Jenna Moreci Competition Winners

Jenna Moreci Prompt

Blood coated his trembling fingers. He looked me in the eyes.


“You made me do this.” His breathing came out in ragged spurts. “Why?”

Jenna Moreci, the fantastic author and YouTuber, recently hosted a Daily Prompt writing competition. She came with up with the prompt above and Daily Prompters had 14 days to enter the competition. 

2000 words. 2 weeks. Cash prizes up for grabs for the winner and runners up. 

Below are the winning pieces that received the cash prize:

Table of Contents

Tradition

Blood coated his trembling fingers. He looked me in the eyes.

 

“You made me do this.” His breathing came out in ragged spurts. “Why?”

 

I crossed my legs in hopes that the pain would disappear, and along with it, my guilt. But the pain radiated through my body, starting in my abdomen, and ending . . . nowhere. This was never-ending agony, a swirl of pain forever racing through my veins.

 

The tree branches above me reached for each other like lovers inviting each other to dance. I lost myself in the rhythm of the wind carrying the branches this way and that. The breeze whipped down and froze against the trail of tears still resting on my cheeks. 

 

I closed my eyes, praying to be back in my bed, but the crunch of crisp leaves under his shifting body proved my prayers would go unanswered. 

 

He had not stopped crying and joined me on the forest floor, lying beside me as he looked for comfort. I couldn’t give him any. My body wouldn’t move — the sting of my own choices paralyzing me, keeping me in my place in the dirt. 

 

The last rays of the sun faded behind the tops of the trees. The chill of the air consumed us, his chattering teeth too much to bear. He unfurled himself from my body and lifted me, slipping my jacket off and wrapping it around his shoulders, holding it close to his chest. The bite of cold air was agonizing. 

 

My eyes glossed over to him; my head refusing to move. I always knew it would come to this, but I was too naïve, or perhaps powerless, to stop it. This was all set in motion before I was even born. 

 

I’d been a foolish girl, doing the one thing I’d promised myself I never would. Watching my mother cycle through a parade of men who didn’t have one redeeming quality should have taught me my lesson. The sounds of screams and broken glass and flying fists were all the same, one man after the next, an unending procession of cruelty. 

 

But like my blue eyes and wavy brown hair — now caked in mud and frozen against my neck — some things are just hereditary. My mother taught me this life well — a trait that ran in the women of our family and passed from one generation to the next. It was a tradition of sorts. A tradition not easily broken. 

 

I stared at him as his chest rose and fell over and over again. His tears did not last long. 

We were in love, once. It happened fast, and it happened hard. I knew exactly what a man wanted from a woman — to know when to keep her mouth shut, and when to keep it open. I did both well. 

 

Within a month, I’d bid my mother and that life good riddance, and he and I hit the road. We spent our days driving, while nights were saved for getting high and having sex. After sixteen years, I was finally free. The beatings only came every once in a while — and they were all my own fault anyways. But the day the stick lit up, they wouldn’t stop coming. 

I told myself to go then . . . I should have listened. 

 

But every baby deserves a father. If he was gonna stick around, then that was good enough for me. Maybe I would have been better off if I’d had a father. 

 

We found our home in the woods, far from anyone else. It was just the two, soon to be three, of us out here. 

 

The pains came early. Too early. He didn’t like that, and he didn’t mind showing me. 

I never should have been out here on a night like this, but I had to get away, and he kept the truck keys hidden somewhere he knew I would never find. 

 

Maybe being there wasn’t enough. Maybe the endless suffering didn’t have to be so endless. 

 

I had to protect the one inside me. She needed me. The cycle would stop right here, right now, with me. Never again would the women of our family be punished for the lives we couldn’t escape — for the burdens put on us by our mothers. My little girl needed me, and no one was ever going to lay a hand on her, least of all her father. I wouldn’t incumber her with the inheritance that no child wanted, no child deserved. I could break the tradition. 

 

I just needed to get to town, find a car, and go. I should have known he would follow. The sounds of my childhood surrounded me, the fear hitting just as it had as a little girl.

 

The chase through the maze of trees was unfair. This body couldn’t run fast, and his was in pique condition. After a lengthy game of cat and mouse, he’d found me. I was on the ground in an instant, rolling down the hill and landing hard on my back, a rock as my pillow. 

 

It was the first time I’d ever seen fear cross his face. I tried to move, but my body wouldn’t let me. The only thing it allowed was the touch of pain. 

 

I screamed as he dug her out of me. It was a pain beyond anything I ever thought possible. The blood wouldn’t stop, and neither would the tears. 

 

Howls kept us where we were. It was a miracle the wolves hadn’t found us, but if we dared search for the way home now, well . . . they had the advantage. Here, we had the cover of trees surrounding us. 

 

But this was my chance. I had to get up and protect my girl. We could make it. All I had to do was the most basic of things; get up and walk. I struggled against myself, pushing the ground with everything I had. The truth of the situation refused to sink in.

 

The sun came up after the longest night of my life, casting its judgement over me. He stood and looked down at me as I lie in my agony, pulling her from his chest and rewrapping her in my coat. It was the last gift I could give her as they walked home. 

 

I was a prisoner to my grave. 

 

I left my body the night before, the moment I’d made contact with the rock now cradling my skull, but I couldn’t leave my girl. I tried to follow her, my body refusing to cooperate. 

 

Though I guess it was no longer my body. 

 

Once I accepted that, the pain dissipated, and I looked down at my girl from the treetops. I watched her father take her into the house. When they walked over the threshold, my world went dark, and I had only one last thought before I was taken to oblivion.

 

The tradition lives on.

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It's All in the Eyes

By Jawafra

One career, two visions. One on the cutting edge of modernity, the other centuries old. The doctor held two titles, one with respect the other with a taint of disdain.  But the one thing he loved above all else was eyes.  He loved what they had to tell—-it was one thing you could trust. His favorite quote was framed on the wall:

 

“When I talk of eyes, the stars come out!” – Charles Dickens

 

Surely, the eyes are the stars in the dark skull. As has often been heard, and he believed this with all of his heart, the eyes are the windows to the soul—-or more often than not to the empty stare of what is not there. He loved those heavenly orbs, hated those satanic spheres. The daughters of Eve had them both, they could be mother or blinding serpents to man.

 

The sun came out from behind the clouds, it’s light through the window made him open his eyes.

 

He looked up and saw his degrees on the wall across from him. He smiled at his name in large letters: Edward Ethan Ellis.  He loved those first letters, those ‘E-s’ always reminded him of the vision charts, pointing to the right, just maybe that’s why he had become an ophthalmologist. It was the right way. He knew everything about the science of eyes, but that was just the iris, pupil, cornea and retina. The fleshy machine. That was his way of serving man.  Yet, he had always felt a higher calling. A calling from God. Did not God say let there be light and that it was good? He wanted to be good. He wanted to be doctor and messiah. A healing priest, an exorcist of blind souls.

 

He knew that was what he had become. The second degree on the wall—-his colleagues thought that it was not proper, not scientific—-held his name in shiny gilded letters with radiant silver rays projecting from the center announcing his Doctorate of Divinity. He could see all things in all those eyes that came to him.  They only came with earthly complaints, but he often found their spiritual cause. He had vision. He healed and cleaned the sin of the world. A son of Adam, a healer of Eves.

 

Edward Ethan Ellis was a servant of God. A Lucifer never fallen, a bearer of light to the world. A slayer of the dark. He knew, he knew this was right.

 

His thoughts were disrupted, “Dr. Ellis, your first patient has arrived.”

 

“Thank you, Mrs. Matiaorosi, please bring her in.”

 

The first and last hours of the day were saved for charity. A religious duty. They came from addiction clinics and prostitute shelters. Those Magdalenes that he treated for free, freeing their souls. And Mrs. Matiarosi always led them in. Her orthodox cross shielding her from their filth.  She hoped the appointments after might prove more rewarding.  She yearned for a virgin for her son Tyflos. Just the right age, blond and pure like the Virgin—-at least in the pictures she knew. These others, well she helped get them right back out the door. To a place they deserved. Those whores.

 

The door opened wide again, Mrs. Matiarosi did everything she could to avoid being touched by the thin bones in the pumped-up boobed blouse.  She blushed and felt shame for that slut, but she knew the doctor knew what to do to help her see the err of her ways. To save her and others from her sinning self. She thought of her son, Tyflos. The door shut with a bang making the young woman shake, or maybe it was the methadone wearing off.

 

He smiled and stood from behind his desk. “I hear you’ve had a hard time seeing.”

 

She nodded, not one word came from her mouth.  He could see that she had tried to cover her sallow, hollow face with the redness of rouge and lipstick. Her eyes, but shadows, were darkened with mascara and coal gray eyeshadow. Her eyes, also red, poisoned with some kind of infection. Putrid flesh. He held his nose closed.

 

The doctor knew he did not need to look long and deep into her eyes to know only darkness and evil dwelt there. The world will be a better place without her, he reminded himself.  But he knew, he needed to stay pure as a healing priest and messiah. So, he let the work be done by God.  God  who had made all creatures great and small. The Good Book said he loved them all. Edward Ethan Ellis knew especially two: Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis. Those eye mites too tiny to see, cleanse the edges of eyes. God’s servants, too. Their diet was of dead cells and a bit of oil. He had gently, genetically changed them—-he prayed God would not mind—-he had made them hungry to devour the sin of Eve—-that brittle, lesser being from a rib—-just the lesser part of man. With a little twist of DNA he made them more hungry, starving to devour the sin held in eyes. These special mites not only sucked on sebaceous oils and the grease of cosmetics. They also bored and bit through the eyes to the brain where evil thoughts were held, letting the bloody sin flow as in an Old Testament sacrifice.

 

He felt his heart pound, he was a healer and savior, God’s chosen one.

 

Before walking over for the examination and the release of her soul, he put on his surgical gloves and rubbed them in a Pyrex jar.  He knew they must be swarming there, but each oblong body was less then 3 millimeters long.  He didn’t feel a thing, nor would she—-at first anyway. He examined those infected eyes. He was glad those sterile gloves kept him from feeling her carnal flesh. He turned away from her and he began to pretend to write out a prescription that she didn’t need. There was a scream, her hands slapped her own face. He hoped in her pain, her soul would be freed.  It didn’t last long. Then those mites, changed as they were, starved if not fed for more than ten minutes. There was no danger there. Such tainted mutton for a lamb sacrifice.

 

Mrs. Matiarosi knew the drill.  She came in ready with a dirty sheet.  They rolled her in it and carried her outside.  Later after closing hours they would find an alley and a dumpster.  No questions were ever asked when the lifeless body of a lost sinner was found, especially one that was missing its eyes.

 

But that day was an unusual day.  The purification had taken longer than they thought and the door to the clinic opened to reveal a virgin with celestial blue eyes.

 

“I haven’t made an appointment, is the doctor in?—-I think I may have something caught in my eye.”

 

“Sure, sure, come right in!” Mrs. Matiarosi thought she may have found a saint, someone who could take her place,  for her son.

 

Dr. Edward Ethan Ellis was also astounded, she was beatific, her eyes a blessing. He tried to restrain the rise he felt inside and between his legs. His hands twisted to help him get a hold on himself.  He pulled the gloves off and pointed the way to his office as he twisted those gloves in his naked, sweaty hands.

 

“Come, come in Miss—-“

 

“I’m Mary,” she said.

 

Both the doctor and Mrs. Matiarosi exchanged the twinkles in their eyes. They smiled and winked and nodded their heads. Each thought she would be theirs.

 

As the door closed, he had a hard time calming his breath. His heart pounded, he reminded himself he was a healer and a savior, God’s chosen one and maybe now God had chosen for him a bride. Not all Eves were evil, some were just like Mary who brought salvation to the world by giving birth to a son.

 

“Have a seat Miss—-I mean Mary—-let me have a look at those eyes.”

 

He tried to keep his hands from shaking and tears from rolling down his face.  She was perfect—-she was immaculate. She squirmed a bit in the seat, her eyes wide wondering what was behind his. Those dark pupils of his, full and black dilated. She thought he looked and sounded like some rutting beast. His breath came in grunts. She never had seen a doctor shake and stumble with his words as he did. 

 

He turned away from her—-this Eve. He took both hands to rub his eyes, he wanted to expunge those dirty, dirty thoughts raging within him. He reminded himself, her name was Mary. He rubbed his eyes again, he wanted to bring light to them once more. He felt a twinge, a tweak, a scalpel like pain. Blood coated his fingers, he looked at Mary. “You made me do this,” his breathing came out in ragged spurts. “Why?”

 

He had forgotten to sterilize his hands after removing those gloves. Blinded by her tempting beauty. His soul was no longer clean. The blood burst into a flow, he reached out to her and screamed, “Save me, oh Mother of God.”

 

She jumped from the examination chair and flew out the door. Mrs. Matiarosi, who had been listening to choral music through her earphones, looked up as she was going out the door and said in a hurry, “Oh, young Miss—-I mean Miss Mary—-I have a son who’d love to meet you!”

 

Mary could only pray in a scream, “God help me!” 

 

And she found help in a policeman standing right outside the door. He held her as he called for support.  A team arrived to find no one at reception, but in the examination room they found a body, the body of Edward Ethan Ellis on the floor.  He was face up with a black, blank stare and his hands were raised, pressed together in prayer. His lips frozen in a plea for forgiveness. There was only his blood, none of the savior’s. They could see the bones of his skull, two dark windows with nothing there.

 

The lead detective knelt down close to that face to seek for any evidence. He felt a slight prickle across his cheek as if something had jumped. His eyes watered, he felt a twinge, a tweak. The blood began to flow again.

 

All creatures great and small. God had made them all. Well, mostly.



Hera's Gift

By Eloise

Hundreds of acts of wrath and I had never left my throne to witness the aftermath. Until now. It was not enough to know he suffered. No. The storm within would not be abated until I looked into his eyes and he knew whose fault it truly was. 

     A deep green cloak decorated with a thousand eyed feathers spilled around my feet as I appeared in the doorway. Their many shades of blue and chartreuse shone, winking in the lamp light. I made no attempt to conceal myself from immortals or men. There was no shame in a queen exerting her will on her subjects. Was that not what made her a queen after all? It could not be the devotion of her king. The diamond encrusted crown of silver, sparkling with the lightning bolts that forged it, might have disagreed. I knew better.

     My nose wrinkled at the stench of mortal blood. I scanned the room, hoping to be overwhelmed with the sight of the carnage. He had a reputation, after all.

     A frown tugged at my lips. Overturned furniture. A broken table. Feathers floating from their torn pillows. But no trail of bodies. No rivers of blood.

     It was underwhelming.

     Then I caught sight of it. Hope was restored.

     At the base of a wall whose tiles were stained with a smear of blood was a bundle that I recognized instantly. No larger than a cat, wrapped in linen for the night. If I had not known better, it might have been asleep. Yet its unnatural stillness and silence reassured me.

     I would not be disappointed after all. 

    It was the starting point of a struggle, the path leading through the room with more smears of blood. My gaze came to rest upon another, this one bigger. A foot, small and bare, nearly hidden by an upturned chaise. I made motion with my scepter and it moved to reveal the child. Neck bent in an aberrant way. Lips blue. Fingers still clutched a wooden horse. 

     I searched for more, knowing there would be one, at least. 

     An agonized moan drifted from an adjoining room. Eager anticipation pulled me to it as a moth to flame. The sight was one to behold.

The mutilated body of a woman lay broken at the foot of a bed. Wet blood glistened on the white marble floors, still fresh. Upon my arrival I worried I was too late. Clearly I was right on time to witness what I craved.

     “Father, oh Gods, what have I done?” His back was to me, bare and glistening from sweat and streaks of blood that were not his own. He hunched over the body, heaving with a wail that fought for freedom. I stood in silence, waiting for it as one would await the rising of the sun. 

     It broke, and the room echoed with the sounds of a wounded animal. Primal, enraged, pained. I relished in the sound as if listening to one of my favorite hymns. It went on for a time, and when he paused to catch his breath I said, “I expected much from you, Herakles, but you have absolutely outdone yourself.”

     Startling him with my presence delighted me. He turned, on his knees and one hand still clutching the fresh corpse of his wife. Eyes bloodshot and filled with tears, evident that he had only just come down from the fit of insanity I bestowed upon him. Blood coated his trembling fingers. Ever the son of Zeus, he dared to meet my gaze.

     “You made me do this.” His breathing came out in ragged spurts. “Why?”

     A question for the ages. I laughed, short and sharp. His face paled. I owed him no explanation. Even so, he would not understand the complexities of the tapestry he was merely a thread in. No matter how shining and special he seemed.

     I stepped closer, pulling the hem of my sapphire and silver robes from being dirtied. 

“I had hoped you would kill your wife,” I said with an pleasantly impressed tone, “but your children-“

     “What have you done?” He shouted over me as he leapt to his feet, eyes aflame with a hysteria I did not provide. Rushing from the room, he shouted their names with a desperation in his voice that made my skin crawl.

     Another anguished scream brought a satisfied smile to my face. From the doorway I glimpsed him clutching the smallest one to his chest, rocking on his knees beside the other. Wails filled the room, ebbing and flowing in intensity as a river on its tumultuous journey to the sea. Then his eyes fell to me and the sight triggered the rage that I revelled in.

     Still clinging to the bundle of linen with one hulking hand, he took up a shard of ceramic pot in the other.

     “What justification you use to wound me so, I know not, but I know I will earn it.” He snarled and leapt over the chaise, lunging at me with the wild madness of grief.

     A flick of my wrist and he flung into the wall. There was a crack of bone and breaking plaster. I could not decide, at that moment, whether to be amused or infuriated. Not even the lowliest nymph dared to cast so much as a glare in my direction. The arrogance. And a piece of pottery? 

     “Pathetic.” I spat, watching him wrestle against his invisible bonds. Snot, blood, and tears mixed on his face and I sneered, disgusted by his humanity. Slowly his spirit diminished. Indignation succumbed to sorrow, which surrendered to hopelessness.

     “Why?” He whimpered, “What have I done to wrong you?”

     “Your name alone would be enough to offend a lesser goddess. Glory of Hera.” I scoffed, “A slap in the face if there ever was one. Even the incessantness the braggart speaks of you was something I could overlook if he had an ounce of respect for me beyond how my powers served him.”

     Of all his children, Zeus loved mine the least. Those I bore him were rarely acknowledged beyond the required niceties. Ares unnerved him with his savagery, killing for the joys of it. Eileithyia’s domain of childbirth unnerved him for equally bloody reasons. Worse yet, he appointed Hebe the cupbearer of the gods as if it were a great honor.

     The rest of his glorious offspring that made up half of the remaining great Olympian gods? Whelped by titanesses. I could spend an age cataloging the mongrels he sired by nymphs and mortals. Princes, heroes, legends. Each a source of pride.

     Of all my children, the one I loved the most was the one I created alone. Hephaistos manifested in my womb from my own desires, my own yearning to hold something that was truly mine alone.

     He was everything I hoped he would be. A small and unassuming child, perhaps not the most beautiful but undoubtedly the one with the most raw potential. I knew he was destined for greatness from the moment I pulled him to my breast. 

     My husband accused me of infidelity when word reached him.

     The irony was not lost to me.

     In his fury, he flung my child from the sky. I watched helplessly, chained to Mount Olympus for my supposed crimes. Sometimes in the quiet I still hear his screams on the wind.

     They found him on Lemnos, battered and broken. Crippled. No amount of ambrosia and nectar could restore him to his former self. My own heart shattered that day. Throat tightening at the memory, I swallowed hard.

     This was never about Herakles.

     “All your life, your father made things easy for you, the next great king of Mykenai. Your struggles have been few, moments of suffering fewer. Even gods in our eternal glory experience moments of anguish. Of loss. Yet you think your agony is unjust.” I looked down upon him in contempt, “Are you better than a god? Deserving only milk, honey, and happiness?”

     “Kill me then,” He said, sniveling, “Strike me down. Now. I have nothing to live for.”

     It certainly had been considered. I sent snakes to execute him as an infant, only to discover not only his strength but the depths of Zeus’ fascination with him. Countless mortal children, but this one was apparently different. I suffered at his hand for a fortnight for my transgression.

     “No. You will live to become an outcast. A disgrace. Herakles, son of Zeus, the rabid dog who murders his own kin. You will be a blight to your father’s name for the rest of your days.”

Imagining my husband balking at the news brought a smile to my face. 

     “You bitch!” He said, spitting, “Is it any wonder he seeks love elsewhere when his wife is such a cold, heartless-” His voice gurgled, an invisible hand tightening around his neck. Eyes bulging but flashed with satisfaction, he choked a quiet, “Do it.”

     He let out a gasp and collapsed to the floor as I regained control of my anger. A crazed laugh left his bloodied lips and he spit at me again. 

     “Fine. I will do it myself.” He pushed the jagged edge of the ceramic to his throat, drawing blood. I sneered and grabbed him by the chin, wrenching his neck to look him in the eyes. Dark as thunderheads, they were reminiscent of his father. Resentment thrummed within my chest as I summoned my powers. 

     “Hear me now,” I glared, fingers tingling as I poured my will into him, “You will live with what you have done this night until you are released by one who loves you as they did.”

     My insides roiled in conflict. I wished him nothing but pain and misery, hating him with every fiber of my being. Yet I granted him protection. Bestowed upon him invincibility and in turn, a long life. All in the name of suffering and pain.

     There was no better way to hurt Zeus.

     I released him and he pushed the shard hard against his neck again. While it drew a trickle of blood, as much as he tried he could not achieve his goal. Realization came over him and I smirked. Yes, I think my gift would serve nicely. He roared obscenities, his grief-stricken rage renewed.

     As he began his rampage I took my leave. Pleased with my evenings work and looking forward to seeing my husband’s dismay, I smiled to myself. Perhaps I should come to witness my acts of wrath more often.

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