Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bring Out the Silver (15-minute-dash), by Faith E. Hough

(Prompt: Woman meets her son’s fiancĂ© for the first time—and must convince son that fiancĂ© is a witch. 15-minute-dash.)

There’s that old saying women have—about how some young little thing comes and casts a spell on their sons so they’re never the same again… Those women always seemed rather overdramatic to my way of thinking, but I’m afraid to say I now have to number myself in their ranks.
The thing is, anyone who saw Eloise Sylvester with my Eddie couldn’t think anything else. She’s not even a pretty young thing—I almost couldn’t keep myself from staring at the wart on the tip of her pointy, Cyrano de Bergerac nose when Eddie introduced her—but her resemblance to a witch only became more pronounced when I got around to looking at the rest of her.
“Mums, this is Eloise Sylvester,” Eddie told me, with that satisfied tone in his voice that he used to get when I’d made his favorite chicken dumplings and raspberry pie for a meal. “I’m going—that is, we’re going to be married.”
I barely heard him, on account of I was still looking at that nose.
“Mums,” he said again, “Aren’t you going to say something? Congratulations…or pleased to meet you…hello, maybe?”
“Oh…yes. Yes, of course. I’m enchanted to meet you.” Now, why would I say that word—enchanted—if there wasn’t something…amiss…with Eloise? I didn’t plan it—it just popped right out.
Dinner only confirmed my worst fears.
First of all, by some twist of fate, I’d made mushroom soup. Mushroom. It might as well have been toadstool.
“This is divine, Mrs. Paulsen,” said Eloise, “I simply adore mushroom soup.”
“Oh, do you?” I said. I couldn’t help it. “Well, around here, we only adore God…do you?”
And then Eloise Sylvester laughed. Giggled, in fact—as if there were something terribly funny about worshipping God like a civilized person. She said, “Oh, of course, of course,” but I took note of the fact that she never did say “yes” outright.
Next, because I really was curious by this time, I asked her what she did for a living.“Oh, you know,” she said. “Just twiddle around, mixing things up…some of my concoctions turn out better than others.”
There! She had said it, right in broad daylight, so to speak—even though the dining room was lit by chandelier.
I jumped right out of my chair and into the kitchen. I kept my silver teaspoons in there…I’d read in one of those old stories somewhere that witches can’t abide sight nor smell of silver, so I wasn’t taking any chances. Served me right for using the stainless flatware for a guest, I suppose.
I was just opening the silver chest when Eddie followed me in.
“What’s the idea, Mums?”
I put my hands on his two big, grown-up shoulders, but I spoke to him like my little boy that he was. “Eddie,” I said, “You need to watch out for her. You know I’m never one to meddle, and I always let you make your own choices, but I have to warn you. Here, take this.” I handed him one of my monogrammed spoons.
“What? What in the name of—”
“Now, Eddie, don’t you start swearing. Next thing you know, that girl will have you at those Black Masses and everything.
“Mother.” Eddie never calls me “Mother” unless he’s mad. “What are you implying?”
“Implying?” I gasped. “I’m not implying anything. I’m just saying, she’s a witch. All that talk of brewing concoctions and worshipping toadstools, and who knows what else!”
“Mother, Eloise is not a witch,” Eddie said. His hands were on my shoulders now. As though I were a silly child. “She is a pastry chef. And she is a lovely girl. You’ll like her…just give her a chance, at least.”
If that is not the work of a spell, I don’t know what is.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Toucan (10-minute-dash), by Mark L. Hough

(PROMPT: Write an excerpt from the point-of-view of an animal in a zoo. 10-minute-dash)

“Hey! Psst!”
I rapped the glass with my beak…to no affect besides sending a ringing sensation somewhere behind my eyes.
I have to tell you, from the viewpoint of a toucan—or rather, my viewpoint—these beak things are ridiculous and useless. I mean, look: who was the wise guy who took a look at the first toucan being made and thought, “Gee, let’s stick a fluorescent banana on that guy’s head and just see what he can do with it”?
Needless to say, it wasn’t getting any attention from that freckled kid with the ice cream cone. It was like he was the one stuck inside a cage all day, lickin’ that cone like it was the highlight of his life. Have you ever seen the hippos? He could have given them a run for the most-boring-animal award…I mean, both of them; lick and chew, lick and chew, with that same vacant expression glued to their faces like the fake jungle poster stuck to the walls in here.
My creative glass tap routine wasn’t going to snap mannequin man from his zombie state. So I decided to try something. A little trick I call “Berzerko-bird-with-his-head-in-the-water-bowl”. You see, it’s like this: you stick your head—or, in my case this Mardi Gras prop of a beak—in the water bowl, and then you shake it like someone’s slipped espresso pills in the seed tray. Water goes everywhere; the other birds think you’re getting beat up by the business end of an alligator or somethin’ and so they start freakin’ out—and soon the whole cage looks like Ginger Rogers in a blender: feathers everywhere. OK, so maybe it is a little bit like something the orangutans do in their crib, but I like to think we’ve made an improvement on their show.
Anyway, I do my thing; it’s raining feathers, and still the kid keeps staring at the blasted turtle exhibit as if they’re actually doing something! Here I am, sucking water through my nostrils, and this kid can’t tear his eyes away from a creature whose greatest skill is being mistaken for a rock.
If you’ve ever given a rock concert at a nursing home, you’d know how I felt, the other birds lookin’ at me and me giving them the “what’s-your-problem” look back. The birds don’t ask any questions though; I guess having a foot-long rainbow-colored club permanently in my possession has one good point.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

What Happens When We Get Tired of Writing...

Q: "So...what do you think would be the worst setting for two people to meet to plan a murder?"

A: "In a dentist's chair!"

A: "At a mime convention!"

A: "The Clinique counter at Macy's!"

(Hey, can you think of anything better? I mean, worse?)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Tassy Walden Winner 2009!

Congratulations to Storysmith FAITH HOUGH, winner of the 9th Annual, 2009 TASSY WALDEN AWARD for Middle Grade Novel, "The Art of Elsewhere"!

This is Faith's third year with the TASSY: In 2007 she was a finalist in Middle Grade for her debut novel, "The Bees' Hive". The 2008 TASSY named her finalist for "The Art of Elsewhere" in YA.

We at Storysmiths SALUTE YOU!