Friday, December 31, 2010


George and Harriet sat on the crumpled sheets, their heads close together and their eyes on the small bundle that would be their retirement plan. Smiles played across their lips as they watched the child's fists and feet punch at the blanket and wider world. George's gruff voice, a voice that had struck fear into the hearts of hundreds of adults, was kind toward Harriet and the small bundle.

"She's beautiful. She'll definitely be able to use that too her advantage," he said, dreaming of some of the beautiful women he had met in his long life. He'd be 2,639 years old in a couple of weeks, but he didn't look a day over 35 to the doctor's and nurses.

Harriet smiled at him, a twinkling in her eye. "Do you remember that first young woman you seduced? She was a beauty too. What was her name again?"

Gorge thought back, way back, thousands of years back to his youth. "Eve," he said with the softness of an unexpected remembrance. "Her name was Eve and she did wonderful things for all of us."

"Let's name her Eve then." Harriet stroked the babes cheeks, a child of her own. It was her first child. All of her other children had been taken from other mothers. She glowed in recognition of the anger she would feel if someone were to take this child from her. An anger and devastation she knew she had caused so many.

George stroked Harriet's long black hair. "I like that. A name thought to be sweet and innocent in today's world. A name of a girl that has been easily corrupted in the past. But I am worried about the easily corrupted part." George furrowed his eyebrows in concentration. He sat like this for a long time. Harriet waited patiently for his next thought. Shadows passed through the room as the black dial on the clock marched in its endless circles. "Let's give her a small hint of who she should be while maintaining some of the innocence of the name. Let's call her Evelyn. We'll pronounce it Evil-in."

Little Evelyn shrieked. Harriet and George embraced, pleased with the child already.

*** One Minute Writer ***

A Cold: Creative Description

Hello. I am C. Virus, Interior Designer to the Eccentric. My job is to prepare the estates of those wonderful viruses and bacterias that function somewhere between genius and madness. I was invited to share a few tips for making your homes as comfortable as theirs for those times you are looking for a longer stay.

The first thing I would tell you is to check out the security. The lower the immune system is functioning, the more comfortable you will be. An immune system that is working well tends to evict tenets rather quickly.

Next, bring your heaviest furniture in by spine, especially if you can start at the base of the host's neck. In my experience, this leads to confusion of the host. They seem to think the discomfort is due to a bad night's sleep or working out too hard. It buys you time to really get settled and everyone knows the more settled in you are, the longer you stay.

My preference is to decorate in deep greens and yellows. It's a nice touch when the host starts doing the dusting for you. I look at it as a little festival for them every time they sneeze.

Of course, when hanging your paintings, use the widest nail you possibly can. My personal favorite place to hang things is behind the eyes. I prefer screws for hanging the heaviest things and I find the cerebral cortex an excellent spot for this.

There are many other things I would love to share with you, but then I would be giving away some of my trade secrets so I will leave you with this: Don't forget about the basements! Throats and lungs hold surprising promises for a long and comfortable stay!

*** One Minute Writer ***

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


I spent the day wishing. Wishing for something better than the hand life had dealt me. Something that would replace the mismatched and skipped numbers that I seemed to get caught on at every turn. I sighed deeply, holding on to the only Ace I'd ever had as tightly as I could. Still, it was slipping out. Falling away from me. Being pulled out by the person who had dealt as if it was a mistake. The cards not stacked quite right against me.

Reaching out my hand, I gently smoothed back my husband's sweat soaked hair. His skin was clammy and cool, his eyes dull. He smiled at me weakly, that small effort causing him great discomfort. I squeezed his hand tighter and held the tears back. "Don't leave me," I croaked. "I'll have nothing left." Tears flowed and I bit my lip, desperate to take it all back.

"You have a full house, my love. You have our son. Kings high; you're the Queen. And I'm merely the Jack on Earth. I'll be your Ace in heaven." I listened to him carefully and as his eyes froze, I started wishing again.

*** One Word ***
Once upon a time ago, in a kingdom far far away, a knight in shining armor approached the door to my little cottage in the wood. He promised me gold, servants, and happiness ever after. He said he had keys to the kingdom.

My eyes blinked rapidly, my cheeks flushed, my knees felt week, and butterflies erupted in my stomach. In a voice softer than a whisper, I said "no" and felt my heart begin to race. Closing the door on the shining knight, I returned to the kitchen and made supper for my husband.

A true story, albeit it romanticized.

*** One Minute writer ***


Brushing the dirt from her suit and tossing her hair, Susana lifter her held high and marched down the expansive stairs in front of the building. Her body was hard, filled with righteous anger. Her face was set, a fire burning bright in her eyes. No one who passed her would have guessed that her reputation had been tarnished moments before.

*** One Word ***

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Record

All she could think about was the record. It controlled her thoughts, following her relentlessly through the streets as she ran. Her blond hair pulled up into a tight pony tail bounced as each step jarred against the cold concrete beneath her feet. She kept looking straight ahead. The lyrics to"I will Survive" played smoothly through her head. Her lungs pulled deeply at the air, filling and expelling in little bursts. She pushed forward.

Richard would want the record too. He'd be fighting for it come the day after tomorrow. She saw the glint in his eye, his lazy smile, the dark brown hair with a soft sprinkling of grey, and his muscular body. She shook her head to rid herself of the image and focused on the small flashed of white her socks made as her legs pushed one foot after the other forward. He'd come prepared. He was always prepared. It's what made him so inexhaustible in every aspect of life.

But the record would be hers. It had to be hers. They were her lyrics and her voice. He may have helped produce it and because of him it rocketed into Billboard's top spot, but it was her property. That original recording was hers, wasn't it?

Her feet continued to pound.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

In The Snowy Woods

As John began mopping the soup from the bottom of the bowl, I squeezed his hands and smiled a silent farewell before standing up and gathering my winter items. Each item I put on brought me a little peace. Finally, there would be closure. Quietly, I slipped out the front door leaving only a small wave behind me. I could feel John watching me go..

Outside it was much colder than I had expected. The snap of the wind pulled me up hunched me over. Closed in upon myself, I picked up the box of things I had managed to find in the nooks and crannies of the basement and mudroom. It wasn't much, but most would consider it exceedingly generous for a stranger. Marching through the deep snow and into the wood, I tried to remember exactly how this charade had begun.

It was a story told by John a month or so ago. He'd gathered the children in front of the fire and told them a story about a magical stranger in the wood. "A round man, his skin glittering, and the cold kept at bay with the simple measure of a scarf. A man with eyes as black as the night sky and a smile, that is, when he isn't smoking a pipe. Oh, and did I mention he always a top hat?" The description had gone on and on. They were followed by his magical gifts to the woodland creatures. "Snow laying thick on the ground, he feeds the deer with fresh apples and the squirrels with nuts and the birds with seeds. Only wealthy humans eat as well in the winter."

As the memory slid back into the recess of my mind, I noticed the long thin branches towering above me. The wood had thickened considerably since I had first begun my marching only minutes ago. It would be only a few more minutes before I reached the slushy river. Hopefully, I would find animal prints not too far from the bridge. The box was growing heavy in my arms. I continued to march silently, the soft crunching of snow accompanying me.

I wondered where John had come up with such a being. He was a kind man, very intelligent when it came to carpentry and mechanical things, but story telling and creativity outside of designs had ever been his strong suit. Had he been captivated by the story from another telling and only passing on the bits he knew? Had he seen something that resembled this story and was just sharing what he had seen, like he told the children of the people who came into his shop?

Seeing tracks in the snow, I stopped. I didn't want to disturb the path formed by the natural residents of the wood. John, the children, and I were always very careful to enjoy and not harm the natural progression of the wood. This year had been more difficult to enjoy. Blight had killed most of the crops. Corn, apples, wheat, even small vegetable gardens had succumbed to it. It was tough on the community, food having to be transported from other areas was much more expensive. It was a practical death sentence to many of the animals. Crops and wild forest plants were the only alternative.

Having put down my box, I began to roll a ball across the ground. As it grew, my back and legs began to ache. It was harder work than I had imagined. It was also empowering. It would become something wonderful. I could sense the joy it would bring tot he children and the healing it would bring to the animals. Half an hour later, panting from the work and ready for a shower, I looked at the man in front of me. He was round and glittery. He wore a scarf and a top hat, his smile was broad and his eyes dark as the night sky. In his hands, on his hat, and at his feet were the offerings he always provided in John's stories: carrots, apples, seeds, nuts, raisins, etc.

I couldn't wait to return home, to rise with my husband and children, to eat a bowl of heavy oatmeal, and to make this same trek on our way to grandma's house for the Thanksgiving feast. I wondered which of the children would be the first to spot the stranger in the woods. I smiled at what the neighbors would think of it as they passed. I anticipated more stories from John about the stranger and what the townsfolk would say about it in his shop.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Saturday, December 25, 2010


As a child, one of Shirlene's Christmas traditions was to sit in the window on Christmas Eve while the sun set. She and her sisters didn't care about the colors of the sun as they reflected off the snow. Rather, they looked for the headlights of their father's old beat up truck bouncing down the gravel road. Anticipation made the four of them silent. The cool air in the room chilled their fingers and noses as they sat still. None would bother to stoke the fire for warmth.

An hour, or maybe two, later they would see the headlights and jump from the couch to restart the fire. In another half an hour they would be sitting on the floor, their excitement growing, as their father handed out the gift they had made for each other. The few gifts under the tree would be unwrapped in a frenzy. Thank yous would be exchanged in little shrieks of joy and laughter. A quick meal of sandwiches would follow and then Shirlene would climb between the cold sheets of the small bed she shared with Mary Beth. The two would whisper their Christmas morning desires late into the night.

Shirlene had planned on celebrating Christmas Eve in the same fashion. She'd talked with Joe, the love of her life, about bundling up and staying warm with hot chocolate on that one cold winter's night each year, about watching the sun set and opening just family gifts Santa's expected arrival, about whispered wishes and the comfort of loved ones snuggled close. He'd thought she was insane, but agreed to try it. Over the next years, he grew to like the peacefulness of her Christmas Eve's.

Shirlene walked toward the table carefully balancing the Indiana Jones cake in her hands. There was no sunset or gift exchange tonight. Not exactly anyway. The room was lit by the glow of six candles, one to mark each passing year of a new Christmas Eve tradition. Setting the cake down carefully, she kissed her growing son's head before taking a deep breath and belting out the first notes of "Happy Birthday".

*** Daily Writing Practice ***


"Mom, I want to be one of Santa's elves but I don't know how old I have to be to do that."

"Hmmmmmm..... what a great idea! First let me ask you a question: do you like to work hard and play hard, eat a little and sleep a lot?"

"I like to do all those things except work hard but all that means is that I won't be Santa's best elf and that's okay with me!"

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Plugged In

The walls felt strange. They were harder than I imagined, cooler to the touch, and they seemed to vibrate. Still, I dragged my hand slowly down the hall measuring my fear of these new sensations. As I rounded the corner, I was met by several eyes. Most were half shut. The ones that were open seemed surreal, the colors vibrant and glossy. The rest were focused elsewhere. The corner of the room, on the owner's knees, out the window, or on the box with flickering pictures.

The eyes drifted away. In their place were the sounds that had ceased only moments before. The rocking chair in the corner creaked. A couple of people were shuffling cards. I could hear someone humming. In the distance I was sure someone was screaming. They were loud, these everyday sins of living.

There was music, soft music coming from the other side of the room. A song, I was sure, from my childhood. Something my mother use to sing to me perhaps? I made my way between the noises and shapes and surreal eyes. I expected to find a gramophone. I hadn't seen one in a few years. I started to smile, looking for the little gold box with red velvet lining and spinning black discs.

What I found was a large box, tipped as if on its side. Inside the box were black and white shapes that danced as if they were human between quick flickers. One of the shapes masquerading as a gentleman called to me. He bid me to sit down before picking up a guitar and sitting down himself. He began to play a song. It was jarring. The sounds from the box that I found reassuring only a moment ago sounded jarring now. Fast sounds with lewd words.

I could feel my skin heating up unpleasantly. The eyes had returned. The screaming that once seemed distant felt as if it were right behind me. Everything in the room now felt hard and cold. I wanted to go home. I wanted to feel safe.

"Come on Gladys. Let's go back to your room. Henry will be waiting for you."

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Saturday, December 18, 2010


"Mama, my 'nowman has 'nopants," she said, glee hidden in the roughness of her sore throat.

My right hand lightly touched her head and traced the soft curls of her hair as I looked over her shoulder. On her paper was a snowman wearing pants, of a sort, and the two of us standing next to it smiling. My broken heart healed a little looking at those smiles-- the first I'd seen since her daddy died.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The River

Quietly she stood at the edge of the wide and snaking water. It had been years since she had been there. Her eyes moved from the river and followed the bark of the tall oak, once a tiny sapling she had planted, up into the night sky. The moon appeared to be trapped amongst its boughs. The late night winter air settled into the curves of her face. Taking a deep breath, she looked back down at the river. Two steps, she thought, and I will have reached the point of no return. A deep breath filled her lungs with a crisp hope and she shuffled another step closer. Snow fell over her shoes half burying her feet.

Cautiously, she stretched her other foot forward and tested the surface of the water. It was solid. The river had been lulled asleep by Father Winter. With a brief prayer, she began moving slowly across the river. Each step flooded her with memories. Ice skating, sleigh rides, hot chocolate and marshmallows. Caroling, long knit scarves, snowmen, and camp fires. So the river isn't asleep. It's simply transformed. Reaching the other bank, she carefully stepped off the ice. The expanse of the water no longer seemed as threatening. Smiling from the better sense of self she had gained by this newest adventure, she prepared herself to face the woods.

*** Daily Writing Practice***

Monday, December 6, 2010


My body tensed every time the little blob of pink was snapped. Charlene, her spunky blonde pigtails bouncing just above her purple uniform, seemed oblivious. She just kept yammering on about how Josh was the greatest boyfriend in the world. I kept offering noncommittal "mmm-hmm's" as I watched her mouth open and close, her tongue pushing and plodding the blob from one corner to the next. Mostly, I wished she'd shut her mouth.

"Stacey? Hello! Earth to Stacey?" she called. The little blob was stuffed between her teeth and cheek so she could snap her fingers in my face. "Are you listening to me?" Her face was filled with incredulity; one eyebrow arched higher then the other, her head tipped, her lips still smacking, and her hands out as if weighing the heft of good and evil.

"I'm sorry? What? I mean, I'm sorry I'm just a little distracted right now. SAT's being this weekend and all. You were talking about Josh, right?"

"Well, yeah...." Charlene chewed on her gum again. "So, what do you think I should do? Josh is the quarterback and I am the head cheerleader so I think people kind of expect us to, but....." she trailed off, expecting me to fill in the blanks and provide some guidance.

I could still see her jaw moving up and down. Suddenly, she pursed her lips and I watched as a small stream of pink poked out and then expanded. It grew less opaque as it ballooned in size and hid Charlene's pretty face. Without thinking, I picked up my fork and stabbed it into the thin wall. POP! The bubble deflated rapidly, blasting itself back onto Charlene's face.

"What the hell!" she yelled, covered in sticky pink goo. As she began peeling and scraping it off her face, I bust out laughing. Tension slipped through my fingertips and I finally found myself ready to pay attention to her problems.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Most people say, "if walls could speak..." And although I am sure they would offer up more dirt than what can typically be found on them, little of it would be useful and much of it would be harmful. If I had my way, my dogs would speak in a language I could understand. Because I really wish one of them would admit to eating the Gingerbread Ornaments.

*** One Word ***

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Assassin

I arrived at the scene and immediately knew who to suspect. Broken and dismembered bodies were scattered throughout the house-- the MO familiar and growing too frequent. Tears welled at the loss of so many by the indiscriminate assassin. I walked directly to the Chocolate Lab huddled in the corner and lifted her face to mine, "I told you to leave the Gingerbread Ornaments alone!"

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Friday, December 3, 2010

Key/ Library

The old key wouldn't open any lock; it was to something far more important. At least, that's what the note said that her grandmother had left for her. "But what could be more important than the will," Ella thought absentmindedly clasping the key in her fist. She sat on the floor with her legs folded under her in her grandmother's library. She loved this room more than any other in the big old house.

The built-in bookshelves lining the walls were laden with hundreds of hardcover books and trinkets from travels. Two high winged back chairs and a curvy chaise lounge, all covered in dark leather, sat before the large walnut-toned desk. All of this was in contrast to the sheer curtains and pastel paintings that decorated the walls. The carpet, easily the most luxurious item in the room, was a brilliant red with a braided golden border and intricate pattern which blossomed to the edges from the center; another trinket from a trip to India when Ella was twelve. Ella remembered when Grandmother Rosa had sat with her in front of the old dusty sewing machine and taught her how to make throw pillows. A few of the pillows still sat prominently on the chaise, their red a convincing match to the carpet. "How long ago was that?" she wondered.

Ella exhaled audibly, a shrill bird call breaking into her thoughts. Pushing her long blonde hair behind her ear, she looked at the key. It was a small thing, old fashioned, dark and slightly rusty. It reminded her of the keys to her childhood diaries, but heavier. She turned it over and over in her long fingers looking for an answer and finding none. She smiled at the tininess of the key in her long fingers. "Graceful fingers," Grandmother Rosa had told her on many occasions. "Fingers meant for a musician."

"Well Grandmother," Ella spoke into the air, "I'm not the musician you wanted me to be. I'm second rate at best. But I do love it, the feel of the keys under my fingers. Especially when no one has played them in a long while. The coolness is somehow electrifying." Having finished her sentence, she sat in silence again, the key twirling between her fingers like a fairy dancing on flower petals.

Ella didn't know how long she sat like that, only that the sun had now reached its zenith. Quietly she stood up to leave the room. Regretful that she still didn't know what the key fit into, she dropped it in her jean pocket as the grandfather clock down the hall announced that it was lunch time. She closed the door behind her, resting her forehead against it just to feel the warmth she was so accustomed to in that room. She felt only a foreign coolness and exhaled loudly.

"There you are darling! I've been looking for you all morning. Where have you been?" Her mother's voice came from behind her, a kind and concerned reprimand. One she knew she could play to her advantage, but using other's emotions in such a way was not in her personality.

Soothing herself more than her mother, Ella gently intoned, "Don't worry so much, Mama. I'm fine."

Taking her hand, Bella Anne gave her a sad knowing look. "I know it is difficult Ella dear. You and Grandmama Rosa had a very special bond." Bella Anne bit her lower lip dramatically while staring into Ella’s face. Coming up with nothing more comforting to say, she continued on as if she had never paused for words. "It's been two weeks now. It breaks my heart to still see you moping through the halls." Bella Anne started to escort her daughter downstairs to the Tea Room.

Ella opened her mouth to speak, but her mother’s voice resounded in the air first. "Your Grandmama Rosa wouldn't want to see your long face. You know she would tell you that you are a Chardon." Ella heard the way her last name rolled off her mother's tongue. The smooth sound of the French language, a truly beautiful language that no one in the family spoke fluently now that Grandmother Rosa had passed away. It was one of Ella's deep regrets. Grandmother Rosa had offered to teach her the language on many occasions, but Ella's thoughts were always elsewhere. On the smell of the peaches or the new boy at school. On her studies or the next dance.

Ella took a deep breath and gave her mother a weak smile for her efforts. Looking at the twinkle in her mother's eyes, she knew her mother was relieved to be off the hook as a caring mother. "Now, on to tea darling," Bella Anne said, a small crinkle forming by her eyes. She led the way down the remaining stairs, Ella trailing behind her.

Bella Anne reached the end of the sweeping stairs and turned to the Tea Room without glancing back. Ella walked more slowly, feeling the solidity of each step beneath her and watching her mother’s long, straight, elegant back disappear from the Grand Entrance. Her fingers traced the key in her pocket.

*** From two prompts: Swap-bot and Daily Writing Practice *** I hope to finish this some day.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

In The Airport

John Luke had worked in the Dallas airport for 43 years and tomorrow was his last day. He hadn't exactly written a resignation letter, but he was sure his supervisor wouldn't be surprised. She was a touchy-feely-micromanager type, a personality he'd never encountered before. Julie was her name. She wasn't bad overall. She seemed to care about others and genuinely want them to be comfortable with her. But she had a habit of looking over everyone's shoulders and checking their reports three or four times for every incident. It was annoying and undermined the trust she tried so hard to build with her subordinates.

John lay in bed thinking about the drama last days used to bring. When Shirley retired, the company bought a cake and a few bottles of champaign to congratulate her on retiring. It was quite the party, but that was long before airlines operated 24 hours a day. He remembered Alan's last day too. That was a couple of years ago, close to the 9/11 disaster. Poor Alan. He was given a card signed by his co-workers and a fond wave just before the exit door. No fanfare. John liked Alan a lot more than he liked Shirley and occasionally wondered if Alan had felt betrayed by the company that he'd served for most of his adult life. He wondered what he'd get for his last day, if anything.

Looking at the clock, he forced himself to turn his mind off and go to sleep. Tomorrow would come early and there was a lot to do before he could call it a day. He had to gather his gear, clean out his space, reassure flyers with a smile (although that part had always come easy to him), and make sure he found Julie before it was too late. It was his last conversation with Julie that was on his mind when he finally fell asleep.

The alarm beeped him back into consciousness. It had been going off for nearly 20 minutes and John was startled that he had slept through it for so long. Quickly he swung his legs over the side of his bed and made his morning preparations before dashing out the door. The first four hours of his shift went well. As the sun set in the deep winter afternoon, he knew it was time to announce his retirement. There were few passengers flying out at that time of day which meant no one would be looking for him anytime soon and he'd have time to find Julie.

Going to his locker, he pulled out his duffel bag and retrieved first the letter that had been mailed to him informing him of the denial of his claim for work related injury and then the letter that followed it a week later letting him know that his name was pulled for the next set of lay-offs based on his most recent performance review. The exact date was unknown, but they would be sure to give him two weeks notice. Next, he pulled the gun from the pocket that typically held his clean socks. Unlatching the safety, he took a deep breath and headed for the small bank of administrative offices letters and weapons in hand.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


He walked by, looking into my eyes for a brief moment. His deep blue eyes the color of sapphires in the sun drew me in. He turned to continue on his way, his brown hair waving gently at the nape of his neck. His strong shoulders flowed into well developed muscles in his arms and back and buttocks. "He's gone Jane. You can save that tasty day dream for later," my friend sang mockingly. My transport to rapture came to a sudden halt and I glared at my unkind friend.

*** One Word ***

Monday, November 29, 2010


Boom, bang, boom, rattle, ting. A little laughter rung between and then boom, bang, boom, rattle ting. I put the last dish in the dishwasher and turned around to look at my son. Boom, Bang, boom, rattle, ting. My poor copper pots, I thought as his little fist gripping the metal spoon went up only to come down again. Boom, bang, boom, rattle, ting.

*** One Word ***

Sunday, November 28, 2010


I looked at the paper laying on my desk. Lines and little words seemed o ramble everywhere with no clear direction or destination. Closing my eyes first, I shifted my gaze to the clock on the far wall. Seven minutes left before the bell. Looking at my paper once again, I double checked that each sentence had been diagramed and then turned in my test.

*** One Word ***

Saturday, November 27, 2010


"It's Aunt Edith's fault," I screamed. Sweat prickled on my skin as my face glowed an even brighter red. I pointed at Aunt Edith. "She did it!"

My father stood up. His usually nasally voice rose up, giving me the impression I was being spoken to by a mouse, not a man. "Now Janie, there is no need to throw accusations around . If you keep pointing at Aunt Edith, she's likely to have a heart attack. You don't want to be responsible for that do you?"

I dropped my hand to my side and glared at Aunt Edith. She smiled back, her missing teeth little black holes among the coffee stained ones. "She's the one who called Jimbo a turkey in front of grandma AND she's the one who said that someone should go and get the turkey ready for the oven. She had to know what would happen!"

"I don't think that Edith meant any harm. It was all just a very unfortunate accident. Now, I miss Jimbo too, but no one could have predicted that grandma was going to react in that way." My father was calmer now, his voice less squeaky.

But he was wrong. Dead wrong. Aunt Edith had always disliked Jimbo. My dear sweet little brown beagle, Jimbo. Every time Edith came over she told me he was a nuisance who should be put down for the sake of mankind. "Really dad?" I retorted, "No one could have predicted that grandma, with her Alzheimers and constant talk of slaughtering turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner, would hear it as 'There's the turkey that needs to be readied for the oven?"

My father put his hands over his face, pulling his skin back tight as if he was considering a face lift. He breathed out loudly and looked at me before picking up the newspaper and taking it to the other room. Aunt Edith continued to smile at me.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


If I admit this, can it be held against me? I mean, I'd hate for something to happen and then for it to surface that I had been searching on that particular topic. I guess if it came out, I could also find a convincing way to make you disappear as well. (And I'm not talking magic tricks here ;) )

*** One Minute Writer ***


Tears streamed down his face wetting the top of his shirt. He threw the stick that he had been using to gouge at the dirt into the woods. Still angry over his rejection, the first of many to come, he kicked the railroad tracks with all of his 10 year old might. The tears continued to flow, but now they were for his toe.

*** One Word ***

Monday, November 22, 2010


I knew the doctor would be wrong. Call it a gut feeling, but I knew with very little uncertainty. As I washed my children's hair, I watched as the little flakes fell from their scalp only to be tangled in their hair. "Sorry honey. I don't know who passed this on to you. Let's just say its another gift from your absent father."

*** One Word: Sorry for the short entries as of late. I am working on a couple of larger projects right now. I plan to share them when I am finished. ***

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I don't ever want to be frugal with compassion. Even when I am forced to be frugal in other ways-- financial, time, sharing of talent-- I hope that I can still be compassionate. It doesn't have to cost much to be understanding, to stand up for those who need someone to do it, or to empathize. And when I have the time, money, and talent? Then, I hope I can model compassion by providing for those who don't have the things I do.

*** One Minute Writer ***


She walked with her head held high, a poise many felt unbecoming of her considering her chosen profession. Smiling graciously, she watched the young boy drop a few coins into the small kettle and then blessed him in the Lord's name. More people were enticed to drop spare change by her habit and persistent bell ringing.

*** One Word ***

Saturday, November 20, 2010


"What is wrong with that child," I wonder. I watch him dance pass the windows again, his arms flailing and his voice joyous. I shutter and wrap the blanket around me tighter. It's barely 40 degrees outside and I don't remember the internal fires of childhood that used to keep me warm out of a coat.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Friday, November 19, 2010


Swathed in velvet and jewels, Cinderella pulled on a white satin glove. The lace band squeezed her flabby arm. "Maid," she called, a thin note of disdain in her voice, "I believe this pair, too, has shrunk from carelessness. Please bring me a pair that you haven't taken to be laundered and find out who's mistake this was."

"Yes Your Highness," came the young girl's response. Quickly the girl picked the dropped glove from the floor and put it in the pile with the other discarded gloves. She handed the Queen a new pair of gloves, which she assumed would also prove to be too small.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Dirty Work

Cinderella stood in the window, looking over the vast castle gardens. Below, she saw several men clearing dead branches and yellowed stalks for that evenings party. She remembered how dirty that work was and made a mental note to stay out of the area until her husband summoned her for the party. "Your Majesty," came an older woman's voice, "another of your ladies is here to help with the corset. If you are ready madam, we can lace you in."

Together, the women worked to reign in the aging queen's spreading girth. Once the strained ribbon was tied into place, they helped place the heavy velvet robes over Cinderella's frame. The older woman silently buttoned the tiny pearls from the small of the queen's back to the nape of her neck. The young girl fetched appropriate accessories at Cinderella's command. Both received their daily ration of subtle abuse.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Detective

"Henry! Henry!" Phoebe's head stuck out of the third floor window. "Henry!" she called again, but he kept walking away from her. Even from the street, I could see her body shutter, her angst shaking her more than the cool autumn wind. She continued to stand there, staring at the path he had taken. Looking down the street, I couldn't see him anymore and assumed that he must have turned by the Johnson and Son's Family Grocer.

Phoebe continued to stand in the window. I could hear her crying now. It sounded guilty. Still I watched her, the silky white night gown clingy softly to her body. She was gorgeous, but every fellow in these parts knew that. Pulling her robe around her, she stood up tall, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand. I noticed that her cherry red lips were still quivering. I licked my lips just thinking about them.

She closed her window and moved more to the interior of the house. That's when I made my move. Dropping the newspaper in the garbage on the curb after I crossed the street, I bounded up the stairs and pulled the door open. The elevator sat a few yards from the doors. I pushed the button to summon the elevator. The doors opened immediately. It wouldn't take long to get to the third floor.

Deposited into her hallway, I smoothed down my coat and slacks. Three ladies came around the corner. Smiling I tipped my hat to them before proceeding the rest of the way down the hall. I was in a good mood. Apartment 321 stood in front of me. The heavy oak door and gold paper almost made me feel like a rich man. I expected to half to knock, but the door was open slightly. Looking around, I let myself in.

"Phoebe," I called into the empty room. "Are you in the bedroom?" I made my way through the tables and chairs and to her room. She was sitting on the bed, her right leg thrown over her left and bouncing in the air. Smoke swirled toward the ceiling and her long fingers wrapped firmly around the cigarette holder. I remained leaning against the door frame, just watching her gather her composure.

"So, how much did it cost you this time?" she asked without looking at me.

"Not much. A $10. I told him there was an extra $5 in it for doing a good job." I smiled. I had a knack for getting cheap labor off of newbies.

Phoebe inhaled deeply and let the smoke come out slowly. "Well, he earned that $5 and apparently a whole lot more."

"Yeah. That good a job, huh?" I said peeling myself from the door frame and starting to approach her.

She didn't say a word, only tapped some glossy photos on the bed and then stood up, walking to the dresser. I picked up the photos and the smile slipped from my face. They were pictures of Phoebe and I together. The pictures looked innocent enough, but I knew that restaurant terrace was where we met for business. Paper clipped to the last picture was a note. The handwriting was neat and orderly, but still clearly a man's. "Read it," she said, stubbing out the cigarette as the last stream of smoke lifted.

I began to read it. Three pages detailed the meeting we'd had the day the pictures were taken. My mouth fell open. The meeting had been about how Phoebe should close the Henry scam and how much money she thought she could get from the bastard. I looked at her disbelieving what I'd read.

She had a coat pulled around her nightgown and proper shoes on her feet. Next to the dresser was her suitcase, fully packed. "Next time, make sure the detective you hire isn't already working for our target." She turned her back on me and walked away just as Henry had done to her.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


The fight had been going on all day. A literal line had been drawn across the living room, marking sides. Joanna sat behind the over turned couch, carefully planning her next move. John knew something was coming, and that it would be big, but wasn't sure what and so stayed hunkered down behind the love seat and winged back chair. Suddenly, the doorbell rang. John stood up to answer. Interruptions such as these marked a temporary truce. Opening the door, he found Joanne's friend standing on the stoop.

"Now may not be the best time, " he said as Marcy stormed in. She looked upset.

Turning to face him, she put a finger in John's face. "What have you...."

"Duck!" yelled Joanne as her head popped above the couch. Nerf gun in hand, she aimed it at John and took her shot. Rapid fire foam missiles shot across the room. Two hit Marcy in the back before she managed to get out of the way. Three more hit John as he dived for the safety of his refuge. The last hit squarely on his heart. "Games over, baby! All's fair in love and war!" Joana screamed as she did a happy dance.

In her excitement, she missed Marcy grabbing one of John's guns and firing back. The little yellow dart smacked her in the butt. Marcy blew over the top of the foam gun, set it on the table, and stormed out marginally less irritated than when she had come in. As the door shut and Marcy's profile disappeared from the window, John and Joanna burst into large bubbles of laughter. It had been a good day.

*** One Word: It is suppose to be a timed one minute writing experiment, only I didn't realize that the sound on my computer had been turned off. By the time I noticed, I was too far in to trash it and start over. Plus, I was having fun watching the scene play out in my mind. ***

The Waiter

Not that it mattered. Evelyn was the only one who could hear the ruckus she was causing. The cart kept knocking into the wall with each body she loaded onto the dumb waiter. Her fiance, George, with that adorable dimple in his left cheek. It's what first drew her to him all those years ago. Evelyn exhaled slightly, tracing it lightly with her finger before using his suit jacket to move him further into the small space. Her heart twanged a little at the loss. He had been a good man, but he should have trusted her more.

On top of him, his mother, Charlotte. The ashen skin made her make-up even more vivid. Evelyn had the impression that she was a clown, only there was no laughter in her eyes. A sad clown perhaps. A small smile played across Evelyn's lips. Charlotte had kind of acted the clown in this whole mess. She tripped over her final words as if she was wearing big shoes. Evelyn was sure that if she had been wearing a corsage, it would have sprayed water. Charlotte's body folded onto itself as the dumb waiter lowered from the weight.

Finally, came George Senior, ever the clever business man. She was sure it was he had insisted on the pre-nup. But everyone else had agreed, even if it wasn't their idea. Ruefully Evelyn pushed him on top of the pile, the crowning piece of his family and certainly the circumstances in which she found herself tonight. He had grown heavy, not just from his ego, but from the rich pastries he seemed to constantly be eating. His doughy body continued to offer resistance, even after death. Evelyn worked up a sweat. The family loaded in the dumb waiter, she wiped her brow, and with it, any guilt feelings she may have had.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

The Babysitter

The babysitter is my arch enemy. He has been for a long time. I just wasn't aware of it until recently. It was my children who brought it to my attention.

The day I finally understood the rivalry between us was dreary. Cold drops of water fell from the dark sky, keeping us inside for the entirety of the day. The children and I sat snuggled in my bed. The last hour before bedtime seemed to travel slowly, without mercy. My husband had been out of town for 4 days and I was exhausted.

As I began to read the next chapter, the children began to giggle and wiggle. I thought they were just restless. I nudged them and reminded them to listen. The giggling and wiggling continued. Slowly, their heads disappeared under the covers.

"Are you guys done listening?" I asked gently, peeking beneath the blankets. Neither answered me. Both had mischievous grins on their faces. "Isn't the story fun anymore?"

"Mom,last night, when you were gone, Frankie let us build a huge fort with all the blankets and chairs in the house and it so much fun! Can we do it again?" I smiled, glad that they had enjoyed themselves in my absence. Not so much that they had enjoyed themselves, I guess, more so that they hadn't been set mindlessly in front of the TV.

"Not tonight, it's getting too late. Let's finish the story. It's almost done, okay?"

"Ugghhhhh," said the youngest one, "Frankie is the most fun ever. All you ever want to do is homework and reading!"

"Yeah!" intoned the other one before I had fully processed what was said.

"Homework and reading are important. We have to do that. But we do have fun too!"

The conversation went on, the children proving their point over and over. It was loud and clear. I was a parent, a guardian, the adult in their life who told them what to do and when to do it. I was fulfilling the role that the experts said children needed, but the experts must have been wrong. Children wanted and needed friends.

So, Frankie, if you are reading this, we are now enemies. You've been sly, deceptive, and are clearly far ahead as the fun factor in my children's lives. But I wasn't playing the game then. You just wait! I am going to be the most fun person my children have ever known!

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Sunday, November 14, 2010


We rose from our beds with the sun and readied to go. It would be the last market for the year and we needed to stock up. I was hoping to find three fast fire automatics while my husband wanted to pick up a few long range rifles, along with the usual handhelds. The government regulation of the black market had made it safer, but the hours were a killer.

*** One Word ***

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Olivia had just stirred the chocolate, sending the delicious aroma to hover in the air. She turned to her list and checked off 'cooking'. Next, she set all the appetizers out on the counter. Several trays covered the small island. Unwrapping each tray with with the same joy children open gifts with, she smiled at her handiwork. All that was left was to add the finishing touch: a scented candle set between a festive wreath as a simple centerpiece.

She struggled with the lid for a couple of minutes to no avail. "John," she called, "can you help me with this thing?"

He didn't answer her. She wasn't surprised. Voices didn't travel well through the empty space and wide hallway occupying the distance between them. Concerned with the impending arrival of her guests, she carried the jar to the bedroom, pulling at the cap. She was so focused on getting the candle open, she didn't notice John was on bended knee.

"Marry me," he said simply.

*** One Minute Writer ***


Steve's eyes widened in anticipation as the young man carrying three boxes of pizzas worked to climb up the steep icy driveway. Tiny step by tiny step the man drew closer, his concentration on staying balanced evident in his posture. Hands thrown in the air Rocky-style, a spasm of delight leaped from Steve's lungs as the delivery guy tumbled backwards. "That makes three on one night," he yelled to his college buddies in the other room.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Friday, November 12, 2010

Remembrance Day

I remember the fear that would seize me when I had to wake my father up from his unconscious position on the couch. Most people would suggest I meant a nap, but with the drugs and alcohol that flowed freely through his body, I could never be certain that was what I would be interrupting.

My sisters and I argued over who would do it. We didn't have any money (it was unwisely spent on drugs most weeks) so even flipping a coin couldn't resolve the conflict. Instead, my conscience flipped until it finally landed with the my-responsibility-to-keep-my-sisters-safe side facing up. It seemed to be a trick coin as it rarely landed any other way.

So I would approach him, stretching my arm as far forward as I could while my other arm held tightly to the wall to keep me balanced. For a short while, I used a ruler to gently tap his ankles, but I found it too dangerous after it became a weapon in his hands the second or third time. I used my hands now. My shaking hands. Tap, tap, tap. "Dad," I would call before racing back to an area out of his reach.

Tap, tap, tap again when he didn't respond. Like a Hermit Crab, I would creep a little farther in and tap his thigh. "Dad?" I would call just a little bit louder. Tap, tap.....

His hands would fly at me-- an arm twisted painfully behind my back, my back pressed down into the couch while his hands circled my neck-- on those unlucky occasions. But that wasn't the worst of it. It was the look in his eyes. A look of hatred, of fear, of insanity. A look absent of any compassion or humility even after he remembered that Vietnam was far behind him and in front of him was a girl who hadn't reached puberty yet.

I didn't know my father any other way until I was in my thirties. It took him that long to begin to mature. He stopped drinking and doing drugs by sheer will power. He stopped smoking with a patch. When I visit during the holidays, I have trouble reconciling this father with the one I grew up with. And I wonder, is this the real cost of sending people into bloody conflict? Does either side ever truly win?

***Daily Writing Practice ***

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I am certain that being a single mother would kill me. Maybe not physically, but my energy and personality would slowly be throttled by the experience. They would hang limp around me, clinging to other identifying aspects of myself, as I did the dishes and laundry well after the children were in bed. I'm tired just thinking about the unlikely possibility.

*** One Word ***

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Random Book Prompt

From: Like Water for Chocolate

Take care to chop the onion fine.

Gloria looked at the instructions for the soup again. Bewildered, she pulled out a white onion and placed it on the cutting board. Her friend, Marcy, had said that it would seem ludicrous at times, but that the 12 step program for moving on really worked. Taking a deep breath, she picked up the knife and began to slice rings off the side of the onion. She felt the familiar sting in her eyes. Rinsing her hands, she wiped her eyes with a tissues. The tears were her least favorite part of cooking with onions.

She approached the lopsided onion on the cutting board and went back to work. The onion was particularly pungent. A few moments later, she pulled the sleeve of her shirt across her eyes to try to clear out the tears that had begun to well up. It was to no avail. Tears sprang up before she'd put her arm back down. Sniffling she went back to work on the onion.

Water streamed down her face as she methodically lifted the knife up only to push it back down. She twisted the onion as she had twisted the truth of why he had left her. The tears began to flow faster and her nose had started dripping. Quickly she rinsed her hands and walked across the room to the box of tissues. Picking up the box, she returned to the kitchen counter.

Marcy called forty-five minutes later. "Hello?" Gloria said through her sniffles from her spot on the floor.

"Gloria??? Are you okay? What are you doing?" Marcy asked, concern filling the long space that followed.

"I'm fine. I'm making the soup for tonight's meeting," she sniffled again, standing on her own two feet.

Marcy, full of understanding, nodded on the other end of the line. "And how is it going?" she inquired.

"Oh, about as well as anyone can expect I guess." Gloria picked up the half diced onion and threw it into the pot. "No one actually eats the soup, right?"

*** Daily Writing Practice ***


I watched as she raced to the little potted plants and began picking them up. "No," I started to call out when an older woman stopped me.

"Oh, she's so sweet. Quite the little helper." She smiled, waiting for a response to the compliment.

Glancing back to my daughter, I watched as two of the plants toppled over, dirt covering the concrete and broken leaves dangling from the slender stems. "Helping or hindering, who's to say?" I finally replied.

*** One Word ***

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Covered with Snow

I was born in January in a climate quite conducive to snow, although none had fallen that day or for many days before. Two weeks later, with the ground a dirty tundra of ice and mud, my mother wrapped me snuggly and held me close to her as the plane lifted sharply into the air. I, of course, have no memories of any of this.

I remember the blues and greens of the Pacific Ocean, the deep browns of volcanoes that stood for show, and the smells of Luaus. I smile thinking about the green bikini I couldn't bear to be without and the little Devil costume I wore to collect the first sweets of my life. But these are not my memories, they are pictures thrown into a shoe box which illicit the memories of others. Their details that have jarred themselves in tiny crevices of my brain matter.

No, my first memory, the one I can irrevocably lay claim to as mine and mine alone, brings goosebumps to my skin and causes my brain to shudder and my heart to skip a beat. My feet begin to feel cold and I shiver. It tells a story of who I was and whom I continue to be.

That same bundle of joy returned to that frozen land she had left four years prior. Having a voice now, one that communicated more clearly her ideas and desires, she refused the advice of her mother. Awakened from her nap by the stopping of the car, she reached for the handle and leaped toward her new life. She found a snowbank, still clean and white. It was a shock to her bear skin, the little sundress barely covering her.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Monday, November 8, 2010

Falling Back

The stylist pulled the old woman's hair taut before pinning it up. In those short moments, the old woman saw the girl she use to be. Smooth skin, wide eyes, a clear focus. The stylist relaxed grip reapplied the wrinkles and loneliness, but the woman's mind continued to fall back through her life. Lost in her past choices, some defensible- others clearly not, a tear fell. Was it worth it? All the lying and deception? The claims of achievement? The sexual favors she'd exchanged? She had the money, the lifestyle, the fame. But did she have anything more tangible? Not a friend. Not a lover. Not even a puppy. Looking back to the mirror, she saw the woman she had become. Old. Embittered. A socialite who knew how to play the game. She missed the driven young woman she had been. Maybe if that doll face of a girl hadn't been so focused, the old woman wouldn't be so alone.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Watching the other students stand up and hand the teacher their papers before quietly exiting the room always made her feel slow-witted. After emptying her lungs and therefore releasing her tension, she went back to her test. Context lead her to believe the word was 'saw', not 'was'. Dyslexic she was; a speed reader she would never be.

*** One Word ***

Saturday, November 6, 2010

One Way or Another

"I am never, ever, ever going to do it! I don't care what you say," the little brunette boy screamed at the couple hovering over him, their faces awash in an equal amount of determination to match the child's defiance.

"One way or another, you are going to return that toy," said the woman, her hands on her hip and a wry smile turning up her lips, "unless you prefer going to jail for shoplifting."

The child's eyes, wide open, darted to the man for reassurance, but met only a victorious grin.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Friday, November 5, 2010


"Your only as strong as your weakest link." Mary Ellen paused for emphasis and looked out over her audience. "My mother said this to me quite frequently. She would say it over my shoulder while I did my homework, from the deck when I played sports, over e-mail if I wrote her a story. I hated it. It made me cringe." Mary Ellen stopped, a rye smile laying gently on her face. "I vividly remember rolling my eyes and offering an intelligent rebuttal like, whatever." A small ripple of laughter filled the room.

"But I stand here as a successful person because of this annoyance. Because of her. She pushed me, as she probably pushed many of you, to make sure I was ready for life. As you pay your respects and mourn your loss, think of today as the weak length. Move on knowing you are stronger than you were today. Apply her ideology to your life. It's how she would want each of you to live your life. Being strong and remembering her as a strong person who acknowledged her weaknesses and strengthened them."

Mary Ellen stepped from the small podium and dabbed her eyes. It took her mother's passing for her to realize just how true that statement was. The weakest link in their relationship had been her own unwillingness to speak to her mother the last couple of years. Had she tried to fix that link, she would have known her mother was dying.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Widow Maker

Dr. Johansen sat in the cafeteria soaking up the winter sun through large windows. He had a procedure scheduled in half an hour and knew he should be scrubbing in. Operating was a chilly sport and he did not want to leave the delicious warmth of the sun. Soaking up the remaining grease with his second order of fries, he promised himself he would start eating better. He'd find time to exercise as well.

Just that morning, he had sent a nurse for a new box of gloves because his hands no longer fit into the large size typically stocked for him. Looking at his plate, he sighed. There were a few bites left. He was full, but didn't want to throw that little bit out. Grabbing the fries, he popped them into his mouth and then took a big swig of his Coke. It was likely to be his last good meal for a while he thought, trying to justify his actions. Guilt settled in immediately.

"Hey Mark!" said a peppy voice. He looked up to see Laura looking down at him. Laura was gorgeous. She had a slim frame and the clearest olive skin he had ever seen. Her dark hair was pulled up tightly, a requirement of any women who worked in sterile environments. Last month at the Holiday part was the only time he had ever seen her wear it down. Falling asleep that night had been difficult. He couldn't sop fantasizing about her.

"Laura," he gestured to a chair, smiling warmly at her. Sitting down, she placed her tray on the table. Laura had a large salad, bowl of soup, and single bread stick on her tray. The worst health offender was the raspberry iced-tea she had just lifted up. He remembered a short conversation in which she had confessed to it being her weakness. That and chocolate.

Glancing at the table, she asked if someone else was sitting there. Dr. Johnansen blushed. He had four plates stacked next to him. Each had been filled with fatty fried foods. "No, no, no. Just couldn't decide what I wanted today and went with a sampling."

Laura smiled as she picked up a knife and began cutting a tomato into bite-sized pieces. "I've had those days myself. I had so many of those days that I was 75 pounds overweight. That's not to say that I am perfect. Comfort food is still comforting and I still eat way too much of it on occasion." Mark smiled, grateful for the graciousness in which she could handle such delicate situations and sure she was lying. "But then I remember a class I took in med school when I was considering becoming a cardiologist."

"Yeah?" Mark was curious. He knew he had been overweight for a while now. He hadn't stood on a scale, but was pretty sure he needed to loose at least 75 pounds. Geesh! He'd just eaten a handful of fries after promising himself he'd eat better and exercise. Maybe whatever she learned in that cardiology class could help motivate him along the right path too. "What was that?"

"We all have a widow maker inside us. And if we don't appease it, it has a direct line to the heart. Somehow that struck home." Mark sat silently, nodding his head. He'd forgotten about the widow maker a long time ago. "Anyway, it kind of saved my life." She paused a moment and looked into Mark's eyes. "Now I'm looking for a different kind of line to my heart." She held his gaze a little longer before returning to her salad.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Thursday, November 4, 2010


"Kit," I called loudly. A few stones bounced off the rocky walls, or perhaps the floor. It was impossible to tell. All I could see was the darkness of the tunnel. "Kit!" Still no answer, only the sound of more stones displacing themselves.

*** One Word ***

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Ideas brimmed just behind my eyes as I pulled my computer out of my little red bag. Setting it up, my fingers practically trembled to touch the keys once again. It had been too long. Way too long since the last time I had been able to spill my thoughts without concern, without checking my work meticulously. A sigh of relief escaped as the little cursor blinked its readiness. My hands hovered over the keys.

Yep. The ideas had fled. They didn't exist any longer. Resigned to fate, I closed the computer again and went back to my homework with sadness.

***Daily Writing Practice ***

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fall In The Orchard

Each step was painful. Arthritis had settled deep into the cracks and fissures of Richard's bones many years ago. Being on the orchard was the only life he knew and the only one he had imagined as a child. It grieved him to watch each of his children flee to a life in the big city. No matter of begging or cajoling had worked to get them to stay. With each child's refusal, he mourned the loss of the orchard as a Perry property more deeply.

Another step up put him within reach of the peaches. He picked them, two to three at a time, and then placed them gingerly into the bucket hanging from the side of the ladder. Another step and another until the good peaches had been picked and the rotten ones hung waiting for the wind to push them off the branches. As he picked he pondered which offer he should accept and what conditions he could put on it.

He took another step up. His eyes were even with the top of the tree. He didn't want to be moved from his home for the remainder of his years. He didn't think he could live among the concrete, planned parks, and carefully landscaped yards that his children preferred. He needed the feel of soil beneath his feet when he walked, the sweet aroma of the peaches in the morning, the sound of wind whipping over the tall grasses in the neighboring prairie to sing him to sleep. It would be humane to ask him to leave.

Nor did he think he could watch other people take over the operations. Big machines would be moved in and the people who helped him harvest would be moved out. He wondered if that could be a condition, at least until those families chose to leave. He'd want them replaced with other warm bodies, but knew it would be too much to ask of the modern farming companies that showed interest in his orchard. He climbed another step with little thought and found himself looking over half the orchard.

God light touched the top of each tree. It was a beautiful sight, stretching on for quite a distance. He wanted to see this blessing fall upon all his trees. he took another step, balancing precariously on the very top of the ladder. God light fell across his face, illuminating him. It was warm, comforting. Wind caressed his skin, kissing his face softly. He heard bird song more sharply without the leaves to dampen the softer undertones. Richard bowed his head, sad that his children were unlikely to ever experience such a moment.

His knees felt weak. Carefully he kneeled down, reaching his left foot out for the step. Placing his weight on the step, he stepped down. A deep exhale and a sudden slip caused him to fall. He lay, looking at the peaches swinging above him, as he bled. The orchard was all that Richard ever knew.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

The Jester's Journey

The King and Queen would accept nothing but the best, their desire to out shine their newly won subjects higher than their senses. The subjects, he knew, would be sequestered against their will and required to pay homage with bended knee and bowed head before all their dead were laid to rest. In the midst of their mourning, it would be his job as jester to illicit smiles and laughter from the downtrodden crowd. So, he'd planned how he would end the Winter Festival at Sarah Lucia's vast garden estates with great care.

The dinner bell rang in the dark and bitter cold night as he donned his evening's attire. It was a new suit he'd had made just for the event. Two tailor's took part, each a different portion. Then, he had personally sewn those two pieces together to ensure the surprise kept.

Quietly he made his way to the stairs that lead to the narrow balcony that over looked the great room. There, he draped a banner heavily over his neck and whispered a prayer. Looking over the crowd, he heard the forced gaiety floating up to him like notes of music.

"Beautiful ladies and even prettier gents," he called clearly and loudly to the crowd below. Eyes followed the sound of his voice. He paused until all rested solely upon him. "For your evenings pleasure or displeasure," he said gesturing gallantly as he placed his feet on the narrow banister, "I invite you to take a journey with me."

Gasps echoed off the walls as he flipped over the balcony. His body dangled several feet off the floor, his neck held firmly by the noose he'd woven into the ends of the banner. A few kicks and he ceased to fight.

The banner fell limply from his body. STAND UP AND FIGHT. DEATH IS A WELCOME FREEDOM UNDER THIS REIGN, it said.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Gypsies

They stood tall as they walked through the small market in the center of the town. Stares followed them, filling their path with anger, mistrust, wonder, and joy. Sylvia made her spine longer as she walked by the men ogling her slim frame and calling rude, but lucrative, offers. Her troop wouldn't find it offensive if she chose to partake provided she shared her earnings. Having the heart of a gypsy and not the soul, she continued to walk to her wagon without a backward glance.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Friday, October 29, 2010


I steered the rental car into a small space in front of a hardware store, my thoughts racing through the next steps of my plan. I took a deep breath before exiting the car and then pulled my coat more snugly around me. It was 10:15 on a chilly morning in a small town off the coast of Oregon and I was on a mission. With long confident strides, I walked two blocks to a diner where I stood in front of the large plate glass window scanning the faces of the few costumers sitting at tables.

She wasn't there. I didn't expect her to be there at this hour. I didn't know her well. Really not at all anymore. We'd known each other a few brief years when I was in my twenties. Only recently had I stumbled across her again. The little information I had came from posts she'd written on websites I occasionally contributed to.

I knew a little bit though. She frequently self disclosed things about herself, perhaps without realizing it. Most likely she was walking down the cobble stone path that led from her home to the sharp sands of the bay. Sand made by the constant tearing down of rock and sea shells by blustery winds and the tides. Although I found it ironic, I was not surprised that she would chose to live near such a process.

I'd worn my fashionable, but functional, boots so I could also walk the shoreline. I didn't know if I would meet her, but my nose had begun to run and my fingers tingled in the cold. Movement would be good. I turned left and walked two more blocks before turning onto the pedestrian path that would eventually lead me to the bay area. The wind picked up, pushing back at me. Still, I walked briskly.

There were few passers-by. I studied each of them, looking for any of the tell-tale signs that I had become to know so well. I'd been walking for half-an-hour and had reached the point of the bay. Picking up a shell and pulling a thin length of ribbon from my pocket, I tied my tiny creation to a tree. She'd mentioned this tree in one of her posts. It was more beautiful than she had described. I saw the bits of decay and hopelessness she had gone on and on about in one of her posts. I watched the little shell dance in the wind. I could also see what she could not or had not. A place people came to hold onto and celebrate their hopes and dreams. I caught my tiny shell and rubbed my thumb over it's rough surface while I made my wish.

My heart beat lighter. With the wind at my back, I meandered back to the diner. It was nearing noon. My cheeks were whipped a bright red. In the warmth of the small diner, my eyes watered. A coffee mug of hot tea warmed my fingers as I chatted amiably with the waitress. We talked about the weather and history of the town. The clock said 1:00 as I finished my tea and settled my bill. As I stood to leave, she walked into the diner.

She wore her white hair short. Her deeply wrinkled skin made her look 10 years older than she really was. She carried a small notebook with her and walked with a sense of purpose. I watched her walk toward me, unaware of my presence. I took two steps, blocking her way. She dismissed me as if I were still the child in her classroom. I stepped back two steps and then raised my hand high in the air.

She hesitated a fraction of a second. It was too long. The slap rang across the diner. Having caught her largely off-guard, she fell into the counter. Her notebook and pen fell to the floor. She looked up at me, her hand instinctively covering her offended cheek. I saw a reflection of myself, 20 years younger, in her face. The shock and horror, the confusion and surprise. I smiled broadly. "Now you know how you affected me for 4 long years." Stepping past her, I walked to the door, my head held high. Nodding at the cute couple just walking in, I called to the waitress over my shoulder, "She's wrong. Breaking rules is fun."