Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Mirror

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice

* * *

The Mirror

The angry slash of terror and pain,
is indistinct from the other crack.
It’s not the blood line that worries her,
but the hollow eyes that stare back.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The White Knight

Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Today's words: breeze, mellow, tickle

Some stories need to be told. Miranda's begins here.

And now, it continues...

* * *

The White Knight

Miranda’s desk was always tidy. Beside the telephone sat a notepad stamped with the company logo, a Mont Blanc perched on top, angled corner to corner. Reference books along one side of the desk were lined up with military precision. A computer was centered on the desk return, the monitor angled at the perfect eye level to reduce neck strain.

The hectic week had put filing at a low priority. Three—very neat, very organized—piles of reports and correspondence were arranged in front of the row of books.

At the end of the day, Miranda logged off her computer, adjusted the notepad a fraction of an inch and removed her suit jacket, hanging it neatly on the back of her chair.

“It’s Friday, Miranda. Go home.” Robert McBride strolled down the hall toward his office, a coffee in one hand, a manila folder in the other. His peppered hair stuck out at odd angles which, Miranda knew, meant he’d been running his fingers through it all day.

“I want to tackle the filing. If I stay and do it now, I know I’ll sleep better tonight.”

Rob shook his head. Miranda was the first person in the office each morning and the last to leave at night. She had joined the team more than a year ago and Rob had forged an immediate bond with her. They worked in tandem, seldom needing more than a few words to express ideas, somehow anticipating the other’s needs. His own grown sons were long gone from home and he’d taken Miranda under his wing, like a surrogate daughter. Several times a month, she joined him and his wife for Sunday dinner.

“Go home and enjoy the weekend. Forget about the filing. It’ll be here on Monday.”

“That’s why I want to do it now.” Miranda turned up the cuffs of her silk blouse and eyed the filing. “The paper seems to breed overnight. There’s always twice as much in the morning.”

It wouldn’t take long; she estimated thirty minutes—forty, tops—to breeze through it. If she stayed late and got it done now, it wouldn’t be nagging at her the entire weekend and she could enjoy herself.

Rob knew it was futile to argue. “I just made a fresh pot of coffee if you want some.” He wandered back into his office, already absorbed in the contents of the folder.

Miranda played with the dial on the portable radio until she found a station playing mellow tunes. Her hips swayed with the music and she hummed off-key as she tackled the first pile. Each stack was organized according to client, making quick work of the filing. As she addressed the second pile, the front door of the office chirped, announcing a visitor. She glanced at her watch. It was well past closing and she knew, with the exception of Rob, everyone was gone for the day. By habit, she set a smile on her face and turned to greet the arrival. It was only ingrained professionalism that kept her lips turned up.

He wore a dark chocolate blazer, paired with a butter yellow shirt, the starched collar undone. Tan pants accentuated narrow hips and a trim waist. Dark, penetrating eyes smiled at her, even if his mouth didn’t.

“I’m here to see Rob McBride.”

She’d never seen him before, yet he looked familiar. No, it was more that he felt familiar.

“Do you have an appointment?” There was nothing noted in her calendar.

He nodded. “He’s expecting me. My name is Craig Matthews.”

“Please, have a seat.” She gestured toward a pair of wing chairs as she reached for the telephone. “I’ll let Mr. McBride know you’re here.”

Before she lifted the receiver, Rob came out of his office.

“Craig! How are you?”

Hands clasped in greeting, shoulders were clapped. Though Rob was much older, the mutual respect between the two was obvious.

“Come into my cell.” The two men disappeared into Rob’s office and the door closed with a soft click.

Miranda’s legs were shaking and there was an odd tickle in her stomach. She sank into her chair, dropped her head into her hands. Jesus, Rand, get a grip. He’s just a guy. And a stranger at that. OK, he was a cute stranger with an intense stare that seemed to look right into your soul, but she still didn’t know him. And yet, he felt familiar. She couldn’t remember meeting him, but somehow she knew she had.

The office door swung open and Rob strolled out. “Help me bring some coffee and cookies in.”

Miranda sprang out of her chair and followed him down the hall to the staff room. Rob poured coffee into an ornate carafe and set two cups with saucers on a silver tray while Miranda arranged cookies on a china plate.

“You didn’t tell me you had an appointment.” She hoped her voice sounded casual.

“Craig? I thought you’d be gone by now, so I didn’t mention it.” Rob arranged a sugar bowl and creamer on the tray, pulled napkins from a drawer and handed them to Miranda. “He’s interviewing me for his thesis.”

“Oh.” Miranda fanned the napkins on the tray, set spoons on the saucers.

“Why don’t you just ask?” Rob wasn’t quite successful at hiding his smirk.

Miranda fixed an expression of innocence on her face. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Rob laughed, a loud baritone bark that always made her smile. As was his habit, he ruffled the top of her head as though she were a toddler. She made an annoyed face, but the gesture always thrilled her.

“Forget it, kiddo. He’s married.”

Miranda’s heart sank. Figures.

Rob picked up the tray and pushed open the café door with his hip.

“But rumour has it that the marriage is on the rocks.” With an exaggerated look of disinterest, Rob swung out of the room with the coffee and cookies.

Well, thought Miranda, wasn’t that interesting.

* * *

Miranda's story continues...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lady of the Night

Lady of the Night

She dreamed about him again last night, woke up tingling and wet. She stared at the ceiling for a long time. Not because she couldn’t go back to sleep, but because when she closed her eyes, all she could see was his face; those ebony eyes, the lascivious grin. And when her eyes closed for too long, she was swept back into the other world, where it was just the two of them, twined as one. Soft and hard, fast and slow, again and again.

Her eyes snapped open, blood thundered in her ears. She could still feel his hands on her, exploring, possessing. She pressed a palm against her forehead, willed her breathing to slow.

It shamed her that she felt no remorse for her wanton nocturnal behaviour while reality lay beside her.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Down the Hole

Today's muse: Thursday Thunks
Yeah, I know. Today is Monday. Whataya gonna do about it?
Cut me some slack. I just found this muse.

Prompt #2:
Sometimes we want to grow wings and fly. What's the farthest you've fallen?

* * *

Down the Hole

Vignettes rush by, faster and faster, as I freefall. A few talkies, but most are silent. Soundless mouths flapping.

It’s not a film that will win an Oscar, or even be nominated, so dreary are these scenes. I will never stand before the crowd holding the heavy statuette, droning on like a winner for best Trumpet Editing, unaware that no one really gives a shit.

I no longer want to be Alice. Let the Queen take my head. I’m already late for my date and I know I will be punished.

I wonder if the bottom will break this rabbit's fall.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Exorcising Ghosts

Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Today's words: dainty, haunting, tantalize

Some stories need to be told. Miranda's begins here.

And now, it continues...

* * *

Exorcising Ghosts

“You need to get back out there. Go out on same dates. Have fun.”

This sage advice was doled out in large quantities on a daily basis. Miranda knew her friends meant well, but it was irritating. She didn’t want to have a relationship. She just needed to scratch an itch that she couldn’t seem to reach on her own, no matter how often she tried.

“Just come up to the cottage for the long weekend. There’ll be a bunch of people there, it’ll be really casual.”

Beneath the shade of a blue, white and gold Corona umbrella, Sherry sat across from Miranda, taking dainty sips from her margarita. One tanned leg swung over the other, a pink flip flop dangled from fuchsia toes.

Miranda gulped her Guinness, flicked her tongue across the foam on her lip. She didn’t think she could muster the energy to wear a happy face for three days straight. However, the thought of a weekend of sun and surf was more than a little appealing. She hadn’t had a vacation in almost a year. She’d thrown herself into a new job after the separation and was enjoying the hard work, but she knew it was time for a break.

“Who’s going?”

Sherry grinned. “Matt will be there.”

“I already told you I don’t want you to set me up.” Miranda had heard enough about Matt to know he’d be a tantalizing diversion, but she didn’t want the complication.

“I know,” said Sherry, “but there’ll be other people there. You don’t even have to talk to him if you don’t want to.”

Miranda sipped her beer. “Fine. I’ll go, but I’m not bunking with your brother-in-law. I don’t even know him.”

Sherry’s gaze was intent on something behind Miranda. “That’s about to change.”

“Ladies!” Sherry’s husband, Walter, grinned at them. He turned to Miranda. “This is my brother Matt.”

Miranda glowered at Sherry, mouthed bitch, before she turned to Matt.


Matt smiled and dropped into the seat next to her.

“Are you as pissed at Sherry as I am?”

Miranda’s lips curled up. “Probably more.”

Matt nodded. “I hear ya.” He signalled the server. “Two pints of Guinness. Want another one?” He pointed at Miranda’s empty glass. When she shook her head, he raised two fingers. The server nodded and walked away.

Matt twisted in his chair to face Miranda, threw an arm over the back rest. “I say we just tell her to piss off.”

Miranda laughed. She was starting to like this guy. His chocolate eyes pulled her in, closed off everything around them. Her body hummed and she was certain he’d scratch very well.

That was seven weeks ago. Seven weeks of movies, dinner, dancing and sex. Pretty good sex, too. God she felt limber.

Matt sat in the passenger seat and played with the stereo, while Miranda drove. They agreed her car was more practical to drive than his pickup. Not to mention, much more comfortable. Walter and Sherry followed behind them. After spending every weekend at the cottage this summer, locking down for the winter was disheartening. Thick steaks and a couple of cases of beer were nestled in the trunk; an end-of-season celebration to dispel the gloom.

Matt reached into the back seat and came back with a joint.

“Don’t light that in my car.”

“Come on, babe. It never bothered you before.”

“I don’t care that you smoke, just don’t do it in my car.”

Matt shrugged and tucked the stick behind his ear. “We’re almost there anyway.”

When they arrived, they made quick work of unloading the cars. After dumping the suitcases in the assigned bedrooms, Matt and Walter were sent out to the veranda to start the barbeque.

The night sky was clear and the full moon glowed like a beacon. Beer flowed and the sweet smell of cannabis hung in the air. It was well past midnight when everyone said goodnight.

Miranda turned down the bed and changed into an oversized t-shirt. Matt stripped down to nothing and crawled under the covers. He reached over and pulled Miranda close.

“Pot always makes me horny.”

“I know it does, but Sherry and Walt are in the next room and these walls are paper thin.”

Matt nuzzled into her neck. “Then you’ll have to be quiet.”

Miranda chuckled. “No. We’ll have to wait until we’re home.”

“I don’t think so.”

Matt pulled her against him, his erection stabbing her leg. She pressed her hands against his chest and pushed him back.

“I’m serious. I can’t. Not tonight.”

Matt leered. “Come on babe.” His words slurred as he spoke. “Just a quickie. I promise it won’t take long.”

“Oh, that’s charming.”

“Come on, you know what I mean. I’ll make it worth your while.”

“Forget it, Matt. I can’t do it when I know they can hear us next door. They can probably hear us right now.”

“Who cares.” He rolled over on top of her, kneed her legs apart. “Just let me slip it in for a minute.”

Panic washed over her. She knew he was much stronger couldn’t fight him off for long.

“Please, Matt. Don’t do this.”

“Try and stop me.” He pinned her down, yanked her shirt up and cupped her breast, squeezed until she cried out in pain.

Miranda stilled. Her mind flew back to that haunting moment with Darryl and, for half a second, she contemplated laying still. Just let him use me and get it over with.

As quickly as she thought it, something surged through her. She couldn’t say if it was anger or fear. Perhaps it was pride. Power coursed through her and she shoved at him, throwing him off. She leapt off the bed, shoved down the t-shirt to cover her bare bottom.

“Don’t ever do that again.” She was surprised her voice didn’t waver.

Miranda pulled on her discarded jeans, slipped on her shoes. She tossed her bra and panties into her duffel bag, thankful she hadn’t unpacked.

“What the hell are you doing?”

“I’m leaving.” She knew this was her chance to break the cycle. She wasn’t going to let someone else dominate her. Never again.

“Come on, babe. Don’t be like that.” Matt rolled off the bed and came up behind her, wrapped his arms around her and cupped her breasts. He pressed himself against her, rubbed his cock against her ass. She shivered, repulsed by his hardness.

Miranda whirled around, pulled her arm back and let her fist fly into his cheek. Matt staggered back, his hands on his face. She ignored the pain that radiated through her hand and up her arm.

“Are you fucking crazy?!”

“You haven’t seen crazy yet.”

Miranda hoisted the bag over her shoulder, snatched her keys from the dresser and stormed out of the cottage, not bothering to close the door behind her. She yanked open the car door, tossed the bag onto the passenger seat and slid behind the wheel.

Clutch. Key. First gear. Her tires spit gravel as she peeled out of the driveway.

* * *

Miranda's story continues...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Silent but Deadly

Today's muse: Stony River

Susan Carleton, at Stony River, is not having a good day. Not only is she living through a snow blizzard and ice storm, but the proverbial straw sent everything crashing when the power went off. Poor thing! We're all thinking of you, Susan!

The up side (at least for all us Microfiction Monday Junkies) is that Susan posts the picture she'll use the next week. Today's prompt is from her post of last week.

The prompt for Microfiction Monday #73:

* * *

Silent but Deadly

Both deaf and anosmic, photographer, Jeremiah Walsh, was unaware his subjects’ stern looks were a direct result of his heavy fibre diet.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Originals

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice

* * *

The Originals

Cloudless, pure as water, the azure sky is so beautiful, I find it difficult to draw breath beyond my heart which has, somehow, relocated to my throat. Or perhaps that is my soul.

“How can anyone look at that and not believe in some form of über being?”

Beside me, my lover nods. “I know.”

“I mean, it doesn’t have to be god. It can be whatever you choose to believe in.”

Adam turns his whiskey-coloured eyes to mine.

“You think there’s someone else, other than god?”

I shrug. “Who knows, right? There could be. It’s not like we’ve really seen him, you know. We just keep hearing his voice.”

Adam ponders this a moment, his guilty eyes darting upwards to the clear sky.

“I don’t know, Eve. I mean, if you don’t believe in god…”

“I’m not saying I don’t believe in god. I’m just saying that not everyone has to believe in THE god. What if we’re wrong? We could be wrong, you know. There could be someone else who’s really god and we’re being tricked.”

I have an epiphany and role over on my side to face Adam, my head propped on my hand.

“Or maybe, just maybe, there’s a whole bunch of them, all hanging out up there…” I jerk my thumb to the sky…“and it’s like some huge corporation with a president and a bunch of vice-presidents and some office managers.”

Adam squints at me. I know he thinks I’m crazy, but what if I’m right?

“Well…” Adam draws out the word as he ponders my theory. “If—and I’m not saying I agree—but if that voice we keep hearing isn’t god, then who is it?”

I shrug, fall back on my back, let the sun caress my naked skin.

“I don’t know, Adam.”

Then, from high above us, we hear it. The Voice.


We look up, squinting against the sun that sparkles through the leaves.

Since I can remember, I have heard The Voice. Its ethereal timber is soothing. The Voice talks to me, guides me, asks me to follow. I have unwavering faith as to its owner. I know only god can give me such peace.

“It’s him,” Adam whispers.

“I know it’s him,” I hiss back.


Adam arches an eyebrow at me. I return a subtle nod. Adam clears his throat.


The Voice responds: “Have you guys tried this fruit?”

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Null and Void

Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Today's Words: affinity, fidget, mention.

Some stories need to be told. Miranda's begins here.

And now, it continues...

* * *

Null and Void

The one-bedroom apartment wasn’t large, particularly when you compared it to the sprawling four-bedroom house she had with Gregg. But the cozy unit was hers.

Hers and Pedro’s.

As Miranda sat at the kitchen table, piecing together a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle, Pedro wound his lean body around her legs, pawing at her knee on every third rotation.

“You want to come up, don’t you?”

As though he understood, Pedro plopped his bottom down and sat very proper, raising one paw in a gesture of friendship. Or perhaps it was pleading.

“Now how can I resist that?”

Miranda picked up the grey tabby and set him on her lap. He immediately settled in, resting a paw on the table. Pedro moved his head back and forth, analyzing the puzzle, assessing all the pieces. After a moment, he reached up and swatted at a piece.

“This one?” Miranda picked up the piece, squinted at the grey, red and purple kaleidoscope of colour stamped on it. She looked over at the box cover, her eyes scanning the picture—a country cottage front porch, with wicker chairs, baskets of flowers and a tea set.

The tea set. It had a floral pattern on it and—would you look at that—Pedro’s piece fit.

“Good eye, buddy. Why don’t you stay up here and help me.”

The shrill cry of the portable phone sent Pedro leaping from her lap. Miranda was smiling as she answered.

Her lips turned down a moment later.

“This is Anna Giuseppe from the Archdiocese. I have an application for marital annulment from your husband, Gregg.”

Miranda fidgeted on the padded dining room chair that had suddenly become as unforgiving as a church pew. “And what do you want from me?”

“The Archdiocese wants to hear your side.”

“I see.”

“You were married on…” Miranda heard pages flipping. “Oh my. Less than a year.”


Miranda heard the challenge in her own voice, but couldn’t stop it. Anna Giuseppe could be as smug as she wanted, but that shrivelled up old bat had no idea the difference a marriage certificate made, how much that flimsy piece of paper had changed everything. Miranda’s signature had barely dried before Gregg’s affinity for psychological torture rose to the surface like foul pond scum.

Anna gave a small, fake cough. “Your husband has cited grounds for the request.”

Miranda hated that Gregg was still called her husband. He wasn’t her husband anymore. Was he ever? Did a ten-month marriage even qualify him for that title?

“And what are the grounds?” It surprised her that he’d confessed. Then again, she imagined he’d be quite proud at how he’d tamed the little missus, beating her into submission with demeaning words.

“It says here…” more flipping of pages “…that you were emotionally unprepared for marriage.”

“Excuse me?” Not his abuse, she realized, but rather her own tormented life was grounds for pardon by the church.

“Your husband stated that due to childhood trauma, you were unprepared for a marital commitment.”

Miranda fought against the ringing in her ears, the pressure in her lungs. That fucking asshole had taken her words of confession, words that tore her soul apart, and hurled them back at her like daggers.

“Did he describe my childhood?”

“He did.” Anna Giuseppe flipped more pages and read, her voice cold and mechanical. “Incest. Rape. Abuse.” Her voice was so matter-of-fact that Miranda was surprised she didn’t end the list with ‘blah, blah, blah’.

With an odd feeling of calm, Miranda leaned back against the wooden chair, her eyes wandering over the half-made puzzle. “It sounds like you have all the evidence you need. Why are you calling me?”

“The Archdiocese would like confirmation of these allegations.”

Miranda was willing to bet the old crone only wanted some juicy gossip to share with her friends over coffee.

“Will the annulment be completed without my testimony?”

“Yes it will. But the Archdiocese still needs…”

“I don’t think the Archdiocese needs anything from me.” Miranda leaned forward as she spied a puzzle piece she’d been searching for. She picked it up and set it in place with a few taps. She’d been looking for that one for a while.

“You and I both know,” Miranda continued, “that the Archdiocese has already determined who is at fault in this matter and since it’s an old boys’ club, I’m guessing it’s me.”

“Well,” sputtered Anna, “I don’t know that…”

“That’s just it, isn’t it, Mrs. Giuseppe? You don’t know. And if you’re lucky, you never will. When you gossip about this to all your friends after Mass on Sunday, be sure to tell them how lucky they are as well.”

Anna Giuseppe had the grace to sound chastised. “The Church can help you, Miranda.”

“The Church’s meddling is why we’re having this conversation, Mrs. Giuseppe. You have already pointed out that the annulment will be processed without my testimony. Gregg can have the Church’s blessing. He doesn’t need mine.”

“In order for you to marry in the Catholic Church again, you must consent to the annulment.”

Miranda laughed at that. Laughed until she cried. “I can assure you, Mrs. Giuseppe, that I won’t be getting married in the Catholic Church again.”

There was an audible gasp on the other end of the line. “Well, then, I thank you for your time.”

At the sound of the dial tone, Miranda pressed the end-of-call button.

“Don’t mention it.”

* * *

Miranda's story continues...