Welcome back to the home of Weird, Wild, & Wicked Tales. Today is Thursday and that means it’s time to start flashing. We’ve reached our Seventh year of weekly prompts! This is Week 384 of #ThursThreads, the challenge that ties tales together. Want to keep up each week? Check out the #ThursThreads #flashfiction group on Facebook and the Group on MeWe.
Need the rules? Read on.
Here’s how it works:
- The prompt is a line from the previous week’s winning tale.
- The prompt can appear ANYWHERE in your story and is included in your word count.
- The prompt must be used as is. It can be split, but no intervening words can be inserted or tenses changed.
Rules to the Game:
- This is a Flash Fiction challenge, which means your story must be a minimum of 100 words, maximum of 250.
- The story must be new writing, not a snippet from something published elsewhere with the prompt added.
- Incorporate the prompt anywhere into your story (included in your word count).
- Post your story in the comments section of this post
- Include your word count in the post (or be excluded from judging)
- Include your Twitter handle or email in the post (so we don’t have to look for you)
- The challenge is open 7 AM to 8 PM Mountain Time
- The winner will be announced on Friday, depending on how early the judge gets up.
How it benefits you:
- You get a nifty cool badge to display on your blog or site (because we’re all about promotion – you know you are!)
- You get instant recognition of your writing prowess on this blog!
- Your writing colleagues shall announce and proclaim your greatness on Facebook, Twitter, MeWe, and Google Plus, etc.
Our Judge for Week 384:
Fantasy Author, and Holder of Several Stories, David Ludwig.
And now your #ThursThreads Challenge, tying tales together.
“I see she didn’t overstate the issue.”
All stories written herein are the property (both intellectual and physical) of the authors. Now, away with you, Flash Fiction Fanatics, and show us your #ThursThreads. Good luck!
41 Replies to “#ThursThreads – Tying Tales Together – Week 384”
The doctor pushed the curtain aside as she stepped into the room. My face was bright red – had been for hours. If it lasts longer than four hours, contact a doctor.
She smiled gently at me. “I spoke to your wife in the hallway. I know this is uncomfortable for you, but you understand we deal with things many people find embarrassing all the time.”
I couldn’t really speak, so I just nodded.
“Okay, let me see what’s going on here.”
I turned even redder and lifted the flimsy gown. The doctor’s eyes didn’t quite bulge, but they did widen. She recovered quickly, however, and spoke quietly. “I see she didn’t overstate the issue.”
Now I found my voice. “No, ma’am, she didn’t.”
“And it’s been like that for six hours?”
“Going on seven.”
“And what is your pain level? On a scale from one to ten?”
“You’d think it would hurt, but it doesn’t. Not even a one.”
“And it started as soon as you took the pill?”
“A little after. I know, I shouldn’t have ordered them over the internet, but my insurance wouldn’t cover them, and they’re so expensive. And, well, we were missing that part of our lives.”
“I understand. There’s no need to feel awkward about needing this kind of medicine.”
“But yes, we need to do something about this.”
“I don’t think that it being rainbow-colored seems healthy, does it?”
“Well, it could be worse.”
That’s when it started flashing.
Major points for making me laugh out loud at the end, and that is quite the issue!
ALZ and Me
I noticed the memory problem a while ago; it had been on my radar for some time, but it was a year and a half before I finally decided to do something after the kids mentioned it.
So, I took my husband to a specialist, a neuropsychologist, who spent an hour doing standard memory testing, and, even though I voiced my concerns in no uncertain terms, the final appraisal was, “Meh, bring him back in a year.” This advice seemed insufficient but was my only option. He did not give me a written report, so I had nothing in black and white.
I made an appointment for the following July. The receptionist called prior to the scheduled follow-up and spoke with my husband, who canceled the appointment. I knew nothing about this until I called the office myself to confirm. I re-scheduled but nothing was available for three months. I took the earliest appointment I could get. When the receptionist called once more prior to that new appointment, she again spoke with my husband, who promptly canceled the appointment. Again, I knew nothing about this until I called the office to double-check. So, I rescheduled for yet a third time, again having to wait another two months for an opening.
By then, things had deteriorated very badly indeed. When I called the specialist to report my husband had squeezed my neck, attempting to choke me to death, his response was, “I see she didn’t overstate the issue.”
247 words @rrats1231
I felt the frustration of getting an uncooperative patient through the healthcare system viscerally with this one.
Dunwoody opened her laptop, keeping the screen faced away from the men they surveilled. Hermione leaned over beside her like two friends looking at the latest hot guy pics on the internet.
“I’ve cloned their phones so we should at least see who’s calling and texting.” Dunwoody clicked the keys to open her surveillance apps and the screen filled with texts and calls. “Holy shit. These boys like to talk. Petty Officer Gomez was right as usual, I see.”
“She didn’t overstate the issue, that’s for sure. Looks like those boys are starting to mobilize.” Hermione shot a look at the two men as they paid their bill and waved to the waitress, who rolled her eyes and made sure to stay out of reach. Yeah, those guys are definitely charming, not.
“Show time.” She tapped the Bluetooth in her ear and sent out an alert to her team. “They’re moving. ETA twenty-five mikes. Remember, this is a disable-and-disarm mission. The DOJ wants tangoes they can question so use lethal force as a last resort.”
A chorus of “roger thats” came back through her earpiece as she and Dunwoody gathered up their to-go cups and the laptop. Hermoine’s team could easily subdue the “Eagle Militia” members, but keeping the jackasses alive would take a trick or two. Frankly, she’d rather shoot them and be done with it, but orders were orders.
She straightened her back, feeling her piece hidden under her coat. They’d never see her coming.
249 ineligible #Sirens words
I’m pretty pumped about your Sirens team and am enjoying getting to know them!
Out on His Ear
Hanna was always stronger than Charlie. Emotionally, I mean. Not surprizing, her being a woman. We poor specimens barely hold our own in the sensitivity department. And I mean, not to be a crudité of course, but wankers like Charlie, like me if I’m being honest, are often left no option but, well…you get my raw, carroty drift.
Anyways, Floyd Benser and me were tossing back a few brewskis at the Sink Hole, our local recharging station late last Saturday night, when Charlie dragged his sorrowful butt in and plopped it down at our table.
Charlie bought a round, sort of the price of admission even though we’d been bending our elbows quite nicely. thank you.
Finally, I jumped in, me being the token backseat therapist and asked the obvious.
“What happened, Charlie?”
Well, he didn’t hold back…said Hanna had seen him earlier in the day coming out of Lucy Palmer’s house, turning and tossing her an air kiss before jogging away.
“Keerist, guys, it was pure dumb luck. She was supposed to be going over to her mothers. I thought I had enough time. She even called me a low-life philander.”
“I see she didn’t overstate the issue,” I commiserated lightly.
“Hell,” said Charlie, “Didn’t even know she knew the word, philanderer.”
“Probably been studying up,” I offered.
“Necessity being the mother of…” said Floyd, bang on the money.
Long story short, Charlie’s still crashing in my rumpus room.
My old lady’s ticked.
The rhythm and flow of your colloquial voices is a joy to read as usual!
Transubstantiation and Talking Religion Over Mealtimes
Detective Inspector Perseus entered the apartment after taking a statement from the neighbour. The body hung from the wall on a crucifix.
“I see she didn’t overstate the issue,” he declared.
The state pathologist looked up.
“Who?” she asked.
“The neighbour who found the body.”
“Bludgeoned to death through blunt force trauma before he was crucified post mortem.”
“Well, something to be thankful for.” Perseus stepped forward gingerly and pointed at the abdomen. “And this here, Linda?” he asked the pathologist in a whisper.
“That wound is also post mortem.”
“Some kind of ritualistic…I dunno?” His voice fell away as he took the sight in. He sighed.
“I don’t have to take him back to the lab to tell you the stomach contents.”
“I wouldn’t imagine so.”
“Last meal was sushi.”
“I didn’t need to know that.” Perseus winced, continuing to whisper deferentially although Linda spoke with a professional patter.
Using his phone, Perseus looked up the victim’s social media profile as he paced around the apartment. He withdrew his cigarettes and went down the stairwell to the street outside. A neon sign on the building beside the apartment complex flashed TAKESHI NOODLE & SUSHI. Perseus stepped into the restaurant.
“Have you seen this man?” Perseus asked, holding up his phone.
“He’s a regular,” the maitre d’ said. “Here last night, arguing with his friend.”
“About Jesus. Religion. Dying for our sins.”
Perseus’s eyes narrowed.
“Interesting. Have you got CCTV, from last night?”
@ragtaggiggagon 250 words
A compellingly painted scene with a classic detective story trail of breadcrumbs!
The moment her induced connection to the timestream ended, she collapsed. A sound—something small, broken, and overwhelmingly like relief—rasped past her chapped lips.
Tortured, Oneuli had warned me. For years. Decades.
“That goddess of yours.” Joon approached behind me with a shaky exhalation. “I see she didn’t overstate the issue.”
“What—were they doing to this poor woman?”
“Forcing her into an almost constant vision state.”
Her eyelids fluttered, just barely revealing the brilliant blue glow of her eyes. Joon started to move by me, his perfectly human empathic response pushing him to help her. I held my arm out. He almost tripped trying to stop before he bumped into me.
“Jesse, we need to help her.”
“Not yet, Joon.” I pushed my chin out toward her. “See her eyes? She’s not quite out of the timestream yet.”
“What does that mean, exactly?”
“Maybe nothing.” I knew about Oracles in theory, not practice. “Maybe you touch her, and she sees your entire life play out. Or she drags you under with her—and you are not prepared for that kind of knowledge download.”
“So we just wait?”
“I hate it too, Joon.” Especially what I knew I had to do before any of the assembled humans could get this poor woman out of here. “Let EMS know they’ll probably need another stretcher.”
“What? No way. Jesse. Do not touch her. She’s got a solid two decades of torture stored up.”
“Yeah, this is gonna hurt like hell.”
250 gods and monsters WIP words
Oracles and goddesses make for great stories in my book!
“I see she didn’t overstate the issue.” Terry Brewer, @stories2121, 215 Words
How did I get here? It began a few years ago. My husband and I, actually me, inherited a house in Western Massachusetts from a favorite aunt. She was a bit of a recluse and all alone and I tried to visit with her every few months. About a year before she died, though, she moved to an assisted-living facility nearby and I visited her there. It was years since I’d seen the house when I found that it was mine.
Brian and I lived in Manhattan so it was a nice drive. Early spring and the trees just beginning to bud. We stopped at her lawyer’s office in Great Barrington to pick up the keys. She also handed me a sealed envelope addressed to me.
We got out of the car after climbing a slight, winding driveway. Brian was taken by the view and went to the left of the house to take it in. As I walked, I opened the letter and read it until I reached the door. Putting it aside I took the keys from my pocket and unlocked the door. It opened petulantly, and I stepped inside.
He came rushing to my side and took the letter from me.
“I see she didn’t overstate the issue.”
“No she didn’t.”
This feels like a great start to a ghost story or fantasy!
Jake and I had a standing appointment. It was a college ritual, established to catch up and brag about our weekend escapades. Fate had a way of pulling us apart as we explored parties, women, and adventure. On Monday, we always met at our favorite coffee shop.
I was excited this morning. My latest exploit marked a huge event, one we had discussed at length. While I planned, Jake told me every reason he thought I was crazy. I wouldn’t listen. Sophie, the love of my life, and I were going to Lion’s Bay for a once in a lifetime trip. I prepared a romantic picnic, a proposal, and a celebratory cliff jump when she agreed. I left nothing to chance.
Jake looked like he arrived hours ago. Sitting in his usual spot, he seemed tired and somehow older than I had ever seen him before. He glanced up at me and turned deathly pale.
“Jake don’t look so worried. It was fabulous. She said ‘yes.’ We’re getting married.”
His eyes widened, and he rubbed his hand across his face before he stared at me again.
“I see she didn’t overstate the issue,” he muttered then took a big swig from his cup.
“What issue? Didn’t you hear me? I’m the happiest man on the planet. It was the greatest day of my life.”
“It was the last too.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Will you listen to me? We were best friends.”
“Buddy, we buried you years ago.”
250 October Words @JoHawktheWriter
An appropriately haunting scene for the season that makes me wonder why the narrator is appearing now, when it seems Jake hasn’t seen him for years.
My parents had warned that they were sure what path my gift would take after my latent puberty. At twenty I showed no signs of transformation. I thought I’d die. I needed help. I called my mom. Mom arrived and called an expert also how would I explain this to my fiancé?
“I see she didn’t overstate the issue,” the expert said hiding a laugh as she saw me half of each. Waving her arms and said something in a language I didn’t recognize and I felt myself relax for the first time today.
“Now if you want to change back. Think clearly, picture your form in your mind and it will happen.”
I did what the expert said and found myself back to my original form.
“Now remember though in the first few weeks of transformation you can’t change back very easily. Have you booked off sick? Here’s a sick note for your employer read it so you discuss it later. I’m off now, Hillary. I’ll send you my bill.”
“Why are you crying, Hillary? This is a wondrous gift. Your father will be overjoyed.”
“I don’t want this.”
Shortly after mom went home I heard a key turn in the lock and my fiancé Brad stepped in. He took one look at me and said, “thank goodness my family has been telling me we couldn’t marry because we’re too different. He then showed me himself for the first time; Brad was a unicorn too. I smiled happy again.
With a strong fantasy flavor and the different meanings of “unicorn” this one definitely made me smile with Hillary.
The judge peered down at my attorney over the tops of his half glasses and stated the obvious. “I see.”
“She didn’t overstate the issue,” my attorney insisted.
I hadn’t, I suppose. I had no one to blame but myself. I couldn’t even claim being drunk to exculpate my disorderly behavior. I had been—and still was—stone-cold sober.
“I know the details, Ms. Preston.” The judge cut her off. This did not bode well for me.
Light flickered in his glasses as he focused on me. “Ms. Harrington, do you have anything to say for yourself?”
What was there to say? I’d marched into a biker bar, dressed in my designer pencil skirt, a chenille sweater, and high-heeled Jimmy Choo suede booties. I then proceeded to lay waste to a table of bitches who thought they were badass. Turned out, they were just bad. Bad at verbal sparring. Bad at physical sparring. They could neither dish it out nor take it. Four of them, one of me, and I cleaned the floor with them. Much to the amusement of the watching bikers, but not so much the owner of the bar. Hence my current circumstances.
I tried exceptionally hard to repress my extremely self-satisfied smile. When the judge narrowed his eyes and his brow furrowed, I deduced I hadn’t succeeded. I raised my chin and replied with the only defense I had. “A girl has to do what a girl has to do.”
250 totally random but I now need to write a book for this character words
Ms. Harrington is definitely a character I’d read more about.
The doctor slipped the negative beneath the clips and turned on the viewer. “I see she didn’t overstate the issue,” he said. “It’s most unusual.” He removed the X-ray and replaced it with another. “If you look at the wrists, you’ll see the damage. There are multiple fractures in each, the bones being severed in line with the stigmata.” He swapped the image for another, this one showing a pair of feet and the ankles above. “And again here,” he went on, directing the priest’s attention with the pen he’d picked up. “The trauma is exactly what you’d expect, the splintering of the tibia representative of damage from assault with a small device, the severity of the wounds even greater this time.” He drew in a deep breath and he paused. “And you say that he’s fine? He’s in no distress?”
The priest shrugged, remembering how difficult it had been to get the boy to the hospital last week. He’d refused to come at all today, preferring to spend his morning climbing trees. His mother had said she hardly recognised him now – he used to be a quiet boy, she’d claimed, never causing any trouble.
“He’s better than fine. You could say he’s had a miraculous recovery. You can appreciate how important it is you say nothing about this. At least not until I’ve had the chance to speak to some other people. There are a few more people in the Church, for example, and then maybe the press.”
250 Revelations ~ twothirdsrasta.blogspot.com
You had me at stigmata, though something so profound I can’t help worrying about it going badly for someone–possibly the boy himself.
I have a job that’s a 10 minute walk from our house. It’s perfect. No traffic to fight. No car to keep running. I get up, get dressed, put on my walking shoes, and walk to work. At night, I call her when I’m ready to walk home, so she will know I’m on the way.
Halloween is not a holiday. No one I know has that day off. Everyone goes to work. Schools have normal hours. It’s another day. Like any other day, I walked to work. At quitting time, I called her like I always did.
“I have to warn you, dear. There’s been a pumpkin massacre in the neighborhood. Be careful on your walk.”
I changed to my walking shoes, and tried to imagine a pumpkin massacre, “Teenagers, kids. Bashing Jack-o-lanterns. Bits of pumpkin here and there. Some on the sidewalk.” A normal thing for Halloween. Who hasn’t seen pumpkin bits in the road on that night?
I started home. After a couple of minutes, I smelled pumpkin. “Someone’s cooking?” But it didn’t smell like cooking. Five minutes in to my walk, I turned a corner, into our neighborhood. The sidewalk was orange. So was the road. And the curb had vanished. It was all under an ocean of pumpkin. Not smashed. Pureed.
“Well. I see she didn’t overstate the issue.” I had to walk home through the goo. “I’ll have to ask what happened when I get home.”
The build up to and reveal of the orange street was excellently executed.
Jerem the half elf shuffled papers on his new uptown desk with spindly fingers. He never minded working out of sweaty backrooms stuffed with colorful characters, but the business that came across this imported gilt desk paid much better. The cocksure naïf currently across from him appeared light of purse. But he was cute.
“Damn it!” Hunter Lee kicked in the door to Jerem’s office. “She beat me to another one!”
The delicate half elf cringed as Hunter put his fist through an expensive bookcase. Jerem pushed his half moon spectacles up his sharp nose.
“I don’t suppose she left you anything this time?”
Hunter whirled on his friend but froze when he noticed they weren’t alone. The naïf hadn’t so much as batted an eye at Hunter’s tirade, but his hand had been on his saber hilt from Hunter’s entrance. Hunter restrained himself with a painfully forced smile. He wouldn’t be talking through those clenched teeth.
Jerem sighed, “I see she didn’t.”
“Overstate the issue, why don’t you?”
Hunter dropped into the other chair across from Jerem to stew.
“Who are you talking about?” The naïf relaxed and stroked his adorable attempted goatee.
“Caitlin Nicole Kinnery…” Hunter growled.
That piqued their guest’s interest.
“The infamous pirate captain?”
Hunter crossed his arms moodily.
“And adventurer and apparently treasure hunter.”
“That or she’s messing with you.” Jerem offered.
227 INELIGIBLE Cat’s The Pajamas words
Blood red against the ivory tablecloth, the puddle continued to grow. I was ready to crawl under the expensive linen and hide. My cheeks were redder than the mess I had made.
Damn nerves strike again.
“I see she didn’t overstate the issue.” He placed his hand over mine, stilling my frantic attempt to clean up the spilled wine.
“Excuse me?” I looked up to see him watching me – again.
The intensity in his expression radiated confidence. As if he’d found something he’d lost. How I’d caught the eye of such an accomplished man I wasn’t sure.
“Randi warned me you turned into a bit of klutz when your nerves got the better of you.” He continued to hold my hand in his as the server arrived at our table with a white towel.
“Maybe.” I couldn’t believe my friend and roommate had ratted me out. Forget hiding under the table, I wanted to ground to open up and swallow me.
“Relax, Bethany.” He gave my hand a squeeze. ¬In the flickering candlelight, his hair shifted from silver to white. His short salt and pepper beard framed his full lips as he smiled at me. “I remember how frustrating first dates were after my wife died.”
“Of course.” He waited for our server to leave. “While Sara wasn’t my true-mate, I enjoyed a good many years with her.” His eyes refused to let mine go – his inner wolf peeking out. “Hopefully, I’ll have as many with you, mate.”
Beautiful imagery and strong emotions with compelling characters!
Keeping up with Astrid shouldn’t be this hard – she’s old enough to be my mother – but I’m more out of shape than I thought. Still, I keep her in my sights even as my lungs burn and my body protests the burning of calories I can’t spare.
“Hurry! She’s getting worse…” Claire’s voice comes through the walkie-talkies, the panic in it enough to keep me going.
I round the corner barely fast enough to see her dart into an abandoned building. At first glance it looks like it’s ready to fall apart, but Astrid always picks safehouses carefully, so I don’t think twice about following her.
Up a flight of stairs and down the hall, Astrid stands at a door, waving at me to move faster. It would annoy me if not for the urgency on her face, and cries of pain coming from the room.
“Elle? What’s happening?” She’s on her side, her body curled in on itself. I try to get close, but her aura singes my skin, and I have to jump back. “Shit!”
“I see she didn’t overstate the issue – something’s really wrong with your angel.”
“She’s not mine.” But I do feel responsible for her. Dammit. “This place is guarded against wraiths, right?”
“Just this room.”
“Okay. Shut the door. Whatever happens, do not leave. Not until I wake up.” I lay down, hoping I’m not as out of practice at astral projection as I am at running.
245 Withered Legacy words
I love the high fantasy stakes, power and adventure of this piece!
Wailing filled the air. Both mechanic and human alike.
Ulfric climbed up a pile of rubble to get a better view. Not that there was anything better about it. The town that stretched out before him no longer stood upright. Homes reduced to ash and stone. Streets littered in debris and bodies. The wind of an incoming hovercraft kicked up ash and smoke in a tornado’s formation. He could taste the grit against cracked lips.
Something red caught his eye in the whirlwind. It flailed through the air toward him until the hovercraft landed, killing the unforgiving breeze. The red fluttered down, landing in the rubble before him. A lonely spark of bright, lively color. Charred now, missing half of itself.
Shifting rock caused him to reach for his rifle.
“Calm, solider.” Sergeant Vout stopped just beside him, hands behind her back.
“Sergeant.” His gaze returned forward, drifting down. Crouching he picked up the tiny red fabric, rubbing it between thumb and forefinger. A baby’s sock.
“I see she didn’t overstate the issue.” Sergeant Vout’s voice rang flat, lips pursed.
“I see. And where is Soldier Carmilla now?”
“We don’t know, Ma’am. She’s in the wind.”
“I see.” A long silence hung over them. “I hope your girlfriend knows what she’s doing.”
Ulfric glanced to her as she caught his gaze then walked off shouting orders to others. He tucked the sock into his flak jacket. They were all missing half of themselves out here.
247 war atrocity words
The poetic poignancy of this one is captured eloquently in the final line.
They found me dangling from a flag pole and I had to scramble to tell them a story so the shrink wouldn’t hold me on 5150.
“Beelzebub refused to use his litter box so put it on the balcony. A bird flew in, landed on my head; the cat pounced on me knocking me down. It knocked my wig off. Reaching for my wig the cat pounced again knocking me sideways and over the balcony. I put my hands out to stop my fall and felt the flag pole going down, but missed it; my dress caught it so I was dangling there for about twenty minutes.
Just then another woman rushed into the unit.
“I see she didn’t overstate the issue, mother. She’s a good neighbour to tell me what happened to you. You shouldn’t have jumped over the balcony.
“I didn’t you pushed me,” I admitted.
“Sadly, you need help.” the daughter stated.
Seventy two hours later when the police kindly gave me a ride home. My neighbour had questions 1.) Didn’t anyone take messages at the police station? 2.) Hadn’t we arrested the daughter for attempting to kill the me? And 3.) How could my daughter have sold the apartment and all the belongings?
I’m stilling searching for my daughter have you seen her? She’s two feet tall has black fur and green eyes and answers to the name Methusda.
The daughter (and not Beelzebub?) being the cat is an intriguing twist.
Sheriff Mac Anderson shook his head as he looked around the crime scene. He’d known something bad had happened when his deputy had called in for help, Sam never called for help. What he wasn’t expecting was to see her sitting dejectedly on the sofa the bride’s maid’s gown she wore looked like some comic parody of a wedding gone wrong.
Bits of cake and icing covered her from head to toe and a quick look in the corner showed that the cake or the remains of the cake had been landed on by a roughly human-sized form… Sam herself if Mac hadn’t missed his guess.
At least no one was hurt. Checking out the scene, he noticed Cheeto, the groom’s Doberman was sitting there licking icing off his paw and then running around in a sugar-fueled frenzy before stopping to clean himself more.
“Dare I ask what happened?”
“Dani asked me to stop by, she said something was wrong. Davis wasn’t answering his calls and she had a really bad feeling about what was going on.”
Mac nodded. “Okay, and when did you call for backup?”
Sam gave him a sheepish look. “When I saw something big and furry attacking the groom.”
Mac nodded, raising his eyebrow. “Cheeto?”
Mac looked around at the mess and shook his head. “I see she didn’t overstate the issue.”
“I’m never going to live this down, am I?”
Sam looked so dejected Mac couldn’t help but laugh.
“No, you’re not.”
250 words (not including title)
I am charmed with Cheeto, and glad that while Sam will never live the incident down, it does sound like everyone lived through it.
#ThursThreads Week 384 is now CLOSED. Thanks to everyone who wrote this week and I hope to catch you next week.