Weekly Challenge #370 – Play

Welcome to the 100 Word Stories podcast at oneadayuntilthedayidie.com. I’m your host, Laurence Simon.

This is Weekly Challenge, where I post a topic and then challenge you to come up with a 100 word story based on that topic.

The topic this week was PLAY:

And we’ve got stories by a lot of people:

The next 100 word stories weekly challenge is on the topic of ACT.

And if you want to spam your social networks with this episode, use the Share buttons at the end of the post… this obligatory cat photo should help make the Internet go faster:

Pants Kitten


THOMAS

He didn’t learn how to play until he was forty – not an instrument, but the recreational activity usually engaged in by young children that is meant to entertain. His father was a chemist and his mother was a physicist, so little Moritz had no guidance or demonstration as how to play. Moritz’ time was spent reading and experimenting with various apparatus his parents gave him. He recorded all his experiments. He burned the house and parents to the ground, and wrote down everything he heard and saw in his log. Today, he plays table tennis in the psyche institution.

#

Arum played the Sousaphone; loud. She did hours of lip slurs every day to strengthen her embouchure. Arun did some other things, too, but you will have to use your imagination. The result was the invitation to play first position in the local Tanjidor group. After rehearsal last night, Arum thought her instrument needed its water emptied. She lifted it up, so the bell faced the sky and pressed the valves repeatedly, failing to pull out the valve slide and empty it. The water rushed into the mouthpiece, the spit valve jammed shut, and she succumbed to a hideous drowning.

#

The one act play was a little piece that was meant to make a political statement, as the school was in San Francisco and it was 1961. I recall it had one actor, and it took place in the men’s room of a gas station. The character entered the station’s bathroom, did his business behind a closed lavatory door, washed his hands, then went to the paper towel dispenser. A big sign over the towels read: “Rip up and Tear Down”. The actor tore savagely at the towel dispenser, destroying it, tearing it off the tiled wall. The lights dimmed.

#

[Credit to Prairie Home Companion, of March, 2000.]

Jimmy loved word play. He was half-heartedly applying for a job with a conservative, financial firm, writing: Dear Sir or Sodom or Whom It May Constrict: I understand you are hiring anal lists, and hereby present my amplification for annoyment by your firm. I have listed my accomplishments in ascending order, along with a sample of addition and long division. As you see, I have long expedience in grammar and was medicated in the best schools and my dream is to grow fat with your company. Enclosed, my most recent consomme. Please feel free, as I remain your humble serpent.

RICHARD

#1 – Win at all costs

“It’s just a game to you!”, she hissed…

“You play with my emotions, lead me on, lie to me, cheat and mess with my head. I’m sick of it and I’m telling you, buster, I’m not going to be your doormat – so go ahead and do your worst, because I’m in this thing to the very end.”

I’d seen her like this before and I knew there was simply no reasoning with her; still, I had to try:

“Look honey, you know the rules… we’ve gotta stick to them”

I guess we do take Monopoly pretty seriously in this household.

#2 – Shakespeare

I’m not a huge fan of Shakespeare’s plots, or the historical context of his writing – not that there’s anything wrong with them, but rather, I appreciate the way he uses words far more than I do the twists and turns of fate that he manages to contrive, and the fortunes of his characters.

I’m intrigued and fascinated by his use of language, by the tongue in cheek manner he manipulates words to mock and entertain.

When I go to see Shakespeare, I don’t go to watch actors performing on a stage, no – I go to see a play… on words.

#3 -The Pianist

“When you play, he said, you must become one with your instrument. The strings should vibrate in tune with your soul and the keys must respond, not only to your fingers, but to your very emotions. Understand that the piano is not the instrument – it is you from which the music flows.

Then and only then, can you truly play.”

Enraptured by his music, I could only gaze in helpless, horrified fascination as there before me he sacrificed his very being at that ivory and ebony altar, until finally, with one fatal, final chord, he breathed his last and died.

#4 – The light of day

Blinking in the sunlight, George breathed deeply, savouring the freshness of the open air.

He was unsure what he should do – having made the decision to strike out, he now realised how woefully ill-equipped he was for the task ahead. He felt the embarrassment of being completely out of his depth and unsure, something he’d not experienced since a child. In his minds eye, he saw himself as a young boy: invited to play with the big boys, but ignorant of the rules or his role in the game.

OK – he’d just have to make up his own rules.

JEFFREY

The Ride
by Jeffrey Fischer

“Oh, just play outside by yourself, Bobby. Mommy has a headache.” Six-year-old Bobby knew that meant the “my grains” had come on and any noise would make his mother cross, so he stood in the front yard practicing with his yo-yo. He didn’t hear the car roll up to the curb.

“Hey, you’re Bobby, right?” called a man from the car. Bobby nodded. “Neat yo-yo, Bobby. I’ve got the neatest yo-yo you’ve ever seen. Hop in and I’ll show you.”

“I’m not supposed to talk to strangers.”

“But I’m not a stranger – I even knew your name, so it must be okay.”

Bobby cast an apprehensive look back at his front door, where his mother slept the last good sleep of her life, and opened the passenger door.

This is Your Life
by Jeffrey Fischer

The invitation was hand-written and slipped under the apartment door. “Come to the premiere of a new play, ‘This is Your Life.’ This card is your VIP ticket.” A date, time, and place were below.

Louise threw away the card, but, intrigued, pulled it from the trash can. No doubt this would be amateur hour, but she had nothing to do that evening and decided to attend.

As she entered the theater, her eyes adjusted to the dark. She was alone. Frightened, she turned to leave, but heard the doors lock behind her. The stage lights came on, the curtains opened, and a shrouded figure said, “Louise, this is your life. Tonight is the last scene of the last act.”

Wrong Note
by Jeffrey Fischer

The sax man played a note-perfect solo before the rest of the band rejoined him in the chorus. Kevin enjoyed the musicianship for a moment before turning to the problem at hand: getting the girl next to him at the bar to go home with him.

He met her earlier in the evening, and they hit it off. Two drinks later, he thought he could close the deal. “The band is great,” he told her, “but we could make some music of our own back at my place.”

She rolled her eyes. “I had rather hoped you weren’t just a player, but were looking for something a little more meaningful. Well, live and learn.” She stood to leave.

Play’s the Thing
by Jeffrey Fischer

The last play of the game. Five seconds on the clock, down by six, forty yards to go. Coach had called Marvin’s number, a deep route to the end zone with the ball ending up in the wide receiver’s arms. That would be Marvin’s arms.

He lined up on the outside and got a good jump as the ball was snapped. He faked left but stepped right, then was a flash of lightning down the field. The ball spiraled into Marvin’s outstretched fingertips…

“Marvin, stop daydreaming and get off that couch. The garbage isn’t going to take itself out.”

MARDRA

Daddy’s Game

“Can’t you keep that kid quiet?” he yelled through the apartment’s paper-thin wall. “All she wants to do is play, play, play!”

“Why can’t daddy play with me?”

“Oh Sarah, daddy’s busy.”

“Why?” The three syllable wail cut through his concentration, making him crazy.

“Please…I’m trying to concentrate.”

“He just needs to get through the library, then he’ll feel better,” she explained. “Come with mommy, we’ll go outside and wait for daddy.”

“Just because mommy got through the library first does not make her the Halo queen!” he yelled, feeling her lingering smug smirk as she closed the front door.

CLIFF

I stood in the wings and went over my line again.
“Who?”
That was it. Just one word. The main character runs up and asks if Nicholas Nicklemeyer lives near here and I simply say “Who?” while looking confused. It shouldn’t be hard. I’d volunteered to help build the set, not act. When Jeff got sick, I was handed the bit part. I only had time to read this one scene.

That’s how I ended up standing there, waiting for my cue. Before I knew it, it was time. I stepped onstage, listened to the question, and loudly asked “What?”

TURA

Play
——–
Peter Jackson is squeezing six hours of film out of The Hobbit, but for me, nothing can beat the 45 minute stage play of Lord of the Rings (Without the Boring Bits). Who could forget John Cleese’s arresting preformance as Gandalf? (“Don’t mention the ring! I did once, but I think I got away with it.”) And Terry Scott was born to play Frodo! Ant and Dec were Pippin and Merry, and Sam Gamgee was none other than Martin Freeman, Sancho Panza to Terry Scott’s Quixote, and currently starring in Jackson’s attempt to wring a flood from a damp cloth.

MUNSI

Play

(among others)

By Christopher Munroe

I’m white, male, and from the ‘90s.

As such, in high school I owned one album each by Moby, Weezer and The Offspring.

You know the ones.

They were ubiquitous pieces of music at the time. Everyone owned and loved them, they were inescapable.

For women my age it was the first Jewel album and Alanis Morrisette. Every girl I dated in university had them both.

I’m at best lukewarm on the artists nowadays, but I’ll admit, I still smile when I hear those particular records.

They’re the soundtrack of my youth.

And I need that reminder now and again…

LIZZIE

If he played his cards right, he’d be granted a fortune. That’s what hopeless bachelor Ben thought, after his grandmother fell ill. That last Sunday at the hospital, she raised herself slightly from the pillow and told Ben “Grateful to Nurse Mary. Money goes to her.” She winked and died. Ben was appalled. He visited his grandmother faithfully every day for years, twice a day at the hospital! But, being a pragmatic man, he invited Nurse Mary for dinner. They got married and were very happy. It was only many years later that Ben understood the meaning of that wink!

TOM

The Gap

I played the tape over and over. I couldn’t believe what the old man had said. I was only 19 and it was clear to me this was not a good thing to have lying around. The worst part was it kept popping up over a 19 min chuck of tape. No way to edit it out. So I copied it to a second reel to reel and cut the volume for 16.5 minutes. Later I learned Rosemary had fallen on her sword over the gap no doubt at the prompting of Colson. A simple relabeling buried the evidence in plan sight

SERENDIPITY

Does God play dice?

He most certainly does – anything to get away from those tedious choirs of angels.

He used to play World of Warcraft but fantasy isn’t really God’s forte, he’s more a reality sort of guy, so he switched to Second Life, before leaving in a huff when he found that ordinary avatars weren’t allowed god powers.

He gave poker a try, but ‘having the boys round for a game of cards’ meant inviting Old Nick too, and things tended to get a bit heated!

So, dice it is…

Anything to get away from those awful celestial choirs!

STEVEN THE NUCLEAR MAN

The lights dim, the crowd silences.

He strides out from the wings – his shadow overlarge, distorted in the few paces before the blue spear of the spotlight catches him. Surely it is just a trick, an illusion.

“You have come for a show!” His mouth smiles, wet and wide, not reaching his eyes. He gestures toward the curtain.

The red cloth pulls back as the shapes behind it lurch and gibber and thrust their way forward through the crowd’s screaming flesh.

“So have they,” he says through his too-wide smile. “Because all the world’s a stage.”

“And all-you-can-eat buffet.”

ZACKMANN

I thought I heard about an app that could save me money on live theater productions but I can’t remember the new name for Android Market. My kid is upstairs practicing drums and guitar. What a racket. I wonder if he is using both instruments at the same time. His mom just pressed that button with the sideways triangle on the DVD player. His brother is on the picnic table in the park near the place where the slides and swings are. He is likely in the middle of a game of Munchkin. Just what is Android Market’s current name?

SEVI AND BONCHANCE

Oklahoma

Mollie had her ritual. At lunch, she sat on her front porch,
sipping steaming, milky and just slightly sweet tea.
She watched the energetic children play in the school yard yonder.

Mollie’s own were all grown, living several states away raising their families.

She was away when it hit, it seemed so surreal.

She saw the aftermath on the news. She barely recognized her beloved home and playground.

No point returning there if all was demolished.

Her memories would serve her well, of sunny days,
on her porch sipping tea, hearing the musical sounds and laughter of children at play.

The Play

Sitting in a darkly lit room. I am entranced in the play.

Blending into the background, fading to black, no longer glancing at newcomers, waiting for the name call.

Then they arrive.

One vibrant and stealthy strong, pushes a wheelchair of another, just the opposite.

The vibrant man checks in, does the talking and endorses paperwork.

Looking at the others, at first watch then turn their heads.
I watched him maneuver so they could sit side by side.

I once read of the Sacred Band of Thebes. Where lovers showed bravery in the face of death.

This was bravery facing life.

REDGODDESS

All work and no play has taken a toll on Lola’s life. Her eyes are tired and sad. There was a time she assumed fun was overrated, but now…she’s throwing caution to the wind. She invited her lover to her new place for a surprise indoor picnic, filled with mystery games, and tantalizing exotic foods. First, she blindfolds him the moment he walks through the door. They hug for what seems like hours before she leads him on the bed for a sensual massage. She has no plans to take it beyond touch, good food and conversation tonight. His smell fulfills her in ways beyond any sexual satisfaction. By the third glass of wine, they were half naked and sharing secrets. Suddenly he became serious, “truth or dare?” he asks. Truth, she whispers playfully. Why are you afraid to be mine?

NORVAL JOE

“Are you ready to play?” Kirk asked and threw his heavy sack onto the sand.
“Is that what this is to you? A game?” Conner asked, bouncing his own leather sack in his hand as if comparing its weight to Kirk’s.
“Ok. Call it war, then,” Kirk said, drawing a line in the sand with his heel. “Are you going to fight or just talk about it?”
Anger rose on Conner’s freckled cheeks and he narrowed his eyes at his opponant.
“Fine. School rules, no cat eyes, and playing for keeps,” Conner said and tipped his marbles on the sand.

DANNY

Every rational definition dictates I am supposed to be nothing more than a stereotype, but I am not. I’m way to busy living, creating, writing. My life, if nothing more than a mad dash, throwing every thought on paper, creating every digital design I can create, photographing every profound thing I see in nature. I’m trapped within this urgency that I must complete all of this before I die, because even if there are literally still decades yet before me, there really isn’t that much time left. I must hurry, there is simply not enough time for me to play.

JUSTIN

One problem with making massively multiplayer games is you can have all your best people try and make everything work correctly, but someone just might forget one little thing and create an exploitable bug. Then the masses play the game, and a few will discover the exploit, and some will report it, but others will take advantage.

That’s why we couldn’t play Neverwinter last weekend. Some people exploited a bug so badly we not only lost a few days to try and play, they had to roll back the servers a week, deleting progress.

Thanks exploiters. Die in a fire.

PLANET Z

Years ago, I had every Doors album, and a few bootleg tapes.

Everyone would gather at this one guy’s house to drunk and stoned, and we’d play that music all night long.

I couldn’t sing for shit, but I didn’t care.

Put in a tape, any tape, and hit play.

When I got to college, I bought “The Best Of The Doors” on CD.

I’d given up trying to out-sing Jim, but I sure as hell tried to out-drink and out-smoke him.

Now, my iPhone is Doors-free.

No smoking. And no way I drink that much anymore.

Amen, Reverend Jim.

4 thoughts on “Weekly Challenge #370 – Play”

  1. He was about 42 years old when someone challenged him to write just as little as 100 words about playing. At the begging, he smiled and told himself “That’s Easy.” He continued speaking without voice “I had a wonderful childhood, the most magnificent father, and I played more than any other child”. He started writing on his laptop immediately but unexpectedly, he couldn’t remember anything. The feelings were there, fading though, but no memories. It was a terrifying moment to him. He turned his head slowly, with the look of a lost person, when his eyes fall on wife to discover one important thing. His wife never played anything with him, she even hates tickling!

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