Friday, April 7, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

I'm not crazy; I have a vivid imagination. I'm not lazy; I'm writing my thesis on stagnation. 


Everyone has something they don't want to talk about. Some quirk or twisted wire. Some fear or bad desire. This is the way humans work. We have a poker face for the world, but it is a mask covering sickness. You crave love or drugs or fear or adrenaline. You fear people seeing the soft parts of you. You hide the way you're broken because owning it would make you vulnerable. You judge others because your brain tells you to. You screw people over. You're selfish. You're human. 

Thing is, you're probably also pretty smart. These aren't stupid people worries. These are the things that an overactive brain creates. This is habit. This is dependency. This is coping. This is you thumbing your nose at the universe, saying try me. 

You, hiding. 

You shouldn't be surprised when a mosquito bites you. By the same token, you shouldn't be shocked when your cousins talk shit about you behind your back. It's not meant for you. Don't take it as a sneak attack. 

If you stand under a tree canopy, looking up, you have already done more with your day than most of us do. Chase a butterfly. Run as fast as you can. Don't worry about what the other humans think of you. It's simple, sure. Don't mean it's not true. 


  1. Replies
    1. Love that first line. We should all live in a world where you can just go out and idly chase butterflies and be happy.

    2. This speaks to me, deep down in the squishiest parts of my heart. It also has a rhythm that is now stuck in my head :)

    3. I love your honest, no-bullshit philosophy, Dan. I wish we could all have someone like you in charge of our governments; someone who may not know all the answers but isn’t ashamed to admit it and who isn’t motivated mostly by greed and self-interest. I’d give you my vote, Dan. Either you or your bowler-hat wearing British equivalent.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Gold

    Alice says she knows your brother,
    Alice says she knows Everyman.
    Once, the streets were paved with gold,
    but now we wade through mustard.
    There is a power play they hold up high,
    the ministry of something chilly,
    and down here the bells have yet to toll,
    to reveal what we already know.

    It takes a while to take a picture.
    You’ve got to get the focus right,
    the angle, disintegrate the blur,
    no shake; the snake, a second skin,
    the in-between of the invisible view.
    Here we go again, seeing it anew,
    the past, the future, present tense,
    just redrawn, resketched, tangible.

    1. I love that I thought this was going one way and it went somewhere else, just as beautiful and meaningful, but still surprising. You have a great gift for painting a picture and then pulling your reader into it.

    2. For some reason this suggests the lyrics to Stairway to Heaven to me, and that can’t be a bad thing. However, unlike the Zeppelin song, this suggests that we all might find some form of resolution and that, if we look hard enough, we might all find the hope we deserve.

      Fabulous, as always, Vickie.

  4. "There is no such thing as an accident," she said in her most mystical, spooky voice. It made her mother laugh, trying to hide it behind the pad of paper she was writing her grocery list on. Christy beamed a smile at her mom, proud of the fact that she'd made her laugh.

    "Is that true, Mom?" she asked. "I mean, I know it's just a silly kid's movie, but the stuff about nothing being an accident, Does it it for real?"

    "Baby, come here," her mom said, instead of responding. Christy trudged over to their battered, scarred kitchen table, even though part of her wanted to stomp her foot and demand an answer. That was kid behavior. She needed to grow up and start acting like a little lady. That was what Grammy always said.

    Mom scooped her up and sat her on the top of the table, then kissed her forehead, like she did when Christy had a bad day.

    "You, baby girl, are the light of my life. You are not and never were an accident," Mom said. "I don't know if I believe that there are no accidents, but I don't know that I don't, either."

    "What about what happened to Dad?" Christy whispered. Her mom never talked about him, but Christy knew what had happened. Both sets of grandparents talked about it almost every time she saw them.

    Mom bit her lip and shook her head. Christy held her breath, hoping she hadn't made her mama cry. "Princess, that wasn't an accident. It was a sickness that led to a sad, but predictable ending. I know you're a bit young for this, but I seem to be the only one who knows it, so I want to make sure you start learning early. Your dad and I, well, neither of us should mess with stuff like drugs or alcohol. He got back into drugs, and he couldn't stop."

    Wow, she'd never said so much about any of that stuff. Christy had a few scary memories of her dad in the months before he'd died, but she didn't like to think about them. Still, she needed this, the story from her mom's eyes. Grammy said some real horrible things about her daddy, and Grams said nothing but good things about him and super bad stuff about Christy's mom. It was a lot.

    "I've been seeing someone, Christy, and I think you need to see someone, too."

    "You're seeing another man, Mama?"

    "No, baby," she said, laughter in her eyes. "I've been seeing a therapist. I was you to see one, too. You can talk to her about anything. Ask her any questions, and explore whatever you want to with her. If you want to talk more about stuff like this with me, we can do that in her office, too."

    "Why, Mom?" Christy asked, now just plain scared. Her Grammy had some things to say about therapists, too. "Do you think I'm crazy?"

    "No, baby girl," she said. "I think you have a lot of people around you with strong opinions and you need a place where you can figure things out without other voices shutting you out or down. I also think that you need to know one more thing right now."

    Christy saw her mom's eyes get shiny, watched her swallow hard, then take a deep breath, and she got all kinds of scared watching her strong mama look so serious and sad. She kinda didn't want to hear whatever her mom was about to say.

    "Christy," she said after a few more seconds. "If I start drinking in front of you...if I notice me struggling to pay our bills, if my pupils get all big or if I start acting real hyper and staying up late, you need to go tell Uncle Dean and Aunt Marsha that you need to stay with them. You understand?"

    "Not Grammy or Grams?"

    "One hundred percent, no," her mom said. "No one else, honey. Just Uncle Dean and Aunt Marsha. I trust them to make you part of their family and to put your needs above their ideals."

    " won't do those things, will you, Mom?" Christy asked. "You won't leave me like Daddy left us, will you?"

    Her mom hugged her tight to her and snuggled her face into Christy's hair. "No, sweetheart. I won't do that."

    1. It’s good to see and read your words here, Erin. You’re a master of family and humanity, painting images of real relationships with just a few deft brushstrokes. There are no princesses here, although there are a few frogs, showing us genuine flawed characters with modern-day problems. There are no heroes but the ones we become ourselves, the theme of your story giving us hope, if only we can remain standing together.

      This is an excellent, masterful piece of writing and you should be commended for creating this. Great work.

  5. He doesn’t like to tell his wife she’s right, so he says nothing. He sits by the fire dumbly until the moment passes.

    He thinks of the present; the heat of the flames, the darkness of the niche they’re wedged into, the scattering of stars that has presented itself to them tonight. He thinks of the slivers of dried coyote meat they have left, mostly burned but still edible and likely to keep for longer than they will last. And he thinks of the predicament that they’re both in. The loss of almost everything they had and the deterioration of society.

    Society and the comforts he’d taken for granted. A bottle of whiskey and a couple of cubes of ice. And a cut glass tumbler to drink it from. And a subscription for Netflix and that battered, old armchair he loved. Wedged into the corner so that it was neither too hot nor too cold when they had a full fire going. And giving him the best view of the TV. Those simple indulgences he’d taken for granted, not knowing how soon they’d be nothing but a fond memory.

    Charlotte reappeared from her foraging activities. She’d taken their last torch with her so she could search in the dark, their need for more food more pressing than their need to conserve their batteries. The last time she’d gone out, she’d found edible mushrooms and a half-eaten carcass beside the road.

    She was a good daughter. Observant and dutiful. He didn’t know how they would have managed without her.

    “Nothing much this time,” she apologises, returning the torn carrier bag. “Only a few overripe berries and a grazed knee that I got when I tripped over a hole that used to be the entrance to a rabbit’s burrow. And that hadn’t been used for a long time. It was clear of any signs of recent activity. No fresh diggings or scrapes or piles of bunny-formed raisins.”

    “But your knee?” said his wife. “How bad is it? Have you done anything serious?”

    Their daughter clicked the torch on, running its disk of light across the wound on her knee. It had been bleeding, but that had dried, leaving a patch of skin which looked like it would bruise. It looked superficial, which was just as well, given that he’d used their last Band-Aid last week, dressing a wound in her cheek near her right eye where the end of a broken tree branch had speared her when she’d been running to evade a pack of feral dogs.

    The dogs were probably still at large – the family had moved on, hoping they wouldn’t follow them. There were too many of them to fight. They had no weapons now and nothing more than wooden stakes and rocks to defend themselves.

    They would choose their battles where they could. Sometimes they were inevitable; they would fight those to the best of their abilities. The rest of the time, it was usually better to run.


    He woke, and the night woke with him. He strained and pushed against the ceiling above. The darkness that contained him was heavy and confining, unyielding and choking him into silence.

    It was a bank holiday Monday in Algarkirk, Lincs, and the rain was pelting down as usual outside.

    But inside his box, it was dry. It also had a comforting smell of half-warmed beef jerky mixed with a hint of Lynx Savage antiperspirant.
    He was going to be hot to trot tonight. The ladies of the Fens would have every reason to be afraid.

    Alexis, the Fenland vampire, had a complete lack of serious competition.

    There was a gang of Goths based in Boston who thought they had it sussed, thinking all they needed to do was to wear eyeliner and only wash once a month, but being a member of the undead required a bit more commitment. For a start, they’d have to quit breathing and stop drinking that premium-strength export Polish lager. And then there was the necessity that they end their lives. But there were ways and means to manage the second of those criteria.

    Alexis was relatively content, having fed a week ago, so he wasn’t unduly bothered about a necking tonight. He drew the line at French visitors because of the aftertaste they had - but the local Goths were usually almost as bad. Just the aroma of the thick white makeup made him gag. And the thought of choking it down made his gluten intolerance flare up just thinking about it. There were better, more palatable options to be found.

    The local port was nothing like Whitby: being a small town in the Fens. It was miles away from the coast for a start. But the recent influx of Poles and immigrants from Ukraine made passing as a regular person effortless, especially if you’d already been resident for almost a century. Okay, there was an absence of castles and no convenient mountain lairs for hundreds of miles. But adaptability could have been his middle name – if he hadn’t already been named Aleksander, of course.

    Travelling in the Fens was never easy. There were no motorways – the local tourism board was misguided enough to claim that as a benefit – and most of the other roads were barely better than single-track routes with more bends than a misshapen pretzel made by a bakery trainee.

    But as a vampire, travel was less complicated. He could fly – in the guise of a bat – as straight as a crow but on the darkest nights. The local police force was laughable too. The nearest station was over half an hour away using a squad car showing its blue lights. The only danger he faced was from the chapter of the local Sutterton bikers’ gang. Keith Yardley was an Ozzy Osbourne fan; he’d put his mouth around anything and give it a bite, especially after he’d had half a gallon of Polish Karpackie Special Brew.


Please leave comments. Good, bad or ugly. Especially ugly.