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Florida, United States
Southern born, Southern reared. It's a quirky place and we are unique folk... These are my people and these are my stories.

Monday, September 29, 2014

October Writing Contest

"A Passing Storm" by James Tissot


1. Share this on Facebook or Twitter and link my name to your share.
2. Write a 150-word story based on the painting above and submit in the comments section.
3. Be sure to put your name on the bottom of the submission in case your entry comes up "anonymous."
4. Check back on October 15, 2014 to read the winning entry.


The tea had grown cold but, after the storm, the weather remained humid. The heaviness in the air had been born out of more than precipitation, however. My husband’s impatience had sparked another argument; my words in return had done nothing to ease the turmoil. Now, an hour later, the tea could no longer be enjoyed and, while I pretended to sleep on the divan, Harry stood just outside our yacht’s living quarters, looking in. I couldn’t see him, but I could sense him—the smell of his aftershave blending with the scent of sand and seawater. I would, I decided, let him believe that I had fallen to sleep easily, that his words had no effect on me. I would let him believe that, like our final destination, my love remained just over the next horizon. Then, perhaps, he would see things my way. Then, perhaps, my intense ardor for him might lessen. ~~ Eva Marie Everson
Okay! Your turn! Have fun! Winner will receive a gift certificate to Amazon.



  1. "Great," she muttered, "I thought he got the message that I wanted to be left alone the first three times he “bumped into me.” She glanced at his image in the window, and then back. Maybe if he thought she was sleeping or ailing, he'd latch onto one of the other unaccompanied females on the boat. Dandies like him made her skin itch.
    She sighed loudly and peered around to see if anyone in the cafe had noticed, but the place was surprisingly empty for teatime. If the storm would just let up; it had been what—Four hours? Four hours of hiding from that boater-hatted lothario.
    Footsteps entered the café and then tarried by her table. She squeezed her eyes shut. English Fern wafted toward her nose making it crinkle. Didn’t he know that less was more? The sneeze escaped before she could stop it.
    “Are you all right?”
    ~Sherri Stewart

  2. Will he ever understand? John’s attentiveness is wonderful but it’s not enough. It’s not about tea and gorgeous views. It’s about opening up. It’s about letting me in. It’s about sharing all of him with me. It’s about true romance. Both of us becoming one flesh. I want—I need more than the smell of exotic spices when he holds me. More than the joy I feel at the sight of him. More than the beautiful words he whispers to me. I must be a part of him, all of him. I long to know the pleasures he derives from his work. My desire is to share what he feels whenever he’s conducting his business. Perhaps to join him in his enterprise as one who helps it thrive. This is what I want. To be his equal, his partner in marriage and business. To be his life-long companion in everything. ~~ Bruce Brady

  3. The stock market fall had taken us over the brink. We had lost everything, or so it seemed. This place, our dreams, our hopes for a pleasant future, and everything, crashed with the ringing of a bell. The sound waves hit like a tsunami.

    Richard could not bear my disappointment. We couldn't even look each other in the eyes or sit next to each other. Being that close would intensify the loss of what we had been. We needed new bearings as a couple, a new anchor, not tied to this place.

    The ship arrived to take us down coast to the shanty of our 'poor relations.' I wonder how long they will let us stay?

    "Richard, did you remember to pack your gun? I heard they have rats and snakes in that old place."

    "Yes, Lucy. You know, I've heard rattlesnake and rat tastes good in Brunswick stew."

    by Janice Garey

  4. Why does Mary do this? Gerald wondered, watching the other happy passengers.

    She’s always tired. Or faint. Or sickly. Until a party invitation comes along and then—miraculous recovery. What is so distasteful to her about the small pleasures of everyday life? All he had asked for was a short turn around the deck … holding her hand.

    But she’d rather lie there receiving sympathy comments. “Hope you feel better soon, Mary dear.”

    Why can’t she be like the nice young ladies over there? Sipping tea, laughing … paying attention to the young gentleman by their side. That one brunette especially … her smile, her eyes … you could look her direction forever.

    And he wanted to.

    Gerald knew what he had to do—even if his father disinherited him. He couldn’t endure her suffering games any longer. As soon as they reached shore, he was calling the engagement off.

  5. “I’ll just pretend I’m sleeping,” Agatha thought. “With the chill in the air, he’s certain to place the coverlet over me and perhaps his fingertips will brush my cheek.”

    Lance opened the door and a gust of chill swept in with him. Noticing Agatha napping on the chaise, he reached for the light blanket and gently covered her. As his hand touched her face, she shivered and opened her eyes. Lance stepped back.

    “I’m sorry, Aggie,” he said. “I didn’t mean to disturb you. It’s just so cold.”

    “It’s fine, Lance.” She blushed. “Thank you for your courtesy. I was indeed quite chilly.”

    The door opened again and a burly man entered the room, dropping a sack onto the floor. Lance froze.

    Agatha sat up. “Darling, you’re home a day early.”

    “That’s not a problem, is it, Agatha? Lance?” And with that, he pulled out the gun.

    Hana Haatainen-Caye

  6. I promised her this wouldn’t happen.

    The gulf between us lay broader than the storm-tossed Gulf of Mexico cradling our weary ship after her journey. Today’s much anticipated arrival at home port couldn’t shake my dear Lilly from her mourning on the settee. The week since her ailing father passed during the voyage had ravaged her joy just as the pneumonia had ravaged my mentor’s weakened lungs.

    Lilly had spoken few words since Arthur’s death, and eaten even less. I longed to see her face wreathed in a bright smile again, yet how could she when I had suggested this very voyage? Would she ever forgive me? Could she ever see me the way I see her –

    “David.” Lilly’s whisper pulled me to her like the rope-ridden anchor sunk at the bottom of the bay. She turned, her cheeks rounding with a tremulous smile. My heart caught. “Take me home?”

    1. Oops, sorry. Forgot my name. Kerry Johnson. :)

  7. In the still before the storm, Lady Tamara attempted to look exhausted on the divan. Her brother, Peter, stood pensively, considering the results of their travails. They had, moments earlier, discussed the fortune that would be left to them upon the planned passing of their uncle, Samuel.

    They were prepared when he rounded the corner, challenging their scheme. Lady Tamara, being deceptively duplicitous despite her delicate façade, dispatched the financier with the swiftest of movements, snapping his neck before his lips could utter another word of protest. Peter heaved his expired uncle's body overboard with a deft thrust, turning his back to the waters that enveloped the corpse.

    As the clouds rolled in, Peter guilelessly served the celebratory tea. The siblings never knew that their dead bodies, poisoned by the arsenic that Samuel had placed in the tea, would be lost in the oncoming gale.

  8. After work at the Olde Tyme Photos Hannah lay on the chaise. She and Bubba played dress up after hours to keep romance in their six-week-old relationship.
    “Whoever designed these chaise loungers had no idea what comfort means.” She turned on her side trying to get comfortable.
    He entered the photo area sporting a pistol, winking, and licking his lips in her direction.
    “Sexaay,” she said, pulling the strings loose on the billowing white gown.
    “If they really wanted sexy, they’d have some fishin’ rods back there. Ain’t nuthin’ hotter than a girl who can fish.”
    “You got guns, now you want fishin’ rods too? This is gettin’ kinky.”
    The front door chimed. “Oh, crap. You didn’t lock the door?”
    “I thought you were in charge of lockin’ the door.”
    They froze when they heard, “Babe, I’m in the mood for a little sexy roll play tonight. Are you interested?” -- Belinda Cohen

  9. He stood outside, having refused to shutter the house. “My bones would tell me if it were going to be a bad blow,” he declared to her. “But Papa,” she argued and he wandered outside, ignoring her.

    She stomped away and prayed like never before. The storm clouds gathered, smothering the sun’s full strength and there was nowhere to be but here and now. She opened her eyes, focused on talking with her Lord. “Please protect all of us in the bay!” she asked, picturing the families in smaller, more fragile houses nearby. Intense fear washed over her as the waves grew taller. She turned away from the sight of her father watching the storm. A part of her marveled at his fearless enjoyment of the elements.

    “Tell me what I can do!” she pleaded in prayer. God reassured her that she chose the best course of action. “Keep trusting!” TLC Nielsen

  10. I saw her lounging in that chair, tea set within reach, blurry-faced man outside the window, with a background of the abating storm. A pleasant scene, really. I will always love the look of the sea.

    “Hello,” I said.

    Her response was… apathetic. Her eyes connected with mine for a moment, but that was it. no change in expression, no wave, no returned greeting. Nothing.

    I moved to the table, picked up the pitcher, poured myself a cup of tea, looked to her with a question on my brow. She declined. I sat down across from her. She turned her head away, I slowly drank as I felt the blurred gaze of the man behind the window.

    “Who is that man?” I asked.

    With a slight roll of her eyes, she said, “Grandpa, that’s your first officer.”

    Clearly, I needed to get the windows to my office cleaned.

    - Mark Cheatwood

  11. Charlotte tried to contain herself. The thoughts of her imminent marriage to a stranger consumed her. The two trading companies competed after the dissolution of the East Indian Trading Company in 1874. Her father’s ultimate acquiescence to Sturgeon’s offer to merge included her betrothal to Sturgeon’s son. His reputation was both as a fair man in business and in appearance.

    The distress of the fierce storm caused Charlotte’s excitement to fade. By God’s grace fewer calamities would be found from this June 1886 storm than in 1881. Overcome by the fear of an unknown future, Charlotte succumbed to the afternoon vapors and reclined on the chaise lounge sofa. At 17 she doubt her preparations. Her head swirled and she longed for a mint julep, when she heard someone on the veranda. Like the passing storm, this transition would soon be complete.

    - Sally Hampton

  12. “Would there ever be a time in my life I wasn't waiting for something?” she thought. The dark clouds drifted overhead without reply.

    The horrific storm had finally weakened enough to allow for passage on the muddy coastal roads, but communications from Raven's Port hadn't resumed. There was no word from Abigail's fiance, Robert, or his ship that should have arrived last night.

    William appeared at the door, still dressed for a celebration dinner that didn't happen. “More tea?” he asked while filling his own cup.

    Abigail shook her head.

    “He'll be here soon, my dear,” he assured with a kiss to her brow. “Not even the awful Euroclydon could keep Robert from you.”

    His words were always soothing, always hopeful.

    Abigail reclined on the chair but turned away from the damp, patchy gray world outside just as a knock came from the front door...

  13. Edgar left the doors open. Again. And I'm entirely too miserable to rise from this divan and close them myself. He can stand out there waiting for my company until sunset, but I will not be moved.

    I cannot move.

    At least the storm has stopped; ten minutes more of blowing wind and rain, and I would've needed a lifeboat. I'm already soaked to my petticoat, and chills are coursing through my body. Thank heavens Mother isn't here to see me in this condition: we would need smelling salts and three pints of Scotch for sure.

    It's neither easy nor ladylike, but I shift downward, burrowing myself deeper under the soggy coverlet and farther away from Edgar's teasing gaze. With the sun's victorious rays piercing through the remnant storm clouds and setting blissful fire to my cheeks, I start to relax. I close my eyes and lick my lips, catching a final, farewell crumb of bread pudding. It's every bit as heavenly as the first bite. Next time Miss Lettie serves such a generous fare for afternoon tea, I'll remember to loosen my corset. I fall asleep to the sound of Edgar laughing.

  14. Staring into the fire, Nora’s eyes glazed. Outside the mammoth window, telephone poles swayed, whining like masts in the exploding squall. A flash ruptured the sky, drenching the room with light. She clenched her eyes.
    “Noooo.” The scream tore her throat. She wouldn’t turn around. He had no right. His casket rotted in the church yard. Ten years. Isn’t that long enough?
    The sky roared. Delicate hands flew to her face. She leaped to her feet. The oval table tottered and crashed, spilling her offering of tea and sweets across the floor.
    “I’m sorry. So sorry.” Was that her voice? Had she finally said the words?
    The door slammed open. Wind rushed into the room. She spun around. He reached toward her. “That’s all I’ve waited for. You’re forgiven.”
    His form faded into the mist. Gazing into the storm, she lifted a tea cup in his direction and smiled. Forgiven.
    Beth Goehringer

  15. I struggle to capture regret in the nomad’s eyes. Did I not clearly explain that he is rung with sorrow for a trite disagreement with his beloved? Yet he gives only rigid hope of a generous compensation from my waning funds. I must secure new sponsorship, and improved subjects, if I continue to paint in this miserable country.
    Where did Kathleen find this one? I dare not ask her. She takes such inquisition far too close to heart. As if I did not trust her. No matter her past indiscretions, she is mine. I must never lose her.
    She lies quite motionless. But then begins the obsessive scratching of the nose. “Kathleen, l'amour de ma vie, you must not move.”
    “Yes, Jaques,” she manages with little swell of her tempting lips. “I am a photograph.”
    “You will call me James,” I tell her in play. And she rolls her eyes.

  16. I was a free spirit. Now I’m a caged bird, dreaming of opening my wings and soaring about in the outside world. I am not opposed to marriage, but I wanted to choose the one that I would spend my life with. I wanted someone that would be a free bird with me, one that would understand my love language, laugh with me…one can only dream of being with her true love forever. I had found him before, but my parents would never have approved him as a noble suitor. He was not wealthy, not into politics, nor was he well educated, but he sure knew how to make me feel beautiful. I put on my best face for the arraigned wedding yesterday, now I wistfully lay here daydreaming of true love while my husband, who barely knows me, hovers, contemplating how he will be able to make me happy.

    -Briley Vazquez

  17. I was a free spirit. Now I’m a caged bird, dreaming of opening my wings and soaring about in the outside world. I am not opposed to marriage, but I wanted to choose the one that I would spend my life with. I wanted someone that would be a free bird with me, one that would understand my love language, laugh with me…one can only dream of being with her true love forever. I had found him before, but my parents would never have approved him as a noble suitor. He was not wealthy, not into politics, nor was he well educated, but he sure knew how to make me feel beautiful. I put on my best face for the arranged wedding yesterday. Now I wistfully lay here daydreaming of true love while my husband, who barely knows me, hovers, contemplating how he will be able to make me happy.

  18. The tension between us seemed to drown the noise of the loading docks. His mind was already made, but why did they have to leave so soon. I pretended not to hear his farewell as he stared into the warmth of the fireplace. I saw his reflection in the curio. It was as if we both knew the cold sea would take him. To this day, I wish we could have traded places. He was always stronger than I when it came to loss. My anger that day made me look away. I wanted to run to him and never let go. Being married to a trader was difficult, and the image of a noblewoman had to be upheld. The ship’s men below prevented me from showing my true feelings. A captain that could not hold his wife together surely could not guide the ship. Nature would prove them right.

    -Marco Vazquez

  19. Light broke the sky in two after a sudden Summer down pour slapped the Mississippi River surface.
    The scent of musk resurrected itself from the river's depths onto the steamboat "Princess".
    Nearby moored fishing boats groaned and bobbed to the faint procession of trumpets and drums playing somewhere inland.
    Uriah left the cabin as Joanna tried to rest. He took vigil on deck where he was sure she could not see him, but he could view her.
    The tears he shed were as silent as he was.
    Joanna's hysteria had worsened every month since their marriage.
    They never had a honeymoon and always wanted to venture on the river together.
    Now this would be their first and their last journey.
    The sanitarium Joanna had been committed to was just around the bend. Jennifer Wright Watts

  20. “Andrew, what’s John doing out there? I can’t bear to look.”
    “I’m not sure. Still pacing, mulling it over, a wretched mess.”
    “I swear, if he postpones the voyage another day, I’ll die. I’m sick of this port. Can’t you persuade him?”
    “I shall not. Never disturb a pacing lion.”
    “What kind of brother are you, Andrew? It’s just another storm. Ships are launching daily.”
    “Yes, and all sailing north, my dear. Not south.”
    “Not a drop is falling out there.”
    “Don’t pretend you know about the weather, Henrietta. Or sailing”
    “I don’t care about either one. It’s Sis I’m worried about.”
    “She’ll be fine.”
    “You heartless baboon.”
    “Women give birth every day.”
    “Wait till you marry. You’ll change your tune.”
    “I assure you. She’ll be alright. But not if we all sink aboard The Declaration.”
    “Please, Andrew, reason with him. I have to be there for her.”

    Jennifer Odom

  21. Josiah peered through the dirty window. She’s done it again. I spend months at sea providing for her and all I ask is a comfortable place to call home. But no. The furniture’s rearranged. Again. Another new tea set. And the top half of my doors are missing. Sure, honey. I love the ocean’s tantalizing aroma of rotting fish and briny air. Especially since I just spent seven months in the middle of it. And is that a new robe or gown or whatever?
    The boards popped and creaked as he moved into the sitting room. Margaret stirred from her nap and a slow smile crept onto her lips as she moved from dreams to reality. “You’re home.”
    His fingertips tingled and an emptiness fluttered through his chest. He knelt, took her hand, and kissed her lips. “Yes, dear. I’m home.”

    Tom Threadgill

  22. Kemp gazed into the tearoom window. Lizzie lay draped across the divan. He was glad. She deserved whatever comfort she could garner. While his commitment would soon be fulfilled, hers would just be beginning... He wished he hadn't agreed to be her chaperone on the long voyage.

    Glancing over the deck railing, he spotted Freemont's dark beady eyes peering up from beneath the brim of a top hat, the look of a vulture waiting to claim its prize, a young soon-to-be bride. The thought of Lizzie making love to the brute made his skin crawl.

    He turned again, and studied her delicate features. A violent storm had just passed threatening to tear the ship apart. Now the sun warmed his back as his heart smoldered. Wasn't it Lizzie who insisted as children they pledge their enduring love to one another?

    Shoulders squared, he grew confident and determined to reclaim that promise.

    - Teresa Bedwell

  23. I hate October fifteenth.
    The anniversary of Brother Ben’s death has troubled me for five years.
    Today is no different.
    His ghost has returned from the watery depths of the Atlantic.
    And I simply want to hide and weep.
    Oh Ben, why did you have to book voyage on the ill-fated Jillian Tide?
    Please forgive me, dear brother. Pardon my hateful final words.
    I love and miss you. I wish you eternal peace.

    I hate October fifteenth.
    Be kindhearted when you say goodbye, because it might be forever. Oh that I could go back and change that final farewell. But that’s impossible for a ghost.
    I’m cursed to never utter another word or be witnessed in the living world again. But I can see and hear. Haunted by those hateful parting words, every October I return for a day of remorse.
    Hello Sister Jane. We’re together again…until sundown.

    James Cressler

  24. The sun poked through the black clouds; a glimmer on a schooner docked at York River in Chesapeake Bay. The rigging was secured to keep the sails from being torn apart by the turbulent storm. Not yet ready to dissipate, it pounded the schooner against the reef.
    While the sun-scorched crew downed rum at the tavern, another storm brewed inside the inn.
    “Tea? Do you think black tea is a cure for everything?” Seventeen year old Phoebe lashed out at her father.
    John, the picture of a gentleman, silently let his impetuous daughter rant.
    “You told me your cargo was whiskey. Whiskey, not slaves. My father ─ a slave-runner? How could you?” Phoebe, exhausted from her outburst, plopped onto the lounging chair. Her hand thrown over her forehead slipped down her face. She sighed.
    John shrugged. He left, then turned toward the window ─ one last look at his daughter.
    Shirley J. Conley

    1. Well, I have to vote for this one! Not only is the line, "While the sun-scorched crew downed rum at the tavern, another storm brewed inside the inn" an absolutely SPLENDID transition, but I DO think black tea is the cure for everything! :)

  25. Malcolm had made it clear that he did not drink decaf.

    “Any gentleman worth his weight in tobacco would sooner drink the brown water from a chamber pot than let a sip of decaf pass over his lips,” he proclaimed in a rather fervent denunciation of decaffeinated coffee. More than a mere opinion, he was sharing his passion, and he needed her to understand.

    Eleanor smiled and nodded, but was too engaged with her cell phone to take in his words.

    “1st date. This 1s a keeper!” She tweeted to her 837 followers. She was falling hard.

    Months later, as they sat together sipping coffee, Malcolm began to grow weary of Eleanor’s endless prattling about selfies, Facebook, and the like. She was making his head ache, and he eagerly anticipated the caffeine buzz he knew would help to ease the pain. However, when it did not come, he knew why.

    As she reached for her chirping phone yet again, Malcolm realized what he had to do. After all, he had made it clear that he did not drink decaf.

    ~ C Jay Smith

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  27. Frankly the whole thing is just embarrassing. All I want is for my presence to be acknowledged, but nerves are clearly on edge. I’m not even angry about it. Why, just before it happened, I was on the deck thinking of how I’d be stuck in this position for the rest of my life, never quite having what it takes. And now that's solidified. Though, I suppose the opposite is also true, because I find myself more free than I could have previously imagined. I just wish I knew how to make a bigger impact.
    Oh, sorry, you're not sure which of us is talking. That's me through the window – no, the other window. Swinging in breeze. And the new me is clearly being mistaken for a breeze; I've been slamming these little doors for thirty minutes. I just wish I knew whose idea it was to kill me.

    - Isaac Jon Enen

  28. When Aunt Beatrice decided it was once again “time for an adventure,” there was really nothing to do but pack and be ready for the carriage. Since I was her pet, she usually engaged me to go as a traveling companion. These lengthy excursions were a welcome change from the quiet days cloistered in a London apartment where I had nothing to do but wait for invitations to tea.
    Thus, I found myself languidly finishing a coffee service in an antiquated but comfortable inn by the port. My cousin Alfie paced the balcony while I watched the door for my aunt’s return, anxious for our journey to begin. “This time Kate, you shall return with a husband,” she had told me. I relished the idea that I could prove her wrong and end her career as my unfulfilled matchmaker.

    -Christie Hudon

  29. Boring, mundane, predictable, those were the words floating in Lilly’s head as she lay on the chaise. Why could men travel, vote, marry who they chose? If only she could convince mother that God gave her a brain for a reason and it sure wasn't just to decorate a silly pillow or marry the first respectable man who deemed her worthy.
    Take today for example, here she was stuck inside on while her brother Willy and their father went fishing. Fishing! How she loved the ocean, unpredictable and full of mystery. Yet her mother fretted so over a tiny storm that would blow over in a few minutes.
    If only she could find an excuse to shake off that “tea party”. She abhorred tea. Sighing inwardly she wondered why God had made her so contrary and muttered, “Enough of these dismal thoughts, I need a plan.”
    She closed her eyes and began to scheme, so lost in her thoughts she didn't notice the young man peering in the window behind her. Lilly couldn't know that the adventure of a lifetime was standing right outside the door.