Finding Words

(C) 2020, JJ Shaun

A couple of weeks ago, I had a weird day. Weird in that I could not hold onto a writing prompt for the life of me. For the two weeks prior, I could look at the requirements for the contest and remember from one second to the next what those words were. I had to copy and paste the phrase from the application onto the page. I typed it in a couple of times, trying to make it stick. I took a nap, thinking that would clear my brain. Nope. I gave up and took the day off.

The prompt: “You crossed the line.” (I still can’t form a story around it.)

I haven’t had the same problem since then. Ideas and words have been flowing in a steady stream, except that I can’t seem to find a scene or story surrounding that phrase.

Most days, my first stop is, of course, the coffee pot because without my morning potion, it’s hard to think. I check out social media and the news while sipping my brew, and when that gets boring (it doesn’t take long), I look for a daily writing prompt. The dog is begging for her walk by that time, and out the door we go. Most days, by the time we get back from our walk, a story has practically written itself.

I’ve since moved past that block and written more short pieces, like this next piece. This event takes place a few months after the story I posted on Feb 9. I wrote this as a flash fiction contest entry on As with all the short-short stories I post here, I have plenty of room to add details. The short format gives me a chance to build the framework.

Once again, here is Skrie Tripfoot. This time, stepping onto the path of revenge.


“Ha’e ye been in a fight?” asked Herada, the halfling with whom Skrie now shared a room.

“Naw …” said Skrie, fingering the growing bruise on her cheek. “I just weren’t fast enough gettin’ out the way o’ a boot, ’tis all.” It was close enough to the truth. She had let her mark kick her; it made the “accident” look more like a genuine mishap.

The young urchin had waited under a low cart when she spotted the mercenary strolling up the street. The man who tossed the torch that killed her parents was in a poor spot, below a heavy object being hoisted to the second story. Skrie needed the female who had thrown the oil flask to spook the horse.

Scrambling out from under the wagon as the woman passed, hand on the sword at her side, Skrie grabbed the sheathe, trying to spin the woman off balance. The soldier kicked out at her, connecting with her left cheek.

That’s gonna leave a mark, she thought, dodging the worst of the blow.

Her ruse worked as the merc lost her balance, stumbling into the back of the horse. The pony shied, jerking to the side. The rope attached to the pulley snapped. The heavy bureau dropped to the ground crushing the man below.

The urchin cut the strings on the soldier’s coin purse as she rolled out into the crowd that had gathered to watch the aftermath. Skrie disappeared into the tangle of legs. As she made her way through the forest of people, she stowed her disguise and acted like the rest of the lookie-loos.

When the crowd dispersed, she made her way back to the domicile she shared with Herada. One down, two to go.

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