Friday, March 13, 2015

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. 

He parted the curtains - just a crack - they were still coming. He clutched at his chest, wringing handfuls of shirt - no reason, every reason. They were coming. He'd been waiting, and there was a bit of relief in his terror. The waiting had almost killed him. Now, at the very least, he might get some answers. Now, he would not be waiting, but would actually be living. He noticed that the room smelled sour. Why did he care? He wasn't hosting a dinner party. His skin ached, a million pinpricks all over his back. He wanted to look again, but didn't dare. Then, the knock at the door. Softly aggressive. The knock of a hit man, the Feds, the cops. It was a knock tinged with warning. With trepidation, he walked toward the door. He knew what he would find. The men in the suits. He had evaded them long enough to realize that they would never stop coming, never let up, never give him peace. Not until he bought their goddamn magazine. 

Thanks for stopping by! I'll be out a lot of today but, rest assured, I'll be reading everything and commenting as I have time, so check back. Post your pieces on your blogs, telephone poles, passing pedestrians, etc. if you like...it's a fun web o' writing.

#2minutesgo

249 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Alexander James “A.J.” Whitworth IV was scrupulous about keeping up appearances. He did everything that was expected of him, and then some. As far as any of his old-money New York family, old fraternity buddies, or financial industry colleagues could tell, he was a regular, even archetypal bro: meticulously clean-cut, stylish but conservative, a soft-handed child of privilege born and raised on the Upper East Side. He went to prestigious prep schools, earned an MBA at Columbia, and then obscene sums of money as an investment banker. He lived in a luxurious downtown condo, dated models, and sipped fifteen-dollar cocktails with guys who were first-name basis with CEOs and Congressmen.

    It was a façade, however, carefully designed and calculated to avoid scrutiny. Underneath the expensive suits and businessman haircut, his heart pounded a forbidden beat of radicalism. Alex’s upper-class manners and extensive social network belied a sneering contempt for his smug, pretentious, bourgeois peers. To him, they were mostly ticks; worthless blood-sucking parasites getting fat off the desperation and toil of those who happened to be born into lower stations. While he knew that he was one of them, it was all part of the long con. He lived a relatively simple lifestyle, and gave much of his handsome six-figure salary to charity, philanthropic pursuits, and more scandalously, shared his wealth and connections with organizations whose activities included criminally direct political action.

    He knew, and didn’t care, that some of his money bought guns, which were used to commit crimes, menace, and even murder rich, influential people. It was like petting a tiger, or playing with matches, but he felt more loyalty to the cause, to those scrappy kids trying to fix a broken society, than any of THOSE people. He rarely even saw any of them face to face. He’d never admit that it was partly because he was afraid, but moreso, it would be “untoward” for him to be seen hanging out in Brooklyn with those sorts of youths.

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    1. I like this piece a lot. An interesting twist this week. This wolf in sheep's/sheep in wolf's clothing idea works really well.

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    2. Cheers! I was thinking of a sort of less-bloodthirsty Patrick Bateman.

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    3. Nice. Complete piece yet it leads in many possible directions both resolving and un-solving.

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    4. I'm a dittohead... I like it, too. I also really like the names you come up with.

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    5. Oh, a mole within the one percent. I like. :)

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  3. The last line killed me... Well done, Mr. Mader. Well done.

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    1. Oh, you sucked me in. Love it.

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    2. You got me, Mader. Love that last line. :D

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    3. hahhahahahahaha! I wasn't expecting it. First of all I was expecting aliens! I get this all the time where I live. They even have a rack of mags by the steps leading down to the Tube station - surprised no one has legged it and fallen down them.

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    4. Nice bait and switch, brother. Sucked in, too, although I'm an easy mark. :)

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  4. Triskaidekaphobia. The fear of all things having to do with the number 13.
    My grandmother had it. Superstitious lady. She’d spin in her grave if she saw my life. I have a black cat named Satan, my construction job has me walking under ladders all day long, and I’ve broken more mirrors than I can count. And here I am, alive and well.
    Today’s Friday the 13th. I’m gonna buy a lotto ticket, and I’m gonna win big. I can feel it in my big toe. That’s my lucky toe.
    Know what I’m afraid of? Politicians. Now that’s bad luck. Ghosts, not real. Don’t worry about them. Now, where did I leave that knife?
    Grandma, stop foolin’ around.

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    1. This is awesome. My lucky toe. I love that line. It's situated perfectly within the overall flow. Great concept and the wording, spot on.

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    2. Nice. I don't have a luck toe, just lucky to have body parts at this point. I'll have to chip in on that ticket though.

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    3. Thanks And I hope we all win big some day... or maybe, just maybe, we already have, in unexpected ways.

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    4. And Satan the cat! Love the image of granny spinning :)

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    5. Ha ha! I love this. So succinct. I mean, even within the context of flash fiction.

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    6. I like this a lot. Can I borrow your toe?

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    7. Thanks I'm renting my toe out by the hour...

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  5. No one wanted Jimmy in the band. He could only play in one key. Couldn't play power chords. 'D'. Everything had to be in fucking 'D' - every song, every time. He was lazy, and it drove them crazy. Everything about Jimmy drove them crazy. The way he picked his ears and wiped his fingers on the couch they'd rescued. The way he talked between songs, like he was running for mayor. And, potentially, if their was a Doucheville somewhere, well, maybe his political aspirations were valid.

    Jimmy was the only one who still had a driver's license. They played a lot of songs in 'D'.

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    1. Love this... and how you hold out on the why they put up with him to the bitter end... Well done.

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    2. Jimmy is pretty much me except I only do Dm. ;)

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    3. We play a lot of songs around here in Dm. Can you drive?

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    4. I really like this. I think I knew Jimmy, long ago.

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    5. Yeah, there's always a Jimmy in the group :)

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    6. Beautiful I thank you.my brother the musician thanks you! There's always ONE guy In EVERY band...

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    7. Ha, love it! I like Dm though too. I think many of us *write* in Dm.

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    8. Like this a lot, though I think it's time they ride bicycles. Maybe they're lazy too.

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    9. Dm=D Minor. ;) Thanks, y'all.

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    10. I figure if Dan has a son, he'll name him Dan Minor. Much better than Junior.

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    11. Although if I were Dan I'd be tempted to go with Darth. ;)

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  6. Mrs. Watson watched through her lace-covered windows the old man in the snow. Gonna be cold today. Gonna be windy.
    Mr. Johnson made a promise to the dog when he picked him at a shelter. We’ll walk three times a day, come rain or shine or snow or whatever. You’re not gonna be a latchkey dog.
    Mr. Johnson talked to the dog, too. About the weather, the stock market, the disrespect of the young people of the day, television shows they watched together. Mr. Johnson wasn’t sure that Max liked politics, so he steered clear of that topic. Religion, too. Hard to know what a dog believed about that.
    He calculated, once, the number of miles they walked each week. Six miles a day, seven days a week, sometimes an extra mile or two on Saturday if he was feeling good. Forty miles a week, 52 weeks a year, that’s more than two-thousand miles a year.
    He didn’t know what he’d do if he didn’t have Max to talk to. Max was the only one who listened to him. He’d lost his wife Doris some years ago. The same year he got Max, now that he thought about it.
    Nossir, a little snow wasn’t gonna slow them down.
    Mrs. Watson watched the old man stumble through the snow. She was sorry that his dog died last year. Sad that he had to walk alone.

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    1. Wow, this one hit home. Its funny how after I lost my dog I couldn't stop taking the same routes at the same time of day. Alone, yet not alone. You hit my sad but happy love lost but ever present button. Its a hard button to reach with out hitting the reset one in front of it.

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    2. Aw, hugs, Ed... and you'll never be alone. They always walk with us.

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    3. Aw. My little heart. Like Ed said, it really hits home.

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    4. Ahh, that is really sad. I didn't see the end coming either. I was really with the little old man cos I talk to my cat all the time. She's currently on my lap... farting.

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    5. Okay freely admit not a dog person, but SWEET anyhow!

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    6. How come I never see these endings coming? Got me all choked up. :'(

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    7. Poor Mr. Johnson, though, doesn't really know that he's walking alone...

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    8. Yup, I'm late so I ditto. You got me. In the soft spot.

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  7. The old babushkas of her childhood told her not talk about the future, because that was guaranteed to make God laugh. But she was bursting with possibility, silver light shining through the smother of dark clouds. The news that he was coming home early from his mission made her nerves vibrate, her step bounce along the sidewalk, energy sparking off her in jangly notes that she swore could make the sleeping buds flower. She ached to grab random pedestrians by the arm, squeal that her man was coming home to her to start a family, but she’d promised him to keep that her secret. Because he had his own babushkas, his own warnings, his own reasons for not putting stock in too many promises. Superstition, she thought. Which was kind of cute. Shrugging off the warnings, she bought flowers. She bought wine. And while she was waiting at the deli counter for some special treats, her phone shivered in her purse. Heart leaping at the anticipation of a text that he’d touched down, she nabbed it, but the silver lining collapsed when she saw the words. The basket slipped from her fingers, a bottle of his favorite Merlot crashing to the tiles.

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    1. Ahhhh.... you break my heart, and you do it so beautifully. Thank you for this.

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    2. I love the interplay of past, present, and future as well as the heart breaking images of loss.

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    3. and the babushkas is not something I've come across before. It's very controlled despite all the flowing emotion... and then it rips out at the end and washes over.

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    4. Laurie, you and me--had a Russian grandma--we need to talk!

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    5. Vickie, yes! It mimics the wine as it spreads across those tiles.

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    6. drew me in and shattered me.

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    7. The imagery of the breaking bottle...ouch. What a note to end on. Sad but lovely.

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    8. Damn, so good, but I gotta ditto, cause they already said everything!

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  8. Gradually, over many years, my body somehow changed from a temple to an abandoned amusement park. Strewn with cigarette butts, candy wrappers, and empty beer cans. It will take a major restoration program to improve it to a mere shadow of its former self. The grant applications have all been denied and public support is waning.

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    1. But if that lotto ticket wins... And for the record, I'm a big fan of abandoned amusement parks.

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    2. I know that feeling. Great metaphor. :)

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    3. I wanted to applaud the metaphor while crying inwardly at the inevitable decay of everything. Mind and emotion. The best writing does that, satisfies both.

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    4. I didn't mean to make you cry inwardly, David. What BS, I TOTALLY did. Thanks for using your inside tears.

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    5. I'm ditto-ing Antrobus. And everyone else, but he took the words out of my mouth. (gently) ;)

      And I know that feeling, too.

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  9. It should’ve been the ideal getaway, a vacationland for those fed up with cruises to the Islands that had grown as old hat as the ten-gallon topper the U.S. marshals wore in the Wild West three hundred years ago.

    Between “It should’ve been” and “It was” you might say was a stretch from here to 3753 Cruithne, Earth’s second moon, where the U.S. Congress did its typical ass-backwards best to give the people what Congress wanted: a penal colony instead of a place to escape the toxic fumes of a dying planet, even for just two weeks, to come back refreshed and longing to ride galactic skies once more in a year or two.

    “And where do we lock up our undesirables?” This from the Speaker of the House Clay Burnside. “We’ve got no more space for penitentiaries and citizens don’t cotton to backyard prison houses where clever cons can break loose and on a insane whim chop off heads like veggivores attacking a lettuce field. No, we need that damn moon!”

    So when summer comes and the sun toasts us into sizzling fries, we stare up at the two moons and shake our fool heads. The bigger one we call Luna they closed down a century ago for who-knows-why. The smaller one, a newcomer to the telescopic eye, only three miles wide, they now call Cruithne Prison to where every felon and his brother are zoomed in those freaking fastships I wouldn’t ride unless it was for some R & R where I could dream of running my toes through white moon sand.

    “Why don’t we outlaw prisons here and on the moon?” asked one of the level-headed Republicrats Xenon Derker. “It’d be a hell of a lot cheaper.” Now I like that brand of thinking, but if Congress had its way they’d pow Derker straight to the new moon. They’d give him fifty to life without a chance of coming back to stir more you-know-what in the political pot.

    #

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    1. I really like this... sci fi grounded in good ol' politics! Is this going to be expanded? I think it could go places! So to speak.

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    2. Yeah, it's cool. I love the 'dream of running my toes through white moon sand'. And I'm one of the veggivores!

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    3. You say Rebublicrat, we say Conserberals. :)

      I know it's speculative fiction, but this somehow feels real.

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    4. Powerfully written sci fi of the best kind.

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    5. Yeah, I agree. (tired of saying ditto) And I love this: "to give the people what Congress wanted"

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  10. I am a reasonable man, and I will tell you about where I come from.

    We all lived in River City and its environs, and we felt the river move through our bodies, especially when it got awful sluggish and crept like mud along our lower intestines. Some days we almost loved the river. But most times we hated it. As mining townsfolk learn to love and loathe those dark seams, wondering which particular day will step forward and take their loved ones from them. Or when the decades-long underground fire that will warrant permanent evacuation will be sparked.

    There was always a bruised haze in the air around River City. Like we all lived within the heroic yet submissive persona of a domestic violence survivor.

    ***

    After Mom killed Dad and got locked up, Cody looked after me from the very first.

    My big sister, my custodian. Murder growing in her eyes.

    ***

    I was one of them that watched.

    Not entirely sure I wanna go over this again, truth be told.

    Don't you love the peace tonight? So quiet you can almost hear the world creaking on its tired ol' axis like some dusty classroom globe that ain't seen oil in its time not now and not ever.

    Why you keep asking me this over and over? Sure I was there, but I never lifted a finger to hurt that girl, weren't hardly complicit in this thing… this atrocity.

    ***

    My mommy and my daddy were playing with us. It was summertime and evening. The sky was blue and lovely, and we had Katy Perry singing. Spock was playing on his own, chasing a cat toy, even though he's not a cat. LOL. It all seemed like normal stuff, until we heard a sound we never heard before, and—

    ***

    Hear the train. That low moan was the sound that accompanied your dawning in this world. Ain't no trains no more, course, but I remember the sorrowing of that sound in the cold night seemed some worrisome augury best put aside to be mulled over in a less antic time.

    ***

    Right, okay. Before you cross the border, take that right turn. Yeah, the one by that old church with the peeling paint and across from the elementary school; turn and you'll see the storage facility on your right. Pull up to the office, knock, and enter. I'll be there, a grey haired lady with a weary smile. We'll provide a key and padlock and assign you a locker.

    Girl, place your things inside, lock her up, and come talk to us at the front desk.

    After which you will need a place to rest. Please allow us to suggest the Pacific Vista Motel, west off of I-5 and overlooking the ocean. Try to ignore the ants.

    Girl crying voice. John the Revelator. Ganesh. Seaside heights. Sunsets.

    ***

    Touch her and I'll slowly dismember you. I'll eat your face.

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    1. Truly, your writing astonishes me. And the pairing of the first and last sentences... pure brilliance.

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    2. Wow. I'm going to be thinking about this for a while.

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    3. It's great. Makes me think of a scrapbook of photos and I'm reading about each one and disappearing into them.

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    4. Using Fragments to build the whole. It's like etch_a-Sketch for your brain. Awesome!

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    5. Leland, happy you caught that. It's like a scary loop. I also believe the narrator of the first and the last parts is the same person, but I can't prove it. ;)

      And yeah, scrapbooks of photos and etch-a-sketch for your brain are both good.

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    6. I am from river city and a little freaked out about it now.

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    7. This is dope, D. I'm with Laurie. Gonna be pondering this one for a while.

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  11. As if some silent signal had been passed, her brand-new fiancé and his father excused themselves from the table with some lame excuse about something to do with spark plugs, or fishing lures, or baseball collectibles. The story kept changing through dinner and finally, mouth pressed tight, Suzie’s brand-new future mother-in-law waved them free. Then brought more coffee to the table. The silence stretched; the clock ticked; the coffee grew as cold as Suzie’s fascination with the oily film on the surface of her cup. “So,” the woman finally said. “You and my son, huh?”

    Suzie shrugged; her stomach pinched the longer the woman stared. Her eyes like the coldest of speculums. “I…um…well.” Her voice firmed. “He’s a great guy. When you know, you know. Right?”

    The mother’s brows pushed together. It felt like the loudest sound in the universe. “You know. You know nothing. What’s his favorite meal, huh? You know that?”

    Suzie rattled her mind for things she’d seen him enjoy eating. “He likes…spaghetti?”

    “Pah.” She punched a hand out. “Meat loaf. My meat loaf.”

    Meat loaf? He told her he hated it.

    “You know you have to make him soup and toast when he’s sick? That you have to cut the crusts off and the butter needs to go all the way to the edges of the bread?”

    “Should I be writing this down?”

    The tines of the speculum widened. “You think this is funny? My son is a very special boy…”

    “I’m sorry, Mrs. Steiner, but I think he stopped being a boy at about twelve or so.”

    Mrs. Steiner leaned in close, a manicured fist closing around the collar of Suzie’s T-shirt. “Listen here, you little tramp. He will always be my boy and if you hurt one hair on his head, I know people. I know people who will cut you.” And then she released the fabric. Smiling sweetly, she said. “Now. Would you like some babka with your coffee?”

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    1. This is so good... and I've been there, and gotten this lecture. This is spot on, and it makes me cringe and smile at the same time.

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    2. Also, the use of the term "speculum" is a brilliant thing... in addition to its use as a medical tool of torture, in Latin it means "mirror."

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    3. Yeah, I hesitated on the speculum... I was thinking it was going to switch to her being at the gynaecologist... I had that image suddenly... I've never had this lecture, but I've had the narrowing eyes :) I love the meatloaf lines.

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    4. Eek! I have a daughter, but I can imagine myself turning into Terrible Mommy from the other side of the table!

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    5. Those mothers can be TOUGH! ;)

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    6. Something almost hallucinatory about this. Like we're zooming in too close, and it's frightening.

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    7. Oh my god, you dug up my mother and sat her at a table with my first wife. You are one scary woman.

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    8. Yeah, this is super good. The speculum works so well. And the manicured fist. Oof.

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  12. He wasn’t coming back. He closed the door behind him, locked it carefully, ignored the plaintive meows from the cat inside.
    He’d had enough. Or maybe he didn’t have enough. He didn’t know which, but he knew it was time.
    He’d made the walk before. In truth, it was almost a sacrament. Past the quiet playground with rusting merry-go-round, past the now closed newsstand, past the broken windows. The park he had to go through had more trash than flowers in once-tended beds.
    It was all too much. Entirely too much. Or too little. He didn’t know which, but he knew it was time.
    The dock was slimy with excrement from the birds. He still said excrement. His parents still echoed in his head about not saying shit. He was going to kill himself, but he still couldn’t bring himself to say the word out loud.
    On the opposite shore, he saw a man playing fetch with a golden retriever. It was a ritual they’d performed many times, he thought, from the easy way that they did it. The dog was always in the place the man threw the stick. And then the dog missed the stick, and made eye contact with him.
    Across the lake, a dog stared at him, and judged him. Too much judgment in his life. Or not enough. He wasn’t sure which, but he wasn’t going to allow a strange dog to interfere with his plans. He walked to the end of the pier, where the water was deepest, where its reflections were free of earthly things and showed only clouds and blue sky.
    He heard the splash, from afar. He heard the dog walker shouting at his dog. The retriever was swimming across the lake, right at him. He shook his head. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. The rite had form and substance. He watched the dog, paddling through the water. He saw the man across the lake running around the edge, trying to get to the dock, to meet his dog.
    Dog and man arrived at the same time, both out of breath.
    “I don’t know what got into her. She never ignores me.” The man panted, but the dog didn’t look to her owner. “That dog means the world to me,” the man soliloquized. “She came to me on a day when… when I didn’t think I could go on.”
    The two men looked at each other, the dog stood in between.
    “You look like you could use a cup of coffee.”
    “So do you.”
    They drank coffee until they’d had enough. Or not enough, they weren’t sure which.
    But the dog knew.

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    1. Love it. Simple and says so much. I love the use of the dog. He's the pivot and the centre. He's making stuff happen and I the guys know it. Also loved how he's going to kill himself but he still won't say shit. Which has many layers.

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    2. Awesome. Limbic (I think that's the right word) Perfect.

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    3. Dogs are so good at bringing people together. I know everyone in my neighborhood by their dogs name.

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    4. Thank you... it's an honor to know the likes of you all read what I write, and your kind words are icing on the cake. I'm grateful!

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  13. “Yeah, that cheating Marina whipped my ass pretty bad this time, so I figured I’d call it a game…late in the fourth, gar-bahge time, ends of the benches clearing, fans streaming out to their cars.” Phil replied with a hangdog sigh.

    “Phil, your sports analogies aren’t just stupid, they're profoundly stupid, make you sound like a spineless, deluded idiot, letting this girl go without a fight,” his buddy Ken said.

    “Oh, I wouldn’t say I’m going down like a total worm, Kenny…more like a snake,” Phil said, as he moved his hand back and forth while slowly pushing his arm forward in a serpentine motion.

    In that hand he held his cell phone, and upon its screen a photo of himself and Jeffrey’s girlfriend Jeannette Bardo, their clothes half-shucked, locked in an embrace in Jeannete’s room, where in the background appeared a calendar that showed the date from two weeks before.

    “Texting this to Marina and that tool Jeffrey, just to let them know we'll be just fine,” Phil said, and brought his index and middle fingers, curved like a rattler’s fangs, down upon the screen, pressing SEND.

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    1. Revenge is sweet, even when served warm and via text... well done!

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    2. I like the snake and worm contrasts too.

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    3. The image of fingers striking the send button like a snake striking prey is fantastic, realistic, and chilling.

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    4. Agree with the others. Such a great visual there at the end.

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    5. Man, I hate when I'm late - it's all been said. Sigh. Ditto. And yeah, the end visual, so good.

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  14. The wish

    She made a wish
    in the time of sorrow
    for every tomorrow
    to end

    not with a sigh
    or a whimper
    or an itch
    but a scream
    mightier than thunder

    as overwhelming
    as the greatest word
    ever said
    as mind-blowing
    as the purest calm

    this open hand
    reaches outwards
    upturning as a leaf
    curving into her
    with a caress
    soundless and strong

    qualities she envied
    without guilt
    lost as she was
    in this winter
    of her budding life

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    1. so rich... and the last stanza, especially the last three lines... wowza.

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    2. Thanks, Leland :) I havent got to read everyone's yet :)

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    3. Thanks, Teresa. I was thinking of a teenage girl going through all that stuff.

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    4. I have to agree, the last three lines ... really really good. The pace of the entire piece built to that wonderful conclusion.

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    5. Thanks, guys :) It's really interesting what lines or words people pick out from your stuff - it's not always the lines you think were the good ones :)

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    6. That's a good point, Vickie. I think about that a lot. People grab things from one's work they didn't focus on - sometimes people point out things I didn't even recognize.

      Brilliant piece.

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  15. Rosemary Schroder stepped out of the people carrier, her retinue of protectors forming a ring around her. She'd fought to become President against the odds, her opponents eventually giving up when they realised she was whiter than white; a person with the support of most of the minorities and all of the main groups in the voting public.

    Never parted from her brother, he'd been her main support throughout the whole campaign. Never leaving her side, he'd deflected most of the difficult questions, his keen analytical mind and his quiet voice always at her service.

    And now she was going to take control of the most powerful nation on earth: the pair of them working together in unison.

    Walking together, Rosemary and her brother entered The White House to a hailstorm of camera flashes, the two of them standing clear of their ring of followers for the first time. The world media and the paparazzi loved them, everyone else in the world knowing of them and the struggles they'd both faced to get here: Rosemary Schroder and her brother Charles; the world's first conjoined twins to rise to the highest office on the planet.

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    1. Ohhhhh.... you got me! And it raises allllll sorts of legal questions, doesn't it? What is the real definition of a person? a brain? a body? or what? Wonderful concept, nicely executed.

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    2. Alas, I read the last line first by accident but still love it. Super idea :)

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    3. You know what I'm like for my twists! :D

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    4. And I must learn not to read them first!

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    5. That was a seriously original piece. Brilliant.

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    6. And I love how you damn near tell us right out (never parted ... never leaving her side ...) yet we *still* walk into the trap unawares.

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    7. Yup. Deserves more than a ditto, but I lagged. Really fresh and unique.

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  16. Dew hung on the blood red roses climbing over the white stonework, framing a stable style front door. The top half of which was swung open, letting the early morning sun flood into cottage. With the sun in crept a breeze, carrying the fragrance of the golden gorse, outside the garden. Prowling through the Delphiniums and jumping over the low growing clumps of pinks was a black cat. So sleek in his movement, it was as if he was a shadow. He was chasing something unseen amongst the herbaceous plants, which grew either side of the block paved path. Upon this path sauntering as if he owned the place was a cat that even made the gods of cats think, wow I want to be more like him. Long pointed ears, shaggy silky fur and a bushy tail. He looked down his nose at the cat messing about in the bushes. He was far too important for such antics. What he wanted lay behind the half-open door, but how to get it?

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    Replies
    1. I can see and smell this scene! nicely done...

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    2. I love your descriptions. So easy to see exactly what you describe. :)

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    3. Agreed, such lush description. Well in!

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    4. Lush, exactly. Good word. I like fecund too, but I get in trouble with it. ;)

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  17. Sam was the kind of guy who always broke the rules and people loved him for it. George was the kid who never broke the rules and played the game fairly. My god how smugly Sam and his entourage looked upon George. Rather than lionize the thoughtful George for his discipline they vilified him for his naivete behind his back. While publicly they ignored him. Which was the cruelest punishment he’d ever received in a long dark history of cruelty.

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    Replies
    1. Until it was time for final exams... then George was everybody's best friend...

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    2. Reminds me of my girls' school. Yikes. I hope George became president :) 'While publicly they ignored him' - the total loneliness of bullying.

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    3. Ed, first, so glad you're here. Second, this is an awesome piece. And I agree with Vickie.

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  18. Oh come on! It’s a school zone when the lights are flashing or children are present, like the sign RIGHT IN FUCKING FRONT OF YOU says. No lights, no kids—you don’t have to go twenty miles an hour NOW, you idiot.

    Okay, we’re past the school zone...that means you can speed up. Goddamn it, don’t tell me you’re going to creep along all the way to the roundabout a quarter of a mile away. Why yes, yes you are. ’Cause none of the people in the six or seven cars behind you have anywhere to be, right? Thanks for being our pace car.

    For chrissakes, you don’t have to stop at a crosswalk when there’s no one near it! I’ll bet you come to a complete stop at the traffic circle, too, even if it’s empty.

    Ding, ding, ding—we have a winner! And you get extra points for unnecessary signaling. You kinda got my hopes up that you were actually going to turn right at the street there instead of just entering the roundabout.

    Well, imagine that! You managed to exit the thing on the first try. Good job. Now you’re going to speed up, aren’t you? AREN’T YOU?!

    Of course you’re headed to the same place I am. Why would I expect anything else? Be sure to go as slow as possible through the entire lot even though I can see two empty spots from here.

    Ah, finally parked! If I hustle, I won’t be late.

    “Excuse me...”

    Shit. She’s still holding me up! “Yes?”

    “I’m looking for a seminar called ‘The Virtue of Patience: How to Slow Down in Today’s Hurry-up World’—do you happen to know what room it’s in?”

    “As a matter of fact, I do. Follow me.”

    “Oh, thank you! I hope it hasn’t started yet.”

    “I can assure you it hasn’t. I’m the instructor.”

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    Replies
    1. You're killing me! This is a cool study in irony. Thank you. I needed that.

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    2. Ain't it the truth? What we teach is what we must learn!

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    3. hahahaha!! It's like someone I know who is a very religious person but wants us to cut down our tree, which is home to many birds, etc. Not extending peace and happiness to birds and nature then... I'm waffling... I loved it. Funny and so true.

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    4. This is hilarious. And keenly observant. "Thanks for being our pace car." - too funny, I think that all the time.

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    5. God, this made me laugh. I also love how every other driver is too fast or too slow, and that we are the only sensible ones.

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  19. Longer than 2mins. About 5. I took as my writing prompt a line from your story, JD.

    The waiting almost killed him

    Waiting. Always waiting. He checked his watch. Almost on the hour. The time drew near. Wet roses. Waft of lemons. Soft plaintiff breath on the air. So cold. He felt it. Just there. Almost a hand’s grip away and then it swerved. A dumb call, lost in the quiet. Except for those deep, even breaths. Then nothing. Almost as quickly, it dispersed, trickling away around the corners, into the walls, hiding. He moved, tasting his own fear in his mouth. That metallic, cold and hard. His own breathing rushed like water through his ears, his muscles tensing. It called him. Always now. Around the hallway into the dim light. Candles lit the way, newly lighted. His welcome greeting to her. When she made it, he would follow. If she could escape the nightmare. Her life. The hallway twisted, altering perspective, pulling the ground up to the heights, and his heart leapt into his throat as the shadow shifted upon the walls. Flickering in the candlelight. Shimmering. Vague as the night. Lithe as the air. She danced in the in between.

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    Replies
    1. Sometimes when I read your pieces like this, I feel as if I'm watching Monet paint... one brushstroke at a time, revealing the most beautiful things... She danced in the in between is as beautiful as a waterlily.

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    2. Thanks Leland. That's the biggest compliment. I wish everyone thought that. Thank you. I never know where they're going. I think you guessed what she is :)

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    3. That line grabbed me, too. The whole thing is amazing. I'm honored that what I wrote prompted this brilliance!

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    4. Agreed on that last line. I love strong endings.

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    5. Thanks. I'm honoured u think it'

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  20. Mrs. Gregory found reassurance in the grey shredded clouds or in the flock of somethings following behind. She heard there was safety in numbers once, but it had never been true for her.

    On Saturday, she’d turned the earth of her backyard garden and the neat black rows accused her now, waiting for the seeds. Shivering from the porch, she closed her eyes and tried to imagine the flowers there, the plump tomatoes hanging on the vine. But Mother Nature could be a capricious bitch, so she stayed where she was, trying to out guess the inevitability of spring.

    When all danger of frost is past, the seed packages said. But she couldn’t pin her hopes on vagueness, either. She sniffed cautiously, trying to discern the sweet green scent that was supposed to be there, full of rain and earth, but caught next to nothing nothing on the restless breeze. Her knee was stiff and her fingers chilled as she clutched the packets of asters and zinnias, bachelor buttons and rainbow chard. She remembered the heady smell of the row of lavender she placed near the fence, how it flooded the senses like some kind of drug, and the long gone roses that fell to the blizzards the winter before last.How the squirrels loved tomatoes before they got ripe and the birds ate the berries and beans. How that lavender fence was sprayed by a cat and the neighborhood woodchucks grew fat on her greens.

    She opened the door to a well-lit kitchen and thought about a cup of tea, scattering the packets like broken promises on the tabletop.This year would be different she promised herself. She fingered the safety of the new .22 in the pocket of her sweater, where it was lurking, waiting for its moment, just like a seed. The dangers of frost, indeed.

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    Replies
    1. WHOA! Now THAT is a twist at the end... well-played! And it was all so peaceful and pastoral...

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    2. Yeah, I really didn't see where that was going.
      Fave line - But Mother Nature could be a capricious bitch, so she stayed where she was, trying to out guess the inevitability of spring.
      And I was totally outguessed. I like the scents in this piece.

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    3. Isn't Mother Nature ALWAYS a capricious bitch? ;) Love this, Teresa.

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    4. "...just like a seed." *shudders*

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  21. Larissa Fine straightened her husband Eddie’s tie -- a blue one in a Half Windsor knot -- and patted his chest.

    “What would you ever do without me, Eddie?” she asked, taking a sticky roller to the lint and such on the shoulders of his best suit.

    No one ever thought her Eddie would retire from the family business, he loved it too much -- crooked ties and all -- but retire he did, handing complete control of the place to his and Larissa’s son, Ted.

    And tonight would be the chance for goodbyes and all Eddie's gang -- family, business colleagues, even the guys in his bowling league -- were coming.

    Looking up from Eddie’s coffin, Larissa smiled and nodded at Ted to open their room in The Fine Funeral Home's doors and allow the early mourners in

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    1. Ah, I didn't see that coming. The style was deceptively simple and then swerved.

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    2. Oh. Shit. That one hit me hard. Totally blindsided. And because of something very sly. The pat on the chest in the beginning is so subtle and brilliant. That line zoomed me in. Awesome.

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    3. Blindsided me, too... well done.

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    4. Yup, another well-executed twist. Stuck the landing. Has anyone made a flash fiction-gymnastics analogy?

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  22. Word prompt: JD's 'The room smelled sour' -

    The smell of sour

    She’d smelt it all her life
    the rusted scent
    of strewn dust
    making it all melt

    this stench lifted
    curling like old paint
    wet to the touch
    bitter to taste
    it followed her
    in a cloud of waste
    this reminder of old

    when it sounded
    this ancient bell
    the heady mariner
    came carrying his shroud

    bereft of any knowledge
    of its meaning
    in silence he drifted
    into the outer realms
    where the dead pound
    ageless and unborn
    their endless ache

    he lies without
    breath or word
    as silent as the sea
    turned sour

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    Replies
    1. Gorgeous poem. Rich sensory. Takes you right there.

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    2. Agreed. It's so luscious. I don't want to use that word, but Teresa already used rich and I'm tired. ;) I love 'the rusted scent'

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    3. Sigh... more beautiful painting, this time with a watercolor wash, I think. "he lies without breath or word" has such beautiful possibilities for double entendre, too...

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    4. "ageless and unborn" is also intriguing.

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  23. Sam felt bad for feeling bad. No, that’s not quite it. He felt bad for not feeling anything - for feeling everything. Feelings are the cowards of the soul. They steal all thought and reason from consciousness. Sam had coped for so long by pretending he didn’t care about anything. It seemed to match the zeitgeist of his generation. But the truth was that he was lost in a world were people truly do not care about anything beyond their own selfish motives. All else was pretense and so here he was, caught without pretense in a pretentious world. He really was between a rock and a warm space of facades. Brick by brick, his walls were falling.

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    Replies
    1. And that is what corrupts the innocent and makes selfish B'stards of us all :)
      fave line - warm space of facades.

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    2. This: "Feelings are the cowards of the soul." Man, sometimes you nail it so hard.

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    3. You've summed up a whole generation in so few words... and this, this is beautifully sad: "caught without pretense in a pretentious world"... can anything make us feel more naked, more vulnerable?

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  24. It was over with Bobby and she wasn’t going to miss him; she only had him at all to get even with Bill. He’d wanted her when Bill hadn’t, and for while it had been enough. But leaving Bobby wasn’t something that crept up on her slowly. Instead, tired of his clammy hands and earnest loving and everlasting apologies, she’d swallowed her drink and hurled the bread basket at him, enjoying how people stared at cringing acceptance when she called him a putz.

    She hadn’t stopped for her purse or to gather her things at the putzy apartment where he weighed his food and watched his cholesterol, but instead had shot like some rocket out into the torrent that poured down first like some sweet benediction, then threatened to drown her to death.She couldn't be proud, but she couldn't be sorry, either and she wandered between the two, trying to be free.
    The streets were empty, the stop lights blinked, someone honked twice before she realized she was standing in an intersection, up to her ankles in the deluge, the rain drowning her tears. The cab pulled up alongside her.

    “Get in,”
    “can’t. No money.”
    The bearded man, thick around the middle and topped with a beret stared at her.”Get the fuck in the cab! You want to drown?”
    She got in the front seat, soaked to the skin and shivering. “Thanks, “ she mumbled, looking around. A rosary hung from the rearview,a knife in a holder taped to the dash. Lijke the song said, she thought Hurt me now, get it over.
    The man peered at her closely. You smoke?
    She nodded. He tapped out some kind of Turkish thing wrapped in brown paper that smelled like food.
    “where you live?” there was an accent; something she couldn’t identify. “just a few blocks” she said.
    “you know why I stopped” he asked after a moment.
    “Damsel in distress?
    He swung the car around in front of the address she’d given him.
    “I stopped because you have given me a great gift tonight.”
    She stared at him; somewhere in the darkness her heady mix of rage and grief and freedom had been washed away leaving her empty and cold. She helped herself to another cigarette and inhaled deeply grateful for the little bit of warm.
    He peered at her tilting his head from one side to another, smiling just long enough to display some gold.
    “Life is shit, you know it?”
    She stifled a laugh.
    And Love, you know about love too?”
    "What there is of it," she said.
    I am a Turk, but my mother was French, A long time ago I fell in love. In Paris. She was French, but I was a half blood. She gave me her body, and even her heart. But with the French it’s the mind. So she married another. And I cam to the shit hole of a country to drive this shit cab. 12 years now. New York city. I carry this knife, you see it?
    She closed her eyes. Jesus, here it comes.
    But my story is unimportant.She heard the sound of velcro and the knife sliding in.
    She opened her eyes.
    I spoke of a gift.
    What?
    You, in the rain. In the headlights. You look nothing like she did, but I saw you and just for a moment, I remembered what it was like to be in love.”
    She stared at him, wondering what was coming.
    He grinned and displayed his gold.
    “That is your gift. Don’t waste it. Now get out of the cab.”
    And I did.

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    1. I like this. It's like a game of two halves. Love the bread basket scene and the images in the rain, where you wander off and then suddenly find where you are. The guy in the cab is interesting with a cool back story and in my mind they'll meet again some time :)

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    2. Yeah, I'm STUPID tired right now and this is such a complex and compelling piece. I want to do it justice. You get into these tone grooves - it's like being transported. I don't quite know how you do it. But it works, lady.

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    3. Great immersion (no pun intended), although the sudden switch to first person in the final line jarred me from my complacency and made me think I'd missed something.

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  25. Pressed a little smaller with humiliation from having to give up a few items from her grocery cart at the checkout, Betty trundled home. The plastic handles cut into her palms, her forearms, her elbows. As she was waiting for the light to change, arranging and rearranging the bundles to minimize circulation cutoff, she noticed a flyer taped to a utility pole: Kittens, free to good home. She smiled, imagining an energetic little creature happy to see her at the end of the day. A friend she could talk to who wouldn’t bark back, order her around, try to make her feel like shit. Okay, maybe her home wasn’t exactly good now, especially when Mr. Wonderful was in town, but it could be. With a kitten.

    When she called the number on the little stub, a woman answered. Betty cleared her throat and stammered out the question.

    “Yes, we have one left, a female calico with double paws, poor little thing.” She asked Betty a few questions about her living arrangements, her work. “I don’t mean to be intrusive, you understand. “But I want to make sure you’ll be able to give her a good home.”

    “Of course,” Betty lied.

    They took to each other immediately, the kitten hopping after Betty when she did her chores around the apartment, her giant, funny paws like little boots. In fact, Betty named her Boots. And home did feel like a happier place. Until he returned.

    “What the fuck?” he said when he stumbled in late one night, stinking like the road and half a distillery.

    Betty snatched Boots up inches before his foot accidentally connected with her new friend. “I got a kitten.”

    He mumbled something she couldn’t hear, his eyes squinching. “Ugly little thing.”

    Betty’s shoulder sank.

    “I ain’t paying for it.”

    “I didn’t ask you to.”

    Boots skittered out of her arms and hopped to his duffel bag, giving it a sniff and a few paw pats. “Hey.” He started for her. “Get the fuck away from there, ya little mutant.”

    “Don’t, she’s just exploring, she…”

    “Stupid bitch. Probably don’t even know how to train these things right. Here, I’ll show you. Hey.”

    She reached for his arm, a second too late.

    “No, goddammit, bad cat!” He backhanded Boots, and with a mewl that curdled Betty’s heart, the kitten darted across the room and under the couch.

    Then he went into the bedroom and passed out. Betty stayed on the couch that night, unable to sleep. At some point, Boots poked her nose up and curled into the hollow of her belly

    By that morning, she decided Boots wasn’t the only one who needed a happy home. She hoped he’d enjoy the going-away present Boots left for him in his duffel.

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    Replies
    1. I love this piece... and I love Boots. Well played. Well written. Well done.

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    2. oops posted in wrong place... Yay! I was really hoping for that ending. Moggie approves. A kitten makes everything rosy.

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    3. That hurt me because I miss MY cat. Hard for me to say anything because I want something really, really terrible to happen to homeboy.

      Well done, Boris.

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    4. Yeah, me too. The revenge motive is strong in this one.

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  26. Yay! I was really hoping for that ending. Moggie approves. A kitten makes everything rosy.

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  27. If I leave

    If I leave will you follow
    Way out there into the dark,
    Where the world weaves
    Its own deceptive light?

    Is it better to disappear
    Altogether while you sleep,
    Or to tell you all these things
    I’ve kept so close so long?

    Will the time come anyway?
    Will the ending be the same?

    In these seconds I can see
    My decisions flow in clarity,
    See the real and the unreal,
    Opposites, standing side by side

    But then the moment turns,
    Fast unravelling and I am lost
    As the ebb and flow of things
    Floods every decision I make

    If I seek to win will I lose?
    If I mind to lose will I win?

    In this game we seek to play
    Are we deceiving ourselves
    While the Fates grin and bear
    Each and every mistake of ours?

    Closing the door softly, I leave
    To step upon a spread of snow,
    Beneath flakes falling like my veil
    Into this tangled dark I know.

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    1. OK. You know I'm not into poetry, per se. I LOVE yours. This one actually turned into to a song in my head almost immediately. I love it when writing does that. Thank you.

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    2. Especially love the final stanza. Yeah, agree with Dan; this sounds musical.

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  28. Nate had grown up in his brother shadow, overlooked and underappreciated. Jen had always been smarter, more talented, better looking, so he'd been Nate's greatest rival and biggest pain in the ass. He'd also been Nate's best friend...and still was. They'd weathered a lot, more than most people realized. Good times and bad times and bad times that looked like good times from the outside. Jen had been there for him through every heartache, every disappointment, every fit of depression.

    Now it was Nate's turn to be there for Jen...and he wasn't sure he was up to the task. He wasn't even sure what it would mean to be up to the task. So, for the first time in longer than he could remember, Nate was turning to someone other than Jen for help. For possibly the first time ever, he was turning to complete strangers, hoping they had the answers he needed.

    If he could find the courage to get out of his car and walk into the huge, imposing building in front of him.

    He'd never been much of a one for church services, but he loved the architecture on the big, fancy churches like this one. His eyes could see the beauty in the building, but his heart and soul had never felt the peace that he'd thought would come from being inside.

    But he wasn't here to listen to a pompous preacher with over-styled hair rave about fire and brimstone. It was a Tuesday afternoon, and the meeting wasn't church related, though he expected to hear a bit about God.

    And he didn't really want to hear it.

    He reached for the key in the ignition, ready to burn rubbed and get the hell out of the church parking lot. But from the corner of his eye, he saw the lanyard hanging from his rearview mirror. It was the laminated backstage pass from the first major gig that he and Jen had played at the beginning of their first major tour, opening for one of their favorite bands.

    "He'd do it for me," he said. "Shit."

    Nate snatched the keys out of the ignition and bolted from the car before he lost his nerve again, slamming the door behind him. A kind-looking woman whose hair was starting to turn to salt-and-pepper met him on the front steps and offered him a styrofoam cup of coffee.

    "First time?" she asked.

    "That obvious?" He took the coffee with a grateful smile.

    "Took me three tries before I made it out of the car and two more before I got inside. And even then, I wasn't sure I'd come back," the woman confessed. "I tried several Al-Anon groups before I found the right one, too. But I think you'll fit right in here."

    "I'm Nate, by the way." He offered his other hand, and the woman shook it.

    "I'm Hope," she said.

    And even though Nate had never believed in signs, he felt a shiver run down his spine, and he knew that somehow everything was going to be just fine.

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    Replies
    1. Aw, I love this. Nate turning to someone besides Jen for help. The courage it must have taken to get out of that car. I want to know more about these two.

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    2. Yeah, you tapped into something big here, I think. Normally, the name Hope would be overplaying your hand, I think. Here, it's perfect. You created the mood so well, it's like an epiphany.

      I want more about these two, too.

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    3. Yeah, it earned that Hope moment, agreed.

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  29. The other shoe hangs by a lace, by the sword of Damocles, by a thread, by the whisper of a scream, by the feathery remains of a dream; the other shoe blots out the sun, hovers like a cartoon spaceship and your dainty umbrella won’t save you from disaster. The other shoe doesn’t fit Cinderella’s evil stepsisters no matter how many toes they cut from their ugly feet. The other shoe hovers like a slap, like the flat of a hand caught before snapping down on the head of a drum. The other shoe, suspended, watches his brother, waiting, waiting, waiting for his turn, for his moment on the pavement, for his silent detonation.

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    Replies
    1. Wow.... you took a little cliche and made it beautiful and suspenseful and purposeful.... This begs to be included in a larger piece!

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    2. I respectfully disagree that this should be expanded. I think it's perfect. I've never read this voice. New territory and it's really, really good. Subtle internal pulsing. I wouldn't change a thing.

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    3. You've articulated a feeling I don't think I've ever seen articulated quite like this and quite so well.

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  30. She missed him most in the morning which was nuts because he was never a morning person. In the shower the tears would fall unnoticed – a meager offering to the mix of hard water and soap that cleaned her body and cleared her head. Or maybe she’d be on the couch drinking the one cup of coffee she allowed herself, checking something out on TV and it would hit her. And the tears would flow more freely there. Nowhere to hide them.

    She could never make out what started her on the gloomy path once she was on it. It was like a crack of thunder when it came. Her stomach would ache and her mouth would open with a gasp or a whimper, before the flood.

    That distinct separation from the man she loved obviously felt like a missing limb but it wasn’t new. It had been a long, long time. Someday the tears had to stop, didn’t they?

    Maybe if he were really gone it would be different. Maybe if he were on the other side of the planet and not in the same city. Maybe if she didn’t see him in their child every single day she looked at her face. Maybe if she replaced him with a whole new model it would be better. Maybe if . . .

    She was really alone now but her most fervent wish was that being alone didn’t hurt and help in equal measure.

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    Replies
    1. Ouch. This one hurts. Which means it's really good. So much pain - and the tone makes it all the more real for me. Just the right balance. Really brilliant piece.

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    2. Right. Grief takes its own bittersweet time. And yes, understated is often so much more powerful.

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  31. The color drips from amber sky, collecting in pools of motor oil - pools that are as deep as you want them to be. As deep as you're willing to look. Brilliant things, oil slicks. You can see yourself, you can see the pool, you can see infinite possibility. You can also hear Mother Nature weeping.

    I was thirteen when I decided. Collected wrinkled bills, ones and fives, and ironed them flat, stacked them neatly, bound them with strips of pure, white paper.

    It was and it wasn't about the guitar itself. It was something lost and twisted with longing.

    It was the light reflected in the pool.

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  32. You look out of the broken window, smell wood smoke and wonder. Not that cold. But it isn't about you. It's about the way the smoke slices through the gapped glass. It is a testament to all things elemental, and it is not for you to figure out.

    So, you close your eyes, try to hold onto the feeling - you can't. All things are in constant flux. Stagnation is a myth perpetuated by the closed-minded. There is no 'one instant' because once you try to grab it, there is merely dust where the moment lived.

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  33. You got a six gun, I got a seven. I got three batwing fighters and a highly trained army of ninja unicorns. I got weird, kinky sex for boring people and I got a bunch of mystic gnomes for those of y'all who like to read books that are 987 pages long. For the first in the trilogy.

    I got me a ruler so long I need a shed to store it. You know what it's for, right? I don't have to say it. But I'm going to say it. It's because your ruler is a piece of shit normal size ruler and I got this badass, backsass, intergalactic toothbrush. AND a big ass ruler.

    So, who you gonna cry to now, ya puss? You gonna go tell mommy? I got a mommy eight feet tall who can beat you with a spoon while making six pies at once.

    Beeyotch.

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