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 ***