Flash Frenzy Round 35

Posted: September 13, 2014 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , ,

And we’re back!

Welcome to Round 35. This week, Jacki Donnellan has gracefully volunteered her services as judge.

Before we get started, here’s a brief reminder of the rules.

Deadline: Sunday at 6:00pm MST. You all have 36 hours to create your best work of up to 360 words (exclusive of title) and post it into the comments below. Please include your word count (required) and Twitter handle if applicable. For complete rules, click here. 

The winning author and their story will be featured as Wednesday’s Hump-Day Quickie, receive a winner’s page, and be crowned Flash Master of the Week.

Here is your prompt.


photo courtesy of Ashwin Rao

photo courtesy of Ashwin Rao

  1. @stellakateT
    360 words

    A Nice Bowl Of Soup

    “You made your bed, now lay in it” my Gran’s words were ringing in my ears.
    What was I doing here in this fancy restaurant with a plate of God knows what in front of me. How come I let Rosalie persuade me this was a good idea? I could hear her whiney voice saying “Petra! Don’t be a baby, it’s only a dinner date, free food and fifty quid in your hand” I was short of next week’s rent and this seemed like a good idea, a welcome break from writing essays on the Restoration.

    What was I doing here with a plate of oysters and a girl young enough to be my daughter? She doesn’t look much older than Clara. What if she knows Clara?

    He looks old enough to be my Dad; he’s quite handsome in a David Beckham sort of way. Oh my God wonder if he knows my Dad.

    Why did I order oysters? What came over me? I reek of that new aftershave; the one Clara bought me for my birthday, the new one from the David Beckham range probably called Golden Balls. I feel like a sleazy old man bet she thinks I am.

    Wish I hadn’t worn this short, tight sparkly dress. Can he see my thighs? Worse can he see my knickers?

    I’ll tell her something has happened. I’ll give her the fifty pound and taxi fare and get out of here. That dress is so short if Clara was wearing it I’d tell her it was indecent. She has got nice legs though

    I’ll tell him I feel sick, bug going around at work. I’ll forgo the fifty pounds, lesson learned and get out of here.

    “Are the oysters okay?”

    He’s got a nice voice, so that’s what they are. I’ll tell him I’m allergic to shell fish. I’ll have a nice bowl of vegetable soup and then leave.

    We’ll have the first course and then I’ll go. She looks like she needs a good meal. Wonder if they do bread and butter pudding for dessert

    Wonder if they have Banoffee pie for dessert. I love that then I’ll leave.

  2. Sal Page says:


    Welcome welcome welcome to all afishinardos of qwality gastronomick delights.

    Please to try. NEW! NEW! NEW!

    Brand new from HAPPY YAMPY FOODS

    Joyful! Yummo !

    ‘Not at all fishy or phlemmy’

    Super magic crunchy all-edibubble shells.


    Chocsters ® contain milk, nuts and cocoa stolids.

    Cheesesters ® contain milk, nuts and the goodness of real Summerset cheese.

    Want to impress your gusts for a special occasion? Serve over ice for that authentic high-class image.

    £1.99 for a pack of five or three packs for £6.50 at all reputubble food out lets, including Wackos, Birdie’s Bargains and the indoor market behind Aldi on the front.

    As well as Chocsters ® and Cheesesters ® , HAPPY YAMPY FOODS also make Meet-Free Backon Batches, Pushed Puy Lentils and your very favourite Liquorish-Beetroot kisses. ‘Messy but good’.

    Coming soon from HAPPY YAMPY FOODS … Scampi-Kiwis in a half shell!

    Please to note we cannot gaurentea afrodizziack qualities but Chocsters ®
    and Cheesesters ® will make all who eat them happi and confidant.


    174 words

  3. David Shakes says:

    The Only Way to Serve Them
    David Shakes
    360 words

    Phlegmy gobbets of slime. The sight of them turned my stomach. Others at my table tucked in with gusto, lemon juice and fishy secretions dribbling down their double chins.
    We were the only diners.
    This was not a real restaurant.
    Set up at the back of a storage warehouse this was a secret dining club only the wealthy could attend.
    In reality that meant bloated business men and petty gangsters.
    Nobody you’d choose to spend the evening with unless you were paid as handsomely as me.
    “You know they’re still alive when served this way?” the fat oaf next to me spat. I tried hard not to flinch.
    He eyed the plate greedily, “you having yours?”
    “I’ll wait.”
    His sausage fingers grabbed at the remaining shellfish in case I changed my mind.
    I wouldn’t.
    Escorts were not permitted to eat. We had to create the illusion of dining. Our real job was to encourage the consumption of champagne. By now I’d be pleasantly buzzing but tonight it just exasperated my nausea.
    I couldn’t wait for him to finish. That’s when we withdrew. Just the men and the vaguely aloof waitresses would remain.
    They never spoke. Eye contact was avoided and slapped backsides endured without those enigmatic smiles faltering.
    They came to clear plates. I exchanged a glance with the girl opposite. She nodded imperceptibly. Time to go.
    “I need to powder my nose.”
    “Figures… “said the fat guy drunkenly,” that stuff murders the appetite.”
    I didn’t correct him. I just wanted out.
    I left through a maze of corridors. At the end a burly bouncer would be waiting with my cash. I’d earned it tonight.
    Damn! I’d left my purse.
    As I neared the dining room I realised conversations had ceased. Instead, a wet slurping sound reverberated down the corridor.
    Inside, my dining companion was on the floor.
    He was naked from the waist up – his ribcage sprung open. A waitress leant over the steaming cavity whilst his limbs twitched uselessly.
    She looked up, opening her bloodied maw to reveal rows of razor sharp teeth. She spoke, deep and guttural:
    “They’re still alive when served this way.”

  4. Amy Wood says:

    360 words


    There are worse things a man can do than fall in love. None more foolish, I grant you, but far worse.

    According to the laws of the land, I’ve done terrible things. Things which no man, woman or child should ever think of doing. ‘Murderer’ isn’t a bad enough term for me, I don’t think the tabloids have been able to conjure one up yet. The world sees me as the most terrifying of nightmares, the boogeyman they warn their kids about, the monster they want locked in a cage forever.

    I’m the killer with no remorse, the man who smiled as he was sentenced to Death Row. I’m the man who killed five teenagers and sliced their bodies into tiny, tiny pieces before feeding them to my pet snakes. I’m the man the world needs to hate.

    I know a few truths which might surprise the ones lusting for my blood. But all good actors know when to hold their tongues and when to deliver their lines. I’ll bide my time, what little I have left.


    The guard tasked with asking what I’d like for my last meal shoots me a look which plainly says he’d love to see me choke on them. I smile and blow him a kiss.

    “And I want to see Laura.”

    Laura, the one person on this blue marble I care about. They usher her into the visiting room, she’s wearing red. She wore red when we first met. Blood red, as I recall.

    “Baby,” she brushes my hair back from my face and sniffs. There are tears in her eyes. “I don’t know…”

    I kiss her palm and shush her. “Don’t worry, sweetheart. It’ll be over soon. Then you go and start again, okay? Forget about me and start again.”

    Her lipstick matches her dress, blood red. I want to taste it. She leans in and whispers, “Yeah, I’ll start again. Next time I’ll kill ten.”

    I shudder. God, she’s always been great at dirty talk.

    The guards take her away and lead me to the Chair. I smile as I go. She’ll start again and it will be bloody and wondrous.

  5. “Shit Nights”

    by Chris Mortimer

    She was late, again. The third time that week and new ‘supervisor’ staff nurse Louise, practically a bloody teenager, was not letting her forget it.

    Fucking bitch. You’re power drunk and making a fucking arse of yourself.

    Jenna had been a nine to fiver since she had left university twelve years ago and these shifts were driving her insane. For the past seven years she’d worked as a buyer for the London Fire Brigade, a job she’d grown to love, but after the sodding Coalition’s austerity measures had resulted in her taking a voluntary pay cut and then with the office relocating to Slough, she’d weighed up her options and decided perhaps a career change was in order. Nursing? Noble. Honest. Practical.

    Having no care experience she had applied for carer and clinical support worker roles; fast forward four months and here she was, getting grief in a sluice from ‘cowbag Lou’ as she was know on the ward.

    An hour into her twelve hour shift, on her way back to the sluice with THE most disgusting bedpan ever, she did a double take at bed four. Steve? Holly fucking shit, it is. It’s fucking Steve. Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit. Scampering away in a panic she tripped, and yes, everyone saw, she was absolutely covered.

    Steve, it turns out had been brought over to the Medical Assessment Unit from A&E after a date had taken a rather embarrassing turn; guess who’s allergic to oysters?

    It was now 4:20 a.m. and his face had swollen almost beyond recognition. The last time she had seen him she hated him so much, bastard, yet now even after everything she still wanted to look after him.

    He never did see her, thankfully he’d slept right through her shift. Rob would be getting up in a few hours and as she lay in bed next to him all she could think of was Steve and how happy they had been all those years ago.


    331 words

  6. voimaoy says:

    Alive, Alive, Oh
    355 words

    Here she comes again, my little mermaid, my pearl diver in her tight black suit.

    She is the only one who comes out this far, far beyond the seabeds where the oysters sleep, forming their little moons. She is beyond beds, now, and that domestic routine. Oh my love, let me show you oblivion beyond your wildest Hokusai dreams. To me you are Botticelli on a half shell, you hair flowing like seaweed. I remember those days. Do you?

    Of course, I can pick up what you’re thinking. I wish you could understand me. No screams of snails in a saucepan, I whisper between the stars. Can you get the picture? Look, the colors I flash just for you, for you! I am beautiful. How can you resist? Come closer. Let me hold you.

    Still, you hesitate? I know you are intrigued. You dream of me, don’t you, I know. We’ve met there, before, did you know that? And you have heard me mentioned in the sailors’ songs, the stories they whisper in crowded bars. Yes, they know me, too.

    You know me, yes you do. But we haven’t been properly introduced.

    Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I’m way, way, older than you. I come from somewhere else. This place, this shape suits me, here. The dark, the pressure of gravity. The skeletons of fallen whales. This is what they call the Twilight Zone–where the light from your sun doesn’t reach. My eyes have seen many different suns. Look into my eyes and you’ll see.

    Come out with me, beyond the seabeds, past all traps under this moon. Your little life is so limited, here, rounded as it is with sleep and death. I can feel the longing in you, the empty spaces yearning to be filled. Come out with me beyond the human. Let us be together, mind and mind.

    Let me show you what it is to be alive, to swim in the bright fluid of electrons moving. To dance to the songs the quasars sing.

    Come closer. Let me hold you. Your tears taste of blood and the sea.

  7. Rebekah Postupak says:


    Welcome, friends. What brings you here today?

    “My babies just won’t sleep,” said Ailana. “It’s been ages since I got more than five minutes’ break.”

    “Same here.” Enakai heaved a sigh and shifted in her shell. The jade-tinted current made the dark circles under her eyes undulate like sea grass. “I don’t think I can last one more day. I need help.”

    You’ve tried rocking them?

    “Of course,” Ailana said. “I’m not a complete idiot. But I can only do fifteen at a time, and what with the other ten caterwauling, it’s not like it helps.”

    “At least you only have twenty-five, ya smarmy shrimp,” said Enakai, sniffing. “Try mothering fifty.”

    “It’s not a competition, plankton-head. I’m every bit as good a mother as you.”

    “Pfffft. I’m twice the mother you are. Do the math.”

    Stay on topic, ladies, please. What kind of support systems do you currently have?

    “You’re looking at it.” Ailana’s furious bubbles wafted through the waves. “Stopping their father from eating them is a fulltime job. He ate three just this morning.”

    “Whiner. Last week I lost two hundred to sharks. You know how much my therapy costs these days??”

    Let’s stay focused, Enakai. Ailana isn’t the one who ate your babies.

    Ailana shot Enakai a dirty look. “Not that I haven’t considered it. I hear they’re tasty.”

    Please! We don’t tolerate that kind of talk here.

    “Sorry, Enakai.”

    “Sorry, Ailana.”

    Much nicer. Now, ladies, do you have any questions for me?

    “Yes! A big one. Do you guarantee total survival?”

    You’ll find our survival rates are the highest anywhere. We guarantee sixty percent.

    “Sixty percent?” Ailana pondered this. “That sounds kind of low.”

    Enakai shrugged. “Sounds high to me. I mean, compared to my own track record.”

    “Hmmm. Good point, I guess. Oh! What if their father shows up, hungry?”

    Non-custodial parents are never permitted access.

    “This school’s sounding better and better. What do you think, En?”

    “I say, LET HER HAVE ‘EM!”

    “I totally agree!”

    Forgive me, ladies; I must remind you payment is due on receipt.

    “Oops, forgot,” said Ailana. “How much? Shells, sea urchins, what?”

    Actually we like adult shrimp.


    And tilapia.



    360 dark, haunting, completely serious words

  8. Presentation
    349 words

    I’m early. Painfully so. Knock on the glass door of the restaurant. Smile and wave, “It’s me, happy guy that you want to help out!”
    Smiles exchanged. I give him the bag and once again ask for reassurance that they will take care of everything.
    Eight thousand dollars.
    Am I crazy to trust them?
    No. It will be fine.
    I’m sweating. Is it noticeable?
    Is it seven yet?
    Should I shave?
    Do I always look this pale?
    I should practice looking normal.
    Casual smile-“Hey! I look like I am experiencing average levels of enjoyment to see you!”
    That’s terrifying.
    I’ll try something smoother.
    I should never wink.
    It’s got to be seven by now.
    Okay, get in the car and go pick her up.
    “Everybody Dance Tonight”, really? That’s the song to get stuck in my head?
    Get out of the car, stop sweating.
    Are my hands always so floppy? I feel like I’m seining my arms too much.
    The door is opening.
    There she is.
    She’s beautiful.
    A second of calm.
    In the car, off to dinner.
    Did she just tell me I look nervous? Did I just bray and awkward laugh in return?
    Her hair is so gold.
    How is it possible she’s this beautiful?
    Park the car, escort her in, smell her lily perfume.
    Did that waiter just wink at me? I’ll sock him in the face of he ruins this.
    We should have wine immediately.
    I order the bottle. She smiles at me with a tilt of her head.
    Does she suspect?
    I order a plate of oysters on the half shell.
    We talk. She talks. My heart hammers in my throat.
    The plate arrives. There are twelve.
    They look grosser than I remember.
    I can not see the ring.
    I grab the plate and spin it.
    She looks surprised.
    I find it.
    I don’t know what to do now.
    Hand her the oyster?
    Just forget the presentation and hold up the ring?
    Talk about forever. Put my heart, my life out there.
    Please let her say yes.

  9. Craig Sinclair says:

    Fruit Of The Foam

    Dr. Chubb sliced hungrily at what he perceived to be the specimen’s throat, eager for knowledge, for evidence to spill forth and christen his scalpel with revelations, for history to be rewritten by his true and steady hand, but there was only disappointment. That and the overpowering stench of rotten mussels.

    Like stale farts on an oil rig, doused in briny emissions from a stagnant foamy sewer.

    Immaculate fins alongside the glistening lateral photophores; tiger-bright orange striped festooning a series of finger-like nodes on the upturned rear; that cruel and merciless mouth with its infinite rows of mirrored incisors; an ungainly bloat about the soft cranial ridge – this was a creature of the sea, certainly, but no earthly body of water had ever beheld a beast of this caliber.

    It had to be real, it simply had to be, but inside the discovered corner of a fibreglass skeleton padded out with seaweed and shells said otherwise.

    The maddening moment when excitement wanes in a shattering adrenal surge is a feeling unlike any other, and it was as alien to him as the creature sprawled out on the cold metal stretcher. He was human after all, not some impossible genius, and everything about this ultimately dull impasse was a hateful reminder – his misty breath in the air a sour reminder of his weak undersexed body, his furious trembling mind a reminder of the reminders – of what an insignificant little being he truly was.

    This once brilliant scientist – a leader in his field – had been tricked. Tricked by pug-faced seaside children who’d allayed his skepticism with a perfect replica of an appealing idea. They must have saved hard, he thought – they must have gone hungry for weeks to build it, to construct a form so alien and yet so crustacean, so earthly and yet so otherworldly. He could almost admire it, were it not for the clamouring throngs of New Scientist and Fortean Times journalists snapping their cameras, doubled over in laughter in horseshoe formation around the gurney.

    They’d duped him well, those fucking seaside children, and now they would pay.

    Quietly he cleared his throat.

    354 words

  10. Mark A. King says:

    Caer Troia
    359 words

    They flow through my veins with their Oyster cards. Faux ocean colours adorn those precious plastic cards that get them from A to B, from work to home, from love to hate, from birth to death.

    In Canary Wharf the towers of gluttony glisten in the drooping winter twilight. In the square mile, the financiers scuttle, their redundant bowler hats replaced with devices, metrosexual fragrances and cheap suits sourced from child-labour in places they’ve never heard of.

    On my spine, the boats chug and the astute commuters travel. They travel the slipstream of their predecessors; they bobble on the gentle tidal flow, in the wake of the Nordic, the Roman, the spice ships and the bubonic plague.

    She walks down Baker Street – no signs of Holmes, Watson or Moriarty. The journey is uneventful, humdrum. There is uncertainty in her steps. The amber streetlights glow in the waking vapours, casting perpetual halos as she trundles along, towards the bridge.

    The ghosts of Newton, Shakespeare and Churchill watch; like me, they know where she goes, but they can do nothing to stop her.

    She rubs her hands over her self-inflicted scars. She screams the guttural scream of an animal dying, she screams…but nobody hears…nobody can hear as her sounds echo inside. Her feelings are buried under layers of well-practiced pretence, parental responsibility and cloaks of normality.

    She hasn’t left a note. What would she say? That she’d neglected them? That she’d not been strong enough? That she had everything and yet she felt so devoid of hope? Children of five and eight wouldn’t understand these words – they’d replay them endlessly and wish that if they argued less things might have been different.

    She hopes my tides will take her. She hopes my bridges, like fingers, will clasp her and gently drop her into a dark and endless sleep.

    She stands over the inky flow, griping the railings.

    Then…she hears a voice. Concern. Compassion. She talks, she talks like she has never dared to talk before.

    She leaves the bridge. She will search for her saviour on social media. One day she will find her and together they will save others.

  11. streetej says:

    360 words

    Vince wanted the new management position, so he had accepted the dinner invitation despite his misgivings. Everyone at Archer Daniels Midland avoided Doctor Hopkins, but the man still had scientific cachet.

    Vince rang the doorbell and stared at the sprawling gothic house.

    “Vincent! Come in.” Hopkins smiled just a little too broadly, and his eyes flashed with glints that sent uneasy ripples up Vince’s spine.

    “The wife’s delayed in Atlanta,” Hopkins said. “It’s just you and me.”

    Vince tried to conceal his dismay. “I would have liked to meet Mrs. Hopkins.”

    “Next time. Gin and tonic?”

    “Please.” Vince glanced around the main room. He’d never seen art like this before. Leather sculptures? Skins? And odd—creatures?—in glass bottles everywhere. One looked like a pig fetus.

    Hopkins handed him a tumbler. “Drink! I’ve got oysters. Fresh. The wife likes ‘em with lemon, but I prefer a nice horseradish sauce.”

    Oysters: not Vince’s favorite. Vince peered at the bowl of oysters on ice.

    “Fresh,” Hopkins repeated, his smile widening as he selected an oyster and slurped it.

    Vince blinked. Had he just seen the oysters wriggling in their half-shells?

    “I think they’re still alive, Doctor.”

    “Yes, yes, they taste better that way!” Hopkins appeared unperturbed, pressing an oyster on Vince, who swallowed it reluctantly.

    He almost gagged on the slithering thing. “But they aren’t supposed to move like that even in their—um—natural state.”

    Hopkins froze, his smile plastered on his face like a madman’s leer. “I’ve been having some fun, fiddling with a side project in addition to our work on new preservatives at ADM. The wriggling is a side effect of the preservative. Nothing to worry about.”

    “W—what’s in the preservative?” Vince swore he felt the oyster crawling back up his esophagus.

    “Oh, a little of this, a little of that. You know, stem cells, microbial digestive by-products. I want ‘em fresh.” Hopkins waved suggestively at the glass jars spread throughout the kitchen, beaming. “You and I, Vincent, are making history as my first human subjects!”

    Vince didn’t hear him. He was too busy clawing at his throat, struggling to get a breath past the obstructing oyster.

  12. jbertetta says:

    Josh Bertetta
    351 Words

    “On the Couch”

    “Well, what do you think it means?”

    “I don’t know, women, I guess. Necklaces.”


    “You know, necklaces.”

    “Ahhh, I see.”

    “My husband, he likes the…the…”


    She sighed.

    “How do you feel when he says that?”


    “Well that’s a start. What do you know about them?”

    “Know about them? I don’t know. Nothing that everybody else doesn’t already know.”


    “They’re hard, hard to get open.”

    “When your husband talks to you the way he does, how do you react?”

    “I shut down.” She paused, looked at him and answered the question in his eyes. “I close up, harden.”

    “Good. Do you like feeling that way?”

    “No. I just want to be open, remain open.”


    “That’s when I feel most alive.”

    “And in your dream, when you were served, how did you feel? What was your first reaction?”

    “I remember thinking something was missing.”

    “Like something that should have been there wasn’t there?”

    “Yes. And the whole thing, just didn’t feel right. I remember looking at everyone there, smiling,
    slurping, reveling in ecstasy. They disgusted me.”

    “That’s a pretty strong reaction. Why did they disgust you?”

    “Because they just didn’t get it. They didn’t know everything was…was…”



    “And you ran?”

    “Ran, out the door, into the night, the moon big and bright. It was drizzling and the drops on the ground glittered. That’s when I woke.” Her shoulders slumped and her eyes teared. She sniffled.

    “Why are you crying? You’ve never cried here.”

    “It’s just—” She sniffled. “I remember, just before I woke, a feeling…I can’t really describe it. It was so beautiful it shocked me, shocked me right out of bed.”

    “And you liked that feeling?”

    She nodded. “I felt open. I felt there was something inside me being born.”

    “You found what you were looking for.”

    She nodded as she wiped her eyes.

    “And what was that?”

    “A secret? Beauty? The ability to speak, express myself.”

    “There you go.”


    “What did you just say? Your last word?”


    “Well, our hour is up, but I think we’ve made a major breakthrough Pearl.”

  13. zevonesque says:

    William’s Oyster Nemesis and the Mexican Wave
    by A J Walker

    “Ever been in love Bill?” the barman asked.

    William placed the pint glass on the bar and watched the remnants slip slowly down the glass.

    “What kind of question is that Joe?” William said pointing at his empty glass.

    “Another Oyster?” said Joe.

    “It’s nice stuff sir,” William nodded, “I’ll try another.”

    “This Oyster Stout is as smooth as velvet,” Joe said, placing it in front of him.

    “Thanks Joe. And yes, once, but an oyster killed it.”

    “Love, killed by oysters?”

    William took a slug of the stout, “Pure evil.”

    Joe shrugged. “Had them a few times. Don’t see the attraction.”

    “Attraction?” William choked. “They scare the bejaysus out of me.”

    Joe let the silence repeat his question.

    “Anyway, love my friend was killed by an oyster. It was my first date with the lovely Charlotte. Soul mate perfection she was. I’ve never met anyone so… ideal.”

    William felt time slip back and he was there again. But fear made him shiver.

    “We were at a food festival and she headed straight for the oyster stand. The oyster stand!”

    Joe nodded with his barman’s understanding.

    “Charlotte said ‘Go on then Will. You not having one?’ She grinned at me with an oyster filled smile that was somehow beautiful. I knew I had to do it. To win fair maiden’s heart. I couldn’t wuss out, could I?”

    Joe nodded, “Of course not.”

    “Well, I couldn’t take my eyes of the giant phlegmy mass. My throat tightened and throbbed. I was never going to be able to eat one.”

    “I picked one up though. The lady serving said just slide it in and give it a couple of quick chews. She made it sound so simple. But the monstrous blob of phlegm wobbled alarmingly as I picked it up.”

    “Well, I’ve never thrown up so much. Instantaneously horrendous. Set off a chain reaction around the stall, which went like a Mexican wave down the entire road. The festival was over. So was the date. It made the news!”

    “I won’t be able to sleep tonight.”

    Joe pointed at his empty glass, “Another Oyster William?”

    William winced, “Think I’ll try something else.”

    (360 words)


  14. C Connolly says:

    The Invitation

    You pass the window several times, circling the block, before making your way to the door, invitation in hand. No need to check the number. You know it is here. The sign across the frontage is faded, unobtrusive – in contrast to the fluorescent slivers of light moving behind the glass from side to side. You touch a hand to it, watching as the school gather swiftly about your fingertips before flitting away once more. The door swings outward, inviting you to enter; to pass beyond the velvet curtain inside, into the warmth. The fabric parts and you move forwards through its whispering folds, which hold the remnants of a rich scent you cannot place precisely in amongst them.

    Beyond them, a white gloved hand proffers the embossed tray to you. You exchange the crumpled paper folded into your palm for one of the chilled morsels with a nod, placing it to your lips, head back, swallowing quickly; one gulp and gone. The aftermath is the kiss of bitter sweet brine at the back of your throat. Pinprick lights dance overhead, their steps reflected in the sheen of the polished floor beneath your feet, before dimming down into blur. The room spins on its axis about you, as you ride your silken slide into oblivion, over and over, colour swimming circles, around and around.

    You open your eyes to dark shadows clearing. A deserted hallway lies before you, a door at the very end. A peal of low laughter sounds from beyond its silence. You make your way to its promise, tiny blasts of breath creating caresses of heat at the nape of your neck as you move closer. It is almost time. You know your way now.

    Your fingers grasp the door handle firmly. You hear the sharp click of the mechanism as you turn the ridged metal clockwise, opening the burnished wood wide on its frame. You move through, eyes searching; expectant.

    Now you see them in front of you; take a step towards them, raising a hand in greeting to the familiar faces, brushing with the other at your moist cheeks. You are here. Together again. At last.

    (360 words)


  15. Oysters on the Half Shell

    The waitress set the platter on the table. “Thanks,” Jake said, winking at the pretty young woman. Karen rolled her eyes, but Jake, eyes on the waitress’s backside, didn’t notice. When the girl disappeared into the kitchen, Jake returned his attention to Karen. He gestured to the oysters. “You want one?”


    “Are you sure? They look great,” Jake said. He squeezed the lemon quarter over the platter.

    “I don’t like oysters.” Karen sipped her wine and then dabbed at her lips with her napkin, careful not to smear her lipstick.

    Jake slurped an oyster from its shell. “Damn, that’s good!” He fixed Karen with that look she hated. “Have you ever tried oysters?”


    “Then how do you know you don’t like them?” Jake gave her his smug smile.

    Karen lit a cigarette, took a long draw, and exhaled a stream of smoke through pursed lips. She gestured at the oysters with her cigarette. “Because they look like lumps of snot on a shell.”

    Jake shook his head. “Jeez, Karen!”

    Karen inhaled again, the end of her cigarette glowing orange. With a graceful movement, she tapped the ashes into the crystal ashtray. Then she reached for the wine bottle and refilled her glass. Bright red lipstick decorated its rim.

    Jake poked another oyster free and tipped it into his mouth, closing his eyes and smacking his lips in dramatic enjoyment. Karen looked away. At the table next to them, a young man gazed at his date, a tiny blonde woman giggling over the champagne bubbles.

    “There’s one left,” Jake said.

    Karen ignored him, still watching the young couple.

    “You could at least try,” Jake snapped.

    “Do we have to Jake? Now?” Karen hissed.

    “Yes, we do.”

    Karen leaned forward to speak, but the waitress appeared next to them.

    “Would you like to finish the oysters before your dinners arrive?”

    Jake raised his eyebrows at Karen. She took the last drag on her cigarette and reached toward the ashtray. Her hand hovered as she met Jake’s gaze. Then she leaned forward and jabbed the cigarette into the oyster.

    “No. We’ve had enough.”

    352 words

  16. C Connolly says:

    Love the way you’ve managed to convey so much about the couple here – feels like I know them well with very few words. The gesture with the cigarette speaks volumes. Nice job.

  17. The Breakup

    Integra stared across the table at her fiancé as he slurped down the slimy insides of the shellfish. It turned her stomach, but he seemed happy. It was a welcomed change. Although Integra tried her best to please him, it didn’t seem enough like enough anymore. She smiled. Perhaps all it took was making him his favorite meal.

    He washed down the fish with beer before looking up at her. “Integra.”
    “Yes?” she replied as she returned his gaze.
    “You know I love you very much, right?”
    “Of course I do, Paul. I love you too.”
    “I know. But you see, I’m not in love with you dear. At least not in the same way you love me. I think we should call off the engagement.”

    Integra’s heart dropped into the pit of her stomach. She knew Paul was unhappy, but she never dreamed it was because of her. Perhaps there was something she could say or do. It couldn’t end like this.

    “But…but Paul I…we can work this out.” She begged.
    “I don’t think we can, Integra.”
    “Why not? I’ll do anything! Just please don’t leave me!”
    Paul pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. “ I’ve made up my mind. Please don’t make this any harder than it already is.”

    Integra sighed and nodded her head. It was no use trying to talk Paul out of it. Once his mind was made up, there was no changing it. Besides, the sparks in his eyes for her were gone. He didn’t love her anymore, and there was nothing she could do to change that. She felt stupid for not realizing it earlier.

    Despite the awkwardness of the situation, Paul and Integra decided to finish their meal together. Once she finished eating, Integra went upstairs to their bedroom to pack her things. Sharing a meal after breaking up was one thing. Sharing a house afterwards was another.

    “I’m leaving!” she called from the front doorway. There was no answer. Integra searched the house to find Paul hunched over the toilet throwing up. She laughed. Turns out she did leave the shellfish out for too long. Karma was beautiful.

    359 words

  18. Ranee Parker says:

    Table for One

    Sitting in silence, neither of them willing to look into the eyes of the other. The plate of oysters, delicately placed in front of them by the chipper waitress, remains untouched.

    “I never meant for you to find out.” His words, like daggers to her heart, make the sharp pain immediate. The casual way he sits in his chair doesn’t fit the conversation; ripped jeans cling to his muscular legs, leather jacket slung over the back of his chair. She used to love his careless demeanor. Were his words meant to console her?

    “Then why did I?” Relying on the sharpness of her tongue to fight back with sheer bitterness, her words reveal her contempt.

    The flickering flame of the candle barely lights the table, creating a glare against her now empty glass of wine. Textured red wallpaper shines in the shadows along the wall. She hears people talking around them, their conversations unknowingly soothing her. Jazz music, meant to create a romantic atmosphere, grates on her ears. She closes her eyes, silently willing the speakers to play anything else.

    This place will never hold the same meaning for her. The oysters appear sadly unaware. What was once her favorite restaurant, her favorite food, will never be again. Life will not be the same, nor does she want it to be. The last three years have been a lie. He has another life, another family, that doesn’t belong to her, that she can never be a part of. She knows she must leave and not look back or she will never forgive herself.

    He bristles visibly at the sound of her chair scraping against the tiled floor, his eyes plead with hers. “Please. Don’t go. I love you.”

    Her hesitation is brief before she walks away, silently chanting ‘no second chances,’ over and over in her head while the clicking of her heels echoes loudly in her ears.

    (318 words)


  19. The Codfather

    My mouth gets me in trouble sometimes.

    I mean honestly, why not tell Carrie what I really thought?

    “I’m vegetarian, your dad terrifies me and I don’t even like you much now.”

    Simple. Except I actually said, “Yes, I’d love to meet your dad for lunch at the fishmarket.”

    So that’s what happened. He had a bloody apron over his suit and he did the too-tight handshake thing, smearing fish guts all over me, then it was off round the market for the full guided all-you-can-eat tour. He’s very proud of his business and made me try everything, from fresh oysters to pickled swordfish. I know how many blokes he’s supposed to have buried under that market, so I had to swallow the lot.

    Course, by the time we actually sat down to lunch, I was green. The main course was under one of those big silver domes and I just stared at my twisted reflection, wondering how much more horrendous it could get. What was under there, baby octopus?

    Or something worse?

    Why wasn’t Carrie there?

    He lifted the lid and smiled. Not seafood, thankfully, just a fat pink joint of meat, tender and juicy. The blood trickled down the blade as he carved and I felt the unchewed oysters crawling back up.

    “So Stephen, how do you like my daughter?”

    He wouldn’t.

    He couldn’t.

    Could he?

    I thought of all the stories I’d heard, all that overbearing Godfather crap Carrie had told me, and I knew that I couldn’t eat the mystery meat.

    So instead I stood up, threw up all over him, the table and everything, then passed out in my starter.

    * * *

    I woke up in the recovery position, listening to Carrie begging her dad to calm down. She’d been caught in traffic and arrived just in time to see my party piece.

    What else could I do? I made my apologies and told them it was nerves.

    Course, I couldn’t say why I was so nervous, but my mouth stepped in again.

    I suppose a Winter wedding sounds alright really, but I’m still not sure about asking her dad to do the catering…

    360 words

  20. Carlos Orozco says:


    So this is what real mahogany looks like, he thought running two fingers meticulously over the deep brown patterns.

    “Here is your wine, sir. May I take your order?” The pompous voice broke his concentration. He had been so enthralled by the expensive suits, and intricate glass chandeliers, that he forgot to look at the menu.

    “Just another moment.” Jessi stuttered.

    “Very well sir,” the waiter said and then walked away looking disgusted.

    Jessi opened up the menu, the plush leather backing delighted his fingertips. His eyes scanned the pages for prices, but, to his dismay, there were no prices listed. Instead he found several unrecognizable words. He realized his selection would be made based on what he thought he could pronounce. He picked the shortest sentence, huîtres sur écaille. He practiced it over and over thinking he had the phrase perfect. When the waiter arrived to take his order again, Jessi mumbled, “hew-eaters sewer e-kayls.”

    The waiter snickered, corrected his atrocious pronunciation, and walked away. Jessi wished he’d gone to the pub. He sipped some sort of red wine and winced at its sour tastes and convoluted flavors. What he wouldn’t give for a Budlight right now.

    After a long wait, the server arrived with a silver dish of ice and oysters. Jessi hated oysters.
    “Will there be anything else, sir?”
    “No thanks.” He replied. Jessie looked at the oysters. In truth he’d only had them once before, and they had been the dollar variety that bars try to throw out. He used this rationalization to psych himself up try one. He put the fleshy oyster in his mouth and began to chew feverously. It took every ounce of willpower he had to keep his innards from coming up. He spit the gooey mess into his white cloth napkin and tried to obliterate the taste with a sip of the wine. Around him people gasped.

    He took the money for his mortgage payment from his back pocket and tossed it on the table. The bank was taking everything from him, but he’d be damned if this restaurant took what was left of his dignity.

    158 words


  21. […] Here’s my story, Fresh, written from a prompt of an oyster picture. Fresh was selected for first runner-up at The Angry Hourglass this past week. I wrote three different oyster stories based on the difficult prompt. The first was about a couple arguing over oysters (and infidelity) at dinner, the second was about the demise of Drake’s Bay Oyster Company as its farms were turned back to wilderness land, and the final one was this campy romp. If you’d like to see Fresh in its natural state with the other AH stories, go here. […]

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