Six Years (Flash Fiction)

“Happy Anniversary,” she says in a dull tone, as if announcing the time or the weather or any other mundane piece of information.

He breaks away from his book, the first time in a solid hour, and looks at her. Watching her settle a small plate of cupcakes in front of him, he waits, choosing his words carefully. “I’m sorry? What was it you said?”

“Happy anniversary,” she repeats, pretending not to notice his quick decision to pretend not hearing her the first time. “Six years ago today we went on our first date.” She speaks the words in a matter-of-fact tone, like a newscaster casually breaking the news that the local sports team lost or that the stock market tanked during the day’s trading. “Can you believe it?” she asks, not caring to hear his answer. “It’s crazy, right? How fast time goes by.”

Agreeing, he nods out of habit. “It is,” he says, working hard to conceal his disappointed surprise. “It really is. I guess it’s true what they say.”

“What’s that?” she asks quickly, hoping to catch him off guard.

“Oh, you know,” he says, “the older you get, the faster time goes by.”

Together on the porch, bathing in another setting sun, she settles down onto the outdoor couch, making sure not an inch of her skin comes into contact with his. “My grandparents used to say the same thing,” she laments, wishing her grandparents were still alive, wishing that the last six years had not gone by, wishing that anything could be salvaged from this obvious lie. “I can still hear them, ya know? I can hear my grandpa telling me, ‘It goes by so fast.'” She forces herself to laugh, though it’s the last thing in the world she’d like to do. Inside her lungs, an eternal scream of frustration blooms. “And now here we are,” she says, ignoring the emotion boiling inside of her. “We’re just like them, aren’t we?”

He glances at her and catches her gaze. It’s a look he’s seen a thousand times before, and like always, he ignores it again. She’s just pining, he thinks. She’s just wishing our lives would go the same way theirs did. It’s normal, he reassures himself. Most girls want to live out the fairy tales of their parents or grandparents lives. It doesn’t matter that times have changed. It doesn’t matter that my love has drifted and died and blown away. That’s how love was back in those days. Passive, obligatory and altogether pointless.

“Don’t you think?” she asks, urging his reply. “I mean, can you believe my grandparents were married before they were both nineteen? And here we are, ‘so mature’ as my mom likes to say, taking our time and making sure everything is just right.”

He closes his book, his thumb holding the page to which he’ll soon return, and looks at her. “What a different time it was back then, wasn’t it,” he asks, his question the tried and true way of disarming her intentions, her implications, her every attempt to pressure the situation.

Disappointed yet again, she smiles. “It was,” she says, not agreeing in the slightest. “It really was. Still,” she tries, “six years is pretty impressive.”

“It is,” he says, opening the book to its saved page again. “We’ve been dating longer than some of my friends have been married.”

She doesn’t look in his direction, and she doesn’t say a thing. Instead, she simply nods in hateful spite. She nods, taking the words as a brutal strike against her character and her potentiality of being a wife. “Yeah, those poor things,” she agrees in a dry tone. “It must be hard, their marriage not working out. They must feel so disappointed.”

“They must,” he says, already forgetting the topic of conversation, his book regaining dominance in his mind. “Such a horrible situation,” he says as he turns another page.

She looks over at him, disdain filling her eyes, and unwraps a cupcake. Taking a bite, the taste is sweet and bitter and absolutely disgusting, filling her mouth with six years of rot.

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Captain Muscleman (Flash Fiction)

The last of them shuffles in, their three-piece suits disheveled, their movements hurried and anxious. Wooden chair legs bark against the floor as they fill in the missing spaces around an old billiards table. A single light hangs above the green felt, illuminating gold rings and expensive watches. Tired eyes look across to each other. Five o’clock shadows stretch over rough faces.

“Now that we’re all here,” says the leader of the group with tired condescension, “let’s get right down to it. We all know why we’re here. I’ll open the floor to options. If anyone has any ideas, I’d love to hear them.”

Shady individuals shift in their seats. Some pop their knuckles. Others pop their necks. Despite all the grunts and huffs, not a word is tossed out into the open.

“I’ll just come out and say it then,” the boss says, “I’m thinking about giving it up.”

“What!?” a spindly man says from the corner of the green table. His voice is high and scratchy and just enough to overcome the audible gasps that fill the empty warehouse.

“What choice do I have?” the boss says, already offended. “You’ve all seen the news. You’ve heard the stories. I feel the same as the rest of you, but it’s foolish to think this can go on any longer.”

“They’re lies,” a chubby man scoffs from the side. “Propaganda. Come on, you know how the press is.”

“That’s bullshit and you know,” says another opposite to him. His dark eyes are narrow and sharp. A long, thin scar stripes down the left side of his face. “Big Tony. Little Tony. The Chetsy brothers. And just last night—”

“We all know what happened to Chris,” the boss says. “It’s why we’ve convened. No need to rehash bad news.”

The man with narrow eyes squints in anger. “Bad news? He fuckin’ took Chris’ head off. One clean shot.”

All around, well-dressed crime bosses squirm.

“I said not to bring it up,” says the boss. With a heavy sigh, he pushes his seat back from the billiards table and stands. With his two hundred dollar shoes clicking on the wood flooring, he paces around his seated lieutenants. “We’re at the end of our road, gentleman. Our era has come to a close. There’s no denying it.”

“What do you mean?” asks another, his voice heavy with nerves.

“You know what I mean,” the boss says, his hands folded behind his back and his face down. “This Captain Muscleman… this ‘superhero’. This freak. He’s done it, boys. He’s chased us down, choked us off.” He sighs again. “He can’t be stopped.”

“But it can’t be true, can it?” asks a soldier from New Jersey. A cigarette rests between his lips and bounces as he speaks. “I mean… super-human strength? Shooting lasers from his eyes. It’s gotta be bullshit, right? I mean… what the hell?”

Still pacing, the boss shrugs. “I can’t speak for his strength, but the laser thing seems true enough. Did you see the news a week ago? How he cut right through those concrete walls? Big Tony had no chance. His whole compound was designed around staying inside that vault in the basement. This Captain Muscleman,” he says with a shudder. “He was inside before his guards even had a chance to take him out.”

“So let’s lay it out then,” says a surly gentleman from the table. He picks at the green felt with dirty fingernails. “You’re saying we’re done, finished. What does that mean? What are you proposing?”

The boss does a full lap around billiard table before speaking. His heavy steps cause the floorboards to squeak. He clenches his fists and grinds his teeth. “I’m proposing legitimacy,” he says. “I’m proposing the end of villainy.” He stops and looks over the table. “I’m saying we should go straight.”

“Straight!?” the dirty man from New Jersey exclaims. Around him, others grumble. “How?”

“I don’t know,” the boss says. “That’s where you come in. What are your options? What kind of pies do you have your fingers in? That’s what I wanna know. That’s what we need to figure out. It’s time we change our operations just enough so they exist within the letter of the law.”

A nervous man from Miami, his skin orange with fake suntan, lets an idea slip. “Maybe we could run for office, ya know? Become politicians.”

The boss scowls. “We’re fuckin’ better than that, Larry, and you know it.” The room grumbles in agreement, and Larry shrinks away into the shadows. “Look, nothing extreme, gentlemen. Don’t over-complicate things. Just take a look at what you’ve got going on in your areas and look at them from a new perspective. See if anything can be salvaged by going legit.”

“And Captain Muscleman?” a man asks. “What are we going to do about him?”

“Not a damn thing,” the boss says. “Haven’t you been paying attention? We’re going to beat him the only way we can. By ripping off people using the system instead of bypassing it.”

“But won’t he notice? Won’t he figure it out?”

“From what I can tell,” the boss says, “all these superhero types are the same. They can’t use logic. Their moronic moral compass is set in stone by the criminals that write the law.”

“That’s why we should be politicians!” Larry begs. “If we can write the laws, we’ll own the towns.”

“Shut up, Larry,” the boss says. “We’re criminals, not soulless vampires.” Throughout the room, grumbles of agreement chime in.

Doorsteps (Flash Fiction)

She sighs and takes another long drink from her Seagram’s and seven. Ice clinks in the glass as she presses it to her lips and swallows and swallows and swallows. It’s another mix almost gone in one simple session, and they both pretend not to notice. “Tonight?” she asks. “Really?”

He doesn’t look up. His elbows are planted on his knees, bare arms from a t-shirt stabbing through holes in denim jeans. With the weight of his world, his chin presses onto his hands. “Tonight,” he says again, wondering how many ways he’ll have to tell the same story. “I gotta get out of here. It’s just how it goes, ya know? This fuckin’ city,” he says, not looking at her, not looking at the skyline or the beaten avenue or anything his mind would bother to blame for his misery. “I just gotta get out of this town. Haven’t you ever felt that way?”

“No,” she lies, crunching ice in the back of her mouth. It’s her third mix, and the whiskey has finally found its place. “I love this place. Always have. Where the hell else could you consider home? And what the fuck do you expect to find in California?”

His feet twist on the concrete. Small pebbles grind beneath worn sneakers. “I just gotta go,” he says again, his heart unable to conjure the real truth, his lips unwilling to release the words that would let this young woman know that it’s her, that it’s her absurd attitude, her unrelenting needs, her continual demands that drive him from one shore in pursuit of another. “I feel like if I never take this chance, I’ll never take a chance at all.”

“Chance,” she scoffs. “Fuck that. It’s too expensive over there. Everyone knows that. You’re just gonna bury yourself. And for what? The chance to ‘escape?'” she says, quoting the air around her head.

Which is exactly why I have to leave, he thinks. This shit, this garbage weight strapped around my waist. You and my friends and everyone else. There’s no freedom here. There’s no release. “It isn’t about trying to escape,” he lies. “It’s about opportunity. Ya know? It’s about seeing what else is out there. How can I see the world from the same window?”

She tilts her head fully back, draining whiskey and soda and ice in one. It all goes down, all free of consideration or understanding. “Jesus,” she says, laying on her accusations as thick as she can. “You sound like my mother. See the world, travel,” she scoffs. “Bullshit. Just admit it. You’re quitting. You don’t love this town. You never did.”

Admit it he won’t. It’s a fight he has no interest in winning, let alone engaging. “I just wanna see what’s out there, that’s all. It isn’t personal,” he says in a tired tone, though he knows her words ring true. The further he can get from her, the better off he’ll be.

“They’re gonna turn you into some kind of liberal idiot, you know that right?” she says, pulling a cigarette from her rear pocket and giving it a light. “You’ll be wanting to kill unborn babies before Thanksgiving.”

He sighs, his heart sinking with the realization that the conversation is pointless, that no explanation exists to justify his exit. “It isn’t a big deal,” he says in a desperate effort to end the discussion.

And to his surprise, the words work. She leans back against the steps, cigarette between her full lips, her lungs pulling in and out, bringing an orange ember at the end of her mouth to life. Cars pass by, some strolling in search for parking, others honking in demand for more space, and they watch in collective silence. Their path together has come to an end despite the lies they say, despite the promises they share. He knows she’ll find someone else and she knows he’ll never return.

“Are you staying over?” she asks, ignoring the situation that’s come to pass. The whiskey has gotten to her, and she’s ready for more company, ready for comfort from her departing friend.

His elbows dig into his knees. His feet grind on the stairs. Turning, he looks back at her and the concrete steps leading to her door. “Sure,” he says, disappointed by his own relenting. “I guess I can stay.”

Their eyes lock, and she smiles. “Come on,” she says with a tilt of her head. “Let me make you another drink.”

He agrees, though the beverage in his hand is untouched. Together, in tired unison, they step inside.

Rescinding (Flash Fiction)

Death.

But not the fearful kind. Not the kind that Hollywood instills in young minds, the kind where the doomed soul goes screaming down the hallway, clawing and scratching, fingernails rolling back against the hardwood floor in terrified strain. Not the kind where the screen fills with crimson and black and horrible dread comes crushing down like an endless depth.

None of that.

He’s floating. Not weightless, not without form or presence. Simply there. Simply existing. The lack of weight comes from a lack of pressure, a lack of worry or commitment. A total lack of fear. He turns to look, somewhat ironic since he already knows his place, and sees what he always knew was there. The silly jokes weren’t far off when it came to the Pearly Gates. Light shines, clouds shimmer, and a man stands with a book in waiting.

The man approaches.

“Do you wish to enter?” the gatekeeper asks.

“There’s a choice?” he responds, surprised both in the option and in his own asking.

“Of course. There’s always choice,” the gatekeeper replies. “Existence is choice, through and through, from beginning to end.”

The man pauses with thought. “What are the options?”

The gatekeeper turns and waves a hand. “Entry, for one, as you’ve likely expected. Or rescind.”

The man can’t help but smile. “You mean—”

“I do,” the gatekeeper says with a sly smile in return, his all-knowing state giving privy to the man’s mind. The man laughs, and the gatekeeper laughs with him, and together they share a moment of absolute joy. Eventually, the laughter plays out.

“How far can I go with option two?” the man asks.

“As far as you’d like, though I don’t recommend anything too serious,” the gatekeeper says. “Some go too dark, and they return disappointed. The mortal mind is fragile, after all. Do you really want to scare your friends and family to death? Haunting wails and rattling chains and all that?”

“No,” the man says without hesitation. “Of course not.” He pauses, considering again. “But I’d like to do more than watch. I’d like to help, you know? Interact.”

“I do.”

“I’d like to let them know I still care, that I’m still with them,” the man says, not noticing the gatekeeper’s intuition. “Is there a ‘Casper’ category? A friendly ghost?”

“No,” the gatekeeper says. “But there’s something close. May I interest you in an orb?”

The man squints with question. “Orb?”

The gatekeeper nods. “You can give sensations of calm. You can see your loved ones and be there with them and touch their souls just enough to put a slight ease to their pain. Not enough to end the suffering, of course, no spirit can do that. But enough to take the edge off.”

“And I appear as an orb?” the man asks.

“From time to time, in chance photos, but only in the pictures that matter most. And you’ll only be noticed by those you truly love. They’ll doubt what it means, seeing a faint spot in the photo, but deep down they’ll know. They’ll remember the moment and how they felt, and they’ll know you were there. Nothing so substantial it can be proven, but not a voice in the world will be able to convince them otherwise.”

The man considers. “Wasn’t this in a movie once?”

“More than once,” the gatekeeper says. “Fiction draws its inspiration from reality.”

Without skipping a beat, the man answers. “I’ll do that then. Send me back.” He hesitates. “How long will I be gone?”

“As long as you like,” the gatekeeper says, “though most return after a few years. They help their family through their grief, see to it they find peace, then come home before witnessing their final years.”

Shimmering and already losing his form, the man asks a final question. “What happens to the orbs that stay too long?”

The gatekeeper, knowing the man’s thoughts and fears and deepest concerns, stares for a long moment in silence. “You’ll see for yourself.”

And the man disappears.

The Weight of Sorrow

If I could save you, I would, but I’m too busy drowning myself. Sorrows weigh, press, drag and bury, and you’ve only begun your journey of self-doubt. Press on, sweet friend, and find the depths in which I dwell. Sink and sink and sink, and soon you’ll find me and my sorrows, and you’ll likely wonder what the fuss was about. Not to say that my suffering trumps yours, of course not, but misery and suffering are relative, and I’m on the verge of showing you what they’re all about.

So cling, please, and beg for help. Cry for the moon and scream to the sky and indulge in all of those things that cry for help. And when your throat runs dry and your tears run out, turn to me and see what pain is all about.

Together, we’ll dig our graves with anxiousness. Together we’ll forsake the options that set us free. For those choices, those rambunctious decisions only live in dreams.

Or do they?

Don’t consider the question, the option, that pain is somehow optional. There’s no self-indulgence in it. Never consider the idea that pain can be discarded, love, for if you do, you’ll lose me forever, and you’ve already told me you’d love me forever.

I beg of you, please, never consider the idea that things can be changed. Never consider the possibility that pain is an option and you can be free. No, sweet love, dearest friend, never conjure these ideas. Rather, trust in me, believe in my all-encompassing ideal that pain is everywhere and suffering is mandatory.

Swallow the kool-aid, swear to my fanaticism. Adhere to the binary idea that it’s all or nothing, cling to that, and I’ll bring you with me. Misery so loves company, and I so love you when you’ve committed to ride along with me. I’ve only said so endless times. As many times as it takes to convince you. You and I, misery and fleeting hopes, together we can take to the skies. We can discard the world and abandon possibilities. We can refute all of which may ever seem right. We can drown together in sower as lovers, forever, and as we sink into perpetual darkness, we’ll forever blame the light.

Suspended (Flash Fiction)

She passes through automatic doors, exchanging dated linoleum for dingy concrete, and steps into the sun. She squints, glares, recognizes the pain flashing her eyes, but disregards it. The pain is a nuisance, a mild form of what he is already experiencing. Somewhere, knives are cutting. Machines monitor heart rate and blood pressure. Fluorescent lights shine down on sedated eyes that are closed and unresponsive. A surgeon, aided by assistants, leans forward and proceeds with steady hands and precise care. There’s no comparison, this glare to that fatal danger. She feels ashamed to have even acknowledged it.

The surgeon, knife and monitors, she sees these in her mind while her feet pad along aged sidewalk. Her legs take the lead, guiding her around others standing and passing by, others distracted by their own pains and worries, those chatting and consoling, those making difficult phone calls where the questions are never fully answered and the person on the other end is always left in suspension. Those lost to conversation where the ending is always the same. We’ll see how it goes. We’ll find out more in the morning.

And she can’t help but substitute morning with mourning.

Coming to a split in the path, she pauses. One branch veers around the large hospital, signs pointing directions toward a food court and additional parking. The other turns toward the facility entrance and its adjoining street. Viewing the world with dazed eyes, she’s surprised when her legs take her toward the busy four-lane avenue. Step after step, she wades away from privacy and into the thicket of normality.

As she waits for a red hand to shift into a green person walking, her eyes graze over the landscape. Gas stations lists rising fuel prices. Diners flaunt unappetizing specials. Cars funnel into narrow lanes producing coffee and fast food. Disinterested drivers sit impatiently at red lights. As she starts through the crosswalk, she can’t help but feel the distance growing between her and reality, between the world she used to see and the world her mortal form floats through. Her legs carry her, trustworthy escorts in her time of need, as her mind poses scenario after scenario. Pragmatism pushes the most likely to the front, one where she weeps in the doctor’s arms despite the thousands of times she’s told herself not to collapse. The doctor takes a minute to console her before handing her off to another member of the staff that can help with the steps needed to take next. Runner-up is her fumbling attempt to explain the catastrophic results to her children, though she knows for a fact those words will never escape her lips. A split-second of her broken face will tell those two beautiful creatures more than she could ever explain. Lingering further back is where the bulk of her hope clings, crossed fingers and darting prayers making full assault on the outcome of a complicated process going as well as it can, but a follow-up surgery is needed and there’s more work to be done. We’re not out of the woods yet.

The last idea is held like a sacred secret, deep and hidden. Buried and concealed. An astonishing outcome. A medical triumph. They’ve happened before. It could happen again. There’s always that chance.

But that idea waits, suspended. Suspended like the surgeon’s knife. Suspended like the sun in the sky and the cars at red lights. Suspended, simply waiting and hoping and lost in perpetual thought.

She rounds the block and practices difficult conversations in her mind. They did their best. The surgeon was fantastic, one of the best. He was brave and he fought ‘til the end. This kind of cancer is common in men. We all know the healthy life he lived. These things just happen. Forever in our memories. Gone but not forgotten. She considers flower arrangements. Do they even matter? Does he want a fancy coffin? She never thought to ask. She dreads another phone call with her mother. She wonders when the last of the medical bills will come, the financial closure to an emotional disaster.

She tries to think of what she’ll tell her daughter, and her thoughts go into suspension. She tries to consider how she’ll quell her son’s teenage rage, and her thoughts go into suspension.

The sidewalk beneath her feet bends and bulges and cracks against pushing tree roots like the scene of a localized earthquake. Her feet carry her like angels, never missing a step, never catching a toe on a crack, her movement suspended one quarter of an inch above hazard. She glances at the time on her phone, again, to see it’s seven minutes later from the last time she’s checked. She wonders how far the procedure has come. She wonders if the monitors connected to her husband have alarmed in terrible harmony, a revolting announcement of death so far removed from the trumpets God uses when He arrives with His angels. That liar. That hypocrite. But either way, somehow, time has passed, and she wonders: How long have I been walking?

Her mind can provide no answer.

Looking up, she sees the hospital just ahead. With dread, her legs carry her forward. Sidewalk glides beneath her. Streets are crossed. Automatic doors open and shut. With tremendous effort, she forces herself to take a seat in an uncomfortable plastic chair. Though sitting, she feels as if she’s floating, suspended above the ground. Suspended in the air.

Seemingly frozen, time passes. The surgeon suddenly arrives. And though she’s lived this moment in her mind a thousand times, her heart utterly dislodges from her body.

Suspended.

Summer Summer

Lots of dust collecting around here lately… it happens. With summer in full swing, I’ve been putting my family as the priority (my work schedule gives me more time off during the week than weekend).  Tack that onto several trips to the beach and you get a nice recipe for slowdown in the writing world. Honestly, I don’t mind. I could stand a bit of a break. It’s been great getting out and in the sun, seeing friends and family… all that. My usual routine is one of working nights and being awake and productive when the rest of the world is asleep. It’s been an interesting change being among the living.

At any rate, just an update. I hope everyone else is getting some needed time off as well. Get some toes in the sand if ya can. It feels a lot better than the grindstone, even if just for a moment.

Walls and Momentum

I’m still pounding away at the second draft of my novel, but I wanted to share something. I keep a word log of my progress. I find it to be my most important tool when it comes to motivation. It shows my effort compiling toward something bigger, and it reminds me how important it is to write whenever I have the chance. It all adds up. As long as I make progress, I’ll eventually reach the end.

Last year, I posted the word log of my first draft. Some people found it interesting, so I wanted to post the current word log for my second draft, with one highlighted exception. For those unfamiliar with the format, it goes

(word-count start) : (word-count finish) total

 

Jan 22: Chp 1 (0) : (1250) 1250

Jan 23: Chp 1(1250) : (2670) 1400

Jan 23: Chp 1 (2670) : (3655) 1000

Jan 24: Chp 1 (3655) : (3880) 150   3.8k start… not bad. Hope to go faster though

 

Jan 29: Chp 1 (3880) : (4870) 1000

Jan 29: Chp 1 (4870) : (5620) 750

Jan 30: Chp 2 (0) : (150)

Jan 31: Chp 2 (150) : (200) 50 … 2k 😦

 

Feb 10: Chp 2 (0) : (800) 800

Feb 10: Chp 2 (800) : (1300) 500

Feb 11: Chp 2 (1300) : (1750) 450

Feb 12: Chp 2 (1750) : (3150) 1400

Feb 13: Chp 2 (3150) : (5750) 2600

Feb 14: Chp 2 (5750) : (5725)

 

Feb 20: Chp 2 (5725) : (5750) 50 just tiny tweaks, low effort

Feb 21: Chp 2 (5750) : (6100) 350 but lots of edits

 

Feb 25: Chp 1 (5620) : (5600) Chp1 touchups and notes

Feb 25: Chp 2 (6100) : (6110) tweaks

Feb 25: Chp 2.1 (0) : (750)

Feb 26: Chp 2.1 (750) : (2150) 1400

Feb 26: Chp 2.1 (2150) : (2575) 425

Feb 27: Chp 2.1 (2575) : (3575) 1000

Feb 27: Chp 2.1 (3575) : (4250) 675 (pre-clean) (3890 post clean with saved section in place)

Feb 27: Chp 2.1 (3890) : (4090) 200 and a 4.4k week of total writing. Well done!

 

Mar 5: Chp 2.1 changes (4090) : (4300) 200

Mar 6: Chp 3 (0) : (1230) 1230

Mar 6: Chp 3 (1230) : (3500) 2300

Mar 7: Charlie (0) : (200) 200

 

Mar 11: Chp 3 overhaul (3500) : (4200) 700

Mar 11: Chp 3 (4200) : (5100) 900

Mar 11: Chp 3 purge (5100) : (2700)

Mar 12: Chp 3 (2700) : (3500) 700

Mar 12: Chp 3 (3500) : (4700) 1200

Mar 13: Chp 3 (4700) : (6000) 1300

Mar 13: Chp 3 edits (6000) : (6450) 450

Mar 14: Chp 4 (0) : (680) 680 Chp 4 basically unchanged from its original draft… kinda cool

Mar 14: Chp 5 (0) : (2450) 8.5k week? Damn…

 

Mar 20: Chp 3 rework (6450) : (6825) 375

Mar 21: Chp 3 rework (6825) : (7100) 275

 

Mar 25: Chp 3 rework (7100) : (7340) 250

Mar 26: Chp 3 rework (7350) : (8150) 800

Mar 26: Chp 3 cleanup (8150) : (7830)

Mar 27: Chp 3 cleanup (7830) : (8160) too long

Mar 27: Chp 5 (2450) : (3300) 550

Mar 28: Chp 5 (3300) : (3500) 200 but decent tweaks

Mar 28: Chp 3 again… (8160) : (8220)

 

Apr 2: Chp 3 split (8220 : (7220) + (1470)

Apr 3: Chp 5 (3500) : (4125) 625

 

Apr 9: Chp 5.1 (0) : (1500)

Apr 10: Chp 5.1 (1500) : (4000) 2500

Apr 10: Chp 5.1 (4000) : (4375)

Apr 11: Chp 6 (0) : (1625) 6k week

 

Apr 16: Chp 6 (1625) : (1700) 75 so sleepy and did a FF

Apr 16: Chp 6 (1700) : (3700) 2000 (good job)

Apr 17: Chp 6 (3700) : (6250) 2550 4.6k week… train kept a rollin’ all night long

 

Ask me if I got sick and tired of working on Chapter 3. Go ahead. Ask me.

On March 6th, I started working on that damn thing, and I didn’t put it away with satisfaction until April 2nd. Almost a month of working on the same chapter again and again and again. You wanna talk about hitting a wall… I hit a wall. On top of that, not only was I spending this time reworking the same chapter, it was an early chapter. At the beginning of the year, I had hopes of having this second draft done by July (not gonna happen). Now it’s taking one month to fix one chapter?

Double wall. A wall of time that ultimately brewed a substantial wall of doubt. My mood got darker. I fell into an emotional funk. Not depressed or broken or anything, just bleh.

But I pushed on. Partly out of spite, but mostly because I’ve already come too far to stop, and now I’ve put in two weeks in a row that are well above my weekly goal of 3 thousand words. The damned wall is behind me (for now), and I can build momentum again. Hopefully it’s enough to plow right through whatever wall waiting for me in the future.

I don’t really know why I’m posting this. Partly because I’m proud of myself. Partly because it’s almost 5am. Mostly though, I want others to see what happens when you keep trying. I know I’m not the only one struggling to reach a goal. I know others are out there climbing walls. All I can say is just keep climbing. Keep climbing, one day at a time if you have to. You’ll get there.

The Old Lady Next Door (Writing Prompt)

I finally stumbled on a Writing Prompt that clicked for me (after weeks of casually searching).  Hope you enjoy it. From Reddit:

 

I still remember the first night I ever really saw her, the night I call the beginning of her oddities. I was in the kitchen grabbing another beer and it was rainin’ like hell outside, wind and lightning and the whole works. A bitchin’ storm, really. Hadn’t seen one like that in a while. I had my curtains open to watch the rain and even cracked a couple windows to better hear the thunder. The window over the sink was one of them since the wind was blowing the other way.

So I’m cracking the top off another soldier and looking at the night sky, all black and writhing with clouds, lightning flashing like paparazzi, and there she is in the side-yard just rummaging around in her trash can. I had to blink at first, thinking the shadows were off from the storm, but no. It was her alright. I don’t know why, but I flipped off my kitchen light fast as I could so she wouldn’t see me. I knew someone lived next door, but I had no idea who. This was the first time I’d seen who it was, so I was pretty curious.

She was dressed for the occasion, no doubt. Yellow rain coat that hung so low over her body it almost scraped the ground and a big, yellow cap to match. She was a tiny little thing, barely tall enough to reach into her own garbage can, and she had long, white hair that hung out from under her rain cap and draped over her shoulders, sopping wet and sticking to her coat, the clumps hanging down streaming rivulets.

I took a drink thinking, the fuck is this old lady doing out in the rain? Trash trucks weren’t coming the next day, so that wasn’t it. What kind of garbage could be so important you gotta deal with these elements? She was dropping in small, black bags, and not just one or two. She had damn near a dozen of these things, apparently trundled them out by the armful, and was dropping them into the bin one by one.

I leaned over the sink, the thick smell of rain blowing through the screen, and watched. Each plastic bag fell in with a thump. Heavy, whatever they were, but with the bags being black, I just couldn’t tell. Just one after another, thump, thump. Then she turns and waddles off down the side-yard between our two little houses. I lean way over the sink and watch until she rounds the corner to her back porch. When I turn to leave, I notice she’s left the lid open, and only one thought occurs to me: She’s coming back with more.

Sure as shit.

But this last bag wasn’t little, oh no. Now she’s got this heavy-duty piece of plastic that looks like a body bag, dragging it over the slick grass. I can still remember the sounds her boots made as she struggled, these sloppy, squishing, sucking sounds like the flooded lawn was trying to swallow her up.

The hell is this now, I’m thinking, watching her hunched shoulders pull on something that must weigh as much as she does, if not more. I remember hearing her curse a couple times, a raspy voice like sandpaper over asphalt. Her grip kept slipping because of the rain. Once she slipped so bad she almost fell right on her ass.

She drags this damn thing all the way down the side-yard, and I’m just watching and thinking, there’s no way. She’ll never get that in. Then the damnedest thing comes out of my mouth, like I said the words before the thought even formed in my head.

I just blurt out, “Hey, you need help?”

She stops. Not a freeze, not a type of stun or surprise where you find out someone’s been watching you and you stop what you’re doing to turn and see. No. She stops dead like she’s turned to stone, like she’s a fucking statue in the garden now. She stops and just stands there, shoulders hunched, stretched plastic in her hand, water streaming off the bend in her elbows, off the rim of her yellow cap.

I wait. She doesn’t say a thing. Doesn’t move.

“I said, you need h—”

NO,” she says before I can even finish the words, and this time her voice ain’t all raspy and thin, hell no. It’s a boom, like the thunder, like someone just pounded a drum. I can still hear it to this day. NO. Thank god I was leaning over the sink cause I damn near dropped my beer. I caught it before it really fell but some of it still spilled.

She never turned. Never looked. Never even moved. Freaked me the fuck out, no joke, so I just backed away. I didn’t say sorry or okay or anything. I just backed away.

After that, I only saw her two more times in maybe six months, and both only at night. Once it was late, like 2 am or something, and she was out near her shed. I didn’t see her, but I heard something coming from her yard. I wondered if it was her, so I slipped out the door real quiet and crept across the grass.

She was digging. I could hear the little spade she was using chopping at the dirt, hitting the rocks in the soil. When I finally got the nerve to peak over the fence all I could see was her tiny little body hunched over, her arms working, white hair hanging over her slumped back.

I didn’t say a damn thing to her, just watched for a while then went back inside.

The other time was right at the end of dusk, just as the last bit of sunlight was fading from the sky. I was grabbing something from the kitchen again, windows open, and got this funny feeling. I looked up expecting to see someone outside, but no one was there. Side-yard was empty. I kinda glanced around, no biggy, then just as I turned I saw her. She was inside, standing behind her curtain, one faded-yellow eye staring at me, one clawed little finger pulling her drapes back just enough for a peek. Most of her face was shrouded, but I could see that one eye looking through, looking right at me with the same kind of raw power her voice had when she told me NO after my dumbass offered to help.

Haven’t seen her since, but she’s still living next door. Gardeners still mow and manage the bushes. Packages still get dropped on the front porch and disappear by morning.

I keep the curtains closed on that side of the house now.

 

 

A Rainy Day (Writing Prompt)

From reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/WritingPrompts/comments/85fv72/wp_just_write_a_nice_story_about_someone_having_a/

Warm blankets on a Saturday. A gray morning that comes in casually, glances through a window, and quietly passes. She rolls, stretches, and feels the softness of wool on her skin. There’s no alarm to respond to, no reason to rush. Idle thoughts pass through, orderly, one by one, and not a single idea imposes stress. Life simply is. There’s nothing to overcome. Plunging her toes into fluffy slippers, the day has begun.

Coffee by the windowsill. Spatters of rain on the glass. The paperboy was kind enough to wrap the morning news in plastic, and his arm was strong enough to send it fully up the path. She unfolds pages that crinkle in her hands, and the front page is a rare display of brilliance. Girl scouts made a killing yesterday in front of the controversial dispensary. *You go, girls*, she thinks.

No texts, no emails, no social media notifications. She watches storm clouds rush by her sliding glass door. Finches wiggle their wings under rushing droplets, twerp and tweet with enjoyment, and give her a vicarious outdoor moment while she stands safely inside with a warm cup. Blood-red carnations flex their petals, daring bold colors against the gray sky. Rather than clash, the colors embrace, yin and yang.

She considers an outing, something quick to gather a sense of accomplishment, but the soft robe stays on, a comforter is taken as ally, and a good book is read. A few candles lit, some music in the background, and all the while, rain drops tap at the windows and tap at the vents and tap at the siding in lulling intervals. A fictional love affair unravels, and she’s enthralled.

She soon nods off, thumb saving her page. An hour slips by, then two, ’til she’s awoken by a soft buzzing. A close friend is calling.

“Let’s meet for lunch.”
“Okay!”

She opts for a stroll instead of a cab. Her shoes scuff old concrete and skip over older cobblestone. Falling rain kisses her umbrella as she reaches the cafe and embraces a dear friend.