Tuesday, February 14, 2017 10:03 AM By crosswaysnet , In , ,

The straightest of Mississippi roads meander
Traced out by one with more time than direction
Lined with turkey and dogwood
They were the rivers of my youth

From high springs in Tennessee I followed the flow
Down to the flats and hollers below
And collected myself at the bottom
Through fog to a deep pool of grace

SACRIFICE - A Christmas Story

Saturday, December 24, 2016 6:09 PM By crosswaysnet , In

Isaac’s knuckles scraped across the rock, smarting. The burden on his back shifted forward, almost sliding over shoulders and taking his tunic with it. The tip of a rough branch dug into the nape of his neck.

“Steady, boy!” The old man’s voice was ragged as he stumbled forward to catch his son from falling face first into the boulder. “You don’t want to…” The voice trailed off to silence.

“To what, my Father?” Isaac looked back under his arm to Abraham’s weathered face.  It seemed suddenly drained of color. The first glint of sunrise shone blood red in the patriarch’s eye. He didn’t answer the boy.

I Am Receding

Sunday, September 4, 2016 11:55 PM By crosswaysnet , In ,

I am receding
rushing down meridians to the lower pool 
at the bottom of my world
the rest of my little school waiting for me there
Crashing through cataracts and eddies
and earthquakes of leaving
I grasp my love’s hand for the long slide 
our conversations strangely forward 
raw and hopeful still

The Big 'Win.'

Thursday, August 18, 2016 11:46 AM By crosswaysnet , In ,

Aunt Edna’s Money - Writer's Digest Writing Prompt - August 12, 2016

[Your wealthy Aunt Edna has died and left you all of her money. At first you’re excited, as you’ve been living paycheck-to-paycheck your whole life, and this newfound money offers you endless possibilities. But, in her will, Aunt Edna left one big catch—and, if you don’t do it, all of the money is to be given to your most unlikable cousin, Wilfred.]

Nelson adjusted his pince-nez and cleared his throat. Again. He looked up with that self-righteous disgust that simmered below that polished professionalism. He cleared his throat. Again.

"...the sum of $895,000 shall be transferred to escrow and assigned to the account of James Reagan Wilson immediately upon full hearing and acceptance of the following terms..."

The Cave [A Passover Story}

Monday, April 4, 2016 12:26 PM By crosswaysnet , In

The boy introduced himself to the blacksmith.
“’God Saves,’ huh? Well He can save us from the Prefect then. Please - Go right ahead. Look around all you want. You won’t find much after Rufus’ goons made off with everything. And I’ll be gone all day working off this tax bill.”
The grizzled man pulled a few Tiberius coins from a pouch behind his belt, spalled and speckled with burns from countless hours behind the anvil. Before he handed them over to the deliveryman, he faked a sneeze. Yeshua clearly saw him spit on the image of the Emperor. The teen handed over the reins to the rented cart and mule; even helped to load some of the beastly heavy boxes into the bed. The load of spikes, nails and shoes clanged loudly as they landed, as much from the anger of the blacksmith as the shifting bed of the cart. The mule began to protest.

A Star in the Sky [a Christmas Story]

Thursday, January 7, 2016 9:42 PM By crosswaysnet , In

Cyrus leaned back on the throne of Babylon as the words swirled in his mind. The scribes record he ‘inclined his face to the heavens as in transport.’ All the satraps and diviners, the wise men and captured princes stood at nervous attention, while the old prophet of the Jews noisily rolled up the old scroll and returned it to its ornate ark. The lid lowered and the hasp swung closed. All seemed to hold their breath.

"6 Word Story" Submission

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 10:33 PM By crosswaysnet , In ,

"Waste not - want not." Did not.


Saturday, April 4, 2015 11:13 PM By crosswaysnet , In , ,

“Ta, ta, ta, teh, teh, teh….”

The misshapen mass in front of him stuttered and shuddered. As far as he could tell, that is. This cloying darkness swallowed everything. Even his sanity, it would seem. How could it be THIS dark at THIS hour? The sun should be halfway to the horizon putting these jagged beams in stark relief. Now, nothing. 

Yet somehow… that red. Was it even a man, anymore? More a crimson tumor - reaching… Where? No one was coming to save him.  Like a child, he had screamed for his daddy. Then…

The fear.

The Black.

The man could barely keep his head up against the weight of this. His men had already taken a knee and were rattling their helmets to clear their heads.

“Teh, teh, teh…” 

It was more rasp than word.

Your Story #55 Submission

Thursday, February 13, 2014 10:10 AM By crosswaysnet , In

Prompt: Write the opening sentence (25 words or fewer) to a story based on the photo above.
“The first to fall was a 14 year-old redhead from Waukesha, her left nostril trickling and the convulsions crumpling the hand-made “LOVE YOU, JUSTIN!!” poster.”

All Wet

Wednesday, October 9, 2013 11:11 AM By crosswaysnet , In

WRITER'S DIGEST "Your Story #54" Competition entry
Prompt: Write the opening sentence (25 words or fewer) to a story based on the photo above.

Your whisper slayed me and you did as you promised, leaving her at the altar -- so I waited for you till the tide came in.

The Hunt

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 3:45 PM By crosswaysnet , In ,

WRITER'S DIGEST "Your Story #52" Competition entry
Prompt: Write the opening sentence (25 words or fewer) to a story based on the photo above.

"With their eyes on the prize, he fingered the axe knowing he had a choice to make: The best Christmas tree, or they disappear forever..."

Flip for it

Monday, July 8, 2013 3:44 PM By crosswaysnet , In

WRITERS DIGEST "Your Story Competition #51.

Prompt: Write a short story, of 750 words or fewer, that begins with the following line of dialogue: “Heads, we get married; tails, we break up.”


Heads, we get married; tails, we break up.”

Bill observed the silver dollar through rheumy eyes. The 1899 Lady L stared blankly off to his left, betraying none of her feelings. The only hint, her lips - slightly taciturn, maybe disapproving. Still, she didn't argue or object. A stoic, unwilling to face him. A face that would decide Bill's fate, whether she cared or not.

The skirt across the table from him was much more lively. Practically dancing in anticipation of the answer. A betting soul, sure to win.

Memorial Day

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 10:53 AM By crosswaysnet , In

NPR Three-Minute Fiction 50 Word Challenge: "Memorial Day"

She sips her juice box while her father faces the wall. Her hand holds a black crayon and slightly crumpled rubbing. 

The man traces the 'R' of a name the little girl has never known. A name Gommy hasn't used in 40 years. He stays. They head for the statue.

Writer's Digest Contest April, 2013

Friday, April 5, 2013 9:19 AM By crosswaysnet , In

[Prompt: Write the opening sentence (25 words or fewer) to a story based on the photo above...]

"His depth perception was failing, or the sky was literally falling - either way he wanted answers and he wanted them NOW..."

Good Friday

Friday, March 29, 2013 12:56 PM By crosswaysnet , In

Bending, submitting
Falls to a breaking, shattering
Hope crushed, mingled with a serpent's blood

A gaping maw devours
Gnashing, hellish teeth throw sparks
A sea of black smooths over the hole

A rain of darkness descends
A reign of darkness ascends
And those left above the sea are drowning

Writer's Digest Contest February, 2013

Tuesday, February 5, 2013 2:21 PM By crosswaysnet , In

[Prompt: Write the opening sentence (25 words or fewer) to a story based on the photo above...]

"Ripples of Scarlet and alabaster shimmered before him as he lowered the gun slowly to his waist."


1:53 PM By crosswaysnet , In

Writer's Digest Short Story Contest Entry, 2013

The man froze in his tracks. His weren’t the only ones pressed into the fresh fall of snow. A scuffling trail of sneakers - a child’s sized 7 - led from his front door, between his own, turning left down the sidewalk.

He panicked, dropping the shopping bag, splitting the milk jug and soaking the newspaper and paper bag of fresh-ground coffee. The cherry twizzler hung limp from his lips, an indecisive weathervane in the still air.


Sunday, February 3, 2013 7:42 AM By crosswaysnet , In

2013 "Beat the Clock" Contest Entry -


Lucy reached forward to poke her finger through, thinking that maybe she could see better. Jimmy yanked his four year old sister’s hand away from the door.

“Don’t do that!” he hissed. “Be quiet - and still.”

Auspicious Beginnings...

Friday, February 1, 2013 3:36 PM By crosswaysnet , In , ,

The challenge: Create a new genre - "Cozy Apocalypse Mysteries"

Take One...

Translation - Chapter 13

Tuesday, September 4, 2012 4:33 PM By crosswaysnet , In

Chapter 13 (Sunday, 3:30PM - Canyon West, TX)

Mitch finds himself back at The Colpoys home. He writes down what he knows up to this point and the spirtual counsel he gains in La Grange. C.R. & Sylvia arrive home after an emergency cell group leaders meeting. They are disturbed about what they hear. There has been a tragedy in the Pastor's household. Together they start investigating Mitch's suspicions. Mitch takes a walk to decompress a bit. He meets people that induce flashbacks from his subconscious. A geocacher leaves Mitch with a thought that continues to nag him - 'when you find something in the box you take it and replace it with something else.'

The carpet wasn't as hard as Mitch expected. In fact, much more plush. The room had suddenly grown quiet, hushed. Mitch raised his head from between his hands to see what the quiet was all about. He saw a bedspread. It was the guest bedroom of the Colpoys house and he was lying on the floor. His fists dug into the thick pile of the carpet as he slowly pulled in a deep breath. He closed his eyes again. He focused on the soft hum of the old, 80's bed-side digital clock above his head to the left; the even softer scent of some non-descript Glade plugin. Mitch finally rose to his feet deliberately, the cheap faux leather of his new belt squeaking as he straightened himself out. He looked down at the outfit. The cheap tie was beginning to choke. He sat on the edge of the bed and stared at his new shoes, trying to make sense of the past 10 minutes. Then he thought about the past 18 hours.

The Submission

Saturday, August 18, 2012 2:22 PM By crosswaysnet , In

She refused to open her eyes, hitting the snooze for the third time. Her plan to not move was trumped by her bladder. With a groan she swung her feet to touch the cool oak boards, still slick from her 7th waxing this week.
Before the panic attack could begin, her cellphone erupted with the bridge to ‘Imagine’. She glimpsed the caller id through bleary eyes and reached for the disconnect. Her numb middle finger hit the ‘speakerphone’ button instead.
Without waiting a beat the voice blared out at her – “Have you seen yet?? Have you heard?? I can’t login for another hour!! Finalists ONLY until 8am. WHAT’s HAPPENING???”
She gathered a breath to push her raw vocal chords. So sore. When had she stopped cleaning and started crying? When had she stopped crying and pushed her dry sobs into her pillow? An hour ago, maybe?…
“Uh… no. I haven’t looked.”
“WHY THE HECK NOT?? This is it, Sylvie! THE BIG TIME!! Get to it PRONTO, girl! And call me first, of course!!”
“Shower first, Sis.”
“Well make it short! I wanna know whatchergonna do if you WIN!”
“Yeah,” Sylvie answered flatly; vacantly. She carefully pressed the ‘end’ key. She thought for a moment, then removed the battery and laid the pieces neatly next to each other, perpendicular to the edge of the nightstand, of course. She proceeded with the bedmaking and four-corner inspection. The tape measure was still in the kitchen where she didn’t dare go… yet. She found a bookmark to compare the length of the gap from quilt to floor. She headed for the bedroom door.
A sudden jolt stopped her before she crossed the threshold. Did I mop the hallway yesterday or not? She did a thorough mental inventory of her actions the last 24 hours. Kitchen? All surfaces, four times. Living room? Check. Bathroom? Only twice – vermin risk. But the hallway floor?
Sylvie ran the inventory three more times – not a single instance of proper cleaning came to mind. Was I that distracted? Dread overtook the panic. Do I even have safe shoes in this room? She scrambled around the bedroom looking for the ‘good’ slippers, smooth soles, easily disinfected. Nowhere. Where are they? She did the inventory one more time. The tears welled up as she recalled cleaning them in a metal tray before the kitchen mastered her will. They were still sitting in the pan on the floor of the pantry – on the cleaners side, opposite any packaged food they might contaminate. The first drop fell from her quivering lip, hitting the floor. Now this room needs decontamination!
In desperation, she skidded along on the rug by her changing table and shuffled down the hallway toward the bathroom. She passed her office nook, looming in dimness to the right. The disinfecting spray and one-use cloths sat next to the keyboard, just as she’d placed them at the end of her kitchen frenzy. The screen saver of mountain springs dissolved to another picture of high-elevation glacier runoff. Her sister had thought it would settle her nerves before her writing sessions began. All it ever did was remind Sylvie to double-filter the bottled water before placing it in the sealed container and on the disinfectant wipe in the fridge.
As was the rule, she could not approach the computing machine until she was thoroughly and ritually clean. Every body surface times two scrubs, then disinfecting wipes then soaps and shampoos. Sylvie left the shower more raw than usual as she lifted the second towel down in the stack to dry herself. Then the one – and only – look into the mirrorShe refused to look closely at the eyes.
She dressed in her morning whites, slowly placing her second set of slippers on her feet. Rising from the bathtub edge she faced the hallway again. No morning light to brighten the path. Darker grays mottled the way as thunder clouds plodded across the sky.
Dead man walking. Just make it to the kitchen and brew the tea…
Sylvie’s robe brushed the office chair as she passed her computer, touching the mouse cord. The screen saver dropped and her inbox flashed to her left. Contest Winners Announcement! stared back from the top line. Sylvie froze. A strange, uncontrollable mix of dread and anger seized her. If Susan hadn’t sent the manuscript without her permission this never would have happened. All the years of ‘you’re the best writer I’ve ever read’ and ‘you NEED to let someone read this!’ and ‘if you don’t let me take this to an agent you’re going to drive ME crazy’… it all came crashing down on Sylvie’s brain. She grabbed the disinfectant and sprayed the mouse. She clicked the link firmly enough to break the button.
‘Dear Miss Anton,
‘I cannot thank you enough for the opportunity to review your work. Out of the thousands of first-time author submissions, yours rose to the top. And now our editorial board and guest judges have had the unenviable task of selecting the winner of this year’s Breakout Novelist Award. All six of our finalists will undoubtedly attract much attention from agents and publishers the world over.
‘But in your case, let me be the first to say what others are sure to repeat – your work Coming Out stands apart. Compelling, haunting and deeply moving, it is our choice for Grand Prize. Documents will arrive this morning by courier to explain the next steps in the awards process. Pack your bags, Sylvie! You’re about to see the world as a renowned and high-awarded PUBLISHED author!!
‘With sincerest congratulations,

‘Mildred Van Self
Oceans Publishing Group
London – Johannesburg – New York – Sydney’

Sylvie drew a breath. The first since clicking the mouse. She expected she might burst into tears. But she was calm. She continued to the kitchen, considered the teapot then looked up. She mounted the stool, fixed the knot to the back of her neck and kicked out the leg.

The Shot

Tuesday, July 31, 2012 11:58 AM By crosswaysnet , In

(Drabble contest entry -

The boy stares at the eye as it stops seeing him. A frozen gaze that freezes the moment. He holds his breath by instinct. The weight seems to grow in his hand. His other drops the slingshot to the grass below. He feels a slight tap on his sneaker. A single red drop spreads to a stain on his shoelace.

I did this.

A twitch in his palm; a rustle of feathers. The dove jerks and rolls over. Will it fly? A nail scratches his wrist, drawing a drop of his own.

A noise closes from behind. “Good shot, son!"

The Drawer

11:51 AM By crosswaysnet , In

(Drabble contest entry,

The bathroom door ajar. Slowly he crosses the threshold. Only the tick of the grandfather clock in the hall. Odd shadows behind the shower curtain. He pulls it aside. A smear of blood down the tile to the body of his wife. Throat slashed. She’d threatened it - she’d ruin him at any cost. But how? He stumbles back to the bedroom; an overwhelming need for a drink. Frantic for the hidden bottle, he throws open the sock drawer. Cash missing. Reaching deep, his hand hits something cold and wet. He lifts a bloody knife. It’s not mine! 

“Freeze! Police!”

The Devil's Wife

11:48 AM By crosswaysnet , In

(Drabble contest entry -

Dirt and sky. She looks up as the shadow passes. Her whole life has been a shadow. Now the late afternoon sun returns as a delayed rain pelts her forehead. The devil’s beating his wife.

“Well, now he’s got someone else to beat,” she says bitterly. “This devil’s done with his beatings. I’m free.”

The rain hardens, threatening hail. The trickle down her arm creates a streak of brown between her fingers. She opens her palm and stares at the wettened soil. She lets the rain wash it into the gaping maw before her. Splatters thump the plain casket below.

The Kiss

Thursday, July 5, 2012 3:42 PM By crosswaysnet , In

The blurred light grew. The man felt his eyelid open slowly, tentatively. He was floating - on what he could not be sure. Something below and within stirred, expanding. A sound - a slow wind - sounded around him. 'Within' continued to rise. A soft click murmured and 'within' began to deflate. 

It's my body…

The man listened keenly to the sound of, what, exactly? Air - flowing from his lungs. It seemed to go on forever. Then, another soft click. 'Within' began to rise, again.

I'm alive… Why?

Why wouldn't you be?

Because, I…

The man searched for an answer. None came. And it didn't come ever… so… slowly. Each click echoed down a long tunnel to his mind's ear. Each moment rushed and lingered for an eternity at the same time.

Where am I?

Unrepentant Surrender

Sunday, January 22, 2012 6:39 PM By crosswaysnet , In ,

On the passing of J. Keith Miller...
Keith Miller has been tapping energy for 60 years. Today he tapped into the mother lode. He went Home this afternoon at the age of 84 in the arms of his wife, Andrea, and at the insistence of an enemy - pancreatic cancer. He died faithful, and in the only kind of faith he believed worthy - Expectant. He pursued a surrendered life with a maddening obsession at times. He expected God to meet him when he did. He chased after God passionately, sloppily, even in anger. And he journaled his failures. Later in my own life, I came to understand how merciful God is to me by watching Keith crawl back to the foot of the cross after some spectacular personal crises.  Expectant faith is desperate. It was the only kind he ever seemed to live. It is the only kind that matters. When it came to surrender, Keith was adamant and unrepentant. It shows in his final blog entries.

Once upon a time, Keith drilled the earth of Texas and Oklahoma looking for his meaning as a man. As an unsettled, lonely and driven member of the 'Greatest Generation' he doggedly pursued wealth and the American dream across the American South as an entrepreneur in Oil Exploration. He worked for the biggest names in Energy and launched a number of successful related businesses.

By the late 50s, he was on his way to the top. And he found it profoundly meaningless...