Little wonder we stumble in life.

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“I don’t have a daughter.”

She looked Julia in the eye. “You have to talk about her sometime. You have to open up to someone, and talk about it. Even if it isn’t me.”

“No,” said Julia, and walked away.

Julia refused to talk about Norrell, no matter who asked, and she had a lot of offers. She had opened up once, and it had blown up in her face. Never again.

“Who’s Norrell?”

She had two younger daughters who shared the same room. This question came up as she was tucking them into bed.

Julia paused with the blanket over her 9-year-old. “Nobody. Why do you ask?” Julia replied, tucking the sheet over her.

“We heard your conversation with the lady today. You said she was your daughter.”

“I said no such thing.”

“Mommy!” Sandra in the other bed, and her sister Alex joined in the stretched out chorus.

“Alright,” said Julia, silencing them. “I had a daughter once, named Norrie. But she was taken away from me.”

“Why?” sang Alex, innocent eyes stared up at her.

“Because I told her a secret, and in return she told the school. They deemed me unfit to take care of her, and took her away.”

“What was the secret?” asked Sandra.

“A very bad thing.”

“Can’t you tell us?”


“Well, was it true?” asked Alex.

Julia paused. “No.”

“Then why’d you tell her.”

“I was afraid she’d run away from me.”


“Because… she’d stopped trusting me. She knew I was keeping something from her. I just wanted to keep her with me.”

“So why not just tell her that?”

“I… was afraid.” She tucked in Sandra. “Goodnight.”

Julia turned out the light, and closed the door.

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Card Shark

“Put in your 8 months leave. You’re coming on the road with me.”

David turned and walked away, and Jason walked out from the counter.

“I work at a hot dog stand! What could you want with me? I can’t just put in my notice, it doesn’t even go up to that in most offices. How am I supposed to eat, make a living?”

David turned back to him. “You know why I want you. And I’ll tell you how we’ll survive. Your ex, Cait. She’s the best in the business. She’ll keep us fed on her salary.”

“Salary? She’s a card shark! She’s fucking vicious!”

“You don’t have to go near her,” said David, walking along again with Jason from the stand.

Jason almost stopped entirely. “I don’t want to be near her ever again!”

“Too bad, coz I’m relying on you.”

“Well, don’t. You can’t. I won’t.”

They stopped walking, and David marched forward into his space, backing Jason up a few steps. “We’re going on the road. We’re pulling the biggest heist in history. I could leave you behind, but I can’t her. You got me?”

“I get her on board, and you promise you’ll leave me.”

“No deal. You’re coming.”

“But you just said –”

“Doesn’t mean I will.”

“Then why should I do this?”


Jason watched him go with a sinking feeling. The last time she’d seen him, it had been in the fury of revenge in their home. He was in the shower, and she had the bright idea she would beat him at his own game, she would trick the trickster. But he had seen her coming, and the moment she tried… down rolled the projection slides at both open doors, before and behind her, written large with advice for her future tricking.

Furiously, she tried to backtrack, to avoid his smug face, but she couldn’t punch through the projection slide behind her. Growing desperate, she moved forwards, tearing down the slide before her and crashing into the shower, bending him over so she wouldn’t have to see his face, created blood smears on the wall next to his head despite trying to hold him back from smashing his head into it.

“I don’t need you to lecture me with your smugness,” said Cait. “I don’t need it.”

“I was only trying to help.”

“Bullshit, you were trying to humiliate me. Again.”

The memory wasn’t a fond one. When he walked up the silent emptiness of her crap shack, the echoes of it bounced around his head.

He sat in a white plastic seat in her kitchen as she stared. “What do you want?”

“This isn’t about me, it’s about David.”

“So you said. What about him?”

“He wants to take you on the road, for a heist. From the look of this place, you need it.”

“You be there?”

“He wants me. I don’t, so much.”

“Because of me?”

“The fuck you think? Of course you. But it’s not just that. I got a life here. I’m not gonna be pulled back with you. I’ll sort it, you don’t have to worry about me being there.”

“What’s he want me for? I don’t need him, I could get out of here on my own.”

“Then why haven’t you?”

“I score enough to get by.”

“You’re in a rut, just admit it. You need his ambition to claw your way out of it.”

“If I am, you know the cause. Why would you give a shit?”

“Because David’s on my ass about it. Look, I’ll win you over by telling you one thing you never heard from me. You’re the best, you’re not second.”

She smirked. “You think I’ll join because of you?” she asked, looking up at him with that old light in her eyes.

“I think you’ll do it to go over me.”

“God knows I wanna do that,” she said.

“Then do it.”

She looked at him. “Fine.”

David pulled him away from Cait as soon as he showed up at the lot. “You got her, good on you! Now tell me, you on board?”

“No way. I’m moving on.”

“You work at a hot dog stand. She needs this as much as you do.”

“Be real, Dave-o,” said Jason. “What you want her for? She low-time. She can’t possibly provide for all of you,” he said, looking around at all the caravans.

“She’s a high roller,” said David. “She’s gonna win us big bucks. I told you, she’s the best.”

“Yeah, whatever you say.”

“You ought to believe in her more. And yourself, for that matter. I’m just trying to help you out here. When your stuck in the low class and she’s rolling in the big bucks, who’s gonna win? It’s gonna be her.”

“Damn,” said Jason. “You win. Fuck you, I’ll come.”

“Atta boy,” he said, patting him on the shoulder and walking away.

“Son of a bitch,” said Jason, “bamboozled me.”

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Coco’s Kitchen

She had always felt subconscious. It just didn’t matter what; there was always something. She had been the gossip queen in primary, because she had heard the things people said about her, and she wanted to fight back. When she made it to high school, she began to look at boys, and they began to look at her. So when word reached her that she was ugly, she did everything she could to fix it.

When she got her first boyfriend, she thought her plans had succeeded. But the word didn’t change, and she pushed him away. She saw pity in his eyes, and sinked only deeper into despair.

She hated herself so much that she’d take what she could get. She became ruthless, using every trick in the book to keep boyfriends, win popularity, and make people think she was pretty.

When bribes didn’t work, she turned to blackmail. When blackmail didn’t work, she tried scandal. She had more boyfriends in and out of her life than she could count by the time she graduated, and moved into the only career she had become truly good at in her education: a critic.

And another bonus: she won herself a husband when, at the age of 20, she became pregnant with his child. That white sent her higher than heaven, she was so happy. It was the best she could ever have planned for herself.

And then the fights began. It was only a matter of time. After only three months, the marriage went exactly the way of every other relationship she’d ever had. When he finally got tired of her bullshit, he began to regain control over her. Her whole life was a powerplay, but she had the most powerful weapon she could own this time: her baby girl.

When Joan popped out of her, she thought it was very impressive that he stayed, and supported her. When it ended, she looked from the baby to her husband and thought, We could really be a family.

After that, they did. Coco learned to cook, and she slipped from manipulator to housewife. A year later, they had another child, Nick.

They still fought, but not as often. Loveless it was, but that didn’t make Coco any less proud of what she had achieved. She had done it, succeeded where she had struggled all her life. She had domesticated a husband and was raising his children. She got everything she wanted from him, and she maintained his life. It was win/win.

So of course, her next ambition was to win her children’s love, to be their favourite. Because no matter who you are, she was certain that everyone played favourites; parents and children alike. She wanted popularity again.

She bribed them with toys and sweets, and it worked for a while. But their father never asked for anything, only listened, and loved them unconditionally. Soon, he became their favourite, and Coco got jealous.

Nick was full of passion, and like his mother, craved attention. Joan, like her father, was more loyal and mature. He tried to give Coco advice when she turned on him, but that only made her angrier. In the all-out battle that ensued, Nick took his father’s side and learned to hate his mother. Joan, however, felt sorry for her mother, and sometimes sided with her. This earned her brother’s hatred too, and when the family divorced, they were split by sex. The father kicked out Coco, and she took her daughter with her.

Joan took the arrangement calmly at first, but when Coco turned her anger onto her, she began to miss her brother. At school she apologised, and he told his father to pick her up with them after school ended. From then on, Coco was alone.

Alone in her kitchen, she began to break down. She stopped cooking, and slowly became thinner. After ending up in hospital, she started on rehab. Joan visited her sometimes, apologising and keeping her company. After a while, she stopped though, and Coco learned to get along without her.

When she returned home, she took up cooking again. But the food often remained in the fridge.

When she discovered her sister had died, she relapsed. She spent some months in the hospital until she realised her sister had left behind a daughter, Melody. She fought for custody and won.

Melody saved her. She didn’t force her to do anything, but reminded her how much she loved food. Coco cooked first for Melody, and then for herself.

She wrote an article about it, and soon began to spread the message further, earning her own show and inspiring kids everywhere. But none more than her own daughter, Melody.

The premise of the show is basically Coco cooking for her family, friends or fans. Sometimes she’ll cook for the public. The point of this is to show support and camaraderie for those either suffering or those who believe in her message, that it is okay to be yourself and that kindness heals all wounds.


Friday Fictioneers: Gazebo


She hugged the snow jacket over her black turtleneck, bracing against the wind. The place was packed; there were balloons, food stands and performers in the centre of the room.

Rachel made her way through the crowd, towards Paul. “Where is she?”

“Stop complaining. I know you don’t get out much. I was starting to worry about you.”

“There’s a reason I don’t get out. It’s bloody cold.”

“Please, I’m worried about you. She’s not like you. She can’t just shut herself indoors all day.”

“You can’t ransom her off whenever want to speak to me.”

“Then talk to me.”

Prompt from Friday Fictioneers

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Kate before Leonardo

Her hips were padded with skin, her stomach caked with potato chips, grease and donuts. It wasn’t always easy to find her bones, and she’d been called fat too many times. Her head was filled with more demons than thoughts, and she fit into size 18s. She wanted nothing more than to stop caring, yet every day, her heart burst against their seams, barely able to contain herself.

She walked through the crosswalk, rugged up in layers of winter clothes and thick white scarf covering her neck, watching the steam rise up off of her coffee to go.

She stopped in the middle of the road, winded by a high-pitched monotone and a blinding bright light. When it disappeared, she was standing in a forest. She turned on the spot, looking up at the trees.

“Where am I?” she asked.

But there was no answer. So she started walking.

After a few hours, she came to a clearing, a brown little cabin in the centre of it. At first, she just stared, until finally she came upon it, trying to see through the closed wooden blinds. She found an old rusted axe by the door, and opened it.


She dropped it again by the door, and sank into the bare hard chair, burying her head in her hands.

It got dark. She began to search the cabin for food, a bed. She went to sleep early.

She woke to a giant crash. A man stood over her, brandishing the axe. “What are you doing in my house?”

She threw up her hands. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” she cried.

She slammed down the axe, and she rolled off the bed. “Please, please!” cried Kate.

The axe came down again, and she turned on her side, her cotton sweater getting hacked through, her stomach grazed in the cut. She rolled up to her feet, hauled herself up, and ran for the door. He chucked the axe at her, whizzing in front of her and lodging itself into the wall. She ran out.

She fell through the trees as he rushed at her from behind. God, she missed the city. At least it was safer than this.

Arrows flinged over her head, and she bowed lower, hands up to cover her face. Yet somehow they flew behind her, and she stood up again as she ran, right into the arms of another woman, who dragged her into hiding behind a tree.

Kate looked around the trunk to see a whole group of women take down the one man. They shot him full of arrows till he fell silently to the ground, dead.

She gaped, hardly believing he was dead, or that he didn’t scream. Kate started to stand, but the woman at her side pulled her down.


“No,” said the woman, watching her friends at their kill, retrieving their arrows. Kate watched her, still confused, trying to understand. The woman looked up as some birds flew overhead.

Finally, she was allowed to stand and join her new friends. She walked with them through the uncertain forest, feeling both insecure in their company, and hoping she could trust them.

They led her back to a ruin in the woods, columns rising from the ground broken at the top, and the centre stood a statue of a woman, naked. Her body was toned, her breasts fat, her hips full, and her face whole. She was almost like a real woman.

And now the women surrounded her, laying their weapons on a tablet, guiding her to the river that ran away from the ruined temple. And they began to pull away her clothes.

Kate took a step back, and her friend caught her. “I can’t.”

“You must,” said the woman. “We must honour Venus. Only you are pure enough for our rite.”

“How can you know that?”

“The Gods have spoken to us. The birds have given us a sign that we have found the one.”

“That’s insane,” said Kate. “What is your name?”


She looked at Florence helplessly, then back at the already stripped women around her. “You don’t want to see me…” Kate said. “I’m ugly.”

Florence took her face in her hands, looking deep within her eyes. “You are beautiful,” she said passionately. “You are like Venus… a goddess amongst men.”

Kate looked back in horror. “I – I’m not. I’m horrible and fat -”

Florence ran her hands down Kate’s arms. “You are beautiful. You have a perfect body. To be any thinner than you are now, you would be ugly. Look around you. You have been sculpted by the Gods…”

Kate looked again at the naked bodies, bodies just like hers. She stared in shock. These strong, perfect women, and their stomachs were… round like hers, not flat. And still she saw muscles, and glowing skin, and perfect curls and blush and eyes. It was enough to believe in God again.

Florence slipped off Kate’s sweater, and she wasn’t even scared for a moment, until Florence realised all the layers were gone and she was already half naked, and hugged her boobs in an attempt to hide them. Florence held up the bra confused, then threw it away. Then she started on her jeans.

Kate jumped out of her skin, as fingers brushed her navel. “Are you sure this is alright?”

Florence said nothing, but smiled and nodded, working on the buttons. She worked them free, and began the slide the jeans down, when Kate grabbed at them in fear.

“I have thunder thighs.”

Florence looked up into her eyes, soft and vulnerable. “A gift from Jupiter,” said Florence.

Kate blushed. “I’m just a normal girl. Average looks. Full of flaws.”

“I don’t believe you,” said Florence, kissing her belly button. It shocked Kate enough to drop her hands, and allowed Florence to finish undressing her.

Then she led her by the pool to bathe. “I’ve done nothing to deserve this.”

“You don’t need to. You are pure. You have been loyal to our goddess, and now you will be hers.”

“I don’t know…” Kate was still trying to hide herself in the waters, but it wasn’t doing any good.

“You can’t hide yourself from me,” said Florence. “I see you.” She stroked her face lovingly.

She didn’t have to say it, Kate pouted, blushing, but took her arms away, finally surrendering to Florence. Florence smiled, staring, washing her nurturingly.

Kate later learned, while being inducted to their sisterhood, that Florence was their leader. And she was just one of her sisters. She didn’t mind; this place had finally begun to banish her doubts, and her fears. She learned to be one of them, in time.

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The Fantasy Kiss

“Oh my god! I can’t believe it’s you! I am such a big fan!”

She smiled at me, pink lips stretched into a cute grin. “Oh, I’m so glad. I always like meeting with the fans.”

“Can I hug you?”

“Of course!”

She wrapped her arms around me, and I was pulled into her warm body. My face came to rest into her neck, and my lips pressed into it involuntarily, unthinking. Embarrassed, I tried to pass it off. But she pulled away, good-humouredly, those light pink lips still smiling.

“Did you just kiss me?”

I blushed. “I – I didn’t.”

“Felt like it to me.”

“I didn’t mean to. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay.”

“I’m sorry,” I repeated. “I’m…” I paused. Rethinking, I tried and took a chance. “Can I kiss you?”

She stared back at me, smile smaller now but not gone. Her eyes glazed over, but not in fear or disgust. She looked sad, but not withdrawn. Instead, she stared deep into my eyes. I leaned in, feeling welcome. My lips touched hers. They pressed deeper when she didn’t protest. I took her lips and felt them, felt the deeper pinks of her insides, taking her in.

Then I wondered about my breath. I hadn’t brushed this morning. This might be awful for her.

I pulled away, then kissed her again when her absence ached on my lips. “I should’ve brushed. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” she said.

I leaned in again, and she jerked back. I looked at her in confusion. “I thought you wanted this.”

“I don’t even know you.”

I pulled out of her arms. I wanted to cry I felt so rejected and confused. I repeated the question in my mind. I thought you wanted this. I wanted to apologise profusely, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t let myself lose control like that.

“I’m sorry,” I said anyway. I couldn’t help it. I stepped away, holding myself tighter. “I still like you, whatever,” I said. I couldn’t hold this against her. This was all me. I was wrong, I’d done this against her will. I was no better than a rapist. It wasn’t quite sex, but it was enough to make her a creepy stalker.

“I’m sorry,” I repeated, before running away down the street.

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Defying Magnetism

To say his skin itched wasn’t quite accurate. There was something going on beneath his skin, but it wasn’t quite like that, nothing so obvious or sharp as itching. It was a growing urge, a painful lack of pressure that lifted his skin from its proper place, leaving him… unsatisfied, hungry in his own skin. He needed contact, and he quit caring where or how.

He let go, breathing out into the hot mouth he was pressing into. He squeezed his eyes shut, closing off his mind, trying to forget who he was kissing. But suddenly his whole body was alive with sick ripples, spreading disgust and fear to his privates.

He gripped the shoulders tighter, trying to hold onto the image in his mind of a beautiful blonde bombshell, hair flowing past smooth shoulders, round pink breasts bare before him…

His hands softened, drifting down… to a bare chest. The fantasy shattered, he opened his eyes, pulling away to meet Eric’s kind, seduced gaze. He held his body tight, trying not to give himself away.

The fear that came over in Eric’s eyes gave him away. He was busted.

“We’re best mates,” he said, cutting off Eric before he could humiliate him further. “I’m sorry.”

“Yeah,” said Eric, averting his eyes, suppressing a smile.

Oh god, he liked it. His heart sank.

“I’m not,” said Eric.


“I’m not sorry.”

“Stop it.”

“What, you are?” said Eric. “Have some pride.”

“I… can’t,” he growled out, rumbling from her throat. He felt it deep, deep, squeezing his heart harder, squeezing the life out of him.

Disgust, fear, anguish, breaking him apart. Falling, that’s what it felt like. No amount of sunny optimism could save him. He wiped savagely at his mouth, legs wobbling under him as he stood up, glaring down at his friend with a hatred he’d never shown before. All he saw was desire reflected back, and it just made him angrier.

“Forget it,” he spat.

“Wait!” cried Eric, getting up as he made for the door. He caught his shoulder just before the doorframe. He jerked out from Eric’s touch, turning to him with a disgust crawling in his skin, shivering with a fear that pervaded his entire body, making him a stranger in his skin.

“I hate you.”

Eric’s eyes watered, as if a needle pierced the centre. He dropped his hand. “Please.”

“Never again.”

“Then why did you?”

“Because… I just couldn’t take it anymore.”

“You don’t have to be ashamed of your sexuality.”

“I’m not gay.”

“Sure. That’s why you kissed me.” He stepped closer, grabbing his sweater. “Please,” he repeated.


Eric kissed him, pulling him closer. “Please,” he said. “Don’t leave me this way. You don’t need to be ashamed anymore.”

“I’m not sure I know how. I mean, I’m straight.”

“No, you’re not.” Eric kissed him again, and this time he pulled him deeper and deeper. He remained stiff, following blindly as Eric led him to the bedroom.

He felt everything. That thing inside him haunted him. Led him to the bridge, led him over.

He couldn’t live this way.

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In The Club

She pulled me by the hand with smiling oriental brown eyes shining through the growing darkness at me. Her delicate orange hair flowed in beautiful waves behind her shoulder, and she was wearing a short yet elegant red dress.

Getting in, she dragged me grinning into the darkness, the flashing green and blue lights, and the pounding beat of the music. This is what she lived for, just another party girl, but she my friend and I wanted to have fun with her too if I could get used to this scene. I had never even been to a club before.

She took me through the club to the dance floor, and he danced together. She smiled when I smiled, and it was fun. She really was looking at me, and enjoying my company. If I could just keep it up…

But the night wore on and she got drunk. Some boys talked to her, and they must’ve asked her to take her clothes off, because before I knew it, her dress was off and they were taking pictures with their phones.

“Come on, do it with me!” she yelled over the music to me.

I shook my head. No way was that happening.

“Come on, it’s just a bit of fun. You should chill out and join me!”

“I’m all for being chill, but that’s a bit too far!”

“Well, then do it me! It’s just a bit of fun!”

I tried to keep myself together, stay calm, but I felt caught in a horrifying situation, spinning out of my control. “Then you go do it you slut!” I shot at her. Hurt filled her eyes, and she slipped back into her dress.

“What the hell!” she cried. I couldn’t bare to look at her like this, and made away through the crowd, looking for the exit.

Until suddenly she caught me by the shoulder, and I spun back to her without thinking.

“What the hell was that just now?” she asked me seriously, and I knew I couldn’t escape her now.

“I just didn’t want to do that just now,” I said, hugging my arms into me at the thought, “it gives me a bad feeling. I can’t believe you would. I mean, I know you feel like it’s all fun and games, but I don’t. You just don’t know where those things will end up.”

“It’s okay,” she said, touching my shoulder.

“No, it’s not,” I said, shrugging out from under her touch, uncomfortable. “Photos like that, nonconsensual, it’s like rape. Except it never ends. I don’t know I could stand it. I couldn’t live that way, constantly.”

“Geez,” said my friend, watching me guiltily. “I’m sorry. I just wanted to see you. You know I… I like you.”

Now guilt passed through me, and I looked away, holding myself tighter. I stumbled over words, apologising. I felt even worse because I liked her too. And now I didn’t know what to say. “I’m sorry. It’s just… I have a thing about my body. I’m shy about showing it. By myself I’m alright, but anyone else… I don’t know.” I looked at her. “I don’t even know I could share it with someone I liked,” I said, blushing. “I’m not sure I could trust them.”

“That must be a very lonely way to live, always hiding.”

“I can’t help it, it’s just who I am. Besides, what about you, always living so senselessly.”

“I guess we both have something to learn. From each other, maybe. Come home with me.”

I considered only a moment, picturing our future together, before I said yes.