Monday, May 30, 2011


John sat on the floor, the plastic green G.I. Joe figure gingerly clutched between his thumb and forefinger as he pretended it was parachuting from the plane. Little John sat facing him, his matching figure clutched in his sweaty three year old palm. Slowly the man floated down to the Earth, dodging enemy fire. John continued with his mission. "Red Fox has landed. All family present," he said into his imaginary government issued walkie-talkie.

Pointing at another of the G.I. Joe troopers on the ground, he signaled him to move forward. From invisible tree to invisible tree, the unit of 4 plastic figures advanced through the dense forest, their rifles trained on shadows and rustling leaves. Little John kept his man quietly imprisoned behind his chubby fingers as his father slid the soldiers across the floor.

Finally the team grouped together at the leg of the chair, the predetermined meeting point in case they were separated during the fall. John signaled the scout ahead. He was gone three anxious minutes before returning and gesturing that they could make it to the first hut without fear of being seen. Pantomiming a walkie-talkie, John whispered "We have Go. We have Go. Radio silence in 3, 2, 1." 

The men quietly moved to the first hut. Hearts beating, they scouted for the next safe location. Slowly, they made their way across the small village one hut at a time. At the last hut, they dropped to their bellies and broke off into two teams. John and the scout, Mark, slithered into the brush just to the left of the door of the hut. They waited. Little John watched his father crouched by the couch with fascination.

John watched as the small flame licked to life, consuming the roof of the hut in a matter of seconds. Two men came running out, shouting in jarred syllables. One at a time they fell to the ground, dead. He waited a few more seconds. No one came running. No shouting. No sounds other than the continuous hum of the forest. He stood, his rifle aimed at the unseen enemy and quickly went into the hut. Mark guarded the crumbling door of the hut as John rapidly lifted the badly beaten body of his captain from the floor.

He was repulsed by the sweet smell of drying blood and strong odor of urine that clung to the captain tighter than the captain was able to cling to him. The heat was intolerable. Smoke stung his eyes and dirtied his lungs as he pulled the body through the door, emerging from between flames. Mark swung his gun wildly from side to side, more fearful of what he couldn't see than the unforgiving flames reaching ever closer to him. Together, the two men made it into the deep cover of the forest and 25 yards down to the stream.

They met with the other two men. Quietly they washed the captains failing body in the stream, rinsing away the sweet and foul smells. Lifting the walkie-talkie, John whispered into it once again, "Red Fox out of the hole. Papa fox in tow. Family ready to reunite at the old picnic grounds." Securing the captain to John's back, the four men moved through the deepening night to the pick-up zone.

At the clearing, they heard the welcome sounds of the Heli chopping the air. It blew a refreshing wind through the grasses and deep brush. Mark scouted it for safety. Reassured that it was their own men, the four stumbled out of the brush and were escorted into the helicopter. Relief flooded John's wrecked nerves as they lifted into the air. 

"Daddy?" Little John whispered, touching a father that was further than across the living room away. "Daddy? Will you play with me?"

John let out a deep sigh. "Yeah, yeah. Let's play," he said. As the little G.I. Joe men clashed into each other, threw grenades, and launched missiles, John sent up a little prayer for the many men and women he knew still lay under those leaves and inside those little huts.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Sunday, May 29, 2011


He sat down at the counter, giving the waitress at the other end his eyes and a raised finger. A moment later, a cup of steaming coffee sat before him. He ordered a slice of cherry pie and slicked his hair back in the men's room. As he sat back down on his stool, he unrolled his shirt sleeve and took out a pack of Marlboro. The waitress came over a second later with a clean ashtray.

"You know," she said snapping her bubblegum. "You got everything right, except the sideburns."

*** One Word ***

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Rental

The top was too short, the bottoms too long. The bow too tight and shoes too wide. The only thing right was that it was black and white. Looking at him, I understood his regret of saying his "I do's" in the monkey suit.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***


Thick clouds blocked the sun's rays and muddled time. I woke, unsure if it was still night or had turned day. My eyes stung and my head ached. I strained to read the time but saw nothing more than red squiggles before having to close my eyes. Tired from the effort, I spread my arms and legs into the shape of a crippled starfish.

The right side of my body bumped against something. Quickly I retracted my limbs. Squinting through still stinging eyes, I made out the shape of a body. An arm, shoulder, neck and head full of hair lay next to me. The rest seemed to be buried beneath the covers. It didn't move, but my mind was spinning like the tea cup ride at the county fair.

Images blurred on the canvas of my blank brain. I slid out of bed pulling my nightshirt down over my hips. Standing up, I glanced at the alarm clock. It was early; 6:15a.m. A buzzing went off in the next room. The bodies chest rose and fell rhythmically. The buzzing grew louder, more insistent. On tip toes, I ran around the side of the bed and into the next room to slam my hand down on the snooze button.

I turned to leave the room, call my friend Sharon, when I heard a rapid succession of footsteps run across the hall, stopping in front of the door. The handle turned slowly. I Pushed myself against the wall, willing myself to be as small as possible or even invisible. Finally, the door opened. My son stood in the doorway, rubbing his eye, one hand on the handle. "Is it school today?" he asked.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Friday, May 27, 2011


Steadily, I raised my hand in the air and brought it gently down on the wiggling child's wild hair. "Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!" he yelled with each stroke as if I were beating him over the head.

"If you held still it wouldn't pull," I said, fatigue filling my voice.

He continued to wiggle, throwing up a hand to block me from continuing to brush that area.  "Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!" he bellowed again, removing his hand to reveal the now unruly hair that had once been tamed.

"Stand still, will you?" I growled and brought the brush down again.  He dodged to the side, causing the brush to rake lightly over his ear.

"You're hurting me!" Glee colored his cheeks. I grabbed the top of his head and turned it so I could see his eyes back to the mirror.

"Don't move on pain of death." My voice was low and measured, heavy with seriousness. I gripped the brush tighter and brushed his hair, relieved he was acting the role of a statue. With a last flourish, I laid the brush down and placed my hands on his shoulders. "What do you think?"

He brushed a hand over the strict lines the brush had made in his damp hair. "It's perfect," he responded, a happy color in his cheeks again.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Reporter

Johnny was an icon in the investigative reporting world. Known for his tough questions, persistence at getting the responses no one wanted to give, and making his subjects want to scamper into hiding, his meticulous practices won him every conceivable award in journalism except the IRE. He probably would have won that too, if he hadn't decided to investigate mob boss Frankie Costello. Instead, he received a pair of concrete shoes and a one way trip to the bottom of the East River.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***


Shela held the boy to her. He kicked and screamed, unhappy with the empty gesture, until he fell asleep from sheer exhaustion. Misery dripped down her insides, making her feel cold in the 100+ temperature. She hated her predicament, but even more so, she hated the people who had left her there. Unnamed men and women whose knowing eyes lost the battle with their frozen hearts. Caring souls who only truly cared for themselves. Sitting in the tunnel, she listened to the desperation that took more lives everyday. She would survive for her son. She had to! But Shela wondered if her son would survive now that she was too dehydrated to nurse him.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Friday, May 20, 2011


She looked down into the small face, just waiting for the eyes to open. Impatience was eating her alive. That, and frustration over her own forgetfulness. How could she have forgotten her soul amulet at home? She knew better! And to do so while traveling? One would think she was still a mere child. Her hair bobbing to the silent rhythm of curses running through her head, Moria looked at the etched green face in her hand. Nothing had changed.

"For heaven or damnation's sake," she muttered angrily under her breath, "wake up won't you!" Her conscience slept on and she so desperately needed to speak with it. Moria laid her head back against the cold steel wall. Even with her eyes closed, she could see the passing constellations. She'd traveled through the Certamen System since she was a child. She knew the layout of this rather large star system as well as anyone could. "If only I hadn't forgotten my soul amulet," she berated herself. Her soul and conscience always consulted over life's big decisions.

This was certainly one of life's big decisions.

She squeezed the amulet in her palm. Only that morning Jax-Sen had proposed to her. It shouldn't have been any big deal. Many sentient beings had approached less evolved beings with proposals. It was part of their Time of Duty, lifting the unfortunate out of the repression imposed by not having soul and conscience fused within their marrow. The Utopia of Wholeness is what they purportedly peddled. A somewhat rare commodity, it always came at a cost. For many still evolving beings, it meant misery at seeing the society one lived in through different eyes, a Sentient's practiced eyes, and then great joy at being able to improve one's society through one's own abilities. A short term loss as an individual for a long term gain as a society.

But Jax-Sen had asked for something very different. He offered a varied and complex arrangement. He offered to skip the Seeing and give her practiced eyes, eyes more powerful than any other low level Sentient was given. It would make her Holy, an untouchable in the leagues of her own people. It could be hers, if she agreed to his price. Was the cost of rising up worth what was being asked of her? She needed her conscience to guide her.

The amulet continued to sleep peacefully, unaware of her predicament. Moria felt uneasy. She had no clear feeling of right or wrong. Only vague connotations attached to words like Holy and murder. A textbook comprehension based on what other societies had written. Holy was good and murder was bad. At least that is what she remembered from her childhood school books. But what did that mean when compared to one another? Did they both have the same weight? She couldn’t determine that from her black on white knowledge.

That, in itself wasn't unsettling. No. That was just a fact of being near the bottom rung of evolution. It was the deep, primal recognition of being near something so important that agitated her into such a state of distress.

Moria closed her eyes again. Attempting to settle her unrest, she began emptying the air out of her lungs in a low whistle. She could feel tension easing out of her long muscles. Her chest squeezed tight, trying to hold onto some of the air, but Moria forced it to continue flowing into the low whistle. Not until the cells begged for air did she find quiet. Although she had been sitting in solitude, the long corridor felt empty for the first time since Jax-Sen had spoken to her.  The pressing crowd of her reproaches and thoughts pushed aside, she sensed the closeness of Serenus. A planet named by the Deities for its calm, unchanging landscape and climate.

“Moria.” came Jax-Sen’s soft monotone voice.

Air rushed into Moria’s lungs. She snapped her head up, her body gasping for breath. “Jax-Sen.” She was startled and her usually high pitched voice came out as a squeak. She looked at the hulking sentient standing over her. His face looked down into hers. The small spheres of his eyes growing larger in the dim hall accentuated the strong structure of his skeleton. A smooth layer of dark skin hid the actual bones themselves. It looked moist and she wondered, not for the first time, if her fingers would be wet if she touched him. The low light caused an odd mingling of shadows and glistening skin. It made it easy for Moria to restrain herself.

Her discomfort returned. Slowly, Jax-Sen’s lips turned up forming a wry smile. Her conscience amulet warmed in her hand. Surely it would awaken soon. “Have you made a decision?” came Jax-Sen’s soft voice again.

“I… I… My conscience has still not awakened,” she stumbled over her words. Jax-Sen relaxed, the tension in his stance dissolved. His wings sloped down. His perfect white teeth showed between his parting lips as they curved up into a smile. Moria saw a flicker of something move over his eyes. “Kindness,” she thought. “That’s what kindness looks like on an Angelus face.”

“We will be over Alcedonia in a moment. I will disembark then. Come with me. Let me raise you to the station you belong.” He took her hand. It was warm, warmer than her amulet. She walked with him, enchanted by his silken touch, his willingness to give her a life she would never again be offered. Warmed by the touch of a High Sentient. Forgotten, her amulet began to cool in her hand.

Having reached the Disembarkment Bay, Jax-Sen released her hand. “I will be transporting myself. I assume you still rely on artificial means to survive in the atmosphere?” he asked, his left eye brow arching higher than his right. Moria confirmed his assumption with a nod of her head. She felt her hair bounce near her face and the some of the old thoughts began whispering deep in her brain. Jax-Sen moved the hair away from her eyes, tucking it securely behind her ear. The motion wiped the whispers from her mind.

“I will meet you on the landing dock after your descent,” Jax-Sen said, the wry smile returning to his lips. With that, he turned and walked to the South side of the Bay. Moria felt her enchantment lift, just slightly, and took a moment to look around. She noticed the departing passengers, some by their own means but most with artificial support. As she settled back into her skin, she couldn’t help but wonder if she had agreed to his proposal. She looked at the little green etched face. It had become very cold and it continued to sleep soundly.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Thursday, May 19, 2011


We were born on the same day, too small to know the harshness and warmth of the world we would struggle through. We'd grown up together, spending more time together in the back yard than I could possibly recount. She was my everything. My playmate as a child, confidant as a young teen, accomplice when I rebelled against my parents, protector and guardian when I needed her to be.

Not that I realized it during all those years.

It wasn't until I moved away, married and had children that I understood how important she had been to me. My childhood stories were flooded with her presence. She had, in many ways, shaped the person I became. I wanted to see her again even though half a world separated us. It wasn't likely it would happen. I didn't even know if she was still there.

Then my father died and I had to go home.

Flying over the deep oceans, I thought about what would happen when I drove up to the house. I wondered if she would be there waiting for me. I wondered if she would console me. I felt crazy thinking these thoughts. Perhaps she was a diversion for the scarier issue, my father's demise. A lump formed in my throat as memories involving the two of us and she rushed through my mind..

I held my mother close for the brief moment of stillness she could offer.

As she flitted about straightening frames, fluffing pillows, and generally fussing, I found my way to the backyard. There she stood dressed in deep yellow. Her skin was rough and dark from years spent outside in the sun and the snow. She stood tall and strong, still confident in her declining years. She had aged well. I ran to her, wrapping my arms around her thick trunk and then falling on my knees at her roots crying heavy and hot tears.

Tears for the loss of my father, my own expected immortality,  and for my childhood.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

The Necklace

The weight of the necklace cut a thin braided line into her neck. She rubbed at the raw line, but it only stung at her touch.Closing her eyes in response to the new pain, she took a deep breath and sat up straight, the necklace pulling at a new angle, but undeniably still around her neck.

"How are you Julia dear?" She looked up, surprised that anyone would know her in this area. Beng looked down at her, an understanding smile tugging the edges of his lips up. 

"Beng." she said. There was no warmth in her voice. No accusation either. His name was a statement, a matter of fact. She stared at him, her eyes reflecting an ancient resistance.

"It's been a great number of years, Julia. I thought you would be happy to see me." His voice was soft, alluring. Julia continued to look at him, but said nothing. "The skin around your neck looks tender and sore." Beng shifted his weight while he paused to give her time to respond. Still she sat silently, her stare not altering.

Beng reached for her, stroking one of the deep lines. At his touch, her skin cooled, the pain disappearing. "I could help you, Julia. I could keep the weight of the world from pulling down on you." His hand touched one of the large gemstones and trailed down to the next one until it stopped on the last one, just above her breasts.

Her eyes never wavered, always on his eyes when he looked at her, otherwise steadfast on his face. He looked deep into her eyes, his hand still resting on the necklace. Delicately, she took his hand and removed it from the necklace. 

"Yes. It has been a great many years." Julia spoke as if the words he'd spoken between stating the passing time and then had not existed. "A lot has happened in that time."

"I trust you have learned a lot, that your passion to protect has worn a bit thinner, like the skin around your neck." Beng spoke with a gentleness reserved for lovers.

"It has been a learning experience like no other, I grant you that." Still she kept her eyes on him, her face impassive.

Beng smiled. "Then you are ready to release the weight of this world." His confidence smothered the thin air in the small space. He moved around Julia with care, placing his hands on the clasp of the necklace. 

Julia stared forward, her eyes removed from his face for the first time. She straightened her back and held her head a bit higher. The small gesture was startling, powerful. Beng's hands paused. "I have seen unspeakable crimes committed by mankind. Death, decay, hatred deeper than ever I have experienced before. Once ignited, it spreads like a wild fire. Intensely hot, swift, and extremely dangerous."

Beng smiled. "So you see why this world is not worth saving. Why it would be better served in my care. Yes. I thought given enough time you would come to understand what so many of us do." 

He took a breath, as if to continue. Julia's words snuck into the small space. "I have witnessed the most tender of loves as well. The innocent love of a mother and her newborn child. The passionate love of the youth. Old love shared by elderly soul mates. The kindness and compassion of strangers. The joy of friendship and so much more. They are brilliant in the light that they shed. Small suns in a generous universe. Those fires made of hatred are dim in comparison. Short lived like the light of a firefly. These suns continue to shine, never ceasing to burn. They consume those small fires and always will. No Beng. I am not ready to release the weight of this world. For every ounce of heaviness, I find several pounds of lightness. It is a happy sacrifice that I carry the petty sins with me, embodied in this necklace. No Beng. You shall not have this necklace."

She could feel his hands burning. His anger surged through his veins like small fires. Slowly turning to face him, she saw the red fury of his eyes. She reached to touch him, but his hot hand jerked away from her cool touch. "You will regret this Julia!" The words spat and hissed, the fire inside him consuming them. "It will be many hundreds of years before I offer to take your sacrifice. The necklace will only grow heavier and will bite into you neck deeper than you can imagine. Next time I see you, you will be lying on the floor begging me for mercy, the weight too much for you to bear."

Julia stood. The necklace flashed in the lights. She looked hard into his eyes. Her mouth set in a firm line while her eyes issued an unmistakable challenge. "Go then. Do you worst." She turned from him and walked down the narrow passage never looking back.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Quietly, I sat at the table reading through the unfamiliar words. Images conjure up reactions that I know are inappropriate. "Pablano Mole?" I say to my friend. She laughs at my wrinkled forehead, turned up nose, and squinty eyes. "Why would anyone want to eat a hairy creature that lives under ground?" A sour look crosses my face as I imagine a mole served on a plate, a flower in its mouth.

*** One Word ***

Saturday, May 14, 2011


"It'a  piece of cake, " she assured me. "Just sign here and initial below it and we'll get the process started." Sliding the papers across the smooth surface of her desk, her lips curved up in anticipation.
Doubt shaded my face. I had come in to ask a few questions. I wasn't prepared to make a comittment and certainly not one this monumentous. Yet, I didn't know if I could walk away from a deal of a lifetime.

I tapped the pen on the edge of the desk. I had to make a decision and I had to make it quickly. My mind raced and the letters on the paper danced in front of me.

With a deep breath, I lifted the pen and signed my name and initials with a flourish. "It's done." I said flatly. "My soul in exchange for a world filled with compassion for as long as it exists."

*** One Minute Writer ***


Marissa sat at the vanity waiting patiently for the Father to come. She wished to lift the heavy vail from her face to release the moist minty breath caught beneath it. The penalty for being seen by anyone other than the contractor were too high so she waited and fidgeted and quietly abided her time until the Father would arrive. On her wedding day, whenever it would be, she knew there would be no back-up bride. If one was even considered, there would be no wedding.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Friday, May 13, 2011

Early, On Time, or Late? What does your timeliness say about you?

My friend has a theory that when you were born has a direct life-long affect on your timeliness. For a while, I thought the whole idea was funny. Over time, I've come to realize that his theory is startlingly accurate, although not perfect.

I was born early, meaning ahead of my due date. I tend to be early for things. My husband was born 6 weeks late. It was obviously a time before eviction notices came in the form of C-sections. He is consistently late. Really, really late. And so on.

So what does my ability to be on time say about me? I guess it says that I was born early and will continue to be early for the rest of my life.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Breaking New Ground

My knees moved downward as I stretched my legs. It was no good. They weren't going anywhere except into the back of the fat man's seat. "I hate these tiny aircraft," I mumbled. Jason didn't bother to look up from his book.

"You said we should fly on a small airline. Small airlines, small seats," he said quietly in retort. I looked at the page he was on. It was the same one as half an hour ago. Flustered with the cramped conditions and slow progress, I crossed my arms and pouted. Jason continued to read.

A stewardess with long legs and a low neckline sashayed down the aisle. An older gentleman followed her. I watched her go, slowly swaying her hips as if she had nothing better to do. The man trailing her with obvious lust in his eyes and joy in his pants. Disgusted, I looked at the balding spot of the fat man in front of me.

Jason flipped ahead in his book. I glanced back to see what chapter he was on. "Flying Squirrels" was written in bold black letters at the top of the page. 

"If you'll excuse me," I started to say. He stood up before I could finish my line and I moved passed him, heading to the back of the plane where the stewardess had went. If I was lucky, she would still be there. Unbuttoning my suit jacket, I continued to walk the narrow aisle. The bathrooms were just ahead. Even on a large airline, bathrooms tended to be small. On this plane, I half expected it to consist of a cup and a hose and a curtain for privacy.

"I'm here," came a whisper. I looked up and saw the firm bottom of the stewardess as it dipped down to the floor. So she was still there.

"Hey," I whispered back. As I rounded the shallow cooking kitchen, I found her stepping over 'Mark's' body. She'd taken care of him quietly. "Poison? Strangulation?" I whispered.

"Suffocation," she said as she did up a button on her uniform. "And I would avoid using the bathroom until after I clean it." I loved the way this woman worked.

Hefting 'Mark's' body into the dumb-waiter, I watched as she disappeared into the bathroom. A moment later, I put myself in the dumb-waiter. I could feel it moving toward the belly of the plane. In the dark, I sat with the damp and cooling body as I pulled two panels apart. The hole was just big enough for his body to slide through if I held him by the arms, but the air gushing in rocked the plane side-to-side. As we moved over a large patch of deep green, I let go of 'Mark's' hands.

Panels replaced, having hefted myself up through the dumb-waiter, and washed my hands in the tiny bathroom, I wondered when I would receive my next text that the company needed someone to break new ground. The thought of it made me think of her. I hoped a text would come through soon.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***


I heard the soft tapping of branches against the window, the way they always did on a breezy afternoon. I smiled in my sleep, barely conscious, even less alert. A wind howled. And odd wind. One that I was unfamiliar with and the tapping came faster, more urgent. I tossed, sensing that I was not surrounded by the familiar, the safe, the known.

I was startled awake by this realization, sitting bolt upright in bed, the covers crumpled tightly in front of my chest as if they were some kind of shield. The tapping came again; sporadic, sharp, uneven. It was followed by the wind. Carefully I peered out my window. The trees stood still.

Below them, my ex-boyfriend stood. Drunk and apologetic. Hopping around like a monkey, howling into the night air and tossing tiny pebbles at the window. I was giddy as my heart fell back to him.

***One Minute Writer ***

Monday, May 2, 2011

Lion Tamer

Tears flowed down his face, the deep canyons of age acting as river beds. Fatigue drooped his red clad shoulders low. Behind his closed eyes, the dreaded scene played out again and again. The surprise and shock made him shudder. He felt the pressure, the ripping and tearing of his flesh as his right hand was pulled away from him. He remembered the red splashes, the absolute terror, the long fall. An immense sadness filled him at the loss, the constant reminder being it's absence. Those short moments of his life burned so vividly that they became his life. The definition of it. The flame that set his afire.

Now the beast was dead. The errant fool with astonishing intelligence and the certainty of it's species. The animal that was feared and loathed by too many and admired by too many more. He was dead. "Justice!" his fellow performer's had called it. "Justice!" they sang from the center ring.

Still, he felt no real joy. He didn't know the jubilation that others were experiencing. He understood loss more deeply than the others. He had an insight they could never have. Yes, the beast had taken something precious away from him, but no matter how vicious he had been. No matter what mercy he lacked, what lies he fed upon, what scenes played through his mind, his absence was sure to be noticed. His death only added to the pool of violence and sadness.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***