Friday, October 23, 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. 

You start with the memory of a feeling - a hot shame that reaches so deeply you can feel it tearing at your muscle fibers. Why can't you remember the good feelings? You can sometimes, but they're not important. The pain. The pain teaches. Blame human evolution.

So, you can put yourself right back there. Any time you want - any time the masochistic urge strikes or you've run out of new wrongs to right. And, it could be argued, that every story in the world still lives in that time-worn auditorium.

It wasn't anything you did. That's the part that never stops being unfair - the part that is like a thorn in your eyeball. Things had been going well. In an instant, everything was different, and the permanence of the change was almost tangible. You clenched your teeth and, in some part of your mind, you thought, "someday this will all be a memory."


ATTENTION, I WILL BE GONE MOST OF THE DAY. BREAK THE BLOG FOR ME! AND GIVE ME SOME STUFF TO READ WHEN I GET HOME! Get 'em! :)

108 comments:

  1. Beautifully haunting... especially this: "...every story in the world still lives in that time-worn auditorium."

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    1. I agree with Leland. And the ending. I love strong endings.

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    2. Yep. Loved that line. And "someday this will all be a memory."

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    3. "You start with the memory of a feeling..." That entire paragraph sums up things and reasons that keep you from moving on.

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    4. Yeah that beginning got to me too and stayed with me throughout.

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  2. The moon rose full on a frosty October night. He looked in the mirror and weighed what he saw. An old man. A fit old man, but an old man, nonetheless. A fit old man in a tux. He tugged at his bowtie to make it straight, grabbed his cape and walked out the door.

    How many years had it been? It was 1946. 69 years. My lord. Where has the time gone? So young then… he remembered brushing the hair from hazel eyes, eyes that had pierced his heart.

    This year was different. The news from the doctor merely confirmed what he already knew, somewhere deep in his heart. Terminal is such a lovely word to describe a train station, but a terrible way to describe a life, a life that is ending.

    He drove to the same place he went every year on this day, the place where first they walked and discovered all the laughter and the dreams and the hopes they had in common. The place where first they kissed.

    He exited the car, and he took in the lights of the city. San Francisco, that old dame, had seen her fair share of changes in those 69 years, too. He wondered if he looked as dowdy as she.

    “Jean, I’m here.” He shouted into the night wind. He listened, hopeful as always. The hope that had kept him alive since… since forever it seemed. He began walking out onto the bridge. Images from the years passed before his eyes. Their first real date, their first overnight, their first house, their first vacation.

    Before he knew it, he was halfway across the bridge, still listening for a reply to his repeated calling.

    At last he heard an answer, “I shall catch you if you fall.” There was a shadow on the water so very far below. “I shall catch you.”

    He removed his cape, loosened his bowtie, and fell into forever.

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    1. I love this. This—"An old man. A fit old man, but an old man, nonetheless. A fit old man in a tux"—is confident, assured writing, using repetition in this way. Like TS freaking Eliot, my friend.

      And terminal is a beautiful word in one context and ugly in another. What a great observation.

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    2. Wow. I loved this so hard. This too: "San Francisco, that old dame, had seen her fair share of changes in those 69 years, too. He wondered if he looked as dowdy as she."

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    3. Thank you... and Ey, thank you for the pun

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    4. No words. It's all been said.

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    5. So good, brother. I love this: :"Terminal is such a lovely word to describe a train station, but a terrible way to describe a life"

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  3. They say the fabric of time is easily rent on All Hallow’s Eve. That past meets present, and love is renewed.

    They say that those who died walk the earth again, for one night, for hope, for fear.

    And so I walk, this eve, with starlight and moonlight to guide my way. Looking for shadows that are not shadows, listening for broken hearts.

    I wonder if this year I will find him, or if he will find me.

    Gray light illuminates gray coyote, ready to howl till he senses my presence. We stare at each other, both afraid and both courageous. Perhaps he, too, looks for one on the other side.

    We pass in silence, at last, both wondering what is real.

    When the clock strikes midnight, I weep, alone. Maybe next year. Or the year after. My bodyless soul returns to hallowed darkness.

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    1. I've been neglecting the coyotes lately, so thanks for giving them airtime, Leland! :)

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    2. Yeah, they've been whining and complaining about your neglect

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    3. Ha ha, so glad you gave them a home!

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    4. This is so lovely, and I really like the rhythm in it. :D

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    5. You know I've been reading this post from upside down since I last posted yesterday and I can help thinking of all your pieces flowing together beautifully. Nicely done.

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    6. Really well played. I'm with Laurie. (not romantically, I mean I agree about the rhythm). ;)

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  4. I hate the night. All nights, but this one more than the others. It is the night when the whispers which haunt me turn to shouts, and the grinding of teeth turns to gnashing.

    Some call Halloween evil. How can that be? How can the one night when we hear the voices of those who died most clearly be evil, when it proves life after death?

    I’ve heard the voices all my life. Learned to shut them out when I didn’t want to hear. Voices from those that had passed from this realm to another. Voices telling me secrets I didn’t want to know.

    But this night, my ears and head are full of their voices, reminding me of promises made but never kept. Of threats never carried out. Of hopes never reached.

    Alcohol, nor sleeping pills, nor anything else silences them. I’ve tried. God, I’ve tried.

    The tears are difficult to bear; knowing their losses, of children left behind, of love unfulfilled.

    But the voices I hate most are the ones I’ve killed by order of those already dead. They blame me and listen not to my protestations of innocence.

    One day, I will shout from the ether. I wonder who will listen.

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  6. Shari went back up in the elevator letting Cliff go get the car. She’d forgotten to put Mandy’s gift in her bag. It wasn’t a big deal but Mandy had always cooed over the diamond earrings Shari had inherited from her Mom every time she wore them. Her relationship with Mandy was important to her, even more now that things were changing. There was a good chance Mandy would jump at the chance to use the earrings as something borrowed for the wedding.

    Not taking more than a step back into the apartment Shari snatched the small gift box off the key table in her foyer, then ran back for the elevator but it had already left. When it returned a minute or two later, Shari was checking her makeup and nearly collided with the man coming out.

    “Shari?”

    It couldn’t be.

    “Jarod?”

    This did not compute. She just spoke with him 48 hours ago. He never said. . .

    “What are you . . . why didn’t you tell me?”

    Shari felt the planet shift. Damn did he have to look this good in person? The elevator door closed with a clinging sound and now they were standing impossibly close to each other. The pull was a sentient thing swirling around them. He still hadn’t said anything though his eyes hadn't strayed from her.

    Jarod was always so thoughtful, yet he seemed to be struggling to burst forth with whatever was on his mind until he did saying, “Fuck, you are a sight for sore eyes.”

    And then his hands were there. And his arms. And his lips.

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  7. I’m just gonna come out and say it. This afterlife thing ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. I was all prepared for harp and singing; hell, I even took lessons. But rattling chains and moaning? That shit gets old fast.

    When you die, you’ll have everything you want, everything you need. That’s what they told me. You know what I want? A Big Mac. Number served in heaven? 0.

    I guess it’ll be okay. I mean, it’s kinda fun jumping out and scaring people on Halloween. Their screams are kinda worth it.

    We can appear to them as anyone or anything. Last year, I went as a dog that had died. The little girl who missed him was so happy to see him again. Broke my heart when I had to leave. Broke hers, too.

    The hardest part is not being able to talk to them. There are a few I’d like to tell how much I loved them. It hurts that the words don’t cross over. I guess I oughta have told them when I walked the earth.

    Maybe that’s what hell really is. An eternity of regret. Without ice cream.

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    1. This goes from comedy to pathos so fast it left my heart spinning. Which makes the last three words more poignant, as if he or she is reaching again for the comedy and not quite making it. Really effective use of, what, less than two hundred words? Amazing.

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    2. Words don't cross over, that sucks.

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    3. Yeah. It all sucks until YOU write about it.

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    4. I echo Mr. Antrobus' statements.

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  8. HATERO SHIELDED ME FROM THE COLD

    As a child in Madrid I blew them all away multiplying six-digit numbers in my head. I could read before I could walk. Hey, I was one mean prodigy back in those early days.

    At twenty I was a soldier for a few months till somebody on the other side clobbered me with a sword and left me for dead. In a dream I thought was a dream a very wise old man named Hatero shielded me from the cold with the warmth of his body. Sometime in the night with the stars up there looking like holes in a black sky,

    Hatero nuzzled my face against the bristles of his white-bearded cheek, then he dropped his head, burying his dogteeth painlessly into my neck. It would be a dream that would never leave me. I have searched these centuries for old Hatero but he is nowhere to be found.

    I see that smug look again on your faces. You laugh inside your heads. Hasn't Anne Rice taught you anything? We are no different than you. We all prefer not to squeeze blood from stone but to drain where we may. Merrily we roll along. Are your sins any less?

    Here's to my health. Salud! The drink's on you!

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    1. Perfect story for the season! Well-written and told, as always! Thank you!

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    2. What Leland said, and this: "In a dream I thought was a dream..." There are a thousand stories, countless lifetimes in a phrase like that.

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    3. This line: "We all prefer not to squeeze blood from stone but to drain where we may."

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    4. Yikes! So well written and just the right amount of tongue in cheek.

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    5. Ditto. Just the right balance.

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  9. The lie of Indian Summer comes easily in October. The best lies are, of course, the ones we want to believe, even when we know the weather has nothing to do with Native Americans, nor summer in autumn.

    We want to believe in an endless summer, or at least bits of summer between the gold and red and eventual white.

    We walked, you and I, in flip flops through the piles of leaves that once were burned but now are hauled away. We fell into the crunchy earthy scent and kissed, surrounded by that which was once alive.

    We followed the laughter of the creek to its source: an alpine lake, crystal clear, icy as the martinis we drank in spring.

    “There’s something we need to talk about,” you said.

    A blizzard’s wind cut through my heart.

    “I love you, but…”

    “But” has three letters, so has “ice.” I try to shield us from winter with a kiss. You push me away.

    “I’ll always love you…”

    The lies we want to believe, sometimes even they are not enough.

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    1. Uh. The last one made my heart spin. This one made it clench. But has three letters indeed. Wow, the use of seasons as emotional shorthand is so deft. I love it.

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    2. Like a punch to the chest. And exactly what David said. I love the metaphors of the seasons. This line has so much power: '“But” has three letters, so has “ice.” I try to shield us from winter with a kiss. You push me away.'

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    3. I believe. I believe. I believe I love this.

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    4. Thanks... I had no idea where I was going...

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    5. Yup, I agree again. What did you eat for breakfast, brother? I want some.

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  10. He knew a time approached when it might behoove a man to make good his escape from this tarnished jewel of a world. And for this, he began to build his pod from molded plastics and bright chrome, bringing to bear skills he'd learned in his youth. Granted, he favored natural materials, but he was a carpenter in a world bereft of wood.

    "Never did Jesus much good, either," he said to Maisie Ellen, who stopped by now and again to chat.

    "What's that now?"

    "His trade, I mean."

    "Stuff and nonsense."

    He loved this part. Fastening and honing and sanding. Making things fit. Smoothing and fashioning. The backs of his hands were dry and creased as Martian valleys, all tawny cliffs and canyons fanned with deep rubicund gulches. Life, he thought, is mostly about elaborating.

    So he elaborated.

    "Jesus hisself, I'm sayin'. A carpenter who ended up nailed to two hunks of wood. Should probably have stuck to fishing. Though even then they probably woulda poked a hook through his damn lip and hoisted him over all them rubberneckers."

    "He was a fisher of men, not a fisherman. Different thing entirely, you old heathen."

    "Yeah, well."

    She regarded him as he worked. He noticed.

    "What? Woman, you look like you've been chewin' a lemon soaked in vinegar."

    "You really think you can save your scrawny heretic posterior while billions pass from this tired old world?"

    "Sure, maybe. Why not? Someone's gotta. Happened once before."

    "You heard the saying about the only two things certain in life, right?"

    "Yeah."

    "Tell me."

    He put down his tools and gave her eye contact. "Death and taxes."

    "Uh-huh."

    The faded charcoal arch of her brow forced him to elaborate again.

    "Figure if I cheat the first, the other ain't gonna count for all that much. Kind of a twofer."

    "Well, good luck with that, Major Tom. Me, I'm happy to keep canning fruit and sweeping away cobwebs until the good lord calls his sheep home."

    "Always been more partial to goats myself. More gumption. And I prefer to take my chances up there." He peered into a dark void scattered with bright rainfall diamonds on some vast invisible dome.

    Had a lifetime of such mysteries. Getting tired now.

    "You old fool. Up there's where I'm fixin' to go too. Only not in some contraption built outta duct tape, binder twine, and dollar-store gimcrackery, neither."

    At this he laughed long into the night, while the two men observing through one-way glass glanced at each other; one shrugged and the other shook his head so briefly it might have been a tic.

    "So convincing I could almost hear the other party's words."

    "Yeah. He's in deep, poor old fella. We need to up his dose, I'm afraid."

    Back in the room, the old man paced and chuckled to himself, rubbing his rough hands together and imagining to what glittering enchantments, what unspeakable radiance, the arc of his ark might soon transport him.

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    1. Really amazing... and if I copied and pasted my favorite parts, I'd be copying and pasting the whole thing. Well-imagined, and of course, well-executed.

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    2. This one's a failed Mash Story, but I quite liked it and wanted to give it a home. On rereading, I think (subconsciously) I was going for a Ray Bradbury thing, maybe?

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    3. Whatever the heck you were going for it's wonderful. Truly. And like Leland I gave up trying to parse out my favorite lines on like the second paragraph. Don't think I've seen much dialogue from you before either. Just awesome. I also like that you often make me have to look up words. Ribucund I'm totally swiping.

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    4. Yeah. I kept copying and pasting, too. Love the dialogue. And I now have a new favorite word: gimcrackery.

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    5. Gimcrackery is the awesomeness.

      Thanks, y'all. And yes, this was more dialoguey than usual, and also, I'm a word addict (Lily), so instead of writing "red," I tend to look for weird alternative shades.

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    6. Definitely a Bradbury vibe. Really love this piece, G. "Though even then they probably woulda poked a hook through his damn lip and hoisted him over all them rubberneckers." So good.

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  11. I don’t dance, though I admire you hurting souls I sit in the dark and watch you fly and dive and wince through your blazing art.

    My stabs at music returned muddy chords of buzz upon that ebony fretboard, now
    collecting dust in the corner. I used to draw pretty well, but gave it up when I found you can’t draw black onto more black.

    However, I learned you can write it.

    And so I did, because there are many who will read their own stories in those black tea leaves. They’re the ones in libraries who sit so quietly, so they can hear the voices of those dark lives they’re trying on for size. If only for a page.

    Mine never has been thus tried, and now never will be. This mourning suit, dirty,
    taut at the seams and buttons, shiny at the elbows, ragged at the cuffs, is nothing but mine. They may bury me in it if they can find me here in my shadows.

    Shhh, the rest is silence.

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    1. Beautiful... and that last line, it's like haiku.

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    2. It's funny Leland said haiku, as one of my first thoughts was that you are using poetic techniques to great effect. For example: "My stabs at music returned muddy chords of buzz upon that ebony fretboard." Read that out loud and it has that visceral quality great poems have.

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    3. Lovely. The whole thing had a cryptic poetic air to it that I thought was moving.

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    4. I agree, beautiful writing. "I used to draw pretty well, but gave it up when I found you can’t draw black onto more black. " LOVE that.

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  12. Rufus emitted a quiet but steady stream of expletives as he dragged a corpse away from the transient camp. He wasn’t worried about getting jammed up, really. Like himself and all the others, it was unlikely that anyone would miss these tweaker lowlifes. And he didn’t feel sorry for them; he knew this one, his name was Todd or Tom or something, he was from Oklahoma, and he was a fucking turd who got exactly what he deserved. He was just irked about getting roped into doing the work, and being known for bringing that Charlie kid to the camp. Charlie was the one who just committed a triple homicide. He was dragging a body too. The third was being dragged by Lucy, the girl who apparently was being assaulted by these three scumbags until they woke Charlie up, and he shot them all.

    Rufus was a bit surprised that Charlie had a gun, he didn’t seem like the type. But Rufus could see the shiny steel .45 sticking out the back of his jeans, where he had hastily stowed it before starting to remove one of the bodies. They didn’t stick around long; after dragging the bodies far enough that they couldn’t be seen, or, hopefully, smelled, from the camp, they headed back to the train yard. Rufus was a bit wary of Lucy, but she seemed okay, and was none too hard on the eyes, especially for a traveler chick. He just hoped he wouldn’t have to listen to her and Charlie fuck while he was trying to sleep, once they were all in a train car headed west. Or at least, that they’d let him watch. Hopefully they’d catch one all the way to Los Angeles, but Rufus assumed they’d have to bail out and find another lift in Albuquerque or Phoenix.

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    1. I like how this—aside from a few small details like "tweaker"—could be an American crime tale set in any time. The universality is one thing, but the specifics make it.

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    2. I was drawn in. Completely.

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    3. Agreed. Did you write a piece similar to this from another perspective previously, it feels familiar. Well played.

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    4. No, it's what happened right after that. Charlie iced those fuckers in the previous piece, now Rufus is helping him move the bodies away from the camp.

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    5. I was waiting for the follow up, WOOHOO!

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  13. I usually make it a point not to fraternize with people from the office. I won't say co-workers. We're all working on such different projects that most of us don't speak the same brand of English. Professional terminology has taken over in many cases.

    Sorry, I don't speak accountant, or upper management with all those buzzwords. Or even Marketing. Unfortunately for me, or maybe fortunately, I speak illustrator.

    Consequently, it was quite a surprise to me to belly up to the bar in my favorite pub, flag Bruce, the bartender, and hear a somehow familiar voice say, "This one's on me."

    Bruce grinned at me and nodded toward the voice. I turned, and there was Tanner, one of the guys from R&D, smiling at me in a slightly sinister half-grin kind of way. He is the kind of pretty that turns heads, male and female, but he seemed oblivious to it all.

    I just looked at him.

    "I know," he said. "Right brains and left brains aren't supposed to mix. But I've got a secret." He glanced around with mock shifty eyes. "I go both ways."

    "Tanner, what are you talking about?" I said.

    He jerked as if shot, one hand flying dramatically to his chest. "Be still my heart! She knows my name!"

    I couldn't help but chuckle. "Of course I know your name. You're all anyone in the secretarial pool talks about around the water cooler."

    Tanner blinked at me, a bit taken aback. "Really?" he asked in an almost innocent voice.

    "Really," I said.

    Bruce came by and set my usual pint of Bass in front of me, and some pink frilly concoction in front of Tanner.

    I looked at the frilly thing and raised an eyebrow at Tanner. "Really?"

    "I like sweet things," he said lifting the glass so the thin red straw touched to his bow shaped lips. He took a pull on the straw and smiled blissfully. "Raspberries and coconut, with just enough rum to make it interesting."

    "What's it called?" I asked.

    "Pink Panties," rumbled Bruce. "Hence the uptown service."

    "The martini glass?" I must have sounded addled.

    "Yes," Said Tanner. "It supposedly looks like the triangle of a pair of panties."

    "I see," I said, wondering if there was a joke and Tanner and Bruce were in cahoots.

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    1. Carried away is GOOD in fiction! You've set a scene that can go anywhere.... and I like the narrator!

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    2. You need to get carried away frequently. I liked the vibe in this a lot.

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    3. It takes dexterity to keep readers reading, and you pull it off here nicely.

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    4. I concur. There is a casual grace to the writing.

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  14. Apologies that I can't seem to write short today:
    ------------------

    The directions had seemed simple enough when the man at the diner rattled them off: a sequence of lefts and rights and curves and merges that would get her to the highway. But once on the road, her visibility, once a thing she’d staked her potential livelihood on, was hampered by a light mist and the glare of the street lamps, and she felt all topsy-turvied again, the numbered signs a sequence of confusion. She blinked, blinked again, the pavement blurring and coming into focus while her heart pounded in her ears and a film of sweat beaded on the back of her neck. It was a stupid adventure, a lark, a dare she’d made for herself. Get out of the house and away from caretaking her husband for a few hours, even though the idea of leaving him alone, and the possibility of someone remembering her, someone recognizing the name, terrified her down to the nuclei of the marrow cells in her bones. Fortunately she’d blended into the background, but offhandedly she wondered what she might have done, what she might have said, if someone had said, “Weren’t you…?”

    Now she’d gotten herself all turned around again; she thought of her husband, that he was probably trying to reach her, but the last of her phone’s charge died about a half hour earlier. Now the road didn’t look at all familiar, just a blur of rain and shadowed trees and office buildings closed for the night. Again she heard the words they’d barked at her all those years ago, the threats. The reasons, all good at the time, why she’d stopped. I lost my focus, she thought, and punched at the radio, killing the silence with anything so she wouldn’t hear the chatter in her head.

    Out flowed the mellifluous voice of the man she loved to hate, but something stayed her hand from switching to another station. “Just me and you, then, you smug, oily bastard,” she said. As she tried to calm her rapid breathing, he took the entire coaching staff of her beloved hometown boys to task, on why they hadn’t challenged an umpire’s controversial ruling that, theoretically, kept the team from post-season play. She sneered into the night, and amused herself with calling the radio show host all manner of foul names. And the trick worked. Soon an intersection touched a memory, and she followed her instincts to the most holy of holy sights for a lost driver in the night: a bank of highway signs. Choosing the one she needed, she turned up the radio and barreled her way home.

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    1. Great piece. A "lark" gone bad is resolved with a little venom thrown at the nearest showy yet invisible pundit. Solved many problems myself that way.

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    2. wow.... my back was completely tense, that's how real this was... I really like this!

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    3. Yeah, I was right here. The entire time. Brilliant.

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    4. Yup, agreed. This is an amazing piece.

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  15. There was no end to the anxiety she would experience on this day. First her father, then David, now Etienne – all of them -- acting as if they were a special deputation whose sole objective was to interrogate her into misery. Watching him from the corner of her eye she could see Etienne was nervous, drumming his fingers on her desk, but that didn’t stop him from speaking his mind.

    “I’d like to be more Naera. I think you know that you and the little girl are not just satellites in my life.”

    “I know that.”

    “Then see me, Naera. See that I might be just the person who can save you here. Not as a brother or a convive but as a lover and friend . . . as a husband.”

    Two proposals in less than a year. Why did the thought leave her heart as dry as the desert her mother hailed from? She should feel blessed. Instead it felt like it would take restraint not to scream.

    Turning to him so she would be heard clearly, “Tell me Etienne, what makes you think I need a savior? Is my daughter crying for anyone except the father she left behind? Have you heard me wailing to have a messiah in my bed since I returned?"

    The blow would cost her she knew. Etienne backed away as if she struck him.

    “I never meant that.” He said. Then, slamming his fist into the desk for emphasis, “I didn’t think that.”

    Suddenly a pall came over her. She’d been so angry for weeks now. When would it end? How could it possibly end? When would she know whether she actually did need saving?

    “I know what you thought Etienne. You thought a woman and her young child shouldn’t be alone. They should feel loved and protected. I . . . I apologize.”

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    1. Wow, she deflated his bubble with the sharpness. Poor guy.

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    2. Anger... the sharpest needle, can do that.... nicely done!

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    3. Favourite line: "Why did the thought leave her heart as dry as the desert her mother hailed from?"

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    4. Yep, I agree, you can feel it. Nicely done.

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  16. The joy she'd felt on opening the door to Cornelia's surprise visit fifteen minutes earlier, didn't last past the crossing of the threshold. Cornelia had made it plain, she was there on a mission and the target was to make sure Belle knew exactly what she and the rest of the family thought of her.

    Following her sister-in-law through the foyer and into the living room, she took note of the way Cornelia looked around and dismissed the beauty of her surroundings with a sniff and toss of her head. Hands on hips, she'd lost every vestige of the image of helpful sweet sister, she'd portrayed when they first met.True they hadn't seen each other since the quickie court house marriage, but that was mere months ago. Cornelia had changed, disgust emanated from every facial movement. It was as if she were ready to pop with anger.

    “Don't,” Cornelia held up her hand. “say a word. I'm here to tell you one thing. I want to say it to your face to make sure there's no misunderstandings between us."

    With a shrug, Belle swallowed her attempt to offer refreshments, waddled across the room to an arm chair and sat down.

    "Okay, have at it. "

    Belle didn't say anything about the one sided conversations she'd heard between Tyson and practically every blood relative on his family tree. She didn't repeat the things he’d told her his sisters were saying about her and didn't try to argue as Cornelia tore her emotions to shreds. She listened quietly.
    When Cornelia ran out of words, her breathing loud and harsh in the quiet room, Belle stood. The ability to voice the hurt and despair she was feeling eluded her. And so, without a sound, she hooked arms with Cornelia and walked her to the door. Opening and pushing her out.

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    1. so much contrast in this piece... the intimacy in the linking of arms and the emptiness of showing her out... and everything that leads to it... sweet and sour... I'd read more!

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    2. Loved this Ey. It had some personal resonance for me and you captured the moment beautifully.

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    3. I agree. You nailed this one. Really strong.

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  17. The only sound was the ticking of the clock on the mantle and the trickle of water from the tap.
    He splashed his eyes in the hope of erasing the remnants of an unsettling dream.
    The cracked mirror reflected his wan face like a grotesque caricature.
    Everything about him was pale, washed out. His hair, once a mop of vibrant red curls, was streaked a dirty grey and hung limply over his sticky-out ears.
    His gripped the side of the sink and bowed his head in despair.
    What had she ever seen in him? He had always marvelled that someone as bright and colourful as her could love him.
    She had loved his freckles which covered most of his body. He could still feel the touch of her fingers as they had traced his skin. “I’m joining up the dots,” she would say and she would giggle.
    She would wrap her arms around him and whisper, “tick tock it’s love o’clock,” and he’d turn and breathe her scent and they would lie on the rug in front of the fire. He would swear to this day he heard angels singing afterwards.
    Now she was an angel and all that was left was the ticking of the clock.

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    1. ahhh.... the last line breaks my heart... it's all beautiful...

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    2. I agree with Leland. And the freckles, subtle, but strong and important.

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  18. I’m out of touch and out of practice. So pardon me for getting it wrong, for trying to live a useful life.
    You can fool them for so long but you are bound to slip up at some point.
    I tried my hand as a gardener in the local park, I love flowers and I am quite knowledgeable. I think forgetting the name for that green stuff was the giveaway though. You know, that carpet-like thingy which we walk on outside. Grass! Yeah, that’s it. Grass.
    They put me on the checkout when I got the job at the supermarket. I liked meeting new people and was always calm and patient unlike my supervisor who almost bust a gasket when she checked the till roll after closing. I was 107 dollars down apparently. So that was the end of that.
    Manny, my companion, told me they said it will only get worse but I don’t know about that. I don’t remember any telling me anything of the sort. Heck, my neighbour told me yesterday or was it the day before……anyways, she said Manny has been dead these past three years. What a bitch. How can she bare face lie to me like that?
    What’s that, dear? Am I alright? Of course I am, dear. It’s been lovely chatting to you and I hope to do it again. My bus is here now. Where am I going? Why to make Manny his dinner, he’ll be waiting for me at our house on…..on…..erm….I’m sure the bus driver will help me, dear. Cheerio

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    1. Ahhhh... you've found my greatest fear, and you've played it well... I hope the driver helps, too... this is a beautiful, heartbreaking piece.

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    2. Yup. One of my greatest fears, too. Well rendered. You played it just right.

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  19. I knew you had died when I heard the raven call your name. His voice was dark and sad, as mine would have been if I had had breath enough to speak. Suddenly the field I stood in was empty, even the air stood still in respect.

    I remembered when you took me to another field… a field of corn, already harvested, but enough left on the ground for the ravens to be interested. You taught me to be quiet. And then to make the sound of a friendly raven. I don’t know if the ravens or I were more surprised when I succeeded. When I felt the flutter of their wings on my face, I thought they were angels.

    All the hikes through the woods, the fish we caught, and released. The gentleness of your wrinkled hands trying to work its way into my clumsiness. The tales you told of the trout you’d caught every year for the last fifteen, and the respect you had for it.

    And then I remembered you lying on the white sheets, in a white room, trying to say goodbye around the tubes in your mouth. I touched your hands then, trying to give you strength. I kissed you on your forehead, the only time I kissed you.

    And now, the raven calls your name, and I cry with a black angel. Grandfather to me, and to the birds, and the fish, safe travels. I wish I’d kissed you more.

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  20. The wind picked up. Eyeing his quarry as he wobbled on the east bank of the Esopus, Pete threw out his arms and prayed for balance, his slick dress shoes doing a piss-poor job against the wet grass and the mossy rocks. This was supposed to be a quick trip. A fast dash up the Thruway, pick out a pumpkin at the big farm market, return home triumphant. A hero to his little girl, not so little anymore. But the old farmer had just lifted his raggedy eyebrows and laughed at him. “There go your pumpkins,” he said, waving a hand toward the river. “Guess you don’t read the papers much, huh.”

    And indeed, there went the pumpkins. A recent flood had turned the Smithtown flats into a lake and, lighter than they looked, the gourds had left the building, so to speak, turning the Esopus into a giant bob-for-produce tub.

    This was ridiculous, Pete knew as he stood on the bank, the old farmer’s bark of a laugh piercing his memory, that this rash action would not make her forgive him. Would not erase the narrowed eyes, the huff, the slamming of the door. He’d tried so hard to get over to the school in time to see her solo last night, but it was like the world had conspired against him. Meeting running late. Then traffic. And the goddamned rain. Now, silence from his only daughter. Before the divorce, they’d take their yearly pilgrimage to the valley, to the farm market, and she’d delight in picking out her own jack o’ lantern pumpkin. But this year, she couldn’t be bothered. His fault? Her mother’s? The adolescent need to distance herself from her parents? He didn’t know. Maybe all three.

    He focused in on one of the orange globes, bobbing in what looked like approachable distance. It wasn’t too bad, didn’t look like it had been damaged in its slalom along the rocks. He inched down the slope, knees shaking, his hand going for the security of a fairly strong-looking sapling. “Come here, baby,” he crooned, stretching as far as he could. His fingertips were nearly brushing it when his feet began to move. As if they were fresh-waxed skis on the diamond slope. He knew. He knew in that way he was powerless to stop. He knew in that way that lengthened time, that had him windmilling his arms in an ineffectual, cartoonish attempt to change…nothing.

    And then all he felt was cold. Cold water, seizing his lungs, pressing against his flailing arms, and his hands hit…something smooth. Something round. Something solid. He hugged it as if it were his retreating daughter, as if it were the only thing standing between him and that slamming door. When they finally dredged him out, shivering with hypothermia, minus one shoe and laughing maniacally, he was still clinging to the pumpkin.

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    1. Ahhhh.... what a parent will do for a child... (and I know it's wrong, but I did laugh)... sweet story!

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    2. Thanks, Leland! There was actually a flood one year at the market, and all the pumpkins went downriver. The pictures were pretty ridiculous. Pumpkins were washing up along the banks for a while.

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    3. Man, I REALLY dig this one, Boris.

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  21. Then what? It always comes down to that, she thinks, every bright electric flash fades away and leaves that question hanging in the ozone-rich air. Like smoke from the candlewick rising in blue-grey curls, taunting her with the question, then what? There must have been something. But all she can remember is the flash. The illumination. It comes on her without warning, less lead time than a grand mal seizure, and just as crippling; she stopped driving a long time ago because of this. Sometimes she ventures out, but, it's a dicey thing; better to stay safe behind castle walls. There's no need to go out these days anymore anyway. She's free to let herself drown in it whenever it deigns to visit.

    It's not the experience that she hates. She's learned to live with it, without it having a name or explanation, it's no less a part of her than her dreams. Ah, but that flash of internal light, that brilliance that exposes every shadowed corner for the briefest and yet longest of moments, where everything becomes clear and pure and exactly what it is, no filters to add or take away from its pristine self. It's a light she could live in forever, but just before it fades, there is something, something that makes it all make sense, puts a final explanation to it all, it's the answer to then what? But it always flies away before she can grasp it. Yes, this is it this is everything, but then... then what? What then?

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    1. I really like this... that flash of lightning and illumination... and the pursuit of basking in it forever, or at least until we see what it is illuminating... thanks for sharing!

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    2. I agree. There is a wonderful tension, very controlled. Well played.

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  22. "Are you ignoring me?" he asked, a hand on her arm so she couldn't simply disappear on him again, as she had been doing all weekend.

    She looked up at him, tears filling her eyes. "You don't want what I want," she manged to choke out. "I'm working on changing me. You make it... difficult."

    She didn't move from under his hand. He could see what it was costing her to allow the contact. It dawned on him that she still held on to some vestige hope. He removed his hand, only to hear a sound come from her that she tried to contain, a sound of despair. She turned and swiftly walked away.

    "Wait..." he said softly, but she was too far away to hear him. His heart and mind went into overdrive. The best thing that had ever walked into his life was trying to walk back out because he had drawn a line in the sand.

    With a shake of his head at how stupid he could be, he started after her.

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    1. You captured this moment so well. A snapshot. And you leave the reader wondering. Spare, strong prose.

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