Category Archives: Writing Prompts

Blind- A Halloween Short Story

In honor of Halloween I thought I’d write another short(ish… ok not really too short) story. Um…I kind of thought I knew where I was going with this, and then I lost it. Sooo…it probably will mostly just seem like weird ramblings having some vague connection to Halloween while trying to have a message too and failing at both. But hey, I can’t just work out the kinks and post it another day…so this is as good as it gets. Here it is!

My pumpkin I carved this year.

          My pumpkin I carved this year.

Blind

Fred looked cautiously out the dark window into the foggy night. He was so sick of this. Always feeling the hairs on the back of his neck standing up. Always looking behind him. Always wondering if something was going to jump out of the shadows and turn on him. For days now he’d hardly slept.

He caught a glimpse of himself in a mirror, jumped at the very sight, trembled momentarily before trying to steady his already racing heart. Darkened shadows permanently affixed beneath his eyes greeted his sight. He looked at his greasy unkempt hair, his sunken cheeks. If he had once been handsome he didn’t remember when. The anxiety building within him was beginning to utterly overwhelm him. If this was his enemy’s goal then the man was succeeding.

Or perhaps man was too kind of a word.

Fred curled in on himself slightly on the couch, wondering when things had gotten so bad. His thoughts raced in frantic circles while he tried to steady himself, pull it back together.

Man, no. That was not the right definition. Though in his crazed state perhaps these things were better left unconsidered. He shuddered at the mere thought of his stalker, the fanged and furred menace that had only recently made him start questioning his grip on reality. Monster, yes.

The teenager wondered again briefly what might happen if he told someone. His parents perhaps. Would they send him to the  madhouse he so deserved? Perhaps. He wished for the seventh time that night that they hadn’t gone to the party. Maybe they could have protected him. Maybe he wouldn’t feel so alone and defenseless on this lonely Halloween night. Especially since some terrible beast was after him.

He’d been walking home probably two weeks ago when it had happened. A strange man with fangs and fur and claws had approached him, growled his name, chased after him when he fled. Fred could still picture those glowing feral eyes, the horns perched on curly hair. The little abnormalities that made this devil all too frightening to behold.

A knock suddenly echoed through the empty house, interrupting his memories. Fred froze in fright for a moment, before reassuring himself it was probably just trick-or-treaters out looking for candy and not really caring that the porch light was off. Idiots. He could be a child-molester, for all they knew.

Fred rose carefully from the sofa and ventured towards the door, carefully trying to avoid any line of sight from the windows, tiptoeing close. Another grave knock rang out in the house. Fred paused for just a moment before venturing a tad bit closer, peering carefully out the little window and hoping he wouldn’t be seen back. He sighed in relief at the sight before him, undid both locks and opened the door.

The girl standing there brightened at the sight of him, dark pretty eyes sparkling, lashes batting in amusement. Fred felt his heart lift slightly, pounding now for a different reason entirely as he took in the short ruffled skirt, fishnets, and low cut bodice. The pink did fine things for her coloring, brought out her fair skins hues, made her dark hair seem more lustrous.

“Princess?” Fred guessed.

She giggled and did a little curtsy that did nothing to lengthen the already ridiculously revealing skirt. “Yep. And what are you… a zombie?”

Fred gave a weak smile and glanced around, suddenly remembering what had caused his appearance to so rapidly decline. ‘Um…you’d better come in.”

He locked the door behind her, though she seemed utterly oblivious to the clicking of the bolts. She examined the house around her with careful attention to the details before spinning to face him once more all smiles. Fred shifted from foot to foot, trying to figure out what Morgana, the prettiest girl in his high school was doing on his doorstep on a chilly October night. Nonetheless he tried to put aside his confusion and fix a dashing presence to himself, asking her to have a seat and offering her something to drink.

Morgana let those long lashes flutter against her pale cheek, and smiled again, though this time with teeth. Had Fred not been exhausted he might have noticed right away, but it took him a minute. Fangs. There were two white glittering fangs situated amongst her other perfect teeth. And not the plastic kind either. They were too real for that. Fred took a step back, gulping. Beauty had never seemed so false.

“What’s wrong, Fred? Weren’t you offering me a drink?” she purred.

Fred shook his head and stepped back once again, back bumping awkwardly against a chair blocking his path. He tried to lubricate his throat enough to allow sound to escape, but his mouth hung open as dry as the cold fall air. Nothing came to him. His already sleep-deprived brain struggled to come up with something to say. Words failed him utterly.

“I think I’ll take that drink,” she whispered. “I think I’ll take it now in fact.”

In a childhood move, he closed his eyes as though hoping this might banish the terror before him. If you couldn’t see it, it couldn’t get you. Wasn’t that how it worked? He recalled years and years of pulling bedsheets over his head, hoping maybe this would keep the monsters away. But the monsters were here. And they were very real. And very much not deterred by him closing his eyes.

A soft breath fell on his bare neck causing more shudders to course through him in repulsion at the very thought of her so near him. What once would have had him shivering for different reasons now was utter disgust in his eyes. Soft lips descended and brushed against his collar, a mockery of something he might once have desired. Fred might have once desired to flee, but in his weariness there was nothing. Only the desire for it all to be over. The desire for sleep, dreams, and of course death. He presented his neck just as he might with an executioners axe, readying himself for the inevitable.

It never came.

A crash echoed in the little room. His eyes popped open gasping, looking at the girl before him who had been all too ready to sink her teeth into his throat, confirming what he had indeed imagined and feared. But his gaze was drawn back to the front window where his horned-assailant stood growling and snarling as his body tangled with the blinds he’d crashed into after breaking through the glass. The cool autumn air rushed to fill the room, replacing all heat with its biting chill. Fred breathed deeply trying again to steady his racing heart. The smell of rotting leaves filled his nostrils as wind rushed into the room.

“You Monster,” Morgana hissed. “Stay back, he’s mine.”

The creature still wrestling with the blinds snarled at her, eyes lighting in the darkness with something so utterly inhuman that Fred couldn’t even place it on the spectrum of emotion. He suddenly snapped to motion himself, pushing the chair to topple behind him and then backing further away from the beautiful girl so intent on sucking the very life out of him. Literally.

There was a moment of calm, and then everything happened at once. Morgana lunged at Fred causing him to topple backwards, just as the creature untangled himself and rose on shaky legs. He let out a growl and moved forward at a pace unknown to man. His clawed hands found Morgana’s body and grabbed for it, picking her up as though she was a Barbie doll. Fred again let his eyes close in a defensive reflex. He curled slightly in on himself once more, listened to the growls and screams before there was silence.

The rustle of the leaves on outside greeted his ears, but otherwise there was nothing. After a long moment he slowly looked up again, finding Morgana’s body strewn across the ground, the creature standing panting over it. Yellowed eyes found Fred and seemed to deem him unhurt.

“Why?” Fred managed to whisper, still not willing to rise from his place on the floor.

“Not all is as it appears,” the creature hissed, voice still a deep guttural groan that normally would have frightened the wits out of the boy. But he was already feeling crazed enough he didn’t flinch away. Merely looked at this strange beast that had guarded him, protected him, killed for him.

“No,” Fred whispered, pulling himself up to hands and knees and then slowly moving to stand. The creature growled and swooped forward, clawed hand catching the boy before he could tumble over. Fred’s eyes were drawn down to the sharp nails now resting lightly on his bare arm. There was such gentleness in the way he was held up, in spite of the deadliness that had caused Morgana to be killed.

“You must rest,” the creature said. “You need sleep.”

The boy didn’t protest, lost for any sense of energy or thought in the moment. This creature that had so driven him to this point, was now the one leading him back towards healing. How could that be? The girl he’d thought was beautiful was evil and mad. This creature he thought malignant had in fact disproved his trepidation by being his rescuer, and now his caretaker.

“What’s your name?” Fred asked gently.

If such a ferocious mouth could manage a grin this was it, the twisting of the corners, a little drool falling down a fanged tooth. “Costin. You are kind, asking such, Fred.”

The boy nodded, too wearied to get anything else out. “Was…was this why you approached me on the street?”

There was the briefest nod that Fred almost feared his addled brain had imagined it. The beast spoke once more. ” Seek to know no more,” he whispered.

His eyelids felt heavy. Had those parting words been a spell? Into the darkness his mind slowly crept, disallowing him from rejoining reality, whatever that might be.

-*-

Monday morning. Fred’s gaze could not be drawn away from Morgan Elliot’s form as she giggled and flounced across the checkered cafeteria floor. He remembered his dream so clearly, the strangeness of whatever had happened Halloween night still lingering in his mind. Morgana… No, Morgan, was busy giggling away with her friends, looking at him occasionally while batting those long lashes. He was trying to separate the dream Morgana from the real Morgan, but it was difficult.

On Saturday he’d gone downstairs to find no signs that his Halloween night had been a reality. There was no body, or broken glass. The room was put to rights and his parents asked after him with no sign that they’d sensed anything the least bit wrong. And Fred had been left to constant pondering about the strange enigma of that Friday October night.

He was drawn from his thoughts by Morgan’s shrieks.

“Monster, get away!” she hissed, baring her teeth in a disgusted grimace, dark eyes fixed on the boy who’d tried to sit at her table.

Fred looked up at that. Monster. It seemed too familiar. He fixed his gaze on Gus, the boy who had shuffled to his feet and was edging away. Fred’s heart clenched as he watched the boy’s uncertain gait move towards the nearest empty table.

After just the briefest moment pondering it over, Fred rose and marched past Morgan. She giggled and simpered at him, trying to reach out and grab his arm. He withdrew his hand as though burned, glared at her, and resumed his resolute walk to the previously empty table, slamming his backpack onto the bench and sitting down across from the rejected boy.

Gus glanced up, golden hazely eyes meeting Fred’s blue. He smiled a bit uncertainly, the grin lopsided as always on his somewhat disfigured face. Fred hesitated but smiled back at the boy, not knowing how he’d never seen it before. He’d never really looked at this other boy in earnest, never tried much to see beneath the scars of untold abuse and hurt, knowing so little beyond that this boy bore a face only plastic surgery could probably ever cure.

“Hi, can I sit here?” he asked.

Gus nodded, though there was just a moment of hesitance. “You’re Fred,” he whispered, voice hoarse as though not used to being taken up in speech.

Fred smiled. “Yes, I’m Fred. And you’re Gus.”

The boy’s eyes lit with something akin to happiness, though Fred probably would have gone so far as to call it joy. The deformed mouth stretched a bit more to try to accommodate his crooked teeth into a blinding smile. Fred let his own smirk rise to the occasion. Never had insane dreams had so sweet of consequences.

“Fair is foul, and foul is fair:
Hover through the fog and filthy air.

-William Shakespeare Macbeth

________________________________________________________________________________

Partially inspired by this prompt: http://themeasureofabook.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/writing-prompt-32/

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Closing the Door- a Writing Prompt

I made myself do a writing prompt today. I noticed short stories were one of the top votes for what people wanted more of, so here’s a short story in dedication of this weeks Daily Post Writing Challenge:

Write a new piece using Nighthawks by Edward Hopper as your inspiration.

nighthawks_by_edward_hopper_1942

So here’s my response to the challenge. Decided to just take my own thoughts on it and roll with it to create a short story.

Closing the Door

The door hasn’t opened since I’ve arrived. It’s a lonely night at Phillies, my typical haunt on quiet nights like these. The cold October air makes a nice cup of coffee in hand a welcome treat. I sip at the bitter drink with relish, glad of the distracting nip the heat gives my tongue. Makes it easier to forget the long work week I’ve had and the emptiness back home waiting for Annie to get back. Ill mothers in New York sure don’t make anything any easier. I’m getting sick of it to be honest.

Hal is working busily behind the counter. He turns and gives me a smile, obviously glad of the company on this lonely fall evening, only the pelting rain on the window giving any noise in the little room.

“Your dame gone again?” he asks curiously, wiping off the counter yet again til it shines. I almost pity the man, forced to try to find work to keep him busy. I hope business doesn’t stay too slow for long.

I smile at the question nonetheless. He always asks after Annie, even though they’ve never made acquaintance. Still, it’s nice to have someone to talk to about it.

“Yes. Caught a train sometime yesterday morning. Thinking maybe we ought to convince the mother to move closer. Can’t keep this traveling going every weekend. It’s not working.”

Hal nods understandingly, probably thinking of his own wife Linda back home with the kids. He’s a lucky man Hal. A wife. A family. I suppose it’s why I worry so for Phillies, not only for my own comfort but to keep this good man employed bringing back bread to put on the table. I often envy him, til I see how empty the place is.

I sip at my drink reflecting on that. I’m just thinking of getting something to eat when the door opens, a bell jingling merrily in its wake. I turn and glance, only to have my jaw drop at the sight before me.

A red-haired woman waltzes in, a man in a smart suit tagging after, holding the door ajar so she can saunter up to the counter and drop into a seat. My jaw is hanging half open, unable to believe it.

She leans against the dark wood, her arms in pale contrast. I gaze cautiously at the red dress adorning her slim form, the wide neckline, short sleeves, the flirty skirt riding up slightly as she sits down. Her dark heels click as she situates herself, turning the briefest glance to her companion beside her, his eyes darting anxiously back as though to ensure all is well.

The tension in every muscle of his broad shoulders is visible beneath the neat tailored lines of his suit, a puppy on the verge of doing some trick, trying to ensure he does it to perfection. His large hand reaches to join hers, swallowing it up. He sits calmly, tall frame hunching comfortably over the counter like his companion, knees folding up neatly to rest on the lower rung of the bar stool. He smiles, lips flitting up as his blue eyes journey back towards the woman who has so captivated his attention.

I sit there unsure how to even react. The cup of coffee in my hand has paused in its journey midway to my mouth, the harsh smell invading my nostrils, wafting into my mouth I’ve left ajar allowing me to taste the teasing steam. A basic instinct of wanting to flee happens first, then a second to rise and take action against events unfolding. But I do neither. Merely shut my trap with a loud clap and sit there gazing on at the scene playing out before me.

“What’s buzzin’ cousin?” Hal cheerfully addresses the man. “You and the girl having a nice night on the town?”

The man gives a crooked grin showing pearly white teeth, looking back at his companion for just an instant before settling into more easy conversation. “Sure are, aren’t we, doll?”

She gives a polite smile, hand moving to smooth the fabric of her dress. “Never better.”

“You two goin’ steady then?” Hal asks.

The man just shrugs, shoulders rising noncommittally to only semi-affirm anything. Hal chuckles seemingly pleased with this answer.

“The usual? Cup of joe?”

She nods and he answers for them both. I sit there feeling invisible for a brief moment, though it suits me well enough. I lean over my cup that’s redescended to the bar, sitting hunched with my fedora partly obscuring my face. Thankfully the couple is completely focused on Hal now handing over two steaming orders, smiling all the while.

“You sure are all decked out,” Hal says, still eager to make conversation as always in spite of the way the couple seems to be looking at each other as though asking for privacy. They seem caught in each other’s gazes, as two lovebirds too often are. “Special occasion?”

A rumbling chuckle comes from the man. “Just treating my baby. I’ve always loved spoiling her.”

“He sure is stuck on you,” Hal says. “Best wishes to you both.”

He turns towards me, but I’ve grabbed a newspaper and am taking to perusing it, though mostly my gaze is moving back and forth, not really paying attention to anything in print. The story in front of me is much more interesting. And I’m not giving up my observation for anything. Not when it seems so apparent that I’ve become utterly invisible to them both, able to view everything I normally wouldn’t.

They chat a bit, quietly amongst themselves, fingers lingering together against the dark wood, his large ones caressing hers. There’s a moment where I think perhaps I’ve been noticed, but curiously familiar eyes seem oblivious, focused only on the sight of love. Hal has busied himself again. He shoots me strange looks every now and then, but I’m just focused on the newspaper, my fedora low over my face.

After what seems an eternity the couple rises. The man thanks Hal with a bright smile, and takes the woman on his arm. She grasps it all too eagerly, clutching her purse in the other hand while looking ready to race out the door. To go home I can only assume, though to what I try not to let my imagination wander too far.

Hal bids them farewell. “Come again Andrew. Nice having you round the place again.”

He smiles and tips his hat to reveal the sandy blond hair underneath. For just a moment I fear he’ll turn and see me, but he doesn’t. And neither does his date, still hanging on his arm. Then the bell rings again as the door opens for the second time before shutting firmly behind them. I glance into the dark street and watch their shadowed forms disappear into the night.

“What’s wrong with you? You look like you’ve seen a ghost?” Hal questions, reaching over to grab their cups and clear the empty counter once more.

“I suppose I did,” I whisper, my voice breaking in spite of my desire to keep it together. I can’t help it. My throat clenches, eyes sting as tears attempt ruthlessly to break free from well designed barriers. “I suppose this means one thing…that Annie is dead to me.”

Hal blanches suddenly. “That’s Annie? You’re joking!”

I shake my head, unable to voice the truth in my broken state. Something in me feels like it’s been torn out. My chest aches, my stomach clenches painfully. I suddenly don’t even want to think of food let alone consume it, no matter how hungry I am.

“Oh Tom, I’m so sorry,” he whispers.

“How long have they been coming here?” I asked, though I’m unsure I want the answer. Everything is adding up now. The weekends in New York. The excuses. The phone calls to give reason for absence. It’d been becoming more and more. I suppose I always should have known.

“A few months,” Hal whispers. “I mean Andrew comes in here all the time with girls. But this one seems to be a keeper. I don’t usually bother to learn their names…I mean…it just isn’t practical. But if I’d known…I swear Tom I would have told you.”

I shake my head. I know full well it’s not his fault. He could never have figured it out. Not with how much he remains in the dark. I always should have known it wasn’t real. It’s me who should have shut the door long ago when I had a chance, when I first thought maybe Annie wasn’t really in love with me.

“What can I do?” Hal asks.

I push my coffee away and put a few bills down. “Take this. That’s it. I…I’ll figure something out myself.”

Hal nods, though he is still looking at me with lines in his usually youthful energetic face. I push off the bar stool, head towards the door, not eager to look towards him again to see the mixture of shocked emotions.

“I’m so sorry, Tom.”

“So am I.”

The bell tingles again overhead and I’m stepping out the door that opened only twice in my hour at Phillies. I shut it slowly behind me, and the sound echoes in the empty air. I wonder suddenly if this is the last time I’ll ever shut it. I don’t see why not. I walk down the same dark street their shadows traversed moments earlier. I walk into the night not looking back. Only knowing that the further I get from the light of the restaurant, the darker things will get. But perhaps that’s alright. I’ll let the night swallow me up, let myself forget awhile. Take my time and figure out how to face the reality, that nothing will ever quite be the same again.

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One Little Change- A Writing Prompt

I’m going with another writing prompt to get me going. I promise I’ll get back to some other more original works later too, but for now this is what’s getting me working. So here’s my response to Daily Post’s Weekly Challenge.

The idea that everything is connected becomes most interesting when applied to ourselves. For this week’s writing challenge, tell us about your own Butterfly Effect.

I suppose this post is very meaningful to me lately because I’ve been considering a lot of “what ifs” lately. I’m a senior about to graduate from college, and I guess I’m kind of looking back at how I thought life would turn out and wondering why it is that some events have turned out the way they did.

So with that in mind, I wanted to take what I was feeling and apply it to a fictional piece as I often find that’s a meaningful way for me to deal with emotions I’m handling at the present moment. So here’s my short piece I wrote.

One Little Change

It was one of those days my thoughts seemed to tarry and linger. And what eventually started as a cloud of memories soon became a torrent of swirling emotion, the raw inner feelings of my heart.

My gaze had centered in on a black and white photo printed on flimsy paper. I picked up the news and clutched it tighter, fingers wrinkling it along the edges, going so far as to tear through the fragile material. I pulled the article up closer to my face, the other hand moving to fiddle with my spectacles, adjusting the thick lenses to better peer down and seek out that name.

Anne Kristina Rask.

I could hardly breathe staring down at the small face that once had been so familiar, now wearing the marks of many years of life. I scanned the words over and over again, even as my vision blurred with the onset of tears. “Beloved wife and mother.”

Anne.

The memories came back as fresh as yesterday’s, somehow causing sixty years to blur and fade into the past. Her name caught on my tongue like it had back that night oh so many years ago. It was as though I was standing there, staring out at her bathed in moonlight, the sweet rain pouring down upon our heads in a rejuvenating baptism to our new youth. She laughed and caught my hand, the soft skin warm in my grip. I clutched at her, relishing the brief gift.

The sweetness of her perfume died with the lifegiving liquid, natural scent rising in its place, the waters washing away the small bit of pink lipstick dashed across her mouth, smeared from one too many kisses with her date. Her hair flattened back down, her dress clung to her body, nothing hidden. A return to the natural. A return to Eden.

My heart thumped loudly in the quiet of the street. Only the soft drip of the rain in the puddles, the occasional vehicle moseying along the deserted roads. There was silence, a chance to speak into the void. But my voice had been swallowed up, stolen from me. My throat was scratchy as I clutched that hand in mine and wondered.

There were moments it felt as though nothing else existed in this world. Just us in the rain, wandering down the lonely path hand in hand. And I wished it could last forever, drinking in every bit- the sight of Anne drenched, mud sloshing on the bottom of her pink dress, though she seemed oblivious to the dark stains growing round her. I breathed the fresh smell, the soft soothing sound, the dim street lights, all absorbed into me for that brief fleeting moment.

But there were too many wonderings looking back on it. There was too much lingering thought, despair tarrying in every bit of that scene. What if?

What if it hadn’t been raining? Then they would never have shared that brief moment. What if that car hadn’t passed by, sloshing water over their already wet forms, causing them to dissolve into laughter? Then I might have been less of an idiot and actually said what was on my mind. What if I hadn’t walked away from that doorstep all those years ago without saying what was on my mind?

Then it might have been me burying a wife. It might have been my children losing a mother. It might have been my ring on her finger, my love in her heart, my hand in hers forever and always. But my tight lips, my failing tongue, my garbling throat all let me down in my moment of need, causing me to flail about mindlessly and rather than speak what was on my mind, to declare instead I thought the night had gone rather swimmingly. When in reality all I’d wanted was to say the exact opposite, to declare that he was unfit for her and if only she’d see what was right in front of her she might truly be happy.

Might truly be happy…

I gazed down at the page, the smiling woman catching me with a full blow of mocking delight. And I was struck with the reality of what lay before me. Truly happy. She was. She had been. She had loved her husband, her children, her life. There was no hint that she hadn’t. And yet her life was like an original document, and mine a mangled and blotchy copy, trying its best to give the same picture, and yet failing miserably.

All these years. Years she’d spent cooking dinner, sitting on the couch holding his hand, going for walks, traveling, taking the kids to school, scribbling away with her elegant scrawl, lying beside her husband each and every night, growing old and dying still loved and cherished and remembered. And I’d done nothing but waste every hour, letting them slip through my hands like worthless sand, incapable of ever being returned again.

I sat there at the little kitchen table in my small apartment, listening to the rumbling tram go by. I swallowed down my grief with a sip of tepid coffee, tried my best to choke the feelings rising anew by crumpling the paper and tossing it uselessly towards the overflowing garbage pail.

What ifs had haunted me all my life. I had spent too long pondering a brief instant, and not enough pondering why I was allowing each and every day to pass without change, wallowing in my misery, sinking deeper in my despair.

I wondered now that grand what if I never had before, far weightier subject that my usual love drivel. I wondered what life would have been like if I’d let go, moved on, forgotten her. Perhaps things might have been different. A single day pushing myself to be social, to go meet other women, to simply take a walk rather than sulking in my lonesome apartment might have resulted in an entirely different outcome. The briefest change might have resulted in the greatest rebirth.

But who knows. Life is a mystery that way. One path unfolded, all others hidden.

The crumpled newspaper remained lying not far off from its eventual grave. I left it where it was, not daring to touch it again for fear of clinging. I pulled my eyes from it, suddenly seeing it for what it was. An omen of what had come to pass, of what would pass if I didn’t do something.

And so I left the trash where it was and went to sit on the lumpy couch. I noticed the book I’d been reading, dogeared and ready for the next book club meeting. But it was the little slip of yellow caught tight between pasty white pages that caught my attention.

My fingers fumbled to reach it, but eventually I was slipping a small scrap of paper out from its prison. I looked down at the gentle scrawl, the little numbers etched there for my bespectacled eyes to squint at. But I could make out what it was, and the intention, and the Scrooge-like thoughts I’d had as I shoved the little note back down into the other pages as though hoping the story might swallow it up like it usually did me.

I glanced towards the wastepaper basket. But that was done. An old life forgotten and moved on from. A new future writing itself out in the little slip in my hand. I reached for my dusty phone and pulled it up to press little buttons in sync with the numbers on the page. Her voice answered. I smiled and settled into a casual tone.

“Hello Clara. No…no reason. Just felt like a change…”

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Deepest Blue- A Writing Prompt

So I’m responding to yet another writing prompt in an attempt to get myself going on being productive. I’ve been impossibly uninspired lately, which has been frustrating. This response is a bit depressing as it’s from a very troubled character’s point of view. Anyhow, so here’s a little bit of a novel I’m currently in the progress of writing with this section written to fit the prompt.

Take a point in your story where a character is traveling, whether it’s a long or a short journey. Describe not only what your character sees, but also how it makes her feel, what it reminds him of, the emotions evoked.

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Deepest Blue

A rather unexpected journey met me that day. I don’t really know how it started, only that I went to my car with my backpack, hopeful to escape the realities of the day. I slipped into the driver’s seat and I was off, driving down the road without a second thought.

For a spring day in Washington the weather cooperated beautifully, sun shining, only a few sprinkles here and there. A rainbow stretched above me, a distraction painted in the sky. And a reminder of renewal, divinity, and promises. I took it as a blessing for my journey and I drove on.

Time faded, blended together, became some unchanging entity as I passed little seaside towns, gazed out at the ocean I’d finally fixed my mind upon seeing on my Saturday trip. Blue. Beautiful calming blue.

It brought back old memories of different times. Of being fifteen and begging a sign. Of closed eyes filling with a different color than the traditional black but instead of cleansing azure, cerulean, sapphire, the deepest richest shades imaginable dancing there before my very eyes. A sign. A symbol. Blue.

I pulled my eyes from the waves, not wanting to linger on these fleeting images of the past. After all, I’d been told doing too much of that was a poor idea. Then again I’d also been told not to drive anywhere by myself. Especially somewhere isolated. And here I was breaking that rule without a care in the world.

My driving came to a slow stop along a small rocky section of beach that didn’t appear to be private property, and yet didn’t seem to be highly popular either. I scanned the shore in either direction and saw no one. And so, I grabbed for my blanket and backpack, and set out to go sit on these lonely shores.

My gaze was drawn once more to the vast waters as I made a small safe place for myself. My little square of blanket on the rocky ground, a haven I’d invented, my hermit’s house, sitting on the rocky beach to look out upon the waters. I found the horizon let my eyes linger  there. I had only been to the beach twice before on family vacations, but I remembered even then how I felt drawn to the water, as though the ebb and flow of the tide was dragging me in with it, pulling me out to sea.

A buzz from my phone interrupted me, and I looked down to see Brielle’s name flash across the screen, the urgency magnified somehow by the quietness of the scenery around me. I looked at it for a brief moment, then placed the obnoxious electronic back into my bag to ignore for later.

I pulled out the paper, began scribbling down my thoughts.
The ocean had always represented the immensity of this life. And the minisculity of my own little brief blip of an existence. There was certainly a sense for me of standing before something that seemed so eternal and unchanging (though from a scientific standpoint I’m sure I might determine it is not). I felt ephemeral. Fleeting. And I allowed those feelings to linger in spite of all the past advice I knew would contradict it.

And then there was the little moment I considered simply going and walking into the waves, letting them close in over me in healing azure. And it would all be over and done. My blip would finish, cease to exist. And no one would remember any differently.

I rose once it was all down on paper and looked towards the sun sinking back into the sea, the ocean swallowing up the orange glowing orb in an illusion of power. Perhaps too this should be where my light is dimmed too, absorbed into these cold northern waters.

And yet I walked back to the car before temptation could take me.

I drove slowly. I tended to be careful in the first place, but today was different. I let people honk, speed past me, wave a finger at me in some disgusted manner. But I was indifferent, focused only on the asphalt bathed in orange light, the sparkling waters slowly disappearing back into the trees as my path carried me from the coast. I let myself drink in the scenery, wondered if I should hold onto the day or forget it ever existed.

The phone rang as I caught one last fleeting glimpse of sea. I answered this time, though with all that had traversed my mind I was too wearied to truly put the fakeness into my voice such a call would require.

“Hello?” I said as I pressed the button to put the phone on speaker.

“Where are you?” she asked immediately, her garbled voice still chiming with some level of anxiety through the little speaker.

“I went for a drive.”

“For half a day!” Brielle hissed.

I shrugged and then of course realized this was useless when conversing through a cell phone. “I felt like driving. I’ll be back in an hour or two.”

There was a long pause and I let it go, relieved to have a bit of silence for a moment, unused to voices after such a long period by myself.

“Did you think about what we talked about yesterday?”

I stared out at the road watching it wind and curve, to where I could not see, only because I’d looked up directions did I know it would take me home. Life. This was just like life. I was so caught in the beautiful image that I almost forgot to respond.

“Yes,” I whispered.

“And?” she asked, attempting to sound casual but the rising tone only adding to my image of her pacing through our shared living room.

“And I…I think I’m going to do it,” I said with a long sigh. “Just let me get home first.”

Brielle’s smile could be heard in her voice. “Really? Good, I’m so glad. Drive safely I’ll see you soon.”

I hung up and focused back on the winding road. I would drive it for now, enjoy the sights along the way. But Brielle was right. I required a destination, a goal. Life was short. I had minimal time to drive these roads. I settled into my seat as my eyes wandered to the taillights in front of me, night closing in fast. I’d drive in the direction Brielle had told me attempting to reach my target. And if not the gardens I so longed for, then I’d settle for the depths of the sea I had only narrowly escaped.

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Soaring- A Writing Prompt

I’m taking another writing prompt up this week to keep working on improving my ability to adapt to different writing situations. This one was quite fascinating and I was drawn to it right away. From Daily Post:

This week, consider the unreliable narrator — a classic storytelling device — in your own work, no matter your genre.

Unreliable narrators are fascinating. Whether it’s Nick in The Great Gatsby with his naive misunderstandings, or Faulkner’s three protagonists in The Sound and the Fury, or the mentally unsound woman in The Yellow Wallpaper, plenty of authors have demonstrated this is a fascinating writing technique and I was eager to try my hand in a short story. In an effort to not give anything away, I’ll inform my readers they are welcome to ask questions at the end or make guesses or discuss their own experiences with unreliable narrators. I don’t want to directly state what’s going on, but if any confusion needs to be made up please let me know! Thanks and enjoy!

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Soaring

The birds keep leaving and coming. Lots of them. I sit there watching behind the glass, wishing maybe I could have wings like the birds. Then I could fly away and never come back.

The lady keeps sighing as she looks around. She frowns and pulls out a box and pushes on it, and then sticks it back in the little bag she always carries. I don’t like that the lady is upset. I wish she’d smile. She looks kind of pretty when she smiles. But nothing like mommy.

Mommy was the prettiest lady there ever was. She took care of me. She made everything right.  My lip moves up and down like it does before my face gets wet. I hate when that happens.

We’ve been sitting for a long time. I’m tired and just want to lay down. If mommy were here that wouldn’t be ok. But mommy’s not. I wonder where she is. I miss her.

I hate when the big birds come towards the glass. I get scared and worry maybe they’re going to fly into the window. I hit the window one time. I don’t remember a lot. Only red paint on the glass after I hit it, and my nose feeling runny.

I paint a lot. Red paint. Or maybe mommy does. Lots and lots of paint. Everywhere. Sometimes that’s all I see. Paint. Sometimes mommy paints black or blue too. Sometimes when I look at the boy in the window I see he has black and blue paint also. Or sometimes he’s white like a ghost. Or sometimes he’s red.

The lady looks at me again. I wonder if she paints. I kind of hope she doesn’t. Painting always makes me feel tired and sad and makes me hurt.

A voice like God rings out around the room. I cower and cringe at it. It’s happened several times, but I don’t like it anymore. I think God is angry mommy’s not here. She’s supposed to look after me. She’s supposed to make sure I’m good so God doesn’t get angry. I’m probably not being good anymore.

The lady stands up. Maybe this time she heard God too. She usually hasn’t acted like she heard it. No one else does either. They just sit there and look at papers and talk and put boxes to their ears and talk some more. But this time people get up. They must know God is angry.

“Come on,” the lady says suddenly, frowny face still in place. When I don’t move she says a weird word I don’t know. I don’t understand so I keep sitting. When will mommy get here?

She sighs and grabs my hand. I pull away a little, scared she’s going to do something bad. I don’t know what. Just bad. God was angry earlier, maybe she knows he’s angry with me.

My hand is in hers and she makes me get up. We walk over to two people standing at a weird high table. They smile at us and the lady hands a piece of paper over.

“Have a good flight,” the lady says. Flight? Are we going to fly like the birds? I feel one part nervous one part scared. It’s like when mommy let me have the brown sweet drink with floating little circles in it, and it made my stomach feel all weird but in a good way.

We walk down a long tube to a door and then through that. The lady holds my hand tightly as we move into a tiny little room, but as I turn I see it is really really long, with rows and rows of seats. Another lady smiles at us as we walk on. She looks at me and then looks kind of funny. It’s like the look the people who came to visit gave me before they brought me to the weird bird place.

“You okay sweetie?” she asks.

I look up at the lady, not sure what I’m supposed to say. She frowns.

“He’s had a long day,” she said quietly. “We’re taking him to Salt Lake to live with his relatives…was removed from his mother’s house.”

The other lady makes a surprise face. I push my new shoe in a line on the floor and look at it so I don’t have to look at the ladies anymore. They make me feel bad.

We go sit down in a row. I sit next to a tiny oval window. I look out and see more birds, and the glass windows I was looking out of earlier. I smile as I watch the birds fly. So far no one seems too mad at me. Maybe things will be ok. Maybe God wasn’t telling them I was being bad.

The lady leans over. She says that weird word again I don’t think I’ve ever heard before. Tyler? “Have you ever been on a–?” she asks. The words are mixed up like when mommy puts things in her little can and pushes the buttons and they spin up and mix all together like goo. I don’t know what she said.

I shake my head, not understanding at all.

“We’re going to lift off the ground in a few minutes,” she says. “But don’t be scared, ok?”

Lift off the ground? I look out the window again and picture what it’d be like to fly with the birds. Sometimes when I was with mommy I’d look at the birds in the tree outside and think how nice it would be just to fly off into the blue sky. Fly all the way to heaven since mommy told me I’d never get there. But maybe if I had wings I could.

The lady helps put a belt around me and then there’s more voices from God, but he sounds different from before. And I sit back and try to relax even though my chest keeps going up and down really fast. And then suddenly the long skinny room is moving and when I look out the window the building is getting further and further away. I clutch at the little bars next to my arm and stare outside.

We go faster. And faster. Soon we’re racing. Faster than I ever could run. And then suddenly there’s this strange weird feeling in my tummy and we’re suddenly looking out at the ground moving further and further away. And I feel so strange and good at the same time, and my ears hurt a little, but not too much. And before I know it I’m staring down at the small little world beneath me, soaring into the big blue sky.

“You’re going to be ok, Tyler.” The lady says, but I don’t need her to say it. I already know. A smile blooms on my face. I’m finally free.

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“Monster”- Writing Prompt Response

“When he went to call for help, he found that none of the phones were working.”

So, I’m doing another writing prompt. Because you know what, I could use the practice. This week’s been one of those where my writing just shut down for no apparent reason. Characters stopped talking, and now I’m just stuck in a rut unable to write. So here goes nothing. Warning, this does contain some depictions of violence/blood. Don’t read if that bothers you.

The prompt: When he went to call for help, he found that none of the phones were working.

The website: https://wordpress.com/read/post/id/43593288/3543/

The response: “Monster”

Kenneth woke in a haze, eyes unable to really see properly. His brain couldn’t quite process all that readily. All he knew, was that something was wrong.

It was one of those inexplicable things. He knew. Something wasn’t quite right. As he rose from his bed to sit a little, looked around. The moonlight reflected a silvery glow over the room. But nothing seemed too out of the ordinary.

Convincing himself he was being stupid, he stumbled out of bed. His throat felt dry and he needed water. Honestly, had he swallowed a sponge? This was ridiculous. He swallowed a few times to try to ease the slight burn that had developed.

Kenneth wandered down the hall towards the bathroom. The trees swayed outside in a chilling wind, casting dancing shadows along the wall, ominous in the gloom. The teenager paused and looked out the windows briefly, heart beating surprisingly fast, fearing for a strange moment that someone would be watching him from outside.

Honestly, what was with him tonight? He wasn’t a little kid still scared of monsters under the bed. He shivered and pushed on, going towards the bathroom to get a drink. And that was when he suddenly noticed the first thing that was clearly off.

His little sister’s door was open.

Gina always insisted on having it closed. Even at eight she had a weird thing about privacy and hated people looking in her room. Probably because it was such a mess, was Kenneth’s guess.

And night was no exception. Gina seemed to think having doors closed kept monsters out. Kenneth wasn’t really sure there was logic in that, but hey, who was he to argue.

Chills ventured down his spine as he approached the room. Maybe she’d just gotten up to go to the bathroom too. Maybe he wasn’t the only one who couldn’t sleep.

Peeking around the door, he glanced in at the room, a solitary nightlight helping to bathe the room in an orange glow, illuminating the chamber for him to see if his sister was still there.

“Gina?” he whispered curiously. She was on her bed, lying there quietly. So no, that disconfirmed his bathroom theory.

He thought about just closing the door and going back to bed. But for the second time that night, he was sure something wasn’t quite right. And gazing further, rubbing his bleary eyes a pinch, he noticed the red.

Blood.

Blood, soaking into a puddle beneath his sister’s body. Blood, dripping from her small fist that hung off the side of the bed. As he walked closer shaking, he could see it all over. Coating her. Covering the white coverlet, her pale skin, staining her blond hair. He shuddered in revulsion, momentary panic throwing off any other actions. Blue eyes stared up at him unseeing, and he didn’t have to take a pulse to know it was too late.

Letting out a scream he fled from the room. All he wanted was to get away, pull the sight of Gina’s body from his mind. His parents. He had to find his parents.

Throwing their door open without a second thought, he dashed into the master bedroom. And yet his mind was seeing double now. Two figures in bed. Two bloody puddles. Two lives he’d just lost unexpectedly.

Kenneth grabbed for the phone on his mom’s bedside table, tried to tear his eyes from what he could barely make out in the darkness. And yet the phone only buzzed in his ear, the simple tone that told him something was wrong with the line.

His gaze felt blurred again, though this time not from sleep. Wetness on his cheeks alerted him to the fact that he’d involuntarily begun to cry. He wiped an arm over his face, smeared the hot tears away. He had to be strong. Even with this devastating loss. Then again…he began to realize whoever had done this could still be in the house…

Terror made it hard to focus for a moment. Although he’d chastised himself for thinking of monsters earlier, it was hard to ignore such thoughts now. Monster. Monster. There was a monster in the house. Or at the very least a murderer. Here. With him.

Adrenaline pumped through suddenly. Any sleepiness still remaining was instantly pushed away in the chemical rush, his mind alert at the thought of a murderer possibly being around. He had to get help. But more than anything he had to get out of here.

The teenager pushed himself into action, sprinted for the door like he was running the 100 meter. His heart was out of control, pounding like crazy as he made for the door, tore down the hall. All he wanted was to live. Survive. Not end up like the three bloody corpses lying behind him.

Kenneth made it out the door. Where to now? He panted and stared around, shivering in the cold night air. He had to find help. But where? What now? A car! Was that a car!

His eyes found headlights coming towards him. He shielded his eyes as he spotted flashing red and blue lights. Sirens. There were sirens! He could have cried for joy.

Kenneth moved forward as the cops pulled up. He could have hugged them he felt so relieved. But to his surprise, the first action of the man to come out of the car was to point a gun at him.

“Hands in the air!”

Kenneth paused, confused. This night had been nothing but one mess after another. His hands found their way above his head, exposing his bare chest. Neighbors were stepping from doorways to see what was happening. The teenager stood still as cops moved forward, one coming up to pat along his body, sliding hands down over his boxers. Why was he being searched? This made no sense. And before he could do anything else his hands were being cuffed and words he’d only heard on television were being said to him.

Right to silence? Right to an attorney? Kenneth’s head swam as he was pushed into the vehicle. Neighbors were staring at him, whispering, arms crossed, judgmental glares being forced on him against his will. What had happened? For the first time he felt fully aware, looked down to see the crimson that had been so apparent in his early visions. Blood. There was blood all over him. There was a scream. And then darkness.

-*-

Officer Royer stood behind the glass window looking into the interrogation room. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes before taking another sip of coffee. This was like something out of a nightmare. He glanced up as the head of the department walked in. The man’s grey eyes fell upon the blood covered teen sitting in the small room.

“What happened?”

“We’re not sure,” Royer said with a shrug. He looked back in the room. “Triple homicide…the Farkas family.”

“And the boy?”

“Found with blood all over him,” Royer said, shivering a little as he looked in at the sixteen year old boy sitting there. The horror in the kids face was immeasurable. “Says he woke up and went to get water. Found his family dead. When he went to call for help, he found that none of the phones were working. Ran into the street. We’d had a tip from a neighbor, said she’d heard a lot of noise. We found him out there. Kid seemed dazed. Didn’t seem to even process he had blood on him. Passed out in the car on the way over.”

The older officer stood quietly, looking into the interrogation room at the boy. He looked so lost. Confused. Could he really be the violent murderer of the three members of his own family? It seemed so unlikely. And yet proof seemed undeniable. Blood all over the kid and tracking between the various rooms.

“Kinda spooky don’t you think?” Royer said, pulling him from his thoughts.

“Spooky? A boy who just turned sixteen possibly murdering all his family?” the officer demanded, furrowing his eyebrows.

“No sir….the animal like killings…they say there are teeth marks and claws and such…” Royer broke off looking at him.

“So?” he said skeptically, still not quite getting it.

“So…kind of weird on a Halloween night…” Royer said with a shrug. He headed towards the door. “I’ll push him a bit more. Maybe get something else out of him. Guess that theory about the full moon doesn’t seem so false anymore. Guess weird things do happen.”

The officer looked in on little Kenneth Farkas again as the door shut behind Royer. Blood all over translucent white skin. Unanswerable questions for all of them. Weird things indeed.

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To the Grave- a writing prompt

So I recently ran across a super great blog idea of posting writing prompts every week and then linking favorites on Friday. I thought this was fantastic. And though I don’t feel I have the time or energy to do so, I’ve been trying to put more of my actual writing up rather than just posts about writing. If others want to do so as well I’ve posted a link. So here goes nothing.

The website:

http://bumblesbooks.wordpress.com/2014/09/15/monday-nostalgia/

The prompt:

Find a place that fills one of your characters with nostalgia. Write a brief scene showing why that place is so important to him or her.

The character:

Lucian (I have never posted him before, so this is a first)

The location:

A graveside

The response:

It’d been a while since I’d last visited. The last time had been before all the recent chaos of my life. Revolution does strange things to people. I suppose I’m no exception.

But crouching there on the grass, I could forget some of what was going on. Responsibility, the weight of what I needed to do, drifted away from me and allowed me the freedom to merely stare down at the gravestone, trace my fingers along the words graven there. And remember perhaps a happier time back when the world seemed so much simpler.

Sometimes, though not always, I feel the need to talk to the stone. As though he was still there rather than lying gone and buried beneath the ground, whatever remnants of his soul remained going to some other distant place. And I suppose today was no exception.

“You have another grandson,” I remarked quietly. I paused a moment, listening merely to the swaying of the trees in response to my soft words. They seemed my only living audience, though I still clung to the hope that somewhere out there he was listening.

“He’s beautiful,” I whispered again. “He…he has your eyes.”

I blinked a few times as my vision swam in sudden unexpected sorrow. After all this time one would think I’d long forgotten how to cry. But there are some wounds even time cannot fully heal. And the destruction of this one human I truly loved was no exception. The words I wanted to speak caught in my throat like too much dry bread. I fixed my own matching eyes down at those carved words again, thinking of the baby boy I’d so recently held with eyes as green as the forest that surrounded me. Eyes like this place that had once been his home.

“I wish you could have seen him,” I said. The trail of my words was not quite one I could follow. But perhaps it was better that way. I’d simply allow them to flow, to come from my soul rather than my mind.

“I miss you…I know…I know we didn’t have much time together…that mother never wanted us to meet much…but the brief moments I had were good. And I felt I learned so much from you. I…I only hope I can pass that on to my own son.”

There’s a long moment where I sit still, breathe in the fresh air, listen to the birdsong. I become so absorbed that for a minute I think I’ll simply sink into the forest landscape and become one with the soil, the plants, the animals. Away from my life, away from the heavy burdens fate has chosen to place upon me.

But to do so is foolishness. All it takes is the thought of my wife’s smile. My children’s happy voices. My new son’s little hand reaching out to clasp mine. I am not my father. My time in this world is not yet done. One day I’ll join him. For no man ever escapes death’s cold grasp. But there are those who need me.

I stand. My hands reach automatically to brush the dirt from my breeches, pushing away my reminder of this humble place I’ve chosen to spend my afternoon. The fine fabric beneath my hands reminds of how soon forest will give way to hallowed hall, sunshine replaced by torches and candlelight. Though I’d like to pretend I belong in these woods like this humbled man buried off where few know his resting place, it is not the life I’ve chosen.

“I love you, father,” I whisper.

The sentimentality drifts away on the wind as I walk back down the trail towards the main road. I allow myself to harden again, brush tears away, push the feelings from my mind. I must be strong. For the sake of my son, my family, all those who depend on me. But most of all for the father I wish to uphold in honor. For the man who died in the braveness of battle, who inspired me to live without fear. For him will I live. For him will I remain strong.

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