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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Weekly Visit

July 12, 2019

We avoid looking at each other.

He stares at the floor, his eyes not seeing the worn wood grain or the edges of dust creeping into sight from under the furniture. My eyes run laps around the room, no longer noticing the unmoved books and tiny mementos of a life now receding into the crumbling memories of his mind.

Click click click

The overhead fan keeps time, reminding us of each passing second. The chain hits a single light shade with a steady violence, distracting me as I ponder how the fan does not break from its thin metal anchor and spin through the living room window. The dam in my chest breaks as if the propelled fan had driven into my heart, and I stand with buzzing anxiety.

He doesn’t move. Not a look. Not a twitch.

The bookcase draws me, her figurines tempting my restless fingers. I pick up an angel, her shoulders brown with neglect.

“Do. Not. Touch,” his words ring out like gun shots, startling me. My fingers dance, trying to keep the delicate porcelain from cracking against the shelf before easing the angel back onto its clean spot amidst the grey blanket of disregard.

“You know, I can clean…,” I squeak past the lump that forms in my throat every time I walk past the house’s threshold.

“No! Leave me alone!”

His red eyes stare at me from below his unkempt hair, his hand bringing down the now empty tumbler hard on his TV tray.

I visualize shouting at him, full of adult anger and frustration, to pull himself out of his whiskey cloud and accept that she is gone. I imagine balling up my fists, stomping my feet, and screaming at the top of my lungs like a petulant five-year old that he is a selfish bastard and not the only one in pain. I envision throwing my arms around his legs like a little girl, sobbing out my heartbreak as I beg for him to see that I miss her too, with every cell in my body.

Instead, I clear my throat. I look at the clock on the wall. I put my hands in my pockets. I pace around the room, trying to run away from memories that stare at me from every object and catch me in every corner. His eyes return to the floor, his fingers twitching on his glass.

“Um, well,” I whisper against the clink of the chain and his rejection.

“Isn’t it time for you to go,” he states, releasing me from my indecision.

“Yeah,” I pull myself together, “I put enough food for the week in the fridge, and your snacks are in the pantry. I leave for a business trip on Wednesday, but I will be back Friday and will come by Saturday.”

I pick up my keys and walk towards the door. My back receives his reply, “don’t bother.”

Taking a deep breath I call out, “I love you, Dad,” before closing the solid front door against sounds of a television coming to life.

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.