Thursday, November 7, 2013
Today's muse: After twelve years in funeral service and being married to an undertaker, the death of a friend still hurts.
* * *
I was told today that a friend chose to take his own life on Friday.
Admittedly, we’re not close friends. After all, if we were, I would have known before today. In my heart, I know there is little I could have done to prevent this, but it still saddens me. Matthew was a vibrant spirit, always smiling, always laughing. I keep thinking I could have talked to him, I could have listened.
He pronounced my name the way my father does, and I knew then, he was a fellow French Canadian. From that moment, our conversations were in French.
Tall and lanky, he had sandy hair that hung past his shoulders, usually pulled back in a neat tail. I saw him shortly after he cut it all off, saddened that he’d lost his Surfer Dude look. Coincidentally, just days before, I had also cut off all mine. When we saw each other, we laughed and had a great conversation about how liberated we now were, which quickly evolved into a serious discussion on shampoo volume and conditioner. Most conversations deviated to trash talk and harmless flirting, though we both knew I wasn’t his type.
I know the colours aren’t as bright today, and I don’t imagine they will be for a while, but I know the next time I see a rainbow, it will be Matthew, telling me all is well.
While he was with us, he may have felt pain, and perhaps his scars never quite healed, but I am confident he is happy in Summerland and look forward to seeing him again, when it is my time.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
I am a legal secretary with a large law firm. One of the reasons I like working here is that the firm promotes the creativity of its employees. For instance, Re: the magazine is published twice a year, available to all employees worldwide as well as our clients. The publication showcases the diversity of talent within our firm: philanthropists, world travellers, photographers and writers.
Issue 4 had a writing competition. Using the three words provided (earth, spring, paper), write exactly one hundred words (no more, no less...we are a law firm, after all).
My submission, Paper Flowers, is the featured story in Issue 5.
Click on the link to view the full publication (I think the editor selected the perfect picture to accompany it) and read other published prose.
Re:, Issue 5, page 54
* * *
Evelyn Fischer visits her son every day; shows up each morning with a basket of fresh flowers and her best trowel. As she tends his tiny garden, Evelyn updates Nathan with family news.
Prattling on about his daughter’s new tooth and his son’s school recital, she yanks out weeds that seem to spring up overnight. She digs shallow craters in the moist earth, then selects new buds from her basket and replaces every bloom.
I asked her once why she wastes her time planting paper flowers.
Her milky, grey eyes shifted to mine.
“Because they can’t die,” she said.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
I've been sitting on this for a while. I can't even remember what the prompt was, but I'm sure it was related to a bad day.
* * *
He took the scenic route home, stopped at three different pharmacies and one liquor store. As an afterthought, Nate pulled into the convenience store next to his complex. He hadn’t smoked in years, but he needed one tonight.
That and a fucking drink.
Balancing too many paper bags filled with bottles, he managed to unlock the door to his unit, let the door click shut behind him. Without taking off his shoes, Nate went to the kitchen, set the bags on the counter.
With meticulous care, he lined up every bottle on the counter, adjusting them so their labels faced forward, arranged in size from Jack Daniels to prescription cylinder.
He wasn’t a religious man, but he was well aware that taking a life had repercussions. If you believed the Christians—and he couldn’t say he did—you had to know that if you weren’t punished in this life, there would be hell to pay in the next.
Well, he wouldn’t be the only one punished, that was for damn sure. After all, he wasn’t the one found in a compromising position.
Last night, he’d stood frozen in the doorway of his bedroom—their bedroom—unable to speak, unable to move. He watched the scene unfold before him, as though his eyes were propped open in some horrid aversion therapy. If only Beethoven’s Ninth were playing, it would have drowned out the sickening slap of skin against skin.
Instead, he was transfixed, eyes locked on the two of them: Amanda with her face pressed into the feather pillow, perfect round ass up in the air, and Phil—his best friend since middle school—ramming into her from behind.
Nate twisted open the child-proof pill bottles, cracked open the bottles of whiskey. He threw back a shot of Jack.
Better. Downed another. Much better.
He poured the pills out onto the kitchen table, pushed them around, making intricate designs. Taking another shot of JD, he rubbed one between his fingers, enjoyed how the smooth tablet rolled back and forth. Pulling apart the capsule, he let the powder trickle onto the table into a tiny rose-hued anthill. Too small, he thought, so he broke open a few more.
After staring at the scant pile, he decided on using all the pills. He wanted it to be quick. And final.
He poured the powder into the bottle of Wild Turkey. Any discoloration would be masked by the amber liquid. Not that it mattered, of course. There’s no question it would be consumed. He swept the empty capsules into his hand, took them to the bathroom and flushed them down the toilet. Less chance of resuscitation if they couldn’t find the source. He tossed the empty cylinders into the trash and dropped the bag down the garbage chute.
He was just about to pour himself another shot of Jack when he heard the front door open.
“What the fuck are you doing here, Amanda?”
She stood in the doorway, the strap of her dress hanging off one shoulder, her lips curved up in invitation. “Can we talk?”
Not waiting for an answer, she pushed the door closed, brushed past him and breezed into the kitchen. She turned a pouty look at him. “You were partying without me?”
“Isn’t that what you were doing last night?”
She ran a finger down his chest. “Don’t be like that.” Her tongue flicked out, ran across her top lip. She hummed as her eyes dipped down to his mouth. “We can party together now.” She brushed against him and he could tell she wasn’t wearing a bra. Any other time, he’d have her spread on the kitchen table by now.
He gripped her arm. “Leave, Amanda.”
She spun away, the coy smile still playing on her painted lips. “Let’s have a drink.” She picked up the bottle of Wild Turkey. “You know this is my favourite.”
“It’s not for you.”
Her perfectly shaped brow arched up. “Really?” She glanced around the kitchen. “You’re expecting someone else?”
No, he wasn’t, but that wasn’t the point. “Just leave, Amanda. I want to drink alone.”
“Oh, baby. You don’t need to be alone. I had a moment of weakness. Let me show you how sorry I am.” She pressed against him and his traitorous cock responded. Her grin was triumphant. “See, everyone wants to party.”
She nipped at his jaw then stepped away to unscrew the bottle. She poured a shot, lifted it. “Cheers.”
“Amanda, don’t.” He was sure he said the words out loud, was certain he lunged forward to smack the glass out of her hand.
Instead, her eyes grew wide with shock and comprehension when she tossed back the shot, then she slumped to the floor.
Well, he thought, that was much easier than planned.
Monday, June 17, 2013
I'm spending most of my time finishing my novel, and I feel guilty that I haven't been writing here. I thought if I started a new series, it will motivate me.
Alex's series is inspired by a true, on-going story (not mine). I don't know how it will end (neither does Alex*), but I hope I can write a happy ending for her.
*Names have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty.
* * *
Glancing at her watch, Alex noted she had two hours before she had to pick up the boys from school. They both had basketball practice tonight, then she was dropping off Jason for a sleepover at Wayne’s, and taking Simon to stay over at Ethan’s.
Finally a quiet night, she thought as she unloaded the dryer, just her and Ken.
And maybe—oh, please god—they’d have sex. She couldn’t remember the last time Ken had been interested. Then again, it’s not like he was home much.
He stayed late most evenings, went into the office on the weekend. His job was demanding, but money was tight, so the raise that came with this new position was a welcome relief. Maybe they’d stop arguing about money. Then again, they’d been arguing so damn long, she didn’t know if they knew how to play nice.
She folded gym shorts, paired sweat socks. She could remember a faraway time when they were each other’s best friend. They stayed up late just holding hands, knew what the other was thinking.
What happened? she wondered.
Ken had called to this morning to say he wanted to talk. Good. So did she. The kids would be finishing high school soon. They could start planning their retirement to Arizona, buy that RV they wanted, just spend some time getting to know each other again. They would snuggle on the sofa, plan their future. And things would be better. She knew it would. It always was.
Alex swung the laundry basket onto her hip, went upstairs. She was in Jason’s room when she heard the front door open then close.
“In here,” she called out.
When Ken stood in the doorway, she looked up at him, her face already smiling, looking forward to a romantic weekend.
Her lips sagged when he didn’t smile back.
“What?” she said. The moment the word left her mouth, she regretted saying them. Later, she’d ask herself what would have happened if she hadn’t asked?
Ken reached out, gripped the door handle until his knuckles turned white.
“I want a divorce,” he said.
Without giving her a chance to reply, he closed the door behind him.
Alex stood in their oldest son’s bedroom, a pair of balled socks in one hand. Through the deafening thunder in her ears, she heard the front door slam shut.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Just came back from Vegas. It's beautiful and sad; a study in spiritual contrast.
* * *
The bright lights of The Strip focus on nubile women who undulate and weave among firm, muscled men; spotlighting tight bodies that press against one another in unbridled invitation.
The delicate tinkle of laughter floats through the night sky and wraps around you, caresses and fondles, until you are giddy with need. The steady hum of voices is like a lover’s throaty promise against your ear. You ache to reach out, hold it close and pull it inside, ride it until you reach the summit.
Sex and greed is what most come to see. Vegas is careful to hold its lights away from the shadows. It never penetrates the fog where its homeless souls reside. Lined, leathered faces relay stories that no tour guide will sell. At one time, they strolled with the beautiful people; now they slither among the fallen, clutching handwritten cardboard signs that plead for money and salvation.
But it’s the eerie snap of cardboard that drags you back to reality, slams you down to earth and tears away the veil. The flick of fingers on photos: pictures of beautifully airbrushed women with breasts molded by gods, their taut nipples strategically covered with pretty stars.
Mute Barkers, capture attention with a practiced snap that releases a high-pitched crack. From one man to another, the hand-over is discreet, with barely a knowing nod. And in the privacy of an over-priced hotel room, you flip through the stack, like coveted baseball cards, while the lights of The Strip taunt you through the hotel window.
Got it. Had it. Want it. Need it.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
I grew up in a small town. Though it now has a liquor store (maybe more than one), it was a dry town then. And we did have a contact who'd hook us up if we needed a two-four for a party. I'm pretty sure he was harmless. Then again, I did move away quite some time ago...
* * *
It’s a dry town; the closest liquor store is a twenty-minute drive. Not at all conducive to spontaneous field parties. But if you know Mr. Fischer, and you slip him a carton of Belvedere, he’ll set you up with a two-four of Canadian. Even trade.
“Just don’t tell your dad,” he says every time, as he steals a glance over his shoulder, as though he expects to see someone’s father standing right behind him. “If he finds out, he’ll kill me.”
The way Mr. Fischer talks, you’d think our tiny hamlet is populated with serial killers. Everyone is out to kill him.
“We won’t say a word, Mr. Fischer.” It’s the same promise from every one of us. After all, who are we going to tell? Old Man Fischer is our local LCBO.
He hooked me up with a bottle of white wine last month when I turned seventeen. It got me to second base with Angela Watson; probably would have made home plate if her dad hadn’t caught us.
I took her out to Miller’s Pond that night; took the paved road that runs east off the two-lane highway. It veers north and eventually becomes a dirt road. Just before you get to the pond, well before the road ends, there’s a narrow lane that disappears behind a thick stand of trees. I drove my Impala back there, barely had it in park before Angela crawled across the bench seat and straddled my lap.
Soft curves filled my hands, hard lips devoured mine. She rocked against me as the music screamed out of the speakers and our heat fogged the windows.
If I’d been thinking, if every drop of blood in my brain wasn’t then residing in my cock, I might have heard the car, might have noticed the headlights.
My door opened and Mr. Watson’s beefy hand grabbed Angela’s arm and yanked her out. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the rage in his eyes, how he threatened me, threatened Angela, hell, he even threatened Old Man Fischer when he found out he was the one who’d supplied us with the booze.
Hey, come to think of it, I haven’t seen Mr. Fischer in a few days.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
As they say, truth is stranger than fiction. And my friends will attest that I'll talk to just about anyone.
Standing at the café counter, waiting for my coffee and danish, I listen to the sound system play a catchy Gypsy Kings tune. It spirals me back to my recent Mexican vacation. My hips take on a life of their own and cha-cha-cha to the music.
The man in line beside me laughs and I turn to him, cha-cha-cha-ing, eyes wide, big smile: “It’s just like being on vacation!”
His smile disappears and he growls: “No it is not!”
“You’re right,” I say, glancing at my watch, “it’s ten o'clock in the morning. If I was on vacation, I’d have a drink in my hand.”
He points his finger-gun at me. “Exactly!”
He appears angry as he scoops up his take-away coffee and marches off. I feel a wave of pity for him, until I see his hips sway.
He looks back and smiles.
Baile, señor! Baile!
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Today's muse: One Minute Writer
Today's prompt: Exercise
* * *
I look down at the digital numbers. I want to believe the scale is broken, but I know it’s not.
I sigh and leave the bathroom. I find my husband in the den, reclining on the sofa. “We need to start exercising,” I announce.
He bolts up. “What?” He has a look of horror on his face; as though I’ve just announced that I birthed a giraffe and I plan to name it Darryl. “Why?”
I pat my hips. “Are you kidding? Look at us. We need to start jogging.”
Jogging. Final answer.
He flicks his hand, lays back on the sofa. “I don’t think so.”
“Why in the world would anyone want to run if they weren’t being chased?”
Oh. Good point.
I sit beside him on the sofa. “Pass the chips.”
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Over the years, I have managed to convince myself that my life is much better than it would have been had I made a different decision. I was at the beginning of a great journey, aching to discover unseen worlds, and you were going to change everything—be in the way.
I couldn't hold onto you. And yet, I couldn't let you be with anyone else.
I will always wonder if I was selfish to end your voyage before it even began. After all, another family would have loved you just as much.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
We all have people in our lives that annoy us to no end. I have a few. Too many, some might say.
* * *
It's About Me
Your jaw has expanded to mammoth proportions, simply to allow you to speak out both sides. We've paid the contractor a premium to widen the door jams, which should make it easier for you to walk around with your enormous ego.
Contrary to what you may think, the sun doesn’t shine out your ass; though it may balance quite well on the stick you have rammed up there.
You are not all that, nor are you a bag of chips (though, if you were, you'd be sour-cream-and-onion...I hate sour-cream-and-onion).
Get over yourself, honey--it’s not all about you.
Everyone knows it’s about me.
Friday, April 12, 2013
Part three of three in the Colour saga. All true...you can't make up this kind of stuff!
No doubt, one day, there will be a part four. Most likely a part five.
* * *
Killing time while waiting for a car part for my Honda Civic Si, we wander through the show room, admiring the shiny colours and gleaming chrome of my Honda's brothers and sisters.
It isn't long before a salesman pounces on us like a feral cat.
“Is there something I can show you?” he asks, all but wringing his hands.
I wander over to a CRV and admire the colour.
“It’s a wonderful shade of blue,” I breathe.
My husband lays a hand on my shoulder and, in an apologetic tone, says to the salesman: “She’s colour blind.”
I throw him a questioning look and he says, in a tone reserved for explaining difficult concepts to children, “It’s green, dear.”
The salesman stares at me, forces his lips into a shallow smile. His pasty face shifts into an expression of solemn pity, as though my inability to differentiate between green and blue is a tragic handicap that will diminish my quality of life.
"Too, bad," I say to Chris. "If only it were blue."
Knowing the ruse, Chris plays along.
He shrugs. "Maybe next time." And he leads me away to the parts counter.
I glance back, and Mr. Slick's smile is now a thin line.
"Blue that, buddy."
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Part two of three.
* * *
My high school art teacher was eccentric. That's a nice way of saying he was a lunatic.
I'm not being disrespectful. I adored him. As did most of his students. We still do. I think all artists should be a little crazy. Perhaps not to the extreme of hacking off your ear and mailing it to a hooker, but a little looney is good.
Mr. Blaise would wander around the classroom, winding his way around desks and students. He'd stop by my easel and exclaim, in his lisp: “The trees, the trees…they speak to me!”
It didn’t surprise me that he’d get a woody, as it were, over the trees. He was, after all, a crazy artist. I didn’t think much of it at the time.
But after discovering, quite by accident, that I am colour blind, I pulled out my high school art portfolio, and sifted through some old paintings. It was clear why Mr. Blaise was so excited about my work.
All my trees were painted varying shades of blue.
Turns out, I've been doing this since I was a kid. All the trees in my colouring books: blue. All the trees finger painted (wearing one of my dad's old work shirts as a smock) in Mrs. Van Dyke's Grade One class: blue.
I was stunned. Why hadn't anyone said anything?
I asked my mother why she and my dad didn't tell me I was colouring all my trees blue.
She gave me an absent pat on the head.
"We thought you were just being creative, dear."