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By the banks of the Stover canal - - 1185117

For the scrapheap

This week, Lillie McFerrin’s Five Sentence Fiction prompt – CHERISH – led me down a few different paths.

Sometimes, a challenge prompt will strike an immediate chord with me, and writing a submission is no trouble. (My Songbirds series vignette “A Deeper Reflection” was one of those easy-peasy efforts.) Other times, a multitude of prompts will converge into a perfect storm of inspiration and interpretation, such as with “Stagger to Sway,” one of my Fearless side stories. And then, there are the times when I’ll start writing one way, go another direction, twist around yet another bend, until I finally end up with a piece suitable for public consumption.

In the case of the “CHERISH” prompt, I eventually settled on a somewhat humorous entry, but below are three other efforts I deemed unworthy, for one reason or another. Take a gander, if it please you.


That first shriek – echoing along the coastline like a banshee’s wail – made Scott drop his board like it was on fire; Finchy and Niall were already tearing across the sand, arms pumping for speed toward the source of those cries. Scott followed quick as he could do, only to pause at the edge of the scene: a young mum bouncing a screaming little girl close to her breast, while a frazzled dad was on hands and knees, scrabbling in the sand.

“Lost doll,” Niall said, his voice ripe with sour disappointment.

Scott almost snickered, when a glance into that girl’s reddened, snotty face made him think of his own tiny Emma, prompting him to shove both his mates toward the beach with a sharp, “Don’t just stand there. We’re a rescue squad; let’s rescue!”

* * *

Toothless Shark”

Venus knew they had sex. As quiet as they’d tried to be, the rhythmic creak of used springs was as tattling as a two-year-old. So when she had to creep past their bed to the bathroom, she always kept her gaze trained forward, for the sake of all their dignities. Except for this time, when she glanced reflexively toward the sound of a muffled sniff, and had to cover her mouth and hold her breath against the most itching, adoring whimper, at the sight of Finchy’s face pressed into Amber’s ruffled curls and his fingers linked loosely with hers.

Swinging the bathroom door closed behind her, Venus laughed softly into her palm, wondering what the rest of the crew would think if they saw their resident shark, now.

* * *


At the precipice, she stood, white and bright and beautiful, the whistling wind swirling her golden curls around her shoulders the same as it ruffled the edge of her dress around her legs.

Seeing her so, warm sweat formed in his palms. He shifted his hands to his sides, to wipe them down, when it suddenly became too late: she grasped his fingers with her own – cool, slender, soft – and moved up close to him, for this moment that would end their lives as two.

They exchanged the words between them, and the precious circles the same. A single kiss, at last, and that was all, to soothe the anxious patter of his heart, and to make them one, for ever.

Now, I don’t think any of these are terrible. I was determined enough to want to finish them, after all (and to be willing to share them, here). But, as you can hopefully see, devoting such effort to these challenges is time-consuming. Even though I’ve decided to cut my blogging down to two posts a week instead of three, these still take plenty of concentration. I don’t like posting my work if I’m not totally pleased with it; I owe you that much.

Junkyard cat


The one good thing about these scraps is that they represent genuine effort. When I go back to them, they make me think, or reflect, or smile.

So, if you liked any of these scraps at least a little bit, remember this: even if what you write doesn’t make your final cut, keep that effort. Don’t throw it away completely. You never know when you might need that smile.

Where do you keep your scrapped efforts? Have you ever used a scrapped effort to start a new project?