for the Writers, Stories

A Poem Written

You pick up a pen and start writing.

          Perhaps a tale of faeries and nymphs,

          perhaps an epic of swashbuckling adventure,

          or perhaps a poem of rich imagery and theme.

Regardless, you’re writing now.

Refusing to be bested by a mere blank page,

          you begin to dream up the words.

          You imagine the depth of the prose,

          heartrending emotion unleashing

          salty tears and deep belly laughs.

          Or perhaps only solitary groans of anguish and writer’s block.

          Or really indifference and some sort of forced caring.

But you are an author,

          and your characters are so beloved that you cannot shut them in.

          They are like a fire in your bones that cannot be quenched

          until all know their exploits and defeats.

Or so you hope.

          Pray….

          Coax….

          ….

Relationships in your head trump the world,

          characters demanding your time to distraction.

          “Leave me to my solitude and buy a book!

          Or perhaps you wonder why you can’t hear them,

          elusive head-people taunting you with their absence,

          with tangible people or social media

          or needless research taking the brunt of the blame.

          The characters must be in there somewhere

          “Come out, come out, wherever you are.”

          for you are a true writer.

But the idea is beyond the reality,

          the slights imagined and exaggerated

          “because they’re supposed to be.”

          So you claim.

An imposter is all you are.

          An imposter posing as the authorial idea.

          Every true author is.

          Right?

          Posing as something they’re not until proven otherwise.

          “Or perhaps never proved at all.

But wouldn’t it irk you, dear writer,

to become an awkward, neurotic, obsessive

only to discover that the ideal

you believe in is the true imposter?

My Creative Projects, Stories

Flash Fiction: The Sandman’s Falsehood

 
The Sandman is taking me. He unscrews my hands, my feet, my ears, my nose – whatever is in reach. Then the dreams – I enter my dreams and am falling apart. Why does everyone stare? What are they looking at? No, not a human. I’m nothing but an abomination now, an automaton. He did this, emptying my eye sockets, cleaning out my soul.
 
 
There was love, at least the option. I could have been the talk of the town in an entirely different way. People flocking and I had eyes for only one. That’s how it was. He wasn’t all the others were, but he worshipped me and that was enough.
 
 
Then the dreams came, falling always falling, drowning but in air not water, and tearing, ripping, gripping for the parts of me that fell away. My heart, see I still have my heart, in my grasp here. Pounding ‘til the drumbeat woke me to twisted sheets and twisted arms. I’m awake. I’m together. The falsehood of dream is gone.
The stares continue, but the glares escalate. My melodies are no longer a siren song, but an omen – first to strangers, my father, my love. No, I’m here, I’m still here, don’t you see. But that’s not my voice, listen to me, listen. Return my eyes and I can show you where I am. Please, the Sandman has me, it’s the Sandman, not me. I’m awake, I’m together, the falsehood of dream is gone ‘til the sun leaves.
 
 
The Sandman presented himself at last – a menacing beast of a creature, black of soul and body, but my eyes – he had my eyes! Don’t you see, those are mine, but there went my hands and feet next, and I was losing every piece little by little, and who am I, Klara, Olympia, I can’t remember, tell me who I am. And all that was left was my heart, pounding. I’m awake, I’m together, the falsehood of dream is gone….
 
 
The heart beat down the street, safe within my false body. I couldn’t see, I couldn’t hear, I couldn’t feel the touch of my distant love. Up the tower, higher and higher, I’m still here. I’m here, can you hear me? But now there is nothing to do but leap, into the air and let the ground prove my life as it takes it. Am I awake yet?
 
 

Showcasing other Creatives, Stories

Short Story: “The Watcher” by Megan Fatheree

My friend Megan Fatheree has recently started a blog on writing. It’s a great concept, using examples of books and movies on how to write plot, setting, an engaging story (and these are just her first few posts!) You can check it out at https://meganfatheree.wordpress.com/

Before you take my word for it though, check out this short story she wrote:
 
 
 

The Watcher

 

I knew secrets, so I had to run. Hide. And not be found. It wasn’t easy, hiding in plain sight, and there was no one to trust.

Or so I thought.

That day started like any other that I had become accustomed to. Eyes flying open. Realizing where I was. Feeling that heavy heartbreak that always came with my memories.

The hotel room wasn’t large, by any means, but it was cheap. Cheap was what I needed. I hadn’t been able to get a job, and hiding was beginning to feel like a big waste of money, but I knew the second I came out of hiding, I would be dead.

Too many lives depended on my silence. Too many secrets depended on my death.

I had slept in my clothes, my first full night of sleep in almost six months. I hadn’t meant to stay unconscious so long.

As I ran a hand through my long, tangled hair, I heard a knock on the door. I was quick to grab my gun. A gun that I hadn’t had the time to learn how to use. It couldn’t be too hard. All I had to do was point and pull.

I was stupid enough to not look through the peephole before I opened the door, and was suddenly stuck facing a complete stranger. Dressed in all black. With sunglasses.

He took one look at me and pushed his way into the room.

The gun was out of my hand before I even had time to point. So much for that strategy. He tossed it to the bed and pushed the door closed, pinning me against it.

“You’ve done a good job of hiding so far,” he said, and the tone wasn’t exactly friendly, “so I’ve stayed out of your way. The very fact that I’m here should tell you something has escalated. No time for explanations, I need you to trust me.”

I wasn’t really sure what to do with that information, but he hadn’t tried to hurt me or anything, so my head started bobbing on its own.

“Good.” He backed away from the door and pulled a bag off his shoulder. He tossed me a pair of sunglasses. “Wear these. And put this on, it’s chilly.” The jacket came sailing toward my head. “Pull the hood up.”

I did everything he asked, not even considering my own safety, to be honest. I just didn’t want to get on his bad side.

As soon as the jacket was zipped and the hood was covering my hair, he was next to me with a hand around my arm.

I couldn’t do much besides watch what was going on around me. The door cracked open, and then we walked away. Ten seconds later, I could hear the door to my hotel room break open. I turned my head to look, but the man yanked me forward, in front of him.

“Don’t let them see you. Keep moving.”

I didn’t dare to contradict a word he said. The aura of wisdom and strength and foreboding that followed him was more than enough to silence anything I could have said.

He stared down at me for a brief moment, and then he turned me around and grasped my hand tightly.

I would have protested, if I would have had time. As it was, I was pretty sure I heard a gunshot ricochet off a nearby car the moment before he took off faster than I could consciously run. I stumbled along behind, but he was dragging me more than I was actually moving my feet.

So many street blocks went by that I lost count. We ran through so many alleys that I completely lost my bearings. Finally, he skidded to a stop beside a motorcycle.

I have to admit, I was relieved I didn’t have to run any farther. I couldn’t breathe and my sides were splitting. I settled myself in the passenger seat and held tightly to his torso. It was about that time that I realized he hadn’t said what his name was, but it also didn’t seem like a good time to ask.

I had originally thought it was just a motorcycle, but I quickly discovered that it was more like a motorcycle on steroids. There was no way we should have been going as fast as we were.

We didn’t stop until we reached the docks. I could hear the shouts a few blocks behind us. It sounded like the cops had pulled over whoever was chasing us, one of the few times I was grateful for their presence.

There was a speedboat moored there, at the docks. It seemed to be waiting for us, and suddenly I wondered how long this man had been planning this escape. How long he had known about me. And if he had known about me all along, who else had known?

I was reluctant to board the boat, but I did so anyway. More out of curiosity than necessity, though I was sure the men who had been chasing us were still hot on our trail.

There was only one question I was brave enough to ask my man in black. “Who are you?”

The man gave an almost-smile and turned his back to me, looking out over the water toward the pier we had left. “My name is Mark, but nobody really calls me that.”

“Mark,” I repeated softly, memorizing it quickly.

I would have asked many more questions, but Mark’s troubled gaze was still sweeping the horizon, and I didn’t want to interrupt. My questions could wait until we were safe.

That turned out to be sooner rather than later. The boat docked at a small island, not far off the mainland.

I saw Mark slip the boat driver a few hundred dollar bills and heard him tell the man we had never been there. I was alright with that, if it meant one night of safety.

The house Mark led me to was large and scarily modern. Not anything I would have expected to be on an island like that one, surrounded by trees and shrubbery.

Mark easily opened the door and motioned around the enormous front room. “Welcome to the house.”

I was in awe, really, so I didn’t utter a single word. Not for a long time, anyway. The beauty of the isolated homestead made my head spin. I had never expected someone like him to live someplace like that.

My eyes caught sight of a black book on one of the tables in the room, and I couldn’t help but pick it up. I thumbed through it, fast at first and then slowly, and that was the end of my silence.

Jenny’s Diary.

That was the tag on the inside cover. “Who’s Jenny?” I asked, rather perturbed and suddenly terribly frightened. What if he was no better than the rest? What if he was a serial killer or something?

Mark turned to look at me, but his eyes were really directed at the book. He shrugged. “She was here a while ago. She’s gone now.”

That sickening dread that had become my constant companion reared its ugly head once more. I dropped the book back on the table and backed away from Mark. He was suddenly the last person on earth that I wanted to be standing next to.

“Calm down,” Mark said, extending his hands toward me and lowering his voice to a soothing tone.

I continued to back away, having to pause several times to skirt around objects behind me. “Please leave me alone,” I begged. “I’ll tell you anything. I’ll give you any secret I know, just don’t hurt me.”

Mark stopped and a chuckle rose from his throat.

A chuckle? That was the last thing I had expected in such a tense situation.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” he said in that same soothing tone. “If I wanted information out of you, you would be bloody and tied to a chair. Trust me. I brought you here for your own safety.”

I wanted to trust him, I really did, but that was the one thing I couldn’t afford to do. “What about Jenny?”

Mark lifted the black book and ran a finger over the leather cover. “Jenny left because she didn’t need protection anymore. This is my job. I watch, and I protect. You’re not the only person I keep an eye on.”

I started to feel a little better, but I was still wary of the stranger before me.

He gave a smirk and dropped the book. “But, I must say, you are my favorite.”

In that moment, Mark went from frightening to creepy and I made a beeline for the door. Even if I had to swim, I was absolutely not going to remain on that deserted island with him.

Unfortunately for me, Mark had better reflexes than I did, and he was faster. Before I could make it halfway to the door, one of his monstrous arms had encased my torso, and he practically dragged me back into the room.

It was useless to fight, but I did so anyway. It was the only thing I could do, really. He was stronger and probably smarter. I found myself thrust down onto a sofa.

“Listen,” Mark said sternly, and his green eyes flashed fire, “I understand you’re scared and paranoid. Running can do that to a person, but I need you to trust me. It’s the only way I can help you.”

In response, I darted for the door again. Mark had obviously been anticipating this, as I found myself thrust back onto the sofa before I could even start running.

“I watch,” Mark repeated, “but I only intervene when it is absolutely critical. When the person I am watching can no longer handle the situation. Like it or not, right now I’m the only thing keeping you safe.”

He pinned me with his stare, as if he anticipated an answer from me. I would have been happy to oblige, but he hadn’t asked a question. He had stated exactly what he wanted to be done.

Seeing as how I wasn’t a very great swimmer, I took the opportunity to agree with him. Maybe, eventually, he would let me get back to my life as a fugitive.

I winced then, wondering when it had become a natural thing to think of myself as a fugitive. I didn’t like it, not really, but somewhere along the line I had come to accept it. Maybe he could help me turn back into a normal human being. Just maybe.

That was the exact moment that the very first spark of trust filled my head and my heart. When he had looked me in the eyes during our flight from my hotel room, I thought I had sensed a sort of kinship. As if he had been where I was. And maybe he had. I really didn’t know anything about him.

Mark seemed to sense my disposition, and he backed off. His boots were soon by the back door, and Mark disappeared through an archway.

I took the time to explore the rest of the house, including the six upstairs bedrooms. I quickly claimed the one that reminded me most of my home. A home I hadn’t seen in almost a year.

The levity of my situation suddenly hit me like a load of bricks. I hadn’t had time to think on it before, but I was homesick and I was tired of being chased. A list of if-only’s ran through my head, and for a while I forgot about the secrets I knew. I thought only of home and family and all the things I had likely missed.

So much stress flew off my shoulders with the resurgence of those long-suppressed memories that I must have fallen asleep, because the next thing I knew Mark was shaking me awake.

I looked up at him with that sleepy-eyed stare that comes only after the best naps, and he smiled back. He set a tray of food on the bed and then left the room.

I ate like a woman starved, which I suppose I pretty much was. I had, after all, been living off of hot dogs and toast for a long while. Nothing had ever tasted as good as that soup Mark gave me. I don’t suppose anything ever will taste as good as that. It was my first real meal in a long, long time.

I took the tray back downstairs and found Mark in the kitchen, chowing down on his own lunch. Or dinner. Whatever time of day it actually was.

“Why am I your favorite?” I finally found the courage to ask.

Mark didn’t even hesitate. “Because you’ve never lost hope. I’ve been watching you for a long time now, and all I ever see is your optimism. You remind me a lot of myself.”

I wanted to ask him how he knew. I wanted to ask if he had ever been in my situation. Somehow, the words wouldn’t form. Maybe it was my head telling me it was all trivial. Or maybe it was my heart telling me he was reluctant to speak of it. Either way, I didn’t broach the subject with him, and looking back I was glad I chose not to. It would only have weighed my soul down that much more.

Our conversation turned to me after that. He asked how I had come to find all these secrets, and who I thought was after me. It seemed like he already knew all the answers, but it helped to talk about it all.

Those conversations became the norm over the next few months in the house. Mark was always so easy to talk to and so eager to listen. He comforted me after the nightmares stormed my dreams. He knew just how to calm me down when I panicked about the sound of a helicopter or boat driving by.

The day that I refused to eat my cereal, because my stomach hurt and I was afraid I’d been poisoned, he took a blood sample just to humor me. It came back clean, just like he knew it would. I never doubted him after that.

I could talk to him about anything, and he would always tell me when he found one of the men who had been chasing me for months on end. I guess he knew it brought me peace of mind. Mark cared about my peace of mind, and in small tender moments, I sometimes wondered if he cared about more than just that.

I cherished those moments. I still do. Mark was the only one who truly knew how I felt, and he didn’t hesitate to ask me about anything. We became very close, Mark and I.

Now, two years later, I walk the streets freely, without a worry in the world. Mark took care of everyone who wanted to hurt me. I don’t know how, but I know he did. Anyone left would be remiss to try anything, anyway. Because they know. And I know.

Even when I don’t see him, even when I doubt he’s paying attention at all, Mark is always there. Lurking in the shadows. Standing high on a rooftop. Gazing across the streets until our eyes meet. Because Mark will always be the one thing I needed more than anything during those hard times.

 

 
 
 
 
 

Fatheree_author_photo

Megan Fatheree was homeschooled from Pre-school through 12th grade. During this time, she was blessed to be able to focus her efforts toward the craft of writing. She is now in her early 20s and a full-time author. Some of her books include “Precious Jewel”, “Eminent Danger”, and “Rose-Colored Glasses.” She also blogs at meganfatheree.wordpress.com. She loves what she does and wouldn’t trade it for anything. She looks forward to all the great adventures that lay in store for her in the near future.

 

My Creative Projects, Stories

Turn the White Snow: A “White Winter Hymnal” Story

Like many this year, I was introduced to the Pentatonix version of “White Winter Hymnal.” I fell in love with the song and wondered about the story behind it.

 

 

What had happened to Michael? Why was everyone wearing red scarves? After much googling around, I found out the original version was by Fleet Foxes, and was excited to know it hadn’t come from an already-existing story….I decided to create my own 🙂 Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

 

Turn the White Snow

I was following Michael to the schoolyard, sludging through the snow. Little Mary trailed behind when she fell on a patch of ice. It wasn’t too big of a spill, ‘cept her red scarf shuffled to the side and she gasped, froze. “Mary,” I teased, “keep careful or you’ll lose your head.” I knotted the scarf ‘round her neck one more time to calm her. She beamed up at me, and I returned a reassuring smile. The extra knot was all it took for her to sprint ahead of us, though our legs were much longer to catch up.

The schoolyard was covered in packed snow, but Michael took the side route with hills that splashed with powder from less traffic. All the students were bundled up in line for class. We took our spaces in line too, and Michael and I followed our pack to one side of the yard while Mary’s took the other. She was carefree now with that extra knot; she could leap and bound and – well sit still for the lecture as she was told – without a care in the world since her sister had given her that extra security. I reached up to check my own knot in the meantime, tight and unyielding.

Silly superstition, really. Some braver kids, like Michael, would just wrap the scarves haphazardly ‘round their throats of course, but mother was always cautious to check that our scarves were knotted, and sure enough Mary and I were of the more timid type of student that instinctively grabbed it in any bout of uncertainty.

Michael was the daredevil – always finding the highest pile of snow to slide down, always questioning the superstitions, always telling some outlandish tale. The other day he had told me that the ground used to be brown like the logs for our fire, and the brown ground would grow food called strawberries as red as our scarves, and even more colors we had never seen before. Silly notions he came up with from listening to the loons, yet still he dreamed of proving it one day. That was Michael, always wanting to make some life-altering discovery – though he said convincing me would be an acceptable alternative.

Now that I was certain my scarf was secure, I quickly tugged on my hat as well. All the other people were the same, only worried about scarves for security, but I was the odd one who had to check my hat as well. Probably most of the reason Michael kept me around, because I was an enigma. Everyone else’s hair was white like the snow or brown like the coats that swallowed us, but mine was orange as the fire. People didn’t know what to think of that, not with the regimen of structure we all lived under. Though most knew I had wild hair from seeing the tufts peep out at the least opportune moment, I still tried to keep it under the hat at all costs.

Today’s lecturer spoke on the scarves – they always do. Red to stand out above all else, for everyone to take notice and honor the life it allows us to live. A life of continuity, of conformity, going from one task to the next in the pack, never side-stepping, never turning. Just as the snow fell from the sky to hold us up, we in turn reach for the sky it lifts us toward – ever close to the white snow, ever closer to the whitest sun. When the scarf was tied on a newborn, the traditionalists would say, “a scarf of red tied ‘round your throat, to keep your head from falling to snow.” The scarf held our society together, maintained the structure, the uniformity of the pack in growing higher towards the sun. The ditty at every birth reminded us of that. I was just old enough at Mary’s birth to remember, and I felt as proud and tall as ever to be a part of something so grand.

When the lecture ended, it was time for recess, and Michael bolted. I trailed behind him, joining the pack of kids in a snowball fight. The lecturer’s eye was following our movements while we scooped from the hills of snow and slammed it into the bundled pack of scurrying kids. We all danced carelessly through each other’s footsteps while Michael raced to the top of a hill and howled like a wolf in triumph. We watched him pile the snow in a ball as large as our coats and roll it down the hill toward us. Trying to beat his own game, Michael jumped in front of the giant pile. We couldn’t scatter, and we waited for the student in front as we leapt away from the rolling mound.

That’s when the wind burst strong and my hair loosened – I felt it kissing my face like the snow as it fell, and I instinctively turned ‘round to keep the others from seeing me adjust my hat. There was Michael right behind me, waiting, simultaneously admiring my bright fiery hair and grieving that I felt compelled to always cover it.

But the snow was still racing for us, and he was still blocking its path. The same darned gust of wind – as if it were meant to curse the lot of us – tugged at his loose scarf as the snow pile slammed into him. Michael had lost his own game. He caught himself barely, but the scarf lightly drifted to the ground and we soon realized the mistake. His head toppled and landed on the ground and his feet gave way. Liquid as red as our scarves poured out of him, turning the white snow red.

The students were only now turning in unison to see the scarf drifting along by the wind, away from the red snow and the white face that lay in it. The lecturers approached and guided the students away. But they had seen me turn, and I was in trouble I knew.

Michael’s body was taken away for a proper burial, swallowed in the icy sea. A lecturer gave me white bags, and lots of them, to swallow the red snow ’til the incident never happened. My shovel dug deep, ever finding more red snow, until it hit hard bottom. I scooped the snow away and there – I saw brown. Neither a fire log nor a coat, but some ungiving ground of brown. My fingernails scraped it, memorized its texture, and I wondered what strawberries were like.

I tried telling the lecturers, but they brushed it away. The next day someone had covered the brown with snow, so I had no proof. I knew the other kids would laugh, but I told Mary and she gave me a hesitated smile.

“Of course she’d believe his superstitions, trying to revive his memory after such a tragic event.” I heard it whispered by my parents, the lecturers, the doctors they sent me to. No one would believe me, the girl with the wild hair and wild friend and wild stories. But I knew what I saw was true, and every night I would crawl between my brown covers, pull out the little white bag I’d saved, and pinch the red snow, imagining he had finally made strawberries.

If you enjoyed this, check out the Fleet Foxes version of the song as well.

 

 

And if you’re a writer, I’d love to hear your version of the tale! Please share!

for the Bookworms, Stories

A Poem: Analyze This

One of the first moments where I felt I could actually be a successful writer (read: read writer) was when I was published in my college’s student publication Impressions. As if publication was not enough, I tied for second place in that issue with my best college friend. While it was a small accomplishment, I’m still quite proud of my poem. I feel like it sums up my college career, as well as conveys my view on the importance and tension of Author/Reader/Text interpretation. Enjoy!

 

A Poem: Analyze This

 
You pick up a poem and start reading.

          Perhaps you take pleasure in the written word,

          perhaps you wish to appear intelligent,

          or perhaps you were unaware of the content

          until you’d begun.

Regardless, you’re reading now.

Refusing to be bested by mere words on a page,

you begin your subconscious mission

          to conquer the text,

          crack the code,

          find the pirate’s elusive X.

Perhaps you start with the author – me.

          You find that I recently ended

          a serious relationship with a devoted fan,

          which suggests the poem is written

          in first and second person to design

          a connection between reader and writer,

          compensating for the woeful solitude I now face.

          (Funny, if I had my biography contain different

          facts – I was in the middle of Calvino’s

          If On a Winter’s Night a Traveller

          while writing the poem,

          or I receive brilliant writing ideas at 2:30am,

          only to wake up later and realize

          “Why Wrestling a Hippo is an Artistic Prey”

          doesn’t even make sense as a sentence,

          let alone as a writing topic –

          you would come up with an entirely

          different reading of my poem.)

I’m sure how much I’ve published

before will affect your reading as well.

          Since I’ve never been published,

          your reaction may be

          “no wonder it’s a simple failure”

          or perhaps “why isn’t more of her literary genius

          published?…the brilliant complexities!”

But enough about me.

You’ve finally decided

to look at the poem itself.

What do you think of its length?

          You decide the poem’s concepts

          are exquisitely drawn out and explored.

          Or you think the author – I –

          didn’t edit enough to cut out

          the useless nonsense from the gems.

Of course you look at imagery, too.

          A fighting hippo, fortune teller,

          and treasure-hunting pirate come to your mind.

          Perhaps the poem conveys the problem

          with stereotyping and making assumptions

          from one aspect of a person’s life.

          (And I am sure one day, critics will debate

          if “fighting hippo” refers to an African version

          of Steve Irwin or to sumo wrestlers.

          But that’s beside the point.)

By now you may have a mental image

of me as a crazed gypsy, gazing

into a crystal ball, what with my mix

of predicting and guiding your thoughts

the entire time. Or maybe the “you” I refer to

is no longer you, the reader you, but another “you”

than you, “you” merely being “you” the reader, “you,”

of my imagination, while you are flesh-and-blood

you. But let me assure you, actual reader, in case

you are troubled – I am not in your head.

Now on you go with your reading; after all,

it would be a shame for your analysis

to end so soon. So you move on,

tackling my use of rhyme scheme.

          You discover that rhyme is rarely used,

          but alliteration needs no X to be noticed.

          P’s in “pick up a poem,”

          B’s in “be bested by,”

          X’s in “exquisitely explored,”

          or B’s in “bunch of bull,” among many others.

          You pick up the notion that a struggle is being

          explored in these phrases, perhaps a tension

          between the deepness of text

          and the exquisite ideas actually conveyed.

          Or maybe that’s a bunch of bull utilized

          to convince you that this one poem

          of mine has some literary value.

But wouldn’t it irk you, dear reader,

to get to the last page of my lengthy biography,

after multiple readings and careful critical analysis

of my only poem, only to discover that I

had written the entire thing in just one brief sitting?

 

 

 

What do you think?

Where do we find out interpretation of writings? Through authorial intent, through text alone, through reader engagement? Share your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to hear.

Stories

Between

Everyone else thought she had escaped just in time, leaving them and their scoffings to the pain they now experienced. Or so she told herself. She wished her view confirmed their alleged thoughts, but really that was merely a hypothetical audience that could not exist. The people she actually saw through the impenetrable iron gate weren’t even an audience, for each glimpse back showed dancing and laughter. Joy. Life. Too occupied with their celebration to ponder her current state and how it compares to theirs. They’d moved on through the pain without her, and each brief glance they bestowed upon her resembled that of one given to someone diving wholeheartedly into a pool of vomit. No, looking back afforded no comfort.

Looking forward showed the flaw in her hypothetical audience’s beliefs. The door to the building was locked, and she could only peep through the window and observe all those that had left her behind. Dancing and laughter there, also. On occasion a person would smile towards her window, more out of pity than as if she was a participant in their festivities. Yet still the truth was evident – she’d left too late and too soon. She was alone and the road less travelled had grown back over since her friends had paved their way through.

The scream began in her stomach, then her throat, before forcing her mouth open. A clenched fist drew back and demanded entry to the glass. She could not stop here; she must make it through. A shattering, and blood painted the window remains. Tears streamed down to join the puddle of blood that she began to kneel down in, clutching her hand where the glass had ripped her skin more than she had shattered its center.

Alone.

 
 
 
 

for the Bookworms, for the Writers, Stories

Flash Fiction: Freedom Freddie

[Say that blogpost title five times fast.]

Writing Prompt: Childhood Pet

While we’re all talking about independence, here’s my morbid memory of one of my family’s first pets. I wrote this for the Writer’s Prompt in A Year of Writing Dangerously that asks to write about a childhood pet.

 

 

Freedom Freddie

Freedom Freddie. A duckling full of hopes and dreams for the future.

He was skittish, worrisome. Who was this doting family who squeezed and coddled him, never a minute alone? His confident waddle assured the kids though that the shredded lettuce they showered upon him was reason enough to overlook the stifling attention.

And Freddie was happy. Freedom was a little subjective, but he enjoyed his cage for now and his heart fluttered when he would see the pouty lips and puppy eyes as the parents cautioned the kids that Freddie would one day be an independent duckie, released to a pond where he can splash and play and make his own home.

The kids liked to think that this manmade structure was Freddie’s home. But stories of the pond – how glorious it sounded. His mother and siblings must be there, awaiting his presence. The pounding rain, the hard concrete, the screech of tires, and the cold bare skin – those first memories would be washed away by the splashing and quacking. New stories, new memories recollected of a mother who did not abandon him, but lost him in a tragic mishap he would one day learn the details of.

This temporary family, they could not understand his expectations of this certain future, when all they said was, “Ducks were made for a pond, not for a bedroom.” And yet, perhaps this future was not so certain.

A mother lost forever. Siblings frozen on other obscure roads. Or this nurturing home his death sentence. His heart pounded and his feathers refused to warm him – now he was freezing as well – and Freddie squawked his pain to no avail.

One lone child held him close as his harsh screams filled the otherwise silent home. Offerings of more packaged lettuce, the gentle strokes of comfort, a warm towel – nothing could stop the pain, the chill of reality.

Finally, his body would not allow him to cower against the child’s middle. With unstoppable force, his body began to stretch out, straighter and straighter – “Not like a duckling,” he thought. “Too human.” All at once, his squawks were silenced, his shivers relinquished, and his eyes refused to blink as he lay in the warm towel, still and straight as a funeral corpse.

“It was the lettuce,” the parents would say. “We discovered that packaged lettuce has chemicals that are poisonous to ducklings.” And with those words, Freedom Freddie‘s need for sustenance wrenched the dreams of independence from his webbing.

 

What Say You?

What’s one of your memories of a childhood pet?