Friday, November 7, 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. 

Petulant chainsaw grumbles blend with the odd glottal rumbling from beneath the old man's beard. He is old in body and spirit; his dreams are haunted by vague memory, aided by a whiskey lens - his dreams are old movies, missing frames snipped by clumsy popcorn pushers.

The old man gives two shits about the chainsaw and the chainsaw cares for nothing. Not the trees, not the deep, thick thigh tissue it seeks out in careless moments. The man and the chainsaw have little in common. The saw does not run on blood. It does not wake with fevered eyes. The chainsaw has never lost someone. The man has never cut down a tree. He has bitten deep into thigh flesh, but that was years ago - in a a dust mote tavern in Alaska, and even Jack London couldn't tell that story right.


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.

265 comments:

  1. whoa.... Jack London and GLOTTAL in the same piece... I like!

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    1. and "whiskey lens" - awesome piece

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    2. Such atmosphere. Terrific writing, Bro.

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    3. My 2 minute story(s) are posted on my blog:
      http://tainiwrites.wordpress.com/2014/11/07/2-minutes-go-2/

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    4. Ohhhh... Thought I was replying in main comment area... Now I'm not so sure. My apologies.

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    5. Nope, you're in the right place. You just comment and publish. :)

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  2. They looked at each other. One set of eyes looked into the other set of eyes and vice versa. Snow fell. One had no shows. One had no coat. Both, beaten by the world in a hundred different ways on a hundred different days. Mistrust. Well-hidden fear.

    But something was different on that day. Maybe it was because they had both eaten, a rarity, in early winter. Maybe because they liked what they saw in each other’s eyes. Or maybe they were just both tired.

    They walked toward each other. Tentative steps. Pauses to gauge the wisdom of getting closer. At last, they stood next to each other, face-to-face. The tall one held out his hand.

    “What’s your name?”

    The short one wagged his tail.

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    1. Nice, really nice. I've been moon lighting of late with a recently blinded Cairns Terrier. Greetings have been different since he lost his sight, but the tail wag is his signal that he recognizes me. His eyes are blank but he tilts his head and wags his tail. Communication is such a heartwarming thing.

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    2. I like this piece a lot, and I don't know whether it's because I have Jack London on the brain, but this hit just the right spot. Well played, brother.

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    3. I'm short on words today, but I really like this. Hit me in the feels. :)

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    4. Nancy DeCilio GauthierNovember 7, 2014 at 12:20 PM

      Man and dog = what more can you say. Love it.

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    5. Timely. Just got back from a hike with six dogs. Nice work.

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    6. Nicely done. A twist ending that grips the heart.

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    7. Thanks, Ed, for doing that moonlighting! I admire you greatly and thank you for it. And to everyone else, thank you kindly... I know, everyone is always surprised when they get a man and dog story from me . JD, I didn't know, but am not surprised, that you are a London and a Kerouac fan.

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    8. I like Jacks. What can I say. Except Daniels. He and I don't hang out anymore. ;)

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    9. I loved this. These twists are always great.

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    10. Nice. Like how you can't tell exacly who or what is being written about till the very end :-)

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  3. There are places in every city where a wise man and certainly a wise woman never walks. Ruth found herself in exactly that part of Denver. Despite her senses being on high alert, she thought of the stories of Jack Kerouac in this neighborhood, doing drugs, writing, finding and defining different realities. Memories of reading his book, On the Road under her bedcovers by flashlight.

    This part of the city was quiet, even though it never slept. She could feel, rather than see, the shadows moving. One more block to go to her car.

    She was glad this was her last visit. She’d come once before to make the arrangements, and this time to pay for their completion. It felt right that the beginning and end were both in this darkness.

    She heard footsteps, matching her every step. She stopped. They stopped. She started again, now only 100 feet from her car, keys already in hand. At last, she was there. A hand, wearing the same nail polish as hers, blocked the entry of the key. She looked up, and she was startled to see a woman who might be her twin.

    “Who are you?”

    “I, my dear,” the voice said in a timbre that matched her own perfectly, “am the woman you might have been, had you not arranged for your husband’s murder.”

    The engine started. One woman was on the road, and one woman lay in the parking lot, bleeding.

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    1. Whoa, need a little nip myself to warm the chill that just ran up my spine. Good work!

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    2. That was unexpected and unbelievably awesome. love the open ending. :)

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    3. Agreed. And now we've name-checked my two favorite writing "Jacks". :) This is a dope piece and the ending is made of magic.

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    4. Nancy DeCilio GauthierNovember 7, 2014 at 12:22 PM

      Our deeds do come back to haunt us.

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    5. Creepy. Oddly enough, I had a doppelganger story in my head this week.

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    6. Very interesting. Puts in mind just how real the mind can make things.

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    7. Wow, definitely did not see that coming. Well done.

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    8. David, I was that doppelganger . And the question in my mind is, which killed which? could the virtuous kill the non-virtuous, and in doing so, wouldn't she call forth another doppelganger? I don't know the answer....

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    9. Yes, I actually had a dream like this once. Set somewhere in southern Italy, for some reason. Oh, and I was a woman. :)

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    10. Implying that in some of your dreams, you are a man? ;)

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    11. The manliest of men! I even smell of Old Spice. ;)

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  4. JD... "whiskey lens..." Love that.

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  5. It is the last place you want to be but words like propriety and honor and guilt pepper your mind, rooting you to the hard wooden bench, forgotten names and pleas for mercy carved into it. You grip the smooth rolled edge of the seat, wondering why people choose to do this every week instead of the once-in-a-while-because-a-friend-needs-you-there. He looks as pale as the too-young man in the white robe swaying his pot of burning whatever that makes you want to cough and sneeze. Is it disrespectful or naïve, like showing your ignorance when someone passed you a joint in high school, to huff and wheeze like a neophyte? Nobody else seems bothered by it. But hardly anyone else is there. This is not the way you want to go. You decide then and there to start meeting people. Doing good things. Endearing them to you. So you don’t end up in a box at the front of some starchy old church, as four people coerced into attendance try not to sneeze.

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    1. I can almost smell the incense and hear the Latin.

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    2. Sad, poignant, beautifully described, and so very, very real.

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    3. Wow. This is excellent. And a fear many people have. I like the conscious decision to seek out friends. And I LOVE this: "to huff and wheeze like a neophyte?"

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    4. Nancy DeCilio GauthierNovember 7, 2014 at 12:24 PM

      I agree with Ed - incense and Latin. The church of our youth.

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    5. I always had to suppress the urge to yell out at the priest, "Hey, some of us up in here are asthmatics, asshole!" (That's translated from the parochial English of my childhood.)

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    6. Wow. I really like the whole scene setting, and the calling the self to action... you took me back to every funeral I've ever been to, and I've been to a lot. Well done.

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    7. PS: When they hold my funeral, it'll be on facebook, so bring your own incense and censor if you want it.

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  6. When you left for the Manhattan-bound bus on Friday, he already had one Chuck Taylor out the door, vague plans to “get something going” with the guys in your absence, which could mean anything from practice-with-intent-to-gig to snorting a few lines to passing out in front of some lame movie, whiskey glasses stuck to the coffee table. All the way down, numbed on the rumble of the engine and the diesel fumes, you thought of ways to tell him it was time to call it done; all the way down you countered each argument with reasons you wanted to see his Oral-B next to yours when you returned. Each “pro” felt flimsier, not enough ammo to counter the “con,” but it felt too hard and you didn’t like the empty bed and the silence. You wanted it to be his idea. The leaving, the moving on. But even in your insecure haze of accepting his company over being alone, you knew that was the coward’s way out, and you wadded up the pro/con list and started over.

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    1. Damn, lady. This is brilliant. You just told a million stories in a paragraph. I don't know how you do that. I'm guessing voodoo. The Chuck Taylor in the beginning roots this piece so solidly. Dope.

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    2. Been there. So been there. And you captured it perfectly.

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    3. Nancy DeCilio GauthierNovember 7, 2014 at 12:26 PM

      we don't always know what we really want - and you spelled that out perfectly.

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    4. Sheer poetry: "numbed on the rumble of the engine and the diesel fumes."

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    5. Now that's a scene that repeats in many, many relationships.

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    6. Do you EVER write poorly? this is brilliant... on so many levels.

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  7. He picks up the tattered, frayed teddy bear and smiles.

    “I can’t believe he’s still around,” he tells his older, wiser “cousin” Sophia. “I’ve had him since I was a baby. “

    “Of course he’s still around,” Sophie said, taking the bear from his hand and hugging it close to her chest. “Benny belonged to your mom first, you know. Mom said that your mom used to say that he was the only man who never let her down. You don’t turn your back on someone that loyal, even if he is a teddy bear.”

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    1. Ah, what would we do without Teddy bears. Great piece. It has a quiet, understated power - well in.

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    2. I want to see where this goes...

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    3. Nancy DeCilio GauthierNovember 7, 2014 at 12:28 PM

      The things that link us to our childhood.

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    4. Me, too, Laurie. :D Another one that might end up becoming a full short story later on.

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    5. Definitely, Laura. Expand on it, I mean.

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    6. I see a great deal of potential, different directions you could go with it. From the sinister and macabre to something simple and innocent - depending on your personal take. Love to see where it goes.

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    7. Lovely "2 minute" story. with Ann above... Could go somewhere with this sinister, macabre, innocent, romance....... Take and fly with it :-)

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    8. So sad and what's even sadder so truthful yet sweetly romantic with just a tinge of horror implied.

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  8. Nancy DeCilio GauthierNovember 7, 2014 at 9:37 AM

    The old man dreams of his youth in Sicily. The youngest of a large brood of children; too many mouths to feed, so at age 8 he is sent out to work as a shepherd boy. Keeping watch over a neighbor's sheep on the hillside. At 18, he knows he has to leave home and joins the peace time Army - he travels all over Italy, learning different dialects on his journey. He cannot really read or write; but he has a gift for languages. Now in his early twenties, they speak of a new life in the land of opportunity - so he goes to America on a boat, alone but unafraid. He reaches Ellis island and into NYC. He is sponsored by distant family - he finds work digging the subways, good honest work, work to keep a roof over his head and eventually a family. A wife and four children who grow and prosper. Eventually there are grandchildren. The only thing tangible he brought with him from Sicily that still exists is a pair of cow bells, tied with old rope. The family always rang them outside at midnight on New Year's Eve - along with breaking old dishes - a Sicilian custom. Those cow bells still exist today and reside in a place of honor in a china closet in a home of one of the grandchildren in Florida. One day, in the perhaps not too distant future, they will be passed down to a great grandchild and keep his memory alive.

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    1. My wife is half Italian and they wake up the whole damn neighborhood in her family banging pans on New Years. That said, this is an astoundingly deep and rich piece of flash. This is wonderful. Rich and hearty. And the pacing is perfect. Excellent.

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    2. Nancy DeCilio GauthierNovember 7, 2014 at 12:30 PM

      Thank you !!

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    3. Lovely. Evokes both nostalgia and new life.

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    4. More cowbell! Nice vignette, like a mini bio.

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    5. Excellent romantic historical flash piece.

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    6. Absolutely gorgeous, and dare I guess rooted in truth? Thanks for taking us along!

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  9. I don't want to open my eyes because it's like a trigger, it's like throwing a lasso on the brain. You don't get to play around anymore, friend, we have open eye things to do. Important things. Things that need DOING.

    The brain disagrees. It was happy playing in the grass with my t-ball coach, my dead Grandpa, and my third grade class. The brain likes to play with time. The eyes are always looking at the clock. Stupid fucking eyes.

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    1. Stupid fucking eyes, indeed. :(

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    2. Nancy DeCilio GauthierNovember 7, 2014 at 12:32 PM

      But, the eyes are windows to the soul.

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    3. Indeed. Some mornings just are not meant for waking up.

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    4. Eyes are Type A personalities? Who knew? I know one body part that's more riotous and anarchic than the brain, though. ;)

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    5. Yep, this is good stuff.... and I'm with your mind...

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    6. I feel I know your dead Grandpa. Where is he and is he up to a game of T ball with an old man?

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  10. This isn’t me. I’m the guy who gave his best friend shit when he went through his experimental stage. Or whatever it was. I’m the guy who’s a sucker for a pretty girl, not the guy who’s a sucker for a good-looking guy. I have no idea how I got here. This isn’t me.

    Or at least, it isn’t who I was.

    When he smiles at me like that, though, I remember exactly how we got here. And I can’t be anything but grateful, no matter how weird it is.

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    1. This is a really interesting piece. I was cursed with boring old heterosexuality, myself. I can feel the confusion, joy, wonder. Nice work, G.

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    2. I wonder how many have faced this same discovery and wonder.

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    3. It is very pleasant to see this side of the mind - the finding of acceptance, rather than self-hatred.

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    4. This is good stuff... and a beautiful portrayal of how affection and orientation would be in a perfect world... less about labels, more about connection.... thanks for sharing a beautiful ray of hope!

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    5. I agree with Leland, this piece speaks truth in the bigger sense of the word. I enjoyed it.

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  11. "You ain't gonna fall, just fucking move - you're holding everybody up."

    The ground is so far away, and you are so high - you can't turn back, but you can't keep going. Your feet won't move. You imagine your body, a sack of broken bones heaped onto the craggy rocks below. Maybe you can just stay on the rock face forever. Time will make it all OK. You will be moss-covered, wind-kissed. You will become the rock and the rock will -

    "Dude! Fucking go!"

    So, you do. And live to write the tale.

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    1. Personally, I would have turned around and slugged Impatient Guy and then gone back the way I came. But I love the tale and the sentiment.

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    2. Exactly how I felt the first time I was told to jump off the diving board into the pool.

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    3. Impatient Guy better not be an instructor or someone needs to fire his ass. But yeah, this captures something. Been here. Terrified of heights, no idea what possessed me to go rappelling.

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    4. There are some fears we should all face once. On the other hand, I have no fear of embarrassing Mr. impatient Guy...

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    5. I have spent a large part of my life forcing the confrontation of my fears. ;)

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    6. Impatient guy seems like he could also be devil on the shoulder self. Nice piece about facing fear with the devil on your heels.

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  12. She was no party girl. She had the shelf-life of A dented can of Chef Boyardi meatballs in a Jewish deli. Five minutes into her trivial word deluge, furtive eyes sought watch-adorned wrists and feet tapped nervous rhythms in the direction of the door.

    “Did you know Abraham Lincoln represented plantation owners? That he eloquently spoke in disfavor of runaway slaves when he was an Illinois lawyer?”

    We didn’t know but we nodded anyway.

    “Are you aware Josef Stalin once contemplated the priesthood?”

    Millie and I mentally perused our lists of credible excuses, selected favorites, then discussed our final choice.

    “Rita, we’re double-parked. We gotta run.”

    “That’s a misnomer,” she said, puffing up her chest like a peacock. “You have one car?” We nodded. “Then you’re single-parked.” Rita the info-maniac laughed diabolically.

    By now the rosy blotches on Millie’s face were flashing “Get me out of here!” We both had surpassed our limit. Our heads were bursting with useless enlightenment.

    No wonder she had no boyfriend. No one invited her to parties. What passion can facts ignite? Who cared about insignificant buried tidbites of history?

    “Did you know that Calvin Coolidge…”

    Millie raced me to the car.

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    1. Ha! I know this feeling so well. And you captured it perfectly. Well played, Sal.

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    2. Nancy DeCilio GauthierNovember 7, 2014 at 12:35 PM

      Ditto - what JD said.

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    3. Hey, I KNOW her! in fact, in a previous life, I may have been her . Beautifully conceived and executed.

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    4. Excellent description of most of my hipster, younger friends who are going on 60 now.

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  13. He didn’t want to slip into depression, so he ran as fast as he could towards it. He saw the sign that read abandon all hope and said, “Hallelujah, I’ve found the promised land!” What he learned was he was one of those rare individuals who could only find joy in Schadenfreude and growing up in a country of intrinsically happy people had stripped him of possible hope of a life worth living. It was in this realization that Frank considered his only choice. He paused before the gate just long enough to realize that yes, things for him had gotten that bad. The guard at the gate asked Frank to state his business. With more resolve than hope Frank made his request and was allowed to pass beneath the sign. The sign above the archway read , “The Spaso House.” But it could have just as easily said, “Abandon all hope ye who enter here.”

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    1. Man, this is good, Ed. The idea of not being able to avoid depression so diving into it - I get that. Very well. You conveyed a lot here, friend. Excellent piece.

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    2. Is this like feeling down and throwing on the Joy Division record? Or watching a Lars von Trier movie? It's like emotional vaccination, maybe.

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    3. This is good... and I've felt it and been there... thank you for sharing.

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    4. The Spaso House is the American Embassy in Moscow , maybe. Lets say it is. Does that help or make it more vague? :D

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  14. We threw the mattresses and milk crates in this huge moving van along with clothes, pots, pans, and a shit-ton of food. Half of the van is taken up by black garbage bags.

    Part of me feels utterly pathetic. How do you live this long without real furniture? But the rest of me is stunned that I fit this much stuff in that tiny little apartment. Where would we even have fit the furniture?

    Daniel heaves the last bag into the truck and puts his arm around me. We both just stand there and stare into the back of the truck for a minute.

    "I guess things are going to have to change now," I say with a little tremor in my voice.

    "I'm pretty sure enough has changed for the next few weeks," he says. "Why don't we focus on getting this stuff in the new place and figure out the rest later?"

    "But we need so much more stuff! The house is going to feel so empty. How are we going to afford it all?" I know I'm shrieking, but I can't help it. I'm freaked. Again.

    "Sweetheart, take a breath," Daniel says. "I know you're scared, but this is a good thing. Try to remember that."

    He puts his hand on my stomach and kisses my forehead. I try to calm down, I know stressing out over nothing is not good for the baby, but all of these things just keep hitting me. I close my eyes, picture the beach right outside of my new front door, and smile.

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    1. LOVE this. So many emotions wrapped up together in a two minute ball of awesome. <3

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    2. Nancy DeCilio GauthierNovember 7, 2014 at 12:37 PM

      Some people can't deal with change and you captured that.

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    3. There is a delicate set of changes that get started in the pregnant female. Not just anyone can present the "visible" aspects in such a way that anyone can "get it". You have captured one of those little slices of life.

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    4. Wonderful. That tug of war between past and future with the not-knowing in the present.

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    5. Yeah, balanced on a fulcrum, all the possibilities, yet also the fears. I love this.

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    6. Agreed. The precipice. I have seen it from many angles. God, I hate moving. Like crazy pregnant chicks, though. Great piece, G.

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  15. Unbounded

    She couldn't have been there back then, but my memory insists she was. Hard to believe it was once a happy place, before its paint was scraped and peeled and its planes and angles eroded by storms and salt, like driftwood, like a stunted tree on a dune extending its raw chin boneheadedly seaward. But there were moments. Those shell games, dare games, chill games unique to seashores and lonely children. I still could swear I knew her then.

    First, things change. Then people change. Might have gotten that backwards. It doesn't matter.

    As a teenager I took to hitchhiking my way around the state. Saw many a strange thing. One late fall I remember being dropped off by a dull, obliging farmer and standing in a fine rain by Third Ditch Road, out by the corn stubble and the unending flat grey world, and thinking, Damn country's so big they ran out of names.

    Something is here, watching me. Something also without name, insouciant and alien as the land itself. Always knew it was there. Couldn't ever fully hide. Couldn't ever stay silent enough or small enough. Me or it, I mean. I think of it as a hulking insect, an immense bug-thing, lurking amid the pooled ink shadows at the edge of a wood, observing me with unfathomable eyes that never blink.

    We had agency once. Things happened, some good, some not so good. Played ball in the street, smoked weed out behind the fire hall, shot raccoons from the trees at twilight. Show me yours and I'll show you mine. Suck me. Fuck you. Absorbed it all; now watch me spit it back out.

    The last thing she says to me is this:

    "How dare you live life like it matters?"

    She has a nice way of talking and an even nicer way of looking. I like how her black hair falls on her shoulders, how her eyes are never the same colour, how a slightly raised eyebrow changes her smile utterly.

    The last thing I ever say to her is this:

    "They'll be looking for me. But they won't find me."

    My legs move like scissors, cutting away the incalculable miles, moving in one eternal straight line toward that place I recall, the one that seems bleached by its own sad history, diluted by sun and tide, rundown by those ceaseless tales of sorrow, and I come to it at last—both of us barely even suffering now—to this quiet, chill place without dreams or tenancy.

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    1. What can I say. You are a master of imagery.

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    2. I don't know how to express how much I love reading your writing... it sometimes feels more like painting, rather than writing... words and meanings applied with pallets then scraped off unmercifully, then reapplied, just to get the perfect nuance.... legs move like scissors... without dreams or tenancy...we had agency once....Third Ditch Road. Each perfect separately, and sheer genius when combined. Thank you for letting me see the beauty.

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    3. "How dare you live life like it matters?"

      That line is going to be ringing in my head for a while.

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    4. Yvonne, you are so kind! I'm a master of something... or at least the word starts with master...

      Thanks, Leland, I really appreciate that. Yeah, to be honest, that's not an inaccurate way of describing how I write. Lots of daubing, smearing, and scraping going on here, lol.

      And Laura, I hesitated with that line, only because of the similar words all in a row, but decided I liked that, as it makes you slow down to read it, to pronounce each one, and besides, it has a nice rhythm. All that aside from the sentiment itself, which is a mindfuck of a thing!

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    5. Always classy and worth more than three or four reads. Just awesome.

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    6. Agreed. And I've always thought you write like a painter. A good one. This is a brilliant piece. I especially love the build up in the first P and then: "I still could swear I knew her then." Power.

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    7. I've often wondered about the cause and effect relationship between people and things. I like it that you raise only questions that have no answer. And then answer them. Or the other way around. But thing I like best was the last breathless paragraph/sentence.

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  16. His brother got some strange ideas out in Hollywood, ideas that they certainly hadn’t learned from their parents growing up in rural Oregon. His brother had somehow landed himself the weirdest relationship imaginable—he had a girlfriend and a boyfriend, for Pete’s sake—but right now Holland envied the hell out of him. At least he had someone who loved and respected him. Who treated him like a human being. Who wasn’t constantly swinging from loving and adoring to crazed and enraged. He knew he needed to take his daughter and get the hell out, but some things are easier said than done. Some things are far easier said than done.

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    1. It is more difficult for some than others to take that leap away from the known, the comfortable. I think you captured both spirits in a single paragraph.

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    2. Intertia is always present in these situations.

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    3. Love the echoed ending. Another piece that totally sticks its landing.

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    4. I liked this a lot... I could feel the teller of the story was in someplace like Minnesota or Nebraska and could almost feel the shaking of the head... Ditto to the perfect landing.

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    5. Yep, I'm gonna ditto too. Love the piece, and a brave (awesome) choice with the ending. Totally works.

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    6. This is definitely west coast, I feel. Left coast, right brain, tight paragraph. Love it.

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  17. I remember how beautiful she looked the first time we kissed, in the black-and-white dress with her makeup and her hair just so. And I remember how beautiful she looked on the day we married, in the same black-in-white dress with her hair and makeup even more particular. But seeing her like this, this is when she’s most beautiful to me: in yoga pants and an oversized t-shirt covered with a flannel button-up, her hair an unholy mess, and not a smudge of make-up on, but with her heart in her eyes as she watches the little miracle we made banging on the tray of her highchair. This is when she’s most beautiful, and I take it all in carefully so I can remember this, too. The time is coming when I’ll need these memories to keep me sane.

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    1. Romantic, but wise enough to prepare for the future. Sounds like a sound relationship.

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    2. This is the stuff of real love... perfection in imperfection... well done!

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    3. Agreed. Real love. And that last line is so dope. Changes the tone of the piece in a brilliant way.

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    4. How did I skip this on first reading? Goddamn it, I got caught out by this one, emotionally speaking. This is gorgeous, seriously.

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    5. I got caught by this one emotionally, too. Boohooing the whole time I was writing it.

      Thanks, folks.

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  18. Two minutes. Don't be late. I want to remember your eyes, see them smile throught the glass - or not. Either way, I need them their to anchor me, to give me courage. The curtain opens. Two minutes. Yes. There you are. In the centre. You try to smile but I see the tears. You are the only one - the only one who believes. I told you I'd be OK if only you are there - and smile me away. Your face is all I see, your eyes, your tears, your pain mirroring my own. I forbade them to blindfold me. Your eyes will carry me home. I breathe. Your hand reaches as I fade. Your eyes are the last thing I see. Peace.

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    1. Nancy DeCilio GauthierNovember 7, 2014 at 12:42 PM

      Wow, that's all I can say.

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    2. Yeah, forgot to breathe through this. Would have been so easy to cross the line into maudlin, but you stayed right on the line throughout. Lovely emotive piece, Yvonne.

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    3. I'm with David, gasping for air... this is so powerful.

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    4. Yup. I stepped out and now I get to just agree with everyone. I love the morphing from ramble to focused narrative. I held my breath, too. For reals.

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    5. Thanks, guys. I always second guess myself, reread it and think it's crap.

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    6. It may be time for you to stop re=reading so quickly after writing. For some folks, that's just an invitation to beat yourself up and ignore good writing. Write your heart out and experiment with putting stuff away for a day, a week, a month and THEN come back to it... you just might see some genius that you missed...

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  19. The delicate balance of learning to live again after a stroke was not easy. Learning to walk, speak, read, and do math were all the more difficult because she was quite aware that she had previously had these skills, had worked and sweated and learned them over time. Now she was berift and it was frightening.

    It was taking time to relearn all these things. Reading was slow, math generally required writing it out or a calculator, comprehension came and went sporadically. She was dizzy all the time, so walking was rather hit or miss, literally in the cases where she overbalanced and fell.

    She had worked herself up to some light multitasking, like writing and messaging with her editor at the same time, but if one more item was added, like the radio, a movie, or her son coming through the room, the fragile network would come crashing down like crystal on cement.

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    Replies
    1. Excellent job of painting a picture of what you've been dealing with. Thank you for sharing this.

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    2. Yeah, that fragility but also determination come through strongly.

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    3. Thank you for sharing... crystal on cement with multitasking is one I struggle with... we take so much for granted, until we can't.

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    4. Yep. Agreed. This is a brilliantly rendered piece. Frustration, hope. So strong.

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  20. "So, did you get it?"

    Carolyn nodded, looking across the room at Harry. "I have," she said, keeping her voice low.

    Eleanor grinned. "He's going to get such a surprise."
    "Yes. He hasn't got a clue."

    The two men were sitting together, jammed side by side with a huge bowl of nachos and some dips in front of them, watching the football. Adam was a Manchester United fan and Harry followed Arsenal, but neither of their chosen teams were playing, both of them watching for the love of the game - although Adam was hoping that Chelsea would lose so that they'd drop below Man U. in the league.

    "I really can't see the point," Carolyn confided. "It's not even as though they engage with any of the players. They're just like a pair of cats following a laser pointer across the screen. That and a misplaced loyalty to a jersey that changes design every year."

    Eleanor nodded. "You're not wrong. Adam sleeps in his jersey sometimes. The current one builds up static something awful. It's a definite passion killer, I'll have you know."

    "Hmmph. And yet we indulge them. Encourage them even. I almost choked when I looked into the price of a season ticket for him. The things we could buy we could both enjoy for that money."

    Pushing them together and then laying her cards on the table face down, Carolyn dipped into her bag, pulling out her lighter and the remnants of a packet of unfiltered cigarettes. "You want one," she asked.

    "Not for me. Adonis disapproves, you know?" Eleanor shot her husband a quick look and then, hearing the hisses of them both cracking open a can of beer, she put her own cards down, pulling her chair closer to the table.

    “I'd like to get him a 'season ticket' too,” she said, winking. “Only, it'd be a bit too suspicious if they both caught a ticket too close together. Folk might think we'd been exchanging notes...”

    Carolyn laughed. “We might get our own season tickets, watching the blue team every week.” She flicked her lighter into life, pulling a prolonged calming breath through her cigarette. “But still, whatever happens, it'd be better than spending the whole weekend with him every week. It's been so difficult pretending to enjoy his company all the time. I don't know what I ever saw in him. He's changed, I suppose. I know I have.”

    “We've all changed. Adam has. I have. It's a shame we never change together. At least not in a compatible way. Lord knows I've tried – just like you.” Eleanor leaned forward, plunging her fingers into the ramekin filled with dry peanuts, needing something to occupy her hands while they weren't playing whist. “Damn, I wish I could have one of those. You never put on weight when you smoke. I hate keeping secrets.”

    Carolyn shrugged. “It'll not be long now. I'm expecting his ticket'll be dispatched next week. We both be able to breathe more easily then.”

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    1. There's more to life than football...

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    2. Okay, the Arsenal fan, maybe, but what has the United fan ever done to anyone? ;)

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    3. I'll not say anything. They're having a bad season so far this year...

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    4. This is a really cool, piece brother. I won't get into the football for fear of hooliganism. ;)

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    5. I'll be the one kicking off, innit? Jog on...

      Mark, it's true, but they're far more entertaining to watch than they were last season, or even the one before. I'm actually enjoying it in a perverse way, lol.

      (Sorry for the thread derail, folks.)

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  21. That certainly keeps us guessing. I want to see more.

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  22. Airport bars. The world's largest sweet-and-sour platters. On the sweet side, you've got your liquor, your cheap-ass peanuts, and an unending supply of the world's most self-assured men. On the sour side, you've got your chintziest brands of liquor, no real food, and an unending supply of the world's most self-assured men.

    "Hey, mind if I sit here?"

    You'd never noticed it, but your eyes really do make a sound when they roll back that far.

    "Travellin' alone I guess. Pretty thing like you must get lonesome traveling alone."

    You finally decide enough is enough. "No, actually, my husband Igor is in the bathroom. He'll be right back. I think he'll really like you." The guy disappears faster than you imagined possible.

    "Hi, aren't you... my God it really is you... I sat next to you in English Lit. Wow, you look fantastic."

    His name is Barry. You don't send him on his way because you determined way back then in high school that your sexual orientations didn't have the right tabs and slots. You ask him if he's married, with children, or dachshunds or whatever.

    "Nope. Still single, still breaking hearts." There's that eyerolling sound. "I know, things weren't exactly copacetic in high school, but whaddya say, maybe we could try something... I mean, I've kinda broadened my horizons."

    Huh. Your eyelids, when opened this wide make a different sound than eyes rolling. Kinda like a first time yoga student.

    "I'm a writer." You nod. "I mean, I'd like to be a writer." You nod again. "I'd like to write the story of your life across the pages of your skin with my tongue as pen."

    Society frowns on retching in such public circumstances. So you give him a cold look, and then glance to the door.

    "Oh look, there's my husband Igor. Let me introduce you!"

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    1. I love it when you write pieces like this. Such a delicate wit. I mean that in the best possible sense. Like this: "an unending supply of the world's most self-assured men" - brilliant. And the echo makes it even more brilliant.

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    2. Yay! I get to be the dittohead on this one. Which is good since I couldn't find any words of my own. :D

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    3. Ha ha, that last pickup line cracked me up!

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    4. LOL. Love this so hard. Especially this line: "You'd never noticed it, but your eyes really do make a sound when they roll back that far."

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    5. Yeah, what Dan said. So funny and so real at the same time.

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    6. And don't anybody ask me if I succumbed to the pickup line... I won't answer

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    7. You really know your airport bars. Great humour, totally nailed the sensory experience of both the sweet and sour.

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    8. I used to travel A LOT for work... thanks for enjoying!

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  23. The boy is eleven or thereabouts. He stands with shaking hands, rattling the notebook paper - college ruled. It's a special day and the rest of the family is gathered around the table, festooned with special foods. It's the kind of scene he thinks of when he thinks of happy families. It's so out of place - the panic starts low, in the bowels.

    "He wrote you a poem. Go ahead, read him the poem."

    The boy can't make eye contact with anything except the paper. He tries to hold it still.

    "A poem?"

    "Yeah, he wrote you a poem, read it you doof."

    The boy can't look up because the lies are so bright they're blinding. The panic is rising now. He might puke. His mouth sweats and he swallows hard, mouth dry despite the deluge.

    "Yeah, I ... uh ... I wrote this -"

    "A poem? Just leave it there. On the mantle."

    The boy moves slowly, but he hears his brother's voice.

    "Dad, he wants to READ it to you."

    The boy wants to scream. Inside he is screaming. Every bad word he knows and some he doesn't even approve of. He keeps his eyes low.

    "I don't want to hear a goddamn poem."

    Then, things happen with a startling rapidity. The paper is snatched, torn. The words are gone. Like they were never there at all. The boy stands still, face blank. It makes the anger worse and that hurts both of them and that's good. If you're too scared to fight back, you can at least poker face your way through it. Nothing pisses him off like that. Nothing worse than picking a fight with someone who won't fight back. It's a shoddy weapon, but it's all the boy has.

    The boy says nothing. He walks to his room and closes the door. Then, the poker face bluff crumbles. The tears have purpose. There is no stopping them. They are tears with a capital T. He can hardly breathe.

    The boy, now grown, thinks about it from time to time. This memory and all the others. Why? Just why? And why didn't anyone come to check. To explain. How come there was no comforting maternal hug? Because the sides were picked long ago, and he didn't make the cut. Because it must be swept under the carpet. So much shit under there now it's like a shag mountain. The boy pulls a pack of cigarettes from behind his books. He sits by the window and he knows there won't be any knocks on the door, so he smokes until he's sick. The sick feels good. Fuck him.

    Now, the boy that became a man thinks it's funny. Quite the father's day and all that. He wonders if the old man got what he wanted. Whether he regrets it. Whether it even registered. He wonders why he has to think it's funny. It was a lot of things, but funny?

    Not so much.

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    1. This is heartbreaking. I wasn't this kid growing up, thankfully, but you made me feel it just as if I had been that kid.

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    2. Heartbreaking. And that ending? No words. To paraphrase Dylan, this is wild mercury writing.

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    3. Wow. I love that kid and his strength and his coping mechanisms. I bet he wrote some of the best damned things ever written. And fuck his parents and brother. Such a treasure should not live with swine.

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    4. I was riveted to this, my heart breaking for that kid. And this line: "Because the sides were picked long ago, and he didn't make the cut." Oh.

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    5. "Not so much." That says it all. Oh, man, can I relate.

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    6. Well just take my childhood and publish it. Why not? Seriously though, heart wrenching stuff. Well done.

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  24. Raptor talon tear fuck shit blood goddamn stop brain, just stop for five minutes, just five minutes, please, I can't do it anymore. Fucking goddamn shit fucking stop it. Just stop fucking yelling and talking, I can't separate it and it's digging holes so deep. So dark.

    I'm fucking scared as shit, fuck goddamn where's my knife, I don't even know what good it will do, but it's cold and hard and sharp, not a warm, soft mess pussy piece of shit faggot like you.

    Shut the fuck up! Goddamn Jesus fucking dead nuns and rotting corpses. You son of a bitch. I'll berate myself. In my head, you cocksucking bag of fucking scag cunt piss. I got enough of your words stuck in there, I'm trying to weed them out, but they're like vines and they're choking the shit out of everyone.

    Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Why does it always come down to blood?

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    1. I just punched my desk and now my goddamned hand hurts.

      Sometimes those vines can grab you and it's a panicky feeling.

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    2. This is a really nice piece about indoor horticulture, right? Pathos is always a good selection for a mixture of sun and shade, and usually knives aren't required to trim it back. But seriously, this is FULL of adrenalin.

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    3. I'm going to create a new genre just for you. I call it General Literary Fucking Tourette. There would be you, Vonnegut and Twain. And I'd make it tittie fucking required piss ant reading in every mother fucking school in the country. That's how fucking good this cocksucking piece is. Now I have to run, choir practice...

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  25. She's waited a long time for this ride, and I've waited a long time to take her on it. I can't tell if she's more excited or more nervous, but she's almost vibrating with tension and she can't seem to stop babbling about everything and nothing.

    My sweet little niece has turned into an amazing young woman, but she looks like a little kid playing dress-up in her brand new leather jacket and boots. She'd joked about not having leather hot pants and a halter to wear riding, but I'd given her my best death-glare and told her how it is.

    "Real biker chicks do not dress skanky," I told her. "We know that's a good way to get road rash."

    That was lesson number one, and it was as good a place to start as any.

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    Replies
    1. Ha! The passing on of real knowledge.

      You're on a roll!

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    2. Real biker chicks don't dress skanky. I'm getting that tattooed on my chest. ;)

      Digging this ... need more.

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    3. Real biker chicks don't dress skanky? :( You have broken my heart once again in only two minutes.

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  26. Her eyes are dark, mascara and that special sunken sheen - junkie shiners, that's what she calls them. You call them something else, but only to yourself. And you beg. Please stop, and she grabs her rig and soon you're joining in because you don't want her to do it alone. Right? That's the reason. Right?

    Those black eyes just get blacker. The nights compound and the cracks can't be filled with all the airplane glue in the world. But that's cool. Cause The Ramones sniffed glue and Joey was a junkie and that makes it all OK. Right?

    Fucking shit's confusing. Luckily, there's one very pointy way to unconfuse it.

    For a few hours. You remember when it lasted longer. Oh well, twenty twenty twenty four hours to go. They add up.

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    Replies
    1. Ah, the lament of a junky. A painful, beautiful song. And it's always sung solo.

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  27. Before every speech, before every presentation, there's a dark little place he goes. Down a long hall of memories, to a past decades old. He goes there to find reassurance, not from memories of praise in childhood, but when he sees that the locks on the door to that past are securely locked and bolted.

    His shrink said some day he was going to have to unlock that door. His shrink was wrong. Behind that door was everything that was horrible about life. Things that didn't even have names they were so terrible. As long as the door was shut and barred, his life would go on.

    He held the key in his hand, and it was on a chain around his neck. Never ever let that key loose or the demons would take it and open the portal. Only he knew what was behind the door. Everyone else was dead now.

    He hurried back through the hallway of memories, to the present, adjusted his tie, checked his voice for the proper degree of somberness, and began, "Dearly beloved..."

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  28. She strolled past a sign that read “Fitting Rooms” and caught a glimpse of the engineer’s handiwork in a reflective surface. They’d done a good job. She looked like most of the other human females she’d passed in the shopping mall. Hair like the others, a suitable length, the same vacant stare she’d emulated with the help of the simulation program. Now all she had to do was keep fitting in, and wait for the signal to start the next phase of her mission. They hadn’t told her what that was, and despite her queries, they still would not explain. In fact, her trainer had taken her aside and said it was dangerous to ask twice, so she’d stopped. Her attention was drawn all of a sudden to the collar of her shirt. Her reflection’s hand rose to straighten it, and she noticed that it was a different style than the type worn by the two females who’d just exited the rooms. That didn’t seem right. Maybe the engineer had made a mistake and had given her the wrong simulation. She glanced up again at the sign on the wall. Perhaps this is where you go to be more fitting, she thought, and following the lead of another, grabbed a garment and disappeared behind the curtain. That’s when she felt the vibration. The chip implanted in her brain had been activated. Finally, she would know, she could help her planet…but why was the vibration so loud? And that whine? It hurts…hurts…so sharp she gasped and dropped to her knees. The human females began to circle her, eyes questioning, hands reaching out, and as her consciousness ebbed away, the edges of her vision going black, she heard the faintest of voices in her mind: Independent thought detected…independent thought detected…indepen…

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    1. Creepy. So very, very creepy.

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    2. I feel that way sometimes.
      Yes, very creepy.

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    3. wow.... and now you venture into scifi and you're STILL awesome... again, I ask... do you ever write anything that's bad?

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  29. This comment has been removed by the author.

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