PWTP4-4

I didn’t get to send out a reminder email this time.  Did everyone remember to submit?

No.

Annette

Nice tits, he noted to himself.

She promised her aching feet that she would only stay another 20. The beachside party was in full swing. The digs were upscale and the champagne expensive, but it was almost 2:00 a.m. and enough was enough. She scanned the crowded deck and saw him.

Oh my god, she thought, he’s gorgeous. Well, not TOO gorgeous. I don’t think he is hotter than me, which is good. He’ll try harder if he thinks I have more candy than he does. Mid to late 30s; perfect. Older than me but not by much. His arms look good; chest, defined; but I don’t think he is obsessive. If he is obsessive, MY body wouldn’t be good enough, but I think it totally is. That sweater might be cashmere. Great watch. Not sure, but it does look expensive. Shoes are new and definitely not cheap. Not wearing a suit, so he’s not trying too hard. I HATE pleated pants. You can’t see anything in pleated pants. No ring, but you can’t tell with men, which sucks, why don’t they all wear rings? Still, he is clearly checking out the women; not trying to hide it, so if he’s married, she isn’t here. Why hasn’t he looked at me yet? Or has he already spotted me and is deliberately NOT looking. I’m looking away. Casually sip my drink.

Lipstick on my teeth? Sneakily dab at my teeth with my napkin. Thank god I am wearing sex underwear. I need to catch his eye and give him the look. Our children will be tall as well as beautiful. She caught his eye, smiled.

Nice Tits, he thought again.

DG – This didn’t go anywhere unexpected, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I’ll admit to not being too drawn into these characters.

DK: An amusing glance at the differences in, ahem, thought processes of these two characters.  I get thrown off sometimes when the inner monologuing combines with the outer descriptions, but there’s several funny bits here.

Christina

Late in the evening when the air is still, the scent of plumeria nearly overwhelms me. I let my expression go slack, saving my smiles for the next wave of pale-faced arrivals. If I turn down the ukulele music (why must it always be ukulele music?), I can hear the roar of the ocean as the tide goes out.

New moon tonight. Seems to be old woman Kalea’s favorite time. A few years back, the Maui News reported that she died of natural causes. But if that’s true, why does she pace these corridors?

I used to work down at Kahana Shores, and when I’d walk along the quiet part of the beach on my breaks, I’d see her. She didn’t talk with many haole, but she’d nod in my direction when I waved. She was the last holdout against the developers for this resort, and I couldn’t really fault her for it.

I’m not the only one who sees her now. Guests ask sometimes, furtively, about a certain cold spot in the hallway or a glowing mist creeping through their room late at night.

“Oh, yes,” I tell them. “Long ago, a young native boy and girl fell in love. Pi’ilani the Great forbade the relationship as it wasn’t politically advantageous. Desperate and determined to stay together, the youngsters bound their bodies together with Stephanotis vine and threw themselves into the sea just down the beach from where this resort still stands.”

The tourists seem satisfied with the tale, so I keep telling it. But Kalea has been appearing to me more and more often. I can’t help wondering how much longer she will tolerate my lies.

DG – Sea Ghost!  I like that we’re in on the lie, that makes it a more important choice for the narrator.  I also like the idea of a ghost haunting someone for something that happened after they became a ghost.  Neat twist.  SILVER

DK: Nice concept here, something I wish had a little more space to flesh out.  The Hawaiian touches especially are a unique take this time and give this a lot of individual character as a piece.

Will

Betsy’s curiosity got the best of her. Her aunt and uncle told her she could remain behind in their hover carriage. She pondered for a moment or two, but thought it would be even more embarrassing to be found sitting outside alone. Instead, she joined them for the tour of his Cornish property. She was relieved when the robotic greeter mentioned that the Liam was on another planet and not expected back for another day.

Betsy and her family had seen the music room and the room in which the Liam’s mother read her emails each morning and completed her correspondence.

As they walked through a hallway to the rear porch, Betsy admired the painting resting on the wall above the door. The bright colors caught her attention, and she fell behind the tour entranced. She continued to stare when it suddenly struck her. The painting was of Liam! It was abstract, yet when caught in the right angle it was unmistakably Liam. The more she stared, the more transfixed she became. Her pulse quickened imperceptibly. It was getting harder to dislike Liam.

“Betsy?” she heard her aunt calling from outside. “Hurry up.”

She exited the hallway and gazed in amazement. She looked past the furniture and settings to take in the view beyond the patio.

She felt a tap on her shoulder. “Hello Betsy.”

Her heart raced again as she turned around. “Liam, I’m so sorry to intrude. We were told you were away.”

“I beamed back a day early,” he smiled. “Are they related to you?”

“Yes, my aunt and uncle,” Betsy stammered. Her face flushed red as she imagined excuses to flee.

As they approached, Liam extended his hand. “Liam Dawson. Very happy to meet you.”

DG – Betsy seems to know Liam and his house, but hasn’t encountered the painting before.  I didn’t really get into the world here, even with a couple readings.

DK: I’m pretty torn on this one as I feel like there’s something going on either about these characters or this setting that I’m missing, and so the story feels like it’s not a complete piece for me to digest.  I really like the way it draws out Betsy’s perspective, though; it feels immersive in her way of thinking and seeing the world.

Melissa

Annie snuck onto the veranda.  She could see, now, why her parents hid this place from her, why they’d locked the door.  It was beautiful, mysterious with all its rock and cemented stone.  As silent as Dad.  Yet comfortable, too.  A white couch rested in the wall, decorated with pillows as crisp and bright as Mom.

Annie tip-toed past the rock sculpture to her left, past the couch, to the wall at the veranda’s end.  She leaned over it and stared, entranced.  Waves crashed against the shore below, hitting boulders, loosening rocks.  She squinted her eyes at those rocks.  They were a yellow-ivory, filled with holes that looked like eyes and noses and mouths.

She stepped back from the wall, put her hands on her hips.  The wall was painted, splattered with red. When still wet, the paint had dripped, spilling towards the wooden door in the side of the wall.

Curious.

Annie opened that door.  It looked like an oven, holding ashes and little stones like teeth.  It smelled of sour herbs and sweet meats.

She wrinkled her nose and glanced at the dinner table behind her.  The sunset bathed it in burnt yellow light.  Decorations hung above it, dancing in the breeze.  They looked like leather windchimes, pale white and brown, cured in the sea’s salt.  They clicked when they touched, clattering with secrets.

With a crash, the veranda door swung open.  Annie turned in surprise.  Her parents stumbled outside, guest in hand.  The guest looked confused, his mouth agape.  His hair was wet and red.

“Annie,” Mom exclaimed, “get inside!”

Dad shook his head.  “It’s too late.”

“She’s only six!”

The guest tried to run.  Dad stopped him, threw him to the ground.  Then he lifted a loose rock.  “Watch closely,” he said to Annie.

Annie watched.

DG – From the very first “splattered with red”, you get the idea this is going somewhere dark.  It delivers on that promise.  BRONZE

DK: Very nice.  Again, Annie is well-written here to give a sense of her unique perspective, and the story flows with strong images and details that aid the mood as it heads towards a somewhat disturbing ending.  GOLD

Brian

Adolf stared over the ledge at the sea beyond.  He had traveled across those waters, summoned out of retirement to face the King’s youngest son.  The patio was elaborately decorated, a suitable environment considering the stakes were so very, very high.

It was  quiet.  Peaceful.  All that could be heard was the occasional wave lapping against the side of the castle.

And, of course, the unmistakable sound of one of the weighted pieces thumping heavily on the board.  Lionel had made his move.  Adolf breathed deeply and turned toward the table.

“Checkmate.”

Adolf clenched his fists.  How had this happened?  Lionel had sacrificed a bishop, both rooks and a queen, and yet he had somehow engineered this astonishing mate!

Lionel closed his eyes, leaned back and sighed.  He was lost in reverie and so did not notice the soft clatter of the Chess pieces as they rolled onto the tabletop.  The board was thick, made of high quality wood.  It made a short ringing sound as it struck Lionel’s cheek, almost like a wind chime.  All the tension left the prince’s body and he slumped down, head rolling forward.

Adolf had no problem lifting Lionel; the boy was thin as a rake.  Adolf was much older, but he was well built.  He had long ago come to respect the inseparable relationship between body and mind, and had taken great pains to stay healthy.

Adolf set the body on the short stone wall of the veranda, and then pushed it over.  Lionel skipped along the side of the castle before disappearing into the water.

It was quiet here.  Peaceful.

DG – I wish there was a little bit more about the stakes for Adolf, it makes the murder seem out of place and without motivation a little bit.  Still I was there in this story, the setting was very well described. BRONZE

DK: I really don’t think I’m that dark a guy, but I end up liking this stuff so much, I don’t really know how to explain it.  An old dude gets beat by a young prince in chess, so he kills him?  Sign me up! BRONZE

Bret

She ran her fingers through his thick beard as they reclined on the couch, he sleeping and her in a state of somnolent contentment tinged with bittersweet expectancy.  She rested her delicate hand on his broad chest, feeling it swell and ebb, his dark hair and swarthy skin contrasting with her pale coloration and white-blonde hair.  The inexorable rhythm of his heartbeat was as powerful as the sea waves crashing into the storm wall below their rocky villa.  His breath caught as he woke, and she raised her head to find him looking at her, grey eyes peering through wild strands of hair.

“Is it time, love?” he queried, in a subterranean rumble perfectly suited for such a large man.

“Yes, husband,” she replied demurely, though the look in her eyes was anything but decorous.  He laughed and stood up, sweeping her up like she was made of thistledown.  They embraced until the first ray of sunshine rushed over the horizon, dimming the warm yellow luster of the unburning lamps.

“We must get ready,” he said, reluctantly releasing her.  “You have to leave soon.”   He kissed her gently and turned away, donning his garments as she idly lined up all the pillows by color on the couch.

“Tie this for me, love?” he asked, and she joined him by the table, nimble fingers weaving the flat ribbon into a lover’s knot.  He cupped her chin in his blocky hand, feeling her skin warm as it seemed to absorb the amber of the fading lights.  He held out a plate in his other hand, a sectioned fruit sitting on it.

“Don’t forget to eat,” he said, long experience allowing him to smile through his sadness.

She smiled back wistfully, her hair glowing golden, and took a single seed from the plate.

DG – Is this Hades and Persephone?  I like the description of the parting, and it certainly gets at the sadness both characters are feeling.  GOLD

DK: In this case I might be reading more into it than you intend, but if you are hinting at mythology here (especially with that last line) then that’s a pretty solid hook for me.  Either way, this one commits so strongly to its vocabulary and its descriptions that it’s not hard to be drawn into its sense of setting and feeling.  SILVER

Pete

She left him.

He was already worried about meeting Charlotte’s friends. Still, she left him.

“Don’t worry” she said reassuringly before she got into the taxi, “I can’t imagine they’ll need me for more than an hour or so. Go with them, and we’ll meet up at the exhibit.”

That had been three hours ago.

He had known he was in trouble when they came to the first piece. To Jim, it looked like a square encompassed by a circle. It looked very beautiful, indeed, but Normandy has pronounced it a harrowing look into the evil and inevitability of sex.

Everyone had agreed with her, using phrases like “Truly haunting” and “It’s almost startling how he cuts to the quick of the issue.”

Things had gone this way for the next two hours. Jim had said nothing, but felt that he should interject something, lest he be looked at as an idiot. He think he understood the rules to the game, so when the party moved on to the next piece, a oil painting of a stone column gazebo, he studied it for a few moments before saying.

“What a indictment of liberal white guilt. Sanderson has really outdone himself here.”

He looked around.

Blank stares.

Finally Normandy (of course it was Normandy) broke the silence. “Are we even looking at the same painting?” she asked incredulously. Everyone else chuckled uncomfortably before moving on.

As they did, Mitchell stayed behind and nudged Jim. For a brief moment, Jim thought he might get a sympathetic word.”Hey man” Mitchell said said, “you’re obviously high out of your mind. Got any to spare?”

It was then that Jim doubted his relationship with Charlotte.

DG – Jim is out of his depth certainly, but I feel like we’re told that when there was an opportunity to use the situation to show Jim’s unease a little clearer.

DK: I think there might be one or two issues that editing could fix here, but this one made me laugh so much that I am going to ignore that.  Seriously, that “liberal guilt” line and the understated nature of the last line had me rolling.  GOLD

Jonathon

I am sitting in the lobby of the David Kunau Centrella Travel Agency at the Loop-port, browsing brochures. I’m looking for something cheap in interstellar travel, when I spotted the following brochure:

VISIT PLANET EARTH!!

THE MYTHICAL PLANET RISES AGAIN!!

Once thought lost for all time, this reconstructed wonder of the multiverse shows a realistic version of what our ancient ancestors lives were like! Come see a real space-time archaeological reproduction of a family living area, in the shadow of the legendary Montaine Vespervius!

Simulated Earth-endings every night! This is for the serious historian and the thrill seeker alike! Don’t miss it!

This is only available for a limited time! Earth has been scheduled for demolition in 15 chronons to make way for the new hyper-space expressway! Once it’s gone, it’s gone!

I’d always dreamed of visiting Earth. I guess maybe it’s time to splurge.

DG – There’s a Douglas Adams thread running through this thing that I appreciate.  Still I’m not sure there’s not a real conflict here.

DK: This is amusing, although it kind of uses its joke up right away and then keeps retelling it.

Joe

Robert gazed out over the landscape, pen in hand.  His inspiration was dwindling along with his wallet. He only had 3 more days in this place, and was only just starting his work.  He pondered the words he had written.  Tomes about love and desire, though his heart had none.  Prose about hatred and anger, though his was tempered.  Yarns about youthful folly, though all his had turned gray and wrinkled.  His was aged folly now.

Nora came up the stairs, pinot noir in her right hand. She asked how it was going, even though she already knew the answer.  Her face showed no anxiety, though inside she was fraught with the knowledge that their reprieve from the crowded wilderness of home was nearly over.  Three weeks had gone by and Robert had barely started his work. She smiled, bored.  He smiled back, under duress and pressure.  He knew her expectations, but his time was short.  Double edged sword. If there were no words, no lines, no tales to tell, there would be nothing keeping her here.  If he indulged in her presence and whims, his venture would be for naught.

He asked himself what he truly wanted.  He searched deep.  He search went to the soft emerald in her eyes, the smooth olive of her skin.  He looked at the empty page, tore it to shreds and for the first time took a path less traveled.

DG – I like this character quite a bit.  This one attacks the “I have nothing to write about” in a little bit different way, which I appreciate.  GOLD

DK: Interesting tack on this challenge, I like illuminating the depth of the character Robert here.  The dilemma of the vacationing but not really writer is also a good one to see examined.  BRONZE

Erik

Harold, unable to put it off much longer, reluctantly stood up.  The office comfortably held 16 desks, though all except his were in various states of emptiness.  He surveyed the surrounding desks, comparing them to his own.  Though neat to a fault, his desk noticeably contained an inordinate amount of paperwork.  He sighed and wondered once again why he agreed to this.

***

Harold parked his aging Volvo next to the various luxury vehicles outside the villa they had rented.  Even from the parking lot, the revelry inside could be clearly heard.  Evidently they’d been at it for several hours already.  He once again regretted accepting the invitation.

Inside, he was greeted warmly, though he responded only courteously.  He’d never been overly fond of his colleagues and their repeated attempts at generosity in the past week (all politely refused) had begun to grate on him.   He left the still full glass of Zinfandel behind as he joined everyone for the meal.

***

“Italy.”

“Hawaii.”

“Caribbean cruise.”

“And you, Larry?  Where are you going first?”

“Actually, on the missus’ suggestion, we’ve been eying RVs.  Gonna explore the backyard first.  Plenty of time for those other places later!”

Everyone (except Harold) laughed heartily.

“At least one thing’s for sure,” said Kathy, the HR lady, “we never have to go back to that damned office again!”

Everyone gave a truncated cheer, then uncomfortably eyed Harold.

Upset at himself over the compulsion to spare their feelings, he lifted his glass of water and with forced earnestness said, “While I’ll miss you all terribly, I have nothing but happiness and joy at your luck and fortune.  Salut.”

Everyone graciously lifted their glass and repeated, “Salut!”

Harold, a man who never swore verbally or otherwise, placed his glass back on the table and thought, “Fucking Powerball.”

DG – Oof.  That sucks.  This did a good job of making us feel Harold’s pain, and revealing it in the right rhythm throughout.  SILVER

DK: Another one I found too funny to resist.  Wonder why he missed out on the pot, though? Did he choose to stay out, or did they not invite him in?  SILVER

Zack

The Smith family is looking for a vacation home in paradise this week on House Hunters International. The first home they’re looking at is a five bedroom, four bath home with dramatic coastal views. The list price is $2.5 million.

The entry way has eighteen foot ceilings and marble tiling leading up to the spiral staircase. Linda doesn’t seem impressed.

Is that paint color eggshell white? Gross. I don’t think I can live with this paint.

Next, the realtor shows them to the kitchen.

These appliances aren’t stainless steel, we’d have to replace them right away. And is this countertop marble? We’d have to tear all that out and replace it with quartz.

After showing them the two bedrooms on the main floor with a Jack & Jill bathroom, the realtor leads them upstairs to the master suite.

Hey honey, look at this walk in closet. It’s so huge! I have no idea where your clothes are going to go, though HAHAHA.

They are then lead into the attached bathroom.

One sink? There’s only one sink? This is completely unacceptable.

Before leaving the house the realtor leads them to the large patio out back with a gorgeous ocean view.

I can’t believe you took us to a house with one sink in the master bathroom. We gave you a list of items we needed in our house. Two sinks in the bathroom is completely non-negotiable.

Next up, a house three miles up the road, will this fit the Smiths’ bill? We’ll find out after these messages.

DG – My God, I hate the people on those shows.  You’ve nailed their petty greivances perfectly, and I like that this picture took you to this place.  Those people are told to find things to complain about, right?  Tell me they aren’t really like that.  Please.   BRONZE

DK: The tv voiceovers are a fun touch.  This is a nice almost-parody (I mean, I think I’ve seen this episode before) of those kinds of shows.  BRONZE

Ben

When Samuel said that we’d be spending our time exploring a sea side villa, I was happily impressed. I had worried that his idea of an “amazing honeymoon” wouldn’t look anything like mine. Following our first night as husband and wife, I’d quickly hid my disappointment when the cab dropped us off in front of Ideal Memories.

“Come on in Elizabeth. Don’t let the name fool you. It’s really not as hokey as you think.” I didn’t want to disappoint him, only 24 hours married, so I gave him a wan smile and follow him in.

I walked around the space, but it wasn’t really me and I wasn’t really walking.

I didn’t register motion, not physically anyway. But my eyes told me I was moving around and my brain registered it, processed it as ‘walking’. I felt a momentary swoon of vertigo and then it passed.

It wasn’t a real place either; at least not in the sense of a place with tangible, measurable dimensions. Well, that wasn’t accurate either. I could see the bricks and stone. I could hear the smooth rush of the sea across the beach below. I could almost smell the salty dampness of it…almost.

He stood under the granite pergola, holding a glass of Perrier Jouet in each hand. He was still Sam, but different somehow…taller, more spare and angular in the cheeks and jaw, sun-bleached hair, tousled by the wind. With an appreciative look and eyes eagerly taking me in, he offered me a glass.

The hand that reached was well formed and strong, with nails trimmed short and a solid wrist disappearing into a crisp, white, silver-linked cuff.

DG – If this is the whole story, I’m sorry we don’t get to see the narrator’s full reaction to this virtual reality.  It seems like it’s set up for something, but we don’t get to see what it is.

DK: Man, one more that I really wish had a little more space.  Are you listening, Brooks?  There’s so much good stuff in the setup that it makes me sad that I don’t get to see more of where it goes.

Kelyy

It’s finished, and it’s beautiful.  It took three years, but our palatial outdoor home under the stars is complete; help was easy to come by at first, but by the end, I was on my own, turning the screws.

I smile as I fluff each of the pillows – one for each of us in the family.  This one is for Jamal.  This one is for Arlai.  This one is for Geneva.

The first night under the stars is perfect; 72 degrees with no chance of rain, and the bugs haven’t caught on to the friendly temperature yet.  It’s as we dreamed – sleep is easy, and the calming waves provide carefree, solemn days.

Jericho stomps around in the pool that was constructed early in the process.  A child of four sees nothing but the wonder that surrounds him.  He smiles widely back at me as I enjoy the finest cut of bread I have ever tasted; would that I could share it with everyone I love!

On our fifth night, Jericho asks me how long until we can see everyone else.  I assuage his fears – it will be only days, surely.  They weren’t far behind.

As Jericho drifts away to another satisfying night of sleep, I go to the row of pillows once again – one for Jericho, one for me, and one each for my wife and our seven other children, who will never know the pleasure of perfect sleep under the stars.  The plague has left silence in its wake – not only in my home, but on the entire island.

I hug Jericho – the purest, most wonderful resource left on this Earth – one last time, and I take the bed nearest his.  We are alone, but life is worth living.

DG – It doesn’t set itself up as a post-apocalyptic setting, but executes that turn pretty well halfway through.  A nice story (well, not nice, but you know what I mean).  SILVER

DK: Good mixture of darkness and sweetness here.  The hope at the end really uplifts after the obvious devastation present, and the love really shines through the effort made in the construction of the home.  SILVER

Margaret

It was that precise, glorious hour when the westering sun spread light like warm honey.  At home they called it the mango hour.  The golden hour.  Here they called it rush hour.

Magic light streamed through the driver’s window and across the tan leather of the steering wheel and dashboard, rich and golden.  Surangani gazed at her hands, bathed in mango glow.  She imagined those hands holding a hot tea with milk and sugar, braiding her sister-in-law’s hair.  The warm stones soothing her bare feet, the salty sea breeze kissing her mouth.

She became deeply familiar with the jeep in front of her.  She inspected its spare tire and laughed at the vanity plate that read HGHLFE, a derisive snort at the stupidity of it.

She ran through the schedule.  Priya from drama class, Amit from soccer practice.  Dinner.  Homework. Bed.  Suresh would be working late.  She rolled forward another few feet as the honey sun thawed her memories.

She recalled the babies, round bellies and knobby knees, crawling round and round the patio.  Grandpa catching their chubby feet.  Family was everything there.

But she could never have learned to drive there.  She could never have known the freedom of sun-warmed leather steering beneath her hands.  She checked the odometer. 9 miles in 55 minutes.

She stared at the license plate again; the liquid gold sky pouring down its shiny surface like beer. HGHLFE!

She laughed again, a shot of air from her nostril. Living the HGHLFE. Perhaps it was a clever plate after all.

But you had to remove the eyes to make it work.  The eyes would see the mango sunlight and remember.

DG – Returning to the different descriptions of sunlight works well, it establishes the theme very effectively.  I’m not 100% sold on that last line, but it does tie in everything that came before.  Nicely done.  GOLD

DK: This one I found both funny and touching.  It’s another nicely unique take as well, and is a really good use of a different perspective than I’m used to.  GOLD

————-

Margaret overcomes having to cut a bunch of her story to get under the word limit to pull down a double gold.  Well done, Ms. Martini!

Sarah, Colin, and Eric needed the reminder for this one I guess, because they didn’t submit anything.

For the first time, I didn’t give Brian a silver.  Thus ends the longest streak of same denomination medals of this young season.  Bret is the only person at this point to get two medals in all the challenges so far.

Linky-Dink to the spreadsheet o’ results.

Your next challenge, if you choose to accept it is due Monday, November 25 at 8 PM Central.  Yeah, you get a week to write about this one.  I’m also heeding the cries of DK and AMR and anyone who thinks “if only I had 228 more words” as the word limit is increased to 507 words.

Let’s get some people back in these pictures, eh? Maybe a bird as well?

PWTP4-5

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