Writing, the Universe, and Everything

In a 2016 interview, author Toni Morrison was asked what advice she would give to young writers. She said, “Start at 40.” She had always been a big reader, she said, but she never thought about writing until she was 39.

I started this writing website just before my 42nd birthday a year ago. I love to write, but I hadn’t done much writing in my adult life. I was too busy living, working, studying, traveling, falling in love, having kids, and finding excuses.

I needed something to spur my ass into a gallop. For me, that something was the number 42.

Bear with me while I explain. The number 42 is legendary among sci-fi nerds like myself, because of Douglas Adams’ book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (it’s hilarious; check it out). In the story, people ask supercomputer Deep Thought for the answer to “the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything!” After thinking about it for several million years, Deep Thought comes up with the answer: 42. This in turn sends everyone o…

Well, You Never Know

Garlands of lacy paper in rainbow colors hung from the ceiling of El Pueblo restaurant. Kate sat beneath them, chin in hand, oblivious to her friends’ chatter. Sipping her Coke, she idly watched her twin brother, Kevin, across the room at the contestants’ table, devouring an extra-large burrito.

“And we have three winners today! Congratulations, gentlemen,” said the sombrero-clad manager, handing gift certificates to Kevin and two of his business school classmates. The boys whooped, high-fived, and stood with difficulty, hoisting their full stomachs as they made their way over to the corner table.

“Katie, text Mom and tell her I ate a burrito BIGGER THAN MY HEAD!” roared Kevin, ruffling Kate’s hair.

“She’ll be so proud.” Kate rolled her eyes as the boys began a fresh round of hooting and back-slapping.

The victors celebrated by ordering more food. Kate grimaced and turned her head as they tucked into their chips and guacamole.

“They’re destined for beer guts if they keep that up.”


Lessons on the Half-Pipe (microfiction)

Skateboarding champion Quentin Smith seethed.

The challenger executed a flawless Ollie 540, then a sky-high 360 varial.

“Folks, your Ramp Jam 2019 winner: Dominic Garcia!”

Grinning, the victor removed his luchador mask. Quentin’s jaw dropped.

Mr. Garcia shook Quentin’s hand. “See you in class.”

Hot damn.

He’d been schooled.

Writing Prompt: Write a complete story in exactly 49 words that includes the word “school” in any of its definitions.

Adulting (poetry challenge)

My kids’ bookshelves are filled with books,
and their heads with stories I’ve told them.
I sneak zucchini into their muffins and cakes,
And send them off to school and bed on time.

When the kids are out of earshot,
their daddy and I giggle at dirty jokes.
Alone, I reread my favorite children’s books
And dance free-spirited around the living room.

My inner child needs nurturing too.

Poetry challenge: Sevenling


“So I suppose you want to ask me why I left town.”

Melissa didn’t want to ask him anything. She wanted to finish her drink and go home. She fixed her gaze on the baseball game on the TV above the bar.

“I mean, it’s the Happiest Place in America! I think they even trademarked that,” he said.

When she came here after work tonight, Melissa had worn her eyeglasses. Usually that was a foolproof way to avoid being hit on. But this middle-aged guy had come right over and plunked himself down on the next barstool.

“Yup, they’re pretty good at making you forget your troubles in Olvida, Kansas.” Chuckling, he guzzled his Heineken, rubbing stubbly jowls as he watched the Cardinals’ pitcher strike out the Brewers’ shortstop.

Melissa sighed. He seemed harmless, more chatty than creepy. And she didn’t want to abandon this tasty 15-year Irish whiskey. She’d humor him. “You lived there a while?”

“Since I was a kid! I worked in PR. Gave tours to folks who come through town.”

A memory flickered. “Olvi…

Eleusinian Mystery

She started finding pomegranate seeds at the doorstep, and knew it was time.

On Tuesday, there were six of them, sitting there when Erin came home from work.

On Wednesday, there were five.

She’d been thinking about moving anyway. Surely this was a sign.

Come on, Ash, thought Erin, pacing her living room. Please answer the phone.

“Erin! What’s up, girl.”

Erin could hear Ashley’s baby babbling in the background. “You busy? I can call later.”

“No worries! I’ll put you on speaker while I feed him.”

Spoons clinked against baby food jars. Erin took a breath.

“Ash, I’m kinda spooked. I think Jared’s up to his tricks again.”

“Really? Is he texting you?”

“No. It’s weirder than that. I think he was here, at the house. Twice.” Erin crossed her arms and shivered.

“Did he leave a note or something?”

“No, but I found pomegranate seeds on the front step.”

Pomegranate seeds?”

“Remember how he was fanatical about Greek mythology? He majored in Classics, before he dropped out…”

“Oh, right...” Ashley’s…

Broke (microfiction)

It was too cold to lay bricks. Seasonal unemployment, they called it.

The refrigerator was empty.

A man who can’t feed his family is nothing.

He stepped onto the icy pond.

The crack echoed like thunder, and he was gone.

Writing Prompt: Write a complete story in exactly 40 words that evokes a specific season without using the names for that season (i.e., spring, summer, fall/autumn, winter).