Tag: Playing


Word Count 338
By Nan Ressue

Their private lake was that luscious, smooth, sheet of turquoise, beautiful calm waters with a kiss of warm sunshine. It was a perfect day for them to be outdoors, enjoying both the shore and its margins, small scale adventure, safe for children. The blue heron stood on its skyscraper legs, pecking for grubs in the shallows and the frogs hopped like long jumpers from rock to stone, displaying their athletic best.

The lake was smooth as plate glass with no ripple or current marring its perfect surface. Johnny dipped in a toe to start the concentric circles moving outward from its center… Two small boats lie at anchor in a quiet cove while their sailors optimistically threw their fish line over the bow, waiting patiently for that unsuspecting fish to swim by.

“Johnny, I got a bite on my line’” Ellen whispered to her brother, not wanting to scare her fish away.
“Set your hook in his mouth when you feel him bite again,” instructed the big brother, whispering back.
”Oh drat’” she pouted. “He took my worm and swam off. Don’t bump into my boat John. I don’t want to fall in.”
WHOA THERE…IT’S A STRIKE! John yelled excitedly. “WOW, Look at my pole bend! It must be a bass. I’ve got to play him back and forth a while and get him tired out. He swims out, I reel him in. Get the net ready Ellie. He’s a big one.”
“O.K. Scoop the net just under the surface and you’ll have him.”
“Stop being so bossy John. I know what to do”, she replied with her hand on her small hip.
“LOOK OUT!” warned Johnny. You’re going to lose your balance and fall in!” SPLASH! Hang on Ellie. Never mind the fish. I’ll save you!” swimming through the blue to her rescue.

“John! Ellen!” called their mother. Time for lunch. That blue carpet makes a great lake I know but it’s time for sandwiches. Push your armchair boats back in place and come wash your hands”

PLAYING: Playing for Keeps by G. Ackman

Word Count 500

Playing for Keeps
by G. Ackman

Janine’s attention was not on the game. They had been playing it for hours now and it didn’t seem like it was going to end anytime soon. Her backside hurt from sitting so long and she was tired, hungry, and very grumpy. They had finished the last of the peanut butter about two hours ago and there just wasn’t anything else. Gerald had suggested the game as a way to not only pass the time, but also to determine who won the prize sitting conspicuously on the side table.

Janine thought it must be evening, but she could no longer tell. The curtains on the windows remained firmly closed. She had opened them once, eight or nine days ago, but the sight of her neighbor, kindly old Mr. Nichols who had stepped out to let his little dog Pogo go to the bathroom, followed by the scuttling forward of eight monolithic legs bristling with stiff black hairs like video cables, and the quick snatch of the two of them by a face that her brain could neither fathom nor process was enough. Not even time for a scream. Her hands had flown to her face and she stumbled backward. Gerald had closed the curtains, led her back to the chair, and they had remained cocooned ever since.

It had started almost two weeks ago. People leaving for work or the grocery store and never returning. Dogs howling for a few days, then falling silent. Then the mind-numbing arrival of the first threads. White floating strands that burned where they met bare skin. Only a few at first. Then more of them, settling around trees, obscuring the leaves, looking like….well, like giant spiderwebs. By then everyone had retreated indoors and watched through windows, until they too became covered. No one knew what the houses looked like from the outside, but the muted daylight seen through a blanket of white when one twitched open the curtain provided more than enough imagery for the imagination.

Without talking about it, Janine and Gerald had known that sooner or later, a decision would have to be made. And this game of Monopoly was it. Winner takes the prize. Their Colt .45. One bullet left. Four of the others expended in a futile attempt to fight off the hideous predators waiting outside their door. One a humane sacrifice – a quick and painless death for their beloved dog, Toby. Now, the gun lay there on the table like both an accusation and a promise.

Another time around the board. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200, do not get out of here alive. Passed Boardwalk. Passed the cheap little Baltic properties. They were on the other side of the board now and then, with the roll of a seven – oh how ironic – Gerald landed on Illinois – her property. It had three hotels on it and Gerald had less than $300. She won. Lucky her. She walked away from the table, picked up the gun, and fired.

PLAYING: Just Playing By B.A. Sarvey

Word: Playing
Word count: 500
Just Playing
B. A. Sarvey
He pulled up to the motel, almost hoping she wouldn’t be there. But her car was parked in front of number eight. He parked a couple spaces down. Besides the proprietor’s vehicle, the only other car, in front of seventeen, had out-of-state plates. “Mr. and Mrs. Jones” had chosen this place for the secluded yet convenient location, and no questions asked. Still, he looked all around as he exited his vehicle, twisting the ring on his left hand as he approached “8”, contemplating removing it.
Some co-workers bragged about playing around, playing games, but he’d never considered this kind of thing before. It had been her idea, sneaking away. Still, nervous as he was, anticipation began to jangle through him, from gut to brain and beyond, awareness heightened. “How will you get away?” he’d asked. “My mother will watch the kids. And my husband…is at work,” was her sly answer.
The door to number eight swung open as he reached it. She was wearing a lavender lacy thing he’d never seen before. His knees nearly buckled at the sight. “Sorry I’m late…I…I got tied up in a meet….” His words were muffled as she pressed her lips against his. She tasted faintly of strawberries.
“Thought maybe you’d lost your nerve.” She pulled away from him, pulled him toward the bed. He could see where his rough wool jacket had reddened her pale skin. Suddenly protective, he loosened her grip, fumbled to unbutton the suitcoat. His wedding ring caught in the buttonhole. She unbuttoned it for him, precise movements belying her urgency. Almost without knowing how he had gotten there, he felt the smooth sheets, cool against his feverish ardor, her warmth penetrating what remained of his reserve. Free and exhilarated, like he’d slipped back to his eighteenth year, his first time with a girl—shedding not only his clothes but his inhibitions and responsibilities, too—he abandoned himself to the moment, euphoria engulfing him, guilt assuaged by the knowledge that he pleased her, while ‘their song’ from their first time, lingered in his mind.
All too soon, the carefree façade was torn down by reality’s wrecking ball. “Gotta shower. Your scent—all over me. Told my boss I was seeing a client for lunch….”
“Mmmm. I am, aren’t I? Your lunch?” Her words, light, wispy, tickled his neck. “You worry too much.” She—pressing against him; He—trying to disentangle himself from her silky hair, her nakedness.
Sunlight playing across her face from the half-drawn drapes made her look younger, more vulnerable than she actually was. Made it harder to stop playing make-believe. Harder to leave.
“Go. I’ll straighten the room,” she murmured.

At the door, he brushed his lips against her cheek, tasting her again. ‘Thanks,’ he almost said, but didn’t. It would have cheapened the moment.
“Don’t be late for dinner, honey.”
“I should be home by six. That okay?”
“Good. The kids have a birthday surprise for you, too. And I’m cooking up something special for dessert.”

PLAYING: Diary By Terry Rainey

Word Count 497

By Terry Rainey

I look out the kitchen window of wheat farm near Kenosha. In the clearing, my husband of thirty years, John, is playing baseball with our two grandsons, Will and Teddy. It is October 1908. Yet the memory of December 30, 1864, in Clinton, New York overwhelms my thoughts. It is stitched in my being, on my brain and soul.
My parents, especially my mother, were very good diary keepers. She used to tell me that it helps to write it down, even when you cross it out. So much of what she said to me presents itself, appears quietly in my mind’s eye.
Their diaries had moved with me across the country to Wisconsin, where they remained stored and unopened in a hope chest, a wedding present from my parents. Here I was, a grandmother in Wisconsin, finally able to face reading from their diaries, wondering if any entries addressed the loss of Edward, dear Edward, their Teddy.
Today, October 8, 1908, is one year to the day that my mother passed away. She was still in the family home in Clinton, New York. I had resolved to wait one year to look at their diaries. As it has turned out, today now holds significant meaning for my two grandsons as well.
Will and Teddy have grown up in a different creation than I did, for which I’m glad. My grandsons live in Chicago and read the Chicago Tribune, and have as heroes the Cubs baseball team. Such pursuits would have been laughed at by my parents, who knew farming and religion and family only. Even hunting and fishing were not sport, but part of the business of our life. Time for interests outside the day to day was limited. Our family’s devotion to reading and writing was our only shared form of recreation. But now it is the 20th century, and I’m continually reminded that it is a new world, that what I cling to is disappearing bit by bit, slowly and steadily.
My grandsons got word this morning that the Cubs had won the World Series yesterday. I took that happy news, for them, as a pairing with my sad anniversary. It is a sign that I should, finally, read through my parents’ diaries and explore some of the questions that have long bewildered me, that have guided my life like puppet strings.
Opening the hope chest, I dig out my father’s diary first. I place the book on its spine on our eating table. It falls open to a page where the binding must have cracked. I feel my heart beat, its fast pulse making me a bit unsteady. Steady Juliette, that’s who I was, who I’d been, who would always be. Stoic through it all. Was I truly fifty years old? Where did the time go?
The sounds of the boys playing recedes as I open the diary and find my father’s handwriting, the familiar back slant, the comfort of his steady hand.

PLAYING: Changes By Sharon Collins

Word: Playing
Word Count 487

By Sharon Collins

The cool air has been with us now for all the faces of the moon and Yysha must store food for the time of the Long-Dark. We left our cave with the sunrise and now the sun is high. We have taken Pine and Frost away from the Great Water to gather the red-fruits that Yysha loves. They are good to eat now, when they snap and crunch between her teeth. They are also good to eat heated with honey during the Long-Dark when they their skins have wrinkled and their insides gone soft. My Yysha sings as she gathers those that have fallen. I am pleased that she does not climb. She is not bushy-tail who can run up and down the tree in the blink of an eye. I watch as she turns each one over in her hands, searching for holes that warn her the red-fruit is already claimed by another. She does not collect these. The wiggling-ones who live inside them taste bad. She keeps only the ones without holes. Yysha sings as she works, stopping often to take another bite. Her basket is almost full and we will return home soon. Pine and Frost have stolen one of her red-fruits and are battling over it as it bounces away.

Yysha’s song is changing. Of late, among the notes of her happy song, are notes of deep sadness, such as the sound of the waves when they reach the shore and find they cannot remain. The sound of their sighing as they are pulled away, is sound of her sadness. Something pulls at her as well. Like the waves she reaches and reaches for something she cannot have. I think my Yysha is lonely. I have offered myself and my children as her clan. She knows the sacrifice of my choice and smiles at my gift. But the light of her smile reaches only her lips. Her eyes no longer shine. She tries to lighten their darkness by playing with my children. She plays rough and tumble with Pine and Frost. She teaches them never to surrender, to always fight for what they want. Pine is stronger but Frost is faster. Whenever they finish a play-battle, Yysha places her necklace of yellow-brights around the winner’s neck and sings her song loud. She is getting better at singing their songs. My girls try to sing Yysha’s song and follow her wherever she goes. When Yysha sleeps, they sleep curled in her arms. They are my gift to her. Smoke does not sing nor does he play; he wishes to, but he is too weak for their games. He lies between my paws and watches, only watches. I fear his spirit is not sure it wishes to remain with us. If he chooses to leave, there will be notes of sadness in my song that are even deeper than the notes of sadness in Yysha’s.

PLAYING: Lamentations By Sam McManus

Word: Playing
Word Count 500
By Sam McManus
My dad died when I was five, so I don’t have any solid recollections of him. Sometimes I have flashes of work boots, worn and muddied, standing sentinel near the back door. Every once in a while I think I remember his laugh, guttural and deep. But that’s it. My mom says I can’t possibly remember his laugh, that those boots were long gone by the time I would have begun forming memories, but I think she’s wrong. I think she’s wrong about a lot of things.
He was a big man, my dad. His leather gloves were godlike to me, as if he were Thor, just waiting for his giant hammer. I don’t recall ever seeing his hands, yet those gloves gave me something to aspire to, something to hope I grew into. My mom says he had cold hands, that cold hands meant a warm heart, and that his was the warmest she had ever known. It makes me saddest when she talks about him because of how things ended up.
Apparently it wasn’t easy living with him, though. Through the haze that is my memory I sometimes make out times when they yelled at each other, but every time I ask my mom about it she says I must be wrong. I’m not wrong. Maybe she wants to believe in the redemptive value of thinking the dead had done no wrong in life. I know better. It doesn’t make me think any less of him. Maybe she’s worried I’ll think less of her.
Two weeks ago, I found a letter he wrote to my mom, one filled with regret and consequence. The missive was stuck between my mother’s mattress and box-spring. It was obvious he didn’t write much. His handwriting was atrocious. But it was also clear he had taken as much care as he could to make it legible, as if he knew she would keep it. As if he could have known. His words were succinct, probably much clearer than his thoughts could have been in the moment.
Every moment since I found that letter I wanted to confront my mom with it, to press her into admitting what I finally knew to be true, despite the lies she had fabricated to make me feel at ease. But something staid my tongue. Some infinitesimal thing, some incongruous thing, gave me pause every single time. Perhaps it was better to leave things as they always had been, at least for her. I had no pretense that she was blameless in it all, but what good would it do to dredge up so much pain? I asked myself that selfsame question every night before bed, when I was supposed to be saying my prayers.
I’m not sure if I ever really arrived at an answer. There were two things I knew for certain. My dad was dead. My mom wasn’t. Maybe god had been playing roulette with them, and I was lucky no bullets were left over.

PLAYING: Orders By Sally Madison

Words: 493
By Sally Madison
Chris came crashing into Linda’s apartment exclaiming, “Did you hear it!? Did you hear it!?” He grabbed Murray, the speckled collie, by the fur on the sides for his neck and give him a playful shake, shake, shake, as usual.

Lifting her sad eyes from the nursing uniform she was ironing, Linda replied, “Did I hear what?”

Excitedly, Chris replied, “On the radio, the Beach Boys got their song on the NATIONAL radio. Turn the radio to the LA pop music station, maybe they’ll play it, again. The stuff their dad wrote was stuffy, but now that he focused on being their manager, they’ve gotten a lot more exposure. Singing Brian’s songs and harmonizing like the Lettermen, they’ve got a whole new style. Listen, the DJ is going to play, ‘Surfin’, again.”

“I’m happy for them,” Linda replied, as she focused on her ironing.

“Happy?” Chris continued, “You should be ecstatic! They’re going to make it big, really big, and all you can say is you’re happy for them? They’re our friends. Some of their stuff is about us, and that’s all the excitement you have?”

“’Little Surfer Girl’ is you. ‘Surfin’ Safari’ came from the day we first met. My God, Linda, why are you not jumping for joy?” Chris asked incredulously.

“I said I was happy for them. I was just going to take Murray for a walk, do you want to come?” Linda responded. Murray, hearing his name, was at the door wagging his tail so hard it beat like a base drum against the cupboard.

“LISTEN! LISTEN! THEY’RE PLAYING RIGHT NOW!” Chris ignored her as he stared at the transistor radio, remembering their first big break at the concert on New Year’s Eve. Chris, bopping to the music, and playing an air guitar, listened intently, mouthing the words that he knew by heart.

Linda filled Murray’s water bowl, while she listened until the song was complete. “Really, I am so very happy for them, and yes, I am so proud to be their friend,” she commented as she hooked Murray. “I just want some quiet time, is all.”

“Really, Linda, what is wrong? You’re never like this. Are you sick?” Chris finally realized this was no ordinary day. “I’ll go with you, but only if you tell me what’s going on. Are you breaking up with me? Did I do something? Are you seeing someone else?”

Linda smiled at that thought, thinking ‘No.. never’, but she responded, “Let’s walk before I have to go to work.”

Chris gently took the leash from Linda and turned her around so she had to face him. Seeing her tear stains, he started getting upset too. Then he noticed an envelope on the counter. The military seal told all too much; she had orders. They knew this day was coming, but they really thought they had more time. “Where?” he finally managed to say.

As tears began down her face, she mumbled, “Vietnam”.

PLAYING: The Tales of Tails – Fix It Please! By Peg Scarano

Word: Playing
Word Count: 496

The Tales of Tails – Fix It Please!
By Peg Scarano

After a short trip in my portable prison, I found myself in totally different surroundings. It took me several days to acclimate myself. I spent hours and hours exploring every nook and cranny of this new place to assure myself I was the only feline in residence. This exploratory expedition was mandatory, but thoroughly exhausting. However, I was finally convinced my new humans might just be the real cat’s meow.

I cautiously presented my aloofness despite blatant acts of bribery on the part of the humans. I was presented with toys, fresh greens that seemed to make me feel oddly light-headed, delicious treats from their dinner as well as satisfactory tidbits of feline treats. I wasn’t yet confident to display my best behavior or my excited hope that I may be permanently adopted for fear these humans would desert me like all the rest.

One day, the male spent a lot of time at the window in the feeding room. Once he went on to do other manly fix-it things, the female picked me up and shoved me through this hole in the window. I thought to myself, “That’s it. I’m done.” I dejectedly started to slink away. Suddenly, the female picked me up and shoved me back through the same small door from which I was just rudely expelled. This process went on for what seemed like forever days. Suddenly, I got it! This door was just for me! I could come and go as I pleased! It was a magical miracle!

Every day I got to go in and out of my door to explore the outside world. One of the first things I did was make friends with a four-legged creature that was smaller than me and did not look like me at all – well except maybe for his cute tail. He was so much fun. I snuck up on him from behind. I caught him with a paw and batted him around a bit. I would toss him up in the air and catch him again and again. We had the best time!

But I somehow broke my little toy. Since I learned the male human could fix things, I promptly picked him up and ran into my little door and put him down on the floor. The man human finally came around the corner and I began rubbing his legs while singing loudly. He looked at me in horror and shouted, “What did you do to this chipmunk? You’re a bad cat!” I tried desperately to explain that I was only playing with it and it broke. “Just fix it for me, please”!

He immediately got a crackly, scary bag, picked up my toy and took it away. I waited and waited for him to bring it back, but he never did. So I decided to go back out my door and find another friend. If I should break this one, hopefully, with more practice, he’ll get better at fixing them.

PLAYING: Apocalypse By Mike Ceccoini

Word Count 500

By Mike Ceccoini

When the zombies finally arrived, it turned out the movies got a few things right and a lot more wrong. Yes, zombies are the animated dead and yes, they crave the flesh of the living but beyond that, as with most things Hollywood, all the nuance is missing.

First off, zombie don’t have enhanced senses, if anything their perceptions are dulled, what with the rotting organs. They can’t smell the living like a shark smells blood in the water, they’re not hounds, they’re just dead things that happen to still be moving around.

Most importantly, you rarely saw on film what zombies do when they’re not feasting. Which all makes sense, horror movies are about horror but when zombies aren’t eating, they fall into old memories and reenact shallow repetitions of their lives. Teenage zombies dimly rubbing thumbs against anything shaped like a cellphone. Zombie police listlessly beating at human-shaped clods of earth. Zombie business people groaning “buy” at each other eight hours a day.

Every morning, Tricia wakes up in her spacious reclaimed apartment and puts on her torn soiled passing-for-zombie clothes, applies a little make-up to mimic decay and gore then goes out into the city to live her life. The still-human still live their lives and have for years. It was terrifying at first, the fear of getting caught until you realize how little the zombies really understand but the more still-humans she met, the more she got used to it. There were too many zombies to fight back without losing but if the humans made minimal effort to blend in, they didn’t bother them and so they went on living their lives. Tricia is one of six thousand still-humans in Los Angeles surrounded by ten million walking dead. Well, in Santa Monica, they’re more the jogging dead, to be fair.

And they get by. Solar farms outside of town still power things. There’s greenhouses everywhere to supplement old canned goods and rations. The people get together for parties, for churches, for support groups and everything. It is a strange life, but people are anything if not adaptable to any new normal that happens comes along to. You paint up your face, you put on the rags everyone else wears, you groan what they grown now and again to not raise suspicion and… you live your secret life on the inside and at the end of the day with your like-minded people.

Tricia paints frescos all throughout the Los Angeles subway, only slightly more abandoned by the dead than it was by the living. She lives and breathes and plays in the glory abandoned by those reduced to repetitive motion all around her. Her life is complicated and strange, but her paintings are still glorious. She is still glorious.

She learned the thing so many lived by long before the zombies came along: sometimes to get by in the world, the only course of action is blending in by playing dead and then living your life anyway.