For Trifecta Writing Challenge. The word is MASK: 3 : a protective covering for the face
: gas mask
: a device covering the mouth and nose to facilitate inhalation
: a comparable device to prevent exhalation of infective material
: a cosmetic preparation for the skin of the face that produces a tightening effect as it dries


Atticus wears his mask long after the burn has healed. He no longer needs it for protection from the elements: sun, dust, or an accidental brush with an unwashed hand. He wears it to keep the bullies away.

He didn’t know that would happen. He thought the mask would make it worse. Instead, to his great surprise, they look at him as a superhero. They all want a mask like his. They think of him as Magneto, and are in awe, and a little afraid of him.

Atticus thinks he resembles the Phantom of the Opera though he doesn’t say this to his classmates. They would surely belittle him all over again if they imagined him in a Broadway musical. He knows of the musical because his mother did not stop talking about it for weeks after she’d attended a performance.

His name, Atticus, has a certain allure. It seduces bullies. He doesn’t think he’ll ever forgive his parents for their stupidity. The bullies clamped their jaws to it like a cat to a mouse. No amount of story synopsis, or defensive babbling of award-winning literature eased their harassment.

Then the accident happened. With a cell phone in one hand his mother reached for the handle of a hot frying pan. But she neglected to first slip that hand into a potholder. Atticus was at the wrong place at the wrong time. His mother dropped the pan, but not before it lofted into the air splattering hot canola oil on one side of Atticus’ face.

Atticus sometimes thinks his mother’s guilt might be punishment enough for having named him Atticus.

Now his mother wants him to remove the mask. He can’t wear it forever, she tells him. Why not? Because I said so, she says.

But Atticus has other ideas. He has friends now. When he speaks of superheroes or literature the boys offer their rapt attention.

The pain was not so bad the first time. How bad could it be the second?


For Trifecta Writing Challenge. The word is FLY:3 a : to move, pass, or spread quickly <rumors were flying>  b : to be moved with sudden extreme emotion <flew into a rage>  c : to seem to pass quickly <the time simply flew>

Hello lovely Trifectans and Readers! A word of caution. This entry is rated R for language. I talk like this all the time at home. My cat doesn’t care. Nor do the people around me unless I direct it at them (never, perish the thought! :)) Please let me know if it’s too offensive, or gratuitous, and I will not repeat the exercise. Thank you in advance for your forbearance!



Beanpole edged closer. Garbage Gut and Leon monitored Eddie as he sliced a blue pill in half with an xacto knife.

“Yo, that’s mine, motherfucker.” Garbage Gut inserted an upturned palm. Eddie dropped one-half onto his grimy paw. GG popped it in his mouth, with an “Aaaah,” rubbed his stomach. Beanpole was reminded of a TV commercial, but couldn’t summon the product.

Eddie tossed the second half to Leon who rolled it between his index finger and thumb admiring it like a priceless diamond. With the flick of his wrist he tossed it down his throat, grabbed a bottle of beer from the cluttered table, swallowed a mouthful. “Ack! Warm dregs, that is some nasty shit.”

Eddie’s dark eyes found Beanpole. “What about you, you skinny motherfucker?”

“What is it?” How to say he didn’t want it without getting the shit beat out of him was a matter of some finesse.

“This shit here makes time fly. And you won’t care where you fly to.” Eddie leaned to his work hovering the blade above a second tablet.

Leon and Garbage Gut leaned against the cushions of the loveseat they shared. Beanpole considered a burst of sarcasm in mentioning that it was a loveseat, and not technically a sofa. Then thought better of it. Not the best way to ingratiate himself with his hosts.

“Why are you so goddamned skinny? You sick or something?” Leon demanded.

“Metabolism,” Beanpole answered planting his ass on the rounded arm of Eddie’s chair, careful not to knock his elbow.

“Metabo what?” GG shouted, his flesh jiggling like jello.

“Here, asshole.” Eddie handed Beanpole his dose.

Why did he think he’d want to hang with these slackers? Beanpole lobbed the pill into his mouth pushing it to one side. He hoped it wouldn’t dissolve before he had a chance to extract it while his compadres were otherwise occupied.

Tomorrow he’d venture over to those motherfuckers on the chess team, supervise their opening gambit. That was more his style.


For Trifecta Writing Challenge. The word is CRUDE: 3: marked by the primitive, gross, or elemental or by uncultivated simplicity or vulgarity – 

This week is community judged. Come back on Thursday afternoon to vote for your favorites!



She thought of an octopus. If the octopus had prior knowledge that she would die upon giving birth, would she proceed with the business-like mating ritual? Is desire for reproduction so strong? The female dutifully cares for her eggs. When they hatch, the baby octopi are on their own. The mother dies. Just like that, her destiny, that for which she has been programmed, is fulfilled. Her species is assured.

Catherine studied her girl baby, asleep in her crib, her bum in the air, a tiny hand curled into a fist on either side of her wrinkled face. Catherine felt nothing, less than nothing. She’d carried this life within her body, then birthed her outdoors, surrounded by oaks, the moans of her labor accompanied by birdsong. She’d delivered in a kiddy pool, in shallow water, into the waiting arms of the midwife, who’d cleansed it of the slick, crude muck of life before placing it on her chest.

While she watched, Catherine’s girl child sighed, unfurled a hand, stretched her teeny fingers. The father of her child had taken control of his daughter’s needs. His happiness in doing so knew no bounds. And Catherine observed: so that’s what it looked like. He allowed Catherine a wide berth to negotiate the roiling sea of her despondency. It was normal, he said, it would pass. She wanted to care, but couldn’t imagine ever caring about anything again. It was like the disappeared memory of a loved one’s face.

An octopus would understand her wretchedness. She had produced a healthy member of her species. She ought now to be free to leave. But, the octopus did not die by her own hand. Humans are not born able to glide into the world on their own. The baby octopus survival rate is one-percent.

Catherine’s baby yawned, and opened her eyes. Catherine knew she should smile at the child, so she did. Tentacles of instinct prodded her to lift her baby into her arms, so she did.

I Wish…. (Ligo-Haibun Challenge)










A first-grade girl draws a picture of the sun with a dozen yellow lines meant to be rays poking out of the golden circle. It fills the wide, white page. In the bottom right hand corner, with a pink crayon, she draws a tiny family. She labels them: mommy, daddy, me, baby brother, and a dog, Charlie. I ask why she hasn’t written her brother’s name. “He doesn’t have one, yet.” Why not? “My mom wants to call him Ian. My dad says his name is Tony. That’s more of a man’s name, you know.” She is small for her age. The blue crayon she uses to color in an azure sky looks oversized in her tiny hand. She looks up at me with green eyes that rip my heart in two, like that broken heart image on greeting cards. I wish she were mine. I ask her about the size of the sun. “Did you know that the sun is 93 million miles from earth?” I smile and nod my head yes. “Everyone is happy when the sun is out. I want to bring it closer.”

sudden splash of sun
eyes adjust, and raised voices
erupt in laughter

For the Ligo-Haibun Challenge hosted by Pirate and Nightlake. Click on the logo to read many diverse interpretations of the prompt. Or better yet, submit your own!

Thanks for reading!

Recruited (Trifecta)

For Trifecta Writing Challenge. The word is CLUB:
3a : an association of persons for some common object usually jointly supported and meeting periodically; also : a group identified by some common characteristic <nations in the nuclear club>  
b : the meeting place of a club <lunch at the club
c : an association of persons participating in a plan by which they agree to make regular payments or purchases in order to secure some advantage  
d : nightclub  
e : an athletic association or team

Credit: Paige B
Credit: Paige B










Chad explained, “Not anybody can join, but you can. You’re 16, same as me. They kick you out when you’re 18.”

Andrew studied the lanky teenagers sprawled on battered sofas. Starfish, arms and legs thrown wide, as if in effort to anchor themselves to a solid surface. Several slept, mouths open, drool trickling onto stained pillows. One, a pretty girl with spiked red hair, and a tiny, silver nose ring thumbed the screen of a device.

Following his line of sight Chad said, “That’s Lola. She’s the best. Been with us three years.”

“Internet access is earned. Do a good job you can play games, face chat, whatever.” Chad got up in Andrew’s face, “Have anyone who’d want to see your mug, Andrew?”

No, he didn’t, but Andrew stayed mute. He decided Chad was high. Not pot, but not meth either. No speed freaks here. Doped into submission from the look of them.

Chad read his mind. “Everyone’s tired. Out all morning. This group’s good, they hauled in a lot of plunder.”

Plunder, as if they were pirates. Andrew supposed they were, now that the scene blurred into focus. At the soup kitchen, where they met, how exactly had Chad persuaded him, (recruited him?) here?

“We rob the rich,” Chad admitted. “We don’t steal lunch money from fourth-graders. Everyone gets a roof over his head.” Chad looked toward Lola. “Or her head. We’re all equal members of the club.”

“More like a cult than a club,” Andrew muttered, sweat bubbling from his pores.

“You got somewhere to go? Someone waiting for you who cares what time you get in?”

All trace of frivolity had evaporated from Chad’s tone. Andrew swiveled toward the door. Two burly man-boys flanked the exit.

“Follow me,” Chad demanded, “first stop is a free tattoo. All our members wear our logo.”

Andrew scanned the room. Lola. He thought he detected a subtle nod. Chad led the way. As Andrew advanced on Lola, she slipped the phone into his pocket.