25 May 2013

Memorial Day Weekend


Congress designated May as National Military Appreciation Month in 1999 to ensure the nation was given the opportunity to publicly demonstrate their appreciation for the sacrifices and successes made by our service members - past and present.

Daddy's Boots, Momma's Boots, Grandpa, What If?, and But...What If? are all currently on sale at Amazon.com. There's no better gift to give a service member with child(ren) than a book of understanding.

Enjoy & In Joy


11 May 2013

Broken



The second story I submitted to A Novel Approach. Please to enjoy:

Broken

      Mollie’s sundress kicked up around her thighs as she sat looking out at her options.  In front of her, the land fell away from the road, leading to a row of elm trees, beyond which lay the unknown.  To her right, her car grumbled and sighed in the barrow ditch; its grill crumpled around the stump of an oak.  She touched the lump on her forehead and pulled away sticky, crimson fingers.  Wiping her fingers on the grass, she looked over to her left and the road leading back to him.  Back to pain.  Back to a certain death.  ...well, of her soul, at least. 

     “Shit, Mollie.  Don’t be so fucking dreary.” Her whispered voice echoed in the open space and drifted off in front of her.  She watched it float through the elms, stood up, and followed on unsure footing, in unsuitable shoes, without hesitation - leaving behind the wreckage of her life.

    
     She’d taken no more than a hundred steps when her foot slipped into a hole, twisting her ankle.

     “Ow!  Shitshitshitshit.  SHIT!”  Now I ache at both ends, she thought.  Thank you very much! 

     She looked back at her car.  Then, she remembered her purse sitting on the front seat… oh, and her coat in the back… and the package of sunflower seeds opened on the dash…  Well, they were on the dash, before that damned rabbit darted out and scared the shit out of her and off the road.

     Stupid, fucking bunniesThe road to hell is paved with stupid, fucking bunnies.  This hole was probably dug by a stupid, fucking bunny.  Stupid, fucking bunnies.  She kicked at the hole, trying to release her foot, and a pain shot up her shin. 


     She heard his car before she saw it; engine revving around that last bend so ostentatiously.  She heard the tires squeal, and then turned to see the bumper of his Dodge Charger as it came into view, sidling up next to her wrecked Mustang.  His window eased down.  Mollie heard the rhythm of his radio, but couldn't make out the song.  It pounded with the beat of her heart, hard and fast. 

     How in the hell did he find me?

     "Come on, Mollie.  Don't keep me waiting...again."  She couldn't see his face, just the point of his elbow resting on the car's window frame.
     "Mah-lee..." in a sing-song voice.

     She eased her foot out of the hole and tried to stand on it, gingerly at first, but then applied her entire weight.  Not too painful.  A bit of a twinge, but...

     "Mah-lee... you're starting to piss me ah-ahf..."  Again, with the sing-songy, half-lilting, full-scary voice.

     She looked back toward the elm trees.  I could make it.  Could be halfway into the trees before he opens his door.  I could...

     His horn tore her thoughts apart.  
     "Mollie!  Get your fat arse in the car!  Now!"


     The hour-long drive back to his house was tedious, to say the least.  She'd had time to grab her purse out of the wreckage, but not her coat.  She imagined she'd get an earful about wrecking the car, but he just listened to his radio rock on. 


     The air conditioner blasted, causing her bare arms and legs to riddle with goose bumps; her nipples hardened against the thin cotton of her dress.  She noticed him noticing her, and grew hopeful when his hand reached for the knob.  When he turned it up, she looked out the window and tried not to cry. 

     Figures.  Nipples trump goose bumps.  Men!  She crossed her arms over her chest.

     "You look a mess, Moll."  He dug in his pocket, pulled out a handkerchief, and tossed it onto her lap.  "At least clean that blood off your forehead.  You're not nearly pretty enough to sport an open wound."

     Mollie picked it up and searched for a soft, unused spot.  She tried to ignore the gross, off-color lumps.  She glanced over at him.  His hands sat on the steering wheel at 9 and 3.  His eyes darted between his rear-view and the side-view mirrors, never focusing on anything in particular.  He sat rigidly straight, buckled and proper, just as he'd done for the past seventeen years she'd known him.

     She spat on the edge of the cloth, pulled down the visor mirror, and examined her forehead.  A bruise grew around the bloody cut.  She dabbed at the wound, cleaning it as best she could.

     "What were you doing so far out?"  He smiled at her.  His cold eyes looked right through her.  A shiver ran down her spine.  "You know better than to make me worry."

     "Just...  Sorry...  Um..."  You have no idea how far away from you I wish to be.

     "Jestsorryum...  You sound like an idiot.  You know that, right?"  He barked a laugh, and then looked down at her nipples pressed hard against the front of her dress.  He adjusted himself.  "Are you cold, Babe?"  He asked in a softer voice, raising his hand from his crotch to stroke her shoulder.  It brought a chill with its warmth.  Mollie tried to not pull away, but he must have felt her cringe.  His grip tightened; his face pinched in anger.
     "You know better than to be afraid of me."  His voice almost made her pee. 

     "I know.  I just felt a little static shock when we touched, is all."  Mollie looked out her window.  Ourfatherwhoartinheavenhallowedbethynamethykingdomcome
thywillbedone... She clamped her teeth, and stifled a sound as she felt his hand migrate to her chest, and linger over her nipple.
 ...onearthasitisinheavengiveusthisdayourdailybread...
     His touch made her skin crawl these days, even the more gentle ones.

     His breathing became wet, heavy, and easily heard over his music. 
     "Let me just... adjust... your..." his hand moved from her breast.  "...vents.  There."  He settled back into his seat.  His hand rested on his distending crotch.  "That's better, isn't it?"

     "Yes."

     "Yes, what?"  He smiled.

     "Yes, Sir."  She forced a smile.


     They rounded a corner, and his house came into view.  The air grew stale.  He turned off the radio as he pulled into the driveway.  The ring of keys clanked against the steering column, drawing her attention.  She watched them sway back and forth, mesmerized by the glimmer as they caught the sunlight.  The white rabbit's foot did little to mute the clinking. 

     Stupid, fucking bunnies.


     She feigned a headache and went straight to bed. 

     He came to her just after sunset.  She heard her door creak open in the dark.  She listened to his footsteps grow closer.  She felt the bed dip on what she thought of as "his side" of the bed, as he settled in his bulky frame.  She clutched her pillow.  His meaty body pressed against her back; his hardness nestled between her cheeks, separated only by the thin nightgown she wore.

     "Hey, Babe.  You feeling any better?"  He rubbed himself against her.  "You have some apologizing to do.  Cars ain't cheap."

     "I need to go potty."  She pulled away from him, and sat up.  A wet spot on her nightgown stuck to the small of her back.  "Did you take your medicine today?"

     "Shit.  No.  I forgot.  Grab them for me."
    

     The water tasted refreshing.  She took a deep breath and glanced around the bathroom.  Bunny wallpaper.  Bunny curtains.  Even the glass she held was bunny-fied. 

     Stupid, fucking bunnies.  I was that close to freedom.

     She opened the medicine cabinet.  Neat and orderly, just the way he likes it.  She took out his medicine, and noticed the pearl-handled razor.  He'd said it belonged to his grandfather.
 
     Mollie put the bottle on the counter and opened the razor.  The blade glistened, sharper than any she'd seen.  She pressed it against her wrist.

     Remember, Mollie, one must cut upward to do the most damage.

     "Mollie?  You fall in?"  His voice made her jump.  She nicked her skin, and a bead of blood welled.  She kissed it away.

     "Coming..."  She tucked the blade under her arm, grabbed his pills and the water.

    
     The medicine bottle and empty glass sat on the bedside table.  With heart pills dissolving in his stomach, he pulled her on top of him.  

     He pushed aside her underwear.

     "Love you, Babe," he said, as he entered her.  "You like this?  Does this feel good?"

     ...must one always cut upward? 
     "Does this?" She asked.

     The blade went cleanly through his neck, his windpipe, his arteries with no effort, which surprised her.  Surprised him, too, judging by the look on his face.  She stood, and watched as dark liquid oozed from his neck and soaked into the bed.  It didn't spurt or spray, as she'd imagined.  Probably because of his fat.

     "Love you, too... Dad." 

     Blood dripped from the razor.  She held it in one hand and reflected on the shocking speed at which her fortunes had turned around, a longed-for moment that, even as it registered on her, ceased to be a goal and became a memory.

     "Mind if I take your car?  Mine's broken."



Best Laid Plans


Hello, Stranger. Yes, it's me. I'm still alive...

The First Annual A Novel Approach left me with two 'gold star' certificates for participation... and if you know anything about me...

But, seriously, it was fun playing. I enjoyed creating two short stories following their guidelines:


Write a piece of between 1000 and 1,500 words in length. The only rule is that it must use both of the following sentences.
1. The land fell away from the road, leading to a row of elm trees, beyond which lay the unknown.
2. He (or she) held it in one hand and reflected on the shocking speed at which his (or her) fortunes had turned around, a longed-for moment that, even as it registered on him (or her), ceased to be a goal and became a memory.


...and making it my own.

Now, some may not like my stories... and that's okay.  I've written quite a few for this blog (and they're all copyrighted, so before you copy/paste, please ask permission), so if you don't like the (now ironic) tongue-in-cheek story of two elements of a good story coming together to form an epic in Best Laid Plans... or you cringe at the dark message in Broken, perhaps you'll enjoy The Burdens We Carry.

Without further ado, please enjoy!


Best-Laid Plans
  
     "'He held it in one hand and reflected on the shocking speed at which his fortunes had turned around, a longed-for moment that, even as it registered on him, ceased to be a goal and became a memory.'"  Enigami closed the book's cover and slumped down on its edge. 

     "That's it!  That's the last book, the last chapter, the last sentence of the last paragraph... and not one single, solitary word about us."
     Saedi sat down next to her friend and took his blue hand in her green one.  "Maybe there are other libraries we can search..."

     "No, Saedi!"  Gesturing with his free hand the vastness of the books freely embedded into the walls.  "This is the last library and this," He patted the book with his flat, fat hand, "...was the last book.  We've looked everywhere."  He placed his hand over the two they held, and looked into her round, white eyes.  "We're doomed to oblivion, I'm afraid."

     "No.  No, we can't be!  Maybe someone is writing about us right this very moment.  Maybe..."  Saedi kicked at a pencil.  It rolled to the edge of a notebook, paused, and rolled back toward them a bit before coming to a stop.

     "No more maybes.  People aren't writing about us anymore.  They're writing about celebrities... or about cooking or...  Oh, I don't know.  The same old thing a whole different way, I suppose.  There are no new ideas, no new imaginings, just books and books about reality and things which already exist."  Enigami stood, walked to the edge of the table, and looked down at the smooth, wooden seat of its chair.  "Doomed, we are."

     "Come away from the edge, Eni.  You're scaring me."
    
     "You ought to be scared!"  Enigami walked back over to his glossy friend.  "Once we're gone, we're gone.  G-O-N-E!  No one jotted us down in the middle of the night to remind them at daylight of their spark of inspiration.  We likely won't come back... together, anyway.  I may show up alongside some dull idea.  You could appear inside a blah imagination." 
     Eni bent down on one knee and took Saedi's hand.  "Together, we're brilliant.  Don't you see?  We're perfect together.  As we are.  Today.  In this moment."
    
     "How can you be so sure we won't come back together?  Someone else could pull us out together.  It happened this time, it could happen again."  Saedi looked into Eni's eyes.  "It could!"

     "No.  No, it won't.  The time is perfect for us to exist, now."  Eni sat.  "This may be hard for you to hear, but you're not my first match.  I've been down this road before, and through apathy, we were lost to oblivion.  Saedi... you and I had only one chance to make this right, and I'm afraid we failed."

     "Wait.  What are you saying?  There was one before me?  You were with another before me!"  Saedi stood with her back to Eni and held onto a sob. 
     "Were there more than just the one?  Or, am I just another in a long line?  Did you tell them the same lies you're telling me now?  That we're perfect together?  You're just saying that to save yourself!"  Saedi ran to the edge of the table and prepared to jump.

     "Saedi! No!"

     ...and, that's when they saw me standing in the doorway, watching them.  They appeared to be walking, talking Gumby dolls with spiky hair and bendable limbs.  Walking.  Talking.  Sitting.  Standing on a table in the middle of the closed library.  Just... unreal.

     Saedi ran back, and into the arms of Enigami.
    
     "I think he can see us.  How can he see us, Eni?"

     "I don't know.  We may belong to him."  Eni's eyes became small.  "Stay close."  He held Saedi tightly.

     I took a step towards them.  They took a step back.  I took another step, then another.  They matched me in reverse. They backed up to the edge of the book's spine, and sat once more upon the book.  They trembled in each other's arms.

     "You're not supposed to be able to see us," Eni said.

     "Then, it would seem I'm doing the impossible," I said, leaning in to examine them.  I put my face within slapping distance.  Saedi obliged. 

     Her hand smacked the tip of my nose.  It sounded like rubber hitting linoleum.  I barely felt it, but flinched just the same.  Eni smiled.

     "Who... what are you guys?"  I asked, pulling back and rubbing the tip of my nose.

     "Nothing.  At least, very soon we'll be nothing."  Eni said.  He pulled Saedi even closer to him. 

     "I'm not understanding," I said, sitting in the chair.  "You look like something to me.  Two very distinct somethings."  I reached out and gently touched one of the stubbly, blunt spikes on Saedi's head.
    
     "Hey! Stop that!"  She ducked her head and pushed at my finger.

     "So cool..." Her hair felt like rubber.

     Eni cleared his throat. 
     "Pay attention, Human!  Only rarely a magnificent idea is born to a great imagination, and once melded together on paper, they birth a beautiful creation that will live on for eternity."  Eni hugged Saedi. 
     "We are that one perfect idea and imagination.  Soon we'll disappear into the thin air whence we came, never to be seen again... together, anyway.  Our brilliant spark will cease to exist, or even be remembered for that matter, except for a slight pulling you'll feel in the recesses of your brain about a brilliant thought you once had but failed to act upon.  You'll never again be able to conjure us. 
     "So, you see, not only did you create us, by failing to nurture us, you'll eventually kill us."

     "How is your plight my fault?"  I asked.

     "Don't you see?  You've been given a gift of an idea."  Saedi sat up a bit on the book and pointed one of her three fingers at me. 
     "And, not just any idea, a brilliant one.  You have a choice to write about us and make us live on, or forget about us and watch us fade away. 
     "Either way, your choice, your fault!"

     "What can I do?" I asked.

     "Write about us!  Write about us now, before you forget.  And then, do something with the writings.  Don't put us in a drawer.  Sometimes that works out - one of your offspring or your landlord will open that drawer at some point after your death and find us, and then we may exist again."  Eni's eyes brimmed with tears.
     "More often than not, though, we're forgotten.  The house burns to the ground, or we're toted off in a cardboard box and into a storage shed, or trash pile.  Either way, our fate is the same: we disintegrate over time."

     "Disintegrate.  That's just a fancy word for die," Saedi said, and placed her head on Eni's shoulder.

     I picked up the pencil, and began writing on the notebook.  

     I kept writing.  

    The sun set, and rose, and set again.  Eni and Saedi stood by, giving me suggestions and urging me on when I became stuck.  I didn't stop writing until I'd finished the last sentence.  Then, together we revised, and revised again, until the words were perfectly placed on the pages; not one word too many, nor one too few. 

     I sat back in my chair, rubbed my growling stomach, and stretched my aching back.

     Eni stopped pacing, and read the last sentence aloud.     "'The land fell away from the road, leading to a row of elm trees, beyond which lay the unknown.' 
     "That's... that's just awesome," he said, and patted me on the forearm.  "Thank you, Human.  Because of you, Saedi and I will live forever."

     He took Saedi's hand. "Are you ready?"  He asked. 

     Saedi nodded. 

     I watched as they stepped onto the paper.  Their bodies flowed into one, and seeped into the written words, disappearing from the tangible and into the ethereal world.

     I sped home and typed up the hand-written manuscript.  I sent it off to a publisher whom I'd researched and believed to be the perfect house for it. I'd pledged to Saedi and Enigami I'd not let them die; they'd live forever in a book read and loved by millions.

* * *

     Months later, I received a thick letter in the post.  I held my breath as I carefully tore open the envelope. 

     This was it.  We had our answer. 

     I sat down, pulled the typed response from its shell, and began to read:

     "Thank you for submitting your manuscript for our review.  Unfortunately, I found the text too didactic in feel for my tastes, and do not think it would be a good fit for our list..."


pass the popcorn, please!