Sunday 9 February 2014

What's in a face? --WEP Challenge for FEBRUARY 2014

Welcome to WEP's Blogfest for February [=Write-Edit-Publish, formerly 'Romantic Friday Writers'] Challenge for Wednesday 22nd February 2014 - 'What's in a face?':

I think I came up with at least seven different ideas for stories from this prompt. This is one of them. It is a stand alone piece of flash fiction, although it feels to me as if it could be a part of a larger work. But I doubt that I will do more with it than what you see here:

What's in a face? 

Early one morning, the recently employed receptionist at the Farmer & Melker Clinic, Marcy Kramer, sat behind the reception counter, applying blood-red nail polish on her long, well-manicured, fingernails. She turned to her co-worker, surgical nurse, Julie Neumacher, and asked, "Hey, when's the first appointment  today?" Marcy looked at her wet nails. "I hope this will dry in time."

"Hm, let's see," replied Julie Neumacher, as she scrolled down a list on her computer screen, "Ten o'clock, for Doctor Melker. And it’s only ten to nine now." Julie looked at her upside down watch, pinned to her shirt breast pocket.

“I must tell you about my date with Chuck the other night," said Marcy continuing to apply polish on the other hand and finding it awkward, as it meant holding the brush with the hand she did not write with.

"Chuck who?" mumbled Julie and wrote something quickly in a notebook.

"Chuck? You know, Chuck Norton, that cute guy who's just starting out as a junior lawyer at that law firm… I can’t remember the name…” said Marcy admiring her outstretched fingers with painted nails. 

"I need coffee," said Julie, as she went to the office kitchenette, "I hope we have time for this, before Caligula and Nero arrive."

“Caligula and Nero? Weren’t they Roman emperors?”

“Yes, who fed the early Christians to the lions, and helped bring about the fall of the Roman Empire. Cream and sugar? 

“Oh, just a drop of milk, please. Why do you call them Caligula and Nero? It sounds like names you'd give a pair of naughty tomcats."


“What do you mean, Julie? Is there something about these doctors that I should know? You’ve been working here, for er... how long?”

“Two years.”

“I guess we don’t have time to talk about my date with Chuck?”

“No.” said Julie returning from the kitchenette with two mugs of coffee and putting them on the writing desk behind the reception counter. “I’m just saying that if any of the doctors shows up early, we have to look like we're doing serious work, or we're dog-meat.”

“You don’t mean that literally, do you?”

“No, of course not. Metaphorically. It’s just an expression.”

The reception telephone rings. 

“The phone's ringing, Julie. What should I do?”

“It’s your job is to answer the phone and take messages. You know what to say. We went through this yesterday.”

Marcy answers the phone: “Good morning. The Farmer and Melker Clinic, doctors J.P. Farmer and C.T. Melker, Plastic Surgery. How may I help you?”

“This is A.P. Morgonstern from Hamiton, Pritchard and Morgonstern, attorneys at law. We represent Miss Zelda Dimstar. Has Doctor Melker received our letter?"

“This is the reception. I would not know about that, sir. You'll have to speak to Doctor Melker."

“Could I speak with him now?”

“No, I'm sorry, sir. Doctor Melker is not available at this time, but if you would like to leave a message, I'll see that he gets it."

“You do that, Schweetheart," said Morgonstern, “You tell him that he's made a mess of Miss Dimstar's face and career, and that he's going to have to pay for it.”

“I'll tell him, Mr. Morgonstern.”

“Yeah. Tell him we’ve got a date in court on the 15th. He'd better show up."

“Yes, sir. I'll tell him. Was there anything else?” 


“Good-bye,” said Marcy softly, “He hung up.”

“What was all that about?” asked Julie.

“Someone seems to want to sue Doctor Melker,” explained Marcy waving her hands in the air to speed the drying of her nails, “Has this happened before? Do we often get calls from the lawyers of unhappy patients?”

“You wait and see. This is why I am looking for a new job.”

“What? Did he really operate and make a mistake? Or are these people just ambulance-chasers?”

“I don't know, Marcy. What’s in a face, anyway? What can a perfect face be worth? I mean, to a movie star?”

“A film career and several million dollars, maybe?” said Marcy sagely, waving her hand and knocking over her coffee mug, spilling coffee over the computer keyboard, a pile of letters and bills, as well as splashing coffee on her skirt and blouse. “Oh no, and I've ruined my nails, too.”

At that moment, the office door opened and in walked Doctor Melker.


Word count according to WordCalc: 523

This text is fiction. Any resemblance to events or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidencial.

Best wishes,

First Commenter:
Yolanda Renee

Defending the Pen

Wednesday 5 February 2014

IWSG - The February edition of Insecure Writer's Support Group - February 2014

Anna Nordeman


Thanks to Alex J Cavanaugh for starting Insecure Writer's Support Group.

This is my twelfth post for IWSG.

For those who would like to see my list of how-to-write-books, please go here
[If you would like to read my other earlier posts for IWSG, go back to August here, for September here, for October here, for November here, for December here, and for January here.]

For my February edition of IWSG I would like to conclude my discussion of ideas and themes that can be found in children's and fantasy/sf literature, by looking at some inventions found in the Harry Potter books that are NOT likely to become a reality in the future.

Last month, I looked at magical inventions, such as magic wands and the map of Hogwarts, that have counterparts in our world: mobile phones and GPS-maps. of readfaced, a writer of futuristic science fiction novels, lamented that she has to think hard to invent things that do not already exist or will soon exist in our 'magically' electronic world.

One of my favourite charms in the Harry Potter series is the 'Invisible-Extention-Charm', that allowed Hermoine Granger to pack books, medical supplies, clothing and an enormous tent in her tiny beaded bag that went with her party dress for the wedding of Bill and Fleur Weasley, one of Ron Weasley's older brothers (to be found in the film The Deathly Hallows Part I).

The ability to pack large and heavy items in this small, delicate bag, made it possible for Ron, Hermoine and Harry to flee the wedding party when the death-eaters suddenly arrived. In our world, there have been attempts to store clothing in vacuum-pressed plastic bags in order to save space, but there is nothing in our world to compare with Hermoine Granger's beaded bag! 

The idea is simple: it looks small on the outside but is enormously roomy on the inside. The first item, that fits into this category, is the tent that the Weasley family had with them to a Quiddish match in the novel, The Goblet of Fire. Harry is a guest of the Weasleys when they attend a world cup Quiddish match in Ireland. Eight people, six members of the Weasley family, Hermine Granger, as well as Harry Potter, all sleep comfortably in a tent that looks tiny from the outside but is cavernous as soon as you walk inside.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could invent a way of taking everything with you and still not have to carry more than just a small beaded bag? It defies physics and will simply never be! But it is a nice thought, especially when you find that you absolutly must travel or even worse - if you are required to move - and are forced to decide what things to bring with you and what must be left behind, sold, given or thrown away.

This comes close to home for me. Much of my life, I could just acquire more and more possessions, until one day my former husband decided that he did not want to live with me any more. And I was the one who had to move out. But moving from a fancy and very large town house to a smaller dwelling, meant that some things just had to go, and more things are on their way out, as I dig deeper into stacks and stacks of corrigated packing boxes, that still dominate my new home.

Even if it is a practical necessity, the idea of down-sizing my home makes me feel old. It is similar to reading the obituaries and finding more and more acquaintances there. (I remember when my paternal grandmother talked about this. I understand her better now.)

One of the other inventions in the Harry Potter-series that might be interesting to try, is 'The Time-Turner'; but The Resurrection Stone would be too emotionally taxing for me. I don't want to see my departed loved ones knowing that it is only a short visit. (Maybe just to ask a couple of short questions? Excuse me? Where or what or why...?)

But short visits from a ghost from another time is a device or theme that is used in science fiction and other literary genres. Stephen King uses it in the novels, The Shining and A Bag of Bones.

Daphny du Maurier lets the mother of her protagonist appear long after her own death to comfort her son as an adult, in her novel, The Loving Spirit

Another example is to be found in Ian McEwan's novel, The Child In Time (1997).

I don't think any of these events, spells or tools will become a part of the real world in the future. But there are 'messages from the departed' in our world.

I'm thinking of video tapes recorded with messages to children from parents who, for one reason or other, know that they do not have a long time to live. Well, why don't they just write a letter?  A letter to the child as an adult person, whom you will not be able to meet? I'm sure it has been done. Isn't that what a last will and testament is? A legally binding letter of instruction to those you leave behind.

I apologise for ending this post so morbidly. Maybe  I'm just tired of winter.

It's Saint Valentine's Day soon. I wish... I wish...

No. Be careful what you wish for!

Yours faithfully,

This is just an afterthought: An exampel of such a "videotape" recording (before video became available to the general public) was the little box included in the rocket that Superman's biological parents send with him to earth when the planet Krypton is about to blow up. When Clark Kent's adoptive parents tell him that he is adopted and show him the rocket ship that took him to earth, he views this recording and gets to "meet" his real parents who died after they sent him away. This animated film was made 2005 but it looks like the comic book version that I used to read as a child in the 1960s. [Animated] - Last Son of Krypton [DVD] [2005]

First Commenter:
Alex J. Cavanaugh


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