Just so you know, I haven’t completely fallen off the face of the planet, but I have been hiding in the shadows. I’ve been in a major funk for some time now and have been trying to get out of it, although nothing seems to be working. I haven’t felt like reading, writing, crafting… pretty much anything that has an “ing” at the end of it. I have been designing a book cover for a nutritionist who is marketing her nutrition plan. She’s publishing an e-book and a softcover complete with worksheets, etc. So I have that keeping me going for the moment.
Honestly, other than that I have been obsessed with Candy Crush, Candy Blast Mania and Farm Family. I don’t know why, but I’m drawn to match 3 apps, lol. And I started playing The Secret World again. And lately, my daughter has had me trying out different games on the Xbox/PS3. I played Dead Island for like 12 hours straight the other night. Apparently, living in a fantasy world is the only thing that gives me any joy.
I need to go back to the doctor, but I keep putting that off. It’s come to the point where leaving the house literally gives me fits of anxiety. Unless I can drive through, the thought of walking in anywhere where there’s people urks me. I don’t think it’s so much the beginnings of Agoraphobia as it is being embarrassed of what I look like. Not to mention that even walking from room to room kills my back. Everything does. Even bending over to pick something up sends pain shooting up my spine. It’s a catch 22. Exercising is the only way to get better, but the physical pain from exercising prevents me from doing it. The only thing that helped was when I walked around the pool (because of the weightless factor) but now the pool’s been taken down until next season and I can’t afford to pay for any gym pool access.
ANYWAY, this is just me ranting so I’ll stop for now. Just wanted to let anyone who was wondering where I was know that I’m still alive and kicking. I miss the weekly writings, hopefully I’ll get back into it soon.
[Thank you, God! ...they finally changed the elements of posting from the "new post" button on your WordPress toolbar. It was supposed to be a quicker way to post, but I found it took more time because you had to go back in to edit your category, etc...nooicce!]
So, back to reality. I am leaving for Sanibel Island for a few days next week and I wanted to make sure I had enough reading material to carry along. Mainly, I’ve been on an educational kick, so the last two library trips have resulted in a pile of Creative Writing go-to’s. This last trip I picked up a book titled Now Write! Mysteries. I am not particularly interested in mysteries but this book has an interesting amount of advice and exercises from various authors and to be honest, a lot of it wasn’t genre specific. It looked to be a good book so I went ahead and got it. I’m glad I did, because it has turned out to be very useful and a fun read to boot. There’s a lot of great tips and there is a useful (and I stress this because sometimes the things they come up with are totally fruitless) exercise on almost every other page. I found myself wanting to doggy ear about half the pages and realizing this was a library book, decided to see if I could order it online. I not only found it, but they also had Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror…. and …. Now Write! Fiction Writing (which I believe was the original in the series).
So, being an Amazon nerd, I ordered them and got 2 day free shipping to boot. I was able to find used versions, so I paid a very bargain price and got both of them in the mail today. YEAY. And in brand new condition, I might happily add. So, I have tons and tons of reading & writing to do. One thing about me: I have a fetish for fill-it-out-yourself books (like the kind that ask you about your memories) and books that have writing exercises. I am an addict of the [literal] written word. I’d hand write everything if it were up to me and find any excuse I can to do just that.
It was dark. Too dark. The cold night breeze wrestled with the tips of Callie’s hair as she fumbled for the keys to her front door. She should never have driven herself, even if the bar was only blocks from their small home. She glanced back at the sedan parked crooked in the gravel drive and giggled. Nika was going to kill her for taking up both spots but there was no way she was going to attempt to straighten it out. With as much alcohol as she’d consumed she was lucky she’d made it back in one piece.
Thump. It sounded like it came from inside though it couldn’t have been Nika already. Callie had left her back at the bar less than ten minutes ago and she had still been playing Saturday Night Fever out on the dance floor.
She finally found the right key and slid it into the deadbolt. The lock clicked and she pushed in the door. Thump. This time a little louder and definitely from inside.
Callie stumbled over the spinning threshold wishing that she’d stopped at her second round of drinks. But no, she’d chosen to drown her broken heart in the form of lemon drops. Then of all the places Danny could have gone he shows up at O’Malley’s. It was bad enough he had already started seeing someone else but for her to come face to face with her replacement was too much.
Thump. There it was again. Probably Mr. Whiskers, Callie thought. Her fingers deftly felt for the light switch. She nearly face-planted when light finally flooded the room.
“Here silly Kitty,” Callie called, kicking off a high heel and throwing her purse onto the coffee table. It landed with a soft thud and tipped over, flipping it and all of its contents onto the floor.
“Shit,” she muttered, kicking off her other shoe on the way toward her bedroom. “Screw it. I’ll get it in the morning.” All she cared about at that moment was squeezing into her pajamas and crawling onto her nice warm pillow top.
“Here kitty, kitty,” she called out again and smiled when Mr. Whiskers nuzzled her, running the length of his body against her leg. She pushed open the bedroom door fully and bent down to pick up the fat tabby. His fur was soft and comforting in her hands and at that moment Callie knew that after everything that had happened this past year, she wouldn’t have made it without Mr. Whiskers. Suddenly, the fur on the cat’s body stood up and its ears flattened, a low growl escaping his throat. Callie let him jump to the ground where he crouched and slowly made his way back into the living room. Something had his attention but a wave of nausea assaulted her and she remained sandwiched between the open doorway.
For a second the room spun on its axis and her drunkenness returned full force, bile working its way up her esophagus. She turned on her heel and headed for the bathroom, barely making it to the small tiled room before emptying her stomach and all its contents into the toilet. She slumped to the floor, both hands on either side of the seat and continued to dry heave. All this over a stupid guy, Callie thought, tears pooling at the corners of her eyes. She leaned forward, placing her cheek against the cold porcelain. It felt cool and oddly comforting against her flushed skin. Her stomach began to settle and when she closed her eyes sleep crept up on her.
* * *
Nika checked her phone for the tenth time in as many minutes. She had texted Callie over an hour ago and still had no response. She should never have let her go home by herself. Correction. She should never have dragged her out in the first place. She knew her friend wasn’t ready but she couldn’t take another night of her moping around in her pj’s watching reruns of I Love Lucy while she stuffed her face with moose tracks ice cream. Daniel was an ass. Everyone knew it. Had known it from day one. But it was Callie’s life and she was about as stubborn as they come.
What she hadn’t expected was for Daniel to show up, current hussy in tow, to stomp all over Callie’s already broken heart. Jackass. He had even had the balls to ask Nika how Callie was doing. That conversation had ended abruptly when Nika told Daniel to take his pseudo-concern and shove it up his ass.
She slid her phone back into her pocket and grabbed her shot from the bartender, slinging it back in one gulp and slamming it down on the bar top.
“Woah,” a familiar voice said. “Looks like someone is having an off night.” She turned around to find the cock-eyed smile of Sheriff Brady beaming down at her. Nika was tall but still he towered over her, his entire frame filling her vision. At six feet five inches, Rick had been the town’s pride and joy during his high school reign as Lehi Acres prized Center. But an accident his senior year had stifled any chance he had at pro status. Years later the towns people still loved him, making his progression from officer to Sheriff a very easy win.
“Just worried about Callie,” she explained signaling Max, the bartender, for a beer this time.
“Yeah, I saw her ex a little while ago. Almost gave his new trophy tramp a citation for indecent exposure.”
Nika almost choked on her drink but managed to swallow it first. “That’s awful, Rick!” she chuckled.
“She deserves better.”
“Speaking of…” she nudged him with her elbow. “Now that she’s free, you should finally ask her out. You and I both know it’s been a long time coming.”
He winked and turned his attention to a man who’d called to him from the end of the bar. “I’ll catch up with you later,” he said and as suddenly as he’d appeared he was gone.
For a moment her spidey-senses tingled and an uneasy feeling swept over her. Someone was watching her. She took another swig of her beer and glanced around. A lot of the same faces filled her view, regulars who frequented the bar, but it would be almost impossible to place them all. Besides, no one was interested in her. She downed the frothy remains of her long neck and threw Max a tip. It was almost last call and she wanted to get home to Callie.
Stopped by unannounced, found them together.
That moment has defined the last 5 years of my life and is my contribution to Thain in Vain’s Flash Fiction Challenge for week 29… A story in 6 words, a la Hemingway.
It’s amazing how disconnected I start to feel when I stop posting. I’ve been working rock steady on my best friend’s wedding invitations, trying to get them ready to mail out by Monday. I was trying to make things easier and cheaper for her by hand designing them and doing all the work myself. In this case, I definitely ended up biting off more than I could chew. I came up with (what I thought at the time) was a brilliant idea. And all it would take was cardstock and a couple of packages of black card/envelopes that I had worked with before. Yeah. Well. I ended up having to use a LOT more supplies than I had originally purchased (luckily I already had quite a bit that I didn’t have to buy, but now I’m out of a lot of my own stuff) and let’s just say I’m never going to take on this particular project again. Don’t get me wrong, I think the invitations turned out absolutely beautiful and for her I would do almost anything. But if I were to do them for strangers and charge for them, not only does the cost not really equal out, the actual amount of time it is taking me is insane. I started designing them around the 4th of July and between the graphic designing and cutting the cardstock and printing each layer and then attaching each layer by hand, it literally ended up probably taking more than 60 hours. And I still have to finish the covers and address & stamp the envelopes. There’s 100 invitations and each invite has 4 layers and then a cover design.
Anyway… I totally got off track. The whole point of my post was to say that I haven’t had time to breathe the last 2 weeks, much less attempt to write anything. And it’s made me realize that outside of my tiny little part of the blogosphere, I have no interaction with human beings. So when I don’t have anything on my blog for people to respond to, I feel very lonely. How sad is that? Lol.
So here I sit. 90 invitations put together with 10 to go. Then it’s on to the covers. Then finally I can seal and address them all. Then I can get back to writing. For a bit, anyway. I’ve started to realize quite a few things about me and writing that have caused serious doubts as to whether I’ll continue to do it or not. There are a LOT of things I’ve been questioning as of late. Writing is just the tip of the iceberg.
Okay. So I realize I’m not a famous author with a shitload of novels under my belt. Or one, even. So who am I to judge or criticize, right? But I am so tired of playing nice.
Personally, when I write something, I’m not looking for a pat on the back and a “Good job!” That’s kind of like writing Have a great summer! in someone’s yearbook because you have no fucking clue who they are but somehow winded up with their book in your hands. I want feedback. Genuine feedback. No one can ever stop becoming a better writer. And part of that is relying on your audience, whoever it may be, to give you their honest opinion. Good or bad. So when people flatter others with dishonest feedback just to be nice, they’re only doing harm instead of good. Its giving a false sense of confidence and for some people that’s enough for them to think they have nothing to work on.
I’ve had the saying “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all” shoved down my throat since I can remember. But in this aspect, it’s a real Catch 22. As a general rule, it crosses my mind almost every time I read a post on the internet. But when I see posts that are written so badly I can’t even stomach finishing them with comments like “nice job” or “well done” or some general claim about the character (ie: “wow, I don’t know if I’d have the guts to do what they did) because they don’t want to flat out lie with even a nice job or a well done, it kills me. Especially when I want to scream at them that their grammar was atrocious, their punctuation ridiculous or that three adverbs in a row does NOT a descriptive setting make.
Don’t lie to me. Don’t tell me it’s good when it’s not. I hate fake flattery. I want people to let me know that my dialogue was weak, my characters didn’t feel genuine or the writing was perfect but the story was downright boring. You can mix the good with the bad, but I want the truth and all of it. The more you tell me, the more I know which areas I do or don’t need to improve on.
So herein lies my problem. I’ve developed a close relationship with some of my readers and others in the writing communities I participate in and I don’t want to lose them or others by seeming critical (even though its NEVER meant to be mean or hurtful, strictly constructive). If I offer advice, it’s because I think you’re worth the time. If I say I liked your writing, I genuinely mean it.
I don’t want to say nothing at all just because I’m not boosting their egos into outer space. And because little white lies aren’t my style, I want to be able to say, “Hey, the story was neato-skeato but the writing felt way too technical. Like I was reading an educational pamphlet instead of a work of fiction” and not come off as a bonafide byatch.
To speak or not to speak… that is the question.
A couple of weeks ago I posted “Sometimes They Come Back“, a 50 word flash fiction piece for June’s competition. If you thought it was winning material then take a few seconds to vote for me before July 12th! Voting is open to anyone, so all it takes is a click of the button… well, two if you count clicking on the link to get there. ;)
Originally posted on elizabethfrattaroli:
What an interesting month and a heartening response to the 50 word micro fiction prompt. Who knew you could get such a mix of complete stories, genres and topics in such a restricted word count! I would like to thank all who took part and think you will agree that there are plenty of strong entries to choose from when it comes to casting your vote. Remember, voting is open to all whether you entered something into the competition or not and the voting poll is now attached for you to vote for your favourite entry.
In a change from normal procedure, voting will remain open until the 12th of July as I am about to enter a cyber black hole… As usual however, the winner will then get to set the next writing prompt. Good luck to all who entered. :)
Who will you vote for? Remember, voting is open to all, so make sure that…
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Out in the real world, they were convicted criminals. Killers, rapists, monsters; all the things that go bump in the night. But inside these walls they were victims. And I was the only voice they had left.
Most people would say that they’re getting what they deserve. Because all those people see is the horrific image the media paints of the man being stabbed. A witch hunt to crucify the first scapegoat that happens along. What they don’t see is the glee in his eyes as he taunts the other man. The pleasure he takes in admitting the body of the other man’s wife will never be found.
So here I was. Six months and eight letters later at the Florida State Prison. Here to talk to Kyle Manning, to tell his story.
The lights above me were bright, harsh. Their constant buzzing echoed in the otherwise quiet room. A deputy stood just inside the doorway, his arms crossed over his chest, still and silent. I smiled at him, his stoic demeanor holding steady. I had already been waiting for over an hour and each minute lent more to my overworked imagination.
He’d be tall for sure. Huge and overbearing, veins p.opping out of his forehead. It was like being on a blind date. Except he wasn’t a school teacher. Or a graphic designer. Or a garbageman. Well, in all fairness he could have been any of those things. But not now. Now he was a convicted felon. On Death Row for the murder of a man he hardly knew.
The door finally clicked and swung open. My nerves did a swan dive into my stomach as two officers escorted him into the other half of the room. He wore an orange jumpsuit, his hands cuffed and chained to shackles that surrounded his ankles. A strange feeling washed over me as he trudged over to the bolted down stool. He was nothing like I had expected. His hair was long, wavy. Probably grown in the months he’d been locked up in this place. A days worth of shadow lined his jaw, setting off deep cheekbones and a wide mouth. But it was his eyes that caught me off guard. They were the tiredest eyes I had ever seen. Like everything inside him had given up and curled into a lifeless hazel cloud.
“Hello, I said.” He shook his head and brought his hands, still cuffed together, up to point at the mounted telephone.
Oh. I picked up the receiver from my side of the plexiglass and put it to my ear.
“Hello,” I said again. He looked at me through the window, his face impossible to read.
“My name’s Abigail Lawson.”
“I know who you are Ms. Lawson.” His voice was deep, gravelly, a southern drawl faint but still present. “You’re very persistent.”
“You don’t want my help.” It wasn’t a question.
“There’s nothing you can do.”
“They still haven’t found your wife.” That struck a chord. Pain flashed in those hazel eyes for a brief second and I think I fell in love with him a little bit even then. Everything about this man screamed innocent. The second I laid eyes on him only confirmed my gut instinct.
“And you think you can?” Ridicule fueled his words.
“If nothing else I can remind them not to forget about her. She’s out there somewhere. Dead or alive. Don’t let her die with you.”
“What do you want to know?”
I pulled out my tape recorder and hit record. “Start from the very beginning.”
Written for FFC52 week twenty 27 @ Thain in Vain
Prompt: A journalist writing a story about living on death row begins to fall for one of the inmates she’s interviewing.
In attempting to improve my writing, I’ve been doing a lot of educational reading on the subject. Everything from online articles, subscribing to newsletters and online web communities to coming home with 8 or 9 Reference books from the library. One of which, How to Write Horror Fiction by Wlliam E Nolan, was a quick but satisfying read. When an instructional book pulls you in as much as if it were a fiction novel, you know the writer is talented if nothing else. He, apparently, was the creator of Logan’s Run. It’s a great read if you’re looking for a less specific “how-to” guide as it deals less with technique and more about the monster itself and building suspense.
On a different note, I wanted to share an article I found about describing what a reader won’t assume on the website Fiction University. One of the main aspects of writing I have trouble with is description. I feel that I have never been able to fully describe a scene without losing my reader to boredom. My main goal is to have them feel like they are there without knowing it (if that makes any sense) so a lot of my searching is based on trying to build a descriptive edge. This article, in my opinion, nails it to a head. Every beginning writer should read this and come away with a better understanding of what most readers are looking for.
The keys jingled in the front lock. Once, twice, three times before they hit their mark and the door unlocked. John was home.
He walked down the hall, each step getting louder as he headed in her direction. She took a deep breath. Plastered a smile on her face and turned to greet him, a steaming roast held between two mittened pot holders. He smelled like a two dollar whore, smoke and booze wafting off his skin from his latest trip to the local bar. It took everything Sarah had to choke back the disgust she felt as she gave him a quick kiss when he entered and centered the roast on the island table. Everything else was already set out and waiting as usual. It was the same routine every night, just like it had been for the last twelve years. She took his coat and hung the keys, her facade never wavering. All the duties of a devoted housewife.
“How was your day, sweety?” she chirped, her voice an octave higher than she’d meant. The chair scraped the floor as he slid it out, the sound nearly grating her last nerve. It was getting harder to hold it all in, to keep everything inside. But she knew what would happen if John got mad. She’d experienced his wrath enough to know that one slip could mean a world of hurt. So she held her tongue. Kept quiet. She just had to bide her time until she could work up the nerve to do what needed to be done. Then it would all be over.
“Where’s my beer?” he ignored her question when he noticed the missing drink. She met his gaze, his eyes blacker than usual, ice cold and already itching for a fight. She stepped to the fridge and pulled a longneck out of the side, popping the top with a bottle opener before setting it in front of him. Hoping to change the subject before it turned into something worse, she brought up her trip to the beauty salon. She’d had her hair cut and styled in a vain attempt at adding some normalcy to her life.
“Do you notice anything different about me?” she asked, turning her head from left to right. His only response was to narrow his eyes and stare at her.
Even she couldn’t keep her smile from fading then. They’d been married for over a decade and he probably couldn’t even tell you what color her eyes were. She was there to cook and clean and satisfy his every whim. That was all. And according to Big John, a nickname he had proudly given himself, she should be happy that she had someone to take care of her. That if it weren’t for him, she’d still be living in that trailer park in Houston, turning tricks for a living. He reminded her of it almost every day.
When she turned around to grab a plate for his dinner his arm snaked out and grabbed her wrist. “What are you doing?”
“I’m fixing you a plate,” her voice hitched.
“No, I mean what are you doing?” Something had flipped his switch. “Why did you get your hair done?”
His grip on her tightened and she felt a sharp twinge run up her arm. “I just wanted a change.”
She knew she’d said the wrong thing when his eyes flashed, piercing her soul. “For you,” she backtracked. “I wanted to look pretty for you.”
Her stomach flipped as he stood up and backed her against the counter. “Liar,” he accused. “You didn’t do it for me. You did it for someone else. Who are you trying to impress, Sarah?”
“No one.” It came out a whisper.
“DON’T LIE TO ME!” he screamed, the veins in his forehead bulging. He punched her then. Hard and fast, his fist slamming into her nose. She heard bone crack. It echoed in the otherwise stark quiet, but she barely noticed. She reached behind her and grabbed the first thing to make its way to her hand. She reciprocated his punch. She hit him just as hard. And just as fast. With the meat tenderizer.
Guess she didn’t have to bide her time as long as she thought.
This was written for the week twenty six of Thain In Vain’s 52 week Flash Fiction Challenge. The prompt was “Do you notice something different about me?” 500 words or less. (But I’m coming in over the limit again at 700+ words)
So I finally made a new header, but I didn’t realize until after the fact that on this particular theme you don’t have the option to not display your Site title. So, now it’s covering the upper left corner of my graphic and is repetitive of itself. Boo. But that just means I’ll have to make another one in the near future. But not now because this one took me long enough and I don’t feel like starting over.
Now. I just need to get some actual writing done. I’ve been doing everything, BUT. ;)
I need a change. So I’m going to change my blog graphics. I just threw up a new theme for now, but will play around with it until I get something I’m happy with. I can’t seem to find a theme that has the style I want with the features I want to use, so it’s going to be basic again, but that’s what happens when you use the FREE themes instead of paying stupid amounts of money just to be able to customize your own blog. I mean, God forbid they actually give us some creative liberties for free. I’m surprised I can change the background and the header! ;)
Just for shits and giggles I’m going to share one of my old stories with you. Comments welcome. :)
I found some of my old writings and was astounded at how different it seems from what I remember. I recall writing this story (seems like just yesterday) 16 years ago in 1998. When I read it back then, I thought my writing was pretty good. Um, No. Now I read it and I think, what the hell? There is absolutely no showing its all telling and now that I’m 34 instead of 18 it just seems, well, juvenile. Chasing a platinum haired boy? Really? But back then, it seemed mature to me. Funny how much your perspective really does change with age.
[p.s.] This was typed and I scanned it into the computer using text-to-OCR. I went through and caught most of the mistakes, but if it says fmished instead of finished, that’s why, lol.
I’m at Joey’s house. We’re having a party and I’m dancing in the darkened room with two pairs of glow sticks. A black light is on somewhere, but my eyes can’t focus on where in the huge living room it is, and my body is a tingling numb. The song’s taking me away, and I can see the reflection of glow sticks in the sliding glass door. The blue and white trails capture my eyes as my arms spin around and around with the music….
I wake up and my stomach drops at the thought that today’s only Wednesday. Two more days until the rave in Tampa. I’m going with Joe, Bridget and Erin. A lot of people I know are going. It’s the place to be this weekend.
My name’s Akayla, by the way. Akayla Foster. The bathroom seems so far away but I slide out of bed and head toward it. I look in the mirror at my reflection. I’m not bad looking. Tall for a girl, long blond curly hair, pale skin. My best feature are my eyes. They’re this really pretty blue. Kind of like the sky when it’s really clear. Right now, there are dark circles beneath them because it’s only seven o’clock in the morning and I didn’t sleep much last night.
I have to leave at seven-thirty and go to work. I work at this little company called All-Pro window and carpet answering phones and doing light data entry. I really like it, although it’s a half hour drive from my house because it’s all the way across town. The people are really fun and I can wear jeans as long as I wear a decent shirt. I work Monday through Friday every week, from eight in the morning to five in the afternoon. I always get weekends off, which works out perfect for me, because Joey lives all the way in Citrus County and I can spend the weekends with him. I know what you must be thinking: Joey must be ‘the boyfriend’. But that couldn’t be any further from the truth. Yes, we’re about as close as two people can possibly get, but it’s because we’re best friends. He’s like my brother. I know him better than he knows himself, and the same goes for him with me.
I throw my hair up in a scrunchy, pull on some jeans and a red collared polo shirt and grab my keys off of the floor. That’s where they ended up last night after I got home from the movies. We went and saw South Park at the Regal Cinemas in town. Bridget came with us, and Joey drove in from Citrus Springs. It was the funniest movie I’d seen in a long time.
When I got in my car, the gas light was telling me I was almost empty so I had to stop at the gas station down the street. I got a pack of Marlboro Ultra Light 100’s with my broken driver’s license while I was there. I don’t think the cashier believed that I was 19. Most people don’t. I filled the tank in my ’95 Honda Civic up and paid with my check card, which I’d been using way too much lately. I was spending more money than I really had.
I got back in my car and turned right at the street light, heading downtown where I worked. It was five after eight when I pulled in the parking lot, but one of the managers was just getting there, too, so I wasn’t worried.
I went into my little cubbyhole of an office and checked the messages on the machine. There were only five and three of them ended up being dial tones. I walked back into the warehouse where the coffee maker and poured some into a mug that read “just put down the coffee and back away slowly.” It was a gift to me from one of the warehouse guys for our secret Santa last year.
That’s when I saw Him.
The boy with the platinum hair and jade eyes. I know, I know. Platinum hair? But he was beautiful. I couldn’t stop staring. At least until the hot coffee that I was pouring splashed over the top of the mug and onto my hand. I dropped it and it crashed onto the concrete floor, breaking into little pieces. Everyone turned and looked at me as I cursed under my breath, and my face started burning as it reddened. I ripped some paper towels off of the roll and bent down to pick it up, but Chris’s voice stopped me. “Don’t do that,” he said. “You’ll cut yourself.” Chris was one of the younger warehouse guys. He took the paper towels from me and threw them on the counter. Then he got the broom from the closet and swept the ceramic into a plastic garbage bag. I just kind of stood there with the sentence God-I-hope-he-didn’t-see-me playing over and over in my head. I took a chance and glanced at the boy who, thankfully, was talking to another of the installers.
The morning went by quickly. It was one o’clock when I saw Him again. He walked into the offices with Scott, one of the window installers, and I just happened to be out in Carol’s office helping her find a file. When I looked up, I almost dropped the folder I was holding—I guess I have a tendency for dropping things when I see him—because he was staring at me. No, not at me, I realized. The clock behind me. My heart was going a hundred miles an hour. I yanked my head back in Carol’s direction and tried to ignore him. Ignore Him? I should’ve known better. I was like a mad woman. All I could see was his face with those eyes and the short spikes of hair above his forehead.
The rest of the day went by slowly. I didn’t see him again before I left. But I did find out that the boy was working on the Gonzalez house, which meant he was going to be there for the next week at least. Still, I would only get to see him whenever they came in to turn in paperwork or get the service orders.
I went home and flipped on my stereo, which blasted the sound of techno throughout my decent sized apartment. I had two other roommates. Erin and a girl everyone called Tech because she was really good with computers. I don’t think anyone but her family knows what her real name is. And I don’t think that if anyone did, they’d brave calling her that. She’s not a very … nice person. Actually, sometimes she can be kind of scary. Erin and I don’t see her very often, she’s usually out with her cyber friends, but when she is home, we tend to keep our distance. She mostly goes in her room and gets on the computer anyway, which works out for everyone.
My black lab puppy, Kalos, greeted me when I opened my bedroom door, tail wagging, tongue lolling. I picked her up and she licked my face, happy to see me. I feel bad having to keep her in my room all day, but we’re not supposed to have animals in the apartments. So I have to keep her as hidden as possible. Erin doesn’t mind having her, and even Tech plays with her sometimes, but if any of the landlords found out about her, I’d have to give her away.
I closed the door to my room and went into the bathroom to take a shower. The guys in 1013 were having a party, and I figured that since I worked all day, I deserved a little break. I dried my hair, threw on a 3/4 sleeve blue button up shirt, a pair of black capris, and these cute black open-toed, strapless platform sandals I’d gotten last weekend. I took my time putting on my make-up, and then out the door I went, down the stairs and three doors over to Brad and Logan’s apartment. There was already a couple of other people there, but it was only 7:00, so it would be a couple of hours before everyone else showed. I grabbed a wine cooler from the fridge, promising myself that it would be my only one since I worked tomorrow, and sat down on the couch. Brad and Jared were playing a video game that was displayed on their big screen television, complete with surround sound and an attached DVD player. Logan walked out of the back bedroom and smiled at me.
“Hey girl. Long time no see.” He came around the back of the couch since the other boys were crowded around the TV, leaned over and gave me a hug. Then he walked over to the phone, picked it up and walked back to his room.
I looked up as the front door swung open, glad to see my friend Devon. She walked in as if she owned the place; hips swaying, chin up, eyes coolly surveying the room. She saw me, smiled, and headed over to the sofa.
“Kay, baby. How’s it hangin’?”
I laughed at her carefree greeting and moved over so she could sit next to me on the smooth tan leather. “Hey D. I thought you had to work tonight?”
“Oh, I quit that lousy job …. been there too long.”
“Dev … you were only there for a month.”
Her grin was crooked. “I know. Oh—Tyler’s here,” she said as she glanced up at the now entering people. “Gotta go.”
Tyler was Devon’s fling-of-the-week. She had a tendency for moving from guy to guy in an untimely fashion, claiming that she liked to live for the moment.
I sat there for awhile, watching Jared defeat Brad in the animated football game, and finished off my drink. As I got up and rounded the corner of the couch to go throw the bottle away, I collided with someone. A pair of strong hands prevented me from falling backward, holding me against a solid chest.
“Sorry about that,” I said before I even looked up. When I did, I froze. My gaze connected with a pair of familiar jade eyes.
I didn’t move for what seemed like forever. All I could feel were his hands on my forearms, warm even through the fabric of my shirt. Then I pictured myself just standing there with this I’m-dumb-as-rocks expression on my face, and I stepped back, embarrassed.
“Sorry,” I said again.
He smiled. “No problem.” I walked around him, hurrying to get away before he had a chance to say anything else. I made it to the kitchen without running into anyone else, and leaned against the Formica counter.
I didn’t know why I was acting so weird around him and vowed to stop because he was just another guy. One that boy-killer Devon would tell me to go after. Speaking of Devon, where was she? I looked around the now crowded apartment and saw no sign of her silky black hair. She was undoubtedly with Tyler anyway, making him her next victim. I smiled at the thought … my friend Devon, the next Aphrodite.
The room was getting warm, and I was starting to get tired. Yeah..so it was only nine-thirty. But I’d been up late the night before studying—oh how I loathe that word—for a test in English. I elbowed my way through a group of people blocking the entire hallway just in time for the rush of people with the kegs. I felt like I was in a funhouse and a moving floor was preventing me from ever getting to the brightly lit exit sign. I started getting dizzy. Is it spinning in here or is it just me? and why am I suddenly cold? I made it to the front door. Finally. I stepped outside and took a deep breath just as a wave of blackness hit me. I reached for the first thing I could get my hands on, which just happened to be absolutely nothing. I hit the ground. Hard.
I just got the email today that its time for Writer’s Digest 10th Annual Pop Fiction Contest. Figured I’d share it for those of you who weren’t familiar with Writer’s Digest. Sometimes I participate in their weekly prompt challenges. But if you’ve got a short story of 4,000 words or less then maybe this is the chance of a lifetime. :)
So, I stumbled upon Fiction University. I’ve only just begun perusing its content, but so far it seems to be full of how-to’s and answers to questions that have been running through my head. There are a TON of great posts about what to do for starting writers. I just thought I’d pass this along in case anyone else was interested. I have a basic plot in my head that I’m going to try to follow her suggestions from start to finish and see how it turns out.
An inkling of an idea came to me as I was tweaking my playlist last night.
For me, music has always had a drastic impact on my emotions. I can’t listen to any song without having an immediate response. It may be nostalgia, high energy, sadness. But it’s always something. I remember the first time I ever heard the song My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion. I know, I know… gag you, right? But there is a point to this. I hadn’t seen any previews for Titanic, didn’t even know it was coming out. I just heard the song one day on the radio with no preconceptions. The second is started playing, and I mean the very first second, my throat started to swell and burn as I tried to hold back the tears. I was driving. On the busiest road in our city. It was awful, lol. But it was so fiercely beautiful I could barely contain myself. Of course, everyone has their own taste. What is beautiful to me may sound like nails down a chalkboard to someone else.
My basic point is that every time I hear music I have a reaction. Especially when its added to a visual element. Movies, television, etc… For example, right now I have a Vampire Diaries fetish. I haven’t been this bedeviled by a show since the late 90’s and Buffy was on. (Course I can say about the same thing for Buffy regarding the characters, writing and music. It was the best of all 3.) But back to the present. The soundtrack for each and every episode is ridiculously amazing. The songs they choose are perfectly fitted, and what’s even better is that the majority of them are indie artists so it opens you up to a whole line of musicians you may never have heard of otherwise. I’ve got a playlist for each season on my YouTube page so that I can click and listen any time I please. My only problem is that I need to have a box of tissues at every turn because I’m a blubbering idiot. I have more than an avid fascination with Damon Salvatore. Like, if I could have one wish in this world it would possibly be for him to be real and me to be his Elena. So I see all these YouTube TVD movies made from scenes on the show and they smash all the “Delena” love scenes into one mashup with a ridiculously sad love song and I think to myself, why oh why couldn’t that ever be me? And it makes me sad. But at the same time, it sparks my idea.
So, through all my ranting and raving, here it finally is. Silly as it may be. We use specific melodies to add to movie/TV scenes, right? I mean, it wouldn’t be nearly as dramatic having a funeral scene while playing 99 Luftballons. So, what if there was a really cool way to add music clips to specific scenes in your story. Graphic novels use images, so why can’t we use songs? And I mean in actual book form, not placing a YouTube video at the top of a blog post to play while you’re reading. I’m talking an actual progressive e-book format that could somehow play as you read certain parts.
Hell, it’s probably a stupid idea. I just know that if I were reading, having the music that inspired a moment playing might make the experience that much better. Or it might be annoying and I might hate it. But that’s why settings come in handy.
What are your thoughts?
The jury foreman stood in the quiet court room, the paper in her hand an anvil weighing heavy on her heart. She did not want to read the words aloud, did not want to be burdened with the responsibility of setting this monster free.
“As to the charge of first degree murder, verdict as to count one, we the jury find the defendant not guilty, so say we all, dated at Ocala, Marion County, Florida this the twenty second day of June, 2014.” Her voice hitched as she continued, all further counts a continual finding of not guilty.
Echoes of the verdict slipped past unbelieving lips. Furious whispers and shocked gasps surrounded the court room, rising in temperament until the judge was forced to bang her gavel. The action was almost unheard in the uproar. She banged it several more times, harder and louder demanding that there be order in her court.
Announcing it had made it real. Not Guilty. The bitch really was going to get away with it. She sat, quiet as a mouse, her complexion ashen from months of being locked up. From behind the defendant’s box she looked so innocent. Long sleeved shirt buttoned to the collar. Tucked into a pair of grey slacks and matched with a pair of simple black flats. Dark circles lined eyes that were red-rimmed and teary. Just the right amount of reaction and nothing more. But for her it was all a game. She had planned it this way.
Lack of evidence was the one thing saving her from conviction. But she had made sure there was one person out there who knew she truly was guilty. And now it was her turn to play with him. Like a cat with a string. The jury finished out their duties, each individually responding to their verdicts of not guilty before the judge called the defendant up for her final sentencing.
“Anya Renee Petrova, a jury of your peers has found you not guilty as to the charge contained in count one of the indictment murder in the first degree. At this time I will adjudge you to be not guilty and you are free to go.” The court room was in a state of chaos as she followed her counsel to freedom.
* * *
The glass doors opened and she was ushered into the fresh air by her lawyers and a small group of officers. Outside, the crowd was monstrous. Camera crews cascaded the steps the courthouse, each wanting first crack at her response. Angry followers marched the street, signs in tow, pushing one another to get to Anya through a barricade of reinforcements. It was a madhouse and she was the epicenter. Suddenly a shot rang out and panic ensued. What was already a disaster turned into a zoo of hysteria. Screams filled the area as the marchers and journalists ducked and covered, the cops that surrounded Anya pushing her forward to the unmarked car that had been waiting for her. They shoved her in the backseat and gave the trunk a hardy slap to send her off. That was it. It was over.
The driver was visible through the grate that separated the front and back seat. He was tall, thin. Hair freshly cut and clean shaven. He seemed familiar somehow but from this angle she couldn’t place him. Until he spoke.
“Hello, Anya.” She would know that voice anywhere. She had been thinking about it for weeks now. Dreaming, planning, plotting.
“You’re going to pay for what you did.” Click. She was locked in. It was her turn to be the victim.
This was in response to Thain in Vain’s challenge for week 25. At first I couldn’t think of anything and then I was watching some news footage and this kinda came to me. It’s not as “full circle” as I wanted it to be but I was already over the word limit and didn’t want to go even more. So here’s what I ended up with. Meh.
It called her name. Like a dog whistle that only she could hear. The moment she saw it everything else faded into the background and the last few sober days meant nothing.
“Earth to Ella.” Her mother waved a cocoa skinned hand in front of her daughter’s face.
Ella snapped back to the conversation and realized she hadn’t heard a word her mother had said. “What? Sorry.” She tried to smile. In truth, she didn’t feel like smiling. Or eating. Or doing anything but curling up in her bed and sleeping.
“What’s wrong. You’ve been acting like a zombie.” She probably looked like one, too. Everything hurt. She felt nauseous. Her head was pounding.
Her eyes kept darting back to it. A tiny pill on the floor of the restaurant.
“Nothing, I just–” she struggled to think of an excuse. Nothing came to her.
“You just what?” Before she had to answer, the waitress stopped in front of them, setting their drinks down. Ella’s eyes darted back to the ground. The waitress took a step back and pulled out her order pad, the heel of her shoe a mere centimeter away. Ella’s whole body tensed.
“Ella. What do you want?” She didn’t even hear her mother. She was focused on the pill. “Ella.”
Back to reality, again. “What?” she snapped. She was so irritable. Everything pissed her off.
Her mother was silent. Then, “Please tell the waitress what you want.”
“I’m not hungry.”
The waitress half smiled as she tucked her pad into the band of her apron and slid the pen behind her ear. “I’ll go put your order in and be back to check on you in a few,” she said then turned and headed to the kitchen.
Ella closed her eyes. This was not the real her. Or maybe it was. She couldn’t tell anymore. Where the real Ella ended and the fake Ella began. She could feel her mothers heated stare and opened her eyes again. She knew her mother was mad but she didn’t care. All she could think about was grabbing the pill off the floor and devouring it.
It had been days since she’d had anything and now she was frantic. She was sure someone would see it before she got to it. Or step on it. Crush it into a thousand powdery pieces. What a waste that would be. She looked at her drink, the thin plastic straw bobbing around in her Dr. Pepper. Maybe she could snort it if it came to that.
Jesus. What was wrong with her? She didn’t even know what it was. It was probably a simple aspirin. And here she was, ready to suck it up off a public walkway just to get a high that would last, what… an hour or two? Hell, was she going to follow the person who stepped on it and lick it off their heels, too?
The waitress brought her mother’s food and she ate in silence. It was awkward. Everything between them was lately. Part of her was sorry and part of her just wanted her to look away long enough for Ella to grab the pill. It’s all she could think about. So when her mother announced she was going to go to the bathroom, Ella’s insides jumped for joy.
She scooted to the edge of the booth and when she was satisfied no one was really paying attention, she leaned out and swooped up the pill. She slid back into her seat just as her mother walked through the open hallway and came back to sit. Hands in her lap, Ella toyed with the small tablet, flipping it over and over. The imprint told her what she needed to know, that she had lucked out. If you could call it that. She could end her days of suffering for an hour or two, only to have to start all over again.
Or she could destroy it. Chuck it. Flush it. Melt it. Say a final goodbye and give it a proper funeral. It was her choice. Completely up to her.
“Ella, I said let’s go.” Her mother was already standing at the end of the booth, purse on arm, bill in tow. She followed, maneuvering her way across the vinyl until she, too, was standing, her immediate future sandwiched between two fingers. As they turned to leave Ella paused. She watched her mother as she walked to the front. Ah, hell with it, she thought. I’m not ready yet. Her mother didn’t notice that extra ten seconds she took as she stayed behind and grabbed her drink off the table. Didn’t see her toss the little blue pill into her mouth and swallow. She had already paid and was out the door.
The entrance closed behind Ella and she pulled her jacket in tighter as the freezing wind hit her. It was late December and the air was cold and damp, the sky a dull gray. Her mother hadn’t waited for her, she’d already crossed to the other side of the parking lot and was starting the car. Puffed rings of smoke floated from the tail pipe and the brake lights glowed red in the dimming light as Ella stepped out from in between two parked cars. She hadn’t seen it. The silver SUV that had turned into the parking lot, going much faster than it should have. She stepped onto the open pavement and it slammed into her, throwing her body into the air. For a millisecond she felt everything, as if her insides had been crushed one by one with a ball peen hammer. Then she felt nothing. She was gone before she even hit the ground.