No Exceptions

The mood of the encampment shifted as a scout brought in a whimpering Regarian. Jena flinched inwardly, but the healer in her stayed professional. “Is it the parasite?” she asked as the scout helped him onto a cot.

He pulled off his boot. The all-too familiar silvery growth enveloped most of the Regarian’s foot but the lack of smell told Jena it was still possible to save him.

“Please,” he whimpered. “Don’t let me die.”

Jena sighed. “You’ll have to follow our rules. That includes regular usufruit consumption.”

He wrinkled his nose but nodded. “Do I have to swear loyalty?”

“No, but if you don’t cooperate with the medicinal regimen you’ll have to leave. No exceptions.”

Another healer handed him a bowl full of mush made from the pungent fruit. Jena touched her bracelet and turned away. What would Joya say if she could see her treating a Regarian?

It didn’t matter. She hadn’t seen her sister in months, not since she refused to touch the fruit.

“Do what you want, little sis,” Joya had said. “But getting us to eat that nasty fruit is all part of a plot to make us weak.”

“That makes no sense. People have eaten the fruit long before the silver-death. Just not that much of it.”

“If you buy into that Regarian fiction about the silver-death, it just lets them know you’re easier to control,” Joya scoffed.

“The silver-death doesn’t care if you’re Regarian or Dyronese. Think, Joya! If the fruit doesn’t work, the worst that will happen is we’ve eaten smelly fruit and have bad gas. Think of what you risk by not eating it.”

“I risk nothing. I have my strength and the strength of our ancestors. Don’t worry, sis. I’ll leave without a fuss. And when I return, I’ll have stories of battles, and a new bracelet for you.”

Neither Jena nor the other healers showed a sign of the silver death, despite treating dozens of patients with them. The fruit purged all but the direst cases of growth. She hoped she’d see Joya at the end of all this. But for now, she had her wits and her ancestors' instincts of survival. That was, hopefully, enough.

Photo by Jed Owen on Unsplash

Song Choice: Stay Alive from Hamilton

This flash fiction piece was created as a response to the prompt given for Poets and Storytellers United's Weekly Scribblings post, Writing as a Metaphor for Living. The words I used were mood, plot, and fiction.

For the Honor of House Driks

According to their religion, my kids became adults at their B’nai Mitzvah. But to truly be seen as an adult around here, a child must make a meal. Darling Youngest has been gleefully diving into baking as well as cooking during the pandemic. The Darling Eldest however has managed to shirk off anything more involved than boxed mac n’ cheese—at least until now.

The last week has seen some pretty rough times for a bunch of my friends. Their stories are not mine to tell, but when the going gets tough, the Drikses get cooking. Darling Eldest was feeling particularly frustrated by his inability to help, so my husband suggested that he cook a meal for a family. Not just any meal, but the legendary Driks meatloaf, which has been passed down on my husband’s side for a couple of generations and is one of the most anticipated meals by several families when we vacation together.

In some ways, this was a big treat for my husband. As much as he loves to cook, he loves it even more when someone is in the kitchen cooking with him. And getting to teach one of his offspring a meal that has a place in family lore is a double bonus.

I think Darling Eldest might have been a wee bit intimidated by both the manic gleam in my husband's eye and taking on such a well-loved family meal. But after getting some grumbling out of the way, he showed up in the kitchen, ready to learn. 

As with creating the perfect cast, to make the perfect meatloaf, you've got to get loose.
(Fun fact, Darling Eldest's name was partially inspired by this movie.)
To (only) his shock, it came out quite well. He was so impressed with himself that he made a second meatloaf the very next day, this one to keep for ourselves as we celebrated his second by-line. I don’t think he’s in a hurry to tackle the equally as legendary Driks challah bread any time soon. But in this time of Covid when things to celebrate are far and few between, at least my Darling Eldest now knows he can put together some tasty comfort food both for himself and anyone who could use a bit of comforting.

Song Choice: What else, but Eye to Eye from the Goofy Movie

This blog post was created as a response to the Weekly Scribblings prompt given at Poets and Storytellers United, Writing About Food.

Ink Blot

I’ve felt too much
like an ink blot girl.

People see things
in all my adjectives

and form shapes from them
that may or may not
have anything to do with reality.

There is depth and dimension
within my hues

even if people pretend not to see them. 

What they think they see
reveals a lot about who they are.

I’m still trying to make up my mind

about what it is that I see.

Photo by Nicolas Thomas on Unsplash

This poem is linked to Poets and Storytellers United's Weekly Scribblings post, Seeing Things.

Maybe, Someday

“Will that be all, Mrs. Kramer,” Mol asked, sincerely hoping it was. She only had to stop by the office to make her last report and she’d be through.

The wizened face pouted. “I’m going to ask Papa to make you stay.”

“Mm-hmm,” Mol said, collecting the dishes.

“Aren’t you going to say thank you?”

Mol gripped the medicine bottle tightly for a moment but didn’t turn around. “Goodbye, Mrs. Kramer.”

The old woman began to shake and sob. “Of all the ingratitude! That’s why papa says being nice to your kind is a waste. You’ll never work again.”

Mol pushed her cart out of the room. She could still hear Mrs. Kramer railing as she locked the door behind her but stopped to take a few notes before she reported to Ms. Harris.

Ms. Harris greeted Mol with a smile. “How bad was she?”

“Not too bad today,” Mol said, sitting down. “I’ve heard stories from other interns, and history books of course, but nothing prepares you for the real thing. She still believes her father is in power. I don’t think she even knows there was a war.”

“The most promising candidates get the hardest assignments.” Ms. Harris said. “I’m looking forward to your write-up. Let’s get the exit interview out of the way.”


“At the beginning of your internship you said you believed its main purpose was to impress upon candidates that to lead justly, one had to learn to serve. Do you still feel that way?”

“Yes. Though this experience reinforced compassion’s importance.”

“Did you start to feel compassion for her?”

Mol paused, wondering how honest to be. “The subject made the evils of the past viscerally real. Her complicity in perpetuating them is unquestionable. In her world, I’d likely be dead. That she’s alive and cared for just shows how compassionate society has become.”

I really aced that interview, Mol thought, pouring herself a glass of wine. She took her glass to her apartment’s large picture window and looked out at the city. She didn’t feel anything close to compassion for Ida Kramer. But she was grateful for a world where compassion was an option...if not today, maybe someday.

Photo by Jonas Kaiser on Unsplash

Song Choice: Those Were The Days

This flash fiction piece was created for Poets and Storytellers United's Weekly Scribblings Prompt, Things Were Different Back Then.