Over Vegas

wpid-8kmhoik7do5rurgorauxeaibfgh1-rnjcnhbfcmxuvx8gdkx57fh2hdomkyosaxdomhpml077etcep324xqrf2mzeujy2jgrzvszvajxa-wfewh2gfcoqlom9amtcmmcpfpwtFairytales start with “in a land far away”. Fantasy novels are set in worlds manufactured by their authors.
So what is your idea of a fictional world?

In a land far away, Karma has swept me up on her wings,
made me strong and vibrant as sequenced
pasties on pale, pink nipples –
instead of the dying bulb in a neon sign,
flickering over Vegas.

© Laura A. Lord 2015


This was written for the Miniature Writing Challenge #7. You can visit the prompt, here.

Super Cool Special Announcement

Precipice FB Cover 2

 

I’m in a book! I’m in a book!

I was so fortunate to be featured within this amazing group of 18 writers. Thank you to Bannerwing Books for all your hard work on this project. It’s available for pre-order today, so hurry up and get your copy now!

Clicky right here to pre-order!

Precipice cover_final

 

Feral: Part Three

feral“Wake up, Lily! The cab is here.”

Lily sat up sharply, frightened out of a deep sleep brought on by entirely too much alcohol and food and emotions and all those things that piled up on someone when the hordes of family and friends squeezed into your home and attempted to shove grief down under heaping spoonfuls of casserole and cheap wine.

“What?” Lily asked?

Her step-mother was busily moving around the room, her father’s old book bag in her hand. She busied herself with tossing Lily’s clothing into it, digging through the drawers and grabbing small stacks.

“What are you doing?” Lily yelled, sweeping her legs out from under the blankets and running over to slam her underwear drawer shut before Hannah could dig further into it.

“Helping you pack. The cab is here. Get dressed.”

The clipped tone fought its way into Lily’s head and she shook the sleep off before grabbing the book bag from her step-mother’s hands.

“Where am I going?” She asked.

“I don’t care, but you can’t stay here. Your father left me the house. I saw the will last week. You can come for the rest of your things later,” Hannah said, turning on her heel and walking towards the door. She paused and tossed a fifty dollar bill onto the table. “You can go as far as that will take you.”

She left the door open when she left, the sound of her bare feet stomping down the hallway. Lily stared at her disheveled reflection in the mirror and ran a hand through her ragged hair. She slipped into autopilot, shoving clothing and pictures and books into the book bag. Wallet. License. Picture she drew for her father. Two pair of underwear. A t-shirt. Her father’s sweater. A pair of jeans. Socks. The Catcher and the Rye.

            What am I doing, she thought. This is my home. She can’t just throw me out. She paused, her hand pushing the bulging pack closed. Maybe she can?

Lily grabbed her jeans off the back of the chair at her desk and rifled through the closet for a tank top and a button down shirt. She was yanking socks on her feet when she heard the car horn beep.

She snatched the cash off the table and stuffed it into her pocket. Clomping down the steps in untied boots, Lily stopped at the bottom landing and looked for her step-mother. The woman was nowhere to be seen.

“This is still my home,” she yelled. She slid down the hallway and peeked in the open doors. Empty bathroom, laundry room, and sounds of the Keurig spitting out coffee in the kitchen. Lily came around the corner and saw Hannah, her blue bathrobe pulled tight around her body, her hands clenching the steaming mug of coffee.

“He was my father,” Lily said. She dropped the book bag to the floor and took a cautious step forward. “One semester and I’ll be in school. I’ll be gone. Please, Hannah.”

Hannah lifted the mug and took a sip before setting it down. She focused on retying the sash around her robe, pulling it until it was snug against her small waist. “This is my house.”

“It’s my father’s house,” Lily ground out.

“No. It’s my house,” Hannah said.

Lily kicked the book bag at her feet. “Where am I supposed to go? Huh?”

Hannah moved over to the junk drawer at the edge of the counter and pulled out the floppy brown leather address book Lily remembered her father keeping in his back pocket constantly. It had a crease down the center from being sat on and pressed against his wallet.

“He had an aunt or something. Over on the eastern shore,” and with that, Hannah slid the book across the table, picked up her mug, and slipped out the back patio door.

Lily grabbed the address book, running her fingers along the soft leather. She grabbed her book bag and headed out. The front door was sitting wide open and outside the sound of an engine roaring softly provided the only soundtrack to her exit. She let the door close behind her and slid across the cracked leather seat of the cab.

The man behind the partition was older, with wisps of gray hair poking out from under a Baltimore Orioles hat. He smiled and lifted his hands in the air as if the sky were the limit.

“Where we going, hun?” He drawled.

Lily, started flipping through the book. “The Bay Bridge. The eastern shore.”


Part One     Part Two 

Feral: Part Two

feralwas a certain smell in funeral homes, a cloying mix of flowers and old lady perfume. Lily felt her allergies welling up, causing her eyes to water. She sniffed in the most unladylike way possible, but it was a funeral. If anything her allergies were her saving grace, she looked like she was mourning.

Not that she shouldn’t be mourning, but Lily found it increasingly difficult to make the tears come. Behind her the dark steel coffin stood like a sentry. She kept staring at it out of the corner of her eye. The silhouette of his face – one she knew so well. Her fingers swiped at the water gathering on her lashes and she brushed her nose. She shared that nose with the dead man. It was one of the only physical traits she could easily recognize as having come from her father.

It had been a little over six months since her father had sat everyone down in the living room after dinner and delivered the news like he was passing out a slice of after-dinner desert.

“I have cancer,” he said.

There was no soft opening line, no easing into it. He was as blunt and blatant as always. It wasn’t in his character to sugar coat anything, and it seemed cancer wasn’t going to be any different.

The silence that followed had set her ears to ringing. Lily heard her step-mother asking questions, but it was only her father’s words that she heard.

No cure.

No treatment.

A year. Maybe two.

Her father and Hannah had only gotten married last year. They hadn’t even had their first anniversary yet. Lily should have felt bad for her. Both of them had been married before, but where Hannah’s husband had collapsed while mowing their front yard, Lily’s mother had simply up and left. One morning she woke up and said, “I don’t love you anymore.”

Then she left.

Lily was eighteen when Hannah came into their life. She was too old for a new mother, but she would have given her a chance, if Hannah hadn’t absolutely hated her. Maybe hate was the wrong word, but there was a level of competitiveness there that had formed a wedge between them from the very beginning. Hannah looked at Lily as if she were the only thing standing between her and a perfect marriage. Lily’s father adored her, they had habits and traditions, things that belonged to them. It wasn’t like they hadn’t tried to include Hannah, but she wanted no parts of Christmas Bingo. She wanted no parts of anything that was between father and daughter and had slowly managed to end each little ritual like she were stomping out a stray ash from the fire.

Lily had been planning on college to get away, give them the space they needed. Her father’s cancer news put a hold on her applications and before she knew it she’d missed deadlines. Real tears filled her eyes then as she thought about having to take a semester off at home with Hannah. The house seemed so empty without her father in it.

Lily stole a glance to her other side, watching the way fat tears rolled down the perfect arch of Hannah’s cheek bones. A small birdcage black veil covered the top half of her step-mother’s face, attached to an entirely too large hat. She wore a form-fitting top, black pencil skirt, small kitten heels. As if sensing Lily’s stare, she turned and gave a smoldering look through the veil.

“My brother will sit in the front with me,” she said.

Lily’s eyebrows raised in shock. She was his daughter. She belonged in the front pew, the one where the sign “Family Only” hung from its little white ribbon.

“Why don’t you go find somewhere to sit down?” Hannah more commanded than asked her. She spun her head back around to embrace another person in the long line of mourners. Lily squeezed past the pair and went to find another seat.


Part One    Part Three

Feral: Part One

feral“What do you want?”

Cagedon stepped back, looking at the man who practically filled the doorway. It wasn’t often that he ran into someone taller than himself, but the older man had to be well over his own six and a half feet. Dropping his book bag to the porch, Cagedon extended his hand.

“I’m Cagedon McGrath,” he started, pulling his hand back when the man made no effort to extend his own. “I was just, um, looking for a room.”

The man looked Cagedon up and down, barely finishing his initial check over, when a wiry, high-pitched voice sounded from somewhere back in the house.

“I told you someone was coming by,” she said. “Didn’t I, Paul?”

The older man, Paul it seemed, ground his teeth together. “That you did, Ellie.”

“Well, let him in,” Ellie said, coming up behind Paul and sliding under the frame his arm made with the doorway. She was a petite woman, all wrinkled skin covering bone. Her hair was grey and stood out in kinks and curls from all angles of her head. A few strands had been wrapped around neon pink hair curlers. A bright red kimono dressing gown hung so long it dragged on the ground. She extended a white gloved hand to Cagedon, and at the same time, elbowed Paul in the stomach.

“I knew you were coming,” she said. “Back up, Paul. Back, back, back. Now.”

“You don’t know nothin’ about this boy,” Paul said, unmoving.

“He’s fine. I know,” Ellie said, lifting her chin and squaring her shoulders. “I know.”

Paul let out something close to a growl, and stepped to the side, pulling Ellie back with him.

“She knows,” he muttered, before walking off through the house.

Cagedon stepped into a room that resembled something close to a royal dining room – post tornado. The table was covered with mix-matched tablecloths and serving dishes. Candle sticks of every shape and size took up any available space on the sideboards and tables. A chandelier, which was fixed with bulbs of all shades and sizes, hung low enough that Cagedon had to duck under it as he came inside.

Ellie slid her arm through his, and escorted him into her home. She stood behind the chair at the head of the massive table and waited there quietly. Cagedon gripped his backpack in one hand and rested his other on the back of another chair. She didn’t seem inclined to speak, and he had no idea what to say to her, so they stood there in silence for a moment.

“Well,” Ellie finally broke the quiet. “We’ll have to work on this.” She motioned to the chair in front of her. “You are supposed to pull that out for me, you know?”

Cagedon quickly reached out and yanked the chair back, so Ellie could sit down. Once she had, he scooted it in and went to sit next to her.

“Sorry,” he said.

Ellie smiled. “Not a problem, boy. Now, I told you I knew you were coming, didn’t I?”

“Yes, Ma’am,” he started. “But how did you…”

“Doesn’t matter how. Just knew you were and I was right. It’s nice to be right. Makes Paul mad, you know, but it’s worth it. You’ll be needing a room, and I’ve got one all ready for you. I got up early this morning and got it all cleaned up and nice.”

She paused and looked him over, before quickly getting to her feet. “Not sure why we’re sitting down here. I’m sure you want to get some rest. C’mon now. Off to bed.”

Cagedon hadn’t even managed to get out of his chair by the time Ellie was already at the stairs and on her way up. He watched her totter to the side and catch herself on the wall, realizing she was attempting to navigate steep steps, in a kimono that trailed to the floor, and a pair of what looked like stilettos. She would lift the kimono occasionally, and Cagedon got a glimpse of bright yellow shoes and the thin ankles that barely seemed capable of holding her up.

She led him to a room at the end of the upstairs hallway. After a moment or two of fiddling with the door, Cagedon finally stepped forward and shoved it open. The strong scent of flowers struck him full in the face, and he began coughing and sneezing.

“Oh dear,” Ellie mused, waltzing into the room. “I hadn’t thought about you being one of those.”

She went to the window and pushed it open, letting the fresh air sweep through the room. By then, Cagedon’s eyes were watering and he had pulled his t-shirt up over his face, breathing in the soft cotton. Ellie narrowed her eyes at him.

“There are just some things you are going to have to get used to, boy and a clean house is one of them. Paul did it, so I’m sure you can too.”

Cagedon just nodded and pulled the shirt back down. “I’ll only be here a night.”

“Of course you will, dear,” Ellie said, patting his arm as she made her way to the door.

Cagedon turned to look at her, and Ellie smiled. “I’ll be right down the hall. Breakfast at…whenever I get up. Goodnight.”

With that, Ellie shut the door and Cagedon listened to the sound of her heels clicking down the hallway. He shook his head and stared around the room. Fresh flowers sat in vases on the dresser and both nightstands. Candles were lit on the bookshelves, and a jar of potpourri sat wide open on the desk. Even the bed was covered with flowers, some bright pink and yellow rose print. Combining it with the flower and striped wallpaper, and Cagedon’s head began to swim.

He immediately put the lid on the potpourri and blew out the candles. Then, systematically, pulled all the flowers from the vases and chunked them out the open window. It did little to help the smell, and so Cagedon stripped his t-shirt off and tied it around his face like a bandanna. It was going to be a long night.


Part Two     Part Three

The Stranger That Took Me

stranger“You dreamed about it again?” He asked.

I nodded. “I dream about it all the time now. I remember that woman from the beach. I can see myself sitting there…watching it all happen…”

The beach was hot and hazy, the sand liquid fire on my feet. I spread my towel out and jumped onto it, thankful for the barrier between my skin and the burning sand. I hadn’t been there but a moment, when little feet ran by my towel kicking sand up onto my legs as two kids drug their mother out toward the water. I brushed the sand off me and watched them, caution making them slow down at the wet sand’s edge. They held tight to their mother’s hands as she guided them towards the water.

The waves were big and frothing white. They fell and swept in like the rows of white teeth in a shark’s jaw. Salty water sprayed up over the children cold enough to make them gasp and squeal. They bent and slapped at the water as it receded and then braced themselves against their mother as the wave came back. Slowly their feet sunk into the sand like the beach itself was eating them.  

It could have been hours of this, or five minutes. I don’t know. Everything happened so quickly. I heard a scream. The mother’s hand was empty. Beside her stood the small girl, but on the other side the boy was missing.

I watched her look, from her daughter to the ocean.

I watched the choice. A split second decision.

She let go of her daughter’s hand, and dove into the water.

People began to gather. The crowd grew so thick, that I was forced to stand to see. I watched others getting into the water. I watched them point and dive towards something I couldn’t see.

I watched a man in blue swim trunks and a grey shirt walk up to the little girl. I watched him bend down and talk to her.

He took her hand and walked away with her across the beach, towards the boardwalk.

I never saw the mother come out of the ocean. I never saw if they found the boy, if they pulled him in safe. I don’t know if they laid his body on the beach and pumped the water from his lungs.

I don’t know what happened after that man walked me off the beach, and put me in his car, and drove away.

“I think it’s time we call the police to investigate this,” he said.

I looked over at my doctor – the man who had been working with me the last two years while pieces of this dream surfaced. My father was in the waiting room.

The father who had raised me for 13 years.

The father who had once walked with me across the beach in blue swim trunks and a grey shirt.

The stranger who took me.

*****
prompted-buttonWord Count: 491

The prompt this week for Tipsy Lit was an impossible choice. One of the things I experience most during pregnancy is an unusual amount of nightmares. The terrible part is that most of these revolve around my children. Sandy, my brilliant friend from Mother of Imperfection, told me this morning that it probably had something to do with all the hormones raging and my protective instincts soaring. Last year around this time we took our children to the beach for the first time ever. I wrote about it briefly here. This Sunday we are taking them again, which probably is what spurred the horrible dream that brought this bit of fiction out. I suppose this not sleeping well thing does do wonders for my creativity. Silver linings…

Copyright Laura A. Lord ©2014

Every Last Inch of Him: Be Someone Else Hop

It’s time for the first ever Be Someone Else Creative Fiction Blog Hop! Are you excited? You should be. After a Facebook conversation gone rouge, the idea was thrown out to write a piece of fiction based on a villain. Now we know me…I couldn’t have done this about anyone but Gaston.

giphy (1)

This guy is yummy to me on so many levels. So I hope you enjoy my take on Gaston’s story. If you’d like to join in, the info for the Blog Hop is RIGHT HERE. Just add your link to the linky  and slap the badge on your post, which you can find right there on the side bar with the code.

creativefiction

Now, grab some wine and let’s all get a little hot and bothered for Gaston.

*****

He was sitting at the bar, some redheaded hussy perched across his lap. Her arm wrapped around his massive shoulders, practically petting him and reaching up to pull through the curls of hair that hung down his neck. Her bottom was firmly planted on his lap, his hand massaging it through her dress, while he nursed a tankard of ale.

I stormed over, raking the hood down from my head. It was pouring outside, and my blond hair clung in strips down my cheeks. Small puddles formed under my slippers. I grabbed the woman’s shoulder, spinning the pair of them around. When those dark eyes of his met mine, my cheeks flushed red as flags of war.

“I knew it was you. You…you…selfish pig!” I heard myself scream.

He raised one of those perfectly combed eyebrows, his lips pulling up into some bastard child of a sneer and a smile. “It might be me. Did you push out some rascal pup and want me to play Papa? Because if so, it’s not me.”

Laughter burst from the tramp on his lap’s mouth, soon joined by half the patrons close enough to hear our little exchange.

“Gaston,” I practically growled. “You disappeared. We thought you died.”

“Do I know you, woman?” He asked, spinning lazily back around to face the bar in an obvious show of how little he cared to continue speaking to me.

That infuriated me. I let loose with a cannon of words, barely even in control anymore. “Oh I don’t know. Maybe if you were seeing me in triplet you’d remember. Certainly I wasn’t much different than my sisters. I mean, nothing special about us…”

He grunted, but I kept on railing against him. “Oh we were no Belle though, huh? No. We didn’t publicly humiliate you and run off with a prince. With a castle!”

The tankard smashed against the bar, shattering and sending pieces flying across the room. A piece pinged off my thigh and fell to the floor at my feet. Gaston gave the woman on his lap a little push, her mouth stuck in an ‘o’ of surprise, silent and gaping.

“Get off me, Cheryl,” he whispered.

She stumbled to her feet and scurried back behind the bar. By the time she had moved, most others had stepped away from us, the space clearing and everyone vibrating on edge.

He rose to his feet, slowly, his frame unfolding. I’d forgotten just how large he was. Each step of his heavy boots rattled the bottles on the bar. Within two strides he was there, a breath away from me. I was staring straight at his chest, not even daring to look up. You could have lined my sisters and me up in a row and his shoulders still would have been wider than us.

Turning his head, I heard a wad of spit shoot out and land on the floor with a disgusting little plop. He placed a finger under my chin, tilting my head up forcefully to look at him.

“You wanted my attention…” he whispered, a soft snarl.

My voice froze and I just nodded my head, stuttering to get the words out. “We thought you were dead.”

“Ha,” he spit out. “Me? Hell no.”

“Well…You didn’t come back. Belle said you fell, off the castle roof…”

“Into a river, you idiot. And I didn’t fall. I jumped.”

“Why would you jump, Gaston?”

The smile that lit his face was dark and frightening. It sent a pang straight down my belly, creeping lower until the flush in my cheeks was something else entirely. As if on cue, he began to walk forward. There was nowhere to go but back, and with each step of his, I took probably three.

“Wasn’t it obvious? That little tease running me along, until suddenly crazy old Maurice finds a castle…” His voice was cutting, sharp, and deadly.

“Tease?”

“Belle, woman. Keep up. So now there’s a castle and it’s all enchanted with talking frying pans and a fur rug in trousers. She’s smart, that Belle. No one puts a curse on some piss-poor chap in a castle…”

I squinted my eyes, trying to keep up with his logic, but he kept walking towards me and I was very aware of how close we were, how his chest would brush against me for a brief moment before I would step back. One more time of that and I may not back up any longer…

“She knew what she was getting. ‘Oh, I’ll just act like I love this giant hairball and then I’ll get the castle and the money and be a princess forever and ever.’ She’s just like them all. You women. You insatiable little sluts. Gluttonous harlots. Ravenous whores.”

He spit out each disgusting word, his teeth gnashing together in a viscous smile and pushing towards me the entire time. When my back hit the wall, his palms slammed into the wood next to my face and he bent, his eyes boring into mine.

“I…I don’t think…we’re not all…”

“You’re all like that. Isn’t that right?” He asked, pushing his knee between my legs and pinning me quite effectively against the wall.

“Gaston…we…none of us even liked Belle that much….I’m not…I…”

“You’re. Just. Like. Her.” His knee rose, pressing harshly against the core between my thighs. I pressed my hands against his chest, my nails digging into his skin, tangling into the hair there.

Gaston bent his head, his breath hot against my ear. “I was dismissed. Rejected. Publicly humiliated. And now here you come, strolling in here. For what?” His lips closed around my ear and bit softly at the skin there. “For this?” He growled. I reached up, pushed at the solid strength of his jaw, the strong form of his chin.

His knee began to move in a circular motion and within moments I felt my hips, like traitors, pushing against him. He bent his head, digging a hand into my hair, pulling through the braid and forcing my head back. He hovered briefly over my lips, before diving down and devouring me. It was harsh, his teeth clicked against my own and his tongue choked me. I fought to kiss him back. I fought to have some kind of control in that moment.

A soft moan escaped my lips when he broke the kiss. That disgusting smile covered his face again.

“Just like the rest of them, Claudia,” he rumbled.

“I’m…I’m Laura,” I whispered, rubbing tenderly at my swollen lips.

Stepping back, he raised an eyebrow, crossing his arms across his chest. “Whatever.” His laughter roared out, on its own at first, and then unexpectedly the rest of the bar erupted.  I suddenly remembered everyone else there and shame colored my cheeks as their laughter draped over me, drowning me.

Gaston held a hand out to me. “C’mon. We’ll finish this out back, Paula.”

“Laura,” I murmured, my hand slipping into his, getting lost within his huge grip.
historyofawoman.com

Herstory Lesson: Evil doesn’t always have to be bad.

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Daddy: Fiction in 50 March

I suppose I haven’t had enough of death scenes lately, so when I stumbled across this today, I knew I had to enter. Enjoy my 50 word piece of fiction:

fiction in 50

 

Daddy

He swept her into his arms, holding her to his chest. She was such a tiny beautiful thing.

“I love you, Daddy,” she whispered, and his tears dripped onto her head, a mournful baptism.

Pain shot through his chest like lightning. Her shirt grew damp with blood from his wound.

*****

Word Count: 50

The rules for participation are simple!

1. Create a piece of fictional writing in 50 words or less.

That’s it!  But for those who wish to challenge themselves further, here’s an additional rule:

2. Post your piece of flash fiction on your blog or (for those poor blog-less souls) add it as a comment on the Gargoyle’s post for everyone to enjoy. 

And for those thrill-seekers who really like to go the extra mile (ie: perfectionists):

3. Add the nifty little picture above to your post (credit for which goes entirely to ideflex over atacrossthebored.com) or create your own Fi50 meme pic….

and 4. Link back here and/or add your post to the linky list so others can jump on the mini-fic bandwagon!

Prompts for the first half of 2014 are as follows – suggestions for new or alternative prompts are always welcome! Posts can go up any time during the week (or entire month – we’re not fussy!) beginning the following dates:

The week beginning:

January 27…..The best of intentions

February 24…..Love in the Time of …….  (you fill in the blank!)

March 24….A tiny, beautiful thing

April 28….Only joking

May 26….What comes after

June 30….The upper hand

You’re welcome to pick your own topics or go along with the ones above.

Fiction in 50: think of it as the anti-NaNoWriMo experience!

Herstory Lesson: Heartbreak at least let’s us know we feel.

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Envelope on Table VII: Tipsy Lit Prompted

I hope you enjoy my entry for Tipsy Lit’s Prompted. I’m not telling you the theme, but you can click here to find out!

prompted-button

Envelope on Table VII

There was a smell in his office, like that of a perfume bottle left uncorked in the small space for weeks on end.

I slid my seat out, the leather stiff under my fingers. I had barely gotten myself settled, legs crossed at the ankles, skirt pressed down over my knees. I tugged my shirt down in place, covering the gap that appears like a smile of flesh between the waist and hemlines, when he slid the bare white envelope across the tabletop. It stopped before me, hung there frozen in time as a picture postcard, a piece of untouchable artwork: Envelope on Table VII.

“I have an address for you as well, but this was held by the adoption agency for the day you came to look for her.”

I nodded and scooped up the envelope. I reached for the paper he held out, just barely within my reach, and noted the address scrawled across it in his heavy handed script.

I evacuated the room. I was all heels and knees, tearing down the hallway to the safety of the elevator, the yellowed foyer, the glass doors, and the blessed freedom of the outside hullabaloo. I stood there, amongst the throng of people passing on their way to the shops, or lunch, or work, and ripped the envelope open.

My daughter,

There is nothing I can say that will make this easier. I can tell you how much I wished it were different, how much I wanted to keep you. I can tell you I was poor, that your father left, that I was so young. I was alone here. But none of that matters. I hope you will forgive me. I hope you will come find me. I have so much to tell you.

I love you, always.

Mother

The words ran through my mind, engraving them like braille throughout every cell and affixing to the sensitive end of each nerve. The paper with the address was in my hand and I stumbled down the block, my eyes glued to it.

18 B. Sylvia Manor

My mother.

The light flashed a big red hand and my feet skidded to a stop as the screech of tires spun around the corner. The crumpling sound of flesh on metal rang like a sonata through the streets. The hood was crushed in and blood bedazzled across the headlight. A wrinkled trench coat. A pale, lifeless hand. A mass of brown hair.

Shaken, I went home. This reunion could wait a day. In the morning, I washed my face and the last image of yesterday from my mind. I clicked on the TV and like summoning a ghost, the news anchor with the short bob of cornsilk hair spoke with indifference.

“In a tragic accident yesterday, 58 year old Susanne Green was struck and killed by a car at the corner of Madison and…”

I stared at the paper in my hand. The address. The name.

18 B. Sylvia Manor

Susanne Green

*****

Word Count: 500 (Yep, used every last one. Whew!)

A Mouse of Epic Proportions: Tipsy Lit Prompted

I hope you enjoy my short story for TipsyLit’s newest prompt, Holding Back

If you enjoyed my story, head on over and give me a vote! Click here to vote!

*****

A Mouse of Epic Proportions

“Do you hear that scratching sound?” I asked.

He grunted softly, refusing to even open his eyes. “Yeah. It’s nothing.”

“It’s that mouse, again. I saw it this morning.” She rolled onto her side, leaning to peer over the edge of the bed.

When he didn’t say anything, she rolled back over. “Hey…Can you just get it?

“I’ll get it tomorrow,” he said.

“I can’t sleep with that sound. I don’t want a mouse in here,” she complained.

His body shifted, pulling the cover along with him as he rolled away from her. The broad expanse of his back bare for her to see, as he spoke half into his pillow, “It’s like midnight thirty. Just go to sleep.”

“Why can’t you just get the damn mouse?” She bit out, pushing up onto her elbows.

“Christ, woman. I’m sleeping.”

She was fully up then, sitting high in the bed. Her fingers clasped around his shoulder, pulling him over onto his back. “Get the fucking mouse.”

“I’ll get traps tomorrow. Now shut up and sleep,” he said.

“Oh sure. When I was pregnant you got up to get me Poptarts from the store at 3 am, but I can’t get you up now to get a damn mouse,” she mumbled, pulling her fingers through the long tangles of her hair.

“It’s probably not even a mouse,” he said.

“You’d just get up and go. Anytime I asked for something. You wanted to do things for me,” she continued.

“It’s probably just the damn cat, under the bed in one of those boxes it likes to sleep in.”

“But now, now I can’t even get you to catch a mouse. Now you don’t even pay attention to me,” she fired off. Frustrated, she yanked her hair back into a messy ponytail, while he rolled back over to show her his back.

“I’ll get the fucking mouse tomorrow.”

“You don’t even kiss me right anymore. You know? Like we used to? You don’t even kiss me right when we fuck. You barely do it,” she was rambling now, her voice an explosion of small missiles.  She kicked the covers off her legs. She needed to get up, to move.

“I’ll get the traps in the morning!”

She crawled out of the bed, snapping the light on and kicking the box. The sound of skittering feet across the hardwood floor set her teeth on edge.

“You can’t even get up to help me get a mouse!” She screamed at him.

He sat up then, eyes open and bloodshot, his hair a long tangled mess.

“You aren’t pregnant anymore.”

With that she turned and opened the door. It squeaked on its hinges. Hot tears filled her eyes, bubbled over, swam down her cheeks.

He flopped back against the pillow, yanking the blanket up over his chest. “Where the hell are you going?” He asked.

“I’ve got traps under the kitchen sink…I’m going to catch a mouse.”

*****

Herstory Lesson: Don’t let the big things build up inside you. They explode out at the most inopportune of times. 

Word Count: 491

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Tipsy Lit Prompted Guidelines

Weekly Writing Challenge

I had to do this one.

Because Rarasaur did the prompt and she is awesome.

Because the prompt itself was awesome.

And because I wanted to take a moment and step outside of myself.

So I tossed myself into some fictional woman. Then I threw that woman into a very real place going through very real things that have never really happened in that place.

Did I lose you yet?

Good.

This entire piece is about being lost. It’s dark and dangerous and it came from that part of my mind that even Norman is afraid of.

Enjoy, while I go coax that hairy barbarian out from behind Ellie’s dressing table.

Operation: To the Teeth

The sun is setting on the century and we are armed to the teeth. The lyrics of Ani DiFranco’s gritty music filled my head, setting the theme song for the backdrop that I was coming to know so well. There’s an order to things. A specific set of gradual occurrences that succeed tragedy, grief, destruction, invasion. Yes, it had been an invasion, as difficult as that may be to believe. That was the first occurrence: the doubt.

            We didn’t feel the ground shaking, hear the pat-pat-pat of machine gun fire, or see the rolling tracks of tanks rip the ground to shreds beneath their tread. I was washing dishes at the sink, staring out the small window that overlooked my backyard, a swing-set, the cornfield. My children were playing in the sandbox outside, performing acts of God and moving mountains with little effort or thought to the consequences. My husband was watching TV.

            That’s how we knew it. The electric flashed and the TV shut off. That in itself wasn’t much to be concerned about. Two birds could sit on a wire and knock our electric out. The flash only lasted long enough to knock the dish out briefly and then the TV was back and blaring. A long steady beep screamed from the speakers and I waited for the words, “This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System.” Instead, I heard a mechanical voice telling us, the people, to hold for the President of the United States.

            The video feed was not from the Oval Office. There was no comfy leather chair, no stars and stripes to fill the background. There was our President, worry and anger battling for the right to carve lines in his face, to spread from his thin pressed lips and to spiral out from his wide-set eyes.

            Doubt always comes first. No one believes it. The ego kicks in and the first thought is always, “Who would dare?” “Who would do this?” “Why would they want to?” All those questions are followed by the immediate reaction of, “We’ll be fine.” “They’ll call in the military.” “No one can beat us in a fight.”

            This is by far the longest part of the entire affair. The season of doubt washes across the country like a second-coming of the black plague. It eats everyone alive, but takes forever to go away. In its wake, we were left with anger, hatred, and fuel for a fight. The men disappeared. One by one they went off, recruited by their country or simply egging for a fight. Who knew? Who cared? We needed them and they went.

            And now we’re here, and those gradual occurrences are coming at a faster rate. See, once the doubt is gone, once the men have run off to defend their egos, their families, their possessions, their homes, their freedom…everything else falls into place very quickly.

            We’re tossed back into a medieval society, with no electric, no running water, no heat. Our money becomes far more useful as kindling for a fire, or toilet paper. It’s a barter and trade society again and it’s like we’ve been thrown back, back, back. I’ve got the best commodity around. Everyone can take it, but it can’t be stolen. It’s like my own personal Sphinx riddle and it is a tragedy that my daughter carries the same currency.

            Every right women ever fought for is gone. There is no one there to protect them, and so they are victims and protectors all at once. They become prey even as they provide. So we learn our purpose again:

            The men come in broken and we heal them.

            The men come in broken and we feed them.

            The men come in broken and we lie down, spread our legs, and let them break us.

Yes, women have found their place again, but at least we found a system of money that works. So we lose a piece of our soul, but our children are fed. They need to be strong for this world we’re making, breaking.

            I should have done as the others. I should have skirted the cities on my way North. The North has become a beacon of safety, a haven for the lost. I wonder if they’ll have closed the gates by the time we get there. I’ve never seen Niagara. I’ve never seen much of anything. My tiny life in my tiny, rural town was all I had ever known. Finally, after years of staring at the pages of travel magazines, I had the opportunity to see the world around me.

Regardless, I was foolish, but I wanted to see it. I had a postcard shoved in my pocket. I’d grown up surrounded by fields of corn and soybean, by deep rooted forests and gravel drives. I wanted to see buildings that touched the sky, that reached their sturdy fingers up to stroke the underside of the clouds.

            I remember pulling the postcard out and staring at it as we approached. I must have been around the same distance as the person who shot the original photograph. None of it was there. Rockefeller, Chrysler, Trump, Empire. They were all gone. I looked at the crease that was a white bolt of lightning through the middle of my postcard. It touched the top of the World Trade Center and drove right through the middle of the towers. Those had been gone long before today, another tragedy from another time. It seemed a million years ago.

            The purple mountains majesty was blocked by billowing columns of smoke and ash. There were no amber waves of grain, only the charred remains left behind by a foreign army. We never saw it coming and from sea to shining sea lay the remains of capitalism, democracy, America the beautiful.

            I feel a weight shift and briefly, for a moment, I can breathe again. Then there is another weight, and the hair is prickly and sharp as it rubs against my chest. He’s wider and my thighs are crushed down against the cold concrete of a dilapidated Macy’s store. Sweat is beading on his chin and dripping down onto my forehead like some sort of Chinese water torture and I’m floating away again. I’m lying here while men I don’t know are pumping away inside me, pouring their anger, disgust, and hate into me, using me for a moment to feel like maybe they’re in control again. They’re not, and perhaps because I know it, and they know I know it, they push harder and harder every time.

            I have no idea where my husband is. The only men I see are my own countrymen, running and fleeing to the North as quickly as we are. I don’t even know where my President is, or if he even is anymore. I know that I have three more to go before I get a loaf of bread. I know yesterday I earned a scoop of peanut butter that someone had shoved into little baggies. It’s the new drug deal of our century and I keep it shoved inside my bra for safety. I know that tonight my children will eat well and I only have three more to go, or two now. I think this one is done.

            Ani’s words drift through my head and I hear another girl crying nearby. Her tears form the melody to the tune and when a hand smashes my face to the side, holding me to the floor, I sing, “We’re all working together now…to make our lives mercifully brief…”