Sunday, December 27, 2009


Today's muse: Sunday Scribblings

* * *


Her auburn curls whirled around her freckled cheeks, teased by the breeze, as she stepped off the school bus. Adjusting her backpack over her right shoulder, she glanced around, searching. He knew she was looking for her friends, but he couldn’t deny that he hoped she was looking for him. Several deep conversations over tuna sandwiches in the cafeteria discussing school gossip surely must mean something.

Her eyes danced from face to face, then came to rest on his. His heart raced as his dark eyes locked with those enormous blue orbs. Her cheeks pinked and she glanced down, then looked back up at him, gave him a shy smile. He grinned back.

She made her way toward him, wading through the crowd. He waited, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, wondering if he looked cooler standing more on his left leg. He tried standing with one hand in his pocket, then out, finally opting to hold his books with both hands.

She stood in front of him, peering up through her thick lashes. She wore a light dusting of pale blue eye shadow today. Yesterday, it was brown.

“Hi.” She caught her bottom lip between her teeth; what he now recognized as a nervous habit.


The bell rang its five minute warning.

She shrugged. “I should get to class.” He nodded.

She stood up on her toes and pressed a quick kiss on his lips. “Bye!” And she was gone, swallowed by the swarm of students on their way to home room.

He ran his tongue across his top lip and tasted her cherry lip gloss. Delicious!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Memère Rosa

Today's muse:

As mentioned previously, I was given the privilege of reading my stories on the Radio Show "Life Rattle". The third and final story I read was "Memère Rosa", written specifically for the show.

* * *

Memère Rosa

Our house sizzled with excitement whenever Memère and Pepère announced they were coming for a visit. When I was a child, Memère would bring two things with her from Sudbury: homemade date squares and money. The date squares were for me and my little brother; the money, for playing cards.

Every evening, once dinner was done, after the table was cleared and the dishes washed, the adults would regroup and play cards late into the night. The game of choice was usually pinochle or euchre, and sometimes both, but always played for money. Not a lot of money—only dimes and nickels—but money nonetheless.

“There’s no point in playing cards if you’re not playing for money.” Memère was firm on this.

Even Yahtzee was played for money. Mom and Memère spent the afternoons rolling dice, filling in the tiny squares on the score sheet and exchanging coins.

Approaching one hundred, my grandmother still plays cards. And wins. Regularly. We’re not quite sure how she cheats. We haven’t yet caught her in the act. She’s a sly old bird.

To celebrate Memère’s ninety-ninth birthday, the entire family gathers at her nursing home: her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild—five generations of rowdy French-Canadians in one room.

In the centre of it all sits Memère in her favourite rose-coloured wing chair. Her back straight and knees together, she sits with her hands folded primly in her lap. She wears a royal blue dress and pink nail polish. Earrings wink at her lobes and a broach sparkles below her left shoulder. She rests like a queen upon her throne, receiving her loyal subjects who bestow kisses on her paper-thin cheeks.

She hasn’t dressed up for the occasion, this is how she dresses all the time. She always looks ready for a party. Most often seen in a dress or a skirt, her hair and nails are always perfectly done. Even today—approaching one hundred—she is dressed for visitors, including her earrings and ever-present broach.

I watch Memère as she sits in her chair. In her gnarled hands, she clutches a small white leather pouch. I know immediately what it is, for I have one just like it. My own white leather pouch, embossed with a gold cross, sits in my dresser drawer at home. Inside it is the pink rosary Memère made for me for my First Holy Communion. It doesn’t surprise me that Memère holds it today. She attends Mass every Sunday without fail and still receives Communion each week from the visiting priest at the nursing home.

Alone for a moment, Memére’s sharp eyes wander over the group until they come to rest on me. Her mouth curves up in a serene smile and she winks. I excuse myself from a conversation with my dad and cousin Sue and wander over.

Kneeling in front of Memère, I lay my smooth hand over her wrinkled, crooked fingers. I glance down at the white leather pouch clutched reverently in her hands. “What’s in the pouch, Memère?” I gesture with my chin at her hands.

I know she says her rosary regularly. I imagine the string of beads in her white leather pouch are worn from years of use, and I want to see them again. I want to hold those ancient beads in my hand as she has done so many times before me.

Memère glances around the room at her family. She leans forward and whispers, “There’s a lot of people here today.”

I nod my head, prompting her to continue.

Her eyes sparkle with excitement. “We might play cards later. I’m ready.”

She gives the white leather pouch a little shake and, rather than hearing the expected tinkle of rosary beads, I hear the distinct jingle of coins.

A wide grin crosses my face and I think to myself…I want to be just like her when I grow up.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Grandma's Quilt

Today's muse:

As mentioned previously, I was given the privilege of reading my stories on the Radio Show "Life Rattle". The second story I read was "Grandma's Quilt", a slight re-write of the piece by the same name.

* * *

Grandma's Quilt

“You will put it on your marital bed.” It was a command, rather than a request, as Grandma lay the handmade quilt in my lap. She shrugged.

“Of course, not on the first night. You won’t need a blanket then.” She winked and I felt the heat blaze across my face. This was not the kind of conversation you had with your grandmother!

“What?” Her eyebrows shot up and disappeared beneath her grey fringe. “You think I’m too old to think of such things.” She wagged a finger at me. “Let me tell you something...”

I groaned. Please, I begged to whatever deity may be listening, don’t let her paint too vivid a picture.

She lowered herself beside me on the sofa and arranged the colourful quilt over our laps. Her hand, twisted with painful arthritis, caressed the bright starbursts. The tiny hand-sewn stitches were evenly spaced, despite Grandma’s failing eyesight and limited mobility.

“Each star is balanced. The points spread out, but they are anchored in the center.” She smiled at me. “Just like you and Philip,” and she covered my smooth hand with her wrinkled one. We were both keenly aware of the contrast, but said nothing.

“You complement each other. Where one is weak, the other is strong; you support one another when it is needed most. And when you argue…” My head snapped up. Grandma gave me a small tap on the hand. “Oh, you’ll argue, don’t kid yourself. You’ll want to leave…or he will.” She traced a finger along one of the points, from one end to the other.

“You’ll be as far away from each other as you can ever be.”

My stomached tightened. How could this woman speak so negatively? She and Grandpa had such a wonderful marriage. Why was she telling me this the day before I was getting married? My shock must have been obvious, because she took my hand and brought my finger to touch the middle of the starburst.

“But you will always come back here. To the center.” Grandma looked up at me and I knew what she was trying to tell me.

“To the heart,” I whispered. She nodded, pleased that I understood.

“When you’ve both said you’re sorry and you’re done with the lovemaking…” I rolled my eyes, but smiled when she gave me a pointed stare “…then you wrap yourselves up in this blanket and hold each other close. And remember why you fell in love in the first place.”

I nodded, swallowed down the lump in my throat and pressed a kiss to her cheek. “I promise, Grandma.”

I swiped at a tear. “Did you and Grandpa have a marriage quilt?”

She nodded, her clear blue eyes lost in memories. “We used it quite a bit that first year. We were so young,” she shook her head sadly, “we didn’t know what we were doing. But we figured it out soon enough and it made us stronger.”

Grandma let out a quiet laugh. “After a few years, whenever we argued, right in the middle of screaming at each other, one of us would storm out and come back carrying the quilt. We usually started laughing and forgot about fighting.”

I grinned. “I hope Philip and I have as good a marriage as you and Grandpa.”

Grandma cupped her hand to my cheek and winked. “Just try not to smother him with the quilt.”

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Saturday Morning Cartoons

Today's muse:

As mentioned previously, I was given the privilege of reading my stories on the Radio Show "Life Rattle". The first story I read was "Saturday Morning Cartoons", a re-write of "Exceeding Expectations".

* * *

Saturday Morning Cartoons

“What are you doing?”

My question is obviously rhetorical, as it is crystal clear that my kid brother is doing absolutely nothing. This doing of nothing is further confirmed by his shrugged response and caveman grunt. He wears his usual tattered track pants paired with a sleeveless undershirt that bears stains from at least a week ago. I know this because we haven’t had spaghetti since last Tuesday, and there is a large red stain on his shirt. His socked feet rest on the coffee table. One ugly big toe pokes out.

“Mom’s gonna freak if she sees you like this,” I warn. Again, he shrugs.

I roll my eyes in defeat, but sit down on the opposite end of the sofa. If the Golden Child is going to get in trouble, I want to be a witness.

Don’t get me wrong. My 16-year-old brother, Donald, and I get along well enough, but there are times I wish I was an only child. Being the youngest, Donald is always doted on, cooed over and coddled. It drives me nuts! Why doesn’t anyone pay attention to me? I’m the one who brings home good grades. I’m the one who helps out around the house. I’m the oldest! Why is it, I wonder, that the youngest child always gets away with the proverbial murder? In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he was acquitted, should he actually commit such a crime. The boy can do no wrong.

I sit next to him on the sofa—fuming—my arms folded tightly across my chest, my foot tapping an angry beat. My jaw begins to ache from clenching and unclenching my teeth. Donald—conversely—is slouched in the sofa and mindlessly flips through the channels on the television, pausing occasionally to snigger at some childish cartoon. He finally settles on Sesame Street. I can hear the crisp march of my mother’s footsteps perfectly timed with The Count’s numbering. Eight, Nine, Ten … ten footsteps. Bwa ha ha!

It is Saturday morning, and Mom is in full cleaning mode—Dad was already enlisted to tidy the basement and I had just washed the windows and cleaned the bathrooms. Woe to anyone who was found loitering on a Saturday morning!

Mom strides into the living room with purpose. A laundry basket, brimming with freshly folded clothes, is securely tucked under one arm. Her hair is pulled off her face beneath a kerchief. She is wearing a white t-shirt paired with black polyester pants. Mom never wears jeans. She is June Cleaver incarnate—sans the pearls. Pearls, apparently, don’t go with polyester.

Mom glances over at us as she crosses the room, never breaking her stride. I smirk as I envision the scenario that I know is about to unfold. She stops abruptly when she reaches the threshold to the kitchen; turns with military precision and gapes at my brother.

“Well!” she exclaims. “This is a surprise.”

I do my best to squelch the smile that threatens to spread across my face. It occurs to me that I am far too excited about this.

“I really didn’t expect you to be up until after noon.” She assesses Donald, looking him over with an analytical eye. I imagine that she is deciding how to punish him; flipping through a mental Rolodex of chores with which to humiliate him.

“Let me make you something to eat,” she chirps with a bright smile and off she goes, expertly swinging the laundry hamper under the other arm, humming a quiet tune.

My mouth falls open. I lift a limp hand, point a useless finger at the empty doorway. Wait! What just happened?

I turn and gawk at my brother, my mouth still hanging open. He grins back at me and shrugs.

“You see,” he begins, folding his hands in his lap, a sombre expression on his face; looking much like our father when he’s about to pontificate on the meaning of life. “If you keep your standards low, it really takes no effort to exceed expectations. Take Mom, for instance.” As though cued, we glance at the doorway in unison to be sure she isn’t listening.

“She likes things done a certain way; her way, if you will.” He waves his hand in the air—a dismissive gesture. “Me sleeping in on Saturday throws off her routine. When her routine is re-established…” he gestures with a sweeping motion along his body “…her automatic response is to reward what she thinks is good behaviour. Never mind that I should have been up hours ago; the fact that I’m up at all sends her into convulsive fits of ecstasy.”

He presses the forward button on the channel selector. Grover and Cookie Monster are replaced by Casey and Finnegan. Donald sets down the remote and slouches back into the sofa as Mr. Dressup walks over to his Tickle Trunk.

I nod—a slow bob of my head—as comprehension washes over me. I am no longer angry at my kid brother, I decide. No…I am awed.

It appears that I have much to learn from the Golden Child.

Friday, December 11, 2009

World Traveller

Today's muse: The One-Minute Writer

* * *

World Traveller

Mason dragged his pillow case to the front door; a mutinous expression fixed on his five year-old face. The pillow case held everything he would need while living on his own: two yellow Tonka trucks, three pairs of underwear, one box of Cheerios and his teddy bear.

Marie watched as her son lumbered by her. He stared straight ahead, his eyes avoiding hers. She caught her lip between her teeth and clamped down to keep from smiling.

“Mason, honey.” Mason’s pace hesitated just a fraction, but he continued toward the door.

“Did you remember to bring a pillow?” Mason’s footsteps stopped. He hadn’t thought to bring a pillow. The case was filled with more important things. His mother came around the corner and looked down at him. “What about a sleeping bag?”

Running away was becoming more difficult than he imagined. But he didn’t think he had a choice. It was bad enough his parents had brought home a new baby; what made it worse was that it was a girl! Ever since his baby sister had come along, his parents weren’t paying as much attention to him. They were constantly fussing over her and dressing her in frilly things. It was disgusting!

Marie crouched down and searched the hazel eyes that were so much like his father’s.

“Mason,” she waited until he met her gaze, “if you leave, who will teach Sarah to ride a bicycle when she grows up?” He contemplated this new twist. Not only could he teach her to ride a bicycle, but maybe he could teach her to throw a football, too. After all, his friend, Jason had a sister who played hockey. Not yet ready to give in, Mason simply jerked his shoulders.

“Sarah will also need someone to look out for her,” said Marie, hoping to sweeten the deal. “It’s a huge responsibility being a big brother. I thought you would be really good at it, but if you’re not ready yet…” Her voice trailed off as she stood up and turned to walk away.

Mason’s hand shot out and hooked around her arm. “I can stay,” he mumbled to the floor. Marie smiled down at the top of her son’s fair head, remembered all too well how it felt when her little brother had come along.

“I know this is a big sacrifice you’re making, Mason.” He nodded, but didn’t look up. “Would you like me to make you some chocolate chip cookies?”

Mason peered up at his mother and nodded again. As they walked to the kitchen together, he slipped a small hand in hers and said, with a note of defiance, “Maybe next time you can bring home a baby brother.”

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Almost Published

Today's muse: A big announcement!

* * *

Almost Published

I suppose this is the next best thing to being published. I like to think of it as a stepping stone.

A friend and fellow writer was browsing through my blog and came across a couple of stories she liked. She forwarded them to her friend with whom she co-hosts Life Rattle, a radio show heard Sunday evenings. They contacted me and asked if I would record my stories to be played on air.

I am excited to announce that my stories will be played this
Sunday, December 13, 2009 at 9:00 p.m. EST.

If you live in the Toronto area, set your radio dial to FM 88.1 or listen at to hear me read “Saturday Morning Cartoons”, “Grandma’s Quilt” and “Memère Rosa”.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Night at the Movies

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice

* * *

A Night at the Movies

“Butter on your popcorn, sir?” Frank shook his head at the pimple-faced teen behind the concession counter.

“Don’t be ridiculous, you can’t have popcorn without butter.” His wife’s nasal voice attacked him.

“I don’t want butter,” he murmured.

“Fine!” Barbara snapped. “I do. I’ll have a large popcorn with butter. No…make it extra butter.” She sneered at Frank, knowing that paying for the extra butter would anger him.

He pulled a worn leather wallet from his coat pocket and, with great care, removed the bills to pay for their movie snacks. The smile that played on Frank’s lips went unnoticed by his wife as she walked away with her popcorn and soda.

As they walked down the hall toward the theatre, Barbara continued to berate him, preaching about popcorn etiquette. The woman just never let up; her harping was a constant assault. Nothing satisfied her, least of all Frank. Five short years of marriage felt like fifty. From the moment they were married, Frank knew it was a mistake. Even at the wedding reception, she had lectured him on how he held his fork. She was happiest when she was humiliating him. Frank sat in silence and ate his dry popcorn while his wife badgered him. Her tirade ended only when the lights dimmed and the film began to play.

Barbara’s choice of movie was an art film, which he was certain she selected simply to annoy him. With little dialogue in the picture, the stillness of the movie theatre was punctuated by the crunching of popcorn as moviegoers shovelled handfuls of fluffy kernels into their cavernous mouths. Frank sat motionless in his seat, staring blindly at the screen throughout the entire film, listening to the deafening sound of snapping corn echo off the walls.

The movie had barely finished when he gathered his empty popcorn bucket and drink cup. Without looking at Barbara, he muttered, “I’ll meet you at the car.”

Frank took his time walking along the corridor, gazing at the colourful posters of movies that played in other theatres—movies he would have preferred to see. From the corner of his eye, he watched the staff open the doors to the theatre in preparation for the exodus.

Several minutes passed before one of the gangly teens entered the dark theatre. Frank heard shouting, then turned back to scrutinize a bright poster as several staff members ran into the theatre. A high pitched scream carried down the hall and a few people turned to look with mild interest. The manager came running and spoke in hushed tones with a uniformed boy who was quite agitated by the sight in the room.

“Everyone is just sitting in their seats, sir.” The lad’s breath came in short bursts as he recalled the scene. “They’re in their seats, all staring at the screen, with half-empty buckets of buttered popcorn in their laps.”

The manager squeezed the boy’s shoulder. “Thank you, Craig,” and he walked into the theatre.

“I think they’re all dead, sir,” Craig called after his supervisor.

A faint smile played across Frank’s face. He thrust his hands in his pockets and walked out of the theatre alone.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Today's muse: At our resort, many people gathered along the shore at sundown to watch the sun set for the day.

* * *


A row of worshippers stand sentry along the shore, watching and waiting for the change of the guard.

The fiery ball has completed its daily journey across the sky and begins to make a slow descent. The heavens explode in layers of crimson and gold; a bittersweet farewell as the globe touches the horizon. While the Lord Sun lays to rest for one more day, the Lady Moon takes her place to watch over her children.

All arms raise in welcome to embrace the white sphere. Believers send a heartfelt thanks to the protective Father and welcome the warm glow of the loving Mother.

Another day in paradise.

Monday, November 30, 2009

From Up Here

Today's muse: The view from the airplane as we flew over Puerto Vallarta.

* * *

From Up Here

Almost black, the mountains have the appearance of chocolate cake sprinkled liberally with Oreo crumbs. Dark points peak through white candy floss clouds—a delicious dessert for the starved traveler.

Perception shifts as we descend. The mountains become more green; an artistically layered blanket, pilled with years of use, intricately arranged into peaks and hollows.

Closer to earth, steel-roofed buildings wink in the sun—pockets of civilization glinting like gold nuggets in the morning light.

A haven that feeds my starving soul, comforts my weary spirit and sparkles with life.

Welcome to Mexico.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Suit and Tie

I'm on vacation this week, but have post-dated some pieces.
Hope you enjoy them.

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice

When I saw this prompt, I knew immediately what I wanted to write. It seemed even more appropriate that I post-dated it for this date, as we'll be leaving Mexico today and going home.

* * *

Suit and Tie

The charcoal gray suit was not something he wore often. In fact, he had worn it only twice before—when he married Fae, his beloved wife of 42 years and when his daughter wed the Jamieson boy.

Always clad in faded jeans and a flannel shirt, Bill Hitchings was admired and respected in his community. A successful farmer, he was always willing to help his neighbour, wanting nothing more in return than heartfelt thanks. Although he had passed the reins on to his capable daughter, he still insisted on tending the animals, not able to let go of what he loved. But as Bill always said, you can’t stop time and you can’t stop nature.

And now he looked awkward in his charcoal gray suit that Fae had insisted he wear. She heard murmurs that Bill would have looked more comfortable in his work clothes. She only smiled. Some occasions simply don’t call for jeans and plaid. And this was one of them.

After all, Bill was going home.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Hands of Time

I'm on vacation this week, but have post-dated some pieces.
Hope you enjoy them.

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice

Although the prompt was actually "clocks",
I took the liberty of spinning it to "time" ...
I'm sure Marc will understand.

* * *

The Hands of Time

Incessant ticking
not only marks the pace, but
pushes time forward
compelling it to speed faster.

The countdown
has begun
and she frantically works
to halt detonation.

Not willing
to lose everything
she will fight
until the end.

Time will not win,
the reflection is promised,
and she dabs on
more moisturizer.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Reapers

I'm on vacation this week, but have post-dated some pieces.
Hope you enjoy them.

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice

* * *

The Reapers

It was written, centuries ago, that when all hope was lost, when the people of Sartalon-6 faced the darkness, a new entity would come forth to bring sustenance—to breath new life. The Elders had watched the skies, but no such being had come to their aide. There was no other choice but to send the Reapers to harvest what they could in order to cure the ailing population.

Leading the mission, Drevko had left his parents, promising his mother he would come home and make her well. She stared back at him with listless eyes and shrugged.

“It does not matter, Drevko,” she murmured. “I no longer care.”

And that was the crisis that faced his world. Hundreds of thousands of people with no will to feel even the tiniest emotion. No happiness, no love. Not even hatred or fear were given a passing glance. Men starved in the streets as commuters walked by them, staring blindly ahead. Elderly patients, pleading for attention, were ignored by caregivers who no longer felt compassion. Children, abandoned by parents who chased the almighty dollar, were left to forge new alliances with less desirable beings. It was common knowledge that, if left to its own devices, Sartalon-6 would self destruct.

Drevko thrust the lever forward, pushing the limits of his craft, determined not to fail. As he consulted his instruments, he was surprised to see he was off course. He made adjustments to the navigational system, but the craft did not respond. It was as though another force was pulling the entire fleet against their will.

Before he could command the others to prepare for defence, a planet came into view. Not a planet, he decided, but an everlasting expanse of lush land. Vast fields of thriving crops dotted the landscape. Enormous, snow-peaked mountains pierced the clear blue sky. Clear, sparkling waters meandered throughout.

As the fleet landed, one by one, the crew members stepped onto the foreign terrain, looking to Drevko for guidance. Then all eyes turned as a man and woman approached. The dark-haired man was dressed in flowing aqua robes, a large pendant hung from his neck. She—resplendent in a full lavender gown—gazed at the newcomers with interest. A small red crystal winked at her throat. Although they did not wear the usual trappings of hierarchy, and no escorts were in sight, it was clear that this couple held power. Perhaps, Drevko mused, beyond the authority given to a ruler.

“Your search has brought you to us.” The man’s voice was smooth and immediately calmed the anxious Reapers. “We have what you seek.”

“Even we do not know what we seek. How can you?”

The woman gave a knowing smile, inclined her head in acknowledgement. “You do not believe.” It was a statement, rather than a question.

“Believe what?”

“There is only one thing that can restore compassion to your people.” As he spoke, the man lifted his hands to hold his palms facing upward; the woman followed suit. A strange golden light seemed to shimmer around them, envelope them.

Before Drevko could remember his upbringing and the protocol he should follow, the others dropped to their knees and bowed in reverence. The goddess raised an eyebrow, her eyes dancing with merriment.

“You do not bow before a god?”

Drevko fell to the ground. “I’m sorry, My Lady.” The goddess laughed, a light tinkling sound.

“I do not chastise you. Your apology is not necessary.”

Drevko looked up, mesmerized by her dazzling beauty now that she allowed it to fully radiate.

“My child.” The god’s voice rumbled gently. “You must bring faith back to your people.”

“But...My Lord, my people worship many gods.”

“Ah.” The god raised his hand. “It is not only faith in the gods that your people need. It is faith in all things.” Drevko’s face clearly displayed his confusion, murmurs spread among the Reapers. With infinite patience, the god continued.

“You must have faith in the heavens and the earth. You must have faith in love and kindness. Above all, you must have faith in others as well as in yourself. Only in this way can humanity flourish.”

Drevko, with the others, hung his head in shame. He vowed to take the message from the gods back to his people—to slash through the darkness with this light of hope.

“I am a little surprised, though,” mused the god, “that you, who call yourselves Reapers, know nothing of this.”

“My Lord?”

The god sighed. “You reap what you sow, my child.”

Monday, November 23, 2009


I'm on vacation this week, but have post-dated some pieces.
Hope you enjoy them.

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice

* * *


The fog was beginning to dissipate. He couldn’t quite see it yet, but Trevor could sense it. Things were a little too clear. It all seemed better without the harsh light of day.

She emerged from the fog. Curls as black as midnight swirled around her shoulders, her hips swayed in a seductive rhythm. The pale shift she wore hugged her curves, promised tantalizing delights beneath it. She gave him a coy smile, tilting her head down to gaze at him through her lashes.

As he reached out to play with the end of a stray curl, she covered his hand with hers. The contact sent a shock through him, made Trevor’s heart beat unevenly. Her steady gaze held him; the smoky eyes seemed to look right into his soul. They knew what he wanted, knew what he had to have.

He knew he shouldn’t. A respected business man in his community—a husband and father—Trevor was above these hedonistic urges. But that first taste had been intoxicating and had only left him wanting more. This mistress gave him something no one else could. With her, he could escape the burden of responsibility, if only for a few hours. He was weary of the faux smiles of his colleagues. Disappointed with his spoiled children who scoffed at any discipline. Bored by his impassive wife who lay lifeless while he made love to her. He longed to hold someone close in the darkness of night, to have limbs wrapped around him in wild abandon, cry out his name in release.

He looked up at the full lips that curved in invitation. Her hand caressed his jaw as she whispered temptation in his ear. Walking away, she glanced over her shoulder, crooked a finger at him to follow. There was no hesitation in his step as he chased her mocking laugh.

And as the needle pressed into his arm, he thanked the raven beauty as she coursed through his veins. He would sleep with her again...if only for a few hours.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Teach Me

Today's muse: No specific muse today...

* * *

Teach Me

Teach me little one.
Take my hand and
show me how to
laugh and play.

Teach me to be royalty.
To dine like a princess—
eat imaginary fancy treats and
sip invisible tea from
chipped plastic cups.

Teach me your ways.
I want to learn
how to ride a dragon,
catch fairies in my palm,
and know that when I wish…
the stars will listen.

Teach me to remember.
I have forgotten how to
see with my heart and
listen with my soul.
I have let myself
grow up.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Small-Town Life

Today's muse: Wood and Pixels Narrative

* * *

Small-Town Life

A quaint little village, it boasts one stop sign where Church and Main intersect. A casual wave at a passing car always elicits a response—be it a honk or a returned wave—as it’s more likely than not you know the driver. Either it’s someone you see at church on Sunday or his son bags your groceries on Saturday morning. Probably both.

A warm summer breeze dances with the laughter of children and flirts with clean laundry hanging on the line.

At night, families gather together to bow their heads in thanks and revel in the love and laughter shared at dinner.

A tiny place forgotten by many, but remembered by God.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Outline ~ Two Haikus

Today's muse:
It's Two Haiku Tuesday over at Daily Writing Practice
The prompt: Outline

* * *


gentle soul of love
exudes peace and harmony
bright aura sparkles


dancing eyes and smile
now ever remembered as:
a white chalk outline

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Interview

Today's muse: Sunday Scribblings

* * *

The Interview

"Are you going to marry my dad?" Sarah didn't look up when she asked this pointed question. She continued coloring with the yellow crayon, her tongue firmly planted between her teeth, as though she had asked if we were going to the zoo tomorrow. Not knowing what to answer, I went with what I thought was the safest response.

"I...I don't know."

Sarah put her crayon down and scrutinized me. "Hasn't he asked you yet?" She seemed quite surprised; as though the fact that her father hadn't asked me to marry him yet was an affront to her young heart.

I shook my head. Sarah sighed, picked up her crayon and continued coloring.

Until this very moment, the fact that Aaron hadn't asked me to marry him was not something that crossed my mind. After all, we had only been dating little more than a year. And there was Sarah to think of. I wasn't surprised to find myself in love with Aaron. He is a wonderful man and a fabulous father. What really surprised me was to find I absolutely adored his eight year-old. Sarah is funny and clever and I enjoy every moment I spend with her.

Being a mother was never something I dreamed of. My own mother was distant, to say the least. Once I could wash and dress myself, she left me on my own, preferring to go out with a string of men she insisted I call Uncle. I vowed, at a very young age, that I wouldn't become like her. It seemed the best way to avoid this was to never have children.

Then Aaron came along. After our fourth date, he introduced me to his daughter. We bonded instantly. She easily accepted me as an addition to her life and I began to question my decision on motherhood.

Now I sat across from her at Aaron's kitchen table, coloring in caricatures of farm animals with a meticulous hand, as though I was creating the next masterpiece. Move over Dali, I thought, as I studied my picture.

"Let's say he does ask you." I sighed. Sarah obviously was still on the marriage issue. "What will you say?"

Good question, I thought. Yet another one I didn't know the answer to. I stared at Sarah as she diligently colored her own picture. Everything seemed so simple to her. Typical of all children, she seemed to take on life with fearless abandon. Not like me, I mused, who seemed to hide from any challenge, afraid of failure. Maybe that was my hesitation. Not of failing myself, but of failing this innocent child before me. How was I supposed to be a mother when I'd never had one?

"You'll have to say something," Sarah stated, her tone matter-of-fact. The whole thing seemed so normal to her. Why couldn't it be for me? It occurred to me that Sarah had the right attitude. Perhaps I should take my cue from her.

"What do you think I should say?" I asked, not sure whether I wanted to hear a truthful answer.

"Do you love him?" She asked as though we were choosing between two sweaters. Do you like blue? If you like blue, then you should get this sweater. If you love him, then it's obvious you should marry him.

"I do love your dad." Is this something you're supposed to admit to an eight year-old?

Sarah nodded smartly. "Then you should say yes," as though this decided everything.

"What if he doesn't love me?" I held my breath. Of course he did, he told me did. But maybe Sarah knew something I didn't. After all, as she pointed out, he hadn't asked yet.

Sarah rolled her eyes and snorted. "Of course he loves you. He talks about you all the time." I digested that bit of information and allowed myself a small smile.

"Besides," she continued, "I love you too. If you marry daddy, that'll make you my mom." She looked up then to see my reaction. I would be her mom. I thought about that and it made my heart pound in a way it never had before. I wasn't afraid—I was excited. I could be a mom. Something I had avoided for so long, at once I knew I wanted to experience. I smiled at Sarah.

"You'd want me to be your mom?"

She nodded. "Of course. It's like you are already. We just need to make it legal. Then we can all have the same name. Like a real family."

I laughed. "That would be nice, wouldn't it?" Sarah jumped off her chair and ran over to me, wrapped her arms around my neck.

"It would be great! Now we just have to get dad to ask you."

"I think you already asked her." Sarah and I both looked up as we heard Aaron's voice. I could feel my face redden. How long had he been standing there, listening to our conversation? I was mortified and stared at the floor. I couldn't look at him.

"Daddy!" Sarah ran over to Aaron and threw herself around his legs. "Ask Sarah to marry you," she said in a loud whisper. Aaron looked over at me and raised his eyebrows in question. I closed my eyes and covered my face with my hands, wished for the floor to open up and swallow me whole.

"Do you think she'll say yes?" Aaron asked.

"Oh yes, daddy!" Sarah's confident reply had me smiling. I lowered my hands and looked over at him. He looked down at Sarah and winked. She gasped, then squealed with delight and, taking his hand, led him over to me.

"You have to get down on one knee," she instructed. Aaron, bent down and leaned over to Sarah.

"Now what?" he whispered.

"Do you have a ring?" Aaron shook his head, glancing at me with an apology in his eyes. He shrugged. Sarah waved away this problem.

"We can pretend."

I grinned at Aaron as he took my hand and placed an invisible ring on my finger. "Will you marry me, Janet?" I opened my mouth to reply, but Sarah cut in with her own proposal.

"And be my mom?" I laughed. No proposal, I decided, was more romantic.

"I will." Aaron and Sarah grabbed me in a fierce hug. I smiled at Aaron as I rested my cheek on Sarah's head. I was going to be a wife. And a mom.

Sarah pulled back to look at us.

"Can I have a brother or sister?"

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Grandma's Quilt

Today's muse: Wood and Pixels Narratives

* * *

Grandma's Quilt

"You will put it on your marital bed." It was a command, rather than a request, as Grandma lay the handmade quilt in my lap. She shrugged.

"Of course, not on the first night. You won't need a blanket then." She winked and I felt the heat blaze across my face. This was not the kind of conversation you had with your grandmother!

"What?" Her eyebrows shot up and disappeared beneath her grey fringe. "You think I'm too old to think of such things." She nodded. "Let me tell you something..."

I groaned. Please, I begged to whatever deity may be listening, don't let her paint too vivid a picture.

She lowered herself beside me on the sofa and arranged the colorful quilt over our laps. Her hand, twisted with painful arthritis, caressed the bright starbursts. The tiny hand-sewn stitches were evenly spaced, despite Grandma's failing eyesight and limited mobility.

"Each star is balanced. The points spread out, but they are anchored in the center." She smiled at me. "Just like you and Philip," and she covered my smooth hand with her wrinkled one. We were both keenly aware of the contrast, but said nothing.

"You complement each other. Where one is weak, the other is strong; you support one another when it is needed most. And when you argue…" My head snapped up. Grandma gave me a small tap on the hand. "Oh, you'll argue, don't kid yourself. You'll want to leave…or he will." She traced a finger along one of the points, from one end to the other.

"You'll be as far away from each other as you can ever be."

My stomached tightened. How could this woman speak so negatively? She and Grandpa had such a wonderful marriage. Why was she telling me this the day before I was getting married? My shock must have been obvious, because she took my hand and brought my finger to touch the center of the starburst.

"But you will always come back here. To the center." Grandma looked up at me and I knew what she was trying to tell me.

"To the heart," I whispered. She nodded, pleased that I understood.

"When you've both said you're sorry and you're done with the lovemaking…" I rolled my eyes, but smiled when she gave me a pointed stare, "then you wrap yourselves up in this blanket and hold each other close. And remember why you fell in love in the first place."

I nodded, swallowed down the lump in my throat. "I promise, Grandma." I kissed her cheek.

I swiped a tear from my cheek. "Did you and Grandpa have a marriage quilt?"

She nodded, her clear blue eyes lost in memories. "We used it quite a bit that first year. We were so young," she shook her head sadly, "we didn't know what we were doing. But we figured it out soon enough and it made us stronger."

Grandma let out a quiet laugh. "After a few years, whenever we argued, right in the middle of screaming at each other, one of us would storm out and come back carrying the quilt. We usually started laughing and forgot about fighting."

I grinned. "I hope Philip and I have as good a marriage as you and Grandpa."

Grandma cupped her hand to my cheek and winked. "Just try not to smother him with the quilt."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Consultation

Today's muse: Nothing specific ... I was just feeling a little creepy today.

* * *

The Consultation

"I don't know where to start, really." I sighed when there was no response. Maybe that was the point—the silence was intended to make me talk, prompt me to continue. Alright, I'll play along.

"I guess I'm really here for advice." I stared at the water-stained ceiling. The chocolate brown leather sofa was soft beneath me; it was the perfect length for reclining. I made a mental note to ask Dr. Sifton where she bought it.

"You see, I haven't been sleeping very well. I've been having these awful nightmares." I paused, not sure how much to divulge so early in our first session. "You did say that the client-patient confidentiality forbade you to divulge our discussions, didn't you?" I took her silence as confirmation. No doubt, she was eager to hear what I had to say and didn't want to distract me. I knew what she wanted me to tell her. I saw no need to disappoint her.

"I know the nightmares started after the first one. When I took the Evans girl and locked her in the basement, she screamed for hours. I was certain someone would hear, but we were never disturbed." I smiled ruefully. "Perhaps there is a God," I chuckled.

"It took hours to cut her into tiny pieces," I continued, "and almost 80 Ziploc freezer bags to dispose of all the portions." My lips curved remembering the metallic smell that hung in the air, the echo of crunching bone.

"When they found her, and the newspapers started writing about her…about me…" My heart had pounded when I read about it. People would talk, and they would remember. I was famous.

"Then I couldn't stop. I wanted more. So I continued. I've lost track of how many girls I've taken. It doesn't matter, really."

I picked at a loose thread on my shirt. "But the nightmares, Doc. They're driving me mad. And the only way to ease them is to kill more. You gotta help me!"

Behind me, a door opened, then closed. I heard someone—a woman, by the sound of the swishing skirt—sit down. Her smell was intoxicating. I immediately knew I had to have her.

"Sorry I'm late," she said, "Shall we get started?"

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Laughing all the Way

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice

* * *

Laughing all the Way

Eight years ago we stood
face to face
and promised to cherish and love.

Eight years ago we stood
hand in hand
before friends and God above.

Eight years later we're still
face to face
and cherish our love every day.

Eight years later we're still
hand in hand
and laughing all the way.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Death Goes Trick-or-Treating

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice
Prompt: "Your four line poem prompt this week: death goes trick-or-treating."
And Marc was generous enough to allow more lines if we wanted.
Give me an inch, I'll take a mile!

* * *

Death Goes Trick-or-Treating

Five and a half bags of candy,
And even some money, to boot.
I wonder why they were frightened.
I did wear a bunny suit.

What do you mean it's still scary?
How can that possibly fit?
Oh, I see what you mean ...
the scythe doesn't go with it.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Suburban Warfare

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice

* * *

Suburban Warfare

Birds trill well wishes to one another, leaves rustle as they tumble down the street—a Saturday morning symphony. It is a peaceful prelude to the battle that will soon begin.

The atmosphere shifts as warriors begin to gather at the battleground. Each one is filled with anticipation, charging the air with energy. They appear in twos and threes—some arrive alone.

The difference in class is apparent: those with means are outfitted with the best protection; some wear second-hand pieces, weathered by countless others in this age-old dance; a few wear nothing but the simple clothes they own, prepared to risk flesh and bone.

But it is not about the gear or the equipment; it is not about wealth. This ancient tradition transcends all classes, all ages, all boundaries. Singing to the passionate spirit, it equalizes the masses to build a cohesive unit and forge alliances that will survive evermore.

As the bright orange ball is dropped and L-shaped sticks slap in combat, a young voice peals the battle cry:

“Game on!”

And the war begins.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Today's muse: Sunday Scribblings

* * *


Although I no longer think of you every day, I do think of you often. And wonder.

If I had made another decision, 27 years ago, would things be different? Better or worse? Over the years, I have convinced myself that my life is much better than it would have been, but I'm not always sure.

My life was just beginning. I had so many dreams and you were going to change everything—be in the way. As much as I wanted to, I couldn't hold onto you. And yet, I couldn't let you be with anyone else. Perhaps that was selfish. Someone else would have loved you just as much...maybe more.

I am not shamed by what I have done. That's not what keeps me awake at night and what wakes me from restless dreams. I do not apologize for my actions—for ending your life before it even began.

I do not regret my choice. And for that, I am shameful.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Lost in Time

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice

* * *

Lost in Time

Blades of sunlight slashed through the trees; brilliant swords that lit our way as we strolled in the woods behind our house. Though our conversation was rather mundane—work, kids—there was an inexplicable intimacy.

My breath caught when you reached over to brush my hair back; cupped a hand behind my neck and rubbed your thumb along my cheek. My eyes tried to tell you how much I miss you.

I know I can’t see you every day. And I know I won’t see you forever, but I will visit our woods and hope that I see you again.

Until then, I will visit you here. I’ll lay flowers by your stone and tell you I miss you.

Every day.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Today's muse: Pictures, Poetry & Prose

* * *


"Are you lost, little one?"

"I feel like I am."

"You haven't lost your way, in as much as you simply haven't read the map."

"The directions are confusing. I don't understand them."

"Perhaps you would be better served to focus on the scenery, rather than the map."

"I did that, but now I'm afraid I took a wrong turn."

"There is no wrong turn."

"Are you sure?"

"Have you not seen that which you would have otherwise ignored?"

"I have seen love and hope."

"And have you learned nothing?"

"I have learned to trust and forgive."

"Then you are on the right path."

"Will you guide me when it's dark?"

"Always. And I will light a candle so you will find your way Home."


Today's muse: Sunday Scribblings

* * *


"Do you need to keep this?" The exasperation in her voice was obvious as she held up a metal toy truck. Only one wheel remained and most of the red paint had been replaced with rust. Phil glanced over and sighed.

"No." The word was dragged out—a mournful surrender.

"Look," she began, "you can't keep everything. Our old junk is starting to take over the house. We need to purge." Jennifer tossed the truck into a nearby box designated as garbage.

Marrying a fellow pack rat had finally taken its toll. The basement had begun to look like a small-town flea market that sold only tattered out-of-date clothing, broken toys and worn furniture. Jennifer had already filled several boxes with her own memories. Dolls, stuffed animals; even her high school cheerleader uniform. Phil had argued the merits of keeping the uniform but—rolling her eyes—Jennifer had added it to the trash pile.

And now they purged Phil's mementos. Half-finished car models, armless action figures, moth-eaten Varsity sweatshirts. Was that a KISS poster?

Jennifer pulled a tackle box from a bookshelf, brushed the dust off. She wondered when Phil had last gone fishing. Before Jennifer could open the box, Phil snatched it away from her.

"I'm keeping this." His tone made it clear that this was not negotiable. Intrigued, Jennifer held her hands out.

"What's in the box, Phil?" She wiggled her fingers in a "hand it over" motion. Phil shook his head.

"This is my personal stuff." He held up a hand, palm facing his wife. "You can't have this."

Jennifer was only more intrigued. What was in the box that he needed to keep? What could possibly be so important? She raised her eyebrows and thrust her hands out.

"Hand it over."

Phil closed his eyes and sighed; knew it was fruitless to argue. Shaking his head, he reluctantly placed the box in her hands. Lifting the lid, she was surprised to find the metal box held nothing but paper. Dozens of squares, worn from repeated folding; cards with faded graphics. Frowning, she pulled a piece of paper from the stash and carefully unfolded it.

Jennifer's eyes filled with tears as she recognized her own handwriting. A letter written some 20 years earlier professed her undying teenage love. She opened cards and unfolded other letters—all written so many years ago and long-forgotten by her.

She looked over at her husband, dazed. Phil shrugged, clearly embarrassed.

"I kept every letter and card you've ever given me." It was said as though he challenged her to laugh at him. Instead, Jennifer wrapped her arms around his waist, overwhelmed by the surge of emotion that had filled her. "It's no big deal," he muttered, but pulled her close to him.

Jennifer lifted her head and met Phil's gaze. The corner of her lip turned up as she gave him a knowing look. "We'll keep the cheerleader outfit."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Super Mario

Today's muse: I recently finished Super Mario 64.

* * *

Super Mario

He boasts no suit of armour, but wears only his blue overalls, red t-shirt and matching red cap. The chosen one is brave. He, alone, can save the Princess from a fate worse than death.

To rescue her, he must conquer villains who thwart his every effort. He must climb icy mountains, sail across seas of lava, and travel across barren lands of desert.

This task will not be easy. But the gods have granted a boon. Our brave hero will be awarded one gold power star each time he is successful in vanquishing a minion. He is also given the supernatural power of reclaiming his life. This is not to be taken lightly. The giving of life comes with consequences. He will die—many, many, many times. But he will be brought back to life.

He will return and try again, over and over, until he rescues the Princess. For she has promised him a great reward when he is done. And he knows that by risking his life for her, she will reward him beyond his wildest dreams.

When he finally defeats all the villains—at last discovers all the worlds, and, in the end, collects all 120 gold power stars—our brave little hero is rewarded.

With a cake.

Mario has been crushed by rocks, sailed off clouds into oblivion and drowned in molten lava—many times over. And the Princess bakes him a lousy cake.

Well … itsa da tot data counts, no?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Comfort Food

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice

* * *

Comfort Food

The sun penetrates through the blinds; bright stripes dance across our sleeping bodies. The smell of brewing coffee nudges me awake and I send a silent thank you to the gods for inventing automatic coffee makers.

A grunt behind me lets me know that my love is also waking. He turns towards me and wraps a possessive arm around me, drags me closer to nuzzle into my neck. I turn to face him and push his hair from his eyes. He needs a haircut. But we’re newlyweds, and we have better things to do.

I hear the grumble of his stomach—an angry demand for fuel. He opens an eye and I raise an eyebrow in question. We both laugh. I sit up and ask what he wants for breakfast.

I can make pancakes, I offer, or how about French toast with some bacon? Or I could make an omelette with sausage and fried potatoes. Or how about …

He just stares at me and a grin slowly begins to spread across his face. I know that look. I’ve been seeing that look quite a bit lately. But before I can stop him, he wraps an arm around my waist and traps me between him and the bed.

Alright, I concede. Breakfast can wait.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Just a Weed

Today's muse: Pictures, Poetry & Prose

* * *

Just a Weed

When I was but a wee young thing—
no more than five or six—
to mother I would often bring
a bouquet that I’d picked.

I offered weeds with heads all bent;
a wide smile on my face.
She always knew how much it meant,
and placed them in a vase.

Now she’s gone and every day
I pray that I’ll be brave.
And every week I stop to lay
dandelions on her grave.

* * *


let me say that this is a work of fiction ...
i am lucky to say i still have my mom

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Exceeding Expectations

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice

* * *

Exceeding Expectations

“What are you doing?”

The question was redundant, as it was clear that my kid brother was doing absolutely nothing. This was further evidenced by his shrugged response and caveman grunt. He wore his usual tattered track pants paired with a sleeveless undershirt that bore stains from at least a week ago. His socked feet rested on the coffee table. The largest digit, bearing an overgrown toenail, poked out.

“Mom’s gonna freak if she sees you like this.” Again, he shrugged.

I rolled my eyes, but sat down on the opposite end of the sofa. If the Golden Child was going to get in trouble, I wanted to be a witness.

Why is it, I wondered, that the youngest child always gets away with the proverbial murder? In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he was acquitted should he actually commit such a crime. I sat next to him, fuming, my arms folded tightly across my chest. My jaw began to ache as I clenched and unclenched my teeth. He, conversely, sat and mindlessly flipped through the channels on the television, pausing occasionally to snigger at some childish cartoon.

I could hear the march of my mother’s footsteps. Given it was Saturday morning, she would be in Cleaning Mode and barking orders at everyone in site. I smirked as I envisioned the scenario that I knew was about to unfold.

She strode into the living room, a laundry basket brimming with freshly folded clothes under one arm. She glanced over as she crossed the room, never breaking her stride.

She stopped abruptly when she reached the threshold to the kitchen, turned smartly and gaped at my brother.

“Well!” she said. “This is a surprise.”

I did my best to cover the smile that spread across my face. It occurred to me that I was far too excited about this.

“I really didn’t expect you to be up until after noon. Let me make you something to eat.” And off she went, laundry hamper under her arm, humming quietly to herself.

I turned and gawked at my brother. He grinned back and shrugged.

“You see,” he began, before I could even start my tirade, “if you keep your standards low, it really takes no effort to exceed expectations.”

He leaned back in the sofa, pressed the forward button on the channel selector.

I nodded slowly, as comprehension began to fill me.


He turned and looked at me.

“I have a few people I wouldn’t mind getting rid of.”

He grinned back at me and shrugged.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Today's muse: Pictures, Poetry & Prose

* * *


I was nobody.
Never noticed, never remembered.
Easily forgotten.
Often shrugged aside.

I was beautiful.
Everyone wanted to know me.
Wanted a piece of me.
I was never left alone.

I knew myself.
When I was loved, it was real.
Friendship was true.
Truth was pure.

I am lost.
Nothing is real anymore.
Friends only want to share the light.
I know nothing but lies.

I want what I was before,
not what they made me after.
Take me back to then—
I don’t want it now.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Dentist ~ two haikus

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice

Two Haiku Tuesday topic this week: at the dentist's office.

* * *

The Dentist

both hands thrust in mouth
plus umpteen tools and gadgets—
and he wants to talk

lecture on brushing,
finger-wag about fillings—
then hand out suckers

Monday, September 21, 2009

Come Home

Come Home

The house is so quiet without you.
My hand wanders over in the night
and caresses your pillow.
It smells like you.

The dog misses you too.
He continually wanders to the door,
checking for you.
He won’t eat.

I made dinner last night.
I cooked too much and now
have leftovers for a week.
I hate eating alone.

Come home safely.
I can’t imagine
the rest of my life without you.
I want you back.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Writer's Block

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice
Prompt for the four line poem this week: the process


I've been on vacation this week. My husband is out of town and I have the entire house to myself. No interruptions, no noise, no expectations.

What a horrible time to get writer's block!!

Sadly, this wee ditty did nothing to break the cycle.

* * *

Writer's Block

Seven days alone to do nothing but write,
yet I stare at the screen; wish with all my might.
A large white square is all I see,
simply mocking, goading, laughing at me.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Narrator

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice
Start your prose with The streets were thick with fog

* * *

The Narrator

The streets were thick with fog. Minute tornadoes swirled around her feet as she walked purposefully, her hands crammed into her coat, the collar turned up against the chill. Straight, raven-black hair, seemed to sparkle as the streetlight reflected off the tiny drops of moisture. Impatiently pushing a few stringy strands away, she shot an annoyed glance at …

“Cut it out!” Anger shot off her in waves. “You’re pissing me off!”

He glanced away, shrugging. “I’m just doing my job.”

“Well it’s annoying.” She walked faster and he lengthened his stride to keep up with her.

If he didn’t accomplish the mission, he would certainly be punished. And eternal damnation was not something he wanted to experience. He was unsure what the gods expected him to learn from this mission, but he was determined to succeed. No matter how irrational it seemed.

They arrived at the tall building she called home.

She fumbled in her bag, looking for ...

“That’s it!” She shoved at him hard so that he stumbled back two steps. “I’ve had it. Go back to wherever you came from.”

“I told you already...”

“Yeah, I know.” She dragged a hand through her wet hair. “You’re being tested, the gods sent you to be my Narrator, yadda yadda yadda.” She looked up at him, into those deep grey eyes that seemed to reach right into her soul. If he wasn’t so annoying, she could actually let herself get lost in those eyes. “I don’t care,” she whispered. “You’ve been following me around all day. Aren’t you done yet? I have a boring life. There’s not much to Narrate.”

He slipped into the elevator with her just as it closed and followed her to the penthouse unit. At the door, she turned to him, a bemused look on her face. “You can’t come in.”

“Oh, but it says so in the Decree.” He pulled a piece of tightly rolled parchment from his cloak and unfurled it. She snatched it from his hands and scanned the paper, her eyes growing wide as she read.

“You idiot!” Dropping the parchment on the floor, she opened the door to her unit and slammed it resolutely in his face. He picked up the scroll and read it through once again.

“Oh my.”

There, clearly written in the Lord’s intricate penmanship was the Decree that he should be her Navigator.

Not Narrator.

“Oh my,” he repeated.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Nine, Nine, Nein

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice

* * *

Nine, Nine, Nein

We promised
Many years
I gave:

Never again,
you said.
Another chance,
you begged.
I gave:

Pictures they
asked me.
Proving what
they see.
I gave:

Charges have
been laid
Mercy’s all
you prayed.
I gave:

Friday, September 4, 2009

Slow Learner

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice

The topic for this week's Four Line Friday Prose: slow learner.

* * *

Slow Learner

Sunshine ripped through the window, bored through the thin shield of eyelid. The cacophony of noise in my head played a steady rhythm, coaxed my stomach upwards with promises of freedom from my body. That’s the last time, I vowed—yet again—that I would indulge in the glorious nectar of the fermented grape.

Yeah right, I snorted.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Last Supper

Today's muse: Pictures, Poetry & Prose

* * *

The Last Supper

He sat alone at the table, his calloused hands folded in his lap. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had such a fine meal. Perhaps never.

Footsteps echoed off the walls and he sat up straighter, fidgeted a bit. He closed his eyes to heighten his senses, wanting to savour this moment, burn the memory in his mind.

The smell assaulted him first. His mouth watered in Pavlovian reflex and he swallowed thickly, greedily licking his chapped lips. Aroma wrapped around him, caressed him like a familiar lover who promised to fulfill every perverted desire. The plate gently touched the table before him and he waited until the footsteps faded away.

Alone again, though he knew he was watched, he slowly opened his eyes and stared at the feast before him: an enormous piece of prime rib—rare—garnished with a large dollop of strong horse radish. Arranged around it in homage to the succulent meat were parisienne potatoes, crisp asparagus and fried mushrooms.

He slowly cut into the tender meat then placed a small sliver on his tongue, relished the juices as they filled his mouth. The small morsel all but melted. The crisp outer shell of the potatoes housed a tender white interior. A mushroom cloud of steam erupted when he split them open. The asparagus, steamed to perfection, lay in a pool of melted butter next to over-sized seasoned portabellas.

His contented sighs punctuated the silence as he steadily ate through the meal, laying down his utensils after each mouthful, delaying the end as long as possible.

Crème brullée was the final indulgence. He tapped the crust gently, watched as the fault undulated across the golden scab, exposing the vulnerable richness beneath. Each spoonful was sheer joy.

The utensils now lay across the empty plate, meticulously lined up. He wiped his mouth carefully with the napkin and gently lay it atop the china. His eyes closed briefly as he sent silent thanks to the god he was convinced had long since turned away. He would remember that banquet as long as he lived.

He smirked as, once again, the footsteps approached, confirmation that he was watched. How else would they know he was done?

“Ready?” The question was asked, as though he had a choice. He merely nodded in reply, rose awkwardly and shuffled towards the door. With one final glance at the barren room, he followed the uniformed fellow out the door.

As he hobbled down the long corridor, the chains around his ankles clinked ominously, barely heard above the bellowed “Dead man walking!”

Friday, August 28, 2009

Gone ~ an acrostic

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice

Marc's prompt was "Gone". I decided to try my hand at an acrostic. A bit of a cheat, since 'gone' is such a short word, but I thought I'd start out small.

* * *


Give me back the days of music when
Once upon a time you sang to me.
Now there is nothing but
Eerie silence that swallows me whole.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Powdered Addiction ~ a haiku

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice

* * *

Powdered Addiction

reddened amber eyes
watch as white lines disappear
blinded by false joy

The Eyes of Love ~ a haiku

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice

* * *

The Eyes of Love

eyes flowing with love
gazed with warmth at the wedding
now kill on command

A Dream to Behold ~ Chapter Three

Today's muse: Protagonize

* * *

B is for Bezaldar

The entire group of children was silent as they digested this information, the hush hovering for nearly ten seconds. Then everyone began talking at once, panicked voices shouting questions, demanding answers.

“What do you mean ‘he’s back’?”

“Who’s back?”

Philip glanced up at his friend, who appeared to have lost the capacity to speak. Billy simply stood there, his mouth convulsively opening and closing. He looked down at Philip imploringly, as if to say “You tell them.”

Sighing, Philip turned and faced the children, each one of them staring hopefully at him as though he had the answer; as though he was their salvation.

Just as he had stood, he realized, almost seven years ago, staring wide-eyed at Jeremy Weizman who had held up his G.I. Joe action figure for all to see, before passing it around for inspection. When the toy reached Philip’s hands, he had carefully turned it over, saw the B etched into Joe’s back. There were green flakes wedged in the crevice then, too. The same green flakes he had just seen on Teddy’s button eye.

Soon after that, strange things began happening in the neighbourhood.

At first, they were small incidents, inconsequential really. Since there was no explanation for these mysterious acts, the adults simply meted out retribution to the children who, in their view, were obviously to blame.

Cameron Trawley was sent to his room when his mother discovered the empty cookie jar. Lizzy Ilkes was grounded for a week when her parents saw her room: the bedspread was tossed on the floor, books were strewn everywhere and dirty clothes simply lay in a pile beside the door. Quite possibly the worst incident was Nick Marchant being suspended from school because he didn’t hand in his homework for a month.

The thing was, Philip knew these kids, was good friends with them. He knew that Cam didn’t eat those cookies—he hated oatmeal. Lizzy was always meticulous about keeping her room clean which, everyone agreed, was pretty weird for a six-year old, but still didn’t really explain how it became so dishevelled. As for Nick, he kept insisting something was eating his homework—and they didn’t even have a dog.

The occurrences began to happen more frequently, driving the adults to become fanatical in their punishments. It wasn’t long before the playground was often seen empty and sleepovers were a thing of the past.

Philip remembered all too well what it was like last time. How bad it got. And now it was starting all over again. There was no question …

Bezaldar was back.

Petals of Fate

Today's muse: Pictures, Poetry and Prose

Prompt: Write a poem of no more than five-lines

* * *

Petals of Fate

Innocent little petals,
plucked one by one
in search of the eternal answer,
shatter dreams when they reply:
He loves me not.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Today's muse: Protagonize

The rules: Select a word to be the title of your 11-line poem. The last word of each line must be a word of no less than four letters created using letters from the title of your poem. (Note: For the record, I want to point out that this was not easy, but was a lot of fun. I failed at my first attempt by using three-letter words. Following directions has never been my forte).

* * *


“He partied at a festival, was filled with great elation,
and staggered out knowing he was too filled with libation;
his drunkenness forgotten—completely in denial.”
screamed the burly big-shot lawyer hired for the trial.

“If this man had only thought, used only half his brain,
that woman’d be alive now, and we would not detain.
Instead I’m here before you; my temper in a rile.
In fact, I must pause now, to swallow down my bile.”

The prosecution rests, no longer does berate.
The drunkard sits and waits while the jury does debate.

The verdict’s in, the man has sinned, the public does elate.

A Long Way Down

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice

* * *

A Long Way Down

The Locator stood before him, an imposing man of some several thousand years, a tightly rolled scroll held reverently in his hands.

“Do you know why you are here today, Thelanon?”

His eyes downcast, the boy nodded mutely. The Locator nodded, allowing the mere hint of a smile. “Very well, then.”

The golden flecks embedded in the parchment glinted as the Locator unfurled the scroll and read the Decree.

“It has come to pass that the spirit named Thelanon shall make The Voyage and be one with a Being, acting as Spirit Guide and Moral Counsellor, until such time his journey shall end. And so it shall be.”

“And so it shall be,” repeated Thelanon, his eyes glowing with excitement.

The Locator unsheathed his jewel-encrusted sword—a ceremonial blade passed down through generations—and tapped Thelanon’s shoulders. As he chanted the age-old words that would complete the transformation, a golden dome glowed around the boy, enveloping him like a shield, pulsing with energy. Thelanon could feel the power fill him, spread through every part of his being, like a great tidal wave. He had waited his entire life for this moment.

When the ceremony was complete, he raised himself, standing tall, his young back erect and strong. He slowly raised his eyes to The Locator, surprised to see the elder grinning at him. Thelanon grinned back, then rushed forward to be enveloped in the open arms.

“I will miss you, uncle.” His voice was muffled against the old man’s tunic.

“I will watch over you, Thelanon. You may not always feel me. It is, after all, a long way down, but know that I will watch over you as you, in turn, will Guard your Being.”

With one final embrace, Thelanon stepped back and looked into the wise grey eyes that had watched over him these many years. He offered a smile to demonstrate his courage, then he was suddenly gone.

The Locator smiled quietly to himself, a little envious of the adventure on which Thelanon was about to embark.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Wheels in Motion ~ Chapter Seven

Today's muse: Wood and Pixels Narratives

* * *

Chapter 7

Walking along the gravel drive, Carol surveyed the car, taking in the sleek lines, practically melting at the convertible top.

“I heard you bought the Miller’s old car.” She smiled at Billy’s frown. “Word travels fast in a small town.”

To his relief, Carol slowly nodded her approval. He hadn’t realized he was holding his breath, was nervous about her reaction. Oddly, he realized, her opinion mattered quite a bit to him.

Leaning into the engine compartment, they gazed at the various components together. “Holy cow, Mr. Miller sure keeps his cars clean,” she marvelled.

Billy nodded in agreement, caressing the air hose. “Mr. Miller said she has the J-2 option package which ...”

“Which gives her 300 horsepower instead of the stock 277,” Carol interrupted. “With the V8, she’s going to go like smoke.”

Billy slowly turned his head, dumbstruck. “I didn’t know you knew all that junk,” he said, awed.

She grinned mischievously, moving around the car. “There’s a lot you don’t know about me, Billy Peterson,” she added airily and, opening the passenger door, she sat inside, adjusting the side mirror. “With the top down, I bet it feels like you’re flying.” Raising her arms straight up, she closed her eyes, a small smile playing on her lips and, tipping her head back, she imagined driving along a quiet road, the wind blowing her hair wildly behind her.

Billy felt a drop in his stomach then, like cresting a hill a little too fast. She looked fabulous sitting in his car like that; it skewed everything. Opening her eyes, Carol saw Billy staring at her, an odd expression on his face. Suddenly self-conscious, she brought her arms down, wrapping them around her waist, and stared at the floor.

Billy came around and sat in the driver’s seat, gripping the steering wheel with both hands as though it was a life preserver. Glancing over at Carol, he noticed she had a streak of grease on her arm. It was obvious she had seen it—it ran the length of her forearm. He marvelled at the fact that she hadn’t made a big to-do over it like other girls, running home to wash it off, possibly changing her entire outfit. Come to think of it, she was never fussed about her clothes. Instead, she was comfortable in cropped pants and a loose shirt, ready for the next venture at a moment’s notice. Darn if she didn’t make that simple outfit look sexy.

And what was that smell, he wondered. Billy leaned a little closer, breathing in her scent. Earthy with a slight floral hint, he decided. It smelled heavenly to him and he closed his eyes, enjoying the fragrance, smiling to himself. It occurred to him that his dad was right. It wasn’t just anyone that you wanted to spend the rest of your life with. It should be someone that you’re comfortable with and want to spend time with. Someone you can laugh with, who is your friend. Someone you love.

Billy’s stomach dropped again. Love. He rolled the word around in his head, let it sit there a moment. Love. It flowed through him, warming every part of him. Huh, he thought, isn’t that something. Sometimes you can’t see what’s right in front of you.

Or next door.

Suddenly aware that the silence had gone on too long, Billy shook himself, clearing his throat awkwardly. Carol took this as a dismissal, embarrassed she had overstayed her welcome, and grasped the door handle, prepared to leave.

Billy grabbed her arm. “Wait.”

Chapter eight to be added soon.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Weapon of Choice

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice

* * *

Weapon of Choice

In the beginning there was love,
and it was good.
Man and woman lived together in paradise,
not ashamed of their nakedness.

Then came the serpent,
who slithered and hissed,
beckoned, lured, enticed.

Worn proudly on her left hand,
the crimson bauble shone for all.
That plump red orb changed everything.

The apple begat the rules;
The rules begat the punishment;
The punishment begat the shouting;
The shouting begat the humiliation;
The humiliation begat the beating.

But the spirit of David grew within her, and
brandishing her sword,
she slew Goliath.
Nevermore to be a slave,
but to forever be a warrior.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Wheels in Motion ~ Chapter Six

Today's muse: Wood and Pixels Narratives

* * *

Chapter 6

When Billy pulled into the driveway, his father was waiting for him. “Andy Miller called me already. Told me that you’d bought his old Rocket.” Donald Peterson, barely containing his excitement, wandered around the car, much the same way his son had. “She’s a beauty!” he pronounced, echoing Billy’s words.

Examining the engine together, father and son leaned as one, shoulders touching. After much discussion and debate, Don clapped his hand on Billy’s shoulder. “You made a fine choice, son,” he said with a grin. “So what’s going to be your first destination?”

Billy shrugged, not quite successful in his attempt at appearing casual. “I thought I’d go to the Blowout tonight.”

Don nodded his approval. “Good choice. Show her off. Are you taking anyone special?”

Billy sighed. Oh, how he wanted to ask Susan Andrews. Surely she’d go with him now. He had a great car, she couldn’t possibly say no. Of course, she’d probably already have a date, the Blowout was in a few hours, after all.

“No. I don’t have anyone to go with,” he muttered.

“But you had someone in mind,” as though he read Billy’s thoughts. It was a statement, rather than a question. Billy nodded.


“It doesn’t matter,” Billy shrugged, “she’s not interested in me anyway.”

To his credit, Don kept a straight face. “Son,” he said, slowly shaking his head, “it’s not easy finding the right girl, someone you want to share the rest of your life with. You want to take your time, choose carefully.” Billy glanced up at his father, a quizzical look on his face.

“When your mother came along,” Don explained, “she made me laugh and she laughed at my silly jokes. We would talk for hours, or just sit quietly together. We just ... you know ... clicked.” He shrugged, knowing he wasn’t explaining himself well. “You’ll know when it happens.”

“But when will it happen?” Billy cried, impatiently.

“Some things are just worth waiting for.” Don glanced up, hearing the crunch of the gravel drive. “Like that,” he added with a wink, nodding his head towards the girl walking down the walk.

“I think I hear your mother calling me,” he muttered and walked towards the house.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Question

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice

* * *

The Question

When the day comes
that I make the Great Voyage
to listen to the angels sing

I will meet St. Peter
and ask one question:
“Do I look fat in these wings?”

Friday, August 14, 2009

Wrongfully Accused

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice

* * *

Wrongfully Accused

For the theft of four oatmeal cookies
Charlie sits alone with his thoughts
Sentenced by Mom to sit in the corner
While the dog grins and licks his chops

Wheels in Motion ~ Chapter Five

Today's muse: Wood and Pixels Narratives

* * *

Wheels in Motion ~ Chapter 5

It was busy at Miller’s Grocery Store—typical for a Saturday—which was fine with Billy. It was making the day fly by and, as far as he was concerned, it couldn’t go fast enough. He simply couldn’t wait for the end of the day.

Darryl Miller watched from his office, impressed with Billy’s maturity and confidence. He assisted customers, greeting them by name, chatting easily with the adults. He heard nothing but good words about Billy, how polite and helpful he was, how he was a great asset to the family-run business. Darryl agreed whole-heartedly. Which is why he felt compelled to do something for Billy. He was a good kid, he thought, who deserved a break.

At the end of his shift, Billy untied his apron and hung it in the back storeroom. As he was about to leave, Mr. Miller approached him, wrapping a fatherly arm around his shoulders.

“Billy,” he said, “I know you’ve been wanting a car for a while. Turns out my brother wants to get a new car for the missus. She wants a new Jetfire.” Darryl rolled his eyes. “Red,” he added, spitting out the word in disdain. Billy grinned, thinking about Mr. Miller’s simple black sedan.

“I saw the ad in the paper.”

“Now what he’s selling isn’t new, mind you,” Darryl cautioned, not wanting to get the boy’s hopes too high, “but she’ll be just fine for you, I think.” Giving Billy a dismissive pat on the shoulder, he added “I told him you’d be by after work. I made him promise not to sell it before you had a look.”

Billy grasped Mr. Miller’s hand and pumped it vigorously. “Thank you, sir!” Darryl chuckled as he watched Billy ride off, pedalling feverishly.

When Billy arrived at the Miller farm, Andrew Miller was waiting for him. Wiping his hands on an old rag, he met Billy at the front porch. Recognizing the excitement in Billy’s eyes, Andy figured on waiving the niceties of asking him in for some lemonade, despite the fact that he knew his wife would take him to task for it later.

Waving the rag towards the barn in invitation, he ambled over with Billy, chatting about school, work and, of course, cars. Andy remembered all too well what it meant to be a teenager and own a car. Which is why he’d already decided that he’d price it to sell.

Sliding the barn door open, Andy let Billy wander in. It was obvious the boy was pleased. He walked slowly around the gold-tone ’57 Rocket, taking in the chrome, the sleek lines, running his hand lightly along the back fin. A grin split his face as he looked up at Andy.

“She’s a beauty,” he whispered reverently.

Andy nodded in agreement. “That she is, son, that she is.”

“But…” Billy was sure this was out of his price range. She was in pristine condition, not a mark on her. “How much?” He swallowed thickly, afraid to hear the answer, having already fallen in love with the car.

Andy folded his arms, waited a beat, then named a figure. Billy wasn’t sure he’d heard him right. That couldn’t be it, she was worth so much more.

“Too much?” asked Andy.

“No, sir!” breathed Billy. “I’ll get you the money on Monday. I’ll go to the bank and…” his words jumbled together, tumbling over each other.

Andy held up his hands, laughing. “I trust you, Billy.” Pulling a set of keys from his pocket, he tossed them to Billy. “Take her home now. Don’t you have somewhere to go tonight?”

Stunned, Billy looked down at the keys, then up at Andy. “Your bike will fit in the trunk,” Andy nodded encouragingly. He laughed quietly has he loaded Billy’s bicycle into the back, pushing the trunk closed.

Standing on the front porch, he watched Billy drive away, lost in his own memories of teenage years. He heard the screen door creek open, then slam shut behind him.

“Now why didn’t you ask that nice Billy Peterson in for lemonade?” Nancy Miller stood beside him, wiping her hands on her apron. Andy glanced over at his wife, a sheepish grin on his face.

“Do you remember when I first bought that car?” Nancy nodded, smiling wistfully.

“It was a warm summer day,” she sighed. “The top was down, and we just drove around, enjoying the countryside.”

“And?” her husband prompted, nudging her with his hip.

“And you proposed to me,” she replied, laughing, holding up her hand so the light glinted off the set of rings. “Do you suppose the old Rocket will bring Billy the same luck?”

Andy shrugged. “You can’t change what’s meant to be,” he said, knowingly. “Sometimes fate just takes over.”

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Wheels in Motion ~ Chapter Four

Today's muse: Wood and Pixels Narratives

* * *

Wheels in Motion ~ Chapter 4

At the breakfast table, Billy sat with his head in his hands, contemplating the pile of toast sitting before him. He wasn’t hungry. He’d told his mother that. But she insisted anyway.

“You need to eat something,” Doris Peterson admonished, as she nudged the plate towards him. They sat together in silence at the kitchen table while Billy tore his toast into small pieces and Doris pretended to read the Saturday newspaper. She paged idly through the weekly, knowing that her son would talk to her when he was ready, sensing he needed to make the first move.

She watched Billy as his facial expressions revealed his thoughts. It was obvious he was reliving the events of the past week again in his mind, each humiliating moment dancing before him in vivid Technicolor.

It all came down to the car, Billy concluded. He seemed to be the only one without one. Which was fine when you were hanging out with the whole gang. But when you wanted to go to the drive-in with a girl, have some time alone, it was best to have your own wheels.

The problem was, he just couldn’t find one he could afford and, more importantly, one he wouldn’t be embarrassed to pick up a girl in. Which is why he’d been working at Miller’s grocery store, restocking shelves after school every night and every day this summer. He’d been socking away money every week and he had quite a nest egg now.

His fantasy—which he played out every night before falling asleep—was to cruise up to a girl’s house (it was always Susan’s) and idle at the end of the walk. She would rush out, her skirt flouncing around her, hair pinned high atop her head. He’d have his arm casually slung over the seat of the car, with a surly James Dean look about him and she would swoon all over him.

Doris glanced up, catching Billy’s wistful smile. As she was about to turn the page, a notice in the classifieds caught her eye. Reading through the ad, she smiled quietly to herself. Carefully folding the newspaper to reveal the small square of print, she turned it around so that Billy could read it, pushed it a little forward then stood up to leave. Walking around the table she ran a hand across Billy’s shoulder. “It will get better, son,” she murmured, and left him alone in the kitchen.

He sighed and pushed the plate of toast away, glancing up at the kitchen clock. He had thirty minutes or so before he had to leave for work. Pulling the discarded newspaper towards him, he began to unfold it when the carefully folded square came into focus. He read through it—twice—blinking several times to be sure he was reading it correctly. Then, shouting a quick farewell to his mother, he jumped on his bicycle and rode to work.

Doris allowed herself a satisfied grin. She didn’t think he’d continue moping for long.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Wheels in Motion ~ Chapter Three

Today's muse: Wood and Pixels Narratives

* * *

Wheels in Motion ~ Chapter 3

Carol wandered back home, kicking at the loose rocks on the walkway, muttering incoherently about stupid boys and cheap girls. She slipped into the house through the kitchen door and was surprised to see her mother standing at the stove.


Linda Freeman glanced over her shoulder. “I thought you went over to see Billy.”

Carol shrugged without answering. “What are you making?” she asked, nodding towards the stove.

Linda sighed, turning back to the stove. “Oh, I couldn’t sleep. Thought some warm milk might help. Would you like some?”

Thinking it could only help, Carol accepted the offer and pulled two mugs from the cupboard, setting them near her mother on the counter. Making herself comfortable at the kitchen table, she idly watched her mother stir the milk.

What did Billy see in that horrid Susan Andrews anyway? She was nothing but a floozy!

“What, dear?” Her mother’s question drew her back. Oh my! Did she say that out loud? Gnawing on her lip, Carol contemplated confiding in her mother. She might be able to shed some light on the mystery of boys. God only knew she couldn’t figure it out on her own.

“Mom…” she began haltingly. When the obligatory ‘Hmmm?’ was returned, Carol willed herself to speak, wondering what her mother would think, or if she’d even give a suitable answer.

“How do you get a guy to notice you?” The question was barely a whisper.

Linda was grateful her back was turned so her daughter didn’t see her knowing smile. Gathering her thoughts, Linda busied herself pouring the warmed milk into mugs. Setting one in front of her daughter, and pulling the other closer to herself, she sat across from Carol.

“Are we talking about a friend, or someone sitting in this very kitchen?”

Carol rolled her eyes, unable to suppress the grin or the blush.

“Someone in this kitchen,” she muttered into her mug.

Linda took a sip of milk, gazing at her daughter over the rim. The pained expression on Carol’s face nearly broke her heart; Linda remembered all too well what the first spasms of love felt like at that tender age.

“There’s this girl at school—Susan Andrews,” explained Carol, “And all the boys are just falling all over themselves when she walks by. She wears these big flouncy skirts and cheap perfume and far too much makeup!” Carol flicked a hand in the air. “And she has enormous…”

Holding her hands in front of her for emphasis, Carol looked down at her own meagre chest and sighed, dropping her hands limply onto the table.

Linda gave a small cough to cover up the laughter that bubbled out. “Well,” she cleared her throat, “it has been my experience that girls like that seldom get their man.” When Carol raised her eyebrows in a disbelieving expression, Linda waved her hand. “No, no. I’m speaking from experience, young lady. His eye may wander, but it will finally come to rest on you. Just be yourself. If he’s worth it, he’ll come around.”

Getting up from the table, Linda walked around and kissed the top of her daughter’s head, giving her shoulders a firm squeeze.

“And it’ll be worth the wait,” she whispered. “I promise.”