Fifty-Five in a Row



The robed figure seated across from Darnell studied the board. Its shoulders rose and fell in an impossible sigh. A skeletal hand reached out and tipped the white king.

Darnell leaned back. “That’s fifty-five. I won every one of them, right?” Darnell asked. The figure nodded and stood..

“You sure?” He looked down at the wreckage, hoping to see…something. You wouldn’t–”

A low, awful sound came from the hood. “No”, Darnell said. “I don’t guess you’d cheat.” He stood and clapped his hands. “I knew all that playin’ chess instead of going’ to school would pay off in the end. This…is the end, right?” A bony hand fell on his shoulder and guided him toward a sudden pearlescent glimmer. “Yeah,” he said with a tired sigh. “At least Mama would be proud. You think?”

Death nodded.

In the ravine, fifty-five children climbed unharmed from a ruined school bus.

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’m a bit more out of practice than I thought, which is why this story is 150 words instead of the regulation 100. I’ll get back into it. My friend Sarah Werner keeps assuring me that I’m still a writer even though I seem to find wonderful excuses not to write. I can’t really argue with her because she is so often right, but I have given myself every reason to doubt over the past couple of years, haven’t I?

Yes. The answer is most definitely yes.  But you know what? I am a writer. And if I can get my crap together even a little bit, I may even become an author.

Speaking of authors, here is an excellent 100-word story inspired by the very same picture from another friend, Terrye Turpin, who is a bone fide author.

Okay, so you took a shot at the challenge, yes? You should. It’s not a bad way to give your brain a good workout. The story you write doesn’t have to be great. Trust me, most of the stories I write here aren’t great. But the more your brain works, the better it works, and a better-working brain is a good thing. Or so I’ve heard from various shadowy representatives of Big Brain.