• My Iambic Pentameter’s broken by R.L. Nel
    The sonnet is an archaic art form
    When prompted to compose one I shivered
    Writing verse without rhyme is now the norm
    While sonnets, like dried flowers, are […]

    • Your pentameter might be broken but I stil thought this was fun to read! And it is a good take on the prompt: modern sonnets no longer have to be in perfect Shakespearean form. I believe that poets also have to be a little irreverent of the classics otherwise poetry would never progress. Thanks for sharing!

    • You sonnet was fun to read. Good job!

    • I agree with the fun! And liberties taken just add to the ride. Thanks for the early morning smile!

    • Broken or not the fun it has got

    • Hi Rachel – I think this was a perfect take on the prompt if an imperfect sonnet (I didn’t go as far as counting syllables and tracking the rhyme scheme so technically it might be spot on!) Poetry is for personal interpretation (so I am re discovering!) and to have fun with, so why not put a modern twist on an old classic!!

    • So amusing! But I agree – too many rules. Sounds like you had fun with this one and it’s great!

    • Your sonnet is over the top great. I think I did mine wrong, RRRRRRR

      Great job as always Rachel!

    • Oh what a fun poem. Especially the last couplet. Clever take on the prompt.

    • You have nothing to apologise for. It’s a sonnet. It’s funny. I like it. Well done.

    • Hi Rachel, you have made me laugh:) You should read Elizabeth’s poem – of a similar nature to yours:) I must admit I worked on the rhyming pattern, the correct length of verses, and the syllables I did not even try to get the iambic pentameter correct. Although I sometimes feel if you get all those other things right that might just fall into place. Really well done:)

    • Oh this reviewer will rave! I saw the title and smiled; had to read it–drew me in. I love tongue-in-cheek assessments, and this one is well done. The ending couplet is perfect. Lots of fun reading this one. Thanks for posting.

    • Of course I read it because of the title and because it was yours. Wonderful response to the prompt. I, however, have a soft spot for the sonnet. Hope you’ll forgive me that.

    • Rachel! So glad I stopped by to read this. I am still cracking up laughing over here as I type. Your title and then the whole sonnet and references to poetic terms and Shakespeare are hilarious! 😉 I enjoyed this take on the prompt because I think sonnets suck. j/k, well kinda…great job and I always look forward to reading your work.

    • Hi Rachel, when shakespeare does turn over in his grave the world will see a wry smile on his face. All your readers (me foremost) love what you’ve done as would the old bard. Your title is so creative and begs to be read. Really like the way you bring in the limerick and haiku references. Really well done.

  • Hey JM, whoa, you certainly know how to end on cliffhangers! I loved the pace, the dialogue and how you’ve managed to cleverly work the prompt into this. Well done! – Rachel

  • Hi Maria, as always, your writing pulled me in and transported me from the first word. I so enjoyed reading it, I didn’t even realise that you were over the word count! I like the last half especially since it’s in such contrast to the first. And the ending is yikes! Imagine if our obsessive thought really could manifest itself!! Well done on…[Read more]

  • Trust you to take an innocuous prompt like red lipstick and giving it a macabre little twist! I absolutely loved it. You are truly a masterful storyteller, Amrita! Excellently done! – Rachel

  • Wow, Deryn, this is amazing! Excellently written and so frustrating and heartbreaking. I’m guessing the same fate had befallen the cousin. You’ve managed to pack a lot of story into the limited word count. And pulled me in right from the start. Well done! – Rachel

  • Great story, Mark and really well told! Your protagonist puts a lot of faith in her lipstick, ha ha! Well done! – Rachel

  • Ben, I loved this! Ha ha, so even those who can perform magic get sucked into buying products promising more than they deliver! What a heartening thought! Ha ha! This was an excellent take on the prompt and so well delivered! Well done! – Rachel

  • Peggy, this is a great flash fiction piece! I also think it’s among your best, so you need to delete your disclaimer. What a deliciously devious character! Well done! – Rachel

  • Seyi! You packed so much into the limited word count. Well done, my friend. And so well written! – Rachel

  • Contraband by R.L. Nel
    When the sunset twirls colourful ribbons across the sky, they leave their shacks.
    It’s first come first serve, so Thabo runs as fast as his spindly legs will go under the weight of his […]

    • Hey Rachel and how goes it? A wonderful opening line, not sure how much more lyrical or descriptive anyone could get. I like how you kept up the mystery of exactly what the ‘contraband’ was, almost till the end. The little paragraph that starts with ‘It’s still rush hour.’ is awesome, though you may want to leave a note explaining that a ‘robot’ is a ‘traffic-light’ in the rest of the world. I like the alterations in your description of the township folk leaving their minibus taxis (weighted down with worry and weariness), and the way you use that line to introduce the pandemic is well done The preceding ‘purged from overcrowded white minibus taxis’ fits exactly right. I’ll be thinking of that description next time I see folk falling out of minibus taxis, the way they do, sometimes. The image of a Thabo lighting up to ‘advertise’ his wares is powerful, and sadly, it worked! Well done with this piece, I am sure post-COVID, plenty of stories of those affected by the booze and cigarette bans, and the black markets they created will surface. Best regards, Seyi

    • Hello, Rachel (got your name from Seyi who caled you such, and hope you don’t mind). Great story on making cigarette packs “disappear” in South Africa. Colleagues at Witwatersrand University have been telling me about this too and the thriving black market for cigarettes. So your story makes it very interesting for me to read. I like your vivid descriptions, the way you use noun collections such as “miasma of exhaust fumes”, and the elegiac quality of “When the sunset twirls colourful ribbons across the sky … ” which captures the imagination at once. I began to visualise your story and right to the end the visuals stayed with me, including picturing Thabo and the woman in the car. The dialogue is very well done; nothing contrived about it at all. It was natural and it fit the story so well and drove it to its conclusion very well. The final sentence — “With a magician’s sleight of hand, she makes the packet of cigarettes* disappear” — wraps up the story very nicely for me. Very nicely done.

    • Hi Rachel,
      You never cease to amaze me! Every description of yours is so effective and captivating at the same time. Whether it’s love, happiness, pain, misery, or something even more profound – it’s like you wield a magic wand and the magic happens. I had no idea that the sale of cigarettes was prohibited in South Africa during lockdown. Thabo’s story has all the elements that can pass for a compelling human interest feature. But you add such rich emotions to it. Even his actions make you feel like you can see him, sense his desperation. Brilliant read! Thank you for sharing!

    • Hi Rachel, I agree with Amrita, what you do with words is just magic. The descriptions in this scene and your turn of phrases are stunning. I especially loved ‘the crossing…one of many places in South Africa where privilege intersects with poverty every day’ and the contented cats purr of the cars turning into a lion’s roar as the lights change. Brilliantly written – thank you for sharing.

    • I love the way you draw me into the story with your vivid descriptions and your exquisite word choices. I also had no idea that cigarettes (and booze, according to Seyi) have been banned during the pandemic – I wonder what the logic behind that is? I was completely captivated by your story, with Thabo and his surroundings which I could see clearly in my mind as I read this fantastic story. I love the way you used this prompt to show us an aspect of the pandemic that most of us have no idea exists. Well done!

    • Hi Rachel,
      Your words are truly poetic. There are so many well-turned phrases that I can’t really choose. I savored the sunset’s colorful ribbons across the sky. And after I figured out what a robot was, I really admired this part, “Vehicles caught by the red light purr like contented cats. When the robot turns green, they roar like lions and vanish in a blur of tail lights and a miasma of exhaust fumes.”
      I am curious why cigarettes and alcohol are banned. It seems that when people are desperate during a lockdown, they need to turn to something. In the US, rates of opiate and other drug use has soared, so we are using different contrabands as well. Your image of Thabo, lying about his age and his spindly legs at the intersection of privilege and poverty was powerful. I wondered where he got the cigarettes from. A beautifully written piece with vivid imagery and lyrical description. Super fantastic job!

    • Good one, very on point. I like the descriptions and feel of the story. Next time I see one of those guys on the side of the road I’ll think about them a little differently thanks to your writing.

    • Hi Rachel, I loved the descriptions and imagery you created in this short story:) My very favourite sentences were these three:
      It’s still rush hour. Vehicles caught by the red light purr like contented cats. When the robot turns green, they roar like lions and vanish in a blur of tail lights and a miasma of exhaust fumes.
      Love miasma and the purr of contented cats – so clever.
      I cannot believe they have banned the sale of cigarettes if they dared to do that in Australia all hell would break loose. We have so many people addicted to the god awful things. I can definitely see why it has caused a black market.
      Well done and thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Rachel, I loved this story. It is one of those “real-life” South African stories, full of the contradictions of rich, poor, and colour. The traffic crossing “where privilege intersects with poverty every day” is a perfect, beautifully worded analogy. Indeed, your language and descriptions give your story a wonderful life in so few words. I didn’t know about the cigarette ban either, so I appreciated your note at the end. Thank you for sharing

    • Very vivid imagery, good job showing the contrasting lives of the different groups living under the same sky. I empathized with Thabo and felt bad for him at the end.

  • Winter Solstice by R.L. Nel

    A blank, milky sky
    unfurls as a backdrop for
    birds, frozen in flight

    Read more of R.L. Nel’s work.

  • At least he had the decency to wait until my hair had grown back before he broke the news to me.

    Well, it wasn’t exactly news to me. And it didn’t come as a surprise. A breath-taking shock, yes, but not a […]

    • I have to say Rachel you are clever. Your writing has evolved into something so amazing. Sarah was definitely not going to let him go that easy.

      Besides the story which is well thought out the words was placed extremely well. The tone stayed the whole way through.

      Cancer is a tough subject and I think you handled it well.

      Great job with the post.

    • well written story which kept my interest throughout. I felt the pain of the situation for Sarah. Loved the ending

    • Aw, Rachel, you’ve gone and made me cry! This was so well written, so well paced, and while somewhat predictable, so well played out. I’m choosing to believe that Sarah is lying to him about the cancer, to make him feel bad, which he certainly deserves. The other option is almost too sad to contemplate, but more in line with what you intended, and more realistic, given the three glasses of wine she’s drunk already, unprepared for the “talk,. This was so good, Rachel. Great work, as always!

    • Hi Rachel – by the time the end of the story was coming and you still hadn’t introduced the prompt I had a bad premonition about the ending. I’m not sure if I hope she’s telling the truth or lying. Either way, she needs to find friends and family and let him go. A really well told tale. Well done.

    • Eish Rachel, you at your regal best with this piece. I was swept along with this story and the warning in the early line ‘A breath-taking shock, yes, but not a complete surprise,’ only prepared me for Richard’s leaving. The reality of being ‘…sprawled on the couch and nursing a glass of wine, my third for the evening’ made me fear the worst even before she blurted out that last line. Your writing is as powerful, as moving as ever and this one is up there with your best. Well done and very best regards, Seyi

    • Hi Rachel,
      I am speechless. How do you manage to do this every time? Your stories convey so much under the veneer of deceptive simplicity. You are a master at highlighting human emotions. I was really moved by the situation that this lady faces. I am guessing she is now in her advanced years and a marriage of several years is on rocks because the husband is bored. I felt a twinge in my heart when I read these lines, “He had not called me “darling” in a long time. In recent months, I had just become Sarah again. Hearing the old endearment almost brought me to tears. Pathetic, I know.”
      At times, I feel angry and helpless when I see that humanity and basic sensitivity is fast eluding us. Why is it wrong to expect a little affection or love from people one is supposed to get it from? Why should it be deemed ‘pathetic’? I think she deserved his love, support, companionship and affection. The fact that he failed is pathetic.
      I like the way you delicately weave the threads of your story, especially the part where the husband starts caring for her once he learns that she has cancer. It had roused a hope in my heart that perhaps he would come back to her. The ending just broke my heart and I could feel pain fill up my heart. I wish people valued relationships and love more than looks, age and appearances. A very moving story! Thank you for sharing!

    • Those end lines were like a punch to the stomach. What a wonderfully tragic tale. The characters, their interactions, the pacing, it was all so mesmerising. A powerful piece and I think it is one of my favourites yet, despite the less than happy ending. Also, she deserved better. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  • My mother’s waiting in reception. Instead of a greeting, I get an appraisal from my unbrushed (but clean!) hair down to my ripped jeans. She purses her lips.”Sylvia, couldn’t you have dressed more appropriately?” […]

    • Stunning. I know the mother and feel the daughter in this sad story you tell with profound simplicity and power. I’ll miss seeing/reading you here. See you on the third and fourth Wednesdays.

    • Wow. Powerful, excellent descriptions with just enough backstory. Well done.

    • Excellent! Thank you for sharing this.

    • Most excellent.

    • Very well done. I can see this as a character study, or as a character sketch for a longer story.

    • Hi Rachel,
      You know how to bring a subject to the reader’s attention.
      I hope this comes from your vivid imagination.
      There are subliminal messages in this short submission.
      If you have the strength, you should consider continuing this character’s journey.
      The journey will uncover serious challenges in today’s society.
      Bring it on.

    • Hello Rachel,
      What a powerful story. I like the interaction between the mother and daughter. The dialogue was rich and so were the descriptions. Heartwarming. Well done!

    • Hi Rchel – wow could the mother not be more gracious – she sounds like a judgemental old harridan and the MC should get out of that toxic environment if she is to stay sane and clean. Well done for evoking all of that in me!! Hope you are doing OK and see you over in 12SS!

    • Hi Rachel, this is very real. It is funny how even when something happens in our own family we can still see the bad in others and not be more empathetic. Well done and thanks for sharing.

    • To all you fabulous writers, thank you for your treats of creativity over the past 70 days and for the time you took to comment on my own submissions.
      It was a heck of ride and I will be forever grateful for this opportunity to be involved with such a cohesive and dynamic writing community positioned in so many corners of the world.
      May you all write on and on and on……peace from Canada….Glen

      ps; powerful last story Rachel….nice work

    • Hey Rachel, tough but real topic. I like your nod to the attempted class difference with an illness that does not know class. The ‘mother’ character is well crafted, easy to dislike. Thanks for this and too many awesome stories to mention. I hope to see you on 12SS. Thanks for all your input to my stories, they always helped. best regards, Seyi

    • Adam replied 2 months ago

      A powerful piece Rachel. Keep on writing like this – take care and see you on FB sometime soon. A

  • R.L. Nel commented on the post, Hex by Seyi 2 months, 1 week ago

    Hahaha, this is brilliant, Seyi! For a guy with brains he certainly got himself into a pickle at the end. I have a feeling he’s about to negotiate for his life here! Thank you so much for sharing! – Rachel

  • Ah, this is absolutely brilliant and also makes me all wistful. Well done on completing this challenge! I myself missed five prompts but plan to catch up over the next few days and do it for myself. Might as well, since we’re in this habit now. Thank you for sharing your storytelling gift with us! You are so talented. – Rachel
    P.S. The elves…[Read more]

  • I’ve just caught up. What a great story you told! I was right there with Hannah. Very well done!! – Rachel

  • Jane, you sure know how to end a story on a cliffhanger! I’ve gulped up several of the installments that I’ve missed in order to catch up. You are a great storyteller! I’m utterly captivated and can’t wait to see what tomorrow will have in store! – Rachel

  • Marta, your unexpected ending had me chuckling. Poor kids! I can only imagine the nightmares they’ll be having! Thank you so much for sharing! – Rachel

  • Ahhhh this is so sweet! Perhaps it’s my macabre mind, but I thought this was going to end in tragedy. Since she took the plunge with her mother’s blessing, though, I’m guessing our little heroine will be golden! Thank you so much for sharing! It’s a lovely piece of writing. – Rachel

  • The midwife at the clinic cried out when the baby slid into her hands. Nosipho, who had just pushed aforementioned baby into the world, was immediately alarmed.”What’s wrong?” she asked, craning her neck.The […]

    • This was such an intriguing piece, made even better by the use of actual belief systems about albinism. Nicely done!

    • The tension was almost too much for me. An excellent story.

    • What an interesting story. I like the way you split between points of view and I was especially pleased to see that according to lore at least she was blessed with the healing powers and good fortune.

    • I enjoyed how you set the stage with the birth and introduction of Albinism – followed by a moment in the young girls future. 👍

    • I liked the way you gave the background story and then reverted to telling the story from the POV of the child herself, grown up.
      Interesting, too, all the information about the beliefs.

    • Hi Rachel, I loved your take on the prompt with hex. Having an albino child in a black African village must be like having a black child in an all-white area. Definitely not something they are happy to see. I love that the mother accepted her and the villagers did too. But it was heartening by the end that she was not only accepted but revered by all. Well done.

    • Hi Rachel,
      Ah, so that’s where the witch doctors come from. I always wanted to know 🙂
      You portray such a shock when the albino comes into a society pre-programmed to reject them.
      Thank you for sharing an excellent example of inbuilt prejudice.

    • Hi Rachel Albinism is such a misunderstood condition still in many cultures. Glad this girl found her mojo!

    • Hi Rachel, a nice revelation of stress at the discovery at birth, melding into a relaxing young live of acceptance of a fatherless child ( i liked that tidbit) and then flowing into the sweetness of her being sought after…..a ife well lived and kudos to the mother for her giving of love……sweet.

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