Fiction

Uneven Frequencies.

“Hi Kenneth. How are you today?”

Kenneth gently rocks on the plush loveseat.  His clothes are heavy with the scent of stale cigarettes and look as though they haven’t left his body in a week -an unmistakable symptom of his maddening disease. His hoodie over his head, he looks at the floor and speaks rapidly.

“Doc, I can’t shut them up. They constantly argue about who’s side I should be on. I wear the headphones like you tell me to but I hear them yelling over the music.”

Dr. Shannon Green had been seeing Kenneth, a 22 year old budding schizophrenic, for three months. Shannon could tell he was on edge today. His posturing from the new medications, the eye tics and rocking, are much more pronounced. Eye contact seems to be out of the question. He keeps nervously glancing towards his tattered book bag on the floor.

Shannon puts effort in to being still and keeping her voice neutral when she speaks to Kenneth about medications. She knows he doesn’t like the idea of taking the anti-psychotics, especially as an injection.

“Did you meet with the nurse for your injection after our visit last week?”

“No. The voices kept screaming at me to just keep going. They are so loud and keep telling me that you can’t be trusted. I’m scared. I don’t know who to believe.”

Kenneth’s rocking has become vicious, his feet leaving the ground every time he tips back. His lips are moving, forming only slightly audible words. She has never seen Kenneth this agitated. She again notices his attention being drawn to the bag on the floor.

“Kenneth, is there something in that bag that will help you calm down, something that comforts you?”

Kenneth begins pacing around the office, his head shaking back and forth as he quietly repeats, “No! She is here to help me!”

He circles the room and stops by the bag. Kenneth’s shaking stops. His head hanging down, he is still before speaking. He raises his head, making eye contact with Dr. Green for the first time since entering her office. His voice carries an uncomfortable, controlled anger.

“I don’t think I’ve been on the right frequency, Doc. I’ve been fighting the wrong side. They tried to tell me. I couldn’t hear them because you distracted me with your lies and used the music to drown them out. Why am I letting you continue to poison me?”

Shannon nonchalantly slides her hand under her desk, searching for the panic button that will summon the police to her office. As she presses the button, Kenneth quickly reaches for the bag. His ramblings become incoherent. He tears inside and pulls out a knife. Hearing the footsteps coming down the hall, he wedges a chair under the door handle.

“Kenneth, I want you to put that knife back in the bag and talk to me. The voices are…”

Kenneth doesn’t let her finish.

SHUT UP! I can’t take your lies anymore. I can’t keep doing this. I’m hearing the truth now, I know. I finally understand there is no place for me here. None of you guys are the real enemy. I’m the enemy. It’s time for me to go, Doc .”

Shannon realizes she is wrong. Kenneth was turning on himself, not her. He begins shouting about letting the poison out, just as two police officers bust through the door. Kenneth quickly slides the knife against the thin flesh, covering his throat. The officers take him to the ground.

Shaken, Shannon stands staring at the young man pinned to the ground, covered with his own blood. Drowning in helplessness, her mind unconsciously drifts to the paperwork – an incident report, violent act report to the Office of Mental Health. She starts to cry, knowing he is now a statistic and the bureaucracy of “treatment” will begin to take over.

If Kenneth survives, sterile, mandated procedures — involuntary commitment to the psych ward and a petition to medicate against his will — will own him. Protocol of the broken system, no longer choice, will now dominate his tortured future.

*******************************************************************************************************************

 

 

 

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Fiction

Her Story, Unearthed. Part 2

Kendra drove by the little yellow house twice, before parking on the other side of the street. She tried to look through the front bay windows, in hopes of catching a glimpse of the woman she was about to confront.

As she was getting out of her car, a tall, thin woman walked out the front door. Kendra had expected her to look frail, and broken down. Instead, she was looking at an attractive woman, in chic attire, walking towards her car. Kendra’s heart was pounding and her mind was racing with second thoughts, but she couldn’t let this opportunity pass.

“Excuse me. Tammy?”

Tammy was startled by a woman running across the street, calling her name.

“I’m sorry, do I know you?”

“No. My name is Kendra. Please pardon the unannounced visit but I was wondering if we could chat for a minute. I know this may sound strange but I live in the old farmhouse you used to live in and I have a few questions about the place.”

Fear became transparent in Tammy’s eyes. She stumbled on her words, as she told Kendra she was busy and was already late for an appointment. She was in such a flustered rush, she reached for the car door handle but failed to grab ahold. She fell back on to the driveway.

Kendra reached her hand out to help her up. Tammy just sat there, looking at this stranger in front of her. Kendra remembered what Joe had told her – “be gentle.”

“Tammy, I promise I won’t take up much of your time. I found some things on the property that I would like to incorporate in to a novel I’m writing. I am just hoping you can help, that’s all.”

Tammy grabbed Kendra’s hand, pulling herself to her feet. Perhaps out of curiosity of what she knows, and the soft plea in her eyes, Tammy told Kendra to follow her inside.

Tammy put on a pot of coffee, saying nothing as she moved around the kitchen. Kendra could feel the air shift, as Tammy sat down at the table. There was a lack of emotion in Tammy’s eyes, but a polished, put-on demeanor about her.

“So, what is this book about and how do you think I can help?”

“Well, the farm house is just the setting. It’s really a story of revenge. My leading female character appears pristine on the surface but behind closed doors, she is living the life of a battered woman. At the point I’m at, she is conflicted between killing herself and killing her husband.”

Tammy stood up from the table. Leaning towards Kendra with sheer panic across her face, she began shouting at her.

“Who are you? Why did you really come here? Are you a reporter or some kind of cop? I’ve told everybody everything I know about Charlie’s disappearance. Why won’t this just go away!”

“Tammy, hold on. I’m not a reporter or a cop. I am what I say I am, a writer. Every since I moved in to that farm house, this story has been begging me to write it. I’ve dreamt it a hundred times. I have stumbled upon things in the back yard that are too much of a coincidence. Trust me, I wish this would go away for me too but it won’t. I need to know the rest of this story. Someone is telling me to write your story.”

Tammy walked to the counter, her back to Kendra. She was quiet for several moments. She reached in the cupboard, grabbed a bottle of Jameson and added some to her coffee. She didn’t even ask Kendra before she added some to hers as well. She sat back down, across from Kendra.

“Tell me what you think you know.”

“I’ve spoken to Joe Holland. I know he was a friend of Chucks but he also told me he had an evil side and he used to hit you. If my dream is any indication of what you survived, then the best thing that ever happened was him disappearing. I’m haunted by a scene that I can’t fathom living. I already know the ending to this story Tammy. You survive and justice some how works its self out. I’m not interested in blame or digging up the past. I just need to know what really happened. And what made the scales tip from victim to survivor for you.”

Tammy was nervous, biting her lip and looking anywhere but at Kendra.

Kendra pulled the tooth and gun casing out of her purse. She laid them on the table in front of Tammy.

“That headstone Joe made wasn’t really for the dog was it?”

“No, it wasn’t. I don’t know what possessed me to ever honor where that bastard lies. Charlie treated that damn dog with more dignity than he ever did me. I knew no one would question me digging a hole in the back yard for good ‘ol Chucks best friend. That dog dying just felt like someone giving me an answer of what to do with the body. ”

Tammy began to sob. Tears pouring down, as she unleashed the details of her life as a battered woman, always behind respected doors and at the hand of a man everyone loved. She felt trapped. She listened as Kendra described the scene that played out in her recurring dream. Tammy closed her eyes and simply nodded, confirming that it had really happened.

“I knew he was going to kill me that night, I could see it in his sadistic eyes. It was him or me.”

Tammy wrapped her thin bare arms around her chest, as if to try and stop her shaking. She rocked in her seat as she said softly, “I put a bullet in his head Kendra.”

“Why didn’t you call the police? It was obviously self-defense.”

“I told you. Everyone in this town loved Charlie. Plus, his old family money is what keeps a lot of crooked pockets around here full. They would have said I was jealous of his other lovers and after his money. I had no idea what to do with the body, I was so scared. I hid it in the chest freezer in the basement. Thank God that smelly dog of his died two days later. I made sure to make it known around town that Charlie’s dog had passed. Everyone seemed to feel even more sorry for the poor widow. That afternoon, I dug a hole in the backyard and Joe brought that grave marker down for me. He offered to help me bury the dog but I told him I would do it on my own. That night I dropped that dog right on top of Charlie’s cold, dead, sorry-ass body. It wasn’t until the next day that I remembered the tooth and the casing from bullet. I dug, what I thought was deep enough down, and threw them in. I moved out soon after.”

“No one questioned you about his disappearance?”

Tammy quietly smiled and her tone carried a new level of confidence.

“Of course they did. I was quite the distraught wife though. I spent most of my life pretending to love Charlie for other people’s sake. Faking grief over his loss just came natural to me. It was quite a pleasant role to play.”

Tammy threw back the last of her spiked coffee and indulged in a second. Her defeated demeanor seemed to have fallen off, as she shed the words of her story. She stood taller. Breaking a very long pause in their conversation, Tammy laughed out loud to herself.

“Ya know, not for nothing, because I am alive, but do you know I won’t even see a penny of his money?”

What? Why not?”

“Because there is no proof of his death. The case is long closed but without the proof, the son of a bitch’s money stays locked up in the stock market and trusts. It’s like his last blow to me.”

“That’s unbelievable. I can’t believe you don’t automatically inherit that money. You deserve it. More than anyone around here knows.”

“Tell me about it!”

The two women raised their mugs, both drinking in the proclamation of Tammy’s injustice.

Suddenly, it all made sense to Kendra. She understood why and how she was connected to all of this.

“Tammy, you deserve that money.”

“I know I do, but there is nothing I can do about that.”

“Maybe there is. You have to trust me though. You have to know that what I am going to suggest, will benefit us both.

“Kendra, what are you talking about? I can’t go stirring things up and bringing attention on myself.”

“Tammy, you put the bastard in the ground but you weren’t able to make him pay. I want to help you make him pay.”

“But, how?”

“Don’t worry about the how. Just get ready to leave this town with a story, they can’t resist watching unfold. I have a plan.”

***

Part three will be coming soon. I’ll be busy enjoying a vacation with family for the next two weeks. What do you think so far? Are you anxious to find out about Kendra’s plan? Let me know, feedback is always appreciated.

Fiction

Her Story, Unearthed. Part 1

Kendra’s eyes were barely open, as she reached for the pen and paper, always on her nightstand. She wrote it down this time, every detail she could recall.

There’s a man in my house. I can see him but he can’t see me. I feel scared of him. He’s loud and aggressive, yelling at a woman, he has just shoved to the floor. I try to go to her but I can’t move.

He hits her with the back of his hand. He kicks her in the ribs. He pulls off his belt and starts whipping her with it. She’s sobbing and yelling and begging him to stop. I’m screaming at him to stop hitting her but neither of them can hear me. He grabs the bottle of Jameson on the table and swings it towards her head.

That’s when she stands up.

She grabs his arm with both of her hands. He laughs at her and the sound seems to shoot fury through her body. Her eyes narrow and she is no longer crying.

She pushes him, hard. He falls into the pantry, his head shattering the glass door. He lunges at her. She grabs a frying pan hanging on the wall, and connects the bottom of the cast iron pan with his face. His front tooth falls out, as he collapses the ground.

She checks his pulse and calmly walks to the bedroom. She grabs something on the top shelf of the closet. I see her walk back to the kitchen and stand in front of him. She points a gun at the man lying unconscious on the floor. She says out loud, “No more, Charlie.” As soon as the gun goes off, I wake up.

Kendra can’t shake the darkness that seems to linger in this house. It feels heavy and sad, and always like there is a missing piece of history, trying to make it’s way to the surface. Not being from around here, the only person she could think of to talk to about this, was Joe Holland.

He’s one of the old timers and always tips her well, at the diner where she waits tables part-time. For some strange reason she had told him, and not even her best friend, that she was waiting tables to save money towards publishing a book she was writing.

Kendra held the phone, staring at it, debating whether or not to call him.

“Hi, Joe. It’s Kendra, aspiring author and your favorite waitress! Did you know I live just down the road from you, not sure if you knew that but, could I make you a cup of coffee and maybe run something by you?”

“Sure, Kendra, what’s going on?”

“You’re going to think I’m absolutely nuts so please, just come on down and we’ll talk when you get here.”

“Alright, sweetie. I’m on my way.”

Kendra could hear Joe pulling up, just as the coffee-maker began gurgling, a sound she anticipates in the morning. Carrying two steaming mugs, she met him on the front porch.

“Well thanks for the coffee Kendra, now tell me what’s going on.”

“Joe, I need your help. Can you tell me if anything bad ever happened on this property? I know this sounds crazy, but perhaps maybe a murder.”

“A what? A murder… No. Tammy’s old man went missing years ago and that is why she moved out. Before that, this house was occupied by three generations of the Carson family. I’ve been around for all three of them and can’t recall any other tragic events. No one in the family wanted the house after Chuck went missing. You’re the first one to live here since Tammy left. What’s got you so interested in this old farm house?”

“Joe, what did you say was Tammy’s husband’s name?”

“Chuck. But Tammy always called him Charlie.”

Kendra hands Joe what she wrote down this morning. She explains what it is and asks him to read it. He seems puzzled but agrees without question. He finishes reading and is quiet.

“Kendra, the people in your dream, unfortunately, seem very familiar to me. I was an old friend of Chucks but he had a mean streak like a son of a gun. It was hush, hush that he and Tammy had…problems. It wasn’t uncommon for Chuck to disappear on Tammy for days at a time. She always told people in town he was on business, but we all kind of knew he was on one of his binges. Chuck couldn’t stay away from booze or women. When Tammy reported him missing last year, several search and rescue missions were held but he never showed up. They called off all searches after two weeks. You say you dreamed up all this, Kendra?

“Yes, and I have had this dream repetitively, since I moved in here! And Joe, there’s more. Let me show you.”

Kendra led Joe to the corner of the property.

gravestone

“I started preparing for a garden in the spring and found this peculiar stone, with the letters C. C. carved in to it, just under the ground. Lately, I don’t know why but I can’t get away from the idea that it is connected to the dream.”

“Well Kendra, I recognize that. Tammy asked me to help out with engraving the initials in the stone, to use as a grave marker for Chuck’s dog, Critter. He died shortly after Chuck went missing. Tammy appeared shook up by poor Critter leaving her so soon after Chuck. I remember she wanted to have herself a private little burial for that ol’ dog.”

“C.C. for Critter Carson? Joe, do you find it ironic that C.C. could also represent Charles Carson?”

“Well I suppose it could, but that’s just not the case.”

“Let me show you what else I’ve dug up in this same area.”

Kendra runs inside the house. She returns with two small objects in her hand. She shows Joe the bullet shell and tooth she found in the ground, a few feet away from the stone.


“How do you explain these? I don’t know what possessed me to hang on to them, but I did. Joe, I somehow know all of this is connected to my dream.”

“Kendra, what exactly are you implying?”

“I think Tammy killed her husband and buried him right where we are standing. I only see two ways to find out. Either we start digging or we pay Tammy a visit.”

“Kendra, I think I’ve come about as far as I’m going to go with you on this crazy ride. I’m an old man that doesn’t need to get involved in small town gossip. I wish you well on connecting the dots you have stumbled upon, but be careful. This all was laid to rest years ago and people won’t think too kindly of you digging up the past.”

“I understand. But Joe, can you just tell me one more thing, please? Where does Tammy live?”

Joe paused, before climbing back in to his old pick up. He could tell Kendra wasn’t going to walk away from this.

“241 Sacandaga Rd. She’s got a nice little house down there. Tell her Old Joe says hi, and Kendra, be gentle with all this.”

***

Did I leave you wanting to know more? Before I give you part two or this story tomorrow, let me fill you in on a little secret. The photos of the headstone, bullet and tooth are all items I truthfully found in my back yard. It’s what obviously sparked the idea for this story. I’ve forwarded the picture of the stone to our local historian and am waiting to hear back if she has any information about it. I’ll keep you posted. For now, come back tomorrow for part two 🙂 As always, feedback is welcomed and appreciated.

Fiction

A Happy Medium.

medium

She looked out her window and saw her 3:00 pull in the driveway. Her skin began to prickle. Charlie looked intently at the young woman walking towards her front door. She thought it odd, that her initial reaction to her, was fear.

Charlie and Olivia sat across from each other, making small talk, while Charlie tried to absorb the messages from the other side.

Charlie was startled by a familiar face, now in the room.

Robert, it should be understood by now that I cannot have you around when I am doing private readings.

Charlie pressed record and started the session.

“Olivia, I’m feeling a throbbing pain in my head, did you have a family member die traumatically, perhaps a blow to the head?”

Olivia began to instantly weep. “Yes. I was told my father died in a motor vehicle accident.”

Charlie looked at her, in to her, and saw a heart-aching, unexplainable familiarity, that caused her to look away. She took a drink of her water and tried to re-focus.

Charlie was struggling to channel anyone. Robert was still there and seemed to have denied anyone else access.

Charlie and Robert managed to touch base every so often. He was killed in a motorcycle accident, many years ago. Charlie was left a widow at 21. She was so broken by the loss, she couldn’t bring herself to keep the baby they were suppose to raise together. She was void of a connection with the unborn child and gave her up.

Olivia’s sniffles and tale about longing to connect with her birth family, snapped Charlie out of her reminiscent day dream.

Charlie apologized to Olivia for the distraction and confessed there was someone imposing on her session. Charlie continued to send a clear message to Robert, that he was not welcome here right now.

“Olivia, what does the number 21 mean to you?”

“Well, I’m not sure other than my mom was 21 when she gave me up for adoption.”

Charlie was startled by Robert, suddenly inches from her, telling her to ask a question that completely confused her. She asked anyway.

“Olivia, how old are you?”

“I’m 23.”

Charlie thought about the daughter she never got to know, who would be Olivia’s age now.

Charlie began to feel a shift in her stomach, almost like she was being kicked from the inside.

“Olivia, forgive my straight-forwardness but is there any chance you are pregnant?”

“No, that’s not possible.”

“That’s odd because I keep getting my sign for pregnant. Perhaps this is a maternal message. Is your mother alive?”

“I don’t know if she is or not actually. Like I said, she gave me up for adoption. Do you think it’s her?”

“No, I am getting the feeling that your father is present though.”

What Charlie couldn’t figure out is why she could only feel the presence of Olivia’s father and not see him. All she could see was Robert, who for some reason, refused to leave this session.

“Now Olivia, is it your grandmother that has passed? I’m sensing an older female that…”

Charlie was cut off by her own mother entering the room. All she said was, “It’s time.”

“Older female? Well, I suppose that could be a grandmother.”

Charlie was so confused. Why was her mother and Robert hijacking this reading and what the hell is it time for?

“Olivia, I’ll be honest, I’m having difficulties connecting with your loved ones. I apologize but my own deceased family is being uncharacteristically rude. Do you have any one in particular you are trying to connect with. Maybe if we seek out the individual, everyone else will step back.”

“Wow, does this happen often?”

“No. Actually, it’s never happened before.”

Charlie closed her eyes, breathed deep and asked, “Do you have a name?”

“Robert.”

“I’m sorry, you said Robert?”

“Yes. All I know about my father is that his name was Robert.”

Charlie opened her eyes. Her heart – its pieces, once scattered – finally intact. She looked past Olivia at Robert. His youthful eyes, confirming her sudden revelation.

She began to cry.

“Olivia, how old did you say you are?”

“I’m 23. Is my father coming through? Did he tell you something bad? Why are you crying?” Olivia, visibly shaken, was now crying too.

“Olivia, your father has actually brought me a gift. I hope you see it that way too.”

“I don’t understand. What could he have possibly brought to you?”

“You. He brought me you Olivia.”

*******************************************************************************************************************

This fictional story was inspired by my own visit to a medium, a little over a year ago. It was confirming, shocking and intense. I hope to write that story some day too.

I used a lot of dialogue in this one and would appreciate any feedback on whether or not the story flowed, and if you were able to follow along easily. Suggestions? Thoughts? Did you like it?

Have you ever been to a medium?? I would love to hear about it.

Don't take life too serious., Fiction

Flawed Sacrifice.

flawless sacrifice

Looks can be deceiving. The four walls around Maggie’s lifeless body, told a very different story of her life, than the one that played out in her head.

Maggie’s office housed all that anyone knew about her. Her PhD hung on the wall, adjacent to the plush couch, her patients sat on. The bookshelf displayed her best-selling, self-help books. Her children’s artwork, framed around the door.

Not even those closest to Maggie, suspected the depths of her sorrow. A pain that her silence fueled.

***

Jack looked at his wife for several seconds before asking, “Are you feeling ok, hun?”

He couldn’t help but notice a void in Maggie’s eyes tonight. He watched her clean a dinner plate, in a repetitive circular motion, for nearly 5 minutes longer than necessary. Maggie’s body and mind were locked on something internal.

“I’m fine, babe. Just thinking about Addison’s birthday party this weekend. Could you pick up what’s left on the list tomorrow after work?”

Maggie’s vibrant nature was as absent as her mind. Jack could feel his wife’s vibe, begging to be left alone. He respected the unspoken plea, answering only, “Yeah, I can do that.”

That night, as Maggie tucked the kids in to bed, her hugs and kisses were stale. Afterwards, she sat in the middle of the hallway, equal distance from the only real traces of love, in her defective heart.

Maggie passed through the living room. She stopped behind Jack’s recliner and told him she had a ton of patient’s notes to catch up on and would probably be in her office late tonight. Jack felt a pull in his heart to grab her, but decided to give her some space.
***

To my family,

I wish this wasn’t real. But it is. This had to happen. I’m not the wife and mother that you have always thought me to be. I have spent the last 20 years building on my knowledge of how to help people feel authentic and happy. That journey has been about me, attempting to heal myself. I’ve been searching over half of my life, to find a way to “fix” me. There is no where else to look.

I followed the paths that are suppose to lead to happiness. I married you Jack because your love was so strong, I thought it would help build me in to a woman that was capable of loving herself. I became a mother because I had studied and seen the power of maternal love. I failed at that too. My soul is just too broken to hold the undeserving love you kids give me.

I have become numb. Numb to the reality that there is no hope. I am numb to career and financial successes. I am numb to the arms that embrace me. I walk in stride only with fear of being exposed as a fake. A woman who masks her total void of self-worth, with drive and designed compassion.

Knowing the pills will be taking effect soon, is the only peace of mind, I have ever really had. Joy on the surface is what I have spent my entire life portraying. There would have come a day, when my make-up wore off, exposing my unhealed wounds. This was the only way to prevent it.

tree painting

Jack, I want you to look at the Piet Mondrian painting you bought me, so many years ago. Do you see how the branches are being pulled away from their foundation by a force, unrecognizable in the painting? Please understand that to be me. Remember how you loved the straight lines and bold colors? Please understand that those lines always looked bent to me, and the colors, pale and draining.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the burden of my false emotions, misleading arms and fractured soul. I will no longer be those burdens on you all.

Now you are free. Now I am free.

***

Jack sat in the first row, his and Maggie’s children on both sides. They wept together. It was not only a room full of grief for a wife, mother, sister and daughter; but heart ache for a woman, who was never able to truly live.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This week’s prompted writing challenge was to use the line, “Looks can be deceiving” as the first sentence of your story; as well as, make reference to the painting Avond (Evening): The Red Tree by Piet Mondrian, featured above.

Fiction

Reserved Lust.

1194784213_ce55494eee_o

Every inch of Stella’s body was damp with sweat. The air around her smelled sticky. She opened her hazy eyes, as the corner of her lips elevated. A smile that even a stranger would recognize as sinful.

This was the second night in a row she had dreamed about him. She was so twisted in the sheets, it was like he was there with her. Stella squeezed her eyes shut and tried to lock in every thrust and moan.

Stella rolled over and stared at her handsome husband. They had been married three years now. She glanced at the alarm clock next to him. She knew in two minutes, he would wake, stretch and stumble his way to the bathroom. Peter never set the alarm. He never needed to rely on it. His life had become a busy, worn routine. One that left Stella feeling invisible and unfulfilled.

At a café near her office, Stella devoured a Rueben and the last chapter of her book.

Stella? Hey! I thought that was you.”

Stella was startled by the familiar voice, causing her to look up from her book, a piece of limp lettuce hanging from her full mouth. There he was, Jonah, the man she almost married; the man that she welcomed in to her dreams.

Suddenly, her head had a flirtation tilt, as she said, “Hey you! Just having some meat, I mean a bite to eat! I mean, I’m on my lunch break, care to join me?”

As Jonah sat down, Stella could feel a warm energy crawling up her thighs. All she could think about was the way his thick, rough hands used to guide her hips, as she slowly took him in and out. Stella craved his kind of masculine attention again.

Within the first few seconds of sitting across from each other, neither saying a word, the sexual tension became palpable. It never went away, even when their relationship did.

Jonah asked, “It’s been what, four years since we last saw each other? I still think of you often, Stella.”

Stella could see nothing but the rise and fall of his chest, as she admitted, “I think about you too.”

Neither of them mentioned the fact that they had both gotten married since they last saw each other.

Stella wanted nothing more than to use what was left of her lunch break, to let Jonah make her feel alive again.

Suddenly, Peter flashed in her mind. Stella wanted to cry. The only piece missing from their marriage, passion, was sitting right in front of her, but out of her reach.

Stella knew what she had to do. She asked Jonah about his family. It was the only way to bring them both back down from the erotic high they were swimming in.

***

That evening, Peter walked in from work, right on cue. Stella, lying naked on the couch, her body glowing from the candles surrounding her, immediately stood and walked to him. Peter started to speak, but Stella put her finger to his lips. She grabbed hold of his tie, and pulled him to the floor.

 

Fiction

Aborted Fear.

Scarlett had approached Brian with the idea of dinner and drinks. She knew he wanted exactly the same thing she did. She suspected it wouldn’t take much more than conversational foreplay and he would be a quick, sure thing. She needed a man to help refresh her body and mind, and then get the hell out of her apartment and her way.

Had she not indulged in that final glass of merlot, Brian would never have slept over. Nor would she be trying her damnedest to not poke her eye out with mascara, as this taxi driver hit every, single pot hole.

If Scarlett didn’t get to the office soon, the day’s top assignments would be given to another reporter. She worked too damn hard to secure her reputation as a front-page journalist, to let a one night stand get in her way of maintaining it.

6 Weeks Later…

“Scarlett, I don’t want to see you back in this building until you look at least three shades darker, than you do right now. You are pale as a ghost and obviously need some rest”, Jonathan, Scarlett’s editor, said with a firm, fatherly tone. He wouldn’t take no for an answer.

Scarlett still felt like death two days later. Between that and the random narcoleptic episodes, she couldn’t take it any longer. She decided to go to the emergency room. She was hoping for some nausea pills and maybe an antibiotic.

As the nurse was taking her blood pressure, she asked Scarlett, “When was your last period?”

“I never get my period with the birth control I take”, Scarlett explained.

The nurse’s eyebrows went up a bit as she asked, “Is it possible that you could be pregnant?”

Scarlett laughed a how-ridiculous-of-a-question laugh and assured her, she was not. The no-nonsense nurse insisted she pee in a cup, then led her to the bathroom.

Scarlett returned to her room just in time to catch a man, reeking of a God-complex, walk in. He looked at the chart in his hand and before even looking up said, “Congratulation.”

All Scarlett could say was, “Huh?”

Obviously annoyed, the doctor said, “Ma’am,  you are pregnant. Do you have any questions?”

Scarlett leapt off the chair, grabbed the garbage can next to the door and vomited the two whole pieces of toast she had in her gut. She heaved and choked on every word she just heard. She thought, How could I let this happen to me?

She went home and poured herself a glass of wine. She found it odd that she was hesitant to drink it, when her mind was already set on terminating the pregnancy. She had to drink it. She needed it to help her not think about Brian or having his baby, only getting rid of it.

Scarlett wasn’t a women without emotion,  just one that was convinced she was too broken, her edges too sharp, to ever be anyone’s mother.

***

Scarlett walked to the clinic downtown, hoping the frigid air would distract her mind from absorbing what was about to happen.

As she briskly walked past an apartment building, the sound of the Bee Gee’s singing “Staying Alive”, stunted her pace. The irony of hearing the chorus, to this particular song, was not lost on Scarlett. She traced the sound to an apartment on the ground level and peaked through a window.

She saw a woman about her age, dancing, with a smile that radiated joy. Her hands in the air, full of chucky, laughing baby. Scarlett couldn’t help but stare. She was caught off guard by the tears streaming down her face. The bitter cold seemed to hold them in place on her cheeks.

Finally inside the clinic, Scarlett was suddenly flooded with the memory of her mother, lying lifeless on the floor, a needle, inches from her hand. Scarlett’s mind bounced back and forth between the memory of her own abusive, addicted mother to the vibrant, joyful mom she watched dancing with her daughter.

With her defenses stripped down, Scarlett had a thought that seemed to re-attach her self to her soul. What if she actually was capable of loving someone else and being loved by another?

She had suspected it would be so easy for her to walk in and out of this place. Now, with the nurse calling her name, Scarlett is torn between choosing the life she chose or the one that is choosing her.

Fiction

Southern-Fried Yankee.

“Claire, come help your Momma in the kitchen.” Maggie called to her 14 year old daughter.

“I’m busy Momma!” Claire said, as she studied the outfits laid out on her bed. Claire was on her way to being as synonymous with fashion, as Beyoncé is to her signature, “put a ring on it” dance moves.

Claire heard her Momma yelling at her little brother from the living room, “Son, I will blister your butt if you use crowns on my floors one more time!”

Claire laughed and said, “Momma, it’s cray-ONS not crowns! Will you ever say it right?” Claire asked.

Child, hush your mouth. I will say it how ever I damn-well please”, said Maggie.

Claire loved to get her mom going. Her accent always got thicker when she was mad. Her Momma was raised in the south. Despite moving to Upstate NY after she married Claire’s father twenty years ago, there was still a twang to her words.

Maggie hollered to Claire, “We’ll be leaving as soon as the casserole is done, about 15 minutes!”

Claire shouted back, “Got it!” and thought to herself, God forbid Momma not bring a casserole everywhere she goes.

Claire and her Mom were invited to a girls-only dinner night at Maria’s house. Claire went to school with Maria’s daughter, Lesley. She was surprised when her Mom told her they were invited. She had never seen her hang out with Maria, or any of Maria’s friends.

Claire joined her Mom in the kitchen, just as her daddy was getting home from work. Like most nights, her dad kissed her Momma on the cheek and playfully smacked her on the butt. As always, her Momma shrieked with embarrassment and said, “Brian just knock it off, the kids shouldn’t see you do that!”

“I’m fixin’ to be done with the casserole, so you hurry up and finish getting ready.” Maggie said to Claire.  “And Claire, you best be on your best behavior tonight and watch your tongue. I want to hear yes ma’am and no ma’am when an adult is talking to you, do you understand?”

Claire nodded at her momma’s notorious warning.

“Momma, Leslie and her friends are snobs.” Claire said, as she put on her coat.

Claire Leighann! Don’t be rude or you can stay home.” Maggie said, and gave Claire “the look”, before giving Claire’s dad and baby brother a quick kiss goodbye.

Hearing her middle name thrown in and seeing “the look” on her Momma’s face, Claire decided it best to close her mouth.

On the way to Maria’s house, Claire asked, “Momma, do you ever just want to yell or scream?”

“Claire, what on earth would make you ask me that?” Maggie responded curiously.

“You just never seem to lose your temper. Even if people are rude to you, you just smile and keep quiet.” Claire expressed to her Mom.

“Baby, Momma doesn’t do a lot of hollerin’ because I wasn’t raised that way. I just feel like it’s more important to be polite than make a scene. If I need to get my point across, I do it by talkin’ or just ignorin’ the person being rude.”

“You should stick up for yourself Momma, that’s what you tell me.” Claire surprised her mom with this one.

“Claire, I just wasn’t raised like that”, Maggie said.

“I know Momma, but you have lived across the country from Alabama for over half of your life. Haven’t you grown a pair by now?” Claire threw herself against the passenger door, as soon as she said it. She knew her Momma’s hand would be coming for her head.

Claire Leighann Jones! Don’t make me turn this car around and take your sassy mouth home!”

Claire looked out the window so her Momma couldn’t see her laugh. She loved getting her all riled up.

They arrived at Maria’s house and as soon as they were invited inside, Claire felt an inferior air. She always picked up on others vibes and instantly reacted to them.

Maggie offered the casserole she baked, to which Maria responded, “Um, thanks. I suppose I’ll put this in the fridge. Come on in.”

Claire joined the girls looking at this year’s year book in the living room.

“Claire, did you see Sharon’s picture? Maria’s daughter, Lesley, asked in a malicious tone. “She looks like she let her little sister pick out her outfit.” she said, and the other girls laughed. Claire didn’t.

Claire responded with a challenging tone, “Maybe her little sister did pick out her clothes. I’m friends with Sharon, and her little sister has pretty awesome taste in fashion.”

“So Maggie, do you actually enjoy not working and being home all day?” Maria pretentiously asked Maggie.

“I love bein’ home. I can’t imagine it any other way”, Maggie replied.

“Well your mother probably stayed home with you, right? Isn’t that what they do in the south?”, said Beth, Maria’s best friend since high school.

Beth then added, “Maggie, I don’t know how you do that bare-foot and pregnant thing. I would go crazy if I couldn’t work.” She laughed condescendingly and flicks Maria on the shoulder, as if to say, You know what I mean.

Maggie could feel an un-easiness crawling up her spine. She tried to ignore the insinuation that she was an ignorant, lazy female. Instead, she just gave a light-hearted laugh and said, “Ya, it can be tuff.”

Claire was trying to survive the gossip amongst the plastic ones when suddenly, her head perked up like a startled chicken. She heard the drawl in her Momma’s last word. She knew that drawl. That drawl only comes out when her Momma is really mad or had one more glass of wine than usual.

Ashley, the head of the PTO and Maria’s sister-in-law, piped in. “I just need something to challenge me during the day. Besides, I would never let a man support me.”

At that point, Maggie could feel her neck jerk back. “How can you say that?” Maggie said, as she shook her head and tried to change the subject.

Maria disliked her topic of conversation and relentlessly dug back in to Maggie. “Maggie, maybe you just don’t understand where we are coming from because you don’t work.”

That was it. Maggie’s neck started rollin’ and her hand went in the air like she was singing the gospel.

“Let me tell you sumthin’. I have a college degree in psychology but honey, it don’t take that to diagnosis you as a bitch!” Maggie said, with a satisfied calmness.

“Not only am I more educated than you, I could run circles around you in the workforce and in your own home. This may be your house darlin’, but my daughter is standing right there. And I will be damned if I will stand here and let you berat me in front of her. Cuz ya see, I am not barefoot and pregnant. I am respecting my choice as a women to raise my children, while my husband fulfills what part of our partnership he can. That’s how our family works.

Maria, Beth and Ashley were left with crystal wine glasses in their manicured hands and their mouths closed, for once.

“Now, if ya’ll will excuse us.” Maggie said and smiled a polished, southern smile only a woman raised south of the Mason-Dixie line can pull off. She walked over to the fridge, opened the door and snatched out the casserole she put love and time in to this afternoon.

“I’d let you keep this but my husband may whoop his old lady’s ass if I leave the expensive bake-ware he paid for”, Maggie oozed sarcasm.

“Oh, and the next time you have a little git-together and decide to invite the ignorant, little woman that you suspect can’t possibly have any interesting friends of her own, do yourself a favor and request that she bring the wine. That shit ya’ll drinkin’ ain’t worth touching to my beautifully, cultivated lips.” Maggie’s drawl was so thick as this point, her words practically crawled off her lips, like the icing on a Paula Deen pound cake.

The girls in the living room watched the rhinestones on Claire’s back-pockets glimmer, as she strutted towards her Momma. Claire just looked at her with eyes that seemed to proudly say, “Go Mom!”

Maggie and Claire quietly, but confidently, put on their coats and boots. Neither spoke until they were in the car.

Claire burst out laughing and said, “Mom, what got in to you?

“I don’t know Claire Leighann but it felt good”, Maggie admitted to her daughter. “Those nasty women just needed to be stood up to. Don’t ever let snooty bitches talk down to you Claire. I’m sorry if I ever gave you the impression that you should.” Maggie said.

“Claire, you can’t tell your daddy about this.” said Maggie, as she seemed to shift back in to the Momma that Claire loved and adored, now more than ever.

“Don’t worry Momma, I won’t.” Claire had to hide her little-white-lie smirk. She couldn’t wait to tell her daddy what a country-fried yankee her Momma was tonight.

 

 

 

Fiction

A Borrowed Identity.

Around the dinner table was a quietness interrupted only by the sound of chewing. This is usually a compliment to the chef.  However, tonight’s absence of noise triggered something in Alice. She gently put her napkin on the table and excused herself from the table. No one seemed to notice. She left her half eaten dinner plate and her family silently enjoying their meatloaf and potatoes. She grabbed her coat, the keys, some cash and calmly walked out the door.

Before she was out of the driveway, her eyes were open wider than they had been in years–perhaps ever. She could feel a wild and explosive lump forming in her throat as she put the keys in the ignition. It was the primal scream escaping her mouth that brought her husband to the window. Ben looked just in time to see his wife accelerate away from their home.

Ben stumbled to his phone. As soon as he heard the vibration against the counter behind him, he knew she had left her phone. He realized he had no way of knowing why she left or where she was going.

Alice decided where she was headed at every stop sign she came upon. She lacked the need or desire to sleep and just kept driving. She stopped only to feed her tank and replenish her supply of cigarettes. Her body craved the nicotine more now than when she quit four years ago.

After almost two full days of driving, Alice’s eyes were falling. She wanted to just keep going but caved and stopped for the night. Upon entering the motel room, Alice immediately turned on the TV. She needed sound to fill the space. She hummed to herself as she kicked off her shoes, peeled off her jeans, grabbed the bottle of wine she picked up at the liquor store across the street.

Alice took a long drink from the bottle then fell on to the bed. She chose to think about the amount of germs she had come in contact with since entering this room, rather than the devastation she created two thousand miles away. Within the hour, the effect of the wine collided with exhaustion and Alice’s eyes finally fell closed.

It was the sobering sun light that roused Alice’s thumping head from the deflated pillow. Before she was able to absorb the space in time she was in, she began to cry. The TV had timed off and Alice was left with nothing but her conscious echoing in her head. The echo began competing with sounds of her sobbing.

Feeling trapped in her own head, Alice decided to distract herself with a cup of coffee at a diner around the corner. She walked inside and chose a booth next to a window. She faced the unknown world around her and suddenly felt herself uncomfortably still. Visions of her children started to appear and she fought back tears. She knew the tears were confirmation that she loved them, but more an admission that because of them she couldn’t go back.

She was tracing the top of her mug with her finger, like a needle stuck in a groove on a vinyl record, when a man with greasy features approached her booth. He said he hoped she was enjoying her morning and asked if she had any friends that wanted to wait tables. With out hesitation, Alice told the man she could do it. She denied any reason as to why she couldn’t start right away. The man appeared relieved and went to fetch a uniform in the back he said was about her size.

Alice pulled her knees to her chest and balanced her mug on her knees. She knew she was capable of waking in the morning and pleasantly serving breakfast and coffee to strangers. She knew she was capable of intoxicating herself enough at night to get to sleep. What terrified her was how was she going to pull off being Alice in the quiet moments in between mornings and night.

Alice startled when the greasy man appeared back in front of her. He tossed a uniform on the table. Alice stood up and draped the old-school brown and blue, diner-style dress over the front of her. It was the perfect size.

Grease man apologized for the previous employee’s decision to stitch her name to the blue patch on the uniform. He requested she leave it be, as he had no intentions of buying a new uniform if she tore it. He continued to ramble about minimum wage, sharing tips and the hours he planned to schedule her to work. The information being spewed was irrelevant to Alice.

Brown dress, diner dress, retro dress, uniform dress, waitress dress.

That blue patch, adorned with the name Connie, was all she could see. In that moment, Alice knew she would stay true to this distorted journey. Looking at the borrowed identity built in to that uniform, Alice knew she was never going home.

**photo source