Essays, Stories

Ben’s Bouquet: Flash Fiction

It’s been ages since I’ve posted anything on this blog. Actually, I had given up hope that I’d come back to it at all. Life just got crazy, and then there was the whole neck, shoulder, and arm pain thing that plagued me for over a year. Oh yeah, and my computer decided to give up the ghost. But against all odds, I’ve come up with a little ditty of a story, and I posted it spurred by the naive hope that there are still readers out there who still dig my little stories, or that maybe I’ll meet some new ones. I say ‘against all odds’, because up until a few hours ago, I wasn’t even sure I’d write again. Why? I just couldn’t find the drive, the ideas, or the energy to focus. But, somehow, I caught hold of a feeling and decided to run with it. And so, here is my diamond in the rough…


Ben’s Bouquet

The bouquet rests in my hands. Its disgustingly beautiful, a brilliant mass of lilies and roses interspersed with feathery greenery. Even then, while holding my heart in my hands, the smell is intoxicating. I can barely think.

I remember now why I hate flowers. Sickeningly sweet, their aroma makes your head swim, and yet, like a drug, their beauty still manages to arouse your heart. And just when you fall in love with their colours and complexity, they die.

“Why’d you bring me flowers, of all things?”

Ben leans against a pillar, watching the buses come in and out of the station. They run on time, each one faithfully carrying its passengers away to parts unknown. The riders look happy; expectation lights up their faces. Men, women, children, singles, and families, clutching satchels and suitcases; backpacks stuffed with snacks for inter-city rides. The constant rumble of voices and the squeals of excited children hover over the platform. They should be holding these flowers, not me.

“I dunno. I thought you liked flowers. Tonight’s a happy occasion, right?”

“Is it?”

We shouldn’t be arguing, not now.

How much time do we have left?

The station’s giant clock looms behind him, but his silhouette obscures its face. I shuffle through my purse for my phone, but he takes my hands in his and sits on the bench beside me.

“You look like we’re at a funeral. We talked about this. You said you were thrilled.”

sad girl

I look at the bouquet resting in space between us. He was right. We had talked about it, but at the time the news was fresh and we were riding high on excitement and the possibility of what could be. But now…

The doors of a nearby bus snap shut. With a roar, it pulls away from the station, the red tail lights flashing as it pauses at the intersection before leaving the lot. Then it drives away into the night. Another bus pulls into its freshly vacated spot.

“I didn’t pick this internship, you know,” Ben says. “They chose me.”

“I know. It’s a great opportunity. You’d be crazy to pass on it.”

He tips my chin upwards so I could look into his eyes. Chocolate brown and earnest, it’s impossible to look away. “It’ll be fine. I’ll get settled in, and once things are in order, you’ll join me just like we talked about.”

The second bus finishes loading. Once the last passenger is seated, the door shuts with a snap and the bus drives away, it too, fading into the night.

For Ben’s sake, I decide to be brave. He was doing this for us, after all. “I’ll be fine, don’t worry about me. It’s just…so far.”

He pulls me in close for a hug. “Good thing I’ve got all those books on bio-engineering to keep me busy.”

His bus finally pulls up. Ben stands and throws his backpack over a shoulder. “It’s a big change for us, but it’ll be good. Trust me.”

He kisses me goodbye and boards the bus after storing his luggage. In a moment, he’ll leave for a new city, a new home. A new life. And until we met again, I will live on memories that would, over time, wither like a fistful of flowers.

I lean on the pillar as he had done, watching his bus pause at the intersection as if for one last look back. Then the engine revs and it drives into the night, red taillights glowering.

Once Ben’s news had sunk in and the whole picture had become clear to me, I’d told him over breakfast one day that nothing lasts forever, not even love.

“The sun comes up every day, doesn’t it?” he answered. “And even if we don’t always see it, the moon moves along its cycle today just as it’s done since the beginning. Some things might not last, but other things, the important things, do.”

I’d stopped arguing with him after that. He believed it, and that had been enough.

I press the flowers to my chest. They were beautiful. And he’d given them to me. Whether as a parting gift or a promise, I didn’t know. But tonight, before laying down for bed, I would dry one or two in a book. Just in case.


Dyane Forde July 2017

717 words


View From the Sea: Story Prompt

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything new, so I decided to jump back on board with a story prompt from a writing site; it’s a little experimental but that’s part of the fun. I’ll leave the actual prompt undisclosed; if you read, read for fun and see what the story says to you. 🙂

View from the Open Sea

Our dreams are but crystal drops falling from eyes tearing with joy or sorrow; their pings can be heard for miles around; their echoes bounce back to bless or to haunt. One droplet, the best droplet, shone as a white flare for a moment in time; smiles frozen on celluloid; romantic poses pasted into a sticky album and boxed away for latter days…It was just a tiny, liquid drop of youthful expectation collected in a bucket yet it promised the biggest prize. Of all those constrained in my little sea, on that cornerstone I fashioned my house knowing that, one day, I could look back and see it still shining like a beacon amongst the millions of other drops that had since collected.

I am older now. Yet, not so old; I sneak a look back now. My eyes are aflame with the whiteness of silk and chiffon, skin brushed by lace so carefully chosen; it had meant so much to me, then. There was a waltz when I floated in arms so strong—a man in penguin white and black, and me nestled in expensive soufflé. The songs of strings and woodwinds carried us to the heavens; elevated us beyond the mountain-tops until we touched the essence the clouds. But, as with all aspirations too golden, too pure, we soared too high–nearly kissed the sun. And wax melts. It becomes slippery, elusive, trickling through trembling fingers until we can only fumble with the broken pieces of our once brilliant wings and, like ash, our blackened bodies fall, careening side by side to predetermined doom.

Time…It flies.

I am adrift in a tiny raft, staring at the bucket’s broken walls. They lied. Once, they had promised shelter, encircling this unsteady pool like a womb. But I have learned that walls, no matter how high or how thick, are destined to come down and that its stones crush those below who foolishly staked their peace in them…

The empty space beside me has long grown cold; the invisible imprint remains. Occasionally, a new form lies in its place. Different, it is cut from another cloth and yet I find it fits, perfectly. Will I be damned for tearing down the walls of my cage with my own two hands? Or will the light of that elusive sun at last touch this sallow face?

I will drift.

And I will wonder.

I will drift again.

And I will wonder some more.

But right now, as I bounce upon the lilting waters, the whole world appears as a limitless sea…

Copyright @2014 Dyane Forde



Author Interviews, Essays, Guest Blog, Misc

Author Interview with Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer Robbie Taylor

Robbie Taylor, author of Science Fiction and Fantasy novels
Robbie Taylor, author of Science Fiction and Fantasy novels

Well, today we have a treat! Robbie Taylor, science fiction and fantasy writer and play-write, joins us on Dropped Pebbles! I hope you stick around to meet this extremely witty and multi-talented guy (karaoke singer!!) and check out his books. You won’t be disappointed. 🙂

Welcome, Robbie. Can you start us off by telling us a little about yourself?

I was born & raised in Texas, in the home town of Texas A&M University, which I also attended after a minor detour through Austin to go to that other school, as we Aggies refer to it. 🙂 I’ve been married for 16 years, and have two wonderful daughters. My day job is in the IT field, which I hope to abandon soon, as, like many computer professionals, I hate computers and view them as instruments of torture set upon us by deviant and sadistic men.

Amen, brother! lol

What other art genres are you interested in? Where does writing fit in, and why are you drawn to it? What keeps you motivated/inspired?

While writing is my first love, but I also act and sing. I met my wife through karaoke, in fact 🙂 I write because I enjoy creating new worlds and experiencing the lives of the people inside them. You can get into another person’s head when you’re acting – when you write, you can experience a whole community. Like Sagan said, books are proof that humans are capable of magic. When my enthusiasm flags, as it has a time or two over the 38 years I’ve been writing, I like to go over the unsuccess stories of famous authors, and draw hope that mine will top all of theirs.

 What forms of writing and genres do you prefer and why? What can you never see yourself writing?

I started out writing short stories, then I wrote several plays and a book when I was a Theatre Arts major in college, then I stumbled into flash fiction with my web site Today In Alternate History. It was sort of Night Vale before Welcome To Night Vale existed. Out of that, I have now become comfortable with the short novel, usually running between 60 and 80 thousand words. I prefer science fiction and fantasy, but I dabble in mainstream, too, usually with characters that are WAY too close to people I know. As far as never writing… hmm, since I’ve had ideas for everything from mysteries to erotica, I can’t see anything I’d never see myself writing. Everything interests me, so I can see myself writing anything.

To you, what makes a good story? What’s one thing a ‘bad’ book taught you to not do in your own writing?

I like good dialogue, and a story that keeps me interested, even if it’s not necessarily moving along. I don’t mind a slow pace, as long as the people or things I’m reading about are interesting. I’m one of those weirdos who enjoyed The Silmarillion over The Lord Of The Rings. As for bad books; well, there’s this 50’s sci-fi novel I read that I thought was absolutely horrible, and I have resolved never to use southern stereotypes if I can help it, as a consequence of reading that book. Or female stereotypes. Or horrible, horrible cliché dialogue. God, it was bad.

You’re not alone. The Silmarillion is my all-time favorite book. 

As a writer, what elements do you find are the most crucial to include in your stories? What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I think that naturalistic, crisp dialogue is crucial. I have to tear myself away to provide descriptions just because I prefer writing dialogue; stems from my theatrical background, I guess.

Who/what are the biggest influences in your writing? How do they influence what your write?

I usually cite three writers – Douglas Adams, because I love humor, particularly the British variety; Stephen King, because Rita Hayworth & The Shawshank Redemption taught me patience; and Barry B. Longyear, because he wrote the best science fiction novel ever, Sea Of Glass.

What draws you to your preferred genre? What do you think makes your genre unique? And why is it so popular? (Or perhaps less popular than it could be?)

This is gonna sound snobby, but I think that SF/Fantasy is just plain better than any other fiction. I’ve got a few mainstream novels or other genre novels that I’ve enjoyed, but I find that the quality of SF/F writing is higher than in other genres and mainstream fiction. The public is catching on to that in the movies – look at the highest-grossing films, and you will find a plethora of SF/F. The literary side has had its ups and downs, but it will always be there, because people can’t help but dream.

 Can you tell us about your books? What other projects are you working on?

I currently have 6 works for sale, 5 novels and 1 short screenplay. The screenplay is from a TV contest on the Bravo network where they tried to find an original sitcom to produce – mine is a talk show of the future, with aliens, clones and various other bizarre guests.

BeforeAfterthumb Warpthumb

My novels are Warp, a police procedural that’s sort of Alien Nation in the 19th century; Before/After, an alternate history of the 2004 election with some really sore losers; Hope, a mainstream story about not making it in New York, but having success and happiness dangled tantalizingly in front of you; The Tree Of Knowledge, the first book in a trilogy about a young witch who discovers she is a powerful seer who is destined to save the world, at the cost of her father’s life; and my most recent release, The Lascaux Nightmare, a horror story about the famous cave paintings and what was awoken when they were found.

Hopethumb TOKthumbnail TheLascauxNightmare_RobertATaylor

I’ve got three things I’m working on for release this year. The first is a collaboration with my best friend, mystery author George Wier. It’s called The Vindicators, and it’s going to be a serial of novellas about youthful defenders of Earth. That should be out in October. In late November, early December I’m going to be releasing the sequel to Tree Of Knowledge, The Ring Of Stones. And I have something called my 250 Word Project, which is too complicated to explain here – people are going to have to go to my web site to read it 🙂

Wow! You’ve been busy! Congrats on completing so many interesting projects.

Why is that important to you to promote other writers on your blog?

Especially for people who go the indie route, it is VITALLY important that we support each other. Who else can we turn to? Who else really gets us? Helping get the word out about other authors helps expand the community, and that is good for you, and it’s good for readers.

What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing and how do you cope with it?

Promotion. I need a better class of friend, because the thousands I’ve got on my social media don’t like to buy my books. They sure like other people’s books, though. Traitors.

Um, er, ah…next question…?

Who are your favourite writers and why?

Barry B. Longyear, whose imagination is incredible and awe-inspiring. Roger Zelazny, who brought a poetry to his writing that SF/F had never seen before. Douglas Adams, because I subconsciously imitate his humor in my best moments.

What advice would you give to new writers, especially those looking to break into the horror or suspense genre?

If you want to make a living at this, you might want to try your hand at writing mysteries or romances, because they will sell. If you want to write what you love, be sure to write books that you yourself would want to read, and then try to find people of like minds to promote them to.

How can readers get into contact with you?

My web site, and my email address

Robbie Taylor and

Thanks so much for stopping by to tell us about yourself and your work, Robbie. It was great to learn more about you–I hope you let us know when your album of karaoke classics is released. 🙂 Readers, I hope you enjoyed this interview and will take a few minutes to catch up with Robbie at one of his links.

Have a great week!


Rebirth, a poem

red tree

Oy, I’m in one of those moods again. Maybe it’s because it’s Sunday and I’m alone and I have time to THINK (a gift any wife and mother can appreciate, lol). But I got to thinking about life and about the many hats I put on to get through an average day. It’s exhausting, and when it goes on for too long without a time to regroup, it becomes confusing. And frustrating. At times, I can get so caught up in meeting other people’s needs or expectations that I lose perspective of who am I and what’s important to me. That’s why I like to be ALONE. I can throw all those damn hats into a corner and just be me for 15 minutes or a day. But it’s hard to do. In this busy, overstimulating world, it’s hard to sit back and do a self-analysis, to separate our inner self from that outer self. Not that there has to be a real ‘separation’ of the two since we are whole people, but I mean in the sense of identifying and accepting our core values, our sense of self; our identity. We are many things, a lot of them socially constructed (wife, father, worker, lover, caregiver), but who are we inside? What makes us tick? Makes us happy? Sad? Hurt? Angry? Anyway, these ideas are the core of what started this poem. It’s a little graphic, but looking inward can be difficult and painful. Oh, and the tree image above is the closest thing I could find to the original, more sinister looking one which started this off whole thing.


Like oil,
The shadow of
Your crimson tree
Sprawls across the ground.
Black, poisonous. Deadly.
It’s coming for me.

Your mangled cross stands alone,
A twisted aberration of
Branches creaking
In the wind.
It beckons. I listen.
Do I go to my own

All my life,
You have watched
My every move,
Disapproving eye catching
No haven or harbour
Could I find to escape.
You waited patiently, expecting me
To fall.

And now judgement.
Now the revealing.
I die so the truth may be seen.
No more faces, no more
Just the core.
When my skin is shed,
When my essence pours out
When I see my heart
Who will I see staring back?
She? Her? That one?
Which is the real me?

Everyone watches.
I close my eyes.
The nails drive in,
The sword cuts deep.
Blood is drawn.

Through pain
We come into this life.
Through pain
We are further formed.
Through pain
We are broken.
But then
We are reborn.


D.Forde (July 2013)