The moment I got home, I knew we were going to have to rush. Jan's expression said everything. I tried to fish for little pieces of information but Jan wasn't forthcoming. She knew I'd forgotten, and wasn't going to help me remember until I actually came clean and admitted; something I was not definitely not willing to do.

I glanced at Jan. She was looking great in her little schoolgirl outfit with a the long skirt she had bought the previous week. That was clue enough. Dance hall or Cabaret. I threw on my beige slacks and a sports jacket and decided in favour of the former, hoping beyond hope I might just be right. It wasn't until we got back home hours later that Jan pulled the fishnet mask out of her bag and put it on. Throwing her arms around my neck she whispered gently into my ear how grateful little mermaids can be. As we sank onto the bed, my boss' Halloween party flashed into my mind. That was Jan's mermaid costume. My boss would... but Jan's gratitude was beginning to have visible effects so the boss' party was soon forgotten.

Vanity had always been a proud noun. She spent most of his life showing her very many advantages to any and everyone who might happen to be in the neighbourhood. Her room, need we say, was dominated by one of the largest vanity tables ever seen, on top of which was an emerald encrusted box containing whatever vanity might require to keep up her reputation. Without a doubt vanity was one of the proudest persons alive.

But it's hard work keeping up reputations. So when Vanity heard of the word incubator, she jumped at the chance. It's principle was really quite simple. All you had to do, was engrave a word on a silver plaque using a special liner to be found in most cosmetic stores, place the plaque inside the incubator and wait ten minutes. During this time, the engraved word would spawn a number of similar expressions. Her friend "free" had actually come up with so many that Vanity was determined to beat her hollow and restore the natural order of things.

As was her habit, Vanity took a long time engraving her name in an artistic style few others could copy. Unfortunately, she placed the plaque upside down inside the incubator leading to the nightmare that followed. The machine went into reverse incubate mode and started spewing out words like hollow, worthless, trivial, pointless, empty. Vanity was horrified. She pushed every button she could but this only made things worse. The incubator went into overdrive and started to print out word after word, not stopping until some two days later it had produced one enormous manuscript.

Vanity was so ashamed it raced upstairs into the bathroom and hid the manuscript in the cabinet below the sink which she had had built in order to hide the pipes from view. It was here, long after Vanity's self-imposed exile from civilisation that a visiting literature professor found the manuscript and realising its undoubted qualities published it under the title Vanity Fair.

Heartache went walking down the Lowsend Road in search of a companion. You see, heartache is all very well, but on his own, he is fairly ineffective and only comes truly into himself, if he succeeds in finding a gateway into someone's emotions. He sat down on a bench kindly provided by the town council in order of the former Mayor, now deceased - unfortunately not at my hands, heartache rued.

Starting to observe the passers-by his eyes soon fell on a young lady sauntering aimlessly down the street with what seemed like tears in her eyes. She cast a glance at the bench where heartache was sitting and came to sit right on top of him forcing heartache to move away quickly. As he observed her, a gleeful smile filled his face. Could this be a new prey? The tears in her eyes suggested, his influence might already have started to affect her. But when she pulled off her right shoe, the reason for her all too evident distress plunged heartache again into despair. Heartache had little chance of putting one over on physical pain, so he moved on. Evidently he'd have to look elsewhere for a victim.

After pottering around for a few minutes he decided to move closer to the town square and as he passed in front of Verbals department store he decided to do a little shopping. After all, once he found a victim, he'd need a few enticements. He started in the adverb department. On his way up he noticed a young man in verbs sitting and staring at the floor. If he's still there when I get back, maybe I can try to spin my web around him, thought heartache to himself. A lot of the adverbs available that day had already been snapped up. He snipped around a few of his old haunts and toyed with loudly, hopelessly, imperatively and for a time flirted with ostentatiously. But when it came down to it, none of these inspired him. That was when he stumbled upon recklessly. Of course, he said to himself. That's what I feel like right now; a little reckless living. What better a way to bring upon heartache. He snatched up recklessly and quickly made for the staircase. The young man was still there. Heartache's brain started to work fast. He'd need a few more nouns and at least, one verb. In addition, adjectives were on special offer that day - three for the price of one. He darted round the shop, picked up girlfriend, ring, jealous, mindless, saddening and a pack of assorted words lying beside the bargains counter, before finally settling on jangle as the most appropriate verb for ring. In a flash he was back with the young man and entered through his ear, whispering gently and helping the man to reflect on what happened. Suddenly, the whole scene began to play out before him once again.

"I've just about had enough of your reckless behaviour. You call me your girlfriend. The mindless way you staggered about last night was disgusting. And then, making up to that little bitch on the next table."

"But how could you be jealous of her. All I did was play around a bit. I needed a pick me up, after the saddening news I got at work. If you hadn't barged in..."

He didn't get to finish his sentence. With a piercing scream the girlfriend plucked the ring from her finger and threw down on the metal countertop. Its sound echoed through the otherwise silent store, jangling in the ears of the stunned onlookers. Heartache rubbed his hands with delight. He had won his prey.

Yesterday I heard a book review for a new novel set in a world where there were no lies. This inspired me to try something similar. I wonder which you would prefer.

Not quite the truth

"Well, what did you think of that?"
"Well, it wasn't too bad, was it?"
"I see Sidney was as vocal as ever."
"Yes! He likes to get his two pence in when he gets the chance."
"Maybe, it wouldn't be quite so bad if his mind wasn't quite so fallow."
"Yes, I see what you mean. Well, you can't have your cake and eat it, now can you."
"I guess we have to be thankful for small mercies. Down in storage there's a limit to the damage he can do."

The bitter truth

"Thank goodness that's over."
"My feelings exactly."
"I wish Sidney would learn to keep his mouth shut."
"Well, if you didn't hog the discussion all the time, maybe things would be a little better."
"What do you mean? I don't hog the discussion. Well, maybe I do at times. But what I say is worth hearing, not like Sidney. The man's just plain stupid."
"Yes, but it takes one to know one, you know. You can't be rich, powerful and intelligent."
"Are you trying to insinuate...? Well, maybe I am a little slow at times but I'll remind you that it was my idea to put Sidney down in storage. And he can't do much damage there, now can he?

The First Kiss

Lakeside fog lifting,
Bright eyes shining,
Gold glinting from two fingers,
For ever we said and kissed.

Incredible the thought
that you dear sir might in me find
one you so long sought.

Landscape my speciality
Transforming what ugly eyes may see
Into beauty beyond reality.

None more ambitious than me
to give good service and assure
your centre a pleasing one will be.

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