Ephraim put his toe right next to the line, careful not to touch it. He looked down and watched where his mother put hers.
“Is it my turn, Mom?”
“I believe it is, Effie. So whenever you’re ready, sing out.”
He brushed his hair back off his forehead with his fingers, “On your mark… Get set…”
His mother took off running down the driveway, holding her skirt with one hand as she kicked up small dust clouds from the drive with her bare feet. She built a strong lead.
“Hey,” Ephraim shouted as he took off after her, “you cheated. I never said ‘GO’”
She looked back at him, over her shoulder, her hair streaming behind, and he heard her laughing. “I’m gonna win,” she yelled behind her as she veered off the drive and onto the grass. She was heading for the apple tree, the finish line. Her one arm was pumping and her feet were flying, but her boy was catching up. The end was only fifty feet away and he had closed the gap to where he was less than five feet behind her.
He was passing her with about ten feet to go when she pulled up and stared across the yard. Ephraim ran strong and touched the tree before he came back. Laughing, he said, “You didn’t have to stop, Mom. I was going to beat you anyway.”
His mother stared emptily across the road and he followed her gaze. A man was standing in the shadows of the big Magnolia . Effie could tell that he was a big man but he couldn’t tell much else about the stranger who had captured his mother’s attention.
“What’s wrong, Mom? Who is that?”
She didn’t answer; she just shook her head and smoothed her skirt back down. She yelled to the stranger, “We all thought you were dead, Mac Parsons.”
The stranger stepped out into the light; he had been cleaning his fingernails with a long thin bladed knife. Spinning the blade on his finger he tucked it neatly into the leather sheath he wore on his belt.
“That’s what y’all was s’posed to think, Angie.” He said, he spoke softly but his deep voice carried easily across the road.
They stared at one another from opposite sides of the dirt track road for what seemed an eternity. As though neither one wanted to speak first. Only the buzzing of cicadas broke the silence.
Finally Effie spoke up, “Why did he call you Angie, Mom? That’s not your name.”
She held her hand up in Ephraim’s general direction, palm down. Then she yelled back to the stranger.
“I suppose you ought to come inside, Dad. You need to meet your grandson and I’ve got a pitcher of sweet tea in the fridge.”
The man turned and picked up a carpet bag that Ephraim hadn’t noticed before. He began walking across the road. Effie noticed the half smile on the man’s face. It was his mother’s smile.
“You can stay the night, Mac, but I want you gone by sunup.” She spun on her heel and headed towards the house.
The big man came up to Effie, “What’s yer name boy?”
“Ephraim,” he answered, “Ephraim Parsons. Folks call me Effie.” Almost too late, he remembered his manners and stuck out his right hand, “Pleased to meet you sir.”
The man shook his hand, “Ya, got a middle name?” he asked.
“No sir, just an initial, it’s ‘M’. My full name is Ephraim M. Parsons.”
The man whistled low and looked heavenward. “Well Ephraim M. Parsons,” he said, “you can call me Mac, ever’one does, but my full name is Ephraim McCool Parsons. How bout that then? I’m pleased to meet you too.” Together the two men started moving. They were following Mom to the back porch. Mac put his free hand on Effie’s shoulder.
Effie had a lot of questions, but he wasn’t sure where to start.
Here’s how it works:
- TBP maintains a file of fifty writing prompts from which the given prompts for a given week will be drawn
- The prompts are chosen at random by three participants who select a number between 1 and 50.
- Writers may choose one, two or all three of the prompts as inspiration for a story, poem, or stream of conscious scribbling. Writers may deconstruct one or all prompts and use only a word, or a part of the prompt (s). If you are feeling really adventurous, you might want to write around a prompt, tangentially. So it’s there on the periphery of your piece; but not seen or referred to directly.
- There is no minimum or maximum word count, but this challenge works best if you set a time limit. We suggest 25 minutes. If you think that’s too long, then shorten it. If you think it’s too short, then lengthen it.
- If you want to publish your first draft without editing, please do. If you are uncomfortable with that, set another time limit to edit and polish (or include editing in your initial limit, i.e., 30 minutes to write, edit, polish and post).
- Indicate the time limit you chose (or, if you didn’t limit your time, indicate what time you did spend on the piece).
- At the end of your post, give us a random number between 1 and 50. Your numbers will be used to choose the prompts for the next TBP On-line Writer’s Guild prompt, but if you guys don’t choose – we’ll have to!
- Remember to link back to the prompt!
- HAVE FUN!
This week’s prompts are:
- They’re not vices anymore
- Who can argue with ‘affordable’?
- Yeah? Lemme see yer badge
At the end of your post, give us a random number between 1 and 50. Your numbers will be used to choose the prompts for the next TBP On-line Writer’s Guild prompt.