Photo by Michelle Weber.Photo by Michelle Weber.

She watched and waited for everyone else to leave the playground.  She knew she should run and play with the other kids, she knew that she might even enjoy doing just that, but she didn’t want to risk breaking the magic.  She didn’t want to risk upsetting her other friends, the ones that only came around when she was by herself.

She sat much like she had the first time they had come out for her.  Having just moved to the neighborhood, she’d perched on the neglected merry-go-round and watched the other kids skip and race, slide and swing, laugh and squeal the afternoon away.  She had wanted to join them but was too shy to approach any of them.  She had hoped one of them might reach out to her but none of them ever did.

One by one they went their separate ways or were collected by their parents.  She’d hung her head, tears welling in her eyes, lonely, confused, and angry with herself for not having the bravery to stand up and ask the other children if she could join them.  After forcing the tears away, her mother would have been proud, she found the strength in her legs to push away from the apparatus.  It was then she’d heard a voice behind her say hello.

In her shock she’d fallen onto her behind as she twisted around to see who had managed to sneak around her.  And there had been no one there.  Then the horse had spoken again, “I do hope you haven’t injured yourself young lady, are you okay?”

She could still remember how it felt when her eyes had gone wide and her heart had started racing.  It was impossible.  She knew it was impossible.  Yet, it had happened.  The horse had talked to her.  She had seen its mouth move.  An initial jolt fear had been immediately replaced by a sense of wonder and joy.

“I’m okay,” she’d mumbled, and then dragged herself out of the dirt, using the edge of the merry as leverage.  Then the horse’s head had turned to look at her, and it had smiled.  She’d nearly fallen over again at that point, and very well would have if she hadn’t still been clutching the edge.

“Would you like to play with us?”

Us?  She’d thought, delirious in her excitement, as one by one the other animals around the toy swiveled to face her.  The poles slid away and they were free.

“I would love to…”

And so they had.  They’d frolicked, and danced around the empty playground.  Playing one game after another until she’d realized how late it had gotten.  She apologized profusely and told them she would come back and visit them every day, and then she’d sprinted home.  Happier than she’d been since before she’d moved.  Happier than she could ever remember being.

Every day after that she returned to the park and waited patiently for the other children to leave so she could play with her new friends.  Every day they came back to life for her.  They were free from their daily chore, free from their structured servitude.

But then she’d had school commitments to see to, and her mom had gotten sick and needed taking care of, and she hadn’t been able to join her new friends in the park.  She hadn’t been able to experience that magic and she had worried that perhaps when she did return the spell would be broken.  She didn’t know what she would do if that happened.

So, she didn’t want to do anything else to risk damaging the enchantment she had found.  She didn’t run and play with the other children.  She didn’t even make eye contact with them for fear that might entice them to come and start talking to her.  She just sat there, singing a song, one of the rabbit’s favorites, and digging her toy in the sand.

It wouldn’t be much longer.  The numbers had already started to dwindle and night was quickly approaching.  Soon, she’d hear the rabbit’s strong voice join hers, and she feel the horse nuzzle her shoulder, and watch the frog bound over her head.  She’d play tag with the tiger.  She’d go for a ride on giraffe.  She’d rub bears tummy the way he liked ever so much.

The playground would be theirs to do with as they pleased.  They’d be the ones laughing and squealing, skipping and racing, swinging and sliding, and she’d feel whole again, complete in the company of her friends.  Then when the last light of the day faded away she’d run home.  But she’d be back the next day and the day after that.

She would always return to play with them.  Because they had reached out to her.  Because they had seen how much she needed them.  And because she knew that they needed her to.  They were perfect when they were together.  And that’s how it supposed to be with friends.


Word Count: 836

Written in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge: 1,000 Words.  Do you have a story to go with this picture (fiction or otherwise)?  Write it up and link to the challenge.  Go on then, what are you waiting for?!

the sauce

Photo courtesy of Michelle Weber.

Roberto prepared to spoon on the sauce.

This wasn’t just any sauce, mind you, it was his special creation: the culmination of his years of experience and expertise, his signature dish.  But, it couldn’t stand alone.  It needed something to be drizzled over to truly be complete.  Thus, he waited.

Carlo carefully plated his own masterpiece.  He took his time to make sure the presentation was perfect.  It simply wouldn’t do to have a single item out of place.  Genius cannot be rushed.

The two brothers, Roberto and Carlo, chefs extraordinaire, were known across the land as the finest cooks one could ever have the pleasure of being served by.  Their restaurant, Intingolo, had started humbly enough with the two of them working every shift on a shoestring budget and barely making ends meet.  Over the years word of the food had spread and the customers and rave reviews had poured in, allowing them to expand, hire help, expand again, and finally look around and feel like they had made it to where they wanted to be: working on their specialty dishes and leaving the rest of the business in capable hands.

Life had been good.

Then famous customers had started coming in, politicians, actors, sports stars, and the pressure to create works of art, pleasing to all of the senses, mounted.  Roberto and Carlo scrambled to find something that would define them and their restaurant, something that would appease the masses but also appeal to the more discerning palettes of their upper echelon clientele.

It was Roberto who had stumbled onto the sauce, and its secret ingredient, late one evening after the doors had been closed and the last of the staff had gone home for the night.  Carlo had worked countless hours after that to create a dish to compliment the sauce his brother had created and he too finally stumbled onto the right combination of flavors and textures.  They combined their creations, and, voila, they gave Intingolo a dish that would be raved about, craved, obsessed over and sought after through the country.

Roberto was clamored with request after request to give out the secret of his sauce.  The public wanted to know.  His peers wanted to know.  The world wanted to be able to at least attempt to make the delicious gravy in their kitchens at home.  He always refused.  He smiled, a knowing, sad and tired, smile after each attempt at getting him to divulge the ingredient list, but as long as the brother’s continued to garner fame and attention, as long as their restaurant was the one on the tip of everyone’s tongue, as long as they were the darlings of the kitchen, Roberto knew he couldn’t share the secret of his sauce with anyone other than his brother.

Carlo knew the truth of it, of course, he had been there the night Roberto had created it.  Plus, they were brothers and they shared everything anyway.  Roberto would have told Carlo how he had come up with the sauce even if Carlo hadn’t been there in those fateful late night hours.  Just as Carlo had shared the secrets of his dish with Roberto once he had perfected it.

They knew the “how” and the “what” of each others’ signature creation but they never once attempted to make them.  They were a team, they each had a role to fill, and they were okay with that.  It was as it was supposed to be.

The years passed, the restaurant thrived, Roberto and Carlo were offered guest appearances on several cooking shows, were asked for critiques on up-and-coming chefs, and were afforded every opportunity to thrive and grow their business, but every afternoon they returned to Intingolo and made sure they were on hand to create their dish whenever it was ordered.  It was their passion, their calling, their true love.

Eventually the truth came out.  When someone, or two brothers to be specific, has a secret that other people want to know they will find a way to discover the truth of that secret.  Staff members at the restaurant were bribed, money exchanged hands, hidden cameras were set up to record the brothers’ movements and after several weeks of having to move the cameras around to capture the right angles and the right settings of every step of the process, the entirety of the steps and ingredients to create the sauce and dish were caught.

It took less than 24 hours for the news to go public, for the restaurant to get shut down, and for Roberto, Carlo, and a third, unidentified, man to get hauled off to jail where all three were held without bail for their crimes.  In hindsight it was a marvel that the secret had lasted as long as it had.  Expose after special after investigative report was thrown together to track how they brothers had gotten away with it for as long as they had and to ensure that other famous restaurants and chefs weren’t employing similar tactics.

Due to the overwhelming and damaging evidence, all three men plead “nolo contendere” to the charges leveled against them.  As first time offenders, despite the overall mass of their crimes against humanity, the brothers were only sentenced to ten years in prison.  The public was outraged that the sentence was that long as the two chefs were still generally beloved by all.  The third man, received his third strike, and was sentenced to life in prison with the first possibility of parole in ten years time.  Though it was still his third strike and the Judge could not overlook that, it was statements from the brothers claiming the man’s innocence as to the purpose of the drugs he had been dealing Roberto for the past several years that the court factored in to being slightly lenient on the man.

The drug dealer truly hadn’t known the mdma (ecstasy) he’d been selling the elder brother was being used in creating the world famous sauce.


Word Count: 1,000

Written in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge.
“This week, tell us a story based on this photo”

Pictures truly are worth 1,000 words.