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Drabble Lab Round Six: Valor, and a new schedule

Hey guys!

Read on for the awesome drabbles from round five, the winner, and the illustration. But first: I think it’s for the best if we give you all some more time to write drabbles before judging them. Two days is just not quite enough time. So from now on, Drabble lab is going to be a once-every-two-weeks feature. You’ll have a week to submit drabbles, I’ll post a comment when I’ve chosen a winner, and we’ll announce the winner and post the illustration the following week. This has the added advantage of giving our artists more time to draw. Hopefully this way we can maintain the momentum we’ve created!

On to last week’s drabbles:

This one, by breadbox, was great because the surprise went both ways:

His apartment manager recognized her, but even so he wouldn’t let her in until she bribed him with promises of leftover birthday cake. She had a full hour to spare, so she took the opportunity to blow up the balloons. But the cake wasn’t even unboxed when he burst into the apartment. From her perch atop the back of the couch, stretching to affix a green balloon to the ceiling, she watched him pull the nylon stocking off of his head, let some of the loose bills fall out of hoodie’s front pocket, and say: “Well, this is a surprise.”

And this one, by Olivia, was touching because the surprise was that there was none:

I am a birthday queen. My birthday is not a single day affair, it is a week-long affair. This year I chose not to lavish myself with the birthday party I deserved because I had picked up intelligence that there was to be a surprise party. Needless to say I was ecstatic. The day arrived and I waited and waited for someone to hijack me, for people to jump out, yell. The work day ended. I drove home in my normal way. I unlocked my door, expecting a room packed with friends. It was quiet inside. No one lurked. Surprise.

Coelecanth describes something that maybe shouldn’t be surprising, but nonetheless always is:

“Objects at rest want to stay at rest.”

He was pretty sure he’d said it out loud. Somehow getting up and beginning the process of sorting through what was left seemed too difficult. And so he sat there in the rubble as the light dimmed and the night chorus began. The thousand voice choir, amphibian and avian, was unchanged despite how profoundly things were different on the inside of the walls.

He’d spent the day not thinking about it as hard as he could, but he knew what awaited him at home.

“I should have told her I loved her.”

And the winner, by scurvygirl, I just love the way it trails off perfectly, without really leaving any ambiguity.

Alan adjusted his hat more firmly to his head. The wind was pulling at it with a desperate longing. He normally rode the bus to work, but he had missed it by a mere minute that morning. The one time his regular ride was running ahead of schedule. He walked slowly, figuring late was late and that maybe he could enjoy an atypical stroll. No one would miss him anyway. The wind pulled again at his hat, lifting it up and setting it free to dance across the sky. Alan stopped to watch it, which was why he didn’t see…

And here’s the illustration, by Jill:

The illustration for scurvygirl's drabble, painted by Jill!
The illustration for scurvygirl’s drabble, painted by Jill!

Congrats, scurvygirl! And thanks to everyone for participating!

For next week the theme is valor. I look forward to reading your drabbles!

Elizabeth Finn

Elizabeth is a geneticist working for a shady government agency and therefore obliged to inform you that all of the views presented in her posts are her own, and not official statements in any capacity. In her free time, she is an aerialist, a dancer, a clothing designer, and an author. You can find her on tumblr at, on twitter at @lysine_rich, and also on facebook or google+.

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  1. The old detective stood back as the beat cop took my statement.

    “….and you hit him in the *arm*? “

    The implication of his emphasis was clear: why didn’t you hit him in the head?

    I refrained from saying that even if it had occurred to me I probably wouldn’t have done it. The money wasn’t mine.

    Later the detective laid an avuncular arm over my shoulders and asked: “Have you ever been stabbed?”


    “You don’t want to be!”, giving me a little shake. “You think about that next time.”

    Why did they both assume I had time to think?

  2. Valor was supposed to be a man’s business: going forth into battle with courage and honor. Year after year she had watched the men carry out this foolish caricature of strength, and waited for the remainder to return. This year she watched and waited with her hands clasped over a swollen belly, her mind turning over and over the number of mouths to feed while the men were gone. She gave herself to the people, her body and her mind. She turned herself into their nourishment each day. The men on their steeds would never know the valor of the life within.

  3. I gaze into the middle distance – my eyes on the target. Stealth is the key here. I tamp down my fear. After all, my enemy can’t see me from this angle… can they? Slow steps. Quiet steps. Closer. Everything will be over before they ever notice. Even closer. Push down the fear. I raise my weapon to my shoulder. Another step. Just one more.
    My enemy shifts – I react.
    Direct hit.
    I breathe a sigh of relief, walk to the kitchen and throw the rolled up newspaper in the trash – six legs twitching as the lid slams shut.

  4. “I miss him, too. I miss him so much.”
    She cried.
    “If I could be beside you two today I would, but I can’t watch that. I can’t be a part of it. I have to do what I believe is right.”

    “Thank you.”

    “I love you too, Mom.”
    She hung up the phone and went to the bathroom. She dried her face and clipped her brother’s favorite necklace on, squeezing the Saturn pendant tightly. Then Emily grabbed her keys and walked to the front door, picking up her sign with ‘Death Penalty’ crossed out as she left.

  5. I’ve picked a winner. This one was REALLY difficult to choose, guys. Because you’re so talented. You can write more drabbles if you like, and I might feature drabbles that are posted after this, but you won’t win an illustration. See you in a week with a beautiful picture and a new theme!

  6. You should post it anyway! That way, at least we get to read it…

  7. Here was what I wrote. I thought I had time since when I clicked on the link to read through the other submissions, that was all there was, and then when I actually logged in to post, I saw something had been picked while I was writing:

    When Simone saw the red pen marks covering the page, she was certain she had been handed the wrong test. But no, her name was on top of the paper, in her handwriting. A lump rose in her throat as she realized her mistake. She hadn’t used her school issued textbook for the answers; she had referenced her father’s bedtime stories about dinosaurs and carbon dating. And those were not just stories. After all, he taught big kids at the college about evolutionary biology. She cleared her throat, stood up on her desk and shouted, “This test is a lie!”

  8. She lay writhing in the grass, her body grossly deformed, her determination absolute. She could hear the soft approach of nearly silent footsteps. Her heart drummed in anticipation, confident her enemy had followed her. Sensing the end, she twisted her head up to see the shielding distance between them close. Her enemy was ferocious and hungry for survival. In one swift motion she righted herself, spread her wings and took flight. She made a large, sweeping circle and returned to her nest. Her young were safe, beaks open awaiting her return. She took to the wing to hunt their breakfast.

  9. greenstone123, thanks for contributing anyway! There will be another drabble contest starting up soon!

  10. Whoops, looks like I missed the deadline too. Next week!
    I’ll post the drabble anyway.

    She struggled to lift her knee high enough to get onto the next platform. Each step was almost half her height, and when she looked up, there were more than she could count. They were rough and spongy – soft on the knees, but without handholds.

    She got both knees up, stood, moved her hands to the next step, and lifted her right leg again. Knees weak, she looked down. She knew that he was up there – she had seen him go up. And this time, he hadn’t locked the gate.

    Today, she would reach the top. And find her soother.

  11. Now that this round is over and the winner picked I’ll add that my entry is a damn near verbatim recounting of an actual event in my life. The fact that I could get this oft told story down to 100 words and still keep the essence of what happened kinda stunned me. I love this Drabble thing. Mind you, I suspect that it’s some kinda gateway drug to Twitter. [shudders]

  12. Yeah, I’m not the least bit surprised to learn that. Your entry clearly came from a position of experience.

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