He wrote, she wrote.

He Wrote, Week 7

by Dave Smith

The garden store opened at seven o’clock in the morning. Its large, glass storefront displayed a variety of manual and gas-powered garden tools and overlooked the cemetery across the street. Cassie, a new girl in town, was shivering in the cool air of an early spring morning. She had arrived a few minutes early, hoping to make a good impression on her first day at work. She was waiting outside for Amanda, the store owner, to get there and unlock the door. Her eyes were fixed on something in the distance.

“Hey, Cass, whatcha staring at?” asked Amanda.

Cassie, lost in thought and suddenly jolted back to the present, jumped at the greeting.

“Oh, hey, Amanda. What’s up with that old guy over there?”

“That’s Arnold. He and his wife, Dora, used to own this store.”

“Why’s he in the cemetery this time of morning?”

“He’s done that for years. That’s Dora’s grave. She died on her way here one morning. A dumptruck swerved to miss a kid on a bike, overturned, and crushed her car,” Amanda explained.

“Oh, God, that’s horrible!”

“Yeah, it was. Arnold never came to terms with it. He sold the store and pretty much barricaded himself up in their house. She was his best friend, so he comes back to her grave every day at five in the morning, the time of her death. Rain, snow, ice – doesn’t matter. He always stops, spends a few hours, lays a single lavender rose – her favorite – from their greenhouse on her headstone, then leaves quietly.”

“He ever come in here? Y’know, to chat or see if the business has changed?” asked Cassie.

“No. He’s never been back in. Hardly ever see him in town for anything anyway. Just necessities. He mostly just isolates himself. I think he’s afraid of making other human connections, just in case he loses them too. But what do I know.”

“Such a sad way to live,” concluded Cassie, as she straightened up the window display.

In between customers, Cassie watched Arnold through the window.  She saw him talk to whatever part of his wife might still be there listening. He kissed the headstone, left the rose, then walked to his pickup truck and drove away. Cassie surprised herself when she felt a teardrop, ever so  slowly, creep down her cheek.

Probably just from allergies, she thought. Read the rest of this entry »

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Week 6 Challenge – Polls are Open!

by Christine Hawks

Thanks for reading our most recent submissions serving up a video game tester and a note on a windshield.  Show some love to your favorite story and author of the week!

He Wrote, Week 06

by Dave Smith

Dallas Reed and Craig Paulsen were classmates in film school and graduated together, tied for tenth spot in class GPAs. They went separate ways for a few years before serendipitously meeting again at Comic-Con. Over cocktails and heavy appetizers, they caught up with each other. Craig worked as storyboard artist and assistant script writer for a small video game company. Dallas had spent his time after graduation writing scripts for local television station commercials. It kept bills paid, but was far from exciting.

Craig, seizing an opportunity to work together with Dallas again, offered an inside tip on a game tester position coming available. It hadn’t been made public yet, but would be advertised soon. He gave Dallas the contact details for Mr. Brantley, the head of quality assurance, and suggested he get in touch before the applications poured in from the public. Craig promised to put in a good word for him.

Dallas knew that as an entry level video game tester, he’d bear the grunt work of endlessly inserting and ejecting disks, booting and rebooting games, or repeating the same in-game interaction hundreds of times and writing reports before he moved up any rungs on the job ladder. Sure, boring at first, but, in the end, the potential for new and exciting things was better than local commercials, so he jumped at the chance. Read the rest of this entry »

The Next Level (She Wrote, Week 6)

by Christine Hawks

For at least the third time that morning, I reminded myself of why I was out in this asphalt desert plastering flyers to windshields already pre-heated from summer’s extended morning sun.  Old-timers say that you wear summer in the south.  I now understood what they meant.  I adjusted my brother’s ball cap I’d borrowed and felt a few tendrils of my sweaty hair attempt to escape from underneath.  Hastily, I pushed them back up under the hat and decided that now was a good time to rehydrate.

I made my way back to the mall and entered into the food court.  My best friend, Connor, worked at the Diary Queen and was at the register today. Thankfully, I didn’t have to apologize for my appearance or give any details about why I was at the mall looking like that.  On a Sunday morning, the mall was definitely not the place to see and be seen.

“Hey, Ellie!  How’s it going?” Connor was full of his usual brand of morning chipper.

“Hey, Connor!  Same as you, I suppose.  Working through another weekend.”

“I take it that it’s break time?  What kind of cool and wet can I get you?”

Though tempted by the thought of my favorite Blizzard or even a brain-freeze inducing shake,    I was committed to the responsible choice. “Just a water with lots of ice and a to-go cup, please.”  I dug into my jean shorts pocket for the $.25 to pay for the cup.

Connor waived the change away.  “Every little bit counts, right?  Just don’t tell anybody,” he winked. “You’ll owe me a ride to school when you finally buy that car.”

“Fair enough,” I grinned.  “Thanks!”

I took a seat on a bench in the shade outside the food court entrance to savor a few sips before finishing up with the last stack of flyers.  I picked up one of the flyers, noting that it was printed in color.  Someone had spent more money than the norm.  I scanned the ad.  It was a call for video game testers.  Paid video game testers.

I weighed the potential opportunity in my mind.  It probably paid at least as much as papering car windshields.  And, it would be air conditioned.  But, I knew nothing about video games.  My little brother, on the other hand, was probably just the right type.  He had done odd jobs for neighbors, finally earning enough to buy his Xbox after a year and a half of saving. Between school, homework and filling every other available hour with trying to earn money to buy my own car, I never had the time to spend with him in front of the TV.   I likely wasn’t who they were looking for, but, still, how hard could it be? Read the rest of this entry »

Week 6 Challenge

by Christine Hawks

Admittedly, we’re late in posting this week’s fiction fortune generated by the Storymatic.  This week, seemed tailor-made for He Wrote, though we have admitted to each other that this week’s character and plot have led us both into dead-ends.  Fear not!  We are both at our respective keyboards hunting for and pecking out some sort of tales featuring a video game tester and a note on a windshield.  It is Sunday, deadline day, so look for our posts to appear here sometime between dinner and Dexter tonight.

And, in case you missed Week 5 – now’s a good time to catch up while you are waiting on the new material.  Don’t let your chance to vote for your favorite gravedigger from last week expire!

Week 5 Challenge – Vote for Your Favorite Gravedigger

by Christine Hawks

Our fictional gravediggers have unearthed their secrets this week – who dug themselves in as a favorite?  Pick yours by voting in this week’s poll, below.

Always Bury Your Mistakes (He Wrote – Week 05)

by Dave Smith

The ballasts buzzed for a few seconds before the fluorescent lights flickered to life, slowly brightening as they warmed to operating temperature in the chill of an early fall morning. Ansel Greenwood, clad in his Dickies work uniform, dark brown trousers and khaki shirt, stood by the switch, clutching a beaten red lunchbox with his name permanent markered on the side.

He laid his coat down on the wooden workbench, slid the lunchbox into the mini-fridge, and opened the metal overhead door. His boss, Pete Hammond, was standing just outside. Read the rest of this entry »

Here Kitty, Kitty (She Wrote, Week 5)

by Christine Hawks

She kept a firm grip on the warm, now lifeless body of her victim while digging what would serve as its final resting place.  The hole wasn’t very deep, but should sufficiently cover the remains, hiding what she had done.  Time was of the essence and if she didn’t finish soon, she knew she would be discovered.  She tossed the carcass in the slash in the ground she’d just made and then hastily covered the body with loose dirt and leaves.  Just then, she heard her name being called and hustled up to the porch.  Momma greeted her, as usual, so she allowed herself to relax a little.  Momma hadn’t seen what she had done.

Contrary to how it might appear, she was not a killer.  Stalking her prey was innate, though truth be told, it was just a game for her; one in which she was always the victor.  Well, almost always.  One summer evening, her keen eyes spotted a flick of a tail in the darkness.  She sprinted in that direction and when she was upon it, her victim had already expired.  Puzzled, she nudged it, trying to coax life back into the creature.  By that time, Daddy had come up beside her and saw what she had done.  She fixed her eyes on his, pleading with him to understand that she didn’t kill it.  She found it this way.  Daddy gently patted her head and led her back to the house.

She watched as he retrieved a shovel to bury the body.  She saw him approach the corpse and then stop and look around, shining his flashlight in all directions.  With each sweep of the beam of light, she peered into the briefly illuminated darkness, searching for the body.  It was gone!  Read the rest of this entry »

Week 5 Challenge

by Christine Hawks

Another week and another challenge issued by the Storymatic!  So, I ask you, what do a gravedigger and obvious plastic surgery have in common?  I have a couple of ideas, but the final answers won’t be revealed until we publish this week’s finished stories.  See ya Sunday!

Week 4 – Flash Fiction Challenge Poll

by Christine Hawks

After life got in the way of our week 3 exercise, we challenged ourselves to something new for Week 4 to make up for it.  Won’t you take a read through our posts, below, and pick a favorite?  Polls are open for 1 week until the stories resulting for the next challenge are posted.  May the best short story win!