Thursday, January 27, 2011


Today's muse: One Word, So Little Time

Today's word: Reports

* * *


His last letter was so joyful, filled with anticipation, sheer excitement to hold the child he’d yet to meet; but the paper she held in her hand—that trembled in her grief—confirmed he never would.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Not Forgotten

Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Today's Words: conniption, janky, scooch.

I know that ThomG meant to challenge us, and I struggled with 'janky' (gave him grief for it on Twitter), but I hope that my use of his prompts doesn't sound forced.

Some stories need to be told. Miranda's begins here.
And now, it continues, with a flashback to the beginning...

* * *

Not Forgotten

In a darkened classroom of St. Phillip’s Elementary School, Miranda crouched on the cold terrazzo floor, her arms wrapped around her knees.

The other teenagers participating in the church-sponsored retreat, all of them strangers, were off in other classrooms, now designated as living room, dining room and den—their makeshift home for the duration of the weekend. Laughing voices carried through the halls as everyone exchanged tales of their recent outing: a visit to the local nursing home to bring cheer to the elderly.

For Miranda, it was something of a breakthrough.

Pressed into the darkest corner, she let the tears stream down her face. She couldn’t fight them, didn’t have the energy. The memories she’d somehow suppressed all these years pummelled her, swirled in a Technicolor strobe effect. She slammed her back into the classroom wall, over and over, as though she could jar the memories out of her, make them stop. God, she just wanted to make them stop.

That’s how Jason found her. Huddled on the floor, rocking back and forth.

At first, he thought she was having some sort of conniption, perhaps an epilepsy attack. Then he heard the crooning, a sort of soft keening.

“Stop. Stop. Stop.”

She just kept chanting it over and over, her voice janky as she slammed into the wall with each word.

Moving on instinct, he slipped into the room and slid down to the floor beside her. He would have put his arm around her to soothe, but she scooched away from him, seemed to withdraw even more. So, he sat with her in the dark. In silence. Mirroring her pose, Jason hooked his arms around his legs, pressed his head into his knees and rocked in sync with her.

First, the crooning subsided, then the rocking stopped. Soon, the only sound from her was the occasional sniffle and grunt as she wiped her nose on her sleeve.

Miranda rested her cheek against her knees, her large brown eyes staring.

“I hadn’t remembered any of that…any of it…until now.” She squeezed her eyes shut. A tear leaked down her cheek.

He had no clue what she was talking about, only knew she needed to get it out. “The mind is a powerful thing. Sometimes it shuts out what you can’t process until you’re ready.” He’d read that somewhere in his psych class.

“I don’t think I’m ready.”

“You’re probably a lot stronger than you think. Wanna tell me what happened?”

He took it as a good sign that she unfolded herself then, stretched out her legs, though she kept her arms hugged around her body. She gazed up at the ceiling.

“He grabbed my ass.”


“One of the old guys at the nursing home. He was going to play cards with some of the other folks and I helped him put on his sweater. He thanked me by grabbing my ass.” Her voice caught. “He squeezed it and gave it a little shake.”

Jason was silent. Not because he didn’t know what to say, but because he knew there was more. Somehow, he knew there was more.

“It’s what my grandfather did to me. Until I was twelve. I don’t know how, but I’d forgotten all of that, all these years. I’m fifteen and I buried it somewhere deep inside all this time. Kept it locked away until…until that old man put his hands on me.”

She let out a huff, allowed the vignette of horrors to simply wash over her. “It started when I was four. We were alone. He took my hand and rubbed it against his…”

She made a vague gesture and Jason nodded his understanding. He wouldn’t make her say it.

“It was warm and hard and wet. I ran away, hid in my room and cried. But I never told my mom.” She shook her head in wonder, amazed by that. “I think I thought she wouldn’t believe me.”

Miranda took in a shaky breath. Jason sat beside her in silence, never touching her. His presence seemed to comfort, give her strength to purge.

“Every time my grandparents visited, or we’d visit them, he’d arrange it somehow so that we’d be alone. It was worse every time. My entire childhood was shredded. And I’d forgotten that. All of it.”

Her moist, sad eyes slid over to his and held him.

“I don’t think I’ll ever forget again.”

* * *

Miranda's story continues...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Basement

Today's muse: One Word, So Little Time

Today's word: basement.

* * *


The closet is where most people keep theirs, but Andrea hides hers in the basement; problem is, it's getting pretty rancid down there.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Today's muse: Sunday Scribblings

Today's muse: Eternity.

Some stories need to be told. Miranda's begins here. And now, it continues...

* * *


“Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.”

It wasn’t her sin, but Miranda didn’t know what else to do. She knew God had all the answers; faith was not something she lacked.

“What is it, my child?” Father Andrew prompted her when she hesitated.

Even her parents didn’t know. She couldn’t tell them. Wouldn’t. It would destroy the family. She could live with the memories that haunted her dreams, but there was a small matter that pulled at her.

“Father.” Miranda closed her eyes, prayed for strength. “Father, when bad people die, are they forgiven no matter what they did?”

“If a person repents—is truly sorry for their sins—then, yes, they are forgiven and will join our Lord in Heaven.”

Miranda nodded in the darkness of the confessional. That wasn’t what she wanted to hear.

“What if they did something that is unforgiveable?”

“Miranda, what have you done that is so unforgiveable?”

She wasn’t surprised when Father Andrew addressed her by name. There were no secrets in a small town. Well, very few.

“It’s not me, Father. It’s…someone I know. He made me…he did bad things. Very bad things.”

Father Andrew was silent, his silhouette a blur behind the mesh partition. The thin padding on the kneeler offered little support and Miranda’s knees began to ache.

Father Andrew coughed. “Forgiveness must come, not only from God, Miranda, but must come from us.”

“I don’t understand, Father.”

“You must forgive as well.”

She must forgive? She must forgive the sins of the one who destroyed her childhood, who forever changed how she viewed relationships, shattered her ability to trust a man—be with a man?

“But I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Fingers of ice crept over her heart, the pulsing beat slowed, life-giving fluid all but stopped.

“God will forgive if He is asked for forgiveness. It is those who cannot forgive who will face eternal damnation.”

“What?!” Miranda was outraged. “Are you telling me that because I cannot forgive my grandfather for destroying my life, that I’m the one who’s going to hell? And that slime is going to be welcomed into Heaven with open arms?”

“Miranda, the church teaches us that forgiveness is most blessed. In forgiving, we receive the Holy Spirit.”

“The church teaches this?! The church!” Miranda’s voice was shrill. “Fuck the church, Father. The God I believe in would not treat me like that.”

To his credit, Father Andrew didn’t flinch at the vulgarity. He merely shrugged his indifference.

“That is how it is, Miranda. If you do not forgive, it is you who will be damned for eternity. No one else. Only you.”

She opened her mouth, clamped it shut again. The tiny cubicle smelled like wet hay. She stared through the partition at Father Andrew’s blurred profile, his head bowed in prayer. Or was it shame? He should be shamed, she thought. How could he believe that bullshit?

“I want you to pass on a message, Father.” Miranda’s voice was soft.

Father Andrew’s silhouette leaned closer.

“Tell your god I’m leaving his church. The God I know wouldn’t try to sell this crap.”

Without looking back, she left the confessional and walked out of the church.

* * *

Miranda's story continues.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Good Ol' Reg

Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Today's Words: descent, kill, surreal

* * *

Good Ol' Reg

The soft scent of carnations and roses tangled with the antiseptic stench that clung to his body. Miranda stared down at her grandfather, his hands casually folded, as though he waited for an elevator. The undertaker had arranged Reginald Porter’s left hand over the right, concealing the stubs of two fingers hacked off by a lawnmower blade back in seventy-two.

Miranda’s mother, Laura, dabbed her eyes with a tissue. “He looks good, doesn’t he?”

Yeah, Miranda thought, he sure does. He looks damn good dead.

Reg wore the only decent suit he owned: shit-brown polyester, paired with a wide-collar peach shirt and a paisley salmon tie. It smelled like mothballs.

The whole thing was surreal, Miranda thought. She’d prayed for this day since she was four—killed him many times over in her fantasies—and it was finally here. Family and friends mingled in the visitation suite, laughed and swapped stories about Good Ol’ Reg. What the fuck was so good about him? They talked about him like he was a goddamned hero. She knew the truth, though. Reg was no hero. He was a villain; a sociopath who fed on stolen innocence.

“It just won’t be the same without him.” Laura squeezed her daughter’s arm and wandered away, sniffing delicately into a balled up tissue.

No it won’t, thought Miranda. There’d be no more empty bottles hidden in the garage. She wouldn’t feel his breath against her ear, smell the stench of alcohol and chewing tobacco, shudder as his calloused hands groped and prodded.

It was all over now. Except for her nightly descent into the black abyss of memories.

That, she knew, would never end.

* * *

Miranda's story continues...

Friday, January 7, 2011

School Girl

Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Today's words: plausible, taint, willingly
(and I even used them in that order!)

* * *

School Girl

Sneaking out of St. Augustine’s School for Girls was not only plausible, she thought, it would be a walk in the park. Well, a walk across the manicured lawn, two-lane country road, then up the limestone lane to Father Henry’s Academy.

Rhonda swiped lip gloss over pouty lips, puckered a kiss at her reflection. Stepping back from the full-length mirror, she undid one more button of her crisp white blouse, exposing a hint of the leopard-print bra beneath. The hem of her navy skirt hung several inches above her knees, revealing well-toned legs. Years on the swim team had served her well.

She debated wearing the baby-girl cotton panties that Jason had asked her to wear, but knew he wouldn’t mind that she’d decided to go commando instead. It would be much easier. She didn’t want to waste time with a languid prelude fumbling with clothes. Tonight, she wanted hard and fast.

Rhonda knew it was ridiculous to risk the danger for a tryst with someone she could never be with. Not in public, anyway; it would taint her unblemished reputation. It was worth it, she thought. Need coiled through her, bringing a flush to her cheeks. Jason was so unlike her other suitors; he was attentive, nubile and—damn!—he had stamina.

He had approached her at the coffee shop, shuffling over to where she sat alone, tucked in a dark corner. Rhonda could see he was nervous and knew his friends would tease him about it later. Yet there he was, stuttering a little, the tips of his ears reddening. Her heart flopped at that moment and she cursed it for yearning for the one thing she couldn’t have. It was the same every time.

Someone of her stature couldn’t be seen with the likes of him. She had convinced herself that what she was doing wasn’t wrong. He’d come willingly to her bed, and he was, she told herself over and over, a student at another school. Their relationship didn’t breach protocol at either institution. Technically.

Still, she mused, if the Headmaster found out she was banging the students at Father Henry’s—tutoring them in valuable life lessons—he’d likely ask for her resignation as Professor of French Literature at St. Augustine's.