Category Archives: Shakespeare Retold

Friday Flash: As You Liked It ~or~ As You Like It, Part 2

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“Father, the seating arrangement simply must be changed.”

“Why, Rosalind! Whatever do you mean? The couples are all seated next to each other, as befits an Anniversary dinner-”

“But whose Anniversary, pray you? Nay, not just mine and Orlando’s, but others’ as well!”

“Yes, of course, my dear. Don’t you see? I seated Celia and Oliver across from you.”

“But what of Touchstone? And Audrey?”

“They’re to have an excellent feast in the adjoining room, just as lavish, I promise you.”

“In the adjoining room! You did not seem so hard a year ago…”

“Well, it simply isn’t proper to have commoners seated at the table with nobility.”

“What of the Forest Arden! There you were content to sit alongside the beasts of the forest, and indeed, have your daughter married in the same ceremony as a fool and his lady.”

“A wise man does not argue with a god, Rosalind, no matter WHAT his rank.”

“The god, Hymen, is a rather agreeable sort.”

“The god of marriage wished to marry you. I will not quibble with a god about his own business.”

“It seems uncivil, somehow, to separate the celebrations now that we are back.”

“Then we were, as you so kindly observed my dear, in the forest. Manners in town must needs differ from the forest, and indeed, differ widely from Court.”

“What will your friend, Jaques, have to say about that, I wonder?”

“No doubt he will soliloquize awhile, and then wander off to be melancholy.”

“He does love to do that sort of thing; does he not?”

“Yes, my dear, though I fear he may not wander far enough. He’s rather fond of our fool.”

“Of Touchstone? I had forgot, but mayhaps he shake Jacques from his melancholy.”

“Oh no, my dear! For his happiness is more a terror than his melancholy. God save me from his mirth.”

“Now, Father, you are not in earnest. I see the curl of your lip and the sparkle of your wit. But come now. What of Audrey and Touchstone? Shall we seat them near Celia and her Oliver?”

“That depends. Has Oliver the patience for it?”

“Dear father, he is, of course, a patient and kind man. How could he be otherwise, when sired by Sir Roland and brother to my dear Orlando?”

“That same brother, whose life he aimed to end, I recall.”

“A miracle, I grant you. No doubt, my dearest friend, Celia, tamed his rage with her beauty.”

“I should hope so, for her sake. He wooed in haste.”

Give thy thoughts no tongue. You do not suggest-”

“No, my dear. I know your friend to be honest, though I do not trust HIS mind. False face may hide what the false heart doth know.”

“Father!”

“So the seating arrangement stays the same.”

“I have not agreed to such a thing. What of Silvius and his Phoebe?”

“The shepard! I grant you, allowances are made for a licensed fool. It is the nature of his craft to be allowed liberties, but a shepard-”

“Married by the god, Hymen, in the same ceremony as your own daughter and her friends.”

“The god is hardly going to come to the anniversary feast, now, is he?”

“—!”

“Oh, my lord Hymen! Pardon this poor mortal. I did not observe your august presence. Of course, I shall seat them together.”

“Lord Hymen, my father and I are grateful for your interest in our humble feast. It doth-”

“Left in a flash, did he not, my dear?”

“That was laid on with a trowel.”

As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods.

“Too true, dear Father. They treat the world as their stage, and they are the stage managers.”

“So, my dear, I suppose you shall have your way. All the lovers shall be seated at one table, as they were wed in one ceremony.”

“What shall we feast upon? Indeed, for I mean to make merry.”

Cakes and ale, my dear! Venison, and all manner of meat. The sauces shall be rich, and our wit more so.”

“What of your brother, Frederick? Will he not dine with us?”

“He is most welcome, as always, in my house.”

“Did not my Uncle eschew meat when he vowed a monastic life?”

“He need not eat it. I shall, for my own part, eat a pound of flesh, for my salad days are well behind me.”

“But your melancholy friend, Jacques… Will he not object to the venison?”

“Mayhap my head will ache all evening, and YOU may deal with Jacques! All the world’s a stage, indeed!”

“But father, I thought him your dear friend!”

“A friend, my dear, but his philosophy is too much for my mind. Better a witty fool than a foolish wit.”

“Then it is a good thing Touchstone and his lady will be seated nearby. His merry wit may counter Jacques’ philosophy.”

“Rosalind, my dear, send for the apothecary. My head doth ache.”

#

 

*This is one of several flash drafts that I found while cleaning out my files, so I polished it up. For fun, I bolded the lines that I stole… er, borrowed from Shakespeare! I hope you enjoyed it!

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com

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Filed under Flash Fiction, humor, Shakespeare Retold

My Writing Niche- Episode #55: Flash- What Really Happened to Juliet

Play or download episode *here*

Welcome to My Writing Niche, a podcast for new writers. I’ll read my latest piece of flash fiction, What Really Happened to Juliet, and talk a little about my current projects.

Thank you, as always, for your time. Polite feedback is both welcomed and appreciated. Have a lovely week.

**image courtesy of hiddedevries via Flicker.

***Slow Burn from the album Blues Sampler courtesy of Kevin MacLeod via Creative Commons Attribution license. More of his music can be found at FreeMusicArchive.org or at http://incompetech.com.

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Filed under Audio, Flash Fiction, Podcast (audio files down but show note links active), Shakespeare Retold, Writing Corner

Friday Flash: What Really Happened to Juliet

What Really Happened to Juliet

Juliet Capulet had always hated her name.

A rose by any other name would never smell as sweet if it had been fertilized with the crap her family inflicted on her. She was dying to escape, when the soft-brained Romeo offered to take her away from it all. Sure, he had the attention span of a spaniel, but he was easily as cute and trainable. She could land a new life and piss off her parents in the process. And according to the Friar, all she had to do was swallow one little pill.

What the hell? she thought, I’ve done worse. I’ve already slept with the enemy; I’m aiding my cousin’s killer. How could things get any worse?

So she did the deed, took the drug, and slept the sleep of the seemingly dead for days.

The Friar, their secret conspirator, sent the boy a message telling him of the drug-induced sleep – a scam sure to fool both sets of parents. Unfortunately, Romeo never checked his mail. The newspaper headline sent him running to his lover’s tomb to kiss her frozen lips and take his own life.

Stupid kid.

The grieving parents interred his bones with that of his beloved, consoling themselves that at least the lovers were united in death.

#

Fair Juliet awoke entwined within her lover’s arms, screaming from the cold flesh that had stiffened around her, banging at the wooden lid of their shared coffin, and wondering how much longer her new life would last.

THE END

As always, polite feedback, both critical or otherwise, is appreciated. An audio version of this flash will be available on my podcast, My Writing Niche, this Sunday. Thank you, and have a lovely week.

*image courtesy of Fylkesarkivet i Sogn og Fjordane (photo by Paul Stang) via Flickr. No known copyright restrictions.

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52/250 Flash: All’s Fair in War

Original text: All’s Fair in War

**This story was inspired by the theme ‘Rivals’ for week #20 of the 52/250 Flash Challenge. Part of the beauty of 52/250 lies in the weekly themes. I’m not used to writing to prompts, and I’m also one of those writers that needs a deadline, so the flash challenge is a nice fit for me. I experience working within certain boundaries.

I’m an avid Shakespeare buff, so when I read this week’s theme, Rivals, I flashed on women fighting over a man, and then A MidSummer Night’s Dream. I didn’t want to write another fairy story though, and I was surprised where this short little scene took me. I hope Will doesn’t hurt himself too much when he rolls over in his grave. Enjoy!

*If anyone else is interested in participating, all the information can be found on the 52/250 site.

**lightning photo courtesy of bigfoto.com

***Later today I will be posting my first episode of my new podcast, ‘My Writing Niche’, so please come and listen! Today’s topic will be ‘Only One Month until Nanowrimo!’

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Filed under 52/250 Challenge, Flash Fiction, Shakespeare Retold, Writing Corner

Friday Flash: Death – A Love Story

Death – A Love Story

Death might ride a pale horse but tonight he’d fallen off the wagon. He sat at the bar, cradling his skull in his hands, bent over a bottle of ale.

By his side sat Ophelia, gazing distractedly around the tavern. “Haven’t you had enough?” she asked him, picking a flower from her hair and placing it on the counter.

“I thought you didn’t like water,” Thanatos said.

“For me, no, I’ve obviously had enough,” she said, “but even I can see you’ve had enough ale. It’s not good for you.”

“Why?” said the Reaper. “It doesn’t stay with me.” His skeletal hand gestured to the puddle directly beneath his stool.

Ophelia wrinkled her nose. “Gross.”

“Oh, relax, it’s not like I peed or something,” he said. “I don’t have any organs.”

“I still don’t understand how you can get drunk when…”

Death shrugged and too another swig.

“When do we go home?” she asked.

“You can go home with me anytime, dear lady,” said a handsome swain, swaggering up behind her and laying a hand on her shoulder.

She jerked away from him. “Thanatos, I’m ready to leave now.”

The Reaper knew he’d (quite literally) never hear the end of it from Ophelia if he didn’t say something – especially on their anniversary. His skull was already splitting though, so he didn’t think he was up to a battle of words with the foppish prince.

“Come, sweet lady,” said Hamlet, practically cooing in her ear. “Remember our past? The times we shared?”

Ophelia gathered the flowers she’d piled on the bar and began popping them in her mouth like peanuts. “Dandelions are completely edible, you know,” she said, by way of explanation.

“Those aren’t dandelions,” said the prince.

She shrugged and chewed a bright red petal.

Thanatos listened with mild amusement.

“Remember how it was at court? You were the sweetest, loveliest lady in Denmark. I would have done anything for you.”

She glowered at him. “You killed my father!”

“Well,” Hamlet said, cheeks burning, “I was mad, you know.”

“So you say,” Ophelia said.

“I was! Honestly!” Hamlet leaned over the bar to look into her eyes. “Besides,” he added, “no real harm done; your father’s over there.” He pointed in the direction of an old man in some costly robes playing darts. He hit the bullseye and turned, cheering, to hug another player.

“Not impressed,” said Ophelia and popped a few more blossoms into her mouth.

“My father was murdered too, you know,” continued Hamlet.

“Blah blah blah,” said Ophelia. “I’ve heard it all before. In a few more centuries, you think you might come up with something new?”

The black robed figure next to her chuckled.

“What are you laughing at?” said Hamlet. “I may be mad, but at least I’m royalty! Not some glorified sailor…”

The skeletal figure towered over him. “Listen, Shorty,” the Reaper said. “I wasn’t going to get into this with you tonight, but I’ve had just about enough of you. I’m Thanatos- NOT Charon. Charon is the Ferryman, and he happens to be a good friend – so lay off already.”  The inebriated skeleton wobbled back to his barstool and plopped down. He narrowly missed landing on the floor.

“But the black robe?” said the Prince.

Thanatos mumbled something into his drink.

“What?”

Ophelia giggled, spitting out a few petals.

“What?” said Hamlet again.

“They use the same taylor!” She covered her mouth, snorting slightly.

The Reaper pushed back his hood. “Hey, black robes are always stylish; ‘kay? And you won’t find better threads than those made by the Fates – so watch it.” He took another swig of ale, followed closely by the sound of liquid hitting the floor.

Hamlet looked at the puddle with disapproval.

The tavern door opened and several black clad youths entered. Ebony hair and eyes contrasted their deathly pale skin and blood red lips.

“Oh, Hades,” said The Reaper. “Not again.”

Soon the bar was filled with squeals of delight from the newcomers. They surrounded Thanatos, fauning over him.

He looked to Ophelia, eye sockets mutely pleading for help, but she just smiled and signaled to the bartender. He pushed a bowl of small bright blossoms toward her.

“Aren’t Bleeding Hearts poisonous?” asked the Prince.

“So?” she said. “It’s not like I can die twice, now is it?”  She munched from the bowl while watching The Reaper fend off his groupies.

“No, no, I keep telling you, I just want privacy,” he said. Sunglasses materialized on the bar, and he slipped them over his eye sockets. “No autographs, please. Just leave me alone.” He managed not to wobble too much as he got up and took Ophelia’s hand. “Let’s just go home; ‘kay?”

They started to exit the bar, with Hamlet close behind. The black clad group stayed behind, following the trio with their eyes.

Hamlet finally sputtered,. “Why don’t they pursue us?”

“Vamps can’t follow if we don’t want them to,” said Ophelia. “He can’t stand them anyway.”

“They don’t really love me,” said Death. “If they did, they’d follow through. UN-dead doesn’t count.” He looked behind him. “Bunch of posers.”

Hamlet grinned slightly. “Still caught in the mortal coil?”

“Oh, I haven’t even started with you, pretty boy,” said Thanatos. “And to be perfectly honest, Ophelia made a way better lunatic than you. At least you knew 100% she was insane. Now that’s commitment.”

Ophelia hugged one bony arm and looked up at him adoringly.

“Well, I did kill a bunch of people…” said the Prince.

“Yeah, but under questionable circumstances. Let’s face it, you’d have to be crazy to love Death.”

**

The other day Don’t Fear The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult came on the radio and sparked the idea for this #fridayflash. I’d already been reading several Greek myth themed stories, including Houseboat on the Styx, as well as short fiction by other authors like Laura Eno.  Plus I’m a Shakespeare buff, and I just couldn’t help myself.

My stories tend to have a twist but not this time. I don’t think Ophelia would have stood for that anyway. I hope you enjoyed this story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

**(According to Open Office, this story contains exactly 1,000 words)

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Filed under fantasy-magic, Flash Fiction, humor, mythology, Shakespeare Retold, Writing Corner

Friday Flash: Puck’s Surprise

Puck’s Surprise

Fairies were neither prudish nor temperate by nature, but when Puck’s pranks graduated from tipping old ladies to strategically placing whoopee cushions, he crossed a line. Something needed to be done.

“But what?” asked Oberon. Puck had served as his wingman for years, so he wished to handle the situation delicately. Several compromising photos were at stake.

Titania suggested an intervention, though Oberon thought the idea unproductive.

“I agree,” called a voice. “He’ll think it’s a joke, take it as a challenge, and be worse than ever.”

“Who speaks?” called Titania.

A delicate fairy woman appeared out of the crowd and knelt before the thrones. “Buttercup, my leige.”

“Well, do you have any better ideas?” said Oberon.

She grinned.

*

Later that afternoon, Oberon searched the woods.

“Puck! Robin Goodfellow!” called Oberon. He’d thrown dignity to the wind when he told Titania that he’d fetch Puck for the party, but he didn’t dare disappoint her again. He’d never live it down.

A nearby bush moaned softly, and Oberon pushed aside some leaves. “Puck? What are you doing here? I’ve been calling for nearly ten minutes!”

The wayward fairy rubbed his temple and moaned again. “Sorry, my leige. If I had been conscious, I would never have dared keep you waiting. Do you have any aspirin?”

Oberon produced two small pink tablets. “I’m always prepared.”

Puck sat up, scatched his hairy belly, and fished around on the ground for his beercap. Fitting it to his scalp, he popped the pills and sipped from one of the cap’s straws. “What do you need, sire? Having trouble with the Queen again?” He rose unsteadily. “You know, I could get Cobbweb and Mustardseed for you. They make a mean-”

“Really, Robin, you’ve been around mortals too much! That’s depraved, even for you, and-”

“Chocolate cake.”

“What?”

“Oh…oh! You thought I meant-”

“No, of course I didn’t-”

“Of course not. Not after last time, right?” Puck nudged the King and winked with one blackened eye.

After an uncomforable silence, the King asked, “What happened to you?”

Rubbing his forehead, Puck said, “I really don’t remember, sire. There was this party-”

“Of course,” said Oberon.

“And all I… ah, I remember. Fraternities have no sense of humor no matter what they say.”

“What did you do?” asked Oberon. “Make an ass out of yourself again?”

Puck grinned. “No, but I think I made one out of them!”

Oberon sighed. “Not the donkey head again. What is it with you and donkeys? That’s the oldest joke in the book.”

“Actually, pardon my leige, but you’re thinking of the chicken that crossed the road.”

After another pause, Oberon continued. “Anyway, you need to come to your Birthday Party.”

Puck perked up. “Party?”

“Oh, I know- you don’t get enough parties; do you? But yes, and Titania won’t let me cut the cake until you blow out the candles and-”

“Cake?” The color returned to his face. “Did Cobbweb and Mustardseed make it?”

“I don’t know. It’s a cake- chocolate with-”

Puck took off towards the court. Thunder boomed. Puck returned, bowing low. “After you, sire.”

“That’s better,” said Oberon. “Now, let’s get some cake.”

*

The crowd formed a wide circle around the large multilayered cake. Titania sat on her throne, resting her chin in her hand.

“Can I come out yet?” a muffled voice called.

“No, not yet. You know your cue!” snapped Titania.

“Yes, your Highness,” said the cake.

Just then Oberon entered the hall, followed closely by Puck. Everyone quieted and knelt before the King. The Queen straightened up and offered her hand to Oberon, who kissed it before sitting beside her. With a small nodd from the royal couple, the fairy court rose again.

Puck ran to the cake.

Everyone sang a tune roughly kin to ‘Happy Birthday’, and on the final line a scantily dressed fairy woman popped out of the cake. “Surprise!” she said. Puck pulled her out and kissed her passionately.

“This is going to be the best birthday ever,” he said.

She guided a straw to his lips, so he could swig some more beer.

*

The next morning, Puck awoke in the arms of the lovely Buttercup. He gave her a quick kiss on the forehead, licked some frosting from her hair, and patted her affectionately on the butt. He grabbed his boxers from a nearby twig and started to dress. “Thanks for a good time, but I gotta split.”

Buttercup rolled over and regarded him through heavy lidded eyes. “Where do you think you’re going?”

Puck tried vainly to put on a boot before realizing it wasn’t his. “Oops. Sorry.”

Buttercup sat up. “No, but you’re going to be.”

“Hey, relax, babe. It was an honest mistake.”

“That’s not what I meant,” said Buttercup..

“Well, okay, whatever. Have you seen my shoe?”

“Look at your finger.”

Puck looked at his finger. “What? Like my shoe’s going to be there.”

“No,” breathed Buttercup. “Look.”

Puck looked. A small silver band glinted in the morning sun. “What the…”

“We’re married.”

That brought him up short. “Married? How much did I drink last night?”

Buttercup smirked. “Quite a bit, but that’s not the best part.”

Worried, Puck asked, “What’s the best part?”

“The binding spell I put on your ring. You’re bound to me for life. I know your tendency to stray, but from now on, wanderer -” She smiled again. “Your ass is mine.”

Puck mulled this over. He liked bad girls; maybe this could be fun.

“What do you think about open marriages?” he asked.

A wicked grin crossed her face. “I said you’d be obedient,” she cooed. “Get rid of your whoopee cushions this instant!”

“Yes, Mistress.”

THE END.

*I posted this story (according to Google Docs – 983 words) and tweeted the link within 7 minutes of Midnight.  So it’s still #fridayflash, even if it’s very late on Friday!

I’d like to thank @lastsyllable for steering me to his writing prompts blog. The inspiration for this story was sparked there.

Last but not least, I really hope you enjoy the story. I love feedback, and as always I welcome constructive criticism. Thank you.

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Shakespeare Retold, Writing Corner