Thursday, May 19, 2011


Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Today's words: damp, incensed, skid

* * *


Not visible to the casual observer, it is protected with a damp, crimson layer of silk-like fibre. Throbbing when excited—more so when pained—it has writhed in agony for quite some time now. Napoleon was only half right, she thought. There may only be two forces in the world, but this time, the sword had won. She just didn’t have enough left in her to fight.

Elbows on the table, face resting in cupped hands, hair curtains her rage in a mahogany waterfall. Still incensed by last night’s argument, her chest heaves as she tries to control her breathing.

“Are there more pickles in the basement pantry?”

She’d asked the simple question, waved the empty jar for emphasis, the brine sloshing perilously close to the opening. She’d used the last one for her tuna salad sandwich and asked because she knew he’d know if there was. Why go downstairs if there weren’t any? She’d just add it to the grocery list.

She watched the emotions flicker across his face. Annoyance followed by anger. Which somehow evolved to fury.

He slammed his drink down, the iced tea splashing over the side and onto the counter. She wondered the glass didn’t shatter.

“Fine. I’ll go down and see.”

“I didn’t ask you to go down to the pantry. I asked if you knew whether there were any more pickles.”

“No. Don’t worry about it.” Sarcasm, thick and hot, invaded the room, rolled off him in waves. “I’ll fucking stop everything and go down to see if there are goddamn pickles in the pantry.”

“Don’t worry about it,” she said. Her voice was diminished, as though it cowered, but she wouldn’t let it waver. “I said I’d go down.”

If she’d been standing any closer, he would have shoved her away. Instead, his hand hit empty air and he stomped down the stairs, cussing the entire time.

She continued to make her tuna salad sandwich, adding mayonnaise, a diced kosher pickle (the last one) and Dijon mustard. She spread a thick layer of the tuna mixture on buttered eight-grain bread, topped it with a second slice, pressed down lightly to secure the sandwich.

He marched back into the kitchen, slammed the jar onto the counter.

“There’s your fucking pickles. Can I go and enjoy the rest of my evening now?”

Her face void of expression, she lifted her sandwich. “Sure.” She took a bite. Chewed.

As he stormed off, she was sure she heard him mutter: “Fucking bitch”.

All for a lousy jar of pickles. She’d been putting in ten- and twelve-hour days for months now. That tuna sandwich was her lunch. Eaten at ten o’clock at night. And he was bitching about her asking whether there was a goddamn jar of pickles in the pantry? She hadn’t asked him to go down and get the thing, she’d just asked if there were any.

She scrubbed her hands over her face, huffed out the air she didn’t realize she’d been holding.

The whole thing was falling apart like a fragile snow globe; only it was delicate egg shells that rained upon her, carpeting her diminished world, forcing her to pick her way across them day after day. Her feet were blistered and continued to bleed.

She wanted to tear out the one thing that had truly betrayed her, the one piece of her that she’d hoped would protect her core, her spirit. But once again, it had let her down.

She should yank it from her chest and skid it across the oak table; a dark—nearly black—smear in its wake. It would topple off the edge, land on the floor with a wet plop. She’d leave it there to putrefy, let the stink of decomp permeate the kitchen, the main floor, the whole fucking house.

Maybe the stench would drive him away. And he’d leave.

Oh, the things her heart yearned.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Today's muse: I went a little nuts today and used three of my favourite muses (musi?).

Three Word Wednesday.
Today's words: brandish, forbid, manage.

Carry on Tuesday.
This week's prompt: The opening lines from Phillida and Coridon.

One Word, So Little Time.
Today's (actually, yesterday's) word: console. And given the title role, so to speak.

* * *


Tangled in immoral haze,
Flesh and soul, lustful ways.
Wakeful nights and dreamy days;
To console, she bows and prays.

The mind and heart, each one vies,
Lusts for yon forbidden prize.
Spirit withers, passion dies;
Once the queen, no longer wise.

Brandished to the stormy skies,
Blackened soul weaves web of lies.
Releasing all that she denies,
Begs the gods to hear her cries.

In the merry month of May,
In a morn by break of day,
Water streams as body sways,
Manages to halt decay.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Today's muse: The One Minute Writer

Today's prompt: Overused.

* * *


He never told her.

“It’s cliché,” he said. “Everyone says it, but do they really mean it?”

“You would have meant it,” she murmured. The hollow thud of dirt on mahogany echoed throughout the cemetery.

“And I would have believed you. If only you’d said it. Just once.”

Friday, May 6, 2011


Today's muse: Sunday Scribblings

This week's prompt: Cake

* * *


Moist and sinfully rich, he cannot deny the greedy pleasure of consuming the heavenly sweetness. It’s not a matter of merely wanting—it is an all-consuming need that he cannot conquer. A raspy moan rolls out as his tongue emerges for the first taste; a tentative flick, like a question.

He wants to take his time, enjoy the flavour, savour the moment, but his hunger overrides all pretence at delicacy. He plunges to devour the salty syrup, crazed with the need to possess, to have and eat.

Panting, heart racing, he waits a few moments, then dips down to feast again.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Killing Time

Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Today's words: grace, jitter, thin

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

And now, it continues...

* * *

Killing Time

“When’s the last time you saw him?” Craig cupped some nut mix from the bowl on the counter, popped a few in his mouth. The crowded bar flowed around them as though they were in a cocoon.

“It’s been almost a year. But, lucky me, I get to see him again in a few weeks.” Miranda gestured with her cocktail sword of impaled olives as she spoke. “A friend is getting married and I’m one of the bridesmaids. He’s invited. Friend of the groom.”

“And you’re still going?”

“She’s my friend. I can’t let her down. Besides,” Miranda smiled, her lips curling in a slow, wicked grin, “I’ve been working out with my trainer and I look fucking hot! He’s going to be sorry.”

Craig laughed, raised his glass in a toast. “To looking fucking hot.”

He felt sorry for her ex. She’d be all dolled up for the wedding—professional hair and makeup—and wearing that dress she’d showed him last week. She had picked it up from the salon and brought it back to the office to show the girls. He’d walked into the staff lounge as she held it up to show it off. Small, black and low cut, his mouth watered at its limp form on the hanger. Miranda may only be a friend, but he’d spent several nights imagining what she’d look like in it.

The poor bastard was going to be sorry he let her go, Craig thought. Then again, he didn’t deserve her. Miranda hadn’t told him everything, but Craig could tell there was a lot more to it than she let on. It pained him the way she cringed when he made a sudden move, as though she expected him to hit her. Jesus, what had that bastard done to her?

“If you feel like talking after, give me a call. No matter how late it is.”

Miranda set down her martini. “You’d let me wake you up just to talk?”

Craig shrugged. “I’ll probably be awake anyway. It’s what friends do, right?”

Miranda looked away while he signalled the server for another round of drinks. Right. Friends. That is all they were. It didn’t matter that she wanted more. It couldn’t. He was still married, technically. And he had kids. She wouldn’t be the deciding factor on whether his marriage flourished or failed.

“I’m sure I’ll be fine, but thanks for the offer.”

“The offer stands. Any time.”

* * *

Miranda shook hands and air kissed more than a hundred people in the receiving line; her cheeks were numb from smiling. She wondered how politicians did it. While chatting with Wendy’s Great Aunt Olivia, Miranda heard a hiss next to her.

“He’s here!”

Her smile didn’t falter as she nudged the elderly woman down the line. But when Miranda’s eyes moved toward the hall entrance, the thin smile wavered. Gregg was handsome in a tailored suit, his hair, just a little too long, curled around his neck. She tried to gauge her feelings, whether she still cared for him, as the other bridesmaids had predicted.

“All those old feelings might come back,” they’d said.

It wasn’t a concept that Miranda dismissed. She admitted it was possible. So with an open mind, she watched Gregg greet the groomsmen, shake hands and clap shoulders. She waited while he had a shot of cognac with the groom, smiled when he hugged Wendy. He kissed the bridesmaid, Wendy’s sister, then shared a private joke with Sandra. When he took Miranda’s hand, she was the epitome of grace and poise, smiling as though she were greeting royalty. He kissed both cheeks, mumbled something incoherent, and moved on to the junior bridesmaid beside her.

That’s it? He’d walked by her as though she were a stranger. It was a moment before she realized that’s exactly what he’d thought. He turned back to her, his eyes wide in disbelief, as he took her hand.


She laughed. “Who did you think it was?”

“I didn’t recognize you. You look…” Gregg’s eyes raked up and down, took in the minimalist dress, her new cropped hair style, the toned body. “You look great.”

Yeah, I do, she thought. “Thanks.” The person next to Gregg cleared his throat. “You’re holding up the line,” said Miranda, and she withdrew her hand from his.

Something flickered in his eyes. Regret, shame, remorse. She didn’t know. And she didn’t care. In that moment, she had her answer. There was absolutely nothing left in her for Gregg.

When he’d moved on, and walked into the main hall away from the reception table, three heads turned to her.


Miranda smiled. “Not one little jitter.”

* * *

Elated, Miranda could think of only one person she wanted to share this news with. It was late when she arrived at Craig’s apartment unannounced. He had said he’d be up anyway. And wasn’t a visit better than a phone call?

Craig glanced at his watch when he heard the soft tap on the door. He expected to see Mrs. Fischer from 24D asking for help with something in her unit, though it occurred to him that it was a little late for handy work.

When he opened the door, the air rushed out of him and he was instantly hard.

Miranda stood in the doorway in the little black number. He wondered how she’d poured herself into it. Her short, spiky hair was teased with gold glitter and her eyes, painted up like a gypsy, still managed to have an air of innocence. Spiked heels dangled in one hand, a bottle of wine in the other.


All Craig could think was, “Melissa was right. Miranda is going to kill me.”

* * *

Miranda's story continues.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Alright. I'm late. I mean REALLY late! This is from last week's prompt and ThomG has already posted this week's words. Ack!

Today's Last week's words: foolish, mercy, relish.

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

And now, it continues...

* * *


The days were long, the work load stressful and she only seemed to socialize with co-workers—coffee in the café and late take-out dinners in the staff lounge.

Miranda was in heaven and relished every moment.

The Hamerston team was a close family, sharing their personal highs and lows, revelling in joyous occasions and grieving in others. She understood how tight the group was when she spent her first weekend at the office.

Armed with a lengthy agenda, and a loaded briefcase, Miranda walked into her office and settled in for the day. Her face void of makeup (except for a swipe of mascara), comfortable in a pair of snug yoga pants and a fitted T, she sat at her desk and pulled her hair back in a long tail. She spent the morning keying in numbers to the database she’d created, flipping through files to confirm the status of furniture orders, and reviewing resumes—flagging the few she thought Rob McBride should interview.

Needing a break, Miranda pushed back from her desk and stood up to pace her office, rolling her shoulders to work out the kinks. She did a few stretches, lunged into a warrior pose. More relaxed, she tossed her empty take-out coffee cup in the garbage and grabbed her Hamerston mug from her desk, made her way to the café. Her hips swayed to the dance tune stuck in her head, her long, dark ponytail swinging with the beat.

Her face reddened the moment she walked into the café.

“Hey, Miranda! Sit down. Join us. Have a bite.”

The oval table was littered with coffee cups, containers of apple and orange juice, and enormous platters of bagels, croissants, donuts and fresh fruit. Sitting around the feast were Steven Abrahms, Melissa Wilkinson, and Craig Matthews. Steve and Craig wore suits. Melissa was more casual in dark trousers and a crisp white blouse that still managed to look couture. No one was dressed like Miranda.

“I didn’t expect anyone to be here today. It is Saturday, isn’t it?”

“Oh, sure,” said Steve, around a mouthful of bagel.

Melissa handed him a napkin as she rolled her eyes at Miranda. “Jim and Steve have a meeting today. Jim’s upstairs,” she explained when Miranda scanned the room. “Eva—she’s upstairs as well—thought she’d drop in to see if they needed any help. Me, I don’t live far from here, so I came in for brunch. And Craig…” Eva looked over at him.

Craig shrugged. “I didn’t have anything else to do.”

Truth was, he’d overheard Miranda tell McBride that she was coming in and he’d hoped to have the chance to talk with her. Maybe finish the conversation they were having yesterday. It wasn’t about anything, really. Just general life matters: his kids, her parents, his ex, and hers. There was something about the way she danced around his questions that made him want to find out more. It wasn’t that she avoided answering, it was more that she managed to change the subject, deflect the queries like a boomerang. He wanted to know more. And why. Why those chocolate eyes went dark when she was flustered and why she wouldn’t open up to him.

“There’s also a few people over in marketing who took their food to go. There’s plenty still. Why don’t you sit down?” Craig pulled out a chair next to him. “Fill up your mug and join us.”

She didn’t get it. It was Saturday, for chrissake. What the hell were they all doing here? And most of them didn’t even need to be. She didn’t want to sit down with them. She just wanted to go back to her office and maybe crawl into the hole that she hoped would miraculously swallow her up when she got there. What had possessed her to dress like a bum? If she’d known Craig would be here, she would have taken a little more care in her wardrobe, put on some makeup. Did her hair for god’s sake!

As much as she wanted to slink out of the kitchen, she could hear her mother’s voice in her head lecturing that it was rude to decline such a thoughtful invitation. Resigned, Miranda filled her mug and sat next to Craig. Her stomach was jumpy and she was sure she wouldn’t keep any food down.

That was soon set aside by Steve’s question. “So, what colour was your first bicycle, Miranda?”

She stared at him, certain he was making fun of her. But when he met her gaze with honest, questioning eyes, she knew he wasn’t.

“Red.” Miranda took a sip of her coffee, let herself fall back to that birthday. “Red tricycle, white seat. And white streamers that fluttered in the wind when I pedalled really fast.”

Melissa nodded, leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms, closed her eyes. “Mine was blue. With red and white streamers. Very patriotic.”

“My dad decorated mine with camouflage decals. I was going to war with my tryke.” Steve laughed at the memory.

Everyone shared childhood stories, besting each other with tales of broken bones and punishments meted out by strict parents. Miranda now understood the familial bond that held the team together. As voices talked over one another, she realized the tension she’d felt when she first joined the firm had lifted. She was accepted, considered part of the family.

“I hate to break up the party,” Miranda said, glancing at her watch, “but I really have to get some reports out for Rob.”

“We’re going out for drinks later. Want to join us?” Melissa began stacking plates and cups.

“Oh. Um, sure. Who’s going?” God, could she sound more high school?

“All of us. Eva bought a new outfit and she wants to show it off. And the gang from Finance is meeting us there.”

Despite willing them not to, Miranda’s eyes slid over to Craig’s. His stare was intense and she felt her cheeks burn. She pictured sitting next to him in a cramped bar, music pounding in the background, the smell of stale beer in the air mixed with the woodsy scent of his cologne.

“I’ll think about it. Thanks for inviting me.” She picked up her coffee mug and backed away from the table. “I gotta…” She made a vague gesture towards the door, spun around and walked out, cursing herself all the way to her office.

“Think she’ll come?” Melissa wrung out a dish cloth and wiped down the table.

“Who knows.” Steve pushed back from the table. “She keeps to herself a lot.”

“Not really. You just have to get her talking.” Craig regretted saying it before the sentence was complete.

Melissa stopped wiping the table. “What’s going on with you two?”

“Nothing.” Craig sipped his coffee to avoid their stares. “Nothing!”

“Son,” said Steve, “if you don’t put the moves on that girl, you’re more foolish than I thought.”

“She’ll kill him under thirty minutes,” said Melissa.


“Hey!” Craig threw his arms out. “Sitting right here!”

“You have to be blind not to see her.”

“I see her,” Craig mumbled.

“Well? Why aren’t you hitting on that? You get her under the sheets and you’ll be begging for mercy, I guarantee it. It’s always the quiet ones.” Steve nodded sagely, took a sip of his coffee.

Craig shot out of his chair. “Don’t talk about Miranda like that.”

Melissa reached out her hand, palm up. “Told ya.”

“Shit.” Steve reached into his pocket, pulled out a ten dollar bill and slapped it into Melissa’s open hand.

“Fuck you guys.” It was said with heat, but Craig was smiling. “I don’t know what it is about her.”

Melissa sank into a chair, cupped her chin in her hands. “She does have that abandoned kitten thing going.”

“That’s why I don’t get it.” Craig walked over to the sink, dumped his cold coffee. He flipped open the dishwasher and set his mug on the top rack. “Normally, I hate cats.”

“But this one,” he thought as he wandered out of the cafe, “this one, I want to follow me home.”

* * *

Miranda's story continues.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Game Rules

Game Rules

It’s like being picked last for the team; not thin enough, not pretty enough, not loved enough.

I want so much to play, but you keep pushing me to the back of the line. It’s not fair to expect me to follow the rules when you won’t share the play book with me. I’ve tried to play like all the others—the ones you compare me to without saying it—but it doesn’t seem to make you happy. And it only makes me weep.

I don’t think I want to play anymore. The problem is, I don’t know how to quit you.