Traces of Tears

Ashley stepped into the noisy and crowded visitation area.  She went to her designated station where Sean was already seated with the telephone receiver unhooked and placed next to his ear.  She placed her left hand on the bullet proof glass as she picked up her own receiver.

“Hiya, baby,” she whispered excitedly.  Her smile seemed to reach from ear to ear.

“Hey, darlin’,” Sean replied as he put his own palm to the glass.  His smile was grim and resigned.

Ashley stared deep into Sean’s eyes.  The sadness there was almost more than she could bear.  Tears began to well up and threatened to cascade down onto her cheeks.  She wished she could take away the pain, especially because she was the cause.

“How are you doing?” she finally asked.

“Not so bad,” came the response.  “Things have been improving over the last month.”

“That’s good.”  Ashley began to look around behind Sean into the visitor’s section the room.  She couldn’t immediately spy Tiffany and began to panic a little.  “Where’s Tiff?”

Sean turned around to see where their daughter was.  It only took a couple seconds to find her black and white giraffe print dress with pink trim.  As usual she was with Malcolm in the children’s play section of the room.  Since Ashley’s incarceration and their bi-monthly visits, Malcolm and Tiffany were constantly in each other’s company.

“She’s over with Malcolm in the toys,” Sean answered as he pointed out their daughter to Ashley.

“Could you bring her over.  I miss her so much,” Ashley requested.

Sean let out a deep sigh, set the handset down on the desk and strode over to the children playing quietly.  His daughter and her newfound friend made quite the pair.  Tiffany with her alabaster skin and straight gold hair and Malcolm with his flawless milk chocolate skin and curly bronze locks.  He was two years older than Tiffany, almost six, but was wise beyond those few years.  He looked up when Sean approached.

“Hello, Mr. McAdams,” he greeted softly.

“Good Morning, Malcolm,” Sean returned.  “How are you today?”

“I’m good, sir.”

“Do you mind if I take Tiffany to see her mom?”

“No, sir.”

Sean lifted the little girl into his arms.  “Let’s go say ‘Hi’ to Mommy.”  There was an exaggerated falseness in his voice.  Tiffany stared back over her father’s shoulder and waived to her friend.

Back at the station, Sean placed Tiffany in his lap and held the receiver to her ear.  Ashley’s voice cracked as she greeted her daughter.  “Hi, princess.”

Tiffany looked up at her mother through her long pale lashes but said nothing.  Sean could feel his daughter stiffening up in discomfort.

“I love you and miss you,” Ashley continued.  The tears from earlier reformed and spilled down her face.  “Aren’t you going to say ‘Hi’?”

Sean took the receiver away from Tiffany’s face and returned it to his own.  “She’s still not talking a lot.”

“She really doesn’t know me anymore,”  Ashley confessed as she wiped the tears from her cheek.

“She was only three when the trial began,” Sean said.  They both understood what he really meant.  The trial itself only lasted a week before she was found guilty of manslaughter.  It was the crime itself and the long weeks of hiding that separated Ashley from her family.

“I’m not going to regret what I did,” she stated.

Tiffany, recognizing the growing tension between the two adults, began to quietly whimper.  Sean set the handset on the desk and whispered into her ear, “Do you want to go back and play with Malcolm?”

The little girl’s face immediately brightened and she nodded her head ecstatically.  Sean set her back on the linoleum floor and watched as she ran back to the play area and found Malcolm.  The boy’s grandmother, at another visiting station, spotted the scene as the two children hugged each other and commenced to play again.  She waived to Sean and he returned the gesture.

When he turned back in his seat to retrieve the receiver, Sean saw that Ashley had a hurt and angry expression on her face.  He steeled himself for the next stage of the conversation.

“What did you say to her?”  Ashley demanded.

“I just asked if she wanted to go back and play,” Sean replied.  “She views these visits as more play dates with Malcolm than anything else.”  Sean took a deep breath and continued on.  “In fact, I really don’t think it’s in Tiff’s best interests if I keep bringing her here.”

Ashley stared at Sean for what seemed like an eternity.  The hurt on her face was clearly visible as her eyes welled up.  “But, who else could change my tears,” she cried.  “Your visits are my lifeline.  They’re my reason for living.”

“I have to think about what’s best for my daughter,” Sean countered.

Ashley’s face grew hardened.  The tears that had just flowed freely were completely dried up as if by magic.  “She’s my daughter, too, you know.”  She slammed her receiver into it’s cradle.  The sharp report of hard plastic onto metal caused the other inmates and guards to look in her direction.  She stood up, mouthed something unflattering to Sean then headed to the door that lead back to the cell block.  Sean didn’t read lips but there was no doubt what she had said.  He returned his own telephone receiver to it’s proper place then went to retrieve his daughter.

Malcolm’s grandmother, Stella Youngblood, sat near the two children.  She smiled when Tiffany’s father approached.

“I can’t bear to break these two up,” she stated.  “This boy has completely fallen for your daughter.”

“The same with Tiffany,” Sean returned.  “I was just telling Ashley that Tiff looks forward to seeing Malcolm.  She didn’t take it too well.”

“So I saw” Stella admitted.  She gathered her things, stood up and looked down at her grandson.  “Well, mister, I think it’s time we moved on home.”

Malcolm and Tiffany looked up to his grandmother’s face.  Both were clearly disappointed at the thought of leaving the other.  Tiffany’s eyes even began to well up some.  In that moment a decision came to Sean.  These were tears he could change.

“Would you care to come home with Tiffany and I so they can continue to play?” he blurted out.

Both children turned their faces to the woman in unbearable hope.  Then Tiffany did something that she hadn’t done in months.  In the barest whisper that was like a lion’s roar she asked, “Please?”

Sean gasped at the long forgotten sound of his daughter’s voice.  Even Stella understood the monumental meaning behind the girl uttering the one lone word.  She looked upon their visages and could not deny their looks.  “I suppose that would be alright.”

The children hugged each other, then hand in hand bolted towards the exit.  Sean helped Stella with her things.

“Thank you,” he choked out.

Stella put a hand on his arm and smiled.  “My pleasure.”

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It seems this prompt really got my creative juices going.  Thanks to Jeremy’s  Hello Wednesday Challenge.  What comes to your mind when you read these lines?  Come join the fun.

This week’s lines of poetry are:

  • in the closet like failed actors – L’Avinir est Quelque Chose by Dobby Gibson
  • There were twins in my cradle – Opus 181 by Arthur Davison Ficke
  • But who else could change my tears – After You, Who? by Cole Porter

If you use this prompt please link back

Posted in Fiction, Jeremy's Daily Challenge, Writing | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

Liquid Sunshine

Green Fields

Credit: Unknown

The thunderstorm rages all afternoon.  A cacophony of flashing light, crackling sound, lashing rain, and fierce wind.  The only sanctuary is under the afghan on the sofa peering out the window as Nature vents her fury upon the land.

As early evening sets in, the tempest begins to abate, her temper utterly spent.  The thunder and lightning now far away in the hills, only rumbling every so often in a petulant manner.  The wind calms, reduced to a whisper through the spring leaves on the trees.  And the rain, no longer furious, just a mist softly caressing the earth.  The sun appears low in the sky and casts all it touches in the golden glow of rejuvenation.

A venture out onto the porch brings the smell of newly plowed earth and wet grass to the nostrils.  The amber light is warm and inviting.  And in the trees and bushes, the birds shake off the rain and begin to sing their evening songs.

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Inspiration courtesy of moi and his weekly Once More With Feeling challenge.  What do you see or feel when you look upon this photo?  Why not share.


  • Using the picture below write an entry using the picture as Inspiration.


  • Write what feelings you get from the image, let your imagination run riot, It doesn’t have to be a story.
  • Write a short story fact or fiction
  • Please keep to 1000 words or less
Posted in Creative Non Fiction, Once More With Feeling Challenge, Stream of Consciousness, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Summer Has Been Canceled


Photo Credit: Kadri Sammel

January 15 – First time we’ve had power in days.  Not much need for it though.  The wood stove is keeping us warm, but the smoke is beginning to affect our breathing.  Food storage is going okay; the entire outdoors is our refrigerator.  Radio dispatches say we can expect this to continue for several more months.  Will we have spring?

April 4 – Still snowing and bitterly cold.  Only difference is that the snow is heavier and weaker structures are beginning to collapse under the weight.  Harder to find fuel for the stove and the walls now all have a greasy smokey residue.  I can only imagine what our lungs look like.  Baby has had a cough for weeks that won’t go away.  Food is also becoming scarce.  Radio dispatch say this trend will continue.  What is going on?

June 30 – Finally had to get out on the road today.  Not much gas left in the car but what else can we do.  Fuel for the stove is non-existent, food is very difficult to come by.  Still grey and snowy outside, but now the snow is fine powdery stuff that dances and swirls along the roadway.  Don’t know how much longer Baby will live.  No longer has the energy to cough.  Don’t know how much longer any of us can go on.  Radio dispatch states there is no end in sight.  Where did we go wrong?

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This little dystopian story is courtesy of moi’s Once More With Feeling prompt.  But don’t worry.  Here is the Pacific Northwest it is a beautiful sunny day (we just finished four days of rain).  Hopefully the rest of the summer will be nice.

What comes to mind when you look at this photo?

  • Using the picture below write an entry using the picture as Inspiration.


  • Write what feelings you get from the image, let your imagination run riot, It doesn’t have to be a story.
  • Write a short story fact or fiction
  • Please keep to 1000 words or less
Posted in Fiction, Once More With Feeling Challenge, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

The Road From Hell

Under the high monotony of starry skies, my car speeds through the night.  The center stripes of the two lane blacktop lick at the front quarter panel.  Lunatic fringe thoughts race through my mind while my foot steps further into the throttle.  Escape is the only clear conclusion.

The late evening moon challenges me on the left; falling behind in the curves but regaining ground in the straightaways.  Its light the only illumination now that Sin City is far behind.

The road is empty; the semis and cars safely ensconced in hotel parking garages while their drivers and passengers succumb to the siren call of the gambling halls.  But I no longer hear the captivating cry.  It fell to the floor the same moment  the bullet left the chamber and found its way into that man’s body.

Now, the bag of money in the trunk whispers caution as the Stingray careens around a bend, kicking up rocks that echo the report of the gun thrown carelessly in the passenger seat.  I take heed and let my foot relax, releasing the vehicle from its reckless course.  Lunacy begins to abate and cold hard calculation takes over.  The seeds of a plan begin to germinate.  A smile tugs at the corners of my mouth as my death-grip on the steering wheel softens.  And still the stars maintain their night watch in the heavenly skies.

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So this is what you get when you combine reading several 1930′s detective novels and Jeremy’s fantastic Daily Challenge.  I’m also singing Chris Rhea’s Road to Hell along with Golden Earring’s Twilight Zone and Lunatic Fringe.  I think it’s going to be a good day.

What comes to your mind when you read these passages?

This week’s lines of poetry are:

  • She closes her eyes and sways – Permission Granted by David Allen Sullivan
  • Under the high monotony of starry skies – Austerity by Janet Loxley Lewis
  • And the lion glares through the dun forest – To the Evening Star by William Blake
Posted in Fiction, Jeremy's Daily Challenge, Writing | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments



Photo Credit: Hengki24

The small cabin was cold, and somewhat damp.  That wasn’t unusual.  Agatha, for all her other skills, could never get the fire properly banked at night.  What was unusual was the sound coming from outdoors; or rather lack of sound.  There was no pelting raindrops on the thatch roof.  It was completely quiet.  And the morning light coming in from the windows was not the dreary grey that could never fully illuminate the tiny dwelling.  Something brighter and slightly warmer greeted her sleep filled eyes.

Agatha swung her socked feet out of bed and immediately into the slippers that were at the ready.  She pulled the patchwork quilt around her shoulders and stood up.  Slowly, almost timidly, she stepped to the front door.

A gold tinged foggy morning greeted Agatha when she opened her door.  The sun, which had been absent for longer than she could remember, peaked from behind the low hung clouds just above the tree line.  Even birds, somewhere in the canopy, were tuning up their long quiet voices.  While still quite chilly, the air had the unmistakable smell of the earth coming back to life.

Spring had finally returned to the forest.

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This bit of hopeful writing inspired by moi’s Once More With Feeling Challenge.  While we have been having a lovely spring here in the Pacific Northwest, yesterday and today have been quite rainy.  Good for the vegetation though.  What do you see?


  • Using the picture below write an entry using the picture as Inspiration.


  • Write what feelings you get from the image, let your imagination run riot, It doesn’t have to be a story.
  • Write a short story fact or fiction
  • Please keep to 1000 words or less
Posted in Fiction, Once More With Feeling Challenge, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Night Watch

Slap . . . slap . . . gurgle . . . splash . . . gurgle.

I listened to the incessant noise of the waves hitting the sides of the sailboat as it laid at anchor in the middle of the lake.  The soft rocking motion was soothing, but not to the point of lulling me to sleep.

Splash . . . gurgle . . . slap . . . splash . . . gurgle.

The cabin interior was lit by a small light in the galley; just enough to keep the inky blackness of night at bay, but barely enough to allow movement without stubbing a toe.

Gurgle . . . splash . . . slap . . . gurgle . . . slap.

I sat up on my elbows.  I had finally learned to not sit fully upright after several painful head bonks as the bed was situated in the bow of the boat.  I scootched to the foot and stood up.  My knees and hips automatically became fluid shock absorbers so that my upper body did not sway with the motion of the boat.

Splash . . . gurgle . . . slap . . . slap . . .splash.

I found my way to the galley and procured a half full bottle of red wine and a glass.  I stepped through the hatch into the almost absolute darkness of the summer night.  The big dipper was almost unrecognizable with all the other stars that shone with no competition from urban light pollution.  The Milky Way streaked across the heavens.

Slap . . . splash . . . gurgle . . . gurgle . . . slap.

I sat down and wrapped a wool blanket around me.  I poured my glass full and took a sip.  An owl, somewhere on a distant shore called out into the night.  Frogs croaked out in their mating rituals.  And the water, ever moving, caressed the sailboat.  I took another sip, smiled, and listened to the glassy dark.

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It has been quite some time since I posted anything.  Chaulk it up to beautiful weather, endless chores, and life.  There have been many wonderful prompts, but I’ve simply not had the time to give them my full attention.  Jeremy’s Daily Prompt gave me the opportunity to write something very quickly.  I hope you enjoy.

The idea of these challenges is to use the given prompts to create a piece of flash fiction (100-200 words) or a poem (14-20 lines)

As a poet I read a lot of poetry and some more on top. I also find one line taken out of context can lead to a whole new dimension of creativity. The idea of this challenge therefore is to create what comes to mind from lines of poetry.

This week’s lines of poetry are:

  • pulling the shade down on an afternoon – Fall Parties by Becca Klaver
  • And listen to the glassy dark – Vision by Robert Penn Warren
  • Hope woven with despair – Summer Ending by David Middleton

If you use this prompt please link back

Posted in Fiction, Jeremy's Daily Challenge, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

All’s Fair

Mr. C Moordock Rutop, CEO of Worldmart, the largest corporation on the planet,  stared out the window of his 100th floor penthouse office.  The crowd gathering below in the plaza for the protest looked like ants scurrying around.  Even at this height, Rutop could discern some of the signs the protesters were carrying:  Murderer, Polluter, even Pedophile were clear as a bell.  Well, of course he was all those things; and even more about which the protesters had no idea.  To get to the the level he was at in the corporate world, one had to do many despicable things.  At least they would be considered despicable to the majority of the human race, but not to Rutop.  It was all simply a matter of doing business.

The stage was finally complete and a man with long hair stepped up and began chanting into a bullhorn, “Protect the Planet, Stop Rutop…”  That went on for a few minutes then the hippie with the bullhorn switched to, “No More Dick . . .”  That was not a new taunt for Rutop.  At prep school, one of the upper class-men had started that particular tease.  It was easily ignored, so the classmate switched it up to, “See More Dick,” at which point he pulled down Rutop’s trousers.  Of course the entire school saw a laughed.  Rutop kept his composure, but two weeks later, that upper class-man mysteriously disappeared.  The authorities never thought to dredge the quarry.  If they had, they would have found that pompous dolt at the bottom, cut into a dozen pieces.

Rutop turned away from the window long enough to pick up the phone and make a brief call.  Once concluded he returned to gaze upon the gathering of angry people in his honor.  In only a matter of minutes, sirens could be heard approaching the plaza.  In short order the city’s tactical response team arrived along with a few dozen city cops and several emergency response trucks.  The protesters saw what they were going to be up against, but to their credit – or doom- they maintained their ground.  For a few minutes the teams set up their perimeter, attached the water cannons to the building’s fire suppression systems, and cordoned off traffic.  Then on some unseen signal the cops and tactical teams moved in on the protesters.  The water cannons were unleashed causing a majority of the people to run or be knocked down hard by the spraying water.  Those individuals that escaped the cannon’s fury were  maced by the cops then put under arrest.  In a very brief time, the protest was over, the protesters were rounded up and carted off, and the plaza was glistening with the remains of the water.

The protester’s squandered vision trickled down into the storm drain along with the water from the cannons.  The only way to effect change was by ruthlessly forcing it.  Change never happened peacefully.  Rutop’s bloodless lips curled into a smile.  Once again, he came out on top.

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This little docudrama was inspired by Stephanie’s Inspiration Monday.  And this time I kept within the word count . . . barely.  Why not join in?

The Rules

There are none. Read the prompts, get inspired, write something. No word count minimum or maximum. You don’t have to include the exact prompt in your piece, and you can interpret the prompt(s) any way you like.


No really; I need rules!

Okay; write 200-500 words on the prompt of your choice. You may either use the prompt as the title of your piece or work it into the body of your piece. You must complete it before 6 pm CST on the Monday following this post.

The Prompts:






Want to share your Inspiration Monday piece? Post it on your blog and then give me the link in the comments below (I’ll also love you more if you link back to me); I’ll include a link to your piece in the next Inspiration Monday post. No blog? Email your piece to me at stephanie (at) bekindrewrite (dot) com. (I do reserve the right to NOT link to a piece as stated in my Link Discretion Policy.)

Posted in Creative Non Fiction, Fiction, Inspiration Monday, Writing | Tagged , , | 8 Comments