Tag Archives: writing exercise

Flame by Ave Valencia

Legal Terminology Flash Fiction #2

As I stood before the giant bonfire Dad was buildin up in my late grandparents’ patio, I looked through old family photo albums, salvaging pictures of those whom I reckoned familiar.

A tan satin sheet caught my attention.

It was the case docket from the condemnation trial against my grandpa’s ranch land, with date May 31st, Nineteen Hundred n Sixty-Three.

Along with it was a copy of the Bill of Particulars from when he tried to sue the mayor for inadequate planning.

It wasn’t just about the land.The forced sale was affecting his livelihoods.

He argued he’d have to take his kids outta schoolin.

Put the boys in the mines and the girls up for housemaids.

He’d a have to cancel his respiration therapies he was engaged in every other month in the capital.

‘Course, he failed.

But Granma was a glass-half-full type o’ gal and she thought there was a great opportunity there to expand her store.

Auntie Martha, the youngest of their ten children, now crossed the patio in a hurry and dumped a box of receipts into the greedy fire.

“Auntie Martha, what’s this about?” I asked holding up the documents.

‘Quench my curiosity,’ my eyes a-beggin’.

Now, she was the type who tended toward gossip and after mumblin excuses and I-really-shouldn’ts and an ask-your-father, (Dad stabbed at the receipt-ashes with the prettiest of the sticks while pretendin he couldn’t hear us), she sat herself on a chair, untied her long white hair and sank her head in her rough hands.

“Pa’ insisted on keepin the money in a savin’s account, you know, for when he retired from them fields, if he ever saw the day, but Momma- she went n took out a loan on it behind his back.

“Your Uncle Jess, he was a player in every filthy sense of the word before the Lord called him, and didn’t he find the cash under the trays in Ma’s jewelry box? And didn’t he bet all $18,000 of it on a bad hand cause he had nothin left to lose ‘cept what wasn’t rightfully his?

“That was around the time Pa’s health turned south n he started gettin these coughin spasms that- well you heard the big cat when he gots hairballs? It was more frightful than that, and your Aunt Maggie, she had been studyin to become a nurse before- she said he ain’t got much time. But ya’ know, who does.

“Well finally Pa gave way to fate and when us younger kids got home that bright Sunday afternoon- all the older kids had left the nest to seek out their own fortunes- well us younger kids, your dad and your Aunt Tina and I, we found him dead in his rockin chair. His chair still a-rockin.

“He was a clenchin Ma’s loan certificate. His will on the floor.

“Now you know the will left the remainin crop lands to Uncle Jesse but all hell broke lose at the funeral when Ma sent your dad to fetch the cash from her jewelry box in order to pay the mass and such but there wasn’t no cash in no jewelry box nor nowhere.

“The priest tried to keep the event a dig-ni-fied, oh and thee whole town was there by the way, so he recommended ‘the matter be settled through adjudication.’ Tha’s what he said.

“But Judge Warner, I dunno if you ‘member him, he married your cousin Tobiah, I mean he married Tobiah n Natalie, cause they was pregnant, not that Judge Warner himself married Tobiah, you ne’er know these days! Ha! Nah, you was  too young, you don’t ‘member, in any case, the Judge, his name was Judge Warner, he was appalled by Ma takin Pa’s sole other heir to court just a two days after the burial.

“He exonerated Jess from any wrong doin.”

Auntie Martha seemed to need a hug somewheres around this point. So she hugged herself.

“An attorney told Ma that if she tried to take any type o’ retaliatory actions, not only would she be fined but also charged for exemplary damages.”

Auntie Martha got up dustin’ her apron with her hands as if there had been dust on it.

She went in through the kitchen door and turned off all the lights inside. Like we wasn’t there.

And that’s the story of why Dad built a bonfire.

Adjudicate: to hear/try and determine judicially
Bill of Particulars: factual detail submitted by a claimant as requested by adverse party, clarifying the charges or facts alleged in a pleading
Condemnation: Eminent Domain
Exemplary Damages: monetary award by way of punishment for injury caused by aggravated circumstances or malice, in addition to compensation for the injury
Docket: a document which summarizes a case


Legal Terminology Flash Fiction #1

I will be writing stories revolving around a few key legal terms I haven’t memorized yet.


ad damnum: clause of a pleading alleging amount of loss or injury

at issue: when parties come to a point in the pleadings in which one side affirms something and the other denies it

bifurcated trial: a case in which the liability issue in a personal injury or wrongful death case is heard separate from and prior to trial of the damages in question

chattel: article of personal property

cross-claim: claim litigated by co-defendants or co-plaintiffs against each other


The third Little Piggy, whose real name was Pillsbury, was not very surprised to find out the ill fate of his late brothers.

He was the one who lived in a house of bricks.

He and their mom decided to sue Big Bad Wolf seeing as how all charges against him had been dropped by the District Attorney in a bifurcated trial.

The D.A. also happened to be a wolf.

Just sayin.

The ad damnum in their civil suit was for the amount of $27,376,525.72.

Pillsbury was an internationally renowned accountant so he kept the amount accurate to the cents.

It was based on the premise that his youngest brother, the one who lived in a house of hay, was a pre-med student, and their middle brother had just signed a promising record deal. Not to mention the various inherited chattels that had been brought over from Pigland Island over 400 years ago.

Now, Big Bad Wolf had already spent more money than he had on a bad ass lawyer from the capital. That lawyer was not a wolf. It was a Lion.

So they all went to try to resolve the conflict outside of court but the negotiations fell through when they came to be at issue with what the piglets’ lifetime earned income would have been.

Big Bad Wolf kept basing the pig’s life value on the current cost of bacon and sausage.

The judge this time was a St. Bernard.

All seemed in favor of the pigs’ case against the defendant when the Lion started to cross-examine Mrs. Piggy.

“Mrs. Piggy, how would you describe Pillsbury’s relationship with his brothers growing up?”

“Oh he always stood up for them. Even when he knew they were wrong.”

“Mr. Pillsbury has been described by his peers as a pig who knows how to turn a weakness into a strength. Would you agree with that?”

“Yes. Pillsbury always makes the most of every situation.”

“Would you say he is trying to make the most of his brothers’ deaths?”

Then the pigs’ lawyer, who was a sheep, stepped in. “Objeheheheheh-ection! Bah-ah-ah-ah-adgering the witness.”


“Mrs. Piggy. You are obviously a well-mannered pig. You put Mr. Pillsbury through school. Does your son owe you money?”

Mrs. Piggy looked down.

The truth was she had initiated a cross-claim against her son.

“I take the fifth.”

After that, the jury found the testimony of both Mrs. Piggy and her son questionable and they decided against them in their verdict.

Some sound recordings were recovered from the house of sticks, however, and were sold by the pig’s band manager to the record label.

Not that either one of the surviving pigs saw a profit from that.



if i ruled the world daily prompt

Daily Prompt: If I Didn’t Rule the World and Then Did (Again)

This prompt implies I don’t rule the world.
I like to think that I do.
But if I have to argue it, it kind of falls apart on me.
I find this prompt depressing.

Lemme concentrate on the superpower.
I can change one law of nature…
Last night I dreamed I had a baby pig and the baby pig was running around everywhere with a cape tied around it’s neck.
It was the most darling thing I’ve ever tentatively seen in my life.
If pigs could fly.
Nah- that’s a dumb idea.
Who could ever write about that?

What if photographers could fly?
Yes that’s the law I would change.
I wouldn’t want everyone to fly.
Just photographers.
Then again everyone would want to be a photographer.
Then again everyone already thinks they are.

This is harder than I thought.
I know!
If people could breathe under water!
That would solve so many problems.
We’d have a better understanding of our oceans and would feel impulsed to stop throwing trash into them!
I could learn to speak Whalish and Sharkish.
I could even live under water.
Instead of cats I’d have sea otters.
I’d never have to shower.
Maybe just vacuum myself.
Wait. Where would my toilet water go?
Into the mainland?
Maybe I need to put more thought into the logistics.

Response to WP Daily Prompt: If I Ruled the World

daily prompt just another day

Daily Prompt: Un Jour Plus

What’s your favorite daily ritual?

I’d like to say it’s writing this prompt, but it obviously isn’t, seeing as how I haven’t gotten around to it in the last 3 days!
Honestly I did not do this prompt on Friday because I don’t have that many rituals, other than taking a shower, and as much as I’d love to go on about the details of that, I’d rather leave it to the imagination.
Lol j/k.
I mean, I do shower every day, just don’t imagine it please, it’d be embarrassing.
Ok I’m blushing now.
Sometimes I’m too tired to pray.
I guess after the shower bit that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
I like to have cereal for dinner but sometimes I’m too tired to do that too.
When I feel well enough I just scroll through image after image on Tumblr until my eyeballs explode.
Then I have to find my way to my stash of back-up eyeballs and put them into my eye sockets which is really hard to do without seeing.
I think you understand why I skipped this prompt.
Moving on!

(Late) response to WP daily prompt Just Another Day

Daily Prompt: Baggage Check

When was the last time your past experiences informed a major decision you’ve made?

People don’t learn from their mistakes the way animals do.
If a cat gets a spankin for leaping on the table, that cat will never go on the table in front of you again.
People- we’re more stubborn.
They tell us not to play with fire, but we like the sound of sizzle.
Or we seem to think, “I am the exception to the rule.”
Somehow the impossible will work out because it’s me, and I can’t conceive otherwise.
It is because we are imperfect that we hold ourselves to this unrealistic ideal.
It is also our imperfection that impulses us to cling to certain experiences and use them as a reference point when setting the bar for normal.
Me- I got offered more hours at work.
I know I badly need that time to study and prepare for my interpreting exams… but I’m afraid that no matter how hard I try, I’ll fail anyway.
I’m a nervous tester.
So I’d rather just take the work opportunity while it lasts.
I’ll probably be overwhelmed in a couple months, but fear unfortunately dictates over reason.

Response to wordpress daily prompt.

Daily Prompt: Pick Me Up

I’m gonna try doing this from my phone…
It’s getting all foggy inside the comforter here.
Yesterday my friend texted me if I wanted to go to Starbucks with her cause they were having a 50% off sale.
That cheered me up though I couldn’t go since I was at work.
It also cheers me up when my husband says he’ll take me shopping, he’ll make me lunch, he’ll do the dishes, or he’ll stop by the grocery store.
When someone calls me “Mija” or “hija,” terms of endearment meaning “honey” or “daughter,” it warms my heart.
Not often someone will call me funny or an artist… I take both compliments quite seriously.
Just as long as they don’t call me a funny artist.
Also find it charming when someone asks how my cats are doing.
If I had to choose one it’d be when someone says, “I saw your pictures” or “read your poem.”
Some of these pick-me-ups sound a little self-centered.
Maybe next time I try to cheer someone up, I’ll just talk about me.
Response to wp daily prompt.

daily prompt tail of two kitties

Daily Prompt: A Tail of Two Kitties

I already divide much of my waking time between Santa Barbara and Ventura, California.
Not that I want to.
I’ve always wanted to work close to home.
Rent’s too high in Santa Barbara.
There aren’t enough work opportunities in the city of Ventura.
They’re both beautiful cities to live in.
Distinct cultures, supposedly.

The other night one of my neighbor’s called together a patio wine meeting (she has an ocean view).
My adorable neighbors were talking about how annoying people are in Santa Barbara.
…Something about ostentatious attitudes…
A whiles into the night, the conversation turns to me and how it is that I speak English so well…
“I’m from Santa Barbara,” I answer.
It happens quiet often, actually.
I mean, the part about white people assuming I’m from Mexico.
Mexicans also ask me how it is I learned Spanish.
“My parents,” I answer.
More awkward moments.
I mean, awkward for the other people; I’ve personally learned to enjoy their embarrassing questions.

BUT if I had a choice… what two places would I choose?
If I could divide my life in two…
Two lives…
Both authentic…
One as thoroughly sincere as the other-

You know, early mornings in Montecito are always foggy.
You open the curtains and it feels like you’re in the middle of an evergreen fairy tale.
It’s a very unrealistic place to live.

When you live in a Mexican beach town your main concern is whether the tide will be high at sunset.

Tiny corners Time tucked into this busy world to remind us what life is supposed to taste like…

I wish I had traveled more throughout my life; I would be better prepared to answer this question.

I would like to have breakfast in Santorini and dinner in Tuscany.
I would like to work in San Francisco and go watch plays in New York.
I would like to go shopping in Tokyo and hiking in New Zealand.
A tele-transportation device and at least one cat at each location.

Response to WP Daily Prompt: A Tale of Two Cities

WP going obsolete daily prompt

Daily Prompt: Going Obsolete

What piece of technology from my lifetime do I miss the most?
Am I old enough to be writing this?
Heheh. Let’s see…

Film SLR cameras.
I liked the sound they made when you forwarded the film.
Mine got invaded by ants.
Audio tape recorders were nice cause despite the low fidelity, they were easy to use.
It was great holding something you made in your hands, as opposed to some abstract file.
Typewriters were quite beautiful.
They also made fun sounds.
But irritating if you made a mistake.

8mm tapes were subject to mold and spun too fast for their own good.
They’d come undone and you had to put your fingers in the holes and wind ’em back up.
Same goes for VHS.
Come to think of it- audio cassettes also had a tendency to unwind.

Oh wait! I just remembered a good one.
Zip discs.
They came in a rainbow of colors.
I might still have some somewhere…
Better than a floppy. Not quite a CD.
Essential to every graphic designer in 1999.

Having a landline aided conversation by providing a visual of my voice traveling across a cable.
Nowadays it just feels like I’m talking into thin air.
When people call me.

…Sometimes people call me.

Well my mom calls me by mistake when she’s trying to call my brother.

So there.

Yeah- conversations are harder than they used to be.

Oh of course! Polaroids!
People would wave the photos and blow to make them develop quicker.

Pocket watches used to be such a great fashion statement.
A man who carried a pocket watch was capable of accomplishing anything.

Today’s men- they all have to ask Google.
“Google, what time does the game start?”
“Google, does my tie match my shirt?”
“Google, what should I buy my girlfriend?”
I wonder what will replace Google.
The robots from Wall-E?

In response to WP Daily Prompt: Going Obsolete

I believe in chocolate

Daily Prompt: I Believe in Chocolate

I believe in chocolate.
I believe because of chocolate.
Chocolate… chocolate is my reason to believe.

If belief were a pool, it would be a pool of chocolate.

If belief were a song, it would be a song about chocolate.

If belief were promise, it would be a promise of chocolate to come.

If belief were patience, it would be wrapped in shiny gold foil.

If belief were sacrifice, it would be the chocolate I share with others.

If belief were the blood running through my veins, it would be chocolate milk.

If belief is harmony, it casts crunchy peanuts in soft dark milk chocolate.

If belief is fantasy, it sandwiches ice cream between two chocolate breads.

If belief were religion and religion were chocolate, we would achieve world peace!

I believe because life’s littlest pleasures have motivated me through trials of faith.
God is not cruel.
Proof: chocolate.
God is real:
Proof: chocolate.
I could argue this on so many levels, but I don’t like to argue the obvious.

…ok, I just wanted to write about food again.

response to WP Daily Prompt: Reason to Believe

Blueberry Polaris sleeps soundly

Daily Prompt: Pride and Joy

Every night I embrace thee.
And in the morning thou dost not let go.
Thou alone tastes the tears I have shed.
Thou alone art mine,
Without eyes for another.
Thy skin- soft suede, softly presses
Sadness away till
Dreams dunk me down-
Senseless allegories
As my soul is sent back to thee.
Thy sense of self
Fulfilled in my peacefulness.
Together, we’ve overcome madness.
My prayers have found ears in thee.
My restlessness rests in thy nest.
Thou never did complain.
Truly, never has one felt so strongly
About a case filled with beads.
Oh Pillow- how I cherish thee!
Tireless support of my imagination
And keeper of my sacred sleep.

Blueberry Polaris sleeps soundly

Response to WP Daily Prompt: Pride and Joy