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Allsorts - A Collection of Short Essays, Fiction and Poetry

Writing Challenge - Shut Up & Write: Fables (Mar 2021)

Prompts keep us young! Thank you Shut Up & Write... Here are a few more story-scenes in response to a 5-Day Challenge - Mar 2021 (I only did 2 days, it was a busy work week!):


Day One: Challenge - Write a fable about the dangers of being too clever.

He's a big 'un, no doubt about that. This critter would finish off the trapping expedition. I can picture 'im draped 'cross the pile of 'em on the wagon and situated just so. Would catch those wide eyes of the boys who'd run alongside us when we pulled into town, not to mention the street ladies. Jacko (I named him myself, last night around the campfire) is a right smart varmint, but he's no match for me. He can see the trap, Joe says. Joe thinks he knows everythin'. So I move it again - this is the fifth time - and add a bit o' bacon to get 'im interested. But Jacko keeps circlin'. No snap, no jaws, no beaver pelt. And I am runnin' outta time. I crawl on my belly to the riverbank, noticin' for the first time how Jacko's nest is a work of art, big branches and weeds all jammed with mud against the strong river current. But that don't matter. Another critter'll move in when he's dead.

He waddles right up to me, not scared one bit, the bastard. He stands up on his hind legs.

"C'mere, Jacko," I coo.

Jacko gets real close. I got 'im, just one more hop closer, my friend. He puts out his nose to sniff at the trap.

"Almost there," I say, poking my finger at the bacon.

The snap is loud and crisp.

My finger lays on the ground, cedar needles and dirt like a little bed for it.

I want to yowl, but no sound comes.

Jacko snatches it and scampers away.

He turns back when he reaches the river bank, my finger clenched in his little black claws.

"Bacon? Really," he sniffs, before he jumps into the water.


Day Two: Challenge - Write a fable that reflects the sentiment that "No act of kindness is ever wasted."

Helen staggered down the steps to the kitchen, angry and bewildered by yet another argument. Almost missing a step, she realized she had no glasses; they were still upstairs, thrown across the nightstand with vehemence.

She was right, he was wrong, another night's sleep lost.

She squinted at the clock on the microwave. Two-thirteen AM. She sighed and opened the fridge, temporarily blinded by the "who cares that it's the middle of the night" lightbulb inside.

Something scurried across the top of her slippers. Fast and light. A little claw got stuck in the pink weave, nicking her toe.

"Shit!" Helen popped her left foot out of the slipper and hopped back, nearly crashing into the kitchen counter.

Something small and brown was frantically attempting to drag her slipper under the stove.

"What the hell," Helen muttered, squatting down to get a better look.

The mouse was completely stuck. Could not disengage from the slipper, could not run or hide. It looked at Helen in the dim kitchen, mesmerized, the light from the open fridge like a beacon that glimmered in his frightened eyes.

A brush of soft fur swept past her arm. Twinkle's black tail swooshed back and forth, his green eyes glowing, his ears back.

Helen had never seen him look so hungry.

"If we unhook him, and let him go, you can hunt for him another day," Helen whispered to the cat. "That would be more of a fair fight."

Twinkle didn't break his intent gaze on the mouse. Helen raised her voice to a squeak.

"Please, Twinkle, let's play another day?"

The cat glanced at Helen quizzically, then opened his jaws to lick his lips. His whiskers sprang out like arrows from his tender face, transforming it.

Helen knew better than to try and pick up the cat. He would scratch her to pieces, and she could barely see him.

She reached for the mouse, feeling for him. He writhed and spun in her hand like thread resisting the needle.

"Twinkle, breakfast!" Don shook the box of cat food from behind the kitchen table.

"How did…" Helen stammered.

"Shhh…" Don held a finger on his mouth.

Twinkle turned to look for the source of the sound in the dark kitchen. Helen knew he was torn between the familiar cereal and the promise of fresh meat, fighting every instinct to lunge at the mouse.

"Be kind," Don said. "Twinkle, here." He shook the box with more emphasis.

It was up to Twinkle now, Helen thought. Had she taught him well? Fifteen years flashed in her memory. No children, no one but Twinkle.

And Don, of course.

"Be kind," she repeated, with a note of desperation in her voice. "And maybe we can be new friends."

The cat regarded Helen for a long moment, then turned his attention back to the mouse, who had flattened himself across the top of the slipper, pretending to be dead.

Twinkle took a few dainty steps towards Don and tentatively rubbed against his legs. Don crouched down and poured the entire contents of the cat food box onto the kitchen floor, the sound like a waterfall in the woods.

"New friends?" Don asked, staring at Helen and stroking the cat, who was now face-deep in Purina Cat Chow.

"Yes, from now on," Helen smiled, standing up, feeling tall, the slipper and mouse cupped together in her hands.


Feedback on this one (thankfully!): "I was so happy the mouse lived in the end!" - Lira


Thanks for reading!


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