Friday, September 22, 2017

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.



Am I thinking? Yes, I am thinking. I am lost in a field of reminiscence. The smell of sunlight on the dry grass is overpowering. I know you are right behind me, although I can’t hear you. You’re so damn quiet. Makes some people nervous. Not me. I wonder about it, though. But I know you won’t appreciate the question, and I don’t know if I have the guts to ask, regardless.

You smell that?

Yeah, I smell it.

Nice, huh?

Yup.

And my mind is creating flowcharts, letting imaginary conversations blossom and grow firm and full on the stalks of social ambition. You are not interested in me. You look, but you do not see. I get that. I can hear it in the way you breathe. I can see it in the light, soft sneaker prints you leave. I don’t want anything more than you are willing to give. You are company on a day that is filled with silence. I’ll take what I can get.

We walk and walk. And, soon, we are at the creek. You call it a crick. I wish I did. But my accent is all fucked up from bouncing around the country. It doesn’t matter though. Not to either of us. You are content to enjoy the silence. I am content to let you be content.

I’m going to be moving in a few weeks.

I throw it out there, like a line with too much weight. I wonder if it will make a splash. But you don’t say anything. I am prepared to accept that, but then I look over and see you shaking with anger.

You’re leaving?!?!

Yeah, I don’t want to.

When did you find out? Why didn’t you tell me sooner?

I found out a few months ago. I didn’t tell you because … I don’t know. I was hoping it would go away.

We stare at each other and suddenly the trickle of water is overpowering. So loud. I want to cover my ears. 

(She is crying softly.)

I won’t forget you.

I smile.

I won’t forget you either.

But that is a lie. A flat out lie. She doesn’t know it, but I do. My brain has gotten good at this. Sever and cauterize. Don’t look back. Don’t open your eyes. Stumble blindly forward. Are you there? Can you hear me? Who am I even talking to?

But for that day, for a moment, I pretend it’s true. Sure, we’ll write. Sure, we’ll stay friends. Sure, the summer will never have to end ...

#2minutesgo Tweet it! Share it! Shout it from the top of the shack you live in! I will be out most of the day, but I'll be back...

76 comments:

  1. (Inspired by Nighthawks by Edward Hopper)

    Walker tapped the filter of his cigarette, knocking off the dead length he’d smoked. “Another night on the town,” he said, rolling his eyes. “Prohibition doesn’t agree with me. I’d much rather be in a bar somewhere. A cut-glass tumbler, three fingers of whiskey and maybe something more. A cigar from Cuba or Havana and some company.” He raised his cigarette again and took another pull on it, his cheeks hollowing. He closed his eyes.

    “Seems you got it all sorted out,” the woman said. She was a regular too but I’d never managed to catch her name. She dropped in most nights when it was cold but never showed up in the summer. I imagined her living in a brownstone in the upper part of town, the building superintendent doing little to earn her rent; the cast-iron carcasses of the radiators hanging cold against the walls and the curtains struggling to keep the meagre outpourings of the fire in the room, its single-bar glow muted for safety. The electrics in those places were always suspect anyway, the wires spitting each time you pulled a switch.

    “Another coffee, sir, ma’am?” I nodded toward the boilers against the wall. “You look like you’re almost finished with those.”

    Walker shook his head and lowered his hand again, idly flicking it so the ash fell off on the floor on my side of the counter. “How about you, Lady? You need another?” She mouthed a no and then pushed up her sleeve, consulting a large-dialled watch that looked like it didn’t belong there, hanging loosely on her wrist.

    “Time’s passing,” she said. “But there’s nowhere else in town now. Not now that…”

    Walker nodded. “Like I said,” he said.

    There was another man in the diner tonight. He’d come in early, soon after I’d turned the door-sign about but before I’d got the waters on the boil. He’d taken a root beer and had sat drinking that, turning the glass about and watching the bubbles rise until I came over and asked him if he’d like to eat. He’d said yes and then spent the next quarter hour reading the menu card, trailing his finger across every word once or twice. I’d almost given up on him until he spoke again, waiting until the door rang, so it seemed like he’d a voice like a bell. “A meat patty,” he’d said, “Well done and with a side-order of fries and whatever other fixings you’ve got. But take your time…see to those other folks first and then come back over to me. I’m in no rush. Not at all.” He’d waved me away and I’d almost forgotten he was there; just sitting there with that glass he never drank from. I must have served him without me remembering because the next time I looked across he had a plate too, laden with a patty and the hugest pile of fries I’ve ever seen. I never did see any money from him though. But him, he was still here when the others came on in, and it was now that he spoke up again.

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    1. “I know a place,” he said, grimacing at me apologetically. “Only, it’s members-only. You’ll have to register and pay a fee to get in.”

      The woman looked him sidelong as though she was wondering who he was. It was possible she’d not noticed him before: he was just that guy you see but don’t see.

      “What’s that you’re saying?” Walker was more interested. He was probably in the club already with a drink in his hand, discussing the finer points of Crawford, Stanwyck and Leigh and debating which of their leading men he admired the most. She’d be there as well, maybe a little less buttoned-up, and she’d have her hand on his thigh, urging him to accompany her into one of the private booths where they could drink and smoke uninterrupted and not need to care about being seen. They could both stay there together until the smallest hours and then go their separate ways; no evidence, no guilt and no way of being found out. They were both attached but seeking company, I could already tell that from their hands – the pale ring-less ring of flesh was a giveaway if you were observant and knew to look for it.

      “It’s not far from here,” the Patty-Man said. “Just three blocks and few hundred yards further. I can assure you it’s discrete. The fact that it’s membership-only makes it so. You welch on anyone else who goes there and your name gets dragged down along with theirs. We have a mutual code of honour – an esprit de corps, if you like. And it’s for men and women too. It’s more wholesome that way. The servers just dispense drinks. You find your own entertainment after that.” He raised his eyebrows and then looked away again, confident of his catching at least one new member tonight.

      The woman shook her head, mumbling too low for me to catch her words. She stood up and then left, leaving us three men alone. Walker never did come in again after that night but the Patty-Man did; always when it was quiet and with him never leaving alone. He was better at his job than I was but I’d only soda and fries to sell.

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    2. Not familiar with the inspiration, but I'm super impressed the way you stepped into this voice and owned it.

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    3. No one else paints loneliness better than Hopper, and this meta noir (as I called it just now in my head) does him justice. Bravo.

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  2. Back to you, Dan. Such a bitter-sweet concoction and as ably-played as a master fisherman would hope to cast his lines.

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    1. Yes, a haunted piece, and a sad recollection about the sometimes brutal effects of time.

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  3. "Oh, Eddie, I've wanted to take this trip since I saw her at the Hudson-Fulton Celebration six years ago," Agnes Voorhees Smithfield said as she held up one her dresses before placing it in the steamer trunk.

    "Aggie, you were thirteen years old then. A girl from Albany'd be thrilled with a ride on the Staten Island Ferry at that age," her new husband Edward replied. "Now you finish packing, or should I say re-packing. My art school friend Bill Glackens is holding us a corner over at his favorite table d’hôtes in the Village for some real Italian food."

    "Oh, Eddie, a husband, a honeymoon, a bohemian night in New York City, a cruise to London. I just might be the luckiest girl in the world, or at least Pine Hills," Agnes said. She put her dress into the trunk and walked over to kiss her husband, who had been sketching her all the while they spoke.

    "You just might be, Aggie. But I'm pretty lucky, myself. I mean it's not uncommon for an artist to fall into, shall we say, a relationship with one of his models. But to fall into not just a relationship but outright love? And now a baby, too? That's just
    unheard of," Edward said, giving his new wife a pat on the tummy.

    "Edward!" Agnes said in feigned indignation. "You're scandalous."

    "I'm sure your father would think me more than that. Of course, coming from such a bourgeois family, I would expect nothing less. I'll yield to unconventional, certainly where they're concerned, suffer bohemian, definitely accept artistic. But I truly love that feeling in their world of being scandalous."

    "One of the many reasons I love you.And I guess I'm scandalous too, now. The sisters at St. Patrick's would each and every one faint dead away if they knew I was pregnant 'without benefit of clergy,' as they'd say. And while I always wanted to be a June bride, circumstances ruled otherwise. But there's just one thing though..."

    "Okay, okay, I promise to take you to Paris when all this blows over," Edward said. "We're taking just about the biggest, fastest, safest ship in the Cunard Line. It'll be the equivalent of the most posh version of about a hundred Hudson Day Line cruises." He paid for this voyage, as was all the Smithfield's new life, with money his Agnes received from her doting father, Delaware & Hudson Railroad executive Leland Voorhees.

    "But, I do worry. You know me, Eddie."

    "I do, my dear Aggie. That's why I booked us on Cunard's finest. The Heinies tend not to bother passenger ships anyway. We'll be slipping into Liverpool while they're still having their morning kaffeeklatsch. Now let's get over to The Village and spend some more of your father's money on the best cheap meal you've ever had."

    "Okay, my love. I'm sure it'll be the last Italian food we'll eat for a long time. I'll bet it's hard to find good Italian in London and Cunard serves only French and English dishes on this magic carpet ride of a liner you've booked for us. What's the name again, Eddie? The Lucrezia Borgia?" Agnes said with a laugh.

    "Yes, dear Aggie. We'll be sailing on the HMS Lucrezia Borgia," Edward replied, as he tapped the tickets in his fine new wallet. The tops of the tickets peeked above the Italian leather. They read: RMS Lusitania.

    "Poisonous femme fatale that she was, Darling, we'd better be careful of that tea and claret they serve us or we'll never make it to London," Edward said as they strolled arm in arm out into Fifth Avenue.

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    1. Oh, I like it. And holy exploring new voices day! Now I feel like I copped out. Guess I'll have to write another one. ;)

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    2. I've never found it easy to weave a story into real historical moments, so kudos for a tale that feels real filled with real people.

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    3. Oh, Lord. So that's why I was getting that sinking/too-good-to-be-true feeling!

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  4. Part 1
    _____

    Is this at all ghostable? Let's see.

    We came here after fighting through a swarm of mouths.

    I met you in the parking lot of a Walmart. Saw you struggling and offered to help and of course you were suspicious and declined.

    "I just have to do two things and get home," you said.

    "Let me help you," I said.

    Here is where our edges fray.

    Here, in this time and in this place, you are a mother, and you are good at mothering. Your Ozark eyes are always tired, your lashes worn, your oily hair tied in whorls. You think you are ordinary, but I know you're special. I also know I won't ever convince you of that, so I don't try. You rarely blink. Our lives are bracketed by the opening and closing of a blink. Who ever tells us these things?

    "A'right." You almost growl this, but dispassionately. "But then you leave us alone, yes?"

    "Of course." I'm not even sure you see me, sticklike, streaming beams of amber and amethyst light against the evening, a distant star lensing light still farther out in space.

    I helped you and then you told me an awful tale. This is what you told…

    "So back then, when I was just a wain—my gramps and his gramps was Scots-Irish—I used to cry each morning, knowing I had to endure school and hear the taunts and feel the sudden shoves and the pinching fingers of the other children. Every day was another torment. They called me godawful names and hurt me bad and I kept going back 'cause I had to. One day I left school and walked the long miles home, all my bruises both inside and out a reminder I was alive and alone, and I saw my house, where I lived, and it always looked so mean, far meaner than the kids who tortured me, and I opened the unoiled gate, heard its tiny rodent shriek, limped up the short path to the door. They never even gave me keys, so I had to knock, so I knocked. And knocked. And no one came. I went around back and knocked there too. And nobody came. I sat for an hour or more on the front step, wondering why everything was so silent. Then the pale mountain light began to fade and I got scared, so I found a rock and broke a pane in the door and scrambled my way into the house. It was empty. Cleared out. Like no one had lived there for years. I sat on the cracked linoleum floor and cried into my skinny arms for days till someone from the school or a neighbor or some duty-bound citizen alerted the relevant authority and they took me to a foster home and that was that."

    Hate is not the opposite of love; abandonment is. Indifference is.

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  5. Part 2
    _____

    I wake molded to your body from behind with your upper arm clamping my forearm tightly. You are still dreaming, so I lie immobile and allow my arm to be held in your hot, moist armpit. All that day I bring my forearm to my face to inhale your sleep musk.

    Each house has its weather. This place, whose weedy, mossy lawn is more rural than suburban, more pasture than posture, also has its weather. This morning's kitchen and dining area is mostly mist lit with a pale apricot glow from a low sun. This is our place.

    You, your arachnid fingers, their tips searching my unshaven face, barely touching. You, the warm light to my dust. You, my oxygen.

    For you I fashioned and baked home-kilned pizza, piled with artichokes and sundried tomato and feta and spinach, also baked garlic and molten mozzarella, just to watch your jaw cantilever, a tireless gracile thing hinged and vulpine and completely unselfconscious. Sometimes, aghast, I dreamed of you eating the world.

    "How'd this happen?" you ask. We're listening to Ray Charles and watching some Olympics with the sound off.

    "How did what happen?"

    "Us," you say, and your surprised face is comical, and I smile.

    "Just be glad," I say, but I catch the woe on your face as you avert it. The first cloud in endless blue. The silent drawback of a tide before the cataclysm.

    What is love, you ask? We all ask. Last week I saw you at the farmers' market, and you handed me a huge yellow tomato. Organic, you said. Smell it, you said. And I smelled it and it was alive in my hand, reeking and brimming with the spoor of life. You told me to wait a couple days, and I did, and the tomato slowly blushed to a deep orange, a tight amber, a shimmering bittersweet heart. I sliced it and ate it, and it was the best tomato I'd ever seen or smelled or tasted in my life. I cried for two whole days. Is this love?

    See that candle? Pour its wax into your cupped palm, let it settle, let it cool. Now peel it from the well of your hand. You have made a coin in our only currency. Now pay me.

    An hourglass is two versions of sand. You watch through the window as the blown rain hits it in pulsating gusts of flung grain, the pane a flattened hourglass, transparent sand—salt-tears inside; sky tears without—measuring the pace of our gradual uncoupling.

    The moon averts her gaze, prays for clouds.

    Things come apart. Leaves don't grow back in spring. Rooms are emptied. I've forgotten the sound of your voice. Even the ghosts become silent.

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    1. Pasture/posture. Arachnid fingers. You're Ozark eyes are always tired. I love these perfect little phrasings. And the latter should be in a song.

      "See that candle? Pour its wax into your cupped palm, let it settle, let it cool. Now peel it from the well of your hand. You have made a coin in our only currency. Now pay me."

      Hot damn, man.

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    2. Thanks, brother. I love flash fiction for this reason: the chance to experiment with new and hopefully memorable phrases and sentences. The music of language.

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    3. Absolutely beautiful, David.

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    4. I'm a ditto-head here.I loved the arachnid fingers, the house's weather and the praying moon, to name but a few of the highlights I loved. Excellent, as always!

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  6. "It takes me so long to write stories."

    "Really?"

    "Yeah, I just...I dunno, I just don't have the mind for it, haha!"

    God. Her laugh makes me smile. Everything about her makes me smile.

    I've known her only a month and in that time, the greatest robbery a guy could ever experience happened; she stole my heart.

    Laying on the grass, wind blowing my hair around, I glance at her again. Those blue eyes contrast her red hair so perfectly. She turns to look at me, itching her leg.

    "The grass is so rough, how are you not itchy?"

    "You forget I can't feel anything."

    "Oh, right, sorry about that, haha!"

    Again, the laugh. I can't stop smiling. She really has stolen my heart. My heart skips a beat as she puts her hand over my own.

    "You're such a doofus."

    "Haha, I know."

    I smile as the laugh blesses my ears with its presence again. It almost makes me forget the tightness in my chest. After all, having someone steal your heart is not as painless as it seems.

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    1. This is so well balanced. A really good example of why I like flash fiction so much. Spare, but rich. Nuanced. Really well played.

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    2. Dan said everything I was gonna say! I might be reading this wrong, but to me it feels like there's an ominous thread running through a lighthearted moment.

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    3. That last paragraph just gets me in the feels. Fabulous!

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  7. She pushed through the double swing doors which opened into a long corridor. Even though the sun was shining brightly outside, the foot-square windows set high in the walls let in little light and the dimly lit dirty yellow walls gave an overall feeling of neglect. A strong smell of stale urine and pungent odour of something else she’d rather not think about assailed her nostrils and she fought the urge to gag.
    Instead she strode purposefully down the corridor in her pristine white coat till she reached a door marked, Group Therapy. The room was large and plastic chairs formed a wide circle all of which were occupied except one. She smiled brightly and addressed the group with a cheery, “good morning every one!”
    A few people mumbled a reply but most of them ignored her either by shaking their heads rolling their eyes or were too busy staring at the floor to notice her. One man, a big boned individual with a massive forehead and protruding eyes addressed her directly.
    “Good morning Doctor Carter, “ he bellowed and he giggled hysterically and nudge the lady to the left of him, spraying spittle onto her face. She didn’t seem to feel his elbow jabbing into her ribs even though her body rocked from side to side with the force.
    “That’s enough, Brian, thank you,” chided Dr Carter. “You are going to hurt Molly if you keep that up.”
    Brian continued to snigger uncontrollably but ceased using his elbows on Molly.
    He looked to everyone in the circle dripping saliva from his big yellow teeth and his face flushed scarlet. One or two of the other guys laughed briefly with him but mostly he drew no attention.
    “Hello, everyone. As you know I am Dr Eloise Carter and I’m here today to help you in any way I can,” said the Doctor pleasantly.
    “Who would like to begin today?” she enquired glancing around the circle and avoiding eye contact with Brian who was leering at her distastefully. “Anyone? Kathy, would you like to speak first?” she smiled at a timid looking lady who had her long greying hair pulled back into an untidy ponytail.
    Without warning one of the men jumped, unzipped his trousers and exposed himself.
    “Hey, Doc, I got someone who wants to talk to yer. His name’s Percy!” he shouted. He jiggled his hips and dangled his semi-erection towards Dr Carter.
    The group erupted with insane laughter, cackling and shouting lewd comments. Molly was laughing so hard she urinated where she sat and when it trickled off the chair it splashed onto Dr Carter’s shiny black shoes causing the group to shriek all the harder.
    Dr Carter ran from the room as two orderlies waded in to try and control the situation.
    She sprinted back up the corridor, hot tears streaming down her face. She felt ashamed that she hadn’t handled the situation well but what was she supposed to do? They were all fucking crazy and no amount of talking could change that. She had tried and tried day after day but there was no getting through to these people. She was really starting to think she was in the wrong job.
    She reached her office. The sight of her name plate on the door made her feel calmer, it looked so professional, so sane. She could see through the tempered glass panel that someone was waiting for her inside but when she turned the handle the door was locked.
    “Hello? Who’s in there?” she shouted. She rattled the knob and banged on the glass furiously.
    “open this door now!” she screamed. She kicked and banged on the door to no avail.
    Two orderlies ran up to her and pulled her arms behind her back and she thrashed violently biting one of them on the arm as he administered a shot.
    She awoke the next morning when one of her colleagues came to see her in her room. He had with him another doctor whom she hadn’t met before.
    “Good morning, and how are we feeling today?” he asked sympathetically. He glanced conspiratoriallly at his male colleague.
    “You have to get me out of here,” she cried, “Please help me, everyone here is fucking nuts.” Said Lucy.

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    1. Wow! I love this piece. Such a cool mind fuck. Super creative and well written. It's been a while, you came back with a hell of a bang, lady!

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    2. Yeah, this is perfectly weighted and sprung like a trap. Missed you and glad to see you back, Audrey!

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    3. Thank you so much, guys. Don't know where the hell it came from but appreciate your comments.
      David, I missed you too!

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    4. The Doctor is always in. Terrific and such a clever piece of writing.

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  8. It all has a certain inevitability about it, every action and reaction will be surrounded by the forces of the universe and carried along to its conclusion.
    We think we exert some control over the outcome but we are wrong.
    Every thought and deed we expel is captured by invisible threads and tossed and turned in the ether like golden leaves which fall from a tree in autumn are whisked up by the breeze and taken wherever the elements choose to drop them.
    Fire burns and clears a forest without mercy just as this merciless fire burns inside of me. It has no end but love is never-ending isn’t it?
    We walk upon the same earth you and I though our footsteps never meet, Our paths are different yet intrinsically the same. We tread softly and run with force and create the same vibration.
    I feel you. Physically and emotionally. In waking and in dreams. I breathe you in and you exhale me out. The same air has passed through my lungs before it entered yours.
    We can take no merit for this. It is beyond our abilities. Though we are far apart we are bound by the same aims.
    I cannot press my lips against yours nor hold you in my arms but I don’t cry.
    Everything is alive and water has a memory.
    So I kiss the rain for I know in time that same rain will carry my kisses and they will fall down onto you.

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    1. Wow, #2. This is beautiful. Tender but not overly sentimental. You walked a fine line REALLY well.

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    2. Maybe it's my own state of mind, but it feels like all the stories this week are haunted in some way. You're on fire, lady!

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    3. Thanks again, fellas, I'm always grateful for your encouragement. Your'e Ace!

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    4. You can't help but wonder - are these people separated by circumstance or is this 'just' an unrequited love? Or is it both? This is such fabulously emotive writing. Well done!

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  9. "Why do fat girls seem to get all the fun guys?"

    "Just who are you referring to, Gina?"

    "Oh, not you, Cici. I'd never talk about you that way."

    "Yeah, well some days you make me wonder why we are still friends. you are getting this crap for Carrie, you know."

    "My cousin? What makes you say that?"

    "She mean and concieted, and you haven't seen the looks she gives me behind your back, or the things she says when you aren't in the room."

    Gina looked at her friend for a moment. She saw no pretense, not kidding, no little smirk to betray a joke albiet a harsh one.

    "No... I don't suppose I have."

    "And you've been acting more and more like her without even realizing it."

    "Oh, Cici!" Gina cried, grabbing her friend into a big hug. "I'm so sorry!"

    "Apology accepted," Cici said while hugging Gina back. She pulled back to arms length and held the other girl there. "As long as you learn to recognize it and stop it. I'm not hanging with someone who's into being mean."

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    1. This is a cool glimpse into the way humans work. We find them fascinating so we write about them. Authenticity is a tricky thing to navigate.

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    2. Another ditto from me. (Get out of my head, Mader!)

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    3. People are cruel and sometimes we don't realise that also means us. Very thought-provoking and well-written.

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  10. Z. The last letter of the alphabet. Not used in math so much, but that's alright. I don't like math anyway.

    I'm a simple girl. I like to read, but I don't write stories so well. X's stories are my favorite, though, sorry Y. I figured though, if X and Y could do it, why couldn't I?

    Gently blowing the dust away from the dry clay, my etching tools gently but steadily carving a Z into the mask, my hands shake. I'm not used to this.

    My mask represents my identity. I'm a little fragile, but I like to think in time I can make some beautiful things. It smells like a freshly crafted mud-brick, and the dry but earthy scent is reassuring to me.

    Placing the mask on my face, my hands continue to shake. I'm worried. Is the Z clear enough? Will X be proud of me? I'm not sure.

    I'm Z. I'm not used to the creative writing side of, well, writing. I like essays and text books, but X says I have a good mind, so I figured, why not try?

    The mask is what I believe myself to be; beautiful, but fragile. I don't handle rejection well, but I'm glad the mask exists. I'm anonymous now.

    Regardless, I hope I can entertain you as well as X can. My name is Z. Nice to meet you.

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    1. A pleasure. ;) This is a lovely, delicate piece of writing, and I'm loving the split perspectives. And I don't like math either.

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    2. I love this conceit. Sort of artful dissociation.

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    3. Zorro lives and breathes and writes enigmatically. Most intriguing.

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  11. "Jay, I can smell cheap vodka on your breath. You've been drinking again."

    "No I ain't, jus'my friends'n'I done came from the bar'n'they's ordered way more than I done and I didn't drive home don't worry."

    I hate when he lies to me. He knows he has nothing to fear. I never yell. I never hit. I like to think I'm a good wife. Sometimes he's so hard to deal with. With a sigh, I help him to his bed and tuck him in, kissing his forehead tenderly. He works hard, he really does. He thinks I don't really know what hard work is, but what he doesn't know won't hurt him.

    The air is crisp and cool, breeze rustling the leaves as I take in the night. What a wonderful night for work! I love working at night. The air, the sounds, the feeling of mystery...it's so enticing to me. Even after I've cleaned up the body, the night still beckons me into it. A nice cigarette after a job makes me happy, especially when it happens so smoothly.

    I only hope my husband won't notice his friend's obituary.

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  12. My mind is exhausted and yet screaming and this is all that it would let me do for now:

    I see the machinations through your eyes, the dottering dot dot dot of cherry picking the cases that support your paper-thin discourse, and I feel sorry for us all. If you can’t see that we are all connected, that we all come from the same atoms and DNA chains and stardust and blood and sweat and love and hatred, we are surely doomed. We will burn, we will drown, we will freeze, but we will all do that together. Then what would you say, if you still had a breath in your lungs, what would you say then? Is that a time to point fingers and invoke the same old dot dot dots on the playbook? Blame the same scapegoats who just shake their heads and smile at your lack of imagination and contrition? I don’t think so. Or maybe you will go down swinging. While mother earth flicks us off her back, tired of our shenanigans, will you reach for the nearest hand in our common fear? Or will you grumble and blame the politicians, the media, the taxes, the benefits you didn’t have, the entitlements of others, crossing your arms over your stone-cold heart while it slows and slows and finally stops? That’s what I thought you’d say.

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    1. Boom. You know I like this one. I think exhausted and screaming minds write the best stories.

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    2. I feel you too. Tired of our shenanigans, indeed.

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    3. Your writing is always wonderful, Laurie and I so get this.

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  13. Jimmy pulled the brim of his hat over his eyes and smiled. The smile danced the Camel on his lower lip. The Camel tripped the orange switch which lit his face, briefly.

    It was a face you would never remember. It was that memorable.

    The evening's whiskey still sat in his stomach, and the warmth was welcome. The warmth brought the feeling of safety. The feeling of safety brought memories - usually he kept them tamped down so they wouldn't spark or flame.

    The hand on his shoulder was rough. The shoulder didn't like it. It knocked the chip off, and Jimmy flicked his smoke into the gutter, watching it go end over end like some Bogart rip-off. But Bogart was an actor.

    Jimmy didn't act.

    Jimmy believed in action. He turned fast and swung his sap from belt level. It caught the cop on the temple and he went down like he was deflated. Jimmy listened. Jimmy waited. Then, Jimmy smiled that black and white smile. Sated.

    The cop was named O'Something. Some good Irish name. He had no problem with the man. But it was good for anyone to learn where not to put their hand.

    Play it again? Sam?

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    1. More meta noir! The Camel lit the orange switch. But Bogart was an actor. I love this.

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    2. Love this one. You never fail to express things so vividly. Excellent!
      The story at the top is amazing, I couldn't find a place to comment on it. I adore your writing. (I just hope these comments are in the right place haha )

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    3. An excellent slice of noir and a little reminiscent of Matt Stark.

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  14. He knew when he woke up that the seasons had changed. Overnight, summer turned to almost winter. The clouds were gray and flat, not the red morning clouds he was used to.

    The cold morning air stole his breath away when he stepped out to walk the dogs. Like little dragons, steam escaped their nostrils. They stopped to sniff the stalks that once held sunflowers. A hawk circled overhead.

    It was his birthday, he realized a few hours later, as he took another Advil. A milestone as they say. The seasons of his life had changed, overnight, from summer to almost winter.

    And it was good, for after winter, there is the hope of spring.

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    1. Agreed. And there are big hints of Steinbeck in here for me, which is pretty much the best thing ever.

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    2. You write beautifully, Leland and so on point. I felt the chill of Autumn this week.

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    3. There's always hope. So poignant.

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  15. "It's okay, Bobby. It's okay to cry." She looked down at her sweet towheaded boy. But she did not see him, she saw his father. She knelt beside him, put her arm around him.

    Like his father, he wriggled away. "Why did he have to die?"

    The tears running down his cheek provoked her own tears. "There are beginnings and endings, Bobby. It hurts like...heck...at the endings, but that's why we have beginnings, too. To balance it out."

    "Danny says I shouldn't cry. He says Sherm was just a gerbil."

    "Nobody is 'just' anything, sweetie. At least nobody who is loved. And I know you loved Sherm."

    And she knew it was true. Even if you wound up hating someone you loved, you couldn't take back the love you gave. It was like light. When you accidentally turn a light on, and then turn it off, you can't get the light back.

    "Why do you cry, Mama?"

    "I cry, because I've known a lot of beginnings, honey, and a few endings."

    And he put his hand on her shoulder, and stared into her eyes, and tried to understand. Just like that, just like his father, he changed from child to adult. "Do you miss Daddy?"

    She nodded, not trusting her voice.

    "I wish he'd come back, so we could be a real family."

    "I do, too, honey," and so she lied to him for the first time. And she hated his father for that more than anything.

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    1. Wow, so nuanced. The complexity of human emotions in a handful of words. I love how you do this, Leland.

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    2. Oh. Me too. And I love when you can tell so much story through dialogue.

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    3. Oh this is just wonderful, Leland. I so agree with JD and David and I have to confess I filled up when I read it.

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    4. Such a sucker-punch. Wow...I never saw that one coming!

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  16. Blackbirds

    Blackbirds cry, shadows streaming across orange-streaked skies,
    Scratching verses into the walls of this valley wrapt with echoes –
    Their silken patterns criss-cross in shimmering slides of movement,
    Flickering like dark ghosts between the green, twitching leaves.

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    1. Thank you! I wanted to write more, but nothing more would come for this one. I love blackbirds :)

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    2. This is lovely, Vickie. The assonance REALLY works well. And you know I love birds. :)

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    3. The archaic wrapt leapt (leaped?) out at me, with its suggestion of rapt. In fact, both meanings work perfectly, and the best poetry does this, makes language do more than one job. Which means I love it. lol

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    4. As masterly (mistressly?) as ever. You've an awesome command of imagery and verse that I envy so much.

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    5. Thanks JD, David and Mark. Cheers so much, especially as I got stuck after those lines and nothing else would come, so it had to finish. I posted this on my blog and advertised 2minutesgo link, as usual when I post a piece from here there, and a commentator suggested I remove the word 'like' from the last line. He was so right! So I did :) It felt good to write on Sunday. Thank you :) I actually wrote another one, but didn't post it. Really enjoyed writing, and I keep banging on about what a problem I have with it, so thank you guys!

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  17. It engulfs me. An overwhelming feeling of dread and anxiety. All I can do is sit there, and let it happen. I know what it is, and what it does to me, but I can't stop it. I can't let go. It's hard to not be like this all the time, constantly in survival mode. I withdraw into my own center, like a king and sit there. I create an enormous black hole, an impermeable mirror. I created my own little world a long time ago, and nothing and no one can get through to me. Better luck they'd have, dodging bullets from a spinning gun.

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    1. I like this. Anxiety is the pit, dark and confusing. I can connect with this. Love the ending with the spinning gun - very graphic. Sounds simple, but it isn't. It's deceptive and deep.

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