29 December 2010

Forgiveness from a Cat

My husband and I own a cat named Pooka. She has been with us for just over two years now and we are quite attached to her. She is beautiful with long gray hair but that also means lots of knots and snarls. We didn't brush her for two weeks and now poor Pooka is paying the price. Every night we try and get at least one knot out of her. She howls and tries to get away as we do it and when we finally get it out and let her go, she immediately hides under our bed where she knows we can't get her. The most interesting part of this whole ordeal is that if my husband takes her favorite string and dangles it by the edge of the bed she will immediately come and attack it. It doesn’t matter if it seems like we've ripped half of her hair out trying to brush her, as soon as she sees the string she starts playing. Last night after an especially bad brushing section, my husband used the string to convince her to come back up on the bed just a minute after she hid. I was able to pet her and she actually started purring. I wish I was more like that, willing to forgive and easy to please. I think life would be a lot smoother in the long run. Hopefully her fur won't ever get this bad again. This summer we are determined to take her for a haircut because having that much fur in the heat can't be pleasant.

Sorry I didn't post a flash fiction story this week. I actually had every intention to write a Christmas related one. My family was just too awesome to ignore. Just a heads up though, the website will be getting a redesign for the flash fiction area. That is one of my New Year resolutions anyway. Most of the design work is done; I'm just working on testing at this point. It is hard trying to come up with something that I won't have to drastically change in the future because of one thing or another.

22 December 2010


Merry Christmas!

In preparation for an upcoming family photo, I dyed my hair. Now this is not an uncommon occurrence for me. I have dyed my hair quite a few times starting on a dare in college. It was late, I'd always wanted the excuse, so at 1:30 in the morning, I went to Wal-Mart with one of my roommates and bought hair dye. It actually turned out pretty good. Since then whenever I am feeling a little down in life, I re-dye my hair. I have never had it professionally done, and there are definitely times when it is apparent, but for the most part, it looks fairly natural. My husband always likes to bring up one of the times it wasn't natural. It was in fact blue. Granted I meant to dye it blue, it was only the bottom three inches, but I didn't necessarily mean for it to be permanent, not that I really complained about it.

19 December 2010

*Seeing Fireflies

Published April 2012

Intro: I took Catching Fireflies to my writing group on Wednesday and after I finished reading it, I was immediately bombarded with questions about the father. This story answers those questions but read the other one first. I am thinking of trying to find a way to combine the two stories. I hope you enjoy this one.


15 December 2010

Writing Group

Twice a month I attend a local writing group. I have been going for nearly a year and I thoroughly enjoy it. I would like to think that not only have I made some really good friends, but that my writing has improved. (So long as I proofread which doesn’t always happen with blogs and flash fiction stories.)

The writing group is a good mix of people from various ages to various genres and there are days that I just sit in awe as other members read their ‘rough drafts.’ The first time I had something critiqued I felt like crying when I got home. How on earth did I think I could be an author? My papers had more comments then text. That, thank goodness, has changed. (When I actually prepare and not just grab a random story so I don’t show up empty handed.)

Not only do we meet twice a month but there is a state wide meeting every year which involves a fairly prestigious writing contest. When I entered last year I felt intimidated because I knew members entering from the local chapter. (People who write rough drafts I drool over.) There was no way I could actually place when they were entering. But I am pleased to say I did enter. I didn’t place. But several of my friends did very well. Hooray.

This year’s writing contest is going to be different. I have a plan: write better.

12 December 2010

*Keeping Up

Intro: All three of my jobs since graduation have had some degree of technology. All of them have had days like this. I’m sure most people can sympathize with what this character is going through. It will never cease to amaze me that my phone and computer are practically obsolete as soon as I open the box.

“Here is a good example of a document done wrong.” The voice said from the dark behind me.

I look up at the screen and groan. It’s one of mine. As the voice continues to explain exactly how horrible it is, in the nicest possible way, I shuffle down further in my seat. The meeting lets out and we all wander back down to our cubicles.

“I can’t believe I’ve been screwing up this whole time.” My newest co-worker laments.

The rest of us look at him and sigh. He started three weeks previously and up until five minutes ago he was probably doing everything perfectly.

I slide in front of my desk and look at the cursor blinking at the end of my document. I understood when I took the job that technology moves fast and it is hard to keep up. My brand new phone, purchased a month ago, is now considered outdated by two newer models so why wouldn’t the standards of online documentation be any different. The last document for the set that, up until five minutes ago, was perfectly fine. I wait a moment and sure enough, an email pops up in my inbox.

“Due to the new standards, I need you to re-write these and send them back.”

I grumble under my breath and hastily type out a reply.

“No. Not on your life. I just spent sixteen hours writing all of these. Deal with it. I’ll do it right on the next one.”

I delete it and write another one.

“Of course. Not a problem.”

The clock ticks. I hesitate and finally hit send. The emoticon I get in return rubs my nerves and I change the email to another message so it isn’t visible behind all the windows open. Changing around some of the words doesn’t take me too long but because of the delay, my documents are once again at the bottom of the list to be reviewed before being approved. It will be impossible to reach the deadline of the day after tomorrow. I am tempted to bash my head on my desk but instead begin the process for the next project I’ve been assigned.

Two weeks later we are brought back up to the conference room. The same voice in the dark shadows goes on and on about how our numbers are down from what the bean pushers expected. A brand new document is brought up, not mine thank goodness, and the voice explains exactly what is wrong with it and that it needs to be fixed for these reasons. I watch a co-worker slink down in his chair not looking at anyone.

My hand rises into the air. I didn’t intend to do it.


“These changes you want us to make—” I pause as every eye in the room shifts to me.


“Aren’t they exactly opposite of what you told us two weeks ago?”

Absolute silence.

“Due to the research we conducted during this period of time we learned a lot more about our audience,” the voice says.

“So it will change in two weeks?”

More silence.

“The internet a very fluid medium,” the voice finally replies.

“Just had to make sure.” I replied and turn back towards the screen.

The meeting ends and as my co-workers walked by they nod to me with added respect. I go back to my cubicle, a lightness to my step. An email waits in my inbox.

“Due to the new standards, I need you to re-write these and send them back.”

My head hits the desk with a thunk.

08 December 2010

No Restrictions

My brother-in-law recently returned from serving a mission in another country. We are glad that he is back safely. This weekend he asked to see my husband’s driver’s license. He flipped it over and read off the back “No Restrictions.” As he handed the license back he told a true story I think would do well in the Reader’s Digest.

An American was pulled over for speeding in an African Country. The police officer asked to see his driver’s license and the man handed over his American license. The officer read “No Restrictions” on the back and looked at the man in confusion. The man, who had a sense of humor, laughed and said jokingly, “That means the speed limit doesn’t apply to me.” The officer handed back the license and waved him on.

05 December 2010

*In Search of a Beard

Intro: I took my story Free Time to writing group and received critiques back this week. Overall the story was really well received. One of the members in my group suggested writing a collection of wizard fables. I thought it was a pretty good idea. So here is my second attempt at unraveling the secrets behind wizards. So this time I look at why many wizard mentors are similar physically. Old men with beards. For example: Dumbledore, Gandalf, Belgarath, Merlin, and even Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Shawn straightened his coat and looked in the mirror one last time to make sure everything was absolutely perfect. Neatly parted, well kept hair. Shined boots and pressed trousers. Spotless shirt and lint free jacket. He hadn’t even nicked himself shaving this morning. Meeting with a new client always set his teeth on edge, though speaking honestly, this was only the third client and everyone set him on edge. He lifted his chin and nodded firmly to his reflection. Not only had he been studying for dozens of years but he’d also apprenticed with another wizard for a few more. Absolutely no reason in the world existed for the dread he felt, but he still clutched his hands trying to keep them from shaking.

Instead of using a transportation spell, Shawn walked to the tavern, enjoying the spring morning. The wind rustled his hair and he furiously patted it down trying to keep it in some semblance of order. It helped a little but to be on the safe side, he took a few moments outside of the tavern to check his appearance over once again before stepping inside.

He waved to the owner, a childhood friend, and walked over to the only occupied table.

“Greetings, I’m Shawn.” He held out his hand and the young man looked up from his drink.


“Shawn,” he repeated. “You asked to meet me regarding a quest.”

“Oh—you’re the wizard?”

“Yes,” Shawn hung onto the word a moment longer than he should while a little of his enthusiasm leaked out. He pulled himself together and sat down resting his elbows on the table. “I want you to know that you won’t regret coming to me with this assignment—”

“How old are you?” The man asked, leaning forward and eyeing him in the dusty light coming through the window. “I mean do you have much experience with this kind of thing?”

He blinked at the man for a few seconds. “How old am I? I’m nearly forty.”

“Really? Hm.” The man took a swig from the tanker and looked at him again. “I would have guessed younger.”

“I assure you, I’m old enough for what you need.” Everyone thought he was younger than he really was. “I was going over the research—”

“But how much experience do you have? You never answered the question.”

Shawn rubbed his forehead and stared at the table. “I’ve been doing things like this since I was a boy. You won’t find many who have more experience than I. Now,” He straightened his back a little and tried to keep a non-strained smile in place. “Shall we discuss the particulars?”

“Since you were a boy? I just don’t see that.” The man rubbed his bristled chin thoughtfully.

“What’s wrong now?” Shawn tried to keep the whining from his voice and almost succeeded.

“If you have been doing this for years I would expect you to be more, more—”

“Distinguished? Commanding? Stronger?”

“Decrepit. Old. Scarred.” The man replied. “Sorry. I just don’t feel like you are cut out for the position of mentor.”

“Decrepit? Honestly?”

The man stood and moved his chair back. “Good luck.”

Shawn remained where he was as the tavern owner sauntered over.

“Another rejection?”

“Yes. So in the three interviews I’ve been told I need to be more distinguished, commanding, stronger, mystical, severe, solemn, decrepit, old and scarred.”

“What now?”

“My grasp on adjectives has doubled this week. If I ever wondered what they were before I know now.”

“That’s not what I meant. You are cut out for this job. We both know it.”

He chuckled as his friend sat down. “Right. So what do I do? Trade in my clothes for the oldest robe I can find and dye my hair gray.”

“Growing a beard always adds a view years, too.”

“You can’t be serious.” He rubbed his clean shaven jaw. “That doesn’t look respectable.”

“Why not? This is nothing more than customer feedback. I get it all the time. Why do you think I wear an apron even though I never touch the food?” His friend smiled and rubbed his hands together. “And I know exactly where to find a knarled stick for you to use.”

“Why do I need a knarled stick when I have a perfectly good one?”

“Goes with the image.”

“Makes me want to hit something,” he muttered resting his head on the table. “This is ridiculous.”

“That’s the best part. In their image you can hit them. They’ll probably just take it as a learning experience.”

Shawn groaned but it turned into a laugh. He wiped tears of laughter from his eyes as he left the tavern, in search of a beard.

01 December 2010

Sales Associates

I like to shop on Black Friday, mostly because socks are always 50% off at a store my husband and I frequent. This Black Friday found my husband and I at Staples for a wireless mouse. (It is for our laptop so we can be even lazier when watching our online television shows.) While we were there we gave them the empty toner for our laser printer. Sunday we helped someone replace the toner on their laser printer which was the same model as ours. We learned that when we gave the older toner cartridge we also handed over the drum.

On Monday my husband went back to Staples in the hopes that we could get our drum back. The sales associate explained that every night the cartridges are put into a compactor and that it was impossible to get ours back if we gave it to them on Friday. He looked up the price of a new drum. The drum cost more than what we originally paid for the printer. But, we could bring in the old printer and it would give us $50 on select, new printers.

When I got home from work on Monday we boxed up our printer, the new, unopened toner (which had we replaced before returning the other one would have prevented our problem) and headed to Staples. We walked in and immediately two people asked if they could help us. We explained our situation, that we were suffering from stupidity, and asked how to do the whole $50 detail. He kind of laughed and asked what day we suffered from this certain case of stupidity. When we said it was Friday he nodded, said he remembered seeing it, and told us to wait because he knew exactly where it was. A few minutes later he came back and handed us our printer drum.

It's people like you who make my day and make shopping actually bearable. Thank you.

28 November 2010

*Happy Thanksgiving

I spent this week with family and catching up on NaNoWriMo. I am happy to say that I completed my 50,000 word novel but I didn't get a flash story written this week. Happy Thanksgiving.

24 November 2010

Winter Driving

Considering that tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I would like to say I’m very thankful for my life. Five years ago if someone were to ask me where I saw myself in five years, the current me would not have been the answer. I have far exceeded my expectations. Life is incredibly good albeit incredibly busy.

Winter seems to be here early this year. I don’t remember having this much snow on the ground for Thanksgiving before. Though I have lived in snowy areas all of my adult life, I have managed to avoid driving in snowstorms before. I have been in vehicles going through some intense storms, but never have I been behind the wheel, until Monday. I drive a mid-sized sedan. When we bought it a couple of years ago I told my husband I want a manual transmission. I didn’t have too much experience at the time but I liked the idea of owning one because it would force me to become even better.

Monday night, driving through the dark canyon on snow packed roads, I was incredibly grateful for that manual transmission. My husband always says that it is much easier to control the car when using a manual transmission. I now understand. Hopefully with all of the blizzard warnings I will be able to drive safely if not home, at least to my parents’ house which is less than half the distance and doesn’t involve driving through a canyon.

21 November 2010


Intro: I wasn’t sure I was going to write anything this week. I have added responsibilities as of Thursday and some very short deadlines. So it is a little rough. I also had my cat clawing her way around my lap while I was trying to type. Rather distracting. This story is loosely based on an experience I had when I was younger.

“A dark future. An uncertain past.” I read off the case excitement tingeing my voice.

“Well, that’s dumb. How can the past be uncertain? I think they got it backwards.” My friend Peggy said shifting on the chair next to the computer.

My mind raced with all of the explanations into the game but I knew that once Peggy set her mind, there was nothing I could do to change it. “Yeah, I guess it is pretty foolish.”

“So, Jen, why did you want me to come over? You said you had something cool to show me.”

I hastily put the game away and tried to think of another reason to call her over at nine on a Saturday. “I wanted to show you the new movie my mom bought last night.”

The movie was greeted with an “I saw this in the theater months ago. Is that all you have.”

I nodded mutely and followed her to my room where she sat on the bed and read my books. Though we’d only moved in two months ago, I was pleased to already have a friend. School would start in another two weeks and I couldn’t wait.

“Jen, can you come here for a moment?” Mom called from the kitchen. I slid off the bed and walked out while Peggy went through my comic book collection. I stood in the doorway to the kitchen while Mom worked on cookies. It smelled delicious.

“What did you need?”

“How are things going with Peggy today?”

“Fine.” I turned around but Mom kept talking.

“Do you want to know what one of the responsibilities of a parent are?”

“What?” I asked.

“To take blame. If you are ever in an uncomfortable situation you can use your father or myself as an excuse to get out of it.”

I turned back around and looked at her but she still had her back to me. “I’m not sure—”

“Say someone asks you to do something you don’t want to and keep pestering you about it even when you say no. Use us as an excuse.”

I thought of Peggy in the back room and nodded slowly. “I think I understand.”

“But there’s one more catch. You can only do it once. After that you have to stand on your own.”

“Only once.”

“You have to learn eventually to stand up for yourself.” She turned around, holding a scoop full of cookie dough. “I’m sure you’ll do fine.”

“Thanks, Mom” I said and walked back towards my room. My brain was filled with what Mom told me.

“Oh, Jen.” Peggy said when I walked back in. “Could you get me a glass of water?” She rubbed her stomach. “How about you bring some cookies too?”

“We aren’t suppose to eat in our bedrooms.”

“It isn’t food, it’s a snack. Come on, Jen.” She thumbed through a couple more pages of a comic and snorted. “I can’t believe you would actually spend good money on some of these. They are ridiculous.”

“Peggy, you need to leave.” I said as firmly as I could.

“Why? I just got here.”

I paused, my breath catching in my throat. “Mom has more chores for me to do. I’m sorry. I didn’t realize that when I called.”

Peggy dropped the comic on the floor and stood up. “Okay. Let me know when you’re done. “

I walked Peggy to the door and breathed a sigh of relief when I shut it behind her. I went into the kitchen and shuffled my feet.

“So Peggy had to leave?”


“Since you have nothing else to do, why don’t you help me wash the dishes.”

I hedged for a moment, thinking of my game then walked to the sink and filled it with soapy water.

“Hey, Mom?”


“Do you think I’ll find other friends when school starts?”

17 November 2010

Name Game

All of my siblings and me have traditional names. For example: my name is Emily. (My last name is a completely different story. I actually didn’t know about Yonkers, NY until I married my husband.) When I was younger I didn’t necessarily like my name. There were always plenty of Emilys (or is that Emilies) to go around. Now that I am older I’ve grown to appreciate the tradition. No one ever wonders how to spell it or pronounce it. There also seem to be fewer Emilys running around then I remember. Then again I associate with fewer people now that I am out of school. My father likes calling people by their full names. Ben is always Benjamin. Nate is always Nathan. Jen is always Jennifer. (Sometimes he does it even when the person’s name isn’t actually any longer.)

With the future forever looming in the distance and the knowledge that eventually I will have children, names are always on my mind. Since I’m an author I worry about naming characters, having the novel become a huge success, and my child having the same name as the hero or villain. What will people think then? Or what if I name a child and the child hates the name? Maybe I’m just worrying too much but to be on the safe side I will refrain from using my favorite names on characters.

The other problem I have is overusing names in my stories. I realized this was a problem when in three different stories I had characters named Fae, Faye and Fey. I now use a program that helps me keep track of exactly which names I have used. My other philosophy is I can’t have main characters whose names start with the same letter, unless there is a darn good reason. As a kid I got so confused with Sauron and Saruman yet I had a story with three main characters whose names were Cael, Chaun, and Chay. That was fixed quickly.

14 November 2010

*Catching Fireflies

Published April 2012

Intro:I really am not sure why I wrote this story. I came up with the title first and then the rest kind of flowed after it.


10 November 2010


This is the first year I’m attempting NaNoWriMo. In the couple of years I’ve been writing seriously, I’ve actually completed a novel in a month but we’ll just say I didn’t have a long commute eating up my time. So far I am happy to say I’m a little ahead of schedule and if all else fails, I can write when I’m off work for the Thanksgiving Holiday. I’ve been really lucky in that I have never experienced writer’s block when it comes to novels. (My flash fiction stories are a completely different kettle of fish.) But as I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, my stories never come out how I expect them to. This story is no different.

Nowhere Left
Deep in the future a large city is divided by an old abandoned rail road no one crosses. The north side consists of Tones: people who use music (vibrations) to power their technologies. The south side are Gears: people who use blood (biology) to power things. Someone has crossed the tracks which brings the two sides of the city crashing together. While all this is happening, an assassin is on the loose. The bullets he uses are made from the blood of his target enabling a tracking system that guarantees a perfect kill. (Except I don’t have his motive yet so he hasn’t made any kind of appearance and there is currently no connection between the victims. He’ll be flushed out in the revisions.)

07 November 2010


Intro: I wrote this story as an exercise in writing second person. I have heard second person done very well and other times they are just choose your own adventure novels. So hopefully you don’t feel as if you should be turning to page twelve at the end of this story.

Flowers, when cut, slowly wilt over time, from about the second day you receive them. When the balloon bouquet wilts, you’ve stayed in the hospital too long. Balloons shrink for days, sometimes weeks, before showing age lines. When you have a bouquet of crusty diseased plastic spheres hope is sucked out of you when you look at them. You’ve never understood why people give flowers or balloons to sick people. Is something dying a slow painful death despite all you do suppose to bring you joy? Flowers, balloons, and hospitals just don’t mix.

So there you are, for some reason—known yet still shrouded in mystery—sitting in a hospital bed with a gown that doesn’t even pretend to offer modesty, tubes in and out your arms, numerous doctors and nurses explaining why or why not something doesn’t work, and the flowers sitting in the corner, the petals perky in the artificial light. The next day, you feel as wilted as the flowers. Day one of no one knows how many, but they’ll pretend to know. This is suppose to make you feel better about your situation. Do you?

More tests, more pokes, more prods. The flowers are dead, the balloons are headed there, and you just sit in your room and cry. You stop when you hear someone at your door and put on a brave face. They smile, wave, and set on the table, a new vase of flowers and tie a balloon to the end of your bed. You thank them, admire the gifts and, for the day, feel better about your situation.

The next day, the balloon sinks a little lower, the flowers aren’t quite so perky, and you learn the tumor has grown even more.

03 November 2010


This last week I had the opportunity to go to a writing conference geared especially for Fantasy, Horror, and Science Fiction. I’ve never been to a writing conference like this before. It was really amazing. I learned a lot about writing, not only as art but as commerce, but I also learned a lot about myself.

The conference started in late mornings and I was always up fairly early. I get up at five during the week to go to work so even with a two hour time difference, I was still up early enough to have a couple of hours of nothing to do after breakfast before things started. With so much time on my hands I was able to volunteer for various projects, mainly manual labor since I can do that without causing problems. I also helped out at the registration desk as a person of information. I could direct people where they needed to go or answer their questions. I also had the opportunity to offer my services to others who needed help with other situations. Overall I talked to a lot of people.

I was raised on the firm belief that I need to help out when I can. It doesn’t matter where I am or who I’m with. If I see someone in need, I had better offer my services. While I’m sure there are opportunities I missed, I’m glad I helped when I did. I met some really neat people I wouldn’t have talked to otherwise. Though I didn’t get any editor, agent, or publisher asking about my current writing project or wanting a sample, I will treasure the memories of the people I did spend time with.

31 October 2010

*The Sentry

Intro: I wrote this story early in preparation for being out of town most of the week. I initially thought I would write something more into the horror genre since today is actually Halloween but decided I didn’t want to go that way. Last week’s story was violent enough for me and I didn’t even describe anything. I’ve already written about monsters and vampires. So, all that remained was the eerie setting. Now you have it.

The old château, long vacant, stands in the middle of a sheep paddock. The formerly gray walls are stained black and white from age and green from the moss and ivy taking root. Though the outer walls crumble from persistent rain and biting wind, the interior remains unchanged but for layers of dust. Tapestries drape across the walls, the faded pictures look out with cracked faces and eye whites now mute gray and lifeless. Rugs line the corridors. During fierce wind storms, the woven fabric and fur send up occasional forms of dust as if something stalks the halls.

Cracked and forlorn furniture lurks in the rooms, their red shadows dancing across the walls in the eerie setting sun slicing through the holey walls. A bassinet stirs in a nursery. Faded silky cloth swathes over the edge precariously while the pillow rests against one leg. Other rooms hold large canopy beds, the canopies covered in threads from spiders’ whose posterity are only husks resting in the corners. Faceless toys wait discarded in the middle of the floor.

In the servant’s portion of the building the heart and breath is damp and still. The kitchen houses a large oven used to feed the army deployed which is never to return. Ashes remain in a grate, the coals disintegrated under the heat of a fire eternally cold. The black pot with white deposits from well water evaporated through time, hangs empty over the somber fire.

The few windows which held glass stare at the world with empty eyes. A few shards of the previously striking stained image lay sprinkled across the pews like spilled sugar. Nothing remains of the hymnals but corroded leather and a few wisps of papers not found by the chapel’s new inhabitants. Candles in neat lines consist of burned twine held in place by a frozen pool of wax.

A tile slides of the roof, shattering against the overgrown courtyard. The shards remain in good company amongst all the other broken slats which once shielded the top floor from the elements. Though the tiles remain as reminders of the protection, the stable retains no indication of such guard save for a few faint smudges. Thin stripes and a few clumps tell of thatch falling to the stone which left the only trace possible for moldy plant life; a trace which is only visible where the rain cannot reach to wash clean.

The wind picks ups and yet another tile shatters the silence. Not a silence of reverence but of desertion. The stone stairs leading to the roof are smoothed and coated in slime from the dripping water. Outside, up high, the wind tugs and pulls at the stones, screeching in anger. A tile rattles but remains otherwise fixed in place, supported by those around it.

At the edge of the building crouches a gargoyle, a nest wedged in the crock of its wing. The nearly faceless beast remains impressive, ignoring the years of deposits from the local fowl. Its face is fixed outward, forever a sentry, guarding its empty château, in a field of sheep.

27 October 2010

New Tires for First Snow

It’s snowed and it isn’t November yet. All hail tradition.

I have an hour commute, one way, through a canyon each day. My husband is worried about the drive through the winter. Since we knew it was going to snow eventually, my husband arranged with someone through work, to get new tires for our car at a place near my work. We tried to find the place on Saturday but got horribly lost. On Monday my husband called his contact and got the exact directions to the tire store. So, feeling somewhat confident with the directions, I drove to the store on my lunch.

The store wasn’t really a store, but a warehouse. I’m someone who doesn’t do well when talking to people I don’t know, let alone walking into a large warehouse that has no front office, trying to get someone’s attention, telling them I need new tires but at a discount price because my husband talked to one of their managers (who isn’t actually at the store but please believe me anyway). The mechanics were all really nice but nothing they said could make me feel comfortable about sitting in a small office trying to stay out of the way as they continued to work. *shiver*

But, by golly, I have new tires and just in time for the first real snowfall. (Just don’t ask me to do it again.)

24 October 2010


Intro: It might be best if you read this intro after you read the story and then reread the story again.

This was a dream I had early this last week. It has been bouncing around my head for the last few days and when I tried to come up with an idea of the story, I decided this was a good one for Halloween. Since this is a dream I tried to keep the same feeling in regards to the character being locked in place, limited action/reaction, the vague world based on feeling and not physical detail. I promise most of my dreams aren’t based on doom and gloom. I do have cheerful ones but when I wake I only remember the details for a few minutes before all that is left is the satisfied feeling. It is the darker ones that stay in my mind.

My hand shifted on the metal bar as the force of the bus stopping made me stumble forward. I glanced up as the bus driver climbed out of their chair and walked down the few steps to the street. Even with headphones in, I still heard the single gunshot. My body shivered as the driver climbed back into the bus, started the engine, and drove on. A young man lay sprawled on the street, undoubtedly dead. I pulled back from the window and shivered.

The bus continued on its route picking up people. There was no empty seat. I shared the overhead bar with half a dozen other people. Their faces blurred together as I thought about the young man, dead, in the street. The death made no sense. I felt I should get off but at every stop I remained where I was, like my hand was glued to the warm, slimy metal bar above my head.

Everyone shifted forward from the sudden lack of momentum, but it wasn’t an official stop in the route. The driver climbed down from the seat. Though I stared directly at them, I couldn’t make out any features. The blue, or maybe gray, uniformed figure stood at the front and said something I couldn’t hear even though I stood a few feet from the them. People shifted to stand in the aisle. I watched the driver pass and the people fell, dead. I think from a gun. No one reacted. My hand remained fixed on the bar as I vaguely took in the scene. There was no doubt they were dead, but there were no details, just the undeniable knowledge.

The driver moved back to the front and started the bus up. Through the front window I saw someone, sitting in the street. They pointed, their mouth forming words I couldn’t hear. As the bus stopped again, making me stumbled forward, I watched as the driver climbed out. The young man, in perfect clarity turned in place, frantically gesturing. I understood. He’d seen the driver kill the others. He was calling for help.

He fell, still. The driver got back on and the bus continued. I glanced out the window as we past and saw the young man, sprawled on the street, undoubtedly dead. I pulled back from the window and shivered.

20 October 2010


Growing up I listened to a lot of classical music. My mom controlled the radio at home (still does) and in the car it wasn’t until we learned how to drive until she relinquished the stereo to our begging. My dad, on the other hand, has always favored classic rock. My brothers and I have always enjoyed the music from movies, granted we prefer the orchestral music and not the rock “inspired by.” We could get away with playing it around the house because it could be considered classical. (I love classical music. My favorite is Scheherazade by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and no I can’t spell it without the help of a dictionary.)

When I was in college my friend introduced me to a site that has remixed video game music. I was hooked, even though I hadn’t even heard of 80% of the games and had only played maybe 5%. I have hours of the songs downloaded to my computer and listen to it while I’m working since it can really get my emotions going.

At the convention my husband and I went to a couple of weeks ago, we went to a discussion on the history of Japanese RPGs. The presenter did an amazing job of present the facts, making it fascinating, and pronouncing all of the foreign names. What made me laugh was the fact throughout his discussion I knew many of the games he was talking about. While I haven’t played many (my parents believed in Game Boys and computers not the big consoles), I have watched other people play them, or listened to the music.

17 October 2010

*Monsters of Imagination

Intro: I attend a weekly writing group. One of my friends writes children’s books and she has been working on a monster idea. When I came across this writing prompt I couldn’t pass it up. Besides, it kind of fits the season. When you were little, you could swear there was a monster under your bed--but no one believed you. On the eve of your 30th birthday, you hear noises coming from under your bed once again. The monster is back and has an important message to deliver to you.

“You don’t exist.”

“I don’t have time for this, lady.” The voice growled.

I squeezed my eyes closed wishing my husband were here and not on a business trip. “No. This is a figment of my imagination. You don’t exist.”

“Okay, let’s pretend I don’t exist, will you listen to my message now?”

Twenty years earlier, a monster lived under my bed. I hated him. As a ten-year-old, I thought it was common to have a monster. My friends and family didn’t agree. While I told fantastic stories about being kept up all night because my monster shook the frame or made groaning noises, they thought I was lying. Finally, it got so bad that my parents took me to a councilor. When I overheard the councilor tell my parents in hushed tones that he believed me certifiable, I knew I had to do something. The monster stayed until I was fourteen but I never mentioned him again. After another couple of years, I was convinced, just as much as my family that monsters didn’t exist.

Now, on the eve of my thirtieth birthday, the monster was back.

“Come on, lady. I’m not asking for much. Just a minute of your time.”

The dark shape loomed at the side of my bed and I squeaked pulling the covers up and moving further away. The same horns. The same scales. The same four arms. My nightmare was back.

“Go away, go away.” I rocked myself clutching the covers in tight fists.

“You haven’t changed at all. You use to do this back in the day.”

“Just go away.” I howled.

The last time I had seen my monster was in a similar situation. He was silhouetted against the window, moving steadily closer. I screamed, my parents came running and he was gone. They asked why I screamed and I just said it was a nightmare. He never came back. When we moved to another house a year later I watched the movers take away my bed. The bottom frame was filled with scratch marks, too large to be caused by an animal.

“Fine.” The voice said. “Don’t listen to me.”

The room fell silent and after a few minutes I opened my eyes. A large black face was inches from mine. The yellow eyes unblinking. I screamed and tried to scramble away but I was already in the corner.

“Do I have your attention now? Your daughter is in danger.”

“What?” I gasped thinking of my eight-year-old step daughter sleeping down the hall. “Don’t touch her.”

“Monsters come to the imaginative. You’re daughter has a strong imagination.”

The monster moved away and slunk back under the bed. I could hear his claws scratching the frame.


“You had the strength to quell me. Her monster grows stronger by the night.”


“I figured I owed you. You always did know when to scream. Made my job fun.”

The scratching stopped and I waited for only a moment before dashing out of room. As I moved down the hall, I could hear a faint whimpering. I burst through the door and moved to the bed. The little girl threw herself into my arms, something she’d never done in the year I’d been her mother.

“It’s okay, Penny.” I crooned stroking her hair.

“It’s going to eat me.” She sobbed. “Help me.”

“Of course I will. Let me tell you the first rule of dealing with monsters.”

13 October 2010

Sewing Project

So a couple of weeks ago I mentioned how I am no seamstress by any stretch of the imagination. This next year I hope to change that. My husband and I had the opportunity to attend a convention this weekend. As with all conventions, this one brings out the diehard fans and their costumes. (I have learned to accept the fact that even if the convention is geared for a different genre there will always be storm troopers and Dr. Who walking around.)

The costumes this year were amazing. I mean these costumes are something that could be used in a movie if the actor accidentally destroyed the professionally made clothing. So, I’m feeling motivated beyond belief (which is good since remember the whole stretch of the imagination comment earlier). I already have our costumes planned out and I probably won’t even have to break the bank to purchase the required fabric. Plus if I start now I can plan the sales better and not be (as) stressed when the con rolls around next year. No staying up until two in the morning trying to hem the mile long dress in time for the event in the evening.

Then again, in two months I may be writing that I am way in over my head and that we are going to be doing something completely different that doesn’t require even looking at the sewing machine. I hope not.

10 October 2010

*The Quest

Intro: I don’t normally do poetry so I thought I would try it. I apologize in advance to the true poets out there.

My quest begins.
I take a hesitant step into the dark.
Unnatural shapes
Dress in black
Lurk through the shadows.
I clutch my bag tightly
Moving towards the first target.
I am not alone.
Monsters run past
Attacking the entrance vigorously.
Their appetite only momentarily satisfied
They rush on.
I move forward
Wary as ever.
The door opens,
Light spills on my trembling figure.
I smile innocently
Quietly whisper,
“Trick or Treat.”
And hold out my bag.

06 October 2010

Family Bonding

A few weeks ago someone asked me why I married my husband. I told her it was because he didn't find me weird and always made me laugh. She thought I was joking. I wasn't. I love my husband very much and I am very glad he doesn't find me odd. Both of us like anime and while it is nothing to be ashamed of, the majority of the population can't understand why we'd rather spend the evening watching Japanese animation then the most recent episode of the hottest reality show or a sports game.

While my parents and sibling never enjoyed watching it as much as I do, they never comment against my interests. (I've gotten them to watch a few shows with me they really enjoy.) My husband had a different response when he was younger with some of his family members so he learned early not to mention it to other people.

This weekend my husband and I were able to spend some time with some of my husband's cousins. I don't know one of them as well since she has wonderful opportunities out of state and country. She mentioned that while she was in working in Japan she had some neat cultural experiences. We immediately bombarded her with specific questions that took her by surprise. We had a wonderful time talking about what we knew of Japanese culture. As we left that night, my husband and I talked about how much fun it was to have similar tastes with someone in his family.

03 October 2010

*Sweet Dreams

Intro: It’s nearly Halloween. Time for something a bit different. I don’t normally write horror/paranormal so forgive me if it isn’t as emotionally straining as you would typically expect.

The green expanse of hills stretched forth under my gaze. I sat, perched atop a large granite rock taking in the scenery listening to the sounds of birds flying overhead. This would be a good place to rest. My fingers plucked at the fabric of my trousers, covering the sleek phone engraved with a pentagram that rested there. Throwing it onto the rocks below would definitely be satisfying, for a brief moment. Was it worth the trouble later? I glanced at the blue moon, cresting over the next rise.

An awful electronic melody screeched, deleting the memory of the musical birds. I pulled out the phone. It was nothing more than a text message.

Harvey, come home.

My long black coat rippled in the wind as I made my way down the mountain side to the small village below. I could travel even further than I could before. Surprising, since I was nothing more than a figment of someone’s imagination. I was dubbed a personal pooka a servant to shield from the terrors of the night. Who needs a Jeeves? Before even reaching the bottom of the mountain, my coat of fabric had been replaced by thick black fur. The phone now imbedded in my head as my summoning link to the master.

Where are you?

At least when I didn’t have the phone, I didn’t have to hear the incessant ringtone which was impossible to change. I jumped up on my hind legs and pressed the bell to the rental my master was staying in. The real Jeeves of the household let me in.

He didn’t even look at me as he shut the door. There was no reason he would. I’m a figment of a deranged imagination visible only to the sick mind who dredged me up. Up the stairs, around the corner, up even more stairs, to the middle floor of the mansion. It was an uncanny ability, but not unexpected, always knowing where the master was located. He lounged in the library, a book newspaper propped on his legs. The large window behind his chair looked out to the east, over the town.

What took you so long?

I flopped on the floor next to his feet. It was my nightly duty to see to his dreams. Nightmares that plagued his sleep I consumed and kept away from him. He was nothing more than a weak willed necromancer. The butler glided smoothly into the room, pushing a trolley.

“You’re lunch, sir.”

“Thanks, Jeeves.” The master replied, rubbing his hands together.

I wasn’t around when he summoned the newest butler. It wouldn’t surprise me if he looked for the most proper looking English gentleman he could just for the opportunity to call him that ridiculous name. When I arrived, I was ordered to take the form of a white rabbit. I refused.


I tilted my head to the side and looked up at him with one yellow eye.

What do you think of Ireland so far?

“Fine, maybe you could release me into the wild here.” I replied drily. The words forming easily even in the canine snout. “You could consider it your good deed for the day.”

And maybe I’ll just send you back to the eternal Hell.

I closed my eyes and didn’t reply. My Hell did not burn; it merely existed to show me what I couldn’t have. Burning would have been a comfort.

“Is there anything else you need, sir?” Jeeves asked.

Just a piece of the nearest virgin’s soul, and perhaps some blood from a seventh son of a seventh son. I yawned biting the end off with a snap of my jaws. If I wanted to share, the master still wouldn’t hear my thoughts. That was what human speech was for. I was a part of him. He was no part of me.

Jeeves bustled around the trolley. Even if he had feet, he wouldn’t have stepped on me. The advantage to spirits as household personal, they never left a mess of their own by having dirty shoes.

“You can go.” The master said with a wave of his hand.

Jeeves bowed and left through the wall. A handy skill to be sure.

I glanced outside admiring the small town basking in the moonlight. Beautiful, silver, powerful moonlight. The time was right.

Harvey, I—

His voice cut off as I stood, the black coat flapping around my ankles. Light from a blue moon, powerful enough to bring nightmares to life. My golden eyes flecked to red as I advanced on the half-wit of a necromancer. I held up the small silver phone embossed with a pentagram and crushed it in my gloved hand. His weak connection severed as the pieces fell from my fingers.

“Shall I show you Hell?”

“But you’re a pooka.” He stammered falling out of his chair.

“You summoned something far worse.”

“What?” The word shrieked out of him as I moved even closer.

“Yourself. The self of nightmares.”

His screams brought Jeeves floating to the room a few minutes later.


Sitting comfortably in the chair, I deposited the newspaper on the floor motioning to a large garbage bag in the corner. “Take that out to the trash.”

“Of course, Sir.” Jeeves said picking up the bag and moving to the door. The bag sloshed with the motion.

The door shut. I leaned back in the chair closing my eyes and drifted into a peaceful sleep full of the horrors I’d collected.

29 September 2010


I took sewing lessons for four years when I was young. I'm no seamstress. I've made several sets of curtains, a couple of cloaks, a handful skirts, and a many other projects never to see the light of day. I'm really good at sewing things that don't have to be worn. I'm not patient enough to actually try and fit everything perfectly. Clothes never hang or drape or fit the way they are suppose to. My blankets and pillows and patches work out well enough.

I completed two sewing projects this last month that make me really happy. My husband needs a costume for something we're going to in October. I was able to make a really neat shirt from compiling two shirts together. It actually looks like it is suppose to but then again I bought two ready made shirts and made sure they fit him and basically just switched the sleeves and added a hood. Really not that difficult but I did it.

The other project I complete was lengthening a pair of jeans. I bought a pair for six bucks that were a little too short. I cut off about seven inches of pant leg from another pair that are worn out and sewed them to the bottom. Since the fabric color doesn't match I cuffed the extra length and sewed it in place. My trousers are now long enough and you can't even tell that the bottom is part of the original pair. My four years of weekly sewing lessons have paid off.

26 September 2010


Intro: My sister and I always complain about our thick hair during the summer. Most men just don't understand how hot it is to have thick long hair in the heat. We always swore we were going to shave our heads.

I looked in the mirror and ran my fingers through the long red tresses. Dozen of strands laced through my fingers as I pulled them away. Here we go again. After dropping the hair into the waste basket I finished applying my makeup and left the bathroom. I hesitated in my room, hands hovering a scarf. No, today I was going to be optimistic. With my backpack over my shoulder, I ran to catch the bus.

The school is filled with bright colors. Red, golds, oranges and even a few maroons are scattered through the halls. There are already a few people wearing scarves or hats. It wasn't surprising because some people were always more susceptible to the change. I only hope that I can at least make it to the spring formal but no longer. I didn't want to be labeled an evergreen.

“Hey, Breanne.” Kim said, sliding in next to me on the bench. Her usual lunch of peanut butter and honey sandwich looked more appealing than my soggy cafeteria salad. I poked at the limp leaves.

“Wow, you're color turned out nice.” She said.

I glanced up from the pale green forest and took in her honey golden locks. Something I'd always wanted. Red is a family trait. My parents and two brothers all have hair like mine.

“Did you hear that Jefferey has already lost his hair.” Kim tossed her head, her curly hair bouncing lightly. If she weren't my best friend, I'd hate her. “Isn't he your date to the formal?”

“Yes.” I poked my lunch without looking up.


I absently touch my hair and give it a small tug, nothing happens. If Kim was already curling her hair, she was ahead of me, again. We spent the rest of lunch talking about the plans for the night. When lunch ended I headed to my math class and had to wait while the person who used the desk in the previous class swept it off. He wore a hat and would continue to until all of it was completely gone and didn't look so awful. As he walked out he nodded in my direction. Kind of cute. I wonder what his name is.

When I got home from school both of my brothers were already parked in front of the television playing one of their games. Lester wore a beanie low on his brows. Great, someone else ahead of me. Mom handed me some cookies and bit down a sigh at seeing her head scarf. She saw it.

“Don't worry, it's not that warm.”

“It reached eighty-five today. If I don't start losing my hair, I'll be nothing but an evergreen.”

“There's nothing wrong with that.”

I roll my eyes. “Right, Mom. I've got to go do my homework”

All of my books spread out on the living room floor. The walls are covered with family pictures. Bored with the math homework I smile at the Christmas family photo, our brown hair neatly done. The picture from last year's summer vacation to the lake with all of our heads covered to protect them from the run. Mom was always trying to get a picture of us with our red hair but we never did change at the same time. While Lester was already starting to lose his hair, Byron's was still mostly brown. He always lost his hair quickly after the change.

I leave all my books where they were and headed to the bathroom. As I ran my hands through my hair I felt something give and a patch smoothly came out. My body was finally starting to accept the changing seasons. Thank goodness. I hate the idea of having heavy hair during the hot summer months. And if I was lucky it would be back just in time for the fall formal. Life was good.

22 September 2010

Garbage Dumping and Other Useful Skills

My husband is currently part of the blue-collar workforce. One of his new responsibilities is acting as backup garbage truck driver, or sanitation worker, however you want to look at it. While I have always been very grateful I can drag the garbage and recycling cans to the curb one day a week, I’ve never really thought about what it entails. This last week I had the opportunity to ride in the cab while my husband did a quick run. It consisted of picking up a compactor and taking it to the dump. The first thing I noticed, besides the cool looking bulldog hood ornament, was the fact that I could see over the top of all the jacked-up vehicles on the road. I could actually see the horses in the trailers and I felt the need to cringe every time we approached a light. Interestingly enough, my husband never thought about the fact that he could see over almost every other vehicle on the road. I was happy to stay in the cab while he loaded the compactor, unloaded it, drove around to the other side, picked it up again, dumped it, unloaded it, drove back around, picked it up, and finally deposited it back where it needed to go. (Yes. That is really how it went. Because of how the cables hook up and the location of the dumping door it is a lot more extensive than I ever thought it would be.)

I sit at a computer for hours every day and create words. I don’t think I have the talent to be a sanitation worker. I’m terrible at driving big trucks and backing, I don’t think they’d ever let me get a commercial driver’s license which is required. I’m very grateful for the people who can actually work with their hands and machines. Trust me; if we ever have some kind of disaster I will be useless. Thank goodness for a mechanically inclined husband. We might be able to trade his skills and possibly my copyedited materials (as fire starter) for clean water and warm blankets. I do have plenty of copyedited material and rejection letters I’d be willing to burn. It wouldn’t break my heart at all.

19 September 2010


Intro: Because I could. What other reason do I need?

Kirkpatrick turned off the television in disgust. Once again, Hollywood had taken a perfect good monster and made it, loveable. Werewolves, aliens, mutants, vampires, what was next? Two headed monsters with three arms? Nope. Never mind. That had been done too.

“If you’re bored why don’t you take a walk?” Gladys said leaning over the back of the couch and turning the television back on. “While I finish the show.”

“You already know how it’s going to end.” Kirkpatrick said as he stood up and brushed at impeccable sleeve. “The tragic but amazing man will beat all possible odds against his own character and choose true love over nature.”

“But I can always hope.” She replied, sitting in the recently vacated seat.

He left the mansion. It was still raining and the drops pattered against the dark leaves. Even though the house was located in the middle of the forest, there were no animal noises of any kind. Just how he liked it.

At the road two women accosted him. Though neither of them were sober, they could still walk in a fairly straight line and knew the alphabet.

“Hello, hot stuff.” One purred. “How about a date?”

He pursed his lips and regarded the scantily clad women. The one that was more sober stared at him with wide eyes.

“Red eyes, white skin. What are you?” The bottle fell loosely from her hands a she scrambled away.

“Vampire?” The other one breathed, ignoring her friend’s hasty retreat.

Kirkpatrick rolled his eyes and sighed, waiting for the next line which was always “But your hair is red.” Everyone, well, the two people who had a chance to realize what he was before he ate them commented on his red hair.

“Will you please go on a date with me?” She clutched his arm tightly and looked up at him through her lashes. “Pluh-ease?”

He pulled out of her grasped and rubbed his lip thoughtfully. “A chance at true love?”

“It would be epic.” She replied. “I’m . . . Faith.”

“And I’m Charles.” He replied flatly.

“Oh, what a grand name.” She latched onto his arm again and tried to pull him towards a building.

Clenching his teeth, he slowly walked towards the building and paused at the door as she threw it open. He remained where he was as she dashed in. After a moment she came back.

“Aren’t you coming?”

Blast Hollywood. They make real vampires seem so drab.

“I don’t really feel invited.” He replied.

“Of course you’re invited, silly. Come in and have a drink.”

He should leave. This wasn’t nearly as fun. His ‘date’ would switch between using words. Some words came straight out of an eighteenth-century romance novel, no, he thought, probably not the books but the Hollywood movies. Other times she spoke the meaningless jabber with her friends that mimicked their own written abilities. It gave him a headache.

For the next four hours she paraded him around the town inviting him in to all the hangouts. She offered him drinks but he always politely declined and would usher her on to the next place when she looked like she was getting to friendly with the beverages.

“Wow, it’s nearly four and I’m not smashed. That’s a first.” She pulled away from him for a moment and spun in a circle on the sidewalk.

“Faith.” Kirkpatrick called. She didn’t respond. “Faith.”

“What? Who . . . oh. Yes.” She replied.

“How about a walk in the park?”

“Will you protect me, Charles?”

“From all but the scariest of monsters.” He replied.

Away from the lights and noise of the city he led her to a large tree and a pond. He pushed her back against the tree and could hear her heart beating rapidly.

“I owe you my thanks.” He said, leaning closer.


“Because you’ve invited me so many places I couldn’t go before.” His sharp teeth sunk into her neck.

“Let me go . . .” She faltered

Good, she was sober enough to realize what a fool she’d been. Her body made no splash as it slid into the pond.


Gladys looked up briefly as he sat down on the couch next to her. She’d put in another movie, this one didn’t appear any different than the hundreds of others. If she was lucky, it would end right before the sun rose.

“You know,” he said, shifting down on the couch a little. “I think Hollywood may actually not be completely daft.”

15 September 2010

English Major

It amazes me how each Tuesday comes around and I’m frantic to find an interesting story of my life to post on Wednesday. For me writing fiction is much easier than trying to write interesting biographies that people other than my family want to read. Not that there are many people besides my family that currently reads this. I’m okay with that.

With my husband just starting a new semester in school it reminds me of when I went to college. When I started right out of high school I was so sure I was going to be an elementary teacher. I had everything figured out. The second week into the second semester I realized I would go crazy if I was an elementary teacher. Not that I don’t love children and enjoy spending time with them I just knew I couldn’t do it. What was I going to do if not be an elementary teacher?

Side note: Part of the dissuasion from the major was I took AP Calculus in high school and passed the test for a whopping 8 math credits. For an elementary education degree I was required to take a math class specifically for the major. I think they were supposed to teach us how to teach math. Not this teacher, we just learned basic math all over again. I had no problem; I finished the 100 question final in 15 minutes and got a 98% out of the class. I don’t complain about only having 98% because I spent most of the time playing the computer at my desk. There were a few people who actually struggled with that class. I couldn’t believe it, we weren’t even covering algebra or geometry. Drove me bonkers.

So I decided to major in communications because I really liked my speech class. Another couple of weeks went by and I changed it again. I finally settled on English with an emphasis in technical writing. I’m a shallow person and prefer reading genre fiction for plot over anything else. I do like symbolism and all that but I hate analyzing every paragraph of every page and trying to figure out what the author, who lived two hundred years earlier, is trying to tell us now. Don’t get me wrong I love classics such as the Brontë sisters, Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, and Jane Austen.

So here I am, a technical writer who hates grammar but is slowly getting better through practice. I’m not good at the mechanics of writing but I wouldn’t call myself bad anymore. This is what a college degree gave me and I love it.

12 September 2010

*Soda Can Dragon

Intro: I used to write stories about dragons all the time. Every story I wrote or read had to have dragons in it someway if I was going to enjoy it. While all of the novels I write now are science fiction and none of them even hint at dragons there is still a part of me that dreams of flying.

On Joanne’s fourteenth birthday she found an unopened can of lemonade, the traditional yellow kind. Pink lemonade was nothing but a mockery or lemons, Joanne thought. If you couldn’t find it in nature, it shouldn’t be digested. Pink lemons definitely did not appear on her family lemon tree in Arizona.

She knew she shouldn’t drink it. After all she found it lying forlornly against a chain-link fence partially hidden by a bush. There was no telling what devious person had made microscopic punctures and laced the lemonade with something disastrous like arsenic or bleach. She knew she shouldn’t have even picked it up, but there is was, in the side drink pocket of her backpack as she continued walking home from school.

Other kids complained about their parents. Joanne remained silent because she had no experience with cruel mothers or unjust fathers. Her parents were a happy couple and although they had little money to spare on frivolities, they were never wanting. Frivolities consisted of things like candy bars or soda pop. Joanne was happy with the freshly squeezed orange juice and warm chocolate chip cookies.

In her room she reverently set the can on her desk. She looked at it for a little while. She hadn’t noticed before but the writing on the can wasn’t in English and didn’t look like any brand she’d seen before and she knew her lemonades.

She gently rubbed the top again and sighed. As her finger brushed at the metal she caught site of the sell by date. It was today, giving her another excuse not to drink it. Rarely did she see any soda can so close to expiration.

To prevent as much temptation as possible, she set the can on her shelf, next to her other treasures. Instead of doing her homework, like she’d planned, she took down one of her favorite books and started reading. It was a retelling of a fairytale and she basically had the whole thing memorized. The end still filled her with butterflies.

The can fell off her bookshelf. It rolled slowly across the desk and fell to the carpet. Joanne stayed on her bed, her feet tucked under her and watched. The can cracked, the shiny metal edges flashing in the light. She covered her face but nothing squirted out. Instead there was a low chirping sound.

A polished silver dragon stretched out on the carpet and mewed. The can lay in pieces around it. Large light yellow eyes regarded her thoughtfully. Joanne moved closer to the edge of her bed, holding her breath. When her father came into the room, the can of lemonade sat in the middle of the floor looking innocent.

That night as she laid in bed her gaze kept drifting to the cylinder doing absolutely nothing on her shelf. Her eyes drifted closed and something mewed softly in her ear, with one hand she raised the blanket and felt a warm metal shape, like holding a tin mug of hot chocolate when camping, move under the covers and take up position behind her knees. She smiled to herself and dreamt of flying.

From that time on, the can never left her side. She carried in her backpack every day to school and more than once she had to stop someone from opening it. Once, when she was a junior, someone flipped the tab before she could stop them. Only the tab wouldn’t flip. It remained firmly in place as if welded to the can itself.

Every night and every waking moment she was alone, the little soda can dragon would come out of its can and watch her. Though the dragon never grew larger, it comforted Joanne to know it was always there and would rest on the back of her hand while she worked. It didn’t weigh much being made from aluminum made it light and glistening.

In college one of her roommates threw the can out. It took Joanne two hours to find it again. That night the dragon wrapped around her wrist and showed no sign of ever letting go. The idea that the dragon wanted to stay warmed her heart. She never saw the dragon eat but the cans in the recycling bin never added up to how many her roommates drank. It made her wonder what the dragon had done when she’d been living at home.

Her junior year of college she met a nice boy. They sat next to one another in an economics class and he’d asked for her number. When her phone rang two days later it was the dragon that nudged it her way. It watched her expectantly as she talked. From that point on, the dragon always brought her the phone at precisely eight fifty eight, in anticipation of the nightly phone calls.

A year and a half later they were married. She had packed the can in her suitcase out of habit but it wasn’t there when they arrived at their hotel. Her new husband could tell something was wrong but she pushed the worry away and turned her focus on him.

She moved into his place and as she was unpacking her last box, she found the soda can resting at the bottom. Even stroking its warm sides didn’t provoke an answer.

He looked over her shoulder, his eyes wide with shock. Joanne hastily picked the can up and tried to splutter an explanation about keeping it for the unique can. He only smiled and held out a can of pink lemonade. As she stared at the strange markings the can shifted and a long toothy snout poked briefly out of the top before disappearing.

With a grin, he placed his soda can on the mantle. Joanne tentatively left her can next to his and they walked out hand in hand. They risked a glance back and saw the two dragons, one with pink eyes and the other with yellow, curled up together.

08 September 2010


For as long as I can remember, I’ve had vivid dreams. Most of the ones I still remember from childhood are the nightmares. Not surprising really because they are the ones that were more emotional. Sadly, they were normally the ones that were the most coherent as well. Here are just a few examples of the nightmares I’ve had over the years.

Age 4(ish)

My little brother was born the year I turned four. I really don’t remember anything because I was so young. But something’s always stayed with me and I’m pretty sure it came from around that time.

The nightmare was a little red riding hood story. Instead of the wolf trying to eat the little girl, it was trying to eat my baby brother. I made it through the story without him being eaten but as the dream continued the wolf would pop out of the most unexpected places (like a loaf of bread at a grocery store) and eat my brother. It kept happening, over and over.

Age 6-7(ish)

I had a dream that was like a video game. The game consisted of different levels I had to complete. If I died, I had to start back at the beginning. The levels consisted of things like a rock slide, or water to explore. One had a witch that when she looked at me, I died. It never failed that there was always a woman in the room before me that I could hear screaming. I got so good that I could more often than not, rescue the woman. The final level was a Jester who had a mask and a knife. He would put the mask on, disappear, and then stab me in the back. I would then start back at the beginning and have to do it all over again.

Age 12-14(ish)

When I was older, I had the Jester dream again. I was able to get through all of the levels. I even killed the Jester, although I don’t remember how. Once I killed the Jester, I was the one with the mask and the knife. I would see someone come in, put the mask on, appear behind them and then kill them. I had no control over my body and was forced to kill people over and over.

Last Week

I dreamed I was going to a writing conference and we would get to have the first chapter of our story looked over by a “professional” group. I was the last person to be critiqued. Before I handed out the copies of my story one person said: “This is either going to be the best thing we’ve seen or the absolute worst.” I handed out my copies with trepidation and started to read my story. The first paragraph made no sense whatsoever and it went downhill from there. When I woke up the next morning, my heart was beating so fast and I had to remind myself that it was only a dream. Amazing how nightmares change over time.

05 September 2010

*Zoo Animals

Intro: I love going to the zoo but I never liked going on the school trips because they wouldn't let me see the animals I wanted for the length I wanted. My family has had a year pass for years and we would go all the time. Now that I am older I love watching little kids' reactions to the animals I've been looking at for years. I enjoy people watching.

Once again the school was taking a trip to the zoo. Somewhere I’ve been a million times before. Never by choice of course. I try to convince my parents to let me stay home. I even volunteer to clean my room.

“It will be fun,” said Father.

“It’s required,” said Mother.

So, here I am, sitting on a cramped bus sharing one tiny plastic fabric bench seat with two other students. Never mind that it was a difficult fit three of us four years ago when we were in second grade. I don’t even know the other students. They’re from the other two sixth grade classes. Something about encouraging interaction. My stomach rumbles and I glumly think of the brown paper lunch bag undoubtedly smashed in the bottom of the box. It always happens. My cookies are most definitely crumbs.

Before we even get to the zoo I’m sick of the animals. I have a headache from the monkeys behind me kicking the seat and my ears hurt from the screeching of the parakeets and laughing hyenas. They don’t need to take us to a zoo, just put up a big mirror in the class and we could do all our reports on animal behavior without needing to set one foot on a bus.

“What’s your favorite animal, Jamie?” The girl next to me asks.

I glance at her nametag; yeah we all get to wear nametags. Remember that whole improving interaction who-ha. It says Heather. I don’t know why I bother, I’ll forget as soon as I look away. I receive another sharp kick to my back.



“They have no vocal chords.” I reply. I don’t think she heard because the chattering parakeets are screeching about something.

Off the bus is no better. I’m assigned to a group and though I know them all, none of us would have picked the others to spend a whole day with. I pity the parent watching over us. Mrs. Paitly. She’s nice and sweet and has eyes like a hawk. Not really though because I compared them when we pass the cage. But nothing gets past her. Somehow she keeps all of us in line as we straggle from one exhibit to another.

“Who would ever come here by choice?” Lacey Londawl asks wrinkling her nose when we enter the aviary. “It smells like . . .”

“Lacey.” Mrs. Paitly warns. “Can you tell me what we are looking for in here?”

Lacey tries to toss her hair and she screams. A white goop slowly slops down the side or her auburn hair. Freddy Childs hoots and points which starts the rest of the boys. All the girls squirm and chatter to one another. The next twenty minutes we wait outside the bathroom while Lacey tries to wash the gunk out and make her hair presentable. Mrs. Paitly is with her but keeps popping her head out the door to make sure we’re still here.

I sit on the bench looking at the nearest animal pen. Little black and white birds waddle around on sun bleached concrete. Penguins. They never change. The only exciting time is when they’re in the water which only happens once in a blue moon.

I hear a giggle. Then there’s a faint “Mo?”

The laughter continues and I turn my attention from the flightless birds.


A small girl sits on a man’s shoulders. Her blond hair is done up in two elastics and it looks like antenna on a bug. She claps her hands and calls again, “Mo!”

“Yes, that’s a penguin.” The father replies. “Do you want to see the zebras now, little one?”


The father chuckles and they continue to watch the penguins. I look back at the penguins. They rest on the concrete; most aren’t even standing anymore but relaxing in the tiny shade available. The little girl giggles.

On the way home I’m sitting by Heather again. She’s red and flushed. Apparently she didn’t put on enough sunscreen and I wonder if I’m a lobster like her.

“So did you enjoy the giraffes?” She asks. “I got to see the tiger. They’re my favorite.”

A smile tugs at the corner of my mouth. “I actually really enjoyed the penguins today.”

“They weren’t doing anything interesting when we were there.” Heather says, a little downcast.

“I had a great time watching.”

The boy behind me kicks the seat. The girls are still talking to each other; the discussion revolves around Lacie’s misfortune. Another groups laughs loudly at a joke I couldn’t hear. I’m glad when the bus drops us off at school. The trip took the whole day and we are quickly excused. My head is pounding.

As I walk the five blocks home I look up at the blue sky and smile.


01 September 2010

Forgotten Child

I really meant to post last night, it was on my to-do list. Sleep won. Sorry this is late this morning.

The other Sunday I had to arrive early to rehearse for a musical number. I was the third hand in the accompaniment. The men were required to attend another meeting in another building. The other accompanist has four children between the ages of 5 months and 6 years. She was helping me in Primary that day since the regular chorister wasn’t able to make it. After we finished practicing for the musical number and church was about to start, I took the two older children to Primary while she ran the 18 month-old child to nursery.

The first half went well but during the second hour the chorister grabbed my arm.

“I left my baby in the Relief Society room.”

Relief society is the class for the women. As my friend tore out of the Primary room I thought to myself, “Leaving a child in a room full of women isn’t nearly as bad as it could be.” Sure enough her son was sleeping peacefully. They figured my friend was feeling overwhelmed and needed someone to watch her son since her husband was at another meeting.

I can’t even begin to imagine the fear of leaving a child somewhere. My husband and I don’t have children at this time. I hope that if (or maybe I should say when) I accidentally leave a child it is in as safe a place as a room full of woman who know exactly where I am and are just trying to help.

29 August 2010

*Law of the City

Intro: I'm not exactly sure where this story came from. It was just my brain wandering. I may do something with the setting but I don't know if I will do something with the exact characters.

Heber City celebrated the nation's 700th birthday like every other city. People moved through the streets in herds. Even with the fast paced life, traffic was slow. More than once traffic jams occurred for weeks on end.

The small section of railroad tracks divided the city like an invisible wall. Though the unused track only extended a a short way through the buildings, the line continued to either end. No one crossed the tracks. There wasn't even danger of being struck by a train. The tracks hadn't been used for years. No vehicle needed tracks, or even roads, to move.

The city extended for nearly a hundred miles on either side of the track. From end to end the small city stretched for a hundred and fifty miles. Yet that number came from an old survey and it didn't include the suburbs which grew every year.

There are two different social groups: homies and drifters. Homies have a place to live. Drifters live on the tracks. They are one of the safest places in town.

Jarryn liked living on the tracks. Today, more than every, it was great. With the celebration going in town he had a great views. All he had to do, was get to the old railroad station before anyone else. With his pack slung over his shoulder, he jogged between the rails. Other drifters were already setting up to watch the parades go by on either side.

Blankets spread across the tin roof but Jarryn's small corner remained clear. His power was complete. Limited but satisfying none the less. He had been accepted as a drifter. Some of the others on roof nodded to him as he sat on the edge, his legs dangling off. The person next to him had the boots Jarryn drooled over every day in one of the nearby shops. By living on the tracks they saved more on rent and put it towards other items.

The parades went on for most of the day. The hover cars and floats were packed with people all dressed in some form of red, white, and blue. When the parades finished on one side, everyone turned and watched the other side of the city's display. The two sides always competed. That was why it was so great to be a drifter. The best of both worlds. And the worst. Get to cozy with one side and it would be dangerous.

As Jarryn and the rest of the drifters collected their stuff, a noise broke out in the crowd. A figure jogged through the milling bodies and up to the track. The drifters raised a hand in greeting but the figure kept going up over the tracks and into the other side of the city. Immediately a cry broke out and the man had to run for his life through the buildings. The Jarryn kept his head down and moved on. No use getting involved. It wasn't worth it.

That was the law of the city. People may live together but they did not share lives.

25 August 2010

Writing for Charity

This weekend I had the opportunity to attend a writing conference. The convention wasn’t large and mainly focused on the purpose; all proceeds went to purchase books for underprivileged children. A good cause in my mind but what really drew me was the opportunity to talk to authors. Those who know me know I like to talk, to those I know. Talking to strangers, let alone people I admire, is very difficult. This is difficult for most people. I didn’t want to go alone and ended up convincing one of my friends to come with me. It was a two hour drive both ways. We left early and got home rather late. Do we regret it? Not in the least.

I am pleased to report I learned some new things, won (by sheer pestering it seems) a reviewer copy of an unreleased book (which I finished in three days. It would have been less but I was needed at church and work), and talked (without too much stammering) to a half dozen authors for an extended period of time.

I’m headed to a (much) larger conference later this year and this whole conference was in preparation to go to that one. I’m raring to go, even more than before, which I didn’t think was possible. The only problem now is to finish editing in time and I’ll be required to talk to editors and agents as well as authors. There’s always something.

22 August 2010

*Perfect Chord

Intro: I helped accompany a musical number in church today. While I'm not truly an accomplished musician, I can preform moderately well. Though I have experienced many of these same feelings, I've never had this particular terrifying experience.

The lights are dim. The piano squats in the center of the stage. There is a breath of anticipation as the lights slowly brighten. Squaring my shoulders, I step from the side. The smattering of applause did nothing to still my heart. It drove the beating faster until it felt like my heart would exploded. The sleek hulking figure drew nearer with every hesitant step.

I adjust my skirt with shaking hands. Perched on the cushioned leather seat my hand pause over the keyboard. The audience breaths deep and waits. The notes, the rhythms jumble together. I can't remember the first note. My fingers, still inches above the keys, twitch. What was that first note?
The pause stretched on for eternity. My brain is racing. I close my eyes and breath deeply.

Gently I lower my still shaking fingers to the keys. The first chord is strong. It activates my memory. The notes, learned from hours of practice, flow freely. Even the tricky passage runs smoothly, though not perfectly.

There is only the piano and me. The song has never sounded more beautiful. Now, for the final chord, the mot often missed note. My fingers never want to play it right. Holding my breath I crescendo up and smash my fingers down. The applause is thundering yet all I can hear is the perfect chord. All of the hours, the tears, the frustration, and the money is finally worth it.

18 August 2010

Technology and Reading

I understand that many people are interested in purchasing eReaders. Here are my four reasons why I would not purchase one:

1. I prefer not to be restricted to an outlet. Though eReaders may have a long battery life, I can guarantee that my paperback book will last longer.

2. I don't want to worry about something happening to it and I never want to ever tell someone they can't borrow it because they might break it. If I drop it in the bathtub, a child scribbles on the cover, or someone accidentally knocks it off the counter, my paperback will be far less expensive to replace.

3. I don't want to worry about the books not being compatible with the next released model. I am tired of losing files due to corrupted files, I don't want to repurchase books because the next new thing isn't compatible with my current library. Unless I somehow forget to speak English, my paperback book survive the next technological advanced.

4. Last but certainly not least. How are eBooks suppose to be signed by the author. I have multiple books on my shelf that have been signed by the author. I will never forget waiting anxiously in line to get a chance to talk to one of my favorite authors and now having a personalized copy of their book.

With that all said, I'm not against owning an eReader. If someone were to give me one I'd certainly use it. They are handy for travel and when I need to travel light. However, in my mind, eReaders will never replace paperback books. It just doesn't seem practical.

15 August 2010

*The Yellow Duck

Intro: I wasn't sure what to write so I decided to take an ordinary object, a rubber duck, and turn it into something extraordinary. I hope you enjoy it. This is my first time writing in present tense. Well, that I can remember.

The yellow duck bobs in the water. I sink low. The water barely teases the bottom of my nose as I blow out my mouth. The bubbles from my flapping lips send the duck into another spin. I can never get him to fall over.

“Are you done yet?” My older sister asks.

The water in my bath is room temperature, the cue to get out. Mom never likes it when we take too long. Four children, two parents, a cousin, and a visiting family friend limit bathroom time. I scoop up Mr. Duck, I named him when I was only three, and dry off. With the towel around my waist and the duck in hand, I leave.

I keep the duck with me so my younger sister won’t play with him. She nearly broke him a couple of weeks ago. Made his squeaker blubber. Dad only fixed him because I was in tears. I never cry.

“No self-respecting nine-year-old would cry over a duck.” He murmured. “Would you like a matchbox car? How about some army men?”

I took the repaired duck and left. Mr. Duck has an honored place on my shelf. Dad still grumbles but never does anything. The shelf is high enough that I have to stand on my bed to reach it. If I don’t’ put him up high, he won’t be safe.

Technically, everyone else in the family had ducks. Well, everyone but the little destroying monster who always gets into my stuff and wrecks it. She wasn’t born yet when the packaged arrived on the door step. It had enough ducks for everyone in the family. A typed note lay on top.

“Please use daily. Thank you.”

Everyone in neighborhood received a box and a note. I know because everyone still talks about it. There was no trace of where the boxes came from or why. Some people threw them out immediately. My family brought them in. I immediately took one out and named it. My older sister and brother fingered them and said no thanks. I think sis said it because brother did. She always tries to imitate him.

All the ducks in the city are long gone, except mine. Well, I think Krissy down the street still has one but I don’t really know. Neither of us mentions the ducks because they aren’t cool.

Sometimes men in black suits come into town but they’re always thrown out. They talk about the city being dangerous, or something. Even I know that’s a lie. I sometimes wonder if they left the ducks and that’s why people hate them.

With Mr. Duck safe I go outside. The trees are bare, but everyone hopes the leaves will come back soon. It’s warming up. I don’t know when the leaves are coming back and I don’t care. Doesn’t change my life whether they’re here or not.

Since school’s out, there’s not much to do. Mom and Dad are always working or sleeping. My sisters are always busy in their rooms and even my cousin, who moved in a couple of years ago, rarely leaves the house. Mom says it’s because of the machine. The way she says it makes me laugh. I’ve seen the machine; it’s nothing more than a computer. I use to watch him play but Mom found out and made me stop.

We have a guest staying with us but he only sleeps here. I heard Dad complaining to Mom that we weren’t a hotel and they were either going to get paid or the friend could find another place to live. The friend came, the friend stayed. Dad always looses the argument against Mom. I once asked the friend what he did. He explained something regarding something. It has a long name and I don’t understand. I don’t ask for an explanation. People like him always talk a lot and never make sense.

I wander down the street with my hands in my pockets. There are only a few people on the street. Most of them move slowly about their yards. A few wave. I wave back.

No one answers at Henry’s house. Henry’s my best friend. Well, more of my third best friend but Steve and Charlie are sick. I’m Henry’s fourth best friend so it works out. I like his house. His mother always offers chocolate chip cookies. I don’t know who doesn’t like being here.

I try knocking again and press my face up against the glass. A figure moves slowly to the door.

“Robert.” Henry’s mom says. She coughs a couple of times then adds. “I’m sorry but Henry can’t play today.”

My face falls and I mumble my thanks. I jam my hands in my pockets and kick a few pebbles as I walk back to my house. If Mom and Dad find out Henry’s sick too, they won’t let me go back over. Once my friend’s get sick, I’m banned from their house. That’s the reason school’s out. Too many sick kids. At first it was fun, not having school. Not anymore. Now there’s nothing to do.

I spend the rest of my day in my room. Mr. Duck watches me read a few books and color. Later, as I help set the table for dinner, someone knocks on the door. I reach the door first; no one can keep up with my quick feet. Two men stand on the step, looking down at me.

“Robert?” One of them asks. “You need to come with us.”

I furrow my brow confused. “I need to ask Mom.”

“No.” The man says, grabbing my arm. “There’s no time, the filter won’t help anymore.”

My family only watches through the window, their faces blank. I’m set in the back of the car and Krissy looks at me her eyes red and swollen. We drive out of town. A man pounds in a large sign. Do Not Enter. Radiation.

The first tree we pass is completely covered with leaves.

11 August 2010

Summer Employment Part 2

With summer coming to a close, I figured I would have one last post about my joyous experience as an amusement park attendant.

Our uniforms were really simple. They gave us a colored button up shirt (pale green in color) and we had to provide khaki trousers. Nothing fancy really. I was glad that the shirts were light colored. One of the other sections (food if I recall right) had to wear navy blue shirts. As one who does terrible in hot weather, I was glad for the light coloring.

Another aspect of our uniform was name tags which had our pictures. I don’t know how many times that summer someone would call me by name and I would look at them expecting to see a familiar face. They would smile and I would remember I was wearing a nametag. The next year my family went to another amusement park on vacation. Oh boy did we have fun calling people by name.

Did you know there are height restrictions on rides for a reason? That there are some rides that are dangerous if someone is too small or too large. I worked a couple of rides that had minimum height requirements. You would not believe what parents tried to get past us. Little girls with their hair piled on top of their head, boys with hats perched extra high, children walking through on their tip toes. I don’t know why they got mad when I caught them. Then they would argue that this child rode on other rides with the same restrictions. Great. Many of us wished they would measure everyone at the front and give them different wrist bands coordinated with exactly which ride they could go on. That would make things much easier. (Can you tell I wasn’t really impressed with this employer?)

I once had a family boo me for not allowing their son (who was six inches too short) on the ride. Another set of parents complained to a manager because I put my hand on the top of their child’s head. They argued that I treated her like a doll and it was inappropriate. Oh, what happy days. Thank goodness for desk jobs.

08 August 2010


Intro: This story is like the Brothers story. It's a short story that preludes one of my novels. This one is from “Warehouse Seventeen.” And I'm sorry but it's a little longer than a thousand words. Not by too much but I didn't want to cut anything out. I hope you enjoy.

Jabber rubbed her eyes angrily. Blood dripped on her shirt from a split lip and her ear was sore because someone had torn out her earring in the fight. It was yet another injury that would be futilely explained away by lies. Not that Mister would believe the lies but he always pretended he did.

Traveling to Mister’s shop was easy for her. The city of catwalks and bridges was the only place she knew. Rising three floors and moving four buildings to the south east took nearly three hours. That was only because she had to avoid populated areas. Most people avoided her but there were enough that went out of their ways to find her. She always played it safe.

Mister’s shop was just around the corner. There was a group of several kids sitting lazily against the building and railing. Some dangled their feet into the open air while others let their legs stretch out nearly the length of the walk. Before she could turn and walk around another way, her vision changed. Red became green and the clear of the sky a shocking orange. The boys were no longer in sight. A lone figure ran away, their face hidden by strange white shadows. Another figure came around the corner, dressed in the sharp cut of a sentinel uniform. The sentinel looked her direction and his brow furrowed. He moved closer and reached out a hand. There was no pressure as his finger tips moved down her check but his fingers were coated a bright green.

He walked away, wiping his hands on his trousers and disappeared around the corner. Only then did she look down at herself. Before the colors righted she saw green covering her front and dripping onto the catwalk. Most of her shirt was gone and yellow and orange splotches covered her visible skin. With a blink, the shirt was whole and the splotches gone.

The visions were a part of her life. They'd always been a part of her life, and she hated them. Life would be better if she didn't know the future. Or rather, if she didn't know what wasn't going to happen. The visions never came true. Knowing what wasn't going to happen didn't make life any easier, or more pleasant.

Footsteps on the catwalk brought her out of her musings.

“Heya, cutie.” One of the boys. “Looking for a little fun?”

There was rattle as he held out a bag. Little white pills shifted together. She stared at the bag. Drugs were nothing new and every time someone offered, she refused. As she glanced up, the boy took a step back muttering a curse. Quickly looking down again, she moved backwards, raising her hands defensively.

“What's wrong with you?”

She didn't say anything and continued backing away.

“Freak.” The boy murmured. He stuffed the bag into his pocket but there was a faint clink.

She paused for a moment tilting her head to the side then moved away. It took another twenty minutes to get to Mister's shop. The boys didn't even look her direction when she ducked into the store.

“Happy Birthday, Jabber.”

An elderly gentleman stood behind the counter, a dusty apron tied around his waist. A small cake sat on the counter. She was amazed he fit ten candles on such a small surface. It was the biggest cake they'd ever had. Mister and her could each have several bites.

“Jabber? What happened?” Mister moved forward and gently brushed her hair out of the way.

She shook her head and the long hair fell forward, covering her eyes. “Nothing. Don't worry about it.”

Mister sighed and smiled softly. “How about I close up shop and we start celebrating?”

“But it's still early.”

“Don't worry about it. Today is a special occasion. Closing up early isn't a problem.” Mister smiled and moved towards the front to lock the door. “Just head on back.”

While Mister's back was turned, Jabber glanced in the till. There were only a few bills. The same amount that had been there for the last week. Once again, they were broke. With her heart in her throat, she moved to the back.

A small table was set with two plates and a small wrapped box sat on one side. She froze in the door but a gentle hand nudged her forward.

“Come on, hurry up.”

Mister's chuckle turned into a bone rattling cough. The cough had persisted for two weeks now but there was no money to visit the doctor. Neither of them mentioned it.

After a light dinner of cold cut sandwiches, she picked up the small present. Mister was grinning broadly as she carefully unwrapped the paper. She'd be able to use it for his birthday in a couple months.

“Lewis Carroll.” She said softly and carefully flipped through the book. “Thank you.”

Someone knocked on the door. “Leave the dishes where they are.” Mister instructed as he walked to the front. “I'll do them. You enjoy yourself.”

She looked through the book reverently.

“Where is she? Where are you hiding her?”

Mister answered in a murmured and there was a crash. She ran forward and saw Mister hunched on the floor, blood flowing freely from his nose.

“There she is.” One of the men called out. Without looking at Mister, she ran through the door. The men followed as Mister cried out behind them.

“She's done no wrong.”

Only by hiding in trash shoot did she finally loose them. It was nearly midnight when she stumbled back towards the shop. She stopped around the corner and hesitated. The image of Mister on the floor blood pooling under him brought tears to her eyes. He'd taken her in when no one else had and his shop suffered because of it. For nearly ten years the patrons visiting slowly dwindled.

As she sank down against the wall, something caught her eye. A small white pill rested on the center of the catwalk. It was the same type of pill the boy offered her earlier. A pill that could make her forget. Forget the screams of those who met her gaze and those who hated her.

It went down her throat easily. She leaned her head back against the wall and waited for life to improve. Her vision changed. It didn't invert it swirled. How long she sat there, she didn't know but strange visions passed through her eyes.

“Hey, look what we have here.”

“Mister's freak.”

A rough hand grabbed her hair but her limbs wouldn't obey. Something slammed into her stomach and she vomited the little dinner she had. As strange visions passed in front of her, the pain nearly blinded her. Finally she was dropped to the ground and the figures moved off. She glanced up through swollen eyes and saw a sentinel approaching. He knelt down and gently picked her up. As she was carried away she heard someone say.

“Thank you for finding her. She's my life.”