Posts Tagged ‘family’

Blood in the Water

Posted: September 22, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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blood in the water

People started fanning out. There had been six adults and six kids, including Jory. The rest of the kids huddled close and swam down toward the reef. Yurri stayed with them. His wife Kenia—Aaron’s aunt—swam over to them. She looked like a cuttlefish as well, only with different coloring from Yurri. So how in the world did Aaron have green scales?

“Sorry to be introduced like this,” she said to Erica. “You two should stick together. You’re a good swimmer but I don’t want you getting eaten on your first day under the sea.”

Erica got her head back in the game. She gestured behind them, away from the party. “We’ll look this way?”

“Good idea. I’m going to talk to the rest of the family.”

Erica and Aaron swam off. “How far could he have gone?”

“Not far. That’s what worries me.”

“Do you think he saw a pretty girl and he’s off flirting somewhere?”

“I wouldn’t put it past him. Though with the ball I’d think he’d at least bring it back.”

The coral dropped away about forty feet farther down. Erica glanced up at the surface and they descended. She had to be down at least a hundred feet now. It was miraculous that she could even see – was that the moon? Amazing…


By the moonlight, Erica thought she saw a flash between a pair of rocks, like light on silver. She pointed. “Was that a fin?”

They started over. There were more coral towers here. Erica and Aaron swam between them. Erica watched above her as well as below. The sensation of hair standing up crawled all over her skin.

Jory huddled between the rocks. At first Erica felt relieved – he was just a kid, barely her nephew’s age – but by the look on his face he wasn’t playing some kind of stupid hide and go seek game. His skin had the shiny pallor of wax. He had his arms pressed against his sides. The water clouded with blood around his waist.

Aaron reached for him. “Come on. We have to go.”

“No. It’s out there. You need to get help.”

Erica kept her eyes open. “I don’t see anything.”

“Jory, you can’t stay here.”

“It’s out there. Come back with people.”

“You’ll be dead by the time we get back. We have to move.”


Erica used her navy voice: “Jory get your ass out of those rocks or I’ll make a tuna fish sandwich out of it!” Jory was so shocked that he didn’t resist as Aaron pulled him out.

Photo source: Scott Duncan Blog, used without permission


The Little Things We Give

Posted: September 17, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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blue coral

They swam farther down into the city. Erica looked more closely at where she could see light. It mostly depended on whether there were merpeople in the area. They shed their own light. Some of the coral growth or plant life reacted to them, too, shedding soft glow like flower-shaped glow sticks. Erica smiled as she imagined a mellow underwater rave party. With her own golden eyes, she wondered if she was seeing something chemical, electromagnetic, or even body heat.

Aaron and Yurri led her through a growth of towers of elkhorn coral. It almost made Erica weep to look at them—they had to be twelve feet high! Tropical fish that she couldn’t identify swam around them, and plants with translucent tubular leaves grew out of crevices in the rock beneath. What did they look like with her normal eyes? Lumps of gray? Would she even see them at all? They shifted in color from green to blue to purple as the swam past them, back to blue, to green.

“Why did you go to the surface?” Erica asked Aaron.

“I ask myself that every day,” Yurri said. Erica looked at him. He grinned. She remembered her New England relatives, where snark was an expression of love.

Aaron didn’t even notice. “I wanted to know what it felt like to breathe air. I wanted to see snow and climb a mountain.”

“We have snow under the sea,” Yurri said.

“We have ice. Snow’s more fun,” Aaron said.

“We have mountains.”

“But you can’t climb them. We swim down to them, not up.”

“That’s why you wanted to go hiking in the Blue Ridge mountains when we took that weekend away.”

Aaron smiled. “Yeah. Thank you.” She had wanted to go scuba diving. He’d had his heart so set on the mountains that she couldn’t turn him down. He’d made it up to her with scuba a month later.

Other merpeople started coming toward them. Erica stopped counting after she saw ten. They were all shapes and sizes, old and young, some part fish, others part sea turtle, squidly things, and one even looked to be crustacean. Erica would have goggled at them if she hadn’t been curious out of her mind and excited to meet Aaron’s family. She only wished some of her own relatives and friends could be here too—which felt strangely normal to think, which made it feel out of place in this underwater dream world.

Photo credit: “IMG_8085.JPG” by eyeliam at Flickr
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Land of Ghosts

Posted: August 10, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama
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Little Round Top

Larry shivered as he walked up Little Round Top. Late October is hit or miss weather in Pennsylvania. Cool air misted the ground with patches of fog. It wasn’t the fog that made him shiver.

His son Greg held out his hand. “Can you make it, dad?”

“I’m fine. I’m fine. Just a little rocky here. Let me take my time.”

Greg rubbed his arms. “Wish we had better weather for you.”

“Don’t you worry about that. I’m just glad to be here.” He swept his arm across the hill. “Can you imagine? Can you see it? Charging up this hill, over and over again, with the 20th Maine up there behind those rocks.”

“A lot of brave people fought here.”

“So many.” Larry imagined gray uniforms around them in the gray mist. His ankles crackled with old age. He imagined the pop of musket fire.

They made a long, slow walk over boulders and slippery grass. Once Larry did take Greg’s help as stumbled on some rocks that came loose under his feet. A shy blot of lemon yellow sun tried to poke through the clouds on the far side of the hill. They made it to the top. Larry made the sign of the cross, touching his hand to his head, belly and shoulders. “My God. You can still feel them.”

“The shadows look like blue uniforms.”

“Are you messing around?”

“No. I was just thinking that.” Greg gestured toward the rocks and trees. “Especially over there, and there.”

Larry nodded. He believed him. Larry realized that he couldn’t hear anything besides their voices. The brush of their feet on the grass and the quiet clatter of rocks sounded like whispers.

Larry thought of his grandson. Timmy was resting back at the hotel. He had an earache. His mother was keeping an eye on him. Larry asked Greg, “Has Timmy learned about the Civil War in school yet?”

“He studied it last year. He drew a map of the battle area for a project.”

“I wish you told me! I’d love to see it.”

“We can ask him if he still has it when we get back.”

“That’d be great. I’d at least like to talk to him about it.”

“He’d like that, too. He had a lot of fun with it. He brought home a foot-tall stack of books from the library. I swear he read all of them.”

Larry smiled. Memories were the best part.

“Looks like the fog is lifting a little bit.”

“Let’s start making our way back. We can make an early lunch.”

Photo credit: “Little Round Top” by rlwelch at en.wikipedia
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Finding a Solution

Posted: August 10, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama
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Ron jumped as his sister Kristi poked him in the ribs. “Don’t tickle me while I’m studying!”

“I won’t,” she said. She went into the kitchen, probably to get a snack. Mom was making spaghetti for dinner. He heard them chatting as Kristi opened the door to the refrigerator.

All right, back to it. Trigonometry. Ron rested his head on the heel of his hand. cot x cos^2 x = 2 cot x. Solve for x. In a sick way, he actually liked trig. It was the cross country running of math. Brutal. Intense. Not for the timid. Ron wasn’t good at it but he liked the challenge.

Move everything to the left side of the equals sign. Factor out cot x…

Kristi poked him in the ribs on the way out of the kitchen. Ron jumped again. She laughed at him with a small bowl of celery sticks in her free hand.

“Jesus Christ, Kris, will you knock it off?”

“You’re working so hard. You needed to lighten up.”

“Stop messing with my head.”

“Kristi, leave him alone,” Mom said.

“Whatever,” Kristi whispered. She went into the living room and sat on the couch to watch TV.

Ron rubbed his ribs. Now he had a ticklish feeling in both sides of his body that wouldn’t go away because he was mad. He glanced at Kristi. He thought he saw her smiling. She took trig last year and had a harder time with it than he did. Why couldn’t she give him a break?

He took a few breaths. Let it go. Let it go already. He felt better by the time he finished the third one.

Okay. Factor out cot x. So that puts the equation into two pieces. Figure out when those pieces equal zero…

Ron worked his way through the problem. This was where it went from mechanical to conceptual. You had to know what the different trig functions looked like, when they equaled zero or blew up to infinity.

He was about to wrap up when he heard footsteps to his right. Ron was about to cover his ribs with his elbow when Kristi jabbed him again first. She laughed. “I’m sorry, was that a bad time?”

Ron jumped out of his chair. “Knock… it… off!”

“Stop your yelling!” Mom called.

“He’s going nuts!” Kristi said.

“She won’t stop tickling me!”

“I want both of you to behave!” Mom replied.

Ron knew what that meant. Kristi would be nice again for about twenty minutes, than either tickle him again or find another way to get under his skin.

Ron gathered up his books as Kristi went to drop off the empty bowl. His room wasn’t an option. It didn’t have a desk, and he had too many distractions up there. He had to move somewhere. Either that or it was going to get physical, and that was no good. Mom and Dad had outlawed their little sibling brawls when they turned 10.

Ron sat down at the kitchen table. He piled his cutlery onto his plate and moved it and his glass off to the side. He put his homework down in its place. With his back to the window, he had a table between her and him.

“What are you doing?” Kristi asked.

“I’m studying.”

“Psssht. You’re weird.”

Ron smiled at her. Kristi walked out of the room. He actually hated studying in here. It was noisy, the chair was half as comfortable, and he didn’t have room to spread out.

“Ron, you can’t stay there,” Mom said.

Ron looked at her. “Mom, this is me behaving.”

She sighed. “I’ll talk to her.” She went back to fixing dinner.

All right. Back to it.

By the way, you can read the solution to Ron’s trig problem here 🙂 .

Photo credit: “Image from page 141 [etc.]” from Internet Archive Book Images
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Brothers and Frogs

Posted: June 22, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama
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boy and frogSplattered with mud and holding a frog in one hand, Bethany’s brother David ran over to hug her. Bethany screamed. David laughed and chased her halfway across the yard before her mother scooped him up.

“David, that’s enough.” She plucked the frog out of his hand and tossed it back to their fish pond. The frog hopped into some tall grass. She slapped David’s hand. He sniffed in surprise. David still smiled at Bethany.

Her hands started to itch. She scratched at her hands. Two band-aids wrapped around her left index finger and her right pinkie. “He’s going to give me another wart!” Bethany wailed.

“Don’t be silly,” her mom said. She fussed over David’s mud splatters with a paper towel.

“I can feel it coming on already!”

“Go rinse your hands with the garden hose, then. Or go wash them in the kitchen.”

“What about David?”

“I’ll worry about David.”

Bethany moaned. She ran inside and cranked up hot water from the kitchen tap until she winced. She scrubbed at her hands. “Ow.” The band-aids came off. Underneath were sores from the two warts that were halfway gone. Halfway meant they were still there. Bethany wanted to forget they were ever there at all.

The heat from the water made her hiss. “Ow!!!” She finished washing her hands. Her skin crawled all over from the thought of that frog touching her. She dried her hands with four different paper towels until they finally felt normal again. She put new band-aids on her fingers.

As she was going back outside, her mom came in, holding David in her arms. “Your brother has something he wants to say to you. Go ahead, Davey.”

“I won’ chas you wif frogs any more,” David said.

Bethany’s heart melted. She walked over and kissed the top of his head. He laughed, but tousled his hair. “Eww!” he said.

Bethany rubbed his hair. “Lucky for you you’re cute,” she said.

Photo credit: “Frog lover” by Dale Carlson at Flickr
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only child

Posted: June 12, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama
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A wonderfully told, beautifully sad moment by Evelyn Weir.

What Counts

Posted: April 4, 2014 by writingsprint in Writing
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Another great story by Mads. I love the personal, unexpected side of these things. Being a werewolf or a vampire isn’t just about running around in the street or the woods, silver bullets and stakes. There are families and real life to deal with.

Not the Same Reflection

Posted: March 1, 2014 by writingsprint in Science fiction
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cloningCloning for body parts had been going on for about a decade. The most common process was artificial blood creation. Second after that was skin for burn victims. A small patch of skin could be grown in a day. More complicated cloning, like organs and bones, took longer. The more complicated the process, the more expensive and rare it became. Limbs and nervous system tissue were reserved for heads of state and the super-wealthy.

Barry, Larry and their mother Dolly walked quickly from baggage claim to a waiting limousine. Barry’s mother had insisted on a professional driver. They would be able to get away from the reporters faster than she or Barry could. They piled in practically one on top of the other. Larry yanked the door shut and driver peeled out as soon as the door closed.

Larry shook his head. “What a nightmare.”

Barry said, “You should see the hospital where we were born. You think this is a zoo? FBI, DA, state department, health department, they all want to know how this happened.”

“Somebody played God with our DNA. That’s what happened.”

Dolly looked at him. Her shoulders sagged lower and lower. “Was your childhood happy?”

“It was all right. My parents are great. I didn’t know I was adopted until I turned thirteen. They want to meet you, too. They just didn’t want to deal with all this.” He waved his hand at the limo and the news vans trying to follow them.

“I think it’s neat. What kind of food do you like?”


“I love Italian! Swear to God, I could eat it morning, noon and night. What are your favorite movies?”

Larry punched the roof of the limo. “Listen! You may think I’m a neat lab rat but my life isn’t something for you to get a kick out of. I came here to meet family. You want to play ‘look in the mirror,’ you can do that yourself.”

The intercom on the limo chimed. The driver asked, “Is everything okay back there?”

At first none of them knew what to say. Barry pushed the “talk” button. He looked nervously at Larry. “Yeah. We’re fine back here. Just getting to know each other.” He clicked it off. Barry folded his arms. He realized he was doing it in almost the same way as Larry so he stopped. “I… sorry about that. I thought we’d just automatically feel the same way.”

Someone Else’s Clone

Posted: February 28, 2014 by writingsprint in Science fiction
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twinsBarry stood at the door to baggage claim three, surrounded by photographers and newspaper reporters. He straightened his tie for the fourth time. The baggage claim area was starting to fill up with people from the flight from Tallahassee. He didn’t see his brother yet.

“What are you going to do when you see him?” the reporter for Action News asked.

“I’m going to walk over and shake his hand.”

“What if he isn’t interested?” the reporter from the World News asked.

“Then… I guess I’ll shake it anyway.”

People laughed. Barry’s mother shrugged off two reporters and walked over to her son. “I know it’s just about too late, but one last time. Please don’t do this.”

“Why? He’s as much your son as—there he is!”

Barry strode through the doors into baggage claim three. The swarm of reporters followed him. Cameras flashed everywhere, from reporters, TV news, and smart phones and tablet cameras from the rest of the passengers. Barry’s brother Larry rolled his eyes when he saw him. Larry wore blue khakis and a Henley sweater, the same as Barry. They hadn’t planned that.

“Larry! Larry Wilson!”

Larry turned around and came face to face with a dozen flash bulbs. He was better off looking at his brother. “Yeah. That’s me.”

Barry held out his hand. “Barry Wilson. I’m your brother.”

Larry sighed. “I’m your clone. Not your brother.”

“Who cares!” Barry grabbed his hand, shook it, and pulled him into a hug. People applauded. Larry pat Barry on the back once. Twice.

“All right, bro, let’s not go crazy here,” Larry said.

Barry pat him on the back. “Sorry. I know we just met. I’m just really excited to meet you.”

“You said you’d keep it low-key.”

“This is low-key. You should’ve seen the list of reporters we had to keep away.” Barry came up alongside him. He waved at the photographers who scrambled to get in front of the two of them and take their picture.

“History in the making. Lucky us,” Larry said.

“Hey. None of this matters. You’re saving my life. Thank you for coming here.”

Larry finally smiled. “Yeah, well, don’t mention it. What else could I do?”

Barry hugged him, still turned to face the cameras. Barry had a rare blood condition that had been slowly killing him. Even family donors had been rejected by his body. A week ago, the DNA database search turned up a perfect match living in Florida. So perfect, in fact, that the technician hadn’t believed her eyes.

Barry had found the donor to save his life. Larry found out that he was someone else’s clone.

The Big Picture, and the View from the Street

Posted: February 24, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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friendship braceletAngelina and Daniel stood in the middle of the park again. Daniel said, “Run along home. I’ll be here waiting for you.”

Angelina made her way home with tears in her eyes. Helping the family in Aleppo had strengthened part of her that she’d never used before. She’d spread her wings. She felt like a superhero wearing an invisible cape. She hated it.

A father walked his daughter home from the dentist across the street. She couldn’t have been more than eight. He held her hand. Angelina noticed her little brown shoes and the books she carried under her arm. He walked with small steps because his daughter had just had a long day at the dentist, and he didn’t want to rush her on the way home.

A harried businesswoman walked past Angelina, talking into her Bluetooth with one hand while adjusting an overflowing bag of groceries with the other. Angelina tried to help her. “I’ve got it, thank you,” the woman said. She was Angelina’s age and height. The woman smiled. Her expression fell away and she said into the Bluetooth. “Right. But we can’t meet schedule unless the training seminar happens before the fourteenth…”

A teenager on a skateboard cut her off as she was about to cross the last street before her apartment. “Sorry!” he called. Angelina watched him go. He didn’t have a school bag. He did have a new friendship bracelet around his wrist that he kept looking at. That was why he’d almost hit Angelina.

Keith was making a big pot of pasta with his homemade sauce as she came in. “Hi, Angel. How was your day?”

Angelina flopped down in her favorite chair. Milo the Cat jumped into her lap. “I saw two different ways of looking at the world,” she said.

“That sounds neat. What did you learn?”

“That people need help. They try hard. And love is everywhere.” Milo purred, shoving his head under her fingers. Pet me already. Angelina scratched his ears in his favorite spot.

Keith said, “Well. It sounds like you had a good day, then.”

“Not really,” Angelina said. “I know which one I like better, but I don’t know where I belong.”

Keith looked up from the steaming container of red sauce. Which smelled incredible, by the way. “That sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it?”

“Well, I can do more good in one than the other.”

“Maybe. But there’s good, and there’s good, right? You can run for president, too, but I don’t see you doing that.”

“I don’t follow.”

“Unless you do want to run for president, and maybe you do, think globally, act locally.” He stirred the pasta. “You’re not moving out on me, are you? Because it would suck to go looking for a new roommate.”