Friday, November 17, 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.

His eyes were half-closed, but that wasn’t what made them hard to look at. It was the color. Somewhere between grey and yellow. Not the color eyes should be. Not human eyes. But that’s the color they were. And you didn’t want to be disgusted, but you couldn’t help it. 

Just like you couldn’t help the fact that you tried not to breathe when you were in the room.
God. That room. Too white. Before someone got the smart idea to paint hospital rooms seafoam or pink or beige. That white room seemed an unfair contrast to the spoiled-milk eyes. Sick and scummy like old butter.

And it always ended the same way.

“Go on, Johnny. Give Grandpa a kiss.”

And you wanted to scream. I never even kissed the man when he was alive. And then you thought: “he’s still alive, idiot.” Then, “no, he isn’t, not really.” Everyone standing around waiting for you to put your lips on that sandpaper cheek. And you couldn’t explain. You’d loved the man. Actually flat-out loved him. Not like your Mom who tolerated him. Not like your uncle who hadn’t spoken to him in ten years.

This was not him anymore, and kissing had never been part of the bargain in the first place. And he was old. He didn’t even know where he was. You didn’t even want to be in the room. Hell, you knew he wouldn’t have wanted you in there. He would have wanted you outside, breathing the fresh air that was no longer an option for him.

But you kissed him. Because the alternative was too hard. And would require too much explanation. 

Let the skeletons stay in the closet.

You kissed him and thought, “when I grow up, I sure hope I’m not a big-ass hypocrite like y’all.”

And then everybody went to Dairy Queen.

#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...


  1. Mom won’t buy new ones because the old ones still fit. They’re wrapped in duct tape, but your toes aren’t poking out the end and Mom don’t give two shits about the crap the other kids are going to give you. You don’t even mention it because you know what she’ll say.

    Something about skateboards and how your shoes would last if you treated them better. And you’d be left thinking the same thing you always think. I’m supposed to be a kid, right? I’m supposed to climb trees and ghost ride my bike and do all kinds of shit that messes up shoes. This ain’t the military. You can’t spit-shine Chucks. They just wear out; then you get new ones.

    This is the way it should work, but it doesn’t. And it’s not like it’s hard. Hell, the swap meet is open every Sunday and they got white, blue and black. Ten bucks a pair. But she’ll just tell you you have room to grow.

    Oh, and by the way, life’s not fair.

    As if you needed that explained to you. Like you didn’t already know.

    1. Dan-o, you right truth better than anyone I know. The hard stuff no one talks about. There's some of that in this piece and a whole helluva lot more in your first piece. You know how to get people right in the feels...and make them like it.

    2. Yep. And the first one. And this: "You can’t spit-shine Chucks."

    3. Ok so the juxtaposition of "...spoiled milk eyes. Sick and scummy like old butter" with "And then everybody went to Dairy Queen." I can't even.

    4. "Spoiled milk eyes!" F-ing brilliant description, Dan.

    5. Yeah, what everyone said. But especially Lily. That echo of the eyes and the DQ is genius, not even kidding. I mean, the DQ line alone is already awesome.

  2. I’m glad he’s dead. There, I said it. I said what you all are thinking even as you show your pious faces, cry your crocodile tears. You’ve already calculated his net worth, figured out which trinkets you can pilfer, re-written the past into some kind of Norman Rockwell painting.

    Grandpa was a mean-ass, stubborn, hateful drunk. He beat your parents, and he beat us all when he thought we needed it. Cheated on Grandma, too. Probably has more kids and grandkids that we don’t even know about. Broke more than a few laws, too.

    But that’s not why I’m glad he’s dead. I’m glad he’s dead so he doesn’t have to put up with your sad eyes, your “we’re family,” “let’s put that in the past” bullshit. He was good at recognizing bullshit. Maybe ‘cause he stepped in enough of it in his cowboy days.

    You know what he told me once? He told me we’re all sinners, but some are honest sinners, and some are sanctimonious sinners, and he told me only to trust the honest ones.

    When y’all bury him, make sure his hat and his boots go with him. No honest man wears another man’s duds, especially when he’s dead.

    I’m outta here. I got a date with a fishing pole in a fishing hole he showed me.

    1. Man. I tell Dan he's the truth master, and then you go and match him. Simple, honest, every day stories like this that bring all the feels, good and bad --it amazes me every time.

    2. Oh, you guys are killing me today.

    3. I love this guy. He's the person I'd make a beeline for to sit next to at the funeral but also at the party or the wedding.

    4. I like how this narrator feels getting outdoors, dropping a line in a pond like it sounds the deceased would appreciate, beats hanging out in an unctious swamp with all those alligators. Great slice of life and death, Leland.

    5. And there's that collective unconscious again! Dan and Leland in sync. So damn good.

    6. I'm late to the party (went fishing yesterday). I agree. The voice is so intriguing here.

  3. Janine woke in the nauseated lull of knowing that time had passed but not aware of having slept. All at once the weight of the impending day crushed her, dared her to push out of its grip and escape the claws of her bed. It was warm in there, under the mountain of blankets. It was quiet, save for the wind rattling whatever leaves hadn’t already been stripped from the trees. Her world hadn’t exploded yet. She could just…stay. Then she could remember him as she’d last seen him—smiling, joking, thanking her for whatever small thing she’d done to make his day easier, his job easier. Not how he must have looked when the allegations began to fly. Then the phone rang. By habit, she answered. Also to keep from waking the girl.

    “I didn’t do it.” It was too early in the day for his voice to be that smooth. “You have to tell them I didn’t do it. Come on, Janey, honey, I need you to spin your magic. I’ll give you the biggest raise…”

    She didn’t know how to respond. She’d been trained by the best, to make reporters dance to her tune, but the music had grown dreary and she was tired, so tired.

    “So you believe them.” It was not a question. He didn’t know her past. He didn’t know about the men. How they’d done things to her. Pressured her. Promised her, if only… Good jobs were scarce in her field; good men scarcer. She thought he was one of them. At first. Thank God he hadn’t tried anything with her, but week by week her opinion of him crumbled, until she was merely doing her job by the numbers. Writing the press releases. Smiling at the reporters. Planning her exit strategy in the back of her mind. But last night…when the girl tracked her down outside her apartment. The girl who looked like, sounded like a younger version of herself… After telling her story, crying herself to sleep on Janine’s sofa, she called a reporter friend who could keep his sources quiet.

    “Spin your own magic,” Janine said. “I quit.” And she pulled the blankets back over her head.

    1. <3

      This is so very on-point. Love that last bit of dialogue.

    2. Bang! Timely and exquisitely set up and skewered, Laurie.

    3. Yeah, I love this. The disorientation that's made clear in the opening line, the sense of a long overdue reckoning that's finally happening (and it is). The exhilaration and the terror of that.

    4. Agree with Antrobus. Also, kudos on painting such a dark picture with such light strokes. Not easy to do.

  4. Part 1 - Ah, Thanksgiving, a day for American families to come together, overeat, and overstress belts and emotional well-being. But you know this.
    My Thanksgivings are always days spent in deadline-stoked action, leaving me worn, frazzled, and dragging until the following weekend. This year was no different, even without having to prepare for scores of family members descending upon mi casa.
    This tale begins in the darkling hours of the previous evening. Herself and I had done much work to prepare the house and the meal for tomorrow. One thing NOT done was the weekly Wednesday night trash/recyclable takeout.
    Why? Because the newspaper printed word in its “What’s Open – What’s Closed” piece that there would be no Thursday morning pickup. Trash and recyclables would be collected on Friday morning. This sort of surprised me. Sure, the Mayor probably didn’t want to pay too much overtime to bottom-of-the-scale workers. But does the city realize how many sales flyers come to our homes during the weeks beginning the Thursday before Thanksgiving and the Thursday after?
    Nevertheless, I finished my evening duties, bid the girls “G’night!” and tucked in for a good night’s sleep that would include (hopefully) an EXTRA TWO HOURS!
    At 5:15 AM, HS woke me to say that she heard the recycling truck rolling through the neighborhood.
    “Wha?” I eruditely countered.
    Trying to get my legs into my pants--in order to make the mad dash from bedroom, to garage for the recyclable bin, to the end of the driveway--was like wrestling with a couple of overfed pythons. Sure, they had no problem wrapping and knotting around my legs, but they wouldn’t swallow my limbs even if I slathered them in hog-back.
    Pants mostly on, slippers slapping, I hit the garage door like a home invader on angel dust, grabbed the very full bin, and flip-flopped like a circus clown down the driveway.
    “Thank GOD that freezing rain they forecast hasn’t hit yet,” I thought. “I’d be flying through the picture window across the street.”
    Down the street, the truck was rounding the corner and headed for the next neighborhood at the double-time. I felt that I had been duped by the newspaper like a crooked politico in a free beer and strippers sting--pants slung low and hopes flung even lower.
    I placed the bin at streetside and rolled our trashcan next to it in hopes that if I was screwed by one truck I wouldn’t be by the other.
    When I got back inside the house, I was greeted by the little woman and her baby, our golden retriever. Dogs live in the moment and there are no holidays in Mollie-World, or actually everyday is a holiday.
    “Would you feed her and then take her out? This is her usual breakfast time,” Mollie’s mother-figure said.
    *Cheerful, self, don’t blow up the day before it even gets started*, I thought. “OK, Mollie-cule, let’s warm us some grass,” I said in a tone that fooled only me in its cheeriness.
    Mollie’s morning toilette and repast completed, I crawled back into my now chilled bed-third and prepared to cop however many more Z’s I could before reveille. It was 5:45 AM.
    Forty-five minutes later—I know this because I opened one eye and cursed the clock I was facing—HS nudged me again. “The trash truck is out front,” she informed my near-lifeless frame. “It’s OK,” I mumbled, “I put the can out before.” I was so proud of myself I could’ve dreamed of Kate Upton.
    “But Lauren parked her car on the street and I just know they’re going to hit it.”
    “No, they’re not. Amy does it every Wednesday night.”
    “No she doesn’t. Go look.”
    Once again I rolled out of my warm, annoying bed, crackling not with excitement, but with age and anticipation of NOT seeing Lauren’s little coupe lying on the lawn, filleted like a silver carp by the yellow city garbage truck.
    HS and Mollie followed me to the front window, where we saw the trash-laden titan slide past Lauren’s car as slickly as could be. I refused to crow, gloat or beam. That would take too much of the energy I knew I’d never recover until I went to bed Thanksgiving night.

  5. Part 2 - I flipped the coffeemaker into red-eyed gurgling life and dutifully poured my half-cup of cereal into the bowl. The Thanksgiving daily newspaper I had hauled into the house an hour before was blasting its stick-up demands for my Christmas Club cash. Oh, and it read on the “What’s Open – What’s Closed” page that trash pickup would maintain its normal schedule.
    About an hour of indolent behavior later, fortified with coffee and Grape Nuts, I took my To-Do list and squinted at what was to be a busy morning and afternoon.
    “Oh, no,” my still-nightgowned life-mate moaned. “It’s starting to rain and it’s supposed to freeze. Can you bring Lauren’s car into the driveway?”
    I live for this, really I do.
    I fished the extra set of keys to Lauren’s ZX-2 out of the key drawer in the kitchen and hotfooted it down the driveway to her driver’s-side door, stuck the key in the lock and turned it, opened the door and . . .
    The security alarm on her car greeted me and half my neighborhood with the cheery tones of the amplified molestation of a Canada goose. It was 7:45 AM.
    I closed the door.
    I relocked the door.
    I pulled my head beneath the level of my shoulders and sped back up the driveway, slid across the front deck and opened the door to find HS coming from Lauren’s room with the information that you can’t open her car with the extra keys without setting off the alarm.
    Lauren says her keys are in her purse hanging on the kitchen chair. No purse here. I lifted the coats hanging on the chair off its back. No purse.
    The dog was now jumping up and down on me, thinking I’m playing a game while madly circling the table. I noticed that one side of the two coats from the chair was heavier than the other.
    Separating the coats, I found Lauren’s little purse and drove my hand into its confines.
    (An aside here. I HATE to look inside a woman’s purse. One, because it represents a piece of her personal space and I appreciate and honor that. Two, because there in the dark interior, it probably has creepy Kleenex, sticky candy or mints or something else I really don’t want to touch or, in the case of my 17-year-old daughter, know about.)
    Keys in hand, I sprinted back to Lauren’s car, pushed the button on her key ring. HONK! HONK! HONK! Beep.
    This brought quiet back to the neighborhood, except for the barking dogs, cawing crows, and loudly cursing old guy across the street.
    I returned to the house, strode purposefully into the kitchen and thought at this point in the day that instead of shoving the corpus of Mr./Ms. Turkey into the glowing hot oven, I would now prefer to shove my head into it after blowing out the pilot light and cranking the gas up to the 500 degrees mark.
    Yeah, Thanksgiving is special to me, even before the wacky family, tryptophan-laced meal, and terrible football games have left me drained and dreamy.
    And just think, I get to do this all over again in another month for Christmas.

    1. I have to be honest: American stories set at Thanksgiving make my eyes close involuntarily. But I persevered with this and truly appreciate its bizarre mundanity and originality, a damn near impossible line to walk. Bravo, Mr. Hesch.

    2. I agree. The clever way you present the mundane - very tricky. And it totally works. So many great lines, too. Like: "The Thanksgiving daily newspaper I had hauled into the house an hour before was blasting its stick-up demands for my Christmas Club cash"

  6. “So that’s two mocha lattes, each with an extra shot of espresso , and one skinny caramel frappe with a confidence booster.”

    Janie looked up from the order she was reading on her register to see a familiar face across the counter, one of her regulars.

    “Oh, hey Nicole. Wait, why are you ordering a confidence booster?”

    Nicole pasted on a smile, but she looked like she wanted to pass out. Or punch someone. “I have an interview. For a real job, with benefits and a paycheck you don’t need a magnifying glass to see.”

    “Oh. Wow. Good for you. Time you got out of that pit where you work.” She met Nicole’s strained smile with a compassionate one of her own. “Tell you what, I’ll add a sprinkle of charisma to your frappe, on the house. Not that you need the extra charisma, but it can’t hurt, right?”

    Nicole’s smile turned warmer, even touching her eyes.

    “That’s so sweet! Thank you so much. I do need all the help I can get. I’m so done with working for that crazy man.”

    “I hear you, honey. I hear ya.” She took the square of plastic Nicole held out and hesitated. “You’re not buying their coffee are you?”

    “Oh no, no. They gave me cash.”

    “Ok then.” She waved the square in front of the order screen and glanced around the coffee shop as she handed it back. There wasn’t anyone else waiting in line. “Come here, pumpkin. Your glamour’s crooked. You look like one of those old dears in the movies, the ones who color outside the lines with their lipstick.”

    Nicole leaned forward, trusting. She pulled her stubby wand out of her pocket and tapped either side of Nicole’s mouth, nudging the cosmetic glamour back into line.

    “There. Much better. “ A drink holder with three coffees appeared at her elbow and she handed them to Nicole. “Knock ‘em dead, kid.”

    “Thank you! Have a great day, Janie.”

    As Nicole left, Janie sent a subtle spell her direction. Technically, luck spells weren’t completely legal, but what the fuzz didn’t know wouldn’t hurt anybody.

    1. Love this. Kinda want more. The magic is great.

    2. I loved it too. Quirky and subtle.

    3. Yeah, was going with the whole slice-of-life kindness-of-strangers angle, and then that last paragraph took me someplace else entirely. Magic and realism. Is that the same thing as magic realism? Whatever. I love it.

    4. I agree. This is a cool concept. AND WHERE IS THIS PLACE I NEED TO GO THERE! :)

  7. "I was afraid you wouldn't come," she said.

    The man didn't answer but sat in the chair across from her, at the outdoor table she had already propped with a matchbook to prevent it from tottering.

    They watched the sparrows hop among the sunlit cobblestones, flit between the legs of the tourists. Light and shade.

    "So…" she said. Her voice sounded distant even to her. Less a whisper than the passage of a ghost. "You came."

    He smiled with little warmth, leaned back, closed his eyes. "Indeed."

    "I'm glad." She fumbled in her purse for cigarettes, found them, lit one.

    "You smoke." Too incurious to be a question; even his indifference stung.

    She waved a dismissive hand that only made her feel matronly. Or worse, like a girl feigning womanhood.

    Christ, how does he do it? Make me feel this way?

    She smoked her cigarette greedily, lustily even, like someone trying to ignore the firing squad as it gathered in the yard.

    The man sighed, wafted away the grey swirl between them, looked at her for the first time.

    "So why? Why are we here?" he asked.

    "Very philosophical of you."


    "Because we didn't finish the conversation."

    "That was a long time ago. I don't even remember the first part of—"

    "Oh, I think you do."

    Something transited his face, something elusive and brief, a rogue orbit. As if a decision had happened behind some locked door. A bad one. A cataract. A shadow on an X-ray.

    "Go ahead, then. Talk."

    "How does someone pick up a sentence they started writing ten years ago?"

    "Look. I don't have time for this. What is it? Money? I can—"

    She gasped. "Fuck you."

    "Yeah. Allegedly you already did."

    He stood. Looked at her briefly. Mumbled something.

    "What? What did you say?"

    "I said, I never knew what you wanted from me." And he walked away, into the milling sightseers.

    She watched the people through a film of tears and then the tiny sparrows that hopped like popcorn on a griddle.

    "Just your apology, Daddy. That's all," she whispered.

    1. I perk up at your dialogue. It sounds clipped almost economical in my head but the undercurrents are so abundant. Almost like "a rogue orbit" or "a shadow on an Xray."

    2. Yes, I deliberately went with spare here. Understated, yet so much unsaid. Thanks for getting that, Lily. Hell, even as the author, I had to read it more than once to get a sense of what was happening.

    3. Wow. This one is scalpel sharp, brother. And a lot different than your usual wheelhouse. Spare, like you said. Works really well.

  8. She stood away from the window, watching them drive off, holding her breath. The boys would be there any moment, but she needed to see them leave before she got ready. Once the beat-up Dodge turned off the intersecting street she raced to her room.

    Mary had found her the perfect dress that weekend. Sexy, almost slutty, red silk with a slit up to her thigh. No way would he let her wear it, but he wasn't there. By the time Mary and their dates showed up she was as much of a sexpot as she could make herself. They went to a nice restaurant a few towns over and then to the drive-in show. She'd found out the hard way that people talked in small towns. A preacher's kid couldn't throw a stone in that town without it getting back to the wrong people.

    They passed a flask around during the movie, then the boys pulled out a joint. Those naughty guys got her so high she couldn't stand. Not that she needed to stand for what Ricky did with her after the movie. It was sublime. He wasn't the best lover she'd had -- from what she could remember -- but he wasn't half bad. At least he could get it up despite the booze and smoke. She'd been with guys who couldn't manage that. Sometimes she and her girlfriends would get each other off when their dates disappointed. Mary was always the most fun. She had a great tongue.

    The next day, just like always, her husband and his stupid friend, Kyle, came back from "fishing". And just like always he spent the whole night tossing and turning, moaning Kyle's name.

  9. The dream always started the same way. They were in the airport saying goodbye. Henrik usually had his hand on her ass while he kissed her. Squeezing it a little as if she needed a reminder of how randy he could get the night before a big trip. Then she would do something to drive him as crazy as he drove her most days. She’d kiss him and tug at the back of his hair. Then she’d rake the nail of her thumb against his earlobe. She knew exactly what to do to make him tremble. She took solace in that because she knew his wife absolutely did not.

    When she’d first met Henrik in university he used to wear his gold locks down to his shoulders. He had a band and during school breaks she’d tag along to watch them and often take him home after. Pouring him as well as herself into the bed after a night of debauchery. Henrik’s word for it, not hers. She thought that was much too sophisticated a term for how they spent their time getting jacked when they were young. Eventually Henrik got a record deal and they rarely saw each other. Then they didn’t see each other at all. For years.

    It was at a mutual friend’s birthday party some twenty three years later when she bumped into him again. Henrik was changed. Conservatively and expensively dressed, he’d cut off all his hair and now wore glasses. He’d made a mint developing some software for the music industry. That’s how he’d met his wife. The mousy woman helped him develop it. Henrik got away from his spouse long enough to corner her in their mutual friend’s kitchen that very night. She herself was between men. So now they met whenever they could, which was at least once a month sometimes for three days never more than five.

    In the dream after the kiss got them all hot and bothered, Henrik would always say “Til next time, babe. Then she’d nod and watch him walk away. Halfway across the airport terminal he’d turn and wave at her and that’s when the trash can he was standing next to would explode. She would see the surprised look on his face and the faces of those closest to him. She would see an unlucky police dog pitched into the air. And Henrik. Poor Henrik would be sucked into the debris and flame and smoke.

    Then she’d wake up. In the dark. heart racing, and so afraid.

    1. Two things. This is inexplicably chilling. And also, this feels like the briefest glimpse into actual lives of real people. Such a hard thing to do in flash fiction, yet you pull it off.

    2. Agreed. This IS chilling and it does ring authentic. It's a whole lot of story to pull off in a flash piece, too. Really well done.

  10. He woke again.

    He turned his face to the window, sensing the light. He wasn’t sure how much was wishful thinking, but he was sure it made a difference. There was a glow beyond his eyes, a vague brightness that darkened when he turned away.

    It would have been orange.

    His world had changed since when ‘it’ happened. His memories had begun to re-edit themselves; stripping away the details he couldn’t interpret any more. His whole life had begun to change, his past becoming even more ethereal and tenuous. His life in the present was different too, but his attention had changed, his awareness of his lesser senses more acute now they had to make up for his loss. His future…he couldn’t see that any more. He was locked in the moment for most of the time he was awake, his glimpses of tomorrow even darker than today.

    He could always see darkness.

    The rest of the world continued. It hadn’t missed him at all, wouldn’t have missed a beat when he’d stopped attending the office, his desk quickly being taken over by another. He imagined there would have been speculation, the water-cooler was always a stage for those wanting to express their opinions on everything from politics to football, celebrities and fashion, so he could believe that some of them would have taken some time to discuss his disappearance. But given the way the gossips always needed new material, he was sure their attention would have been fleeting and he would have been quickly forgotten. They had their own lives and his place in theirs had vanished, just as effectively as he had done.

    1. I'm so curious about this piece. But also, to echo what David said a while back, damn, your writing has been so tight and on point lately!

    2. Thanks, Dan. David said that he thought I'd found my voice. I believe that too. I've more surety in how I write now too. I can put the words together with more confidence, knowing they make sense and hang together as a whole. It's a whole new level of competence. I'm a writer now.

  11. He hoped he’d been missed.

    The door to his room swung open, the bottom of it rasping against the carpet. It would be Emily – there was nobody else – and he knew she’d spend time with him before she went away again. He imagined that she worked, although she could have been wealthy enough to live without a job. She’d told him little about herself; keeping him in the dark in more ways than the most obvious one.

    “Hello. Are you awake?”

    She stepped softly toward him, her feet dragging. She moved quietly most of the time, usually taking off her shoes so she would make less noise when she walked. He’d been confused by this at first but was now wise to her, hearing her taking them off and dropping them on the floor when she entered. It might have been this that had woken him up; his hearing had become very acute since ‘it’ had happened.


    The crockery on the tray she was carrying rattled. He was being given breakfast today. She would be with him longer – taking her time to make sure he was properly fed, that he ate everything he was given. She’d cut up his food and feed him each forkful until it was gone. She was very strict when it came to his diet. She’d gone to a lot of trouble for him and needed to be sure he kept his health. He was of primary importance to her, she’d said.

    1. Dammit, I'm creeped the fuck out. Getting a Misery vibe here, but I might be wrong. Need more!

    2. David was right on the money with the Misery call. This definitely demands to be continued. This guy's in a whole lot of trouble. Thanks to both of you for your comments, guys. It's good to know the writing's working as I was hoping!


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