Friday, September 4, 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. 

Delron had a genuine electric guitar. He always called it Jen-You-Wine. We were always jealous. It was a pawn shop princess. It never stayed in tune, and it was ugly, but it was an electric guitar, and you could play that shit loud. We beat on old acoustics and tried to do them proud.

No one ever really knew where the fake Strat came from. Just the same way we never knew how come Delron suddenly had the newest shoes. The coolest bike. We all lived in the same hood. We all knew each others' business - with that one exception. Where the hell was the magic Santa that visited Delron's randomly during the year? And then we found out.

See, Joey woke up one night, late, because he heard a car door slam. And be damned if it wasn't our Principal, Mr. Spencer. It was dark, but no one had a car like him. If thrift stores sold cars, they'd sell cars like Spencer's.

Delron's Daddy came back from the war a week later, and it was like he never left - once the yelling stopped. And the next morning, there was a pile of treasure at the curb with a sign that said 'free'. We didn't question it - while the other kids wrestled with the bike and playstation, I grabbed that guitar like it was a life raft. And it turned out to be just that.




  1. Whoa....that's powerful stuff... the mystery of what goes on behind closed doors, partially revealed.

    1. Nancy DeCilio GauthierSeptember 4, 2015 at 9:05 AM

      Wow, Dan, I had to read it twice for it to fully sink in and that's saying a lot. Wow.

    2. Such a great piece. The stories you manage to tell in so few's amazing to me.

    3. " while the other kids wrestled with the bike and playstation, I grabbed that guitar like it was a life raft." End effin' scene. Brilliant. The other brilliant, true to life, scarier that fiction line : "Delron's Daddy came back from the war a week later, and it was like he never left - once the yelling stopped." That is so like it was and probably not because it was like he never left. More like he never returned. #mta

    4. Love! and well UGH. I got it right away, but wanted a shower. Which is to say LOVE the writing and WTF? It's been that kind of week of duh! secrets coming out. Some mercifully fictional, others? Not so much....

  2. “Do you suppose,” the little boy asked me, “that ants have different religions?”

    “I’m not sure what you mean.”

    He pointed to the sunflower that towered over us as we ate our picnic. “Look. See how that ant climbs the hairy stalk until it branches, and then turns to the left branch? And that one, at the same spot, turns right?”

    I hadn’t even noticed the ants on the sunflower.

    “When they get to the sunflower at the end of the branch, do they shout at each other and say, ‘My heaven is better than yours!’?”

    While I struggled for an answer, he continued, “Or do you think that the ants are smart enough to enjoy whichever sunflower they find?”

    “You mean ants might not be saying ‘Follow me! My way is the best?”

    The little boy nodded.

    We watched the ants drink the nectar in the centers of their golden heavens.

    After an hour of careful study, we saw not one ant carry a sword, a holy book, nor animosity.

    “Do you think,” he asked me, “that one day we might be as wise as the ants?”

    I had no answer.

    1. Nancy DeCilio GauthierSeptember 4, 2015 at 9:09 AM

      ....and a child shall lead them. Great story, Leland.

    2. Thank you so much! and yes... much wisdom from children, if only we listen.

    3. You remind me of my favorite ant, Adam. ;)

    4. Oh, loved it. Thank you. "We watched the ants drink the nectar at the centers of their golden heavens."

    5. Nice way to look at it, Leland.

    6. An excellent example of "from the mouths of babes".

  3. Mateo woke up, still half drunk, shortly after midnight, to the whole house shaking with the sound of a battering ram breaking down the front, and maybe the back, doors. He muttered, “Pinche cerdos…” as he put on his pants, strapped on a Bowie knife, bandolier, and grabbed his shotgun from where it leaned against the nightstand. As jackbooted feet tromped over the threshold, he loaded the shotgun, grabbed a pistol, and opened his bedroom door. Raising the shotgun to his shoulder, Mateo cautiously, silently headed down the hall.

    Within seconds, he was joined by Jacob, also shirtless but armed with a baseball bat and pistol. The hall was empty, but they could hear movement downstairs. Two doors down, Jacob softly knocked on another door, before opening it. Inside, Luanne was loading an Uzi; she glanced up and the cold, angry look in her eyes said it all. She was the house gunsmith, the technically-savvy one who knew how to take a legal crippled weapon and modify it into a fully-automatic sub-machinegun or assault rifle. Luanne was tired, scared, and pissed off, so anyone on the wrong side of that Uzi was likely to get stitched full of bullets.

    The next few minutes were a horrific blur of shouting and gunfire. “FREEZE, FBI!” “FUCK YOU!” BLAM BLAM! BUDDADABUDDADABLOW! “Shit!” BOOM, CHTK-CHUK, BOOM! POP POP POP! “Ah shit! I’m hit!” KCH-PLOPK! “Oh god!”

    Tim hung back at first. He would like to make like he was strategizing, waiting for an opportune moment to engage the enemy, but really, it was just as much that he was scared. But when that moment arrived, he didn’t falter. He leaned out with his Beretta and opened fire, dropping the last two feds with well-placed shots in the sides, where their vests didn’t cover.

    After a brief moment, the squatters relaxed nominally. “Yo, everyone okay?” Mateo lowered his shotgun, but as he fed more shells into the tube, he moaned, “aw, dude, they shot up the TV, man!” Jacob snapped back, “fuck the TV, man! Ray got hit!”

    Raymond was on the rough plywood floor, with a nasty hole in his side from a pig’s M4, his pistol still in hand. Luanne blurted, “Fuck!”, set her Uzi on the coffee table, and knelt down beside her little brother. “Shit! One of y’all, go grab the fuckin’ first aid kit out the bathroom! NOW, nigga!”

  4. Once she had her cobbled-together set of medical supplies, she had Tim lend an extra set of hands while she hastily cleaned the wound, and stitched it up. “Aight, I think you’ll be okay, for now. We gonna keep an eye on you, don’t trip about being tough. We’d rather drop you at the ER than let you die, aight?”

    Ray smiled weakly and replied, “Yea, aight, thanks…” Toshio and Mateo carried him back to his room; they were only minorly wounded, the odd bruise and nick.

    Meanwhile, they had twelve dead or seriously wounded cops scattered around, bleeding out on the already-dirty floors. Tim asked of no one in particular, “the fuck are we gonna do with all them?”

    Luanne replied, “oh, I know exactly what we gonna do with these motherfuckers.”

    In the wee hours of the pre-dawn morning, they went around the neighborhood, displaying the bodies of dead and dying lawmen on stakes, with handwritten signs saying things like, “Behold your martyrs and despair, oppressors. The will of the people will not be crushed,” and “This is what happens to peons, flunkies, and sycophants of the kyriarchy.” In some cases, the signs were nailed directly to the chests of the dead men, tinging the paper reddish-brown with clotted blood.

    Even after the cleaning was done, they didn’t sleep. They couldn’t. They stayed awake, drinking coffee and Red Bull, taking turns keeping an eye on Raymond, and guarding the broken-down doors. It was too early to go to the Emeryville Home Depot and buy new doors and hardware, but they feared a second wave.

  5. “Ayo, Jake, you know this chick?” Tim showed Jacob a Facebook photo of a nice-looking black girl, and continued, “says she’s 21, from the HP…”

    Jacob fixed his friend with a withering glare. “What, you think all black people know each other?” He glared unsmiling for maybe a second or three, before smiling and adding, “Naw, I’m playin’, cuz. I went to high school with that chick, AND our parents went to the same church.”

  6. He wanted to climb that mountain. He grew up in its shadow, gazed at its summit, and imagined the cool water of its streams.

    “You’d be a fool to try it,” his father said.

    “I think you’re better suited to gardening,” his mother said.

    Still he stared at the craggy sides of the mountain..

    Spring came. When the last blizzard left, and the snow melted, he and his mother planted the seeds for squash, and corn, and peas, and beans. Spinach and lettuce, too. Their green shoots pierced the soil as his parents’ doubts pierced his heart.

    “I want to plant sunflowers,” he said.

    “Growing season’s too short,” his mother said.

    It was hard for him to thin the plants as they grew larger. He felt like a killer, pulling the young sprouts that were insurance, in case neighboring seeds did not grow. But he did it.
    “If you don’t pull the weak ones, or if you leave them crowded, none of them will be healthy,” his mother said.

    He wondered if his mother was speaking of the plants or of him.

    Pulling weeds was hard for him, too. Not all of them. Ragweed and the Russian thistle were of no benefit to anyone, but the dandelions, with their yellow blossoms that grew into fluff, what harm were they? Or the hairy stalked plant in the corner of the garden, the plant with heart-shaped leaves. The plant he could not bring himself to kill, and the one he hoped his mother didn’t notice.

    Summer’s heat came early that year, and one morning as he cleaned the last of the now unproductive peas from the garden, he saw it. The weed was blooming. A sunflower. It was so beautiful! So golden!

    He called for his mother to see it.

    “It’s very pretty, dear,” she said. “I’m not sure how we missed seeing it all spring.” And she pulled it from the ground.

    “I’m going to climb the mountain.”

    “Wheelchairs aren’t made for climbing, my son. Stick to gardening. Pull the weeds.”

    1. Nancy DeCilio GauthierSeptember 4, 2015 at 9:15 AM

      That was deeply emotional when she mentioned the wheelchair.
      Almost heartbreaking when the mother pulled out the Sunflower. They could have harvested the seeds as a food source - sigh.

    2. This just hurts my heart. I'd love to see the other side of this--what he could do and what he could become if he'd been lifted up instead of weighted down by his parents words and actions. :(

    3. Or perhaps his parents' disdain pushed him to new heights... perhaps he became a mountain climber after all... or maybe a drunk... you get to write the next chapter in your head.

    4. Awww. I love sunflowers. Maybe he joined a group that helps disabled climb mountains.

    5. You had me at thinning the seedlings. I'm TERRIBLE at it and always wind up putting them somewhere else. Hey! Transplanting works metaphorically. Of course, if you don't you wind up with another kind of mountain... and if anybody needs any squash? Zucchini? PattyPan" Yellow crookneck? Lemme Know! Free shipping! :) Good piece!

    6. Thanks, y'all... and Teresa, don't make me tell you about the time I was caught by a Denver policeman (when I lived in Denver) putting bags of zucchini into parked, unlocked cars....

  7. Nancy DeCilio GauthierSeptember 4, 2015 at 9:06 AM

    The sights and sounds and smells are what you wake up to every day. The wind flapping the tents, the gritty sand ever present. The smell of the camels. This has been your world for your 12 years of life. Ever wandering in this harsh limitless desert. Your parents never really explain the why of the life of the tribe. You just learn the rules - the religious rites and taboos. You obey as that's all you know. Your instinctive gut tells you it's important; but you don't know the whole story. Your parents do say it was this way for their whole life time. But there are elders of the tribe who speak of a previous life. They speak in harsh whispers and it's hard to fathom every word and it hardly makes sense to your young mind. There was some excitement yesterday. Scouts came back with their eyes lit up and they called a meeting with the elders. Could this be the long awaited promise that's always whispered about. Then the leader of the tribe calls a meeting - with everyone - even from the youngest new born to the oldest of the tribe. His words are another mystery. but you start to understand. He says we have finally reached out goal. He also says he won't be coming with us as we cross over; but his brother will lead us. Moses, the leader has spoken and Aaron steps up to take the next step after 40 years of hoping and wishing, it has finally come to pass. Into the Promised land.

    1. Ohhh... I like the drama you've created, and the way you've told it... second person is powerful here. Nicely done!

    2. Nancy DeCilio GauthierSeptember 4, 2015 at 11:28 AM

      Thank You Leland,

    3. I could see this so well. I've always felt sorry for Moses.

    4. Moses, Martin Luther King. That story sticks, doesn't it?

  8. Once upon a time, she used to dance along sunlit paths. She would throw her arms wide and throw her head back, letting the golden waves wash over her, warming her right through to her very soul. She would revel in that warmth and in the way that golden light would transform all it touched, making the mundane extraordinary and turning bland to exquisite.

    But the sun hasn't shone for a long, long time. Some days it tries to push it's way past dark clouds, but so far they have proved impenatrable. Most days, there isn't even a hope of sun; most days there's only dark gloomy skies, distant thunder, and heat lightning, the world a steamy, soupy mess desperately in need of that golden light to burn away the darkness and damp and return her world to paradise.

    1. I've known weeks like that... this is rich in its descriptions, and in its despondency and hope...

    2. Nancy DeCilio GauthierSeptember 4, 2015 at 9:22 AM

      Presage of things to come - scary.

  9. Nancy DeCilio GauthierSeptember 4, 2015 at 9:20 AM

    Presage of things to come - scary.

    1. Nancy DeCilio GauthierSeptember 4, 2015 at 9:24 AM

      Entered in the wrong place - ignore. I don't know how to delete it - sorry,

  10. Dan would do just about anything for charity. But not that. His wife, though, she was a collector of things, of people, of causes; when the earnest young man in a white shirt and tie sniffed her out of the crowd at the mall and said all proceeds would be donated to the federation of concerned citizens to save humanity, or the humane federation of concern, Barbara whipped out her checkbook faster than PETA could write a press release.

    “Oh, relax, honey,” she said, fixing her hair and makeup. “One meeting with a candidate. One handshake. What could it hurt?”

    Words swirled through Dan’s head, sputtering across his tongue. “Do you…but you…do you know who that is?”

    She pressed her fists into her hips. “Yeah. And so what? Do you know how much money he donates to worthy causes every year?”

    “I don’t have the latest figures, but you…you work with kids. He preaches all this ‘family values’ crap and rails on about the evils of marriage equality, but he… Barb, can you really afford to be seen with him?”

    “Allegations,” she sniffed. “Trumped-up charges by bitter people who want to keep their precious jobs in Big Oil. Here. Hold my purse.”

    Without waiting for an answer, she shoved it at him and joined the line beside the velvet rope. He knew that stride. It was one that refused to hear his arguments.

    Dan sighed, and watched the candidate press the flesh and smile. He wondered how much that suit cost; how much he’d paid for that neat, Ken-doll haircut. The guy looked a little less arrogant in person, though. And when Dan tilted his head a certain way, when the man turned to the right and nodded at someone and a grin pushed crinkles around his eyes, he almost seemed…concerned. Like he really cared about the pothole at the intersection of Main and Willow, the intersection of personal liberties and the public good.

    Maybe Dan had been a little harsh on her. It wasn’t like they couldn’t afford a donation, or two, or three, and it saved them a little money come tax time. What the candidate had offered in exchange, that was what worried him.

    Finally it was her turn with the man, and half a dozen flunkies, it seemed, whipped out their cell phone cameras at once. The candidate slipped an arm around her, leaned close as if to whisper something, and her cheeks flushed.

    With a final handshake, she came back to Dan’s side.

    She said nothing as she settled her purse back over her shoulder. She offered him nothing as they walked toward the car.

    “What did he say?” Dan finally asked.

    “Can we please just go home?”

    He stopped. His hands tightened into fists, and the thought of propelling one into those white, even teeth distressed him. “Barb. What. Did. He. Say?”

    “He thanked me for his support.” She sniffed. “Then he said he’d donate a million dollars to feed starving children in Syria if I told him where I bought my shoes.”

    1. Nancy DeCilio GauthierSeptember 4, 2015 at 10:53 AM


    2. and THIS is brilliant! You made me howl! Thanks so much!

    3. This is BEAUTIFUL! I can SO see certain candidates... well never mind. But GREAT!

  11. She gathered the posters, threw them in the trash. Maybe, giving a darn had been a little rash. They'd started a movement, with those of like mind, making a hashtag with three simple words.

    They'd worked on those words, hard and long. Established to uphold, not demean or offend, but you know good intentions are like spit in the wind. Made to garner the deserved equality, without bashing another. To be seen, to be heard, to be valued, to cause a positive everlasting change. To be seen as human- not family but at least an earthly brother.
    A tag, a movement, they thought said it all. Positive strides made, people joined, posting the tag, shouting their call... Hate intervened. The small group was noticed, yes, and heard- destroy it became the national word. Fear mongering spread and before they knew it, people- mistrusting were wishing them dead.

    Misunderstanding, propaganda, lies and deceit. Of course, the usual way to stop change on the street.
    It's so much easier to spread hate and discord, than to spread love and understanding with the use of a word.
    What does matter?

    1. Nancy DeCilio GauthierSeptember 4, 2015 at 12:54 PM

      Sadly, too true.

    2. It matters... and words are the way to change, too... this very piece reminds us of that. Thank you.

    3. I've struggled with this same question most of my life. Who wins? The ones who are brave enough to effect change? Or the rhetoric spinners? Just let it teach you how powerful words really are.


    He was an inveterate liar. If he opened his mouth to speak, lies flew out like buzzers dispossessed from their hornet’s nest.

    “This here leg? It’s my second, Boy. First one got eaten up by termites just before the log cabin walls tumbled down and I barely escaped with my life. I was hopping mad, I can tell you.”

    “Grandpa, are you lying?” I asked him.

    He laughed. “If I’m lying I’m dying.” Then he laughed again. You could almost hear the cogs in his brain moving as he dreamed up another story. “And that time I forgot to pull up the emergency brake on my brand new black Cadillac Seville and the darn car rolled forward and disappeared down a deep sinkhole in Alabama. Years later some poacher retrieved it and claimed it for himself. A whole week I planned to kill him, but then my old Uncle Howie gave me his Lincoln and I let the thief live.”

    But the worst lie that old man told me was to have me believe all those growing-up years he was my grandfather. “Your daddy’s daddy,” he said. “Can you see the resemblance in the eyes?” Which meant nothing to me since my old man left for parts known only to him soon as my ma died of the fever.

    So many times he’d tell me, “I love you, Boy.” For years now since the last time he was lying was in a casket made of pine, I wonder if he really did love me. Still, when others talk meanness about him, cruel things about the dead, I defend him and say with questionable pride, “My grandpa was an honest man.”


    1. Nancy DeCilio GauthierSeptember 4, 2015 at 12:57 PM

      I can see this happening in a family dynamic; even if only between a grandfather and a grandson.

    2. Beautiful in so many ways... and the pun with "lying" in a casket made me smile. I enjoyed this. Thank you.

    3. This is SO AWESOME. and he taught you how to tell a story, whoever he was...

    4. This old man is purely flash fiction. My grandfather never lied!

  13. The buck-toothed girl looked up from her books. “There's a demon called Malev. He's a good contender. He's...

    “..eight foot two with three horns equispaced about his head, four eyes and a bifurcated tail.” The pretty blonde girl with the ankle boots and the implausibly short skirt sashayed into the library. “He's dead. I killed him a week ago. Can't you guys keep up? I mean, it's not like you do the hard work.” She counted quietly to five and then kicked the appropriate body bag in the line of them arrayed up the passageway leading to the cellar where no-one went. “Here ya go. You haven't even tagged him yet. You'd better get a move on else he might decompose before ya get round to classifying him. These dead demons don't last forever.”

    “Hmm.” Laurel slammed the tome closed again, blinking when the dust cloud shot forward into her face. “Can you fetch me the next volume, Wilks? It's the one with the goat-eyed satyr on the cover. The Prophecies of Sybil of Cumae, I think it is.”

    The mature-but-not-elderly librarian chewed his lower lip, mumbling under his breath in a notably English accent until he found the correct book, sliding it reverently out from the shelf. “Got it ma'am,” he said. “You want the next one too? You must have enough room on that table for another half dozen.” He shot a narrow-eyed look back at the nerd girl, tallying the number of discarded volumes she'd still not returned to the shelves. He was going to be here another hour after they finished. Nobody ever took anything back. Anyone would think they were in a boutique trying on clothes. Damned kids. No respect for anything, especially their elders. When he was their age, back in Blighty...

    The fourth member of the group ambled languidly into the room, sliding along the wall rather than devote his whole energy into standing up. Wilks sighed and waited for the organ tone to mark the start of the credits. Maybe he'd have time to straighten his tweed jacket before the main section of the program began. Not that the majority of the audience even noticed he was here. He was just a facilitator supporting the rest of the cast - who were all at least twenty years younger than him. He could wait. He'd pick up his fan base when the program became fashionable in another ten years or so.

    1. Nancy DeCilio GauthierSeptember 4, 2015 at 2:17 PM

      Reminds me of a series I was watching on TV - The Librrarians - LOL.

  14. If she can see her reflection in the snow covered hill, the landslide couldn't possibly bring her down. By my estimation, that would've been an avalanche. Why has nobody ever caught this?!

    1. Thank you! When I first Heard that Dylan was the "poet of our generation" I thought, "Man! we're in trouble!"

    2. I think Stevie was below the snowline. Also, if we're gonna nitpick, wouldn't it be a shadow not a reflection? ;)

  15. I don't feel regret about my first-born son. His begetting was fun, his gestation a huge learning experience, and his life a trail of love and more learning. I feel loss, an empty gulf that yawned open when the realization hit me that he really was gone. I feel pain, that someone I worked so hard for, answered endless questions for, did everything I could and more that I never thought capable of for is gone.

    There is no waste. His life taught others, shared with others, cared for others. He was an experience even as he was gathering experience about life.

    There will never be anyone else exactly like him, though his loves and hates, affinities and avoidances, humor and joy and sorrow are all shared by others to varying degrees. His particular combination is unique.

    I looked down at his still, pale face. The mortician's hand was quite good, but could not quite hide the bruises that had blossomed before he'd drawn his last breath. His hands, so quiet at his sides, with all the little mementos tucked into them by family and friends, were whole. No broken bones were visible. No horrific damage could be seen, though there had been enough damage to end his life.

    What delicate creatures we are. One man may survive a hundred foot fall, while another is dashed in a car accident and lost forever. That was my son's end, the auto accident. He was driving home late after taking the man he helped to the airport. He had dropped off his charge and was returning home when he'd nodded off and swerved into an oncoming car. Poof - he had shaken loose his mortal coil.

    Not before he knew pain. Not before the heart had pushed blood trough all those broken vessels to blacked his face with bruises that he would wear to the grave.

    I'd been given the gentle lie. "It was instantaneous. He didn't feel a thing." Unfortunately, I'm too intelligent to let it lie. Bruises don't happen after the heart stops. Livor mortis drains is all into the lowest area of the body. Blood already released into the tissues stays there, patiently staining the flesh and making the onlooker's eyes shy away.

    There were so many people to say goodbye to him. Community leaders from three different faiths who managed to stay polite and openly fight over his immortal soul. It never belonged to any of them regardless of who tried to claim it. God would not care how my son came to him, only that he had. I can't see Peter keeping a ledger with hash marks and keeping track for the title of Recruiter of the Most Souls.

    There were tears. There were sighs. Mine would come later.

    I reached out to touch my son's flesh. I wanted the psychological proof of his emptiness. I had not done this with my mother, and still I expect her to call me now and again. It is tortuous. His skin was chill, but not cold. It was nothing, like touching a peice of meat from the butcher. There was no life, no energy to it. Nothing. He was no longer inhabiting the remains.

    A sigh escaped me. Some burden of fear that he might be trapped in there and buried alive, or screaming for help when no one could hear lifted from my shoulders like a cloak.

    I turned away from the casket. There was nothing here for me now. I could go somewhere to be alone and grieve without restrictions. What I could not show in public, the breakdown I refused to expose my other children to, could now be released at a proper time and place.

    Funerals and burials and monuments are for the living, not the dead. The dead are beyond caring.

    1. Ann, this is heartbreaking and beautiful... thank you for sharing.

    2. Oh God.Having lost a child? Under completely different circumstances?I can't even...But yes. there is at least some closure in what you've expressed about what happens when we shuffle off our "earth suits". You are very brave. My heart to yours.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. Nancy DeCilio GauthierSeptember 5, 2015 at 4:21 AM

      Heartbreaking. Hugs.

  16. I do not believe in magic, only in mystery. The energy that courses through a vast universe, the way atoms with a common history need only be measured to inform the others, bound by the subtle, inexorable laws of creation. Einstein called it spooky, this entanglement of existence that cares not about time and distance; I call it God. And yet we struggle to define and redefine the limits of our lives in a limitless universe; to measure that which becomes what we say. I have no doubt that we are each as spooked as Einstein was by it all. Why else do we strain to define our differences, convinced that rich and poor, black and white, man and woman, old and young, are so fundamentally different?

    And yet, here in this town of my childhood, the citizens dance an endless dance of creation, of attraction and repulsion, endlessly preoccupied with births and dying and debts and divorces and all the dramas and diseases in between. When things are wrong we blame bad luck or curse the innocent weather. We do our yoga and say our prayers, not daring to imagine more than a hometown football championship or a chance at the lottery. We remain, willingly, blessedly blind to the stardust that makes us, not seeing that these measurements we use to define us are ceaselessly creating all that we know. We seek some refuge in the dependable pleasantries of our conventions-- our manners, our unspoken secrets; never suspect the malice that lurks in an ordinary smile. Or that the sameness we strive to keep from ourselves is the sameness growing monsters in our midst. And so we remain, strangely predictable, sure that we know about darkness and light. Content perhaps, with such vain superstition when knowledge becomes too risky to bear.

    Here at my desk, I face a laptop screen. Emily Anderson didn’t come home from school today, though they wouldn’t begin looking for several hours. I know nothing of it but the knowledge is deep and cannot be denied. Instead, I see myself as a second-grader, half asleep from all I’ve learned by rote, staring out the window, as she must have, into the golden, mote-filled light of a September afternoon. All that is the present dissolves and I am sitting at scratched, gum-gobbed school desk; there at the parochial school that used to be on 10th street. The building is long gone, but not its lessons, for I am truly made of the stuff they used to measure me.
    How do we know there is a God?
    Because it is a mystery.
    How do we know what we are to believe?

    1. Ahhh... the eternal question, and this piece is a great set up for asking... are you going to expand it? or let it speak as is?

    2. It speaks for itself, but it might also be a wonderful opening to a character in search of meaning and answers.

  17. My contribution keeps getting caught in the spam trap, which is amusing: It's about website spam comments. :D

    1. And they say the universe has no sense of humor I hope you get past it eventually!

  18. This one's a sequel of sorts.

    The night brought storms unforeseen.

    The fugitive women lay more awake than not as the branches whipped like the tails of some wild vermin infestation and rocks cracked and detonated on the cliff face. The rains when they arrived were a deluge, and the tired women chose to saddle up and move on.

    They moved north and climbed steadily, hoping to find a track around the bluff to their left. Whichever way they leaned, the stinging rain seemed aimed at them, the three women and their horses, and it was like walking in a dream dreamed by a fabulist.

    "We'll be caught," Ashlyn said into the raw throat of the raging night, and though her companions didn't hear her words, they read her tone and nodded along with the horses, six heads slung low against the gale and dripping with the night plain's sorrow.

    A new companion joined them by the name of hunger and after a while spent ignoring him they eventually stopped to dig in their packs. They ate quickly under the sharp dark arrowheads of rain, then hauled their weighty, saturated bodies onto their stoic mounts and continued plodding north.

    "We need a good thing to happen." Clara spoke into the tempest and only her horse seemed to hear her and nodded forlornly in long-suffering agreement.

    Ashlyn kept her head down and the relentless gusts snatched at Emilia's breath.

    The sun would be climbing over the eastern rim of the plains soon, but its grand arrival would likely be muted in such a squall. Yet as dejection seemed to move in and make room in their hearts, the world's caprice reasserted itself and the storm was gone in an instant, leaving a stillness more profound than the Anasazi graves over which they trekked.

    Something brightened to the east and they thought it the sun.

    Emilia spoke. "What the living fu—?"

    The women and the horses stopped to comprehend a new thing. The air crackled as if electric gods were toying with their creation. Something huge, like a brain or a jellyfish hung over the prairie. Like a vast gelatinous parasol, orange in the growing dawn, it moved like bloody kelp in the sky, and its red fronds hung below, predatory veils clustered with bluish toxins, great bird traps glowering with menace in the gathering morn. In all the eastern dome of the world, white sheetlightning flashed silent with distance and the little wolves of the plain melted and slunk every which way.

    The horses stutter-stepped, skittish as lambs in wolf country, and the women, afraid as they were, soothed them with hushes and touch.

    Ashlyn dismounted and spoke first. "It's lightning."

    "Ain't no kind of lightning I ever saw," said Clara.

    "Me neither, but I remember my momma speaking of it. She called it a sprite."

    Clara looked at her. "Still don't mean a whole lot to me."

    "She said it meant a clean slate, a new beginning."

    "Old wives tales?" Emilia laughed nervously.

    "Old widows tales, more like." All three women smiled at that and let the silence wrap itself around them.

    The elder god hung in the eastern sky, vast as the dreams of giants, and began to pale as the sun broke the horizon at last.

    After a while, Clara said quietly, "Maybe it's that good thing needed to happen."

    "Let's keep riding," said Ashlyn.

    1. Just stunning... how you do that... I've been reading about Van Gogh and his sunflowers.. and his thoughts on color... your piece makes me think the same but with words... well done.

    2. Not claiming even one tenth of one percent of his genius, but I've always felt a kinship with Vince! Something about the way he perceived the world, a kind of synesthesia, maybe?

    3. You have some brilliant description here (no surprise, that), and I love the symbolism there at the end. This could easily be a bit of a much larger story, yet feels compete in itself. Nicely done. :)

    4. You have some brilliant description here (no surprise, that), and I love the symbolism there at the end. This could easily be a bit of a much larger story, yet feels compete in itself. Nicely done. :)

    5. Thank you, Laura. The older I get, the more feminist I seem to become! And yes, the symbolism happened during the writing, unplanned, which is the best feeling, really. :)

    6. Nancy DeCilio GauthierSeptember 5, 2015 at 4:26 AM

      Rich imagery. The story can expand in so many ways.

  19. I may have missed the first part, but the sequel ROCKS!

    1. Oh, Teresa, thank you! I don't want to commandeer Dan's blog, but here's the first part I wrote all the way back in May 2014! Thanks to this Friday thing we have going. Maybe it'll keep on going and become something even longer.


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