[Todays’ prompt for The Daily Post: Deplete]

“I just ran out of gas,” Rex explained. “Didn’t have enough left in me to get those last two touches.”

“So your energy was deplate?” Butch asked.

Depleted,” Annie interjected.

“No, deplate. Past tense of deplete, just like now and late. Everyone knows that.”

Awesome and Whoaful

Today’s solitary word prompt from The Daily Post — Awe

“I couldn’t believe it!” In the back seat of Coach Dan’s sedan, Butch rolled his body forward, his chin coming to rest on the top of the passenger seat. “He was so FAST!”

Annie lifted her left index finger, which hung in front of Butch’s face as she continued looking out at the road in front of them. “Anatol’s faster, really. Believe me, I’ve fenced both Anatol and Francis — nobody can beat Anatol’s speed.”

“Economy of motion.” Coach Dan tilted his bearded head back. “Notice how Francis just stands there, most of time? Never moves, until he has to. Makes him seem faster, than he actually is.”

“Oh!” Butch sat back in his seat, his face contorted in thought. Annie twisted, straining against the shoulder strap of her seat belt as she looked back at her teammate — “Distance, and tempo. Really, that’s Francis’ game, not speed.”

Coach Dan looked up at Butch’s reflection in the rearview mirror, as Annie twisted back into the passenger seat. “Awesome, isn’t it?”

“Oh!” Butch nodded, then — “No, wait,” shaking his head, “not awesome, more like, whoaful.”

Woeful?” Annie couldn’t suppress the annoyance in her voice.

“No, whoaful. Because when Francis was fencing, I was going, like, whoa a lot. If I’d said awww a lot, that’s what would’ve made it awesome.”

Annie blinked, her face dissolving into a scowl — “That’s not — ”

Coach Dan laid a gentle hand on her forearm, as he glanced up at the rearview mirror again. “My friend — how about we just say we all could learn something from watching Francis today.”

Borrow Me

[A neat little piece from The Gad About Town inspires my revisit to the idiosyncratic idium of one of my novel’s characters]”

“Could you borrow me that book?”

Annie snapped her head around at Butch’s question. “Lend.” She pointed at Rune. “Could he lend you his book.”

“Yeah.” Butch looked back at her in confusion. “I want to borrow his book.”

“But the word is lend.” Annie slapped her hip. “When you give something to someone, you lend it. But when someone gives you something, you borrow it from them.” She looked back towards Rune, was dismayed to see him leaving, approaching Coach Dan with a question. “Lend means you give something, borrow means you take it.”

“Oh!” Butch looked up at the ceiling. “But the thing is, if I say I want someone to borrow me something, it’s like I’m saying hey this is my idea. And if I say I want to loan something to somebody, that’s my idea too. So it’s like, the person who originates the thought, he should be the one who determines what word you use. You see what I mean?”

Annie looked like she couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry. Coach Dan’s voice called to them, breaking the awkward silence, and the two returned to practice.

A New Respective

[Today’s inspiration is about changing one’s position on a topic]

“Sorry.” Rex extended his long arms to his sides with palms up, his body and arms making the shape of a giant W. “I know that was what I said last month, but then this damn thing with my family came up. So I can’t do it now.”

“Oh! That’s OK.” Being the newest member of the team meant Butch was the least bothered by Rex’s decision, yet he’d been with the fencing team long enough to feel comfortable sharing his opinion. “I think we can all understand that sometimes you have to change your plans, because of a new respective.”

Five pairs of eyes blinked in unison at the rotund teen. His closest friend, Rune, cleared his throat. “I think you mean, perspective.”

“No, respective.” Butch’s eyes filled with defiant confidence. “When you have an opinion about something, people say you have an opinion in respect to that thing, right?”

“Of course!” Coach Dan cast his warning gaze across the faces of other team members.

“Right. But when you have an opinion, and then something comes up and you’re like, huh I hadn’t thinked about that before, sometimes that means you have to change that opinion. And when you do that, change your opinion in respect to something, that’s called changing your respective.” He folded his arms across his chest, and smiled. “It’s a figure of speeching.”

“Very good!” Coach Dan walked away from the group of students, pointed to a line between the black and white tile on the cafeteria floor. “Rex, do what you have to do, we’ll be fine. But for now, I need everyone to line up for our next drill.”


Double-J walked off the strip, lifting the gray metal fencing mask from his bearded face, which was, unsurprisingly, not smiling, despite his easy victory. Butch handed him a water bottle, which he promptly waved away with his saber like a bothersome insect.

“Don’t like to drink at tournaments. Just makes me wiz.”

“Oh!” Butch withdrew the bottle apologetically. “Don’t you get thirsty? I mean, it gets pretty frenzetic out there.”

Double-J frowned. “Huh. Frenzetic. That’s one of your words, isn’t it?”

Butch stared back blankly at the burly teen.

“Sorry.”  It was one of the few times Butch remembered seeing an apologetic look on Double-J’s face. “You got a way with words, dude, that’s a little — unusual. Everybody knows what you mean, but the way you say it — “

“The words?”

The only saber fencer currently at Bark Bay High School shrugged. “Sometimes it’s words, other times it’s stuff like mixed metaphors — “

“What’s that mean?”

Double-J sensed something unusual about their conversation, a peculiarity he also saw in the portly teen’s concerned face. And then it came to him — Butch never interrupted people, and while he often looked confused, never did he seem as worried as he was now. He shook his head. “Like I said, we all know what you mean, so don’t let none of the rest bother you. Somebody’s bothered by how you say something, that’s their problem.” He grabbed Butch’s right shoulder. “You good with that?”

Butch’s expression resumed its comforting befuddlement. “I — guess.” Double-J then led him back to the team’s equipment bags, silently enjoying the thought of Annie’s continuing her efforts to correct Butch’s language. 


“It used to fit real good, but it shranked.” Butch looked down forlornly at the t-shirt that stretched uncomfortably across his protruding belly.

Standing alone with him at the edge of the cafeteria as the rest of the fencing team practiced with each other, The Bird asked Butch whether he knew he’d used the wrong word. It’s shrunk, she told him, his shirt had shrunk.

“Oh! Really?” His face a storm of wonder and confusion. “No, wait. When something just happens you say shrunk, but if it happened a while ago, you have to say shranked.” His face now beamed calmed assurance. “So I guess we’re both right, you could say it shrunk and that would be technically correct, ‘cuz the shirt did shrink in the past, but since it was a while ago, you’d have to say shranked. But only if you wanted to be truly accurate.”

“Hey, Bird.” The tiny teen nearly jumped at the sound of Coach Dan’s voice, and sped to him with relief when he saw him call her over.


Leaning forward from the back seat of Double-J’s car (a well-maintained coupe no longer manufactured), Butch tapped the top of the passenger side’s front seat. “Why don’t they just borrow us some epees?”

Annie decided not to waste an explanation of the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs. “You talk to Coach Gavy, and she’d be all I don’t have enough equipment as it is.”

“Oh!” Butch leaned back in his seat, Rune shifting on his right to make room. “Sounds pretty shelfish to me.”

Double-J snorted, glanced at Butch’s reflection in the rear-view mirror as he raced his car through the business district of Bark Bay. “This ain’t got nuthin’ to do with lobsters and clams, buddy.”

“When will — ” But Rune’s attempt to divert his friend from pursuing this debate was instantly thwarted.

“Nuh-uh!” Butch’s most ominous exclamation. “Stuff you get from the sea, like crab cakes, that’s called shell fish, cause they’re fish that have this hard shell. But when somebody can’t be bothered to help their friends out, that’s what you call being shelfish, because you’re only thinking ’bout your self.”

“Got it.” Annie was looking out the passenger window, her eyes desperately scanning for signs of intelligent life forms.

“It’s how you say it. Shell — fish, that’s two words, because you’re describing two things, a fish and its shell. But shelfish, that’s only one word, because you’re only describing one thing. That’s the problem, people don’t always use language correctly. Every word has its own meaning, and what you have to do is, figure out what you want to say first, and then choose the right words. But what happens is, people start choosing words without thinking what they want to say, and then what they say comes out all wrong. That’s why people say shell fish instead of shelfish — they’re just not being careful.” He turned in this seat, looked at Rune. “You know what I mean, right?”

“Completely.” And was relieved to see his agreement brought an end to the topic.


“That’s really what she said?” Coach Dan did not often openly challenge his students on the Bark Bay High School fencing team, but he had trouble believing what he’d just heard.

“Yuh-huh.” Butch’s eyes as round as his face. “Coach Gavy, she said if we didn’t have — ” he reached across his chest with his left hand, tapped his right shoulder — “what are they called?”

“Plastrons.” Standing to Butch’s right, Rune waved his greasy hair off his forehead. “Dammit, she knows we don’t have equipment like that.”

Coach Dan laid a reassuring hand on Rune’s shoulder. “Lemme talk to her, see what’s going on.” The middle-aged English instructor and volunteer fencing coach quickly scanned the gymnasium, no recognition registering in his searching eyes, which then landed back on Butch. “You said she was going to talk to the bout committee?”


Coach Dan shook his head. “Supposedly?”

Butch nodded. “Yeah, stuposedly.”

Coach Dan opened his mouth, but then his body stiffened, as if here were suddenly under someone else’s control. Excusing himself quickly, he then left the wall of the gym where the team had deposited their equipment.

“You know, that’s not really a word.” Rune’s tone was almost apologetic.

“Oh!” Confusion contorted Butch’s round face. “You mean plastron?”

“No, no. Stuposedly, I mean.”

“Yeah it is.” There were times Rune would have appreciated less self-assuredness from his friend. “You say it when you think you know something, but you’re not a hundred percent sure. It’s like that other word.”

“What other word?” Rune regretted the question before Butch gave his answer.


Optical Delusion

[Another entry in my series of Butchery, in which one of my novel’s principal characters displays his unique linguistic talent]

“Yeah, I saw it too.” Rex folded his body forward, reaching down for his epee. “Looked like flying saucers. It was cool.” The tall teen walked to the center of the empty cafeteria floor, where OK stood waiting for their bout.

“Yeah.” Rune sighed in recognition of Butch’s self-assured tone. “It’s an optical delusion.”

“Illusion.” Taking off her fencing jacket, Annie shook her head, brown pony-tail waving behind. “It’s called an optional illusion.”

“Nuh-uh.” Butch stepped defiantly towards Annie, and Rune knew from experience the futility of trying to stop his friend at these moments. “It’s something you think is there, but it’s not there, which means it’s a delusion.”

Illusion.” Asking Annie to withdraw from these arguments was equally fruitless. “An illusion is something that isn’t there. Back of left hand slaps right palm — “Optical — ” SLAP — “illusion!

The tow-headed son of the Bark Bay First Baptist Church’s minister squinted, his round face pained with consternation. “Sometimes, Annie, you make me wonder about you.”

On Guard

Annie walked several feet in front of Butch, then turned to him, the right side of her body directed at Butch, her left perpendicular. Bending her knees, she commanded “en garde.”

Butch smiled, mirrored Annie’s position, shouted, “On guard!”

En garde. It’s French.”

“Yeah, that’s what I said, ‘on guard.'”

Annie rose from her crouch. “They sound the same, means the same as well. But there is a subtle difference in pronunciation. Sorry, I’m just a perfectionist.” She shook her head, smiled apologetically. “Doesn’t matter.”

Butch also came out of his crouch. “No, it’s OK. I like learning about stuff. So it’s, en guard?”

“No, not en, en.”

Butch looked confused. “Sounds like on to me.”

“It’s — subtle, is all.” She crouched back down again. “Like I say, it doesn’t matter.”

Butch remained standing. “Do you think I should take French, now that I’m a fencer.

“God no!” Annie said, with what even she realized was far too much emphasis. “Sorry — no, you can take French if you want — ”

“I chose to take Spanish this year. Thought about taking French, but it was the same period as shop.”

“You don’t have to speak French, in order to fence. Just have to learn a few words.”

“I got a D on my first Spanish test — ”

“OK then!” Annie rose her hands quickly in the air, pushed down with her palms. “Let’s — get ready, OK?”