Clouds, Contest, and Holidays…Oh My!

Jennifer here. I hope you’ve enjoyed our June journey through the clouds. The research we do on Writing Prompts, Thoughts and Ideas, Oh My! is fun and entertaining for us. We want you to reap the benefits from our investigations. Join us in July as we explore the holidays by the season. Now for our monthly contest…

When you hear the word contest, what do you think? Money, new car, fame, fortune? Sorry, this isn’t that kind of contest. However, if you could spend a $10 Amazon gift card and bask in a smidgen of fame among your fellow writers, this contest is for you.

Begin your (under 500 words) short story with this month’s cloud prompt below…

“A slight breeze tugged on the linen as Nonnie secured it to the clothes line. She glanced toward the western sky. A thin sheet of delicate, white lace, much like her grandmother’s curtains, spread from the north to the south. However, that beautiful picture was not what caused her breath to hitch in her lungs . . .

Winner will be announced on next Tuesday’s blog. That means you’ll need to have your award-winning story to us by midnight Sunday (central time). Amaze and wow us and win, win, win. We look forward to seeing your story. Tell all your friends.

Someone is going to win an Amazon gift card. It might as well be you.

9 thoughts on “Clouds, Contest, and Holidays…Oh My!

  1. The ominous cloud of smoke behind it brought fear to everyone on the prairie. Fire.She ran back to the house and rang the bell, confused for a moment as to why Thom didn't come running in from the fields. Her heart fell. Thom would never answer her call again. She'd watched as the men lowered her husband of five years into the ground two weeks ago.What could she do? She lived alone and her neighbor’s houses sat a mile in either direction. The fire moved closer, aided by the brisk wind. No use fighting it.Their loan would be in default at the end of the month. She had no place to go and couldn’t work the land alone. She would snuggle Thom’s pillow. It wouldn’t take long for the fire to overtake her home, and then she would be with the love of her life again.Banging on the door halted her progress down the hall. She moved to the door.“Open the door, Nonnie.”“Go away, Matthew.”“No. Thom asked me to watch out for you and I aim to do that. We have to go. Now!” The banging resumed.She flipped the lock. When had she locked it? She shrugged and opened the door. Looking up into Matthew’s earnest face, she opened her mouth to speak.“No. I’m not letting you die like this. If God wants to take you to be with Thom, He’ll have to do it some other way.”“Thom should not have asked you to watch out for me. I’m not your responsibility.” “What if I want you to be?” She turned away. No. She couldn’t love someone else like she’d loved Thom.Matthew touched her shoulder. “Nonnie. I know you’re not ready, that you think you’ll never love again, but you’re only twenty-three. You have many years ahead of you.” He moved in front of her, and urged her to look at him. “I have loved you since the first time we met. Thom knew that. That’s why he asked me to look out for you. Please come with me. I won’t ask you for more than you can give, but I am asking you to fight.”She nodded.“Good. Grab as much as you can carry—blankets, pots, lanterns—and anything you can’t bear to part with. I’ll get the wagon hitched and release the animals.” He glanced out the window. Her gaze followed his and she knew she had to hurry.Two days later, she walked through the charred remains of her home. Broken pottery crunched beneath her boots. Smoke still wafted toward the sky in some places. What would she do? Tears coursed down her cheeks.“What will you do?” Matthew’s voice broke into her thoughts. “I don’t know.”“Marry me.”“I don’t love you.”“I know, but maybe someday. For now, I need a wife and you need someplace to go.”Sincerity rang in his words. She sighed, maybe one day. “Okay.”

  2. Here's a new story entered by Samantha Lang!It was the man striding toward her.Grant Parker.Thief.Outlaw.The most wanted man in the state.And as of two weeks ago, a murderer.She knew because she was there. She saw the silver handcuffs enclose hiswrists. And as the sheriff led him away, Nonnie sobbed over the body of theman who’d brought Parker down.James.Her husband.A clothespin slipped from Nonnie’s trembling lips. How had Parker managedto escape and why was he here? She knew there could only be one reason.Revenge.Parker was responsible for a string of crimes across the state. As a deputy,James had trailed Parker for months, until he finally stumbled acrossParker’s hideout and turned the outlaw in.But he paid the ultimate price to do so.From behind the linen, Nonnie caught the glint of Parker’s pistol in thesunlight. Swiftly, she turned and ran for the house. In the kitchen, shereached over the door for her husband’s rifle, but felt only the barewall. Her heart sank as she remembered. Her son had taken the gun thatmorning, when he left to check his traps.Now she had no defense and no way of warning her thirteen-year-old son. Sheconsidered making a run for it, but even if she could outrun Parker, she’dnever outrun his shot.Out the window, she saw the wild expression on Parker’s face.There was nothing left to do but hide.And pray God would spare her son.Nonnie silently thanked her husband as she quickly crossed the room. As adeputy, James tried hard to never involve his family in his work, but heknew that the life he’d chosen was rough and often dangerous. Asinsurance, he created a secret indoor entrance to the cellar, should hisfamily ever need it. The kitchen table and chairs hid the door that blendedperfectly with the floor. Pulling a chair back, Nonnie dove beneath thetable and tugged at the heavy wooden door.As she scurried down into the cellar, she jerked the chair back in place,and let the door slam shut over her head.Just seconds later, she heard the crash of the kitchen door, followed by aseries of loud, angry threats. Heavy footsteps pounded over her head, alongwith the smashing of dishes and furniture being thrown to the floor.Suddenly, she heard a gunshot. A thud sounded above her as a second gunshotrang out. The footsteps continued, drawing nearer and nearer. Nonnie gaspedas the cellar door opened. A shadow fell across the dirt ground, movingcloser to her. Pushing into a corner, Nonnie screamed as a hand grasped herarm.“Ma?”Nonnie’s arms flew around her son. “Toby! I was so afraid when I heardthe shots.”“Parker’s gun went off as he fell,” Toby explained, pulling her close.“And he’s never going to hurt us ever again.”

  3. She peered over the sheet again, hoping Cliff wouldn't see her and head in her direction. Why was he back in town? She'd finally gotten over him. Moved on with her life, even.Though if she were honest with herself, part of her heart wanted him to approach her and try to make up so she could reject him like he had rejected her when he'd left her to join the military. Maybe if she tried some Jedi mind-trick, she could will him to look her way for a few seconds. At least long enough for him to see her standing there and realize what he'd given up.Why did he have to look so good? He'd always been a handsome man, but the military had been good to him. His biceps were more defined than she'd ever seen them, and his waist had slimmed down. Must be all those sit ups and early morning drills.As she waited for him to glance toward her house, she felt her blood pressure raise. She didn't want him to see her like this. Fifteen months had passed since she'd had his child and some of the baby fat still clung to her hips.Someone had told her breast feeding would melt off the pounds. They didn't know her body. It resisted everything she tried to lose weight. Right now her body fought the desire to run into the house and hide. Her legs simply refused to move.She glanced at her porch and was about to slip over to the house and out of sight when she chanced one last look over her shoulder. She couldn't help wanting to soak in the sight of him on more time.At that moment, he glanced in her direction and fixed his gaze on her. A slow smile curved his mouth. "Daisy? Is that you?"Tears filled her eyes when she saw the delight on his face. She refused to cry, but once again her body wasn't listening as tears spilled over and down her face. Her throat tighened with emotion and she couldn't speak. How she wanted to tell him to go away and leave her alone. Another part of her wanted him to hold her close and never let go. But she said neither of those things. She just stared as if frozen.Cliff dropped his suitcase and ran across the road to greet her. Before she could stop him, he'd picked her up and spun her around. "I thought you hated me. Why didn't you write back?""I–""It doesn't matter." Cliff held her face and gazed into her eyes with such tenderness that she lost the desire to hurt him back. "I love you, Daisy. I never stopped."His lips lowered to hers and she savored the taste of him for just a moment. Until she remembered how they could never be together. How it was too late now."Cliff, we need to talk.""I'm sorry for whatever I did to hurt you. I–"The door on the porch slammed shut. She glanced over just as Harvey shouted, "Get your hands off my wife!"

  4. A slight breeze tugged on the linen as Nonnie secured it to the clothes line. She glanced toward the western sky. A thin sheet of delicate, white lace, much like her grandmother's curtains, spread from the north to the south. However, that beautiful picture was not what caused her breath to hitch in her lungs.What was he doing here again?She didn’t need the buggy to come closer to know it was the preacher boy dressed in his Sunday finest. Flapjack Flannigan, they called him. The last time he’d proposed, she’d managed to put him off, but apparently it wasn’t sticking.“Morning, Nonnie,” he called as he swung his beanpole frame out of the hitch. She spied a small bouquet of Queen Anne’s lace and clover half behind his back. “Beautiful day, ain’t?”Nonnie tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “’Spose.”He glanced toward the house. “Can we sit on the porch?”“No need. I thought I made it clear last time. I’m not goin’ to flip your pancakes for the rest of my life.”Flannigan shuffled his feet, poufing up the dust. He offered her the flowers with a trembling hand.“Yeah. But I don’t understand why.”“I’m not goin’ to let a man keep on making all the decisions for me. I got a brain, and I can think for myself.”“I know that, Nonnie. And you can have your way in our home.” He glanced down at his dusty shoes. “I only ask that you don’t argue with me in front of anyone.”She hesitantly reached for the flowers. Maybe it would work. He was certainly struck with her, and that meant she had a lot to work with. He was moldable.But Ma had probably thought Pa was moldable too, at some point in time.No. She couldn’t give in to another man. She jerked her hand back as if a snake had bit her.“Come on, Nonnie. Let’s just sit on the porch for a spell. I sure would like to talk about it.”“I don’t think the porch is a good idea….”“Nonnie!” A gruff yell interrupted her. “We’re missing two eggs! And what about my lunch?” Nonnie turned to see her red-faced father standing in the front door. “Better get movin’, girl, and stop standing around!” The door slammed.She spun back to Flannigan. His expression was an odd mixture of anxiety and compassion. He seemed frozen, holding out the flowers.Nonnie grabbed the flowers. At this point, she’d take anyone who could get her out. “I’ve made up my mind.”Flannigan slowly looked back at her, still seeming dazed.“Let’s go.”

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