Thirty Days of Genius – Day Nineteen

The chime attached to the door rang softly, alerting me that someone had entered.  I glanced at the clock and saw it was just five minutes to closing.  I sighed as I put on a smile and moved to greet the customer.  A warm reception made the customers more likely to buy something and return later.  However I was still hoping that this would be quick.

“Hello, sir, how may I help you?” I asked.  He was tall; taller than me and I’m a tall woman.  I felt dainty standing next to him, a feeling I don’t get very often.  Without my heels, my head would probably just reach his chin.

He had a classically handsome face–strong chin, full lips, straight nose, and dark gray eyes.  His eyes were what captured me.  Such an unusual color meant he definitely had some magic in his blood, but they were so cold I physically shivered.  This man was up to no good.

Finally, he spoke.  “Where is your destruction section?”  His voice was deep and rolled over me in a wave.

“I’m sorry, sir.  This is a white shop, we don’t carry such things.”  Destructive magic, charms and potions included, took quite the toll on both the creator and the user.  It just wasn’t worth it to me to take such a risk with my soul.  Plus, destructive magic was closely controlled and monitored by the government.  Unauthorized use was highly illegal.

“Come now, I’m sure you have something.  I’m quite willing to pay whatever you’re asking.”  His tone had taken on a slight edge of menace.

“Sir, I promise you, there is no destructive magic here.  There aren’t any secret rooms or hidden panels.  I use and sell white magic only.  You should try Reynold’s place in the square.  He’s licensed and sells all types of magic.”

Writing prompts:  chime, reception, destruction

Thirty Days of Genius – Day Eighteen

I quietly sipped my tea, hoping the caffeine would boost my energy enough for me to make it through the rest of the day.  I was falling asleep at my desk and that wasn’t good for two reasons.  One, while my job was boring and meaningless, it still paid the bills.  If my boss found me sleeping then I’d have to find a new job.  The second was that I had a certain amount of work I needed to get done today and sleeping was not getting it done.  I had absolutely zero desire to stay late, so the caffeine had better work.

As an aspiring author I thought an editing job would be a dream come true.  Granted it was for the local paper rather for a big publishing house, but I figured editing was editing.  How wrong I was.  I spent my day reading drivel–poorly written drivel.  All day I changed their to they’re or two to too.  It was no wonder that I was falling asleep.

The tea leaves in the bottom of my cup made an interesting contrast against the creamy porcelain.  I briefly wondered what the leaves would mean to someone who could read them.  Was my life getting ready for a big change?  No change at all?  A tragedy or celebration?

I realized that I had once again drifted away from work.  A sigh slid through me.  I really needed a new job.  This one was killing what little creativity I had.

Writing prompts: author, energy, tea

Thirty Days of Genius – Day Seventeen

I watched the children run and play on the playground, thankful for the break.  It was hard to find time to play during war and most days were spent inside listening for the air raid sirens.  This morning’s advisement had said it was safe to venture out, so the children were allowed to have recess outside.

It was the first time many of them had been in the sun for nearly a month, as most took the subway tunnels to get to class.  The subway trains were long since lost, but the tunnels had turned into pedestrian thoroughfares.  The tunnel had been extended to reach the school basement once it became clear the war would not be ending anytime soon.

The school was severely understaffed, as most people, teachers included, fled the cities.  I was the only first grade teacher that remained.  It would normally be difficult for one teacher to teach an entire grade by herself, but there were only fifteen kids in my class.  Some were the children of military officials and the diplomats who were required to stay in the city; others were the children of poor families that couldn’t afford to live anywhere else.

I stayed because I could.  I didn’t have extended family that needed me and my parents were lost in the first years of the air raids.  I could’ve moved to the country, but I was needed here and so I stayed.  The few teachers that were left were allowed to stay at the school, safely hidden away in the basement.  I had abandoned my apartment after the raids became so frequent that I would have to get up almost every night to seek shelter.

As if called by my thoughts, the shrill shriek of the air raid sirens pierced the air.  We all froze momentarily in disbelief; today was supposed to be safe.

“Come on children, everyone inside!”  I shouted as I moved to make sure no one was left behind.  The distant boom of bombs hitting hastened my steps.  I looked to the other teacher who was counting the children as they entered.  All were accounted for.

I ran for the door as the bombs neared.  I flew inside and barred the door behind me as feeble protection.  The children knew the drill well and moved obediently towards the basement.  The teachers brought up the rear and checked the upstairs rooms as we passed.  All were locked as they should be since class was no longer held where the children would be at risk.

The rumble of bombs shook the building as we finally herded the children into the shelter below.  The children were allowed to play to keep their minds off of what was happening above.  If the raid didn’t end soon, classes would resume as much as we were able, though leaving the shelter for the classrooms would not be possible.

So far the school had been lucky and had not been directly hit.  All of the teachers prayed our luck would hold as the bombs neared.  We found the emergency flashlights and rations that we always stored here.  We also had an emergency beacon and radio that could be used if we were hit.

We had power from the main lines running through the subway tunnels and a backup generator hidden deep in the basement, but if both failed, the flashlights would be our only light until we were found.  Each child also carried two glow sticks at all times.

The first stick was a traditional glow stick that needed to be snapped to start the reaction.  These would glow brightly and would provide enough light to see by.  These were checked daily but some children just couldn’t resist the urge to snap them as soon as possible.  That is why the second stick was used.  It always emitted a dim glow and didn’t need to be snapped for the reaction to occur.  This allowed us to find the children even if their first glow stick failed or had already been used.

The building shook enough to make me stumble and I looked up at the dust drifting down on us.  I met the other teachers’ eyes.  Too close.

“Class, why don’t you play over here?” I asked, keeping my voice calm.  I was trying to get them to move closer to the wall and the other teachers were doing the same.

Writing prompts:  play, teach, war

Thirty Days of Genius – Day Sixteen

He was exhausted.  The latest crime spree had been going strong since well before Thanksgiving and it was nearly Christmas.  ‘No rest for the weary,’ he thought.  Tonight was his first night off in over a week and he planned to spend it by going home and crashing.

He opened the door to his apartment and blinked.  His living room was much cleaner than he remembered leaving it but that was not what had caught his attention.  No, instead it was the pair of impossibly long legs leading to the impossibly tiny shorts that had halted his thought process.  He blinked a few more times and the woman, for it must be a woman, straightened up, surprised.

“Oh!  I didn’t expect you to be home yet!  I was just trying to help you out since I know you’ve not gotten any peace for a while.  I was planning to be gone by the time you got back.  I cleaned up a bit and was going to hang some decorations and leave you dinner.  You’re doing so much for the city, I thought I could maybe help you out some,” she stuttered, embarrassed.

He finally broke out of his stupor long enough to recognize his neighbor from across the hall.  He had given her a key so she could feed his cat.  Apparently she was taking advantage of that fact, but she was trying to be nice, so he let it go.  He was just too tired to argue.

She pulled her shorts down self-consciously.  She really had meant to be gone by the time he returned.  She came up with the idea while she was cleaning her apartment.  What she was wearing, while appropriate for cleaning in her own house, was not something she would ever wear out in public.  The quick dash across the hall didn’t count as going out, but now that she had company, she was completely mortified.  ‘He probably thinks I’m trying to proposition him,’ she thought to herself.

“Well, now that you’re home, I’m going to head out.  You dinner is on the stove but it’ll need to be warmed up before you eat it.”   She edged toward the door, a difficult task since he had yet to leave the foyer.

“Why don’t you stay for dinner?” he asked reflexively.
“Ah…thanks for the invite, but I’ve already eaten.  You enjoy.  I’ll talk to you later!” she said as she escaped into the safety of the hall.  ‘Hopefully much, much later after you’ve forgotten these horrible shorts.’

He stared at the door, bemused.  He tried to match his mental image of his shy, quiet neighbor and his very vivid image of her legs in those shorts and found his brain was just too tired to process it.

Writing prompts:  crime, peace, decoration

Thirty Days of Genius – Day Fifteen

I tied the belt of my robe around my waist and contemplated the evening.  I had never once regretted moving to take over my grandfather’s ranch in rural Montana–until tonight.  I was channel surfing earlier and while I went right past the lovely volcano documentary and the nice family comedy, I stopped on the horror movie.

Not just any horror movie would suffice.  No, of course not.  I had to pick the one where the hapless female character, all alone in the middle of nowhere, was stalked and murdered by the crazy psycho.  Now every light in the house–yes, even the one in the closet–was blazing brightly, the doors and windows had been checked at least twice and I was carrying around a baseball bat.

My adrenaline was cranked so high that I wouldn’t be sleeping for a week.  I had picked up the phone no less than a dozen times, but I knew if I called my nearest neighbor I would never live it down.  He would certainly come over even though it was past midnight because he was a gentleman and I was a lady in distress.  His gallant demeanor would only last until he was certain there was no threat.  Then the ribbing would begin.  I shuddered to imagine it which is why the phone remained off.

I jumped, screamed, ducked, and generally flailed about as said device emitted a shrill shriek.  My TV narrowly avoided a disastrous collision with my bat.  I dove for the phone, wondering who was calling at such a late hour.


“Grace, is everything okay over there?  Your place is lit up like Christmas,” my neighbor’s voice came through the line.

Speak of the devil.  Though his house was a couple miles by road, it was really only a mile or so as the crow flies, across a shallow valley.  With both houses being on high ground with nothing between them, he would be able to see the lights easily if he looked out his living room windows.  I tried to see his house but instead saw my pale face reflected back at me in the light bouncing off the window.

“Grace?” he questioned again.

“Sorry, Rob, I’m a little out of it.  Yeah, everything is fine.  I’m just…err…cleaning?”  It came out more as a question than a statement and I winced.

“You’re cleaning…after midnight…with all the lights on?”  He sounded skeptical at best.

I picked up a stray soda can from the coffee table and walked into the kitchen to throw it away.  There, now I wasn’t even lying.

“Yep, cleaning.  Couldn’t sleep so I thought I’d be productive.  What about you, why are you up so late?  Spying on me?” I asked with a smirk.

Writing prompts:  rural, volcano, belt