Tag Archives: red writing hood

In Confidence

I tell you this in confidence. I tell you this because it is true.  I tell you, I have seen love, and his is shallow, when it should drill deep into his core.

I had to keep this one short; I wrote it in about 33 minutes!

This post was written in response to two prompts:

Trifecta Writing Challenge :

You should write a creative response using the given word. You must use the word in your response, and you must use it correctly. Your response can be no fewer than 33 and no more than 333 words. This week’s word is:

confidence (noun)

1 a : a feeling or consciousness of one’s powers or of reliance on one’s circumstances <had perfect confidence in her ability to succeed> <met the risk with brash confidence>

b : faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way <have confidence in a leader>

2 : the quality or state of being certain : certitude <they had every confidence of success>

3 a: a relation of trust or intimacy <took his friend into his confidence>
b : reliance on another’s discretion <their story was told in strictest confidence>
c : support especially in a legislative body <vote of confidence>

Write On Edge’s Red Writing Hood prompt:

Explore any meaning of the word “core” in a work of creative non-fiction/memoir or fiction.

The Price of Fame

CobblestonesIn the end, it was not about the money, he decided, though truth be told, it was a ridiculous sum that would support him well into old age.

It was not about the thrill, either, though that certainly played a part: the rush of exhilaration when the knife slides in, the desperate knowledge in the other man’s eyes, the slow leaching of life onto the cobblestones.

More than anything, he realized, it was about the notoriety one achieves on accomplishing such a task, the implicit admission that one is worth such a sum. Henceforth he would be known, in those circles where such things were known, as the man who killed the Blackthorne’s son.

He mused on this as he made his way to the place where he was to meet his employer. He composed speeches in his mind: casual, with a hint dropped here, a mysterious smile playing there about his lips and eyes; or perhaps prideful, with a touch of malice. He liked to be thought of as dangerous.

But the lady had not stayed to listen, had not even cared enough to ask his name. She paid him and left, disappearing into the shadows a bare moment before her manservant cut his throat.

No, it was not about the money, in the end.  That would have been easier to bear, he thought wistfully, as he watched his own nameless blood spilling out on the pavement in a wretched alley in the lowest quarter of the city, a purse full of gold at his hip.

This post was written in response to this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge  prompt, with a nod to last week’s Write On Edge prompt (violence).

You should write a creative response using the given word. You must use the word in your response, and you must use it correctly. Your response can be no fewer than 33 and no more than 333 words. This week’s word is:

wretched  adjective  \ˈre-chəd\

1: deeply afflicted, dejected, or distressed in body or mind

2: extremely or deplorably bad or distressing <was in wretched health> <a wretched accident>

More in the Sable Mark series can be found in previous posts.

Winter Games

Baseball in the snowMy father loved baseball his whole life. He was loyal not to any particular team, but to the sport itself. “The world may be going to hell in a hand-basket,” he used to say, “but there will always be baseball.” I must have inherited my love of the game from him.

When I was little, he would take me to the stadium to watch the local triple-A team play. Twice a year we’d trek out to the city to watch a major league game, and once, when I was fifteen, a neighbor gave us tickets to game four of the World Series. (We lost.) To this day, the sound of the old anthem makes me feel like a kid again.

I moved to the city after my dad passed away. This year, for my fortieth birthday, I treated myself to season tickets. I even cut my shifts at the diner so I won’t have to miss a single game. Lucky for me, my boss likes me, and things have been slow at work anyway, what with the shortages. Not many can afford to eat out anymore.

Whenever I can, I get to the stadium early. I love to watch the players warm up in their bright uniforms and wool caps, their breath fogging the air behind the barbed wire. I brush the snow from my seat, settle back, and wrap myself in the same blanket my dad used to bring. It was warmer with the two of us snuggled deep inside, but I make do. I tell myself it still smells like him.

I’d contemplated a box seat, but who wants to be stuck behind plexiglass? You’re out of the cold, to be sure, but insulated – a step removed from the crack of the bat. Who would trade the seventh inning stretch, children’s mittened hands reaching for the sky, for the stale air and staler conversation of the VIP shelters?

Baseball used to be a summer game, when my dad was a kid. I can’t even imagine. When the burning rains started, most sports moved indoors, or withered like the fields of corn. What must it have been like, to sit in the stands under a clear blue sky, sipping beer and iced tea instead of synthetic cocoa? To feel the sun on bare shoulders?

This post was originally made in response to the Red Writing Hood prompt at Write On Edge on February 11, 2012:

Pick four numbers, each between 1 and 10. Write them down so you remember. The first number will be for your character, the second your setting, the third the time and the fourth will be the situation. Then take the four elements and combine them into a short story. All four you picked MUST be your main elements, but you can add in other characters, settings, times and situations. Word limit is 500.

This is not at all what I set out to write. Funny how that happens.


WaterwheelWillem stood on the balcony of his father’s workshop. He was watching the waterwheel spin. The creaks and groans of the wooden mechanism were as familiar to him as the sound of his own breath, and nearly as abhorrent.

His father’s Decanter puttered around the workshop, tidying up after Willem’s failed attempt to improve on one of the canonical formulae. His mother’s Decanter now, he supposed. Damned corker. He hunched his shoulders and tried to ignore the other man.

Garrett had been with the family for as long as Willem could remember, and was highly respected within the Guild. More so than Willem himself, which was part of it. He wondered what it would feel like to push Garrett in, to watch the man’s body twist and thrash under the wheel. What would Willem see in his eyes?

“Aye, you’re a beast, you are.”

Something in Garrett’s tone made Willem’s stomach clench, and he turned, but the Decanter was not looking at him. Garrett’s nose was inches from the Guildmaster’s manual, his finger tracing the neat notations. “It took your father years to refine this. I doubt you could do better. You’ve not the gift.” He spoke with the utmost casualness: a simple statement of fact.

“What would a corker know of gifts?” Willem asked. He could not manage the other man’s offhand malice, and so resorted – as usual – to insults. Among a Decanter’s lesser duties was the sealing of the potion-maker’s bottles.

Garrett did not rise to the bait. “I know you don’t have it, nor your mother. Nor I,” he added. He closed the manual with a reverence that resembled a caress.

Twisting and thrashing. Willem shuddered and fumbled in his pocket for a teaspoon’s worth of fine powder wrapped in paper. Pouring it on his tongue, he let the bright bitterness wash over him, soothing the black thoughts away.

This post was made in response to two writing prompts this week.

The Red Writing Hood prompt at Write On Edge:

This week, we’d like you to take an honest look in your [writer’s] toolbox and pull out one of the tools you believe needs a little polishing. Word limit is 400.

While my biggest stumbling block is big-picture thinking and plot, this would be rather hard to address within the word limit. Instead, I decided to focus on another weakness of mine: creating a believable villain. (I’m not sure how well I succeeded, but I did create some characters I’d like to unravel further.)

With this goal in mind, I used this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge prompt for inspiration:

You should write a creative response using the given word. You must use the word in your response, and you must use it correctly. Your response can be no fewer than 33 and no more than 333 words. This week’s word is:

beast noun \ˈbēst\

1:  a)  a four-footed mammal as distinguished from a human being
b)  a lower animal as distinguished from a human being
c)  an animal as distinguished from a plant
d) an animal under human control

2:  a contemptible person

3:  something formidably difficult to control or deal with


Sea salt

The tinkle of a bell summoned Marna from the storeroom. She dusted off her hands and dabbed her face dry with a handkerchief. The tiny room was windowless and airless, and afforded little relief from the summer’s heat.

“My condolences,” the dark-haired woman said as Marna emerged.

She sounded sincere, but Marna knew better. Tears without salt, she thought bitterly, even as she feigned a gracious acknowledgement. “Mistress,” she greeted the woman. “How may I be of service?” The words tasted like stale water.

The other woman ran her gaze over the rows of bottles lining the walls. Though her expression was open, even kind, her eyes were covetous, and she absently tapped her fan against her palm.

The bottles were precisely arranged. Unlabeled as they were, it was the only way to be certain what was inside. It was also impossible for anyone outside the family to find any particular potion. There was only Marna herself now, of course.

“A tincture,” the woman said finally. “Peace, I think. These are anxious times.”

“Ah,” Marna said. “That one I don’t have on hand. If you can bide a moment, I will mix it for you now.” The dark-haired woman frowned, but shook open her fan and sat in the shop’s only chair.

She did, as a matter of fact, have Peace on hand, but it pleased her to make the Guildmistress wait. Petty, perhaps, but there it was. Her hands worked quickly, mixing the various extracts and distillations with practiced ease. At the last, she added three drops of sea-water, for her own grief; a breach of the Trust, that. She stoppered the bottle and sealed it, pressing her signet into the soft black wax.

Of course, she refused payment. “A gift,” she said. “In return for your sympathy.”

This post was made in response to this week’s Red Writing Hood prompt at Write On Edge:

“The cure for anything is salt water… sweat, tears or the sea.”
~ Isak Dinesen, pseudonym of Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke

For your Creative Non-Fiction tell us about the last time that one of these three things “cured” you. If you are going with Fiction, have your character resolve a problem using one of the three (or all three!!!). Limit: 300 words.