Thursday, July 30, 2009

That Damn Fridge

Today's muse: Protagonize

* * *

That Damn Fridge

It mocks me
A sentry in the kitchen
Its brilliant whiteness glittering fiercely
Taunting me with its mouth-watering sins

Be gone with you!
Oh, vixen of pastries
Temptress of sweets
Harlot of calories

You seductively call my name
Like a lover’s caress
Luring me closer
Until I succumb

I am your slave!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Today's muse: The One-Minute Writer

* * *


Heart races.
Pulse pounds.
Hairs bristle.
Bile rises.
Jump back.
Scream loudly.
Call husband.
“Kill spider!”

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tire Swing

Today's muse: Pictures, Poetry & Prose

* * *

Tire Swing

From the moment he hung it, she swung daily on the tire swing, her laughter echoing throughout the garden, drifting up into the windows, wrapping him in its warmth. Oh, how he had loved to hear her voice ringing with merriment as she swayed freely on that old wheel.

Now, only the echo remains, clinging desperately to the flowers, not quite reaching him in his den where he hides day after day, drowning in his loss; the grief of losing her, virtually suffocating him.

Until today. Today he heard laughter. Entranced, he wandered over to the window and gazed down onto the estate. He watched, mesmerized, as the old swing began to sway. He could hear laughter—her laughter—wandering up to him, luring him.

“Come and play, Daddy!” he heard her cry, his heart leaping with joy. He had been waiting so long to hear her voice again; waiting for her to call him to join her. There was no hesitation in his step as he leapt from the window, eager to unite with his daughter once again.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Masterpiece Haiku

Today's muse: The One-Minute Writer

* * *

Masterpiece Haiku

critics praise canvas
sold at high-priced auction sale
—duped by five year old

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Dream to Behold - Chapter Two

Today's muse: Protagonize

* * *


The next day, Teddy accompanied Shawna to school, his button eye carefully tucked in her pocket. It was imperative that the other kids know the truth, saw the proof for themselves. She told Katy Wilson about the evening’s events on the bus. Katy had sat with her hand clamped over her mouth the entire time, her rounded eyes peering out over her fingers.

As was expected, word spread quickly to the other children in her classroom; even beyond to other grades, as some of her friends had older siblings. Which is why, at recess, there was a large gathering of children standing in a semi-circle around Shawna, all waiting with mingled excitement and dread. Holding Teddy in one hand, and his lone eye in the other, she raised her arms for everyone to see, eliciting loud gasps from the crowd.

Shawna recounted her tale for the benefit of those who hadn’t yet heard, although judging from the nods and lack of surprise, it appeared that everyone was well-informed.

“What do you think it is?” asked a timid voice from the back.

Shawna shrugged. “Don’t know.” There was a murmur among the crowd as some conferred with their neighbour, speculating on the horror.

“We only have this,” she said loudly, her voice cutting through the whispering, bringing silence. She turned the button eye over in her hand, examining it again, although it was now burned in her memory. Etched onto the back was a large B. Flakes of some green substance were embedded in the scored letter.

“What does it mean?” asked a third-grader, for the button was being passed among the crowd, giving everyone the opportunity to study it.

Shawna shrugged again. “Don’t know,” she repeated.

“What are you kids up to?” Shawna jumped at the voice behind her. Whirling around, she recognized Philip Sanders, a grade-eight student. Not trusting someone who was practically a grown-up, Shawna said nothing, protectively hiding Teddy behind her.

Philip saw the bear, knew what it probably meant. A large crowd of terrified kids usually only meant one thing. He reached behind her and, when Shawna struggled, simply said “Let me see the damage.” Shawna released Teddy, looking at the group for guidance.

“It’s ok,” she didn’t recognize the girl who spoke, “he’s my brother.”

Philip held Teddy up for inspection, turning him over several times, running his thumb over the bits of thread that made up his empty sockets. He nodded sagely.

“And there’s this,” said his sister, handing over the button eye.

Philip held it respectfully in his hand, turning it over to see the engraving. He sighed heavily, shaking his head mournfully. He looked back and called “Hey, Billy!”

Oh no! thought Shawna. They’re going to play Keep Away now. This wasn’t going at all like she’d planned.

But before she could rescue Teddy from Philip, Billy joined them and he and Philip were now conversing in low, urgent voices. When they stepped back, Philip handed Teddy over to Shawna, then reverently placed the button eye back in her hand. He sat down on the bench with his elbows on his knees, his head hanging down. Shawna sat beside him and waited a moment, then timidly asked in a quiet voice “What does it mean?”

Philip hesitated, seemingly not able to speak, or perhaps he was too frightened. Maybe he thought she was too little to hear the truth. But she wasn’t. She was six-going-on-seven! She was big enough, she thought, sitting up straighter.

Taking a deep breath, Philip looked down at Shawna, then across the mass of children, staring wide-eyed at him.

“It means he’s back,” he said flatly.

read chapter three

A Dream to Behold - Chapter One

Originally posted at Protagonize

* * *

Running Loose

Jerked suddenly awake, Shawna sat up in her bed, her little chest heaving, gasping for breath. Carefully reaching over she snatched Teddy up, squeezing him against her in a strangle-hold, knowing he’d protect her, despite the fact that he was missing an eye.

Shawna strained her little ears, listening for the slightest sound, the tiniest warning. Then she heard it. A slight creak of the floor. Someone—or more accurately—something had stepped on the loose floorboard at the end of the hallway.

She eyed the large expanse of her bed, the boundary defined by the SpongeBob SquarePants bedspread. That was one good thing about getting the new big bed. And just about the only good thing. She had pleaded with her parents to keep the old bed, but they had patiently explained that Grandma and Poppa could sleep in her new big bed when they visited and she could sleep on the camp cot. Shawna had tried to explain to them that the old bed was much safer because there were drawers beneath it and nothing could escape. Never mind the fact that she would be even more vulnerable on the cot!

But they wouldn’t listen. They had simply laughed at her, dismissively waving their hands, telling her that there was absolutely nothing under the bed.

What did they know? Shawna snorted into the dark. They were grown-ups, and grown-ups didn’t understand monsters. In fact, they couldn’t even see them, every kid knew that. But Katy Wilson’s brother told her that his best friend Mark Henderson’s older sister told him that their little cousin saw a monster.

That—in Shawna’s mind—was proof enough.

And now, one of the monsters living under her bed was wandering around the house. She knew there were more of them...there always were. One had obviously escaped already, the rest were just waiting for her to make a move, or worse, a mistake. Kneeling on the bed, she contemplated how she was going to reach the salvation of her parents’ bedroom, knowing that the moment she stepped onto the floor, she would likely be attacked. As she considered whether she could run fast enough, she saw a shadow slowly creep over the crack below her door, plummeting the room into complete darkness.

With a squeal, Shawna dove under the covers, yanking them over her head, knowing instinctively, as all children do, that bed sheets offer an invisible force shield that no monster can penetrate.

Trembling uncontrollably, Shawna squeezed her eyes shut, whimpering quietly, willing the monster to simply crawl back under the bed. She heard the squeak of her door as it opened slowly. Her hand edged over, reaching for the comfort only Teddy’s fur could provide, but she found only empty air. Horrified, she realized he must have fallen off the bed. Paralyzed with fear, Shawna shrank under the covers, imagining the gruesome tortures that Teddy would endure.

As she wondered if the protection of the bedspread would fail, wondered what would happen if she dared try and rescue Teddy, there was a loud—SNAP!

The room was immediately drenched in light.

Sharp footsteps carried across the room toward her bed, then suddenly stopped. The covers were snatched from her and Shawna tremulously opened her eyes, looking up into her mother’s face, who appeared to be holding back a smile.

“I know you’re scared, honey, but believe me—there is nothing under your bed.” And to prove it, Valerie Phillips got down on her knees and peered under her daughter’s bed. Popping her head back up, she announced brightly, “all clear!”

Valerie picked up her daughter’s teddy bear and, turning the stuffed toy over, noticed that he was becoming quite worn. “Teddy’s getting kind of old, don’t you think?” She waved the bear in front of Shawna, then tucked him in beside her. As she left, Valerie glanced back, Shawna’s terrified face stared back at her. Shaking her head, Valerie left the room, closing the door softly behind her.

Left alone in the dark, Shawna pulled Teddy closer to her, smug with the knowledge that she, herself, now had proof of the monster conspiracy, for she had seen Teddy’s face clearly when her mother had swung him over her.

Teddy was now missing the other eye.

As she lay grieving for Teddy’s blindness, she heard the distinct tink, tink, tink, of a button bouncing across the floor, followed by the unmistakable sound of hollow, mocking laughter coming from under her bed.

read chapter two

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Little Fuchsia Bear

Today's muse: Pictures, Poetry & Prose

* * *

The Little Fuchsia Bear

He remembered the first day as though time had not passed. The grown-ups held him by his waist, swung him to and fro, while the child gazed at him in wonder, giggled with delight. Her small, pudgy hands squeezed and held him tight, while strong gums gnawed and sucked his left ear until it was mangled beyond recognition.

In the early years, he attended lavish tea parties and marched in extravagant parades; always wearing the gaudy orange hat and the pink feather boa. Evenings, he was held close in peaceful slumber; though he often woke on the floor, furred limbs splayed, as if he'd spent the evening on a wild bender.

In time, his seniority made him privy to classified information; debriefed at length on what was said at recess, to whom and how, with detailed dossiers on those who didn't play well with others.

Much later, he spent hours listening to the tortured lament of teenage love, offered the kind of comfort only a hug can provide. Most recently, his time was filled with endless days of solitude, lying prone on the flowered bedspread.

Now, propped against the bed pillows, listing somewhat to the left, he watched her pack the few possessions she would take with her to university. He felt deflated and empty, as though the very stuffing that gave him life was wrenched from his fuchsia body and he was nothing but a dishevelled casing. He contemplated his dismal future; boxed and sent to a charity where he would lay with other abandoned stuffies, bewailing better times. They would all recall how their owners loved them, boast of their play dates, each tale more embellished than the last.

And in the dark hours, when the lights were asleep and he was not, he would miss how she’d wrap her arm around him and hug him close while she dreamt.

She placed the last box beside him on the bed, thrust her hands into the pockets of her worn jeans and scanned her bedroom. A wistful expression flickered across her face and it tore at his stuffed heart. With a heavy sigh, she picked up the box, tucked it under her arm and scooped up the worn bear in a one-armed hug.

"You have to come with me," she mumbled into his fur. "It just won’t be the same without you."

With that the little fuchsia bear left the room, swinging upside down, one leg held in a firm grip, arms thrown wide in delight.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Packing Up

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice

* * *

Packing Up

Taking a deep breath, Emily eased opened the door, and stepped into the room; a room she had kept closed for several months now. She wasn't ready before, she knew that now. Unprepared then, and more than a little naïve, she was left shaking in terror when grim memories had flashed and swirled in anger, chased her out into the hallway. The door slammed on its own, shut her out.

She was ready this time.

Emily set down the case she carried and gazed around the room. All of her father’s possessions were wrapped and packed, each cardboard box meticulously labelled with its contents. Shirts and pants were arranged in neat piles on the bed, awaiting their fate. After his funeral, she began packing his possessions, determined to throw everything away. She was convinced it was these mementos that kept him alive. Indeed, his spirit lived on, for even though he was buried in Westview Cemetery, she still felt his presence. She heard his voice, thick with scotch, smelled the stench of his breath as he fumbled with her shirt buttons, felt the weight of him on her as he grunted and thrust.

Even now, she felt warning prickles on the back of her neck, heard her father’s whispered threat. She pushed them aside, determined not to fail this time. The hold he had on her would be broken this time. She willed it, and so it would be.

Emily knelt and opened the worn case once owned by her grandmother. She chose a few items, tucked them in her pocket for later use, then selected four coloured candles. Her fingers skimmed over the symbols she had etched into the wax. She walked clockwise around the room, setting down a candle for each element, chanted the words she had written; spoke in the ancient language passed on from her grandmother, to her mother, and now to her. A language that ran through her blood.

Casting her circle, she requested the presence of the guardians, asked for their protection. As she called the last element, a chill spread through the room, wafted around the perimeter of her circle. The candles flickered in warning, though she couldn’t be sure if they warned her or her father.

Emily could feel his presence, knew he prowled the room. His will battled against her, fought her ceremony. Grounding herself, she raised her arms, palms up, and chanted the ritual. Her voice shook and she could hear him laugh, as though he knew he’d won.

She reached inside and pushed out power handed down from her ancestors. Her voice grew stronger and louder. The chilled air moved, whipped her hair around her face. Keepsakes flew out of the boxes and revolved around her, whirled about in a kaleidoscope of colours. Watches, cuff links, picture frames, spun faster and faster, whirled around her like a tornado. The clamour of the wind and constant clinking of items bouncing into one another, was deafening and Emily had to shout to hear herself above the din. As she cried out the final words, the wind stopped, leaving the items suspended in air for a fraction of a second. Then, everything dropped with a thunderous crash, landing around her in a neat three-foot ring.

Knowing she didn't have much time, Emily gathered the items circled around her, threw them haphazardly into a cardboard box. She flew down the stairs and out the patio door, never ceasing her fevered chanting. She dumped the contents of the cardboard box into the metal drum in the back yard; the drum he used to burn her favourite possessions when he wanted to punish her. Now she would punish him.

She took a black votive from her pocket, lit the wick and placed it on top of the stack of mementos. The flames took immediately, licked at the clothing, melted the photographs, consumed everything.

As the fire blazed higher, she pulled from her pocket the effigy she had made; a small poppet constructed from one of his shirts. Though a crude face was penned on the fabric, there was no mistaking the moustache and goatee. It was him.

She squeezed the cloth face in a firm grip, murmured a final spell, then wrenched the head from its body in one violent yank. The sound of shredding fabric was audible above the crackling of the inferno. As she dropped the decapitated doll into the bin, tossed in the head after it, the flames shot upward eight feet. A wall of heat shoved her back, as though enormous hands pressed against her, tried to stop her.

She heard wailing, a keening moan that grew louder and louder. Then she heard, as though his mouth was next to her ear, that familiar raspy voice.

"This is not over."

It was clear to her at that moment that he was scared, knew that she was stronger than him, knew that she could banish him. Would banish him.

She pulled a crystal from her pocket, gripped it in her hand as she ran a final spell through her head, then tossed it into the fire.

"Yes it is,” she said. “It's over for you."

Green and white sparks climbed through the night, drifted up to the stars, dragging her father's soul with them. Emily smiled as his angry voice faded away.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Leaving Early

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice

* * *

Leaving Early

In the beginning the vows held fast, easily upheld. Forever seemed possible when the words were first promised. Then love somehow changed its course and veered onto an unknown path, following a beguiling tempter. No longer on a whirlwind expedition, she has left early and his tour has come to a halt.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

West End Girl

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice

* * *

West End Girl

“Sometimes you’re better off dead,” he sneered, digging the barrel of the gun deeper into her abdomen. Roxy showed no outward appearance of her terror, though the bile burned a fiery path along her throat as she forced it down in a nervous swallow. She wanted to tell him off, at least for appearances sake, but couldn’t trust her voice to be steady. Instead, she gazed at the greasy-haired pusher, a look of boredom carefully fixed on her face.

The street kids called him Venom. It had taken her a while to find him. Greasy little shit, she thought to herself, her eyes visibly hardening. He stared back at her, seemingly intrigued by her bravado, his head tilting slightly right, then left. The snake tattoo that coiled around his neck, ending at the lifelike skull positioned strategically below his left eye, seemed to come to life, undulating with the movement. Despite herself, she couldn’t help but appreciate the artistry.

Venom’s wary gaze travelled down to her mouth, lingered there a few seconds, then lazily rose back up to her eyes. His thin lips curved up in a malicious leer, his pale tongue darting out, running over his stained teeth. Leaning closer to her, Venom pressed his crotch against her leg, roughly grating his stubbled cheek against hers. The stench of cigarettes, bourbon and stale sweat assaulted her senses.

“I hear you’ve been looking for me,” he breathed into her ear, curling his free hand around her throat in a threatening grip, jabbing the gun for effect.

Suppressing a shudder, she shrugged and said, in what she hoped was a careless tone, “I heard you were looking for girls.”

He stepped back then, thrusting the gun in the waistband of his grungy jeans, no longer believing her to be a threat. The thought of fresh new talent appealed to him. Especially this young thing.

“You take five percent,” said Venom, pointing a finger at her. “I keep the rest,” he added, jabbing a thumb in his chest. Taking her silence as agreement, he rubbed his chin, appraising her, his eyes slowly roaming up and down her body, virtually devouring her. Roxy could feel her heart pounding under his steady gaze, was sure he could see it jumping under her meagre shirt. The acid in her stomach curdled as his expression changed from the street-wise sleaze he had become, to that of a hungry, wild prowler gauging his attack.

With lightening speed, he was swiftly upon her, slamming Roxy against the wall, dragging his hand up her side and roughly cupping her breast, squeezing until she cried out.

“Why don’t we take you for a test drive?” he crudely suggested, dragging his damp tongue up her cheek, his breathing already jagged. She knew what was going to happen next. She’d been around these streets long enough to know. As much as she had prepared herself for this exact moment, she was surprised to suddenly realize she wasn’t ready. All rational thought fled her mind and she was keenly aware that she was likely going to die tonight.

As her mind wrapped around this notion, accepted the concept as it nestled snugly inside her, she heard an audible click, the sound ricocheting off the ally walls.

“Thank, Christ,” she muttered, sagging against the wall.

“Let her go,” said a deep, authoritative voice. When Venom didn’t respond, the voice growled louder, “Don’t make me ask you again!” shoving the butt of a gun harder into the back of his head, nudging his face forward.

Venom stepped back, lifting his arms and placing his hands behind his head. He glared at Roxy, his cold dark eyes boring into her. “You fucking bitch!” he hissed at her, spitting in her face.

Wiping away the spittle that was dripping down her temple, she thrust her middle finger at him, noticed that her hand trembled slightly.

As Venom was led away, Roxy turned into the wall, pressing her forehead against the cool brick.

A firm hand clutched her shoulder. “You OK?”

She whirled around and punched the policeman in the chest with surprising force. “Where the fuck were you?” she shouted.

The police officer stepped back, rubbing his chest. “The situation was under control.”

“Maybe from where you were standing,” she spat out, “but from my angle, the view was a little different.”

She muttered angry, unintelligible words as she paced, flailing her arms about in a vain attempt at diffusing some anger. “This is bullshit,” she finally announced, stopping abruptly. “I can’t do this. I’m not going undercover anymore.” And with that, Roxy stormed off.

The lone officer hung his head. “Man,” he muttered, “the Chief’s gonna be really pissed now.”

Monday, July 6, 2009

Which to Wear

Today's muse: Pictures, Poetry & Prose

* * *

Which to Wear

Wandering into the luxurious bathroom, Jacqueline avoided the mirror’s reflection that held little resemblance to the vibrant woman she once was. Hair that danced in flirtatious curls around her shoulders, now hung lifeless down her back. She understood, now, why Evan insisted she keep it long.

She fought to control her trembling hands as she applied makeup with meticulous care. Despite her diligence, she knew he would find fault. He always did.

The backless, red silk dress hung in her walk-in closet, replaced now with the gown laid out on the king-sized bed. The black, sequined dress would better camouflage the signs of his most recent discipline.

Evan entered the room, his footsteps muffled on the plush carpet, and placed his hands on her shoulders. It was an act of possession, rather than affection. She doubted he was capable of the latter. Jacqueline suppressed a shudder when he bent down to kiss her neck.

“We will have a wonderful evening,” he murmured. His voice hardened as his hand bit into her shoulder. “Provided, of course, you behave.”

His warning hung in the room like a heavy fog, leaving her breathless and frightened. When he left, she met her gaze in the mirror, questioned the pale blue eyes that stared back.

Had she made the right decision?

Jacqueline closed the ivory compact, put it back in its designated place inside the vanity drawer. After a quick glance in the mirror, she pushed aside the ceramic box that held her shadows and fingered the antique sheering scissors hidden beneath.

Her eyes darted back to the mirror. She didn’t see the straw-coloured hair that hung below her shoulders. Instead, she saw a walnut bob that hung in a classic cut just below her chin.

Yes, she thought, when she left tomorrow, she would wear a new face.

* * *

Note: This piece was edited on February 22, 2011. The original version can be read by following the muse link above.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Today's muse: Pictures, Poetry & Prose

* * *


Like a starving parasite, the shame gnawed away at him, gorged on his secret. No longer able to face those prying eyes—the ones that judged and tormented him—he followed the river’s song, melodious notes that promised peace and forgiveness.

Especially forgiveness.

At the water’s edge, he fell to his knees and begged an unknown deity to show mercy. The only response was the river crooning his name. Gentle ripples beckoned, pulled him forward. In a trance, he rose to his feet and waded into the water, each hesitant step taking him deeper into the murky channel.

He was not surprised by the feathery touch against his leg. He knew they were there, waiting for him.

The pressure increased, wrapped around his ankles, moved with lightening speed up his legs. This was deserved, he told himself, fighting the urge to bolt. God help him if his punishment was equal to that which he once delivered with such delight.

Without warning, he was snatched beneath the surface, arms and legs bound. His body bucked as he fought for oxygen. Water plumed from the river in great crests as he thrashed against the invisible bindings. The black water suffocated, crushed him, stole every last breath from his lungs, until there was nothing but mist.

On the shore, the children stood unmoved and watched as the last ripple faded away with their stolen innocence.

Friday, July 3, 2009

On Your Birthday

Today's muse: Mama's Losin' It
#3. Write a poem for the boy in your life.

* * *

On Your Birthday

Your faded worn jeans were a testament
to the miles you drove on your knees,
pushing your tiny metal cars over quilted mountains.

Your never-ending wonder of our world
produced a constant hail of questions,
never satisfied by the answers that were given you.

Your stoic bravery in accepting your fate
is a glowing beacon to each of us,
giving guidance and strength from beyond the stars.