FOWC with Fandango — Optional – The Department of Options


The letter came with the official stamp on the front. The Federal Department of Options.

This department had come about due to the crisis caused by climate change.

There had developed a problem with food supply due to the continuing drought in so many countries across the globe. Starvation was happening everywhere. Only certain pockets of the earth were receiving sufficient rain to enable crops to grow and be harvested.

Like all such situations, it was the rich and powerful who seemed to find reason to secure such resources for themselves.

As the misery continued and death a way of life the Department of Options was born. The letter in today’s mail set out the options I had for the future if the present situation continued.

I could move, but I would have to give a sound reason for doing so and staying alive wasn’t one of them.

I could stay and hope for the best.

Or I could book into one of the termination clinics set up to euthanize those who saw death as inevitable and wanted to bring it about before unbearable pain and suffering occurred.

I thought to myself they can’t be a very cheery lot working at the Department of Options, as there was nothing to be cheery about. I imagined a place inhabited by people with the mentality of undertakers, the sort you saw in old Western movies.

I screwed up the letter believing I had the option to do so if I so desired, and I did. Hope wasn’t all gone yet.


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Sunday Writing Prompt “Collage Prompt #44” – Finding Balance


“You’re trying too hard and doing too much,” she said over breakfast one Monday morning.

“I’m doing what I need to do,” I replied sipping my coffee, “there’s a deadline to meet, and my boss will be looking at my programs and registers next week. Some of my colleagues write novels as their programs, and I’m struggling to get ten pages done. It is such a chore when I know what I’m doing, and she knows I do yet the Department insists on these detailed programs. I just want to teach my classes and get on with it.”

“And you are good at what you do, but there’s a limit to how much time you have to spend on the programs. As it is I’ve hardly seen you all weekend as you’ve been in the office writing the damn things. You have a life here you know.”

“Yes and I’m well aware of leaving you alone this weekend, no time to smell the roses or watch rainbows as I have had to cut you out of my life. But I don’t know what else I can do. Once I get to school, I focus on my teaching which I see as far more important than what I write on a piece of paper. So the only time I get to write up my program is on the weekend, and I realise that it is unfair to you. But it’s only for a few weeks then I can go back to my usual old slack self.”

“It’s not just the weekends you are using for school, it’s the afterschool committees you are on. Don’t you think you do enough? I mean why are you on the School Musical committee when you haven’t a musical bone in your body?” she asked knowing full well the answer I was going to give.

“I want to show her I am committed to the whole school, make her think I an asset not a liability, then maybe she’ll look past my shortcomings and see the contribution I make to the place,” I stated hoping I sounded convincing.

“You make a wonderful contribution to the school as a whole, you man the door at the School Musical, you sell raffle tickets at the school fete, you work during the Trivia night there’s not an activity you don’t lend yourself to. I’d like to see you balance it out with equal time at home.”

“You are right,” I said reflecting on what she had said. There were times when I thought I needed to do more, that it was just for a short time and then I would devote more time to home stuff, but the demands of the job seem to multiply, and I found myself spending more and more time at school and doing school things out of an anxiety to measure up against my colleagues who seemed to be far more capable and organised than me.

She got up from the table and went to rinsed out her cup. I knew she supported what I did, but I could see I needed to give her the time she deserved.

“Let’s have another cuppa,” I announced, “come out on the veranda with me, I can be late, I don’t think anyone will notice as I don’t have a class first up today and it’s a stunning morning to be outside.”

The look on her face said it all as she pushed the start button on the kettle and drew down the coffee, teaspoon in hand.


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February 14: Flash Fiction Challenge – A Painted Rose.


February 14, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about valentines. It can be Valentine’s Day, the exchange, love for another, romance, or friendship. Have a heart and go where the prompt leads!

She woke in the early morning looked up and saw the rose he had painted for her, a rose he said that would never die.

She felt the emotion of her gift rise in her chest and again found herself wiping away another tear.

He wanted her to remember their first Valentine’s Day with something she’d never been given before.

She was lost for words at the time, gazing at it, trying to understand the enormity of the gift.

It was she thought odd, but also uplifting, that at her age such a special gift would come her way.


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Reena’s Exploration Challenge #74 – Our Dark Side.


“Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody”. Mark Twain.

It’s a matter of perception sometimes as to what we consider our dark side. Most of us are not serial killers, thieves or vagabonds, we go through life doing the best we can aware, if we are perceptive enough, to realise we are all capable of dark deeds in dark places. It’s called being human.

But some do have an obvious dark side, a penchant for doing wrong, committing sins which injure others and generally appearing to have no regard for the people around them.

I think its easy for others to point the finger at us and tell us when they believe we have done wrong. Judging others is a pastime for some, often as a means of masking their own failures.

I stopped for a while to consider what a dark side might be. It’s a subjective view of others and self. You might be a perfectly reasonable person, run a successful business and contribute to your community but at night in the cover of darkness and within the privacy of your own home you are a closet drinker, a cross-dresser, an addicted gambler, a taking of recreational drugs and so on.

It is perfectly understandable that you wouldn’t want such activities publically known; you do have a reputation to uphold and a job to return to each day. Public perception of such ‘dark activities’ would never go down well if they were known.

So often it is our own perception of ourselves that places us in a position where we feel the shame of whatever ‘dark side’ we believe we possess. We suffer the embarrassment of feeling the wrath of society coming down on us, and let’s face it; many of us do worry about what people think of us.

People who engage in acts of domestic violence do so in the confines of their family. They don’t want such things known. So often we hear surprise expressed at the behaviour of one family member when that family is held up as a pillar of society.

We never know what goes on behind people’s front doors. Domestic violence can be both physical and mental.

The anger contained in such acts is something the perpetrator wouldn’t ever want revealed, and they engage in tactics of fear along with their violence to intimidate their victims against revealing anything that might incriminate them.

The shame of discovery can be overwhelming to both victim and perpetrator.

We are all capable of possessing a dark side, be in the form of action or thought. Keeping it in the dark is what we strive to achieve.


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Thursday photo prompt: New #writephoto – Camping.


She convinced me that camping would be fun, away from the rat race of town and out in nature without a care in the world.

I was never one for roughing it, afraid of things biting me, crawling on me and generally being in my face when I’d prefer they weren’t.

She had the perfect place she said, away in the mountains, quiet and peaceful.

On that score she was right. It was certainly quiet, in fact at one stage I thought the silence would kill me and then it got dark and the night creatures starting doing what they do best, making a lot of noise.

She organised the tent, the sleeping bags and dinner and before long we were snuggled together reading to get some sleep. I wondered how I might sleep in conditions that were as foreign to me, as I could ever have imagined.

She told me we would be up early to catch the sunrise and bring in the new day.

I felt her shaking me awake; through the tent flap, I could see the dawn beginning to arrive.

Dressed and with our coats on we trekked up the hill to a spot where we were overlooking the most beautiful valley. Away to the east, I could just see the beginnings of the day as the red glow of the rising sun made its way over the horizon.

I sat there fascinated by its arrival, feeling her warmth beside me. I realised what a wonderful place nature was. By the time the sun had risen enough to be bathing the valley in its warmth we were feeling hungry, and so she took my hand and led me back to our campsite.


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100 Word Wednesday: Week 108 – My Aunt.


It was never going to easy saying goodbye.

The visit like so many had never been long enough especially when on this visit I had connected with my Aunt like ever before.

She lived in the city, and as a country girl, I loved the hustle bustle of the streets and the fashion shops spread along the High Street all within walking distance of her apartment.

I spent my afternoons wandering along looking in the windows, dreaming.

But all good things come to, and end and my Aunt assured me there would be opportunity next year to visit her again.


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Crimson’s Creative Challenge #14 – The Road to Nowhere.


The sign said “Nowhere 25 kilometres.”

I did chuckle at the thought of being on the road to Nowhere. I was curious to see what lay at the end of the road.

It wasn’t as if it was the road less travelled or anything like that, the deep wheel ruts in the gravel surface suggested the road was used more often than not. The road less travelled seemed to be the one that disappeared through the broken gate at the top of the road.

But as life was a series of adventures going nowhere was going to be another.

The road passed through beautiful farming land, cattle grazed in many paddocks and in others farmers had planted feed crops, and in several paddocks, the rolled bails sat patiently awaiting collection.

Apart from the livestock, I didn’t see any other living beings. As the going was slow due to the condition of the road I had to concentrate on the road as in some places the potholes seemed to be joined into huge holes in the road and I was fearful of damaging my car and breaking down as I thought it might be literally the middle of nowhere.

Around a corner, I saw a sign announcing: “You are almost Nowhere”. At least, I thought, if nothing else out here, they had a sense of humour.

My car negotiated a steep hill before descending into a little valley and at the bottom of the hill was a sign, “Welcome to Nowhere”.

I stopped beside the sign and stepped out of my car. The valley stretched out in front of me, the country similar to what I had been driving through. There was no indication of a town.

I drove a little further and saw signs saying: “Nowhere Groceries”, “Nowhere Barber shop”, “Nowhere State School” and finally a sign saying, “Thanks for visiting Nowhere, please call again.”

Besides the final sign was a small box and a notice that read: “Please leave your thoughts Nowhere in the box, we are building a bigger and better town”.

What a bizarre place I thought as I drove on leaving the last remnants of the ‘town’ behind me. Ahead I saw the road disappear into the hills and billboard announcing “Somewhere – 10 Kilometres”.

I couldn’t wait to see what Somewhere had to offer.


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