The Penny

 

christmas in boise

© The Idaho Statesman

Sadje tagged me to continue (or in this case, finish) A Special Finish the Story Challenge for Nov started by “The Haunted Wordsmith.” Here’s the story as crafted by the various contributors.

Let’s start with Teresa:

Sounds of children’s laughter and joy floated down the stairs. Liam breathed deeply and smiled. Never more content in his life. All thanks to the penny in his hand.

“Don’t forget your change, sir,” she had said. Her smile ignited the flame he thought long dead. A brush of her hand against his, and he was hers.

The ladies in his life, in beautiful red holiday dresses, walked down the steps of the opera house still reveling in The Nutcracker.

“Did you like it, Daddy?” Alice grinned.

“Very much so.” He kissed Alice on the forehead, and held his wife’s hand.

The ringing of the Christmas bell called to the penny, and with a smile and tip of his hat, Liam dropped the penny into the kettle so that it may bring someone else as much love and joy as it had him.

“Thank you, sir and Merry Christmas.”

Cheryl:

That evening as the Salvation Army Santa Claus emptied his kettle into the bank deposit box, he noticed one of the coins sparkled. He thought it was his tired eyes, playing a trick on him, but there it was, almost begging him to retrieve it. He hesitated only a second or two and then took the penny.
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After the War

waterfall

© Dale Rogerson

The flowing water was marginally warmer than the frigid air, but Lance dressed for the weather and felt comfortable crouching down on a flat rock near the falls. At his feet patiently sat the urn. When he first met Tamara a decade ago, he never thought she liked the cold and the mountains so much. He was used to snow, being raised as a “flatlander,” but he’d have a hard time getting used to the altitude.

Pouring out the open clay container, her ashes rained into the stream like tears. “I wish I would have told you I loved you.”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

Yesterday, I wrote the opening to a wee Space Opera called The Girl He Left Behind, which was my response to a completely different writing challenge. You can’t tell because of the brevity of this piece, but this is the aftermath of winning an interstellar war, with Lance being one of the few survivors. He takes the ashes of one of his fellow soldiers, a woman he always thought was just a friend, but who had fallen in love with him, back to her homeworld, the only one to have not been destroyed.

War isn’t kind, even to the victors.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

Quoting: Two Ways to Make a Situation Worse

An ill person can needlessly worsen his situation in one of two ways. He can mistakenly consider himself not to be ill, and fail to seek the doctors and the medicine he needs. The second is the opposite. His sickness might be severe, but he exacerbates his situation by considering himself even more sick than he really is and this leads to his giving up hope of ever being cured. He himself increases the damage of his sickness by his discouragement.

This is very important for a sick person to keep in mind. But it is also appropriate in the area of spiritual welfare. A person not aware of his faults and failings will not work on self-improvement. But if he over exaggerates the extent of his negative qualities and behavior, he will become discouraged and his discouragement will prevent him from improving.

Sources: Chosen Yehoshua 1:8; Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s “Gateway to Happiness,” p.378

The Girl He Left Behind: A Short Space Opera

girl

– Kelogsloops @ Instagram

Twenty-five-year-old Lance Andrew Cain immersed himself in Miranda’s psychedelic beauty, his love’s long, white mane sensuously lifting and waving in a thermal updraft, while globules of incandescent plasma rose with her, surrounding her, isolating the both of them from the ravages of the Lorav Nebula, and cold space beyond.

He raised his hands, as from each fingertip, a monarch butterfly, wings painted in the hues of precious gems, soared away from him, dancing around her alabaster form, her full, pendulous breasts, kissing the crimson that shaded her eyes, her cheeks, her lips. He was in an ecstasy of longing, and unfulfilled, his spirit remained suspended between paradise and mundane.

Then the officer saw the twin white chevrons on the sleeve of his royal blue jacket and remembered, and remembering thus, his darling’s vision froze, stuttered momentarily, and then vanished back into digital oblivion. Once again the Lieutenant JG in the service of the Fifth Legion of Garissann, aboard the space cruiser “The Dread of Issac,” was alone.

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Quoting: Emulate the Great

If you have to explain something to someone who needs many repetitions, imagine that you are Rabbi Praida, who repeated each idea 400 times to a slow student.

You personally might not yet have developed the level of patience of Rabbi Praida. But when you imagine that you are Rabbi Praida, you plug into his amazing ability to be patient.

-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s book “Patience.”

The New Dragon Saga: Impaler

dracula

Promotional image for “Theatre68 presents Dracula”

Chapter 8: The temperature on this “night world” had suddenly become sub-zero, but that wasn’t the reason for Landon’s paralyzed muscles as the vampire Estaban lunged for his throat. The seventeen-year-old wizard was still holding tightly to his staff, and in a panic, he released a wave of light from the iron covered top, now shaped to resemble an eagle.

The disfigured undead being shrieked in horror as the simulated Sun’s rays raked across his melted face, the result of being engulfed in a dragon’s breath, as he reeled backward. Brilliant illumination continued to shine forth from the head of the staff, engulfing a three meter in diameter area around the two of them, the only sanctuary from the otherwise arctic winter that had possessed the wooded landscape. The snow was streaming down all around them, driven by high winds, but inside the mystic bubble, everything was warm and calm, except that the screams of the vampire had now been reduced to a helpless mewing.

“Talk. What happened to you? Who’s behind all this?” The experience was far too close to his recurring nightmare to be mere coincidence, but Landon still didn’t have all the pieces to the puzzle put together yet.

“The Master,” Estaban gasped, agony coursing through him like poison in this veins. “You can’t stop him. You’re dead already, just like me.”

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Figeroa’s Mirror

mirror

Found at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie – No image credit available

Patrick Figeroa knew he had to get back inside the quarantine area and shut down the experiment within the next hour or it would become unstoppable. General Conrad Buchanan and his so-called “military experts” thought that just cutting power to the transfer unit would close the rift, and although the field remained active, they believed it was a residual effect that would gradually fade.

They were spectacularly wrong.

At thirty-five, Figeroa was considered the world’s foremost expert on transdimensional dynamics, but he had been certified a genius since age three, so such accolades meant nothing to him.

The remote testing ground in central Nevada seemed even more alien to him as he approached ground zero. It had been child’s play to shut down a sector of the defense grid  in one sector surrounding area LI, including sonic, visual, and infrared sensors, so he could get inside. It was just after eight, and desert mornings in November were particularly unforgiving. Fortunately, he was well dressed for the freezing weather, but although he was prepared for what he had to do in every other way, the landscape, and especially the birds sailing above in the overcast sky puzzled him.

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Quoting: Elevate Your Outlook at Work

When you are working at your job, focus on how you are helping other people and fulfilling the commandment of “love your neighbor.”

Moreover, your job is an opportunity to work on being honest and trustworthy in every transaction.

Sources: see Rabbi Yisroel Salanter in Michtav M’Eliyahu; Chochmah Umussar; Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s “Gateway to Happiness,” p.104

Quoting: Duplicate Spiritual Greatness

It can take a long time until something is invented. But once one person has already broken through the creative barrier, others can easily follow suit and produce the same results. For example, it took many years until someone invented the first railroad train. But after one person invented it, many others built similar railroad trains. It doesn’t take a genius to model the work of a genius!

The same principle applies to spiritual growth. There were people in previous generations who reached great heights. They were innovators in the field of Jewish metaphysics. Since we now have them as models, the knowledge of how to reach spiritual greatness is available to all of us.

Today, think of five great people you have met or read about. What qualities do you most respect in each one? As you reflect on these qualities, consider how you would apply these same attributes to yourself.

-Sources: see Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz – Daas Chochmah Umussar, vol. 2, p.40