Archive for August, 2011

At least two novels have been published in English that did not use the letter “e” in the main body of their text. One was an English translation of a French novel that didn’t use “e” in its text. So this challenge ought to be simple, no?

Write 25 to 50 words that tell, show, or evoke a complete story of any kind, on any subject, entirely in English… without using the letter “e” even once.

One entry per author. No charge for entering.

Deadline: 11:59 PM Eastern Time, Wednesday, August 31, 2011.

Hyphenated Words: If the hyphenated word is generally considered a single word, it counts as one word. (Like “twenty-five” or “jack-o-lantern.”) Otherwise each part of the hyphenated word counts separately.

To submit an entry, use the SECOND contest shown on this link? (it’s beneath the main contest) and follow the instructions. If you don’t already have a Submishmash account, you’ll be prompted to make one.



“It’s a UFO!” was all around town. “Such a light at night isn’t common, so high up, swaying, sashaying.”

Paul sat still, smirking. Fabric and wood and string out of sight in his room. His flying oil lamp was a triumph.


I’m standing, waiting to pay. Mr Muffin is nagging for chips and biltong and sugary cooldrinks. I say no, it’s bad for him.
“Want a bag?” asks shop assistant, Thandi.
“No thanks,” says Mr Muffin, thumbing my way, “this bag will do.”


A photo of a smiling child on a swing is on my windowsill. It’s of a young Dusty. It’s not particularly good, as my dad’s shadow is in it. Prompting us that, although not with us, dad’s always part of our days, still living, knowing, capturing our moods.


– Mum, I’m marrying my cousin, David.
– You can’t.
– It’s not that uncommon nowadays.
– David’s not your cousin. David’s my son.
– What?
– I was drunk, long ago.
– Oh God. No.
– What?
– I’m carrying his child.


Read Full Post »

The Ashtray

He flinched as the ashtray hit the wall behind him, creating a kaleidoscopic constellation as the shards scattered across the room, caught in the early morning sunbeams.

“Why did you do that?” His nostrils flared, white. “You know I wanted it.”

“You don’t even smoke.” Her lip curled as she spoke. “You only want it because you know that I want it.”

“That’s crap, and you know it.” He stepped gingerly over the debris, towards the broom cupboard. “I wanted it because it reminded me of special times we had. We had. Together.”

“Oh spare me.” She turned and blocked his way. “Leave it. I’ll clean it up.”

He watched her take out the dustpan and brush, aware of the telltale twitch in his jaw. He took a deep breath, and waited. Waited for the rage to subside, waited for the rage to be overtaken by the grief at the inevitability of their separation. The helplessness and hopelessness that was now so familiar, enveloped him like a shroud, and he felt the tears pricking behind his eyes.

He cleared his throat and she looked up at him. “What?” Despite her anger, she was still so beautiful.

“Nothing.” He turned away, knowing that whatever he said would unleash a fresh torrent of vitriol. What had he done to turn her into this monster? He thought back, and remembered. And the memory made him give a wry smile, He snorted. It was the ashtray. That very same ashtray that she was now sweeping into a crystalline pile at his feet.

John and Angela had given it to them as a housewarming present, and they’d argued about it even then. She wanted to put it on the coffee table, filled with those hideous marbled eggs her mother gave her each birthday. He wanted it for the pub. Where it would be used . Used by his mates when they came round to watch the rugby and play darts.

In the end, they compromised. He could use it if he returned it to the lounge table, washed and odorless, afterwards. Sometimes she even joined them in the pub cheering and jeering at good and bad play alike.

He’d only used it about four or five times, when he dropped and broke one of her precious eggs, while he was transferring them to a Tupperware dish for the evening. She had gone ballistic. Whatever he said had incensed her even more, to the extent where she’d stalked out, slamming the door on the way to her mother. He’d bought one that looked much the same, but she wasn’t to be consoled.

Since then, she hadn’t allowed him near anything precious, claiming he’d break it. He took it. Took all her abuse and bitterness, because he loved her so much. But it wasn’t enough. It was like those eggs were her children. Symbolic of the children they couldn’t have, because her own eggs were shrivelled, from the chemo she’d had as a child. The more he tried to get close to her, the more she withdrew.

It had all come to a head this morning. He’d woken at 5, and unable to sleep, he got up, and started cleaning the kitchen, quietly, so as not to wake her. By 6.30, he was dusting in the lounge, waiting for the freshly mopped kitchen floor to dry, so he could make her a cup of coffee. He’d puffed up the cushions and was running the duster over the coffee table when she came into the room.

“What are you doing?”
“I was up early, so I thought I’d clean up.”
“I thought it would be nice if we could go for a walk on the mountain, instead of being cooped up inside the flat, like every other Saturday.”
“Oh, so I keep you prisoner, while I clean up your mess?”

It had gone downhill from there. By 7 o’clock, just when the sun was dancing with the dustmotes, they’d become embroiled in a vicious row.

For the first time in six years, he fought back, matching her insult for insult, knowing how he was hurting her, unable to stop himself. She’d threatened to leave, and he hadn’t tried to stop her, like those other times. But she didn’t miss a beat. She started listing what furniture she’d take with her.

He retaliated. “Don’t forget your eggs. Take all of them. Bloody useless dust collectors. I’ll keep the ashtray.”

She froze.

He knew he’d gone too far.

He flinched as the ashtray hit the wall behind him, creating a kaleidoscopic constellation as the shards scattered across the room, caught in the early morning sunbeams.

Read Full Post »