© Jean L. Hays

The stones stood tall, casting dark shadows across the dirt, and were covered in war paint. The fallen warrior’s spoils lay in piles before them.

“We should be careful,” Owl said.

Raccoon nodded, and they made their way through the giant’s graveyard, mindful to step around where they imagined the massive bodies were buried.

“There,” Racoon said, pointing.

The boys knelt in front of the monument, the smallest in the boneyard. They pulled jewels, coins, bells, rags, feathers, flowers, bones, twigs and berries from their sacks, placed them in a neat pile on the fresh mound of earth, and grieved.

Prompt courtesy of the Friday Fictioneers. Read more stories here.

The Shrine

At long last, the three of them stood before the shrine.

They made camp and waited for the moon to rise before their final approach. None spoke, each understanding this final journey was to be taken alone. Their eyes trained on the fire, but each of them were looking inward.

A wolf howled. They stood, dusted their knees, and saw the moon hovering above them, almost close enough to touch. Each spent time alone within the shrine, the last exiting before dawn.

Exhausted, they slept until mid-afternoon, when they woke to bitter taste of curiosity and envy on their tongues.

Too Late

Raccoon’s mom stood outside his bedroom and hollered at him to wake up. Then she barged in, tore the covers away and waited until he sat up.

“Get up,” she said, heading back to the kitchen.

He dressed and rubbed most of his hair flat, and went downstairs. The radio was tuned to the station just out of range, the silences filled with pops and crackles.

“You should’ve got up when I said. Now you don’t have time to have breakfast. Take an apple or something,” she said, chewing the last forkful of an egg. “Get going. You’ll be late.”

Part of a Nutritious Breakfast

Someone finished the butter, but didn’t take any out of the fridge to replace it.

“You probably finished it yesterday. Just go ahead and use the peanut butter,” Owl’s mom said. “You don’t need both.”

He was about to tell her how wrong she was, when a man walked into the kitchen, a corner of toast in his mouth. He leaned over, whispered something in his mom’s ear and she laughed. Then he kissed her, leaving a greasy smear on her cheek.

Owl glared at his dry toast, at his mother, and at the stranger walking out the front door.


After Dinner Mint

There it was, slammed down on the table between them. Almost a living thing, begging for attention.

They continued their dinner, roast and green beans, and pretended they had neither heard it nor said it nor were hurt by it, and each hoped the other wouldn’t be so cavalier as to mention it and bring the whole precarious tower crashing down on them. A knife scraped along the plate. They winced in unison  and gave each other halfhearted smiles.

Later, she wiped the toothpaste from the corner of his mouth, and knew that everything between them would be all right.

Tumbling Along

He popped his head in the kitchen and told his wife he’d be right back, just had to head into town for something. She didn’t look up from the bottle in front of her.

Outside the pharmacy, he fished enough change out of his pocket for the soda machine as the local bus pulled in, chrome covered in that dry dust of the road. He watched people get off, struggling with heavy suitcases and the sudden blast of heat.

He crossed the street and stood in front of the bus’ open door, wondering if he had any reason to stay.


Inspired by 

Most Mornings

The alarm goes off, and you roll over and slap blindly at the snooze button. The dog notices you move, so he jumps over your wife and starts licking your neck. You push him away, so he flops down, landing heavy on your side.

The alarm goes off again, even though you just closed your eyes for a second.

You open your eyes at the third ring, and stare at the ceiling and think of a reason to not go in to work. But something like responsibility keeps tugging, so you throw back the covers and get out of bed.


Dzinski felt like he was at sea.

Huddled together, under the gunwales, the salty water splashing, soaking the wool-lined jackets, already heavy on their slumping shoulders. He heard the waves slamming the side of the boat, the whistles of the bombs falling, the staccato of the machine guns firing, the distant screams from the beach.

His hand shook as he reached for the bourbon. He drank.

Another beach, another lifetime. High, hot sun, a hand tugging him across the soft sand, into the water until they couldn’t touch bottom, then her bright smile disappearing as the waves crashed over them.


Prompt courtesy of Friday Fictioneers. More stories here.