Unabridged Me

JUST ANOTHER WRITER

Morning Routine

August 13, 2019

She takes a sip and cringes.

Coffee is cold. She debates pouring a fresh cup, knowing she wastes at least 3/4 of the coffee she brews every morning. With a sigh, she stands to pour herself more, if only for routine comfort.

Hearing sounds of movement upstairs, she glances at the clock. The nighttime symphony of crickets was replaced hours ago with a chorus of waking birds. Now even the birds are hushed as the day heats up outside. Moving towards the fridge, she looks towards the family room windows, just to make sure she remembered to close up the house. An almost empty fridge offers up and takes back the milk from her hand, and she drags her willpower as she moves around the kitchen.

He coughs. She pauses.

The coughing subsides, replaced by her hand clinking the spoon against her mug’s edge. The fridge clunks as ice is pushed into the door bin, and she takes a sip. Lukewarm. She grimaces and disposes of the mug, the ceramic against porcelain echo going unnoticed as a plane flies overhead.

Her eyes pull towards the microwave clock again. She sighs. The vacuum of time sucks at her as the house settles back into the quiet hum of appliances. He is shuffling upstairs, starting his wheezing decent onto the main floor.

She looks at the breakfast waiting for him on the tv tray. Also cold. His days are starting later, and time is moving slower. She tries to coax minutes into moving by wiping the counter for a third time while his slippered feet scrape the hallway towards her. She turns as he steps into the kitchen, her expressionless face open to his weary one.

“Good morning,” she says, careful to not let him hear concern, though her eyes search his face and body for clues.

“Arhmf.” His response is part cough and part grumble as his cloudy eyes search the spotless counters.

“Next to your recliner.”

“Thanks,” he huffs, turning into the family room, “and my tea?”

“Same. Do you want me to heat them for you?”

“No.”

He sits down, the leather creaking under his shifting weight. Another coughing fit causes her muscles to tense, preparing her to move in a heartbeat. The hacking halts, followed by shuddering breaths and throat clearing. She leans against the counter, waiting. His breathing returns to normal, and she relaxes.

He falls asleep, and the silence deepens. Her eyes drift towards the window over the sink, watching trees move with muted wind. She pulls oxygen deep into her lungs, turning to look at the digital clock before letting the air murmur past her lips. The stillness of a tomb pushes at her eardrums.

She picks up the kitchen rag, wiping at the counter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Testing the Water

July 20, 2019

*** Once again I am participating in NYC Midnight’s flash fiction challenge. The assigned flash fiction is romance/reservoir/bagel, and I had 48 hours to write the story. Feedback is always welcome and wanted. Please enjoy!*** 

Synopsis: A woman learns to trust her intuition and the potential of love from an unexpected source.

The ceiling fan clicks above me, doing little to cool my heated skin.

I hear his panting slow as my own breathing returns to normal. For a few minutes I lay still, unwilling to disturb the rare quiet in my mind. As my internal monologue restarts, I am stuck with awkward indecision. Do I stretch my limbs and succumb to sleep that is pushing at my consciousness, or do I slide out of his bed and fake confidence as I pull on my clothes? Choosing the safest option, I sit up and lean towards the edge of the mattress.

“Please, don’t go,” he whispers, placing his hand on the small of my back.

I shove down the giggle that bubbles up from my stomach, lying down and curling up on my side facing away from him. He scoots closer but leaves space, the only contact between us is his hand resting on my waist. My back relaxes, and soon I am asleep.

***

“It’s time you get on with your life, get out and date,” Gillian says, “You wasted five years with Jack, don’t waste any more.”

I meet my best friend’s eyes across the picnic table before breaking contact to look around the party. In general, I don’t like spending time at reservoirs. The water smells, and people mingle in chaos with the ability to disappear without warning.

“I’m over Jack. That’s not the problem,” I reply, “The problem is I don’t trust my intuition, and I don’t trust people. Trust is kind of important.”

Gillian sighs before saying, “yes, you are right. But how do you starting swimming again if you refuse to get within 100 feet of the water?”

***

“Hey, how are you?” he asks, leaning over me.

I want to answer that I don’t know what to do with my body, that I am a bundle of anxiety, that my heart is going to run from my chest and hop a train far away from him.

Instead, I answer, “I’m good.”

“You hungry?” he asks, searching my face and staying on his side of the bed as I try to hide my face from his eyes.

Those eyes. Those amber orbs that make the world disappear. Those golden irises that shine from his olive-skinned face like sunshine glinting off quartz in beach sand. I glance up at him and smile, nodding my consent. He flashes his dimples, then his eyebrows come together in a slight frown.

“You’ll be here when I get back?”

I nod again.

***

“What about him?” Gillian asks, pointing as she warms up to her new game.

“Nah, lunkhead,” I reply, barely looking.

“Okay, what about him?”

I roll my eyes at Gillian, tiring of her insistent desire that I have a one-night stand to dip my toe into the water. I stop listening to her as she rambles about the positive attributes of each male, my eyes scanning the ever-increasing crowd with a sense of dread. I notice a group that just beached their catamaran, and I watch them pull their sails and wrestle the sailboat further up the beach.  One man looks in my direction, and I am arrested by a pair of eyes looking into my soul.

“Him,” I whisper.

Gillian stops mid-sentence to look towards the boat. She looks at me, and then back at him, before shaking her head.

“No, absolutely not.”

“Why not?” I ask, struggling to turn my attention back to her.

“He’s not a dip your toe kind of guy,” she replies, shaking her head, “he’s a jump in the middle of the ocean with no lifeboat or life jacket kind of guy.”

I don’t hear her warning.

***

After 15 minutes of tossing and turning, a knot forming in my stomach, I get out of bed and put on my clothes. I walk around his apartment; self-consciously aware I am a stranger. I pick up a photograph of a younger him, his arms around a young woman with them looking at each other and laughing. My heart hopes she is a sister or a childhood friend, but the tiny voice gains ground and whispers it’s a girlfriend.

I move past the photographs, trying to avoid the feeling like I’m intruding on his life. I read the spines of books. I look out the window. I stare at the microwave clock, willing time to pass. I try to not listen to the voice saying he is regretting me, he is regretting his choice, he is taking a long time hoping I will give up and leave before he gets back. The anxiety becomes too much, and I grab my purse.

I hear the key in the door, and I freeze.

He walks into the apartment, unaware of me for the first few moments, and I watch him as he deadbolts the door and moves into the kitchenette. He feels my gaze and looks towards me. In one moment, his glance takes in my body posture and purse.

“Leaving?” he asks, his brows furrowing.

“Um, I wasn’t sure,” I stutter.

“Here, I have bagels and coffee,” he offers, lifting the drink carrier in his hand towards the bag he put on the counter.

“What kind?” I ask, moving through molasses as the air in the room thickens.

“You seem like an Everything kind of girl,” he replies, watching me.

Something pops in my chest, and my lungs pull in air for the first time since I woke up. I grin, avoiding his eyes.

“How did you guess?”

He shrugs. I move closer to the bagels, the smell of freshly baked bread and caffeine warming my stomach. He hands me one of the coffees, his fingers brushing mine. As I take my first sip, I close my eyes and sigh with contentment. When I open them, he is in front of me. He leans forward and gives me a gentle kiss on my lips.

“Thanks for staying.”

I relax into his eyes and smile.

Writing and Rejection

April 4, 2018

It’s inevitable. Rejection is a way of life for authors.

Once in awhile an author has an amazing, unbelievable debut novel that blows everyone out of the water. These novels are published immediately to great acclaim. I can’t think of one now, but I don’t want to exclude the possibility.

However, for most of us writing means rejection.

Last week writers around the world received results in Round 1 of a short story contest. I entered, along with 4000+ other writers. And all but 700 received news they would not be moving forward.

Me included.

During the six weeks between submission and results, I vacillated between absolute certainty I would get into Round 2 and complete belief I would not progress. The second belief proved accurate.

I won’t lie; I was devastated at first.

After talking with friends who write, and people who care, I slowly processed my disappointment. I worked my way through the pain of hearing you are good, but not good enough.

The contest provides feedback from the judges, giving an opportunity for growth and development. The additional information gave me data points of strengths, as well as ways I can make the story stronger.

Also, I came face to face with an aspect of me. My perfectionism gets in the way of trying, of putting myself out there. Constantly. In turn, I am sensitive to critical feedback and rejection of my writing.

Critical feedback and rejection will be an aspect of my life for as long as I write.

There is no going back regarding the choice to write, so I will have to grow up a little. Work on my sensitive nature. Review rejection stats until they are ingrained in my head.

That will take some time.

The important piece is to keep bitterness at bay, remaining open to any opportunity. For now I will look for more contests and continue on my WIP: a short story collection.

Which is why Jack found himself, irritated and exhausted, about to enter a yoga studio. He avoided these places, shops where most personnel were holograms or humanoid. A tall blond looked up from the receptionist desk as Jack moved into the space filled with woods and incense.