, and ripped his jacket off, revealing a torso covered in white fur.

    “Or stage three,” said Chris.

    The creature lashed out at Mike but Chris ducked and managed to jab the syringe between its ribs.

    The creature collapsed.

    Mike glared at the wound on his hand.

  16. The Landings
    110 words
    Stage seven, I accept it. I am to be their guide. I take to the smudged, green light of the city street and plant myself in the dead centre of The Square.
    Passers-by tut in irritation as they circle the stubborn obstacle I’ve made myself. The cold, hard rain takes aim at their
    lightweight, summer clothes that now cling to their goosebumped human flesh. They think the weatherfront their only unscheduled interruption.

    I look to the skies once more, and I can sense them buried in the clouds. I live my  purpose; turn myself to a beacon of orange flame and proclaim Their Victory:
    Earth will have its new name!

  17. Foy S. Iver
    WC: 109

    Easy Street Atonement

    “Stage yourself at the crossing of Kent and 2nd.”

    “And He’ll be there?”

    “Isn’t He everywhere?”

    I think I remember something like that from felt-board lessons.

    “And I have to hold this?”

    I shift. My neck muscles grip my bones vice-like under the weight of it.

    “Would it be a public confession if you didn’t?”

    No. Not really.

    So I stand, ankles soaking into snow, saving my soul from fire and sulfur. My sins, wrongdoings, “badness”–whatever word you like– written in chicken scratch have turned the white placard angry. I wonder about the man with the saccharine smile. Odd but a nice guy. Lucius? Was that his name?

  18. Eclipsed

    “Stage one rockets – GO!”

    He kicked off from the top of the slope with a whoop, the cardboard sheet hurtling down the moonlit street. The town was unnaturally quiet, no gawkers to laugh at his latest attempt. That suited him fine. He’d spent days smoothing the approach, building the icy ramp at the far end – now, rapidly, not so far at all – and this time he’d do it.

    He tensed, preparing to unfurl his garbage bag wings.

    This was it. July 21st, 1969; the day he flew.

    No more “sled guy.”

    No “toton.”

    No “lunatic.”

    He was Nial Armstrong.

    And soon the world would know his name.

    110 words

    • I felt a lot of anxiety and tension reading this. (I was especially nervous after “He tensed, preparing to unfurl his garbage bag wings”.) Then it made me sad. Nicely done.

    • “To infinity… and a bit further!” Great take on the prompt, Karl.

      [ But who or what is ‘toton’? ]

      • Thanks Geoff! It’s a French – Canadian insult meaning “idiot” (according to Wikipedia anyway) – my very tenuous explanation for why it’s snowing in July 🙂

        • Thanks for clearing that up. I didn’t want to appear too picky by querying the snow/July thing! 🙂

  19. The Walk On
    A.J. Walker

    Stage left an almighty clattering alerted everyone that the broom cupboard had been discovered. The audience was nonplussed as no-one had left the play from that direction – the scene’s only door was to the right.

    There was a collective intake of breath as a homeless man shuffled onto the stage wearing a plastic bag over his feet carrying a stained sleeping mat and a mop. His unkempt hair was still topped with snow from the blizzard.

    Jemima and Nathaniel stood transfixed wondering how to proceed once he’d walked through.

    The Times critic wrote the man was the best thing about the play and apologised for not knowing his name.

    (110 words)

    • Ha! That last line made me laugh so much. Isn’t that just like a critic? LOL

      • I know right! And I also got the spelling wrong! That’s what happens when I type while travelling.

        • Oh, I didn’t even notice, and I still don’t see it! No worries. I’m a flight attendant, so I do a lot of traveling and screwing up typing, myself. lol

          • Oh shucks! I’m sorry my comment was not meant to be here. It was for my story. 😁 Look what I do when on the road.

  20. Street Theatre
    100 words

    Stage fright? He thought he’d exorcised it at RADA. In school, he volunteered to play sheep in the nativity so he could hide in the back and keep his mouth shut except for the odd baa.

    He chose the roundabout for its bright lighting, there’s nowhere to hide. No reason to worry, nobody’s paying attention in this weather. Not yet, anyway. He arms himself with the props, launches into the monologue and after a dozen shaky words, his voice steadies.

    He nails it like a pro.

    But nobody’s paying attention in this weather. Nobody bothers to find out his name.

    • Aww. It makes me sad to think of how many great artists go unnoticed and unsung. If someone is standing outside in iffy weather, holding props, and performing a monologue, someone had better pay attention!

  21. Isn’t She Lovely?
    110 words

    Stage moms and their counterfeit smiles line the first three rows. You can tell whose kid is up because the face disappears behind a hand-held. I scowl and exhaust a can of hairspray stiffening golden curls into corkscrews.

    I was a pageant kid, too, a successful one until puberty. I wrench the laces of the sequined bodice. Lost my tiara and Mother’s affection with the tiniest bump of an actual breast.

    She’d approve of how I’d staggered the rhinestones in the false lashes, how I’d propped the cello to best show her off (appearance always counts more than skill).

    I give the dolly a shove when they call Mother’s name.

  22. Emily Clayton
    110 Words

    Percival and the Manhattan Minotaur

    “Stage this house properly, and you’ll bring in the big boys.”

    “But ma’am, I’m just the advertiser.”

    Mrs. Gallagher, aka the Manhattan Minotaur, gave me an icy glare. “Everyone is responsible for closing a deal. If I lose the sale, you lose your earnings. Capeesh?”

    In an instant, she was ribbons and curls. She flipped platinum blonde embellishments — victims of chemical injection and flatiron mutilation could never be deemed real hair — and stomped to the balcony.

    What happened next wasn’t my fault. The Minotaur tripped and toppled over the wintry ledge.

    I felt gleeful until a new thought entered my brain. There goes my reputation and good name.

  23. Staging A Murder
    Word Count: 110

    Stage a hanging.
    That was the plan.
    Freddie brought the noose, tightened it around the outside of the haunted house.
    “It’s gonna rock, dude. Kids are gonna freak for sure!”
    We attracted a small crowd; it’s not exactly usual to host a haunted house in the middle of winter.
    But then again, we weren’t usual people.
    Start with a hanging. Hit the music. Open the doors.
    Rake in the cash.
    That was the plan.
    Bill stood by the entrance with a cardboard sign; HAUNTED HOUSE 5 DOLLARS ENTRY
    “Ready?” Freddie asked.
    The noose was tightened too well.
    I realized too late.
    Panicked voices called my name.

  24. — The Things We Do For Lois —

    “Stage Invasion Rocks 1D Performance”

    He can picture the 72pt headline next to a photo of him with his arm around Harry.

    Lois is one of the Directioners. A thousand times he’s watched her lips discuss them at the water cooler. A hundred times he’s seen the posters through her window. Every night he’s there, whatever the weather, walking in the rain and the snow but keeping in the shadows.

    Once more, he checks his back pocket. There’s the ticket for Saturday’s gig. Tomorrow he’ll get the T-shirt made. Lucas Heart Lois. Come Sunday, she’ll know his name.

    106 words

    • Oh, wow. Go big or go home! He’s taking quite the risk. He must really like this girl. In a way, I hope she likes him back, even though he’s a creeper. But if he wanted to impress her, he probably should have just given her the ticket! (Love rarely lets us think straight, doesn’t it? lol)

    • This is so well written, and the end pops out at you in a way you would NOT expect! It ‘got me good’ as we say. Fantastic.

  25. @firdausp
    What’s in a name…
    107 words
    Stage set – ready to roll!” She thought aloud.
    The pack of wolves were waiting at the conference table ready to tear her flesh.
    She took her seat, feet cold, like she’d just walked barefoot on snow like the homeless.
    “We’re sorry for this emergency meeting. As new investors of your company we want to propose some changes,” The head of the wolf pack began,”Firstly we want to change the name.”
    Then a young cub interrupted, “Like they say, ‘What’s in a name…”
    “You read Chaucer, I see.”
    ” Er…actually Shakspear said that,” his smile smug.
    She deadpanned, “I know, like you said, ‘What’s in a name…”

  26. ”Every Man’s A King”

    Stage Manager seemed the job for me: theatre crazy but no acting skills.

    But only actors become celebrities, appear on chat shows, go to A-list parties; Stage Managers hold productions together but get no respect.

    “I need to feel the weight of a real handgun, Michael.” Mr Big-Shot-Celebrity-Star tells me.

    “My name’s Micah.”


    Its an off-Broadway production: aint no ASMs. So who has to trudge through snow to replace the prop that Mr Big-Shot-Celebrity-Star carelessly broke?

    Mr Big-Shot-Celebrity-Star wants a real handgun, I can get one. Even show him how it works. I know the hotel where he has a suite.

    Yeah. Things’ll change. Everyone’s gonna know my name.

    Word Count: 110

    • this is mega dark, but mega well written. Gave me chills!

    • Ooh, you’ve got more than one of the seven deadly sins going on here… It’s that “Whatever”. That’s what pushed him over the edge, isn’t it? I bet that one, infuriating word has been the catalyst for a multitude of murders. lol Nicely written. Great buildup!

      • Thanks for the kind words, KM.

        Yes, “Whatever” does seem to be the tipping point here, after having his name mistaken.

  27. Three Small Steps.

    Stage one: Denial.

    He was right on track with that one. He refused to believe that he’d lost everything, so much so he was beginning to wonder if he’d lost his mind as well.

    Stage two: Bargaining

    I’ll stop drinking tomorrow. I’ll check into rehab if only you give me one more chance. Don’t let this be the end.

    A part of him, the saner part, knew there was no bargaining to be had. But he let his mind wander. Were there seven stages or three? There were seven dwarves… it must be three… past present and future… that sounded right.

    Stage three: Sign you name.

    Word Count 106

  28. The Great Houdeen
    Word Count: 110

    “Stage left” he recalled.
    He shifted slightly to his left. Not awkwardly.
    He glided.
    He seemed to almost fly across the stage with a silky smoothness that captured the audience effortlessly.
    There had been an air of skepticism at the beginning, at the first showing of the self proclaimed “Great Houdeen” (as it had been marketed outside on a shoddy piece of cardboard in the blistering cold by a small boy for the past few hours), but now they were enthralled.
    Within a moment he disappeared from sight in a flash of smoke.
    The crowd went wild, and from underneath the lightly-guidemarked floorboards he knew;
    they would remember his name.


    “Stage Finale contestants. You know the drill: Say your name, play the game and perhaps earn some fame. So you are…”
    “Blind Bat.”
    “With an ‘r’”
    “Bart…you mean like er…Bartimaeus? Hahaha.”
    “Well, save the name, just play the damn thing.”

    To everyone’s wonder, he would walk the barefoot deftly working his way through ice, eyes unfazed by the floodlights, and place the board at the goal. Via his guide and walking stick, he returned to the now wordless umpire.

    “Confidence, identity,” removing dark glasses to reveal sightless eyeballs and, pointing at his medal, “capability. Mister, pretty much everything is in a name.”

    110 words

    • “Confidence, identity…capability. Mister, pretty much everything is in a name.” Makes me wonder, then, about my name. Someone told me once it reminds them of a damp kitten. lol

      Seriously, though, I like how he was underestimated and proved the host wrong!

      • I guess I got the spark from a coming to terms with how much about ourselves our names embody and conversely, how stumped we can be when we allow the name we bear, especially if undesirable, define us.

        Thanks much for your thought here!

        • That’s so interesting! It reminds me of two things:

          1. The charming South Korean series “My Lovely Sam Soon”, in which the title character hates her name so much, she wants to change it. Watching it, I remember being confused by that because it seemed like a perfectly good name to me (one who has no experience with South Korean culture, lol). Apparently, it’s a bit old-fashioned, if I remember correctly. The name thing was a small but recurring issue, and she seemed to think it held her back. I’ve never been a fan of my name, but I’ve passionately disliked it. (More info: http://www.dramafever.com/drama/8/My_Lovely_Sam_Soon/)

          2. This tweet, which I saw read on Ellen, randomly. 🙂

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