Other stories for this prompt

Your foundation was laid a long time ago. You said it was always the same, just before. His voice offering up your name with a percussive beat, "James," and the sharp hammer blow of "short for nothing." that always followed.

When you left you took ownership of it: patching the walls and putting new paint on it to try and make it different. A thin veneer of you, built on the framework of someone else.

When I moved in you made room for me. You let me fill some of that space, as you did for me. I think she...

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Monica Albott had never been beautiful.

Sure, she had been cute, pretty even, but never beautiful. She said this over and over, because she believed it and because it was true, but all she ever heard was, "oh Monica, you're just curvy!" and "I wish I were you!". Nothing anyone said ever helped. And so slowly, little by little, the hamburger she at on Friday's for dinner became bread and lettuce, then a tomato and vinegar, then nothing. Her usual coffee in the morning became skin milk and no sugar and her usual snack after school became a salad instead...

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Creeping up again. That is what I thought as as I woke up in my nice but dull apartment. The life I had made for myself, without you, or her, or anyone really at least not anyone warm and willing...wet. Here i was sure, so sure this time that I had vanquished these feelings these ridiculous needs to share my life, my bed to feel your long fingers reaching in to hold me. Gah, too much whiskey not enough coffee or maybe the other way around. I needed to get up to take care of this go downtown and buy...

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I was confused. This isn't how I expected the novel to end. Who committed the crime? Where was the last chapter with the explanation, the satisfying ending the reader could ponder on when the final lines had been read?

This book looked identical to the others in the bookshop the next day but twenty pages were missing at the back. I was waiting in line to exchange the book when I had a strong mysterious feeling not to.

Returning home I sat on the battered red leather sofa and opened the last page again.

More words than I expected....

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It was raining and I had nowhere to be and somehow that Leonard Cohen record was on again.

Today I will vanquish nothing.

Today my triumphs will be small and non tangible, smoke like.

I will start with coffee and end with whiskey, the couch will remain the same.

Tomorrow I will be a better man for having lived today slow, reading, sipping - not struggling or scheming. Just the rain and and the mood and my slight beauaty.

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He left the meeting sagging, a half inflated pool toy sinking in the acrid water. The sun was making him sweat, though he hadn't though that was possible. He's sweat so much during the interview he felt as desiccated as one of those silica packets they put in electronics to keep them dry.

Vanquished. Again. Another job lost because of flop sweat and his perplexing genetic gift of turning bright red under any form of pressure. How had his ancestors managed to carry their seed so far up the line? A bunch of panicky, stammering fools who traded flight or...

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Vanquished, that was how they wanted me to feel as I knelt there on the cold flagstone, my head bowed, my hands clasped.

I could hear the echoes of the crowd marching up the street and knew that they would be upon me soon, their torches ablaze, their spirits hungry for blood.

I was to be renounced as a witch, that most reviled of creatures.

My fate was no longer in my hands, I was to surrender that along with my freedom and my life when the mob broke into my sanctuary.

Because I had dared too love too much,...

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'Vanquished. V-A-N-Q-U-I-S-H-E-D. Vanquished." Poppy smiled, proudly, scanning the audience for her parents. There was her mother, beaming at her. Camera in hand, ready to capture every last moment of the Spelling Bee. Her mother was so embarassing, thought Poppy, but at least she cared. Her eyes flickered across the room, until they settled on her father. As usual, he was standing at the back, his eyes glued ot his Blackberry. Typical. at least he was here, usually he missed every dance competition, every spelling Bee, every sports day. He wasn;t really there, though. His body might be standing there, but...

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"Vanquished, you say?"

He murmured it, holding up the worn little book in the dusty light, crooning to it. He held it gently, but peculiarly—*that* wasn't the way her mother had told her how to hold old books. He held it like a creature, like it was a little, wounded thing in a forest.

She darted back behind the end of the shelf as the strange man stiffened, and held her breath as he slowly turned his head to look down the aisle. His eyes were wrong. His clothing was wrong, too, she knew it was older than it should...

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Vanquished. Again.

How many times is this going to happen, just in the course of one day? How many times can you suffer defeat at the hands of your enemy? Even if that enemy is your coworker, how can you really stomach it happening over and over?

It's such a small thing, really. Who will empty the trash doesn't seem like something that could cause so much strife, but you're not going to do, and he's not going to do it, and it's just not going to get done. You keep looking up over your desk to see if it's...

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About the prompt

Originally displayed on:
January 05, 2011


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