Friday, June 5, 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. 

I could say that it was premonition, some wired-in special sense, but that would be a lie. I think. I don't really know, and that's been something I've whittled at for years - did I know or was it luck? And, if I did know, does that matter? Does it make it anything more than what it was? Less? Why does the possibility that it was mere happenstance make my heart flutter? My thoughts dance?

I will never forget it, I know that. A walk through the waking woods just like any other day, enjoying the smell of loam and leaf rot. Bird call. Then, it was right in front of me. He, he was right in front of me. Dirty, scared. A small boy. No one has lived within ten miles of me since I left the city. 

I put up flyers at the general store. I got on the radio and spread the word. I had cops and social workers and everydamnbody asking me questions, and I couldn't tell them nothing. And they didn't care whether it was pure coincidence or providence. That was all that mattered to me. At the time.

I put up with a lot in those months. Then, I decided to put up or shut up, divine intervention or not. And I never was lonely again. Except for the years I put that boy through college. When he graduated, he came right back home. 


Now, I don't walk the woods alone.

Thanks for stopping by! I'll be out some of today (working, no computer) 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

158 comments:

  1. CAVE DWELLERS

    While others were seeking fortune and fame in the hills of Hollywood, Hunter Sayers found his in the coastal caves of Baja, California. A third-generation spelunker, he had kept a little black book of conquests –– not of women but of coastal caves everywhere that a generous inheritance could transport him. Crawling into gaping apertures of rock, he bravely entered the inner sancta of dark silence where he insisted he found true peace.

    “Guano?”

    Hunter Sayers nodded, to which his brother Mark repeated in a voice ratcheted up into a shrilling falsetto. “Guano? Isn’t that bat dung?” he asked. Hunter nodded again. “Bat dung and seabird dung as well,” he said. “Thicker than thick. Pizarro found gold in them there hills. I found guano!”

    Mark was by no means a speleophile. He never subscribed to his brother’s or father’s or grandfather’s love of caves. He filled His little black book with the names of women, none of whom were as cold and foul-smelling as those cavernous holes in the sides of mountains.

    Hunter slid a mason jar of guano across the table. Mark wrinkled his nose and turned his face away. “I get it,” he said. “You’ve concocted a guano jam to spread on pumpernickel to feed the poor. Come on, Hunter. Admit it, will you? Guano is good for you-know-what. And let me add, you are a raving lunatic.” He folded his arms and shook his head. “Mason jars filled with ––”

    “You see the rose bush in the backyard?” asked Hunter. “I planted it a week ago. Guano-rich soil, nitrogen 6, and fortified phosphate. The reddest petals you’ve never seen on a rose. And the bush full grown. Tall as a tree. Don’t you get it? This is my ticket. Move oven, Mendel. There’s a new guy in town who will revolutionize horticulture.”

    Mark glanced out the back window that gave full view to the backyard. He nearly choked on his words. “Look! Look out there!”

    At first it appeared as if the sun had shut itself to darkness despite the early afternoon hour. The yard almost invisible, the two brothers clasped their ears to block the deafening reverberations that sounded like…

    “The beating of wings!”

    “Bats!”

    “Seabirds!”

    There was no where to hide. They were screeching and slamming their bat and bird bodies hard against the window pane until it crashed into jagged shards that that the force of the impact fired towards Hunter and Mark.

    When the sun burst bright yellow again, the rosebush outside lay in tangled weeds. Gone the red petals, the bats, the seabirds.

    The brothers lay dead. One of them –– Hunter –– clutched the empty mason jar like a mother holds her infant child.

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    1. Nancy DeCilio GauthierJune 5, 2015 at 10:22 AM

      Revenge....

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    2. I like the turn toward horror with a touch of magical realism. And the black books. Great piece.

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    3. Not what I expected, but terrific nonetheless!

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    4. Yes, caught me off guard. Worthy of Hitchcock, this one!

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    5. Yikes! You had me at bat dung.

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    6. Oh, I really enjoyed this...bat revenge!

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    7. Thanks for your comments. What got me thinking of bat dung might be a clue to my deranged mind. Then again, aren't all fiction writers a little offf kilter? How else can they twist reality?

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    8. Science, science fiction, great images and conceit. Enjoyed this one.

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  2. The herd seemed restless tonight, she thought. Some of the larger ones had taken to hunkering away in the far corner of the tank, almost as though they knew there was going to be a harvesting. But that could never happen. They were bred to be dumb. And docile.

    Some of the smaller specimens were pressed against the glass, their faces distorted. Like nightmare creatures. It was just as well the tank was sealed; the smells and the noises they made could be quite disturbing sometimes. Incoherent and incontinent. It was a mercy she was bringing to them. A few more hours and another fifty would be gone to a better place. Serving the needs of the greater.

    Alys began to hum to herself, her voice bringing her comfort. It wouldn't do for her to be shirking. She'd a job to do. She pulled the scan-wand from its holster, its laser arc finding the binary bar tattoo on the brow of the nearest male, Rodney #1872. He was almost a year old: he'd be in the next cull, if the others didn't euthanize him first. There'd been a growing trend for them to do that, almost as though they were deliberately killing their own before they could be harvested. But that could never happen. There were safeguards to prevent that.

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    1. Nancy DeCilio GauthierJune 5, 2015 at 10:27 AM

      Would make a chilling Sci Fi story.

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    2. Already a chilling sci-fi! Wow. This is good, Mark. I like it a lot. Really balanced and tight.

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    3. Wow, this is a good kind of creepy. I want more!

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    4. Yep... chilling... very chilling indeed.... and well written!

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    5. Yikes. Love it. Got a genuine chill from this.

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    6. What they all said. And I want to know more.

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    7. Great scene to start a much larger piece, Mark. Great setup of character and atmosphere. Want to see more!!

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  3. [This is the beginning of a piece; I'll post the rest later on my own blog for those foolhardy enough to care.]

    Today's when y'all get to kill me. Some of y'all will see this as a good day, and most days I'd go along with that.

    Yup, forget they candy-ass public defenders and bleeding-heart ink slingers—even Jesus couldn't save me, though I cain't hardly blame him if he never put his full weight behind the cause.

    Why am I in this here predicament? Well, not to put too fine a point on it, what I done was a massacre, like what happened to they Injuns somewheres in the Dakotas back when this peacelovin' country was young. I don't know about wounded knee but I do know you can bury my heart right where you damn well aim to kill it, far as I care; goddamn shriveled thing never did me a lick of good while it still pumped, ain't that the truth?

    And here's another truth: I was doomed from the git-go, pretty much. Least since I was a whelp no higher'n a tractor tire from a 1940s John Deere, anyways. If I hadna been hiding in the hayloft that day my daddy came out to the barn to slaughter sweet ol' Gus, maybe none of this woulda happened. But I was and he did, and in spite of the gloom inside I saw the glint reflected from his knife and the way Gus looked at Pa as if he knew what was comin', the fear in that soft, dark eye as bleak and knowing as any soldier's when the enemy's upon him and his weapon is empty, and how Gus thrashed and squealed louder'n I'd ever heard him squeal when that blade sawed at his pink and throbbing throat, and how it still took a while for him to quiet and be still as his steaming blood splashed in a ole tin bathtub my daddy had cleaned out and stoppered up for the occasion. Here's a thing: while all this was happening, I swear I saw a shadow bigger'n a man and blacker than a moonless prairie night step into the light at one end of the barn and stay right there 'til it was all done. Coulda been a cloud passing over the pale yellow sun, I guess, but I'm pretty sure it weren't. Meanwhile, Pa never knowed I was there, wide-eyed and shaking, reliving that scene in my head like I would for months after—not jus' the sight of it, but the sounds and the smells and how it felt inside. What I'm tryin' to say is, maybe none of this woulda happened if I hadna liked it.

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    1. Nancy DeCilio GauthierJune 5, 2015 at 10:28 AM

      A serial killer is born ??

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    2. Oh, man. I got to read more. This is rich and scary, man.

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    3. Holy moly, you've got something dark and sinister and UTTERLY FANTASTIC here.

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    4. I'm foolhardy enough, and want to read the rest! this is dark and deep and good.

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    5. You folks are kind, but careful what you wish for, lol. I needed a shower after getting inside this particular head. Here's the full version.

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    6. Yes. It was beguiling. His voice, his rhythm, and his penchant for cliches all the while hiding so much evil. Yeah I want to read more. I don't have to sleep tonight.

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    7. Holy cats. I want to read more. NOW. I love the voice.

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  4. Nancy DeCilio GauthierJune 5, 2015 at 10:14 AM

    Just about ten years ago, a sort of young, not quite old yet, retired couple left NY and moved into their new Florida home. Frenzy of unpacking, finding places for everything - changing things around a few times until it was all just so - maybe not perfect - but good enough.
    Time to meet the neighbors. Right across the street, another couple, not so many years older but retired a lot longer. He had been in law enforcement - in Florida no less. She was a bit younger than him and closer in age to the "NY" couple. He was a big man, ornery and irascible. She was quiet and sweet. They had the cutest dog in the world, a little Shi Tzu. A real rascal type of dog, who if he got free would slowly walk down their driveway - turning his head to see if they were watching. Once he got to the end, he would bolt for the yard next door to visit the neighbor dog while his owner tried calling him back.
    The "NY" woman had some problems with the male neighbor - she felt he really didn't like women much - had no use for them (other than his wife); he also was wary of "NY" in all shapes and forms. He had no problem with the "NY" man though. Guess it was a man to man thing. Given his age and previous occupation and the fact he had lived in Florida most of his life, he had some prejudices. The first time he let loose with the "N" word in the "NY" living room. The woman let him have it, both barrels. Plainly saying he was free to say what he wanted in his own house or yard- but she would not tolerate it in HER home. He didn't actually apologize, but he looked at her like it was exactly what he expected to hear.
    Through the years, they proved to be good neighbors in other ways. Willing to collect the mail when the "NY" couple drove home to visit family and friends back up in NY. The "NY" couple had learned that the man had gone through a lot of health problems - some pretty serious and was still being hit with things. Operations, hospital stays. In between he rallied, rode his motorcycle yet for awhile, drove his pick up truck with his dog at his side.
    Ten years is a lot longer than the doctors had given him as a prognosis. Ten years - one last admission to the hospital. Rest in Peace - Ed.

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    1. There is a neat effect in this piece. I can't really think how to describe it. Kind of like being caught in a tornado of story, swirling. It's disorienting in just the right way.

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    2. Never mind stream of consciousness writing, this is a maelstrom... the dizziness and inevitability build the tension perfectly.

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    3. This is an intriguing glimpse into what we think we know versus what we really know about our neighbors.

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    4. Yeah, I'm with the others. Feel like I took a ride in a clothes dryer or something!

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    5. Distinct and weirdly edgy like there might be a homemade bomb lurking in the exposition. Kept me alert.

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    6. Nancy DeCilio GauthierJune 5, 2015 at 4:02 PM

      I thank you all for your comments !!

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  5. I was stunned at the sight in front of me.

    It was a firestorm.

    The entire downtown district was burning up.

    Buildings built during the Gold Rush were the first to go up in flames since they are made mostly of wood. The other buildings built around them were riddled with bullets and broken glass strewed across the blood soaked ground.

    Bodies lay across the ground riddled with bullets.

    Men running with their briefcases clutched to their bodies laid across the ground riddled with bullets and glass.

    Women who had been wearing heels broke them trying to run from the mayhem.

    A bus full of school aged children was on fire down the street. Most of the children didn't make it out of the bus before it was shot up. Those that made it off the bus were shot down before they could get very far.

    I asked myself, who in the hell would do something like this? Children should not die so young. Men and women shouldn't be shot down like this. People were minding their own business going to work or running errands for their bosses. Whoever did this to this town was not human. They couldn't be human. A human would never butcher children while they were on a school field trip.

    This was the scene in front of me and my unit as we rolled up to the carnage left behind by these assholes.

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    1. Very real and very terrifying. Scary and vivid. Good control, too. Not overplayed, just right.

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    2. I'm wondering if the perpetrators actually *were* human...or not. Hmmm.

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    3. Gary, it's quite feasible that the character in my piece (above) did this. Spooky!

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  6. When Paula woke, she gasped at the slant of light through the blinds and darted out of bed, the autopilot of her morning routine cranked up to holy-shit-I’m-late speed. Coffee gurgling, shower spitting, clothes. Clothes. Dammit. She always, without fail, even sticky-eyed and half-asleep after a late night, set a perfectly coordinated outfit at the front of the closet for the next day.

    Rustling through the hangers, she found the suit she wanted, leaving the questions about why it had landed so far back in the rotation for later. When her husband came home from his trip, they needed a serious talk about why he didn’t respect her things. The bullet points rumbled through her brain as she tugged up a pair of pantyhose. The nylon felt odd as she squirmed the panty part in place and nestled the waistband smooth. It left a film on her fingers, and it didn’t feel springy anymore. Cheap crap they make these days. She cursed again—damned dry cleaner shrank her skirt—and again as she fluttered through the kitchen, searching for the travel mug her spouse had no doubt hidden somewhere odd, and there would be words about that, too. So she took his, and sufficiently topped off, she strapped herself into the car for the familiar, seventeen-minute drive.

    Ignoring the insult of the cheap Honda parked in her spot, she huffed up to her office, where Diane, her assistant, was at Paula’s workstation, probably pulling up the notes for the morning sales meeting. Paula raised her palms in an attempt to mollify Diane’s expression of alarm. “I’m okay, just running late, did they start already?”

    Diane’s mouth worked but no words came out.

    “It’s that bad?” Paula’s brow furrowed as she tilted her head over one shoulder then the other. “What’s wrong? Is there something stuck to me? Dry cleaner tags? Nice suit, by the way. I don’t remember ever seeing you in a suit before.” She smirked. “You gonna ask me for a raise?”

    Diane stood, and with her expression softening, set a hand on Paula’s shoulder. “Are you all right?”

    “I’m fine. What?” Paula flicked a finger beneath her lower eyelid, checking for smudged mascara.

    “Maybe you oughta go home, get some rest.”

    “Right. Forgot the blush, I probably look washed out.” She reached for the drawer where she normally kept a few emergency grooming supplies.

    But Diane stilled her hand. “Paula. You don’t work here anymore.”

    “Of course I do. And I have to get to that sales meeting…why are you looking at me like that. Right. I get it. You want my job. You’ve always wanted my job!”

    “I already have your job. I’ve had your job for the last five years.”
    Paula patted a hand backward, reaching for the chair. Maybe she was sick. Maybe she had some kind of fever and had begun hallucinating. But she didn’t…feel sick. Diane loomed over her, that pitiful look never leaving her face. “Is there someone I can call?”

    “My husband,” she croaked out. “Crap. He’s out of town.”

    “Your husband….” Diane’s voice barely broke into a whisper. “Oh, honey.”

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    1. Oh, this is good. I like to think that somewhere Arthur Miller is smiling. Isn't that remarkable?

      This is a heartbreaker.

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    2. Nancy DeCilio GauthierJune 5, 2015 at 12:20 PM

      This is chilling Laurie, like it could happen to any one.

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    3. ohmigod.... this is terrifying and wonderful...

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    4. Oh man, you got me right in the feels. :'(

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    5. Damn is all that can come out of my brain right now, This is chilling and beautiful at the same time. I'd love to hear and read more about what happened to her husband, I love this!!!

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    6. Perfectly ominous with a real heartbeat in its centre. Brava!

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    7. Very, very well done Laurie.

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  7. And Mr. Mader, love that last line.

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    1. I love the last line, too, and a lot of the middle and beginning, too! Everydamnbody is my new favorite pronoun...

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    2. Everydamnthing about it is great. :)

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    3. Wonderfully hopeful JD. It moved me.

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    4. Yes, and everyone seems to be doing foreboding with such panache today!

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  8. "Do you remember when I asked you to marry me? So long ago, you could almost say we were different people. You were so scared. I never saw you look so scared -- before or since -- unless our girl was in trouble.

    I have my strengths but I’ve never known anyone as fearless or as brave, as you. You said no to me then. Laughed it off and broke my heart a little. But now, I’m thinking you’ll say yes if I ask you. And that will make this our defining moment. Every moment before will just be a foundation for what comes next. No more holding back, or holding in. Just holding on forever."

    She was already nodding as she inched her way towards him.

    "What are you saying?"

    “I’m saying,” He said, giving her the rarest gift -- his smile, “Allez-vous m'épouser, mon coeur? Dire à tout le monde. Vous êtes ma femme."

    The shock along with the sharp inhalation of too much breath nearly choked off her response.

    “How? When did you? How?”

    He embraced her then because she was trembling.

    "Answer my question first, woman."

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    1. This is a sharp piece. Strong. I think a lot of people can relate to this, too. You have highlighted the intricacies of love. Very nice.

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    2. Aw, this is soooo sweet! absolutely romantic!

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    3. Lovely piece about love, yes.

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    4. So sweet and I love that he asked in French. Magnifique. :D

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  9. THE MISSIONARY'S CALL

    Turning to leave, certain that whoever is on the other side of the door has no intention of talking to me, I hear the click of the latch.

    "Can I help you?" a female voice asks through a half-inch opening.

    "Yes, in fact you can. I was hoping you might be able to spare a few minutes to discuss—"

    "—Oh, you're one of them. I thought you might be havin' some sort of trouble, alone like you are."

    "No, no trouble, but I appreciate your concern," I reply with a smile and deferential nod. The door opens a few inches, allowing me my first good look at her. She is young, perhaps sixteen or seventeen. "If I could just take a moment of your time—"

    "—My husband and father wouldn't approve of me talkin' to you."

    Although I try to hide it, my surprise must be apparent.

    "I'm eighteen," she says defensively.

    I neither believe her nor give voice to my doubt. It doesn’t matter. Eighteen or not, she’s old enough to be married with parental consent. Ignoring the dubious claim altogether is my only option.

    "I'm sorry my visit is inconvenient right now. Let me just leave a pamphlet with you—"

    "—No!" she blurts out. "I'd be in big trouble if my husband and father found out I accepted your heathen literature."

    Oh, they sound like a fine pair, this husband and father of hers.

    "All right, no more talk of that," I concede, holding up my hand to calm her. "Are you okay?"

    "I'm fine."

    "Are you really eighteen?"

    "I'm nearly so!" quickly dissolves to, "No, ma'am, I'm just seventeen."

    "Please, call me Amy," I tell her. "How old were you when you got married?"

    "Sixteen."

    "And your parents gave their permission?"

    Her head drops as she mumbles, "My mama died two years ago..."

    "I'm sorry for your loss..." I pause before ploughing ahead. "Your father, he consented to your marriage?"

    She nods timidly, not letting me catch her eye.

    "Here’s my telephone number, in case you ever want to reach me."

    "Thank you, ma'am — I mean, Amy," she says, tucking the scrap of paper into her pocket. "But now you really gotta go. My husband and father'll be back from town soon, so I have to get to fixin' supper."

    Before I can thank her for her time, she shuts and locks the door. Our conversation had lasted all of two minutes and I didn't even get her name, but I’m left feeling a sense of responsibility for this girl. Lord knows, someone needs to look after her.

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    1. Oh, another heartbreaker. Deftly played. I like the mysterious sadness. I feel like this story wants to keep going. Maybe I just want to keep reading it.

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    2. It is a heartbreaker... and now I'm wondering... you've used a play on words that could be taken a couple of ways... "husband and father" ... is that two people, or one?

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    3. Very deftly done. Not sure if it would actually happen in this context, but well done!

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    4. I was wondering that same thing Leland was. Nicely done.

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    5. Definitely had the sense that the two were one in the same. So sad, I wanted to spirit her away.

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    6. So sad. I agree there's definitely more here. Felt like It's more than just a call for Amy, perhaps. A redemption maybe?

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    7. Thanks, everyone. You're a perceptive bunch. I'm hoping it won't be so obvious when I expand the piece and flesh it out to a full story, but yes, the 'husband and father' are one and the same. :/

      Lily, you also picked up on it being more than just a call for Amy. She's beginning to question just why she keeps at the God peddling thing, and the way the girl's situation plays out will provide some answers. Y'know, once I write it. ;)

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    8. I picked up on the father and husband, also! Can't wait to read the rest.

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  10. You wake up with a throbbing headache and you try to remember if you drank too much last night or if this is your typical migraine. You stumble toward the bathroom and the medicine cabinet. Pop a pill or two or twenty. Make it go away.
    The toilet sits there, inviting you to put your one end or the other closer, and you can’t decide which.
    You put the bottle of pills back in the cabinet, and the guy in the mirror catches you off-guard.
    “You look like shit,” you utter to your left-handed self.
    “No, you look like shit,” he says. “I’ve been behind the glass, you’ve been in a glass, and one of us is still drunk.”
    You look at the mirror and feel bad for the guy with that much red in his eyes.
    “Today’s the day you pick Joey up, remember? Shared custody, your weekend?”
    You groan.
    “The ex is probably gonna smell the booze on you. She could always tell, no matter how long you shower, how hard you scrub.”
    You decide the only thing worse than a self-righteous reflection is one who’s right.

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    1. This is STRONG. The concept and the execution. I love the left handed self. And I'm glad you're here! I was getting worried. :)

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    2. Nancy DeCilio GauthierJune 5, 2015 at 12:24 PM

      Strong portrayal of a loser who knows how lost he is.

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    3. Thank you kindly... the writing is not coming easily today... there are days like that sometimes... I appreciate your encouragement!

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    4. This piece is great! "...the only thing worse than a self-righteous reflection is one who’s right." That's a gem.

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    5. I Really like this, been playing with the mirror concept myself today.

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    6. Be wary of mirrors... they show us all the best and the worst of us, and sometimes our fears and our hopes... but be courageous... you just might find truth there, too...

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    7. And second-person, as tricky as it is, is perfect for a story where someone talks to their reflection! And yeah, great last line as usual.

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    8. Oh, this smacks me in the face. Especially that last line.

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    9. I was having the same troubling thoughts about mirrors ("be wary") while reading this Leland. Very nice work.

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    10. Oh My, revelation going on!

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  11. You feel some kind of responsibility even though you shouldn't. No reason for it. You didn't start this or put these people here. You didn't give some of them the power to lie, eye to eye. You didn't make the ones too scared to realize their own beauty. You didn't make the sinner, the liars, the abused, the coerced, the hidden, the frail, the brutal - this isn't your fault.

    This is why people have fancy books with gold lettering on cheap black covers. You don't have one. You have an ocean of guilt you don't deserve. You didn't make the mess, it isn't yours to clean up, but, goddamn, if it isn't hard to watch. It's stressful, and you hear your Grandmother's voice: "Always feel better in a clean house."

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    1. Doncha hate the days when you realize you're not a superhero, and all you can do is watch the tragedies other people cause for themselves and others? I really like this piece a lot.

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    2. Maybe this is how a recluse is created, when the stress of watching the mess gets to be too much...

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    3. Yeah. "this isn't your fault" and it still doesn't matter. I felt that.

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  12. We live the blow up the world, or our world. We fall in love or take drugs for the rush. We sky-dive and bungie-jump for the rush. We hunt and put ourselves in situations where we are hunted for the rush. But, eventually, we screw up. We get in too deep.

    That's when you call me. I'm the sweeper. I make it all go away. There is no problem too big, no situation too out of control, for the sweeper. I can make your overwhelming problems go away. I can make the people threatening you stay silent. I'm good at my job, and there are thousands of people who can afford my friendship and sympathy.

    But if you peel back the layers, you find the truth. I can take care of your problems, of anyone's problems, but not my own. I work, so I can avoid my problems. Push them under the rug. But eventually the rug grows legs and starts coming after you. I can make your problems disappear, but not mine.

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    1. Wow.... I really like this... the sweepers of the world... we always seem to make sure they have a ton of work to do, but we never say thank you to them. Great concept! Nicely done!

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    2. Kind of a "who watches the watchmen" thing. Better yet, who heals the healers. I like!

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    3. Yeah, I'm liking it too — and the juxtaposition with the preceding piece is uncanny!

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    4. Love it. Also I feel the urge to send this character up to Dan's character just above it who could really use the help I think.

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    5. Dang, late and gotta be a dittohead. :) Really dig it.

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    6. I like the presentation that a sweeper is just as broken as the people he does the job for. He's almost a psychotic or sociopath who's found a twisted way to be a functional, useful member of society.

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  13. I hear the faraway thunder as I write in my journal. Thoughts, words, feelings, none of them are real till I write them down, and by writing them I know I can change them, mold them, break them. Today’s sad story will be transformed to a hero’s victory by the time I’ve edited and re-written. I will be a winner.
    The thunder moves closer as I stretch out on the grass that probably has chemicals and ants and ticks in it but right now it is a heath in Scotland and you can hear bagpipes on the wind. The sheep bleat stubbornly as the dogs keep them close.
    The hair on the back of my neck stands up and FLASH there is a bolt of lightning hitting Coit tower. Wow. The thunder bowls you over. I wonder if I can write the safety of the tower’s visitors into my story.
    The rain falls, gently at first as I close my journal, a few drops dissolving a few words here and there. I wonder if my biographer will know it was rain or if she will think it was my tears? I must write that it was rain. Heroes don’t cry.

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    1. You are so good at endings, Leland. (Ha, come to think of it, in some contexts, that might be a curse!)

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    2. Another winner, Leland. (And this is an off day? Ha!)

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    3. What Maggie said. Seriously.

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    4. You all are very kind. Thank you. I used to hate endings... of all sorts... once I embraced them, life, and my writing became a lot more interesting.

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    5. Dude, that's pretty fucking ace for an off day. ;)

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    6. Hey, you all inspire me... even on off days. Thank you for that.

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  14. Chilling is the only word that comes to my mind at this very moment as I walk into the house under the crime scene tape.

    Blood was everywhere. The trajectory of the arterial spray made it look gruesome. As if someone was swinging everywhere hitting everyone who got in their way.

    My thoughts were with the victims and their families. Nobody should have to witness or go through any of this.

    "Hey Detective. We got something here for you. It looks like the suspect left behind the murder weapon and left us a treat," the crime scene tech said as he showed me the weapon he found lying right by the last victim.

    She was a young woman who had her whole life still ahead of her. Her wallet was splayed on the ground next to her body. It said she was 20 and a student at the local college. Too young for such a beautiful woman to lose her life.

    The other victims were unrecognizable due to how badly they were beaten by the suspect.

    Two of them were an elderly couple down to visit their grandchildren.

    The parents of the young woman were in the bedroom sprawled out on the bed like they had been sleeping when they had been attacked.

    The woman's younger brother was the first to be beaten. He was found next to the front door as if he had answered the door to someone he had known and trusted.

    From what he could see was that this was the work of a serial killer. This wasn't the first family to be found like this in his small country community. They normally didn't see crimes as vicious and as violent as the one in front of him.

    He wanted to find the bastard responsible for these killings. And give him what he deserves, a beating the sam as he gave these families. But the detective couldn't do that. Or else he would lose his job. So he had to follow procedure and make sure the case against the killer was solid and the defense team would not be able to tear it apart in court.

    "Make sure that gets to the lab immediately. I want that print ran against all local, county and state databases as well as any federal ones we have access to. I want this asshole found before he kills anymore families. Got it?" The detective shouted out towards all the crime techs that were processing the scene. "I want this asshole in a jail cell by the end of the shift tonight."

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    1. This is interesting. It almost reads like part of a J.D. Robb mystery.

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  15. He continued to take a sluggish approach to healing. Drinking meditatively through his days. Dragging his feet through every tantric possibility with and without Tempest’s body rippling beneath his. There were no answers or mercy in the cradle of any orifice.

    Gone were the fervent impulses that used to inspire him. The next level for his adventures weren’t going anywhere near the direction he’d hoped or dreamed about. So why dream? Why hope? Because he still lived? Because he breathed? None of his former reveries could be trusted anymore. Those thoughts weren’t lost in his mind now; they were lost in a world that refused to pardon him.

    An absurd undertaking -- living without a heart. He found he even needed a heart to hate.

    So where were all the brains he’d been lauded for all his life and why weren’t they of any use now? If this was a test of his endurance he was failing epically. He could feel what little pieces of his former self that were left, just disappear.

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    1. Tantric possibilities... that's a great name for a collection of short stories... and this one is worthy of inclusion in that collection. Beautifully written.

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  16. “Now you sit still, Daddy, I’m going to tell you a story. The name of the story is Never Again. By me. Once upon a time there was a little princess who lived in a beautiful house in a beautiful town by the sea. She had everything she ever wanted. Fun toys to play with. A very friendly dog. Even a horse that her mama taught her to ride. She didn’t have any brothers or sisters and that was okay.
    Her mama and daddy came to the tea parties she had, and nobody got sticky fingers and nobody ever spilled any tea. They were all very polite and said please and thank you.”
    The little girl paused, and looked up at her daddy before she continued, “Then one night, the little princess got scared. She knew there was a monster in the closet and she screamed for her mommy and daddy to protect her. They told her there was no one in the closet. The next night she screamed again, and they told her there was no such thing as a monster in the closet. Finally, the princess knew she must slay the monster in the closet because no one else would. She found the sharpest knife and hid it under her mattress. When the monster came out she killed the monster, and she lived happily ever after.”
    She poured another cup of pretend tea and politely offered a pretend scone to her daddy. “I wonder if Mommy is going to be able to get those red stains out of your shirt, Daddy. And why do monsters wear shirts? Aren’t you going to say thank you?”

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    1. Creepy creep creepy. Specially since I actually taught my daughter she could kill her own closet monsters. But I never thought of an ending like this!

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    2. Just be sure the knives are locked away...

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    3. Help! Gonna take a while to find the land of sleep tonight. Thanks, Leland. ;)

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    4. This is superbly deft and nuanced. Extremely chilling.

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    5. Yippee ki yay YIKES! That woke me up. Ah Leland that was an interesting and incredibly well written piece of scary.

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    6. I expect if you all are kept awake tonight, you'll be writing? Hmmmm? thanks for the encouraging words!

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    7. Beautifully composed, though I have to wonder if the child is a burgeoning psychotic, or if daddy was doing something he shouldn't...

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  17. Okay, posting in 2 parts The blog may not be broken but darned annoying today, telling me I am over character limit when I am not. Hey, Is that an editorial comment? Sheesh. Anyway this, just for fun.

    Clinton Whitlock and Boyd Allison took their usual table at the diner. They met there every Thursday to solve the problems of the world. Maxine set down coffee without needing to ask, one hand on her hip and the other poised as if to write down an order she already knew by heart.
    “You got that chicken?” Boyd asked, squinting up at her. He claimed the cataract surgery last April had done him wonders, but she wasn’t entirely convinced of it.
    She forced a smile. “We always got chicken, Boyd. You mean with the noodles? Like you always have?”
    “Yeah.”
    She turned. “How ‘bout you, Clinton? You want the BLT?”
    Clinton appeared lost in thought, glancing up at the question as though he hadn’t seen her before. “Huh? What? No. Just coffee.”
    Maxine shrugged and made her way to the kitchen.
    “Ain’t you hungry?”
    Clinton fell silent again, sipping and staring into his cup.
    “You see the article in the paper?” his friend continued, indicating the headline. “I don’t figure they can get away with it, Clinton. Half the county’s gone to hell, what with the roads all tore up and the other half…”
    “Boyd—“ Clinton held up his hand. “I can’t talk about what’s in the paper.”
    Boyd was genuinely puzzled. “Well, what do you want to talk about? We come here every week just to talk, don’t we? Been doing that for upwards of 30 years. Then suddenly today you got nothing to say. You sick or something? Price Rainey’s sick. Got the liver cancer. I hear they opened him up up there at the hospital, then stitched him back up and sent him home. Nothing they could do.”
    Clinton shook his head and passed a hand over his eyes in a way that told Boyd his humor had nothing to do with Price Rainey’s liver.
    Just then, Boyd’s chicken and noodles arrived and not being one to multi-task, he salted and peppered with supreme concentration before picking up his spoon.
    “ You should get you some of this, “ he said around a mouthful. “Good eatin’. Not like that stuff they had over at the Church of Christ fellowship. That was pure-d hog swill.”
    Clinton emptied his cup and glanced around the near empty diner. Maxine’s laughter erupted from the kitchen suddenly, making him jump.
    “Shoot!” Boyd hissed. “What in the hell is wrong with you? You act like you seen a goddamn ghost!”

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  18. Part two:

    “Ghost?” Clinton looked him in the eye, his voice dropping to a whisper. “It ain’t no ghost Boyd. It’s real enough.”
    “What the hell are you talkin’ about?”
    Clinton leaned across the table, crumpling the newspaper between them. “I need your help. And keep it down, you hear me? Or I’ll shoot you right here. I think it’s a…alien. Got it locked up in the barn back at my place.”
    Boyd swallowed. “You got a Mexican back there?”
    Clinton sank wearily back against the booth. “It ain’t no Mexican, Boyd. I ain’t even sure it’s well--human.”

    Now it was Boyd’s turn to lean forward. “What in the holy hell…”
    Clinton silenced him with a wave of his hand. “I lost a couple cows last week, down in the arroyo back of the house.”
    Boyd nodded. “Everybody, seems like. Goddamned drought.”
    “Last night, I’s in the kitchen, washing up. And I seen a weird red light down that way, so I got in the truck and hightailed it over. There was just the one, leaning over a dead calf, like he was kissing it. Only there weren’t no blood. Nothing. Just the dead calf. The--thing started running when it saw me, so I chased it back over the scrub.”
    “What did it look like?”
    Clinton looked at him oddly. “You can see for yourself. I got it locked up back in my barn. Had to hit over the head with a shovel so I could chain it. Still there, too. Least it was when I come here, curled up in a corner like.”
    “Alive?” Boyd asked.
    Clinton nodded. “You gotta help me Boyd; I don’t know what to do.”
    Boyd nodded and threw some bills on thet table before asking for his usual pie. The two men rose and shuffled out, maybe a bit more hurriedly than usual, but it was hard to tell.
    Maxine came to clear the dishes as the cook emerged from the kitchen. Settling her fat behind on a counter stool and fanning her face, watching the two old friends heading out the door.
    “What do you suppose them old geezers have to say to each other after all these years?” she asked, lighting a cigarette.
    Maxine shrugged, dishes clattering in the bus pan as she swiped at the table. “Oh you know,” she replied. “Fighting old wars and beating dead horses, I reckon. What else have old men got to talk about?”

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    1. oh, I like this! perceptions and realities and friendship all in one... this is excellent!

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    2. Yes, and I know everyone says this a lot, but I'd read the continuation.

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    3. What else do they have to talk about indeed. I enjoyed this immensely. :)

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    4. Me too. I'm hooked and would definitely read more.

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    5. I would so love to keep reading about what else they talk about and what good ol' Clinton had locked up in his barn.

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  19. After typing “I didn’t know how else to tell you,” no more words would come, no matter how hard Delilah pressed that mental pencil against the cells in her brain that were supposed to perform those functions. Maybe there was something wrong with her. Maybe in her sleep, the karma skulking around her corners had unhooked her battery, cut her brake lines, slashed her tires. Because she cranked out assignments like this every damned day. Okay, it was a strange freelance gig, but she thrived on the strange, the out-of-kilter, the anything-but-normal. In this world of have what you want when you wanted it, why not throw down a few bucks on PayPal and hire someone to write that break-up letter, to give that bad news, to tell that idiot who wouldn’t leave you alone to take a hike? They were even fun, mostly. How many people were paid, and paid decently, to exorcise the vitriol out of their heads? Her husband didn’t make much; it was nice to have a few bucks of her own; and because she’d never see her clients, or the results of her work—all was carefully monitored to shield the writers’ identities—it was relatively easy. But the screen where she was supposed to load her latest assignment remained blank. Hoping for another blast of inspiration, she reread her instructions: “Want to ask my wife for a divorce, she’s always working, I fell in love with someone else, really crappy with words.” Yeah, that didn’t help. In fact, it just made Delilah angry. The light stuff, the snarky stuff, the hey-roomie-take-a-shower-once-in-awhile stuff, that was fun. It was an act of kindness, if you looked at it a certain way. But when it got heavy like this? Now it just felt wrong. Damn it. She’d already claimed the assignment, so she had to file or lose ranking points. But this was the last one. She’d be happy to write about bad breath and chewing with your mouth open and PDA, but no more missives about shit getting this real. So she sucked in a breath and began typing a version of Breakup Template #3. When it shaped itself into something she could almost live with, she pressed the submit button and went straight for the wine. Two glasses later, her husband working late, she followed up to make sure the deposit had gone into her account. Then checked her email. The first message began, “Dear Delilah, I didn’t know how else to tell you…”

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    1. Poor Delilah, what a nightmare!

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    2. That's seriously effed up. Delilah needs to introduce the wine bottle to his head.

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    3. Ohmigosh.... this is brilliant!

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    4. As soon as I read "Her husband was working late" I got it! Perfection.

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  20. Forgive me for not remembering the cleft in your chin; the gap in your teeth, the shadow of your smile. I only knew the way your six –four frame could crowd a tiny room like a space too brightly lit. I recall only the touch of your hand, strong, with philosopher’s knots on the knuckles, clean fingernails trimmed too close to the edge.
    You took no prisoners, you accepted no friends. Like satellites, we gravitated, inexorably drawn to the energy of this new-found sun/son.
    You rose up like a savior, and yet you repelled us. Like the dead, the closer we came, the further we drifted, afraid to get close to your dangerous fire.
    All or nothing: Nothing or all. Now or never;you preached like some angel before the fall
    I once wondered what you saw in me, but you never really saw me at all.
    I was your mirror, your sometime lover, faithfully answering your single question: Who’s the fairest of them all?
    I am the pretender who worshipped at your altar; I collected your tears and wrote down your tales. I listened to your fears and kept you going.
    You rock star, you bastard, you blessed anamoly.
    I did not love you; but something like it. I only wanted to know what you knew.
    And when I’d collected that sweet information, I recalled that I never actually wanted to actually be you.
    But your secrets are safe with me, my friend.
    And mine are safe with you.
    I will never confess my sins out loud
    And your ego is such that neither will you.
    So forgive me if you cannot see yourself in these tales I’ve written, right here, right now.
    I don’t know how I became myself. But no one taught me how.
    Memory is oddly capricious, I’ve forgotten your eyes; the cleft of your chin.
    I wanted to be seen but you never noticed
    Anything but your own reflection
    And no narrator is omniscient in the end.

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    1. ahhhh... all is beautiful, but talk about a great last line!

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  21. It’s been thirty years since our bodies folded into each other like paper cranes, white on one side, foil on the other. Your eyes, pale blue, still haunt me when I close my own eyes and remember.
    The dimples that punctuated your smile, always lower on one side than the other. The way you held my hand like it was a lifeline when you cried. Your fingers wrote sonnets on my skin, goosebumps lifting so they might be read in Braille.
    I forgot to breathe when we kissed.
    Our bodies fit together like puzzle pieces, exactly the same size, exactly the same shapes, arranged in so many different ways. We shared shirts, and jeans, and underwear, but never shoes. Your shoes were too hard to walk in, even then.
    As we grow old, some thousands of miles, some thousands of days apart from each other, these are the words I shall remember you by. You took all the verbs from my life the day you left. Imagine living thirty years with only nouns.

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    1. I like it. Passion and separation are closely linked here, and well played.

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  22. The streets called out a siren song, to a bunch of angry, disenfranchised no-hopers. The trashy white boys, the Mexicans with nowhere else to go, the black orphan kids who never really stood a chance. They had survived for years, but weren’t really living. They did what they had to do, took what they needed and beat down whoever stood in the way.

    This particular clique was just one of dozens, scattered across the United States. From San Francisco to New York, Chicago to Houston, it was open season. By June 2024, a state of emergency was declared in the District of Columbia, because people were openly fighting the police and National Guard, gunning down any Congressperson stupid enough to not flee the city. More than a few of them even turned on their commanding officers, either because they no longer believed in their mission, or simply because they feared for their lives.

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    1. Sounds almost like an apocalyptic type story you have going here sir. I would love to read more of this.

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    2. It could go that way... would actually be interesting, if certain stubborn elements in the government turned the US nuclear arsenal on its own people as a last-ditch effort to quell rebellion. (That's how you can tell I'm a child of the 80s: when I think apocalypse, I still think nuclear war.)

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  23. Just one moment passed. In the blink of an eye. In the breath of the moment. And you were gone. I could no longer hear the voice of yours whispering to me. Telling me of the pain I caused you. Of the hurt and disgust you felt when I was no longer me.

    I wanted to be you. Always you. You were the warmth brought in from the outside into my only darkness. Mom always said so. Dad thought you smelled like the rain. I thought you smelled like hope and home and chocolate chip cookies.

    The comfort I felt when you came into my room and snuggled in was immeasurable. I knew there wasn't an iota of conscious thought crawling inside me during those times.

    But now. I sit here and realize how gone you really are. How gone I am.

    The only thing I would ever change about any moment spent with you, was me.

    And now, you can move on with your life. You don't have to breathe in the putrid vileness of me. I won't permeate your life with my habits and ghosts.

    One last blink and my memory will always be of you. Don't cry for me. I never cried for you.

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  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  25. It was late. Stars twinkled, strung out on a black velvet sky, a dense swath of them glowing like a river running from the northeast to the southwest. Outside the ocean rolled, creating a murmuring whisper. The minutes passed slowly, dragging along.

    Beside her, he had not relaxed into the the softness of sleep. She glanced over at him see his eyes open, dark pools in his face, watching her.

    "You're not sleeping," she murmured.

    "Nor you."

    "Hmmmm..." she hummed in response. "I know I am dreaming."

    He nodded, a pale shadow surrounded by his long, loose hair.

    "If you are not sleeping, you must be finding the duties of Captain strenuous."

    He shrugged.

    "You must miss me as much as I miss you to be here," she said.

    "It's not my dream."

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    1. This is a really cool piece. I really like the construction, the rolling "lost at sea" tone of the prose. Really cool play. Awesome last line.

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  26. Dreary and wet was the road ahead of me as I drove down the dark and curvy road. I had just left my usual place of happiness on a Friday night. I had my usual steak and potatoes with a beer for dinner. Now I was headed home to my family for the weekend and the beginning of a long deserved vacation away from my diesel. Don't get me wrong, I love my job. The sights I get to see every week as I travelled the country hauling all sorts of different products for several different companies. Sometimes I caught the dock manager loading up government equipment to be hauled to the different military bases across the nation. Today had been no different, I had to haul a load from Texas to Florida and try to make it back to Texas before my I missed my flight back to California where my family was. I missed my kids every week. At least I get to see them on the weekends. It was part of my contract with the company I hauled for, But tonight's trip back to Texas would be hectic. A storm was brewing off the coast of Louisiana and would hit my road right as I would be leaving New Orleans. I told my boss over the radio what was going on and to see if he could have a plane pick me up in Florida instead so that I wouldn't have to drive through the mess. But he said that the earliest he could get me one would be in the morning and I would have to divert to Atlanta to be picked up. I was already on the road from Saint Petersburg to Houston after dropping off my load at the Air Force base in Tampa and then stopping in Saint Petersburg to pick up my paycheck from the district office. I told him I was just getting on the Interstate 10 outside of Pensacola after getting dinner. He said he was sorry but that I will have to either catch a commercial flight or divert to Atlanta and wait till morning to be taken back to Houston. Now I am going to miss out on the possibility of going on vacation with my family for the first time in years all because of a single storm....

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  27. I have become addicted! You ALL are to blame!

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