THE JOY OF STORY
John M. Daniel’s Blog
February 11, 2017
Greetings, friends and celebrators of the joy to be found in stories—writing them, reading them, telling them, or hearing them. If you enjoy a good story, this weekly blog is for you.
This week, beginning the second Saturday in the month of Valentine’s Day, I take pleasure in presenting love stories submitted to me by writers who read my blog. This feature is open to all who want to submit. If you want to send me stories but don’t yet know how to participate, you’ll find out how it works in the rules that follow the stories below.
This month’s 99-word prompt, “I can’t give you anything but love,” comes, of course, from the Dorothy Fields lyric to the Jimmy McHugh song of the same name. The song was released in 1928, a year before the great Stock Market Crash, but it became an anthem of the 1930s, an optimistic defiance of the Great Depression.
Love stories—all stories, but love stories especially—need conflict. The love in the story has to be the source of or the cure for the problem in a relationship. As a general rule, the more challenging the problem, the stronger the story.
I am pleased with the stories I received this month. I was particularly impressed by “A Mother’s Love Is All You Need,” by Diane S. Morelli. Note how much of the story is compressed and clarified by the last sentence. That’s good story structure.
NOTHING BUT LOVE
eight 99-word stories
by Cathy Mayrides
“Make a wish,” he said, “and you will have the whole world.” I don’t know where he came from, but this genie stood in the middle of my living room and my busy day.
I wasn’t welcoming. After all, why would I even believe that he could give me everything? He didn’t know me. He didn’t know what I wanted.
Suddenly it was clear and I knew I could have the keys to the kingdom. I silently wished for that thing that opens hearts, stirs longings, and motivates ordinary people to do better.
I didn’t want anything but love.
I CAN’T GIVE YOU ANYTHING BUT LOVE
BY Marilyn London
“Hey Jack, how’s it going today?”
“Cold, man. God bless.” Jack nodded.
Ting, ting, ting. “Thank you ma’am.”
She turned. “How’d you know I was a woman?”
“Those steps and heels, clap-clapping.” Toothless smile.
“Bless you. Have a good one.”
The wind blew. Rain pelted Jack’s shivering body. He rocked to keep warm on the hard, wet sidewalk.
“Hey. What? Ah. You poor wet thing. Come cuddle up here. What soft ears. Whoa, whoa! You’re going to knock me over. So cute! You’re making a big mistake adopting me, pup. I can’t give you anything but love.
I CAN’T GIVE YOU ANYTHING BUT LOVE
by Tom Donovan
“Please play the song and tell me, “Gee I’d like to see you looking swell baby.”
“I don’t play requests. I play Beethoven.”
“I love you; you must have feelings.”
“Feelings yes, but not the love you crave.”
“How can you be so cruel?”
“The love you get is not always the love you want.”
“Where there is great love there is often little display of it.”
“Could it be I love the talent and not you at all?”
“Is the painful eagerness of unfed hope my despair?” she asked.
“You’re getting damned romantic.”
“No,” said Lucy. “Just bored”
I LOVE YOU, MAX
by June Kosier
Those big brown eyes and the long, soft, dark brown hair! You meet me at the door when I come home making me feel welcomed. I must be a gourmet cook because you hungrily eat my cooking, cleaning your dish. When I am ill, you never leave my bedside. You love to go for walks with me, anytime, anywhere. You aren’t a backseat driver, even when you are in the back seat.
The way you love life lifts my spirit. So what if your breath stinks or you often pass gas?
by Donna Silverman
“What are you talking about, Dad? I hurried home because you wrote that you’d be dying soon, and you wanted to give me everything you had. Now you tell me you’re broke?”
“I’m afraid so, Timmy. All I have to give you is all my love. There’s plenty of that.”
“You lied to me. You wrote and told me you were rich!”
“I felt rich because you wrote and told me that you loved me.”
“I told you I loved you because I thought you were rich.”
“Well, Son, it seems the joke’s on both of us.”
I CAN DO THAT
by Jerry Giammatteo
She was so graceful.
He was so ordinary.
She walked that runway every night, bedecked in the latest from the famous designers. He set up the lights. She was major league and he was the sandlot.
Occasionally, she’d glance at him and smile warmly, and he’d feel his face turning crimson, though that smile made his night.
One evening, after the show, she looked unhappy. He mustered his courage.
“Anything wrong,” he asked?
She swept her hand across the room. “I’d give all this up for love.” She gave him her sweetest smile.
I can do that, he thought.
A MOTHER’S LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED
by Diane S. Morelli
Layla’s daughter Eve didn’t speak during the car ride home from her dorm at Princeton. “You’re unusually broody.”
“Sorry, Mom. I’m working through some things.”
“Oh, a paper for my Culture and Reproduction course. I have to write about pregnancy that ends in abortion or with adoption.”
“I can’t do it without your help,” said Eve.
“Nonsense. You can do anything you want or have to do. Personally, if I couldn’t have given you anything but love, I still couldn’t have given you up.”
Layla didn’t know that her powerful sentiment quelled Eve’s morning sickness.
THE MAN WHO LOVED TOO MUCH
by Christine Viscuso
“It’s great that we could meet for our fiftieth high school reunion.” Posey raised a glass to her two friends.
“I notice you’re wearing a bracelet like mine.” Hortencia extended her arm, revealing a heavy gold ID chain.
“I have one too.” Monique pushed up her blazer sleeve. “My husband gave it to me. It’s inscribed, ‘I can’t give you anything but love’.”
“Why, mine says that too.” Hortencia and Posey chorused.
Hortencia took a deep breath. “What are your husbands’ names?”
The other two called out, “Brad.”
Posey stood. “Come ladies. Let’s give our Bradley everything but love.”
Call for submissions: Your 99-Word Stories
The deadline for March’s 99-word story submissions is March 1, 2017. The stories will appear on my blog post for March 11, and will stay posted for a week.
note: this 99-word story feature is a game, not a contest. Obey the rules and I’ll include your story. I may edit the story to make it stronger, and it’s understood that you will submit to my editing willingly. That’s an unwritten rule.
Rules for the 99-word story feature are as follows:
1. Your story must be 99 words long, exactly.
2. One story per writer, per month.
3. The story must be a story. That means it needs plot (something or somebody has to change), characters, and conflict.
4. The story must be inspired by the prompt I assign.
5. The deadline: the first of the month. Stories will appear on this blog the second Saturday of the month.
6. I will copy edit the story. The author of the story retains all rights.
7. Email me your story (in the body of your email, or as a Word attachment) to: email@example.com
THIS MONTH’S PROMPT FOR NEXT MONTH’S 99-WORD STORY (choose one):
Make up a story inspired by the following quotation from Julius Caesar: “Beware the Ides of March,”
or inspired by the following couplet:
“The winds of March that make my heart a dancer;
A telephone that rings, but who’s to answer?”
Calling all published authors—
I try to feature a guest author the third Saturday (and week following) of each month. If you’re interested in posting an essay on my blog—it’s also a chance to promote a published book—email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for visiting. Please drop by next week!