Friday, September 7, 2018

2 Minutes. Go!

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.

The fountain is old, rusted. Water no longer flows. The whole thing is overgrown with rich, green ivy, but Alma does not care. It has been in decline since her Abuelo’s death, and she can not separate his legacy from the grandeur of the fountain which, objectively, is beautiful. No question.

Alma just likes it better covered in ivy. It stops her from remembering the old man. How she’d be punished if she went too close to the fountain. She shook her head. How could a man hit a little girl so hard? What kind of man does that? Just because her father had died.

She thought: Your precious fountain isn’t looking so hot now, asshole.

It had always bothered her. The fountain, the house, the perfect family. The looks on the faces of her peers. But what was she supposed to say? Yes, I live in a nice house, but the backs of my legs are covered in scars. And sometimes…

Sometimes worse things happen.

She couldn’t keep up the façade and withdrew from social activities. She let herself become overgrown with ivy and neglected. She did not allow anyone to see beneath, where she was already rusting even if the fountain was not.

Alma picked up the bottle of warm vodka beside her and took a long, slow drink. So this is my life, she thought. Gloating over a dead man’s treasure and drinking. It could be worse.

The drinking was like the ivy and the rust. But Alma was searching for destruction she could trust.

They buried Alma and sold the house and tore down the fountain, and none of it mattered anymore. Just one more tragic story thrown at the pages of time. Which is the lesson Alma finally taught herself before she grabbed the razor.

Nothing matters if you give it enough time.


#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...#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. Let me tell you a story. Just set right down – over there’s too far. My lungs ain’t got the stuff they used to. Goddamn cigarettes. But come close, son, I want you to hear this. It’s a story I ain’t never told nobody. And I’m going to ask that you never repeat it.

    The boy, thirteen and fidgeting, looked at his grandfather in fear. There was something about his face. Usually, he begged the old man to tell him stories. This one, he wasn’t sure he wanted to hear.

    Boy, your Grandma done me wrong one time and I’m going to tell you about it. About what makes a man a man. You know I fought in the war. I was gone a long time. I spent a long, lonely time wondering if I would ever see my wife again. Then, the war ended. I came home. She was happy to see me, but there was something off.

    Now, I ain’t one to pry usually, but it wasn’t the welcome home party I was expecting. It made me curious. And I didn’t have to wait long because your Grandma up and came out with it. "I was with a man one time while you were gone. You know him. I won’t tell you who it is. This was my fault. My weakness. I was scared and lonely. You should leave me."

    Well, as I’m sure you can imagine, this did not set well with a fella who’d been dodging bullets and sleeping in shit. Sorry, you’re old enough for this story, you better stop flinching when folks curse.

    So, I did what you’d expect. I got mad. I screamed. I broke some of the cheap shit we owned. I didn’t touch her. And then I went out and got drunk for about three months. Only it’s hard to stay drunk for that long, so the thoughts crept in. What about the things I’d done during the war? Hell, we was just married before left. It broke her heart. I wasn’t happy about it, mind you, but it got to where I could understand it. It didn’t hurt as bad. So, I went home.

    I told her that what was done was done, that war makes people do awful things, and that I would not judge her, but continue to love her instead.

    The boy’s mouth was hanging open.

    Look, boy, I tell you this because I want you to know sometimes you gotta forgive folks. We were happily married until she was taken from me. A man never had a better wife. And I almost threw it away.

    There were tears in the boys’ eyes now.

    “Grandpa,” he said, “Why are you telling me this?”

    Because love is rare and grudges are petty and you shouldn’t ruin a good thing over one mistake.

    The boy started to speak…

    You don’t never think badly of your grandmother, boy. Never. She was a saint. Even saints get one mistake in my book.

    “But why…” The boys eye’s were wide.

    Because you need to give Jimmy his baseball back. And you need to tell him you still want to be friends. Friendship is more important than baseball. Just like love is more important than the crazy things war makes you do. Now get.

    And the boy went to his room to get the ball. Then he called his best friend.

    1. aw, that's amazing... I love that Grandpa, and I love that Grandma, too. The honesty in this story is brutal, and necessary, and kind.

    2. Exactly what Leland said. And this line: "Because love is rare and grudges are petty and you shouldn’t ruin a good thing over one mistake."

  2. Ah, Ivy and Rust... a perfect name for a collection of stories... and the story itself is magnificent in its sadness. The allegory of the fountain for Alma is beautiful. And sad. Thank you for writing and sharing it.

  3. He was most at home in the company of strangers, even though the strangers sometimes stared. They did not ask him questions. He owed them no answers.

    He had not shaved for years. How many, he could no longer recall. His eyebrows were wild, as wild as his imagination.

    Homeless? How could he be homeless when the whole world was his home?

    He sat, every afternoon, under a tree, not always the same tree, but sometimes the same tree for several days in a row. He held a marble composition notebook and a pen. He looked at a horizon that was not where land meets sky, but where yesterday meets today. Pretty colors there. And he wrote. And wrote. He usually filled one of the notebooks in a week, then begged for enough change to buy a new one. He’d give the full notebook to the person who gave him the last pennies he needed for a new one.

    The notebooks caused a stir, whenever someone actually opened one. The drawings were otherworldly. Warriors, princes, unicorns. The words, though, the words touched the soul.

    One notebook wound up in the hands of a movie producer. He was intrigued, and wanted to find the writer. He returned to the park where the man had given him the notebook, but the man was nowhere to be found.

    He was hiding, hiding over the horizon between yesterday and today, and writing his way into tomorrow.

    The producer made a movie from the words in his notebook. It was phantasmagorical. It made millions, and made the producer’s career. It was the sort of movie Andy Warhol would have made, if Andy Warhol had a soul.

    When the movie made its way to the dollar theater, the writer saw the poster, thought he recognized the drawing, and he snuck into the theatre when the usher wasn’t looking.

    The words on the screen were his, and he knew it. And he wept alone in the dark. In the company of strangers, even the strangers close enough to stare.

    1. Marvelous, thank you. I love "the horizon between yesterday and today, writing his way into tomorrow."

    2. Love the horizon. And this: Homeless? How could he be homeless when the whole world was his home?

      And the piece in general. Steady, strong, great piece.

  4. He was good-natured. We all agreed on that. Tiffany thought he was cute. Jessie thought he was a dork. Only I thought he was dangerous.

    His name was Matthew. Not Matt. He made that clear the first time I shook his hand and said, "Nice to meet you, Matt."

    His grip went from firm to crushing, and he gritted his teeth, spitting out, "My name is Matthew," under his breath.

    It was a party. He was the only one old enough to drink, but somebody's brother, well, you know how that goes.

    He was old enough, but he didn’t drink. He said he was the designated driver. But he didn’t have a car.

    The party deteriorated into a drunken mess. I didn’t drink either. One after another, the others passed out. Finally, it was just him and me.

    He smiled at me. And I was all undone. I fell right into those aqua eyes and out of my mind. I didn’t drink, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t drunk. Besotted, anyway.

    “Wanna go for a ride?”

    “You don’t have a car.”

    “I’ve got a motorcycle. Wanna go for a ride?”

    And we rode, straight through till morning, past the warehouses, past the edge of the city, all the way to the ocean.

    I held onto him the way I held onto life in troubling times.

    He parked on the beach, and helped me off the bike.

    As the sun crossed the horizon, he put his arms around me from behind. I felt his breath on my neck.

    Definitely dangerous. Definitely. But in all the best ways.

    1. Ah. This is sweet and edgy and super real.

    2. I seem to be hung up on horizons Thanks for the kind words.

  5. She’d been a sneak thief since her eighth birthday, when she taught herself how to palm a peppermint patty and slip it into her pocket. It wasn’t hard. Just act like you’re going about your business; nothing to see here. It was easy to get one over on doddering Mr. Munson behind the counter at the drug store. Small treats led to larger ones as she got older. Bigger dares. She’d feel bad after, swear to herself she’d never do it again, then all was forgotten when the addictive combination of sugar, salt, and fat coated her guilt, her shame, her anger, her sorrow. Food calmed her like the promise of whatever was in the packets the smooth-talking boys in the parking lot were selling. She couldn’t afford those, of course, and refused to do what it took to get a hit for free. Was afraid of cops and getting arrested and getting addicted and maybe od’ing, like her sister. But far sooner than she’d imagined, the peppermint patties and Snickers bars weren’t enough to insulate her from the world.

    Her job barely covered the rent, even though she shared a ratty apartment with a woman she didn’t like. She lived on cheap student food. Ramen noodles, mac and cheese, whatever was on sale that week. Baked goods past their prime, day-olds no one wanted at the end of the day. 

    Then her boss asked her to work the register. She nodded and took notes as he trained her. She was good as gold, counting out the change, smiling at the customers, saying aloud what bill they’d given her so there’d be no mistaking if it was a ten or a twenty.

    One day she was alone in the shop. Her lunch, the fifth generic peanut butter on day-old bread in a row, left her hungry, and kind of mad. It wasn’t fair. Life wasn’t fair. Her sister should be alive. Her mother shouldn’t be heaping her expectations on the sister left behind. Her thoughts turned black and jittery, and she craved her usual handful of caramel bull’s-eyes from the deli on the corner, ten cents each, the creamy filling melting on her tongue, but she couldn’t leave the register untended. Her boss was a nice guy and she needed this job, as boring as it was.

    Then a customer came in and made a bunch of copies on the self-serve machine in the lobby. She rang him up and took his five dollars and thirty-two cents then accidentally deleted the sale. He left quickly, in a hurry to get to the post office, and once again she was alone. His money still in her hand. She was slipping it into her pocket before she could talk herself out of it.

    A fluke, she thought.

    When she got off work she combed the supermarket aisles, calculating and recalculating what she’d buy to medicate her week away. She’d tried damn near everything else. Yoga. Deep breathing. A brisk walk. That thing where you replace the negative thought with three positive ones. “I’m so fat and I hate myself and I want to die” came up right away, but that was actually three negative thoughts, so did she need nine to cancel that out? She couldn’t come up with nine. “God took my sister and not me?” That didn’t work. “Every day I get another chance not to fuck up?” Well. That one kind of worked.

    It was too late to return the money, and she wasn’t ready to admit to her boss what she’d done, but maybe there was something better she could do with five dollars and thirty-two cents than give herself another food haze from a box of cookies or a pint of ice cream or a can of cake frosting.

    Then she saw a collection box near the front door, asking for donations and volunteers to help fix a local playground. The money was in the box and her name was on the sign-up sheet before she could think herself out of it. She left empty handed, but not as empty as when she’d come in.

    1. I love this... a tale of redemption and restitution. Beautifully written.

  6. Here's mine.
    This is for my mother.
    The Big C

    Stealthily you came a-creeping,
    Just a hint here and there
    That all was not well
    You had arrived!

    Soon your traces were everywhere,
    In her hair,
    In her eyes,
    In her spirit!

    Inexorable you were,
    Despite the courage.
    Despite the battle.
    You ebbed, you flowed, you raged!

    Inevitably you took her,
    Walking hand in hand with death.
    All will never be well,
    You had won!

    Yet, she lives on,
    A memory, a life of love,
    A face in the mirror.
    Those you will never have!

    1. This is a strong and thought provoking piece. Thanks for sharing it.

    2. Heartbreaking and yet containing stubborn hope. Cancer steals bodies, but not souls. Thanks for sharing this.

  7. The comparison was inescapable. Looking at the head, cracked and bloody. The white bone of the skull with the hair still on it. You can't help but compare it to an egg cracking, cracking open and spilling out so easily. Maybe you're comparing the two because the immediate reality of a split open head is just a little bit too much for you, but imagining a cracked open egg is easier. It doesn't make you feel sick or tie your stomach in knots. It was something you had a lot of experience with, cracking an egg to add it to a mixture, making scrambled eggs, or sunny side up eggs. You had even separated yourself from the thought of it as an embryo. The yellow of the yolk the same yellow of the feathers on a chick, but you tried not to think about that. But you were forgetting yourself, because right now here in front of you, was a dead person. A dead person with a head cracked open and the hair still intact, and the blood and the brains, in pieces. It locks you in, keeps you frozen in place. The intense violence and randomness of it keeps hold of you.

    1. Damn lady, this one crushes (no pun intended). I like this voice a lot. I think this is my favorite piece of yours. Serious teeth.

    2. Wow. This will never let me think of an egg or a head cracking the same way again.

  8. Leaving

    It is the rising within the Fall,
    The trip of summer’s passing
    Blown upon a hungry breeze of red,
    Yellow and burnt orange falling
    Upon an expanse of emerald.
    Tread lightly here lest you disturb
    This crumpled carpet, crisply
    Crunching underfoot, where a
    Yellow-beaked blackbird hops
    Sprightly and dips its velvet head.

    1. ah, a beautiful call to autumn. Vivid and cautionary, and wonderful.


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