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  • Blank by Cinthia Albers

    *

    Blank paper before me
    A blank screen staring at me
    The cursor flashing, mocking me
    My brain goes white
    My mind screams out nothing
    I am blank, inside blank, being blank
    Humiliated by […]

    • Hi Cinthia. Oh yes that blank screen or that blank paper. As hard for artists as it is for writers I believe. Well done:) A great take on the prompt.

    • Hi I also wrote about the blank page. I emjoyed reading your take and the idea of becoming the blank page. That is quite a philosophical concept – I shall muse on that for a while.
      Thanks for sharing.

    • Great poem Cinthia. This so resonated with me as I am struggling to write and the moment and missed my first 12 short stories post in three and a half years. I could feel the raw desperation of being sucked into nothingness and being that blank page that feels empty.

      The piece flows well and your repetition of blank drives home the feeling of hopelessness. I love the word vacuous.

      Well done and thanks for sharing.

    • That’s a very original thought – that you become the blank page you are staring at. It must be the opposite to becoming what you write. Interesting.

    • I like how you took every writers’ struggle against the page and made it your own. I especially like the assonance in the lines
      Humiliated by brain blockage
      The empty, vacuous sound
      Of my brain sucking into the void
      — the repeating u and o sounds bring the feeling closer to the reader. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

    • Yes, very apt, relatable and great word choices. The blank page can certainly feel like a void…and we can certainly feel like we become it. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  •                                            The Break Down        “It didn’t work,” he said, pulling his head out from the hood of the car. “The battery could be dead. The cables are connected and making contact. […]

    • Ouch.

      Your story is highly relatable. The thoughts that pass through the main character’s head are ones I think most people have had, especially if in a struggling relationship, and you did well in capturing how the spoken word often contradicts the thought.

      If I were to change anything, really, it would probably be the last line. I like the “We missed our chance to talk,” but the “I really will miss you. Goodbye” seems unnecessary and almost unnatural. Perhaps a description of her facial expression–show the pain she’s feeling rather than try to communicate it with her words.

      Well done.

      Thank you for sharing.

    • Well written story! I agree with Elizabeth, you did a very good job of showing how the spoken word often does not match the person’s thoughts—especially when there is tension in the relationship. Also, I think leaving off with “We missed our chance to talk”is all that is needed at the end. Your dialogue was very effective in advancing the story along so that it flowed and showed the relationship falling apart.

    • Entertaining story. I wasn’t sure how it would end which was a good thing. It keep me reading.

      The dialog was good, but I would suggest interspersing more action anddescription of the characters. It felt a bit like talking heads. I had no sense of who they were – no name, age, hair color. It just needed to be more grounded, but very good.

      Nice work.

    • Lots of great tension but I agree that it needs more physical reaction from the characters. Also more specific setting and character description details to gound the story.

    • Hi Cinthia,
      Thank you for sharing your story. You captured the prompt well with your story. The car didn’t work and their relationship didn’t work. It would be so hard to leave behind an 8 year relationship. The characters felt almost emotionless though, so adding in more emotional details would really bring it to life. I also wanted to know more about the location they were in; bring the outside to life within their interactions. For example a random bird flying by and calling out to fill the silence between them.
      Good luck with edits and the rest of your 12 months!
      Karisa

    • Hi Cinthia I liked the premise and overall execution of the story, with similar reservations to above re time and place, and more character details required to enable us to empathise a little more with the characters. The dialogue was very good and I must say it elicited almost equal sympathy for each of them – it was simply a love that died and it feels as if they will both come to terms with that soon. I also agree that the Goodbye at the end was unnecessarily brusque and could easily be dropped. But well done, it was sad and moving.

  •                                           We have known each other                                                       too long.                                               You have taken me                  […]

    • Cinthia, It’s beautiful!! Well done. ♥️

    • Becky replied 1 month ago

      I like it! Lovely poem, Cinthia! -Becky

    • Hi Cinthia, This I think is a story of a relationship which has landed the narrator out of their comfort zone. It left me wondering if the relationship had faltered or whether the pair are happy in their new found existence. Perhaps they are better off not being “Caught up in an image the world expected us to be”. Well done with this poem.

    • Hi Cinthia, love the way you set your poem out and your word choice, so simple but so direct. The fairytale of love often does not fit reality. Well done.

    • Hi Cinthia

      This is a wonderful exploration of the journey taken and the adventures experienced, whilst sitting in the reality we get to know as we move from romanticism to normality.

      I really like this.

      Martin

    • The anaphoric use of “taken” emphasizes their being taken by the world’s darker side only to be held together and protected by love. Well done!!

  •         “Yes,  we have become stale. After 25 years together that was bound to happen. We eat together, sleep together. We vacation together. You feel it, I feel it. We are stale.”
              “I like stale Margare […]

    • Cinthia, very good writing! Great dialogue! I sympathized with Margaret’s need to have space to herself so she can focus on her art and just herself. I also understood her husband liking being “comfortable” . I got the feeling that Margaret was needing some romance back in her life, which men forget sometimes as they get “comfortable”, and so my only suggestion would be for her husband to suggest something romantic when she came home.

    • Hi
      I love your style of writing. Short sentences, quick and to the point. It moves the story along quickly and you find yourself reading fatser to find out what happens next.
      I bought a small trinket for my husband. I bought a journal for me. I bought a pretzel.
      Its well written, and I like it. I like how you bring in the character in the coffe shop to show what she is missing, a bit of romance.
      Lovely!

    • You have a great way of evoking description with just a few well chosen words. There is a lovely sparseness to your writing, a quick pace that contrasts well with the onerous life she leaves behind and then returns to when she realizes she wants to be back. Some very good descriptions. I would suggest maybe breaking up several short sentences with one or two longer ones at times – a series of too many short sentences can feel choppy and rushed.
      Great story!

    • Don’t know if it’s the coronavirus effect or the prompt, but there seems to be a lot of stories about marriages gone adrift, or perhaps it’s like being pregnant, you start to notice more pregnant women…. This was well observed and I liked the writing style. Given her approach to the conversation at the outset, I wondered whether the husband might have been more emotional about the whole thing, but I think your having him needing a day at home when she returns is probably a better way of getting that across. I’m just off to book a few days away….

    • 👍

    • Hi Cinthia I also loved both the style and content of this. That sense of being in a rut, but not altogether unhappy is very real. Overall, your MC is lucky that the husband responded just right, didn’t shout and scream, or smother her, or beg her not to go…and I love the little frisson with the stranger and the possibility it opened up for her, that she realised she didn’t want. Really well done.

  • I cannot dream in darkened fright

    A long repose in danger’s way

    Darkness wins in smothered light

    Monsters lurk in deepest nights

    Fear takes form in shadow’s cold

    I cannot dream in darkened fright

    My throat […]

    • Wow, this is a bit scary and a depressed view of life. I hope you don’t feel as dark as your poem, rather than your light wins.

    • Kim replied 2 months ago

      I think its true for most people that they cannot dream when stressed or in fear. maybe nightmares manifest – all subconscious ways of highlighting our turmoil.
      this reads as if your narrator endures severe panic attacks – it must be very debilitating, – my sympathies.😞

    • Deep concepts here. Describes very well the trials of depression and fears in the vulnerable position of near-sleep. Interrupted sleep.
      I didn’t see the required Villanelle number of stanzas, but still a very good poem. Thanks for sharing, Cinthia. 🙂

    • Deep concepts here. Describes very well the trials of depression and fears in the vulnerable position of near-sleep. Interrupted sleep.
      I didn’t see the required Villanelle number of stanzas, but still a very good poem. Thanks for sharing, Cinthia. 🙂

    • The structure diverts from a villanelle, as Ismael noted, but I like the rhymes you chose, and the theme is appropriate for this time. Mine turned unintentionally dark. I find it hard not to go there, even though my thoughts aren’t as dark as the poem’s. I hope your situation is similar.

      If you going to keep working with it, I would experiment with punctuation. Some commas and periods would help the reader with pacing and add to the effect.

      Thank you for sharing.

    • Wow! Wonderful visual phrases. If grabbing the readers’ senses in every line means the poet has written a successful poem, you’ve done it. In spades!

  • Agenda

               “So just what is your agenda?” She asked, looking out the older man with interest and some trepidation. He smiled and his handsome eyes looked inside me. His jaw was strong, his hair trimmed t […]

    • Hi,

      I was hooked from the start. The story was easy to read and follow, the characters created were too believable and the internal struggle of the main character was well articulated. I enjoyed reading this. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Hi Cinthia, I really enjoyed this, the young cub journalist’s discomfort was evident, and she was ill equipped really to manage the interview. The piece could do with a more thorough edit – L1 – ‘looking out the older man’
      and ‘I looked down at notes’ and a couple of other little mistypes, otherwise great job.

    • This is a compelling piece. Outstanding work. I read it twice. The tone was perfect all the way through. I felt his evil. I hated him the way I believe you wanted your reader to hate him. I felt her fear. I also felt her nagging responsibility to the world to spill what she knows.

      Great work!

    • I liked the use of dialogue to drive the story and the opening line connected to the topic. I think you could have found a way to allow the end to come in with the dialogue rather than a time lapse to the end. Nice work, overall.

    • What a gripping read. I noticed that in the first two sentences you changed from third person to first. It was frightening because it is possible that there are people like him. I find it sad that she is taking the blame for his actions in the future. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • That was a very interesting and realistic read. I enjoyed it! The dialogue was very good. It is crazy how real that could be.

    • The Jim Jones. The David Koreshs. The ones that appear to be well meaning. That their followers sing their praises about. On radio, TV, Internet, or in print.
      Not all that plot against us carry weapons and live in secret compounds.

    • A very good story which reminds me of all the other dangerous and charismatic egocentric types who hook people in. He uses classic ploys, which certainly don’t work on this journalist. If I had one thing to say to her, it would be ‘You are not responsible.’

    • Hmmm. I liked the latent anger of the interviewee and the hidden agenda he had.

      I am not a fan of religion being used for other ‘means and different hidden agendas.”

      The story is so true – when we should have done something, we did not. So much a part of life and so true with practically all things.

      I liked!

      Darryl Morris

    • Hi Cinthia,
      That was one hard-hitting piece of work! I really liked the first-person perspective that you have used here. It adds a chilling realism to the writing. I love the character you have created – a shrewd, narcissistic person with fundamentalist ideologies. Several faces come to mind when I see this man. In the end, I wished with her that she had published her story. A insightful work! Thank you for sharing!

    • You managed to create a suitably eery tone consistently through the piece. There were some grammatical errors and changes in point of view others have mentioned and I am sure you are aware of. However this did not halt the flow of this ominous, too real story! It is scary how easily people can be pulled in as media validates the radical with airtime. Hard to know if she did the right thing. As a young reporter would her words have held gravity? Would she not have been spreading the word inadvertently to those that believed? Would her words have halted his trajectory? Lots of questions. Thought provoking peace.

    • I liked the double agendas-the the obvious one of the subject of the interview and the one of the reporter who didn’t want to ruin her career by taking him down. The regret that the journalist feels is a great emotional hook to re-read the story and reflect upon. Your dialogue is fast-paced and keeps the story moving quickly. Something I thought when I read the stories is that sometimes the repetition is effective, but other times, it can drag the story a bit. For example, in this section: “He wasn’t going to succeed. Would he? Were there people gullible enough to believe he had conversations with God? How many others out there believed as he did?”
      If you removed, “Would he? and “Were there people gullible enough to believe he had some conversations with God?” -you would still convey those thoughts and have more word count for other places.
      Here is an example where I think the repetition works well: “Sometimes that will be words, sometimes it is weapons. Sometimes people will die.” It’s clear he is an orator who uses rhythm and repetition for effect. So it shows us how he brings in followers.
      Overall, this is a great idea and execution. Excellent Story!

    • Creepy story. A few more beats to show who is speaking through body language and/or the protagonist’s reflection would break up the dialogue and help slow the pace to bring out even more tension.

  • Mother
    It’s been 18 years
    Since I saw you last
    Thrashing in your hospital bed
    Afraid
    In the middle of the night
    My words and presence were empty
    The way my life would become
    You gave me games of R […]

    • Jane replied 3 months ago

      OH Cinthia this poem is an outpouring of love and loss. You must have lost your mother when you were so young. And that must have been so hard. We rely on them for so much. Thank you for sharing this deeply personal piece of writing:)

    • Cinthia
      A loving and very touching poem. I liked the detail you put in like you missed my wedding, and the chicken and pumpkin pie. For me, they made it very real.
      Thank you for showing a part of your life.

    • I hear you. Lost my mother 8 years back. I feel the pain in every line. It makes my heart weep. Thank you for sharing.

    • Very well said, such emotion pours out to the reader. I had a bit of trouble with the flow of words, but that did not interfere with the feelings. Thank you,

    • Honest, touching, and so very real. I have a Mother star that I talk to when I miss her. I like the way you lined the poem. It flows very well.

    • Beautiful poem. I love the images of home life that you have woven into it.

    • This poem bursts with the loss of your mother from, I am guessing, a pretty young age. It’s raw, and beautiful with the little details of the memories that you keep. Thank you for sharing.

  • S  looked into his eyes, deep blue eyes that she loved so much. How could he even say these things, think these things? She loved him. She proved it every day. She said she loved him ten times a day. She did […]

    • Hi Cinthia – ah the perennial relationship issue for the 30 somethings, captured so well. The conversations that go nowhere, just get repeated over and over, the sense that any moment one might capitulate – she might agree to wait longer, he might blurt a marriage proposal – either way one or the other of them, or both, would live to regret it. I’m glad Sue found a man and had a family and everything she wanted, the man child – well, he’s on his own.
      Great dialogue, v relatable. There were a couple of words missing here and there, just needed a final edit, but I really enjoyed it. Thank you.

    • A great read, Cinthia, and I liked how you captured the frustration of the mismatched couple very well. You do dialogue very well, and it really moved the story ahead at just the right pace. That last sentence is so revealing of Tom’s emotions! You warned us about the formatting issues, so I won’t talk about the missing words 😉 Good job!

    • What a great, frustrating read! (I mean that in the most positive way possible haha). The inability of the two characters to be able to plainly say their emotions reminded me of one of my friend’s relationships. Very realistic! I’m happy that Sue managed to stay true to herself and see what had to be done. Thank you for sharing!

    • You did such a great job of capturing the feelings of the characters for the reader, but having them (him) not communicate clearly with each other. I liked the peek forward into the future too! Very satisfying!

    • Sue replied 3 months ago

      You describe a situation very common to many couples where one or another cannot or will not grow out of adolescence. This is a realistic portrayal of the characters and the dialogue flows naturally.

  • My sanity is cracking
    The way a glass mirror
    Screeches and shatters
    When it meets a hammer
    In the dead silence of night
    It whimpers and wails
    crashing in an explosion on the floor

    That’s me
    A sad angry s […]

    • Wow, a hard hitting poem. I love how you have used the prompt this month. Well done – and unfortunately I can relate quite well to your poem at the moment.

    • nicely done…

    • The image of sanity cracking is very striking and i like how you expanded on that. You did a very good job of making the lines of the poem feel/sound like individual fragments.
      If i may suggest, in the line “Trying to hold the pieces together” , ‘struggling’ would better continue the alliteration of “screaming, scrambling… pieces,… collapse” (which i love btw).
      Thank you for sharing!

    • taken straight from your soul – it hurt to read this
      I can feel the helplessness in each and every line – heart-breaking
      ❤❤

    • Great use of onomatopoeia words. Comparing emotions to a shattered mirror is a perfect metaphor for the reader to feel this person’s personal pain.
      Who isn’t feeling the crunch of work, finances and health issues? This piece will resonate with many readers.

      Great job!

    • I love the vulnerability expressed in this piece. It really hit home with me because it’s something I’ve bee dealing with these past few months, this kind of emotional breakdown due to many circumstances, some of which one can control, some of which one can’t. What strikes me the most is how the poem sounds. I could feel the glass shattering, crack appearing all over it in a vividly way. The final line, though… I like the image but I think it somehow alters the rhythm you had got with the lines before. I think it’s the contrast between the endings of ‘boot’ and ‘devastation’. But then again, it might just be me, and the sudden halt is kind of justified due to your theme. Overall, great job!

  • Sixty and unemployed. The scariest words I could imagine. I got into my best dress suit, armed with multiple copies of my resume and after careful research I hit the streets, looking for the perfect job.
    I was […]

    • I liked this story. Particularly it seems not to be about the job hunt but more like a ‘someone who understands hunt.’ At the end she finds someone who understands, but I also think the story points out that people don’t know us, but also we don’t know other people or their histories. The only thing I would recommend is breaking the text into chunks, just to make it easier to read on this site. Thank you for sharing.

    • A great short story that I believe could be turned into a novel. I admired the hero from the start. She’s honest about her life, but hasn’t lost her sense of humor. She’s tough, but she isn’t superhuman. The balance makes her very rounded character even in a short piece like this. It’s hard to do in 1000 words.

      I like that you didn’t use a lot of dialog tags. It kept the dialog snappy and the story moving quickly. I didn’t have a problem following the speaker because your hero’s voice was unique.

      That odd time of life – “too old to hire, too young to retire” is a difficult one, especially if you have health challenges. I think her experience would resonate with many people. I know it did for me.

      Keep writing.

    • A gerat short story, and I also like you didn’t use too many dialogue tags. The only critism, and its not about the quality of your writing, I’d prefer if there was spacing and breaks in the piece.

    • I agree that you have a basic for a longer story, but you did a nice job of fitting it all in to the 1000 words. The spacing does make it a bit difficult to read, especially with the double quotation marks. I’ve noticed that some writers just use dashes, others use single quote marks, and others use nothing but work the dialogue so that the reader definitely knows who is speaking.
      A good story about a tough challenge.
      Thanks for posting.
      Thia

    • Sorry, I started to comment and my computer was acting badly and it took me a while to find your story again.

      The first thing that drew me to your story was the first line….I had just finished a recent conversation with a man who was sixty and unemployed. (This too, needs to be addressed in the film…see below)

      In your story, the main character had a negative attitude about her age and because of her illness her attitude was not too positive about her body and its ability. She was worried that she may not be strong enough to handle the work and also she worried that she would cost the company money. I am not quite sure what to say about her attitude, I feel compassion for her….and admire her for being able to overcome her doubts about her abilities.
      A woman employer, who has experienced, most likely, similar feelings was the one to hire her. Why? I think because her motivation was more than profit…it was humane. The profit motive has to be there but it can be tempered with more.
      The marketplace can be a rough place and I think you point this out by revealing your character’s feelings. For some reason I am not recalling her name, and I don’t want to go back and check as I may lose the page again. The fact that I don’t recall her name may indicate that her name needs changing to fit her character. She overcame so much and was still slowly climbing the mountain. Her motivation was so strong despite the fact that she had fears about her abilities. I want to say Bravo!
      I know of people who gave their whole life dedicated to the company they worked for and when they became ill and if their ability to work because a bit less….after all those years….they were dumped.
      That sort of thing needs to be stopped. I think this story could be a novel and a film…. important film….I hope you will go for it.

    • Hi Cinthia – an honest story well told. The protagonists is desperate to work but her exterior calm belies the desperation. I admire that she is pounding the pavements to find work – it might have been interesting (word count notwithstanding) to know if she had debts from her treatment – she is clearly expecting medical insurance from a new employer but for example she could be even more driven to find work because of her dire financial situation – just a thought .

    • Hello Cinthia and very nice writing. The story is well known but the first person delivery helps to make it feel fresh and personal (great choice.) I really like teh sentence you threw in early one, the one that begins “My hair hadn’t come in very well after the chemo….” It shows us a lot about your main character and helps to explain why her eventual employer recognised her health issues. I agree that a bit of spacing would help improve this piece and I also like the minimal dialogue. What you did write in terms of conversation, works very well. I really like how you had your main character stop herself and confess probably unnecessary details of her health issues. I did not expect that she would continue to get a positive reaction so that was a nice “twist.” Well done and best regards, Seyi

    • I was caught by your opening lines and my interest was held throughout. Often, when a character indulges in so much self-examination, a reader can become bored, but this isn’t the case with your story. I found myself rooting for your protagonist and worried when she almost seemed to sabotage herself at the end. You use language skillfully.

  • “We are a coalition of people that joined together because we care, we want to make things better.” The older man narrowed his brow and put his hand on the table for emphasis. “I am but one person, but toget […]

    • Grrrrr!

      Cinthia you have drawn me in and left me hanging! Good job.

      I really enjoyed the character of the old man and would love to read more about your Coalition.

      Two minor observations… there is an invasive comma at the end of this sentence – you would be less likely to have such feelings.,
      And I think it would be easier to read if the paragraphs were spaced out.

      However, I loved your story-telling.

    • Hi,

      I enjoyed the story line and the story. The ending frustrated me because now I really want to know what the coalition was about – which just mean that you really drew me into the story. I liked the perspective this story gave me. This is a genre I like reading – so thank you for sharing and well done!

    • Hi,
      This was a curious little story. I love how you have build up the interest purely on the shoulders of a conversation. The old man and Joshua both appear to be relatable and interesting characters. I like the calmness and patience that the older man exudes. I do have some questions though – I get it that the coalition seeks to change peoples’ lives. I am guessing in a spiritual manner…but what exactly does this transformation incorporate? I believe that another part will satiate all the queries. Very well-written! Thank you for sharing!

    • How did it end? Who are the Coalition? Is it a cult like Joshua feared… :-)… Well written! I was so hooked up and was about getting ready to follow them to the Coalition lol….
      I hope it can have a sequel… in one of the prompts lol…
      Loved it.

    • Hi Cinthia

      glad to see you are back on the site – hope you are well?

      An interesting premise – however, I must confess, if this had continued on much longer in the same fashion, I would’ve lost interest. This is a classic case of much ado about…nothing . and by that I don’t mean there is no story – I think there is – but you don’t give it to us.
      too much time spent on dialogue that doesn’t advance your plot nor give me any insight at all into the older mans motives and very little into the younger man’s character – other than he appears lost ,yet his tone seems quite belligerent and too gullible at the same time – an odd juxtaposition. and that’s it.
      I thought something might be up with the coffee , you spent a lot of detail on it but it was a throwaway description, coming to naught.
      the young man ,for all his cynicism, seems oddly accepting to find the older man at his workplace – it just doesnt ring true.
      perhaps another draft to flesh out your characters , and add some tension, some resistance from the younger man. give it more of an edge/conflict.

      All the best,

  • I am numb
    Lost
    Scaling a mountain with no top
    I am treading water in the deep ocean
    Getting no where
    I am numb
    Heartless and heart broken
    Every path is dark
    Every choice is wrong
    I am numb
    I have to be
    To get […]

    • You really managed to convey the pain and struggle the speaker is feeling so poignantly. It is quite effective the way you portray numbness as both a symptom and a coping mechanism – because so often in such times things become blurry and we are not even sure any more what is what. The use of repetition also creates a striking effect. I really liked the way you weaved the hint of hope so subtly into it all with the image of the cocoon – which is not yet requiring the speaker to transform, but for now just providing her/him with the safety and isolation needed. Very special!

  • Cinthia Albers earned 1 Writing Point 10 months, 3 weeks ago

    1 Point for publish a new post 1 time (limited to 1 per month)

  • They gathered together in the conference room, a bold gaggle of business men and women, dressed in crisp suits. They spoke proudly to one another as they tried to outsmart and out wit their competition. This was a […]

Cinthia Albers

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active 1 week ago