Write As You Would Vomit

by Guest Blogger | 94 comments

This guest post is by Stephen Guise. Stephen is the author of Mini Habits (on sale until 2/10) and the founder of Deep Existence, a blog to help people focus, build habits, and leverage small steps. Subscribers get a personal message every Tuesday (and some gifts). Thanks Stephen!

I hate vomiting. It's scary and unpleasant to expel the contents of your stomach. Also, the feeling that goes along with it should be banned worldwide. But vomiting has taught me an important lesson:

How to write!

Photo by Alice (creative commons)

Photo by Alice (creative commons)

Not directly—I don't look for signs in it. This unpleasant occurrence serves as a straightforward blueprint of how to write your first draft of anything.

When you vomit, do you think about your “form”? When you vomit, are you worried about how your hair looks? No, because when you vomit, your goal is exceptionally simple—get it out.

Get The Words Out

I don't get writers block. I don't believe in it, either. If I have to, I can write gibberish on the page and edit it later into better gibberish. Any person can force themselves to write text. It might not be good text, but that isn't necessarily bad.

People with writers block are those who are want to polish their work before they have work to polish. They obsess over the topic, the angle, the tone, everything. It's good to think of these things on some level, but if you have writer's block, it means you've taken it too far.

Consider that the best way to figure out what to write is to write. Write down ideas, and when you have an idea, write an outline and start writing; if you're in a standstill, write down what you're thinking. Whatever place you're stuck in, writing can pull you out of it.

When unsure of where to go next, purposefully write horrible, predictable, and cliche ways to continue the story or article. One of the pillars of creativity is that there are no bad ideas, because a bad idea can turn into good idea with a small tweak. Jumping off of a bridge is a bad idea, but add a cord and you have a multi-million dollar idea known as bungie jumping!

Writing a first draft needs to be like vomiting, because anything else will slow the writing process and produce inferior results. Refuse the suggestions of your internal critic. When it pops up, punch it back down like you're playing the Whack-a-Mole arcade game.

Bad Writing Is Good For You

Say you follow my advice, “vomit” out a blog post or story, and it's terrible. Now what?

You have two options—throw it in the trashcan or rework it. Even if you throw it in the trashcan, you've still gained experience putting words onto the page. You'll learn what you did wrong (if not, ask people what you did wrong), and you'll gain confidence in your ability to write something.

Like all skills, great writing doesn't happen without practicing first, and thinking about writing doesn't count. If you're just starting out and want a solid foundation for writing, read some books on writing (I recommend “On Writing” and “On Writing Well”).

Comprehension Is Not Application

There are some things I know about writing that I don't always implement well. Likely, these bits of knowledge are buried in the back of my mind. But when I'm writing, it forces me to make all kinds of choices that bring some of those bits of knowledge into focus.

If you're a writer or want to be, the best gift you can give yourself is permission to produce subpar work. Be the worst writer in the world. Lower your standards. This will enable you to practice, which will raise your skill level and improve your standards.

Speed Or Quality… Can You Have Both?

The assumption with most things is this: either do it fast or do it well. Writing a first draft seems to buck this trend. When I edit as I type the first draft, not only is it (painfully) slow, but the quality doesn't improve; many times it is worse.

Writing has two primary modes of thinking. One mode is ideas and structure. The other mode is the technical aspects of how to say it clearly. Save this how part for your revisions, because the brain isn't efficient when you switch modes.

When you switch from writing down ideas to technical editing tasks—back and forth—it's like zooming an optical camera lens in and out; picture the tiny motor that has to do that work! The motor (i.e. your brain) is going to wear out, and the quality of your work will go down. This is my theory as to why my work is better when I vomit out the words first, and clean it up later.

People who edit as they type are afraid that someone is going to see their words before they get a chance to polish them. Don't let it be you.

What about you? Do you write like you would vomit?


For the next fifteen minutes, pick a general outline and start vomiting words out recklessly. Miss commas, misspell words, and embarrass yourself! Resist the urge to rephrase or sharpen your prose. After you finish, you may clean it up.

Then, share your practice in the comments section. And if you post, be sure to leave feedback for a few other writers.

Good luck!

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  1. Diane

    I hate vomit, especially the smell of it, but that is one of the best posts on writing I’ve read. It’s so vivid, it will stay in my brain. thanks

    • Davey Northcott

      It definitely made me think about the way I write. I think I probably do think too much when I’m ‘splurging’ the first draft. Something to maybe rectify for the future …

    • Stephen Guise

      I need to constantly remind myself to write this way. But with practice, it will become habit. 🙂

    • Stephen Guise

      Diane, I hate everything about vomit too. Thanks for your kind words and I’m glad you liked this!

  2. Davey Northcott

    Unabridged and unedited … scarey …


    As I cut the onions I feel their caustic fumes reach my
    eyes, beginning to burn them red in the already heady atmosphere of my kitchen.
    I love cooking but there are certain aspects that I must admit I’d skip.
    Cutting onions is one of those. Earlier today I was doing just that, the
    thought of the meal later made the saliva in my mouth flow in gushes; so I
    carried on. Had it not been for the fact that I love to eat I don’t doubt I
    would have stopped right there.

    Anther reason for continuing: the soft voice of the girl in
    the next room calling through if the ‘pincho’ would be ready yet. ‘Pinchos’ are
    what they call the before dinner snack over here and her voice was worth
    pressuring myself for. So I put the onions to one side for a moment and unhook
    the thickly red chorizo from its s-hook on the wall. I lower it carefully to
    the wooden chopping board and cut several thin slices, placing them on a plate
    with a few wedges of the crusty local bread.

    We sit on the sofa, the plate of chorizo on the low coffee
    table in front of us and laugh as we eat; her jokes are better than mine. I’ve
    never had a head for remembering jokes but she laughs at the couple that come
    to my mind–from obligation or if she really thought they were funny I don’t
    know, but her smile makes my heart skip and gives me butterflies inside. Any
    less than that probably wouldn’t get me back to those eye-streaming onions but
    for her it seems worthwhile. So I finish one more slice of the rich sausage,
    kiss her lingering, red rimmed lips and rise, already lightheaded from the wine
    we’ve been drinking, and head back to the kitchen to continue with the onions.

    Strange the things you do for the things, and the ones, you

    Twitter:Davey Northcott
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/daveynorthcottauthorwriter
    Blog: http://daveynorthcottauthorwriter.wordpress.com/

    • Elise Martel

      Writing can be a lot like chopping onions, yes? Choppy at first. Stinging eyes. Not wanting to continue. The end product, provided that the onions were allowed to saute gently and were not burned with over-zealousness, will be worth the effort. I have heard that putting onions in the freezer before chopping them makes them less caustic. I wonder if that translates into writing. Something to make the difficult stages less difficult….

    • Davey Northcott

      Really? In the freezer? I’ll have to try that! I actually have been chopping some absolutely enormous onions today and my eyes were all over the place, so next time maybe I’ll try the freezer 🙂

    • Stephen Guise

      Excellent! I wish my first drafts were this good. I don’t write much fiction currently, but I like it. I enjoyed the saliva imagery of “gushing.” It took me right to a mouth-watering mindset.

    • Davey Northcott

      Thanks. Re-reading now there are a few tense issues, but hey. That’s what this test was about I suppose: leaving the preciousness behind.

    • John Fisher

      This is good, Davey! The pungent, sharp onions, seen as something to get through both to complete the preparation of a dish, and for love. I like the “lingering, red rimmed lips”!

      I’m going to check out your blog!

    • Davey Northcott

      Hey John. Thanks a lot 🙂 I’m glad you like it. Yer, feel free to have a look round my blog, hope you like that too. Cheers.

  3. Elise Martel

    This a bit of a character study from one of female main characters.

    The words burned inside of me. I couldn’t speak them. I couldn’t say anything at all.
    They churned and swelled inside of me. I could feel the sensation creeping up my esophagus. Rising, refusing to be held down. I knew the toxicity of my emotions. The words inside I dared not express.
    He walked by, and it was like I was struggling to breathe. I didn’t want to projectile vomit this all over him. I wanted to keep it deep inside, my secret. But the nausea swept over me the closer he got. He came across the room. Then next to me.
    He smiled, all Ray Bans and icy blue and tan and tall. But I couldn’t tell him. I wanted to. But I didn’t. The taste of bile was very strong. yet it intoxicated me. I did not shy away from talking to him.
    But I knew that everything might just come out. Like that. Then he would not want to talk to me anymore. I would scare him away, move him off. I couldn’t bear to have him feel disgusted about me. I was sick, and I knew it. My heart wept blood whenever we were apart, yet I dared not truly tell him what I felt. Each time we met, I clung coser to the porcelain bowl, knowing that it might just come out and dreading the moment.
    I was stronger than I thought. I kept all in. I told him nothing. I did not bare my heart to him. Until I get home. Then, I opened my notebook and the warm toxicity slipped from my lips and left me feeling disgusting and miserable. There lay my heart on each page, a pained organ coated with vomit.
    Words that I wanted to speak but I could not. They tempered inside and were held back. But vomit will only stay inside for so long before it forces its way out. My notebook holds it all. A year later, the depression still creeps back. I wonder what would have been different had I allowed him, and not the notebook, to know myself. But no. There is nothing pleasant in what I expelled. Nothing good. He was destined to be somewhere else, with someone else. I had no right to get in the way. I stepped back. I bared myself only when I was alone. Alas, for my broken heart. But I know that he is happy, that he is where he was meant to be. It is better this way. Yet the vomit still comes. And I still love him.

    • Stephen Guise

      I like it! Plenty of vomit references too. 🙂

    • Elise Martel

      I felt nauseous enough to have vomited by the time I finished this. I should have looked up synonyms or something. Emesis. That’s the medical term. Or upchuck. That sounds fun to say but not necessarily to do. Glad you liked it, despite all the references.

    • Davey Northcott

      Awesome. I love the subtlety here and the heart weaping blood is great. A touching piece and one that I’m sure we can all relate with from a time when we let someone, or soemthing, go and have later regretted doing so.

    • Elise Martel

      I am glad that you enjoyed it. Interesting that we like to hear about grief and broken hearts, even when those experiences definitely aren’t fun.

    • Davey Northcott

      Like I say, it’s something we can all relate to. And, despite ourselves, I think we all like to hear that others suffer the same woes as us.

    • John Fisher

      What an incredibly complicated love this is — for you do write that the character loves him. It’s beyond ambivalent. It is actually physically sickening to her.

      This must be a heckuva story!

    • Elise Martel

      She is physically sickened by her love because she knows such a relationship could never be healthy, but such a knowledge doesn’t stop her from loving him. She believes that their love would destroy his life’s direction, so she views it as vomit-nothing good at all. She loves him enough to never say that she does, but when she is alone, she pours the love out on her private pages. She reads them and thinks it is vomit and hates herself for loving him.

      Such complexity. Did I mention that most of what I write is based on personal experience? Which is why this just poured out. i guess I am a complex person if this is a reflection, albeit an altered reflection, of me.

    • John Fisher

      ………Which would be an important reason why you have so much to offer as a writer.

  4. George McNeese

    I, unfortunately, am one of those people who took college classes, graduated with a Creative Writing concentration, and now, can’t seem to get past the first draft. It’s frustrating. Even when outlining, I find I’m going over details with a fine-toothed comb. I need to re-learn what it truly means to be creative. To embrace the mistakes and learn from them.

    • TrepTiger

      I grapple and have the hardest time not panicking. The other night my training partner suggested we try rolling with our eyes closed, Everything changed for me at the moment we tried that.

      Try something totally off the wall or different. Brain storm or dump ideas out onto paper. Don’t think, just spew. Try writing some sentences with your eyes closed. It’s difficult, i know, but it works, too.

    • Elise Martel

      I wrote my whole piece with my eyes closed. Otherwise, I would keep hitting the backspace bar. Grrr! When I opened my eyes, I realized that I must have some sort of internal bleeding, because not only was my result profuse but also heavily underlined in red. I HATE RED SQUIGGLY LINES! Sorry, but I do. So I went back and fixed all of my typos. And then I hit post. Even though I didn’t want to.
      Good advice, Trep

    • TrepTiger

      I am so glad that it worked that way for you. My typing is atrocious and is nothing but gibberish, lol

    • John Fisher

      LOL I have the same feeling toward those red squiggly lines!

    • John Fisher

      George, did you see Des’s post (on this same page) about ilys.com? It’s structured so that it forces you to write without editing as the first stage (you enter the number of words you want to write, and when the writing screen opens up, it won’t let you edit! There’s a second screen for editing, but you must meet your word-count first.) I tried it, it does work for my computer, and I’m going to use it. It might help you too. Happy writing!

    • Dawn Atkin

      Just write. Write for the sake of writing and not writing anything in particular. I always write freeform. After a while the writing takes over; writes its own story.
      Write page after page and don’t read back on it until a later date (a few weeks at least). You may be surprised.

    • George McNeese

      It’s difficult resisting the urge to edit while writing, but I will embrace the idea of writing for the sake of writing. I usually will take time in the morning or before I go to bed to free write. I believe Julia Cameron calls this exercise “Morning Pages.” I just need to apply the same principle to writing my stories. Thank you for responding.

  5. Chloee

    I stared at the bloody mess in front of me. The body was mangled at ripped open. Her long hair coverd her face. I wanted to vomit. Her eyes are what frighted me the most. They were pale blue. It was like they tried to talk. They were staring at something right before she died. Her mouth slacked down her lips cold and lifeless.

    Being a police officer I was use to murder sence but this one was awful. Usally the murder was clean. They didn’t want to be caught. But this one was different. It was like it was setting up a trap. I sallowed hard. Officer Isa. My deputy said. I snapped back to it. What. I asked. Do you want to walk around the sence of the crime. He asked. Sure. I wiped my hand around my face to shield it from the sun.
    As I walked I noticed a pattern. The murdered always cut the body in a certin way. Why does this not surprise me. All murdered are pshyco. Do they get up in the morning and say I want to kill someone today. I leaned down and looked at the body. They found it in a back alley on Vine Street. It was dumped in a dumpster like a piace of trash. Who did this to you. I whispered. I stood up and looked around. My deputy was no where to be seen. Mike. I yelled. that’s strange it’s not like him to walk out on the job. I thought. suddnely I was pulled back. A hand muffled my screams. I heard heavy breathing and I was dragged into the woods. I kicked and screamed but it was too strong. The hand let go of my face and I looked up at it. My eyes got wide and tears filled them. It shoved a rag in my face. I passed out hearing Mike say Sweet Dreams Isa.

    • TrepTiger

      Wow! That’s a kick in her guts! Nice twist at the end.

    • Chloee

      Thanks so much.

    • TrepTiger

      I like the murder scene, Chloe.

    • hema priya

      wow! awesome work! Especially, the dead body you have described is the best!

    • Chloee

      Thanks a lot.

    • TrepTiger

      Chloee, I have a crime scene in 100 words for you.

    • Davey Northcott

      Cool. Nice pace and action.

    • Chloee


    • Alex Loranger

      Extra points for bringing up vomit in the first few sentences.

  6. Maure

    Ugh, I hope that writing a first draft will never be quite as unpleasant as vomiting. 😛 I get your meaning – it’s a good one – but man, do I wince every time I see the vomit comparison.

    • TrepTiger

      It can be if you agonize over every word … which I do far too often ….

  7. TrepTiger

    “Your beliefs don’t make you a better
    person,” Nina was saying, “it’s your behavior that does.” Nina
    had been an interpreter for the NATO unit that I was assigned to for
    years now. She had been there for nearly five years. Me, I had only
    been there in Bosnia for a few months at that time. She had proven to
    me, several times over by that point, that she was wiser beyond her
    young years that any one person had the right to be.

    My partner, Match Stick and I, sat
    there and were pondering what Nina had just said when the lighting
    inside the small coffee bar changed. Someone had definitely opened
    the door; however, that someone was also large enough to stand in the
    door and block a good portion of it. That caught my attention.

    Using the mirrors behind the bar, I
    checked out the newest patron as best I could. He was about 6 foot
    tall, thickly built, very hefty, and he was heading to our table. The
    finer details I could not make out right then, but it didn’t really
    matter at that moment.

    When he did stop at our table, Match
    Stick and I just acted nonchalant as we both easily dropped one hand
    to our pistols, secured a grip, sipped our coffees, and blandly I
    asked him, “What can I do for you, Tiny?” I spoke in
    Serbo-Croatian. It always spooked Nina when I did this. She was not
    accustomed to working with a sailor or a soldier ho spoke her

    He looked sad. Oh, he was tough as
    hell, no doubt about that. This man was a walking knot of scars and
    muscles, but at that moment, he was sad. “I know who you are and
    what you are doing here, so do not bother to deny it or to tell me
    your cover stories. I have been watching you closely.” Stick and
    looked at each other and nodded. He spoke up.

    “Sit down. Tell us your name, have
    drink on us, and tell us your story.” Match Stick had a great way
    about him. He could bring out the best in almost everyone.

    That is precisely what this behemoth
    did. His eyes, as blue and cold as the north Atlantic in the winter,
    were calm and sad as he told us of the crimes he committed and
    oversaw during the Balkans War just a few years earlier. He told us
    things that only someone who was involved in such things could have
    known. Things that brought Nina almost to tears. This guy nodded at
    her while speaking to me, “I know where her brother is buried.”

    At that instant I flinched. I hate
    myself from time to time for my own failings. My shitty memory is at
    the top of that list. Nina had grown up here in Drvar. She had told
    me about the day that her brother was taken by soldiers. Looking over
    at Nina, I put my hand on hers, she looked back at me, pulled her
    hand away. “Thank you, but no,” she said very quietly. I nodded.

    After that man left we sat there
    quietly for several minutes. I was contemplating how lax I had been
    to be watched so closely by someone. Nina broke the silence. “I
    know that he was acting under orders during the war. I can see in his
    eyes that he is sorry for what had happened.” She looked into her
    coffee for a few more moments. “I forgive him. I think that I can
    let my brother rest in peace now.”

    • Davey Northcott

      Nice. Powerful writing. Like it. 🙂

    • TrepTiger

      Thank you, Dave. That’s my mental vomit, a blast from the pest.

    • Elise Martel

      A very sad piece of history. My sister has friends who survived the massacre. One of them learned to play guitar in two months while he was in a refuge camp. When I met him, he spoke with quiet resilience. He was a peaceful man, but a bit of sadness always tinged the side of one lip.
      Thanks for sharing this. And, by the way, it didn’t sound like vomit at all.

    • TrepTiger

      Thank you, Elise. This was what came out when the system went into regurgitate.

    • John Fisher

      Very compelling in the description of Nina’s suffering (with such dignity) as a survivor of one of the victims of such an atrocity. You bring all four of your characters to life in a way that makes them easy for the reader to visualize. Nina lives out her statement, made at the beginning, by forgiving. Thank you for sharing this!

  8. Des

    Nice article! I’d like to recommend the website ilys.com. It’s one of my favorite writing tools and helps force you to shut off that “how” part of your thought process.

    here’s a very brief practice that probably doesn’t make much sense without context, but, yeah.

    The piano, when she finally works up the nerve to remove its dusty lace slip, test her weight on its cracked leather of its bench, and sink her pinky into the first note of Für Elise, is hopelessly out of tune. Kai forces herself through the first page before stopping, cringing at the dissonance of wrong keys singing at the wrong frequencies. She exhales.

    “There you are,” Sean says from the doorway, sounding relieved. Kai startles. She frowns a little to herself as the man walks up to the faded baby grand, propping himself up on a careless elbow. “You know, this was the only instrument with a cover in the entire building. Must you always be so difficult?”

    Kai licks her lips. “I’ve always been good at that sort of thing,” she says. “Making a mess, drawing attention…” Her gaze flits over to Sean before focusing resolutely back on the sheet music in front of her. “I mean, if you know how to piss off the right people, then–”

    “–They’ll all remember you, right? Is that how it goes?”

    The corner of her lips tilts up, and she starts playing from the beginning again, fingers a little more sure, notes a little more confident, but still off-key. Some weird, haunting mesh of silver and tree bark. “Yeah. Exactly.”

    • John Fisher

      Thank you, Des, for the lead on ilys.com. I did a test-run and it worked! I like the idea of being forced not to edit until you complete a set number of words.

      Your work here is very aptly descriptive of both the old piano, its dustiness and the out-of-tune keys, and also the dynamics between Kai and Sean. Gives good insight into their individual attitudes. Very good practice!

    • Stephen Guise

      I just checked it out and I love it. ilys.com is a great way to shut down the editing mind! It’s a simple idea, well-executed. Thanks for sharing that.

    • George McNeese

      I haven’t heard of this website, but I’ll give it a try. It will certainly be a challenge to shut off the editing mind, to play it by ear.

    • Alex Loranger

      That’s why I use a Royal Quiet De Luxe Portable Manual Typewriter. I just fill the page with ink, hammering the letters one at a time. After a year I put a small piece of a sponge inside the bell, however,

  9. TrepTiger

    The crime scene was unbelievable. Two victims were in the living room. By the looks of them, the detective estimated between 50 to 100 stabs between both. Based on the blood trails, they were trying to crawl away while being stabbed. The garage was worse.

    There was blood and intestinal tract sprayed everywhere, the ceiling, walls, all over the floors. One victim, he was opened up from crotch to neck. Lying next to him was the murder weapon, a chainsaw. It’s likely this poor sap was alive at least until the saw got through the pelvis and into the intestine.

    • Chloee

      I like it. Very descripted in just 100 words.

    • TrepTiger

      Thank you, Chloee

  10. TrepTiger


    Write on!

    The write stuff

    I’m so happy I could just write

    Write happens

    Various thoughts run through my head at
    night … times when my head hurts and I should be laying down in bed
    … resting or asleep … now, those times find me plinking away at a
    keyboard … random thoughts start in my head, travel down my arms,
    and vomit out my fingers onto the screen … random thoughts that,
    hopefully, other people will find interesting, terrifying, sickening,
    awe inspiring, or otherwise worth wearing, duh, reading … the other
    night, Tuesday night to be precise, while grappling, my training
    partner suggested that we roll with our eyes closed … it was a wild
    experience … we both listened with our bodies and learned so much
    more than with our eyes opened … one of the things that I learned
    was to not panic … now, I am going to try writing something with my
    eyes closed … unedited and unashamedly …. now with mu eues cloesd
    … damn, that sucks … I think that, for now, like driving, I
    should type with my eyes open … wow …. ::sigh::

    • Elise Martel

      I learned to type without looking because I was transcribing things from textbooks to my notes on the computer. Now it just comes as second nature. Unless I am really tired, and then my notes on Vygotsky get a little garbled. Zone of proximal development, anyone?

    • TrepTiger

      My typing, not so good. 😉

    • Lucy Crabtree

      This is how I feel when I write, too!

    • TrepTiger

      Glad I’m not alone, Miss Lucy

    • Alex Loranger

      So much of my writing is like this.

  11. Lucy Crabtree

    Whew, that was hard for this perfectionist! 😉 But here’s my feeble attempt:

    She had no stories left. She sat in her rocking chair, the one that was her mother’s, and her mother’s mother’s and stared out the window. That was all she did these days. Rock and stare and rock and stare. She missed her Jimmy, who’d gone on to glory so many years ago. She had no children to comfort her at this, the end of her life. She’d gone game hunting in Africa, to London to see the queen’s coronation, taken in a few strays — both human and animal — in her years on this earth. And what of it? All of that and still, she ended up here. At the window, rocking and staring.

    The nurse cleared her throat. “Miss Ida,” she said, “it’s time for your dinner.” Miss Ida didn’t turn, didn’t flinch, didn’t answer. Nurse sighed. It was this every day, every meal. The food came in and left undistrubed. It was almost like Miss Ida was wasting away on purpose. Nurse left the food, as she always did, on the tray on the table by sink, and made her way over to the window. She sat down next to Miss Ida and patted her hand.

    “Where are you?” she asked. Miss Ida never answered, but Nurse never stopped asking. Miss Ida was silent, her expression stony. She barely blinked. They sat like that for many long minutes, Miss Ida and Nurse. Finally, Nurse stood up. She had other duties to tend to, after all.

    “Stop,” Miss Ida whispered, her voice more guttural than speech. Nurse stopped in her tracks and turned.

    “Miss Ida, did you … speak?”


    “Stop what?” Nurse asked, confused.

    “Stop. Make it stop.”

    Nurse walked back over to Miss Ida and checked to see that the old lady’s blanket was in place. Her oxygen line was secure. She didn’t look any sicklier than she always did.

    “Miss Ida, what do you want me to stop?”

    “Mem- … mem- … memories.” Miss Ida choked.

    Nurse sat back down, taking Miss Ida’s wrinkled hand in her own fleshy one, squeezing gently.

    “Miss Ida,” Nurse said, “tell me your memories.”

    Miss Ida blinked once, twice and slowly turned her head, meeting Nurse’s gaze. Miss Ida’s eyes were watery, from old age or sadness, Nurse couldn’t tell, but was there really a difference? Nurse knew from her experience at the home that the two often went hand in hand.

    “I lost him,” Miss Ida said. “I had him, then I lost him.”

    Nurse knew about Jimmy. It was in Miss Ida’s file.

    “Jimmy, huh? You miss your man?”

    But Miss Ida shook her head.

    “I do miss my Jimmy. But he never knew there was a baby. I lost the baby. He fell right outta me and I couldn’t …” Miss Ida stopped. And dropped Nurse’s hand. And rocked and stared.

    • John Fisher

      A nurse who cares. And I think Miss Ida knows she cares. That’s what enables Miss Ida to finally share the memory that is torturing her (“Make it stop.”)

      I like ” . . . eyes were watery, from old age or sadness, Nurse couldn’t tell, but was there a difference? . . . the two often went hand in hand.”

      A good example of how compassion and empathy can initiate healing. Good work!

    • Lucy Crabtree

      Thanks so much for your encouragement, John!

    • Dawn Atkin

      Well done. You’ve captured a scene, a few minutes in time quite beautifully. Voile! A beautiful vomit!

    • Stephen Guise

      Haha! Who knew there could ever be “a beautiful vomit?” 🙂

    • Lucy Crabtree

      I was thinking the same thing! 😉 Thank you, Dawn!

    • Elise Martel

      Perfectionists have a way of making anything look good. Even vomit. And I am so not a perfectionist. Sigh.
      Of course, that also means I have more time on my hands because I don’t spend forever getting things perfect. And in a family chock full of perfectionists, that means I am usually the first, and not the last, one out of the door.

    • Lucy Crabtree

      I never thought of being the last person out the door (which I usually am!) as a sign of perfectionism … but I’ll take it! Better than it being due to “not managing my time well” or “being lazy”! 😉

    • George McNeese

      I think when it comes to writing, it’s better to not be a perfectionist. I struggle with not having enough time writing, because I spend too much time thinking about how to edit instead of writing the story out. I’m working on letting the story flow, to let the story go whoever it takes me. I’ll work out the outlining and iron out the details later.

    • Elise Martel

      In terms of finishing the story, non-perfectionists probably finish more stories (definitely in less time) than perfectionists. However, in terms of a completed project, perfectionists tend to spend the extra time to connect things and make everything, well, perfect. My sister and I, though not in the same grade, had the same writing assignments through high school. I always finished mine before hers, and hers were often late, but the content of hers just sounded so much better because she had the knack for analyzing every sentence. I’m more of the boom, there it is, baby, type of writer.

    • George McNeese

      I think perfectionists are the type of people who tend to draw things out. It will take them weeks, or even months, to attain their definition of perfection. In my opinion, that’s not healthy as a writer. There is the need to be thorough when it comes to editing, but no piece is ever going to be perfect. I put myself in that category. I think that once I incorporate a balance between the perfectionist and the non-perfectionist, I’ll be a better writer, and person, overall.

    • Lucy Crabtree

      Oh! just now seeing this part of the thread! Drawing things out — that definitely describes me! Funny that you mention editing — I’m an editor by trade, but maybe that’s not surprising given the perfectionist tendencies. 🙂 I agree with you, though. Sometimes done is better than perfect. I’m working on it …

    • Tammy Caito

      Wow, you’ve really hooked me into wanting more, and painted a really beautiful yet tragic scene.

    • Lucy Crabtree

      Thank you, Tammy! I think I’ve written more in the last two weeks than I have in the last 10 years, so I’m still so very new (and absolutely unsure of what I’m doing! :)) and truly appreciate the uplifting words!

    • George McNeese

      You did well. I like how you described the routine and the connection between Nurse andiss Ida. I think even if Miss Ida didn’t say anything about losing Jimmy or the baby, you can tell there’s a connection. Well done.

  12. John Fisher

    And so here was this eminent personage who was also Jim’s friend, for whom he felt genuine affection and respect, instructing him over dinner at their favorite restaurant about how the U. S. Civil War was NOT about slavery at all; the Civil War was about the usurpation of states’ rights by the federal government, and how her black friend had through DNA research discovered a Confederate Sargent in her family tree, which afforded her entree into the Daughters of the Confederacy, who had welcomed her with open arms, and *that* apparently was the best thing since the electrification of Appalachia. Jim was dumbfounded, numbed . . and then, unsophisticate that he was, he had to open his mouth: he ventured to suppose that the Confederacy was, well, Wrong, and had, um, like, Lost the War?

    That inspired the measured correction of poor Jim’s callow supposing: “You know, Jim, slavery MAY have been evil, and then again, it may NOT have been. *We* weren’t *there*, so *we* can’t *know*. . . . ” The history Jim had read flashed before his watering eyes, but having neither the degrees, the depth, the experience nor the eminence, he cowered, thinking, maybe it’s all been a lie, maybe . . .His stomach turned queasy. He felt weak in the presence of such upright and cultured citizenship. Still, at a more remote level, his reason and instinct rebelled. But he didn’t, *couldn’t* let on, unqualified as he felt for battle on this level.

    A week later her black friend joined them at the same dinner venue, and they were hoo-hawing about the Confederate Sargent and what a blast it all was (and so by implication: see, the races really *can* get along), — and once again Jim was getting this really tight, constricted feeling in his stomach and accompanying digestive components, and to make it worse, there went his unschooled mouth again; he blurted out to the Daughter of the Confederacy, “So what is it you’re celebrating?” She didn’t miss a beat, turning only slightly toward him, and saying quickly, “General Lee’s birthday!”, before turning back to continue the hilarity.

    (He was not quick enough in the moment to question, “All year ’round?” That retort would only occur when he was driving home; too late.)

    In the moment, there was only a recurrence of that insidious tightening, cramping, in the gut, and from that point withdrawing from the conversation, sitting quietly and decorously, he hoped he was concealing the fearful urge that threatened to cause him to VOMIT all over the nice table in the nice restaurant.

    This was not the way he wished to be remembered.

    No, quiet and decorous was the ticket.

    • Davey Northcott

      I like the part about only remembering the clever come back in the car on the way home … so true 🙂

  13. Dawn Atkin

    Rows of sequined teal scalloped through the bay. Wave after
    perfect wave. The afternoon sun sat high in the clear blue sky piercing the
    white sands and sending hazy ripples through the afroesque clumps of waxy dune tussocks.

    I couldn’t wait to get down there; to dive into that
    memsmerisng aqua dream.

    I skipped the steps. Two at a time. Jumped the last two and tumbled into the hot
    silky sand.

    “Come on you guys,” I called to Tom and Jules. They ambled
    down, clutching their surfboards and scouring the bay for the cleanest break.

    I dropped my towel in to a heap and jogged down to the efferevescent
    foamy moustache lip. The lazy end of the tide kissed the sparkling mica and
    retreated back in to the mouth of the
    Southern Ocean.

    The fresh briney splash, playful and bright, stung my thighs
    and pinked my sun warm skin. I dived in. Delicious. A mermaid for a moment. The
    fluted sandy bed rippled and dappled beneath the shadows of my body and the
    smooth undulates of the elastic surface.

    Arching my back, drawing my arms to my sides I lazy
    torpedoed to the surface. Breath. Light. Fresh. Alive.

    I could see the guys waving on the beach. Pointing toward
    the middle of the bay. I waved back. Happy they’d found a spot to kick out in
    their boards. And became a mermaid again.
    Ducking, diving, laughing. Feeling the smooth saline jade slide like silk
    over my skin, through my hair, between my toes.

    I came to the surface. Breathless. Tingling with excitement,
    awake with joy, beaming with happiness.

    I looked to the beach. I looked for Tom and Jules. I’d been
    swept more than 100 metres beyond the marker. I turned to swim but the rip had
    me. I could feel the tug of undercurrent
    pulling on my legs. The strength of the water rushing through the channel pulled
    me down and further out.

    Nobody around. Just me and miles of Southern Ocean. I tried
    to swim across the rip. I couldn’t get a sense of its direction. I held my hand
    up high. Waved it frantically.

    A fresh set came rolling in the distance. The first wave
    teetered past and peeled in to a break. The second wave threatened to unfold
    but continued past. The next wave roared up above me. The frothy tip snarling,
    hissing, threatening, smashed down and sucked me in to its Neptune chamber.

    Tossed and turned. Thrown and pulled. The thunderous rush of
    heavy surf pounding through me.

    Short of breath. Whipped by sea. No sense of up or down.
    Short of breath. Need to breathe. Cannot see. Lost now.

    And then there was light, and voices, and my name, and wind
    and air, and a slap on the back. And a sleek white shiny board. A surfer’s stallion.

    “Chelsea. Chelsea. Come on girl. Open your eyes, push up,
    push up onto the board.” Tom was shouting.

    My eyes were bleary. I knew it was him I couldn’t speak. I
    barely had the energy to keep my eyes open.

    He clung to me. We clung to the board. The stallion. My
    knight. I could see the daylight. I smiled. Yes; I could see the daylight.

    • Elise Martel

      You have some great imagery in this piece. The metaphor of the board being a stallion and the surfer, the knight, especially resonated with me. Some of your language did seem a notch too sweet to me. You alternated between staccato sentences like the short of breath. Whipped by sea. Those were very powerful, but then you threw in some very long descriptive sentences that totally emulated a different style of writing all together. It worked overall, but I thought you could tone down or maybe simplify a few of the adjectives so it doesn’t go so abruptly from looonnnggg and flowinggggg to short. and. quick.
      Maybe use uncommon adjectives/verbs all throughout, or tone down some of the less common ones. For example, I loved your imagery of the foamy mustache. Instead of saying “effervescent foamy mustache lip you could try just foamy mustache lip, or effervescent mustache lip, because one of the synonyms for effervescent is frothy, almost the same as foamy. Effervescent isn’t a word that I often see, and it is interesting, but maybe too much when you are already using so much comparative language.
      Hope this didn’t sound too critical. I tend to comment most on pieces that I really liked overall, so consider this a compliment;) And keep writing. I enjoy your work.

    • Dawn Atkin

      Excellent feedback. And totally appreciated. Thanks.

  14. hema priya

    I wonder why i sleep soo much these days. I’ve been asleep for fifteen long hours today and i felt something in my stomach when I was sleeping. It was the same growl I feel at the exam hall. I dont know how it is called,nor i know for what it came. Tiny droplets of salt water covered my body. When i stare at the ceiling i see the same man who haunts me with a dark grin. The growl in my stomach grew heavier as he comes closer to me. Ifeel my warm leak on the bed. Even the tiny droplets of sweat runs down as he approaches. He is on me now. He whispers something into my ears. He says “this is F-E-A-R” and vanishes. I woke up and saw nothing but i know i learnt a word that would describe my exam-hall-feeling:FEAR!

  15. Parsinegar

    The last time she vomited she was on highway, totally sozzled. The only thought that could be next to clear in her head was that she’d better stop driving and bend her head onto the asphalt and make a gaudy scene of disgusting yellowness. She did it. Her belly was becoming as hard as a rock and her ideas for survival were diminishing as she couldnt even breathe. The light reflected on her brought-ups and she suddenly started to think about what she had never reflected upon in her lifetime ever: what if she could live without a stomache. She woke up around 6 a.m. in her car, pulled over and lights on. what has happened here last night, she thought and swiftly it ran through her mind that she needs to grab a bite!

  16. Dawn Atkin

    It arced the sky line. A golden curve of lumpy disgorge. She barfed and barfed. Each throaty melody an ideal accompaniment to the power blasts and agonizing dryer gags.

    She stood, hair pulled back, legs astride, painting walls and pavement.

    Passers by honoured the theatrical, eased their way past and determined appropriate distance. Some in shock and disgust, others amused.

    The arc landed in a perfect circle that spread like watercolours into cracks and crevices; delicately painting the well trodden path; gently seeking the darker gullys that they too may receive the soupy benefits of such a fine performance.

    A cheer from further up the street. A disgruntled shop owner with a pail of water stomps in for a closer view.

    Her’s was definitely the vomit of the century. An award winning, stunning arrangement of composure and compost. Bravo!

  17. Isaac

    The phenomenon was indeed odd. Never would I have imagined an alternate version of my entire being, or even the world, but they nonetheless appeared out of thin air on a bright Tuesday morning. I was sipping my hour old black coffee, reviewing certain notes about the alternate realities, attmepting to solve a tough equation when suddenly, a portal opened. Out from it came someone almost identical to me, except for that fact that it was a women.

    “Hullo Alexander,” she said, “my name is Alexandria.” She walked over to me, shook my hand, and the portal boomed shut.

    “What was that!?” I ask.

    “That? Well no sense in telling you now, you’re about to figure it out,” she pointed to my notes, “Hm, how very odd. The variable you’re missing is X, while mine was Y. A minor difference, but there are bound to be more,” said Alexandria.

    “What? One moment–would you tell me who you are?”

    “I’m you. Well, not quite. There are subtle differences.”

    “Subtle!? You’re a women!”

    “Yes, but our lives are practically the same. For instance, I suppose you have a female dog names Samantha?”

    “Yes, but–”

    “Mine is a male cat named Samuel. If I were to keep to the norm, I’d say that your mother proposed to your father, your favorite food is chicken soup, and you enjoy your coffee black.”

    He looked at his mug filled with black coffee, “Who are you, Sherlock Holmes?”

    “No, I simply proposed that there are changes, variables if you’d prefer.”

    I stood out of my chair and faced Alexandria, “So you’re from an alternate universe?”

    “Hm, ‘alternate,’ I don’t like the word. It’s more of a ‘shift’ in reality . . . would you like to see more?”

    I nodded.

    “Splendid. It’s time to solve that equation.”

  18. Hope M.

    There’s this girl, you see. She’s in my English class and she’s kinda cute. Big nose, but alright looking I guess. I don’t even like English. I showed up to the first class with a magazine between my books. But next thing I know this girl is talking and it was different, not all dorky like those girls back in high school. She seemed to really have a passion, or some shit like that. I dunno. It was cool. So the next class I sat next to her. Didn’t say anything, but caught glances when she was writing. She was writing so fast and didn’t even care what was going on around her. Whatever. So then the NEXT class I finally said something. “Can I borrow a pencil?” I actually didn’t have one haha because I didn’t plan on doing any of the work. College ain’t for classes, it’s for partying with my fellas and getting some on the weekend…which start on Thursday now. I’m not complaining.

    So anyway, this girl. I asked her for a pencil and she gave me one but it didn’t really go beyond that. I was kinda confused. Girls usually keep talkin’ to me but this one didn’t. The next class I made a joke about the pencil…something dumb but she kinda smiled. So I felt alright, like maybe we were going somewhere. But after class she walked out real fast. Damn, this girl. She’s so in her own world and I hate it, love it. Every class this semester I kept sitting next to her and sometimes I would talk to her, sometimes I would play it cool too. I’ll always remember the first time she said “bye” all quiet and such and waved with that hand of hers. Damn. What I wouldn’t give to hold that hand. Oh fuck I sound like a dude in a chick flick haha. Whatever.

    My boys don’t know about this girl, no one really knows. Which is why I decided to write about her here because I had to get it out. I’m starting to die inside a little…but it also feels like something is burning and coming alive. Or whatever. So I’m just getting these words out like she did all those classes. What was she writing? If only I was the prof haha. Then I’d know…and I’m sure I’d give her an A+ just for being so pretty. Even though she’s not that pretty. It’s just something about her. That she doesn’t care. But she does care…it’s just her priorities are different or something.

    I don’t know if I’ll see her again but I think I will when classes start up again. I mean, we’re bound to bump into each other walking around campus, right? Only 20,000 people. Not bad. Man I think back to my own parents and their love story. Mom actually noticed dad first…he was dating another girl. But they became friends and mom made him laugh. So he ended up ditching that other chick and showing up at my mom’s door at midnight or something dumb like that. Rocks at the window and everything. Talk about a chick flick. Anyways they did pretty good with their life. I can’t complain. But man, this girl. I can’t get her off my mind.

    What do I gotta do…track her down and throw rocks at her face for her to get the point? I mean I sat next to her every day. I don’t DO that, doesn’t she know? She gets all under my skin. Sometimes she put her glasses on when the prof was writing on the board and it was kinda sexy like a librarian or something haha. She doesn’t talk much, but when she does it’s always something smart and I feel like I’m eating pancakes…all warm inside. Shit I sound like a pansy. My boys can never know. They are going around like they always do, chick after chick, night after night. They ask me why I don’t go out with them as much. I make up this reason or that, but really it’s because I’m reading. I want to know what this girl finds so interesting in these books. Ernest Hemingway, weird guy. But kinda cool cause he’s a real man’s man if you know what I mean. Shootin’ stuff and getting girls and all that shit. That FItzgerald guy seems kinda like a pansy to me, but he knows women or something cause he made up Daisy. She must’ve been something. Like the girl in my class, all mysterious like.

    Women. They were easier when they were just something to sleep with. But this one, I don’t even want to sleep with her. Well fuck I do, but not like right away. I want to talk and hear what she’s thinking and find out if she likes summer or winter better, and why. She will always have a reason why, I just know it. Man and I bet she always notices things that other people miss, because she’s focused on other things. Like she’s out of this world or something. All I know is I have to do something. These words aren’t enough. They’re just pissing me off, really. Because I’d rather be talking to her than feeling like a pussy writing all this on paper. I’m gunna burn this when I’m through. And then maybe I’ll go find a rock…

  19. Brianna Worlds

    *cringes* This has no editing at all… It’s horrible, sorry! I’ll go through it and fix it later.

    “Asne?” the man murmured from the shade, stepping back and spreading his arms in a welcome, sending mixed

    Jisa felt a sickening lurch in her stomach at her old name, a surge of fear, guilt, and lost love churning within her, thickening like butter.

    “Who knows that name?” she asked in a thin whisper, peering into the murky shadows. Out of old habit, she shifted so her curtain of silver hair better concealed her face.

    “Asne,” he said again, “it’s Mar.”


    The name scattered through the shattered and sharp memories surrounding the Disaster, the moment her life broke in two.

    Yet the name brought solace and the guilty relief of being protected from your own crime.

    “You were one of the ones that tried to save me,” she realized aloud.


    Jisa hesitated, understanding his uncertain fear. “It’s okay,” she said softly. “He… I was taught to control it.”

    She waved her hand gently, and purple sparks spiralled mildly to the ground, an old trick of hers that she used to do when she was little when she was happy. Now she could do it on command, on purpose. Now she could stop herself from becoming a walking bomb.

    “Look,” she said eagerly, kneeling and placing her palms against the dry, sandy soil. “Look at this.”

    She closed her eyes briefly, letting her mind sink partially into the wisp world, allowing her to see both physical and spiritual manifestations. Her eyes opened again, now blazing with power and light. As if from very far away, she heard Mar gasp.

    Using her Vision, she stared into the ground and smiled at the pinpricks of life that there grew. She sent her power flaring into the seeds and feeding their energy, and they unfurled under its touch. They uncurled, stretching and growing and reaching upwards. The small green shoots sprang into the air, dripping sand and blooming in purple wisps of fragrance.

    “Lavender,” Mar said, surprised. Jisa nodded, looking hopefully up at Mar as the light faded from her eyes.

    “Please don’t be afraid of me,” she murmured, shifting her eyes to the ground. “But… I wouldn’t blame you if you are.”

    “Asne,” Mar murmured tenderly, stepping forward and opening his arms, his grey eyes sparkled with unshed tears, and greying brown hair askew. “Have I ever been afraid of you, child?”

    Jisa’s eyes welled with tears. She hadn’t realized how much it meant to her that he was still the same gentle, warm Mar that he had been before. She ran gratefully into his arms and buried her face in his sweater, where it smelled of safety.

    “I’m so glad you’re safe,” he murmured, kissing the top of her head in a fatherly manner.

    Jisa sniffed and pulled back, averting her eyes in embarrassment. “I was found,” she said simply, trying to avoid the subject. She didn’t think she could hold herself together if he made her go back to the kindness of her mentor.

    Suddenly, out of the silence, a wail of grief pierced the night. The keen of sadness stopped Jisa’s breath and her gaze darting to Mar’s, her face crumpling in sorrow.

    Mar’s own features twisted in sadness, and he shook his head, face white. “Lan must have finally gone,” he whispered in heavy disbelief. “Poor Mola. She’s heartbroken.”

    Jisa’s expression melded from sorrow to horror.

    “What happened?” she demanded.

    “Well, it seems… It seems that Hensel has begun an empire. And we’re on the list of its unconquered nations.”

    Jisa’s eyes flashed in anger. “No. I’ll stop them. I promise.”

    “Asne, I’m not sure—”

    “I can Mar,” Jisa insisted softly. “I have control now. I’m not that same naïve little girl who doesn’t know her own power.”

    Mar ducked his head. “Pardon me, Asne. I can’t help but still see you as a young, helpless child,” he said.

    Jisa nodded. “You’ll be saved tomorrow,” she swore.

    Mar nodded, still obviously unconvinced. Jisa turned to leave, her mind bursting with ideas. Before she was out of sight, though, she half-turned back to face Mar.

    “I am called Jisa now. Please continue to let me be known like that,” she said. “I prefer to live separate from my past.

    • Alex Loranger

      Wow. Your usage of a magic system intrigues me. You show just enough to let the reader know what it is, but don’t give it away all at once. I am interested in these characters. They feel alive. I see their relationship has both comfort as well as discomfort. There is so much going on, and you gave the reader just enough information to keep it moving. Bravo. I hope you have gotten a great novel or story out of this passage. I would read it.

    • Marco

      Thanks! I wrote this so long ago, wow, it was strange to go back and look at it. Those are things I’m always worried about not getting right so that means a lot to me 🙂 I do in fact have an entire novel based off this world, but alas it’s been stubborn about yielding a usable plot. I kind of forgot about it until now. Maybe I’ll pick it up again!

  20. Edana

    What a perfect kick in the pants that we all often need… especially at this time of the year when inspiration seems in short supply, while at the same time our OCD tendencies are made worse by cabin fever. Thanks — and again, love this blog

  21. Sidney G Fox

    I’ve just come across this prompt, months after it was published and it’s really hit home. I find it almost impossible (edited this twice already) to write without polishing as I go. Am going to try and do so below. (Couldn’t do it for this paragraph though!)

    Yikes, being sick has to be one of the worst feelings in the world. The thought of losing food is terrifying and the cile aftertaste, the gagging during the experience and is there a way to stop it from getting in your nose? Ihave terrible trouble with my nose and have for many years, missed amazing waves due to the fear of being bundled about inside a big one and subsequent sinal flushing.
    I went to edit a bit back there and then stopped myself and carried on, but it’s not natural for me and I’m fighting spo hard that i’m losing train of thought about what i’m supposed to be writing.
    Vomit. I guess I’ve never been able to just let go and have always fought my body’s urge to expel it, which makes the whole process miuch worse in the end. Same goes for surfing – I should drive to the beach and let myself myself get battered about in some whitewater today because fear of unpleasant tumbling anf loss of control is holding me back from experiencing the joy of something uncertain, something that could be good. Risk. What’s the worst that could happen, after all?

    The hardest bit about that was not changing the word ‘yikes’. I don’t use the word ‘yikes’ and I don’t like it.
    Yikes. Progress. Possibly.
    Thank you for the great post and prompt.

    • Alex Loranger

      The character has a world view, and this story has potential. You seem to really set up a character’s view of the world especially well. Keep at it, throw this character into more situations and see how he or she handles the world.

  22. Alex Loranger

    The bloody keys had to have been somewhere.

    Elayne took the phone from out of her purse. It was ringing loudly after having started vibrating just a few moments ago. She shrugged, looking at the notification. The idiotic face of her brother Tom never ceased to annoy her.

    She ansered the phone. “Can it wait?” she said. “I’m late and I can’t even find my keys.”

    “Now isn’t that why you always seem to be pissed off at me?” he said. His voice was crackly over the speakerphone as Elayne lifted up a red sofa cushion.

    “You know I love you, Tom.” she said. “What’s up?”

    “Well I was going to ask you if you wanted tickets to the show tomorrow, since I know your boyfriend absolutely loves watching those nerds click on little bugs and have them fight each other, but if you don’t want them―”

    “You got tickets to the Labyrinth tournament?” she said, leaping for the phone. “I thought that was sold out. Brendan’s been looking online for streams all morning.”

    “Oh I have my source.” he said. “Never mind that. I know you two geeks want to go, so I’ll leave them in your apartment before I go to work.”

    “Well if I can’t find the keys, then I guess you’d be able to get in through the window.” she said.

    “Oh, I have the keys.” he said, laughing.

    “You bastard!” she said, throwing the phone onto the sofa. She started to fix her hair. “I’m going to have to walk to work, but I expect you to bring back my keys. Just meet me here, why don’t you?”

    “Sorry babe.” he said. “I’ve got my own problems.”

    She leaned over to the sofa, staring at the screen. “Don’t crash, I want those tickets!”

    “Sure thing.” he said, and the call ended. Elayne grabbed the phone, sliding it back into her purse. She looked at the disjointed sofa, its cushions laying in heaps on the carpet. She shrugged, making her way to the door, locking it behind her.


    “Now that wasn’t so hard, now was it?” said a man holding a gun to Tom’s head. “We told you we would figure it out.”

    “I wish you’d put that gun away, Gerald.” he said. “You know that I won’t screw this up.”

    “Just a precaution.” he said as he slid the gun into a shoulder holster. “She is your sister, after all.”

    “I’ve been in this game too long to risk it, Gerald.” he said, lighting a cigarette. He rolled down the window and blew smoke out into the busy street. “She would understand. It’s part of the game, after all. She watches her videogame matches between people who live in their parents’ basements. I only do this to help her.”

    “And Tom?” he said.

    “He’s a distraction. If she knew what was best for her, she’d dump his ass.”

    “Now, now, Tom.” said Gerald. “Don’t start acting like Lorenzo, now.”

    “Right―” he said. “besides, I don’t have enough lye to do the job right.”

    “Shut up and drive the damn car.”



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