Friday, November 14, 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. 

What would you like? Tell me how you want it. Served hot or open faced? You want a side of metaphors? You can add as many as you want. I know we all have our own tolerances and, lord, even allergies. I can add some vampires, but that's gonna double the price of your meal. Imagery? Sorry, we're out of that today. You're just going to have to eat in this static void. Ambience? Overrated. 

The other patrons? Well, I suppose. Yes, I know I control them, but I tend to let them do what they want. You what? Sir, allow me to explain. I'm not trying to be rude, but this is my place. I can press one button and the whole thing disappears. Or I could just 86 you. You'll take the hot, humid hermaphroditic life change with extra alliteration? Well, welcome, we're waiting for your order - in the mean time, grab a typewriter. It'll be hard to find in this open white space, but the search will do you good.


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.

BTW, if you enjoy reading all the cool pieces by the authors on here, check out their work. Many have written amazing things. Trust me.

223 comments:

  1. T.S. Eliot was only half prophetic. The world finally did end with a whimper, but also with a bang that preceded it, eardrums shattering worldwide as if in obeisance to the decibeled master.

    I wasn’t there. About a century later, I was born in the cave hatchery miles beneath the scorched radioactive earth. I learned about it at the knee of the robotic Histo-reaper. Eliot had long been forgotten, a mere one-line footnote among the other wordmongers long forgotten.

    The whimper and the bang sobered those miners who had survived below ground. In deference to the world’s end, we refrained from song and even speech. The only sound, the whir of the histologs that shone on the silver chest of the Histo-reaper. We huddled like blind mice in the dank dark cave, learning from Old Days’ sins, determined not to repeat them.

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    1. Love this! A piece that's dystopian/dramatic/emotive using such beautiful language. Three paragraphs - AND THERE IS SO MUCH. That's an impressive feat, brother. Well in.

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    2. They say context is everything. In three short paragraphs you pretty much proved it is the only thing. Totally rewritten future.

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    3. Ditto to the above, and an encouragement to take this further... you've built the framework of a world... run with it!

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    4. You give us so much in so little space. Excellent!

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  2. He falls to his knees in the hospital chapel, wanting desperately to ask for help, but not sure there is really anyone to hear his plea. And even if there is, how was he supposed to ask? He hadn’t been raised to believe. He hadn’t recited bedtime prayers. He had no idea where to begin.

    He’s aware of a strong arm wrapping around his shoulder, a warm body pressed against his side. He leans in to his lover, seeking strength. A smaller body presses against his other side, and he pulls her close as well. He stares up at the nondenominational inspirational print hanging on the wall until his eyes blur.

    “I don’t know how to pray,” he confesses.

    “The ‘how’ doesn’t matter,” his lover tells him, stroking one big hand over his perpetually messy hair. “He knows what in your heart. But if you want to put it into
    words, I’ll do it for you.”

    And he does. He puts everything they are all feeling into a gentle plea that breaks down all the walls and leaves the three of them in tears. But in the tears, there is healing.

    Somehow, even though nothing has changed, things are better. Maybe it’s the prayers, but probably it is just knowing that no matter what, he has these two incredible people to help him through whatever lie ahead.

    He understand, then, how to pray, and he utters his first, a prayer of gratitude for the gift of these two special people, the people who keep him going, who give him purpose, and who bring light into his life, even in the darkest of times.

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    1. This is such an approachable piece of peace. Gentle and strong. Relatable, for sure. I like the interplay between human connection and the universe. Very nice, G.

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    2. I like the compassion and empathy implied so simply and beautifully.

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    3. Beautiful. That's what prayer is, to me. Words sometimes get in the way.

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    4. Beautiful. Peaceful. Humble. Well done.

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    5. A loving display of gratitude and compassion. Nice!

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  3. I know they are there. That sudden flicker just outside my field of vision. They taunt me. I feel the prickle at the back of my neck, that unease from sensing I am watched. Why can't I see them. She can. She describes them in detail. Is she pulling my leg? No. There's that flicker again.

    There's one that gets in bed with me when I am alone - never when he is there with me, no only when I sleep alone. I think it's a he. He never touches me, but the bed moves, ever so slightly as he makes himself comfortable, chooses a position that allows him to watch me.

    You say I look tired. I answer that I'm not sleeping well.

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    1. Attention grabbing flash piece. Love the tension and implied darkness.

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    2. Wow! This is an amazing piece. I love everything about it. Excellent, Yvonne.

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    3. Whoa! creepy in the best of ways! and you end in second person... well played!

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    4. Who is getting into bed with her? Dear God, WHO? Great job!

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  4. The Evening
    Frank twisted the cap off another beer and stepped out the backdoor to smoke under the clear SW skies. Another night, another who-is-counting-the-number of beers. The late evening air was dry, cool, and the only comforting friend he could still count on keeping him company. The air he breathed. Bear, his rusty colored chow mix dog, had passed away years ago. He had just enough beers in him that a he felt a warm moist tear stream down a cheek. Not so many that he convulsed in sobs, fell to his knees, and passed out right there on the back veranda. In other words, not enough. The night was young. He knew he’d get there. He’d stocked the fridge using social security checks. Were it not for direct deposit, they would be the only mail Frank would ever open again. Most days he stocked the fridge, drank, and waited to see who would show up to kick him out.

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    1. The loneliness, the unbearable being.

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    2. Wow, this is so good. "In other words, not enough." So good. You conveyed this so well. That feeling. I know it. Beautiful and brutal, Ed. Lovely.

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    3. Gutsy, painful, and full of love... "Most days he stocked the fridge, drank, and waited to see who would show up to kick him out." Yeah, I've been that guy a couple of times.

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    4. I want to hug that guy. Well done.

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  5. The Call
    Frank twisted the cap off a second beer. The phone rang. Always about twenty years behind the technology, Frank still used a answering machine that stored messages on cassette tape. He took a swig from his long necked bottle and listened half interested to what promised to be another fake telling him he’d won a free trip to Las Vegas. What he heard instead was a familiar voice from his past. Ted was calling just to say hi. It had been too long, Ted was saying. Frank picked up the receiver and said hello to his old friend. They talked for a long time and when Frank hung up he realized it was late. Tired, for the first time in two beers, he readied himself for bed. He fell asleep with thoughts of his friend in his mind. “If only Ted lived closer,” Frank thought the next morning. He was staring at the twenty two bottles of beer in the fridge and wondered, “Can I make this beer last another day if I call Ted this evening?”

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    1. Oh, I like this, too. Keep it going! Please. The first time in two beers? Fucking brilliant.

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    2. Is it weird that I'm relieved that Frank has a friend? Another great piece.

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  6. Beneath the roots of an old stream-side tree, there is a deep, dark shade. The roots hang over the water, exposed like skeletal fingers. Reaching for nutrients, getting nothing but air. The roots that remain rooted do the hard work.

    The shade roots are friends to the trout. Not 'the trout' like all the trout in the flickering stream. No, one fish - the trout is old, wary - he does not tolerate visitors to his darkness. He is safe in there. And there is always something to eat floating by. He once visited the dry world, held briefly by a creature with the strangest skin. It is an old memory. Not even a memory, a warning flag.

    He sees his comrades pulled out sometimes, but he does not care. His brain is small and the water is cold and there are crawfish under the rock ledge. He fins the water by, on down the stream. He isn't going anywhere.

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    1. I always wondered what that fat old bugger was thinking ;)

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    2. To make me feel the angst and well-being of a trout, now THAT is fine writing. "His brain is small and the water is cold and there are crawfish under the rock ledge." .... poetry.

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    3. Beautifully written. I'll never look at a trout in quite the same way.

      And your first story way up there ain't bad, either. Love 'em both!

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    4. I love this line so hard, the rhythm in it: "His brain is small and the water is cold and there are crawfish under the rock ledge."

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  7. Really? Cancer? After all the reckless shit he'd done, he was just going to fade into dust and ashes?

    It'd been a lifetime since he'd prayed last. SAT or ACT, he wasn't sure which. And that hadn't exactly worked out in his favor. But now, driving through the Cascades, he closed his eyes and prayed. Not stupidly, he opened them to make sure he wasn't veering into the wrong lane, but close and open and close and open... slower than his eyes were used to moving.

    Dear God, why?

    Why what? The answer almost caused him to swerve into the side of the mountain.

    You can speak?

    I can. I always have.

    Why haven't you spoken before?

    Why haven't you listened before?

    Eyes wide open, no more slow blinking.

    Why are you killing me this slow way?

    To give you time.

    I don't want time. I want it to be over if it's going to be over.

    Yeah, well, that's not how it works. You all die eventually. You know it as soon as you lose your first hamster or dog or whatever. I want you to not only say goodbye but hello.

    What the hell?

    You've been running away from stuff for a long time. Don't you think it's time to figure out what you're running to?

    The fog deepened, he knew he should slow down, but hey, with God as a passenger... He sped up.

    They found the car at the bottom of the ravine. He was decapitated and most of his body fried. But when they found his head, it was intact, and it still bore a beatific smile.

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    1. Irony, a twist of fact, a bit of blasphemy. Yeah, you hit all my favorite food groups.

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    2. Whoa, didn't see that coming. Brilliant.

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    3. Yeah, ditto all that. I really dig the end.

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    4. Yep, exactly what Ed said. This is awesome. This: "Why haven't you listened before?" - I actually felt it in my chest. We can ask that Q about so many things.

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  8. In a little town called Virginia Dale, named for the wife of a wanted man, a killer, there is a chapel. It can seat exactly ten thin people. The only way they could accommodate the funeral the Jim Baldridge wanted was if he was cremated. So he was.

    His eight remaining family members crowded into the chapel, knowing it was a condition of his will. The minister took one of the ten spaces, and Sarah wasn't thin, so she took the space of two.

    She remembered Jim's anger. She remembered Jim's fury at God for taking their only son. She couldn't imagine why her husband wanted a funeral in such a beautiful yet tiny place. The surrounding Colorado mountains would have dwarfed St. John's cathedral, much less this tiny chapel.

    Without music, there were plenty of awkward silences. During one of them, Sarah heard it and understood. A ticking sound under the floor of the tiny holy space. Ticking. Not like a telltale heart but like a clock, like a bomb. She pondered whether she should leave. Whether she should tell the others. surely they heard it, too.

    She waited. She was amused as each family member took a turn to say something kind, something amusing about Jim. Some of them must have hired writers because really, they all hated him. Janie was even able to cry for him. Janie, whom he humiliated publicly.

    And then the ticking stopped. Sarah held her breath. And she saw what he'd done. He'd animated the statue of the saint at the altar. It was dancing. It was smiling. It raised its hands. She laughed.

    And then the bomb went off.

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    1. And bam, you topped yourself! I want whatever you're having for breakfast these days. Breakfast of champions? Keep it, I want breakfast of intense writers. Unless its cornflakes, please tell me you didn't have cornflakes. ;)

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    2. Thanks I eat thesauri for breakfast.

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    3. Fucking A. Yep. Yep yep yep. This gets into a different place by the end, which I love, but the beginning is SO good. Storytelling tone at it's finest. This is how my Grandpa would have written if he'd tried. He could tell a hell of a story.

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    4. I think your grandpa and my grandma would have told some great stories to each other... I guess now it's up to us to tell those stories... the ones we remember, anyway.

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    5. Yup. I got some good ones. ;)

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  9. Bad enough she got the schedule wrong and had to curl into a blue plastic chair until the first bus out in the morning, but that weird guy with the skinny mustache kept staring at her. He was the only other guy in the ratty station except for the ancient dude behind a counter selling coffee that smelled like the underside of Hartford, Connecticut. Peering at her over his decades out of style glasses like she was some kind of exotic flower growing in a mound of shit, the guy started toward her. Oh crap, she thought. Expecting the usual questions: Where you headed? Here on your own? But he just…stood there, watery light-blue eyes like a pale Japanese mountaintop daring around and then dropping to his high-tops. His right pinkie toe pooched out the side, the red fabric starting to fray. Her brother had a pair like that, and she manhandled the memory into the storeroom. She felt clammy all of a sudden, which led to another fear: that the weird guy would ask if she was okay, offer to do some do-gooder nice thing like bring her water or listen to her troubles. As if. Instead, though, he lifted his gaze to hers, let it hover for a second as if she were about to throw a punch at him and said, “Um, excuse me. You’re sitting on my friend.”

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    1. Oh yeah.... this is beautiful description at its finest, and real, and true. I hope he forgave you.

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    2. You got me with that one, Laurie. The unexpected twist, the deft turning of the tables. I should have known your stock in trade punch line from the cosmos approach by now. But it knocks my socks off every time.

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    3. This brought back a lot of memories of being in bus stations late at night, alone. All the creepiness, the dread, the anxiety. The sadness of the plight of some of the people there. Nicely done.

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    4. Me, too. That twist. Makes me wonder who, or what, his friend was.

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    5. Damn you Boris. You could describe a goddamn blank wall and make it vibrant. I'm glad I like you so much. ;)

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    6. I already commented, but I'm still going to "ditto" Mr. Mader... 'cause he's right.

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  10. Shopping
    Mid morning found Frank at vaguely familiar place. It was the store he always shopped at, but he’d never seen it like this. At least not in many years. The bright morning sun streamed in from tall windows above the produce aisle making the entire section seem bright, cheerful, and inviting. Frank wandered through the store like a guest at a surprise birthday party seeing old friends for the first time in ages. “Artichoke, is that really you?” Frank addressed every vegetable as he came upon them, occasionally selecting something to take home.

    Standing in line he noticed the checker. Her name badge informed him that her name was Theresa and as he studied her graceful hands, perfect fingernails, soft makeup-free face he wondered things. She was too young for him of course. Or was she? She wasn’t a kid, she was a grown woman. Perhaps this drinking less thing was causing Frank to loose it a bit. Maybe he would call Ted tonight and tell him about Theresa, see what he thought. Frank made an effort to be courteous, but not patronizing to Theresa. Just the right measure of kindness to hopefully make a good impression. He walked out with an armful of old friends. The tomato family, white onions, garlic, carrots, etc. He wasn’t sure he remembered what to do with all these dinner guest. Another question for Ted...
    “I hope Ted is home this evening,” thought Frank and he drove the few blocks back through the 98 degree mid morning sun.

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    1. I'm thinking Frank needs his own book... this is good!

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    2. I agree. I'm really loving Frank's story.

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    3. Oh, yeah, Frank is developing nicely. More please.

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    4. I agree. Frank is one interesting dude.

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    5. FRANK! Loving it, brother. Excellent and interesting and flow-y. Deft. Graceful. Awkward. Damn.

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  11. She watches as the white knight rides up, his leather and denim armor covering the tattoos that tell the stories of all the battles he’s fought and won. He stops his trusty metal and chrome steed in front of her and offers her a hand. He’s not here to save her. She isn’t a damsel in distress or a maiden fair to be rescued and won. She is a warrior, too, not just ready and willing but eager to fight by his side, no matter the cost.
    She gives his proffered hand a squeeze and leans in to kiss his stubbly cheek before sliding into the saddle behind him. The sun is warm on her face, the breeze cool. She smiles as he spurs his steed and they set out to wherever the wind blows them. She secretly hopes there won’t be any dragons to battle this day, but she is ready for whatever the next roll of the dice brings...because together she and the knight are nigh unstoppable.

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    1. whoa... this is good. And I love "leather and denim armor"...

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    2. Nice images from Chaucer to Kerouac, zero to sixty, in less that two minutes time. Nice race through romantic sometimes great notions. Makes me want something you have to kick to start and is all black and chrome.

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    3. Love it. Love all the parallels, the sensual details. I want a ride!

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    4. This is awesome. I so hope there are chicks thinking like this when they see me on my steed. ;)

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  12. Hair wet and gummy with conditioner, and too pissed to give a crap about the unrinsed lather in her armpits, Millie threw a parka over her bathrobe, grabbed her keys, and drove like hell bent for leather to the place where she knew they parked. Yanking up short behind Sal’s rusted-out Ford pickup, she easily followed the tracks of their boots in the dusting of fresh snow.

    One of the bastards, Pete Junior, a hulk in camo and three-day growth, spun and gave her an open-mouthed stare, white vapor swirling around his tobacco-stained lips. “Hey, Mill. What the fuck, you’ll scare…”

    “You shot my water pump, asshole. That’s twice now. And you still ain’t paid me for the propane tank from last year.” She stabbed a finger toward her property up the hill.

    A snicker came from above her head and then Sal’s voice. “You’re beautiful when you’re angry, Mill. And you smell good, too. What’s that, coconut?”

    She craned her neck and saw Sal in the deer stand, with a rifle and an amused smirk, swinging his legs like a little kid. Hope you fall out and break your ankle, she thought.

    “Go on home, Millie,” Sal said. “Couldn’t have been us. We don’t aim that good.”

    When he snickered, she pulled the gun from her parka. “Yeah, but I do.”

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    1. YES! VICTORY TO MILLIE! and a great story with a fun twist. I love this!

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    2. Yes! Vivid and dynamic. Love it.

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    3. Oh, this is awesome. Killer ending. No pun intended at all. Dopeness.

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  13. Nice tale from the woodlands. I like a woman who can shoot good and smells purdy.

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  14. A small hand, lined and with stubby fingers looking strangely broad for its size. Turning it over, she studied her nails. Trimmed short and well-kept. Painted a deep navy blue. And neither chipped or chewed.

    Alexa turned it back, examining her fingers. No scars. No whitened grooves. Nothing to suggest she had any history at all. Her palm was similarly nondescript; she had the usual lines that most people had. But nothing else.

    The man laying at her feet was similarly undistinguished. His face was bland to the extent of being almost anonymous. No standout characteristics other than the runnel of blood tricking down his forehead.

    The palm-sized rock was quite notable though. The way it'd fallen easily into Alexa's hand. And the blurring of carmine across its face.

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    1. Ohhh... you rocked that, if you'll pardon the pun. And your choice of "carmine" is perfect. All the spookier for the fact that a small one is the killer. Nicely done!

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    2. Thank you, Leland. Not my usual style. It's more meditative and disassociated than my norm but I think it has a certain intensity nonetheless.

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    3. It's good to play with styles... each one can inform your writing.... and the more tools you have in your toolbox, the better the story you can tell! This is really good.

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    4. Boy, that Nowhere place is a treasure trove of unexpected delights and just desserts. Intriguing piece.

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    5. Oh yes, I'm digging this one, brother. And I agree, it's amazing what one word can do. Carmine is the icing on the cake. Perfect.

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    6. Nothing to say that hasn't been said already. :)

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    7. They say the devil is in the details, and you definitely paid the devil his due in this one. Intricate piece.

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  15. I have a feeling he deserved what he got. And I can sense exactly how she would react - just as you describe it. A dissociated observation.

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    1. Thank you, Yvonne. This came out of nowhere. Like the rock...

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  16. She loved her wood chipper. All the limbs from the storms were gone, and her flowerbeds were perfectly mulched. Good for the soil, good for keeping weeds down.

    And good for the occasional disposal of a body, one finger at a time.

    They say that blood is a good fertilizer. Her red roses seemed to agree.

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    1. Mary, Mary. Quite contrary. How does your garden grow?

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    2. Exactly! Last week we talked about some "bad fiction" entries... I leave it to your imagination if this qualifies.

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    3. Why does this make me think of a certain lovely writer lady I know?

      Not bad fiction. I likes it.

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    4. Ah, now I know what to do with my failing rosebush. ;)

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    5. Ain't nothing bad about this, my friend. I like the simple staccato bluntness.

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    6. Dammit... maybe I should start out, "It was a dark and stormy night... suddenly a shot rang out!"

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    7. Green thumb, cold heart. I always say (from now on)

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  17. Gone. Truly gone. She tried to figure out how she felt. It was hard. There were so many emotions swirling around in her head. Not all of them were her own. there were the ones that others expected her to feel -good or bad depending on who they blamed. There were the ones good girls, good wives, good mothers were supposed to feel.

    She closed the door and walked slowly to the sofa and sat down. The goodbyes had been civil. They would remain friends, he'd said. All polite and proper. No rants, no angry outbursts.

    This would take some time. Sorting out what was hers and what was theirs, and theirs, and theirs had always been tough. But now she could do it alone.

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    1. I can feel her hurt and sense her determination. An excellent piece of writing!

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    2. I'm kinda wondering what she did with "them" but I'm also reading in the dark here and spooking myself silly.

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    3. Ow, this one hurts. Understated power - really brilliant rendering of a tragic scene we all know.

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    4. Almost clinical in its tragedy.

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  18. Leaf awoke.

    There was a chill in the air that spoke of November but she still managed to draw warmth from her blanket of discarded leaves, the trees thoughtfully dropping them for her comfort.

    Yawning, she sat up in her deciduous driftings, the chestnut tree's copper and gold falling away to reveal the sloping of her breasts. The woodlands were still and, aside from the beady eye of a blackbird, there was no-one to witness the momentary flash of a dark bud and the quick scissoring of her legs.

    Grinning, she drew her leafy blanket back up over herself, the amorphous patchwork hiding and hinting without revealing. She stood, surveying the clearing; watching for the man she had forseen would come.

    Leaf had always been a dancer. Even when she was bound, she could never stay still; always fidgeting and moving in the lightest of zephyrs. But she came into her full self in the Fall. When the nights drew long and the trees began to doze, she became one of the Freed; her body and limbs no longer tethered. She became Leaf rather than just one of a million leaves, her individuality expressed in her every move.

    The man was much more stolid and down to earth. Ranger Dan - even his name was substantial and weighty. He was dependable but true. And he was due here...

    Now.

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    1. Damn, this is a magical piece. There are so many entry points, so many handholds. Really well done.

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    2. seriously beautiful... except for that Ranger Dan guy... he's gonna send Leaf away, isn't he... I can just feel it.

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    3. I read it differently than Leland, but I suspect liked it as much. Dan's not coming back this time, no?

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  19. A bar, in the middle of nowhere. Cheap fluorescent lights over the pool table that tilted to the north. A lady of the evening who'd seen just a few too many evenings.

    A biker. A cowboy. The lady makin' eyes at both of them, wondering if either of them had a penny to their name. They both raised their glasses to her, then winked at each other.

    Stories to tell that night, of cattle wandering the streets of Austin, of drunken tattoos in Deadwood. Broken angels, both of them, and tired of fighting the good fight.

    The lady turned to the jukebox, kicked it instead of throwing in a quarter.

    The Tennessee Waltz started playing. Patti Paige sang, and the lady watched, as a cowboy and a biker did a slow waltz around the bar.

    The bartender just smiled.

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    1. Very nice, has a Robert Service kind of romantic feel to it.

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    2. you're all very kind. Thank you.

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    3. Ed! You're in my brain. I love Service and I got that vibe, too. Feeling it.

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    4. Thanks... that is a HIGH compliment.

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  20. Dinner
    Frank made himself a proper dinner complete with a tossed green salad, the first fresh vegetable dish he’d had in a long time. After dinner he went out on the veranda to enjoy a smoke and gaze at the evening sky. The feelings that Theresa had evoked in him were foolish. He knew that. He was now an old man with little to offer. Not only was she probably decades younger than him, she was no doubt much nicer.

    Frank couldn’t remember when he was actually nice. He could remember the last women he kept company with. Strippers, primarily. He’d pick them up after their shift and buy them a meal at an all night truck stop. He enjoyed their youthful chatter and they considered him “safe.” Too old for anything sexual, though Frank would drop hints from time to time that he could still enjoy a good roll for the sake of it. But these girls weren’t used to guys who dropped hints but rather guys who dropped bills of various denominations. They all moved on, one way or the other. Some had heart warming stories of getting out of the business and into career or family. They were rare. Whatever the story, they moved on. Frank didn’t, and finally Frank no longer found comfort in company of any kind. He could be lonely all by himself without the bother of keeping up pretenses.

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    1. Aw, poor Frank! I'm really digging this series.

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    2. This is sad and real and lovely. I'm digging it, too. Shoveling it in.

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  21. “Oh my god! What have you done?”
    “I put them in a bag and whacked ‘em with a mallet.”
    “B-b-but…”
    “Oh, don’t worry. I didn’t dent the floor.”
    “B-b-but…”
    “Look, don’t bust my balls about it. It’s already done.”
    “Horrible!”
    “Well, how else was I gonna break it all up? It’s only artisanal for a day. After that it becomes a lethal weapon.”
    “Fine. You get the vacuum. I’ll go feed the birds.”

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    1. LoL. Not what I was expecting.

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    2. Jen, you write such interesting pieces. And you made Laurie go Hmmmm... ;)

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    3. Thump :D Great sleight of hand.

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  22. Days flew and time crept. Each second marked by the clicks of the machine, the perpetual rhythm of the drips, the breaths and shudders of the hoses.
    She could see nothing, but knew when they arrived. Shuffling feet, rustling paper, whispers. A new sameness.

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    1. Exquisite beauty... pain... and "a new sameness" says so very, very, very much. Thank you for sharing this, Ey.

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    2. My heart sighs at that last line. Thank you, Ey.

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    3. This is beautiful. I concur. There's really nothing else to say. And that says it all. Wonderful.

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    4. Put me right in that room. Chilled me to the bone that one did. Right to the bone.

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    5. Thanks, guys. I've been avoiding this 2 minute challenge- serious word work.

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  23. She turned the hot water on in the tub. She tested it on her wrist, the way she used to test milk for the right temperature when Bobby was little. Remembering him made her smile. If only he hadn't been taken from her when he was so young.

    She adjusted the music... the playlist was called "My Life" and she'd chosen every song carefully and deliberately.

    A tisket a tasket, crooned the wonderful Ella Fitzgerald as she added the bath salts... her mother used to sing that to her all the time...

    Those little town blues.... Sing it, Frank, she thought as she added just a little bit of bubble bath to the swirling waters. That song kept her company in her tiny East Village apartment the first year...

    The tub was full now, of hot water and bubbles. She poured a glass of merlot just as Billy Joel sang, Bottle of Red, Bottle of White... the first date with the love of her life, the man whose smell still haunted her pillow.

    She undid the knot on her robe's belt... I am what I am...

    It was still playing when the building sup used his master key on the door to see why she was flooding the neighbors downstairs. The wine was untouched, and the bubbles were all gone from the water.

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    1. Oh, I like this muchly. And I want to know more. Damn. Great stuff, Leland.

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  24. The Call
    Ted was nearly ready. He’d made all his calls and finished the final draft of his letter. He had just placed the folded letter into the envelope to set on the night stand when his phone rang. “Really?” he muttered grabbing it on the second ring. Years of working on call had a way of conditioning one to answer the phone regardless of the timing. It was Frank! The two old friends talked two hours for the second night in a row. Funny how all the years and all the things that had happened to them during those years really didn’t seem to matter.

    After hanging up, Ted unloaded his revolver and stored it away in the gun safe. Ted talked aloud as he ripped up his letter which took him days to write. “I can’t really kill myself now that I know how fucked up Frank is.”

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    1. I'm really, really liking Ted and Frank!

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    2. I'm hoping Frank and Ted are going to have an excellent adventure somewhere down the line. I'm hooked.

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    3. Frank and Ted's excellent adventure indeed. I like each one more than the last. Awesome.

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    4. In a much less drastic way, this hits very close to home. Beautiful symbiosis. <3

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  25. "You ain't gonna make it here, kid. You might have a chance if you follow my lead and do what I tell ya, but I dunno..."

    I could tell he was a veteran. He wore the look of someone who'd seen action, and a lot of it. Tough as stainless steel bearings, with about as much give to him. I'd seen the looks the other guys gave him, and I'd noticed the way they always seemed to be looking somewhere else when he glared at them. I don't know why he seemed to like me, but I wasn't gonna question it. I had a hunch it was because he saw something in me that reminded him of himself, a long time ago. Scared to death. Green as Kermit with a bad case of the shits.

    Then the bell rang - and my first day of Miss Jordan's first grade class had officially begun.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Dedicated to Kenny Friskie, Lustre, Montana.

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    3. This is more adorable than I can say... thanks for sharing!

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    4. I love this. This line: "Tough as stainless steel bearings, with about as much give to him." is so good. The whole thing is good. The twist. You need to do more of this, brother. :)

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  27. You know the man standing in the lobby waiting for your boss. You’ve been to his office, negotiated deals with him like a rock solid pro, deals that garnered you the highest praise from the bean counters and corner-officers where you used to work. The words “used to” hang large over your head now, because so much has become past tense. Your boss. Your job. Your former negotiation skills, not as useful on recalcitrant husbands as they were on the bastions of business. Everything has changed. And the look he gives you is edging on pity, and it makes you hate him. He can’t even meet your gaze, so you double down, dare him to take the full measure of your new normal. But he does not. His face reddens, he swipes a hand across the back of his neck. He paces. He offers to come back later when the boss is not so busy; he offers to leave his card and have her call him, all the while his sharp brown eyes focus on his shoes, the carpet, the art on the walls, anywhere but on you and what you are no longer, what you have become, what he can’t yet determine. When he finally takes his coat and ducks his head to leave, you want to run after him and explain. It was the medication. It was the doctors. It was the stress. It was the pressure from the corner-officers. But it was none of that. You just broke.

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    1. Wow... that was just about as perfect as it gets... you took us right into the narrator's head, except the narrator made it the reader's head....beautifully done, and achingly true.

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    2. Yup. I gotta ditto because I want to go swimming before it's cold, but this. is. DOPE.

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    3. I so get this, and her, and him. Perfectly executed sharp slice of reality. Well done.

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  29. Another short piece that I might expand on later. Feels like something.
    ____________________________

    She came to in a small washed-out diner in a place named Hokum somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. Her plate—far too large and chipped as Athenian marble—held a stack of pancakes doused in fluids suggestive of human waste—watery yellow butter and cloudy brown syrup—alongside five strips of knobby bacon garish and tangled as old men's hands.

    The window beside her was streaked and scuffed, clearly—or more accurately, unclearly—not glass but plexiglas. Like looking at a grey-green world through scratched corneas. Or like an aquarium in a bad dream.

    What did she know? Her mind felt dreamy and somehow infected, like gauze soaked in bloody pus. She knew there were gaps. Scary gaps, dark as ravines and more treacherous.

    There were tears frozen behind her face.

    "My name is Ellen," she said in a quiet, emphatic voice that slipped, like a temporary anchor, into the surrounding waters. Diner sounds. Silverware in back, clattering. Shouts and murmurs. The bell on the door tinkling. Someone's ringtone she knew she ought to recognize but didn't (something spooky, space-themed, and fifties).

    A song on an old Wurlitzer jukebox; this she recognized: "Strange Currencies," by R.E.M.

    "How are the pancakes, hon?" A fortysomething blonde waitress with dark roots and generous hips. Laura, unless the name tag was a lie.

    Now why would she think that? Who wears a fake name tag?

    "Um, they're good. No, wait … I'm not sure. I must have, uh, drifted off."

    "Aw, rough day?" Like a sitcom mom, the woman exuded raw empathy and Ellen (yes, she was sure that was her own name, at least) had to fight the urge to close her eyes and rest her head on Laura's generous breasts, which even within her brainfog she knew would have been awkward to say the least.

    "More like rough year," she answered, not because it was true, necessarily, but because it seemed like something she was meant to say, in the same way logging trucks were meant to drive by tiny diners that served all day breakfast and bottomless coffee.

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    1. Oh, want more. Love the voice that slipped like a temporary anchor. Beautiful.

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    2. Wow, wow, wow... so much good in this... you are a master of language... I can almost taste that almost syrup... seriously, good, good stuff, and I want to know what happened to Ellen to make her lose time like that.

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    3. Thanks for ruining pancakes for me asshole! ;) This is dope. And I feel like you're circling something with these pieces. All brilliant.

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    4. Brilliant. I'm all-in here, so keep going!

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    5. Oooh. More is a good idea, David. I wanna know the rest of the story.

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    6. Now I'm curious about fake name tags, David. If that is your real name.

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  30. They came from a place where personal space does not exist. They wear matching track suits and walk together when mornings fit their ideals. They don perfectly styled J Crew “gardening” outfits to plant a few seeds in their yard even though landscapers swoop in like polluting thugs once a week. No one can make them understand that they do not own the small patch of asphalt in front of their house. Or that it’s not illegal for anyone else to run a motor at nine on a Saturday morning. Or that pigeons can’t hold it in until they’ve passed over their house. Pigeons don’t give a white, drippy crap what you had to do to survive. They’re doing it now. You ought to take a lesson.

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    1. The pigeons pull no punches and neither do you.

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  31. Don't tell me I can't sing, because I can. And I will. Like some kind of tropical bird they use to sell High Fructose Corn Syrup to kids. A gentle melody, leading toward diabetes. Beat that? What? The brat with the baseball bat? Joey's dead and I'm not sad, I guess I'm not punk rock enough.

    Let me hang out here, I'll put down my fencing parries, you put down your passive aggressive queries, we'll call each other fairies and mean it as a compliment. See, I sparkle like a motherfucker in the right light. And you fucked the couch all damn night. It's not gonna work the way it used to anymore. I changed the locks you stupid cock and you ain't getting in anymore. You can stand outside and spew your bullshit to the clouds. Whispy fuckers. I think they're pretty, so I guess that's another thing that whites my collar, blue as it may be in reality.

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    1. This is like rap fiction... amazing. Sorry, hip hop fiction. Whatever the right word is, that's what it's like. Good stuff.

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    2. I was thinking the same thing, Leland!

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    3. Wow, man. I wanna set a beat to this and just watch you spit.

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    4. Essentially blank verse with a ton of rhythm thrown in for good measure (pun intended). The spirit of it is amazing and important.

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  32. He had beady eyes and a porcine nose. His non-chin extended to a pouch that covered his Adam’s apple. His stare was both penetrating and vacant, made men shit their shoes and women drop their drawers. He was a tiny man in a too-large frame. He got his power by coercion, blackmail, and selective leg-humping. The tits-and-ass who married him couldn’t see past the bling and wouldn’t care to anyway. The tits-and-ass he bent over his desk during locked-door “meetings” got to play Queen for a Day of the dank, desolate, dehumanizing den of depravity disguised as a trade school. It was his personal fuckpad, toilet, and piggy bank. All who worked there served him and were rewarded with demotions, firings, and denigration. And they’re all fresh out of fucks to give. It’s this or Unemployment, and those checks ain’t forever items, like herpes breakouts, back-taxes, or Facebook posts. It’s enough to make you wish for a belief in karma, hell, you-name-it retribution. But me? I think it’s punishment enough to live in that skin, to see those beady peepers staring back at you from the mirror every day. Who am I kidding? He probably drops his drawers.

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    1. This is so good. So much attitude. THIS is why I love reading your stuff.

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    2. "those checks ain’t forever items, like herpes breakouts, back-taxes, or Facebook posts." Brilliant!

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  33. He supposed it was a cliché to say she'd pay and pay dearly. Didn't make it any less true, though.

    After the two-year civil war, here was the end game, the last battle. Bitch got the house and the kids, even the '78 Mustang, which made no sense to him given she hated it, called it his plaything, his cock enlargement. Yeah, funny. A real joker. Whose punchline was to sue for child support.

    He'd been worn down and now felt broken at last. What was it his daddy used to say? "You hit rock bottom, jus' grab a rock and start hittin'." Seems everyone's a comedian. Har de fuckin' har. Well, his sense of humour was all but played out.

    It was a fine afternoon—blue skies and cool September air—one he'd normally enjoy. Throw a choice ribeye cut on the grill, crack open a PBR, blast some Hank or some Merle, see who showed up. Well, he was gonna enjoy this in a whole new and interesting way, he supposed. Time to throw in his hand and let the cards fall where the fuck ever.

    He was surprised at how easy it was to walk in the double doors. The first person who spoke to him ("Sir, can I help you? You need to report to—") he dispatched quickly, although he flinched at the noise in the hallways.

    He knew which classroom the cunt taught in, though, and it was close by. He'd make sure she was the last in the room to die, see what she'd wrought. Okay, second last.

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    1. Holy shitfuckers! Dude, this is so good. And different. A different brush from your brush holster. Fucking ace.

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    2. Brilliant, gritty awesomeness.

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    3. Whoa! This is dark as midnight in a caved-in coal mine. Well done.

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    4. Timely, disturbing, and well-crafted. I can't stop thinking about it. That's good writing.

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    5. This is the America I grew up in. Who are you? Brilliantly told.

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  34. There's a small splash of light in the corner of the room, and it's throbbing. You look at it and you expect some kind of epiphany. Some explanation. Inside your chest there is an ache that makes you wonder, but no fucking way are you going to the ER. It's almost dark and that's the rule.

    Rules, fucking rules. You hate them, but you make them. You don't give them, but you take them. And the sun's gonna drop like a Sugar Hill dream, and you feel like shit even saying that given the circumstances, but it's almost dark.

    You'll fill your glass and knock it back and it will all be gone, whiskey off a duck's back.

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    1. Whoa.... that last phrase... whiskey off a duck's back... such a play on such a cliche...

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    2. The entire last line pretty much sums up life. Excellent.

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    3. Thanks. I was pretty stoked when that came out, too. ;)

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  35. I say it's all in your head, and you say everything is in your head. We laugh. You're right, and my chest gets tight. I want you to know. Beneath the patterns that weave themselves through gentle twilight. Forget about the DJ, the DJ don't know. In this place, there's a whole new show.

    I want everything, but I don't care enough to tell anyone. There are things that live and things that die and things that sit and wonder why. It doesn't matter. You take what's passed to you, grin thanks like a tooth rot squatter. What the fuck is it all about, and why does anyone care? It's just the lights that dance the air.

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  36. She has a bitch of a hangover. She had way too much to drink the night before, and in her confusion and despair she'd made a colossal ass of herself. She wants to crawl in a hole and pull it in after her. But first, she has to put gas in her car so she doesn't end up sitting on the side of the 210.

    For a moment, she considers going into the store to grab Gatorade and some crackers. But the borrowed shirt and basketball shorts she's wearing are not an ensemble she wishes to be seen in. This store is close to home, after all, and she's likely to run into someone she knows.

    And there he is now, the brother of a guy she halfheartedly dated for a while.

    "Rough night?" he asks.

    Her glare is answer enough.

    "Dumb question, huh?" he asks. "Wanna talk about it?"

    She doesn't. Especially not with him. But she keeps that last bit to herself.

    "Well, if there's anything I can do..."

    "There is," she tells him, giving in to an impulse she doesn't quite understand. "I need somewhere to hang out for a while. I don't really feel like going home."

    He smiles, and it's like the sun beaming its warmth upon her. "Mi casa, su casa," he says. "Always glad to help a friend in need."

    She knows she's going to end up regretting going home with him, even if nothing happens between them. She's almost certain something _will_ happen between them, but even if it doesn't...

    "I'll follow you," she says.

    He smiles again. "Try to keep up."

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    1. I like how she turns the Walk of Shame into a new adventure. Nice!

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    2. Yeah, that was a cool trick. And a nice slice of writification.

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  37. Her hands shake as she lets the flower fall in the gaping hole in the ground. It should be raining. It should be coming down in buckets, but the sun is shining and my god the damn birds are singing. Why is it that we always know that the world will understand and stop when someone we love dies. It's never happened. Hell, Kennedy got a few weeks and the whole damn nation loved him.

    What chance did one girl and her mom have? She couldn't get the sun to stop, or the idiots at work to stop calling and asking about things she couldn't give a fuck about. She couldn't even get her aunt and uncle to come to the funeral. No, the world was not going to stop for a day. It wouldn't even stop for a minute. So what if her heart was breaking? She took a deep breath, stood, and turned to walk away. And then her damn piece of shit phone started ringing. She checked the caller ID, smirked, and tossed the annoying thing in with the flowers and her mother. With a tiny smile she walked to her car and drove to the wake.

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    1. Man. I know this feeling. And you captured it perfectly. Well done.

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  38. She sits on the edge of the bridge, enjoying the way her feet dangle in the air, and thinking about the fight she had with her boyfriend. He was probably packing up and moving out as she sat there.

    Jeff was right, and she knew it. He got so mad and she just shut down. She didn't cry or scream or throw things. She just stood there and looked at him as he got madder and madder. Julie was pretty sure there was something wrong with him, too, but they both knew there was something really wrong with her. The difference between them is that she knew what was wrong with her and he didn't.

    How could he know that her dad crept into her room in the wee hours after tying on way too many and did things no one wanted to know about? How could he know that she'd never enjoyed sex? How could anyone know much of anything about her? She made sure that the real her was hidden, even from her.

    She didn't yell back because she didn't feel upset. She didn't feel anything. That was her secret. Keep the past buried and don't create a future. Suddenly the present becomes bearable. If she could keep from feeling so lonely and taking up with a guy who inevitably got his heart broken it would be the perfect solution. Unfortunately she couldn't bury her humanity as easily as she could bury her past. If only.

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  39. She is homesick. It has nothing to do with geography. Geographically, she is in a place that she doesn't want to leave, a place is welcoming and healing. But "home" is not a place; it is a feeling. A feeling of security and comfort. It is gentle hugs and peals of laughter, 3 am chats and lazy Sunday "brunches" of chocolate and cheese. And she has these things. But lately, home has come to mean something more, something missing from her life. The smell of a certain cologne. The burr of a certain voice. There should be physically awkward hugs and perfectly timed crass jokes. There should be three distinct laughs when something is uproariously funny instead of two. But opportunity is a fickle bitch, and distance is a homewrecker. She is homesick, and home is just beyond her reach.

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