Tag: Holding

HOLDING: Dear Paddy By Nan Ressue

Word Count 495

Dear Paddy
By Nan Ressue

Dear Paddy,
I’m doubting that this wretched letter will ever find its way into your fine hands but the writing
of it helps me to both think of you, my dear brother, and to pass the time. I struggle to blot out
the vision of our fields filled with brown vines and rotting potatoes and wonder how you will
be spending your day. I have always dreamed of going to sea but surely not trapped in the
stinking hold of this nightmare ship with the hopes of a new life fading fast.
I’m remembering that I promised you that I would help you escape the starving Irish potato
farmer’s lot back home but little did I know that you first have to survive this journey across the
sea. So many poor souls have come aboard as walking skeletons coughing their way to below
decks. This trip will surely not cure any ills that came along with them.
I’m hearing that many of the ships they jam us poor immigrants onto were once used as the
slavers , now refitted for another bleak chapter in their lives. The ticket cost me nearly every
penny I had.
There has been some reconfiguring of the hold with the family groups given space amid ships.
Single men and women are strictly divided into separate groups in the bow and the stern with
the women guarded by matrons to insure their virtue. The single men have a space on the floor
18 inches wide unless your neighbor dies and his space can be added to yours until the overseer
notices. The very air in the hold is foul to the extent that it seems brown and thick with germs
and misery. We do have our turn in the fresh air once or twice a day which is counted as a
blessing. But alas, it brings to light the skin diseases and the fresh bites to the flesh suffered
from rodents during the night. The odors of sea sick vomit and the stench of shit as it
accumulates is hard to bear. I see a poor women on deck ready to deliver her babe any day. It
sets me to wondering if the new child would be Irish or American?
Meal time is such a mixture of emotion…We are starving and so consume the slop served up.
Revulsion versus hunger. Self-preservation is the winner.
Three thousand miles and three weeks underway unless we are becalmed. Waiting for the
wind also brings thirst as the drinking water supply dwindles. The desperate path that joins the
blighted potato fields in Ireland to the new life in America seems beyond realization most days
but the time continues to pass. I’m taking the best of two hard choices; stay behind and starve
or perhaps survive this sea voyage which is surely half way to Hell. Say some prayers for me.
Your loving brother,

HOLDING: Holding Mankind’s Fate in his Hands B.A. Sarvey

Word: Holding
Word Count: 500

Holding Mankind’s Fate in his Hands
B.A. Sarvey

“Big A! How’s it going?”
“Can’t complain.” The sun was rounding the edge of the earth, illuminating his brow, as it did every day,
baking his skin golden, deep brown. Soon, sweat would course in rivulets down the space between his
shoulder blades. The heat and brightness had ceased to concern him eons ago. Reconciled to his fate, he
found comfort in the knowledge that he served mankind faithfully. No matter that he was holding the
weight of the world on his shoulders.
His companion observed him from a distance—bulging muscles, furrowed forehead, a contemplative look
in his eyes. Yes, indeed, enormous responsibility had been thrust upon this giant of a man. “What’s new
in the world?”
“Nothing much. You know the saying—history repeats itself. But a storm is brewing off the coast. Going
to be a hum-dinger, judging by the air pressure.” He shuffled slightly, wishing mightily that his friend
would go about his business. Sharing small-talk usually ended up with one more thing thrust upon him.
One more thing everyone seemed to think he could control or mitigate or get rid of altogether. As if
holding up one more burden wouldn’t break his back, someday.
Cupping his hand, he caught water from a stream, clean and cold, then craned his neck to drink. Yes, so
many people—animals, as well, for that matter—relied on him. Their dependence wore at him,
sometimes, prevented him from truly enjoying the bounties of this beautiful place. It was a gift from the
gods, breath-taking when the sun was travelling past the other horizon, pouring out its blood, and the
moon shone, her cool, white light bathing him, comforting him, respite from the sun’s harshness. By the
time the sun reappeared, he was ready to face another day.
He couldn’t speak of this to his visitor. Who would want to hear of his trials, his misgivings, his pain?
Sometimes, he wanted to buckle under the weight of it all. Bereft of his freedom, his choice, he saw no
end to this. Yet, he did, indeed, feel a certain pride in holding up what he saw as his special lot in life. If
only for a moment he could get out from under it all.
He must have groaned aloud.
“I wish I could do something for you, Big A.,” his friend said. “You do so much for everyone else.”
“Actually, you can. This nerve in my neck has a pinch.”
“I can massage that for you.”
“No, couldn’t ask you to do that. Perhaps you could just shift the load a little, ease the weight.”
“I’m not nearly as strong as you. Wait. Let me get my footing. Okay. Yep. You’ll need to help.” Then, he
noticed the placid green of the big man’s eyes glinted with purpose. Something had awoken inside him,
but it too late. The burden had been transferred.
“Ahh. That’s better.”
“Wait! Take it back!” As his friend staggered and bellowed beneath the world, Atlas shrugged.

HOLDING: Holding on to Life By Marea Needle

Word: Holding
Word count: 443

Holding on to Life
By Marea Needle

I’ve gone through the 5 stages or maybe the 9 stages, I don’t remember the number, of grieving
and dying, and I’m not the one dying. My wife is. After I screamed and swore at god with every
curse word I knew and kicked in a few doors, I realized he had nothing to do with it. That I have
accepted. Then I thought about the high priced doctor with his well-known reputation who told
me: “Mr. Harris, there is nothing more we can do for your wife. Just take her home.” Perceiving
a doctor who ordered standard treatments that didn’t work, who followed procedure because he
knew nothing else; again: I’ve accepted his failure with resignation.
Now, my wife lays in bed hooked up to a morphine drip, in and out of consciousness. Once, a
tall vibrant sunflower facing heavenward, she has become a frail wisp of a leaf, her outline barely
discernable under the sheets. I sleep in the recliner next to the bed, fearful of leaving in case she
breathes her last. So, I think, what is this life; breathing, thinking, doing, loving? Where does is
get you? The breathing, doing and thinking brings you to love. That’s where profoundness
begins. You find someone or something and it clicks. You’ve found your way home. Then
you’ve trekked roads where love became complex, maybe routine and annoying; others might
have left but you remained. Now this is where it ends for me: my wraith of a wife out of sync
with her former existence, and I barely holding on. I’m hoping to awaken from the horror of this
endless night. I’m disoriented; one foot here, the other; who knows where…
I think: Is my unresponsive wife dreaming? Has she moved into a transitional life before she
takes her last breath, getting used to whatever comes? I sit here wondering about the scheme of
things. How will I be after her death and burial? Imagine being six feet underground moldering
for decades on end. It’s cruel. Visiting a rotting corpse covered up by a bronzed hinged casket,
with beautifully manicured greens and a granite stone engraved with your surname on it, waiting
for YOU! Well, that was what my wife wanted, so I respected her wishes. I will be cremated, no
dirt covering me. I want to be swept up by the winds and travel to parts unknown. But I’m
digressing now. I keep watch on my wife with sorrow, holding onto Life while she does the slow
tango toward that other place we will all call our final tomorrow.

HOLDING: That’s Above My Pay Grade By Josh McMullen

Word: Holding
Word Count: 500

That’s Above My Pay Grade
By Josh McMullen

The whole house became engulfed in pure white, then just as quickly, went almost completely
black, save for the moon, its light breaking through the window. Dahlia and Farley sat against
the door holding on tightly to each other's hand, trying very hard not to even breathe out of step.
They had met each other in the office. She was an eager young employee, on the absolute fastest
of fast tracks to an executive position. He had already been with the company ten years, and he
knew he was going nowhere. It wasn't fair, but that was their pre-arranged lot in life. Their
stations had been assigned at birth, and advancement was impossible.
Farley thought she looked absolutely ravishing: long legs that, as the cliché goes, went all the
way up, and an hourglass figure that made her look like a Barbie doll. Everything on her was
absolutely perfect, almost as if she had been preserved until her 18th birthday.
Farley, though, had the ravages of office life on him, just like everyone else. He had gained a bit
of weight, his hair sat in a dirty blonde glob on top of his head, and his skin broke out at the
slightest contact with the air. Nevertheless, she had noticed him on her first day, extending her
hand and introducing herself as Dahlia Simonson before being chided for fraternizing with the
Since that day, Farley had wanted her as he watched her flitting from desk to desk, chirpily
dropping off work assignments. Every time she stopped at Farley's desk, she would greet him
with a smile and a wave, flipping her black hair, which was almost as bouncy as she was. Then
she would walk away, her hips swaying in a cardinal-red miniskirt, and Farley had to slap
himself to quiet his imagination. The thoughts always came back at night, the illegal fantasies
getting more and more obscene.
That was before that fateful day in March. He had been running late, and arrived at his desk just
before Dahlia did. She greeted him with a coy wink and a more coy wave. His assignments were
the usual shower of busy work, but he was shocked by a note, written in loopy letters with a
green pen: Meet me in the copy room. One hour. Tell no one.
He didn't have to be told twice, and he had barely set foot there when he was met by the most
brazen of illicit actions: a kiss, right on his lips. It obviously escalated quickly.
He wouldn't know how they found out. It didn't matter how, since now, his life was at risk. They
both sat against the door of his house, holding each other's hands while outside, the agency sat in
a holding pattern. Without even thinking, he planted a kiss on her lips as if it was the last time,
just as the banging of a battering ram began against the door.

HOLDING: Blinking Lights By Terry Rainey

Word Count 499

Blinking Lights
By Terry Rainey

Celebrating our expansion to China, I have two martinis with lunch. I’m Rolfe Togan, founder of
Rolfe’s. We make Rolfe’s Neuticles — dog balls. Not the balls you throw around for fetching, but
testicular implants for pets. That’s right, silicone implants for male dogs to replace testicles after
neutering, so that a dog's appearance back there doesn't change. I birthed a special company. In 20 years,
we’ve sold over 500,000 sets of Neuticles. The average pair costs $300, but once we did a $2,800 custom
set for a zoo elephant…watermelon-sized.
When I saunter back into the office, Malcolm, the new receptionist, says he needs to use the
bathroom and could I cover the phones. I say “No problem.” No task is too small for Rolfe. I answered
the horn when Neuticles was nothing but a man and his big dreams.
While Malcolm totters down the hall, I sit down at the main desk. Thoughts of Chinese Neuticles
make me tingle, along with maybe the martinis. For five minutes, the main console’s four lines are quiet.
Well, this isn’t so hard. So I decide to call Harry with a joke, the one about three hookers in a
Winnebago. He picks up on the first ring.
“Harry? Rolfe! Got a joke for you.” Just then line 2 lights up, so I put Harry on hold and pick it
up. “RolfRolf’s” I answer. Then line 3 lights up. Line 1, Harry, is blinking, waiting for the hooker joke; I
pick up line 3, bark “RolfRolf’s, hold please”; then I go back to line 2 and say “Rrrrrrolfe’s, can I help
It’s a reporter. He’s attended some symposium in Bucharest or Budapest. They’d analyzed
macho feelings of Neuticles dogs compared to fully-equipped dogs – the so-called swinging Fidos. There
was no significant swagger correspondence. The only definitive trait of Neuticled dogs was an attraction
to mirrors. The reporter wants a comment. I put him on hold.
I’m sweating under my collar. When is Malcolm coming out of the bathroom? Is he having
issues with his vasectomy, which he’d gotten with Rolfe’s “You and Your Dog” package deal?
And then line 4 lights up! The long number tells me it’s the Chinese. I panic, knowing they’d be
suspicious of a company where the leader answers the phone. So I assume a voice, but in my momentary
alarm and a two-martini haze, I do a Charlie Chan accent. I hear myself saying “Haarro? So velly please
conneck you to honorable Mr. Togan,” which sounds awful, but I do transfer them correctly.
Lines 1-2-3, still holding, blink angrily. I need to get to my office phone and do the Chinese deal,
all those huskies and Pekinese proudly prancing around Shanghai neighborhoods with a chip under their
The whole phone console flares…then Malcolm appears. I could kiss him. He asks how it was.
I say “No problem.” I scurry away, ignoring the flashing lights, my mind on three hookers, two martinis
and one Chinese Neuticles Empire.

HOLDING: Holding By Anne Nassar

Word Count 500+

By Anne Nassar

Anyone could see that there was something amiss. She stood out on the sidewalk in her pajamas,
just stood there, hunched over, like her head was so heavy that her neck couldn’t hold it up. All
of her breaths were deep sighs. When spoken to, she flinched. But still it was kind of shocking.
When she got out of the hospital, she went to live with her ex.
Her husband had never expected to be a single parent. He had never done anything remotely
domestic. Ever since he got married, he worked, and she took care of the kid. He was a good
father – he taught Maria how to fish and play soccer and foosball and Minecraft. But he didn’t
really know what else she needed. Plus, he still had to work. So Maria was left to her own
devices a lot of the time.
She had three friends in the neighborhood. After school, she would ring their doorbells and play
with whichever friend was available. But all of her friends got called in by eight. Her father
never called her in. So, she just walked around in the dark until she got tired. Then, she went
home and microwaved a tv dinner. Her dad was usually asleep in his armchair, snoring away.
She went to bed if there was nothing good on. But there were 110 channels, so usually there was
something good on.
She fell asleep in class sometimes. All the teachers knew what had happened with her Mom,
though, so nobody ever yelled at her. One day, at dismissal, she heard somebody calling her
name. There were three Marias, but she was Maria Ravenna – Maria after the mother of God and
Ravenna after the most beautiful town in Italy, where Dante was buried.
It was her Mom.
You straightened your hair! She said.
Yeah, does it look good? Her Mom asked.
Yeah, really good! I like it!
You’ve gotten taller, her Mom said.
You say that like it’s a bad thing!
Your pants are too short, her mother said.
Well, I guess so!
You’re starting to look like a young lady, not a kid anymore.
At the State Fair, I’m able to ride, like, the Scrambler and the Pirate Ship. I’m finally tall

Your father took you to the Fair?
No, Maria said, Jessie’s parents took us. We went on wristband day. It was so packed.
Did you thank them?
Sure! Yes!
What else did you do this summer?
I took a swimming class at MV.
Who brought you there?
He’s not supposed to be driving, he mother said, he passes out.
He never passed out when I was in the car, she said.
She didn’t mention that her Grandfather frequently pulled over and napped.
Can you swim now?
Kind of.
Kind of, her mother repeated, so. Do you know what today is?
Your birthday, Maria said, but I didn’t get you anything because I didn’t know that I would be
seeing you. Sorry.
She began to cry. It was like all the tears in the world.

HOLDING: To Have and to Hold By Peg Scarano

Word: Holding
Word Count: 499

To Have and to Hold
By Peg Scarano

I have gathered so much insight over the past 44 years; I decided I could be a marriage counselor
without a license. I’m not sure people would pay for my services and I’m not sure I’d charge.
Maybe it could be only on a “satisfaction guaranteed” basis. But if my clients were satisfied…I
had best be paid big bucks!
Here are a couple of newlywed scenarios. After the trauma and stress of planning a wedding and
honeymoon, I think it is amazing couples even make it to the altar, let alone the honeymoon. We
were fortunate that my parents lived in Fort Lauderdale at the time. They stayed in our new
house for the week while we stayed in their condo with a pool. The first full day we were there,
the elderly gentleman who lived across the courtyard passed out in his webbed-folding chair.
His name was Rex and his wife broke sound barriers screeching for help. My hero flew out of
the pool leaping over chairs to go to the rescue, while ordering me to take the wife inside and call
911. As I was truly being helpful doing as I was told, I looked out the window only to see my
hero trying to give Rex CPR while he was still in the folding chair, which immediately collapsed
with Rex in it. The groom was obviously not CPR trained. The EMT’s finally arrived, but it
was too late for Rex. I thought honeymoons are supposed to be trauma free and relaxing, but we
sucked it up and tried to move on!
The first week home after our honeymoon heaven, my groom came into the kitchen before work
and asked, “Aren’t you making my lunch?” With raised eyebrows and a not-so-pleasant
demeanor, I simply responded, “No.” He replied accusingly, “Well, my mother always made my
lunch.” To which I calmly countered with, “But I’m not your mother.” I won, but there was a
sudden chill in the air.
A few weeks later, at his request, I begrudgingly handed him my entire paycheck for the second
time since saying our vows. We had yet another “come to Jesus” encounter. “Look,” I began. “I
have cashed my own paychecks for the last two years; taken what I thought I would need to live
on until the next check and used the remainder to pay bills or save. I do not like asking you for
my money. So from now on, I will cash my check; take what I want; and give you the rest.
However, I am not asking you for money ever again. I hate it!” An argument ensued. I won.
But it temporarily got really cold in the house again.
After one month of marriage, I discovered I was not so good at holding my tongue. But I
excelled at holding my ground and holding my own purse strings. We were still holding hands,
but we were also holding onto our hats for the bumpy ride ahead!

HOLDING: Atlantis Lost – Chapter 7 By Sharon Collins

Word Count 499

Atlantis Lost – Chapter 7
By Sharon Collins

Let me no longer fill the firelight with dark rememberings. My brother-priest’s mission has awakened
happy memories, and I would share them with you, starting with those of our Oracle, so beautifully blue,
that he hopes to rebuild east of this place.
In the courtyard of the Temple of Poseidon stood The Oracle’s twelve sentinels. Coral, carved from the
living floor of the ocean, each was the height and span of a man standing with his arms thrown wide.
Upon them in tiles of rare lapis lazuli and clear crystal were inlaid the birth-constellations which yearly
wheel across the night sky, a year-full of midnights, a month at a time. During the daylight hours, the
Oracle hummed with activity. Birthmothers could be seen placing their newborns within the dawn-
shadow cast by the stones of their birth and asking blessings of the Star Beings who brought us to this
world. I and my twin were laid before the Stone of the Lion by our royal mother as the third sunrise of
our breathing brightened the eastern sky. When the sun was at its zenith, lovers thronged, pledging their
devotion while standing before their birth-stones, especially glad if their stones stood opposite, across the
courtyard. For those pairings, were the most harmonious and destined to bring the greatest joy. To stand
within Blueness of The Oracle was a privilege unreserved during the light of day. At night however, the
privilege belonged to the Seekers and to the Seekers alone. When the twelve Seekers, six men and six
women, convened on nights of the new moon, the magic they released was miraculous. .
Of course you question, and I answer you, ‘No I am not a Seeker. I am the Keeper of the Crystals that the
Seekers needed in order to seek.’ I know it sounds like a child’s rhyme; let me explain. The songs of my
gemstone-daughters, are the engines that powered our society. The High Priests and Priestesses wove
that power into incredible accomplishment and advancement. They also shared my children with the
Seekers, who had only one crystalline child, a daughter so small, so black, so heavy she absorbed all light
and sound. When the twelve girls were brought together within The Oracle and the Ritual of Holding
performed, the Seeking began and the magic of Knowing flowed.
Eleven Seekers wearing skullcaps of purest silver embracing each, one of my daughters, stepped to the
sentinel of his or her birth, bowed and requested the gift of Knowing. Turning and positioning the dome
of the skullcap into the depression, perfectly paired within the stone, began the awakening. When the
Lead Seeker, wearing a cap not of silver but of graven crystal containing their dark daughter positioned
over his Third Eye, stepped to the last sentinel and made contact, the encoded knowledge of the Star
Beings began to flow. In a miracle of magic, the stones released the Songs of Knowledge they had been
holding for us since the Time of Arrival.

HOLDING: Holding Pattern By Mike Cecconi

Word Count 500

Holding Pattern
By Mike Cecconi

Great way to doom yourself to a shiftless art-bum’s fate is to get a film degree, so I got one of
those. Great way to legally indemnify your art-bum life is to wait until the statute-of-limitations
is up before writing anything down, so I’ve done that too.
Video-editing gave me violet-strobe panic attacks back at Syracuse, so I got okay at everything
else, allowing me to trade off. I mostly wrote, rube who thought he’d be scripting The Simpsons
by twenty-four that I was, but I grew competent at most things, though being loud and punctual,
they’d mostly ask me to act. The real acting students were mainly strung-out unreliables whose
“process” would wreck the shoot even if they showed but I happily said my lines seventy-seven
times, if it meant evading the Beta-Decks another week.
Friend-of-a-friend was doing her thesis, brilliant producer but bit of a control freak, only person
who’d write for her was my friend Ben, he may’ve had a crush on her? Ben wrote a Rockyesque
comedy about a washed-up pro-wrestler making s comeback and crafted the lead for me. Meant
training with Rochester minor-league wrestlers and multiple concussions but, hey, it kept me out
of the editing bays.
Ben decided, wrestler at-heart, his day-job would be reenacting for Fort Stanwix, it was logical,
still a character in a weird suit. The director gave myself, my girlfriend who costumed, Ben also
acting and our friend Jeff, a rap enthusiast from Downstate acting too, some money “enough for
food or gas but not both” and told us to drive to Rome so we did. In our holding pattern at the
Thruway McDonalds, Jeff saw an ad for the new Big ‘N’ Tasty burger and said “Cecconi, that’s
your rap name, yo, Big Tasty!” We spent that either/or money wisely, you see.
When we got out of our cars in Rome, after I quick-changed into an unflatteringly tight Redcoat
costume, the camera people and other actors filing in, I asked the director “so where’s our liaison
or whatever, the park ranger we have to meet with?” She looked me straight in the eye and said,
“I lied, I didn’t clear this with anyone, get in the fort.” Already in Rome, already in the costume
revealing my religion, Quarter-Pounder already in my gullet, show must go on, we broke into a
national monument without trouble, filmed a few hours then drove back. This should’ve been a
lesson how the film business would treat me but, again, twenty-or-so statute-of-limitation-passed
years ago, I was just that sort of rube.
Got “Big Tasty” out of it so that’s something. I don’t rap but whenever I do stand-up for a drag
or a burlesque and they want stage names, that’s what I go by: “Big Tasty”. Sometimes you get
tricked into breaking into a national monument and you come out the other end with a useless
diploma and a cool nom-de-guerre. I mean, might just be me. Maybe all lives aren’t like this.

HOLDING: The Great Beyond By Sam McManus

Word Count 500

The Great Beyond
By Sam McManus

The shredded strips lay in ruins on the carpeted floor, tiny yet not insignificant, harbingers of a time not
long before when they were as relevant as anything else in the office, like the stapler or the chairs. But
that was when they were whole, eight and a half by eleven sheets, black lettering stark against the
shocking white. Now they were like so much garbage on the floor, captured in fragments of memory but
nowhere else, just as they had been scripted to be.
Harrison Waltham III sat with his hands clasped firmly behind his head, in his swivel chair, but he wasn’t
swiveling. Instead, he was staring at what was left of his last-ditch effort to save his firm. He couldn’t
even bring himself to get the cleaning crew in to vacuum them up. They were apparently not as
fascinating to the I.R.S. as the papers that were still nearly whole, which they had taken amidst large
smiles and barely concealed joy. He closed his eyes and tried to block out the carnage.
It was hard to focus on anything, and yet the day itself was ordinary. Outside his large picture window
birds flew past, as they always had. In the corner of the room the radio played faintly, as it always had,
some ditty by Hall & Oates, though this didn’t register in his brain. A knock on his open door shook him
abruptly out of the haze he found himself mired in.
“What do I tell the associates?” his right hand, Siobhan Tate, asked, having already entered the tomblike
office. She wore a loose blouse, light pink, black pleated slacks, and no-nonsense flats, but her expression
was a worried one. It matched his own.
“Tell them we’re closing up shop,” Harrison Waltham III replied, without looking up.
“Does that mean what I think it means?” Siobhan asked, tentatively, probingly.
“It means we got caught with our hands in the cookie jar,” he said. “But we’re holding on to the cookies
for dear life. We can’t get our hands out. We need to get our hands out.”
“Are you okay, Mr. Waltham?” she said, coming closer. “You don’t sound like yourself.”
“Did you ever wonder what it was like to be so close?” he said, whether in answer to her question or not,
she couldn’t be sure. “To just about grasp it, and then it slips away?”
“I know we have a fighting chance with this thing,” Siobhan equivocated. She was good at equivocating.
“Then you know a lot more than I do,” he replied. He looked down at his hands, now clasped neatly in his
lap, testament to a calm he was not at all feeling. Maybe the answer wasn’t in a calm examination of the
events that had happened, but in a new plan for where to go next. Looking up suddenly, Harrison
Waltham III met Siobhan’s eyes.
“Get someone in here to clean up this mess,” he said firmly. “It’s time to move on.”