Friday, August 27, 2010

The Notebook

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice
Today's prompt: Notebook

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The Notebook

The moment Nathan picked it up, he knew someone had been through it. Not because the seven rubber bands intricately wrapped around the leather-bound book were out of place—they weren’t. Each one was exactly where Nathan had placed it; wrapped around the length or width, straight or diagonal, based on the colour and thickness of each band.

It was the smell that gave it away. The weathered notebook was shrouded in it. That foul, pedestrian stench of oil and sweat that wrapped around his father and seeped into his pores, infested the old man’s soul. It was the smell of the common worker, something that mortified Nathan. He was above that lifestyle, knew that he was meant for better things. He was meant to run factories, not work in them. He would build empires and have hundreds of people working for him. If he could just get out of this goddamned town.

It wasn’t that he hated his father. Hell, he respected him! With nothing more than a grade eight education, John Wilkins had managed to crawl from the mire of poverty and build a respectable middle class life for his wife and son. The one thing John boasted of (to anyone who would listen) was the small fortune he managed to squander so he could send his son, Nathan, to school.

“My boy is going to university!” he would brag to his friends. Cause for celebration, indeed, as no one else in his family had finish high school.

John was mindful of telling his son how proud he was, always telling Nathan that he could do whatever he set his mind to; that marching to the top of the summit, eyes set on the future, was what he was meant to do.

Nathan looked down at the weathered notebook in his hand, the bands wrapped around it like a rainbow fortress. In it were detailed plans for his future: lists of people who would help him achieve his goal, dates of events for which the timing was crucial. Plans he’d shared with no one, for they wouldn’t understand.

Plans his father had read.

At first, Nathan was terrified. What if his father didn’t approve? After all, it wasn’t what they’d talked about. But, somehow, Nathan knew his father would support him. Was it not every parent’s dream to see their child surpass them? Year after year, Nathan watched his father come home, exhausted after a double shift, and drop on the living room sofa; layers of grime embedded beneath his fingernails that didn’t wash out, no matter how many times he scrubbed. All to see his only child succeed.

Now the old man knew. After reading Nathan’s notes, he knew that success was inevitable. Nathan smiled then, thought of how proud his father must be. With fierce determination, Nathan vowed he wouldn’t let his father down. He loved the old man so damned much. Too bad, really, that he’d have to kill him.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Over the Moon

Today's muse: Full moon tonight. (Posted at Six Sentences)

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Over the Moon

“For you,” he said, with an exaggerated sweep of his arm. She looked up at the brilliant orb, a lone spotlight shining down on her. Like faithful groupies worshipping a crooner, tiny lights paid homage as they danced in the night sky. “Go on,” he said “reach up and touch it.” Never before had anyone treated her like a goddess, elevated her to such a dizzying height. As she reached up, stretched to make contact with the tokens he had hung with such care, he kicked the pedestal from under her and laughed as she tumbled, down, down, down.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Wishing on a Star

Today's muse: Six Sentences

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Wishing on a Star

As the meteor shot across the sky, I closed my eyes and sent a prayer to the gods. Their reply was almost immediate. You filled a void that I never knew existed, made me believe what I thought was a dream. My view from your marble pedestal was magnificent. I swear I touched the heavens. I never believed that on the next passing star, I’d be wishing you were dead.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

It Happened on the Ferris Wheel

Today's muse: A rewrite of an old piece from my other blog.

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It Happened on the Ferris Wheel

“Single rider!” shouted the Carney.

Mary Sue cringed in the corner of the ride’s metal bucket, felt her cheeks blaze in humiliation. Just put the bar down and go, she prayed. All she wanted was a ride on the Ferris wheel, to see the lights sparkle from that great height. To feel, for just a few moments, as though she owned the world. And she wasn’t alone.

“Right here,” came a deep voice.

Mary Sue stared. Boy oh boy, there was Billy Wilson, and he was going to sit with her on the Big Wheel. Didn’t he look like a dream with his hair slicked back and his jean cuffs rolled up?

“May I?” He gestured beside her.

She gathered her skirt to make room. Billy climbed in next to her and pulled the bar down, trapping them together. Mary Sue felt her heart pounding beneath her sweater, wiped her damp palms on her skirt.

Billy grinned. “I’ve been watching you, you know. Waiting for the right time to say something.”

Her heart skipped. “Really?”

Billy nodded. “Really.”

The wheel began to turn. Slowly at first, then faster and faster. As the chair swayed back and forth, they talked. About nothing. About everything. When the Carney slowed the ride to let them off, he saw the way they gazed at each other and he hit the lever to send them around again. By the third ride, they were holding hands.

“So when did you know?”

Mary Sue blinked, stared down at the mixing bowl nestled in her arm. “What?”

“When did you fall in love with Grandpa? How did it happen?”

Mary Sue smiled at her granddaughter, continued to mix the brownie batter.

“It happened on the Ferris wheel.”

Monday, August 9, 2010


Today's muse: One Word. Today's word: Whiskey.

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The pain is all-consuming, obliterating all else. The knives don’t just stab, they plunge deep—twist and dig—leaving holes the size of moon craters. Of course, she had imagined what it would feel like should this day come, but she never thought it would; not really. After all, this kind of loss happens to other people, to strangers.

“That’s not the answer,” says a voice, barely audible through the drunken fog.

“Fuck off,” she replies, and tilts the bottle, letting the amber liquid soothe her aching heart.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Calling Home

Today's muse:

I sought some advice from fellow writers at Six Sentences. I read some of my earlier work and cringed at how many rules I broke (I know Strunk and White are thrashing about right now), not to mention that I kept editing in my head as I read. I asked my fellow writers if I should just leave my work as it stands or if it's appropriate to edit it.

Everyone agreed that it's my work and I should do as I will. In particular, it was noted that my blog should be about my writing and not the evolution thereof. So, I am going to edit some earlier work, because I hate to think that someone will read it and think Pfft! She calls herself a writer?!

As I edit stale work on this blog, I'll post them on Twitter for any newbies that may be following ... in case you want to Tweet along with me.

I'm also going to edit a few pieces I wrote on another more whimsical blog (before I created this writing blog) and post them here. The first one is ...

* * *

Calling Home

Pulling his cell phone from his pocket, Gregg walked halfway down the secluded stairwell, away from the rest of the crew. He glanced at his watch. It was just before eight. She’d be ready for bed now. But he knew she was waiting for his call. It had become somewhat of a ritual.

He punched the familiar numbers into his phone, pressed it to his ear. She answered on the third ring, breathless, as though she’d run to answer the call.

“Hi, Daddy!”

Sarah’s voice floated through the telephone and the ache in his back melted away. Gregg forgot about the delays that had the supervisor cussing him out every night, set aside the stale humidity that made him feel like he was living in a furnace. Even the steady hammering behind his eyes subsided.

It was just him and Sarah.

He asked her about her day at kindergarten and listened while she chattered about the new puppy’s antics. He could see her sitting at the kitchen table, clad in her Dora the Explorer nightgown, tiny feet swinging well above the floor. When they hung up, she’d climb into bed with her entourage of stuffed bears, say a prayer and kiss her mother goodnight.

As soon as this job was done, he’d kiss her goodnight himself, instead of calling her on the phone. Though he had to admit, the evening routine was something he looked forward to. It was something only they shared. Father and daughter.

But the ritual was never complete until—

“Daddy, will you sing with me?”

He grinned into the darkness.

“Of course I will, honey.”

He glanced around, to be sure no one could hear, and began singing in a soft, off-key voice.

“Twinkle, twinkle, little star ...”

Her tiny voice joined in with his until the end.

Giggling, she whispered, “Goodnight, Daddy. I Love you!”

“Goodnight, sweetheart. I love you too.”

Pocketing his phone, he turned to climb back up the stairs and was met with several senior crew members, all grinning at him. He shook his head, his face reddening. As he walked through the group of men, they clapped his back and catcalled.

“Hey Gregg, will you sing Old McDonald with me?”

“How about Mary had a little lamb? That’s my favourite!”

He grinned back at them, knowing each one, at some point, had done the exact same thing. Their teasing was nothing more than an initiation; their way of saying welcome to the club.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

At Death's Door

Today's muse:

This was prompted by a dream I had last night. It was disturbing in its reality. I'm standing there, patting my empty pockets saying "where the fuck are my keys?!" Oddly, St. Peter didn't seem fazed that I was cussing in front of him. The only comforting thing is that dreams are symbolic and rarely have anything to do with what you actually dreamt. Still, when I go, I hope someone has the wherewithall to put my keys in my pocket.

Posted at Six Sentences

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At Death's Door

St. Peter steps aside and, with an exaggerated flourish, waves me toward gilded gates. They are exactly as I imagined: enormous, imposing, beautiful and inviting. I am awed that my trip took me north, rather than into the deep south, where I imagine the climate is somewhat warmer.

“Please,” he gestures again, “come inside.”

I gaze through the bars, imagine what utopian universe lies beyond, and my heart sinks as I realize I am not prepared for this journey.

“I lost my key.”

Monday, August 2, 2010

About Clouds

Today's muse: My writing class with Richard Scarsbrook

I was sifting through some papers and came across my notes from Richard's writing class. I don't recall what the prompt was, but I'm sure it had something to do with a childhood memory. This is one of mine.

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About Clouds

Five hours. That’s how long it took to drive from our home in Schomberg to the family cottage in Sudbury. Five. Long. Hours.

Mom did her best to keep us entertained. We sang songs and played games. Dad—he just drove; did his best to block out our noise.

The best part, the part I remember most, was when Mom got bored or tired; probably both. I’d sit back in my seat, and stare out the window at the clouds. Shapes formed as we sped along the highway, morphing from a house, to a cat, then a piano. As each image appeared, I wrote stories in my head, created a storyboard of white fluff, with cotton candy characters.

The drive up north hasn’t changed much. It’s still five long hours. But I’m the driver now and I can’t sit back and stare out the window while I write fanciful stories in my head.

Keep your eyes on the road, they say.

The road is hard, I reply, and I want to dream with the clouds.