Blogging from A to Z Challenge — Letter Q


Today’s Positive Adjective:
Quixotic: foolishly impractical especially in the pursuit of ideals especially, marked by rash lofty romantic ideas or extravagantly chivalrous action

Maul was an exceptional man. Large well-developed shoulders, sculpted abs and toned quadriceps attested to the hours spent in the gym. He towered above most men and his formidable appearance caused many to avoid him. The respect he commanded carried a price. Forged in the fire of self-preservation, Maul trained in self-defense, marshaling his strength and his anger.

He remembered when things were different when his life dangled over the abyss. Only his will to survive saved him. He had been a small frail child, happy and surrounded with love until he went to school. The trouble began when the teacher called attendance, asking the children to stand and introduce themselves to the class. Meredith Alison Lacey the fourth, stood. Jeers, laughter and snide comments from his classmates filled the classroom. She tried to silence the uproar, then ordering him to sit, she hurried to the next name on her list.

The day marked the start of his miserable life. Throughout school, Meredith endured hateful jokes, pranks, and ridicule. Battered, bruised and bullied, he determined they would not break him. When he was ten, they nearly killed him. A ruptured spleen and a broken arm sent him to the hospital for emergency surgery. He would never be the same.

Rehab introduced him to his mentor and together they developed his physic. Back at school, he won against the bullies, and they tried to move on to terrorize others. He earned his name by defending their new targets. Maul determined they would not suffer as he once had.

Maul became the quixotic bad guy. He launched himself on a quest to protect those who couldn’t fight against intimidation. He turned into the lovable brute, the minority of one intent on righting wrongs and converting those whose goal was to persecute and oppress.


Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Blogging from A to Z Challenge — Letter P


Today’s Positive Adjective:
Perspicacious: of acute mental vision or discernment, Keen

Aunt Edna and Uncle Charlie never had kids. I never asked, my mother would have slapped me upside the head if I ever had the audacity to ask such a personal question. There was a story there, my bones told me. I saw it in Aunt Edna’s face when she held infants and played with small children. Perhaps it was the reason she became a schoolteacher. She wasn’t the normal run-of-the-mill teacher either. She kept in touch with her students over the years, exchanged Christmas cards with them, and attended their college graduations.

I remember little about Uncle Charlie. He died of a heart attack when I was a teenager. If she mourned his death, she didn’t let on in front of me, but she never remarried either. Mother made it my job to check on Aunt Edna after he passed. Once or twice a week I stopped. I visited her on Wednesdays after school and at ten o’clock on Saturday mornings, rain or shine.

My friends felt sorry for me, but Aunt Edna and I settled into a routine of sorts. There were times she helped me with my homework, and times I helped her with housework. She fearlessly taught me to drive with her car, and when I got my license, I drove her to the store or her hair appointment. One summer we painted her whole house. Before Christmas, we spent hours baking for the annual teacher’s cookie exchange. On special occasions, we traveled to the city to visit the art museum.

When I went to college, we began new rituals. I think she realized I missed checking on her and she mailed me letters and care packages. Her notes brought a smile to my face, and the parcels eased my homesickness. I understood why her students loved her. She believed I could do anything, even when I struggled and lost faith, she never did.

Time moves on and it changes us. I graduated, took a job in another town, got married and started a family. I saw Aunt Edna whenever I came home. She made it seem as if we had only been apart a few days, not weeks, or months or years. I never expected the call. The one telling me Aunt Edna had gone to join Uncle Charlie.

Her will left me everything, but it wasn’t the biggest surprise. Aunt Edna’s love of art ran deeper than I ever suspected. She had been perspicacious in acquiring pieces for her collection. I knew she bought artwork, but it never occurred to me that she had developed relationships with the artists. They attended her funeral and spoke as if we were longtime friends. We were, in a way. She included our stories in her letters. The artwork’s value was astounding, but Aunt Edna’s real legacy is all the friends I inherited.


Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Blogging from A to Z Challenge — Letter O


Today’s Positive Adjective:
Opportune: suitable or convenient for a particular occurrence

Tierha left his meditative realm and rejoined the monks as they prayed. The temple hummed with their soft chanting. Tierha let the sound sooth his spirit as he prepared himself. His revelation would cause dissent.

He inhaled, and in one fluid movement, he stood, silent among them. Their melodious devotions ebbed then ceased, and their attention resting on their lama. The room was silent for many minutes before Tierha spoke.

“The grey ghost of the mountains visited me,” he said and paused. “I am to undertake a journey to the Great Cave of Conquering Demons.”

A breeze caressed the monks, touching the nape of a neck, quieting a restless hand, and soothing the shoulders of the fearful.

“We will start preparations for a spring departure,” one monk volunteered.

“Make the arrangements, but I leave at dawn,” Tierha replied.

The once quiet prayer space erupted with works of concern and admonishments for his trip’s delay.

“We are entering winter—”

“You can fight demons anytime, anywhere.”

“Wait until the passes are free from snow.”

“The envoys won’t be able to reach the supply drop.”

“You’ll starve—”

“You’ll freeze—”

“You’ll die.”

Tierha’s hand gently petted the air and their voices stilled.

“The opportune place is the Great Cave of Conquering Demons. The moment is upon us,” he said.

His face said they would not dissuade him.

“There is nothing to fear. The snow lion walks with me.”

The monks peered into the dark recesses, searching. A monk pointed beyond the door.  Silhouetted by dawn’s orange glow they saw tiger eyes surrounded by a turquoise mane. The snow lion bowed to them, then turned and walked toward the light.


Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Blogging from A to Z Challenge — Letter N


Today’s Positive Adjective:
Neoteric: recent in origin, Modern

“Why is this so difficult?” Milford Bell shouted as he shoved the blueprints, pushing them away from him. They fluttered from his drafting table, gargantuan butterflies scudding across the floor before they settled on the worn oriental carpet.

Sissy glanced at him from the opposite end of the library and abandoned her work.

“Milford,” she sighed, “what’s the matter now?”

“I wish I had never taken this commission. If we didn’t need the money—” Milford’s words stuttered, then stopped as he shook his head.

“Mr. McCowan has been very generous. He’s a kind man, isn’t he?”

“Yes. Yes, he is a fine fellow. But he asks too much. Or too little.”

“The project is a house?” Sissy asked already aware of the answer. She stood and went to retrieve the drawings. She lifted each page, studying the designs.

“I don’t see the problem. These are competent studies. Surely, he likes one,” she said, as laid them on the drafting board.

“You would be wrong. He has rejected them. This drawing is too ornate, while this reminds him of his friend’s homes. He wants something neoteric, simple, different,” he gestured at his work as he spoke.

Milford rose, paced the room, and ran his fingers through his already disheveled hair.

“I am tempted to design a basic box. A cube containing rooms and windows and nothing more.”

“You might consider a porch?” Sissy offered.

“He will toss me out on my ear—”

“Milford, instead of guessing at what he wished to subtract, perhaps you should determine what he prefers to add,” Sissy paused letting her words drift before she continued.

“Draw your cube. Incorporate the interior requirements and present the sketches to him. Let him tell you the architectural details he wants to include.”

Milford puffed, muttered something incoherent, then fell silent. Sissy could see his mind working, the ideas were flying. Reaching his decision, he returned to his seat, pulled out a fresh sheet and set to work.


Several days later Milford burst into the house.

“Sissy,” he yelled. “Sissy, where are you?”

Milford entered the library as she reached the door.

“What? What’s wrong?” she asked.

“You will never believe it,” he said as he lifted her, and they spun in circles around the room.

“Believe what?”

“He loves it. He wants the home built per plans. A simple square box. He wrote an advance check to begin construction.”

  • -Note: The American Foursquare (1895–1929) was a Post-Victorian reaction to ornate Victorian elements and other Revival architecture. The simplicity of the American Foursquare was a popular mail-order house.
    “When one was ordered, it came in a boxcar with a book of directions and all the parts pre-cut and numbered for self-assembly.”  — Wikipedia


Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Blogging from A to Z Challenge — Letter M


Today’s Positive Adjective:
Munificent: very liberal in giving or bestowing, lavish

I watch the event unfold, horrified.  Sickened by the sight, my stomach churns, yet I cannot look away. I wonder why? Science tells the reaction is hard-wired into our amygdala. It is part of our survival instinct.  We search for information, attempting to decide if we are in danger. Do we need to trigger our fight-or-flight response?

When the event happens half-way around the world, why do we still gawk? Scientists have conducted studies to help us understand. They say we continue to stare to face our fears. Knowing our lives are not at risk, we can safely confront intense emotions. We contemplate what we might do in a similar situation. Would we be the victim? The hero? Could we endure the pain? Would we have the strength to recover?

Play the scene in our head, we fabricate different scenarios, grasping for control in an uncontrollable world. We imagine various outcomes. We experience relief when things turn out better than we expect, and it prepares us when the worst takes place. Disaster evokes our empathy and compels action.

And something beautiful happens. Munificent tributes, donations, support, outpourings of love and compassion we believe will help others recover. We might only be observers of an event, but we can offer comfort, and spark hope.

*** I had a slightly different version for my chosen word, Munificent. Yesterday’s fire at Notre Dame Cathedral, the bravery of the firefighters, individual efforts to rescue priceless artifacts and relics, and the pledges of millions of dollars for its restoration inspired me to alter the story.

Vive le cathédrale Notre Dame.


Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Blogging from A to Z Challenge — Letter L


Today’s Positive Adjective:
Lithe: characterized by easy flexibility and grace

Esme decided today was the day. The first step of her journey.

With a deep inhalation, she began.

Inhale. Tadasana. Exhale. Urdhva Hastasana. Inhale and hold. Exhale. Uttanasana. Inhale. Lunge. Exhale. Plank Pose. Inhale and hold. Exhale. Chaturanga Dandasana. Inhale. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana. Exhale. Adho Mukha Svanasana. Inhale. Lunge. Exhale. Uttanasana. Inhale. Urdhva Hastasana. Exhale. Tadasana.

Her Sun Salutations completed Esme peered into the mirror and the two images reflected there. One reflection duplicated her as she was today. The second revealed a more lithe and limber body, graceful as a cat, she felt toned muscles, arsenals of inner strength.

With her goal fully imagined, she resolved to enjoy her journey.


Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Blogging from A to Z Challenge — Letter K


Today’s Positive Adjective:
Kinetic: of or relating to the motion of material bodies and the forces and energy associated therewith

The ship rocked, rolling Captain Xavion from his berth and onto the floor. A second impact hit as he staggered to his feet, pulled on his boots and proceeded to the bridge.

“Report,” he demanded.

First Lieutenant Marcum rose from the Captain’s chair and saluted.

“Unknown alien vessel off the starboard bow. No response to attempts to establish communication. They’ve fired twice. No damage sustained. Shields are at one hundred percent.”

“Officer Tabil.  Establish contact with the foreign craft,” Captain Xavion said as he took the Captain’s seat.

“Captain, I have detected an unidentified life form in Cargo Bay Two,” Allie, the ship’s AI reported.

“Alien?” Captain Xavion probed.

“Yes sir, it emerged from the load transferred from Starship Morrissey.”

“What is it doing?” Captain Xavion asked as the main screen flipped to a view the cargo hold.

“Sensors indicted the being has injected thioureacinol into three of the six containers of phenoloxcolate.”

“To what end, Allie?” the Captain inquired.

“Kinetic molecular theory, suggests the combination of these two gasses will increase the ambient temperature in the container, thereby increasing the speed of the molecules and resulting in a rapid escalation of collisions between the particles and the tank walls.”

“Dear God, Allie, didn’t they teach you to speak English?” Captain Xavion shook his head.

“Yes, Captain. I am fluent in 748 known stellar languages,” Allie replied.

“Captain, I believe Allie is saying the containers are going to explode,” Lieutenant Marcum offered.

“That is a correct assessment Lieutenant Marcum. The force of the blast will destroy Cargo Bay Two. By my calculations, the explosion will disrupt our engine functions. This will initiate a chain reaction which will rip the ship in two in precisely one minute and fourteen seconds.”

Another salvo from the alien vessel rocked the ship.

“Captain, I have established communications with the alien vessel,” Officer Tabil interrupted.

“On screen,” Captain Xavion ordered.

“Finally. We have your attention. You are trespassing in Or’ans space. Surrender your ship,” the brown blob on the screen demanded.

“I will do no such thing. We are on a peace-seeking mission. I assure you we mean you no harm.”

“Balderdash,” the alien spat, and drool seeped into the matted hair surrounding its mouth. “The last peaceful explorers killed half our population. There is no accord. Surrender your ship or we will destroy you.”

“Allie, does he possess the firepower to make good on his threat?” Captain Xavion asked.

“Indeed, Captain. Scanners show they have locked their weapons onto our engine array. A direct hit will annihilate us.”

Captain Xavion turned back to the alien captain. “We come in peace. We don’t desire to harm you, or your people.”

“That’s what they all say before they open fire. My orders are clear. Surrender. Or do you wish to perish?” he asked as the drool formed a long trail to the floor.

“I do not intend to die today. We will defend ourselves,” Captain Xavion warned.

“Then prepare to be destroyed,” spittle flew from the alien’s lips as the screen turned black.

“Thirty seconds to detonation,” Allie called.

“Alien vessel has fired,” Lieutenant Marcum informed the Captain.

“All ahead full on heading 270. Beam the creature in the cargo hold to the brig. On my mark open external doors to Cargo Bay Two,“ Captain Xavion ordered.

“All ahead full. Mark 270. Our new friend is in the brig,” Allie repeated as the ship nosed up, arcing towards starboard.

The ship lurched, shuddering from acceleration as she swept toward the alien vessel.

“Captain, you’re giving them a clear shot at our engine compartment,” Lieutenant Marcum yelled.

“Yes, Lieutenant. They will also get an eyeful of what is behind Door Number Two. Allie open Cargo Bay Two.”

“Aye, aye, Captain. Cargo Bay Two. Open.”

With the doors open the vacuum sucked the contents into space, depositing them in front of the alien vessel’s rocket. When the containers exploded, they denoted the missile and crippled the Or’ans’ ship. Captain Xavion’s starship slipped into warp speed, unharmed.


Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Blogging from A to Z Challenge — Letter J


Today’s Positive Adjective:
Jaunty: sprightly in manner or appearance: LIVELY

Jared stepped into the bright spring day. The breeze blew giant white clouds across a sparkling blue sky. It was a complete change from yesterday’s howling wind that drove ice pellets and freezing rain into his face as he went about his daily chores. Today’s gust playfully tried to snatch the hat from his head wanting to send it on a merry journey through the muddy field. Jared pulled the ten-gallon low and cinched the chin strap. He didn’t have time for that game.

He gave a short whistle. Ole Bob emerged from the lean-to attached to the barn and trotted to him.

“Hey there Buddy,” Jared greeted him with a scratch behind the ears and a heavy pat on his shoulder.

“You ready to work?”

Ole Bob barked twice and ran ahead.

Red whinnied as Jared slid the barn door open. Ole Bob raced inside barking at Red in his stall.

“Guess we are all looking forward to stretching our legs,” Jared said as he pushed Red’s nose away from his coat pocket.

“Hey, that’s for me,” he laughed. He popped an apple from its hiding spot holding it out of the reach of Red’s questing mouth.

“How ‘bout we share?” He took a huge bite then handed the remained to Red.

Ole Bob twisted his head to the right and stared at Jared.

“No, I didn’t forget you.” He tossed a biscuit towards him. Ole Bob caught it midair, swallowed it whole and gave his master a hopeful look.

Jared laughed and threw him a second one.

He whistled a jaunty tune as worked, taking care of the preparations for the day’s outing. He soon had Red saddled and led him from the barn.

“You boys ready to see what them cows have been getting into?” he asked his team.

Old Bob barked, circling Red as Jared mounted.

“Well, what are we waiting for?” He clicked to Red, nudging him with knees and the three of them ran with the wind.


Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Blogging from A to Z Challenge — Letter I


Today’s Positive Adjective:
Idiosyncratic: pertaining to the nature of idiosyncrasy, or something peculiar to an individual

My phone was blowing up, and I tried my best to ignore Sylvie’s texts. I checked the time and caught Professor Morton’s glare.  She had a strict “no phone” policy and I didn’t want to piss her off on the first day. The five minutes until class ended stretched to eternity. Sylvie’s texts pushed the vibrate feature from pleasure mode straight to frustration.

Professor Morton dismissed us, and I grabbed my bag. Bolting for the door, I headed towards the seating area at the end of the hall. As I walked if flipped to her messages.

“OMG No Prof K. He died or some shit.”

Professor Kennedy taught the required freshmen Composition 101 and 102 courses. I met Sylvie in his course last semester, and we became inseparable. Scheduling conflicts meant we couldn’t take Comp 2 together this term. She had Kennedy’s class now, and I was scheduled for his next session. I hoped they didn’t cancel it since it would cause havoc with my calendar.

“Check out his replacement.”

I swiped to the photo and gasped. Sylvie had surreptitiously snapped a pic as the new guy walked between the desks. Framed from the crotch to his forehead, he filled the image. Long golden curls covered broad shoulders and his bushy blond walrus mustache accentuated his full red lips. I noticed I was breathing harder as I stared at his piercing blue eyes. It was obvious he had known Sylvie was taking his picture as he looked right at me. I reluctantly scrolled to read the next message.

“Can you say NORSE FREAKING GOD????”

“No shit, Sylvie,” I said out loud.

“Crappy name. Ingmar Bergman.”

Another photo. This one featured his ass as did the four following ones which marked his progress as he walked to the front of the classroom.

“He’s Swedish.”

I hit play on the video. He spoke. His accent was a bizarre and idiosyncratic interpretation of English. I loved it and my heart pounded in my ears when I played it again.

“Oh yeah. Call him DR. Bergman,” her next text said.

“The DR. can examine me anytime.” Sylvie followed her comment with a line of heart emojis.

She sent a dozen photos of him standing in front of the classroom.

“Comp is my new favorite subject,” she texted.

I laughed at the last image. Sylvie had and captured him unknowingly photo-bombing her selfie. This one she tagged with “Don’t be late. HOTTEST Prof this semester.”

I typed my reply and hit send.

“I’m on my way. Do NOT disturb me. We’ll talk after.”

I slipped my phone into my pocket and headed to class. Sylvie was right, I didn’t want to miss a single minute with the good doctor.


Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Blogging from A to Z Challenge — Letter H


Today’s Positive Adjective:
Heuristic: involving or serving as an aid to learning, discovery, or problem-solving by experimental and especially trial-and-error methods

Jane loved studying her favorite primates in their natural habitat. The monkeys were leery of Jane at first, but after a while, they ignored her. As she became more familiar with the troop, she recognized individuals. Breaking a research taboo, she named her new subjects.

Harry was the dominant male, king of his domain he put any potential challenger in their proper place. The top female Jane called Hermione. Hermione was smart, and she carried a small twig with her wherever she went. She used the stick to correct the juveniles and sometimes even Harry.

Little Ginny lived at the bottom rung of the monkey hierarchy.  The best and sweetest fruits grew high in the trees and social status determined where the clan members could forage. They relegated Ginny to the forest floor, where she scavenged, hoping her family would drop unwanted tidbits. Ginny’s plight touched Jane’s heart, but the ruled bared Jane from intervening.  Jane’s observations led her to believe Ginny was perhaps smarter than the others.

Jane study focused on how they gained new skills. She created an experiment designed to illuminate how they learned and passed the latest technique to the rest of the troop. Jane devised a crate filled with the monkey’s favorite food. They could see it and smell it, but releasing the fruit required learning how to work the dispenser. First in line, Harry jumped on it, trying to crush it, he hit it with a rock before attempting to pry the box apart. When he gave up, it was Hermione’s turn. She waved her wand at the carton, then she tried poking her stick in the hole to wiggle the plastic door open. Failing she conceded and allowed the others to try.

Jane wondered if the puzzle was too difficult as one by one each monkey failed. Finally, Ginny got her shot. Slow and methodical used every heuristic device at her disposal. While she explored, no one bothered her. Ginny spent more time with the box than any of her family members had. She was determined to get her reward.

Ginny worked at the dispenser until a sprinkling of goodies spilled into her palm. She glanced around to see if anyone had noticed, but they had returned to the treetops. With a fistful of food, Ginny waited, making sure the coast was clear before she stuffed every morsel in her mouth. Her hand covered her lips as she chewed.

Ginny watched her family before she manipulated the dispenser again for her second serving. Ginny operated in stealth mode, and Jane knew she would not share her hard-won knowledge with anyone else.


Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer