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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Blog Cast: Characters

Welcome to a new feature I've decided to include in this blog. I will start doing a weekly broadcast where I discuss one of the areas of the writing process or update you with what is going on in my writing. I hope you enjoy. Please feel free to jump in and add your own character inspirations after the post.

video

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pick a Prompt

You wake up shackled to a chair and can't remember how you got there. Two voices are talking. You recognize one of them.

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A white hot pain seared across my head, splitting my darkened vision in two. I wanted to groan, could feel the sound starting in the pit of my stomach and rising through my throat, but it stopped there, muffled by the taste of sweaty cotton. I blinked my eyes open but saw nothing except darkness. I wasn't even sure my eyes were open until I felt my lashes scraping across the sticky bind. It was losing its adhesive from sweat and tears and time, but it was still in place. My hands ached, the rope cutting into my wrists. I couldn't pull them away from the chair backing.

Behind me I could hear voices arguing. Were they behind me? The darkness was so thick, the pain pounding in my head so loudly that I wasn't sure of anything except I was in big trouble.

"She would have told," one voice seethed, making an almost hissing sound as it slithered through the darkness and reverberated off my eardrums.

"Nuh-uh," the other voice muttered, "She's always been nice."

I've always been nice. That's right. Things like this don't just happen to nice people. Maybe I was dreaming. That's why it was dark. But the taste of that sweaty cotton was far too real, the smell of the tape and my own sweat invading my nostrils. I tried to shake the cobwebs loose, to listen to everything going on around me so I could decide how to get out of there alive.

"You know as well as I do that she would have told 'em everything. She would have said I did it!" the first voice shouted again. I heard the anger.

"She would have made them understand," the other voice said almost too quietly. But I heard him. I knew who it was. Recognition rang through my skull like a silent movie. Babysitting. I was babysitting the Beasley twins. Drake and Deke. That was Deke. He was quiet and shy, never gave me any trouble at all.

I didn't recongize the first voice. It wasn't Drake. It didn't make sense. Why would the twins tie me up or let me be tied up and what happened to get us to this point? Who was that first voice and where was Drake?

"I didn't mean to hurt him. I see my dad use this thing all the time. Sometimes he shoots birds off the garage. Half the time it doesn't even kill 'em. They just lose a few feathers and fly off. I don't understand why it had real bullets in it," the first voice said, an edge of panic shaking him.

My own heart started to thud and images came sprawling back to my mind. I'd sent Drake and Deke out to the backyard to play while I finished cooking dinner. Deke came in to ask if one of the neighbor boys could play. Then I heard the sound of thunder clapping, echoing off the trees and I went out to make sure the boys were okay. Deke was standing over his brother, his hands covered in crimson blood. I ran to Deke and Drake, surpressing the scream I wanted to cry, shouting at the boy behind me to get the phone and call the police. I'd pulled Deke away from his brother, trying to recall every episode of ER I'd ever watched, thinking maybe pressure on the wound would save his life, and that's when the sharp crack had split across my skull, dissolving me into darkness long enough for that gun-toting neighbor boy to tie me up.

This time a moan did tear through my throat, stifled by he tape and he gag, but audible nonetheless.The boys were quiet behind me, the fear and desperation palpable in the air.

"I have to do it. It' the only way. I can't go back there. I can't go back to that camp. They did bad things there. It was an accident. I didn't mean to hurt Drake. I thought it was my dad's pellet gun," he sobbed. His footsteps scuffed the ground, echoing closer until I could smell his fear as distinct as my own.

The barrel of the gun felt hot against my scalp but maybe that was just the pressure of the knot from the earlier blow to the head. I closed my eyes in the darkness again, heart pounding in my chest, sweat pouring down my face. I could hear the click of the gun cock, could feel the subtle shift of the bullet to the chamber. He wasn't shaking. He wasn't trembling. He wasn't scared. This boy knew what he was doing.

I screamed, the sound so real and loud it was as if the gag were no longer in my mouth. I felt a warmth trickle down my legs, up my back, between my thighs and could smell the foul stench of urine and fear trickling up my body. I shot up in bed, knocked the lamp from the table and almost convinced myself I was still there, still waiting to die. It'd been ten years but that day was still so vivid both in memory and in nightmares. After three ruined mattresses I'd invested in a plastic sheet. How embarrassing a twenty-four year old woman couldn't sleep through the night without peeing the bed, but when the nightmares took over, it was impossible to control myself.

I laid back in the bed, forgetting for the moment that my sheets, blanket, and pajamas were soaked with pee and just thanked god I survived that night so long ago.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Tallulah: Volume 3

I just created a new button for Tallulah. I did the title spur of the moment because it just came to me here in the wee hours of the morning. Hockey fans will understand the reference and everyone else will just think it's some near-erotica story. Check it out, third pic under the Tallulah tag.

The Worst Combinations

Is there any worse combination for the future than being a cat lady who happens to also be a writer? I'm convinced that the only other possible way I could deteriorate my future any further is to be both of those things plus a hockey fan ... and it just so happens that I am a hockey fan.

I never saw myself as that crazy cat lady who sat on the porch at eighty years old, a gaggle of cats swarming her feet as she uttered obscenties at the children who dared step foot in her yard. Fortunately I'm a long ways off from eighty and it's winter here so no porch sitting yet. On the other hand, I've found myself becoming rather enamored with our adopted cat, Abbey.

Mid September of 2009, my long time companion and absolute spoiled baby, Jasper, had to be put to sleep from old age. Don't worry. He was a lab, not a person. It hurt just the same. I'd had him for many years and he was a part of our family. So I didn't want another pet, especially a dog, but when you have children, you find yourself making concessions you probably wouldn't otherwise. So I told Christian he could have a cat and because the Animal Control people were so helpful, patient, and accommodating I decided we would adopt from them.

So we took Christian to the shelter and let him pick out a cat. Baxter was a great cat. He was an orange tabby or whatever it is you call those old tomcats. Anyways, the problem was he was already over a year old by the time he was neutered. So we take him home and within a day he sprayed the house, marking his territory with steel melting urine. I pack him up, take him back to the shelter and see if I can make a trade in. I know it's terrible. All animals deserve a loving home, but I just don't have the patience or time to teach a grown male cat that as the only pet in the house, he doesn't have to mark his territory.

So I peruse the shelter, take cats out of their cages, see which ones are friendly, avoid the male cats, and find this quiet little cat peeking at me from behind bars as if she is on death row. Those puppydog eyes of hers, or rather kittycat eyes, are bright and friendly. When I look at her, I think she's kinda homely looking, which leads me to believe she probably needs a good home. Because as we all know, it's easy for the pretty ones get adopted. I take her out of her cage and hold her. She curls her little head on my shoulder and purrs gently and I know right away that she is the one for our family.

Get the paperwork taken care of, her microchip in, all her shots up to date, and I'm heading out the door with the next newest edition to our family hoping that she's not one of the rare 7% of female cats with a pension for marking their territory. I get her home, out of her carrier, and start refilling water and food bowls. She seems content enough, familiarizing herself with the lay of the new land and once I break out my secret weapon, wet canned food, she makes herself right at home.

Long story right? Well, I wanted to share my adventure and my deep RESPECT, APPRECIATION, and LOVE for our local Animal Control people, who provide great care to abandoned and stray animals for as long as it takes to find them a home, provided they are placeable.

And it also takes me full circle to what I was saying in the beginning. I was never a cat person. I loved the companionship of dogs because they make friends. Cats just have servants. They aren't as social as dogs, at least not in my experiences. Yet I find myself grateful to have this chance to give Abbey a home within our family. She is very loving, very playful, and laid back. Right now as I type this she is laying between me and the keyboard, very much in control of her environment the way a cat should be, but also a close friend, the way dogs usually are.

Which brings me to the whole point of this entire post; this evening, after Christian had gone to bed and I was hoping the Penguins would quiet the Capital fans with a win, Abbey was sprawled across my lap as I yelled at the television, the referees, the players and the announcers. So I may not be the crazy cat lady writer on the porch with arthritic fingers yelling obsceneties at the local children, but I am that crazy cat lady writer yelling a mother's version of obsceneties at the televised hockey game.

Writers are, by an ofen true stereotype, lonely people. The craft almost beckons it. Crazy cat ladies are often lonely too, hence the reason they begin to hoarde cats or hurl them like the crazy cat lady from the Simpsons. My future is totally looking bright.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Stepping Back

I've realized over the past week that I've taken a step back from the internet and writing in general. I think it has been good for me to get away and for the moment I don't see myself getting back to it. Perhaps I'm just focusing my attention off of the fact that I'm currently writing this post. Anyways, what I've noticed is that this week of not looking at my writing or thinking about writing or writing prompts has really been good for me. I think when I get back to a point where I can focus on my writing, whether editing or writing, then I will have a fresh new perspective.

So my goal is to spend the rest of this week writing-less and focus on my other interests. I've almost finished a crochet project ... okay well about 65% anyways. And I'm about the same with a 750 piece puzzle Joe and I started. Not really exciting, but it's my life.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Perspective

Exercise from: Room to Write by Bonnie Goldberg

Today, choose a favorite biblical or literary story or a fable or fairytale. Pick another character who appears in the story and tell it through his or her eyes.

****************

"Creativity oscillates between what is given and what can be discovered." ~~ Deena Metzger
****************

She wanted me to kill the child, to rip her heart from her chest and bring it back as a trophy in that little golden box hidden at the bottom of my napsack. Why did she even want the child dead? Snow White was such a kind little girl. Never once had I heard her complain about the tattered clothes or unruly chores the Queen forced upon her. If only the King were alive he never would have let his daughter be turned into a meer slave. She probably poisoned him. The Queen was capable of loving no one, her own stepdaughter included.

The child was so excited when I told her that I would be taking her into the forest to pick berries. She quickly ran to her room in the tower and changed into her royal robes. Off the kingdom grounds were the only time she was allowed to wear them. Everyone who worked inside the palace knew why; the Queen had to keep up appearances to the peasants.

She sang along behind me as I led her deeper into the woods, thickets of branches and roots making the trek difficult. Not once did she complain about the venture or ask when we would head back. She just plucked berries from the bushes we passed and delicately set them in her basket. She kept humming. More than once I wanted to turn around and scream at her to shut up, but I was afraid if I opened my mouth I'd tell her exactly why we were going so far into the woods.

Unable to stand my thoughts any longer, I stopped. The log at my feet was half eaten away by time, the splintery end jagged and dangerous. I turned around and smiled at the princess.

"Look at that fruit," I exclaimed, forcing my trepidation to become excitement. The poor girl fell for it and clapped her hands as she rushed around me. There was no fruit, and when she realized it, I already had my knife grasped tightly in my hand, the seam of the handle imprinting on my palm as I raised it above my head.

"Woodsman, I don't see anything," she said. Still smiling, she turned back to me. It took her several moments to realize that the knife I held high overhead was meant to kill her. Blood pulsed through my chest, slamming my heart against my ribs as I brought the knife down.

But I couldn't. That helplessly frightened look in her eyes broke my resolve. I crumpled at her feet, bursting into tears. I grabbed her capelet and started to wipe it across my eyes. This was horrible! The Queen would kill me if I came back refusing to do her bidding, but I just could not kill her. She sobbed too, but even as frightened and scared as she was she patted my shoulder, quietly asking why I'd want to hurt her.

"Princess, I'm so sorry!" I sobbed harder. It was the gentle touch of her palm against my cheek that calmed my tears enough to go on, "It was the queen. She wanted me to bring your heart back as a token to her. She's vile, evil, and she'll stop at nothing until you're dead. You must run, you must get away and never come back!"

The fear of the Queen's wrath began to creep into my thoughts. This would not please her. And if she ever found out I betrayed her, she'd kill me and search for the girl to kill her as well. A plan started to formulate, churning through my mind like the gears of a clock tower. I gazed up at the princess who still seemed to be in shock. I wasn't exactly sure how I was going to do what needed to be done, or if the princess could survive on her own out there in the wilderness, but it was the only shot either one of us had at living to see another day.

"I don't, I don't, I don't understand," she mumbled, the confusion drawing lines in her brow.

"Go, run, get out of here! Never come back!" I jumped up to my feet, eyes wide and wild, voice rumbling and echoing off the trees. The girl popped up from the disintegrating log and stumbled over the gnarled roots that had worked up from under the ground. She started crying, her face streaked with tears, turning back to make sure I wasn't playing some evil joke on her.

But I was dead serious. This was the way it had to be. At least out there Snow White would have a fighting chance.

When I was sure she was lost out there, deeper in the woods than she could ever hope to find her way home. I stood there, steadying my heart, listening and hoping I didn't hear her cries out there. I put my knife back in the case and threw my satchel over my shoulder. I trekked back through the trail of broken twigs and branches toward town. By the time I made it out of the density of the woods it was near dusk.

Luck just so had it that I stumbled out of the clearing not far from a pig farm. I waited until dark, watched the candles go out in the windowsill, and left twenty gold pieces in a leather pouch in place of the pig I stole. This would have to do. I would take the heart of the pig to the queen. When she dismissed me, if she bought the rouse, I'd leave through the night and start life over somewhere else.

For just a moment I wished I'd stayed in the woods with the girl. At least out there I could fight the elements to survive, but the queen was a much more formidable opponent than nature. I steadied myself as I gave word to the drawbridge guards that I'd returned on mission for the queen. This was the moment of truth. I'd either have a day's headstart or I'd die for crossing the queen. Either way, I knew it my heart that I'd done the right thing.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Editing

I stayed up until 6:30 this morning and edited the first five chapters of No One's Puck Bunny. I've made some changes to the story but mostly I think it's staying true to form. I didn't get a chance to work on Chapter Eight of Living Behind Glass Shadows because I stayed up way too late editing. But I think right now it's more important for me to edit than actually take on more stories. My ultimate goal is publication so I need to get to a place where I can start begging for a chance to make it or break it. That means getting through editing.

Can I just say that editing now gives me a hundred new desires to work on other stories.

Editing Update

I just finished editing the prologue and chapter one of No One's Puck Bunny.I don't know if I want to do another chapter tonight. My plan tomorrow is to work on the next chapter of Living Behind Glass Shadows. I also have been thinking about the third installment to Tallulah's story. My first idea for it was a lot like this current one for Living Behind Glass Shadows but I think I can make it work from a different angle.

Anyways, my goal is to have the first six chapters of Puck Bunny edited by the end of this month. Wish me luck. Oh, and I changed Evgeni's name to Gennadi. You know, if this ever sells, I don't want an interview about the book to reveal my inspiration for this story came from my love of the Penguins and anything Evgeni Malkin. So let's give it up for Gennadi Kozlov.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Living Behind Glass Shadows

Okay Blogosphere, I've managed to work my way to chapter eight of Living Behind Glass Shadows. I'm not too confident about the strength of the plot so I think I'm going to step away for a while and focus on editing the story I intend to submit.

For now, at Chapter Eight, 79 pages, December has finally confronted the past. She's finally talked about the death of her father and how it really affected her. She has begun to see her mother's point of view, and how it's finally time for her to move on and find some happiness with someone else. December is also fighting this strange new emotion she's discovered in her own relationship. She's always loved Josh in large part because his work very often takes him away from home for short periods of time. This suited her independent nature. She liked that his busy schedule kept him from complaining about her busy schedule. But that kiss from Wes has her head in a spin. Now she wants Josh home, is slightly resentful when he isn't. And this new emotion she can't quite name really has her head spinning. What's worse is she's afraid she's just said something that might have given Josh the idea that their relationship needs a change.

So, with that update out there and in the world, I will be using most of my time to edit No One's Puck Bunny instead of working on my writing. I will keep you updated as I go along, but it probably won't be of much interest. The fun stuff will be submission. When I get the inevitable mound of rejection letters all unknown authors get, I might need the blogosphere world to talk me out of scarfing down a half a chocolate cake and seven strawberry margaritas.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Words of Art





The clouds were like puzzle pieces against the horizon. The colors were spectacular, reminding me of the mother-of-pearl necklace I'd seen at the jewlery store when we'd gone shopping for mother's day gifts. This was so much better. Green expanse of fields stretched out below us like a mural. Houses were so tiny they were more than a speck.

Suzy pointed off in the distance. She always seen things first. Sometimes I held that against her. But that day I couldn't believe my eyes. The green blanket of grass far below us was giving way to a vastly different landscape. Jagged rocks and steep canyons suddenly dominated the earth below us.

My heart was pounding in my chest at the sheer power of such an element. Suzy was of course clapping with excitement as she scribbled down everything she saw. Maybe it was that excitement that kept us from noticing how the sky had turned pewter, thick stormclouds rumbling in from the west. Drops of rain pelted the balloon almost making music in a steady beat. Thunder swept up around us, making both the balloon and me shiver in it's wake.

"We can't land yet. I have to record this." Suzy shouted, bravely leaning over an edge to record her thoughts on what was happening around us.

"We've got to find a place to take her down. Lightning is not our friend." I mumbled, working the igniter and other mechanisms. But my nervousness had gotten the best of me. I pulled the wrong cord and instead of gently wafting to the ground, the balloon spurted upwards as if attracted to the sound of thunder.

"What are you doing?" Suzy shouted, dropping her steno-pad and reaching for the cords. In her frenzy she pulled harder than she should have and the cord dangled in her hand.

The thunder was closer, seemingly bouncing us through the sky like a pinball. Fear slashed across my face as Suzy plopped down in a corner of the bucket. I did the same, panic completely eliminating me of any plausible thinking.

And then the worst happened. Lightning began to spew around us, the air tasting electric as we sailed further and higher into the sky. Each clap of thunder rattled our balloon, sending tremors through us. I felt the first rope beginning to fray and I should have been able to think fast enough to do something, but I watched in helpless fascination as each tiny hair of the rope gave way.

The fear on Suzy's face only confirmed what I'd already felt. The other ropes were giving way. The basket started to topple and I reached for Suzy but far too late to save her or myself. We screamed, hearts pounding louder than thunder as we fell through the sky.

"What are you girls doing? It's time to take this box to the curb." Mom's voice cut through our screams as we toppled to the floor.

Both Suzy and I cackled with laughter as we pulled the box over our heads and started another adventure.

Words of Art


*This is based on a character I've written, but this part of the story I haven't gotten around to telling*



The kids were enjoying the summer in the mountains. It'd been so long since we'd been to the family cabin. There was always something else to do. Work. Car pool. Sports. More work. Dry cleaners. Shopping. An extra hour at the gym because of that damn donut. Work again.

But here we were. Four months into my year long countdown. The kids didn't know it. Sometimes I wasn't even sure if Dave knew it. Of course he'd been there with me at the doctor's office when I'd gotten the knews but our love was such a tale that I don't think he could believe what he heard. So instead of facing facts he put it out of his mind completely.

I sat there slathering sun screen on, wondering why I was even bothering to begin with, but I had to keep up appearances for the kids. As much as I warned them about SPF they'd likely notice if I skipped on the coverage. Then I would have to explain myself to them.

And I just couldn't. Not then. Not before. Not before one last summer as a family. Not before I could spend this time with them. Watch them laughing and playing without a care in the world. The last thing I wanted for them was to spend their summer thinking about the day in the near future they'd lose their mother.

Sometimes I was most worried about the girls. They weren't mine biologically, but I loved them like they were. And with their mother so emotionally unstable, they'd jumped at the chance to move in with me and their dad. So there they were on the dock jumping into the water and showing off their swimming skills.

So easily we had meshed into a family. Me and my son. Dave and his four children. We'd even had one of our own together almost a year to the day after our first anniversary. Our lives were perfect. And now, our family would be ripped apart. Luke would go live with his father. Dave would keep his children and our son. Would my boys even grow up to know they were brothers? Would Dave be able to handle all of their emotions and his own when my time was finally called?

I thought about all this as I lazed back in the garden chair watching my family. This was not the day to think of such things.

Dual Characters

Dual Character: In a brief paragraph or two write down some characteristics/ physical features/ background of a character and then sum up a dual personality. See if you can create a conflict that they encounter or must overcome.


My character is Tallulah.

She grows up as an only child with a father that was never really part of her life and finally disappeared when she was four years old. Her mother was very protective of her after that. Strict bedtime. No sleepovers. All her friends must come to the house, she can't go to theirs. So when she gets the chance to leave home and go to college, she does the extreme and leaves her far east coast home for a far west coast college. In the eight years she spends at medical school she tries to completely forget her home, never returning to visit her mother and instead opting for phone calls throughout the years. When she is violated in a most awful way, she runs back to home to her mother and the east coast. She meets the man who has helped to take care of her mother and feels an immediate attraction, but because of what has happened to her she wants to focus on the unplanned pregnancy and her medical career. When her secrets come out, it is too late for her to make things right with her mother. She throws herself into the relationship with Evgeni and her medical career. She's a wonderful doctor---bright and quick, calm and collected. She finally realizes her place was always in Rockport but it takes her lots of heartache to understand that.

Her dual character is that she has always wanted to be a doctor. She is good at her job. Very smart and quick. Level headed. Easily works out solutions to the patients she's faced with.

But she runs from her own problems. First she runs from her overprotective mother. Second she runs from the west coast and back home. How odd she can perform a surgery on an ER patient but cannot face her own realities.

Is that correct? Because if so, I didn't even realize it myself until just now!! LOL

Words of the Week

Words of the week: Oneiric, Mores, Abscond, Flummery, Circumlocution, Vicissitude, Tchotchke, Inscrutable


I could have used the excuse of having to talk about business but the feeling of his hand over mine, his fingertips grazing my hand, I could think of nothing but the desire he made me feel. Mother and Daddy would both have been disappointed in me but I couldn't help what I felt. The mores of high society were clearly drawn in this regard---a man could have an affair and survive the fallout but a woman could not be the mistress and live with dignity.

Still, the thought of walking away from him and pretending that whatever chemistry I felt was nonexistent was all but inscrutable. If Faith were there she'd tell me I was playing with fire and likely to get burned. She might have told me that I wasn't ready to be an affair and I'd tell her that wasn't what I wanted.

He parked the car in front of an area of the beach that looked to be nothing but fun in the darkness of the night. A fire blazed with a few people standing around it. Guys were scattered around the area, all laughing and talking. A Frisbee was being thrown and tossed around, the bright green orb hypnotic in the dark sky.

We strolled down the beach, our hands dangling so close to one another that another centimeter or two and we would have been holding hands. The whole length of our walk I heard people referring to me as "Marcus' girlfriend".

"Marcus' girlfriend. Seems funny hearing those words together. I don't think I've ever heard that phrase uttered aloud." Kevin laughed. He led me to a beach towel spread halfway between the surf and the fire. He sat next to me, a grin tugging at the corner of his mouth.

"I'm surprised people have given me the title. Marcus and I are just friends." I was tempted to tell him I was just recently out of a long term relationship but I refrained. From what I gathered from Marcus, even jocks read the tabloids and I'd been at the center of them for a long time.

Off to my left I could hear a man spewing a mouthful of flummery in an attempt to get his girlfriend to forgive him for some indiscretion. From the sound of the conversation, he would be sleeping on the couch or the doorway when he got home.

"We've had some wild and crazy times on the road. When you think about a bunch of guys on the road more than they're home with high testosterone and beautiful women falling down to get a chance for a night with one of us---that was Marcus' favorite part of the fame. That's a lot of guys favorite part." Kevin's voice was almost oneiric as if he were thinking back on some sordid mistake of his own.

"Your favorite part?" I asked, not really thinking about the question. I leaned closer, our eyes locked. The glow of the fire left his eyes looking like warm amber and I was completely transfixed by him.

For a moment he was silent, contemplating what to say. If I hadn't seen the sincerity burning in those eyes I might have guessed he was making up an appropriate answer. "My favorite part is providing for my family. I have three children. I have no worries for their future."

That was territory I knew nothing about. A man with children thinking about college. A man with a wife. A man who was probably old enough to be my father or at least a young uncle. It hadn't come up, but I guessed him at about forty.

"Faith tells me you're married. Have you had a chance to talk with your wife about our business proposal?" I hoped it sounded like a reasonable question but I wasn't quite sure if it worked. When I glanced away from him to the fire I could feel my thoughts as plainly as if I'd given them voice. Mother had taught me circumlocution as a tactful art but I'd forgotten the lesson under his gaze.

"Ah. Faith Holloway. Your friend is something else. Some weeks in the locker rooms are so tense with feuds because of her that we're lucky a match doesn't break out there." He didn't answer the question.

So I watched the surf crashing against the shore in an ill patterened vicissitude. Reaching so far up shore just to wallow back to the ocean. Salty foam exploding on the sand with each crash. Behind us, some 80's rock ballad drifted on the breeze.

When Kevin offered his hand I couldn't help myself. He was what I wanted. A dance. Any reason to get closer to him---to get close enough that our bodies touched and no one could read anything into it but an innocent dance. Oh, what I would give to abscond from the beach with him, to hide ourselves away in some little cove without peering eyes and only the moon to witness my desires.

His arms came around me. One big hand rested firmly on my back while the other cupped my right hand. Glowing embers from the fire cast shadows across us but his eyes were glowing with what I thought was the same desire and warmth I felt. Every ounce of my being wanted to fall into his arms and nestle against his massive chest, greedily inhale the scent of him, and press my lips against the warmth of his own.

Every instinct told me to run. Kevin was a married man and I was not the kind of woman to break up a home. I knew all too well just how devastating unfaithfulness could be.

"Having you hear tonight has made this little get together bearable." Kevin's voice was deep and husky.

"You're definitely a tempting man, Mr. O'Donnell." I whispered back. Slowly, I looked up and the moon caught my eyes. All the noise of the music and the voices and the rolling ocean waves seemed to disappear. My heart thundered in my chest. Even my skin tingled with anticipation as our lips moved closer, hovering mere centimeters apart. One big hand came up to my face, caressing my cheek as he ever so slowly pulled me closer to his kiss.

Only a millisecond from experiencing the only thing in the past six months I could truly recall craving, I heard that voice screech over the music. "Hey, Alexis, look what I picked up for you."

Both Kevin and I had to pull away from one another. Marcus was traipsing down the beach towards us, completely oblivious to what he'd just approached. Dangling from his fingertips, some tourist tchotchke necklace of sand shells.

"Don't be trying to steal my girl from me." Marcus smiled, still oblivious to the fact that I couldn't tear myself away from Kevin.

Words of Art


Write from this picture.


Lost

Standing where I should

Wanting what I shouldn't

Needing more than fresh air

Desiring the world

But not this part of it

The only noise that of buzzin insects

or squawking birds

Lost here, unfamiliar and different

Exactly what I thought I wanted

But my heart shall never be here

How do I go back

Turn around and flee

Which way is home

Which way is me

Words of the Week

Words: Pelf, Vim, Falchion, Alow, Juxtapose, Orpine, Kuchen, Nix


Faith was full of more vim and vigor than she had been in the past week. Perhaps it was all those one night stands I heard thumping across my bedroom ceiling the past couple days. Sometimes I had no idea how she managed not to walk bowlegged.

"So you're stuck on him, aren't you?" She asked, plucking a plastic falchion from a bumbershoot before laughing at the price and dropping back.

"Kevin and I are just co-workers. That's it." I couldn't help the grin that tugged at the corners of my mouth. After that weekend on the beach I was more attracted to him than ever but still found it hard to tell Marcus goodbye.

I popped a bite of fresh kuchen in my mouth as I browsed the bucket labled "2 for 1" We were sorely out of place with Faith's designer shades and six inch summer stilletos. People were whispering all around us, watching us as if we'd stopped at this neighborhood sale just to poke fun of them with our status and pelf.

A young girl of no more than sixteen pointed her finger at us with complete recognition. "You're Alexis Mitchell and Faith Holloway." She practically screamed.

Our identies Faith had not tried to protect at all had been blown. Immediately people stopped their browsing and inserted themselves in the situation. People began to juxtapose themselves around us, flanking us like we were on display. Faith loved the attention. She always had. I however, had had enough of the limelight.

With my divorce making headlines and my new relationship with Marcus coming under scrutiny I would give my right arm to not have any public interference in my life.

Grabbing Faith at the elbow, I found our way out of the throng of people and back to the car. "Why'd you nix the fun? That guy was totally going to give me his phone number!" She threw her blonde hair back and admired her clevage before applying a sheen of lipgloss over her lips.

"Every guy gives you their number." I tossed back at her.

"You're just bitchy because you're stuck making ga-ga eyes at a married man. Hang some orpine over your bed. It's a love potion." She rolled her wrist in the wind as I sped from our parking space and down the street into anonymity once again.

"No, I'm pretty sure orpine was used as a charm to ward away lightning." I mocked her, afraid to admit she was right. Part of my mood was the fact that I had to fight this incredible attraction to a man I knew was off limits.

As the sun set off in the west, the warm summer air passing through the windows, I couldn't help but think about the feelings I needed to bury deep in the alow of my mind.

I had to forget how enticing his long sandy blonde hair could be and how tempting the graying temples were. I had to forget those big brown eyes. Had to stop thinking of the way his goatee fell on his jaw. Had to forget the way those massive fingertips of his had felt caressing my back as we danced on the beach.

I had to forget.

Starting Line

Starting line: As she slowly and painfully opened her eyes she saw a bright light overhead.



As she slowly and painfully opened her eyes she saw a bright light overhead. This was exactly what she'd hoped wouldn't happen. She squinted against the glare of florescent lights and tried to sit up on the cold table.

She couldn't.

Panic instantly choked her. If she'd had muscle control she would have tensed her body. Thoughts zoomed through her mind, passing behind her eyes as if they were seared on her irises indefinitely. The smell that wafted through her nostrils was even more desparaging than her lack of bodily control. She wanted to stop breathing. To inhale through her mouth and close off the passages to her nose so that rotten smell would disappear.

"Claire," I heard Carly's voice screech beside me. If it wasn't for the visual of the blankets falling down my chest I wouldn't have known she'd grabbed my hand.

"She can't hear you. You're so dumb to come here everyday." Natalie whined from across the room. Her flame red hair was styled to perfection but her makeup was on the verge of clownish.

"She can too hear me. Can't you, Claire? Oh Claire, pleas just blink or something. Please?" Carly pleaded. It was only when she bent to kiss my cheek that I could see her face.

I want to blink. I want to tell you that I can hear everything. I want to tell you that I'm alive. I thought to myself. So frustrated I couldn't voice the thoughts.

How many more years do I have to live in this prison of a body? How many more times must I hear the doctors discussing my hopeless condition? No brainwaves. No reaction to stimuli. No concept of pain. This is what I was reduced to?

"We should just let them pull the plug." Natalie whined.

Usually I despised Natalie. Usually I would rather scratch her eyes out than try to be civil with her over dinner. And she wasn't trying to be humane about the situation. I knew that. But it was the first time in my life I hoped Natalie would get her way.



ETA....I just realized I changed POV mid story. Sorry about that.

Internet is Not For Everyone

At an Internet café, you've accidentally stumbled across an unlikely family member's MySpace page. What do you find? How do you deal with it?




Two hazelnut lattes down and I was ready to go. My writing had hit a brick wall so I'd spent the last half hour just browsing the net. As I packed my journal in my bag and consolidated my Splenda packs into the empty styrofoam cup, I decided to check my email before leaving the cafe.

It was the usual; three spam about penis enlargement, two spam about miracle diets, one spam for buy one get one free breast augmentation, a few quick one liner jokes from my aunt, and a reminder from my forgotten MySpace account.

How long had it been since I'd even checked it? It was only about a week after I opened the darn account that I lost interest. Curious, I clicked the link and was redirected to my half finished page. Alicia Keyes blared from the speakers and I quickly turned the volume off. One message on my account. I clicked the envelope icon.

It was from my cousin. Of course. At seventeen I suppose you do only know how to communicate in acronymed sentences on some form of technology. I expected to see some ridiculous Sponge Bob quiz but it took me a minute to translate her message.

omg ... totally ... rotflmao ... check it ... smexy right

I clicked the link almost afraid I was entering some teenage communication blackhole where words were combined or shortened to just letters, and vowels mysteriously forgotten.

But I was wrong. It was worse. Much worse. My eyes were seared with the image of my ninety year old great grandmother. Her wispy white hair curled gently at her jaw. The wrinkles of her face I knew so well. That sweet, precious, little old lady who'd raised six kids, always had a hot meal for visitors, and who never missed a Sunday at church. That was her. That was her wearing a red leather boustier and Chinese monogrammed slippers.

Like I'd just been caught with porn spam, I exited out of the internet altogether and closed my laptop. My heart thundered in my chest and I tried to decide if I should burst into uncontrollable laughter or gouge my eyes out with the wooden stirrer I'd just dropped in my empty cup.

Slashing Tires

*A part of this prompt also made it into one of my stories; All That You Can't Leave Behind*
Starting Line: Six months? Six months in jail for slashing my ex-husband's tires? Have they gone mad? Didn't they know he had it coming to him?


Six months? Six months in jail for slashing my ex-husband's tires? Have they gone mad? Didn't they know he had it coming?

To think that I'd spent the last year of my life getting over our divorce and wondering why he couldn't love me back all for it to come down to that night. I'd finally moved on. I had finally found a man that I loved and he loved me back. He didn't treat me like some trophy on his arm.

"Want to tell me what happened?" My attorney asked. He had a slight grin on his face as if he could only imagine the sordid details. Or maybe he was working for Tyler. Maybe his incompetance was just the icing on the cake Tyler had served me.

I went through the details feeling defeated and unhinged from the situation around me.

Brad and I were planning a trip back to Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving. It was one of the few nights he'd spent at my place since we started dating five months earlier. Adam was in bed, fast asleep. Brad and I were in the kitchen putting dinner dishes away, joking about the things my brothers would say and do when they met him for the first time over our extended holiday vacation.

The doorbell rang. It was close midnight. My first thought was that it was Trevor and his latest breakup with the cute Starbucks barista I would have sworn was straight. But when Brad opened the door it was Tyler---drunk and staggering in the doorway as if he were going to collapse at any second.

"Where's September?" He mumbled incoherently.

I was prepared to throw him out on his ear but the look on his face had stopped me. There was something important he had to say. Not the important that Tyler usually thought was worth interrupting my evening but truly heavy.

He stumbled towards me and Brad gave me a look as if asking if I wanted him to get rid of Tyler for the night. I shook my head and let him stagger his way into the kitchen. Brad must have busied himself in the downstairs office because when I turned to find him he was gone.

"I have something to tell you September." Tyler mumbled. His face was streaked with tears. Eyes red and swollen. His mouth hung open after his words as if it were too much energy to pull it back up.

"We've been divorced now for six months and you still feel the need to cause trouble for me and Brad?" I asked, keeping my distance from him on the other side of the counter.

"That's not what this is about. This is about my baby." He paused and I felt the first stab of fear clenching my throat. "Remember how you wouldn't even let me touch you after we lost the second baby? I wanted to make things right but you wouldn't let me near you."

I expected venom to accompany his words but it sounded more like regret.

"Rember the last night we were together?" He asked.

I remembered it very clearly. I was in our bedroom reading a book, trying not to think about the life that had been growing inside of me only a few weeks earlier. He was so loving and understanding for about three seconds before he threw his clothes on and left the house. He didn't come back for two days.

"I met Stacey. She was a waitress. I had way too much to drink and I ended up crashing at her place." He sounded disgusted with himself and I could barely contain the rage that erupted inside of me.

"Two months later I get a voicemail from her that says she's pregnant." He let this thought settle in.

"She just had the baby. She's only a few days old. And Stacey doesn't want her but the little girl deserves a family, doesn't she? I was thinking tonight that you and me could be her family. I could be her father and you could be her mother. It's the perfect solution. You couldn't give me another child and now I have one. It's what we both wanted but didn't think we could have." He gave a weary grin.

But I was still in shock. Was he saying what I thought he was saying? That I had failed at giving him more children so this was supposed to be the patch that put us back together? He had an affair and a child! All those months I blamed myself for our divorce but really it was his own guilt that pushed us apart.

"If you don't want to be her mother, I'm not being her father. I can't take care of an infant by myself." He started to sob, really break down and sob.

So I did the only thing I could think to do. I screamed. Every string of pain that had ever been attached to our marriage came hauling out of me in that moment. I felt my face flush red, my body go tense, the sound coming from the very pit of my stomach. And I picked up the closet object to me, a half empty bottle of wine, and lobbed it at him.

Shards of glass exploded off the fridge door. If I hadn't been crying and screaming my aim wouldn't have been so off. I just screamed louder for the fact that I'd missed him, that he'd had an affair, that he had a child, a child that I'd wanted to give him, and because we were no longer a family he was going to walk away from her, leave her to strangers to be raised.

Even as I sat there telling the attorney what happened, tears were brimming again. I promised myself I wouldn't cry over that low-life ever again, but the past few days I'd cried myself to sleep.

"So Brad made him leave. I went to bed. The next morning I woke up and he was still in the driveway. So I pulled a kitchen knife out of the drawer and attacked the tires on his truck. The law should be thankful that I controlled my temper or they'd have a murder case on their hands." I folded my arms across my chest and sat back in the chair, those harsh florescent lights glaring down at me.

"Well, he certainly had something coming." My attorney gruffed. He looked just as angry as I was hurt. He closed his briefcase and stood, knocking on the door for the officer to let him out. "I'll have bail posted in a minute. Don't worry. We'll get this taken care of. I have a feeling Mr. Grayson doesn't want this to get out."

As he walked away I couldn't help but think about Brad. The words he'd said to me after he'd gotten Tyler back in the truck and came to the kitchen to clean up the broken glass shards.

"You still love him. A part of you still loves him. That's why this hurts so much. I just hope there's a part of you that loves me more." I'd never heard him sounding so disheveled before.

Maybe he was right about Tyler and that just made me even more angry. How could I love someone who'd hurt me so much throughout the years?

Don't Make Me Pull Over

Starting Line: "If I have to tell you to be quiet one more time, I am going to pull this van over and..."

"If I have to tell you to be quiet one more time, I'm going to pull this van over and you're going to walk the rest of the way." I shouted at my sister.

"Momma, we don't yell." Katie reminded me, our eyes meeting in the rear view mirror.

"Jesus, Maggie! You're always so uptight. I just thought it would be easier for you." Heather crossed her arms over her chest and glared out the window, her lips pouting.

"You thought it would be easier for me to work my life around your schedule? In case you haven't noticed I've got three kids, a career, a husband and community obligations. You ought to try the responsibility thing once in a while." I muttered through clenched teeth. Katie went back to brushing her doll's hair.

Amazing how my seven year old daughter was more well-behaved than my twenty-three year old sister. The girl was still wild. She hadn't grown up at all. And why would she have to? She spent her life mooching off the latest man she'd tempted into bed.

The last one was close to seventy years old. She swore to me that she hadn't slept with him, but I found that negative pregnancy test in the bathroom two weeks after she moved in with us. She thought he was wealthy, but it turned out his son was the one with the bank account.

She could be so infuriating. "I am not making a half dozen trips to the airport and the mall because your latest boyfriend thinks you have model potential."

"I've always been the pretty one. You remember what Granny Bess said? She told me I'd find the best husband." With that remark she unfolded her arms and gave me the most drippingly sweet smile she could muster.

She didn't appreciate anything. Six months ago I let her move in with us when she'd lost her apartment. Creditors were calling her cell phone all the time until the provider shut her service off for non-payment. I was the one who paid the reconnect fee and the past-due balance. I was the one who washed her laundry, cooked her meals, made sure she had the hairspray she wanted and that bottle of perfume that cost a small fortune.

Yet she couldn't say thank you. She kept asking for more. And I gave in because she was my sister. The only family I had left. Our parents were gone. I always promised Mom I would look after her.

We were stuck in rush hour traffic about two miles from the big department store she'd wanted to go to---still jobless with a dozen creditors looking for her. It was nearing the one hundred degree mark and though the AC was on full blast, the mini van was having a hard time staving off the heat.

"By the way, a few of my girlfriends are there. Can I borrow a hundred bucks? There's this pair of boots I have to have. Usually I don't do cheap footwear, but you have to make sacrifices, ya know?"

That was the last straw. Anger pulsated through me in a wave of deafening heartbeats. We'd been stopped at the same light for about two minutes. It would be our turn soon enough. Still, I was done. I threw the van into park and threw my door open.

Behind me, the car was viciously honking his horn. People all around us were staring at me in wonder. For the first time in my life, I didn't care what anyone thought. I grasped the passenger handle and nearly yanked the door off its hinges.

"Get outta my car!" I seethed. Without a second thought for the cars around me, I leaned across the seat and yanked the seatbelt off of her. Stunned, she said nothing, just kinda let her mouth hang agape.

"You can find your way to the mall then find your trashy clothes packed on the front lawn!" I pulled her from the seat and hit the door lock button. I slammed it shut. Any other time I might have been concerned that the window would shatter from the ricochet.

"Maggie, come on!" Erin shrieked. She looked completely unaware. Six inch stilettos from some famous Italian designer. A pair of tight blue jeans with some dangly gold belt. Perfectly manicured hands and peticured toes. Makeup a mask over her face. Hair in perfectly soft waves over her shoulders.

"Hope you have your hiking boots on." I cackled at her as I moved towards the drivers side of the van. I climbed in, shut the door, and made it just in time to turn at the end of a yellow light.

Only once did I look into the rear view mirror. Erin was resourceful. She'd find her way back to the house. I just hoped she found some respect along the way. I thought about turning around once.

"Momma, Aunt Erin was a bad girl." Katie shook her head at me in the mirror and went back to brushing her doll's hair.

"Yes she was." I agreed.

Grocery Scene

*This prompt actually ended up in one of the stories I wrote, All That You Can't Leave Behind.*

Starting Line: As I was walking down the aisle, I...



As I was walking down the aisle I easily lost myself in the pain that had been last night. A new home. A new city. No friends or family here. Just me and my son and that ex husband who'd decided he finally wanted to be close to me. Only it wasn't me he wanted.

I guess I should have been happy that he was good father. That was the one thing about him that I couldn't complain too much. He spent time with our son. He loved him.

But as I stood there trying to decide on ketchup or catsup, I wondered why it was he couldn't love me. Over the last few months of our marriage he'd turned cold---or more accurately non-existent. For a while I wanted to blame the miscarriages. I wasn't much of a wife to him after suffering those losses. But wasn't he supposed to stand by me? How much easier would it have been to deal with the losses if he'd actually tried to help me cope rather than shut out all of his feelings?

I reached for a bottle but pulled my hand back. Tears were stinging the backs of my eyes. I would not cry again---not for him. Not anymore. I tried fighting for our marriage. Wanted to go to counseling. Begged him to try one more time because I finally felt like I was in a place where I could be his wife in every way.

But he'd said no. The damage was done. We were over. And he didn't fight when I moved out of the house with my parents. He didn't fight when I filed for divorce. He didn't fight when I told him that Adam and I were moving to another state.

No, he didn't fight. Just followed along behind when he seen I was serious about starting over away from him and my family. So typical of him. Always wanting what he can't have and pushing it away when he can.

Then I remembered that smug look on his face when he'd picked Adam up that afternoon. He didn't think I could do it. I'd probably cave in a month and be on the first flight back to Pittsburgh. I would show him.

Tears bitten back, I reached for the ketchup and almost flung it into the cart. The shopper behind me must have thought I was insane. I heard the distinct ruttah-ruttah of broken wheels turning behind me. A bit of a smile on my face though my eyes were brimming with tears, I pushed the cart forward and felt myself go into an almost robotic mode.

That's when I saw him. Tall and gorgeous. An incredibly angular face with a perfectly set square jaw. Sapphire eyes deep set and sparkling. Lips just pouty enough to be considered full. A dark t-shirt and jeans looking as if they were made specifically for him. Waves of chestnut hair looken silken but so thick. He was a bit thin, his muscles well defined but somehow sinewy.

The next words that came out of my mouth were impossibly clear and the moment the words circulated through my hearing and to my brain, I felt my face flash crimson with humiliation. "My husband hasn't slept with me in six months."

Seriously? That's what I said? I felt my face turning even deeper than scarlet. Those words had seriously been uttered aloud? I expected him to laugh at me and go about his shopping, or offer to take me back to his place because obviously my mind was in the gutter.

"Honey, if I was a straight man, there'd be no way I'd let you out of my bed." He grinned at me and almost immediately, I knew I had made my first friend in Indianapolis.

Words of Art


This prompt gives a picture and you must write a short story, poem, or other original work based on the picture.




It was just a sad, dilapidated little church in the middle of town. The church was the heart of the town. Town dances. Town meetings. Town rummage sales. Town weddings. Town deaths. Town everything.

This day we were gathering for a death. Baby Julie Allson had fought for life from the day she was conceived. So much had changed because of her.

John Parker was the first in town to receive the news. After all, Baby Julie's mama is his daughter. The man was so heartbroken he'd taken a seat on his front porch and cried. Just sat there, wailing as if he was living through his own heart being ripped from his chest.

Cal Scotts is his neighbor. For years they've argued over the pear tree that is planted near the property line. Rotten pears fall off the tree during the season and blemish Cal's yard. John refused to cut it down. They'd despided each other for thirty years because of it.

When Cal came home from work, he found John on the porch crying like a baby. No one needed to ask why. The whole town had been expecting it. But no one had expected Cal to slam his truck door and make his way up the Parker walkway to console John. Tears in his eyes, Cal had looked down at John and placed a hand on his shoulder. Without a word, he took a seat next to John and sat there with him through the night.

The feud forgotten.

Bridgett Donovan is the promiscuous neice of Baby Julie's father. Last summer when she was caught with her skirt around her hips in the back seat of Laura Henley's SUV with Jack Henley, there was almost a brawl in the middle of the town. Bridgett and Laura were bitter enemies. Especially when Jack chose his wife over Bridgett.

Laura, the nurse who spent the most time with Baby Julie in the hospital was there when Bridgett showed up to drive me home the night it happened. I wasn't there to watch the scene unfold but I heard the whispers around me. Laura offered her condolences to Bridgett. The two women hugged, calling it a truce for the sake of Baby Julie.

The Rusty Glass Bar was usually full on Saturday nights with the local fisherman. They'd waste their paychecks on buckets of beer, bet money on darts and pool, dance to loud music, and try their hand at single ladies. But the night it happened, the night Baby Julie died, the patrons of the bar collected "first round" for Baby Julie. All the money for first round was put in the fish bowl for her funeral fund.

I was startled from these thoughts as the last of the mourners made their way to me to offer condolences. I was the focus of pity that day. A husband dead. My daughter dead. No one left but me.

"Hailey, you have my prayers. Are you ready to go home?" The pastor's soft voice asked.

"I'd like to stay here for a while if that's okay." I glanced over his shoulder at the black and white portrait of my daughter. Tears filled my eyes again.

"Of course." He started to say more but shuffled down the aisle and back to his study.

I wasn't sure how long it would take but I grasped the bottle of pills in my hand. Sleeping pills my doctor had prescribed so that I wasn't a walking zombie during the planning of the funeral. Seven pills left. Shaking, I twisted the cap off and tossed the pills to the back of my throat, swallowing them dry. Feeling the grit of the dissolve in my esophogus as I made my way to the front of the church.

I collapsed to my knees at the alter and said a silent prayer, my daughter's precious face the last image I saw in that lifetime.

Scrabble

Write about an intense game of Scrabble that takes an ugly turn for the worse.


It was the same thing every Saturday. Pop had been gone over a year, yet I still found myself lost here on the weekends with the people that knew him best. Maybe it was my way of being close to him or maybe my life was just that boring.

Benny once again spent three minutes just to end up spelling out "ME" out of his tiles. Always just one or two letters at a time. It was predictable. His favorite words were me, he, she, or his big scorer they. What was it with the pronouns?

And just like the six hundred times we'd played before June would raise herself from the chair and stare down at the board as if her bird's eye view gave her an advantage the rest of us knew nothing about. June was a competitor. She was always the first to yell if she thought a word didn't make sense. She played "YOUTH" on the board and sat back with a grin as I calculated her triple word score.

Harry was the last to play. If we didn't have a timer set he would sit there all day just staring at the board. He always held that one tile between his thumb and forefinger as if it were some unspoken rule it must be the first letter of the word he spelled. And with barely a second to spare he placed four letters on the board to spell out "TROP".

The war began.

"Harry you can't spell words that don't exist." June shouted. She set a gnarled hand on the table and shot him a look that could have melted steel.

"I can do whatever'n I wanna do!" Benny exclaimed, always the first to get caught up in the excitement of an argument that didn't involve him.

"Trop isn't a word. Ask Lucy." June pointed a finger at me.

They all stared because I was the peace keeper. And as their words became louder and about as hateful as 80 year old people can be, I suddenly wished I'd stopped coming to the home after Grandpa died.

'Settle down. Harry, do you have an E?" I asked. He looked down at his plaque but shook his head, the folds of wrinkles echoing even afterwards.

"I don't want to play an E. Trop. It's a word. Look it up. It's like tropical but it's not." The same argument everytime. Every non-word was like a word only not, when it came to Harry.

I was about to put my super savvy reasoning skills to good use when he walked in. Tall. Dark. Almost handsome. Eyes so dark green it was like looking through an old pop bottle. There was the slightest hint of dark stubble growing around his jaw. He looked dangerous and seductive in jeans that fit the curve of his behind just so. The plain white t-shirt looked almost too small against his massive frame and wide shoulders. He was barrel chested with arms rippling in muscle.

Even the smell of him was masculine and erotic. Smokey sagewood. So musky and deep that I wanted to growl at him before pouncing.

"Damn this game!" June swiped her gnarled left hand across the table, sending the board and the tiles flying through the air. Both Benny and Harry coward as the sky rained lettered tiles. He smiled over the shoulder of an orderly who directed him with a few words and hand movements. If I hadn't been stabbed in the eye with tile debris I might have gotten the courage up to ask the stranger his name before he disappeared down a hall.

As it was, wounded and looking foolish, I couldn't very well approach the sexy stranger. But I vowed I'd be back for another game of Scrabble when my feeble adversaries had calmed from the exictement of battle.

Igloo

You awaken with amnesia in what looks to be an igloo. You have $4 and a rock in one pocket, and a toothbrush in the other. Someone is staring at you. Write this scene.



A bronze sun glistened over the snow almost blinding me as I stood in the frozen doorway. Nothing made sense. A bed of ice in an igloo with no recollection of why or how.

As I thought about it, I realized I wasn't even quite sure what my name was. The words were there on the tip of my consciousness, but seemed so far out of my grasp. Dreams of wild open praries and scorching hot suns had woken me with a chill as the realization of where I was sunk in.

Scatterbrained, I checked my pockets. Something had to make sense. I just needed something visual to jog my memory. The jeans I wore were faded with slashes cut through the knees. My left pocket was empty but my right was not. A toothbrush, an obsidian rock smooth on one side and jagged on the other, and four crumpled dollar bills.

What would MacGyver do, I wondered with cheap amusment. I could remember MacGyver but not myself. How poetic.

I sat back on the bed of animal pelts. It was then I noticed the eyes glaring at me from the doorway. His shadow fell over the floor and I felt my heart thud against my toes at the first malevolent thoughts that circulated my mind.

He was tall and brawny with wide shoulders. His sable hair was pulled back away from his face but the blistering winds swept it about his face. All dressed in brown layers, I could still see the strength rippling through his body. This man was powerful and I doubted I could defend myself with a toothbrush and rock.

"You're awake." His voice was a deep rumble that sparked the slightest hint of warmth in the pit of my stomach. "You'll find warm clothes in the trunk there. We'll be moving on soon."

I don't know why I moved to the trunk. Every blocked memory of my life was screaming at me to panic and run. Yet I removed the robes from the trunk and slowly pulled them on. Wherever this man was taking me, something felt right. Following him seemed like the only logical thing to do in this illogical situation.

"You've made a lot of powerful people very angry. I hope you're ready to survive." He watched me, those dark brown eyes following my every move as layered the warm robes over my clothes.

"I have a feeling whoever you stole that stone from is tracking you right now. I'll help you to the pass. It's warmer there. You can survive on your own from there." He lifted a pack from the floor, stretching it over his back as he led the way outside.

I didn't question him. It didn't make sense. But I trusted my life to this virile stranger. A stolen rock and I ended up unconscious and unaware in the middle of some frozen tundra?

It wasn't until we'd hiked through the snow, the bronze sun hanging high in the sky by the time we stopped for a meal, that it all started to come back to me. Those last forty eight hours of my life that had virtually marked me for death.

The stone grew warm in my pocket as the memories flooded back and I wondered if this stranger wasn't part of some plot to kill me again.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Affairs

A man decides to ask his girlfriend of 8 months to marry him. She replies, "What about your wife?"


Trista stared back at me with those amazing blue eyes. The girl was beautiful in every way you could imagine; shallow, but beautiful. Soft auburn curls pressed against the bed fanned around her heart shaped face like a mane. I gazed down at her naked body, the perfectly contoured curves of a nineteen year old ex-cheerleader. I liked the way sweat pooled in her belly button when we were finished making love.

"You staying here tonight?" I asked, tracing a fingertip over her nipple.

"I have to work so I'll be late." She smiled up at me, that beautiful mouth.

"Marry me." It wasn't a question. The words were just out before I could think about them. And come to think of it, that little blue pill was kicking in like never before.

"What about your wife?" she asked, batting those lashes at me as she spoke. Trista never cared that I was married. I promised her I was leaving when the kids were older, and that was enough. Well, that and the credit card bills I paid for when she just had to have something. After all, I wanted her to look incredible when she visited.

"Michelle will be fine. I'll give her a big divorce settlement, then I can live here permenantly and you don't have sneak out when my wife calls and says she'll be by in a half hour to stock the fridge." I sat up in bed and pulled the sheet around me. At home with Michelle I didn't care what the hell she saw or thought of my naked body, but Trista was young and voluptuous. I was lucky she even gave me a second look let alone climbed into bed with me.

"I told you a long time ago I wasn't gonna be breaking up no marriage. Why can't we just bone and leave it at that?" She twirled a finger through her hair and sat up, her bare breasts still perky even without a bra. God, I loved that girl.

"I thought women wanted to get married?" I teased, kissing her spine as I resituated my boxers. Amazing how much energy I had when it wasn't Michelle glaring back at me with that sour look on her face, complaining that I don't spend enough time at home, or that I don't take the trash out, or I'm always too tired for her.

"You think I'd ever marry a man who cheated on his wife? I mean, I might be a mistress or something but I'm never gonna be that wife." She rolled her eyes and stood up from bed, sheet falling away from the lower half of her body. She was flawless. Irritating, but flawless.

"So you think we're just gonna screw each other's brains out three nights a week and you send me on home to the wifey?" I wanted to be angry, because she should want me. But this was really perfect, every man's fantasy. Oblivious wife at home with three kids, keeping up the facade of that perfect American dream, and Trista at my apartment, the no-strings sex goddess who could blow more than my mind at any given time.

"Either that or you can have this apartment all to yourself," she shimmied her skirt back up over her hips, pulled her tank top on and slid into sandals. She threw her panties at me, grabbed her purse, and headed for the door.

Without another word, she left me there, half aroused, half angry, and half on top of the world.

Insomnia

A woman suffering from insomnia and desperate for company, drives around looking for someplace--any place, really--that's open twenty-four hours.


I hated cigarrettes; the taste, the smell, the way it left a film on the roof of your mouth after one too many in a day. What was I supposed to do? When you're going on another hour of sleeplessness, there's only two things you can do. You can eat or smoke and Hollywood told me I should die skinny so I chose the smokes.

I crushed the butt in the ashtray and glared out at the neighborhood. Everyone was asleep. The houses all looked the same with tan siding and gray roofs. All their windows dark, not a sound out there to disturb their sleep. I hated them. Hated them all. I could imagine my neighbors cuddled up in their beds, enjoying their 1200 thread count cotton sheets.

I had to get out of the house. It was driving me crazy. I grabbed the car keys and slammed the door behind me hoping it disturbed someone out there. No place in mind, I didn't even pay attention to my directions; just drove. Maybe a neon sign somewhere would flash across the dark sky like a trashy little beacon to come hither. Were bars even open at three a.m.?

It'd been close to an hour when I found a diner on the side of the highway. The flashing neon sign that told travelers to stop at Moe's on the next exit was bigger than the actual diner itself. I wondered if they ever had airplanes circling the area by mistake. I wasn't going to stop but I forgot my smokes at the house so I guessed it was my turn to die fat.

Inside, it smelled of grease; every kind of grease imaginable. There were no other patrons, just a woman in an old time pink waitressing uniform, thin wisps of hair pulled back from her chipmunk teeth. She was tall, amazonian-like with arms the size of small tree trunks. She looked hardcore; like she was the waitress, cook, busboy, and bouncer all rolled into one.

"What can I do you for?" she asked, no greeting or hello. Her voice was raspy, like she'd been smoking for more years than the Earth had rotated around the sun. Suddenly I didn't care if I died fat, and I resolved to throw my pack of smokes away the moment I got home.

"I don't know. Do you recommend anything?" I asked, feeling out of place.

"For?" She put a meaty hand on her equally meaty hip and stared down at me like she had no time for this.

"Something to help me sleep." I said, starting to feel uncomfortable under stare. She led me to a table bathed in the blue and orange light from their sign. It wouldn't have been worth mentioning if the light hadn't been half a mile away on the side of the highway.

"Yeah, we got something for that. Best damn blueberry pie this side of the damn state," she said it with a bit of venom in her voice, as if there were actually some vile opponent on the east side of the state she'd had in mind when she said the words.

"Okay, I'll take two slices, and a glass of milk. Please," I tacked on, afraid she'd do something amazonian like and constrict me with her tree trunk arms.

"Right away," she sneered back at me, and disappeared into the kitchen.

I sat there for nearly ten minutes before she came back out, two slices of blueberry pie, the steaming swirl of its aroma deliciously noxious long before she even put the plate in front of me. She practically slammed the glass of milk down, the liquid sloshing over the edge of the glass and down onto her hand and the table.

"Eat up. It doesn't help you sleep if you dally over it and let it get cold." She warned, then walked away and back to the kitchen. She didn't return as I took the first bite, or the second, or even as I greedily dug into the second slice of pie.

I'd just about finished the second slice when my eyes started to get heavy. The half glass of milk didn't help either. I felt a little dizzy as I reached for my wallet. If I tried to stand up, I knew I wouldn't make it a half a second on my feet. That's when I noticed the waitress coming back from the kitchen. This time she had someone with her.

He was tall, even taller than her. He wore an apron, and giant rubber golashes the color of muddy water. The only other thing I could focus on was his bald head. Was it just my sleepiness or was his head the size of a globe?

"Herman has been waiting a long time for another wife. Don't you worry now. We'll take good care of you," the waitress said, smiling a gnarled, toothy grin. She walked to the door and turned the lock. Suddenly, the room went half dark. I turned back to the table as Herman picked me up in one arm. The highway sign had died, the light disappearing into the black sky somewhere out there in the distance.

I wanted to scream and kick but I closed my eyes instead, hoping when I opened them it was some pitiful dream and I wasn't really strapped to that chair.

Dialogue

You must start this piece with a piece of dialogue.

"I'm here to answer the ad in the paper," he said from the office doorway. He was not what I expected when I'd answered the phone and set the appointment. In the fashion industry a straight man with talent and the eye was hard to find. He wasn't gay. I could see that. That whole gaydar thing was totally true.

"You bring a portfolio?" I asked, taking a seat behind my desk. A pile of fabric strips left little room for me to peer over.

"All my work is here," he reached into a leather satchel and pulled out a classic black book with gold embossed pages and elegantly scripted font. He wasn't gay but he should have been. The boy was beautiful; about twenty-eight or so with thick dark hair and twinkling blue eyes of innocence. He was dreamy, like that McDreamy dude from that McShow.

"What's your area of expertise?" I asked, flipping through the pages. Yeah, he should be gay. A straight man could never dress a woman's body like that. I felt giddy at the idea of hiring this young man, even though I was quite certain he'd never return my advances.

"I can dress a woman like no one else. I know curves. I know how to construct pieces that flatter multiple body types, but when I'm working with a specific body in mind, exact measurments, I can make any body flawless." He crossed his legs and folded his arms across his chest. Was that an aggressive manuever? His way of telling me he wasn't gay and my flirting wouldn't be welcome?

When I got to the second to last page I had to stop and gape at the picture. That woman had to be three-hundred pounds. Yet she looked gorgeous in the leather corset boustier, off the shoulder sleeves, and jeans that made her look tall and slimmer than she was. If it wasn't for the round cheeks and double chin, I would have been hard pressed to find anything wrong with the photo.

"Why is this in here?" I asked, handing the open book back to him.

"If I can sell my work for a size twenty-two in a size zero world then I must be alright," he made no apologies and I liked that about him.

"Were you a model? Is that how you got into the fashion business?" It was relevant to the position but I was curious. He sat there looking like a doctor or maybe like that scrumptious architect dude from that one show; just not so brooding and without that awful faux deep voice.

"While my friends were busy playing football and dating cheerleaders, I took home ec. I had a plan. In college I went to design school and spent my course hours surrounded by beautiful models who'd get undressed right in front of me because I was the designer. I'm the only fish in a sea of mermaids and fairies," he said, smiling. If an outsider to the fashion world had called me and my dudes fairies I would have screamed at them and totally talked about them over non-fat, skim soy double lattes and plotted how to end their career. But from him, I couldn't help but laugh.

"Okay, so here's the deal. You work with a team. Discuss and design. Compare and create. All designs must be approved be me or Soda. He's the fairiest of us all. You'll see him in a second. And hands off because he's mine," I stood and shook his hand, "oh yeah, one more thing. You can't sue for sexual harrassment. You have a fine McAss, and I plan on watching it and/or pinching it."

"Long as you aren't stalking me in the urinal, I can handle a little sexual harrasment. Thank you for the opportunity to work for you and the company. You won't disappointed." He shook my hand, flashing that perfect smile at me.

"Too late. I'm already disappointed. Now go kiss a model or something so I can stop thinking about you shirtless."

Thunderstorm

A terrible thunderstorm leaves you without power. When the storm is over you head outside and notice a neighbor heading your way. She's afraid the food in her fridge will go bad, so she's invited you and two other neighbors over for dinner—and it turns out to be one of the most memorable nights of your life.


I sat on the couch with Elvis and Costello at my side. The two of them hadn't stopped mewing since the storm started. No lights, no television, and just me with the cats. Not my idea of a Saturday night but from the last news report I'd caught on the radio, most of the city had lost power. And then the last of my batteries had gone dead, the news report fading into nothingness.

It seemed the lightning had disappeared. Rain hadn't pelted the roof for about twenty minutes. I couldn't be sure with all the clocks out with the power. Deciding I needed to a break from Elvis and Costello's mewing I slid my flops on and started for the door.

The neighborhood looked quiet and ominous. Tree branches were down everywhere. I slipped out the screen door, the fresh smell of rain electric in the air. My neighbors were peeking through their yards as well. I was staring at the charred tree trunk in my front yard when Mrs. Roberts trudged up my driveway.

"You okay over here, dear?" she asked.

"I don't think I'll get much sleep tonight but I'm okay." I didn't like thunderstorms at all.

"Well I have a ton of food in the fridge over here and it's gonna go bad if I don't get it fixed. I am going to fire up the grill. Come on over," she offered.

Usually I would have said no. Mrs. Roberts and I were not exactly neighborly to each other. She hated that Costello could find his way out of the house and into her garden. I'd apologized a dozen times but I had no idea how he kept getting out of the house. She looked frightened though, standing there with her oversized sweater pulled tightly around her frame. Maybe she was afraid of thunderstorms too.

"Sure. That sounds good. Give me a second though." I wasn't exactly sure what one wore to a lights out barbecue at midnight but I wasn't going to wear my robe.

"Just let yourself in the back yard. I'm gonna try and get the tiki lights out of the garage." With that she shuffled back down the driveway and towards her own house. I wondered if she realized the power was still out and lights would do us no good.

Back inside, Costello no where to be seen, I shrugged the robe off and slid into a pair of capris and a sweater. I pulled a bottle of wine from the fridge and decided I was going to make the best of the night.

When I found my way to Mrs. Roberts back yard I was surprised to see tiki torches lighting a perimeter around the deck. The grill was already smoking to life. Jake, my neighbor in the other direction, was standing over the grill with a beer and a pile of raw steaks waiting for the grill to heat. He waved me into the yard.

"Who knew the old bat could actually be neighborly?" he smiled, voice low as I took the few steps up the patio.

"The old bat can hear too," Mrs. Roberts chimed from somewhere off in the distance. She followed it with a laugh and I wasn't sure what in the world was going on.

I stood by Jake as he put the steaks on the grill. That first puff of smoke, the sizzle of food, that scent of rain in the air was almost enough to make me forget the damage the storm had caused.

"I invited over a few more people. I don't think anyone is going to get any sleep tonight." Mrs. Roberts informed us as she took a seat at the patio table, "When Hank was alive we used to have barbecues every Saturday night. No need to go out and look for a good time when we could have one right here. The whole neighborhood would stop by. Kenny and Bev would bring beer. We'd cook steaks and hamburgers. Phil and Barbara would bring over some fresh veggies from their garden. Did you ever meet Jimmy Lewis? He was always single. Very handsome. He'd play the guitar and get everyone out dancing in the yard."

I found myself listening to her weave this incredible story of how close the neighborhood had been. I listened as she recounted the deaths or moves to nursing homes that had broken up her friendly community. When her husband died, she'd found it hard to leave the house let alone welcome anyone new to the neighborhood.

"Got room for a few more?" Holly's voice echoed in the night and a clap of thunder roared across the western sky.

I watched Mrs. Roberts wipe a tear from her eye, "of course we do."

By the time the food was ready, eight or so steaks cooked to perfection, foil wrapped veggies steamed and tender, Mrs. Roberts back yard was full of neighbors. Lance Fisher and Gary Porter brought a couple cases of beer. Jaimie and Duke brought some ears of corn. Felicia brought yard darts, which somehow became more fun in the half-inch of standing rain water the yard had collected from the storm. Everything but the guitar playing bachelor.

I watched Mrs. Roberts making her way through the crowd, shuffling between neighbors to make sure everyone was getting enough to eat. I settled my focus on the back yard and couldn't believe that at two in the morning, after a devastating storm, the town still dark, our little neighborhood had come to life and come together.

In the Beginning There Was the Word

Exercise From: Room to Write by Bonnie Goldberg

Today write about the first time words profoundly affected you. Describe the situation, what led up to it, the moment of the encounter, your physical reaction, and something else that was taking place in the same setting but had nothing to do with the experience. Feel free to allow your imagination to supply whichever of these elements you can't recall. You might try this as a poem.

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"The words! I collected them in all shapes and sizes and hung them like bangles in my mind."
Hortense Calisher
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I don't remember exactly what it was about reading and words that made me love the art of books. When I was in third grade I found this book at an old rummage sale and I picked it up because the title of the book just captured me. It was simple and short and even though I knew it was beyond my level, I couldn't help but fall in love with it.

Child of the Dark. It was a book about a girl whose mother was single in one of the poorest countries in the world. It's about a mother's struggle to provide and a daughter's struggle in a world where every odd is stacked against her.

And I read that book, although the details escape me now, and I knew that it was what I wanted to do. I wanted to write and evoke so many different emotions in the reader. I wanted to write about things that people shied away from.

That book inspired me to write poetry. I was eight years old and kept a notebook of poems. I wrote one I titled Child of the Dark, after my greatest inspiration. I just let the feeling take over and I wrote this poem about child abuse, from the point of the abused child. It was dark and probably far beyond the realm of an eight year old, but it was beautiful. And I took it to school to show my favorite teacher. She was really touched by the piece but thought I was the abused child in the poem. It made me actually feel good because my writing made them think it was possible.

And when I showed the poem to my father he was so encouraging. He asked me how I came up with it, what the inspiration was, if I was going to submit it to a contest. It made me feel incredible that he took such an interest in something I was doing. Which made me want to do it even more.

And when I was in seventh grade, I don't know what age that makes me, I read Flowers in the Attic. It was this incredible story about love and betrayal. It made me want to write something like that. So I started this novel I named Obsession about Alexis. There was so much that should have kept me from writing. I wrote thirty pages and the computer crashed, lost everything. Rewrote twenty-five pages and there was a powersurge during a thunderstorm and I lost everything. A year later I picked the idea back up and finished the final draft when I was in my second semester freshman year. I printed it out, took it to a book place and had it bound in faux leather. I was so proud of it even though it had a million misspellings, countless grammatical errors, and an incredibely cheesy plot.

I don't even know where I'm going with this. What I'm trying to say is that my love affair with writing has been a part of my life for as far back as I can remember

The epiphany I've just realized is that I'm writing these stories with characters who have deep, meaningful relationships with their fathers and I'm certain a shrink would tell you that it's my way of having a father in my life. Maybe it is. You know that song by U2, Sometimes You Can't Make it On Your Own? It's a song he wrote about his father and I know that his father abandoned him and his mother as well. There is a verse that gets to me everytime; "can you hear me when I sing, you're the reason why I sing, you're the reason why the opera is in me". And I don't know if his emotions are the same as mine, but I totally get the line in my own way. I write these really great dads who are understanding, always there, and wise and loving because I am missing that in my life. So in a way, the pain of not having a father aorund, is what inspires a part of my writing.

Alexis: Very close to her father, loves him beyond measure and he loves her the same in return.

Riley: Her father has looked for her for twenty years without giving up hope. He is kind to a fault, and loves Riley more than anything. She loves him in turn although she feels she takes care of him rather than him taking care of her.

Bianca: She has an incredible relationship with her father, one that is beyond words, a bond that is so deep they have a mental and emotional connection without speaking a word to each other.

Billie: Her dad's pride and joy. She has a sister and a brother, but she has always been her father's favorite.

The only character I didn't give a "cookie cutter" father was Tallulah. And that's because I saw myself in her more than any other character I've written.

Wow. Epiphany.

Diving In

Exercise From: Room to Write by Bonnie Goldberg

TODAY'S PROMPT: Dive into writing by choosing any one of the following words that have more than one meaning: bear, cleave, lie, sewer, tear, or desert. Start by copying the word and quickly, without stopping for any reason, continue writing until you reach the end of the page. Making sense is unimportant. Your goals are speed and endurance. If you get stuck, repeat whatever word you've just written until something new spills out. After you finish read the result. Don't forget to breathe, and try not to tense up your hand. Ready, set, go ....

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"I love all men who dive. Any fish can swim near the surface, but it takes a great whale to go downstairs five miles or more."
Herman Melville
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Lie. It is always hard to understand the motivation behind lying. It isn't black and white. When someone asks if their new haircut looks good, it is easier to say yes than to say no. If you're guilty of doing something wrong you may lie to escape a severe punishment, or to forget your own guilt. Sometimes I wonder if lying really is just an extension of who we are. You can tell a lot about people when you know what it is they lie about. Like my grandmother who lies about everything. Sometimes I wonder if she is even capable of telling the truth at all. She lies about stupid things like who cooks Sunday breakfast. It's just stupid. It's annoying too, because it makes me feel like she's embarrassed by the family so she has to lie to everyone to make herself look more important.



I used to think that lying was no big deal, but it is. It's a very big deal, you just never realize it until you've been lied to. It's so naïve to think that lying doesn't hurt anyone, but before you've been hurt by lies you can't really know that. I wonder what I would do if I were lied to be Jose, because I feel like it would be more of a betrayal if he lied to me. I just overlook my grandmother's lies and dismiss them as just part of who she is, but if Jose lied to me I would be far too hurt and betrayed. I don't think I could forgive him.



I told my friend in elementary school that I'd jump in front of a car to cheer her up. It was stupid to say, and I meant nothing by it, but she went to the counselor and told them I wanted to commit suicide. The school called my parents and they wanted to know why I would want to commit suicide. I told them it was taken out of context but my grandmother, the self-proclaimed psycho-therapist of the family, was convinced that there was a reason. So I lied and said I was just sad because my step-father didn't want to be in my life since my own father came back.



It just felt like a way to get them off my back and the whole thing was taken out of context, but they wouldn't listen to me. Apparently there always has to be something wrong with you. You know how on every show there is that one character who convinces himself that there's something wrong with him even though it's obvious it's all in his head? Well I know way too many people like that and it makes me realize how easy it is to fall into the trap of lying, even when it seems like there is no real reason to lie. If it's so easy to fall into the habit of lying then how do we know if we ever really tell the truth? Wouldn't it be easy to say that we live in a constant state of small, unwitting lies in some cosmic race to the finish line?

Memory is Imagination

(Exercise taken from Room to Write by Bonnie Goldberg)

TODAY'S PROMPT: Begin with the phrase "I remember" and start writing. It doesn't matter whether you stick with one memory or list several. You can retrieve memories from as far back as childhood (or past lives) to as recently as yesterday. If you get stuck just keep repeating the phrase "I remember," in writing, until something else forms in your consciousness. Don't even be concerned with the authenticity of the memory. Just record whatever comes to you. Don't stop until you have filled two pages.
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"Memory is a net."
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
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I remember the first time I met my father. It was Valentine's Day and I think I was eight years old. I remember being so excited to see him that it was all I could think about. I'd never really had questions about my father and my mother never volunteered any answers. But when I realized that I would get to see him, I wanted to more than anything. Suddenly having a father was a big deal, and not just a stepdad, but a father.

I don't remember what I was wearing which seems funny to me because the rest of the memory is so vivid. It was raining that night and my mother and I pulled up outside of a house not far from the school I attended. She told me we could go home if I wanted to but there was no way I could go home knowing my father was just on the other side of that door. I had one of those silly little cutout valentines for him, it had Michael Jordan on it.

We walked into the house and I met this whole other family I never knew existed. It was my father's brother, his wife and their two kids. Michael was only about five or six. He had big blue eyes and hair so blonde it was almost white. Ashley was seven. She had darker blonde hair and big brown eyes. Rhonda was my aunt. She was short and petite with long blonde hair. Michael was tall with dark hair and brown eyes. I remember looking at him and thinking he looked just like my father, except thinner and a few years younger.

And then there was my dad. He was tall and handsome. He had dark, thick hair and green eyes the same shade as mine. He had jeans on and a grayish-green t-shirt. I was so happy to see him that I could barely speak a word and I'm shy anyways. I didn't know what to say to him. Seeing him, being there with him, discovering this new part of family I never knew. I didn't want to know why he wasn't around for the last eight years. I didn't want to know why I'd never known him before.

For that moment it was enough that he was just there.

He gave me this cute little stuffed animal that was called Sad Sam Honey. It was a grey and white puppy dog with big teardrop shaped eyes and pink bows on the ears. I think it's funny that after all these years I still remember that. It was sixteen years ago. But I remember it because I cherished that stuffed animal like it really meant something. Like it made up for all the years he wasn't there and all the years he wouldn't be there in the future.

I kept that stuffed animal for years, until Christian was born. When Christian was born I realized something. I realized that my love for him was unconditional; that it was so deep I couldn't imagine myself ever leaving him. When I held him in my arms for the first time I knew that there was nothing in this world that would ever keep me from him. And I realized that I was a mother and I had to start making decisions in my life based on how it would effect him. My father was easy to let go of when I thought about it like that.

So all those years ago even as wonderful as the memory was, sitting on my father's lap, listening to him tell me stories about growing up in Phoenix and how we had this special bond because he always just knew things about me even when it was impossible for him to know, I'm finally over it. It didn't end with Christian's birth but it was the wakeup call I needed to get there