Funeral Gloves

It’s time once again for Friday Fictioneers! Each week about 100 writers compose 100-word stories in response to a photo prompt. This week, the prompt comes to us courtesy of Roger Butolt.

2016 05 06

Copyright Roger Butolt

Funeral Gloves

Boston, 1770

“Rev. Eliot!” Andrew’s wife stamped a dainty foot.

“Yes, Mrs. Eliot?” The reverend looked up from his sermon preparation.

“These gloves! You must have over 2,000 of them here.”

“Memories of the fallen, Mrs. Eliot. It would seem a traitorous act to rid myself of a single one.”

“Messengers of ill fate as I see them,” his wife insisted. “You may as well keep 2,000 dark-winged ravens in your bureau.”

“Ravens would make considerably more noise, don’t you think, dear?”

“And mess,” she conceded. “Honestly, Andrew!”

When the bell rang, the couple knew the collection was about to grow.


Actually, Rev. Andrew Eliot collected over 3,000 funeral gloves during a 32-year period. You can read more about death and funerals in the Colonies here and more about Andrew Eliot here.

Witness Protection

It’s time once again for Friday Fictioneers! Each week about 100 writers compose 100-word stories in response to a photo prompt. This week, the prompt comes to us courtesy of Mary Shipman.

2016 04 29 Mary Shipman

Copyright Mary Shipman

Witness Protection

“Guten Morgen.” The shopkeeper eyed Jules and her offspring with suspicion.

“Don’t stare!” Jules whispered the command to Meg and Austin.

“He’s staring at us,” Meg whined loudly.

Jules reddened. Meg was right, and ignoring the awkwardness of the situation wouldn’t make things any better.

“I’m not wearing those!” Austin announced, eyeing the long underwear hanging on racks above his head.

“I’ll be making your clothes, Silly.” Jules pointed at bolts of fabric along the wall. “A blue shirt to bring out your eyes, and a green dress for Meg. You can’t wear skinny jeans and plaid in Amish country.”

Up a Creek

Once again, it’s time for Friday Fictioneers. (Yes, I’m posting a day later than usual, but at least I’m posting again.) For those unfamiliar with this challenge, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, our intrepid leader, posts a photo prompt each Wednesday. You can play along or read the 100-word stories by other writers here. This week’s photo is a rerun courtesy of Madison Woods, Rochelle’s predecessor.

2016 04 22 Madison Woods

Copyright Madison Woods

Up a Creek

“Last one to the crick is a rotten egg.”

The three girls ran like miniature cyclones down the embankment.

Sharon took the lead. Linda and Millie sprinted behind.

“Owww! Help!” Sharon tripped, falling into a barbed-wire fence.

Millie started to laugh. Linda joined in.

Little Ralphie appeared at the top of the hill, hollering as loudly as Sharon. “Hush up! You goin’ to scare the cows.”

Millie laughed harder.

Sharon pulled free from the fence, ripping her jeans.

Linda blanched. “We got worse problems than scared cows.”

Silence fell as the others looked up to see Grandpa’s bull charging toward them.


Author’s note: This week’s story is a partially true retelling of an incident that happened on my great grandparents farm. Names of the four children (who happen to be my mom and three of her cousins) have not been changed to protect the innocent or the guilty.

Ghosts of Old Chicago

It’s that time of week again–time for Friday Fictioneers on Wednesday. (The prompt shows up early Wednesday morning, and we have the rest of the week to respond with our 100-word stories.) This week’s prompt is courtesy of yours truly, a photo taken from the sky deck of the historic Inn of Chicago. My accompanying story weighs in at exactly 100 words.

2016 04 01 Marie Gail

Copyright Marie Gail Stratford

Ghosts of Old Chicago

“Haunted by mobsters or ghosts from my high school days—pick one.”

“I’d rather attend the symphony in peace.”

“We have to spend the night somewhere. The Congress or the Marriott?”

“Tell me about these high school friends of yours haunting the Marriott.”

“Stereotypes from the early ‘90s mostly. Cheerleaders with cute names. Wannabe football players from rival high schools threatening one another in the lobby.”

“Anyone you had sex with?”

“Well, I was 17—but no. None of them were that lucky.”

“Then I vote for the Congress. The ghost of Al Capone could use a good ass kicking.”


Apparently, Al Capone has a full staff of spectres working alongside him at the Congress Plaza Hotel. You can read more here.

Farm-Fresh Fragrances

It’s that time of week again–time for Friday Fictioneers on a Wednesday morning! This week our photo prompt is courtesy of Ted Strutz (who’s a pretty cool guy that you should get to know), and by the week’s end it will inspire scores of original 100-word stories. My story this week weighs in at exactly 100 words.

2016 03 25 Ted T

Copyright Ted Strutz

Farm-Fresh Fragrances

“You tellin’ me your shit don’t stink?”

Dana knew better than to roll her eyes.

“Only person ‘round here who can get away with that is your mother. That’s why I married her. Now, go back and do it right.”

Dana went back to weeding the garden, grumbling. Then she caught sight of an old commode behind the tool shed.

Early in the morning on Mother’s Day, Dana wrangled the commode into position in the front yard. Petunias cascaded from the tank and bowl. “Stinky shit makes darn good fertilizer.”

Seeing her gift, Mom laughed. “Well, the flowers are beautiful.”

Old Muddy’s Revenge

It’s that time of week again–time for Friday Fictioneers on a Wednesday morning! This week our photo prompt is courtesy of our fearless leader Rochelle Wisoff Fields, and by the week’s end it will inspire scores of original 100-word stories. My story this week is slightly under weight at 98 words.

2016 03 18 Rochelle

Copyright Rochelle Wisoff Fields

Old Muddy’s Revenge

Tres gazed out the shop window. “Dad—water’s risin’. Best get on while the gettin’s good.”

“I ain’t goin’ nowhere. Nary a flood e’er reached us here afore.”

Across the river from the shop, Tres could see water lapping at the foundation of Pierre’s bait shop. “Mr. Pierre’s already left, Dad. Good thing too. The Old Man’s knocking at his door.”

“Ain’t nuttin’ ta fear, Son. We sit a fair sight higher than him.”

“I’m not leavin’ you here.”

“Don’t then. Take a load off.”

Three hours later, the pair clung to the roof and prayed for rescue.

Getting off the Merry-Go-Round

Over the past six months, I’ve done a poor job keeping up with regular posts, but I’m working on some creative projects and trying to do a better job posting here as well. So today I’m revisiting a Friday Fictioneers post from this fall. I can’t post to the Linkup at this late date, but you can visit the original stories here. The photo is courtesy of Ted Strutz, whom you should also visit as he’s a decent guy with whom I like hanging out on the interwebs occasionally.

2015 10 09 Ted Strutz

Copyright Ted Strutz

Getting off the Merry-Go-Round

“It’s not my idea of a good time.”

“Why go every year then?”

“Tom likes it—says he needs a break from the routine.”

“So go on a vacation.”

“We should. I need a break—from routine and the state fair.”

“Does he know the reason?”

Lindsay shrugged. “He knows what happened. I don’t think he knows where.”

“You should skip the fair this year. Book a weekend at a bed-and-breakfast instead.”

“You think he’ll understand?”

“He’s a good guy. If you tell him why, he won’t keep dragging you back to the place where you were raped.”

Murder in Her Headspace

Welcome to my contribution to Friday Fictioneers. Each week, about 100 writers from around the globe respond to a photo prompt with their 100-word stories. You are welcome to play along.

My story this week weighs in at exactly 100 words.

This week’s photo prompt is courtesy of Emily L. Gant.

2016 03 07 EmmyLGant

Copyright Emily L. Gant

Murder in Her Headspace

Shelly plopped into a plastic chair on the roof of her Chicago apartment building and began to write. Online photos of this “greenspace” omitted the dumpsters and blacktop. Instead of feeding urban tranquility, the space provided fantastic inspiration for the thriller she was writing.

As the sun sank, Shelly began to shiver despite the late-summer heat. Her sense of foreboding grew. Time to return to reality. She closed her notebook and entered the stairwell.

The attacker came from behind as Shelly passed the second landing. She didn’t have a chance to scream before a gloved hand clamped over her mouth.

El Camino De Los Reyes

Once again, it’s time for Friday Fictioneers. Every week, about 100 writers from around the world compose original, 100-word stories based on a photo prompt. This week’s photo comes from Melanie Greenwood.

Author’s Note: This week’s prompt brought a seasonal story to mind. For those who thought Christmas ended on December 25, I’d like to remind you that Christmas only began that day and actually ends today with what Catholics and Orthodox Christians call Epiphany and children in several parts of the world look forward to as Three Kings Day. The rest, I think, will be self-explanatory, as you read this story about the pains of modern travel. For further reading, Wikipedia seems a good a place to start as any. You can use the bibliography there to learn even more.

2016 01 08 melanie-greenwood

El Camino De Los Reyes

“I don’t think he’s just meditating this time.” Melchior nodded at Balthasar, whose body was sprawled across two chairs in the airport waiting area.

Gaspar rolled his eyes. “I’ve always said he could fall asleep anywhere.”

“Some kind of luck we have. You don’t hear of St. Nicholas getting stuck for hours at Chicago O’Hare.”

“Well, he has those flying reindeer.”

“Don’t forget the one with the magical red nose.”

“True. More useful than camels for traveling in North America.”

“It was so much simpler when all we had to do was fill wooden shoes for a few Dutch kids.”

Letting the Stranger In: A Christmas Reflection


Last Christmas Eve, my wife and I arrived at the family holiday gathering to learn that one of my sisters-in-law had a new foster son that was joining us for the celebration. As we unloaded the colorfully wrapped presents we had brought for everyone else and laid them under the tree, I realized that no one had brought anything for this new family member. This was no surprise—we hadn’t known he would be joining us. Then a happy thought hit me, and I beckoned to my wife.

After a few quick whispers in the hall, we discovered that we had an extra gift with us—all we needed to do was find a box and wrap it. I’m not sure why I happened to have extra vouchers for movie tickets with me that night, and I don’t in anyway believe that small gesture made a big difference for a 16-year-old foster kid. What struck me that evening was the tradition from which that spontaneous gift came. You see, my family has often scurried into the hall to discuss a present for an unexpected guest arriving on Christmas. Mom always kept a few gifts tucked away in a closet “just in case”—not out of a sense of obligation but out of a sense of compassion, a willingness to fully accept the unexpected stranger on any day—especially a holy holiday like Christmas.

This year, my new nephew will be joining me and my in-laws once again on Christmas Eve, and everyone will have gifts for him. He’s a part of the family now, no longer a stranger. The following day, my family will convene at my home, and we’ll be exchanging gifts as usual. That day, we will have another guest—not a stranger, but someone whom none of us have seen for a long time, a dear friend of mine, elderly, single, from across the country and with no family to enjoy on Christmas this year. We will be his family.

Of course, I checked with my mom and sister to make sure they were open to adding my elderly friend to this year’s holiday gathering. They are happy to make room for one more and eager to make sure no one we know gets left out on Christmas. Speaking to my Mom today, I thanked her for being so open, and I also thanked her for teaching me by example how to care for others in this way. That’s when I learned something I didn’t know.

“It’s something I learned from my mom,” Mom replied to my offering of thanks. I hadn’t known. You see, Grandma and Grandpa never had much to share. It seemed like money was always tight for them, and I know Grandpa often worked two jobs or took on double shifts in order to raise my mom and her two sisters. But today I learned that Grandma always found a way to care for the strangers who came to her door.

The specific story Mom told me today was about Easter, not Christmas, but the same rules applied. One year, a cousin of Mom’s came to stay with them on the Saturday before Easter, and Mom remembers clearly seeing Grandma leave the house at 9:00p.m. on Holy Saturday, in a time before an all-night big-box store could be found in Salina, Kansas. And the next morning, Mom, her two sisters and the cousin all had Easter baskets. Grandma knew the importance of inclusion, and the inconvenience of finding a gift late on a Saturday night didn’t keep her from including a young niece or nephew who needed more than a safe place to stay the night before Easter.

Today, I learned more about my heritage, and I am proud. I am proud to be the daughter and granddaughter and great-granddaughter of women who have always welcomed the stranger. I’m proud to come from a tradition of giving, and no matter the size of my Christmas dinner or my December paycheck, I promise to always make room for those who need a family on a holy day. I hope that some of you who read this will be inspired to do so as well. If my great-grandma, who managed a farm during the Great Depression, and my grandma, who struggled to support her own family, and my mom, who always thought more for others than herself during the holidays, could be forever inviting, forever inclusive of others, so can we all.