Friday, April 8, 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.

She was radiant, but you could not look at her - like staring at the sun. You caught her in periphery and that was almost too much. Short breath. Ragged thoughts of generic heroism. Her name was Rachel. She made the name beautiful, a bit of poetry that blossomed and died daily, ushered in and out by the ringing of bells.

The other boys did everything to impress her. Who can climb the highest? Who can run the fastest? Who knows the worst bad word? Ricky won that one because he knew what a cocksucker was. Now, the whole class knew. And laughed about it. 


You weren't quite sure you understood. You still laughed.

It was anticlimactic in its eclipsing, apocalyptic splendor. The showdown. A new kid came to school. He was big and wore jeans every day. He always had a toothpick in his mouth. It was like he watched a bad After School Special and took notes. Which was fine, until he inclined his head in Rachel's direction. All the boys huddled around, whispering. Then: 

"Who's the slut?"

Deep silence. Ricky called him a cocksucker, and the rest of the boys looked about to cry, but it didn't matter much because you were more invested in the weird, numb pain in your fist. The boy stood up, crying, drooling blood. You flexed your hand and, suddenly, you were being dragged backward, through the principal's office and straight into Dad's office. Like a time warp.

You told Dad what happened, expecting the worst, but he shook your hand. Took the rest of the day off. The two of you went fishing. And when the week's suspension was over, you noticed something.

Not only was Rachel staring at you every time you looked, but she was smiling. 


No joke.

Smiling.


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

176 comments:

  1. I dragged him down into hell with me, but he was the one who was most at home in the seedy underbelly of the streets. We didn’t go to bars, since I was far too young to even be served at a mage tavern or in Faerie. I was too well know, as was he. There were times that I felt bad for shoving Bradley off the wagon, but every time I sobered up I found myself dancing with that old woman’s demons. It wasn’t fair, damn it. I had my own troubles. I had my own demons. But mine didn’t surface like hers did.
    It was unbearable being trapped in your own head with half-memories and thoughts that made no sense. The anger fueled by the fear fueled by the feeling of being trapped in this body, on this wretched planet swirled around what few memories I had and tainted every emotion. I couldn’t tell if the problem was that I couldn’t control the emotions that I’d stolen from Mrs. Harrison or if I had just given up. I knew that I felt as helpless as she had. When I drank it went away.
    So I drank. I stayed buzzed, heading towards drunk and hitting plowed by late evening. Bradley was right there with me, pulling us both down into darker more dangerous places. But he took care of me, too. He made sure that no one took me against my will, raped me, or stole from me. He fed me and made sure we had some sort of shelter for the night. I went everywhere with him and if those places got scarier I trusted him enough to assume it was necessary. As long as I didn’t have to be me anymore, I didn’t must care who or where I was.

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    1. Ahhh... that pain pours through every word... thank you for sharing...

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    2. Agreed. And I really like the 'descent' effect. And this: "There were times that I felt bad for shoving Bradley off the wagon, but every time I sobered up I found myself dancing with that old woman’s demons."

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    3. What those guys said. Plus this tumble of words: "The anger fueled by the fear fueled by the feeling of being trapped in this body, on this wretched planet swirled around what few memories I had and tainted every emotion." I'd even be tempted to delete the single comma, let the words fall all over each other. Nice, Erin.

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    4. Dan stole my comment! Lol. I liked this a lot, there was a flirting with darkness that snagged my attention for sure!

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    5. "As long as I didn’t have to be me anymore, I didn’t much care who or where I was. "

      That's my favorite bit of the whole thing. That's the demon so many people dance with. You hit that nail right on the head. Well done.

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    6. They all stole my comments. So well done.

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    7. Somebody pretty wise once said to me: The addicts want freedom even more than the rest of us. So don't judge 'em too harshly for needing to be rescued. You captured that.

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  2. Dan, Dan, Dan... that's beautiful and just and righteous! Well-played!

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    1. I couldn't agree more. I would shake his hand, too.

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    2. Yes. Well played, Dan. And Ricky. And Dad too. :)

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    3. Wow Dan! I liked your first piece a lot! Way to get the ball rolling today Mister Mader!

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    4. Love it so much, Dan-o. Not finding the words to say why. The emotion that's so very high school. the turn. the dad's reaction. the descriptions and spare prose. Just love it all.

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    5. Dan! This was so beautiful I wanted to hug you. So very well played.

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    6. I Love it. I love that you chose the name Rachel, which actually means "lost", Maybe there's a sequel? Just sayin'...

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  3. The sun rose slow and red that morning, that morning of grays and whites. The snow dazzled on the ground. The birds, singing the day before, were reverent in their silent cold.

    There were promises that day, some to be made and kept, and some to be made and broken. There were truths to be told, truths to hide, and lies to be shared.

    He’d told everyone he was retreating to his cabin to finish his book, a book of lies composed to convey a greater truth. But he did not write.

    He told himself he came here to recover from the loss. That’s what he called the death of his lover of twenty-three years, the loss. Could not even bring himself to say her name aloud.

    He’d promised her he’d scatter her ashes here, in the forest they explored together. The memories of them walking naked in the shade of the trees haunted him. He laughed when he remembered when they made love in a bed of ivy, ivy that turned out to be of the poison sort.

    The urn was simple. Copper, a healing metal that held no healing for him. The red rays of the sun reflected on it as he reflected on her life, on their life together.

    No children. Neither blessing nor curse, it just didn’t happen.

    “After I’m gone…” she’d whispered from her deathbed.

    “Hush now…”

    “After I’m gone, promise me you’ll not fear to love again.”

    “Don’t talk like you’re leaving…”

    She coughed and laughed. “I am leaving, sweetie, I…”

    And she did. In that moment.

    He didn’t know if what they’d said was an actual promise, but he felt the weight of her asking in his heart.

    He put his coat and boots on. He opened the door and crunched through the snow to the bitter shade of the trees.

    When he emptied the urn and felt the ashes blow back in his face, he heard her whisper, but he couldn’t make out the words.

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    1. Man, this is beautiful. The language is so confident. Really strong piece. And I freaking LOVE this:
      He’d told everyone he was retreating to his cabin to finish his book, a book of lies composed to convey a greater truth. But he did not write.

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    2. Yes. Perfect. What Dan said, plus I love "the bitter shade of the trees."

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    4. Heartrending and beautiful. Everything they mentioned, too. <3

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    5. This is so amazingly good. The last paragraph...that's it.

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    6. This was beautiful, so many things that grab my heart's eye! "The snow dazzled on the ground." Started my trip off quite nicely! And what Dan and David mentioned too!

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  4. “This is most irregular…”

    “I understand. That’s why I was so afraid to ask.”

    “Most irregular, indeed.”

    “Look, I’m not asking for myself…”

    “Oh, I know that.”

    “I’m asking for a friend. It’s really important to her.”

    “And is this friend dying? Very ill? Impoverished?”

    “No. She’s just a kindhearted soul who hasn’t had much kindness paid back to her.”

    “And you think this will cheer her?”

    “I do.”

    “If we do this… this thing… you understand you may never mention it to her, your part in it, I mean?”

    “I understand.”

    “Very well. We will make it so.”

    That fall, there were only two people who weren’t surprised when the Cubs won the World Series that year: A boy and his sanguine mother. Oh, and at least one angel in heaven.

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    1. Ha! This is awesome. You do dialogue really well, brother.

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    2. Thanks... I think I've gotten better at it... the latest book has a TON of dialogue, so I had a chance to practice!

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    3. Yeah, it flows so naturally. Dialogue is *hard.*

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    4. You make it seem so effortless! Just a beautiful flow!

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    5. My favorite type of story with a twist. Wonderful!

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  5. Truth is simple; truth is free
    But that don’t stop the misery
    Or the laughter or the questions or the doubt or all the chatter
    ‘bout what is right and what is wrong and which lives really matter
    Eternity is out of reach; so’s living in the Now.
    We all trying to get to heaven friend, and none of us know how.
    It’s the Buddha and the Allah, the Father Son and Holy Ghost
    Mother earth and Mother Gaia and a Hail Mary pass
    It’s illusion and denial and a way to make it last.
    It’s Nature and it’s nurture and waiting on the rapture
    It’s the bottom line, the midnight whine, a bill upon the pile.
    It’s your parents. It’s your lover it’s your Other and your child.
    It’s a corporate tick; it’s politics, a super-sized Apocalypse
    Do you want a side of faith with that? It’s gonna take awhile.
    It’s the stories that we tell ourselves.
    Perception and deception--just the facts ma’am and the song
    Of a Big Bang tinnitus ringing in your ears like some game show gong.
    It’s an old timey spiritual; it’s jazz and rock n’ roll
    It’s a nursery rhyme, wind chimes, this whispered opera of soul.
    We got hopes and fears and smoke and mirrors
    The Law of Attraction with a little side action
    It’s the planets, it’s the stars
    It’s the yoga, it’s the car that’s just for show.
    Self-diagnosis, abuse and psychosis
    Self improvement and a Movement
    Toward what, we cannot know.
    Raise your vibration, go on vacation
    We are cool and we are hot
    We are stardust, we are golden, we are holy
    We are not
    We are love and we are hatred
    All the evil and the good
    Keeping up with all them Joneses in our neighborhood
    Too soon old and too late smart, too much head, too little heart
    I know you and you know me and we all are One.
    Nobody’s getting out alive
    Nobody grabs the ring.
    I know little and talk too much
    But I’m pretty sure of this, my friend
    In the end, when it’s all over
    It all comes down
    To everything.





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    1. Fantastic word play and a story for our times. I really love this, Teresa. Nicely done. I could pick out a shit ton of line,s but this one perhaps sums up the tragicomedy at the heart of many of our lives:

      "Too soon old and too late smart, too much head, too little heart"

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    2. It really is beautiful... and I can almost hear Art Garfunkel singing this...

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    3. Man, I love this, too. And DA is right. So many good lines. I love the Joneses and this:

      It’s Nature and it’s nurture and waiting on the rapture
      It’s the bottom line, the midnight whine, a bill upon the pile.
      It’s your parents. It’s your lover it’s your Other and your child.
      It’s a corporate tick; it’s politics, a super-sized Apocalypse

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    4. Yeah, the rhythm there (okay, poets, the meter, lol) is awesome. Spot on.

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    5. Wow Teresa! That was some sublime wordplay! Beautiful!

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    6. Wonderful poem. The law of attraction with a little side action is my favorite and of course too much head with too little heart. So true. So glorious. Amazing and visceral.

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    7. TYVM! I've been trying to pull some of my stronger shorts into a collection, but being the perennial "Psychic slut"
      David can explain my use of this term,:) kept getting stuck on a "theme". I was gonna go with "Smoke and Mirrors" but then woke up with this title in my head and thought huh, that's good write something about that!

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    8. Wow, I'm just loving this so hard. The rhythm, the motif. Nice.

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  6. Part 1.
    ______

    Where did they go? Who took the words that were here, at the top of this page? Why would someone do that? They weren't offensive. Weren't bothering a soul. They hadn't even been arranged into sentences yet. Look, I can't afford to pay a reward, but if I get them back I promise to make something glorious out of them. Okay?

    ***

    A small thing half-scampers, half-falls down a steep and rocky slope. It recognizes pursuit but knows nothing of its pursuer, other than the deep hankering that drives it. The lapis sky is relentless in its furnace heat and its implacable blue, like god's vast phlegmatic eye gazing on the terror of one of his most low-born, unconcerned as the hunter gains ground. The small thing squeaks and knows its tiny precious hold on a rudimentary life is at an end; its pulsing seed of a heart nearly breaks with its imminent loss. But then a fissure opens up in the rock, and the creature diverts to meet it and is saved with seconds to spare. The keen arced claws of a demon rake the air where the small thing was, and the great eye blinks, begetting to the land sudden darkness and even the mighty hunter cowers. So much for indifference; this god is hungry as fuck and someone will now pay.

    ***

    I met you at a place where the pumps were rusting. You were stocky and beautiful, like something birthed in a fjord. A blue chambray dress, your bare legs tanned, your wide face earnest and glowing with the sweat of your exertion. You sang like a motherfucker. A tan you'd worked so hard on, yet couldn't disguise the spray of freckles. A gray-blond bob. Your toes gripping, your brows arching, your knuckles creating cantilever spreads over all our raised faces.

    Dirty summer girl. Now summer itself is a memory, but I'll never stop loving you.

    ***

    "Play for me."

    "I can't."

    "You won't."

    "No, my hand, remember? I busted something in it."

    "You'll bust something in us if you don't play for me."

    ***

    This is Canada. This emptiness. This hawk eye shudder of the possible. I always said it was more than two solitudes. Four, maybe five. At least. And yet there's a here here. How can that be?

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  7. Part 2.
    ______

    We let the rowboat drift in the placid lake. The kids race to prepare the fishing poles, which they drop into the calm waters amid great shouts. When we turn our faces to the sky, the warmth of the early sun is like being kissed by the universe. All around us stand great firs and cedars, spruce and hemlock. A wetland sits to the north, its boardwalk steaming in the hot morning.

    It's the kids who see them first, pointing and yelling like the small apes we are. By the shore. Great beasts, necks ponderous as cables swaying in front of cordillera torsos, heads the measure and weight of a bus undulating as they move through the vast forest. A dragonfly half a metre long and the colour of sapphire stitches the air and comes to stillness beside our boat. We are silenced by the great aberrations, marvelling but frightened beyond all fear. A sound deep in the forest, enraged and ravenous, removes all warmth from the air. The children are inconsolable. Something terrible is coming.

    ***

    Her therapist leans back and watches the ceiling. She resists following his gaze, sensing some kind of trap. She's grown weary of his games, how he seems to anticipate her every mood. It's sleight of hand, misdirection; he's a stage conjuror. He's a hawk roosting. He knows he's cute; that's the problem. All men who know they're handsome are utter devils; it's impossible for them not to be. The world is their killing field. She wonders not for the first time why she's continued to see him.

    He smiles at her.

    Fuck you, she thinks, but she keeps her face neutral as Florentine marble. Don't let him see. The Beast. The rage-thing capering in its cage and craving release. He'll twist your hostility into something it's not, dilute or poison it.

    "It's okay to be quiet sometimes. There are no expectations here. No agendas." His voice is like the morning's first coffee.

    If only you knew, you fuck. I want silence forever, not for the pathetic length of a stupid session you pretend not to grow anxious about as the strategically placed clocks tick toward the hour mark. Fuck you and your hundred and fifty bucks an hour for being an empty bullshit artist.

    A vast batlike shape takes to the sky outside the window but she pretends not to notice. If she acknowledges it, all is lost. A rodent in the wall sings a lullaby to its pink babies, promises them the world. Tendrils of ivy sprout from around the window frame, drooling ichor and blood. If these things are real, the world has lost its moorings; if they're not, she has.

    She wants to cry, but she's already lost track of why.

    Then she remembers the Glock in her purse, feels its weight on her lap like the cradled dripping heart of an ogre, remembers why she brought it today, remembers her holy, holy quest.

    And for the first time she smiles back at him.

    ***

    The words never were returned.

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    1. Sigh... I always hate coming to the end of your writing. This one was sweet and sour, filled with textures that contrasted... a pastorale with anger... truly well done... and this sentence is like the promise of summer to me: "I met you at a place where the pumps were rusting. You were stocky and beautiful, like something birthed in a fjord."

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    2. Damn. Totally agree with Leland. Man, you always knock it out of the park. You knocked this one out of the fucking universe. So good. You know I love me some vignettes. So many awesome lines, but I am in love with this one: "Dirty summer girl. Now summer itself is a memory, but I'll never stop loving you."

      Awesome writing, brother.

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    3. Holy cow! Getting to the end of this was like watching the greatest pilot you've ever seen for a show on TV...and then finding out the station didn't pick up the series! I want more!

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    4. Dang. Those words. Dirty summer girl!! Truly creative. Thanks for sharing.

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    5. Oooh, I could go on for days, dude. The sheer complexity of that relationship, where people get reduced to "transference" and "counter transference?" Beautifully rendered!

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    6. Dirty summer girl. Wow, I love that. You knocked it out of the universe's park. So amazing.

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  8. The cold blackness was in him, his mind, it radiated out to the very tips of his fingers. These fingers that were wrapped around a cold blackness far more lethal. That's the chips, see? The way they fall. Cookie crumbs. You can't stop a cookie from crumbling.

    His hand wasn't shaking, and he hadn't even had a drink. He'd found a more powerful elixir. It was named Hobb and it quivered on the floor, writhing. Disgusting.

    The blackness would stop Hobb, though. The cold resolve and the cold steel. Enough to make a man feel like he was doing something noble. And maybe he was. Never made a lick of sense. But this cat was way out.

    He needed more lead in his diet.

    It wasn't an angry thing, see. It was calm. Surgical. It was fascinating.

    Watch the big man squirm and leak.

    He raised the gun and the man sputtered, nonsense words.

    "Shut the fuck up, Hobb."

    Hobb mumbled something about his wife. Kids.

    "Shut the fuck up, Hobb."

    Reaching for a pant leg. Like a dog about to get whupped. Tail between his legs where his balls should have been, Hobb pleaded.

    "Shut. The. Fuck. Up."

    Then, there was the cartoon bang and dust settling and Hobb not moving. And it was alright, brother. It didn't feel good or bad. It felt thirsty. Like whiskey would make sense of it. The gun had shut Hobb the fuck up all right.

    The whiskey would quiet the mind. Shut it out. He pulled a flask and drank.

    Bang.

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    1. Dan noir. Sometimes violence is cleansing. And the writing is awesome.

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    2. Hobb! I missed that lowlife rat. Great stuff, brother.

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    3. Oh this was wickedly divine!

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    4. I like the cartoon band and the dust settling. Wow.

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    5. "It didn't feel good or bad. It felt thirsty. Like whiskey would make sense of it."

      Love this one, too. It's an awesome day for 2minutes, no? :)

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    6. Ah yes...pet projection. It's one damn slippery slope! Well done!

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  9. There are, he decided, only three truthtellers in the universe. Old dogs, who love or hated you; ex-wives, after the anger passes; and that small voice in the back of your head that you never tell anyone about.

    He’d written that small voice off some years ago, when it told him what a piece of shit he was when he was having his first affair. Shortly thereafter, he stopped listening to his newly exed wife. Which left him with exactly one truthteller.

    The dog.

    The dog who knew him in college, through the wedding day, through the marriage as long as it lasted, and who lay on his bed now.

    The dog with arthritis, nearly blind, and completely deaf.

    The dog who’d licked his tears away. The dog who knew exactly when to bring a tennis ball to him to cheer him up. The dog who slept beside him, even when he slept with someone else.

    And now, as the dog lifted his head from the pillow, he spoke in the voice that could not be turned off, could not be pushed away, could not be silenced.

    And the dog said, “It is time.”

    And the man was afraid to ask what the dog meant. Sometimes, truthtellers should not speak.

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    1. Wow, Leland. Powerful and ominous and brilliant.

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    2. Yep. Totally agree. And I would say more, but I have editing to do and I'll just start bawling if I really get into this. Suffice to say, brilliant.

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    3. This breaks my heart. I don't know who's time it is, but eitherway, we're gonna need kleenexes. "The dog who slept beside him, even when he slept with someone else." Love that line.

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    4. Oh man Leland, I'm about to cry!

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    5. Love this so hard.

      You forgot a truthteller, though: writers...who tells lies to convey a greater truth. ;)

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    6. And another aspect of that oh so complex thing between the wisdom of pets and their people...

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  10. Something somber.
    I don't know what to wear. I never do. Especially on special occasions. I don't know why I expect today to be any different. I don't even know why I'm going. I hate these things. I hate when a group of people who normally can't stand each other stand around and pretend to be the "loving family" for an afternoon. Birthdays, reunions, weddings, graduations...all a bunch of play-acting to save face. Not a genuine smile beaming or tear falling in the place.
    I don't know what to wear. Nothing in my "wardrobe" seems appropriate for the situation. Nothing about *me* seems appropriate for this situation. I don't own a dress. I don't even own a pair of dress slacks and a nice blouse. (Not that I'd have the right shoes to wear with a suit of scrutiny!)
    Like it matters what I wear.
    Most of them probably don't want me there anyway.
    They know I'll screw up. They know I'll do *something* to embarrass the family.
    And these things are for the family after all.
    If I don't get my shit together, I'm going to be late.
    They always said I would be.
    Maybe I'll get there early, and REALLY disappoint 'em.

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    1. Oh, that last line kills. And I love the suit of scrutiny. And I can totally relate.

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    2. suit of scrutiny is indeed brilliant... and I've been at some of these "festivities"... you nailed it!

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    3. Puts a new twist on "Oh well it's your funeral!" Doesn't it? :D
      Thanks Mister Dan and Leland. Your input means a lot me.

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    4. Oh dear, I remember those "mandatory" days that pissed me off! LOL Thanks for the snapshot!

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    5. Thank you Intangible Hearts.

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    6. Captures social anxiety so well. And the lead up to that last line is perfect.

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    7. You read my mind...Got a kid coming up on college graduation in a Liberal arts conservative school somewhere in the South. She's got green hair and I'm supposed to wear a DRESS???

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    8. Dang Mister David, if you only knew! Thank you.

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    9. Miss Teresa you should match the color of her hair with your dress! Solidarity! :)

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  11. I don't give two shits about your frantic teeth clicks, makes me sick. Just like the way that you think you're slick. Nice clothes, good lines, nice schtick. All the ladies know you're a prick. A candle with no wick.

    I could give a fuck about your erstwhile luck. When it ended, you standing awe-struck. Jaw stuck. You shouldn't have said it - we came unstuck. And I left you because you couldn't tuck.

    I could give a damn about all your plans. Someday you'll be a bigger man. But I feel about Somedays the way I feel about Sundays. Just another day. You and God, shysters. One spirit, one man.

    I'm done now because I don't like shouting. And your ears are stuck in ceaseless doubting. I try to tell you what it's all about ... sing! Fuck them and their imaginings. You have a voice for a reason, boy, now get on the stage and start the outing.

    You can out me first; it's all the same to me.

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    1. You slay me Mister Mader! You have a keen ear and tongue for wordplay and it makes my brain do cartwheels!

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  12. That's how it is, see? You find yourself with a handful of diamonds and a lungful of hot fire. You can't run anymore, and you've really done it this time. Boy, you did it. Didn't even think. Can't even connect the dots. Just staring at the berries and then you're running beside bullets. The bullets are faster, but somehow they all pass by.

    Don't try to kid yourself now, son. You know you did it. Don't try to weasel. It's time to come to it. You left yourself to dangle. And it wasn't the sparkle or the money the sparkle could turn into; it was settling an old score.

    Go ahead and duck inside the bar, boy. The bullets are coming. You might as well make yourself as spongey as possible so they'll go right through. Hit the bar, get the barkeep. Look sharp, no sweating - it's unbecoming. Just settle.

    See how many shots of rye a pile of diamonds will buy.

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    1. How much rye? I wonder. LOL Cool piece.

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    2. I've got Hateful 8 on the brain, and I'm placing all of your stories inside Minnie's Haberdashery! Yup. Today your stories are getting a Spaghetti Western spin in my head. :)

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    3. kamy, that is so weird as I had a total Reservoir Dogs hit while reading this!

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    4. I Love your choice of rye. Rye? To me? It's like a last resort. Like drinking the Vermouth, for God's sake!

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    5. Mader is channeling Tarantino! Prepare for a beautiful, bloody good time! :D

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  14. I like it best out here.
    I like the way it makes me feel.
    I like the way I smile out here.
    I like the way I breathe out here.
    When I'm out here, I'm nine years old again, and the dogs have run up ahead and they're looking back, calling to me!
    "C'mon! Let's go play!"
    And they're smiling.
    And I'm smiling.
    And they have that "I Dare ya!" look in their eyes!
    I bend down to tie my shoe.
    To draw it out a little.
    Joey is already starting to whine.
    "These laces are so hard to keep tied when they're sopping wet."
    I look up just a bit. Just to take measure of their excitement.
    Póg barks his little urgent "Arf!"
    Bubba sighs a drawn out yawn and dances in place.
    And Blink?
    Blink has found some Slappy Mud to play in and will be happy no matter what we decide.
    I can't draw it out much longer or they'll go nuts!
    I stand up. Check the straps of my pack. Everything feels in place. But chances are we'll forget something. We always do.
    "Ok guys! Up or down?"
    They always pick "Up"
    Of course.
    Up is literally up. It is one rough mother of a hill to climb.
    The dogs run ahead and then circle back. They come crashing towards me like they've got no brakes, then split off at the last possible second!
    Except Blink. If I'm not careful, and I don't shout "Blinky watch it!", I'm in for a shin-buster. AND a dizzy dog.
    Both of which will make it 50% more likely that the boys will tackle us on the next run. We all know how this works.
    We finally make it to the top. I start digging for my water bottle and the dogs look for fresh grass to chew on.
    We've made it to the top! And this is just the start of our trip!
    "What say you Mutts? Airstrip or Frog Pond?"
    And it's up or down, and either way has a 50% chance of landing us in TON of trouble.

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    1. Awe, love the relationship with the dogs. I can relate in a small way to "Blinky watch it." Because I have Pinky and she's always a handful. Great!

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    2. Aw cool! Our Blink was born blind, and she knows to slow down and be careful when I say "Watch it Blink"
      Of course for it to be very effective, I have to remember to say it. ;)

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    4. I'm glad Mister Leland :)
      I hope soon this will just be a boring everyday occurrence and not just one perfect day that we had. <3

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    5. I like this one a lot. :)

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    6. Cat person, actually. But you kinda make me want a dog!

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    7. Teresa fear not, we have a cat that thinks he's a dog! ;)

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  15. You don’t owe me anything. An apology, maybe, when you get around to it, but you can walk away easily with that jaunt in your stride and your laces dangling behind and I worry that you may trip and that’s a price I’ll always carry like a boulder in my backpack and you don’t have to tip me. Just doing my job. I worry about whether you’ll find a safe place to stay; I worry about the time you’ve spent away from your art; I worry about the legacy you’ve planted in my head; I worry about your life being another thing you toss over your shoulder as you accept another ride from a stranger. You don’t owe me anything. It’s what I do. Put that on my tombstone, if you ever manage to come back this way again.

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    1. Ooh, that legacy in the head thing. Love it!

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    2. I like how the narrator is convincing herself that it'll all be fine, but you don't say it in words... I so admire your ability to get inside those characters' heads!

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    3. What Leland said. <3

      "a price I'll always carry like a boulder in my backpack" is a great phrase, btw.

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    4. Wow Miss Laurie! I love the line Leland pointed out and "I worry about your life being another thing you toss over your shoulder as you accept another ride from a stranger."

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    5. Yes, that inhabiting of another (or an other) is what writing is about, and you do it as well as anyone.

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    6. Agreed with all. So much power with so few words.

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    7. I love that element of defense and self protection from pain. Even while the love abides.

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    8. I love that you can take people back to a feeling so easily, and you've done it again. I love how the repetition of "you don't owe me anything" ties it all together perfectly.

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  16. It was a prickly cool, the kind that began in your toes, winding its way up your skirt. She wouldn’t understand. She didn’t care and she didn’t wear skirts anymore. “Get up,” she yelled. “Go do something. Anything.”
    Doris yawned and wondered why it felt like she had enlisted in the army. She put her book down and sat up.
    “Mom, I don’t go to school anymore. I graduated. Remember?”
    She watched her mom wield the vacuum cleaner around the couch, pausing to point at the door. “Just get out of this room. Can’t you see I’m busy?”
    “Can I turn on the heater?” She smoothed her skirt and stood to leave the room.
    “What?” Her mother yelled above the suction.
    The windows had condensation between the panes and drops of rain raced down the glass. “Can I turn up the heat?”
    Her mother stopped the vacuum. Her contorted face looked frightening. “You touch that thermostat and you will be sorry.”
    “Fine.” It was all she needed to hear. She dialed Tim. “I’m ready,” she whispered. “If we drive to the courthouse this morning we can honeymoon in Vegas.”

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    1. A vignette presaging a very happy life, I'm sure :-)

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    2. This encapsulates that thing about the devil (and the odd angel) being in the details: the condensation between the panes (and their echo of pains) and the musical sound of that whole phrase makes this for me.

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    3. Yeah, dittoing again. And I love this: She didn’t care and she didn’t wear skirts anymore. - so simple, but so much in there

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    4. Oh so vivid! How the kid always jumps the restrictions, because the Mom sets a rule to make it happen!

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  17. The rush hour bleating of trumpets seems out of place, out of sync with both the swaying, rolling rhythm of the tourists who are on a mission of relaxation and the bobbing, weaving, frenetic energy of the hotel staff (overworked and underpaid, cliche as it may be). The pelicans don't seem to mind the crappy music that the hotel insists on sharing with the world beyond it's front doors. They circle in the perfect azure sky, riding the winds, their wings thrown wide to embrace both currents and freedom. Now and then they dip down to buzz past the wide glass walls that front the hotel, peeking in at the inhabitants of the human zoo. Sometimes, I swear I can hear them mocking us. And I can't blame them one little bit.

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    1. A perfect Polaroid snapshot of just one moment! I really liked this!

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    2. I also love the snapshot nature of this and the rhythms of the language that almost track the flight of the birds themselves.

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    3. Dammit, DA took mine. Yep, the pelicans.

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    4. Stupid pelicans! I love the "human zoo." That's what it feels like sometimes. I gotta agree about the rhythm thing, too. Great post.

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  18. At first, it's just warmth. The kind that crawls over your skin, covering old wounds, killing the wasp thoughts. You stretch or it feels like stretching. Everything starts to get a little bit darker. Ants march up and down your spine with electric feet.

    You fall, and there is fear and wonder in the falling. There is also apathy. Not the bad kind. The true kind. The real kind. Because nothing exists anymore - you've blotted it out. Pulled the wool over the whole world.

    Seconds, minutes, hours, days, lifetimes. Death. It's all in there and it's all some kind of shared collective resignation. No one is trying to play hero. No one exists.

    Not even you.

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    1. This one hits close to home. Your words make me wince at my own resignation. Pain and beauty all wrapped up into one short story. Well done Mister Mader.

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    3. Sad, but truthfully and beautifully written.

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    4. Yes! "Wasp thoughts" was wicked!

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  19. She liked walking in the rain.
    It reminded her of things that she seemed to forget when the sun was shining.
    The water dripping off of her short hair tickled on the back of her neck and face. Reminding her of those first kisses, the ones that left her cheeks and chin scraped and kind of raw...
    How she couldn't stop reaching up and tracing the map of burning scratches with her fingertips and smiling with awe.
    Because she had dreamed of that kiss!
    And it had been better than she imagined!
    She had wanted that man so badly!
    And now he wanted her!
    And nothing else mattered!
    Morals, ethics, beliefs...
    Those morals had faded ages ago,
    with all of the long walks, and the strawberry daiquiri wine coolers, and all the poetry she had written, sitting alone on the beach...a little bit excited, a little bit scared, and more than a little drunk.
    She had worked alongside him all summer long. Had felt her heart catch in her throat when he had taken off his shirt to hammer the boards on the dock down. His tan back was fit, and the sweat glistening in the August sun was like a teasing invitation.
    Morals didn't matter anymore. Codes didn't matter. Something more primal was in the driver's seat now.
    The need to touch and be touched, to feel a man's hot breath on her neck and the shivers that it sent down her back!
    She wanted this man. She ached for this man. She had decided she wanted this man...to take what she was, a girl, a child, and make her....

    She wished she could just take the good parts. Couldn't she just take the good parts and make it...just a wonderful dream that she had once had?
    None of the regrets?

    She liked walking in the rain.
    It felt like it was washing away the poisons that she'd been drowning herself with.

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    1. Oh, man. That closer. And I love the way the prose mirrors the feeling. Well played.

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    2. Thank you Intangible Hearts.

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  20. My sister was sitting on the living room floor, engrossed in sorting our uncle’s LP collection and didn’t even look up when I stormed over to her. “You aren’t supposed to be reading that,” she said, perusing the back of a Herb Alpert album. “You know what Auntie said. “Burn the journals.”

    As if. As if I was going to let something that potentially juicy go up in flames. Besides, this one had fallen off the top shelf while I was clearing stuff out. It smashed into my toe, so the deal was off. At least for the journal I currently held open in front of her. “But look at this,” I said. “Is this, like, a list of boyfriends or something?”

    I thought for sure she would know. She had appointed herself the keeper of family secrets, choosing her moments to mete them out to me. Usually when she needed something in exchange. Finally she glanced up at Auntie’s loopy cursive and returned to Herb. “Don’t recognize any of them.”

    Damn it. “Not even this one?” I pointed to the name at the top. It had a checkmark next to it.” My sister’s eyes narrowed. Her mouth tightened, then relaxed.

    “Huh. It looks familiar.” She paused a moment, then said lightly, “But it’s really none of our business, is it?”

    No. She couldn’t just hang that in front of me and— “Why does it look familiar?”

    She looked to be deciding something. Then, slowly, she put the album down and got to her feet, her eyes pleading. “Promise me. Promise me you won’t tell a soul.”

    Another clue, another tidbit. At that moment, I would have promised her my firstborn, my favorite shoes, my… “I promise.” And then I followed. Upstairs, to a file cabinet at the back of Auntie’s office, under a stack of old magazines. It was a box, like the kind print shops used to give you if you had a big photocopying order. She pulled it out like it was treasure, set it on her desk, opened the top. I could only stare. And then it fired a memory. I was so little. I wanted to play princesses, because my cousins were hogging the video games, so I’d gone to find Auntie. I asked what she was doing, and she said she was writing a story. I asked her if we could play, and she stopped and we went downstairs. She never really talked about stories again, and I never knew she’d even finished one.

    “But why didn’t she want anyone to know?”

    My sister shrugged. “She didn’t think she was any good. I guess she was embarrassed.”

    I brushed a hand over the cover page. “Did you read it?”

    “A few pages, once. And yes. She gave me permission to.”

    “And is it any good?”

    She nodded. Then pointed to the notebook I was still clutching. “That first name on the list. It was a guy she knew. Before Uncle Dave. Mom told me about him. He bears a striking resemblance to a character in that story. Who gets killed off in a pretty gruesome way.”

    My eyes widened. The list had at least two-dozen names on it. All of a sudden a lump of sadness and pain collected in my belly. “Did she write more?”

    My sister shook her head.

    I held the journal out to her. “Burn it,” I said. “Burn all of it.”

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    1. :/

      Not where I expected this to go. Good stuff, as always. Creepy, sad, but good. :)

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    2. Ohhh I would so jump in front of that flame and grab that journal!
      There are so many stories in there!
      I really liked this Miss Laurie!

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    3. Damn, ya twisted my guts around with this one. Awesome stuff, lady.

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    4. Weird that for we wewrite, so many of our stories a re secret? Why is that?

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    5. Yikes. I liked the turns and the dialogue. Cool mystery plot beginning. Every journal entry a chapter.

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  21. Anna peered at herself in the mirror, turning this way and that to admire her new dress. Her mother had commissioned it especially for today, Anna's thirteenth birthday. It was a grown-up dress, not one for little girls, because Anna wasn't a child anymore. She wasn't a grown-up yet, and it would be a few years more before she was expected to dress in the clingy, flowing gowns the women favored for wear at court. She was glad of that, really. This gown suited her better, simple and modest though it may be, and the color--something between aqua and turquoise--set off her eyes and made the drab dark purples and blues of her hair seem a little brighter. She wished she had her sister's hair, the same pale orange as Anna's favorite fall flowers.

    "Mae's so lucky," she told her reflection.

    Mae with her orange hair and her woman's curves. Mae who had been taught by tutors and hadn't had to go away to school.

    The dress lost some of it's luster as Anna thought about the future that lay just a few months ahead. She'd go away to school, not too far but far enough to not come home to her own bed at night. She'd be away for months. Away from her bed, away from her secret hiding places in and around the castle, away from her mother and sister and baby brother. Away from the servants, who were also her friends. Mother said she'd make new friends, but she didn't want new friends. The old ones suited her just fine.

    Anna studied her dress a moment later, and then turned away from the mirror and reached for a well-worn frock that only just still fit. If she hurried, she could change and still make it to her birthday celebration on time. Mother could have the pretty new dress, and she could have her stupid school. If growing up meant giving up her friends and her home, she'd just stay a child forever.

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    1. I love this so much! It's almost like getting to read one scene from a book I've been waiting for ages to come out!

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    2. Man, I can see a million stories spiraling out of this. Awesome

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    3. This is a great glimpse into the mind of a girl on the verge of change. Love ut.

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    4. So poetic...from the turquoise dress to the idea of regression.

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    5. Such lovely detail, and I can feel all of it. :D

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  22. Shhh...It's ok. You'll be safe under here!
    Ha! I just made you say underwear! That's twice today!

    Aaah! Pop that thought bubble Lil Man!
    This...*this* right here, has protected Jedis and superheroes! Wizards and soldiers! Every knight, every Hobbit, every ninja...
    Even kings and Spartans!
    Every one of them has depended on this as their last defense!
    What? You thinking I'm making this up?
    Are you Loco? This is the real deal!
    This is magic AND science! Every inch, every fiber, is made from rainbows and the stuff stars are made of!
    What? It's true!
    Have I ever lied to you?
    This will keep you safe through the years Lil Man!
    Hmm?
    Well I can. If you think you'll need it.
    But I don't think you will. You've got this!
    Ok. Are you completely shielded?
    Inside the Force field?
    Even around the edges?
    Do you feel secure in your current position Colonel O'Neil?
    All tucked in?
    Good.
    Ok. Ok. One kiss. For good luck.
    Just one this time though! Right???
    Yes. I'll leave the hallway light on...
    so I can return to my quarters safely.
    You're very wise.
    What Lil Man?
    Goodnight my prince.

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    1. This is a dope piece. You can feel it. Really well played.

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    2. Thanks Mister Mader. This is one piece that I've written that *I* actually like. It makes me miss my Lil man.

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    3. Thank you Intangible Hearts. That means a lot to me.

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  23. How swiftly life can run its course, from the baby brother in my arms to the shell of a man, whose lifeless heart rested beneath my hand on his ribs. I just turned around and he was gone. Maybe I shouldn’t turn around so much, the dizzying effect of such rotations will make me fall over too soon enough.

    And isn’t that a morbid thought on this (alleged) Spring day. A day when the grass remembered it life as something green and the magic maples and willows opened their tiny fists like natural conjurers’ hands to show nothing up their sleeves but sudden life.

    That can happen mighty fast, too. I guess that’s why I wasn’t surprised when I found a cup of twigs in the bottom of my yet-to-be-removed Easter wreath, where two days before were naught but frosted silk flowers and plastic eggs. Now a house sparrow whooshes past from within my weather-safe entry whenever I wander my way in.

    Today, I spied within that lifeless cage of threaded maple, ash and oak ribs, only to find a circle, a beating orb of life can return as fast as it can fly away. I guess that’s when I decided to make a go for at least another day, and spin my way to another.

    One circle at a time.

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    1. This is beautifully written Mister Joseph. I'm amazed by the circles we find in life. Thank you for sharing one.

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    2. Yeah, beautiful writing. And I love this snippet: "Maybe I shouldn’t turn around so much..."

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    3. Don't turn around!You describe life and death succinctly.

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  24. Human skin has three layers: epidermis, dermis and hypodermis.

    What they don't tell you is that it's more like 7 layers.  Some of the layers have multiple layers,

    and I'm here to tell you that you can feel each one of them and it's not something

    you ever want to feel.

    Coming clean is hard.  

    Getting clean is even harder.

    Crawling in your skin...

    ...feeling all of those layers

    And they're all 12 sizes too big and 7 sizes too small

    And you're so cold but you can't stop sweating

    And you think you're gonna die

    And you pray that you're gonna die

    Because this is a hell of your own making

    But nobody can explain how you got here

    Because this is most certainly *not* where you were going

    Was it?  

    Oh yeah, you question everything now.   

    You know nothing for sure.

    Except that you hurt

    And you're sick, God so sick

    And you'll do literally anything to make it stop

    Anything.

    Need doesn't have morals or ethics

    Hunger must be fed

    or hunger will fuck up your whole world.

    They gave it to you for your pain.  It took away the pain.

    At first.  And then this thing happens where the poison

    Is so insidious that it slips in and convinces your soul

    That you NEED it.  

    Need it more than anything.

    More than love, friends, a job, pride...

    It even begins creating it's own pain

    So you don't dare forget to feed that monster

    You get that script filled and you promise, you swear

    This time you'll make it last,

    This time you won't run out too soon...again

    But it hurts, you hurt, and you want it to stop

    You'll do anything to make it stop...at least for now

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    1. You nailed this one. Perfect. And this: Need doesn't have morals or ethics - genius

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    2. </3 Beautifully rendered. And everything Dan said.

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    4. At least for now!! OMG. I loved the slow building of the layers. :)

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    5. Thank you JD and lbclark75 that means a lot to me. I was actually hesitant to post this one.

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  25. "There's not enough time."

    She said it like it was something simple, but I knew what she meant. Time wasn't time.

    "Look, you just need to calm down. Breathe."

    "Shut the fuck up."

    Her face was clenched like a toddler fist. She was beyond reach. Tripping on time that wasn't time, but was something that orbited desperation.

    "Alright. Alright. Here."

    She took the cigarette and snapped it in two. She'd be asking for another one in five minutes. Time. That was time. No uncertainty about that.

    There was a ray of light through the window. There was a bird singing in the eaves. There was one truth. Sometimes you find lovers, friends.

    But those bastards always leave.

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    1. Aw man Mister Mader! That was a #writehook right in the feel-bones. Damn the truth hurts.

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    3. Never enough time. I feel her pain.

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  26. He looked to the left, and then the right,  

    in a frantic sort of way that turned seconds

    into hours

    He cursed himself under his breath.

    So she couldn't, wouldn't hear.

    He's NOT there.

    They're NOT there.

    They're safe, at home.

    He had made sure they had gotten home.

    He had taken care of them.

    And he was keeping them safe.

    He had done this every day for 6 years.

    Every.  Day.

    It was exhausting work being hyper-vigilant.

    He was falling apart always trying to keep everyone happy and safe.  

    All of the time.

    He was working a full-time job.

    He was trying to keep his family together.

    And he was always looking for lost little ones.

    Because he kept forgetting.

    He kept forgetting that he had already found them.  And they were safe.

    How could he forget that?

    It didn't make any damn sense.

    How could he remember the beginning so clearly, but not the...how could you ever have a happy ending if you could only remember the start of the story?

    He watched her walk out of the store and towards the truck.

    He adjusted his cap and sort of sniffled, wiping his eyes.

    She couldn't know that he'd been crying again.  He couldn't let her see how hard just driving to the damn grocery store was for him now.

    He closed his eyes for a second.  

    Trying to remember how to breathe.  

    Already gearing up for the ride.

    They still had to drive home.

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    1. Oof. This one hit me in the solar plexus. Really well done.

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    2. Thank you JD. It hits me there every time too. :/

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  28. I've been walking this road for a long time.  

    I've been walking for so long that I've forgotten

    where the pavement ends and I begin.

    I rarely see others on the road.   It's a lonely place.

    But to walk is to breathe, so I walk.

    Walking is breathing and breathing is life.

    In a world where idleness kills, you've got two choices:

    Always keep moving and never let the dust settle,

    Or simply lie down and die...

    ...sometimes a quick death, sometimes a slow

    agonizing hell of a death that goes on for years,

    like a cancer in your soul.

    So I keep moving.  I've even learned to sleep while I walk.

    I can't afford to stop and rest.  That would be a really bad idea.

    I watched a man give up once.  He just couldn't do it anymore,

    So he stopped.

    I couldn't look away

    He lifted his pack from his shoulders and let it drop

    to the ground with a heavy thud.  He removed his jacket,

    carefully folded it and sat it next to his pack.  He untied

    his boots and slid them off his feet.  I'll never forget his big toe

    poking out like some kind of morbid meat-Muppet.  

    I bit off a nervous laugh as he sat down, folding his legs like some kind of apocalyptic yogi.

    It was only a matter of moments before the first ones

    started creeping up on him.  

    "Come and get me you fuckin' little monsters!

    Come get your fill of me and then choke on it!  I'm an old man and I'm tired

    of this goddamn rat-race!"  I think he tried to say more, but by then they

    were on him, covering him.  Crawling all over him like blood-thirsty insects and spilling

    down his screaming throat like liquid silver...Mercury I think they once called it.

    When the Bugs were done with him, he pretty much looked the same.  He could easily be

    mistaken for the man I had met before, but the light in his eyes had been snuffed out

    and now they were much too dark.

    That was the day the last of my innocence died and I knew...
    I would never see the world through childlike eyes again.

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    1. Ooh, I really like this. I can feel the weight of his pack as it drops.

      'That was the last day of my innocence' - this is good. Maybe rework this sentence. It has s good core.

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    2. I think the last two lines are implied enough that I'd cut em. Because this is a STRONG piece. And it doesn't need explaining. Love it.

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    3. Thank you "Hmm" and JD. I liked those last 2 lines, but they feel awkward to me. JD thank you for that, I actually had cut those lines and ended it with the "eyes much too dark" line, but added them back in! Maybe my gut was right after all. I'm hoping this is just one day of a longer piece, but I've never written anything very long, so it's intimidating as hell!

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  30. "Ah, sweetness! Why won't you go out with me Friday night?"

    "You know very well why, Ty."

    "That rule about no dating anyone at the office?"

    "Because I'm your boss, but not just that and you know it."

    "Because you think I'm a horndog?"

    "I don't think you're a horndog, Ty. I'm just tired of hearing you say things like that."

    "Like calling you sweetness?"

    "Exactly! It's my name and you are wearing it out!" She did her best not to shout at him as she pointed at the nameplate on her desk.

    It read, "Julianne Sweetness, Manager".

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    1. Haha I like this a lot! Nice.

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    2. Ha! A spare and nuanced piece. I dig it. :)

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  31. It was more than she could bear. To hear that shrill, hypocritical self-admitted bitch so insincerely sing-song her coworkers name. Putting a 'y' at the end, dripping with saccarin syrup.
    She slept with all the man-boys until she could find one dumb enough to build her a house. A working class Stepford wife, she straddled Catholic school for the kiddies, shift work and servicing her man with the housework.
    She knew she deserved more, that she was special. She made it to America and didn't have to listen to her gaggle of aunties who watched her every move and scrutinized her skirt length. She was going to take what wasn't hers and own it. No apologies. She'd kick them in the teeth if they tried to get her off the pedestal. She'd become a ruthless, unapologetic bitch.

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    1. I really like "gaggle of aunties". I can clearly see their disapproving faces!

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    2. I really like the consistency of tone here - strong and indignant. You did a lot with few words, too. Nicely done.

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