I am Afraid to Write. Here’s Why.

A few days ago, I was talking on the phone with someone I admire greatly and who is, among many things, a talented writer. As I was explaining the plot of a story I’d outlined a couple of years ago to get his thoughts on it, he suddenly cut me off.

“Did you notice,” he said carefully, seeming hesitant to call me out, “that every time you mention one of your stories, you end by saying how much it sucks?”

I hadn’t noticed and flushed with embarrassment, grateful that he couldn’t see my reddening face. Jokingly, I tried to downplay my self-condescension, explaining that I used to be more creative in my childhood and adolescence. Why, I’d even written 30 short stories and two fan-fiction manuscripts over the course of two years in college!

But then, life happened. I graduated and, in my eyes, failed to integrate into adulthood. Through the struggle to stand on my own two feet and several bouts of severe writer’s blocks, it wasn’t until now, in my 30s, that I’d finally decided to place more attention on how I truly wanted to live.

Despite this newfound desire, my creativity is still recovering. The mental freedom I used to feel as a child is nonexistent. Even a 400-page manuscript that I’d completed four years ago was shoved into limbo after I dozed off in the middle of editing it–twice.

Now, I’m lucky to draft a 10-page story outline, let alone a full-length novel. I was too afraid to write beyond that.

“What are you afraid of?” my friend asked.

I paused, running the question through my mind and letting the silence on the line balloon between us. When the answer formed, it was a lot longer–and more heart-rending–than I’d expected it to be.

Why I am Afraid

This isn’t the first time I’ve explored my fear of writing. It has been, however, seven years since I really looked at the root of the problem. While some things remained the same, time (and neglect) have allowed the number of fears to multiply.

As each reason poured from my mouth, a new one flooded my head right behind it:

  • There are only a finite number of plots and themes that are recycled throughout storytelling. What would make anyone read mine when they could read somebody else’s? Someone much more talented?
  • My plot will be stupid.
  • My plot will be boring.
  • My characters, setting, climax, and resolution will be an amazing conglomerate of boring and stupid.
  • I’ll start drafting a book, then get bored and stop. Therefore, I’ve wasted my time getting started in the first place.
  • Everyone (fanatics and critics alike) will ridicule every book I write, calling them crappy, mortifying, and just plain awful.
  • I don’t have the intelligence, maturity, or skillset to write the story the way I want it. The premise will sound good, but then I’ll have to flesh out the details. Of which I will do a miserable job.
  • I should be putting my time and energy into “more important, productive” activities. Like a full-time corporate job, and socializing with friends, and…um…laundry.
  • All the time spent writing the book, editing the book, submitting the book, promoting the book, publishing the book…will all be for nothing. No one will read it.
  • I’ll get a literary agent who doesn’t represent me to his/her fullest, and my book will end up in horrifying obscurity, not seeing the light of day until 500 years later, when I will be adored only because my book will serve as the only remnant of an otherwise forgotten time.
  • I have a former very close friend whom I knew throughout high school who is now a lauded, bestselling author. I have other friends, family members, and clients who have also published books. So, then…what void is left for me to fill in the writing world?

This list is more complete than the one I gave my friend during our call. After reciting about three or four, I trailed off, again embarrassed to be exposing this part of myself that I hadn’t realized ran so deep.

My friend, to his credit, remained matter-of-fact. “Well, you need to get them out somehow. Otherwise, you’ll run them through your mind over and over again, and you’ll never get out of your own head. You might also be surprised at how many writers share your fears. Maybe it will help you and them to get them out. Maybe you could add it to your blog.”

And, well. Here we are.

Writing Full Circle

I have re-written this post about three or four times in the last few days.

Why?

Because I was afraid to write about being afraid to write.

Throughout the years, I’ve written about my issues with social anxiety and chronic depression without much hesitation. That is probably because they are more familiar issues to address. I know the signs for when they onset; though I can’t always regulate them, I’m somewhat learning how to keep them under control.

What I struggle with now is different. Being afraid to write doesn’t disrupt my life in the same way anxiety and depression do. I’ve been able to ignore the urge to fight it by writing in other ways to satisfy it. Writing prompts. Fan fiction. Blog posts.

Other people publish books. I wasn’t meant for that.

Logic tells me that most of my fears are unfounded. Common sense tells me that they’re all ridiculous. Practicality tells me that, even if any of these fears were founded, writing is a skill that I could easily improve upon.

The first step to overcoming a fear is admitting that you are afraid.

The second step is to embrace the fear.

And the third?

Grab that fear by the hand and dance in the rain under a waxing moon until you’re both laughing and twirling, and the fear has faded among the heated mist that rises from the earth during a sweet, smoldering summer evening.

Writing Prompt: The Password

Writing Prompt:  As a kid, you made a “time travel password” as a joke if your future self ever tried to contact you.  You had forgotten all about it until today — when you received an email with it as the subject line.

😁 Enjoy!


Subject:  Suit juicer is another name for rabid rainbows

I can’t write your name.  You know who I am. You made this up 27 years ago.  We promised that if anything were to happen — and I mean THAT thing — this would be the code for you to believe.

I don’t have much time — and, neither do you.  You have ten minutes to get out of the house. Take only what you need.  Lock your front door. Turn on the security system. Leave your garage door open.  Get in your car and drive north on 75 for two hours, then off the exit at timestamp until you see a little town with a church with a yellow steeple.  Park behind the church, in front of the tree with the red circle on the trunk. Enter the back door and through the kitchen, into the pew. Sitting on the playing organ’s bench is someone who will be able to help you.

There is no guarantee that doing this will change the future.  But we have no other choice. We are more important than we could have ever realized.  Someone is coming to your house. If you are caught, they will kill you. And everyone and everything that you know will be gone.

Please, for all you know, LEAVE.  You have ten minutes.

When I was eight years old, I read my mother’s doctorate thesis on temporal causality, and how forcing the past to repeat itself could be achieved if the proper action was sent back in time.  In this case, the action was the future telling the past what to do to create that same, identical future.

Say that your future self was kidnapped.  Your abductors knew that you were important to the fate of the world, yet you were so brilliant, so cunning, or just so off the radar, they would never find you or capture you (or even know who you were in the first place) with their skillsets or technologies alone.  If they used violence to weed you out, they would waste too many resources and still be unsure of who they actually needed to obtain. They only have one option:

You would have to come to them.

How would they know that?

Because that’s what happened the first time.

Can a causality loop be stopped?  My mother’s thesis answered this question.

Yes.

What we see happening over and over again, she hypothesized, is not in fact a perfect loop.  It is, in fact, a spiral.

Each cut of the spiral is a parallel universe, each with a future you and a past you.  To keep the spiral going , the future you reaches out to the past you — but not behind itself to the past you in the same spiral cut.  Instead, it reaches forward into the spiral cut of the next universe–to the past you directly in front of it. The new past you follows through to become the future you of the same universe, then begins the cycle again.

My mother’s thesis went on to say that the spiral could go on through multiple universes.  In the case of my example above, if abductors tortured the future self that walked right into their camp, that future self might weaken enough to convince its past self to walk into the abductors’ trap by receiving a message that could have only been sent by her future self.

They would demand proof that the future self wasn’t warning herself.  How, then, does the past self know that the message was sent by a future self?

After I read my mother’s thesis, I made myself a promise.  I would never get caught in a causality loop. Even if I wouldn’t remember it or see any proof of such a catastrophe, I didn’t want myself or other universe me’s to repeat the same thing over and over again for the rest of time.  I–present me–would be the one to break the cycle. Somehow, I wouldn’t be the one to fail.

So, I created a password that only I knew.  I shared it with no one, not even my beloved Mr. Nekko-man, my stuffed rabbit.  I wrote it on a piece of paper, burned the note on the gas stove while chanting the phrase, sang it to myself, danced to its tune, mumbled it backward when the teacher called on me in class.  No one, not anyone, could ever get this password back to me — except myself.

Then, I turned 10.  I threw all the silliness of childhood out of my mind.  After all, I was an adult now.

Torture could be cruel.  It could make people say or do things nothing could ever make them do otherwise.  It could resort you back to the fun, harmless times of your childhood, make you go to the sweet, safe inner sanctum where you were truly happy and carefree.  It could make you remember things thrown away carelessly after a year or two of simple thinking.

Suit juicer is another name for rabbit rainbows

What if the abductors are telling you what to write?  What if they’re looking over your shoulder, making sure you’re transcribing exactly what they’re telling you?  What if they said, Write this, or we’ll kill you and everyone you love?

You tell them the password.  They watch you write it. They tell you exactly what to say to continue the loop.  You have no choice.

But what if the password wasn’t just a stamp for recognizing yourself?  What if it stood for something else, too?

What if you made more than one password?

Suit juicer is another name for rabbit rainbows

I loved rabbits.  Mr. Nekko-man was my best friend, even after I stopped being a child.  When I was sick, or sad, my mother would make Mr. Nekko-man talk and make me feel better.  I always listened to Mr. Nekko-man. He always loved me, always made me feel good about myself.  If he told me what I should or should not do, I would listen to him. Things always turned about better when he was near me.

One night, my father and some friends watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Fatal Attraction as part of a strange, surreal movie marathon.  I remember peeking around the corner into the living room and loathing how he cracked up at the rabbit scenes.  He laughed even harder when the Holy Hand Grenade blew the bunny into bits, or the camera just did a tight close-up on the rabbit in the boiling pot.  I had left Mr. Nekko-man on the couch, and one of my father’s friends grabbed it and chucked it at him. Mr. Nekko-man cracked my father in the head, but it was an accident.  He didn’t mean to, and I’m sure he would have explained himself if my mother had been around.

My father scowled at Mr. Nekko-man and threw him at the wall; I heard him hit the wooden paneling with a sickening thump.  Mr. Nekko-man never moved on his own, but this time, he moved even less.

My father was a hunter.  He thought he was the perfect marksman if he could nail a rabbit between its eyes.  He killed one once and laughed as he dangled it by one bloody, half-torn back leg right in my face.

Suit juicer is another name for rabbit rainbows

When my father laughed, foam would spittle down his mouth, frothy and putrid like from a wild dog.  Just hearing him would make me want to close my eyes and plug my ears and stay as far away from him as possible, just so I didn’t have to hear him laugh.  It made me want to erase him, stay away from him at all costs. He wasn’t fun, really, not to me or my mom.

Suit juicer is another name for rabbit rabid rainbows

What captor would think that an 8-year-old would have not one, but two passwords to call out to their selves of the past?  Who would care when she’d said the password aloud? After all, they both sounded pretty much the same when you spoke them.

Suit juicer is another name for rabid rainbows

In one of the spiral cuts, the old future me finally got smart.  She knows the abductors have no idea where past self lives. So she can follow their instructions to the letter.  When they execute her–because that was always going to happen–they’ll lose their chance. Because now–finally–past self knows what happened in the future of the previous cut.  And she will know what to do to avoid it in her own.

Patting the matted head of Mr. Nekko-man, I archive the email, then rise from my desk and head downstairs for a cup of tea.

Fin.

Writing Prompt: City of God

It’s been a while since I dropped some fiction on my blog.  This year hasn’t been my best when it comes to writing and editing the work that I want to publish.  However, while I am trying to rebuild my internal creativity, I’ll continue using writing prompts to keep my mind clear of the cobwebs.

So, without further ado, here is my latest installments from the writing  prompt based simply on the featured image to this post.  Enjoy!


Buddy awoke to the sound of metal crashing above his head.  He jumped up, right into the wide-eyed embrace of Mr. Lewis.  Though his science teacher had been with him since the start of his journey, he was disoriented, and his head hurt.

“Buddy!”  Mr. Lewis scrambled to hold him still, pinning the hysterical boy’s arms to his sides.  “Buddy.” At last he stilled, panting and staring back into his eyes. They stayed that way for a second or two, until Mr. Lewis knew that the boy would finally comprehend what he was about to say.  “You did it.”

Buddy blinked.  He had been searching, traveling so long, struggling through so much, it was sometimes hard to remember what he had done that was good, or important, or real.

Mr. Lewis smiled.  He was one of those adults that 50 and 60-year adults would call young, but to Buddy he was an adult, and so he was old enough.  “You did it,” he said again, and looked over his own shoulder.

Buddy looked over his shoulder, too.  They were still in the alley that the horde of Goers had chased them into, but all of the demonic crones were now gone.  The darkness of the night was also gone. Instead, there was nothing but light–the warm, sweet light of the morning.

But the more Buddy focused, the more he realized that the light wasn’t from the morning.  Behind his own back, as he twisted to check, was the shadows of night. He could even see the headlights of cars as they honked their horns and maneuvered unforgivingly on the narrow downtown road beyond the alley in which he stood.  In front of him only, beyond Mr. Lewis, the alley broke into a large doorway of sunlight. Beyond that opening, down a steep slope and spreading across the landscape as far as the eye could see, were what seemed to be a new, grander town of strange, rural buildings.  Each dwelling was small but artistic and ran all the way into the distant horizons. Even further back, behind the city, majestic mountains framed the borders.

But it was what was in the center of the town and caught Buddy’s breath in his throat.  Standing proud, a column of pure golden light streaking from its peak into the sky and separating the clouds, was a pyramid.

A pyramid.  In the middle of Indiana.

Buddy’s eyes welled with tears that gushed down his cheeks without his needing to blink.  He tried to speak, failed, tried again, and only managed a pantomime of the words he wanted to say.  “House,” he squawked, and saw Mr. Lewis’s chin tremble. “The House of God.”

He could feel the spirit within the very center of the pyramid radiating to him, touching his mind and answering every question and thought before Buddy himself could let his wonders finish processing.  He felt his heart drain of all negativity–the anger of being abandoned, the hatred towards the Goers, the annoyance of being hungry after traveling for so long. None of it mattered anymore. Here, there was only truth, and love.

He was walking towards the city before he realized it and stopped at the mouth of the alleyway.  He felt the cool breeze on his back and turned suddenly, looking for his teacher. Mr. Lewis had remained where he had touched Buddy awake, smiling still but shaking his head.

“This is no longer my journey, Buddy Boy.” Mr. Lewis was the only other adult–aside from his father–that Buddy allowed to call him that.  He had fought it for a while, but after Mr. Lewis had saved his life five or eight times, Buddy had…given up the fight.

Mr. Lewis nodded at the pyramid.  “I think you know the way from here.”

But Buddy, who would be ten in a week and had pumped and paid for his dad’s gas since he was seven, hesitated.  When the Goers had learned what he had discovered and tried to take him in, he had been alone and unsure of who could help him–who would believe him.  He had run to his school, which had been locked and chained up tight for the summer season.  But then, the science classroom’s window had been open, and Buddy had seen Mr. Lewis at a lab table.  Then, Mr. Lewis had seen Buddy–and the Goers behind him.

He had not asked questions.

Now, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, and looking more like an excited new country singer than an elementary teacher, Mr. Lewis urged him away.  “My job was to get you here, not walk you in. You’ll be fine.” He added, as a sort of joke, “I hear He’s nice.”

“But—”

Mr. Lewis’s eyes sparkled, just for a moment.  Buddy, from his distance in the light, didn’t see it.  “You think you’re the only one who had an impossible wish?”  He spoke low; maybe Buddy heard him, maybe not. “You don’t forfeit everything you know for a chance unless you really, really want it.”  In another lifetime, he would have punctuated that statement with a flap of his light, iridescent wings. But that was decades ago, worlds away. Now, he merely ran a thumb over the smooth, worn gold of the band on his left hand. A sweet memento of the life he’d lived for nearly 20 years, the one he would be returning to once Buddy was gone.

Buddy stood, unsure, frightened, and at last Mr. Lewis said the thing he knew would help Buddy make the choice.  “They’ll be proud of you, Buddy Boy!” he yelled.

The euphoria of a fantasy about to come true welled in Buddy’s chest.  He spun to face the city once more; it dazzled and beckoned to him, but it did not entrance.  To enter and remain in that city would always be a free choice.

Delicately, like a cat using his paw to test the depth of a puddle, Buddy called out into the dawn.  “Mom? Dad?” The words hung soft and promising in the air. “Jake? Dylan?”

And in that way, Mr. Lewis watched as Buddy, the first living human ever to cross over into Heaven, shuffled his way down the steep hill straight through the city to the massive pyramid where his family awaited him.

Missed Opportunity, Pt 2 – An Open Letter to the (Other) Men Who Got Away

In Part 1 of this post, I wrote to Mr. Missed Opportunity 1 and 2, who just didn’t work out.  Part of the reason was poor timing; another was personal choices.  These last two (and the bonus man) were simply circumstance.  And those can be the worst missed opportunities of all.


To Mr. Your-Hugs-Are-Awesome-But-My-Friend-Likes-You-Too

I’m not even sure if you were ever attracted to me.

But I will cherish that time when our eyes locked through a crowd of acquaintances, and you seemed to light up with a hope that I was not used to seeing on men who made me want to giggle.

You parted the crowd with your shoulders, leaning forward and extending your hands before you had a clean path to me.  Your eyes never left mine, not until your cheek passed my eye line, and I felt the warmth of your neck.

The hug was all-encompassing, full-pressed and revealing.  I recall thinking, “Good lord, does he hug every woman like this?”

Even when you pulled back, you stayed close, and I forced myself not to think about how easy it would have been to pop up on my toes and peck the underside of your bottom lip.  I tried not to think of the conversations we could have had, the fact that I’d overheard you weeks ago talk about out-of-body experiences and chakras and that you kinda knew what you were talking about.

I tried not to think about the way I’d caught you looking at me sometimes, and convinced myself I was merely feeding some narcissistic fantasy.  I mean, let’s be honest–I probably was.

Instead, I stored that epic hug in my starved memory banks to remind myself in times of settling that that–that is how a hug should be.

To Mr. Almost-Kissed-Me-By-the-Copier

Yes, I ultimately realized what you were about to do that fateful day.  It only took me three years and a thorough re-read of the journal I kept at the time, but I figured it out.

I think I regret my missed opportunity with you more than any of the others.  I liked you a lot, from the first time I met you and listened as you rejected me outright on multiple standings.  Despite our crappy start (which seriously played like the perfect opening for a rom-com), our chemistry was magnetic.  Your attraction to me wasn’t nearly as obtuse or vague as I imagined it to be.  The signs were very much there–and if I hadn’t been so naive or obsessed with seeing what I thought mattered, I would have seen the biggest sign of all that said, “I WANT YOU.”

The one you held right in front of my eyes.

Every Woman Wanted You

Every woman wanted you, even the ones who complained about your brusqueness or your arrogance.  Maybe that’s why I couldn’t believe you went out of your way to help me, even when it attracted the disbelief and sarcasm of our colleagues.

Besides, when you tell a woman, “I don’t want to get to know you,” they will turn off any type of charm they may have been trying to build as ammo against your defenses.

Thinking back, I’m a little flattered at how hard you ultimately worked to flip that circuit breaker back in the ON position.

And then, there was that dinner party you didn’t know I attended.  I was bored within ten minutes of arriving (it’s tough being a 20-something in the land of 40- and 50-somethings) and sipped my wine as I contemplated how much time was appropriate to say I’d successfully networked.  I’d seen you come in with your then-girlfriend–it was my first time seeing her; I was immediately humbled.  Out of respect, I kept my distance, but out of the corner of my eye, I saw you glance my way.

I saw you double-take. No one had ever “double-taked” at me before.

I tried to hide my pleasure as you hurried over to express your mild surprise, to introduce me to your date, to invite me to sit next to you at our select table.

The Last Time I Saw You

About 8 months later, the first words out of your mouth after greeting me were, “I broke up with my girlfriend.” Then, you glanced at me in as much anticipation as you could while navigating traffic on our way to a casual lunch.

I absorbed what you were telling me, registered why you brought it up.  I was strangely calm that day, for I was in love and knew what I wanted.  I planned my response carefully.  I opened my mouth.

“I’ve decided to get serious with this guy I’ve been seeing,” I said.

You didn’t answer.  I noticed that your driving aggression doubled almost immediately.  I jumped as we popped over several traffic cones.

After lunch, we agreed to stay in touch–but there was never any real intention to, I think.  At the time, I believed that I had found The One, someone who I was closer to in many areas.  If it’s any consolation, he and I didn’t even last another six months.

But then, what else would you expect from a Mr. You-Weren’t-Mine-So-I-Never-Cried-For-You?

Someone Like You

I imagine, a couple times per year, what our relationship may have been like.  Yours was the slow, sweet burn of getting to know someone for who they were, winks and warts alike.  It was awkward, rude, hurtful, inspiring, warming, painful, and wonderful.  Nevertheless, despite my levels of regret, I think I know that we wouldn’t have worked out.  I was much too much of a mess in my 20s and wouldn’t start un-messing until, oh…three years ago.

Be grateful you dodged an emotional bullet.  But also, know that I’m grateful for my time with you.  It set a bar in my dating world.  I will be very lucky to meet someone like you now–someone who will make me feel the way you made me feel, and more.

BONUS: To Mr. Celebrity-Who-Possibly-Internet-Searched-Me-But-Probably-Didn’t

I’ve admired you since childhood.  When I met you last year and received your autograph, I mentally fist-pumped when you called me cute.

I actually tweeted about it later.  Sorry about that.  I’m not the kinda girl who gets celebrity-obsessed, you know?

By the way–if you use the internet in the middle of the night, I recommend–don’t.  You’ll end up on some crazy sites.

Like that one where you can see people who performed Google searches on you?  It sounds awesome at first, but honestly? I think it’s rigged.

I don’t know how or why your first initial and last name came up as someone who searched for my name. Maybe I was half-asleep.  Maybe I need to get a life, and you have no idea what I’m talking about.

Actual details are cloudy.   Don’t care.

The point is…I’ll take it.

So thanks. 🙂

man walking away missed opportunity

What would you say to the Mr. (or Miss) Missed Opportunity who got away?

Missed Opportunity, Pt 1 – An Open Letter to the Men Who Got Away

The memories of a missed opportunity rise in our heads at the moment we least expect them.  For me, it was while rummaging through my closet this weekend, scrounging for blouses and dresses that I never wore, that I can’t wear, that I will never wear.  One missed opportunity after another, I think ruefully, yanking a crisp, custom-cut Pink Floyd top off its hanger.  Never even had a chance.

My life has currently grown extremely busy to the point that I have very little time to spend on activities that aren’t directly correlated to one of these projects.  Unfortunately, this has also included what remained of my casual dating life.  No longer time to look other than to indulge a passing, aesthetically pleasing glance.

Like the purge on my closet, there have been gentlemen in my life who seemed to stand primed, merely waiting for me to pull them out and make them an active part of my daily routine.  I’d passed them often, admired them, and moved on.  Or I tried them on at the wrong time and was left feeling off, unattractive, or just annoyed that it didn’t look the way that I remembered it looking.

Then, days like today arise.

And I realize I’m far too late to try them again.

Swimming Against the River

As I scowl into the box of apparel folded and primed for the Goodwill shelves, somewhere within the bittersweet fog lies the remnants of regret amongst the memories of men whose feelings of attraction were–or were very close to being–fairly mutual between him and myself.

I probably wasn’t as coherent in these moments as I am now.  That’s probably why it’s called a missed opportunity.

None of these men are active parts in my life now, as time is the river who guides us all along in life.  If they were, I wish I could have a chance to say these things to them, just to let them know…


To Mr. You-Weren’t-Mine-So-I-Never-Cried-For-You

I’ll begin with you, sir.

Of any missed opportunity, our tryst lasted the longest.  Probably too long.  Part of it was because I kept up the silly hope that, despite everything, it was me you really wanted.  Life had just given you a supremely crappy hand.

Funny.  There was another guy I was kinda seeing on and off at the same time as you, and I didn’t like him half as much as I liked you.  He and I broke up countless times. Almost each time, the tears rushed out heated and heavy.  I’d sob to myself, or I’d call a friend and blubber over the stupidity of the relationship to them.

But you?  I never cried for you the way I cried for him.

Maybe because he was real.

A Fake Missed Opportunity?

You were a phantom, a ghost, a fairy.  You were mythical, beautiful.  If I could prove to others that you were real, that would have been truly magical.  If I could claim you in my clutches, I would have done the absolute impossible.

Ultimately, you had already been caught by someone else.

For her, you were solid and tangible and touchable and available.  When she summoned you, you appeared and lived the mortal live destined for you.

There was nothing I could do.  After all, it wouldn’t have been proper to reach into a cage someone else had built for you.  Especially when you walked into that cage of your own volition.

It took a fake psychic to exorcise the longing of you from my heart, to purge me of ever wanting to see you again.  Take that as you will, and enjoy your life.

To Mr. Touches-Over-a-1000-Piece-Puzzle

The first time our fingers brushed, I wrote it off as an accident.  It was a 1000-piece puzzle, and there were yours, mine, and at least five other pairs of hands pawing through the piles of borders, corners, and cogwheel-imprinted cardboard.  There were bound to be collisions, and when ours occurred, it was a sweet little tingle.  You were considered the cute one in our group outings, but you were also fresh and new.  Any interest in my aged mind (and my silly personality) was implausible.

The second time, the touch was impossible to mask for anyone watching. Most of the other puzzlers had given up, wandered away from the table.  You and I and a couple of other remained, though the third had leaned back into her phone, her hands occupied by the touchscreen.

The fourth, our host, rose from the table and asked if anyone wanted something to drink.  “B?” he called when I didn’t answer immediately.

“Yeah?” I said, and lifted my hands above the puzzle to clear it for any wanderers.  As I turned my head in the direction of the speaker, I saw your fingers rise, too.  And as I pondered over my beverage options, I felt it–the lightest, slowest trace across my knuckles, my palm.  A pause of delicate, interlocking fingertips–just enough to recognize that someone was recognizing, appreciating, exploring.

My train of thought faltered, but I let my hand hover to let you continue–and you did, for a blink.  It was probably me who drew back and resumed searching the puzzle piles.

I Wasn’t One of Them

I imagined it all, of course.  We hardly ever talked.  We moved in different circles.  You were sweet and hopeful; I was tired and damaged.  I knew the kind of girls you liked.  I wasn’t one of them.

At the end of the night, I packed up silently and moved to the front door, panning the room lovingly as general social pandemonium commenced.  I stopped when I saw you, standing on the other side directly across from me.  You were watching me, carefully.  I thought I saw a note of sadness in your body language.

But I must’ve imagined it, just like I imagined everything else.  And after all these years, you’d probably have no idea what I’m talking about.  So, if I made you uncomfortable, I’m sorry.

But the shy wave and the silent smile you passed across the room made me think that maybe I didn’t have anything to be sorry about.


When I first wrote this post, I thought I had fewer missed opportunities than I actually had.

But then I thought of another…and another…and another.

And I realized something.

Maybe I need to start taking more leaps of faith.

To be concluded in Pt. 2!

Writing Prompt 4 – The Flooded Basement

Welp, it’s another light week, which means it’s time for a nice, pleasant writing prompt.  This one is presented with only a photo of a flooded basement.  Enjoy!


I meet Cesca in the hallway as I shut the door to the basement.  Usually, she doesn’t care to stop when she sees me, but I guess I must have looked pretty harried this time.  She pauses in her pompous, perpetually Valley Girl way, chewing a wad of gum and waiting for me to explain my panic.

I choose ignorance.  “Sup.”

Her grip on my arm stings.  She must have just returned from the beauty salon, because her curly, unruly mess of hair is properly defined and highlighted; her eyebrows freshly drawn, her lips lined dark and filled nude, and her nails — her lovely, healthy, lacquered nails — have been filed to points.

“Do you want me to tell Dad you were in the basement again?” she sneers.  “I keep letting you off, only cuz I’m bored of watching you get punished.”

Yeah right, I think, but I wrench my arm free and rub it while I consider the consequences if — who am I kidding? when — I tell her the truth.  What’s happened has happened, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

Scratch that.  They can run.

Cesca gets bored and reaches out behind me for the doorknob.  I’ve made my decision anyway, so I step aside to give her room.  She pauses, obviously thrown by how quickly I’ve yielded, but curiosity ultimately leads her to open the door.

The sound from within, Cesca slamming the door shut and locking it with a speed I’ve never seen before — all of it makes my throat dump into the core of my chest.  For some reason, it’s worse seeing the terror on someone else than feeling it myself. I’ve spent my entire life emulating the reactions of others, and I sometimes forget what should be my actual response in times of terror.  At least now, I know I was correct.

Cesca backs away from the door, her hands pressed to her mouth.  Her eyes, lined and mascara’d immaculately, are wide and glittering with unshed tears.  If we were true sisters — and not just the tragic stepsisters we were — I know one of my first instincts would be to embrace her.  Ah, woulda coulda shoulda.

Finally, she whispers under her palms.  “Is that—?”

I grit my teeth in a grimace.  It’s all I really can do—that and say, “Yeah.”

“But—”  Now that she’s spoken, she’s chattering in a sort of stutter.  “But–but, that’s a—”

“Oh, I know what it is.”

“But, how did it get there?  Why is it here?”

“I don’t know!  You think I went down there to ask it?”

“It’s got—its eyes.  It tried to—”

“Yeah.  They’ll do that.”

It’s one sass too far.  Fear drains from her face and instead floods with rage and suspicion as she glowers at me.  “You did it, didn’t you?”

“Did what?”

She points at me again, venom in her eyes.  “You did this. You know Dad just got the pool cleaned.  He is gonna kill you!”

I was in a state of disbelief.  “How do I even have the resources to that?  Dad took away my phone; I’m not allowed to leave the house after noon.  I’m not even allowed to open the front door to strangers!”

“Because of you pulling crap like this!”  With inhuman, sinister glee, she lunges for me, her manicured mandibles stretching for my arm again.  “Oh, he is gonna send you away for good now! This time, you won’t be able to talk your way back.”

It all happens faster than I can register.  The counter steps I take that throw her off-balance; my free hand twisting the basement door knob; Cesca’s face as she stumbles through the open threshold; her screams garbling and failing under its screams.  My own screams as I hold the door shut, struggling in vain until I remember that it has a push lock right under my sweating thumb.

When Dad comes home, he looks around.  “Where’s Cesca?”

I shrug.  If he wasn’t distracted, he probably would have gotten me for my sass.  I decide to play on the safe side and actually answer. “She said she was going to a friend’s house.  I don’t know how long, though.”

He sighs heavily.  “You could’ve gone with her.  At least I wouldn’t have to look at you.”

A hideous thought slithers into my mind.  I bite down on my lips.

“Cop an attitude again, you’ll end up like your mother.”  He pulls off his jacket and throws it towards the back of the couch but misses.  “You know what? I think I’ll go for a swim. I didn’t put your college money to good use for no reason.”

I bite down harder but muster enough control to simply utter, “Have fun.”  When he’s three steps beyond the threshold, I slink silently to my feet and wait for him to pass further into the darkness, before slamming and locking the door behind him.

Writing Prompt 3 – “We Shouldn’t Be Here”

Hello, all!  I’m keeping it light this week with another writing prompt!  Trying to keep the writing fresh while I edit my current novel.  I hope you enjoy!

The actual writing prompt?  The first two lines of dialogue start the fun.  🙂


“We shouldn’t be here.”

“No,  you shouldn’t be here.  I, on the other hand, have to.  That’s what happens when you give your life to serving the kingdom.”

Hershal’s uppity attitude irked me.  He always did this, leaned on the scales to make our roles as petty thieves and liars seem a noble necessity.  I’m mean, sure, he was bleeding through the bandages under his tunic from wounds he had received instead of the king, but that had not been from “giving his life.”  “Please keep in mind that I was there, too. And I helped.”

“Ah, but did you give your life?”

“You’re.  Not.  Dead,” I reminded him.  “You tripped off the wall above the king’s head and conveniently fell in front of him just as an assassin came at him with a poisoned dagger.”

He waved that off.  “Semantics mixed with a strong helping of divine intervention!  Perhaps I meant to trip.”

“You didn’t.  Trust me–you didn’t.”  Nor had I.  I’d landed right on the head of the dumbstruck would-be killer–a scrawny, young lad.  It apparently didn’t take much more than a full-bodied, confused interloper to knock him unconscious.  A touch amateur, I must admit, but a complete breakfast would allay such maladies.

Removing my attentions from my partner for the moment, I once more took a scan of our surroundings.  I had to say, we could have been in worse confinements within the castle. They had taken us to a spare bedroom in one of the main towers, a room with two luxurious beds, ceiling-to-floor curtains, golden intricacies, jewel-encrusted things, and polished wood stuff.  I felt like I was inside a fancy jewel box; all that was missing was the pithering gears of the built-in lullaby.

But a prison, I fear, was a prison.  The grand double doors leading in had been locked and bolted, and the windows were reinforced.  This was, I’d overheard as the guards had been gathering us from our “sacrifice,” the room that royal traitors were detained within until they were led to the guillotine.

So.  Not precisely honey and baubles just yet.

Sighing, I returned to Hershal.  He was bracing a hand against his shoulder, but his face glowed like that of a martyr as he gazed beyond the iron bars of the window.  “I wonder if they’ll hold a parade for me.”

I hated when he did that.  “We’re not out of the clear, you know.  Yes, we saved the king from death and harm. We were also caught red-handed with about half of his wife’s jewelry collection.  The crime of thievery on the streets is losing your hand. Do you even want to imagine what we’re set to lose in here?”

For a splash, Hershal dropped the pompous act.  Whipping his head about, he snapped, “Stop lumping us together.  I saved his majesty’s life!  I sacrificed myself for the kingdom.  You are just a clumsy oaf I’ve been forced to shack up with since I found you starving in the lower quarters!”

That stung–partially because it wasn’t fully exaggerated.

But Hershal continued before I could interject.  “I’ve done all I can for you. I’m sorry, dear friend, but these are the dividers that have been built.”  Taking in a deep breath, he rose to his full, erect, absolutely regular height. “If they had intended to kill me, they would not have extracted the poison from my wounds, nor tended to them so carefully.  My fate has been set, as has yours. Here, our paths diverge.” Thus said, he rose from the foot stool we’d been sitting on, strolled over to the chair that flanked a gorgeous writer’s desk, and lowered himself imperiously.

Indeed, I thought, watching him as the sound of heavy footsteps ascending stairs reached my ears.  Indeed–our paths, in many more ways than one, have fully diverged.

End


Thank you for reading!  If you have any favorite writing prompt or writing prompt sites that you frequent, please let me know!