Friday, February 5, 2016

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. 

It wasn't her fault, not really. There was so much at stake, gut-ache, god, it was all so confusing. The lights and the hair, Momma, she don't care. And she don't want to be your puppet. Don't want to be your babydoll. No more Sundays at the mall. That's all.

It gets twisted when family gets competitive, it's a slow-growth sedative. It makes you do crazy things and think they make perfect goddamn sense. Buy another tiara? Why not. Earrings to match?


You betcha.

And it will catch her. That's the tragedy. In some lonely room, it will all catch up to her because she'll look in a full length mirror. And all she'll see there? Body. Smile. Hair.

She won't see a girl with a wry sense of humor and she won't become a woman who truly laughs. Because you needed bragging rights, and you tried to make it right. Right?


Right...

ATTENTION, I WILL IN AND OUT MOST OF THE DAY. BREAK THE BLOG FOR ME! AND GIVE ME SOME STUFF TO READ! Get 'em! :)

#2minutesgo

153 comments:

  1. Ah, Mader... that was worth waiting for! haunting, and far too often reality...

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    1. Wow. That last paragraph aches.

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    2. I have a good friend who is like this. You portrayed it wonderfully, this need to be what you see.

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    3. No Parent alive has never NOT questioned that. And yet? It is our job as individuals to get past appearances and to identity. You had cowboy hats and cap pistols we had tiaras.They teach us only part of the story, we all have to learn the rest.

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    4. Interesting... I was thinking of one of those creepy five year old pageant kids. :)

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    5. That's who I saw as I read it...

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  2. Grandpa always had a silver dollar in his pocket. Minted the same year he was born. Whenever I saw him, he’d say, “Wanna play a game?”

    I always nodded.

    He’d pull out his silver dollar and say, “If you guess which hand it’s in, it’s yours.” Then he’d rub his hands together and ball them into fists.

    For years we’d play this game, and he always got to keep his dollar. I couldn’t figure out how I could be wrong all the time.

    Years went on, and I went to college, didn’t see him much. Didn’t come home much at all. I learned about probability and statistics, and wondered all the more how I’d been perfectly wrong for so very long.

    I met a girl. Took her home with me for Thanksgiving. Grandpa was moving slow, but he came to dinner. Steph was a math genius. She watched him play the game with me, and laughed when I chose wrong.

    Grandpa eyed my girl and asked, “You wanna play a game?”

    Steph readily agreed, and gave a running narration about law of averages, and about hucksters and shills, and she chose wrong. And frowned. And Grandpa smiled.

    That was the last time I saw him alive. When I went home for the funeral, I was surprised to see a pew filled with men with tophats. After the service, they came through the reception line.

    Magicians. I never knew that Grandpa was a magician. All those years of the game were a series of illusions. As I shook the hands of his former compatriots, each one left a silver dollar in my hand. Minted the same year I was born.

    Wanna play a game?

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    1. Oh. This is awesome. Not where I thought it was going at all. Wonderful, L.

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    2. I think I was inspired by Laurie's amazing book, Sudden Gust of Gravity.

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    3. Oh dammit, Leland. I can't get teary-eyed at work! Great piece. :)

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    4. Well crap. That got me right in the #heartbones.

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    5. Very nice. I love the illusionist tie, the acceptance of the narrator into the fraternity, as it were.

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    6. Seriously, awesome! I love the twist, and twist, and final poignant twist. You have us twisted around your little finger. ;)

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    7. Thank you! although it's kinda hard to type with all you twisted around my fingers

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  3. There are days and times and moments that separate us. That refract in a way that hurts the brainstem. We miss so many connections because the circuitry is fucked and the software never works right. Hell, you’re lucky if you got a friend, let alone someone to tell your pain to.

    You won’t say shit. It’s improper. It’s embarassing. You don’t want to sound envious and maybe you aren’t even jealous at all. Or maybe you think you’re not. But you are.

    So these moments flutter like butterfly wings and the siren of time sings. Her voice is a thousand laments spun out into one strand of purple neon ecstasy. Sweet pain. Repugnant glory.

    Same old story.

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    1. Those last two paragraphs especially are awesome... purple neon ecstasy and repugnant glory.. and "same old story"... yeah... the muse is with you today.

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    2. Bending to the will of society. Well stated. The imagery speaks to many personalities of the same falsehoods.

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  4. Tony had dimples. That’s what I remember about him from grade school. Dimples that showed whenever he smiled. Which he didn’t do much of. And when he did smile, he never showed his teeth.

    He didn’t talk much, either. Mumbled answers always made the teachers mad, but Tony didn’t care. Tony knew anger from somewhere. I knew that from the bruises and black eyes he showed up with some Monday mornings.

    His dad was a drunk. Probably did drugs, too, but we didn’t talk or even know about drugs much in those days. People knew to get out of his dad’s way when he was drunk, ‘cause he was mean. I knew that from listening to my own dad, the town doctor, who’d patched up more than a few men who weren’t smart enough to get out of the way.

    And he patched up Tony one time. It was bad. Tony’s mom brought him to our house in the middle of the night. Her sweet Tennessee voice stretched as she told what everyone knew was a lie. Tony had fallen down the stairs. Except their house didn’t have a basement or a second floor, so there were no stairs. Tony was unconscious, and his breath was ragged. His mouth was open and then I knew why he never opened his mouth to talk or when he smiled. Tony had almost no teeth.

    And then came the first day of our freshman year in high school.
    Gym class. I hated it. I was scrawny, had no muscles, and important that year, I hadn’t even gotten hair under my arms or anywhere else. It was embarrassing. And the other boys made fun of me. Every one of them.

    Except Tony. I hadn’t seen him enter the locker room. My head was down, trying not to hear the taunts. I heard the locker next to mine open up, quietly. I looked up and saw dimples. And then I saw the rest of him. What the hell happened to him over summer? He’d turned into some kind of Greek god. His shoulders were wide. He was growing a moustache. And his biceps were huge. When he pulled his t-shirt off, he had a hairy chest. Not just a few hairs like the other boys in class, but a hairy mat.

    “It’s okay to look.”

    I blushed. “What happened to you over the summer?”

    “I think they call it puberty. You’re the genius; weren’t you paying attention in Health Class?”

    My whole body must have turned scarlet. “I didn’t think it happened that fast.”

    His voice dropped. “It’s more than puberty, though.”

    I looked into his eyes, blue and dark.

    He smiled. With his mouth open. With a full set of perfect teeth. “I was turned, over the summer.”

    I made a nervous joke. “So you mean you like guys?”

    He whispered in my ear. “I mean, to a werewolf.”

    My jaw dropped.

    He whispered again, in my ear, even more quietly, “I’ve always liked guys.”

    He lowered his jeans, and I could see he wasn’t lying.

    And that’s how a geek and a werewolf became boyfriends, in godforsaken Thermopolis, Wyoming.

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    1. Magical realLeland returns! This is awesome. You are always so delicate with your characters. It's beautiful. Sadness to redemption.

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    2. Thanks! One day I'll show my violent side...

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    3. Thanks! Maybe one day we'll hear Tony's story... he actually comes to mind a lot lately...

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  5. One more. One more’s not gonna hurt anyone. One more is like practically not fucking doing it anyway because you’re just gonna do it once more. Nothing to beat yourself up about. Hell, it would be rude to part so abruptly. Might as well with the ‘how’s your mustard’ one more time. It’s easy, life’s one bloody crime. Take the plunge.

    One time.

    And if that time doesn’t take? Now, you need to get serious. One more fucking time. That’s it and goddamn swear it on your Moms. Once more.

    Nothing drastic.

    The one more’s add up, land-fill plastic. Daft. Fantastic. Like that thing where if you saved a penny and it increased exponentially you end up wearing blue suits and red ties and talking like an asshole? Like that. Shit. What’s that guy know that you don’t.

    One time. That’s it.

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    1. ah, those "just one mores" will get ya every time...

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    2. Ha! I wrote about this subject once but not as eloquently.

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  6. I got a box full of dandelion fluff. I got a foot from a gimp-footed rabbit. I gotta ball of wax so big you wouldn’t believe it. And I got a boy scout knife. A real one. Bone handles. It’s so sharp you can’t imagine.

    I got a wagon and a sled. I got a radio and I got a wall full of books and all of them beauties. I got marbles you never seen.

    I got a feeling if I keep talking, you’ll keep listening. And those blue eyes, well, they’ll keep glistening. And we’ll go somewhere. Talk. Be nervous. I’ll tell you more of the stuff I got. Lip service.

    You can tell me what it feels like to be a girl. I’m so curious I want to die.

    I got new suspenders and a matching bow tie.

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    1. Aw, this makes me smile... and dandelion fluff is the stuff of dreams... seriously cool.

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    2. Love it! Reminds me of a cool jump-rope rhyme.

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    3. It's like an older man with a younger mind trying to talk to a woman for the first time.

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    4. I tried to post this earlier, but I can't find it now. If it's a duplicate, I apologize in advance for my #BigApeThumbs.

      My echo of Mister Mader's piece. I hope he doesn't mind very too much.


      I got a box full of dried daisies. It's wooden and it smells like Tinker Toys.
      I got a Hotwheels that I got in first grade.
      It's a Jag and it's silver-grey paint it is all chipped away.
      I gotta slingshot so big you wouldn't believe it. And I got a baseball. A real one. Signed by Catfish Hunter. It feels so good in your hand, you can't imagine.

      I got a skateboard and a BMX bike.
      I got a walkie-talkie and I got a wall full of stories told with glow-in-the-dark crayons.

      I got a feeling if I keep writing, you'll keep reading. And those brown eyes, they'll keep my heart beating. And we'll go somewhere. Smile. Be silly. I'll tell you more of the of the cool stuff I got. *Not* lip service.

      You can tell me what it feels like to be a boy. I'm so curious I could die.

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    5. Oh course I don't mind! I love it. Glow in the dark crayons... :)

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  7. There was the time Jimmy caught that fucking bass. Let me tell you about that. We’re down to the pond and Jimmy’s jawing like he always does about how there’s this monster lunker down in the muck in that bullshit puddle pond. He’s got a creature bait on and he’s spitting brown into a cup and all of a sudden... Fuckin’ A.

    The line lifts and he reels in, drops the rod tip, sets the hook and the rod fucking explodes. Just straight up explodes. Into little shards of sunlight and confusion.

    He’s holding the butt of the rod and somehow the line doesn’t break and the drag’s singing and before anyone can shit, Jimmy’s running backward, wrestling this 12 lb bass on the grass and laughing like he won ten super bowls.

    The bass went back. And we went back. To catching dinks and bluegill.

    And we never saw that bass again.

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    1. I love when the big ones get away... and I love being able to see it through your eyes... great piece with wonderful description!

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  8. Simon was glad to see his old mate from the Royal Marines, a bit moreso than he liked to admit. Had they both served one or two hundred years ago, Simon would probably have been his batman. That wasn’t really a thing, anymore, in the 21st century. But at times, Corporal Simon Binford avoided more dangerous duties because Lieutenant Robert Hodgkins held him behind to deal with the sort of tasks that batmen typically did: ironing his dress uniform, cleaning his service pistol, driving him around, and the like. He didn’t give a toss when his fellow grunts called him a batty-boy, because while he was staying behind, doing his commanding officer’s washing-up, some of them were being marched off to their grisly, agonizing deaths. Besides, he reckoned, he stood a good six inches taller, and weighed at least three or four stone more, than Hodgkins, so if anyone was getting bummed, it wasn’t him.

    So when they reunited, at a “British-style” pub in San Francisco, Simon’s voice went up about eight decibels. He usually had to Americanise his speech patterns a bit, because Americans often seemed to have trouble understanding his native Yorkshire accent, but whenever he encountered a fellow Briton, he readily went full English: “OI! Lieutenant Hodgkins! ‘Owyerdoin’, mate?!”

    Robert shook his hand, took an adjacent bar stool, and replied, in his congenial officer-and-a-gentleman way, “We’re not in the service anymore, Simon, you can call me by my Christian name.” “Well, fancy a pint or three, then, Bobby?”

    Unlike a lot of other officers, who seemed to have just been handed their commissions because they were born into wealth and privilege, Simon respected Robert as a fellow soldier. He was known as one of the most skilled marksmen in the British Armed Forces, as well as a savvy tactician and charismatic leader: while he was a product of an affluent background, he was also born and raised in Northern Ireland, when it was still a hotbed of sectarian conflict. Simon had never fired a gun before he enlisted; Robert had been handling pistols since grammar school.

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    1. Yeah for real. New territory that needs exploring, man.

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  9. The elevator doors close, and you’re alone. You start moving up 107 floors and you hear the music and recognize it and you are sucked back in time like a spider is sucked up a vacuum cleaner hose, certain of your destination but not at all sure how long it will take.

    Your eyes close against the tears and the memories and the Manhattan skyline of twenty years ago. You close your heart to the pain as you remember dinner in that restaurant and the ring he proposed with, the ring you’ve never taken off.

    And the words form on your lips and you fight them and try to kill them but you know they’ll come anyway.

    “Those little town blues…”

    And you focus on taking him home to meet your parents the first time in Iowa and the laughter when you told him that the fields were corn not weeds. You remember the look your father gave him, judging him to be another city boy. And you remember both of you sneaking out into the pasture under a full moon and his wonder at how many stars there were.

    And the elevator doors open and you are headed to your first job interview in more than a decade and you’re afraid your mascara will run and you wonder why he died and why you lived and you wished you hadn’t.

    “I want to be a part of it…”

    And the elevator doors close behind you and you realize do want to be a part of it, this amazing city, this building, this firm, and you want to make him proud, even though he’s dead and you know he’s watching out for you anyway and you straighten your back and stand up tall and walk to the receptionist and say, “I have an eleven o’clock interview,” and you don’t mention your broken heart or the bills you have to pay.

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    1. You have no idea how much I relate to this, just now. Great job!

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    2. Thank you so much... and I know you'll go on... I'm counting on it!

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    3. This is a really dope piece. Nuanced, but super powerful. I see a hundred stories spiraling out from this one.

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    4. Thanks for that! I better start writing

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  10. “Been out there long?”

    It was the first thing he’d said to her since the car pulled away from the shoulder. She stared at his unshaven profile, the pointed chin, the glasses sliding down his nose. Was he dim or just trying to make conversation? Of course she’d been out there long. She was soaked clean through and her backpack was a dripping mess in the trunk of his ancient Gran Torino. Then she sighed. As if the damp, overheated closeness inside the car needed any more twice-breathed air. He didn’t have to stop. He could have just left her there in the pouring rain and made an anonymous phone call from the road.

    “A while,” she said, and drummed her fingers atop her wet jeans.

    He nodded, keeping his eyes on the slick road ahead. His skinny arms, tense from gripping the wheel and maybe something else, reassured her. If he were a big hulking guy, she might not have gotten in. Her mother’s warnings about taking rides from strangers had only partially penetrated her brain. She was certainly old enough to discern whether a driver represented a threat, although the weather might have flavored her judgment, he seemed kindly. Like an uncle. Like the kind of guy who might have teenage daughters at home that he would want picked up by a law-abiding, decent man if they’d been stuck out in the rain.

    “Where are you headed?” he said finally.

    She shrugged. “As far as you’re going would be fine.”

    His laugh came out like a tiny squeak. “Well, you might not want to be going that far. I’m aiming for Canada.”

    “Funny,” she said. “That’s exactly where I’m going.” She liked the sound of Canada. Start over somewhere no one knew her, no one looked at her sideways because of what her father had done.

    He didn’t answer. Cold rainwater dripped down her back, and she shivered. What if he started asking questions? Like how old she was, and why she was leaving the country, and if there was someone he ought to be calling? But he said nothing. The tires sluiced through the flooded roads; passing eighteen-wheelers drenched them and he flipped the wipers on high.

    As they approached the next exit, he cleared his throat. “Okay, then,” he said, as if making some decision on the spot. “But I need to, um, pull off here and take care of an errand, first. Maybe you can help.”

    Considering that he was driving her a couple hundred miles, he hadn’t asked her any questions, and there wasn’t that much money in her mother’s purse, she’d be willing to give him a hand. Within reason.

    “What will I be doing?”

    He smiled at the tollbooth collector and handed over a couple of singles. As he rolled through an intersection and took a left into the parking lot of a small strip mall, he said, “There’s a gun in the glove compartment.” He brought the sleek, giant car to a stop but left the engine running. “If anyone comes after us, start shooting.”

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    1. OMG! This is too scary and wonderful at the same time. I liked the build up of tension!

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    2. Ohhh.... Bonnie and Clyde in the making! I like the dangerous feel of this... and truth be told, she feels like the dangerous one... I wanna know more!

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    3. Nice tension. I like the way it heightens for both of them without the reader realizing it right off the bat.

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    4. Man, this is so taut. You don't know whether to be excited or terrified. Lord, lady.

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  11. Cayce and Hopkins knew there would be hell to pay when someone found Feldwebel Krickstein’s bloody body in Stalag Luft VII/A’s north latrine. It would be just like when Unteroffizier Beck’s was found the south one four months before.

    But they didn’t worry about that as they scurried along the barracks floor to the bunk where Flight Lieutenant Ralph Owen lay moaning. Owen, a member of their old squadron, had suffered a bruising beating at Krickstein’s hands earlier that day..

    “Ralph, we got the bloody bastard what done this to you,” Cayce said.

    “Yeah, just like we got that rat Bailey what told the Gerries you worked with Intelligence Corps,” Hopkins whispered.

    Owen gave a long sigh and opened his hand and a foil-wrapped article fell to the floor. It was folded into a piece of paper still resting in his palm.

    As the beam of a searchlight shown through the window, slicing the darkness from Owen's body, Hopkins and Cayce saw the object bore the marque of Cafe Demel, a Vienna chocolatier. When they pulled the paper from Owen’s hand, they found it was a note written in a somewhat feminine hand. It read: “Lt. Owen, so very very sorry I hurt you so, but…orders. ~ K.”

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    1. I am intrigued... on many levels... are you taking this one further? seriously, my mind is spinning...

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    3. Oh, Leland, these never go further. I wish they could, I wish I could, but the ravenous pack of black beast surrounds me more and more these days. So I toss them over Dan's transom and run like hell to write something else I won't try taking further than my laptop.

      But thank you, my friend. Your approval means the world to me.

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    4. It's not approval, it's respect... and I hope those black beasts learn to respect your talent, too... keep writing... you'll find the story that keeps them at bay.

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    5. As a fan of historical fiction, especially centered in WW2 and setting with that feel, I applaud you. The use of proper terms and titles in both English and German are refreshing.

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    6. I don't ordinarily tell people to feed the beast. But you might want to in this case. :)

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    7. Yeah, for real. You're so good. And the repetition of the clunky names here has a similar effect to The Things They carried. Fucking great.

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    8. And all your pieces don't need to go anywhere except into a flash collection. But I bet they will.

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  12. Square-cornered morning sunlight pours through the window and onto the bar room floor. Dust specks floating in the box-shaped ray crawling closer to the window and a date with noon.

    The day crowd only notice mahogany and bottles and maybe faces, multiplied as in a housefly’s eye, as the bottoms of glasses rise over their empty horizons.

    At the end of the bar, a man in black looks up from his crossword puzzle, its ink, his vision, smudged from the slosh of his three-boilermaker breakfast . He departs after tossing a damp, crumpled buck on the bar and steps into an afternoon as empty
    as his last glass.

    At a nearby park he sits on an empty bench in the small mid-day shade. His suit and the paper bag in which he carries six cold cans of Genny are stained in their sweat. He empties and tosses each green can, as if it was a seed to be scattered by a prairie farmer.

    But it’s not.

    It’s like his days, mere husks left on the threshing room floor, where the shadows crawl longer, closer to his horizon and his date with night.

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    1. Heavy with beautiful metaphors and similes, and they set a bleak stage for a bleak story... nicely done!

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    2. steps into a afternoon as empty as his last glass. Wow!

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    3. I love this: as the bottoms of glasses rise over their empty horizons.

      So good. I agree with Leland. Thick, but the metaphors totally work. Like a complex painting.

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  13. “Papa always said…”
    “Oh, please not that again.”
    “Well, he did.”
    “He did not. He was a drunken old fool.”
    “He was a wise man!”
    “You were always his favorite… the rest of us…”
    “Papa never had favorites! He treated us all alike!”
    “We wore your hand-me-downs… when the lace fell off your dresses, they were ours.”
    “Well, I was the first born.”
    “The only one born as far as he knew.”
    “You’re just jealous.”
    “You’re just spoiled.”
    “Please, just stop fighting!”
    The dainty old lady rocked in her chair in the corner, alone, and a memory ran down her cheek.

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    1. This is such a spare and brilliant study of characters, without a stitch of dialogue tag necessary. And that last image...poetic, Leland.

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    2. I agree with Joseph wholeheartedly.

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    3. Aw, this broke my heart. Lovely.

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  14. She had to get out. The screaming continued every day. She wondered if it was akin to living in an insane asylum but stopped her politically incorrect thinking before it ran off the track. They called it something else now—something smart sounding and institutional—as if you needed a sporting scholarship or a letter from the dean to be committed—names like The Fairhaven Developmental Center or Bellevue Wellness. Those residents were special patients’ not family members. They were strange people with psychiatric problems stemming from drugs, alcohol or from spending endless hours fighting wars or commuting in traffic. OCD, ADD and bi-polar replaced old words like retarded, obsessive and schizophrenic. People have become anagrams, she thought—her mind quickly adding OMG and the exclamation point which proved it was important—critical in fact-- but too late. The patients in her home had an acute case of something and it wasn’t LOL. It wasn’t right and no one spoke about these things. They simply yelled, shrieked, hollered some more and then died.
    The eulogies were amazing. She was an incredible woman. Brilliant and beautiful –they poured on the compliments. But the flowers wilted and the cards blew off the desk as a river of tears leaked out the door. The exact door she wanted to open and run from. The place where everyone had shouted was now quiet. She had longed for sanity and now missed the madness.

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    1. Wow... what a snapshot... I've often wondered what the folks who work in such places feel, and allow themselves to feel... thanks for sharing!

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    2. What dark humor. Thank you for the crooked smile.

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    3. And they call it "the Home" Brilliantly done!

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    4. Wow. Awesome. And I love the anagrams...works so well.

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  15. The screech echoed through the empty halls of the house. Doors banged in a breathless wind. Foot steps could be heard, stomping as if angry and frustrated. A blood curdling scream tore the air asunder. Unseen fingers plucked at Jane's coat as her hand rested on the handle to the front door. Closing her eyes she took a deep breath and stepped in ...

    'Surprise' as her friends and family jump out on her, dressed as ghost ghouls and the undead. 'What else could be we do for your 40th on Halloween'.

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    1. Ohhh... now I have goosebumps! and we're left to wonder if she's still alive, or a ghost... it works beautifully either way!

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    2. Glad about that :D Bit rusty with this writing thing.

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    3. It's like riding a bike, with words. Only the plot is chasing you. And the characters are uncooperative. And your heart is beating fast. It's good to see your words again!

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    4. You forgot those bunnies that leap out at you and bite your ankles!

      Thanks :) It is good to be 'wording again'.

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    5. The suspense and chills in that first paragraph! And then the humor and surprise in the second. Classic Kristina ;) I love it.

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    6. Thanks. I don't do serious / depressing very well :)

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    7. What Laura said. And welcome back. ;)

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  16. "Fear brings no profits. It does nothing but freeze your heart, still your hands, and make you ineffective." Auntie was looking off into the trees as she spoke. There was old experience behind her words.

    "It can also fire you up, make you do things you would never otherwise do." Dara looked at Auntie's face, watching the weariness in the older woman's features.

    "So wise for one so young," Auntie said with a sigh. "Yes, dear, it can be a spur as well, though most people call that courage or bravery."

    "Most people are idiots, aren't they, Auntie?"

    "Some days I think so."

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    1. So few paragraphs, and already I love Auntie!

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    2. This is just so true. I've been thinking about the effects of fear, and overcoming it. You tap into human truths so well.

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    3. Yup. I hate being the ditto head, but what they all said. They took mine! ;)

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  17. Funeral Director. He liked his title. It sounded theatrical. For a moment he imagined pulling strings on the corpses to make them dance as he wanted them to dance, and he smiled. Then he set his face in the standard undertaker’s way, lips closed, a tiny upturn of the corners of his mouth, just enough to suggest comfort and doing the right thing for the recently departed.

    He’d practiced that face for some thirty years now. His memories turned to how he came to his profession. The 1980s. Nobody wanted to touch the bodies ravaged by a disease they called GRID, Gay Related Immune Disorder. Now they called it AIDS, even named the virus that caused it, but then… then he and his friends knew only pain at losing so many, so quickly, so often. Doctors would have nothing to do with them. And when it came time for funerals, well, if they were lucky, they found a crematorium, but there was no preparation of the body.

    He put on the jacket before he entered the embalming room. He said a prayer. He still said a prayer each time before he began the preparation. “Lord, give me strength.”

    He worked his mortician magic, filled cheeks with cotton balls, applied just the right shade of makeup, dressed the corpse in fine clothes, all so that the ones left behind could imagine him sleeping, not rotting, in the casket with its silken interior.
    He’d slept in a casket once, early in his career, just to see if all the widgets and hand cranked box springs would make eternity comfortable for a body. He slept surprisingly well, and he was better able to recommend the top of the line caskets, knowing the firm support they provided.

    He winced at tying the silk rep tie on this one. From the college that had kicked so many gay men out of their school. Had to touch up the makeup again.
    When he became an undertaker, he never dreamed he’d be burying his beloved. Never dreamed he’d be unable to cry.

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    Replies
    1. We take on certain professions to fill some need, to wear a certain mask. Do a think long enough and the mask becomes the reality. Very nice portrayal of that.

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    2. Thank you... I think what you say is true... so it's a good idea for us to be sure we really like that mask...

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    3. Humans have amazing coping skills, don't they? This piece is marvelous!

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    4. Holy cripes, man. Marvelous indeed.

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  18. Wind whistled around the leafless branches, a black cat stalked through the moving shadows as the Full Moon rode high over head. Amber walked up the the the path, in between the trees, her cape flapping out behind her. The only colour in this monotone night was the red silk lining that was occasionally exposed.

    Near by a fox screamed and an Owl hooted. The cat drew closer to Amber as if he feared the unseen noises. Amber whistled back in greeting. The path steadily climbed up, as she rounded the twist in the path she could see the top of the hill, bathed in moonlight. Around a flickering fire other dark figures moved.

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    1. You seem to have Halloween on the mind today. I like the imagery and the way you string the concepts together for the eerie, creepy appeal.

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    2. Really good job setting the mood. Smooth. Nice tone. I dig it.

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    3. Ann. Paranormal is my main genre I like to play in! Thanks :)

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  19. “Another one?”

    Marla nodded, pushing her glass forward. “Just the one, then I'll be going. If he hasn't arrived by nine: he's not coming.”

    The barman named Bob topped up her glass, took her money and gave her her change. “He'll be here soon, I'm sure of it,” he said.

    “Yeah. Any minute.”

    Sitting back on her stool, she swivelled away, looking back toward the door. The bar was busy; the tables all occupied, each of them sitting groups of people. Even the stools were all taken, the drinkers pulling them together so as to be able to chat, the thronging and the incessant music swamping conversation so that everyone had to speak all the louder to be heard. But not Marla. She was still waiting, sitting alone.

    No sign of Daniel.

    “You sure he's coming, ma'am?”

    Marla spun round, eye-balling the bar's manager. “What happened to Bob,” she said, swallowing the wine in two gulps but spilling much of it down her face. “He's been keeping me company while I wait.” She turned her wrist, pulling it up close to her face to read the time. “I'm only here till ten. I'll be going home then.”

    The manager shrugged, not wanting to argue. “Maybe I can get you a coffee,” he said, taking the empty glass from her hand. “It'll be on me. Gratis. Cause I like your face.”

    “Kay. And thanks. You're an angel, hon.”

    The manager smiled, nodding, making sure she'd turned away again before making his 'cut-throat' mime to Bob. “No more,” he mouthed, heading back to make her drink, knowing well she'd be back again tomorrow.

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    1. Ah, the barfly. And why is always a guy named Daniel?

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    2. Daniel's are always unpredictable...

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    3. Or maybe it's the Mader guy This is a good bit of writing!

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    4. ;) Man, I read this hoping HOPING she'd be back. You totally killed me with this one and stuck the landing, too. Bravo.

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  20. When we laugh the world laughs with us, when we weep, we weep alone. Isn't that what we are taught, thought Carol. Looking at her tear stained face in the mirror.

    For years now she's found no one to share the laughter with, but the bitterness of the tears have been shared by many. Ever since that day, ever since that freak accident stole so much.

    Everyday she had to walk past the spot where her lover had been struck down, along with others. An articulated lorry driven by a guy having a heart attack, ploughed down the love of her life, throwing her across the pavement like a rag-doll. Breaking bones in her back and legs. Killing the baby she carried within her. She lived and walked again, they never did.

    The lorry crashed through the central railings and into a mini bus full of school kids on their way to a football match, killing many and injuring all who were not killed. An old couple were hit and killed together. When she thought of it, the lyrics to 'There's a light that never goes out' "And if a ten-ton truck
    Kills the both of us
    To die by your side
    Well, the pleasure - the privilege is mine
    Did they get chance to think that way. Would they have preferred one to live? The ghosts of these questions were never of course answered.
    Many died. Including the driver of the lorry.

    But today, today was the day a new hope dawned. She dried her eyes as she packed the last of things into a box and the removal men carried it outside. Today was the day she said good bye to the past, never to forget, but today was the day of new beginnings. After today she hoped she would share laughter once again.

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    1. Thank you. It often takes great change to allow one to move on after great loss. You have written it well and with excellent emotional projection.

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    2. I believe in the power of hope... and moving on after pain... it's what's helps me carry on...

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  21. It wasn’t like he didn’t know his limitations. His brothers offered up two shining examples to remind him. They didn’t even pretend anymore that they didn’t get him. That he wasn’t more than an embarrassment for them. Perhaps the wisest thing he’d ever done was decide early on that he’d never try to be like them. He didn’t follow them around like a damn bootlicker. He was there when they needed him especially if someone’s head needed busting but otherwise no. He had some pride left. He’d sooner leave and never be a part of this family again. The only thing he had was his willingness to be himself, however messed up and pathological. And he’d own that forever. Besides he knew something no one else knew. The truth was it wouldn’t be like this much longer. He had something brewing. An idea that would permanently break him out of his pity cycle when it came to…well, everything. Something his brothers would marvel at when they knew. Or maybe they’d be jealous. That thought made him grin like a predatory animal. It made him lick his lips with anticipation and something else; an emotion he didn’t bother with much since it wasn’t terribly useful, hope.

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    1. This is an intriguing guy... and being a third son, I kinda identify with him... thanks for sharing.

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    2. Yeah. Seriously. I want to know more.

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  22. "You are just a human." Auntie looked at her charge, watching her reaction.

    "I may be 'just a human'," the girl replied, "and I may have certain human frailties, but I am not weak."

    "You are also lucky." Auntie smiled.

    "Don't they say that luck favors the bold?"

    "I've heard it said."

    "Then what good is luck if you have to be bold to attract it's attention?" Dara asked, not really expecting an answer.

    "Child, you are far too cynical for your age."

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    1. I Love it, there is nothing as cynical as youth.

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    2. Totally. And you do so much with a handful of words.

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  23. They opened their car doors and took the time to take off their shoes and socks before racing each other to the point where the waves lapped at the sand. The blonde kept moving until water lapped at her knees. She took the cell phone from the back pocket of her shorts and tossed it into the sea. The echo of her friend’s joyful laughter overcame the sounds of the waves chasing each other and crashing on the beach. As Brenda watched the stupid thing fly she felt her tether to an unhappy life break with that one simple action.
    No more phone calls at 2 AM about inventory issues. No more turn arounds. No more temper tantrums of upper management that took her special touch to calm. No more standing between the idiots who ran the show and the poor employees. She was done.
    Brenda didn't really decide to quit. She just hit a point where she was done. One minute the GM was screaming about overtime while she tried to defend her employees, the next she flipped him off and left. She'd never seen Howard so shocked. She'd liked shocking the stuff-shirt who had too much power and not enough empathy or compassion. That was the moment when she knew it was over. Brenda threw her few personal effects in a box, wrote a letter of apology to her employees and a letter of resignation to her manager, dropped them off to the correct people without a word, and finally made a stop at the security office.
    "Hey, Brenda, what's this?" Rich, the head of the security team asked as she set her box and purse down on his desk.
    "Hey, Rich," Brenda said, getting her stuff together and handing all of the company's property back to him. "I don't work here anymore. I'll miss you."
    "They didn't give you the ax, did they?" He asked, shocked. "I can't believe even they would be that stupid."
    "Nah, I told them to fuck off," she admitted. "You want the phone, too?"
    "No, just make sure to destroy it soon, k?" Brenda nodded, and happily accepted Rich's hug. "I'm glad you're getting outa here, kid. You deserve better than this place. I'll miss ya, though."
    "I'll miss you, too," she said. "You and my people. The list ends there. Take care, Rich."
    "Keep it real, kid," Rich said, squeezing her shoulder.
    Brenda told Karen that she wanted to start over, and Karen agreed in a heartbeat. They threw everything into the car and binned the rest. Brenda loved Karen for agreeing to start over with her. The friends played in the ocean for a little while longer, then went back to the stuffed car and headed out to try their luck somewhere else. Brenda had never felt more alive.

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  25. She played the message again to make sure she’d heard it right, the echoes and spaces and sibilance, the history hanging between the words. “I need a place to crash.” But that seemed his request for as long as she’d known him, like he was careening through life with his foot jacked to the floor, and rather than a mountainside or a concrete Jersey barrier, he needed someplace softer to come to a less abrupt stop, something forgiving to absorb the impact. She’d been his padded room, his tackling dummy, his crash mat. Even though he was long gone and the metaphorical bruises from those collisions still hadn’t healed, every time she relocated, it was with an eye toward where she might put an overnight guest. Wasn’t it only polite to have a spare room for a friend, a family member, an extra bed for some kind of emergency? Her latest apartment was no different. But really, in the back of her mind it was always meant for him. She flopped onto the living room couch that unfolded into a far too comfortable bed, played the recording one last time, then deleted it.

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    Replies
    1. Ahhh... this is delectable. And I'm glad she deleted it.

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    2. The unrequited love for the unattainable mate, where hope springs eternal with each passing contact.

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    3. It's like an Emmy Lou Harris song...SO well done!

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    4. Oooh, good call Teresa. Love it.

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  26. She was the kind kept her thoughts to herself. Not one of those who throw words around like sweet jelly beans, or worse, keep you guessing with all them little sighs. Sounds than might mean something, or nothing at all.
    No, this one was different. She’d fix you with those bright blue eyes of hers and give you this look. Hard to describe it. It was just a look, but it wasn’t. It took you in all at once. Like you’d been swallowed whole. Like she could see some part of you you’d never showed to anybody. She’d hold you there with those eyes for just enough time. She never stared; it wasn’t that. But she never blinked, either. There wasn’t any challenge in it, though. More than one took it that way and they were sorry. So you couldn’t quite flatter yourself into thinking because she was looking she was interested. She just took you in; took your inventory. Like a tourist. The way some of them old movie stars used to look at a camera. Or a goddess looks at an ordinary man.
    And when she was done looking, she’d turn back to her drink or one of her girlfriends. Maybe drum those long red fingernails on the bar. No smile, no nod. So you had to keep on staring at her, trying to figure it. Wanting to know what she’d seen with those bright blue eyes. Never knowing if you tried to speak or buy her a drink she’d so much as recognize you when she looked at you again. But it didn’t matter, see? Because after that one time, that was all you wanted. For her to look at you again and see you with those bright blue eyes. That ain’t always love, but man, it’s powerful. Hooks you like a drug.
    Them are the ones you gotta watch out for, son. The ones that make you read their goddamned minds.

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    1. Interesting take on the powers of the female of the species.

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    2. Man, I love this. "The way some of them old movie stars used to look at a camera. Or a goddess looks at an ordinary man."

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    3. I love this, too... and I know someone like that... absolutely spot on.

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  28. You project your calmness for all to see. Suspicion glints in your eyes which are moist as morning dew.
    Scrutiny of every word and nuance sucked in to the storm that rages under your skin till it’s sucked into the dark ocean of your mind.
    Down and down and deeper still you pull it with you as you swim to the depths of your soul.
    It’s quiet there in the cold black water. You feel safe.
    Intermittent flashes like strange translucent fish illuminate your liquid world. Synapses fire new life on the situation.
    It’s like viewing the world through a dirty broken window on a dark moonless night.
    Echoes of past hurts, regretful words both spoken and left unsaid fly in like grenades but you are armed with hindsight. You shoot them with your lazer eyes.
    You’ve got this shit. Nothing can harm you except for yourself.
    Lie low in your underwater world. Float serenely like flotsam and jetsam.
    Stay as long as it takes for the latest storm to pass. For all things must pass and they do.

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    1. The dirty broken window - breaks my heart in just the right way. And: It’s quiet there in the cold black water. You feel safe.

      Dark. Lovely. (Welcome back.) :)

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  29. You project your calmness for all to see. Suspicion glints in your eyes which are moist as morning dew.
    Scrutiny of every word and nuance sucked in to the storm that rages under your skin till it’s sucked into the dark ocean of your mind.
    Down and down and deeper still you pull it with you as you swim to the depths of your soul.
    It’s quiet there in the cold black water. You feel safe.
    Intermittent flashes like strange translucent fish illuminate your liquid world. Synapses fire new life on the situation.
    It’s like viewing the world through a dirty broken window on a dark moonless night.
    Echoes of past hurts, regretful words both spoken and left unsaid fly in like grenades but you are armed with hindsight. You shoot them with your lazer eyes.
    You’ve got this shit. Nothing can harm you except for yourself.
    Lie low in your underwater world. Float serenely like flotsam and jetsam.
    Stay as long as it takes for the latest storm to pass. For all things must pass and they do.

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  30. Step up, sycophants and charlatan bitches. I got far more words than you got riches. I'm not afraid, but you should be suspicious... The kitchen's hella dirty - I'ma do the dishes.

    So, let's see how far the hypocrisy go. How deep in the manure does the bullshit grow? You sit back and watch. Me? I'll just flow. Don't worry, I'll use small words and talk real slow.

    So many of your lies still need protecting, I'ma scratch at 'em and watch all your wounds infecting. See, lies are like tired flies, they zig and they zag. And I've swallowed enough to make a lesser man gag.

    Now get ready for the sticky part, you half-assed chump. I can store plenty grudges in my camel-y hump.

    There's gonna be a day you need shelter from rain, and I'm gonna sit back laughing at your bitch-ass pain. You still don't understand? Hell, let me explain.

    See, the things you say you know about, I actually do. And I actually have respect for the words you misuse. Fool me all you want, usually the shame's on me. But not this time motherfucker, I'm looking right at you.

    You shouldn't have played the straw that broke the camel's back, 'cause some camels only take so much before they attack.

    So, this has been a swell little happy-dance ride. It wasn't real pretty nor dignified. I didn't want this, believe me, I tried. Now, if I was you, I'd bundle up and straight fucking hide.

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  31. Kiss my ass and go fuck yourself. Oh wait, you already do.
    Your opinion means less to me than your words and they mean shit.
    There’s a new day coming and I’ll be rising like the sun. Don’t blame it on me I’ve got nothing to lose even less to prove. Walk in my shoes? Your ugly cheating feet won’t fit in my glass slipper.
    You want to here lies? I love you, that’s number one.
    Inflict pain on yourself you’ll like it I guarantee, take it from a pro. I’ll show my arse in Market Street if you don’t lap up that shit.
    You want a lesson in lonely, man? I’ll give it to you no charge. You’ll pass the exam after I’ve ignored you forever. Still want to learn? Good luck and good riddance, dip shit punk and when your fat head won’t fit through the door don’t say I didn’t warn you.
    Look up and watch the flying pigs because the day has arrived when you mean what you say.
    Sayonara, cheerio, tatty bye. I’d like to say it’s been a pleasure……..

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    1. Your ugly cheating feet won’t fit in my glass slipper.
      I’ll show my arse in Market Street if you don’t lap up that shit.

      Look up and watch the flying pigs because the day has arrived when you mean what you say. - so nice

      Let's go on an ass kicking spree...this kicks ass.

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  32. He drank his morning coffee from a chipped mug stained brown from lack of rinsing.
    He hawked up a ball of phlegm and spat onto the fire where it sizzled, giving off a sickly odour.
    He heaved his fat ass out of the chair and reminded his wife to have his dinner on the table when he returned that night and slapped her hard on the face just to make sure she didn’t forget.
    He kicked the cat across the kitchen because it slunk around as much as his old lady and he wasn’t having that, no sir!
    He roared loudly and his wife and the cat and laughed heartily as he entered the yard.
    He lit up a fag and made his way to his pick up truck which he had loaded with cans of fuel the previous night and which he intended on selling to his neighbour ten miles away.
    He turned on the ignition and unconsciously patted the passenger seat to feel for his rifle like he always did but it wasn’t there.
    He turned to look at the house, his temper rising and saw his wife standing in the doorway aiming the gun at the cargo of fuel.
    He thought she looked kinda pretty because she was smiling and he could have sworn that damn cat was smiling too.

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    1. Oh, that last line. And the repugnace: He hawked up a ball of phlegm and spat onto the fire where it sizzled, giving off a sickly odour. Such a gross, perfect image. Makes the end satisfying.

      This is STRONG writing, lady

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    2. This is dark and beautiful AND justice... well played!

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    3. Just desserts are always so tasty!

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