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A working professional and part-time writer, full-time Mom and modern day Alice in Wonderland...

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Color Me Wicked - Seasonal Fan Fiction

Elphaba got to her feet and surveyed her new surroundings. The twister had swept her up mere seconds before she managed to squash that little brat Dorothy with her perky breasts and howling little mutt. How unfortunate! How ill-timed and unfair!

The witch felt the old rage. When had things ever been fair for her? From the first moment she had been born cursed. Her mother and father had been horrified by the wretched color of their infant daughter's skin.  Her mother had tried at first to fix Elphaba's affliction.  There had been pills and creams and far more painful remedies. When her skin refused to respond to all treatments, her mother withdrew from her and turned her all her affections on her fair-skinned daughter. Under the cone of her parents' obvious disdain she had grown up isolated with only the volumes of books in her family's library for company.  Elphaba had read and re-read all the epic stories about heroes and villains. Alone in the dark, she had wondered which she was.

 In the early days, the school boys had been fascinated by Elphaba. She was smarter, faster and more skilled than any of them.  Later, her emerald skin and thick dark hair set her apart from all the other girls, giving her an exotic appeal for those growing male appetites. Overtime however, the cruelty of youth took over and the fascination soured into revulsion. Then there was that incident at boarding school. Elphaba had only been defending herself but in the end, none of that had mattered. Oz, in all its wonder, was an oddly unforgiving place. No matter. She was who she was. Green...and wicked.

Truth be told, Elphaba she knew wasn’t half bad looking under all that black and green. Her skin was still tight and firm and her figure was lush.  Most importantly she was brilliant, far more so than that sparkly, vapid Glinda! All the same, these days there weren't too many suitors ready to woo her emerald-colored visage no matter how pretty her dark eyes or how ruby red her lips.

How did they not expect her to go mad with the constant rejection? Sitting all alone in her tower with nothing to keep her company other than a legion of chattering, filthy flying monkeys? Elphaba was angry. She was lonely. She had just been about to take all that anger out on that loathsome little teenager when the black twister tore loose from the skies and sucked the witch into its whirling, keening vortex.

Elphaba looked around. The twister had deposited her in a park of sorts. There was a pond and a wide expense of open ground fenced by trees. Beyond the tree line was a village of modest little dwellings. The doors to those dwellings all seemed to open at the same time spilling out a number of strange beasts and beings who joined up in loud, little groups at the edge of the park. The witch ducked behind a large bush. This wasn’t Oz, one couldn’t be too careful!

Too late! She had been spotted by a grotesque little demon. It rushed over to her with stunted, ugly feet. It called out to her and she was startled to find she understood it.

“Hey lady! Hot costume!,” the little monster flashed some unremarkable teeth in her direction before sauntering off into the night.

“Hot?” Elphaba wasn’t even warm. In fact, the climate here was refreshing and almost chilly.

She took a few steps closer to the tree line, feeling emboldened by a stiff breeze that lifted her full shirts a few inches, tickling her bare knees. She crossed a wide, flat black river that felt as hard as rock under her heels. The witch approached the closest of the dwellings. A fat, glowing pumpkin sat grinning at her from the stoop. There was a thumping sound coming from inside the house and she could make out shadows moving around inside behind panes of glass.

The witch drew back, preparing to flee into the night when a door to her left flew open.

“Hi there. Great Costume! Come on in.” A large man dressed in red and yellow rubber ushered her inside by her elbow. The sudden contact sent shivers radiating down her spine.

Inside the place was dimly lit and smelled unfamiliar but not unpleasant. She flicked her tongue, tasting something sweet in the air about her. There were creatures in here too, bigger ones. Elphaba gazed into a sea of moving bodies swaying against each other. She suddenly felt very warm indeed.

“That really is an amazing costume,” the man in red rubber was speaking to her.

The witch turned to look at him. He was broad and dark, bare-chested under his bizarre suit. He shifted uncomfortably under her stark gaze. Ephaba leaned forward and sniffed. He smelled slightly rotten, like fermented fruit. He swayed a bit, unsteady on his feet.

“Fireman, " he said, somewhat embarrassed.

"I know....not much of a stretch.” He shrugged.

 Elphaba continued to stare. Suddenly the man reached out and touched her face.

“How long did that take? All that green? It’s really amazing.”

The man's eyes sparkled with that old, familiar fascination Elphaba remembered from long ago. The witch realized two things simultaneously; first, the man thought her skin was amazing and second, this man, this large and very fit man, had touched her.

Elphaba was suddenly, almost painfully aware of a burning need to be touched more. She stepped closer, ran her nails down his smooth flesh. She parted her full red lips and smiled. It was all the invitation the Fireman needed. He pulled the witch down the hall and whisked her inside a small dark room, closing the door behind them.

He wasted no time working his hands under her robes, parting the cloth to expose more of her green flesh. He moaned when she wantonly grabbed onto him, pressing herself against him. Elphaba bit back a raucous cackle. The fireman's hands entwined in her long tresses. He pulled her hair back and kissed her neck, her earlobe and at long last, her mouth.

Elphaba was overcome with a new sensation, a hot white heat exploded inside her and at last she did cackle, wildly and with great pleasure. The fireman collapsed against her briefly before falling to the floor in a heap. The witch smiled down at him, warmly and with a rare gratitude. She smiled as the green began to creep into his features and flow across his skin, staining it. His look of bliss abruptly changed to one of alarm as he too began to notice the change.

"What's happening..." his voice trailed off as his pupils turned into ebony pools, then dimmed.

The witch leaned down and kissed his emerald-colored lips. Sadly, she thought, he did not look as attractive as he had moments ago.

“Perhaps green just isn’t everyone’s color....” she thought, and started off into the night.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

My Tribe & The Wedding Weekend

This past weekend my father married his beautiful Joy during a brief stay on Block Island. It has been a few days and now that my routine has settled back into a familiar schedule, I find myself looking back on the entire event and reflecting on just how special of a weekend it truly was.
Admittedly I had my reservations about how we were all going to survive under the same roof for more than two days. Harmonious family vacations were never our thing growing up. Our time together seemed to always be marred by aggressive sunburns, bickering, broken down campers, errant fireworks and copious amounts of strawberry yo-hoo vomit (I shudder with that particularly graphic memory)  Nevertheless we packed our bags, boarded ferry and plane, and all headed out to the destination wedding on the island.
I had known the ceremony would be beautiful and the scenery picturesque - what I hadn't anticipated was how many simply amazing moments we would share together, how much fun we would have and how blessed I would feel connecting with these people.  
As a family, we fell in love with Joy right in step with my father. For me, she was someone I understood loved my Dad for all the right reasons, loved him for exactly who he was - the smart and gentle man, the loving father and grandfather.  My father had found a true companion in Joy and it was wonderful to see their natural fondness and affection shape their life together. Our family just absorbed Joy;  her kindness, her generosity and her loving nature.  In a remarkably short time, it was as if she had always been there pulling together feasts on the holidays, readily joining in our games, cheering our successes, adoring and doting on the grandkids and making all of us feel welcomed and loved.  Knowing that both her and my Dad had gone through lengths and no small expense to get us all there together,  meant the world to us. The intimacy of sharing their special day was very touching, something I know we will all treasure having been part of.  
The fallout from their lovely nuptials was that it brought our families together for a few days, isolated as we were in our temporary home.  High in the hills of Block Island, my daughter had unfettered access to her cousins, her Aunts and Uncle and loving grandparents. The kids were amazing. I don't think anyone had to raise their voice or reprimand them all weekend.  They chased, swam and played games until they ran out of steam and collapsed together on bean bag chairs and couches.  They rallied at the wedding, getting dressed up and posing for all the pictures with wide smiles and no complaints.  They were attentive and serious in their ceremonial duties. At the end of the ceremony, my father turned and scooped them up in an embrace, crushing them all together against his chest as they squirmed and giggled. 
Later, my Dad would chase them all over the house as they screamed with mock terror and delight - offering up each other up as a sacrifice to his mercilessly tickling fingers.  After the boys had gone to bed, my Dad beckoned my sleepy daughter onto his lap where she curled up and cuddled against him, clearly relaxed and contented in the arms of one of the people she loves most in the world.

Aside from the kids, the adults got to spend time enjoying the rarity of leisurely pursuits together.  We started our cocktailing early, ate well and stayed up late laughing around the fire pit and dancing on the lawn. 
We poised for photos, drank too much, had loud sometimes inappropriate conversations and delighted in the opportunities to be fun and silly.  We discovered my sister-in-law is something of a secret 80's hip hop connoisseur who loves to dance and that Joy's daughter Jess is willing and eager to join in on all our crazy ideas and obnoxiously staged photo shoots. 
I got to spend time with my sister, a beautiful thing since our lives rarely afford us many opportunities to just hang out and have fun together. She and my husband get along famously well and the brief excursions the three of us took the bluffs and to a remote sunset beach remains some of my most favorite times of the entire weekend.  
I write to preserve my most treasured memories in the best way I know how.  This weekend was so full of wonderful memories it was hard to pick just a few to highlight in this blog. Certainly there were many I missed, like helping Joy get ready for the wedding or Jess's perfectly tailored ceremony or telling raunchy jokes with my one of my Dad's best friends and even catching a few moments to read in the sun while my daughter and husband slept in.  I loved the way I always woke to find Dad in the kitchen churning out breakfast like a short order cook like he did when we were kids. Or the way the girls and I raced into action to when we thought the outside wedding plan might get washed away and the look on Joy's face when she realized we would do whatever it took to make things right for their wedding.
Overall I found myself looking around at the faces of my family, those with whom I share blood and those that are more recent recruits - and thinking....I really love being with these people (even my brother who woke us all up too early and attended at least one meal in just his boxer briefs to my sister's abject horror).  These people are my family and they are pretty damn great.
They are my tribe and I do love them.


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Coastal Maine

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
Day 1209 July 6, 2017
Prompt: "In language gentle as thine own: whispering in enamored tone sweet oracles of woods and dells and summer winds in sylvan cells." Percy Bysshe Shelly. Let this quote inspire your Blog Writing today.

This quote immediately evokes the sensations I experienced as a child vacationing in coastal Maine. In the early years of my father's business, we spent several weeks visiting his business partner's family compound in the offshore community of Vinalhaven, Maine. We had to take a boat to get out to the island where the main house and cottage were situated. It seemed a very isolated and rare experience for me back then.

The first morning there, I wandered away from the green expanse of the main house lawn and into the silent, coastal forest. I found myself in a place of enchantment. The pine woods smelled sweet and clean. The beds of moss covering the ground and rock were soft enough to sink to my ankles in. It was eerily quiet and the light filtered down from the canopy and pooled in golden patches of light. The forest seemed to swallow me, and I felt strangely at peace in its dark, dense folds.

Years later, I lived for a time just outside Bar Harbor, Maine when my company purchased a business in Ellsworth, Maine. My commute each morning would take me past postcard scenery with lush rolling hills and glimpses of the deep blue water of Somes Sound. On my free days I would wander into Acadia national park. The loop rode delivered me to breathtaking vistas of the rustically beautiful Maine coast and beaches where the water was clear and still like a mirror. There was a special connection for me in all the places where the stoic pine trees met with rocky coastline. I would stand in the ankle deep tide pools, in water that was numbing cold, and just gaze out and the stunning landscape painted with the rich, warm light of the early morning sun. It isn't hard to believe that coastal Maine in the sweet months of summer is truly crafted by the hands of God.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Uncommonly Jaden

As my daughter neared the end of her 1st grade year, the pace of life left little time for much reflection. It seemed she was moving at breakneck speed through field trips, award ceremonies, piano practices and those last few events of the school year. Even as I saw the changes in her, I failed to take the time to document them when I should have...to take photos and to write the blog entries that would memorialize her journey for us both. I am usually better at such things, especially when so many more of the moments are fleeting and she leaves more and more of her childhood behind in the dust of her running feet.

The other morning, we had a few hours before we had to be anywhere. She was sleeping in my bed, having migrated there in the middle of the night as she so often still does. Her eyes were closed, the long lashes and lids masking eyes that had become uncommonly green this year. She had one leg thrown casually over the comforter and the sun was painting a pattern of light across her caramel-colored skin. She looked so peaceful, so uncommonly beautiful in repose. I grabbed my phone and snapped a picture just as she opened her eyes. She gave me her mona lisa smile and slipped back off to sleep. I watched her for a few more minutes, basking in the bittersweet knowledge that she could not stay 7 years old for even one moment longer than time would allow...no matter how completely wonderful age 7 is.

At age 7, Jaden has found her "silly". She breaks into a dance in the home depot aisle to make me laugh. She makes up comical songs in the back of the car and she makes funny faces...everywhere. She often talks in made-up accent, revealing glimpses of the strange and goofy language she has adopted with her friends at school.

Speaking of friends, she has forged friendships with kids that share her depth of wonder and her interest in the world around her. Her friends are sweet in nature, intelligent and caring. I'm amazed by her ability to find and bond with other boys and girls like her and proud beyond words at her circle of friends. I'm grateful that her choices have enabled us to meet theses children's like-minded, lovely parents.

At age 7, Jaden has grown into a leggy, active child who wears the summer sun like a second skin. She battles to stay outside as long as the day allows. She loves walks, helping her Dad in the yard and running...she is always in a state of movement these days. She likes to know what the plans for the day are but is just as comfortable staying home. Often if given a choice, she will choose to remain in, delighting in getting to spend long afternoons playing on the deck. She loves to read and draw but you can just as often find her perfecting American Ninja Warrior routines in her swing set.

She loves music, and though this has remained a constant, her tastes have become more refined. She is more choosy when I scan the stations in the car and will usually demand that I put on "phone music". She has become a big fan of Walk off the Earth, drawn to the musical proficiency and general rockstar coolness of the band's female frontlinner. Her second ever piano recital revealed a concentration and poise she hadn't possessed last year. Though I watched her with my heart in the throat, she played with a newly minted grace and confidence that amazed us.

Age 7 has brought a spark of fresh attitude. She pushes every button sometimes and defiance flashes in her sea change eyes whenever I made demands she doesn't agree with. She is frequently obstinate but never truly disagreeable. She likes to get her own way but she's never one to make large scale requests. We battle but we are also quick to find compromise...so far. Jaden is still quick to kiss us without prompting, hold our hands, thrown her arms around us in photos and demand to sleep, cuddled between us at night.

Jaden is, at age 7, becoming uniquely Jaden...she is fresh, funny and full of life and love. Bugs and bees are terrifying but sharks are cool. Slime is awesome and bubbles are still all the rage. Candy necklaces are the best ever accessory and shorts are the preferred outfit of choice these days. At age 7, Jaden is uncommonly beautiful in every possible way.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Trending in Fear and Writers Write

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
DAY 1660 June 2, 2017
What's trending where you are?

Fear. Fear is trending in my little corner of the world.

I live in a blue state and if anything is trending most apparently here, it is the constant undercurrent of fear. Many of the people that live here are scared they will lose their healthcare, they are scared they will lose their hard-won rights. They are scared that this administration is making decisions based on winning another four years rather than unifying a broken and divided country. Even among those that supported Trump, there is a fear that he may not be all that they hoped and the motivations behind some of the recent decisions made may be less honorable, less transparent than his surrogates insist they are.

I have tried to remain politically independent - it is almost a job requirement as I work in an industry that is largely supported by conservatives. Yet, more and more I feel myself identifying with those in my community. I find it more and more difficult to try to accept the agenda of the administration or extend a measure of good faith to this White House and current President. I was admittedly never a Trump supporter but I tried to be hopeful. I tried to find a middle ground. I tried to have faith that as a nation, we could unify under our leadership. But, I am out of good faith. I am disappointed. I am unimpressed. I am fearful.

The President came here recently for a commencement address at the Coast Guard Academy. The protesters were there bright and early. My daughter craned her neck to peer at them as I drove her to school. Her school is adjacent to the CG campus so the streets where lined on both sides with people holding signs. It was early and things were calm. People were respectful. The police were drinking coffee and chatting with the groups on both sides. She and I talked about civil protest, we talked about democracy and freedom of speech. I told myself it was a good lesson and experience for her. I went to work, monitoring the event via NPR live streams and social media.

Then, I saw him, standing there proudly in the full white robes, the recognizable costume of the KKK. Seriously? Here? In this community there is such a person who feels embolden enough to be out here like this? And before you even say it, there were plenty of people in the "pink hats" I know...BUT historically, as far I as understand, no one wearing a "vagina hat" has ever been associated with the degenerate, violent, racial persecution and murderous acts perpetrated by the clan. Who are these people who live and exist among us? Who are these people that harbor these kinds of ideals in their hearts and who suddenly feel that this President and his administration has some how given them a pass to be the fear-inciting hate-mongers of their own dreams? Fear. I felt it that day, right down to my toes.

Suddenly, I wasn't sure sure this was such a great lesson for my daughter...my mixed faith, bi-cultural daughter. Suddenly, I was fearful for her.

A week later, I watched an intoxicated Trump supporter, and Connecticut resident, verbally attack a Muslim family on a beach in Texas. He proudly and repeatedly struck his chest saying "Trump is my fucking President", while he hurled hate speech at them and grabbed his crotch suggestively. This past week, a good Samaritan was stabbed to death after coming to the defense of Muslim women on a train who were being openly harassed.

What kind of world are we cultivating for our children? Where are the leaders working to unify us as Americans? Where is the President who will help heal our fractured masses?

Fear. I get it now. I have it now too.

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
DAY 1176 June 2, 201
All of us have slumps and getting back on track varies drastically among us so let's toss ideas around on how to stay motivated with our writing. What works best for you?

My writing career is constantly hampered by the availability of free time. I have very little hours in a day that are not already allocated to mothering a growing daughter and pursuing a career. I live under pretty consistently thought bubble of "not enough hours in the day..sad face emoji". Motivation has never been an issue when you are compelled to do something, as I have always been to write. Truly successful writers, write. They find the time. They have the discipline. They make sacrifices in pursuit of their craft. They don't force their best work into life by executing compartmentalized writing sessions over their lunch hour a few times a week. I know this. I am largely at peace with that knowledge I suppose. It makes those random publication acceptances so surprising and sweet.

I know that trolling submission deadlines helps me sometimes, a proposed anthology theme might spark off a creative well. I use Duotrope.com to search accepting markets and calls for specific submissions. I try to keep a blog, write my assignments and keep plugging forward. Sometimes something grows from exercising my writing muscles no matter how mundane it seems at the time.

The best advice I have is to just write, whenever, however....just do it. Each time you do, you are giving yourself the opportunity to get better and to connect with what you are in your heart...a writer.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Audio Books and Leaving Love

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
DAY 1173--May 30, 2017
Prompt “It is so hard to leave—until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.” John Green, Paper Towns
What were some of the things or people that were difficult to leave for you, for someone you know, or for a character in your story, and what were the results of leaving those things?

The act of leaving someone you are still in love with is one of the hardest things to do. Paul Simon's classic, "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" might offer up a plethora of viable and catchy suggestions but the truth is, it is always more complex and the fallout more life-altering than we may anticipate. I agree with John Green insofar as there is a sense of relief after the decision to leave is made but it has never magically become the "easiest thing". For me, it took weeks of isolating soul-searching and painful meditation on old wounds and broken promises. It took several hard reality checks before I had fully accepted the fact that my life with him would be a lonely journey through an eternal landscape of failed expectations and disappointments. The realization was only the first step. It took conditioning to convince my heart what my head already understood, and my heart was by far the more stubborn organ. In the end, I prayed. I prayed to God that I would stop loving him. I prayed on my knees, as the steaming hot water rained down. I prayed alone in empty hospital corridors and silent waiting rooms. I prayed in the privacy of my silent bedroom, wrapped in my stiff new bed sheets. There is a type of despair you encounter when you find yourself begging for a release from love. The desperation to rid one's heart, to strip love from your organism when it was once so critical to your biology, is uniquely terrible and painful. It can be done, you can walk away, but it is far from easy and leaves you permanently marred.

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
DAY 1656 May 30, 2017
How do you feel about the rising demand for audio books? Is this a good thing or bad thing for literature? As a writer, have you considered reading your work for audio books, podcasts or youtube?

As a busy working mom, and former reading junkie, I rely heavily on audio books to satisfy a thirst I never seem to have the time to quench. While it will never replace the tactile joy of cracking open a book, it at least lets me experience my favorite authors and engage with amazing stories. I will say that as a big fan of James Lee Burke, the audio versions of his books narrated by Will Patton are almost magical. Patton has such a command over Burke's characters that he gives dimensional life to colorful characters like Dave Robicheaux and Clet Purcell. I have found more often than not, a narrator can affect your listening experience no matter how strong the story is and that is a definite drawback. As far as being good for literature, I think if it allows more people to "read" work, it helps - regardless of what form it takes literature needs an audience. If I had the luxury of choosing, I would still prefer to take my dose of literature between actual pages but for now I appreciate the ability to audit them instead.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Pointing Policy and the Wonder of Laughter

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
DAY 1158 -- May 15, 2017
Prompt: They say when a computer does something wrong, it blames another computer. Isn’t it the same with people? Do animals blame others, too? Isn’t blaming someone else an act of refusing to take responsibility? What are your thoughts on the subject?

Is the act of passing blame part of our ingrained fear of failure or a function of the self-preservation drive that we as humans beings all harbor?

As the oldest sibling, it was certainly easier to blame my brother and sister for things than to take the blame myself. If my little sister was crying, that was my bratty brother's fault for teasing her and that glass vase that was destroyed, well, that was because "they" were fighting. In both instances and in countless others from our childhood, as the oldest I could have deflected the teasing and kept the peace. I could have taken the responsibility for things going awry. Later in my life I became much for adept at admitting fault, sometimes accepting the blame in situations when it wasn't mine to shoulder. Blame is a powerful tool we have at our disposal, to use against others and sometimes ourselves.

No one wants to be responsible for something bad happening, in life, in work, in relationships. Sometimes though, decisions get made and the outcome isn't what we would like. I believe one of the hallmarks of a true leader is their ability to know when to accept and when to assign blame. For a President who campaigned on the presumptive premise that he was the only one who could fix our broken country, he has shown an alarming and adept ability to "pass the buck" now that he has gained the highest office in the land. President Trump can lite the world on fire with a early morning, ill-advised twitter rant, then resolutely blame his surrogates/associates for mismanaging the press and failing to cultivate public perception in his favor. He can make executive decisions, then lay the blame for those decisions on the shoulders and at the feet of others when the fallout threatens his fragile carefully constructed self-image. No one is perfect, people make mistakes and leaders make mistakes with much more weight and consequence than most of us. As an American, I don't expect perfection but I would like to believe that our leader would have accountability and humility. I would expect the President of the United States would have the integrity to admit when he was wrong or misinformed or directly responsible for decisions regardless of their ultimate outcome. As a American, I hope that our President will do better than those that came before him and serve as an example for those that follow.


"Blogging Circle of Friends "
DAY 1642: May 15, 2017
Prompt: "At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities." Jean Houston Write a story about laughter, new possibilities, or a Kaleidoscope. Alternatively, you can write your opinion about this quote.

Laughter can often be the light in the dark. In the times of my deepest grief, I have been given a reason to laugh and it has shown me the path to peace again. Laughter is not bound by language or cultural barriers, is in a unifying and universal joy. I love the visual implications of the quote given how laughter can diffuse arguments and abruptly change the course of a conversation.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Shame to Rage and Viola's Composition

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
DAY 1137 –April 24, 2017
Prompt: Do you think that shame can be a trigger for anger? How?

Shame is a crippling emotion to live under. It can silence you, it can crush your spirit and marginalize your soul. I lived with shame like that for years during my first marriage, hiding the truth of my life from everyone that mattered. There were so many times in the aftermath of a violent episode, when I would be sitting among the shattered and broken things and I would think, "this is not the daughter my father raised." I would break open all over again thinking about how disappointed he would be that I allowed this to become my life. I was ashamed that I had fallen in love with a man who cursed and spat and hit. I was ashamed that even after that love had been crushed dead under the constant fear of sudden violence, I still could not leave.

I was ashamed at how cautious I had become, how complacent, how silent. I was ashamed of knowing those dark things, like the way passion can bloom into rage with a single word or all the ways a person can hurt you without leaving visible bruises that tell the world what you are. I knew shame intimately. I wore it like a heavy coat. In the end, however, it was the shame that saved me. That day, the last day he ever put his hands on me, the shame had rose up inside me like a tide and that tide carried me away. 

The argument had escalated, as it always did. My cell phone had been smashed to bits on the floor at my feet, my glasses knocked from my face and I could see one lens was shattered. He had my car keys clenched in one fist and he was shaking them at me, telling me once again, that I was stupid and useless. The side of my face was throbbing where he'd hit me open handed. I made a grab for my car keys and he had shoved me back hard, with the palms of both hands. The momentum sent me reeling back across the linoleum. I crashed into and then partially through the glass kitchen door. I had struggled to my feet, shaking glass from my hair and clothes, checking my exposed flesh for cuts, expecting I think, to have been shredded by the exploding glass. Miraculously I was unhurt. He had rushed to me, his dark eyes filled with concern, his mouth spewing nonsense. He hadn't meant to hurt me. He never meant to hurt me.

Standing there, in a pool of glass, listening to him vomiting his panicked excuses, I felt something shift in me. For the first time the shame gave way to something else, a white, hot anger. That anger rose up inside me, like some dark and raging sister in my soul. I literally saw red and I charged at him, tossing him to the ground and wrenching my car keys from his fist. The dynamics had instantly shifted between us. When he tried to get up, I shoved him back down with a strength I didn't know I possessed. "Stay down" I told him, my voice dripping with such venom that it frightened me. I feared if he had tried to move at that moment, I would have killed him with my bare hands. I told him I would kill him if he tried to touch me. I felt like I was on fire. I rushed to my car, wanting only to get away from him...not because I was afraid of him but because I was afraid of all that anger coursing through me. I was afraid of what I could do to him with all that rage.

That day was the last time he ever touched me. Shame had been my jailer for a long time, but it had also been my ally in freeing myself from that life. I think it must have just reached a point of critical mass when the need to speak out, to stand up and to live a different life became so much stronger than the need to keep it hidden, to hide behind the shame.

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
Prompt: Write a story or poem using the following words: piano, study, gaudy, ghost, bewitch, blushing, tongue, plan

I watched her for, concealed behind the partially opened door. She was sitting at the piano, her back ramrod straight and her shoulders rigid. Her thick black hair had been hastily pulled back into a heavy braid and it hung down her back, bisecting her thin frame. She bent forward to study the sheet of music in front of her, the tip of her tiny pink tongue pinched between her teeth as she concentrated. Then, Viola began to play. Her delicate, bird-like hands flew over the keys and the music began to fill the space between us.

The composition was one of her own design, crafted to challenge her but also to bewitch the listeners with its peaking crescendos and beautiful rolling valleys. She moved with the music, the heavy braid rocked back and forth like a thick rope. Her momentum caused the gaudy necklace of big glass beads to sway on her chest like a pendulum keeping time with the beat. I held my breath, felt the tears began to well. It was like watching a ghost. Voila played with the same impassioned abandon that her mother had. Watching the girl evoked a vivid memory and in its wake, a visceral pang of loss.

Viola's playing slowed, the notes softly fading as she reached the end of her composition. I had thoughtlessly began clapping before the final note had faded. Voila was startled by the sudden interruption. She turned to look at me, blushing crimson with wide, surprised eyes. It had not been the plan to eavesdrop on her practice. Viola was, as her mother had been, uncomfortable with act of performing. She recovered a bit when she saw it had only be me. She gave me shy smile and rose from the piano.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

That Day in April....

Nine years ago today Fatih and I got married in a modest ceremony just a few miles from our front door.  It was a ceremony we carefully crafted to represent us and to celebrate our mixed faiths and cultures.  Our readings varied from love poems by Paublo Neruda and Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet to Emily Bronte and a familiar piece of scripture from 1 Corinthians 13:45.78.  The favors we gave our guests came from Turkey, silver evil eye charms and a glossy bag filled with Turkish delights. Our music was a highly varied soundtrack, with milestones of the ceremony marked by our favorite songs.  We danced to Van Morrison's Crazy Love, cut our cake to Mozella's "Can't Stop" and danced for hours to Turkish pop songs and all the modern top forty rock we could muster. Looking back I know it was truly our day, a day we designed to be about us and for us to share with our friends and family.  I think we got it 100% right. People still talk about that day, about my Dad's amazing speech, my sister's hilarious gangster-style toast or the surprise belly dancer we hired to kick off the party. 

Today we are both a littler grayer. Fatih is a lot thinner and we are parents to an amazing 7 year old who makes life so much more wonderful than either one of us imagined it could be.  That day in April, when I thought life couldn't be more perfect, I was totally wrong. Marriages are full of perfect moments...just not in one continuous stream.  Marriage isn't about everything always being perfect, always being "just right".  It can be hard, so hard sometimes and there will always be rough patches that wear you down. As the years pass, as the memories of that brilliant day fade and those vows and promises seem to grow fainter, sometimes you even question.  In the most difficult times, you may even have doubts.  Then, you have one of those unassuming, simply perfect moments in life and you are astounded by how complete and infinite your love is and you are so grateful for the life you have built together. And you think, in all the world this is my person, this is my best friend, this is my family and I would do anything, go anywhere, be anything for him.

Marriage is work, even the best ones. Its about having faith and hope and a little perspective too.  Love is recognizing the absolute perfection in imperfection and the grace in loving someone with everything you are.

Fatih, I still love you like crazy, everyday with everything I am. Happy Anniversary!

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Strange Perfume of Memory and the Leaps We Take Alone.

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
DAY 1107 March 24, 2017
Write your entry for today about a place that you have spent a considerable amount of time in--perhaps somewhere you lived or worked before--and whose smells are curiously linked with your recollection. Describe the emotions and events from that period that those smells conjure up, and the ways in which your memories may have been colored by your preference or distaste of those smells.

In my youthful days, days when I was driven by wholly different passions than I am today, I volunteered at the local aquarium. During my tenure as a Sea Urchin, the aquarium's term for their student volunteers, my favorite assignment was working with the aquarists in the back. I remember arriving in the early hours on summer mornings and passing through the mud brown door labeled "authorized personnel" into another world filled a new variety of new sensory delights that I can still recall with absolute clarity.

I would always start my shift in the few hours before the aquarium opened for the public. The vast halls and rooms were oddly silent except for the ambient sounds of the massive filtration and circulation machinery always working in the belly and bowels of the place. The gray green windows of the display tanks cast an almost cosmic glow in the shadowed interior. I would pass the rows of tanks on my way to the back, the round eyes of our residents watching me pass. I would always stop at the shark tank and spend a few brief moments watching the sand tigers circling slowly, their snaggle-toothed mouths agape and their black eyes fixed and staring. Behind the circular shark habitat there were the three expansive windows of the main husbandry tank, most often empty that time of the day. Without a resident sea lion or bottlenose dolphin, it always looked immense and cold to me.

It was the olfactory impressions of this place however that leave the strongest impression on my memory bank. Passing through the main lobby and side rooms and pushing open the door that lead to the aquarist area, I was immediately assaulted by the smells of the space. Here behind the tanks, were all the scents associated with the task of maintaining multiple marine environments and those creatures that dwell there. The air was flavored with the briny, slightly antiseptic smell of artificial seawater. There was also the pungent smell of fish meal loaves being chopped in the stainless steel kitchen or the biting scent of raw mackerel being stuffed with supplements and minerals. The strongest odors emanated from the buckets of squid and bait fish and from the rows of glass jugs where the aquarist cultivated brine shrimp for the filter feeders. Leaning over dark tank of the Pacific octopus, the water of that habitat always seem to have a strange tang of sweetness mixed with the faintest smell of detritus. The tidal touch tank smelled brightly of the powered salt that collected along the water line and low tide marks. The big river tank, the one that housed the rainbow trout and had to be accessed via a false woodsy terrain, smelled strongly like moss and brackish bays.

They were all strong smells, often not pleasant smells. They were the smells of this living world and I loved them. It was messy work, it was smelly work but it was the labor of love for me and I wore those smells home with me each day. The time I spent there is a vivid collection of wonderful memories, the foundation for something I carried forward with me in my life.

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
DAY 1590 March 24, 2017
"In late February, frogs, salamanders, and other amphibians responding to early warm temperatures began migrating from their winter hideouts to vernal pools to begin the spring mating season. Some of the animals were chaperoned to safety by concerned volunteers across trafficked streets late at night in New York and other Northeastern states. Write an essay about a time in your life when you made a big decision or took a leap. Did someone arrive to accompany you or were you on your own? Was your emotional journey guided by a crossing guard who brought you to safety?" ~ Writers Digest

Reflecting on the times of the bigger decisions in my life, I am forced to admit that those were the times I felt most solitary. In fact, I think the big decision moments felt that way because I had to make the decision for myself, with little counsel or guidance. That isn't to say I did not have people who helped me, because I did. The really big leaps though, I took many of those on my own and often, in relative secrecy from my loved ones. Divorcing my first husband is probably the one that really comes to mind. It wasn't so much the act of leaving the marriage that was the big decision but rather the emotional journey of freeing myself from a physically and verbally abusive relationship, one that I had hidden from everyone for almost five years. It came down to one moment, one moment when I had to decide to stand up and fight back. It had taken everything I had to push past all the shame and the fear and come out the other side. The day I pulled myself free, I was alone and it was awful and terrifying. It was also momentous and defining for me. Afterward, I did have "crossing guards" and good Samaritans who helped me with process of recovering myself and with healing. I found it much easier to let people in once I had made the leap. I think that that singular act, that decision, had to be mine alone.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Lesson of the Lorax and The Legacy of Madness

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
DAY 1586: March 20, 2017
Prompt: Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not. Dr. Seuss Use this quote to inspire today's entry. Write a story, a poem, or your opinion.

In the days before I embraced corporate life, I was a student of science. The love I had for exploration and investigation seemed imprinted on my DNA. My childhood heroes were Jacques Cousteau, Jane Goodall and the shark lady herself, Dr. Eugenie Clark. I was going to follow in their footsteps of research, discovery and conservation. Somewhere along the line, my other passion won out and I was compelled to follow in my father's footsteps. I traded in my wetsuits and regulators for a corporate office and airplanes. Though my career has me pursuing altitude rather than exploring fathoms, my love of science and nature still draws me to the importance of conservation and preservation.

Scientists predict that over the next 100 years, our planet will lose over 50% of our species. The oceans are being over-fished at alarming rates, entire ecosystems are experiencing degradation and ruin and some species are suffering unprecedented rates of die-off... all this while some politicians insist climate change is over-hyped or worse, merely a hoax perpetrated by liberals. The scientific community has offered irrefutable evidence that we are in the midst of a sixth period of mass extinction, fueled in part, by a host of human activities from ranging from deforestry to consumption of fossil fuels and carbon emissions. Certainly some climate effects and large scale changes to the global ecosystems are cyclical and part of the Earth's natural order and evolution, but that should not excuse or pardon the human factors that affect and in many cases, expedite radical and harmful environmental and climatic change. We all consume, therefore we mustn't we also all act to educate and conserve?

It sometimes seems overwhelming. It sometimes seems like a fight that can never be won but still, every minute of every day, there are scientists and engineering researching and designing ways to conserve and protect our national resources. There are activists and educators fighting on the front lines as well as lawmakers lobbying for legislation. There are filmmakers and artists bringing the messaging to the global community with films like Racing Extinction. There are so many movements designed to educate people on how to make conservation a part of our everyday existence.

Regardless of those striving to politicize protecting our oceans and ecosystems, the fact remains that it is our human responsibility to do what we can for our planet. Why wouldn't we want to save our coral reefs, protect our endangered species and national parks? If we could, wouldn't we all try to stop the slaughter of our ocean's apex predators? Slow the rate of melting or our polar ice caps? Save the black rhino, Hawksbill turtle, Asian elephant or any number of those species currently categorized as critically endangered? Where will our politics be in 100 years when 50% of life on our planet has disappeared? Unless...someone like me and you...#startwith1thing


"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
DAY 1103 March 20, 2017
Prompt: Totally different from the scientific and cosmic black holes, imagine your very own, fictional black hole. What would it be like? Describe it or use it in a flash fiction story or poem if you wish.

The dark space in the earth was an open maw of inky blackness. It called to her, she felt an almost magnetic pull in her gut. The toes of her sneakers, protruding just over the edge, where like bright white triangles against the sea of black below her. If she took one small step, she would fall into it, she would fall forever. No single thought in her life had even been more wholly appealing and compelling.

Alexia fought the urge, the temptation to feed herself to the pit. The physical will it took to draw herself back and away for the edge, left her winded and her skin covered with a slick film of perspiration. Even now as she sat four feet away, leaning against big maple tree and feeling its rough back biting into her bare flesh, she wanted more than anything to hurl her body down that deep shaft. There was no world but the one that was a mystery to her. There was no future but the one that beckoned, dark and endless, from the broken earth. The black hole called her, as it had called her mother. How long could she live without answering?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

International Women's Day - #BeBoldForChange

 "Blogging Circle of Friends "
DAY 1574: March 8, 2017
Prompt: March 8 is International Women's Day. The theme this year is "Be Bold For Change" https://www.internationalwomensday.com/. Write a story, poem, or something about women or a woman being expressing this theme. Or write your opinion about this theme.

I'm waking up to the fact that today, March 8th, is International Women's Day. I am struck by one, pervasive thought almost immediately. Has this been an annual thing and if so, how have I missed it before? Then, admittedly, I think...what kind of woman does that make me?

In the course of being having a busy full time career, raising a daughter, trying to be a writer, volunteering on the PTO board and running a household, it appears I totally missed the boat on a day meant to observe and champion my fellow women, countless numbers who struggle everyday to fill the same roles I do. At a time when so many feel that womanhood and some of our most important and basic freedoms are under attack, I totally miss "our day"? What does that say about me? As a women?

Admittedly, I have never had the heart of an activist. Sure, I've signed petitions, shared articles of many things of singular importance and written pieces that were strong minded and defiant. I've supported causes and rallied behind those individuals and institutions that I felt represented necessary change. But, I've never been in a walk-out, or walked a protest line or marched. When a dear friend of mine told me she was going to the Women's march in DC, I was thrilled for her but never once remotely considered doing that myself. Does this make me less of of feminist? Am I failing my daughter in some way by not exposing her to a life of active resistance to injustices? I'm raising her to be strong, fight for herself and never let anyone tell her she can't do something and telling myself, at least by some measure, that its the same thing. Is it?I ask myself these questions a lot, but especially this morning.

I work in a very non-traditional field for women. I often joke that is it the industry that social progress forgot. That isn't true but people would be surprised by the things I hear and the battles I still see being fought among my female peers and colleagues for, not just equal pay and opportunity, but for authority, power and credibility. I grew up in this industry though and I feel like I've developed that thicker skin both from being the minority but also from being young and college educated. In my space populated by technology-loathing, "dinosaurs" who see little value in academics, I have often rallied for modernization and vision as much as I have for equality. I use that term "dinosaurs" with endearment, for they are as much a part of my upbringing and my personal landscape as the smell of jet fuel and the whine of a high powered turbine running up on the ramp. I embrace them as part of whom I am and the world I live and work in every day. Over the year I've learned to try not to get sidetracked by the little lumps so I can win the bigger victories. My female colleges number among those I find most supportive, hardworking and loyal. They are easily my "go to" people because in addition to just being straight-up, bad-ass good at their jobs, they get the big picture. They are essential cogs in our machine, even if at times, that machine grinds and moans and occasionally goes on the fritz.

But, back to Women's Day 2017...I clicked the link. I had to get educated. I did not want to start slinging the hash tag #BeBoldForChange about without knowing the values behind it. The website was clearly organized, as one would expect and there near the bottom, was a box marked "VALUES". I clicked it and found a list of words like Equality, Trepidation, Justice...to name a few. I thought about the list and found that three of the words resonated with me a bit more than the others.

Equality. As a woman I want the same opportunities to achieve power and success as my male colleagues. I want the opportunity to make the same money for the same jobs as they do. If Equality is about potential and empowerment, I'm in 100%. However, I don't want total equality. I feel that men and women are different animals entirely, possessing inherent strengths and abilities bestowed on us at birth. Women can be mothers, they can nurture. They can reason with often greater empathy and depth then many men can. They can endure and persist. They can explore countless nuances in their relationships. Women are amazing for all the things that make us different from men. We are not equal because we are not the same and that, that is not a bad thing. It may not be the most popular view among my peers but it is what I believe.

Collaboration. Women need other women. I have seen countless examples of women knocking other women down. There is too much descent among our ranks. We need to all do a better job of seeing what unifies us rather than what divides us as women. One of the unfortunate side-effects of that powerful march on DC was the clearly discernible reality that not all women's groups are created equal, not all women felt welcomed and unified. The weakness of that movement was its failure to be all-inclusive in the end with many factions and groups feeling they had been "left out" or "marginalized". If we are raging against a society that seeks to marginalize and hold us back, why do we fall into the trap of doing that to one another? There is a great quote that sums this up for me..."Strong Women, May be Be Know them, May we Be Them, May we Raise them". Women are still women regardless of whether they are working or stay-at-home moms, Muslims or Christians, Republicans, Activists or pacifists, gay or straight, etc. We need to be women working with women for change first and foremost.

Hope In this world today, in this nation so divided, fear often seems to be the prevailing emotion many are feeling. We are fearful even in our activism and our passion. The concept of the collected "we", as Americans, as women, as human beings feels precarious and forced at times as we watch people taking sides, slinging political rhetoric like weapons, condoning prejudice and inciting violence. I look at my daughter, a child of mixed faiths and mixed cultures and all girl...and I think, what will the world become for her? Will it be kind? Will it continue to be tolerant? Will it provide her opportunities to stand up? Will she find support and camaraderie? Is there hope for her? I would like to believe the answer to all those questions, and more, is yes. Yes, there is hope. There is hope because there are stories of great women to share and inspire, there are great victories won every day for all women. There is hope because we continue to observe, protest, march, speak up and write. We champion the stories of great Americans, regardless of gender, working hard and supporting their communities. There is hope because Democracy is about more than political jargon and party lines. There is hope because we see countless examples every day that give us faith in humanity and that will always trump everything else.

Monday, February 20, 2017

A Peace Not Forced

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
DAY 1077, Feb. 20, 2017
Taking after 2/19/17 prompt...
Prompt: If you could write some advice for the entire humankind on a board or tablet where everyone could see, what would that advice be? It can be as short or as long as you wish.

If there has anything this last year has taught me, is that as humankind is largely opposed to taking advice, especially when it comes from an alternative viewpoint or opinion. If social media has shown us anything, it is that our opinions and positions on issues are not easily swayed by the testimony of others - regardless how impassioned or heartfelt it may be.

I have found myself at a bit of a loss at how divided I feel our nation has become and sadly I struggle to think of an universal piece of advice that would subvert the barriers and divisions. If I were to leave some word for my fellow masses, it would have be the words of people far more gifted and visionary than myself.

 My advice would be to heed the words of Albert Einstein:

"Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding."

or those of the Dalai Lama:

"World peace must develop from inner peace. Peace is not the absence of violence; peace is the manifestation of human compassion."

And, myself included, to try to remember that our human journey is far more precious and beautiful than can be experienced through a glowing smart phone screen. The human experience isn't isolated and relative, it is universal, barrier-less and boundless.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Josephine Purdy

*Rated 18+, this story may contain adult themes and language.

Twin beams of yellow light danced over the tops of the tombstones as the boys raced in tandem through the cemetery. They dodged and darted between the larger stones and mausoleums and hurtled over the toppled gravestones and smaller markers.

As the adrenaline coursed through him, Kyle felt it firing his limbs and he resisted the primal urge to howl. The empty cans of spray paint in his pockets rattled and bounced and he struggled not to lose them as he ran. His cousin Paul matched his pace, falling behind only to surge past him again and again. Kyle saw him now, coming up fast on his right side, his face a mask of tension. A few hundred yards off the cemetery gates loomed up in the darkness. He could not see their bikes beyond it but he knew they were there, waiting.

Admittedly this had been a bad idea. If they had been caught in the act of vandalizing a cemetery, it was big trouble for both of them. Kyle was still processing that thought when his foot caught on something and he went down hard. He landed on his chest, knocking the wind from his lungs. His flashlight hit the ground, the light and lens shattered with the impact. Kyle rolled onto his back, waiting for his breath and for the pain to subside. When it had, he sat up and looked around.

He had tripped over a fallen tombstone. It was lying almost parallel to the ground, the aged stone pockmarked and covered with black moss. Kyle crawled the short distance to it. It was out of place, set apart from the others. It should not have been there.
Paul was suddenly at his side, helping him to his feet.

“Dude, you took a serious digger!” the younger boy said, not bothering to harness the laughter that leaked out with the words.

“Yeah, I tripped over that, “ Kyle said, grabbing his cousin’s flashlight and directing the beam onto the gravestone.

The light illuminated a grave marker that was narrower and older looking than any other they’d seen that night. It was half sunken into earth,the writing so degenerated that it was illegible but for one word, “Purdy”.

Paul and Kyle exchanged a look. The name meant something to them as it would have to anyone from Brewster familiar with the town’s dark history.

“She wasn’t buried this close to the gates was she?” Paul asked.

Kyle looked over Paul’s shoulder and saw to his dismay that the gates where not as close as he thought they’d been. Indeed, their impressive outlines where no longer visible. How had they gotten turned around? Confusion and an ever increasing pain in his ankle infused Kyle with a new fear. They hadn’t been turned around, they had been running for those gates. He had seen them. Even in the darkness, Kyle had registered their outlines on the horizon.

Paul snatched his flashlight back from his cousin and slowly turned in a wide circle, casting the beam in a wide arch to survey their surroundings. Nothing looked familiar. The boys stood shoulder to shoulder, stunned and silent in the deepening night.
The toppled gravestone at their feet began to vibrate – they felt it through the soles of their sneakers. They backed up and away from it. The air was suddenly thick with the smell of rot, it pressed in past their teeth and filled their throats. Assaulted by the stretch, both boys began retching and spitting.

Kyle felt Paul’s hand suddenly gripe his arm. He followed his cousin’s frightened gaze and saw the figure advancing on them, a darker space in the blackness. Paul raised the flashlight beam and illuminated the night and the moving figure.

It was a woman in a white cotton shift. Long black hair trailed down her shoulders and her feet and legs were bare. As the beam moved up over body, the boys saw that she was naked under the shift, her dark mounds and full breasts clearly discernable through the thin material. She was older, perhaps Kyle’s mother’s age, with strong womanly features and large eyes. She drew within four of five feet of the boys and smiled, cutting her eyes from one boy to the other before stepping in close to Kyle. She paused and tugged the dress over her head and off with one practiced hand. She leaned forward, her long lashes brushing his cheek and she sniffed him. The woman placed both hands on his chest, gripped his sweatshirt in talon-like fists and dragged Kyle forward against her body.

She smelled bad, really bad. Kyle registered that fact as strongly as he did her lush, hard body. He felt his arousal mounting despite the smell of rot emanating from her and his own growing sense of terror. He felt Paul back away slowly, felt his cousin make the decision to bolt just before he did exactly that. Kyle tried to call out after him but the woman was looming close and her eyes were dark, oscillating pools that paralyzed him. Kyle stood on quaking legs while her fingers trailed down to his belt and below it, pressing against the obvious bulge in the front of his jeans.

The woman began keening, a horrendous sound that made Kyle mad with fear. She began caressing his arousal through the denim. When Kyle tried to pull away, she hissed wetly at him, sending thin ribbons of black spittle over his cheeks and chin. Her fingers gripped the buckle of his belt and tugged it free in a practiced motion. Kyle struggled backwards, tried to pry her hands away but she had already wrapped a hand around his erection and pulled him free. He was hard and pulsing in her cold grip.

The touch made him cry out in pain and in terror. The wrongness of his situation rushed over him like a tide and he began to twist violently away, sobbing and cursing at the abomination that had him in her demonic clutch. He felt her nails ripping ribbons of flesh from his buttocks, felt her teeth at his neck and saw her swollen, lolling tongue. He got his arms up between them, pressed his palms against her breasts and shoved as hard as he could. The woman stumbled back, her hand fell away and Kyle was suddenly free. He turned and ran blindly into the night.

He ran and ran, stumbling and falling, his pants slipping down over his hips. He dragged himself back to his feet, tugging them back up and breaking into another wild sprint. His heart was pounding and he was screaming, too loud to hear anything that chased him. He did not look back. He felt the spray cans drop from his pockets and fall away. He didn’t stop to retrieve them. His eyes darted across the cemetery as he ran, looking for anything familiar, desperately looking for the gates. Then, he saw them.

Kyle tapped into his last reserves and took off. The momentum sent him careening into the wrought iron frames, rattling them. Kyle tugged them open and slipped through. Paul and his bike were gone. He snatched his up from the ground. He hurriedly stuffed himself, limp and shriveled now back into his jeans. Kyle threw his leg over the bike and launched himself away as quickly as he could manage. He rode at a breakneck, hazard pace all the way home. He never looked back, just pedaled and rubbed the tears from his eyes.

The house was dark and quiet, as he had left it hours before. Kyle slipped out of his clothes and stepped into the hottest shower his tender skin could stand. He washed himself roughly, turning his skin red in the steam. He could still smell her decay on his body, still felt the horror of her assault and the tender places on his body that she had scratched, torn and bruised. He still saw the obscenity of her naked breasts and her exposed sex in his mind. Exhausted, Kyle fell into bed. In the relative safety of his room, he felt unhinged.

Josephine Purdy had been the town postmistress decades ago. She had been a dark beauty, a widow with very un-puritan appetites. She had seduced the pious town magistrate and his wife had accused her of being a witch. Josephine had been tried and hung. She had been buried in the outskirts of the cemetery to be forgotten. The creature that attacked and violated him tonight had most certainly been her. Tomorrow the police would find the vandalized graves, spray cans and subsequently their fingerprints. Kyle didn’t care. He wasn’t going back to get them, what waited there for him was far worse than punishment he could imagine.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Purple crocs and Practical Matters

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
DAY 1554 February 16, 2017
Let's turn on those creative juices and create something with these words: gray, smart, thaw, bow, jelly, window

The world outside the kitchen window was a stark gray landscape of two week old snow that refused to thaw. Theresa felt the familiar tug of another budding depression in her bones. She was not a winter person. Unlike her daughter, she did not rise with childish excitement to watch a new snowfall coat the world. She did not bound eagerly into the drifts or throw herself back first into the soft ground to make snow angels with pumping arms. Snow made her feel oppressed, especially when it lingered and turned slowly dirty and black with prolonged exposure to the urban grind.

Nattie was suddenly at her elbow.

"Mom, are you making my lunch?" she asked, dragging a toy brush through her messy blonde curls.

"That's not your brush Natalie Jean and what are you wearing?"

Her five year old daughter took at step back and twirled proudly showing off her latest ensemble. This morning her daughter had paired leopard print leggings with a zebra pink top and purple rubber crocs. It should have made Theresa giggle, but she was just so tired.

Theresa pointed to the winter boots by the front door and said, with as much authority as she could muster, "no crocs Nattie, it's winter."

Her daughter pulled a face and dramatically flipped the crocs off her feet, barely missing the dog's water bowl with one.

"Fine, then...better not give me peanut butter and jelly!"

Theresa looked down at the blob of jelly on the end of her knife. She felt the depression settle deeper in her joints.

The alarm on her phone suddenly chimed, a ten minute warning for them both that the bus would be there soon. Theresa fetched a real hairbrush and dragged it through her daughter's hair, doing her best to power through despite Natalie's diva-worthy screeching. In the end, she gave up. She pulled the unruly tangles into a ponytail and plopped on a pink bow to match the zebra top. She stepped back and looked at her pouting daughter, trying to gauge how much of a hot mess she actually was. Theresa decided Natalie's ensemble was passable for a spirited kindergartner.

Theresa helped Natalie into her winter coat and hat. She bent and brushed her face free of pop tart crumbs before planting a kiss on her pursed little lips and herding her out the door. Half way down the driveway, Natalie relented and slipped her gloved hand into Theresa's. They walked past the graying mounds of ice and snow. Theresa tried hard not to focus on the decaying snowman stripped of both his arms and carrot nose and battered by the elements.

As the school bus rounded the corner and bore down on them, Natalie quipped, "Mommy I hope it snows again tomorrow!"

Theresa bit back her knee jerk response, which would have been colorful and inappropriate at best. She waved to her daughter as the bus drove off. Alone now with herself, Theresa welcomed the wave of melancholy that broke over her like a tide. She slowly walked back to the house, momentarily indulging in a fantasy where she would hibernate until late Spring.

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
Day 1073 February 16, 2017
Prompt: "It's important that my products are beautiful but it matters that they are functional." How do you feel about this?

I was raised by a woman who was practical to a fault. My mother had the dark beauty to wear anything well and the opportunity to afford a full and generous closet. She was the young wife of a successful entrepreneur, in many ways, the quintessential corporate wife. She was beautiful, with her slender build, dark hair and blue eyes and she dutifully attended all the company functions on my father's arm. She cut a lovely figure in any room and her outfits were always eye-catching.

I remember shopping with her at a local place called the Tiage. She bought a lot of her party clothes there. They specialized in those one of a kind dresses that were elaborate, embellished with rich colors and layers of embroidered lace. These were all dresses and pantsuits cut to flatter and it seemed to me, every one she tried on was perfect for her. She would try on a lot but very often, almost always in fact, she would leave with just one.

My mother could have afforded ten of those dresses but she didn't think they were practical. Instead, she would buy one and then wear it different ways, dressed down with a blazer or worn with heavier jewelry for a night out. She shopped for the occasion or event, preferring to buy something she could disguise and re-wear to multiple functions. I remember watching her struggle to choose between two or three designs and I began echoing my grandmother's insistence that she just, "get them all!". If my mother could not assign a practical, specific use to a dress or an outfit, back into the rack it went no matter how flawless she had looked in it. I simultaneously envied her ability to wear those dresses and was frustrated by her frugal refusal to purchase them.

My mother had a one teal dress, short sleeved and silky. It had elaborate detailed cut-outs across the helm and at the base of the sleeves. The color and cut were absolutely perfect for her. She wore that a lot. She bought the same dress in a pale pink. There was another outfit, a cream colored pantsuit that could have been designed with her exact coloring and curvature in mind. She made so few extravagant purchases for herself that I can still recall the exceptionally beautiful ones with such clarity. The quote today reminded me so much of my mother...of that part of her that was both appreciative of beautiful things but always governed by practicality over them. 

Friday, January 27, 2017


Shelly licked at the speck of blood on her third knuckle with delicate, flicking pink tongue. She worried, not for the first time that day, if she might be losing her edge. She stretched and the tendons in her calves screamed in defiance.  The chase had been an exhilarating surprise at first but after she'd taken him down, her body registered the sure signs of her advancing age in painful stages.

At one time her body had been a machine, fierce and fluid.  Her ability to overpower her prey quickly and silently had more than made up for her lack of finesse in the mental demands of the pursuit.  She had honed her skills and soon learned that the real thrill of the chase was the seduction.  The more she mastered the mental, the softer her ground game had become. Over the years, it had gotten so easy for her.

She looked down at the crumbled body. She had seen it in his eyes, the moment when her hold had been broken and the will to live had rushed back into his limbs. It had startled her, losing the connection. He had gotten at least a hundred yards on her before she could get herself together and take off after him. It had been a messy kill.

The hunger had come upon her as it always did, slowly building.  The anticipation was like a drug, firing the senses and touching off all her nerve endings at once.  Shelly could to feel it, poised just under the soft surface of her skin, waiting to rip open the seams and crawl out into the light.  She had fought it as long as she could. She had struggled through an agonizing week, trying to be something else than what she was, trying to feel anything else but that terrible need. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Rockabilly Roller Star Never Goes Home Again

 "Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
Day 1030 January 4, 2017
Prompt: Dreams have no expiration date. Do you agree with this statement?

Dreams have no expiration date, except of course that dream I once had of becoming a sexy, rockbilly roller derby star...that dream has died a slow death with the unforgiving mid-40's birthdays and sometimes self-dislocating knee joint. Clearly that heady vision of greatness has been moved to the expired column. Everything else...I might still have a shot at!

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
DAY 1511: January 4, 2017
Prompt: Write about moving home.

It seems that the majority of my life has been about moving out and moving on rather than moving home. My parents went through a painful divorce, the worst of it while I was away at school. Moving home, even on the weekends and breaks, often meant coming home to one tension-steeped household or the other. It was a wholly unappealing prospect. I managed to eek out alternative living arrangements, staying with friends in the summers between semesters and finally getting a place off-campus with a boyfriend. In a sense, I feel as if I never really went home again after I started college, not in any real sense. Part of it was, I liked being on my own but mostly I enjoyed distancing myself from the photo-finish family that was imploding and deconstructing before my eyes. I welcome the opportunities to go abroad and stay at school and work through most weekends. As a result of my intentional absence, my little sister bore the brunt of my mother's grief - something I still harbor a fair amount of guilt over. I motored past all the dynamic changes in my family life and just kept moving...moving up and moving on..just never moving back.