Monday, December 10, 2012

Last Chance

Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Today's words: battle, fluid, harvest

* * *

Last Chance

In one fluid motion, she sweeps the soft pink blanket off the tiny mattress and tosses it on the floor.

Tears are ruthlessly pushed away as she packs stuffed toys and delicate dresses. She battles the urge to gather it all in her arms, drop to the floor and rock the life she’ll never hold.

It’s over now. The last harvest has failed.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dressed Up

Today's muse: You can always tell when I'm writing an erotic scene in Madison's Avenue. The pent-up energy needs to be unleashed.

* * *

Dressed Up

The doorbell chimes a melody he recognizes, but can’t quite name. Drew grins as the notes fade out.

“It suits her.”

He runs calloused fingers through sun-kissed hair, wonders if he should have gone for a trim before picking up Andrea. He shrugs it off. It’s just a picnic with friends. It won’t matter that he’s needed a cut for more than two weeks now.

His hand drops when she opens the door, his palm instantly damp.

Andrea smiles—that seductive subtle curve of lips that always has need coiling deep inside him. The smile gets him every time. It’s shy and beguiling; it’s innocent and seductive. Most days, the smile alone is enough to leave him wanting. But today…god…today she’s wearing a long floral dress that drapes down to her bare feet. The bodice is nothing more than two narrow triangles of fabric wrapped around her neck, cupping her breasts in reverence.

“Hi.” Drew manages to keep his smile casual, his tone light, though his mouth has dried up and the blood rushing in his ears is deafening. “Ready?”

Andrea steps back and waves him in. “I just need to get my sandals.”

Drew sags against the wall when she turns away. Sweet Jesus.

Andrea comes back down the hallway, ivory sandals dangling from her fingers.

Drew clears his throat. “Is that what you’re wearing?”

She stops just steps away from him, looks down at her dress, then back up at him. “Yeah. Why?”

“You can’t wear that to the picnic.” He shakes his head, as though the matter is closed.

“Pardon me?” Blue eyes flash with rage and she tosses back her hair. “There’s nothing wrong with this dress.”

Drew puffs out a breath. “Maybe not, but you can’t wear it. I won’t let you.”

It’s like watching the wind whip into a funnel cloud, he thinks. Her back stiffens and she throws her shoulders back. Her breasts strain against the fabric, begging for attention. He knows too well how they fill his hands.

“You have incredible nerve telling me what to wear.”

Before she can fold her arms across her chest, Drew spins her around and presses her against the wall, pins her arms above her head with one hand. Andrea bucks against him, bares her teeth like a wild animal.

“I’m not taking off the dress.”

Dammit she’s hot when she’s pissed off. “You don’t have to.”

“Damn straight I don’t.”

Drew frees a hungry breast from its halter, kneads the hard nipple between his thumb and finger.

“I’ll take it off for you.” His lips curve in a smug smile when Andrea goes still. “If you wear this, I won’t be able to keep my hands off you. But you’ll have to change fast,” he says, as he pulls her dress up around her waist. His lips nibble on the soft skin below her ear, the spot he knows drives her crazy. “We don’t want to be late for the picnic.”

Andrea unties the halter, lets the dress slither to a puddle around her ankles. “What picnic?”

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Vessel of Ropav - Chapter 1

Today's muse:

As mentioned previously, I started writing this fantasy story, but have lost my vision, so it's shelved. But since I posted another excerpt, I thought maybe I could post what I've written so far and see how everyone feels. Who knows...maybe it will inspire me to finish.

And by the way...has anyone noticed the name of the Vessel?

* * *

The Vessel of Ropav - Chapter 1

“The bidding will commence at £12,000.”

A low hum drifted through the crowd as everyone speculated on the value of what was, in essence, a nondescript piece. A small, clay chalice with rough etchings, shaped somewhat like a pear. It was ugly, really.

When the vase was delivered to the auction house, there was great skepticism among the staff. No one knew what this urn was or whether it had any value. Upon analysis, it was determined that it dated to at least the time of the pharaohs but no one could decipher the cryptic symbols. They appeared to be hieroglyphics, but no translation was completed. Oddly, the National Museum was not interested in acquiring it, insisting it had no historical value. The board of directors of the auction house finally agreed to sell it, confident someone would want to own it—even if it was nothing more than a decorative conversation piece.

The auctioneer repeated the starting bid, somewhat desperate when there was no reaction. “£12,000 for this...vase.” He struggled to name the ancient urn. “This piece was recovered from a pharaoh’s tomb.”

A paddle at the back of the room rose above the heads. The auctioneer, delighted that someone had at last bid, jabbed a finger at the man and shouted “£12,000! Do we have twelve-five?”

No one moved.

The old man at the back of the room inclined his head in acknowledgement and lowered his paddle. A dark wool coat hung across his thin shoulders, a black homburg perched on his thinning, gray hair. On his weathered face, angry red scars competed for attention with deep wrinkles. No one noticed the excitement dancing in his eyes.

For too many years, Ethan Chamberlain had chased this sacred piece across five continents. His quest had taken him to the most inhospitable countries, on decrepit ships that threatened to sink at any moment, and airplanes that defied science by remaining airborne. He had been hospitalized more times than he chose to remember, often surprising medical staff with his survival.

“Going once ... going twice ...”

An elegant woman, a sheet of auburn hair cascading down her back, raised her paddle in the air. Angered, Ethan raised his own before the auctioneer could acknowledge the woman’s bid. Several heads turned to stare, but he kept his eyes on the vessel. He had never come this close and he knew he never would again. He would not fail. Could not.

Worlds depended on it.

As the price was acknowledged, another paddle was raised. Then another. And yet another. The auctioneer was surprised, yet excited, at the interest shown in this otherwise unknown piece.

The value escalated quickly as bidders volleyed prices, each one vying for ownership of a relic they knew nothing about. Ethan sat back and watched. He would wait for the right moment.

A buzz rippled through the crowd as the price reached £500,000. An enormous woman in the second row raised her paddle. Sausage fingers clasped the handle as she waved it in the air, her arm undulating like a flag in the breeze. The auctioneer’s excitement was tangible and he bounced on the balls of his feet as he called for additional bids.

“Six. Do I hear six? £600,000 for this ...”

Enough! In the back row, Ethan’s hand rose high in the air.

“One million.”

Silence descended on the room like a heavy pall and every face turned to look at him, awed by this brazen breach of protocol.

“Well! I…” the large woman protested. Not that she was about to outbid the strange man—a million pounds for heaven’s sake!—but it was the principle of the thing.

Ethan Chamberlain continued to stare at the vessel, his face impassive, contrary to the joy that blazed within.

No one in the room knew the chalice was fashioned by gods. No one knew it would bring unspeakable power to the owner. No one knew how to fill it.

Except Ethan Chamberlain. He knew. He knew this and more.

When the auctioneer slammed his gavel, Ethan rose, ignoring the overt stares of those around him, as he hurried out of the room to make arrangements for payment.

And arrangements for the ceremony that would fill the Vessel of Ropav on the night of the new moon.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Vessel of Ropav

Today's muse: This is an excerpt from a short story I started writing. I admit that I am now a little hung up on continuing...I'm not very good at writing sci-fi or fantasy. So the piece is shelved. For now.

* * *

The Vessel of Ropav

“Do you have it?”

“Yes,” he replied, for what seemed like the hundredth time that morning. 

The two men—one young, one old—marched in step with the other commuters, blended in with their dark suits and even darker overcoats.  They walked onto the train platform, scanned the crowd that formed along the thick yellow line that ran parallel with the track.  The old man smiled when he thought how ridiculous it seemed to have nothing but a swish of bright paint act as a barrier; as though there was an unseen force field preventing commuters from pressing too close to the tracks. 

Or jumping. 

It would have made his task more difficult, he acknowledged.  Difficult, but not impossible. 

He gestured at the younger one to take the agreed-upon place near the yellow line and walked over to the public pay phone.  He could hear the distant chime of the train bell and willed his arthritic knees to move faster.  He lifted the receiver and punched in the three numbers.

“911. What is your emergency?”  Odd, he thought, that the voice should sound so cheerful.  Perhaps she knew. 

As the train approached, the tracks sang as though they heralded a new day. 

“The Vessel has been filled.”

“I’m sorry, sir, could you repeat that?”

“The Vessel has been filled.”

He dropped the receiver and it swung like a pendulum from the metal coil.

“Sir? Sir? Hello?!”

There was no time to waste now.  He pressed his way through the crowd, ignoring the obscenities shouted by angry business people.  Breathless, his ancient knees aching, he reached his young friend.

Here, the edge of the concrete platform gave way to gravel and sporadic patches of grass.  The train would enter the station at top speed, making this location ideal.  And, of course, the telephone.  It was petty, he knew, but he wanted the higher powers to know they were bested. 

The old man had no doubt the message would be conveyed. 

He stood next to the younger one, made no eye contact.  It would be dangerous for anyone to associate them. 

“You know what to do, yes?”  He spoke so only the younger would hear.  It wasn’t a question, really, it was confirmation.  Confirmation for an old man who knew there was only one chance to change the world.  That such a sacrifice could be made only once. 

The young man gave an imperceptible nod as he moved his hand across his loose overcoat—over the small lump at his chest—and brushed away a non-existent speck of dirt.  The old man closed his eyes and murmured a chant.

“Blessed be, my son.”  And the old man stepped off the platform into the rushing path of the 06:07 morning train as horrified rush-hour commuters looked on.

As the 911 dispatch received dozens of calls from eye witnesses to what was later ruled a suicide, one other phone call was made.

“My lord, the Vessel of Ropav is now filled.”

There was a pause before a deep voice replied.

“Prepare for battle.” 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tales of Woe

Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Today's words: banter, duty, element

Based on a true story. The names and locations have been changed to protect the innocent guilty.

* * *

Tales of Woe

“Oh my god, Elan! What happened?”

Elan Fischer shrugs, mumbles an incoherent response into his glass of beer. He had expected this response, he just didn’t want to talk about it. As his friends arrive for the annual summer barbeque, the greeting from each is the same—or some variation of it.

He manages to put off John and Trevor when they ask him what happened. He even avoids Rick’s queries when he corners him by the fire pit. He finally relents when Sandra and Emily tag-team him. He always did have a weakness for women.

“Alright.” Elan throws up his hands in defeat. “I’ll tell you what happened.”

To give himself time to gather his thoughts, Elan walks over to the cooler and pulls out a beer, takes his time drying it off. When he pops off the top, he turns and faces the group, flicks his heavy braid of hair over his shoulder.

At six-two and a very fit two hundred and eighty pounds, Elan is intimidating. A result of his mother’s Cree blood and father’s Irish heritage, he has smooth Mocha skin and blue-black hair that falls in waves past his shoulders. He has the seductive, wild look of an era long past.

Women want him. Men fear him.

Elan leans back against the picnic table, his beer in one hand. “I was at Charlie’s last night.”

There are smug nods at this disclosure. It is no secret that Elan likes a drink. Before the inevitable banter can start, he gestures with his bottle. “It wasn’t like that. I met my brother for a drink. Then we decided to stay for a bite. You know Charlie’s has the best wings in town.”

There is a low hum of agreement.

“So Delsin and I are eating wings and drinking beer. We’re minding our own business. Shut up, we were,” he says at the snorts he gets from that. “Do you want to hear what happened or not?”

Sandra and Emily hiss at the others. “We want to hear what happened,” says Sandra. She slaps at John when he sniggers.

Elan takes a pull from his beer and waits. When the group is quiet, he continues.

“So, like I said, we’re minding our own business, when Del points out the girl sitting alone two tables away from us. She’s sipping her drink and she looks like she’s crying.” Elan hitches up his worn jeans. “I figure it’s my duty to go comfort her.” He ignores the laughter from the guys, the snorts from the girls. “But before I can get up, this guy comes out of the bathroom and sits down at her table. She clearly doesn’t want him there but he’s not leaving. She gets up to leave and the guy grabs her arm.”

At this point, the girls gasp. John, Rick and Trevor are silent.

“I can’t just let that go,” says Elan, “so I walk over and say to the guy ‘hey buddy, the lady doesn’t want you to stay.’ He says ‘Oh yeah?’ and stands up.” Elan steps away from the table and pulls himself to his full height. “The fucker’s bigger than me, if you can believe it.”

“No!” Emily clamps her hand over her mouth.

Elan nods, a grim look on his face. “I turn to the girl and tell her to leave while I talk to her boyfriend. Then he sucker-punched me.” Elan points at his left eye that has swelled and discoloured to an angry puce.

He shrugs. “I took him down after that.” He leans back against the table as though he’d just recounted an uneventful drive to work and not a bar brawl.

Everyone talks at once; the guys congratulate him and the girls are instantly up from their lawn chairs. Sandra runs her cool fingers beneath his eye and croons. “Poor baby. Why don’t you have a seat and we’ll take care of preparing the food. Do you want another beer?”

Elan flicks his sad eyes over to her. “Sure.”

Emily gives him a quick kiss on the lips and walks away with Sandra, their heads together, no doubt dissecting the events from last night.

When the girls are inside and out of ear shot, Trevor looks over at Elan.

“That was a good story, El.”

“Had the girls sitting on the edge of their seats,” John agrees. “But there are several elements in your little fairy tale that just don’t add up.”

Elan says nothing.

Rick taps his bottle against Elan’s. “What really happened.”

Elan grins, glances at the patio doors. “Don’t tell the girls.” The men rumble their consent. Of course not. What kind of friends would we be? We have your back, bro.

“I did go out for drinks with Del last night. But I’d had a few, so I took a cab home. Of course, I had the munchies when I got back and I was rummaging through the cupboards looking for something good—I was thinking cashews—and I lost my balance and caught the corner of the cupboard door.” Elan winces as he rubs his swollen eye.

To their credit, his friends remain stone-faced.

Trevor lifts his bottle in salutation. “The damsel in distress story is much better.”

“Definitely,” John agrees. He glances over at the house. “It might even get you laid.”

“You think?”

Rick shrugs. “Can’t hurt.”

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Today's muse: Sunday Scribblings

Today's prompt:  #333 - Drought

* * *


It was arid,
and my soul had withered.  
The rain would not come
and thirst robbed my spirit.

When the deluge came
it thundered down in icy spikes,
pummelled my body
until it woke.

Beneath the waves,
I choked my pain
until it ceased to thrash
and buck.

Buoyant once more,
I float along the river—
the pennies washed from my eyes—
and I see you once again. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday.

Today's words:  beat, pressure, substance.

 * * *


The skin on my wrists is raw and tender. Tiny red dots surface and I wipe away the blood. I wonder if they’ll scar. My linen shirt lays shredded on the bathroom floor. Too bad, really—I just bought it. I didn’t expect to have it torn off me. David never showed any sign that this darkness lurked inside him.

With a swipe, I clear a narrow path through the steam on the bathroom mirror. The shower helped; scalding water beat away most of the pain. But only time will heal the bruises.

Would this have happened if I hadn’t provoked him? Did I ever say no? Asked him to stop? I can’t remember. But even if I did, would it have mattered? Would he have stopped? A small part of me—no, a large part—knows I’m to blame. I asked for this.

My gaze wanders to the reflection in the mirror, shifts down. At the base of my throat are dark, finger-shaped smudges. I can still feel the pressure, the heat of his calloused hands. There is a small cut on my bottom lip that is beginning to swell. If I turn around, I know I’ll see welts on my back and my ass.

My mother always told me it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for. They’re the ones that keep the shadows hidden. She wasn’t kidding. After six months, I thought I knew David rather well. Charming and funny, he was always polite and attentive; a gentle and generous lover. That changed tonight.

Dinner was the usual how-was-your-day-what-do-you-want-to-do-this-weekend conversation; nothing of any real substance. I realize, now, it was the drive home; when I leaned over and pressed my hand against his cock, told him to drive faster.

“I can’t wait much longer,” I begged.

His response was a growl. I had never heard him utter more than a sigh when we made love, and the guttural sound was thrilling.

David didn’t bother to lock the car when we got to my house. He snatched the keys from my hand, threw open the door, dragged me up the stairs to my bedroom. He slammed me against the wall, yanked at my shirt, sending delicate pearl buttons flying. I made a feeble protest, but he pinned my arms and tore off the fabric. Blood pounded in my ears and I couldn’t catch my breath as his hands and mouth took with vicious possession. Again and again. Over and over. It was hours before he stopped. It felt like days.

I woke up alone this morning.

And now, standing before the mirror, I let the evening play back in my mind. Every detail comes back in Technicolor. I stare at the tender, swollen lip reflected in the mirror and I don’t dare lift my gaze higher. I can’t look into those pale blue eyes that I know will judge. I’m too ashamed.

I’m not ashamed because David used me.

I’m ashamed because I liked it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Three Words

Three Words

Three words. That’s all. It wouldn’t take long to say them.

The thing of it was, once he said them, he couldn’t take them back. And uttering them was a game-changer.

He had to mean it; it was pointless otherwise. He didn’t have a problem lying under most circumstances. But this was different. Once those three words hung in the air, he couldn’t pull them back, stuff them in his mouth and swallow. They would be out there, for everyone to see.

It was a verbal contract, binding as though a thirty-page agreement were executed, with article eight, paragraph six, sub-paragraph three setting out the consequences of retracting said statement.

She stood before him, waiting, eyes filled with love and hope.

“I can’t,” he said.

He knew one day he’d regret it, because—and he could admit this now—he didn’t. He couldn’t.

He heard her weeping as he closed the door, leaving without saying the three words she so desperately needed to hear.

“I forgive you.”

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Running with Scissors

Running with Scissors

Engrossed in columns of numbers, I didn’t hear her walk up behind me and was somewhat startled when she spoke.

“Do you have a pair of scissors I can borrow?”

My head jerked up and I stared into Marion’s wide face, her lips curved in a polite smile.

“Sure.” I pulled open three drawers before I found a pair. I crunch numbers for a living; the only time I used my scissors was when I opened a bag of Skittles.

I handed them over to Marion, holding the blades in my hand, pressing the blue plastic handle into hers.

“Thanks,” she chirped, widening her smile. “I’ll bring them back as soon as I’m done.”

I nodded and put my head back down, already engrossed in my numbers. I had a meeting that afternoon with the head of marketing to discuss the budget for the next quarter. Management wanted a report on write-offs, and three clients needed accruals for the current month.

It was well beyond lunch—and I hadn’t yet eaten—when I was pulled from my numbered reverie.

“Thanks, again,” said Marion, holding out the scissors. I’d forgotten she’d stopped by that morning.

“Oh sure,” I said, taking the scissors from her. She walked away before I could finish with, “Any time.”

I made a face as I tossed the scissors into the top drawer of my desk. The plastic handle was sticky and I was more than a little annoyed that she hadn’t taken care of something she’d borrowed from me. I know they’re not mine—they belong to the company—but it’s the principle of the thing. When you borrow something, you return it in the same or better condition. It’s just good manners.

Maybe she’s careless with her own things, which may explain why she couldn’t use her own scissors. The blades are probably so coated with whatever is now on the handles of mine, that she can’t open them; rendered useless by her negligence.

I wrenched a few tissues from the box on my desk and wiped my hands. The thin paper was useless and it infuriated me that I had to stop my work and go wash my hands. I had a deadline—several, in fact—and Marion was messing up my schedule. I was determined to have a word with her, tell her that she needs to take more care with things she borrows, impress upon her how much her careless behaviour affects others.

Needless to say, I never got around to that.

It seemed as though seconds after I registered that it was blood I was wiping from my hands, the police were arresting me and I was being questioned and fingerprinted. At first, I denied any knowledge. But when they told me who I had stabbed in the chest fifteen times with the blue-handled scissors, well, I just shrugged.

“He was a jackass,” I said. “He hit on me, hit on all the girls in the office.”

My lawyer assures me that I won’t be in here long. A few years, at best. It’ll be worth it. That son-of-bitch got what he deserved. I’ll be a fucking hero at the office when I get back. And Marion? She may have done the crime, but I did her time.

I think she owes me one.

Monday, July 9, 2012


Today's muse: One Word.

Today's word:  Turbine.

* * *


The constant rotation of our water wheel relationship is both comforting and terrifying. I embrace the reassuring reliability of its monotony, but moments fighting for breath leave me trembling. The inevitable plunges into ice-cold water circle around like a menstrual cycle.

I find myself gulping for air when I surface, praying it all ends before the next turn of the wheel.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Needing More

Needing More

She’d forgotten the affect he had on her, was surprised it was still there after all this time.

He sat back in his chair, completely at ease, one arm thrown over the back, the other holding a pint of beer. For a moment—an eternity—he stared in her eyes, without saying a word.

That’s what she’d forgotten.

She could remember the first day they met, the last time they'd fucked, and countless things between. But that stare…she’d forgotten that soul-penetrating stare. It told her he wanted her, would clear the table of glasses, Blackberries, and bar coasters, bend her over the edge and hike up her dress to thrust into her right there.

He held that intense gaze until she squirmed. It was her tell and he knew he had her. His lips curved in triumph as he sat forward, set his drink on the table. His hand skimmed across her cheek, curved behind her neck, pulled her close. He brushed his lips across hers, flicked his tongue at the corner, murmured an invitation; one she desperately wanted to accept.

“I can’t,” she said.

He pressed his forehead against hers. “Your husband.” It wasn’t a question, but a statement of resignation. He sat back, ran a finger across his lips.

Her eyes followed the movement as she swallowed, nodded. “Yes.” It was barely a whisper.

And it was a lie. Her thoughts weren’t consumed by the one waiting at home. They were filled with another. One, she realized then, she would always need, but would never have.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Laundry Socks

Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

These are actually last week's words: hamper, pulverize, taunt

* * *

Laundry Socks

The kids are well-trained. Four hampers are lined up like wicker soldiers beside the washing machine and everyone puts their dirty clothes in the appropriate bins. Black, White, Jeans (I can’t believe how many jeans this household has!), and Not.

The Not basket holds everything that does NOT fit into the other three categories, which I sort to create smaller sub-loads.

Without fail, a sock from one of the Not piles is sucked into the black hole of the Galaxy Load, never to be seen again. More than a little frustrated with this scenario, I began hanging lonely singles from a makeshift clothes line above the dryer.

Then something odd happened.

One by one, each orphaned twin returned from the great beyond, pulverized beyond recognition. I didn’t think much of it; figured the machine chewed up the socks then spit them out like manky hairballs, unable to digest the poly-cotton blend. As each mangled footie resurfaced, I simply shrugged and pinned it with its pair. These dancing duets now hang in a macabre conga line: fully-grown, healthy socks, each with its decimated conjoined twin.

There is one sock at the end of the line that has remained alone for what seems like an eternity. It’s singular existence taunts me; a constant reminder of my failure as a mother. It's a running joke in the family and I used to laugh. Used to. Not any more.

That changed today.

Today, as I emptied the Not Load of browns and transferred it to the dryer, a lump in the pocket of Nathan’s khakis made me stop. I squeezed it, tried to guess its identity. About two inches long, it was somewhat hard, and yet, tender. I squeezed my eyes shut.

Gross...a machine-washed Tootsie Roll.

I pulled the pocket inside out, my entire hand wrapped around the roll. I remember thinking it was even more disgusting without the wrapping—slimy. It flopped onto the dryer with a hollow ting that echoed off the laundry room walls. I cocked my head. It didn’t look like a Tootsie Roll.

In hindsight, I shouldn’t have picked it up, shouldn’t have held it between my thumb and forefinger, shouldn’t have squeezed it. I Definitely shouldn’t have lifted it up to my nose to sniff.

I now know why the socks hang so patiently on the line. I don’t think I’ll ever do laundry again. What if the rest of the foot shows up?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Blowing Steam

Today's muse:

As I mentioned, I attended a Sanctuary Retreat this past Saturday.

One of the prompts was to write down three household items, then write a short piece using one of the items. One of my words was kettle.

* * *

Blowing Steam

The kitchen is dim; not because it’s late—or early—but because the curtains are drawn in defence against the summer day.

My throbbing head rests in trembling hands, hair drapes down in a protective curtain. The kettle can’t boil fast enough, though I’m not sure I can even stomach tea.

I concentrate on warding off the resurgence of food and booze. Oh, right. Booze. I mentally tap my fingers against my skull (actually doing so would have the effect of a seven-point earthquake), tick off last night’s liquid buffet. The counting marathon is interrupted by the scream of boiling water.

Jesus! I really need to get a new kettle. One that isn’t so loud.

A deep breath gives me false hope of holding down the bile and I contemplate getting up to quiet the screeching monster on the stove.

Then there is silence, and I am at once tearful with gratitude. I turn to look across the kitchen, careful not to rattle my fragile brain.

Wearing nothing but snug, white briefs, blue eyes smile at me and lips curve in promise.

“Milk and sugar?” he asks.

I smile. Nod with care. And refrain from asking the obvious question.

“Who are you?”

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Out of Here

Today's muse:

As I mentioned, I attended a Sanctuary Retreat yesterday.

One of the most challenging prompts was poetry. Poetry is not my strong point, though I love it. We were given a poem and told to write a response to each line individually. Once our responses were written, we were to remove the given lines and make a poem with the rest.

* * *

Out of Here

Lights flash by in strobe effect;
a futile race with road signs and wooden median posts.

She rockets through the night,
follows the vee of highway,
swerving further and further from centre.

A simple twist will bring her back on track,
but a jerk to the left will get her out of here.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Dust to Dust

Today's muse:

I attended a Sanctuary Retreat today. It was inspiring and validating. The morning was devoted to writing short pieces using prompts. We broke for a delicious homemade lunch, then the afternoon was spent in blissful silence (except for the click of keyboards and the scratch of pens).

One of the prompts was to write down three smells you love and three smells you find less pleasant. Choose one of the words and write a short piece.

One of my ‘love’ words was sawdust.

* * *

Dust to Dust

Dust lingers on my tongue, catches in my throat. It’s like breathing under water; my lungs unable to fully expand. Yet the scent begs me to inhale, close my eyes and tip back my head.

The sharp hiss of the bench saw adds more flakes to my pile of heaven. I want to wade through the fine shavings, toss them in the air like down, laugh as my father twirls me around. I want to brush the sawdust from his thinning hair, press my cheek against his.

Solace is found at the lumber yard, where his memory lives among piles of cut timber.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Snow Day

Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Today's words: bulky, mist, resign

* * *

Snow Day

Perched on the edge of his chair, Justin sits at the kitchen table, his spoon poised above a bowl of cereal. He doesn’t dare eat the crisp honeycombs, as the crunching would drown out the radio announcer’s voice.

Resigned to this mundane torture, he waits with infinite patience as the man on the radio drones on about the recent municipal election, the looming transit strike, a movie review and rush hour traffic. The weather report is next.

Justin squirms while the forecast is mapped out for the next four days. But it’s today’s weather report he waits to hear.

“Say it. Say it.” His lips move in silent prayer, repeating the words over and over.

Then, the announcement he had waited for all morning. With a deafening woop, Justin leaps off his chair, thrusts his fist up in an air punch.


He races to the mud room, yanks down his snowsuit from the wall hook.

“Mom!” he shouts, balancing on one leg as he wiggles into the bulky gear. “I’m going over to Nathan’s.”

“Be home for lunch,” she calls back. “Tell Nathan to come with you. I’ll make grilled cheese sandwiches.”

Justin pauses, his fingers on the coat zipper. Grilled cheese. With milk. And pickles. Mom always serves grilled cheese with pickles. Awesome. He grins as he pulls his wool cap over his ears, slips on his mittens.

“See ya later!” The door slams behind him as he rushes out into the crisp cold.

“Whoa!” A foot and half of snow had fallen overnight and it was still coming down. The weather man had predicted more than two feet.

“Isn’t it great?” Nathan trudges up the driveway, pulling a toboggan behind him. “My mom thinks that school will be cancelled tomorrow, too.”


They wade through the snow, leaving parallel ditches behind them.

“Let’s go check out the new house they’re building over on Wilmont.” Justin scoops up a handful of snow, shapes it into a ball. “We can throw snowballs through the window openings.”

“Cool. Race ya.”

They’re breathless when they arrive at the construction site. Disappointment washes over them when they see that the windows have been installed.

“So much for practicing our pitching.” Nathan kicks at the snow.

“Let’s see if we can still get in.” Justin jogs up to the front window, presses his nose against the glass; his breath paints the window in a thin mist. With his mitt, he clears a large circle.

Nathan presses against him and peers through the glass. “Is that…?”

Justin’s breakfast threatens to resurface. His breathing is ragged and fogs up the window. He isn’t sorry that it blocks his view. He doesn’t want to look inside anymore.

“We…” Justin swallows. “We better call the police.”

Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Moment on the Lips

Today's muse: Sunday Scribblings

An old prompt from the Sunday Scribblings archives.
The prompt: A moment on the lips.

* * *

A Moment on the Lips

“We can’t.” Her whisper is urgent, but she doesn’t move.

His lips curve up as he nuzzles her throat. “Yes we can.” He skims a calloused hand up her waist, brushes against her breast before cupping her face. “I just want a taste.” He tugs on her bottom lip. “For just a moment.”

Every cell in her body wants it. Needs it. Needs him. But she wonders if a moment on the lips is worth the risk of losing everything.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Today's words: error, jingle, vindicate

* * *


She glides the drawer open, inch by precious inch, careful to make no sound. The room is dark, but she's done this so many times before, she needs no light. Tongue clasped between her teeth in concentration she dips her hand into the drawer. Any error at this point would mean exposure. And she can't let him know.

She's not sure why she’s hiding it. It's not shame. Guilt, perhaps.

She lifts the small satin pouch. Her fingers fumble with the drawstring as she empties the contents. She's anxious. Needy. She holds her breath when the pieces jingle together, listens for any reaction from the other side of the door. There is silence, then a cough and footsteps.

She presses back against the pillow, still as death, and wills her breathing to slow. The pounding of her heart all but drowns out all other noise. But then the television snaps on and she relaxes. Leaning over, she pushes the drawer closed. He'll be occupied for a while now. Will likely fall asleep out there.

Her fingers close around the small device. She nudges the dial and the familiar hum makes her smile.

He's with her, behind closed eyes. Not him…the other one, the one she's denied. The other beckons, carries her up the mountain, promises she will soar at the top, thrums against her until she convulses.

And when she takes flight, she is vindicated.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Wednesday's words: draft, locate, serenity

* * *


It didn’t take long to locate him. It was easy, really. Laura knew where he worked and that he lived not far from the office.

There are no secrets on social media.

A tennis match of comments and responses had quickly escalated to email exchange, which evolved to flirting and…and now she was here.

Laura followed a group of women into the tavern, selected a stool at the end of the bar. It was Friday. She knew that Jacob’s habit was to stop by after work for a drink. She shrugged off her coat, ordered a draft when the bartender walked over.

Though she had only seen him in pictures—clicked through moments he had shared with the cyber world—Laura recognize him immediately. He sat at a table with three other men, recounting a rather animated story.

She smiled when all four heads turned to follow the women who had walked in before her. There was a brief, hushed conversation among the men, then Jacob continued his story, his hands emphasizing key points in the tale. There was loud laughter when he finished.

When Jacob signaled for another round, he looked over and saw her. His smile was immediate and  Laura was pleased that he recognized her. Any reservations she may have had evaporated at that moment.

He muttered something to his friends and walked over.

“What are you doing here?”

“I needed to get away.” Laura shrugged. “Find some peace.”

Jacob nodded. Their email discussions hadn’t gone into great detail, but he understood. Without another word, he took her hand and led her out of the bar.

Two falsetto beeps announced the alarm was deactivated on his car moments before he pressed her against the passenger door. As his mouth ravaged hers, his hands possessed, cupping her ass, pinching an erect nipple. She couldn’t think, couldn’t breathe. And if having these basic functions meant he would stop, she would gladly live without them.

Jacob reached behind her and yanked open the door. Before pressing her into the passenger seat, he cupped her chin, lifted her face until their eyes met.

“I don’t know how much serenity I can give you, but I can guarantee you’ll be relaxed when you leave.”

That’s what she’d counted on. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012



Back when my hair was a natural blond, I changed my name from Esther; something my mother (God rest her soul) never forgave. The studios insisted I use something more glamorous, more Hollywood. Whatever that means.

It wasn’t long before my new name was on everyone’s lips. Not just whispered with reverence, as reported in the society columns, but chanted in a breathy staccato while my knees were nudged apart.

Eyes, nose, chin, boobs. All upgraded to appease the masses. And the knee nudgers. Even under close scrutiny—and people get close, let me tell you—you can’t see the scars. My plastic surgeon is a god.

It was all worth it. Even with all the bullshit, it was worth it. I have three Oscars. What do I care if I had to fuck a few producers to get the right part? Between you and me, that was my best acting.

…god you feel good… harder…yeah, just like that…yes! you’re gonna make me…

I should have got a fucking Oscar for that.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Life Rattle Podcast 1197

I'm getting a little annoyed that this whole Working-for-a-Living Thing is getting in the way of my writing. That's not to say I haven't been banging the keyboard. I have. I've made some progress on my novel; I just haven't had time to blog.

However, I have a little something to appease you.

A local station publishes podcasts for a radio show called Life Rattle. Although my stories have previously aired on this station, this is the first podcast available online.

Have a listen to Red Rose, Memere Rosa and The Breakup.

Oh, and if you're asking yourself, who is Monique Massabki? Well, that's me. I wasn't kidding when I said Monica Manning was easier to pronounce.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Red Rose

Today's muse:

As some of you may know, for more than twelve years, I worked in funeral service. I met exceptional people who taught me many things.

Stories like this are why I loved working in funeral service.

And stories like this are why I hated it.

* * *

Red Rose

Walter Pitman sits across from me, his hands clamped around a mug of coffee. He stares down at the table, though I’m sure he doesn’t really see the hand-polished mahogany. Thin wisps of white hair are carefully combed back. His plaid shirt is buttoned at the collar.

He looks so lost, is all I can think.

I open the white folder labelled with his wife’s name.

“Mr. Pitman?” I keep my voice soft, soothing.

He looks up at me, almost seems surprised to see me sitting there. I curve my lips—not a smile, but rather an expression of encouragement. It would, after all, be inappropriate to smile.

“I have a few questions to ask you, so that I can fill out the necessary government forms.”

He nods, rotates his coffee cup.

“Did your wife have a middle name?”

He looks up at the ceiling. “Ruth. Martha Ruth.”

I write Mrs. Pitman’s name on the file and ask a few more questions: What was her maiden name? What was her birth date? Where was she born?

“Did she work outside of the home?” I ask him.

Mr. Pitman surprises me by nodding. His wife was eighty-seven. Hers was a generation of proud homemakers. I wait, my pen poised above the folder.

“She looked after me.” His eyes glisten but he manages a smile. “She took very good care of me.”

“I can see that she did.” I put down my pen, link my hands together. This isn’t the time to write. It is the time to listen.

“It’s just the two of us. We don’t have children.” He shrugs. “Some things are not meant to be.”

I say nothing, simply nod my understanding.

“We have many nieces and nephews.” He grins. “We spoil them.”

“I’m sure you do.”

“We travelled quite a bit.” Somewhat at ease now, he sips his coffee. “Martha loved to travel. She always had to buy something, some little knick knack, to prove that we were there.”

“What kind of things did she like to buy?”

Mr. Pitman sits back in his chair. “Oh, you know, ceramic bowls, figurines…” His voice trails off.

“Figurines?” I prompt.

He sits up again, shakes his head. “She collected those figurines from the tea boxes. You know the ones?”

I nod. “The Red Rose figurines. My mother collects them, too.”

He snorts. “I hate those damned things. Dust collectors is what they are.”

I bite back a smile. How many times had I heard my father grumble the same thing?

“She lined them up across the window ledge above the kitchen sink.” He waves his hands back and forth to demonstrate. “I got fed up one day and swept them all into a drawer. I didn’t say a word, mind you. Just went about my business. She didn’t say anything either.” He sips his coffee. “But the next morning, they were all lined up across the window ledge.”

I smile now.

“Before I went to bed that night, I put them all in the drawer.” Mr. Pitman thumps the table with his fist. “Next morning, they’re back.”

This time, I laugh. I can’t help myself. He laughs, too.

“This went on for years,” he says. “Every night I would stash them in the drawer and every bloody morning I’d wake up and they’d be lined up across the window ledge, as if they’d been there forever.”

His smile fades then and the back of my neck tingles. He cups his mug with both hands.

“When she became sick,” he looks up at me, “I mean really sick, and I could no longer take care of her, she moved into the home.” His gaze shifts, and he stares over my shoulder at some distant memory. “For the last two weeks, every night before going to bed, I've put those damned figurines into the drawer. And every bloody morning, I've taken them out and lined them up on the window ledge.”

He clears his throat. His moist, gray eyes shift to mine. “She would have wanted that,” he says.

I nod. “Yes she would.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Today's muse:   One Word

Today's word: clue

* * *


She is pleasant, doting, loving. And every night, he slices with words. Or—worse—silence. He pushes her away; pushes her down.

So, each night, she pleasures herself and dreams of a new home, a new condo, a new life. Alone. All hers.

And he has no clue that she plans to leave.

Monday, February 13, 2012

She Smiles

Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Today's Words (well, last Wednesday's words...I've been busy!): detach, jolt, surge.

* * *

She Smiles

With detached interest, she watches the guardrail whip by in her peripheral vision. What would happen, she wonders, if she gave the steering wheel a good yank to the left?

These days, she ponders this far too often. Dealing with the roller coaster ride is weighing her down. The surge of anger after an argument is replaced with mind-numbing fatigue, leaving her spent and depressed. She just wants to close her eyes and escape. Sleep.

Her fingers dance around the steering wheel, itch to give it a quick jerk. Just a small one. Nothing serious. She’d wake up in the hospital, and he’d be there when she opened her eyes. He’d tell her how much he loved her, how much she meant to him, that he couldn’t live without her. It would be the jolt he needs to make him realize he was being an asshole.

The sound of crushing metal is deafening as her car careens into the concrete barrier. The vehicle rolls over and over, windshield glass explodes into a thousand diamonds. The roof collapses like a deflated soufflé.

Moments before the darkness takes her, she realizes the truth. He won’t miss her, he probably won’t even grieve. He’ll just be really pissed that she totalled the car.

And that thought curves her lips.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Reality Check

Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Today's words: bubble, lumber, wreck

* * *

Reality Check

The whole thing is a wreck, a fucking sham.

Once filled to bursting, I now lumber along, going through the motions, acting out my part. It is just a matter of time before the hollow façade bounces across a spike strip and collapses like a delicate soap bubble.

Reality will ooze like black grease, and I will smear it over my skin to camouflage. I will hide.

And he won’t find me.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Today's words: downhill, sliver, freak

* * *


Arguments used to be so simple. Breaking up meant taking my Barbies and storming out because you wouldn’t share your crayons.

It’s so much more complicated now. The Dream House is more of a nightmare.

Arguments are about communication—or, rather, lack thereof. How you don’t listen, how you don’t talk. But when you do, it’s rhetoric about my happiness, encouraging me to spend time with friends. Yet, when I go out with Midge and Skipper, you freak out.

Joy rushes out of the open convertible as it bullets downhill. I reach for slivers of love that escape, but my fingers just miss them.

Or perhaps I don’t want to stretch that far.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Strike Three

Today's muse: Thursday Tales

Today's prompt is this awesome picture by Scott Speck:

* * *

Strike Three

There isn’t much light coming through—that haze just before dawn—and it takes a moment before I realize it’s because my eyes are closed. I try to open them, but can’t.

I press a hand to my face, tracing fingers around the contours of swollen eyes. Something is wrong. Very wrong. Panic rips through me, followed by searing pain. Hundreds of ice picks stab, tear at my limbs.

What the fuck happened?

It takes considerable effort, but I open my eyes a crack. I can’t see much, but I see enough to know that I’m lying on the floor, in the middle of…oh shit.

Now I remember.

Pieces drop into place, flash before me like a maniacal slide show. My body convulses as my mind replays his rage; feels, once again, his fists, his boots. The sound of crushing bones echoes in my ears.

I wonder if I can walk. I need to get up. Get the hell out of here. I sit up, hold down my stomach as the room tips, then rights itself. The door opens and closes with a soft click, and I realize it’s too late. As his footsteps bounce off the columns of the mausoleum, the final slide drops into my memory.

Kneeling over me, a leg on either side, hands pressed against my head, he lowers his mouth to my ear. Bile burns my throat when he presses his hard cock against my thigh.

“Wait here,” he whispers, swiping his tongue across my cheek. “I’ll be right back. I’m just going to get the baseball bat.”

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Day

Today's muse: Sunday Scribblings

Today's Prompt: New

* * *

New Day

When the sun sets and the moon is high, nightmares creep into my bedroom and drag me into the undertow, hold me down as I claw for air.

Each new day dawns, tangled in the threads of my dreamcatcher, childhood memories fading in the morning sun.