Friday, May 27, 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's going to ask you if the kids liked your new hair cut. You'll shrug, feel cold dread in your spine. An awkward silence will swallow the room; you will watch the walls spin, and you will feel them come closer and you will blink heat. Smile. Sure. And then the questions will start and you'll answer: nothing, nothing, nothing.

Because what do you say? It was like every new school. The nice kids pretended like you didn't exist. The mean kids were fucking mean. And there was one kid (there is always one kid) who latched onto you. A social anchor, but you both appreciated the kindness and felt bad about the whole scene. So, he's your friend now. 


And you've been marked. 

And no one mentioned a goddamn thing about the haircut because they just fucking met you. And, even if they didn't, they're not coming close enough. Not gonna happen. This isn't Florida and no one says y'all, and you sniff a tear and think about tall pine trees. You wonder. How many years of this? How many more before you lose your shit? It's like trying to hold down a dragon, the anger. It's not even anger, it's just energy - with no outlet. It calcifies inside you. 

But you'll get up tomorrow and put on your best poker face so no one notices shit. Haircuts, accents, that new-kid smell. You can blend in. You do it well. So, get pissed, spray WD-40 all over the garage wall and grab a match.

You gotta burn to to blend in hell.


ATTENTION, I WILL EDITING THE THIRD MATT STARK NOVEL ALL DAY. BREAK THE BLOG FOR ME! AND GIVE ME SOME STUFF TO READ TONIGHT! Get 'em! :)

#2minutesgo Tweet it! Share it! Shout it from the top of the shack you live in!

114 comments:

  1. "You gotta burn to blend in hell." Oh yeah... this catches the flavor of being the newbie outcast so well... I felt it all the way into my clenched stomach... and it's been a LONG time since I was that new kid...

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    1. Yeah, it made me so sad. Been there, bought the T-shirt. You're marked. Ah, I don't miss senior school!

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    2. Exactly what they said. Even when I wasn't the new kid, I usually felt this way. Great job.

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    3. Even when you're not the new kid, the struggle to conform goes on..But it isn't nearly as hard as the struggle to be unique...

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    4. Fierce! Love it. "You will blink heat." Like, whoa.

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    5. Oh, you know I felt that shit. Nice!

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  2. And this is how you say goodbye. You stand on the porch of a house that sent its boys off to war, a house too empty for a generation. You imagine Grandma kissing Grandpa as he left for Germany. You wonder if she let the sons she sent to the next war see her cry, and you know she did not.

    And you are startled from your reverie by the screen door slamming behind you, like a shot. You see him standing there, leather jacket and all, and you feel your mouth go dry. He holds a helmet in his hand, and nothing else; he packed the bike last night with the few things he’ll need for a month. Your mouth goes dry, your mind goes blank, and all the words you wanted to tell him before he leaves fly away like ravens. It doesn’t matter that there are no words, because you will remember this moment until he returns. His full lips, the beginning of a moustache, the sleepy eyes of the boy he once was.

    He leans into you, and the smell of his leathers is intoxicating, and you feel his arms around you and your arms, without thought, wrap around him and remember holding him naked last night in his fiery innocence. His lips find yours, and the roughness of his kiss surprises you until it fades into gentleness, and then into absence.
    You stare into his summer-blue eyes, and you search for truth or lies, you don’t know which, but you know what you hope for.

    He walks to his bike, swaggers really, but keeps looking back at you, before he dons the helmet that hides his eyes.

    He kickstarts the engine, turns to you one more time, and then resurrects the dust of the driveway, the dust of so many goodbyes, and when he reaches the road, he raises his gloved hand and waves one last time.

    Your own hand rises stiffly to return the wave, and then you hear the roar of the engine he rebuilt, and he is disappearing into the blue skies of morning, and you wonder if he will return, as he said, in a month, or if you’ll be left to sleep alone forever, and for the first time in many years, you hear yourself pray, and the ghost of Grandma leads you inside.

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    1. Oh man. I love this. And that last line is fire.

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    2. I was sniffing leather. Very good.

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    3. "you wonder if he will return, as he said, in a month, or if you’ll be left to sleep alone forever, and for the first time in many years, you hear yourself pray, and the ghost of Grandma leads you inside."

      Got me right in the feels. <3

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    4. God, Leland!Perfect! Bravo! Don't change a thing!

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    5. God, Leland!Perfect! Bravo! Don't change a thing!

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    6. Oh. Oh, this is powerful and lovely and perfect.

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    7. Dan and Leland totally rocking the second-person tonight! Much love for this.

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    8. Your writing always draws me all the way inside the story. I smelled those leathers, man!

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    9. thank you so much for your support and kind words!

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  3. It was a day at the cusp of spring, a day of moonsets and sunrises, of death and birth. It was, then, a day like any other. Beginnings and endings hung nearly balanced on the fulcrum of time.

    It is an optimistic lie we tell ourselves that sixty is middle age, the middle of our time on earth. Middle implies half, and how many survive to a hundred-twenty? No, it was a morning in autumn, though the trees had just turned green; the autumn of his life.

    The eagle and the raven joined him as he walked; one the hunter of the living and the other a scavenger of the dead. The dog, named for an angel, knew that this was the day, the day when teetering on the edge would lead to falling, but he wore a brave face. The dog knew, as dogs always do. Old dogs know most lies are half-lies, and they know that “I’ll love you forever” is the only lie that’s true.

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    1. Man, you close so well. And I love the MagicalRealLeland, as you know. :)

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    2. I have tears thinking about that dog named for an angel. :)

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    3. What JD said. And, again, you got me right in the feels. You excel at that.

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    4. Love this line so hard: Old dogs know most lies are half-lies, and they know that “I’ll love you forever” is the only lie that’s true.

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    5. Yes, "the only lie that's true" is amazing. And yeah, true.

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    6. Got me square in my dog-loving heart, you did. Damn.

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  4. She steps out of the darkness. If you want to be literal. If you don't, then know: she carries the darkness everywhere she goes. But she's good at hiding it because the only thing colder than that kind of darkness is money. And she needs both.

    Red lips, she's beautiful. Smudge of lipstick on one canine and it looks like blood. Maybe it is. Who fucking cares. She's got heels on and it's like a fucking drumline on the sidewalk, and in your chest. This ain't love. This doesn't smell like daises. This smells like murder.

    It doesn't matter. Nothing matters. All that matters is money. You don't think it's cold. You think it's warm as the Caribbean because that's where you're going. She may be a whore, a mother, a nun in disguise. A cop. It don't matter.

    The bullet don't care.

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    1. oh wow... that went in a different direction than I might have guessed... the lipstick on the canine is genius...

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    2. Nice contrast between the warm and cold. I'm shivering.

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    3. Did not see the switch of protagonist coming. Awesome.

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    4. Nice noir thing going on. The rhythm of your words is always a treat, too.

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    5. Whoosh! Last 2 lines are killer. No Puns...

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    6. Yup, what they said. I love how it engages all the senses.

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    7. How refreshing to experience the killer's POV. Love it.

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  5. You hate shopping. You prefer to do it in the privacy of your home, but the tent you want for this summer’s backpacking trip isn’t available online. So you brave the parking lot, the shopping mall, and you walk into the store.
    “May I help you find something?” The paunchy salesman has clearly never hiked, even to the far side of the parking lot.
    “Yeah, I’m looking for the pup tents.”
    “Right this way. Any particular model in mind?”
    “I saw one in your ad online, a three-season, one-and-a-half-person tent. Forest green.”
    “Oh yes, that’s on sale! Here it is, right in the middle of our winter discount tents.”
    Shakespeare. Did the guy really just make a Shakespeare pun in the middle of a camping store?
    “Thanks.”
    “So where’s your better half?”
    You look at him, wondering what on earth he’s talking about. “Pardon?”
    “Get it? a one-and-a-half-person tent?”
    And you ask, “Do you carry guns here?”
    And you realize that it really is better for you to shop at home, online, even if you don’t get the sale price.

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    1. OMG, that is wonderful too Leland. I cracked up at the accidental slip of the tongue joke.

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    2. Guns! haha. Love it.
      Winter discount tents!!!! :)

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    3. LoL. Love it. And that last bit...I so relate. :D

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    4. I Love this SOOO Much! Our Winter discount tents? Brilliant!

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    5. This is very funny. Yeah, I'm still laughing at "winter discount tents." :D

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    6. I read the first line and thought, "That's me!" And then you go and throw in a Shakespeare pun, too, and...wow. Thank you.

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  6. His father’s collection had hung in The Museum of Modern Art. One spring day, the curator called to say there would be some changes and they were only going to keep one piece. He remembered that sunny afternoon vividly, his father yelling, throwing a canvas and demanding his help. “That’s not red you moron, it’s poppy orange. Get out. Get out.” The previous day, a downpour had flooded the yard. The rain had evaporated just like his mother. He sat on the grass near a puddle hoping that by the time his eleventh birthday rolled around someone would bake him a cake. He began making mud pies. Each time he finished one he felt a sense of mastery. Though only mud pies, he knew he wasn’t a moron.
    His father’s voice echoed in his mind and memories made him pull the Egyptian cotton sheet over his head. Why can’t the past stay in the past?
    “Jordon, would you stop being so depressed?” Carl came back into the room and sat on the edge of the mattress. “We have a lot to do today, especially, if you want to drive all the way downtown to march in the parade.” Jordon sat up, gazing at Carl’s tan, lean physique. Though they both usually wore suits, Carl made sure the weekends were all about sunshine. He looked down at his alabaster skin in shame but brightened when thinking of the upcoming parade. “Is that a hint of a smile?” Carl asked.
    “Just look at how tan you are? I’m embarrassed to get out of bed.”
    “Oh stop. My white jeans make me look darker, that’s all. And besides, you’re a nice shade of white. ”
    “The color wheels were turning in my mind and I landed on alabaster.”
    “Ooh, that sounds dreamy. Now go get ready. What’s this hound-dog stuff? You’re upset about being pale? We can drive to Palm Springs and put some color on those cheeks next week. Now get up so I can make the bed.”
    “It’s not that. I keep thinking about my dad.”
    “What about him. It’s not like he minded about you know—us?”
    “I know that.” He thought about his father’s friends and how some of them stayed overnight after shooting pool. His mother’s words before she walked out the door were, ‘I can’t deal with your dad’s hang-ups.’ He thought of his father’s art studio with buckets full of brushes and the smell of turpentine. The side his father portrayed to him was tough but creative. His father had been a man whose passion for art ran deeper than any feelings for his family. “I need to find closure. Maybe someday we can go to the cemetery?”
    Carl patted him on the hand. “Sure, sure. Whatever. Don’t you want to get going?”
    Jordon smiled and slowly moved off the bed. “I figured it out.”
    Carl tugged on the sheets, “What? What did you figure out?”
    “Why, my dad didn’t like me.”
    “And?”
    “It’s because I’m colorblind.”
    Carl watched Jordon step into the shower before fixing the comforter cover and adjusting the pillows. Yeah, he thought to himself, Jordon’s skin had a delicious, pale olive hue but it certainly wasn’t alabaster. “For goodness sake, hurry, up!”

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    1. Agreed. And I love when color is infused into a black and white (seeming) medium. You and Leland are super good at it.

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    2. Oh Yeah, the self centeredness of the "master" Who hasn't been there?

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    3. This is so gorgeous and I want more.

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    4. Yeah, it has its own unique rhythm, too.

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  7. I wrote something here a long time ago, and it sat and kept calling me, so I took another look and a full story started demanding I write it. I haven't yet finished it, but here's an excerpt and hopefully I should finish it later today and will post on my blog (for anyone interested). I love it when this happens. some of you will maybe recognize the opening part.
    _________________________________

    What had possessed her to do this she couldn't have said. Alone. Out of shape. And in deep winter. By the time she'd made it up to the cabin—quads, calves, and lower back muscles trembling with fury at her impromptu masochism, heels sanded raw by her ancient hiking shoes, her every breath a vast torment—much of the light had gone from the sky and the cedars were ink-black against a layered grey backdrop of mountain ranges and thick cloud.

    There'd been snow at the trailhead, so no surprise to see more of it here, almost two hours' near-vertical hike later, burdening the branches and drifted like cold-bleached dunes against the walls of the cabin. She shivered and dug in her pack for a spare fleece. At least she would likely be alone, no partying hikers to interrupt her monastic night.

    No sooner had she formed that thought than a sound reached her, startling in the silence: the crisp snap of twigs, something moving in the trees.

    Bear? Cougar, even? It was a hot and a cold thought, both, and her skin a crawling electric skein, she backed toward the cabin.

    ***

    "Just one night's all I'm asking." She kept her face still.

    "Okay. Fuck. So we get used to one night, then you sneak out for another 'just one night,' some point after. So what then? It's a slippery fuckin' slope, ain't it? Plus, how do I know you're gonna go where you say you're gonna go, even now? Huh?"

    "Because it's true."

    "True like what? Like Area 51? Like Sandy Hook? Like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion?"

    "Nah, true like sunrise. Like love."

    "Oh, what a pleasant little poet you turned out to be. What a lovely, perfect, dreamy little cunt. Please, tell me more!"

    "Hon, you're scaring me."

    "I'm scaring you? Bitch, you don't even know what fear is. Get ready, though."

    She could never anticipate the exact moments; she was doomed to parsing tendencies, which neither flashed on the immediate nor lit on the specific. His right hand, with its cracked and knobby joints and its futile zirconian angles, hovered like a distant thunderhead until it was suddenly upon her, catching her square in its cyclone drama, plying its special breed of junkyard mean. The inked knuckles, left to right, fist-forward: T-R-U-E G-U-T-S. Though P-U-R-E R-A-G-E would have worked equally well.

    Either way, she might not have known precisely what it meant, or its specific ETA, but she damn well knew exactly how it felt.

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    1. Ouch. I'm reeling from the emotion and connecting her hike....surreal.

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    2. I'm glad you kept going with this one brother. Super strong. I look forward to reading the rest!

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    3. Revisiting old wounds...Worthy subject for worthy stories. So--what happens different this time?

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    4. There, finished it. Here's a link. Nothing too different, Teresa, just more of it, and a more rounded tale, I think. It's always nice to complete a full story.

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    5. Ooh, that's chilling. Well done.

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    6. Oh, I loved this one at its birth and I'm looking forward to reading the final. So chilling.

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  8. She stood behind the door. Hand over mouth, breath held in tight. She did her best to remain quiet and out of sight. She wished he would hurry, she couldn't take much more. Another stressful moment and she'd be flat on the floor.

    He rounded the corner, making noises, giving a shout. Looking behind and under everything, trying to flush her out.
    He hated games, she liked to play and as usual- she got her way.
    Her toes he saw, under the curtains. Pink nails, yeah hers, he knew for certain.
    Screaming like a banshee, hopping like a frog, he pulled back the curtains and barked like a dog.

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    1. Hey, Ey! Love this. I like the rhyme and rhythmn and it's really playful in a light way, which really contrasts to the harshness of what's happening and the strength of the words, so the two seem to create confusion and more conflict. It's really interesting. Like a snap.

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    2. I agree. And the rhymes seem super natural, not forced at all. Well played.

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    3. I'm envious of that ability to do rhymes that don't interfere with the story... this is good.

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    4. Well now, I for one, want to know what happens next...

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    5. Yes, I agree with Vickie on that wonderful contrast between what is being told and how it's being told.

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  9. Past sound

    And so it’s long past gone
    Like the sprightly white hare
    This shade of madness bubbling
    As water succumbs to a breeze

    This switchback, forward, stay

    Awake in the hour of this day
    Where he runs against the tide
    Urging the currents to welcome him
    Within their starlit insides wrapt

    This is the silencing

    The heartfelt plunge into the dark
    Peeling off layers of skin like bark
    Hear the moon sway in its orbit
    Dark birds laughing upon the night

    It is the silence fearing sound

    The hare, he runs the distancing
    A shadow picked out in delight
    Paws pounding, determined might
    Following the arch of the bough

    Into the silencing

    Betide the knowing hands so still
    Seeking something that lies beyond
    Itself and thyself and everything
    Plunged into the waters so deep.

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    1. Beautiful language as always. Missed seeing you around these parts! I especially adore this line: 'Within their starlit insides wrapt' - beautiful.

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    2. Sometimes poetry is so perfect, you can't say anything. I'm there with this one.

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    3. If I had to pick a couplet it would be this one:

      "Hear the moon sway in its orbit
      Dark birds laughing upon the night"

      I tried to come up with a word to describe how that made me feel, and the best I could come up with was eldritch. It's kind of primal.

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  10. I just read Mader's, so he's to blame for the sudden mood change to think of a character devoid of hope!

    Echo

    She knows herself. It’s a pattern. A trick of the light. Smooth, rough, even, tough, dry. A collapse of words. Raw. A ruination of self. Drawn. A dream come full circle. Spiralling. And here it is: this semblance of self. Identity wretched, wrenched inside itself. Wandered through. Stepped into. Stretched over skin so tight it yearns to break. And so it shrank. Shrinks. Disintegrates. Devours the watching. The brewing day, it never yawns. She beckons this thing, lurking inside the walls, these fabrications of her own mind. Distilled. Disturbed. Rocking the silence until it gives. And then the scream will silence the emptiness that aches as nothing ever could.

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    1. Oh, it's good to have your words (and you) here... such tiny sentences, such a big wallop... I like it!

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    2. Thanks, Leland. I was meant to go out, but got home from work at 9pm and was too shattered :)

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    3. I should plunge you into hopelessness more often. ;)

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    4. It's easier to write dark sometimes - a dark character is more interesting.

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    5. Yay, another fan of plunging into hopelessness! ;)

      These words tumble over each other, as if they're real physical things that can leave bruises.

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  11. Okay, this one took longer than 2mins - a 15-minute one.

    Her number

    He asked for her number beneath the glitter ball and she gave him it. Then he hounded her for weeks for a little attention; some time with her he craved. Eager, she’d give him that. Yet she kept it back, unwilling to surrender interest in someone so young.
    Her friend ribbed her for it. ‘He was the best-looking guy in the place,’ she said. But she avoided him. Still he rang. In the end she gave him what he wanted, curious.
    Dinner, he said, enthusiastically listing all the places he wanted to take her, show her off, get to know her, etcetera.
    They met in the stark light of a cold street outside a warm bar. His eyes contradicted the smile on his face; they searched her own, seeming to voice an unsaid question. Confusion rippled in his expression. Let’s just get a drink, he suggested.
    She’d never seen a guy finish a pint so fast. A rabbit caught in headlights – that’s what he reminded her of, come to think of it.
    So how old are you? He blurted out the words, almost undignified.
    Fifty-one, she said, awaiting the metaphorical jaw drop.
    It plunged through the floor.
    But surely he’d guessed how old she was? She didn’t walk around with her head concealed in a paper bag. She watched him as a scientist observes a frog he is about to dissect. Carefully.
    Her date’s face morphed into the haunted look of one who’d just spied a ghost or was about to have a coronary, iced with self-disgust and topped with a cherry of disappointment. She took a deeper sip of her beer. He’d chased her, not the other way around.
    That’s too much, he said, his tone one of accusation now, as if it were somehow her fault. That she’d tricked him. Exactly how, she wasn’t sure.
    You’re too old, he added, as if it really needed to be said.
    She smiled, more intrigued than wounded. Amused even, in some bizarre way.
    You’re the first person to tell me that, she said.
    He looked aghast. I don’t want to be that guy, he said.
    But you are.

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    1. I like this... I like the narrator's self-confidence, and that last line, I love.

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    2. Something similar happened to me once, and I made up the rest around it, but the conversation right at the end really happened. But I'm not 51! :) Yet.

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    3. I totally agree with Leland. I like the whole thing, but that last line? Damn, lady.

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    4. that's a real line - I gave it :)

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  12. Two Parter

    Wanda Sue Halling had an ugly burn scar on her left hand that ran from her wrist to her knuckles. She’d gotten it on the last occasion of her husband Riley telling her to get a handle on that temper of hers. So she grabbed the cast iron skillet from the stove with the chicken still frying in it and hurled it with considerable force and a right good aim in his general direction. And ugly as the resulting scar was from grabbing that pan without a potholder, in the end, she fared better than did Riley in the incident, though the local hospital patched him up as best they could.
    It wasn’t entirely her fault; the whole Halling family was redheads to start with and Riley was a well-known son of a bitch who a drinking problem as well as a somewhat limited understanding of the sort of thing that can happen when a man tells a woman that whatever she’s feeling is something she shouldn’t. But in the end, neither of them chose to press any charges, being somewhat embarrassed by the whole affair.
    When he finally got out of the hospital though, pretty much everyone was surprised to learn that Riley moved into a single wide he dragged to the back of their property out on old 87 and Wanda Sue continued on in the house, letting him stay out of conscience or some other reason. They did have a dog in common. Nobody could really say. And she wasn’t the kind of woman you could come right out and ask, either.
    They continued on like that for quite a few months; even coming to church together once or twice and traveling at Christmas to the next county where the rest of her redheaded family lived and nobody was the wiser. It made some sense, this new arrangement, since it takes a whole year for any kind of divorce to get final in this state and you had to respect them for that much, anyhow. Especially considering a great many people in these parts tend to solve their domestic problems with liquor, guns and prison.
    Then, right around June, two things happened: The dog died chasing squirrels across the highway and Nathan Stokes became the general manager of the Wal Mart where Wanda worked as a cashier. Something about the way that red hair looked against the deep blue of her vest caught his eye right away, he said. He was a goner.
    And so began a courtship that had the whole town talking. He asked her out; she rejected him. He gave her a promotion and she rejected him again. But Nathan wasn’t the kind of man who took things at face value, either. He just wore away at her, like water on stone. As far as anyone could prove they never went on more of a date than a stop at Wendy’s drive-through at lunch break. But by the Fourth of July, Wanda Sue began to change.
    Connie Jones, who worked the Wal Mart part time, couldn’t help but notice that Wanda bought some push-up bras and some make-up on a special. And one day she caught her trying on shoes with heels so high they couldn’t have been made for anything but man-catching. Sunglasses, too, the kind with cat’s eye frames and rhinestones like the teenaged movie stars sometimes wore. And so it was that the whisper of adultery came to be added to Wanda’s list of crimes.

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  13. It was the smiling mostly that made people suspicious, no matter what she had on underneath that vest. Every day, Wanda Sue came to work with a smile on her face. And for the next eight hours, she’d chatter and laugh with her customers, and ask after their kids. Once or twice, she even dug into her own pocket when somebody ran short on their EBT or tried to put something back. By August of course, she was employee of the month. After the polite patter of applause had died down, Nathan even granted her the rest of the day off in recognition of her extraordinary customer service and taking both of her hands in his, it’s said, did a most extraordinary thing, turning over her scarred left hand, lifting it to his face and kissing the palm.
    Tears sprang to Wanda’s eyes as half the staff iof the Pine Ridge Walmart did their level best not to fall out of their chairs. And Nathan Stokes then turned his gaze out to the room. “If you’ll be patient with me for just a moment, I have a gift for Wanda Sue, a personal gift. An engagement present, if you will. That is, if she’ll have me.”
    Everybody held their breath, expecting a teeny little box with some cut rate diamond, or even a zirconia. But instead, he hauled out a big box of spanking new pots and pans. Top of the line, 18/20 stainless non stick, straight out of something off of Food TV.
    Even Wanda gawked, that set ran 400 on good day. Not to mention being unexpected. Then, he drops down on one knee. “Wanda,” he says. I can’t claim to know a lot about women, and worse, I got a lot of learning I’d best overcome. But I’m trying. So if you’ll have me, I promise you, you can throw whatever you want my way, and I’ll do my best. But these silicone handles? On these pans here? At least I know that even if I hurt you without meaning, you’ll never hurt yourself again.”
    Like I mentioned, Nathan was an unusual sort of man.
    Much to the horror of the gossips and the snipes and the bible thumpers among us, shortly thereafter, Nathan got promoted to District DM and he his redhead set off for parts unknown.
    And as far as anyone knows? They’ve been happy ever since.

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    1. Man, I like your worlds so much. The thing that impresses me the most is how you can drop a simple sentence that changes the rotation of the whole piece. "They did have a dog in common." So simple, yet, BOOM!

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    2. Thanks sweetie, The voice is kinda mushy it's not all there. But having been out there in the rurals recently? stories to be told....

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  14. "I gotta get there first or Jimmy's gonna take all of it because Jimmy is a crummy brother and I hate him. I'm gonna hide all my toys and all my baseball cards and he can never look at them again because he's a mean, mean brother and I hate him. I'm never going to be friends with Jimmy because he doesn't share and he keeps secrets and he treats me like a baby. I'm never going to forgive Jimmy. Not ever. Not in a million years."

    And yet, staring at the mound of freshly shoveled dirt, I hear the words echo in my mind and they don't even make sense. Sure, they're old words. But still.

    I never hated Jimmy. Even when I wanted to.

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  15. You strike the chord that you hope resonates - sometimes it happens quick, most times you gotta wait. You gotta twist it and play it straight. You gotta get that chalk mark on the wall or it doesn't rate. There are no bad guys or pearly gates. You don't believe in chances and fuck the fickle fates.

    You swing and miss and swing again. You might lose, and you might win. She might love you, and you might never see her again. Hate and love are evil twins. Like cheap malt liquor and mini-thins. They go together, but they lead to sins.

    So fuck it, truck it, let that tweaker bitch suck it. There are yuppies waiting on tomatoes. They go to farmer's markets with fancy buckets. Pass by the Safeway just to drop more duckets.

    But there's miles to drive. And one way to get their alive. So do it. Screw it. There's more than one way to make the nighttime thrive.

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  16. A soft cough disturbed the darkness, originating from the area of the chair facing the end of my bed. My room was mostly in shadow with only a small wedge of sodium yellow near the window, with even that light dulled by the grime on the outside of the window. I hadn't known he was sitting there – at least, not until he'd coughed.

    “You may wonder what I'm doing here,” he said, his face a dark shape to one side of the window.

    I froze in position under the bed-sheets, groping for the light-switch hidden beneath the paper hood of the bedside lamp. The shade wobbled, noisily, its truncated cone knocking against the wall like a broken drum. There goes my chance to switch the light on without warning him, I thought, shrinking away from the lamp and hoping he was both blind and deaf.

    He coughed again, this time sounding more strained than before. I imagined him sitting there round-cheeked, barely keeping his laugh in check as the silence still echoed with the sound of the shade coming to rest.

    “Yes,” I said, retreating back under the sheets and trying to will myself small enough to be overlooked. “I had rather.”

    The shadow stirred momentarily. I heard the quick rasp of a lighter and then a quick flame appeared, lighting up a face I'd never seen before and then disappearing.

    “I'm glad you opted to get a room in the smoking wing,” the voice continued, the tip of the cigarette flaring and then vanishing again. “I feel bad enough already breaking in here without you losing your room deposit as well. I can fix the lock easy but you can never get the smell out of the bedding. You want a smoke too?”

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    1. I want more. This begs to be more. Where's the more? :D

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    2. I was feeling ill last night and this was all I could manage. It does beg to be continued though! :)

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    3. I agree. And you do a great job showing not telling. Great images. The lightshade, the cigarette flare. Well in.

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  18. (Still writing.)

    “Ma.” Her son’s quiet voice, so much like his father’s, finally reached her. “Ma. You ready yet? They’re gonna close the cemetery soon.”

    “One minute, there’s something I need.” Amelia blinked back the years then stood, a hand braced against the table, swaying for a second until her body adjusted. Holding out her other hand to keep him from rushing to her side. She could not tolerate that today. Not today. She’d read the paper, saw a notice that the woman had passed. She would be the only one now. If Earl was of a mind to look down on her, she wanted him to notice. She crossed to her bookshelf and picked up the rock, felt the weight of it in her palm.

    The night before Earl’s unit shipped out, he asked Amelia to marry him, and gave her that very piece of the earth, a shiny-polished chunk of granite shot through with a vein of rose quartz that now she slipped into her purse. She hadn’t known how to respond back then, but Earl seemed so proud of himself, and kind of scared, so she smiled and said, “Gee, most girls get a ring or something, but this’ll do.”

    She’d set the rock next to the others on a lace doily atop her bureau. She didn’t care that her mother thought he was crazy; it was just about the prettiest thing she’d ever seen, right up there with the bit of marble that led to their first date. He’d found it in an abandoned quarry and polished it up in the geology lab at school, and when he set the stone atop her books, she couldn’t stop herself from saying yes.

    After he left the rocks kept arriving, in small, paper-wrapped parcels peppered with military stamps. He could never say where he was, but the tokens told the tale. Obsidian and basalt from Italy, limestone from the coast of England. He showed them to their children, the stories burnished from retelling, the diamond on her finger the last stone he ever gave her.

    “Ma. We gotta go.”

    She let him lead her to the car; he asked, like he always did on this day, to tell her about the night Dad gave her the rose quartz. Each time in her retelling, a little of the polish wore off, until she found herself trailing off, looking out the window and muttering to herself, “He took me for granted.”

    He snorted, flashed her a quick smile, so much like hers. “Granite? Ma? He took you for granite? That’s funny. That’s why Dad gave you granite? Like it was supposed to be a joke or something?”

    “No.” The word came out louder than she’d planned. And she said it softer, and straightened in her seat. “It was so he would never take me for granite. That’s what he said.”

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    1. That last bit of dialogue stings. <3

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    2. Bitter and sweet and sad, and as always, well-written... I love the idea and the execution...

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    3. I have more, so much more, I don't know if I'll ever end this!

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    4. Perfect bittersweet bite, though I'd love a longer visit with these characters. You're definitely building a world here.

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    5. I agree with everyone. Also, "Amelia blinked back the years then stood..." I love it. If it was a typo, it was a lucky one, but something tells me it wasn't.

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    6. Thanks! (It wasn't a typo. ;) )

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  19. She let Sebastian lead her to the dance floor and pull her into his arms, and when she looked the scant inch up into his face, all her worries faded. She knew he was wrong for her. She'd known it since he'd first shown up at her door and she'd decided that he would be hers. On paper, they were all wrong. As queen, she was expected to be above such silliness. Her subjects had accepted her dalliance with a mage many years ago, when she was young and foolish, but an incubus? They were the next best thing to sworn enemies of the Fae. There were whispers that she was unstable, that she had lost sight of what was right for her people, and worse.

    She knew Sebastian was right for her, too. For the first time in more years than she cared to count, she felt vital, energized. She had a purpose beyond ruling her realm and trying to reign in her headstrong children. For the first time in a decade, she felt like more than queen and mother.

    She felt like a woman.

    A woman in love. Not that she would ever tell anyone that. Then they'd know she'd lost her sanity, along with her heart. Then the whispers would turn to shouts, shouts for her to abdicate, to turn her rule over to someone else. And as much as she would love to lay the burden down, she couldn't. Because the next in line for the throne already bore enough on her thin shoulders, much of it put there by her mother the queen and her incubus lover. She would not, could not add to her daughter's burden. So she would hide her feelings, as always, beneath a veneer of ice and hope that the heat of the hope and love and desire burning instead of her didn't melt it away.

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    1. Aw, man. That's a hell of a choice to have to make. I like how you subtly left the door open at the end, so all hope is not permanently lost but carried over toward the future.

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    2. Agree with Jen. And there is such confidence in this writing. Super strong. Authoritative. Dig it, G.

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  20. As disconcerting as it is to have a tree fall during a storm, it is far worse when it is one from your own yard. Therein lies a blessing in disguise, however as the tree fell not on the house, but across the street that runs in front of the house.

    A majestic fellow of some 40 or 50 years growth, fallen to the pressure of high winds and the weight of heavy rain. It cracked open like a rotten egg for indeed it was blackened at the core by the work of insidious insect activity, the only good wood left being a mere handspan around the outer rim of the bole.

    It fell with a resounding crack like the first strike of lightening, it's weighted crown of spring greening drawing it inexorably to it's knees with a whoosh, the breaking of great limbs, and finally, a sigh.

    it lies forlorn as the storm rages on, pin wracked and dying with no hope of revival. Splinters are sprayed about, others, still attached, spearing toward the heavens in a last act of defiance. it's spike-ball progeny fawning at it's feet for yards, like acolytes of flora praying for it's receding soul.

    The leaves, so brightly green even in the dark of the storm, cling to the limb of their progenitor, unaware as yet to their doom They, too, shall sicken and die as the heartwood dries, the sap stills, and the corpse of the dryad within withers to dust.

    Then the storm finally passes, men will come to dismember what once was a majestic living thing. With axes and saws, the limbs will be removed first, hacked into lengths for firewood. The trunk will be separated like an illusionist's assistant, cut apart bit by bit. There will be no miraculous return tot he whole, though. The bark and flesh of the hapless giant will be chipped into mulch or burned into ash, as man decrees.

    What Nature giveth, so She taketh away.

    We mourn. We clean up the aftermath.

    We replant and live goes on.

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    1. I love this piece. The not-quite personification of the tree works really well. Subtle. Super cool.

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  21. The lightning! Oh, the lightning!

    Disregard the primal creak and peal and roar of the thunder, for as mighty as it may be, it could not exist without wild electricity.

    From ion to ion the flashes of lightning streak across the sky. Up from the ground to the clouds, down from the clouds to the treetops and steeples, from cloud to cloud in a vast panorama, crackling streams of light turn darkness into day for the merest fractions of a second.

    With this storm they repeat as if flung from a celestial Gatling gun fired by the gods. Mighty Zeus at the trigger, firing away at Titans as they seek to escape Tartarus.

    It is magnificently entertaining - from a safe vantage, of course. The skies are endless roils of black clouds, layers upon layers of woolly moisture lit from within by jagged arcs of electricity.

    Thank you, M. Franklin and M. Edison and M. Tezla, for teaching us to harness such power. This storm, however, I think would have even your intrepid souls seeking shelter.

    The lightning tonight takes great pride in showing off it's playground above, and havoc wreaked by the storm below. It is as if the Wild Hunt rides tonight, thundering across the skies in the search for their intended prey. It's leading them a merry chase, indeed.

    More likely, as this is Texas, it is the Riders in the Sky trying desperately to contain and drive their massive herds of ghostly stampeding cattle.

    How the imagination is fired by these flashes of illuminating power, adrenaline fueled by the crack overhead of a passing bolt and the rumble that peals out overhead. Listen to it, the avalanche of sound, rolls outward and away leaving behind a clean emptiness of the soul after that initial, thrilling rush.

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    1. The last line describes this bit of flash fiction as well. It's a great echo of the storm, starting out with that furious energy, settling in, and then rumbling away. I love the idea of the Wild Hunt or the Ghost Riders here.

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    2. Love this. And I'm gonna repeat what I said on the last one. The lightning is not personified, per se, but "takes pride" - slight shade to personification. I like it. Cool technique.

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  22. As the storm quiets, so too does the tempest of my muse. How furiously my pen had been abused to keep up with the flow of words, concepts, ideas, fancy, in this candle-lit atmosphere, this man-made shelter from the elements.

    The roof hold in spite of the incessant battering it has taken over the last hours. Days, it seems like, though only one so far and a night.

    The sun will, I hope, soon break the dawn, but Apollo's golden chariot will not have an easy time of it, his horses forced to scrabble up the face of his father's playground, his golden rays deflected from piercing the gloom as a sword against a shield.

    The skies are not done with us just yet, I fear. There is more to come, and more. I feel the pressure of it in my bones, dear reader...

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    1. Lovely, evocative piece. I love that entire third paragraph. :)

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    2. Grandiose and controlled. Really well constructed piece. I agree with Laura.

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  23. He was a desperate man. He’d thought she would be the one to listen to him, agree with him, be sweet to him. He was wrong. So wrong. She had no need of him, not his admiration, nor his admonishments. She’d lost patience for his deep, abiding hurt over some flippant comment she didn’t even remember making. She was disgusted by it, and she was through with him, and through with preventing the disappointment of others. She didn’t want or need their approval or even their kindness. For she knew, finally, that their kindness had so often been based on her willingness to bend the parts of herself that showed, while keeping her inside-self exiled in the limbo of appeasement. She told him she would block him if she needed to, and hit Enter. It seemed a harsh thing to her, something she’d never do in haste. But she was someone new. She was her own. She was no longer desperate.

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    1. <3

      I think maybe we've all been that woman. I definitely identify with her. Love those last few lines.

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    2. I know I've been that woman. ;) Seriously, love the piece. And I agree, such strong closing today. Which is extra important for flash. Dope.

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