Friday, October 10, 2014

2 Minutes. Go!

Hey, writer-type folks. AND PEOPLE WHO JUST WANT TO PLAY BUT DON'T IDENTIFY AS 'WRITERS' - all are welcome here. Every Friday we do a fun free-write. For fun. And Freedom.

Write whatever you want in the comments section on this blog post. Play as many times as you like. #breaktheblog! 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. 

If you have a blog and you want to post your pieces there too (and link back here), that would be lovely. 

The can of worms sat leaning against the bark of a tall tree. The old man went suddenly rigid and then cursed. The boy flinched inside, but his face betrayed nothing. The man took a sip of his beer and nodded toward the worm can. It was an old coffee tin, holes poked through the plastic top. The boy plucked a nightcrawler from the rich earth and handed it to the man. He looked away as the worm was threaded onto the hook - he tried to ignore the whistling.

Minutes passed like hours and the man went rigid again. This time the rod doubled over. Just play it slow, Dad. But the man didn't play it at all. He turned the handle on the reel like he'd die if he stopped. The bass jumped and threw the hook right in front of them. The man cursed again, breaking the old bamboo rod over his knee. The boy's mouth fell open.

"Dad! That was -"

He wheeled, face red and angry.

"I know whose rod it was, don't I? Come here, boy."

He knew what was coming. He should have kept quiet. Instead, he marched into the punch, and it sent him sprawling in the grass; he fell into the worm can and knocked it over.

"Bring me a worm."

The boy didn't answer. He was watching the worms slither out of the can, watching them find real earth, meaning freedom. The boy didn't answer, but inside his mind, he thought Go, worms! GO!

Thanks for stopping by! I will be in and out all day but, rest assured, I'll be reading everything and commenting as I have time, so check back. Happy Friday!

262 comments:

  1. It was like cuddling an unsprung bear-trap. She was angular and agitated and thrumming against my arms as she fought to retain control of herself. Making me feel nervous, which made her even more tense.

    But she'd still come to me willingly.

    At first I'd thought it was a ruse, a way to lure me close so she could end my life more easily, but when she sat on my lap and turned her back on me, I knew there had to be more to it than that. Maybe there was a woman in there still. The essence of the Steffi I'd loved.

    The changes had been subtle at first. A tendency to lose her temper more easily. Some persistent patches of dry skin. And an increased number of loose hairs in her brush. That was the first thing to really bug her. It was like a meditation for her, brushing her hair each day. One hundred and twenty five strokes every morning. Five cubed: she was a little OCD like that.

    But nothing freaky.

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    1. Nice piece, brother. I love the opening line and the way it sets the tone. Great imagery, too. Original and crisp. Well in.

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    2. Losing your 'self' can do that to a woman. Nicely done.

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    3. that opening line is money. But counting your hairstrokes to five cubed seems a little freaky to me :)

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    4. Agreed on the opening line. And the rest of the piece makes me wonder what she's on the edge of. Nice job.

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    5. Agreed on the opening line, but I also loved the quiet understatement of "But nothing freaky."

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    6. Very intriguing. I happen to like the specificity of "five cubed" but I'm a little freaky myself.

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    7. Oh, this snapped me up right away. Intriguing. Love your stuff, Mark.

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  2. Nice piece, by the way, Dan. You always write dark thoughts well!

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    1. Loved the can of worms. Perfect characterization in a tiny, sad tale.

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    2. Yup, good stuff. I love the kid cheering for the worms at the end.

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    3. Right, can of worms. That's brilliant. And this dumbass missed it until Julie said that.

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    4. Great stuff, indeed. I was right there with that little boy, I KNOW that feeling!

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    5. I opened a big as can of worms yesterday. Seemed fitting. ;)

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  3. Wow... Dan, that was powerful. And sad. Thank you.

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    1. That put me right there, and I feel like I witnessed something that ... I don't know. That was heart-rending.

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  4. 137. She scrawled the number in the moleskin book. 137 effronteries against decency and manners today. The latest was an impertinent nurse calling her Sadie. In her day, Mrs. Nodd would have been the appropriate means of address. The world was sinking into a morass of bad manners and illiteracy.

    Good that she wouldn't live to see it drown in that morass. Good that she'd join her beloved husband before all that she held dear slipped away.

    She got up and looked into the mirror and adjusted her wig, covering the spots where radiation made her hair fall out. It almost looked natural. She pulled it a little to the left.

    The door opened to her room, without a knock.

    "Is that a wig? It sure looks nice."

    Numbers 138 and 139 were scrawled in the notebook before the orderly left.

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    1. Oh, I like this one a LOT. I worked in a retirement home, so I was RIGHT there for the whole story. Regardless, you describe it so well. And we can see the notebook and it's importance. There's almost a playful melancholy, here. Ace.

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    2. Thank you. And effronteries was entirely a nod to you.

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    3. I don't mean that you are an effrontery, just a nod to the problems spellcheck was giving you a week or more ago... you know what I mean.

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    4. Wow. So detailed -- from the feeling evoked to what I'm visualizing as I read. You all inspire me, details are not my thing :-)

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    5. RH, I don't include many... just a few... just enough to give a hint... If you've ever seen a production of Our Town, that's the kind of level of detail I think is good.

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    6. I think it's just right. Just the right amount.
      I agree :-)

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    7. I can see the whole thing. Poor woman.

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    8. Love, love, love this. Speaks to life around me now, old woman, cancer (two different relatives) but this felt so real, so accurate. love her habit of counting effronteries (and love that word). Well, that's a lot of love...

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    9. I'm honored... I'm playing with the beginning of a book, and at least part of this will make it into that... thanks for the encouragement and kind words!

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    10. Bless her heart. I think I know this woman... Good stuff, Leland.

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    11. Echoing everyone else, nothing original to add but wow.

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    12. Yep, ditto. Lovely and sad, but a great piece.

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  5. That put me right there, and I feel like I witnessed something that ... I don't know. That was heart-rending.

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  6. Nancy DeCilio GauthierOctober 10, 2014 at 9:29 AM

    It was a CYO dance full of young teens just like any other - except it wasn't. This week Stretch and his gang decided to show up. There he was, all six foot plus of him - hence the nickname - wearing his signature red jacket. Her best friend was halfway in love with him and considered herself his girlfriend - that was until she saw him with other girls and now she was a seething cauldron of jealousy. Suddenly shots rang out in the alley next to the church hall. There was a flurry of activity and everyone knew the cops would be showing up next. Stretch had run out to check on the guys he knew were out there and he suddenly came back in and stood around nonchalantly as sirens were heard in the background. Next the cops came in and ordered all the guys lined up - they were going to search for a gun. Her friend started talking wildly - she knew he had the gun in his jacket and she also knew the cops wouldn't think of searching him as he was being cooperative lining up his gang. Her agitated friend kept saying she was going to tell the cops where it was. Well, that was it - she grabbed her friend by the arm and half dragged/half carried her to the rest room. There she slammed her friend against the wall and said one thing: maybe you don't care if you see tomorrow, but I do. No way in hell am I going to let you rat to the cops; since everyone knows we are friends, my life would be forfeit too. Her friend finally calmed down and shut up.

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    1. This made me feel anxious. That's GOOD. I hate that kids even think about this kind of stuff now. I've seen too many young people suffer because of gang violence. But it is real and scary. And you capture it well.

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    2. Nancy DeCilio GauthierOctober 10, 2014 at 9:43 AM

      I was 13 and my crazed friend was 14. South Bronx in the fifties. I said before I often write what I know - LOL.

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    3. Scary and raw! ... definitely can tell you knew the characters/events by the way you told the story. (Or part of the story.)

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    4. I felt the reality of the tension, too... well told!

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  7. The metal lunchbox ricocheted off the walls, scuffed the linoleum, landing with a crash at the end of the hall. His 'Smurfs' thermos rolled out. John smiled. Tim lined up all serious, his five year old nose wrinkled like a jeweler's. He sent his lunchbox spinning, but it was plastic and the journey ended with a disappointing thud.

    John went home that night and his mom was mad. The lunchbox wasn't new, but he was to take care of his things, even if they had started out as someone else's things. He knew that. She'd also told him that he was supposed to make friends. He wanted to explain that the lunchbox was his in. He was just following directions, trying to do something right - the first impression was everything. It would set the tone for years. He couldn't explain it in a way she would understand, so he merely nodded.

    "Yes, Mom. I know I'm stuck with this lunchbox ... broken or not."

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    1. Agreed. Having to prove yourself cool starts at five? That's where I went wrong...

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    2. Oh man, that's excellent. (Of course, in my day, if you drop-kicked your thermos, you had a thermos full of milk and glass shards for lunch. :D )

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  8. A single shot. Later, everyone said they thought it was a car backfiring, but really, when was the last time you heard a car backfire? That's television newstalk, once removed.

    Lights came on, one by one, in the gentrifying neighborhood. Curtains were pulled back by those who knew not to go out after dark. The front door of the house on the corner was flung open by a woman with straggly gray hair and a pink robe.

    She pulled the body, the impossibly small body, from the center of the street to the sidewalk and wailed. The sirens of an ambulance joined her wail five minutes later as she rocked, back and forth, washing the face of her son with her tears.

    Saturday night in the 'hood.

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    1. Y'all are gonna make me cry. This is a strong, stark piece. The language and flow make this one for me. It builds to the inevitable conclusion you don't want to come. And then it comes and it's even sadder then you expect. Well played.

      FYI - cars don't backfire often, but my bike backfire a LOT. ;)

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    2. Thanks! and yeah, I think bikes are meant to backfire every so often...

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    3. sometimes my jokes backfire. Ba dum bum... Poor little kid, wrong place, wrong time. And happens all too often. Love this piece.

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    4. Another good piece. And it gives me an idea... ;)

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    5. Uh. Great sadness in this one. Which makes me ask, why do I love it? I like being sad? Guess so.

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    6. Being sad is also a part of the human condition... thanks for the kind words.

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    7. Too much some times, but yeah. I'm a true believer in catharsis.

      LOL, Dan! Extra firm, too. :)

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    8. It's not that I like being sad, either, but I do like it when good writing makes me feel something - anything! This piece is all too real and I felt it. Well done, Leland.

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  9. Twelve years old. His head barely reached above the steering wheel. Grandpa always left the keys in the old Ford Galaxy. Candy apple red. A few dents where his dad introduced the car to a fence post or a tree in his time.

    A small hand turned the key, and the engine turned over. A satisfying rumble-purr from mufflers that had had better days. He stretched his left foot to press the clutch to the floorboard, shifting from neutral, then slowly releasing the clutch while applying just a little gas with his right foot. Instead of easing forward out of the parking place, the car lurched backward into a tree, hood springing open.

    He already knew what his mother was going to say. "This is why we can't have nice things." The fuzzy dice on the mirror thudded against the windshield.

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    1. Ouch! Reminds me of the joke about the guy who took his car back to the dealer because it wouldn't run. He told him that shifting to 'R' didn't mean 'really fast'. Sorry, terrible joke, good piece. I especially like the way you bring us inside the interior of the car. Subtle and well played.

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    2. An auto mechanic I knew told a story similar to that, but the guy was a horse trainer and thought the P stood for Prance.

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    3. LOL, you guys.

      In this one, I'm pretty sure Mom will have something worse to say... ;)

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  10. A Georgia summer in its glorious heat and humidity made us all move in slow motion, like molasses in January, gramma said, but January would have been cool. No one wanted to break a sweat, 'cause the sweat would lay on your skin like a tic, stuck and motionless.

    When Jim came through the door of gramma's shotgun house, he was moving slow and smooth. He sat on the davenport next to me, his skin an inch away from mine, maybe less. His eyes found mine and he tilted his head like some dogs do, when they're not sure what's going on.

    "Your family home?"

    "Nah, they're at church. I was feeling poorly."

    Head still tilted, Jim leaned, then paused, then leaned full into me, his lips on mine and his tongue inviting itself into my mouth.

    Yeah. Redneck boys, we fall in love, too.

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    1. This is a touching and authentic piece. I say authentic because my Grandma also liked molasses metaphors and the phrase 'feeling poorly'. Get's the regional location without over-emphasizing the dialogue. Very nice.

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    2. Thanks... your kind words mean a lot.

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    3. On CSI this week someone said 'who even uses molasses anymore?' - I do, damn it! Very touching. Love the last line. Very brokeback :)

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    4. Thank you... and I use molasses, too!

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    5. I do, too -- for gingerbread. And this is a sweet piece, Leland. :)

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    6. This story has a poise to it that's endearing.

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    7. Aw, sweet as honey, child. ;-)

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  11. You are the second person today. Damn strange, that's what it is. Two people in one day. Two people who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong things in their pockets. And that ain't where the similarities stop.

    Don't you know we got your number? We can play you from every side until you're dizzy spinning. It don't matter. You can't do a damn thing about it. Search warrant? Yeah, I'll get right on that, asshole. Now, empty the pockets and yadda, yadda right to shut the fuck up. Got it? Good.

    Let's go downtown.

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  12. The restaurant seemed to fade to black. It felt as if they'd survived a fire, or explosion. They were flammable; they should've had bright yellow toxic hazard warnings on their foreheads. Yet they'd been equipped with the blessing and curse of stoicism, like some fire retardant substance in their veins.

    They'd seen it all, been to hell, kissed the flames; they saw the nightmares in one another's eyes.

    And there they sat, staring through one another, across a table which seemed to have doubled in length with every second. They were close enough to touch, yet too far to see; that's the way it had always been. Maybe every since the day he'd been born.

    Mother and son, sharing the same amber eyes -- empty amber eyes.

    Leaning forward, moving her glass aside, she squinted her eyes as she spoke: "Hero? You want to be a hero? And who would you save? You men kill me. You want to save the world."

    Her eyes scanned him. His eyes fell. He looked as if he'd cry. Instead, he chuckled, and spoke so low it was nearly a whisper: "This is what I expected of you. And I never said I was any kind of hero." He waved the server over. "You don't get it, Sylvia."

    "Sylvia," she mocked. She looked at him as if he smelled of a corpse. "You men, so you call yourselves. You wanna' save the woman next door from her midlife crisis with a one-night-stand, you think you can save the guy at the next cubicle's marriage with your worthless advice, you wanna save the chick from the guy who beats her just to leave her all alone, want to step in and take you damn kid to the park and act like you deserve Superman's cape."
    "Cape? I don't even have a kid." He laughed, again, this time awakening something dark in his mother's eyes. His smile faded as he cleared his throat.

    "You're all liars," she said, through gritted teeth. "You save the world, and you let yourselves rot into the monsters you're rescuing. You're all monsters practicing good deeds when the sun's watching, murdering spirits when the clock strikes midnight. You're nothing. You'll always be nothing. Laugh at that, you spoiled little shit."
    Taking one last sip of wine, Sylvia stumbled to her feet.
    "Love you, too, Sylvia. Mom. Mommy. Mommy, please, don't go ..."
    She started to hold up her middle finger, hesitated, and parted her lips to speak. Nearly losing her balance, as the wine clouded her ability to stand without swaying, she said, "You're so selfish! You think I don't get it? No, you don't get it! I don't want them to call me and tell me that you ... I don't want to lose ... if you go -- enlist -- you'll die, and I'll lose you, just like everyth --"
    She felt his arms around her, pulling her into an embrace. Her voice trembled, as did her body, "Don't leave me."

    (longer, this time, took longer than 2 minutes. I cheated :-) )

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    1. Great piece. Hard to read, because it is hard to put yourself in these shoes - from either side. Such a tough topic handled very deftly. Well done.

      I won't tell anyone about the cheating ... wait ... ;)

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    2. Powerful... especially liked the opening paragraphs. One tiny suggestion (this is one I struggle with)... never use "seemed." It weakens your powerful opening sentence... I actually do a search of "seem" in all I write (well, anything I officially publish) so it doesn't accidentally slip in. I like this, even if you did cheat

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    3. I always forget about "seemed" or "seemed as though" while I'm flowing. Wish I could edit. Saw a lot of other things I'd fix if I'd edited.

      Another author, David Rowinski, told me about the word 'seemed' and just I keep forgetting. Itching to edit.

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    4. Another winner. The emotion is so raw.

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    5. This is palpable, every nuance and emotion. Really, really good.

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    6. What a great piece. I love all the fire metaphors in the first paragraph, and how Mom finally breaks down at the end. Good stuff!

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    7. Yup. One day I'll get to be the first to comment so I don't have to do this dittohead thing all the time, but yeah, what everyone else said. :)

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  13. The bullet that ended the young lieutenant's promising career (and life) was by all accounts a lucky shot. The grizzled old sergeant knew that the kid was out of his element, but Sarge had actually come to have a measure of grudging respect for his shave-tail commanding officer.
    "Damn it..." Sarge thought to himself. "They just keep getting younger, and they just keep getting dead. Well, shit - here's to a brevet or a coffin..."
    Years later the few survivors of that suicidal charge against the Comanche spoke of the contrast of the old veteran wildly caving in the skull of a young warrior with his empty .45-70 while singing "It Is Well With My Soul".

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    1. Wow. Haunting. "... "they just keep getting younger" is what really pulled me in and pricked me.

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    2. Holy crap - the singing did it to me.

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    3. Charging to his own funeral. Nicely done.

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    4. Yeah, this is an awesome piece. The Authenticity is there for sure. Pieces like this can be hard to pull off, but you nailed it. And THIS line is so good it's absurd: "They just keep getting younger, and they just keep getting dead." Love it.

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  14. “Reg-… don’t co-… body.”

    Reggie smacked his radio against his thigh and depressed the talk button. “Come again? Al, you’re breaking up.” He put the radio to his ear. Damn wind whipped up the stench of rotted meats, moldy bananas, and full disposable diapers in a swirl of vomitritus around him.

    “…body on the east si-…”

    Body? In the dump? Reggie grinned. Finally, something more interesting than dog shit and discarded Lazy Boys.

    He scrabbled up a mountain of putridness, stood at the summit and scanned the east end. The rising sun stabbed his eyes with acute morning light. He pulled sunglasses from his pocket and slid them on. In the distance, nothing but garbage. No sign of Al.

    Reggie clambered down the other side of the pile. A scream split the dawn.

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    1. Edge of my friggin' seat. My gosh ...

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    2. Yep. That fucking rocked, Julie. Dog shit and lazyboys. So good. The dialogue break up was a risk well taken that totally works. Aces.

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    3. Vomitritus! Black metal band name? Yeah, this had a weird tension that made me forget to breathe.

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    4. Thanks, y'all! Black metal, my favourite. Well, no, not really... :)

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    5. LOL. There's always the Disillusioned Chickens. ;)

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    6. Mmmmm....mountains of putridness. Great visceral piece.

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  15. Where do files go when your computer crashes? Are they in file heaven? Can they be brought back? They ARE immortal, you know. Perhaps more so than we are. We created them that way. Well, the internet gods did, anyway. They made the ethernet. So now I know those beautiful words are out there somewhere. Do they separate? Do they reassemble themselves into new orders, to say something alien to what I intended? I want them to come home. Please son, do your best. I can't make them the same as they were again.

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    1. This ssspoke to me the way poetry does.This is so dreamy. I love it, Yvonne ...

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    2. Perfect... requiem for words....

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    3. Love this. Like when you write something wonderful and forget to save it. Or when you think of it in the night but don't want to crawl out from between the covers to write it down and in the morning it is gone. Nope, can't make them the same.

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    4. I love how you've turned it into something poetic (and I hope your son can find your files!).

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    5. Agreed. I love this piece. Understated and beautiful and at the same time humorous, thoughtful and endearing. That's a hell of a lot to pull off in one P. You rocked it. And I have had very similar thoughts. ;)

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    6. Yeah, everyone already said it. I hate you all. Good stuff, Yvonne.

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    7. Thanks, Guys. I had to do something to make this more positive.

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    8. A sweet piece and definitely something we can all relate to!

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  16. They lived on separate floors of a two-story icehouse. Where once stares were ethereal, invisible to the naked eye, now those stares had been sharpened into emotional javelins aimed to kill. Their unspoken pact to remain apart melted them away.

    Love’s barometer dropped perilously from red-hot passion to the depths of blue frigidity.

    It happens. It happens too often. As if by diabolic arts, a warm happy home can chill beyond redemption. Lovers lose their spark and stubbornly refuse to reignite it. They curse the light, block out the sun, rule out any slim hope of reconciliation.

    Word is, in time icehouses melt, but with their dreams trapped beneath the ice, lost lovers vehemently disagree.

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    1. Or the icehouse shatters when everybody moves on. Nice metaphor, Sal. :)

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    2. Man, I say it every week, but the way you put words together amazes me. It seems effortless. And it is so tight, seamless. Excellent piece, Sal.

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    3. Superbly crafted. ice grows when the sparks die. Beautiful.

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    4. Wow. Really feeling this one. Beautifully written.

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  17. She stands on the creaking back deck and holds her arms out to catch the leaves raining down, to catch the mild, wood-scented air as if to gather it up and store it for the winter. The planks are beginning to rot, soft, broken places that she doesn’t dare move toward. It needs replacing; an inspector would take one look and slap a warning label on it, on her, on every one of her thoughts lately. Warning: dangerous. Warning: might incite a riot. Warning: might be hazardous to your mental health. She will not let them take this place. It can cave in as far as she’s concerned, can collapse into a three-little-pigs aftermath disaster, but it’s her place, the first thing that captured her imagination, the first private spot where she was allowed to stand and watch the clouds amble across the sky, and if that is gone, where will she go where she can cry safe from the eyes and stop-it-now murmurings of the world? Already she hears one of her neighbors’ boots crackling through the underbrush, sees his broad smile split his face as he waves and asks if she’s all right, if there’s anything he can do. Can you save me a slice of this day, this forest, the blue afternoon? He would think she was crazy. His world does not function like that. It is a succession of practical things, of chain saws and cutting wood for the fire and cracking open a beer to watch the game. She lets out a long, slow, breath and says she is fine and asks about his wife and kids.

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    1. This breaks my heart... to say good bye to such a safe space. Well done.

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    2. Oh man, I've been there -- just wanting a place where I can shut out the world. Powerful stuff, Laurie.

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    3. Goddamn Boris. This is heartbreaking, relatable ... it may not be a house, but we all have our places. And I can totally relate to every part of this. And it's awesome as usual.

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    4. Beautiful and so honest. The last line - real.

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    5. Yeah, you can follow the rhythms and cadence of her thoughts through this dense paragraph and you never lose the thread. That's writing.

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    6. I've been there, too. Laurie. Touches the heart.

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    7. Oh my god. I love you. That is all.

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  18. I wished I hadn’t told Ella about the phone call.
    She had listened quietly, a mixture of pity and worry in her eyes.
    “Sweetheart,” she said softly, “The rational part of you knows it can’t have been him. He’s dead, you know that. You buried him last week.”
    “Then who was it? If not him then who?”
    “Oh honey, maybe you wanted it to be him so badly your mind tricked you into thinking it was him. You’re not thinking rationally, it’s still raw and you are grieving but you know it wasn’t him right?”
    I nodded unhappily as tears rolled down my cheeks.
    “I know,” I whispered. “It’s just….it was his voice Ella, I swear it was.” I felt foolish under her knowing gaze.
    I crumpled then and curled up in the big armchair. Huge sobs wracked my body, globs of snot and spittle blending with my salty tears.
    A cup of tea appeared as if by magic as Ella plumped my pillows and covered me with a throw and generally made a fuss of me. She held my hand and murmured soothing words until I cried myself out.
    I refused her offer to stay over with me and assured her I was alright. I agreed with her when she said I was exhausted and told her I felt much better now I’d let it all out. I promised I would go straight to bed and get a good nights sleep and yes, I would take a sleeping tablet. She hugged me and said she would call round the next day to check on me and I summoned up a smile and thanked her for everything she had done.
    I lay on our bed in the darkness thinking of my husband being lowered into the cold ground. I turned off my phone and placed it on his pillow where a shaft of moonlight glowed and picyured his beautiful face.
    My phone lit up,’ incoming call’ flashed across the screen. I pressed the green button and pressed it to my ear.
    “Lucy….” His voice echoed through the speaker.
    “Miguel? Is it really you?”
    “Si mi amor, I miss you so much….”
    My hand trembled and I smiled with tears in my eyes, “I knew you’d come back…..I miss you too, so very much.”

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    1. Eerie and beautiful... and it can go a hundred directions in the reader's head, or if you continue writing.

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    2. Thank you Leland I appreciate your encouragement.

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    3. Creepy. And yes, a hundred directions to go in from there. :)

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    4. I agree, 'creepy and lovely' seems like an odd combination, but it's one of my favorites. This is a beautiful piece, and Leland is right, this can go anywhere. Or it can stay right like it is. I'm going more lovely than creepy. SO glad you joined us. :)

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    5. Yay, Audrey! Awesome job. And good to see you here. :)

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    6. Hooked me and made me care. Good job!

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  19. The moon, blood-red, rose through the fog.

    Some call it a harvest moon. But not in my neighborhood.

    I stood at the edge of the graveyard. Hours may have passed, but time meant nothing to me. Finally, I was rewarded by the sight of the vampire rising from its grave.

    It spotted me, and with an evil grin, it flew toward me at an impossible speed.

    "You think you've got me in your clutches, don't you?" I sneered -- or wanted to. My words came out as a sort of grunt. Then I reached through the eye sockets of the monster, reveling in its screams, and drew out its dessicated brain. Mmm, tasty.

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    1. Ohhhh... when monster meets monster... well done!

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    2. Thanks! It's a little early for Halloween, but... ;)

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    3. Sweet! Zombie vs. Dracula - zombie takes the prize!

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    4. This is awesome. Love it. You're a clever one, Lynne. :)

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  20. They told her this would happen. Her sense of smell would grow stronger. She just didn't know how much stronger. The autumn leaves burning... the musty smell of the basement even though she was upstairs... the smell of Michael's cologne, though he left a week ago.

    She held the coffee mug in both hands, its warmth contradicted by the cold in her hands, and she inhaled its aroma. for a moment, she could almost smell Columbia, and when she and Michael... but that was years ago.

    The croissant sat on the Royal Dalton china saucer, lonely. Unbuttered. Unjammed. She knew she should eat, but she had no appetite. All she wanted was... Michael. But he left a week ago.

    The doorbell rang. She drew her robe close around her. She wondered if the hospice worker would, like Michael, see her differently now that she had only one breast.

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    1. Oh Leland this made my heart hurt. I didn't expect the ending.....bravo!

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    2. Wow. Makes me want to slap the idiot upside the head.

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    3. my first reaction was, pah, michael - let the bastard leave (that's my ex's name). Then you made me cry. Since my sister has only one breast. About to have none as of Oct 23.... Damn you, Leland. You always hit close to home.

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    4. You do always hit close to home, and that is an amazing gift. This is a strong piece of writing, my friend. For some reason, I absolutely love this: "Unbuttered. Unjammed." :)

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    5. I'm going through in order and was still smiling after Lynn's zombie meets vampire tale and now I'm all bummed. Thanks, Leland. ;)

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    6. I've known just a few too many cases of this happening. So far, I haven't killed the husband/boyfriend, but each time it happens, I get just a little closer...

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    7. Sad one - and yes, very close to home.

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  21. "Jesus," Harry said. "Another shooting in Anacostia? Don't run it."

    I turned to him. I was filling in at the editor's desk; the regular early-morning editor had called out yet again -- something going on with her kids, no doubt -- and I'd been jolted out of a sound sleep at 3am to come in and start at 5. "What do you mean, don't run it?" I asked, too tired to filter my words.

    "Those guys are always picking one another off down there. We can't run a story on every homicide that happens in Ward 8 -- we'd never have room to run anything else."

    I wondered whether he was still drunk from the night before. "The victim in this one was a five year old," I said quietly.

    "Oh." He turned away. As he stumbled back toward his office, he said, over his shoulder, "I guess we should run that one."

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    1. Ouch... and why do I suspect this conversation actually occurs in newsrooms just about every day? Well told. Thank you.

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    2. Sure. And yes, it's based on a true incident.

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    3. wow, callous. I wonder if news folk, like cops, get a bit numb to true evil?

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    4. Spot on. Sad and real and filled with pain. Callous? Yes - realistic - anyone who has ever been in the newsroom knows. I love this piece. The 5yo reveal is so deftly rendered.

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    5. Nice foreshadowing, too, with the mention of the early-morning editor's kids.

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    6. Yes, it has the ring of truth. Deftly done.

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  22. Twelve, thirteen, fourteen. So many unanswered rings that a loud beep rings in my ear and the line goes dead. Redial. Tap foot against floor and swallow the rising panic. Ten, eleven, twelve, damn it all to hell. Another beep. Another skipped heartbeat. Redial. Why the hell won't my mother answer the phone? Is she dead on the floor? Fallen and can't get up? Did she go for a walk and forget where she lives? I have no control and no answers, just a sick feeling in the pit of my gut.

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    1. Oh man, I've been there, too. The caller's frustration and fear come through loud and clear.

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    2. this was flash reality. Typed it as I redialed. Mom is fine. She was in her back yard... My heart has returned to a normal rhythm.

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    3. Glad everything is OK. Yeah, I totally relate to this. When I can't get ahold of Karen, every part of me panics in a weird, painful way. You described it perfectly.

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    4. Yeah, totally nails that cold panic feeling.

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    5. Totally. And I;'m glad Mom's OK. :)

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  23. Never felt the need to do this before, but, uh, *Trigger Warning.* This one upset me to write, so beware. Given what weekend this is here, it's called Thanksgiving.
    _____________________________

    Her death came long after she heard its approach.

    She had hiked a good seven or eight kilometres to get to this spot she only vaguely recalled from a young childhood she damn-near mythologized now. A childhood that had promised to be idyllic—a thickly forested valley, the pure Canadian air—before taking the sudden harrowing detour that had led her here now.

    The day was ending in streaks and daubs of purple and pink. Girl colours. She grimaced, which was the closest she would get to a smile now. The forest knew. It was like one vast tree straining to hear some laden bulletin of great import. It creaked and darkened in the waiting.

    She knew what weekend it was, so she gave thanks. Thank you for the wastrel father who ran away. Thank you for the mother who lacked the resources to cope and opened her home and daughter to predators. Thank you for the cold string of foster homes. Thank you for the intrusive fingers of selfish men and the spiked words of emotionally ruinous women. Thank you for each and every tiny betrayal, each slut, each bitch, each cunt.

    She wasn't going to cry. This was her power returning to her at last. This wasn't cowardice or selfishness—although she knew the trite world would paint it thus—no, this was pure will. Pure power. At last. Power she couldn't possibly have grasped when she'd been a scrawny tangle-haired girl in a dirty faded dress playing in the backyard when the agents of the state came for her.

    Not far now.

    She heard her death, louder now, but still aways some. The mating call of a monster, the last of its kind, bewildered and enraged by the lack of any answering cry, its grief the only sound for miles.

    If this were a story, some totemic animal would sound in the quiet of the night, possibly even sparking a change of heart, gifting her wide eyes with a world new-wrought. We might yet hope for that.

    She knew she'd reached the tracks when she tripped on them. Her death was so close now. It howled around some cedar-flanked, spruce-guarded corner, mindless and blind as a giant worm. A Canadian National freight on its way west, through towns she'd never visit filled with people she'd never befriend, toward an ocean she'd never see or hear or smell again.

    Now she saw its three-eyed glare as it rounded the last corner, heard its feral shriek, and on a whim she disrobed and stood splayed, legs apart, ready for the final violation by a world that had long since abandoned her.

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    1. Yeah, my timer broke, but who wants half a story?

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    2. I have no breath left.... That was. just. shit. no breath.

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    3. Yeah, that was intense, G. Very, very good, though. Interesting to me that you put a warning on this one ... Anyway, yeah, huge power and sadness. Beautiful language as always. Really brave story. I know it was hard for you to write.

      This story deserves many eyes, but before you put it on your blog, look at this: "She heard her death, louder now, but still aways some." only because I read it three or four times before I read aways instead of always. So, it stuck me a little.

      Great work, brother. Not many people are willing to go to the darkest of places and it is so important. This is not an "enjoyable" read, and that makes it all the more important.

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    4. That line still trips me up and I was the one who wrote it!

      Yeah, this one was like giving birth to something covered in toxic barbs and spikes ... through my tear ducts.

      You think after all these years we still write out the helpless rage of all those damaged and even ruined lives? Seems crazy, yet maybe?

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    5. Nancy DeCilio GauthierOctober 10, 2014 at 4:32 PM

      Very visceral....although I have to say I knew she had to be heading for a suicide (probably because I have seven decades of life experience to draw from) - but to be honest - the train part was a surprise and very effective.

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    6. Wow. Dark, angry, bitter, yet purifying. I had trouble with the same line that Dan mentioned, but everything else was perfect. "Wastrel father" may be my favorite phrase from the piece. Very, very well done.

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    7. Yeah, I didn't want this to be a surprise twist piece, although I dangled a little hope out there for a second. I'll definitely look at that line, though, yeah.

      Leland, that's so weirdly gratifying as I struggled over whether to use that word, since it's more archaic and poetic, and went with it anyway.

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    8. So miuch anger and pain. The final violation - Wow.

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  24. Yo, we gotta get the fuck out now, they're coming. I don't fucking care, they got guns and they're wearing blue and that's enough for me. No, it don't fucking matter if you lock the door - get the fuck in the car and lock THAT door. It don't matter that you never picked a color. Thugs don't operate by reason. They in blue? We ALL Bloods now. You know that. They see black and make it red.

    Shit, start the goddamn car! I recognize that fool in the front. Go! Just fucking go! I don't know his name. Officer something or other. Does it matter?

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    1. Ha! Nice bait and switch. What is happening down there, bro? Can't go anywhere right now without seeing abuse by authority types.

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    2. I don't know man, but it's freaking me out.

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    3. I even saw it at the border, over and over. That pure, cold, I-don't-care-about-you-just-give-me-a-chance-and-I'll-fuck-you-up look. And I'm white.

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    4. Yep. Scary shit. Reminds me of the time when the cop asked me why I seemed "nervous" and I said, "Cause you have a fucking gun and I don't!"

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    5. I know. no shit right? Exactly the same at the border. Twenty cameras trained on you, armed personnel dressed more like soldiers than border cops, outright hostility and suspicion. "Sir? Why are you nervous?" Hmmm... now let me think on that for a minute or two... lol

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    6. I'm never nervous around cops, even when I get pulled over (which, luckily has been 3 times in my life). Maybe because I was raised by one, and my bro is one. And I see them for the normal people they are. But the assholes that shoot for no reason, taser for no reason, think they are better than regular folk - fuck them, they are the minority (which is ironic). At least in my experience

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    7. Like the time I got "busted" - for something someone somewhere overheard somehow and reported to someone somewhere. (for real)

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  25. She watched the whitecaps dance and thought of him. She wondered what he would make of this place and of her unusual communion with the sea and sand and sky. Somehow, it mattered, even though it didn't.

    She sat in a cocoon formed of the roar of the surf, the music piping through her headphones, the dark of night, and the solitude of the nearly deserted beach and thought of him, and she began to pray--for him, for her, for them. No answers came in the form of a burning bush or flashing neon or a talking seagull, but she felt like she'd found some, just the same. A new direction, a new way of looking at things.

    Maybe it was the prayers. Maybe it was the beach. Or maybe it was just him. He'd always been able to make her see things differently. It was a little bit of why she loved him...and why she had tripped over her own heart and fallen in love with him.

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    1. I get that cocoon. Feels like I've been exactly there.

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    2. my cocoon withered years ago. But it's a nice sentiment, beautifully told.

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  26. She watches the cover band with the same devilish grin – the one that dares each musician to choose her from among the others in the crowded pub. Of course, now she’s only playacting, for this scene is a twenty-five-year-old rerun. More like a resurrection, minus the cumbersome motorcycle leathers that no longer fit in our closets, or our lives. We’re all in our forties now, all settled – at least on paper, anyway. She still has the hair for it, though, right down to the Stiff Stuff-scented fan bangs. The rest of us wear more practical looks that don’t require primping. Good for her, she still primps. And the guys still get together, even though balding and paunchy, even with arthritis, even with early morning peewee soccer coaching, even as their wives text babysitters from the front row. It’s time, warped.

    She pulls me outside to have a smoke and something about spending ninth period math in the high school girl’s room echoes in my memory bank. She fluffs her waist-long, still-blonde hair in the window’s reflection. Her Amazonian height hides the evidence of birthing three kids. She’s still naughty and I still like that. We go back inside and she resumes her stance, the devilish grin. It’s not bad, but it’s not all that good, either. But maybe it never really was. No one ever chose her back then, and I think that was the point. She never wanted them to – only that it was possible.

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    1. Much goodness here! "It's time, warped" (with its vaguest of nods to Rocky Horror), "she's still naughty and I still like that." The second "still" there is so essential.

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    2. I've no coherent words this evening, but I really liked this. Also, what David said.

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    3. "She fluffs her waist-long, still-blonde hair in the window’s reflection. Her Amazonian height hides the evidence of birthing three kids." "No one ever chose her back then" - no shit JC - did you grow up with me? That's me. (only 2 kids, and my waist-long hair is about 3 inches short of waist now, but still) Freaking me out.... Love the telling of this mini-tale.

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    4. "Only that it was possible" - love that. It's where most of us live, in a way.

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  27. "Look innocent. You didn't do anything wrong." The voice in your head repeats the mantra. You just walked out of Nordstrom's and you didn't buy anything. The man, well-dressed and barely identifiable as security, is moving toward you, muttering into a throat microphone. You pic up your pace. You take a moment to look down at your purse. The zipper is shut. Nothing could have accidentally fallen in. You clutch at the keyring in your hands. Ten more steps to the entry. Five. And the gentleman from security blocks your way.

    "Miss, I wonder if I might speak with you for a moment."

    "Breathe," you tell yourself. "You didn't steal anything."

    "I'm sorry, i'm rather in a hurry..."

    "Just a moment, if you'll come with me."

    The key fob is hot in your hand. You don't move.

    "Miss? This way please."

    People are starting to stare. They stop of their own free will. They're watching you and this specimen of sartorial excellence interact. It isn't anything like the rehearsals, but you've always done well at improvisation.The key fob...

    You press the button. The one that used to activate the car alarm. And you step into eternity.

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  28. Stop talking. Slow down. Wait. Just wait. Right there. If I look close, I can see a minute slide into the next, an hour tumble into the one after that. I can see the shift behind your smile, the length of you getting taller, your honey-spun hair growing longer. The sweep of your slender, delicate arm. Stop. Talking. Slow. Spin slower, please. The days are growing shorter, the weeks faster, the shift from baby to child to woman something I can’t control, something running so fast I’m gasping for air but maybe if we slow down and breathe. Breathe. If I watch the shift in the glittering blue diamonds in the eyes that were a gift from your father, we can know each other better before you launch a jete into your brilliant future.

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    1. wow.... wow. I've not had a child, but this is exactly as I imagine it... all within the confines of a brilliant paragraph. Magnificent.

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    2. I have a daughter, and this is perfect. Damn.... need a kleenex

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    3. It's how I see my grandson, now. It all goes far too quickly.

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    4. For a buck, I'll sing Sunrise, Sunset...

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  29. We circled each other, the years after your father’s transfer to Texas melting like hot wax off the statue children we used to be. Your red hair shone crazy through my mother’s lilac bushes; we compared toys on birthdays and on Christmas morning, but what’s left to compare now, without the day-to-day jokes and shared silliness of being five years old together to bond us. What’s left to say? We stared and compared, you in your designer labels and me in sneakers with the soles flapping loose; you in expensive highlights and me with a ponytail holder I found in the bottom of the drawer. When your mother called your name you were eager to run back to her, to break the awkward silence of too many years apart. I didn’t blame you. I would have done the same. You just got the call first.

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