Friday, August 1, 2014

2 Minutes. Go!

Hey, writer-type folks. Every Friday we do a fun free-write. 

You can write whatever you want in the comments section on this blog post. You have two minutes (give or take a few seconds ... no pressure!). Have fun. The more people who play, the more fun it is. So, tell a friend. Then send 'em here to read your 'two' and encourage them to play. 

(This was more like four minutes - it didn't want me to stop.)

He could feel it inside, a pressure - something urgent - he did his best to ignore it. He grit his teeth when he stood up, no old man sighs. He helped with the work like he always had, stacking wood, working the field, sunlight nearing sadistic. He sweat - sweat was his reward, he loved the work, the sweat, the days that passed with invisible clarity, mind detached and body pumping. But this pressure. This pressure was something. 

Clyde looked at his father and smiled. It was a sad smile filled with regret and hope and love, mostly sadness. His mouth tasted like corn silk and cotton balls. He was thirsty. 

Clyde was standing, hat off and wind pushing his damp hair back. He was enjoying the smell of the flowers his wife planted. He felt like a lucky man. He had this land, a good woman, family. He thought about rolling a cigarette, but shrugged it off. It was then that the old man fell. First, to his knees - he fell like a penitent at the end of a long journey. His fall was a baptism. He was still, on his knees, head down, arms wide. Then, just as slowly, he fell forward.

Clyde's run had left him breathless, and he could barely whisper.

"Pop..."

"Clyde, hush. Not much time..."

"You can't die!"

"Everyone dies, son. I wouldn't have had it any other way. I swear. I dreamed it this way. I love you, and you will do this land proud. You've done me proud."

"Dad, what can I do?"

Clyde was frantic now, crying.

"Hold me, son. And bury me here. Right here. And smile when you think of me. My time is over. Yours has begun. Have a son. I did, and it was the best thing I ever did."

Thanks for stopping by! See you next Friday. 

69 comments:

  1. Boyd juggled “yes,” “no,” and “maybe” like a circus clown on stilts, petrified that taking a stand would bring him crashing down. A man of acute indecision, he’d never don even badges of valor given away on the street.

    “You could’ve been somebody,” his common-law wife Molly said.

    Boyd smirked. “A contender?”

    “A somebody.” Then she walked away with her oft-repeated closing, “Ah, you make me sick!”

    He wished he could explain. Why it was that committing himself to marriage, a job, even the least significant of plans paralyzed him into a cold dizzying sweat. Once he made Molly cry when he said he’d failed at several attempts at suicide and had since resigned himself to living out his sentence without complaint.

    Years ago she would’ve left him in his misery, but she had grown too accustomed to loving him and expecting almost nothing in return.

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    1. Sal, you know I love your stuff. This is a great piece. So sad, real, heartrending. Thank you.

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    2. Bleak but all too real. Great work.

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    3. Realism, romantic in its bitter sweet way. It is sad, but in a sad way also something of an anthem to unconditional love. Hopeful, in a dark resigned way.

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    4. Poignant piece. You paint a vivid picture of these two in such a brief passage, and that is great writing.

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    5. I am overwhelmed by your kind praise. Thank you!

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  2. The sky crackled and I flinched. The dish I’d been drying flew from my fingers, landing with a thud on the linoleum. The tiny hairs on my arms stood at pinprick attention, skin bunching up. A flash of lightning blasted in one long thin bolt from the bottom of the swollen cloud bank into the tops of the trees. Ben was up there. Climbing, sitting on his favorite branch, watching the sky. Mom had told him to stay inside, but you could never tell my brother anything. It was the mark of manhood, he’d say, his chest puffing up. You take risks. You shake your fist at the sky. I rushed out the kitchen door. The ground rumbled under my feet. I stared wildly ahead, watching for movement of a boy in a red t-shirt, but I didn’t see him. Not in the trees, or on the wooden ladder he’d nailed into the trunk of his favorite oak. I took off running, my sneakers slipping on the grass now wet with rain, calling out for him, his name lost in the rumble of thunder.

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    1. This is an awesome snapshot of fear, my friend. I have been the careless boy and the caring scared. You nailed it.

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    2. This is another of your 'King'-like real-to-lifes. I can see this playing in my mind's eye now. Awesome!

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    3. I wish there were a next page to turn! Great piece, Laurie.

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  3. Jarvis cupped her cheek, the peach fuzz tickling his palm. She was such a prize. She had flawless milky skin touched with a natural blush. The blush that was warming his hand now.

    He took in a breath, feeling the heat of her body as his chest swelled against her side. Feeling her wriggle and undulate against him in that way that made him crazy. Her hair too, spilling across his shoulder like blossom: light and fragrant; falling through his fingers like spun silk. So fine. So soft. And so precious to him. He leaned in closer; his lips grazing her nose, her cheek, her gummily-glossed lips.

    Sweet cherries.

    She was such a feast for his senses.

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    1. You captured the rapture of love/lust perfectly. Gummily-glossed and everything.

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  4. Beethoven’s Sixth floated up to Jessie’s dressing-room window. The graceful roll of Pastoral usually soothed her, which was why she’d wanted to walk down the aisle to it, but now it just grated, reminded her with each passing bar that she still had time to bolt. She’d already counted the steps to the back staircase of the manor house, and had a plan: off with the pinching satin heels, lift the voluminous skirt enough to make it down without breaking her neck. And from there? She wasn’t sure. They were in the middle of acres of farmland, the locale chosen for…again, pastoral calm, and all the cars were in the small front lot. Brian had the keys. Funny, she thought, but it wasn’t so funny, and tears began trickling down her cheeks. Brian had the keys. To her life. To her escape. To everything.

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    1. Bam! This is so, good, Laurie. Flash at it's finest.

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  5. Thunder shook the windows and rain blew in through the broken window. I had no recollection of how I'd come here, nor any explanation of why I was standing naked in an empty room. I watched a raindrop stick to my chesthair--when had it gone gray? It joined a sister raindrop and ran slowly down my chest.

    I closed my eyes and felt the drop grow on my skin as gravity led it on.

    "You're naked, old man. You look silly," an ancient voice chided me.

    I turned quickly, but the room was dark. It was another moment before I realized it was my own voice, grown old with disuse.

    Another bolt of lightning cast my hunched shadow on the wall. I returned my attention to the window. An eerie ball of lightning rolled slowly across the lawn toward the window.

    "So this is death."

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    1. This almost feels like magical realism. The mystery and the possibilities. The magic of the mind, black. This is a great piece, my friend.

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    2. Every sentence is such a descriptive gem. It reads like an expensive port, hitting every note as you taste it. My fav : " felt the drop grow on my skin as gravity led it on."

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  6. You can count it up, tally that shit, it don't matter to me one bit. How many times have we smelled this coconut cigarette blasphemy? How many times has the taste of whiskey numbed our tongues? Sure, you say we're caught up in it. Like a fishing net - don't fight it or it will just get worse. The tangles will be harder to navigate.

    Sure, and it's all well and good to three beer proclaim your change, like bills dropped for tall drinks. The bartender knows. It's all well and good when your eyes are bright and you're feeling light. You'll see. I'll see. In the morning, it will make sense. Until evening when it doesn't make sense again until the next morning, this brave cowardice.

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    1. I would love to hear you read this out loud with the soft rumble of an upright bass and percussion in the background.

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    2. lol. That would be dope. I'm glad you hear it, too. :)

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  7. Flame sparked where the sun kissed his hair, and turned his already dusky skin golden. His concentration was complete as the sand left his trowel and spilled into the waiting pail. Another scoop. And another. Then ... dump. "Yuhp, burble, wheeee, gabgab, baaal," The cheerful babble that accompanied this exercise never halted.

    "Smile for the camera, Buddy".

    His head turns, trowel held in mid-air,. The toothless grin that splits his face makes the whole world right."Daddeeee!" Back to the sand, scoop, dump, scoop.

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    1. This is so sweet. It made me smile. And want to go play in the sandbox. Love it, Yvonne.

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    3. So sweet. You can truly charm a reader with a very few words.

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  8. A fleck of brick gouted out of the wall, sinking into his cheek.

    Mason flinched away from the corner, his eyes and nose stinging. Superheated masonry dust scoring his eyelids and his sinuses as his reflexes drove him away from safety and back into the kill zone. Another five shots laced the wall; holes appearing in hyper-real slow motion as the cracks from the muzzle and the tenor-voiced ringing of the bricks sandwiched his ears.

    Further and further away from the safety of the main street. He had to go forward, not back.

    Toward the shots, even though the 'animal' inside him railed against it.

    Go forward - or die now.

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    1. This is a dope bit of flash. So vividly rendered. You can feel the tension, smell the fear. Great piece. brother.

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    2. It is vivid. Getting so much detail into so little space seems to be a super power that you have.

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    3. Thanks, guys. You're both kinda awesome yourselves, ya know?

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    4. I tell Ed. He tells me. We're in denial. ;)

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  9. I think about you now and again. I never thought I would - I thought hatred was part of it. It sure made things easier, but I don't hate anymore. Or I try not to. It's too tiring. I don't have the energy to hate. Apathy? I can reach for that.

    But I do remember, and it does catch me sometimes in the strangest way. Sure, it was shabby at the time. Sure, I'd do it differently if I had another chance to try. I bet you would, too.

    It doesn't matter and I'm just glad I have some nice memories. That's all. A piece of my life that I can see through the lens of my imagined empathy. Wherever you are, I hope you're laughing. I am. With tears in my eyes.

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    1. "A piece of my life that I can see through the lens of my imagined empathy."

      Damn! Too damn good, Mader. Too good. You hit the passing shot when I was expecting the lob and all I can do is clap as it sails by. Sorry, I don't have fishing metaphors for it. Advantage you.

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    2. Thanks, brother. Much obliged. I think I clipped the ball boy's ear. ;)

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  10. Mr. JD, just wanted to say how much I loved your opening piece. And this one, too. I love Fridays!

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    1. Thanks, G. I love Fridays, too. :)

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    2. It's all good. And Dan always brings his 'A' game!

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    3. The host must represent as the kids say. ;)

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  11. Large winged shapes peeled away from the wall above him. Reeking of vomit and shrieking out their challenge as they dropped, loose-limbed and leathery. Like pre-historic birds on 'roids and amphetamines; their general cussedness a bonus just for him.

    How he wished it was all 'just' a nightmare.

    Lewis turned away from them, his adrenaline-filled muscles bunching as his fight-or-flight reflex propelled him away from their certain doom; his shoulders spasming in anticipation of their claws and hooked beaks locking into him. The pool of light at the end of the subway a long, long way away.

    But even as he watched, that light blurred; large furry, tailed animals swarming into the gloom toward him; their squeaks and dully glowing yellow teeth snapping at each other in excitement as they imagined tearing him apart.

    Oh fuck. Now what?

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    1. Wow. Another outstanding piece, Mark. Out of the gate with such strength. Bravo.

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  12. She tried to glare him down, but no matter how hard she attempted to make his brain explode by shooting laser beams out her pupils, his blue eyes glistened like those of a small boy who’d just discovered ice cream on a summer day. “And you’re telling me this why, exactly?” Now she just tried to sound bored, as if it didn’t matter that her heart was leaking down into her stomach, drop by syrupy drop.

    “I figured you’d understand.” A trolley rolled by and sparks snapped in the overhead wires. For a second he glanced behind him, shrugged, and continued. “She sort of looks like Betty Boop, doesn’t she?”

    Her upper lip curled. “Betty Boop?” The cartoon flapper? Was the innocuous reference supposed to distract her? Or excuse what he had done? “No. I don’t see it,” she said. “I don’t see it at all.”

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    1. Ice-cold. I've been on the end of this mood all too often.

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    2. Man, you're so good, Laurie. Such force behind a delicate touch.

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    3. Man, you just set off about six ear worms in my brain. I'll be singing songs from post WWII the rest of the day now. Yeah, you're good. Damn you, you're really good.

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  14. Tap, tap, tap. Harold taps his hand against the thick denim bib of his prison made overhauls as he is blindly led along the breezeway between buildings by his life long “seeing eye person” Larry. Larry has had the job of taking care of Harold since they were children in the same snake pit of a state home for boys in rural Oregon perhaps forty or more years ago. A chore which I never once heard Larry complain about. Harold had been born blind and apparently some underpaid aide at the home had decided to pair him with Larry, a reasonably pleasant young boy with an IQ of around 48. It was easier than getting Harold the normal things a blind kid might need like training, a guide dog, use of a cane...

    I watched as the pair moved past the uprights holding the tin roof over the breezeway between buildings. I remember wondering if Larry ever regretted his only role in this life. He was functionally a seeing eye dog who could talk. Somewhat. Just then Larry brushed by one of the steel posts casing Harold to run straight into it, knocking the old man on his ass. “Watch where you’re going Harold,” Larry said coyly before laughing a purely evil laugh.

    I’ve often wondered if the universe, or any manifestation of it, ever listens to our internal dialog. If it sometimes attempts to provide an answer to our darker questions about the basic good of our fellows on this rock.

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    1. I wonder that same thing. And this is an epic piece. Man, talk about twisting emotions and expectations. To make the reader empathize with someone, want to give them a trophy, and then hate them within three paragraphs - THAT is a talent my friend. Advantage YOU. :)

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  15. There’s no point fighting it because it’s somewhere my mind needs to visit. It travels through time a lot lately and drags me along for the ride.
    Ghosts whisper accusingly and swirl around me wrapping me in their wretchedness. All the while cackling viciously, clawing my mind to release unwanted memories.
    I go willing now. I’ve realized I have to endure these metaphysical slaps in order to retain what sanity I have left.
    So I surrender and there you are again. Your’re angry as shit and twice as mean.
    Your’re yelling “If you leave I will find you and I’ll break both legs so you can never walk again,” and I believed you then.
    The mini bar in the corner is toppled over and broken bottles of liqueur are strewn across the shag pile carpet and all I can think is how the hell will I clean it up before the children wake up.
    A hammer is embedded in the stereo like King Arthurs sword and The Christians are still singing It’s An Ideal World over and over.
    The irony brings a smile, then a giggle which erupts into hysterical laughter, fiercer that Mount Vesuvious and I’m ready to blow.
    I grab a table lamp, it’s the nearest thing to me and launch it at you. I’m shocked to see it explode on the side of your head like a super-nova when the bulb shatters on impact.
    The look fear on your face is priceless and fuels my courage as I scan the room for another missile. You retreat because you are a fucking coward really. Before you slam out you smash your guitar into the door leaving the imprint of it which will be a constant reminder of this till the day we move somewhere else.
    I hate you then but not as much as I hate myself.
    Rewind and delete.

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    1. I love this piece. So very brutal, but presented so well. Lovely rhythm and pitch to this one. And the last line is a killer. Awesome.

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    2. Thanks amigo. Sorry I posted my thanks in the wrong spot so just doing it again. :)

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    3. No worries, and you're very welcome.

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    4. Awesome piece. I don't know that it is so much brutal as honest. Is that the same thing? I'm not completely sure. I'll just say that brutality and honesty are not joined at the hip. Maybe the knee.

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  16. I walked along the courtyard, people recognising my mood and stepping aside to avoid me. Beware. Best avoid the long-haired freak. He's ice and fire in flesh.

    I sometimes wonder what internal dialogue they have inside their heads. Is it mindless reaction like sheep, shying away from a wolf? I can imagine it; opening my jaws to take in the head of their baby, drool lubricating it's passage as I shake and crunch and shake again, my jaws and tongue working reflexively together to swallow it down. Spitting out the bone and looking for more. And then raising my head again to sight my more prey.

    Of course, I have my fun. Staggering aside to match their moves. Menacing them head on. Taking in the scent of their fear; the whites of their eyes large and their bodies hunched in on themselves. Making them a small target. But easier to control. Swinging my walking cane like a Kendo warrior: my face an emotionless mask. Freaking them out.

    All the time it's like a waking dream for me. The nameless predator. The wraith who disappears before the police arrive. The man who had all they had, once.

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    1. Wow, this is good. Excellent transport to a place we all live - if not in the same way. Power, brother.

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  17. "Shhh," I said soothingly. "There's no reason to get upset."

    I tightened the cord around her upper left arm. That elicited a short, pained moan from behind the thick layers of duct tape over her mouth. Her head struggled to move but the leather strop held her fairly immobile. I could see streams of tears leaking from beneath the heavy burlap blindfold across her eyes. Beyond that, the woman lay naked on the metal table, bound to it by straps made of the same kind of material as seatbelts.

    "See? No problem at all." I moved around the table and double-checked that all the other bindings were nice and tight ... but not too tight.

    I sighed. "Well, I think we're ready." I reached over her and unhasped the blindfold. I smiled at her.

    "Hello, sunshine! And how are we doing?" She looked at me with fear and panic in her eyes. "Oh, you don't know me? Well, we've never been formally introduced."

    I reached down and shook her left hand. "Please to meet you! I'm the guy you cut off in traffic over on the freeway last weekend. Made me spill my coffee all over my shirt and my new white leather seat covers."

    "Just thought I'd get acquainted with you." I paused for a second. "Since we're going to get to know one another very closely over the next few hours."

    I turned my back on her terrified face and reached beneath the table bringing out a pair of bolt cutters, but kept them from her view.

    I grabbed the pinky of her left hand, but the first joint into the jaws and snipped down quickly. The little pink projectile went flying across the room. A deep moan came from beneath the silvery tape.

    I turned back to her, holding up the bolt cutters. "Yes," I said slowly, licking the red liquid from the edge of the cutter. "Very well acquainted."

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    1. Holy SHIT! Creepy in a very skillful way, my friend. I also like the juxtaposition of the mundane (traffic assholes) and brutal repercussion. Playful, but terrifying. I'm so glad you're my friend. (Note, Rich's enemies - leave the country.)

      The writing is, of course, excellent.

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    2. Bah. I see a couple typos. I blame your blog. Now where did I put your address...?

      :-P

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    3. lol. I DIDN'T SEE ANY TYPOS! I SWEAR!

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    4. Love it. Thanks for the nightmares, Rich!

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  18. Replies
    1. You are welcome twice. In fact, you are always welcome. ;)

      But you know that...

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  19. "Put the car in gear."

    "I'm ... I'm try -"

    "Put the fucking car in gear and drive!"

    "..."

    "Listen to me. You put the motherfucking car in gear and drive normal or I will put a bullet in you and drive myself. Got it?"

    May shoved the stick forward and tried to breathe deeply - then she stopped. The smell of blood and cigarettes was overwhelming. She'd hold her breath. She'd hold her breath and everything would be OK. No stalling. Just drive.

    "Use your fucking signals!"

    She flinched, but nodded. Her mind was shutting down. She knew that she couldn't let that happen, but she couldn't stop ... the memory was too fresh. She could still feel the fingers on her, holding her down. She could feel the pain inside her. She heard her own voice promising herself, "no matter what, DO NOT let him have the power ever again. Whatever him it is." She changed lanes and accelerated - the Jaguar was good at that - 80 mph felt very fast.

    "What the fuck are you doing? Hey! What the ..."

    He scrambled for his seat belt, but it was too late. The brick wall wasn't going anywhere. She smiled as she felt the seatbelt tighten across her chest. Like getting hit with a bat. She laughed into the airbag. She was still laughing when they put a white sheet over the body.

    She'd kept her word.

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  20. Okay, I'm in the middle of cooking dinner and this is what I came up with:


    “What will you do now?” she asked.

    “About what?”

    She threw his arm from her shoulder and sat up with enough force to rock the nightstand. The lamp teetered, knocking over her favorite perfume bottle. She didn’t notice.

    “Seriously?”

    He sat up, cleared his throat, and looked at her with a tenderness she wanted to hate him for.

    “I think you know the answer to that,” he said softly.

    “Then why bother coming here at all?”

    “I had to know. We both did.”

    “But I already knew. I knew how good it would be and that you would take it away.”

    She looked at him and waited for the apology she also knew she wouldn’t get.

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    1. This is awesome. I love the dialogue. It's super hard to tell a story with dialogue and you're really good at it. Thanks for stopping by.

      And I WILL be singing ROCK THE LAMPSHADE to the tune of ROCK THE CASBAH for days probably. So, thanks for that. ;)

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    2. Ha! Thanks, bro. I get a lot of practice talking to all the people inside my head. They have...issues.

      I love your story up there, can damn near taste the corn silk myself. Nice!

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