Tagged: holiday

The Descent Into (Holiday) Madness

r-avatarThe baking. The shopping. The wrapping. The cleaning.

The visiting. The cookies! The feasting. (And more cookies!)

Work stress. Travel stress. Gift anxiety.

New card games. Nonpariels. Caramels. And more feasting.

See what’s missing? The writing. Things in the cave haven’t stopped completely, we promise, but the apparatus available for our use isn’t sensitive enough to register any movement. So, yeah. It’s gotten pretty challenging to keep up with our goals.

We wish joy upon all our readers, now and throughout the year.

The Newly Exposed Skin

by KentIn keeping with our annual tradition, this week’s stichomancy prompt fodder is taken exclusively from holiday songs. Unlike previous years, we’re going to work them into our ongoing chain story. Enjoy!

  • where the treetops glisten
  • fire is so delightful
  • Giddy up, giddy up, giddy up
  • underneath his beard so snowy white
  • think of all the fellas that I haven’t kissed

Tune in next time part 138                             Click Here for Earlier Installments

The newly exposed skin of my chest was bright pink, the color deepening to red as I watched. If there were any important details of the tattoo done in red hues they would be practically invisible.

Getting a good look at the tattoo was awkward. It was going to either be upside down or, if I could find a mirror, backwards. The spa was filled with mirrors, so I gave that a try. I was still pessimistic about understanding the message, when what to my wondering eyes should appear but a code that I recognized. Tessa had inked the original da Vinci style, in mirrorscript, so the reflection was plainly legible to me. The nefarious spa attendants were actually at a disadvantage with their photograph!

It did take a few minutes to recall how to decipher the code she used. Soon I could tell that the message was a set of directions, almost like a pirate’s treasure map. “Go to where the treetops glisten, and remind the headmistress that fire is so delightful precisely because it is so dangerous. You must hurry. Giddy up, giddy up, giddy up!”

I put my shirt back on, again. There could only be one place that the tattoo meant, and it wasn’t in Pittsburghistan. On my way out of the spa I nearly tripped over two people laying on the floor. One was an old man with a beard like a wizard’s, and the other was my sister Freya. (For a second, I mistook her for Thor. But last I knew he was prisoner aboard a zeppelin.)

They blinked up at me in surprise. The old man cracked a semi-toothless grin.

My question about what she was up to never got uttered. I spotted the man’s tattoo underneath his beard so snowy white, Freya’s lipstick all around it. (Another clue that this was indeed Freya — it wasn’t Thor’s shade.)

I rolled my eyes. Freya shrugged. “Dear brother, think of all the fellas that I haven’t kissed.”

bonus points for using them in order (and bonus bonus points for throwing in an extra snippet)

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Pittsburghistan By Night

by jenIn keeping with our annual tradition, this week’s stichomancy prompt fodder is taken exclusively from holiday songs. Unlike previous years, we’re going to work them into our ongoing chain story. Enjoy!

  • if you really hold me tight
  • find out who’s naughty
  • snow is glistening
  • dressed up like Eskimos
  • ring-ting-tingling too

Tune in next time part 137                             Click Here for Earlier Installments

Pittsburghistan by night is a sight to behold. The searchlights on every roof draw blinding white grid patterns over every building and sidewalk, and across the heavy clouds in the sky. I was approached by many prostitutes, one of whom said, “If you really hold me tight, and don’t do nothin’ else, honey, I’ll give you a discount.”

I kept moving, in no mood to find out who’s naughty enough to take her up on an offer like that.

As I turned a corner into yet another narrow alley, I spotted something that finally tempted me. A traditional arctic spa. After the week I’d had, I felt I deserved some relaxation.

Inside, I approached the receptionist and told her I was in desperate need of a foot massage, and a mani-pedi.

What? A guy has every right to pamper himself sometimes.

From the sample board I chose an almost clear polish called “snow is glistening.” The receptionist showed me to a private room and handed me a complimentary robe. I kicked off my shoes and peeled off my fetid socks, then plunged my feet into the tub of fragrant warm water.

A few moments later, the attendants arrived, both dressed up like Eskimos in keeping with the spa’s theme. While they massaged my feet and calves, I was able to relax for the first time in ages.

I must have drifted off because the next thing I knew, I was in severe pain. My chest felt like it was being flayed. It was burning and itching and ring-ting-tingling too. One of the attendants stood over me with a strip of fabric which was covered with hot peppermint wax and the remains of my once-lush chest pelt. The other held up a camera and snapped a picture, then the two of them ran from the room without saying a word.

My damned chest tattoo! With great trepidation I looked down at it. Tessa had kept me blindfolded until the hair grew back and I had never actually seen it before.

bonus points for using them in order

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Thankfulness

r-avatarYesterday was Thanksgiving, and that meant there wasn’t a lot happening in the writing cave. But there was plenty of family time, and Lady Marzipan got to meet her first kitty cat! Today we lunge back into fictioning, to start burning off some of the gazillion extra calories we took in at the feast.

Kent and Jen are each thankful to have a wonderful writing partner, for the load sharing and the brainstorming, and the occasional chaining to their desks. (Kent is grateful, furthermore, for a writing partner with phenomenal baking skills.)

Mom Dozes – Holiday Prompt

  • k-avatarshe didn’t see me creep
  • blink a bright red and green
  • I’ll be back again some day
  • we can hardly stand the wait
  • a bowl full of jelly

Mom dozes in her recliner, the television screen flooding her and the rest of the room with a greenish glow and whitish noise from the football game. She always falls asleep during halftime, which is why I waited until the third quarter to make my move, so she didn’t see me creep down the stairs and out the back door. In my backpack are all the supplies I think I will need, and on my way through the kitchen I grab the only food in the house, a bowl full of jelly beans. Although I’m desperate to start my new life far away from this place and that woman, I know with depressing certainty that I’ll be back again some day. Leaving the televised crowd noise behind, I hear tree frogs and night bugs. I see no one, but the chilly air amplifies the shivers I’ve been experiencing since I decided it was time to strike off on my own, and in my imagination eyes watch me from every shadow, feral slit-pupil eyes that blink a bright red and green. To distract myself, I slide the postcard out of my pocket and reread it in the hard beam of my flashlight: “We can hardly stand the wait!” The words of welcome dispel some of the shivers, and remind me that I’m doing the right thing, leaving the only home I have ever known. I flip the postcard over to see the university’s motto flying over an aerial shot of the campus. Yes, sophomore year was a good time to run away.

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I Hated My Grandfather – Holiday Prompt

  • by jenI laughed when I saw him
  • whatever the reason, his heart or his shoes
  • ice-cold in the snow
  • my two front teeth
  • a wonderful, awful idea

I hated my grandfather. He was a cruel man who died a fitting death, tumbling down the tall, narrow stairs of his rickety old mansion. The manservant said he tripped over his shoelaces. The coroner blamed his bum ticker. Whatever the reason, his heart or his shoes, the old bastard was finally dead. I laughed when I saw him on the newspaper’s obituary page. After the funeral I visited his terrible house one last time. The place was empty, the servants gone, the electricity disconnected. Even though it was August, the rooms were ice-cold. In the snow globe on Grandfather’s desk were my two front teeth, the ones I’d lost as a child when I fell down the very same stairs that so recently claimed my grandfather. I had always thought Grandfather himself pushed me on that fateful day, but now I had a wonderful, awful idea. What if the curse was real?

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Not Even A Mouse – Holiday Prompt

  • k-avatarhe was dressed all in fur
  • got stuck only once
  • like the down of a thistle
  • leaving crumbs much too small
  • not even a mouse

Not even a mouse could slip through the tiny gaps between stones, but frigid drafts infiltrated the hut from all sides. Even though he was dressed all in fur, Nick shivered. Climbing to the summit alone was foolish, just like everyone tried to tell him. But all the way up he felt cocky, especially after successfully making the eastern traverse. He got stuck only once, which forced him to backtrack and take a higher route, costing him precious time he didn’t realize he should be hoarding. As daylight faltered on way his back down, Nick spotted this rock-walled dwelling and decided not to press on. A night descent would be suicide. Now he stared sullenly at the small heap of twigs on the hearth, and shivered. His flint had disintegrated when struck, leaving crumbs much too small to be of any use. He might get a meager spark, with luck, which might light a sufficiently fine kindling like the down of the thistle, but all Nick had were twigs.

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That New Restaurant – Holiday Prompt

  • by jenthat old silk hat they found
  • the moon on the breast
  • I’d take the seasick crocodile
  • strike the harp
  • since reindeer are scarce

That new restaurant turned out to be a real disappointment! First the waiter informed us that, due to a late delivery, they had to strike the harp seal from the menu. Then my husband asked for a description of the chef’s speciality, but it turned out that the “moon” on the breast of emu was just a lump of mashed potatoes. I had a hard time deciding what I wanted, but since reindeer are scarce it was agreed that I’d take the seasick crocodile. As we waited for the food, our twins squabbled over that old silk hat they found in the cloakroom. They enjoyed that more than their free-range antelope chops!

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2013 Holiday Prompt

In this special holiday edition, the stichomancy prompt phrases were all taken from Christmas carols. Jen and Kent both tackled the same set, with markedly different results. Whose do you prefer?

  • so lively and quick
  • dashing through the snow
  • he began to dance around
  • tis the season to be jolly
  • nine ladies dancing
  • when we finally kiss goodnight

k-avatarKent’s take:

“I forgot these things were so lively and quick,” Herb remarked, drawing a bead on one of the creatures dashing through the snow in the clearing.

“And I forgot they bite! Ow!” exclaimed Remmy as he began to dance around holding one boot up out of the deep drifts, a creature dangling from the toe.

Herb chuckled, prompting Remmy to ask him with some vehemence just what was so damn funny.

“Oh, nothing. Just, tis the season to be jolly, I suppose,” drawled Herb in reply.

Remmy shook the xenopod loose and stomped it, muttering about better times before the invasion. “I’ve had enough for one day. Let’s go get drunk at the Nine Ladies Dancing. I’ll buy.”

“Okay,” Herb said. “I’d like to see that sweet little barmaid again anyway.” Herb’s opinions on the invasion were slightly more mixed. “When we finally kiss goodnight, I’ll find out what those suckers on her tongue feel like.”

bonus points for using them in order!

 

by jenJen’s take:

My blind date with Bertram started out well enough. I found him to be so lively and quick-witted that I was able to overlook his unfortunate ears. I thought him quite galant when he offered to pay for dinner, but halfway through the meal he began to dance around in his seat like he had to pee. Then he grumbled at our waiter, “It’s winter, dude! Tis the season to be jolly well sozzled so you don’t notice the cold! Bring me a yard of Schnapps! And one for the lady.”

He finished his shots in record time, and most of mine, all the while telling the tale of a bachelor party he’d recently attended where there were no fewer than nine ladies dancing naked. I was unimpressed.

Bertram’s fate was sealed when he said to me, “Hey babe, when we finally kiss goodnight, I’m going to slip you the tongue.”

Horrified, I left him at the table and went dashing through the snow and wind all the way to the subway station so he couldn’t follow me home.

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Atop The Desolate Hill

In this special holiday edition, the stichomancy prompt phrases were all taken from Christmas carols. Not that Kent let that cramp his style. Happy Boxing Day!

  • there arose such a clatter
  • laughing all the way
  • was a jolly, happy soul
  • heedless of the wind and weather
  • five golden rings
  • the fire is slowly dying

Atop the desolate hill, the fire is slowly dying, revealing five golden rings among the embers. Dvortmund has come here, heedless of the wind and weather, to enact the rite of binding, and sanctify his bid for power.

Once, Dvortmund was a jolly, happy soul, but when his family cast him out he became a twisted maniac. Soon they will pay.

He sprints down the hill toward the manor house, laughing all the way. His laughter alerts the sentries, who shoot him with muskets. The shots bring forth his family, and they assemble around his fallen form.

“Last time there arose such a clatter, I got presents,” proclaims his nephew.

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