Husband Material by Kathy Gates

Prompt: The Club | Word count: 750 | Genre: Women’s Contemporary

Brianna’s revelation shocked them into silence. Damon’s confusion made Laura flinch but she let him sit with it. There was nothing she, or anyone, could do to help. Not yet, anyway.

The young woman batted her too-thick-to-be-natural eyelashes and smiled. ‘We’ve cleared the air. Now we can move forward.’

She’s probably pretty, under her camouflage. White-blonde hair, out-of season tan, acrylic finger nails and impossibly high heels, not Laura’s idea of femininity.

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Counsellor, Heal Thyself by Kathy Gates

Prompt: Coming Undone | Word count: 1200 | Genre: Women’s Contemporary

Laura covered the pages of her notepad with doodles.

Rod clicked his fingers in front of her face. ‘What did I just say?’

‘I’m sorry?’ She blinked.

‘Bloody waste of time. You’re about as much use as a—’ The door slammed.

Wonder if his wife will turn up for her session?

She stood at the window and stared at nothing. What’ll I do with the rest of the day? Can’t go home yet…

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A New Life by Bernadette King

Prompt: A New Life | Word count: 1000 words | Genre: Women’s fiction

Demi took one last look around.  This was it.  Today was the day.  Her hand clicked the lock of her suitcase, breathing out slowly.  She hadn’t even realized she was holding her breath.  She took in the unmade double bed, the empty dresser, closing her eyes, half expecting him to be in front of her when she opened them.  He was always there.  But today he wasn’t.  Hands shaking, she put the letter on the dresser, right where he could see it and then left the room.  When she opened the front door and stepped out onto the steps, the warmth of the sun enveloped her face.  The five concrete steps that lay in front of her was her path to freedom.

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Going Home by Kathy Gates

Prompt: Going home I Word count: 500 I Genre: Women’s fiction

Dear Laura,

When you read this I will be on a plane, on my way to Manila. Yes, I’m going home. I wish we could have said goodbye face to face but I know you understand. Your support meant everything, more than I’ll ever be able to say. When Eric agreed to counselling, I thought there was hope. But I began to see him through your eyes and knew he would never change. When he broke his promise to let Manny come and live with me, I understood your words — he sees a wife as a possession, not a life-partner. My poor son, without his mother for too long. If he cannot come to me, then I will go to him. I am so excited, I’m going home!

I know in my heart you and I will meet again.

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The Time Capsule by Moira le Roux

Prompt: The list  | Word count: 2500  | Genre: Women’s Fiction

We drove home in silence. This was the night that Alexis, my lovely wife, had spoken about for so many years. It was going to be the highlight of the year. Something had gone wrong, and I wasn’t sure what. We had all heard the story of the time capsule. She had been talking excitedly about it since it happened. Twenty years ago, when she was fifteen, her teacher had the whole grade fill out a page of what they wanted to achieve in the next twenty years. Tonight, was the school reunion, and the opening of the time capsule. Alexis had been in an excited mood all evening, catching up with old friends, and then came time for the opening of the time capsule. There was laughter and joking all around, but as she opened her envelope, with the list in it, she went quiet. After a few minute’s she said goodbye to all her friends, and we left early. She wouldn’t show me her list.

I parked the car in the garage and turned to her. “Please tell me what the matter is, love. This was supposed to be a great night, and the girls are all excited about the time capsule. They are going to wonder why you are so unhappy.”

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A White Lie by Kathy Gates

Prompt: A white lie I Word count: 2500 I Genre: Women’s fiction

A light rat-a-tat on the door. Laura sat up straight. “Yes?”

Michael, her office neighbour, appeared with two cardboard cups. “Hey, grabbed you a cappuccino. No sugar, no chocolate sprinkles, right?”

“Perfect! You’re the answer to an old lady’s prayer.”

“Cheers, grandma. Shared the lift with your last clients, if looks could kill,” he pointed at himself, “Collateral damage.”

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Debrief by Kathy Gates

Prompt: Conversation with my spouse | Word count: 1200 | Genre: Women’s Fiction

Laura hurried through the crowded restaurant to where Dan sat at a table overlooking the marina. He glanced up and smiled, her heart missed a beat. A wonder she didn’t have a medical condition, his smile had caused uncountable missed beats over the last twenty-four years.

‘Sorry love.’ She kissed him on the cheek and sat down. ‘Prang on the bridge.’

‘Yep.’ He held up his phone. ‘Saw the traffic report. How did the session go?’

Laura pressed her lips together. ‘Um, how can I put this?’ She shrugged. ‘An unmitigated disaster.’

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The Forehand by Amrita Tripathi

Prompt: Conversation with my spouse | Word count: 1200 words | Genre: Women’s Fiction

I find myself in the kitchen, staring at the clock. The breakfast has yet to be prepared. I crack the eggs and put them in a bowl. I must tell him before the security guard does.
“It is eight thirty FIVE!”
Some of the yolk I’ve been whisking spills out.
“Well, the coffee’s ready,” I pour some into a mug and put it on the table.
“How long you gonna take to beat the eggs?” he asks from behind the newspaper.
“Just about done.” I am whisking more furiously now, trying to get them frothy enough.
“Jusht aboot don,” he squeaks, “hurry up. He does that every time he wants to put me down. There was a time when that made me feel hurt and angry. Maybe his words could still hurt me, if he were more creative with them. Or maybe not. Probably not.
I must get this omelette right. This breakfast must be perfect. He must be put in a good mood. My thoughts drift as I put the pan on.

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Make a List by Kathy Gates

Prompt: The List | Word count: 1500 | Genre: Women’s Fiction

Three people sat around a glass-topped coffee table. The younger woman fingered her wedding ring, the man stared at the older woman. She smiled encouragement, willing him to speak.

Laura studied her first ‘relationship’ clients, So much for being a good listener, nothing to… She rallied herself. ‘Jason, Neve.’

The younger woman glanced up, her closed expression confirming Laura’s first panicked impression: She’s here under sufferance, this is probably a waste of time. Still, needs must. ‘Let’s start with an exercise, to help us get to know each other.’ She offered notepads and pens. ‘What I’d like you to do is make a list—’

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Not Istanbul by Annalie Kleinloog

Prompt: A White Lie | Word count: 2500 | Genre: Sultry(?)

“Your turn, Ali.”

Dan’s light touch brings me back to reality with a jolt. I gasp. Good wine turns bad. I cough and splutter. Grateful for the excuse to fetch a glass of water and to gather myself and to remember what my turn is about?

“You OK?” he peeps around the kitchen door. Gorgeous, loving and besotted, Dan.

“Fine.” I smile and wave him back betwixt hoarse breaths.

I can hear the cheerful nattering continue outside. Our group of friends’ typical Sunday pastime – lunch on the open verandah, chilled wine especially with this balmy afternoon breeze, and a topic of interest that sometimes pushes boundaries.

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