#5MinuteFiction Week Fourteen

And we’re now officially a well-seasoned, mature event here at 5MinuteFiction. Or, well, something like that.

And welcome to 5MinuteFiction. That means we write fiction. In five minutes. Shocker, I know.

The Rules

* You get five minutes to write a piece of prose in any style or genre

* You must directly reference today’s prompt: expression

Note: The prompt is the word, the picture’s just for decoration and/or inspiration.

photo by VONB & vv

* Post your entry as a comment to this post.

That’s it. I’ll close the contest at 1:45. I think we know how this works, but if you are confused or just want to whine, feel free to email me.

At the close of the contest, this week’s guest judge, Claire Legrand@clairelegrand will nominate five finalists. I’ll put the nominees in the poll on the side of the page, and at 9:30 PM EDT I’ll close the poll and declare the winner.

For updates, you can subscribe to my RSS Feed, or follow me on twitter.

What’s the prize? Well, nothing, obviously. But we’ll all agree to tweet and/or blog about the winner of today’s contest so their fame and fortune will be assured.

A Few Notes:

* In the interest of time and formatting, it’s best to type straight into the comment box. It’s also smart to do a quick highlight and copy before you hit “post” just in case the internets decide to eat your entry. If your entry doesn’t appear right away, email me sometimes comments go into the suspected spam folder and I have to dig them out.

* I reserve the right to remove hate speech or similar but I’m not too picky about the other stuff.

* This is all for fun and self-promotion. So be sure to put your twitter handle at the end of your post and a link to your blog if you have one.

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21 Responses to #5MinuteFiction Week Fourteen

  1. What is the expression? Sitting in the cat bird seat? Is that cat-bird? Catbird?

    What the hell does that mean, anyway?

    Well, whatever it’s supposed to mean, that’s what I felt like. Like I was sitting in some completely meaningless, confusing, and bum-fucked-up non-existent seat in some crazy time or place where weird expressions like that meant anything.

    I’m telling you right here and now, I am NEVER taking those things again. Even Steve didn’t know what they were and that should have clued me in right there. And Sylvia sitting there with that expression on her face, her typical absolute-lack-of-intelligent-thought look but… more? I should have taken the warning.

    ‘Cause now I’m in some flat-word seat. No,that’s not right. Prat-herd. Frat-turd. No, no. Shit. Whatever.

    I’m gonna kill Steve. Soon as this plate lands and I can get off this crazy ride.

  2. “Hungry?”

    He cocked an eyebrow at me. Stupid Vulcan. He hasn’t got more than that one stupid expression. At least not that I’ve seen in these seven months.

    “I found another bug under the mattress.”

    He didn’t even glance at me, just sat there, meditating or whatever it is Vulcans do for hour upon hour, day in, day out.

    “Fine, I’ll eat it.”

    When they threw us both into this cell, I figured his super strength and logic would get us out in no time.

    No such luck.

    Green blooded bastard.


    He glanced over.

    “Why don’t you work on a plan to get us out of here instead of just sitting there another day like a big, stupid pointy eared rock.”

    He reached over, pinched my neck.

    Sometimes, it’s the only way I can get to sleep.

  3. “What do you mean, what is it?” Janey said. “It’s an artistic work. It’s an expression of my emotions! How do you not get that?”

    “Sorry,” Dave said. “I just don’t see it. It’s just a bunch of wavy lines and squares. Oh, and a triangle.”

    He lifted his glass to his lips and sipped the expensive wine within. He tilted his head sideways and then back again. Then, he shook it.

    “Nope, sorry,” he said at last. “Look, kid, you obviously have talent, but I’ve seen abstract works that are one hundred times better than this. If you want to hang in my gallery, you’ll need to up your game.”

    “Oh yeah?” Janey said.

    Dave turned to look at her when he thought he saw something move out of the corner of her eye. He turned back to the painting just in time to see the lines on it move. And the squares were moving too, in an agitated fashion. He stared at it, moving closer, amazed. He was about to say something when suddenly the lines and squares flew out of the painting and grabbed him. He tried to scream, but a square was covering his mouth. The lines pulled, and he disappeared into the flat canvas.

    “There,” Janey said, staring at the little image of a man that looked remarkably like Dave, fighting in to be freed from the triangle. “You were right. I did not something a little more.”

    -Chris Blanchard, @blanchardauthor

  4. R.C. Murphy says:

    The expression on Angel’s face was priceless. He stood there dumbstruck staring at the lacy lingerie hugging my ample curves. It was a long look, one of those that makes you hold your breath until your lungs scream for fresh oxygen. My face was damn near blue by the time he managed to regain enough sense to speak properly.

    “Cassy, you have the wrong idea about us.” Pain flickered across his face before Angel disappeared through the bedroom door.

    What the hell did he mean by that?

    I grabbed the robe off the foot of the bed and followed him out into the living room. Angel sat on the couch, his face totally unreadable now. My heart sank down to the soles of my feet. All of the dates and cuddling. All of the shared secrets and inside jokes. They seemed to mean nothing to him. I was trying to take our relationship to the next level.

    Oh god damnit, I was going to get the friend speech. Aren’t the girls supposed to be the ones to do that?

    “I’m…” Angel started. If my heart could have crawled out of my body to shove itself in the garbage disposal it would have at the sight of so much pain on his face.

    “Just say it, already. You’re killing me here.”

    “Sweetie, I’m gay.”


  5. Eric says:

    “I don’t get it,” Jessica said as she tilted her head to one side. “Is it supposed to mean something?”

    Mike sighed in disgust. “It means everything! This painting is my very life, my very soul!”

    “It looks like a bunch of paint splatters,” Jim chimed in.

    “That’s right! Jim gets it,” Mike said. “The randomness of the splatter expresses the randomness of life, the confusion and frustration, and also the very beauty of life.”

    Mike’s patrons stared at the painting a moment longer, and in unison shook their heads and walked away.

    “You ignorant savages! You Philistines!” Mike yelled out to them.

    Mike’s next project dripped paint onto canvas like the tears dripping from his face.

    My first attempt at #5minutefiction– @briefconceits

  6. Gah… I want to edit mine now… that last sentence is supposed to read “I did need a little something more.”

  7. Jules Carey says:


    “I know this is going to sound wrong,” he said after we were introduced by a mutual friend, “but I had this dream the other night. I coulda swore it was about you. And I was wondering if you’d let me kiss you?”

    This had to be the worst pick up line I had ever heard.

    “I swear, it’ll be completely harmless,” he added upon seeing my expression.

    “Um… no.” I uttered. Not that he wasn’t a good looking guy. He was about 6 foot tall with spiky blond hair and ocean blue eyes. All traits I was fond of. Normally, maybe after a date at least, I would love the opportunity to lock lips with this guy. Tonight, I just found his overexuberance a bit irritating.

    “I’m sorry. I know it sounds too bold, but it’s actually very important. I’m afraid I can’t take ‘no’ for an answer. I am sorry.” He took a step toward me and before I could think about what was happening, he had wrapped one arm around my waist. Pulling me in to him, I realized he was stronger than he looked. He cupped my chin in the other hand and slid it back toward my ear. Hesitating a moment, he searched my eyes for something. In that instant, I was glad he hadn’t listened to me. As I looked back at him, I realized for a second I knew him, but from where I couldn’t remember.

    He must have found what he was looking for because a second later he pressed his lips on mine. I have heard women describe a first kiss as magical before, but something in this was actually so. I could feel the universe around me. Every living being within miles became a part of my breath, my mind, and my heart. I felt the passions of lovers and the hatred of fighters. I knew the love of a mother and the joy of finding a soul mate. I felt the anger of a scorned lover and the fear of the lost. All in one instant, the entire universe was mine and nothing could hide from me.

    I slid my hands from his chest to his neck. Gripping his head him mine, I returned his kiss with more emotion then any before.

    Eventually, we parted. Looking at him I knew all my past lives. Suddenly, I knew who I was… and what I had to do.

  8. @noellepierce on Twitter

    She knew she shouldn’t be there. He specifically asked them not to come. But it was just too tempting. Her own brother headlining his own dinner theater show. Pulling out the video camera, she settled into her seat as the lights dimmed.

    “Excuse me.” Someone tapped on her shoulder. “You can’t record the performance.”

    “Oh, but I’m his sister.”

    “Still, it’s not allowed.”

    “Okay.” She closed up the viewing panel and replaced the camcorder in its bag, grumbling. Where were the perks of being related to the star? She’d have words with her brother after this.

    The curtains were bright under the spotlights and the crowd hushed as they parted.

    She admired the beauty and grace of the woman walking toward the microphone, a jazzy number playing in the background. Her dress was red-sequined and slit nearly up to her hip—a throwback to a bygone era and gorgeous. Then her eyes rounded and she realized the woman on stage before her—with her sultry expression, pouty lips, and mile-high legs—was the person she’d come to see.

  9. Richard Wood says:

    I looked into this. A lot.

    Once I made the decision TO kill myself, I had to do the research into HOW to do it.

    I’m a bit of a pussy, so I really didn’t want to feel it.

    I looked into sleeping pills. But the convulsions and the vomiting side effects made me a bit queasy.

    Hanging myself, well that sounded too painful…besides shitting myself while gasping for that last breath seemed too disgusting for words.

    Drowning myself…well I don’t have the courage for that one either. The thought of sucking in water in a blind panic for my last minute of life made me shudder.

    There were some exotic concoctions of drugs I could use…a la Jack Kevorkian…but I couldn’t get those without a medical license.

    Believe it or not, according to the experts, putting a high caliber pistol into your mouth and pulling the trigger was the ‘best way to go.’

    You know…like Stanley Adams the actor or that porn star Savannah. Or Superman–George Reeves. Although there is still some debate about that.

    So I went out and bought a .357 Magnum. Silver. It was like something from the old west. I had to wait seven days to get it…after all, as excruciating as my life was, what was seven days to a law abiding no-chance taking pussy like me?

    The night I picked up the gun and the license, I kissed my ten-year-old son good bye…he wanted to play ‘lightsabers’ before bed, so he and I dueled with the light-up toys for a while. I kissed him a second time and tucked him in.

    Next was my six-year-old daughter who wanted me to tell her a story. I never read to her, see. I always would make up a story for her before bedtime. It was the only creative thing I’d ever done in my life.

    I went on about a princess and a dragon, and my little girl clapped and laughed and squealed in delight in all the right places. Finally, I kissed her for the last time as well.

    I went down stairs and told my wife I was going out.

    “Fuck you,” she’d said. I didn’t blame her.

    I got into my car and drove to the national park. I’d always loved the park.

    I sat amongst the trees for an hour or so, gun in hand, crying like the pussy I am.

    I couldn’t do this. My babies would be devastated. But tomorrow, my soon to be ex-wife and I planned to tell the kids about the divorce. The thought of the expression on their faces…I just couldn’t face it.

    She’d get them anyway of course. After what I’ve done, I’d be lucky to get even visitation rights.

    I cried for a while more. I made the decision. I’d rather remember my children as I last saw them. Happy, playful and full of love for their dad.

    Their smiles were the last thing I saw in my mind before I blew my brains out. I didn’t feel a thing.


  10. Sessha Batto says:

    “It’s just an expression.”

    He got no response from the huddled figure except a stifled sob.

    “I didn’t mean it. You know I don’t think of you like that.”

    His partner remained stubbornly curled in on himself, refusing to so much as glance in his direction.

    “You know I love you.” He lifted his lover’s chin, wiping away the salty trail, and kissed him thoroughly. “Please say something.”

    The rather disheartening response a stubborn shake of the head and an all too adorable pout. “Are you ever going to speak to me again?”

    He had to smile at the firm head shake. Who’d have thought the usually sensible lawyer to be so petty. “I didn’t mean you weren’t supposed to speak. It’s an expression. All the kids in my class use it. I know you’ve heard them. One says something, the other says shut up.”

    He trailed off at the mischievous look on the handsome face. “You aren’t mad at all. You . . .”

    “Oh, shut up,” his lover whispered before he kissed away his frustration.


  11. Breanne says:

    Raph had started making movies when he was seven years old. He had found the home video camera, stagnant since his brother’s birth when Raph had been three, and from that moment on, he was hooked. And, as soon as he had started making movies, he’d started making horror movies, movies so twisted and gruesome that anyone who watched them–teachers, friends, other kids–assumed there was something wrong with him.

    “It’s self-expression,” his father, the analyst, the calm and patient giant of a man who seemed to have a logical explanation for everything, would say, over and over. “There’s nothing wrong with him for personifying his fears.”

    As much as Raph wanted to believe that, he knew it was bullshit. Especially right now. He knew that there was a justification for this, too, knew that everything that Isaiah had done in his life meant that he was basically asking for it, but all Raph could think, watching the scene unfold in front of him with a blank expression on his face, was that he was no better than the monsters that he had created, that those monsters were nothing more than a mirror of himself.

    He gave the body one last long look, wiped his bloody hands on his jeans, and walked away.


  12. Raziel Moore says:

    “I can’t goddamn read you,” Leonard complained.

    “And that’s my problem how?” Marta replied.

    “We’re supposed to be _partners_ in this. We have to know what each other is thinking or it’s all going to go to shit right quick.”

    “Maybe you’re looking at the wrong thing, Len. Try maybe a foot above my tits.”

    “Not fucking funny, Marta. I’m _talking_ about your expression. You’re like a _mannequin_.”

    She looked at him, dead-eyed.

    “Has this always been a problem?”

    “No! Thats what’s driving me crazy. I can usually tell what’s going on pretty well. We usually have a good rapport. It’s gotten us out of more than one scrape.”

    “Maybe so. Maybe you’re reading me just fine, Len.”

    “Jesus. You’re no help, Marta. Now help me figure which wire to cut.”

    “I already know, Len.”

    “Dammit, just say!”

    “It doesn’t matter. It’s fail-safed. There’s no stopping it.”

    Leonard looked over at Marta. Suddenly, he could read her just fine.


  13. Jeff Pfaller says:


    It was 1:40, and time was ticking. Jack sat in his favorite coffee shop downstairs, fingers gently hovering above his computer keys. Feeling the hard plastic under his calloused fingertips. Mind, completely blank.

    5 minutes wasn’t long enough to come up with something about expressions. A facial gesture? Seriously?

    Jack leaned over to the person next to him. “Excuse me?”

    “Yes?” a red haired businessman, every inch of him Irish, raised an eyebrow from behind his Blackberry.

    “What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word ‘expression’?”

    “Piss off.”

    Jack jerked back into his seat, looked at the Irishman for a second longer, and looked at the clock.

    1:42. Fuck.

    He began to write, nonsense, mostly, hoping at some point he’d be able to work in the word expression innocuously and qualify for the finals this week.

    Jack’s hands shook as they reached for his coffee.

    The contest had become everything. After his job had gotten the internet usage report and discovered he’d spent 24 hours on the website and 16 hours constantly updating his Twitter hashtag search for #5MinFiction, he’d been laid off.

    His wife had accused him of having an affair with one of the finalists after he had gushed and gushed about her beautiful prose.

    Now they were divorced, kicking him out of the house and preventing him from seeing his kids.

    Jack had lost everything, and he had fully expected the contest to fill the hole. Sitting at his computer now, he had never felt more empty, more devoid of feeling and talent than he ever had in his life.

    It was 1:44, and all he really wanted was to see his kids smile again. To see the expression of pure and utter joy on their face when he came home after work. They didn’t care if he won or lost. They didn’t care if he had a shitty day at work.

    Their expression was always the same. And Jack smiled.


  14. T.L Tyson says:

    Everything Pearl Wesley owned fit into her suitcase. Her pants with the elastic waist, the hair rollers her mother had given to her on her sixteenth birthday, her toothbrush with its bristles sticking out in a million directions, the Christmas sweater her Auntie Martha knitted for her with the reindeer on the side, and the figurine her long dead Henry had given her. Peal always wrapped the figurine in her socks to keep it protected; she would die if it ever broke. It was a simple enough glass ornament, nothing to make a big deal about, except that it was a gift from Henry, her Henry.
    Henry who’d choked on a Scotch Mint in front of the television that Sunday before Colombo had even finished. From the kitchen, where Pearl had been removing a chocolate cake from the fridge to slice off a hunk for herself, she hadn’t even heard him gasping for breath. When she entered the living room, icing covered cake in one hand and glass of milk in the other, and her eyes befell Henry, who’s own eyes were rolled to the back of his head, she’d let out a blood curdling scream. Of course, no one lived near them, and she had to calm herself down so she could call the police herself.
    After he passed on, things fell apart. Until she liquidated all their belongings, sold their house, and packed the remainder of her life into the battered suitcase. And the figurine. It was her most prized possession, two glass cats playing with a ball of yarn, frozen forever in that act of kitten fun. Every night, when the street lights filtered down the ally she slept in, Pearl took the ornament out, unravelled it from the sock, and looked at it. And remembered.
    For the most part she remembered Henry, but once in awhile she remember the baby that died in her womb and the way it felt to be handcuffed and thrown in the back of police cruiser simply for not having a place to sleep. She would reminisce on the past in hopes of forgetting about the hunger in her belly. If it was a Friday night, Pearl would take the ornament out, set it on her shopping car and use her water bottle to wash out her intimates. Then as they dried, she would hum to herself, her and Henry’s song.
    But tonight wasn’t Friday, or Sunday, it was Tuesday. The figurine sat by Pearl’s head. Down the ally came a voice, “Excuse me, Ma’am.”
    Pearl didn’t answer.
    Feet approached, muffled words. The police officer bent down, shining his flashlight in Pearl’s face, and then letting out a weary sigh. The younger, newer, shiner cop behind him asked, “Another one?”
    “It’s too cold out here.”
    Glancing over his shoulder, the older cop caught the younger cop gawking at the body and ask, “What is it?”
    “The expression on her face?”
    “What about it?”
    “What is it?”
    The older cop shrugged. “Peace.”
    And sure enough, a smile curved the corner of Pearl’s mouth, her eyes open, focused on the figurine her long dead Henry had given her.

  15. Dennis says:

    She didn’t have to say a word. The expression on her face was her answer.

    I closed the tiny case, stood up. We walked wordlessly back down the hill, and I drove her home. That was the last time I saw her.


  16. Tauisha Smith says:


    She’s gone.

    She never knew just how much I loved her. We were always friends, you know. Went everywhere together. Told each other everything. There wasn’t a secret about her I ddn’t know.

    Not even the secret of her hugest crush on Donovan: my best friend.

    And he knew how I felt about her. Not like it stopped him from going after her, now did it? But, I wouldn’t stoop down to his level and take the one thing I rightfully deserved. The one thing I’d throw myself in front of a zooming train for.

    And she never knew.

    “Hey, Dave!” I heard a female voice call out to me.

    Turning towards the sound of russtling fabric, I smiled at one of the bridesmaids for the wedding I’m attending today.

    Donovan and Kerry’s wedding.

    “Kerry wants to see you,” the bridesmaid smiled. “She says today wouldn’t be complete without her honorary best man.”

    Sighing, my heart sobbed at the thought of seeing her. Seeing Kerry dressed in white, ready to give her life to another man.

    A man who wasn’t me. A man who could never love her as I love her.

    But, who am I to disappoint the greatest woman in the world?

    “Sure,” I sigh, waving my hand before us. “Lead the way.”

    She smiled and quickly lead me to a room located in the back of the church. It was an office that was quickly transformed into a woman’s dressing room. Laughter bounced off the walls to greet me when we opened the door. Kerry was standing closer to one of the windows, laughing with her mother as she was fluffing her train out. At that moment, the sun eased it’s light through the window, shimmering all over Kerry in ways that made her look even more angelic than usual.

    She was absolutely beautiful in her white gown. Then, she finally turned to me and grinned. “Dave. You came!”

    “Wouldn’t miss it,” I spoke over the huge lump in my throat.

    How heartbreakingly beautiful she was.

    How I wished she looked this way for me.

    “Can you guys give us a second?” Kerry gently asked her friends and family.

    They all eased out of the room, taking thier laughter and joy with them. Leaving Kerry and me to the akwardness that settled around us.

    She walked over and slid her arms around my neck to hug me. “It means everything to have my best friend here today.”

    “As I said, wouldn’t miss it.”

    She smiled and sighed. “So, you’ll be honest with me, then?”

    “You got it.”

    “Am I making a mistake?”

    I frowned. “Pardon me?”

    “Marrying Donovan, I mean. Is this…is this a mistake?”

    What could I tell her? Could I finally express the depth of my feelings, and how much I truly wanted her for myslef? On her wedding day?

    Before I could stop myself, I leaned down and claimed her lips in the sweetest kiss I ever known.

    “Think about that,” I muttered before leaving her standing there.

  17. Alex Riley says:

    Mr Ringlock had as many expressions as there were colours in mother-of-pearl. They shifted and turned with the seasons of the air, from rain to dappled sunlight to storms that smelled like crushed violets.

    He took me to the riverside so we could watch the salmon make their pilgrimage.

    “Look,” he said, “how they swim against the river, even though it is a God to them.”

    When I looked at him then, I saw an expression I did not recognise – as if there were two parts of him fighting. Blood and water, silver and fire. He was silent until the sun had set, and the fish became no more than ghosts in the moonlight.

  18. “What is the expression?” She says looking at me across the small table. The candlelight makes her features dance, the shadows moving from one side of her face to the next. Her eyes, green and large and hungry, hang in silence as she waits for my response. Every so often her lips curl up, a smile breaking through.

    “Um…you mean, what does it translate to, what you said?” I say, nervous, shaky.

    “Oui,” she says. “Voulez-vous rentrer avec moi? How is that…I mean, how do you say in English?”

    “I guess it means, ‘Do you want to come home with me.’ Something like that.”

    “Yes,” she says hanging on to the s, reaching a hand out and touching mine. The contact makes me shiver, like cold water running down my back. She sees me squirm and reaches her other hand out, both of them now enveloping my own. “I think you understand the meaning, oui?”

    Well, I don’t want to jump to any conclusions, but I think you’re inviting me home. Like…right now.”

    She nods and I move back in my seat. I look around the tiny, cramped Moroccan restaurant, then back to our table. Remnants of lamb stew and couscous on our plates, some spilled over on the table. The whole place is dark, and the waiters deftly maneuvers the narrow rows between the closely-placed tables. I look to my side, at an American couple dining right next to us. At points during dinner they looked over and took an interest in our conversation, and only now I’m wondering what they must think about this proposition happening before them. I look back to the girl, and I smile.

    “Well?” she says. “Shall we…go?”

    “Why not,” I say, standing, wondering how I could ever be this lucky, especially with a woman this beautiful.

    Outside she’s wrapped in her coat and even though it’s night, the sky is covered with dark clouds. As we walk through the cobblestoned street of the Latin Quarter, she stops and turns toward me.

    “Yes?” I say, smiling, and I can’t help but think about being naked with her, about what sort of delights may be in store for me.

    “Before we go further,” she says, caressing my arms, “I think we should…what is the expression? Discuss the price of my services.”

    I slump back, my stomach in my throat. She stands there, waiting for me to say something. “Yes,” I say slowly, looking around at a gaggle of students passing us, then back at her, her huge, green eyes demanding. “That is the expression.”


  19. OK, calling time by the clock on the site. I have no idea why, but the time on the site and the time off the internet clocks are two different things. By a lot. Strange.

    OK, I was totally silly this week. That was fun. I can’t wait to see what everyone makes of this one.

    Off to read!

  20. This is Colleen Meeks’ entry. Didn’t make it in time but I think everyone should get to read it too:

    The fan spun lazily, apathetically sending puffs of air to her sticky face. She watched it trace its circular path on the ceiling…around…and again…and around. She was ready for sleep. A strand of hair stuck to her forehead, and she wanted to sweep it away. But she couldn’t decide how raise her hand to her face in a motion that wouldn’t betray her.

    Instead, she shifted the hand that had begun to move towards her face while she was distracted by the fan, directed its course to the back of his neck. It surprised her that he was damp, and then she was surprised that she was surprised. Of course he would be at least as sticky as her. The renegade hand, unattended again, began to retreat, but she forced it to stay, to knead the cool damp skin that had offended it. She sighed, and he leaned back…leaned up.

    Quickly, she arranged her face into what she thought she remembered being the appropriate expression. Heavy eyes, slight smile.

    “Are you alright?” he asked breathlessly.

    “Fine.” She replied.

    The concerned valley lingered for a moment between his brows, as did his gaze. Then he smiled, bent down to nuzzle her ear, and continued.

    With his attention occupied, she looked back to the fan, which still offered no relief, and allowed her forehead, her eyes, her swollen lips, to ease back into the pose of nothing.

    “I love you,” he grunted.

    “I love you, too,” she said, praying that meant that sleep would come soon.


  21. Sam says:

    1 vote for Jeff Pfaller. I was the red head in the story.

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