Thursday, March 14, 2013

Day 37

PENALTY! I missed last night partially because I got home late, partially because I forgot, and partially because my hands hurt too much to type. They still hurt today, but I couldn’t bring myself to skip again.

PROMPT: I got the idea from to check the Missed Connections on Craigslist. Here’s what I found:
You were waiting for the bus and came in for a drink, maybe because the bus was late and it was cold outside.

Your hair was coming out of the hat that you had tucked it into. The wind had blown the blonde strands apart, but I thought it looked sexy and not disheveled. You walked up to the counter slowly, taking the time to analyze the menu first. I assumed you were in a rush, but a bus passed through the stop right outside and you didn’t flinch. You wrestled with your coat to get you purse as you approached the counter. You sighed and laughed because it took so long for you to get out your wallet. I found it charming.

“Sorry. Can I please have a soy latte?” you said apologetically. Your voice was hoarse. It seemed sultry even though you were apologizing. You smiled as if asking for my patience, but there was really no need. I had no problem waiting for you. There was barely anyone in the store. It was the tail end of the morning rush, and you, like the others, seemed to no longer be in any rush.

I was upset this morning that it was cold again. I thought we had turned the corner into spring, but it was frigid again when I woke up. I was happy that it brought you into the café though. I got you your soy latte as you looked at each of the scented candles on display, stopping to smell each one. Did you know you have the sweetest smile, when you think no one’s looking? I called out “Soy Latte” and you turned as if it was your name and you were used to answering to it. I couldn’t help but wonder where you usually get you soy latte. Have you been to this café before? Why haven’t I ever seen you?

I brought it to you from behind the counter, and you smiled as if you were embarrassed. “Soy latter,” I said, as I placed it in your hands. You thanked me with a slight bow of the head, like I was your knight in shining armor. I thought you would leave to catch the next bus but you sat down by the window and sipped your latte as you watched people. I fill other drink orders and watched you in between customers. Did you notice me watching? Hopefully, you didn’t think I was weird.

I was waiting for it to be my break so that I could come talk to you. I wanted to ask what your name was. I wanted to know if you answered to it as easily as you answered to “soy latte.” I want to ask where you were taking the bus to. Why you weren’t rushing there anymore. I wanted to know why you tried to hide you golden waves in your hat. From what I could see they were beautiful. I wanted to know which was your favorite scented candle and if you would actually buy one.

A group of people came in and I suddenly had to scramble to fill drink orders. When I turned around, you had gone.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Day 35

PROMPT: So the prompt that inspired the following is not at all where it ended up, to the point where I don’t even think it bother to post it, but here’s what I got anyway!

“Hey,” Hayden looked up at him sideways from the bed. He had been trying to get ready silently, opening drawers as quietly as possible. But apparently not quietly enough. Cole turned and smiled at her, crouching next to the bed, so their eyes were level. “Hey,” Cole brushed a hair from her face. She looked as beautiful now, hair a mess, makeup smeared, as she had last night after spending hours dressing up. “I tried not to wake you.” “I know. Thanks.” He kissed her softly on the forehead. He couldn’t resist. This whole relationship took more self-control than being single ever had in his entire life. Not staying home all day with her. Not touching her every second. Not talking to her about labels or being more serious. “I need to leave soon. You can stay if you want.” She smiled. “Thanks.” “How do you feel?”

She sat up slowly and winced. “Not great.” He smiled sympathetically, “Well, you were pretty drunk last night. She nodded slowly. “Yeah. Thanks for letting me stay.” She often did this. Thanked him for things that should be a given by now, after they’d been seeing each other for over a month. “Of course. Do you want breakfast? I’ve got some time.” That was a lie. But he could be a little late. “Maybe something bland?” She had thrown up last night before crashing in his bed. Apparently, it hadn’t settled her stomach enough.

“Toast?” She nodded and he went to the kitchen to prepare it for her. He took out a knife and laid out butter and jam so that she could decide what she wanted. When she came in, she was slightly cleaned up. Her hair was neater, her face no longer streaked with mascara. She was still in her dress from last night. He had slept on the couch. “Are you going to stay?” he asked casually. “No, don’t worry about it, I’ll leave when you do.” He sighed and nodded. He placed a bottle of Advil on the table before sitting down to join her. “Thank you, you’re amazing.” She said, as she took three.

He locked the door when they were both out and then walked out to the street in relative silence. “Do you have any plans for tonight?” he asked, knowing the answer. “Yeah, I’m meeting up with someone.” “Ok. Well I’m going this way,” he said, gesturing toward the opposite direction of the train she needed to get home. “I’ll see you soon?” “Of course!” she said brightly. She kissed him on the cheek. He started to walk the other way when she caught up to him. “Hey, thanks for last night. You’re really great. I’m sorry I’m not great at this.” She backed away, hands in the pockets of the jacket he had lent her. He shook his head. “Don’t apologize. Just show me you want to try. I’m patient. I can help.” She gave him a sad smile. “Ok. I’ll see you soon.”

Monday, March 11, 2013

Day 34

PROMPT: Write a romantic thriller that takes place at a sketchy amusement park.

Connor could hear voices as he drew closer. He slowed his steps. “You did this!” he heard someone yell and then Lynn’s shaky voice whispering for him to shut up. Her voice on the phone had been the same, stranger and scarier than he’d ever heard her sound in their years of knowing each other.

He’d gotten there as quickly as he could. He’d parked in the nearly empty parking lot for Adventure Park when he arrived. He’d come here a lot as a child with his parents and friends. Then again in High School. It had been a good place to hang out and smoke. But it had been 8 years since he graduated High School. He wondered, not for the first time, what she was doing here. He didn’t even know she was in town.

He’d paid a bored looking teenager the entrance fee and made his way past ride that looked like they would fall apart if you shifted your weight on them the wrong way. It had been a while, but he hadn’t forgotten the way to get behind the pirate ship ride. His feet had taken him there without him having to try. It was a cold day in late October. The park would soon close for the season, but the squeaking hinges and rusting rides made it look like it already had.

Connor stood a few feet away from the voice, around the corner. His heart sped up as he considered the possibilities for what Lynn had gotten into- for what she had gotten him into. He peaked his head around the corner and caught a glimpse of a man he didn’t recognize. The man was tied to the fence behind the ride. A shadow that could’ve been Lynn or anyone else paced back and forth just out of sight. “I swear I didn’t do anything,” came Lynn’s desperate voice, “Tell me you believe me and we can forget about this!”

Connor could tell she was crying. He looked around for something he could hold- a weapon maybe- that would make him feel more prepared. He found nothing. He took a deep breath and rounded the corner anyway. “Lynn?” She turned to him. “Connor!” As she said his name she broke down into his chest and he held her close, assessing the scene as quickly as he could. The man on the fence was a boy, a park employee still in his uniform. “What’s going on?” Connor whispered. Lynn’s eyes met his, she looked terrified. “I didn’t do it. I don’t know what happened.”

He was about to ask what she was talking about when his gaze shifted to the far corner of the space. He could see someone’s feet lying on the ground, the rest of the person out of sight. And there was blood. A chill went through him. “What did you do?”

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Day 33

PROMPT: This is a picture/word prompt via

Prompt Words: gallows, tide, mat, section, staple

The Monitors had already swept the Northeast section by the time Eddie was walking home. One of the perks of night shifts was avoiding unpleasant scans. Even if you didn’t do anything wrong, it wasn’t uncommon to witness others being taken. They’d be dragged along the streets, dirt entangling with already matted hair, toward the gallows, where the Section Leader would decide their fate in the morning. It was hard to forget those images. Better to stay out of the way. Avoid adding to the tide of nightmares to be had.

Of course, there were still the Burners. Large, floating orange-yellow orbs tracking his progress as he went. Making sure his steps were timely and documented, buzzing dimly as they noted his movements, and letting off a sulfuric smell, which Eddie could never quite get used to. He made his way with no particular speed. He was never really in a hurry to get to his cupboard. It wasn’t a bad size compared to what some others lived in, but it wasn’t the “studio apartment” his naïve mother had tried to spin it as when they’d been moved to the sections, many years ago. It was fine. A sleeping board, several cans of food staples, and access to a bathroom shared by only 17. It could be worse.

A voice stopped Eddie in his tracks, just a few drives from home. “Hey there” came a harsh whisper. Eddie turned his head to try and find the source of the voice. “Hey, I’m in the alleyway!” Eddie turned to see a dark cavity in the walls of the drive. He could see a shadow, but there was no light. “Who is that?”
“I need your help!”
“With what?”
“I’m out past my time. I was doing fine, but there are more Buzzers on this street than the others.” Eddie stared up at the Burner several feet in front of him. He didn’t know of a way to avoid being tracked, but how had this person gotten so far at all?
“Why don’t you go back where you came from?”
“I can’t! I’m from Southeast. The Monitors’ll be there by now and they stay until morning.”
“What do you want me to do?” “Let me walk with you. I’ll shadow your moves; it won’t know there’s two of us.”
“Does that work? Can’t they identify two heat signatures?”
“But they’ll get muddled and won’t know who is who.” Eddie thought about whether this could be true.
“But they’ll know it’s me. I’ve already been stopped too long.”
“Then let’s move.” But Eddie knew that he’d be traceable either way. They knew his route. He’d already been tracked for the majority of the way home. Any confusion would lead right back to him. And this person was hoping he wouldn’t figure it out. He turned to look at the shadow and bolted back to his cupboard, hoping that he wouldn’t have to answer any

Day 32

PENALTY!: The truth is that last night was not in my control. Now that I’m working and the holidays are coming up, there are going to be some new additions to the rules. Starting with the Friday addendum: I stay at work as late as possible on Fridays and get home just before sundown, so I really won’t be able to post in that time. So, for working Fridays, I’ll post 500 words on Saturday. Since, I’m just making this now though, I did 1000 words for tonight. PROMPT:The story starts when your protagonist cheats on a partner.
Another character is a producer who believes your protagonist is a long-lost family member.

“Shit… Shit.” She couldn’t remember a time when she put her clothes on faster than this. “Uh, yeah it was great for me too…” She turned toward Gregory. “I’m not really in the mood for your coy bullshit right now.” He rolled his eyes and began to sit up. “Alright, would you just… come on, relax for a second, okay?” She shook her head and then brought her hands to her face, not sure what to do with herself. “I can’t relax! I feel like I’m jumping out of my skin. I have to get out of here.”

He stood up on his knees and came toward her, placing a hand on her face. “Listen, I’m not going to say it’s okay; I know you better than that I think.” She let out a sob. “But I will say this. I care about you Kristen. This wasn’t just sex for me. I don’t want to see you get hurt, but I can’t remember a time when I was happier than I was with you just now.” She forced a smile and leaned into his hand, letting him kiss her one more time before she ran out and tried to think about what she was going to say to Matthew when she got home tonight. How she was going to act normal, as if she hadn’t cheated. “Thank you. I care about you too. I just… need to sort some things out.” He laid back on the bed. “Okay. I’ll be around.”

She walked in to work fifteen minutes late. She didn’t know where the time had gone. She had the same sick to her stomach feeling that she’d had since last night. She couldn’t recount what she’d talked about with Matthew last night. She didn’t know how she’d looked him in the eye. How she’d shared a bed with him. How she brushed her teeth next to him this morning. It was almost like betraying him over and over with every passing interaction. She was happy to throw herself into work and try and forget for a few hours.

“Morning Kristen,” she heard as she walked into the office. She turned to see her new producer, Michael, standing with his hands in his pocket looking nervously at her. “Hi Michael. I’m sorry I’m late traffic was a nightmare today.” “Oh that isn’t… I just still wanted to talk to you about that thing from the other day?” She didn’t even remember what he was talking about but she smile and hit a hand on her forehead. “Right, I’m so sorry about that. Can it wait until a little later?” He looked taken aback. “Yeah, um, sure, no problem.” “Great thanks Michael.” “Yep.” And he left her to get all of her stuff in order for the day.

She had two meetings in the morning and then two hours to get everything she needed for the show tonight. She had to be in the control room at 3:30 and she would definitely be cutting it close, but she would get it done if she could manage to stay focused. She tried to completely zone out. Compartmentalization had never been her strong suit, but somehow she did it and the hours flew by without incident or any particular onslaught of guilt. She was back in her office by 5 and working on tomorrow’s show.

Michael found her shortly afterward and asked to speak to her again. She didn’t see how she could keep brushing him off so she invited him to take a seat by her desk. “What can I do for you? Is this about last Wednesday’s show, because I spoke to the guy’s agent and I swear we will not be using any of his talent again any time soon.” He looked confused for a moment. “No it’s not that at all. No, it’s… something personal actually.” She raised her eyebrows questioningly at him. Kristen had only known him for a few weeks, a month and a half at most. To say they’d had no personal interaction outside work seemed like an understatement.

“I’m not quite sure where to start,” he said, completely frazzled. She had no clue how to help with that. “I guess I should say that I’ve known from a young age that I’m adopted. I didn’t spend much time thinking about it to be honest. My parents were my parents, and I never felt differently until they died.” She nodded cautiously. “I started looking for my birth parents about ten years ago. Partly because of curiosity. Partly because I got tired of leaving my family history questions blank on the doctors’ forms.

“It took me a while to find anything at all. I barely used google at the time and I had no idea how to approach this at first, but to make a long story short- believe it or not, I ended up finding out that my mother was an unwed young woman who had given me away when she was nineteen. Classic story really, and I understood. But when I started trying to find out more about her I found that she had gotten married about ten years later, and had three kids. One of the kids even worked in television, like me.” He paused, maybe because he wanted her to figure it out from there, maybe because he wasn’t quite sure how to break the rest. Kristen was still at a loss as to what this had to do with her.

“Kristen, that women was June Leary. Her married name is Pellin.” She suddenly got where he was going. “My mom?” He smiled tentatively. “Yes.” “My mom gave you up for adoption when she was nineteen?” “Yes.” “So I’m your…” “Sister, yes.” She stared at him for a long time in silence. “Wow.That’s…” “Yes.”

She had made her excuses and gotten out of there as fast as she could. All she wanted to do was go home and tell Matthew about this, but the night before suddenly came rushing back. She pulled her phone from her pocket and stared at it for a minute before dialing Gregory’s number. “Hey can I come over?”

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Day 30

PROMPT: One should never panic alone
From @CarieJenson

I’d just gotten home from work when Megan knocked on my door. “Hey you have a minute?” It wasn’t unusual for Megan to just stop by. We’d gotten close since we’d moved into the same building. We saw a lot of each other these days. “Sure, I was gonna make pasta. You want?” She walked past me and paced across the kitchen floor a couple of times. This wasn’t particularly unusual either. I turned on the burner under a pot of water and waited.
“I’m kinda freaking out Jo.”
“I can see that Megan.”
“Not feeling too hot Jo.”
“And why is that Megan?”
“Ok. Here’s the thing. You’re going to freak out too.”
I doubted it. Megan freaked out about something on a semi-regular basis. It was rarely anything vital. Usually she had just remembered a deadline was sooner than she thought or she’d stepped in gum.
“Ok I saw this guy outside the building who was really creepy and creepily hitting on me and forcing me to tell him which apartment was mine.”
“Yeah, he was really gross but he was putting me on the spot and didn’t know what else to do.”
“Megan! Did you give him your address??”
“I actually gave him yours.”
“I gave him your address. Sorry.”
“You gave a creepy building lurker my address?!”
“Yeah I’m really sorry.”
“Why would you do that?”
“I don’t know, I panicked.”
“So you wanted to bring me in on it?”
“I guess so…”
“Care to share why?”
“I read somewhere that one should never panic alone.”
I paused and stared at her.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Day 29

***Happy 1 Month Blogiversary to me! This is the most consistently I’ve ever done pretty much anything, so I’m very proud. I’ve only missed a few days here and there, but I stuck to the rules, so that seems all right to me. I was concerned about getting prompts done since I went back to work today, but the fact that it was the one month mark, I felt compelled not only to do a prompt today, but to go the extra mile and set a 500 word count for the day. Here’s to the next milestone!

PROMPT: A car with a broken taillight, a cigarette machine filled with something besides cigarettes, a mysterious coin.

I stepped outta the car and walked ‘round back to check on the damage. “Damn.” I’d backed straight into the wall at the back of the gas station. It was one of those stations with a market a few feet from the pump. There were parking spots along the back wall, but I’d never been any good at parking. Even the kind that wasn’t straight behind another car. The wall didn’t seem too bad. There was a gray line where my bumper scratched it. But my taillight was a whole different story. It didn’t look too pretty, and I was miles away from Jerry who usually fixed Ol’ Tammy when she had problems. I kicked the red glass with my boot, and prayed this market would have cigarettes in some form or another.

“You got cigarettes?” I said when I got the manager’s attention. “Well, you’re a long way from home, aren’t you? Where are you from sweet thing?” Just what I needed. A creep yankee railing on my accent or who knows what else. “You got a restroom?” He snarled at me and pointed toward the drink case. I turned on the dime and walked toward the back.

I dug through my worn pockets for some quarters when I saw the machine. Tampons or cigarettes. It was 25 cents for one of either. I pulled a few coins out and sifted through for a quarter. I found one finally and went to jam it in the slot, but there was already a coin in it. I tried to twist the lever but the coin wouldn’t budge. I struggled with it for a few minutes before slamming a fist into the metal. I wondered how much property I’d be damaging before I was through here.

I placed my finger over the very tip of the coin that was stuck and was able to slide it out. It wasn’t a quarter. No wonder. I didn’t know what it is. It was copper, like a penny, but the size a quarter. It was thicker though, like two quarters side by side. It didn’t say if it was from another country. I thought maybe it was one of those special coins that they kept making for no good reason, but it didn’t say that either. Just a few lines here and there.

I shoved it into my pocket and put the quarter into the clot where the coin had come from. It turned real easy this time and I sighed happily as I heard something clink into the metal tray at the bottom of the machine. I sighed and reached my hand in to fish it out. When I pulled my hand back, I was holding a lollipop. I slammed my fist against the machine again and went out to find the manager again. I tried to contain my yelling.

“You gamin’ people here?” He shrugged and smirked at me. “I’m gonna put my hand out and I better get a quarter or a cigarette real soon. Preferably the second one.” “I got a whole carton back here if you like. Only $80.” I was fuming. “So that’s what you do? You steal people’s money and don’t even give ‘em what they want.” He smiled again. “I can give you what you want, gorgeous.”

I was madder than when I’d gone into the store, but I wasn’t going to get any cigarettes here. I just had to hope there’d be another station along soon. I marched out, slamming the door against the wall on my way. “Hey!” he screamed after me, “You gotta pay for that.” I turned to him and screamed back. “I paid a whole quarter! Keep the change!” And then I got in my car and sped away, leaving the glass and the scratch behind me.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Day 28

PROMPT: Action always trumps inaction
From @wordstrumpet

The elevator doors opened and he stepped in. Somehow they rode the same elevator to the 57th floor together at least three times a week. It didn’t make sense how often it happened. It was the morning rush, there were 12 elevators. Yet somehow they always ended up on the same one- more often than not with no one else. They had spoken. It was more than just a brief ride to her floor. He went even higher to floor 64. It was one of the things they had actually said.
“So Friday.”
“Yeah, finally.”
It never stopped being awkward really. They always started out this way. Usually commenting on the day of the week or the weather. They both watched Game of Thrones, but it wasn’t airing right now, so those conversations had stopped. Often, it flowed into something a little more substantial though. “Good week?”
“Not bad, you?”
“Well, on the one hand I closed a deal I’ve been working toward for months. On the other hand, It was the most atrocious last week of a deal I’ve ever experienced.”
She laughed. “I’m sorry. So mixed then?”
“Yeah you could say that.”
“Got any weekend plans?”
Last they talked about it, he hadn’t been in a relationship. But sometimes she fished. “Uh… so far what I’ve got planned is sleeping and grilling.”
“That sounds good.”
“Can’t complain. What about you?”
“Well I was supposed to be going to the ballet with a friend, but she backed out this morning.”
“Oh yeah, which one?”
“Giselle. You know it?”
“Yeah that’s a great one.”
She hadn’t meant to steer the conversation here, but there was suddenly a lull. She hadn’t thought they would ever move past elevator buddies. He had never seemed interested. She considered quickly, nervously.
“Hey. Would you want to join me?”
He smiled at her. “I’d love to.”

Monday, March 4, 2013

Day 27

PROMPT: Use the phrase, "That seems like an exaggeration."
From Toasted Cheese

“I swear,” she walked in, slamming the door behind her, “I will murder that man.”
“Bad day?”
“It’s like he does it on purpose just to screw with me.”
“Yeah, maybe start from the beginning?”
She sighed and sat down at the table with me. “What are you eating?”
She stared at me, temporarily defeated as she took a break from her outrage. “Want some?”
She pouted at her problems for a few moments before getting a bowl and fork and serving herself from the pot still sitting on the stove. I wasn’t a huge fan of being friendly with roommates, but Leanne had a tendency to get worked up and need to blow off some steam sometimes. It had no bearing on our relationship, it only maintained peace in the apartment. Besides, it didn’t much matter what I said to her.
“So you were saying?”
She was suddenly angry again, as if she’d needed reminding of her preoccupation from two minutes ago.
“Oh! So I’ve been working on this project at work for a couple of months now, right? I like to be a team player, Mandy, you know that.”
“Let’s say I do.”
“But, like, sometimes you just have to say, you know, I am not the right person for this job. And I said that two months ago and this guy supervising me was like ‘Ooooh, you’re perfect at it, just do what feels right, I’m sure you’ll do a great job.’”
“Meanwhile, I’ve work on it for two months with, like, totally no guidance and show it to him and now he decides this isn’t at all how he wanted it and I need to make changes according to what he didn’t tell me originally,”
“That sounds really annoying actually.”
“And! I’m still kind of under-qualified for the project anyway and it’s like he’s making me do it just to torture me so that later he can point at me and laugh and say, ‘There goes the girl who spent a year doing busy work just to be my source of entertainment!’”
“That seems like an exaggeration.”
“And the worst thing-“
“Oh boy.”
“Is like I was going to go out tonight but now I have to be in early tomorrow. “
“Okay, we’re done here. Good luck!”

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Day 26

PENALTY! I don’t have a good excuse for missing yesterday. I wasn’t in the mood and thought “hey, 1000 words isn’t actually a big deal. I go over 250 all the time, so naturally that’s the same.” As fate would have it, I’m not really in the mood today either and 1000 words seems endless to me.

PROMPT: Some relationships aren’t simple enough to be classified as painful or joyous. Writing about a complex relationship is… well, complex. Give it a shot.

I remember when it was simple. Every time I see you I think about it. When we were kids it was like the easiest thing in the world. We would spend every day off together. We would play games in your backyard or watch movies that we weren’t old enough to comprehend. I would be embarrassed to ask what things meant, but you usually told me anyway.

When we got older you had more guy friends. There were things you didn’t tell me about what they said. You were probably embarrassed. I was too curious to worry about how I would feel if I actually knew what the boys were saying about me. You never said, but all these years later I can guess. It was a little more complicated, but I could always count on you. Even in middle school, when we didn’t talk much because I was younger.

We were closest, ironically, when I was away. We scheduled times to talk to accommodate the time difference. I don’t think I’d ever spoken to you on the phone for more than five minutes, but while I was away we spoke for hours at a time. I knew all about what was going on in your life. You would let me rant about inconsiderate roommates and say something fair and level headed.

I never wanted to be ‘that girl,’ but things really did change when you started dating someone. I’m told over and over how lucky I am that I’m friends with her too. I know it. But there were times back then when I wished she would have been jealous of our bond and our history. I tried not too be too dramatic about it, but I would imagine all of these long-winded speeches that would end up sounding weird and possessive, a little like this. You’re lucky you’re the level headed one.

Still, we had our moments. TV nights at one of our apartments, dinners out because one of our parents had bought us a gift card, sporadic moments when it happened to be just us. It wasn’t that I couldn’t share you. It was that I couldn’t lose you. And no matter how many reassurances you gave me, that was what was happening. When you confided in me, I felt like I had stolen a secret.

I almost told you my secret once. I think about that conversation a lot. We were on a couch at your girlfriend’s apartment. She was taking a nap. I don’t know if we played cards, but it seems likely. I wonder if you remember it sometimes. Maybe when you see me and think about that part of my life. You gave me the perfect opening, but I didn’t think it was fair to tell you. I didn’t think it was my secret to tell. But I was wrong. It is. And now I’m not sure that opportunity will ever come up again.

I hate making it seem depressing. Because it’s not that way most of the time. We can still talk for hours, I’m sure, given the chance. We still have the same taste in almost everything. One of our friends once pointed out that I laugh harder when I’m with you. I think that’s still true.

I have a love/hate relationship with seeing you these days. Most of the time you’re with a big group of friends and I feel left out in that circle. I’ve thrown around a hundred reasons why I don’t feel comfortable with that group of your friends, but I don’t think I’ve ever really been able to put my finger on it. It’s not that everyone is engaged or married, which is what my mom thinks. It isn’t that they’re weird. I won’t say who says that, but I bet you could guess. I think about it a lot and talk to almost everyone about it. They all have their own thoughts. I worry that it’s just that I don’t fit anymore.

We still see each other a fair amount. Once every month or so. Not nearly as much as we used to, but we live in different places now. We’ve talked about reinstating a phone schedule. We’ve talked about meeting for dinner. The truth is that when I spend time with you lately I feel like we’re just catching up on small talk and major bullet points. We can spend hours reminiscing about the past, but I wonder if we’ll still be talking about high school in five years. Or are we forming new memories and I’m missing it? I don’t remember how many breakdowns I’ve had in front of you. I can’t say for sure how many times I’ve made you promise that we’d stay friends forever. What kills me is that I’m blaming the stage of life you’re in, but I’m the one who is putting in a distance. Neither of us was ever very good at making plans. I used to never say no to you when you asked if I wanted to do something. Lately all I want to do is say no. No to the ‘whole gang.’ No to taking a day trip into your new life. I’d prefer if you could take the train back into mine for an afternoon.

Is that selfish? Maybe. But I’ve been towing along behind you for several years now. Saying no was just cutting the rope so that I could have both feet on the path I was already on. I like my path. It feels right. Focusing on working. Not worrying about whether my soul mate is waiting right around the corner. Not listening to people say that they want me to find the same happiness they found. It’s too much for me to handle.

You’ve never been guilty of that. Level headed. Low pressure. Judgment free. And the more ‘together’ your life has gotten the more of a nut basket I feel like. That’s part of it too I think. I don’t think of myself as overdramatic until I try to analyze our relationship and I hate that side of myself. It feels stupid and one-sided. Friendships come and go. I feel like I’ve learned that by now. But we said we’d never do that.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Day 24

PROMPT: That’s not the surgery he was supposed to perform.

As far as I can remember, I had always wanted to be a doctor. My friends would change their minds about their futures on a daily basis, but I was consistent from a very young age. So, I had spent my high school summers and free time at college, shadowing surgeons, interning at doctors’ offices and working in labs. Some people were kind enough to take me under their wings. I got to observe surgeries, talk to patients, and anything else that an arbitrary code determined was ethical.

I was in the room right after an amputee came out of surgery. He was still under anesthesia, but it was one of the highlights of my shadowing. It’s a unique opportunity to get to see the results of a surgery right before your eyes. I stood in the side, talking to a med student as the doctors and nurses moved around the unconscious patient. “That’s not the surgery he was supposed to perform.”

Every eye in the room shifted slowly to the source of the voice. A nurse was standing at the foot of the bed holding the patient’s chart and staring at the amputated. It was completely silent for probably a full minute. The attending doctor broke the silence. “What?” The nurse looked stricken. I couldn’t blame her. Being the messenger of this news wasn’t an enviable task. She answered slowly. “He… The patient’s right arm was amputated. It was supposed to be his left.” More silence. The med student I had been talking to tugged my sleeve. And we slipped out the door. “Trust me,” he said, “You do not want to be there when that patient wakes up.”

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Day 23

***Searching for good prompts can take as much time as writing some days. Particularly when I have 1000 word days. But one of the things that’s been really interesting is finding blogs and writing communities dedicated to finding unique ways to help other people write consistently. One of those blogs- which I look forward to exploring further- is That’s where today’s prompt comes from.
PROMPT: Incorporate the phrase “stop looking at me like that” into your post.

I was making dinner at home with Caleb. It was our weekly dinner and a movie night, but my roommate was home, which was fairly unusual. Marie was a box of crazy I had never wanted to get involved in. I consider myself a good person, but she was the type to latch onto people and then alternate between treating them like shit and whining that they were bad friends. She was desperately and constantly in need of friends to whom she could vent late into the night, but she wasn’t great at maintaining balance.

So I steered clear of her when she was having one of her crises, which she was tonight. Unfortunately, the pot on the burner meant that I was essentially chained to the kitchen as long as my meal was cooking. She walked in and took out a can of soda from the fridge, sighing overdramatically. “Well, I had a terrible day…” She always gave an easy lead in. She didn’t let the notion of subtlety stop her drawing me in. I gave a quick, closed-mouth, sympathetic smile. “Sorry. That sucks.” I answered without inquiring further.

Caleb sat at the table cutting vegetable for a salad. I stirred the pot. “You wouldn’t even believe it,” Marie pushed. I turned and made brief eye contact with Caleb, raising an eyebrow. He tried not to smile and buried himself in the vegetables to avoid laughing. I rolled my eyes and turned back to the stove. I nodded in response. “Yeah, sounds like a bad one.” She lingered by the kitchen door before giving up and retreating to her bedroom. I turned to Caleb and exhaled. “What? Stop looking at me like that!” “I said nothing…” and he returned to his chopping.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Day 22

PROMPT: Write in the second person.
(From Toasted Cheese)

You told him that you’d rather he just stopped talking to you when you have to be in the same room together. It’s an unusual circumstance, an incredibly difficult one actually, but you’ve been managing the best that you can. You try to keep perspective on the situation, remember that it’s not going to be perfect, that you can’t be too hard on yourself. He has never been quite as self-aware. It’s part of his problem.

Instead of respecting your wishes or responding to your concerns he lashes out. “So you just want me to go off somewhere and die, is that it?” You take a deep breath, knowing that addressing his ludicrous outbursts hasn’t gotten you very far in the past. You want to tell him that you wish him no harm. That you want him to live a long, happy, and more importantly healthy life. You want him to understand that you just can’t be a part of it. That you need to take care of yourself instead. But years of these fights have taught you that these are not concepts he is capable of understanding. And again, you’re the one that has to bite her tongue. He never will.

You try to go about your days as if it doesn’t get to you, but there are times when having to see him feels fully unbearable. You feel like your life can’t move forward as long as he’s in it, but your closest confidantes tell you how far you’ve come in spite of it. You struggle daily to figure out what “being okay” is so that you can figure out how to get there. Sometimes you get a little closer. Other times you feel miles away. But that’s just part of living.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Day 21

***It's Day 21 and I'm happy to say it's the first time I've completed a full week without penalty. It's getting harder and harder to forget about this every day, which makes an accidental penalty less and less likely. I'm amazed that I'm still going though. Next milestone is a month. Here we go...

PROMPT: The hat was never going to be a good idea

This was of very few occasions where they would ever have any reason to be at a dinner party. Even the term “dinner party” was foreign to Lisa and Jack. Lisa had spent two hours last week googling “what to wear to a dinner party.” It didn’t help. Apparently there were all different types. She had gone shopping three times, tried on dozens of outfits, and settled on a dress that could either be construed as fancy or just how fashionable people dress regularly. She figured it was a good middle ground. Jack, having not put the same amount of thought into his wardrobe choices, wore a fedora.

They had arrived on time, not knowing whether people would get to this sort of thing early or late. They smiled and shook hands with their hosts and handed over a bottle of wine that they had read about in the New York Times. Lisa kissed the hosts on the cheek. Just one cheek, not both. They were exhausted before they even got there just from having to think about all of the contributing factors. They had forgotten that they would have to actually communicate once they arrived.

Plum Lenore Manette had already arrived and was sitting at the elaborately set dining table when they arrived. Plum Lenore had been the one to get Lisa invited to this dinner. They had met in Plum Lenore’s shop when Lisa was shopping for décor for the new apartment. The shop had look like the type she would have seen on a DIY show about young twenty-somethings in Brooklyn. They had gotten along from the start and Plum Lenore seemed to enjoy Lisa’s ignorance of the “finer things”

They took seats at the table. Lisa next to Plum Lenore and Jack next to Lisa. The more people turned up, the less they felt like they needed to carry conversations. Jack, emboldened by the fedora, occasionally made sweeping generalizations about art or culture that probably could’ve been true, but neither of them would have known.

It was a lovely evening if a little confusing. Lisa kissed Plum Lenore on the cheek as she left, saying she would be sure and stop by the shop sometime this week. Jack shook hands with Royce Overfoote, whom he had talked to or listened to for most of the night. Jack suggested they friend each other on facebook. Royce laughed, “Facebook! You’re hilarious Jack. First the fedora and now this.” As they left Royce went over to Plum Lenore. “Where did you find them? It’s like they’re walking irony! Fabulous.” “Aren’t they though?”

They walked to their car, returning to the calm of normalcy. “Well, that was quite an experience.” “He said something about my hat.” Jack frowned as he started driving. Lisa turned to him. “Yeah, the hat was never going to be a good idea.”

Monday, February 25, 2013

Day 20

PROMPT: What was I thinking?

As soon as the words left my lips I was regretting them. My mouth felt dry. I was momentarily convinced that nothing had happened. That this had been another of my fantasy scenarios and I was just imagining the mortification this time. I just hadn’t thought it through in the past. It was just a very real daydream. But as I watched his face, I knew it was never how I would have imagined it.

No matter how many times I had told Roger in my head that I had feelings for him, I hadn’t prepared myself for this. There were times he had taken it well. There were times when I cried and we never spoke again. Every extreme on the dramatic spectrum had been accounted for in my rehearsals. But I always forgot not to overestimate the drama.

It had come about dramatically, of course. That is just who I am, I was now realizing. There was a limit to the number of times I could listen to him tell me stories about his day, smiling at himself for something he did that he thought had been stupid but had really just been normal. Like when he walked away from the coffee cart without his change. I had blurted out that I needed to talk to him about something, and the rest came naturally. How I felt. It had never been hard for me to be in touch with my feelings.

He listened patiently, staring at his mug as we sat at my kitchen table. I watched his face more intensely than I should have considering how much pressure he was probably feeling. It was amazing how quickly a few words could completely change your life. What was I thinking? I watched him turn my words over in his mind, thinking not about what I had said, no doubt, but what the best way to respond was.

“Hallie.” He said after twenty seconds or an hour, “I don’t know what to say here.”
“That’s fine. I actually have some ideas for you: ‘Hallie, I feel the same way and I’ve been waiting forever to hear you say that.’ ‘Hallie, I’ve spent hours thinking about how to tell you the same thing.’ ‘Hallie, I don’t see how we can be friends anymore now that you’ve made such an outrageous declaration of feelings!’”
“Really? That last one?”
“I weighed a lot of possibilities.”
“I think… I think I need to think about it.”
“Not in a bad way!”
“It’s okay, you could just tell me you know.”
“I mean it Hallie, I just need to sort through. How long have you had to think about this?”
I paused, lowering my eyes. “Five months.”
“Five months!?”
“Yeah. Sorry… Had to be sure?”
“Well, I want to be sure too. One way or the other. I don’t want to ruin everything by making the wrong choice right here in one moment.”
In my dramatic scenarios, everything had happened in an instant. I hadn’t accounted for logic.
“I get it.”
“Good.” He smiled at me and I couldn’t help smiling back. He put his hand over mine on the table and squeezed it. “I have to go, but I’ll see you tomorrow and we’ll talk, okay?”
“Be patient with me.”
And when I looked back up at him it seemed more real than anything. “I am.”

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Day 19

Prompt:Use the phrase, "Anything—well, almost anything—would be better."

I sat down in homeroom and pulled out my history book. It was amazing how I could convince myself that I had studied a lot for a test, when I had really only spent about ten minutes skimming the material. Exam days had that knack for waking me up though. All of a sudden I was a failure who couldn’t focus enough to even read through the material once. I stared at the pages of my notebook, willing myself to internalize what I was looking at, but I realized that I wasn’t actually even reading. I was too focused on my inability to study. This was why people said it was better to study ahead of time.

Mrs. Lefter, the homeroom teacher walked in just as the first bell was ringing. As usual, she was pulling her rolling suitcase filled with books and papers that would never be accurately described as “organized.” She looked more disoriented than usual today. Her hair and clothing disheveled, she seemed almost nervous when the second bell rang and she stood up to address the class.

“Okay, so it seems that there has been a change in scheduling for the day.” A low murmur spread through the room. “Yes, uh, all of your regular classes have been cancelled. We will be having a last minute special programming day.”

My heart soared momentarily at the postponement of my exam. For some reason it felt more likely that I would study the second time around. But then I started thinking about any recent school incidents that would call for a special programming day. I couldn’t come up with anything other than Melanoe Demarco’s pregnancy. I froze as my brain landed on the only possibility. Anything- well almost anything- would be better. But I was afraid that I’d be right about this one.

“Today’s programs,” began Mrs. Lefters, “will be entitled Sex, Safety, and Smart Choices.”

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Day 18

PROMPT:Your character has to tell his parents that he's getting a divorce. He knows his parents will take his wife's side, and he is right...

I’ve been thinking for some time now that this is going to be harder than telling the kids. Lena and I sat them down last night and had a long talk about it. They seemed all right. I’ve read every article Google has to offer on telling your kids you’re getting divorced and the aftermath. I know my kids well enough to know that Carly is going to be fine and Sammy is going to reach a rebellious stage either way when she hits adolescence. The divorce will change their life, no question. But living the way we’ve been living is no life for them either. Some day, they’ll understand that.

It’s my parents who will have a hard. Firm believers in the “stay together for the children” method, my parents aren’t huge on divorce to begin with. My uncle got divorced about ten years ago and they still whisper about his ex-wife as if she’s a shameful family secret. But this is different. Lena and I grew up together. My parents loved her like one of their own from the time we were kids. She was best friends with my brother growing up and she was a freshman at UMass when I was a senior. My parents were used to the partying side of me. They never thought I was good enough for her. Everyone expected her to marry Glen. But we were happy together. I still don’t think it was wrong. It’s just not right anymore.

I called them two days ago and asked to meet for lunch over the weekend. I thought we could go out to a diner or something to talk. Somewhere public so that they wouldn’t feel inclined to make a scene. My mom insisted that I just go over to their house for brunch. I meant to show up early. I didn’t.
“Hi Sweetie,” my mom said, kissing me on the cheek when I walked into the familiar split-level. I could only force a smile.

It took a while for me to convince my mom to stop fussing with the food and sit down at the table. I couldn’t believe how nervous I was considering I had just given this talk last night.
“Fine, Andrew, I’m here. What is that you wanted to talk to us about?” My father sat, eating a waffle and staring at the paper. It seemed like he wasn’t paying at all, but I knew he was listening.
“I have something very important to tell you both. It’s really important to me that you hear me out before jumping to any conclusions.”
“Fine, we’re listening, what is it?”
I took a deep breath. “Lena and I are getting a divorce.” It was my fault for pausing there. All that rehearsing in my head and I didn’t have a next sentence planned.
“You’re what?! What do you mean a divorce? Oh that poor thing. Lena must be devastated.”
My dad was just getting started too.
“What about your children? You’re just going to take off like a deadbeat while Lena takes care of your children and raises them? You’re not 18 anymore Andrew. This isn’t a game.”
“What’s Glen going to say?” They went back and forth for a while. Baseless accusations. Overdramatics. Questions that didn’t seem rhetorical but must have been since there was no pause for an answer. Eventually I cut in.
“Alright enough! I didn’t do anything wrong. Or it’s not anyone’s fault. Lena and I haven’t been happy together for a while. I’m not going anywhere. We are going to share custody of Carly and Sam. I didn’t cheat on her or gamble away the money. This is something that some families go through.”
“I just don’t understand Andrew.”
“You don’t have to. I would really like your support on this.”
“What’s to support? You’re leaving your family! They need you!”
It would be a long afternoon…

Friday, February 22, 2013

Day 17

Prompt: 10 minute free-write: use the following words = wood, chip, spill, hammer, happy, and rhythmic.
***Usually, I'm not a fan of these use-these-word prompts, but there are a lot of them out there, so I decided to step outside my comfort zone and try one out.

“That makes no sense! He’s your brother!”
“Could you stop yelling at me please? You’re going to make the cookies taste bad.”
He paused and looked at me. He walked out of the room, and I stopped to add chocolate chips to the batter. I turned the mixer back on and listened to the rhythmic hammering of the beater. Cautiously, I poked my head out into the living room.
He was sitting on the dirty wooden floor, Indian-style, his eyes closed. “What are you doing?”
I gave him a look, completely pointlessly, since he couldn’t see it. “I’m meditating so that the cookies come out delicious.”
I rolled my eyes, but I couldn’t help but laugh. I jumped on top of him, “You are such a pain in the ass!” I yelled, hitting him, but we were both laughing suddenly. “Now the dough is going to be overbeat---“ He interrupted me with a kiss.
He picked me up and I screamed as he brought me into the kitchen to turn off the mixer. He put me down on the counter and knocked over the flour container I had left out. The white powdered spilled all over the counter and my jeans. I turned to switch off the mixer and stuck my hand into the batter to give us both a taste of the cookie dough. He made a face instantly.
“Oh god, you were right. This tastes like anger and stupid siblings.”
I laughed and hit him again, shaking my head. I kissed him.
We left the dough in the mixer and ended up in the bedroom.
That night we finally made the cookies and they tasted happy to me.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Day 16

PROMPT: This story takes place at a restaurant. Three acquaintances have gone out to dinner together. Person A has just left his/her wife/husband and family. Person B supports this decision. Person C thinks this was criminally irresponsible. write the conversation. (Suggestion: try giving each character the voice of a different person that you actually know. For example, Person A might talk like one of your coworkers, and Person B might talk like your brother or sister. Choose people who are very different from each other. Then try to express each one's unique voice so clearly that you don't need to tell the reader which character said which sentence, that the reader can "hear" the difference between who says what.)

“I’ll just have the salmon please”
“Can I get a Caesar Salad?”
“I’ll… I think I’ll also take the salmon.”
The waiter wrote down their orders, made some perky, faux-excited comment and left them to their tense silence. I would have been the likeliest candidate to speak first. But Danielle, appropriately, was the one who broke it.
“It’s so good to be home. I’ve missed it here so much.”
“Sweetie, it’s so nice to have you here.” My mom always left the possibility for a ‘but’ at the end of a sentence. It was just the right amount of self-doubt injected into us our whole lives. But Danielle was often immune to it, as was now, apparently, the case.
“I feel awful having left.”
I stayed silent. Anything I said would be held against me later. I would try my best to not be my regular sardonic self.
Our mother would overcompensate. “Baby, it’s not your fault. You can’t blame yourself.”
“I wasn’t. I just feel bad is what I meant.”
I couldn’t ignore the obvious though. We’d been silent all day, and I think the theory was that this restaurant would be neutral ground. “So what about the baby?”
I cut the rest of the question short. The Does he not need a mother? The Did you even tell him you were leaving? I couldn’t even bring myself anywhere near the Do I even get to see him?
Danielle looked stricken by the reminder. “Ian is fine with Lee.”
“It’s okay, we don’t have to worry about that right now.”
“Oh no? So we don’t have to worry about the four year old whose mother disappeared overnight. Yeah studies have shown that does no damage at all.”
Oops. Seemed like my avoidance of sarcasm was a little short-lived.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Day 15

PROMPT: Nancy Kincaid and Dan Carey meet five years into the future. One of them is anti-social. Write these two characters stories based on this quick plot: giving her a cell phone proves to be a big mistake

Dan stood by the lamppost outside his office, smoking a cigarette. His phone lit up and he saw that it was his brother calling. He let it go to voicemail. His phone then took the liberty of informing him that this was the third missed call he had from his brother today. Nothing to be alarmed about in his experience, but maybe a text. He typed a brief message explaining he was busy and not leaving much open-ended. He would get a novel back anyway.

As he moved to return his phone to his pocket, a woman swept by him. “Can I borrow this real quick? Thanks!” She said as she took the phone right from his hand. Before he could register what was happening she was talking to someone. “You’re never going to find me. You might as well just leave me alone! Oh, and I hope you didn’t use your toothbrush this morning... Well maybe don’t do that again. Bye!”

She hung up the phone and Dan had a moment to get his bearings before she tossed it to him. “Thanks” she said. He blinked. “What the hell was that?”
She smiled at him. “Just had to make a quick call to rub it in my ex’s face that he’s never going to find me.”
“With my phone? Lady, you know it’s almost 2020… anyone can trace a phone.”
She paused and looked thoughtful for a moment.
“Oh. Yeah. You might want to destroy that. He’s kind of a jealous type.”

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Day 14

PENALTY: Yesterday I skipped because I just didn't feel like it. I did have a headache, but mainly it was the not feeling like it. So 1000 words for me today.

PROMPT: Take a famous line from a famous piece of literature and run it through several different languages on an online translator (like Altavista’s Babelfish) with Korean or Chinese as the last language, and then translate it back to English. Look at what comes out, consider the new meanings hidden within it, and then build a story around it.
       Original quote from Farenheit 451: Its real beauty is that it destroys responsibility and                consequences.
       English→ Swedish → Armenian → Greek → Japanese → Korean → English
       New quote: True beauty is to destroy it is the responsibility and consequences.
This one got a little dark, admittedly. I found the prompt really interesting and what I came up with even more so. I didn't expect it to take me back to fire, but it just kind of happened.

I’ve never thought much about beauty. It was something that was or it wasn’t. There wasn’t much room for improvement or depreciation over time. Certain people had it. Certain things had it. I’d never thought much at all about being able to create it.

I’m not an artist. I’m not a creative type. I couldn’t care less about going to a museum or an art gallery. But lately I’ve been starting fires.

It started few months ago by accident. I was driving home from work and passed by a car fire. The road was pretty empty, so I pulled over to call 911. As I waited for someone to get there, I got out of my car. The smell of smoke and burned rubber hit me across the face. The heat felt like it was burning me even though I wasn’t close enough to the actual flames.

I couldn’t see anyone in the car. I walked a wide circle around it, watching pieces fall off and listening to the loud popping noises and the crackling of the fire. I was not at all scared or panicked. I’m not a very anxious person, but I’ve never felt so relaxed. Staring at the flames was like being hypnotized. It was so beautiful. I wanted to move closer, but the fire department arrived eventually. Watching them pour water on that fire was like being turned upside down and emptied. Suddenly it was dark and cold in my life again. I didn’t even know that it was before. I needed to see it again.

I didn’t just snap. I work a nine-to-five in a fairly big corporation. I’m a data modeler. I spend the day analyzing data, making charts and presentations, showing it to people. I explain why things work and why they don’t. I work with people on how to make projects better. It’s not mind-numbingly boring. It isn’t all that stressful. It’s pretty standard I think. My co-workers don’t bully me. My boss is a nice guy. I’m not married, but I’ve never really cared about that. It didn’t seem like it was for me. I’ve got friends that I see regularly. My parents are alive and well and we always had great family Thanksgivings with minimal drama.

That wasn’t it. Nothing in my life suddenly became unbearable. I didn’t make a decision- consciously or not- that I needed to act out against someone or something in my life. I just needed to see it again.

So a few days later, I took the jug of lighter fluid that I use for my barbecue and a long fireplace match, and I went for a drive. The shell of the burnt car was gone now. I went out of my way every day to pass by that street. It had taken two and a half days to disappear. It wasn’t anything more anyway. Just a reminder of that feeling.

I drove a few miles to build up the excitement. I didn’t feel nervous at all. I found a green sedan on an isolated street and parked a block away from it. I felt so calm as I backtracked to the car. I could feel relaxed just thinking about seeing the flames again. I didn’t want to break the window because I wanted to see them all shatter, but I don’t know any other way to break into a car.

It was harder then I expected and upset me a little. Somehow it took away from the cleanliness of the fire. But I opened the door and emptied the jug of lighter fluid, leaving it in the backseat. I lit the long match and touched it to a drop of fluid on the leather seat.

It ignited so quickly. I had to jump back, the heat was so overwhelming. I wanted it to be slow, but the flames took over the car in seconds. It wasn’t even that much lighter fluid. I stood back and watched the orange strips dance, wishing I had thought to bring a chair. I felt calm again.

I stood for about an hour, watching it burn and admiring its beauty before I heard sirens. It was hard walking back to my car. It was like the warmth was slowly leaving me step by step. I turned around a few times, but it wasn’t helping, so I just left it and went home.

I did this about once or twice a week for two months before it changed for me. It became second nature setting the fires and watching them burn for as long as I could. I wasn’t all that careful, but I didn’t really think that mattered. I watch a lot of cop shows, but I always kind of felt like those characters are better at their jobs than whoever we have locally.

It was a maroon SUV that changed it for me. I watched it burn for about ten minutes before doing my usual walk around the car. I’d gotten better at standing the heat, so I walked a little closer and saw a booster seat strapped into the back. I hadn’t noticed it before. There was no child but the reality of the struck. There could be someone in the car. And it didn’t wake me up. It sounded wonderful.

The next time I was more careful. I didn’t expect the cops to care much about arson, but this would be different. I wore gloves. I brought more lighter fluid. A few long matches. I drove around for a long time, not really sure what I was looking for. But I knew it when I saw it. A man in his black two-door car texting on his phone and listening to the radio. The street was empty, like most in the neighborhood. He sat there so unaware.

I wondered what he was doing just sitting in the car. Was he avoiding his wife? Waiting for a call from his mistress? Did he not have a home to go to? I thought about this as I walked around the car a few times, pouring lighter fluid across the top and back. He wasn’t paying any attention. I was pretty surprised when he didn’t notice at all. I don’t know what I would have done. But it didn’t matter. I kept going.

I needed to get some in the car though and I wanted to keep him inside. I taped the long match to top of the fluid bottle and lit it. He looked up finally. He must have seen the glint of the fire. I can understand that. But he didn’t register it fast enough. I smashed the driver’s side window and threw the jug on his lap right as the flame met the bottle.

That was the first time, but it’s been like that for a few months now. It’s not always as easy. Sometimes I have to really search for the right place or the right car. Sometimes it’s just a car. Other times it’s not. I’ve seen it in some papers, but I don’t make it a habit to read them.

The guilt comes some days, but I feel empty when I’m not watching something burn. I’ve never thought much about beauty, until now. True beauty is to destroy; it is the responsibility and the consequences. It’s in my control. It’s my decision what to destroy. And my god, is it beautiful.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Day 12

PROMPT: Instead of scouring the internets for a prompt, I was inspired by these Bill Gekas photos that I read found on Twitter, particularly this one.

It’s cold outside, and her fingers are uncovered even though she’s wearing gloves. She clutches her book to her chest to protect it from being taken by the wind. Every few steps she takes along the gravel path, she has to bring a hand to her grandmother’s knit cap, which her mother placed on her head in order to keep it from blowing away in the Autumn wind. The sky is grayish and she shivers as she walks.

Her light brown ringlets are tossed around with every step. They gradually fill with fallen leaves. Her hair is loosely held in place by the bright red scarf that her mother had wrapped haphazardly around her neck before sending her on her way. She takes her time making her way through the park.

It is quiet except for the howling of the wind, which she imagines are the sounds of animals in the trees. She pictures them moving through the woods, playing together, rolling around in the crunchy leaves. She jumps on a pile of leaves herself before kicking it up into the air.

Her father is supposed to meet her once she gets to the library. Sometimes he is there. Other times, she spends her afternoons reading and looking through books before she sets out to find her father. Often she finds him at one of her first stops, usually a bar or the barbershop where they play cards. Other times she wanders for a few hours before they meet on the street and he takes her somewhere with a bed.

But the path through the park is her favorite part of these days, especially in the Fall when she sees the leaves flying and imagines where they fly to and how long it will take them to get there. She thinks about how she would like to fly someday and thinks about the places she would go. She imagines there are cities in the clouds, where the sky is bright and the leaves breeze through on windy days. And millions of children bounce and float through the city and play all day long.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Day 11

PROMPT:10 minute free write: fire.

I’m not sure I really could’ve prepared myself for what I was going to see. It had been five years since the fire at my parents’ place. It was a fluke electrical fire. Bad wires, faulty something. I hadn’t quite known at the time. There were a few important details: Mom and Dad are fine and almost everything else is gone. I hadn’t come home then because I’d been too busy with work in LA. That’s what I’d told myself anyway. I think I used that as an excuse to not have to do the clean. I’d always been sentimental. I knew what going home to see that would do to me.

After that there just hadn’t been a good time. I’d come back to visit them for holidays. I’d seen the new apartment. I’d been directed to the box of things that were the remnants of my past life. Things that I would probably have no use for but had held onto because I thought someday I would need them. Math notes from 7th grade that I had expected to need in High School. Three of the same birthday card from my Grandfather from consecutive years.

I had gone through during my six months living at home after college graduation. I had sat on the floor and looked through my old bins of junk and cried for days at lost thoughts and memories. At people I’d forgotten, friendships that I suddenly missed so much it felt like a hole had been torn through my heart, the first CD I ever owned. Nostalgia had never been an easy emotion for me to swallow. I’d thrown out as much as I could, but my room remained the same cluttered collection of mementos from the past until the day it went up in flames. And I knew that I couldn’t confront the loss of those things head on.

The idea of losing so much and not even knowing what was gone paralyzed me. I spent nights awake for months trying to remember what was in the back corners of cabinets. My desk at work had a notepad in the top draw with a list that said “things that were in my room.” It killed me every time I remembered something new. Something else lost forever. Presents from camp friends. My keychain collection. My first pair of high heels. My prom dress.

But something had brought me down this street today. I couldn’t tell you what it was, since I’d been so adeptly avoiding it for so long. Yet I found myself here anyway, staring at the beautiful house that looked nothing like the one I’d grown up in. I stood in front of my car, facing the house for about ten minutes before deciding that the effect of the loss was gone now that it had been rebuilt. There was nothing left here to be nostalgic about.

I took a few steps across the street and put my hand on the tree that I had hit way too many times trying to parallel park in front of the house. I looked down to see the familiar knot at the base of the trunk that looked like the head of a snake emerging from the roots. Some things stay the same. I felt the emotions bubbling up and crossed back to my car, locking myself in as quickly as I could before the tears started. Clearly, I’d been wrong about there being nothing left.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Day 10

PROMPT:Open a fresh Google search. Close your eyes and randomly hit three keys on your keyboard. Open your eyes and see what Google auto-suggests. Use one of these recommendations to jump start a short story. (Letters: S U B-- the word I chose was subcentral)

The smell of garlic hit me so strongly and quickly that I instantly felt the need to find it. I was sitting alone at the subcentral terminal reading my book and eating a bag of pretzels that now seemed horribly inadequate. I turned my head and couldn’t see a single eating establishment in this area of the station. But it was unmistakable. People walked past me on their phones and tablets. No one else seemed to have been disturbed by it as I had. I turned back toward the empty bus slip. My stomach grumbled disappointedly as I returned to the bag of pretzels, but I had missed the bus before in situations just like this one.
The station was gradually growing darker as the sun set and the natural light diminished. It was a gorgeous day that was turning into a disgusting night. The winds were picking up and she expected that the bus would be driving through rain all night long. At least that’s what the weather had predicted. It wouldn’t have been a pleasant night anyway, but the threatening weather just brought a more ominous feel to it.
She wished she could bring her father whatever it was that she was smelling. He would probably love it. Growing up in a chef’s house gave her a unique ability to identify how good something would be from the smell. She couldn’t cook for her life, despite the years of her father trying to teach her. Now he had given up and she was starting to regret not trying harder. Maybe if she brought him the food, he would see it as a gesture.
She didn’t have any more time to think about it though. The bus pulled in and she gathered her bags and her ticket for the long trip home.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Day 9

PENALTY: I had intended to post last night. I printed out a prompt ahead of time to work on it on the train. But my sister is in town and we ended up staying up until 3 in the morning. Since this is kind of a gray area when it comes to the accidental vs the on-purpose skipping, and the last one was questionable too, I decided I needed to go for a 1000-er tonight. The problem is that I'm semi-conscious right now, so I'm not sure if what's I've type made sense.
***Edit: I was quite literally falling asleep while writing this last night- and I do mean actually typing with my eyes closed, nodding off, and then waking up to try and figure out what I was trying to write to make sure I got to 1000 words. I could just edit what i've written, but I decided to leave it all as is considering the point is to post not post something spectacular. This is a lesson in doing this earlier in the day... 

PROMPT: Write a story where love is created and maintained over a distance. The length and nature of that distance is up to you. It could be the distance between two continents, two cities, or even just between two windows or the rooftops of two neighboring buildings. What lies between, physically and metaphorically? What are the barriers that must be overcome? Are they overcome? How?

Dear Melodee,
         I know you told me not to write. But that was six years ago, and I think I still have things to say. I’ve been doing well. I’ve switched jobs three times since we last saw each other. I think I’ve settled this time for a while. Work place is good. People are nice. I get to make as much tea or coffee as I want in the office kitchen. Life is good.
         I think of you less now than I used to. There was a long time when things would remind me of you everywhere I went. It wouldn’t send me into a depression. I wouldn’t freeze and not be able to carry on with my day. It was just strange to me that I couldn’t call you up and tell you about them. That I couldn’t write a puzzle into one of our letters to help you figure out my day for yourself.
It was always small things. A specific orange color that reminded me of the dress that you have that you wear when people are going to want you to be in pictures. The chuckle that I sometimes hear in a bar or a restaurant that makes me think of your laugh when you were humoring because what I said wasn’t actually funny. It used to happen all the time, but it’s faded.
It still does happen though, and even all these years later, it brings me back to those moments. If I could draw, I would be able to draw a perfect likeness of that orange dress. Almost every picture I ever had of you had that dress. I wonder sometimes if you still have it.
I’m not writing to say that I want you back or even that I miss you. I guess what I wanted to say is that I think about you. Even now. My life has changed a lot. People, places, opportunities have come and gone. I’ve moved twice since we broke up. But I can still write this address without even having to think about it. And sometimes, I still want to use it. Like today. I know I live a thousand miles away, Mel. But I do wonder about that dress.


I really felt like I had to respond to this. I opened it without looking at the envelope much and was halfway through reading it before I realized. Full disclosure, it would have taken a stronger person than I to quit reading there. Melodee Grant actually moved away a while back. Ive been in the condo for the last two years, but there was another person in between us I believe. I get both of their mail all of the time. I wish I had a forwarding address to give you. I dont. I hope youre doing well in whatever the new job and the new place are.                  
For what its worth (which I do realize is essentially nothing) I found your letter very sweet and honest. Ive certainly had breakups where I think Ive moved on completely until a smell or a song hits me on the street and takes me back in time. Memory is weird like that. And breakups too. You have this store of intimate knowledge and shared experiences with a person who is no longer in your life. I dont know if it ever stops feeling out of place, but it hasnt yet for me. Good luck with everything. I hope this wasnt too much of an invasion.

         It was definitely surprising to get your letter and learn that Melodee is long gone. I guess I waited too long to share those “final thoughts.” I appreciate you writing back though. I agree with what you said. It’s like, you can move on, but it’s impossible to truly leave those people behind you. I hope the condo is treating you well, and that the second tap isn’t still dripping at nighttime.

                  I was so glad that you wrote back to me. The faucet is still dripping at all hours, but I feel like youve given me the motivation I need to get on this right now. Good looking out! A from increasingly warmer places it seems from the postmark. Miami and then Texas? Hopefully Egypt isnt next. I hear its pretty deadly this time of year

            Greetings from frigid Ontario, Canada. I travel a lot for work, but I’m starting to wish it was limited to warm place after warm place. I have yet to be sent to Rio or anywhere Caribbean where I could just lay out on the beach in between meetings. It doesn’t seem fair that my co-workers are living it up in Paris right now (thought it is also cold, by the way) while I’m learning about the Loonie. How is the weather in New York?

                  Poor Canada, always getting a bad rap. They have really clean subways you know. Perhaps you could get a doctors note that would limit you tragically to warm areas of travel. Not only would you get the perks, but your Paris friends might get bumped from good trips  because of your limitations Thats probably wrong though, right?

            It’s been so great talking to you these months. I feel like I know you. I wish there were going to be times for me to go out to New York. It would be great to put a face to this voice and writing. You were right about my boss, by the way. The woman doesn’t know what she’s doing and all of the changes she’s made came from sheer fear of this group of four people who completely control her. I’m ready for her to go down. Enough is enough already, but chances are it’ll all just stay the same.

                  Im so happy for you! Quitting can be difficult, but youre doing what is right for you, and no one gets to decide that aside from you. I know your new job doesnt start for a few weeks. Come see me in New York. We can see the sites that you grew up with or just explore the next restaurants that have popped up since youre gone. It would be so great to meet you in person.