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Archive for the category “Flash Fiction”

Flash Fiction #64 – Ghost

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This month’s song fic was inspired by Ghost by Halsey. If you’d like, you can read the lyrics here and/or watch the video here. 

“What are we even doing?”

Ryan sighed. “We’re trying to get some sleep because we have an early flight.”

A car drove slowly down the street, its headlights bouncing around the perimeter of the bedroom, and I shifted against the pillow I had propped up against the headboard. In the temporary illumination, I stared down at the man in my bed. My husband, I supposed.

It was weird. Like I was looking at him from a distance despite the fact that if I shifted, I could feel him next to me. But it was still as if I were looking at him through inches-thick plexiglass. Trick of the light or trick of my broken heart? The car fully passed, plunging the room into darkness again.

He wasn’t the same man I’d married. Though, to be fair, I wasn’t the same woman I was ten years ago, either. I knew why I’d changed. If you spend long enough kissing someone whose mouth is always full of lies, it poisons you. Changes your perception of everything around you–even yourself.

I missed the guy I’d fallen in love with, but more and more lately, I was wondered if he ever existed. The soul I’d loved had vanished, and in its place was an empty shell I didn’t recognize. And even more important, I didn’t like him.

His breathing had deepened and evened out as another car passed, illuminating the room again. The white fabric of his t-shirt seemed to glow. He was a ghost sleeping next to me.

But I was done trying to sleep. And I was done swallowing lies.

Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ stories. Hopefully, they’re a little more upbeat.

Jess * Kris * Siobhan * Kayleigh * Gwen * Deelylah

Flash Fiction #63 – Beach People

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42086649 - beach, party, summer.

“Emily! C’mon! You’re missing all the good shots! I want pictures with all my bridesmaids!”

It wasn’t that I didn’t like the beach. I liked it fine. And it wasn’t that I didn’t want to be there with Rosalind or our other friends. I liked them just fine, too.

“I’m coming. Hold your pants on!”

I liked the beach.

I liked my friends.

But I’d been in love with Rosalind for the last three years, and watching her getting ready to marry Brad was nothing short of torture.

That’s it for me today – super short flash fiction. Be sure to check out Jess and and Siobhan’s stories, too!

Flash Fiction #62 – Breathe In, Breathe Out

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This month’s song fic inspiration is Breathe In, Breathe Out by Mat Kearny. Here are the lyrics if you want to check them out. And here’s the video.

Sweat stood out against his almost waxy-looking skin as he sat slumped forward on the edge of his bed, elbows balanced shakily on his thighs. Every part of him shook, and his sheets were in a sour-smelling tangle behind him.

He looked up at me, eyes completely bloodshot around irises that were still the darkest blue I’d ever seen. “Go away.”

I know he’d meant to growl it, but it had come out weak and almost lifeless.

Lowering myself to the floor, I sat cross-legged in front of him. He was older. So much older. And frail. Like I could break bones without trying. An amber-colored glint under the bed caught my eye. I reached beneath the bed and grabbed the half-empty bottle of whiskey.

“That’s mine.” He reached out for me–or more likely, the bottle as I stood and walked to the sink. I didn’t bother looking at him as I poured it out. I didn’t want to see the expression of desperation mixed with hate that I knew would be on his face.

After I washed my hands, I returned to my spot on the floor.

“Fuck you.”

There wasn’t as much heat behind it as he’d intended because he’d started shaking violently again. His hands clenched and unclenched, repeatedly curling into painful looking fists as his breathing turned jerky and panicky.

Reaching out, I grasped his clammy hands and held on. “Breathe with me, Dad. Breathe in. Breathe out.  You can do this.”

That’s it for me this week. Be sure to check out the other stories, too!

Promptly Penned: Rock Bottom

promptlypenned

Prompt: Well, apparently, Rock Bottom has a basement. 

I looked around the crowded bar. There wasn’t another server free. “Motherfucker,” I muttered under my breath. I’d have to take his table.

Sighing in resignation, I pulled the hairtie off my wrist and quickly pulled my hair up into a sloppy bun. I turned toward the bar where Veronica, one of my fellow waitresses, was loading up a tray with drinks and plucked the hot pink, prescriptionless glasses off the top of her head and shoved them on my face.

She glanced at me as she lifted the heavy tray off the scarred bar. “Got a creeper?”

“Something like that.” I grimaced and adjusted the glasses as I walked to his table.

He glanced at me then back at his menu. There didn’t appear to be any glimmer of recognition. Sometimes, a different hairstyle and ugly glasses were all it took.

“Are you ready to order?”

He did a doubletake. “Samantha?”

I didn’t respond. Unless glaring at him balefully could be considered a response.

“I haven’t seen you in class lately.”

I tilted my head to the side and just stared at him. The sheer magnitude of his douchery exerted a force too great for me to keep my head upright.

“No,” I finally answered. “I don’t suppose you would have. I dropped out.”

He sighed in seeming disgust. “Well, that was stupid.”

It was then that I noticed the hot, young blonde in the booth with him. I’d been so distracted by my dread of having to interact with this man, I hadn’t even seen her. She was a beacon of golden perfection, I honestly can’t understand how I’d missed her in the first place.

Something inside me snapped. I turned to address her. “Look, I know he’s hot. Smart is sexy and all that. But take it from someone who knows, he’s completely void of any kind of moral compass and has no business being an educator.”

I could hear my voice getting louder, but I couldn’t quite manage to quiet myself. Conversations around me in the capacity-packed restaurant sputtered to a halt. Too bad I couldn’t make myself do the same.

“He doesn’t give a shit about you,” I continued as the girl stared at me, eyes wide and lips parted. “He’ll fuck you, and then he’ll steal your research, slap his name on it, and when it comes time to defend your dissertation, you’ll have nothing. And you know what? The sex wasn’t even all that good.”

He blinked at me as I saw the night manager barreling my way from the corner of my eye. She looked pissed. 

I glanced back at my former advisor.

He cleared his throat and turned to the blonde. “Chloë, this is my former student, Samantha.” Then he looked at me. “Samantha, this is my daughter, Chloë.”

Well…apparently rock bottom had a basement. Fucking fantastic.

That’s it for me today, be sure to read Jess, Gwen, and Kris‘ stories!

Flash Fiction #61 – Dude in Cave

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This story is a continuation of one that started with another flash fiction, but it should be able to be read as a stand alone. But if you’d like to read the whole thing, here are parts one, two, and three.

At Eoin’s whispered curse, Hollis slowly turned, and her breath stalled in her throat. Of all the things she expected to find beyond the elaborately carved gothic door, a cavernous, underground tunnel — or maybe it was a cave — hadn’t been on her short list. Which, when she thought about it was kind of dumb. After all, they had been in the underground vault of the university’s library prior to going through the door.

Reaching behind Eoin, she felt for the doorknob and gasped.

“What’s wrong?” he whispered almost soundlessly against her ear.

“The knob is gone.” As near as she could tell in the gloom, the door was still the same. She could feel the raised carvings, except, as she moved her hand over the surface, they were quickly becoming stone. “Fuck-fuck-fuck-fuck.”

At Eoin’s inquiring murmur, she grabbed his hand and placed it on what remained of the wood and watched his face as he registered what was happening. His eyes widened, and he turned and looked at her, seeming unsure for the first time tonight.

“Now what?” he asked.

She shrugged, her shoulders brushing his chest as she realized how close they were still standing. “Can’t go back. So…I guess we go through.”

“I don’t suppose you had the foresight to bring a torch, did you?”

She reached into her jacket pocket and withdrew the small flashlight. “I’ve got the one on my phone, too, but I don’t want to kill the battery.

He nodded. “Same.”

She pushed the button, and a narrow beam of light revealed more of their surroundings. Rough walls, ceiling and floor — naturally formed — from the looks of it, extended for what seemed like forever. She suddenly felt very small. She wondered if Eoin did, too, because he reached out and grasped her free hand, lacing his fingers through hers. The comfort was immediate. And despite her earlier annoyance at his threat of blackmail, she couldn’t help but be glad that he was with her right now.

Hollis scanned the floor again. It looked solid enough. There weren’t any gaping fissures or bottomless underground pools that she could see. Though, she was slowly becoming aware of the sound of rushing water. There must be a subterranean river down here somewhere.

She took a cautious step forward, and he followed. “Where do you suppose we’ll end up?”

“Faery.” His muttered response sounded more like an epithet than an answer.

She snorted. “Right.”

“Where do you think we are, love?”

She shivered as they walked forward, telling herself it was a chill from the surrounding dankness as opposed to his casual endearment or the way his accent seemed to roughly caress his words.

“In a cavern under the library.”

“With a doorknob that disappears and wood that magically turns to stone?”

He had a point. She shivered again, but this time it had nothing to do with him or the chill in the air. She fished her cell phone from her back pocket. There was no signal. Not that she’d really expected one in a cave or whatever this was, but she’d hoped.

She watched as he checked his phone, shaking his head before powering off the device and pocketing it.

They walked for hours — it felt like it, anyway. The path ahead was getting lighter — bright enough that they’d notice any potential deathtraps, so she switched off her flashlight. As they rounded a bend, they both squinted as mouth of the cave suddenly opened up before them.

The world beyond the cave’s mouth was bathed in an eerie golden glow, and as the details slowly came into focus, her breath caught. There was a man standing there. She couldn’t quite tell if he was facing them or looking the other way.  Either way, he looked imposing.

He turned with a movement as fluid as a dancer, and Eoin’s hand tightened around hers. “Fuck me swinging.”

That’s it for me this week, but I will be continuing this at some point. Be sure to check out Deelylah’s story, too.

Flash Fiction #60 – Ghosts That We Knew

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Today’s flash fiction was inspired by one of my favorite Mumford and Sons songs, Ghosts That We Knew. Here’s the song if you want to have a listen, and here are the lyrics.

The late evening sun sank lower, barely peering through the treeline as I sat next to the pile of recently overturned earth, careful not to fall into the carefully dug hole. Eventually, some likely underpaid caretaker would replace the sod that had been cut away and plant grass seed when the sod didn’t grow uniformly, but it was too early for that. It was too early for a headstone, too.

I froze slightly as I heard the scuffling of feet behind me and then relaxed as I recognized the shuffling, limping gait. “You should be resting,” I murmured as he sat down beside me.

“And you shouldn’t?”

I glanced at him, his cuts and bruises looking more pronounced, more ominous in the twilight blanketing the cemetery. Though, I was sure I didn’t look any better. That thought was confirmed as he reached out to touch my face then let his hand fall away.

“Your mom made supper,” he said, as if trying to bridge the growing distance between us.

“I’m not hungry.”

“When’s the last time you ate anything?”

I shrugged and stared into the darkening hole.

He reached for me. “Cass–”

“No!” I stumbled to my feet. “Don’t! They’re putting our baby in a hole tomorrow. This hole. I don’t fucking care about food. I don’t care about any one of the well-meaning lasagnas stuffed into the freezer by our well-meaning friends. I don’t care if I starve because at least I won’t be here without her.”

His battered face crumpled and he sagged as if someone had opened a valve and let all of the air out of him. “I’m so sorry. I tried to get us out of the way. I tried,” he murmured. I wasn’t sure if he was talking to himself or me. But then he looked up at me, utterly stricken. “I tried to take the impact on my side of the car, but I couldn’t get it to turn in time.  I couldn’t get it to turn.”

My heart pounded, practically thrashing its way out of my chest as the sounds of crunching metal and breaking glass filled my head, replacing the harsh gasping breaths of my husband, and over it all, I heard the tiny gurgle of sound that would be the last noise our little girl would ever make.

I sank down into the cool grass behind him and wrapped my arms around him and gave in to the sobs building in my throat.

“I promised I’d always be there to protect her.”

I tightened my grip around him despite the pain I knew we were both feeling, and he covered my hands with his. He’d done the best he could. I knew he had.

“I know I failed you both, but please don’t let go. I can’t lose you, too.”

I shook my head, unable to form words as the growing darkness swallowed us. I’d hold on to him. I’d hold on forever.

That’s it for me, today. Here are the other stories. Kris,  Siobhan,  Deelylah, and Jess.

Flash Fiction #59 – Witch

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38479482 - dark witch calling thunder powers . fantasy and surreal studio shot

Tansy’s cell phone vibrated, and she pulled it out of her pocket. After reading the text, adjusted the countdown clock.

This was it.

It was really happening.

They were going to do it.

Nervous excitement built in her stomach making her feeling vaguely nauseated as she laid out her supplies in the middle of her living room floor. Salt, crystals, candles, herbs, and her athame.

She glanced at at the countdown clock again. In three minutes and thirty-three seconds, they’d attempt something that had never been tried. Witches from every country–covens, solitary practitioners, would join together with a single purpose–saving the world.

When her alarm chimed, she took a deep breath and  moved to the center of the room and lit the candles.  Gripping the hilt of her blade tightly, she cast the circle, calling to the four quarters and raising the energy she’d need to complete the spell. As soon as she felt the power surging through her, she closed her eyes and focused on the subject of her spell, visualizing him clearly while reciting the words she’d spent the last three days memorizing.

As she held an image of him in her mind, the power swelled as it spread and joined with that of every other witch in the world. The magical current raced along her limbs, leaping from nerve ending to nerve ending, raising hair and goosebumps over her entire body as her heartbeat fell into rhythm and joining her consciousness with the rest of the spellcasters. And still the energy gathered and grew. When it was too vast to be contained, they all released it at once—sending it hurtling toward their target.

Tansy collapsed, breathless to the floor, pressing her palms to the old wooden floorboards as the lingering remnants of magic dissipated. After she’d caught her breath, she closed the circle and extinguished the candles. Before she’d even gotten her supplies put away, her best friend, Diana, had begun texting.

OMG – that was amazing. Did you feel it? Are you as pumped as I am right now?

Yawning, Tansy responded: I’m exhausted. I can barely keep my eyes open. When do you think we’ll know if it worked?

Diana texted back almost immediately. No clue, but you sleep. I’ll call you if there’s any kind of movement. 

Tansy thanked her and curled up on the couch. When she opened her eyes a few hours later, pinky-gray lighted filtered through the window and her phone was vibrating and and ringing loudly, Diana’s name flashing on the screen.

“Hello?”

“We did it! Turn on the news! Hurry!”

Tansy rubbed the sleep from her eyes. “What channel?”

“It doesn’t matter!” her friend crowed. “It’s on all of them!”

Fumbling for the remote, Tansy turned on the TV and squinted at the news anchor. “In a historically unprecedented move, the United States has thrown itself on the mercy of Canada, granting Prime Minister Trudeau governing responsibilities until the results of the 2020 election are in.”

The camera cut to a smiling Justin Trudeau. “Okay, healthcare’s been sorted. Now, let’s see what we can do about that climate agreement.”

Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ takes on this image. Siobhan, Deelylah, Kris, Gwen, and Jess.

Flash Fiction #58 – When the Wind Blows

 

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This month’s song fic is When the Wind Blows by The All American Rejects. Here are the lyrics and the video if you want to give it a read and/or listen.

I stood in the middle of the living room and stared at her. She was playing with the dog. It was always the fucking dog. I didn’t have anything against dogs–even small, yappy ones like that–but the dog had become her way of brushing me off. Any time I brought up something she didn’t want to discuss–or even hear–she’d start playing with the terrier.  Like now.

“Does Bella want a treat? Does she? Does mommy’s baby want a treat?”

Predictably, Bella began dancing and yapping at Shellie’s feet, drowning out everything else in the room, and our conversation would be conveniently forgotten. I turned and went into the bedroom. I knew when I’d been dismissed.

I used to think we’d get back to our discussions–that she’d get a handle on her distractibility. Instead, Shellie would navigate around whatever we’d been talking about in the first place, avoiding it like it was quicksand. Then, she’d just act like nothing had ever happened and expect me to play along. I eventually realized that this wasn’t markedly different than the rest of our relationship. Bella had just made it easier for Shellie avoid stuff she didn’t want to deal with and made it more obvious to me. I supposed that little mutt had done me a favor.

I unzipped my backpack and started packing. It wasn’t like I had a lot there. One drawer in the dresser and half a shelf in the medicine cabinet. Unplugging my laptop and phone I shoved them in my computer case and grabbed both bags.

Shellie looked up at me as stepped into the living room, and her brow furrowed. “Where are you going?”

“Home.”

“I thought we were going to watch a movie.”

I grabbed the bag of dog treats off the end table and shook it. Bella danced around my feet, putting her little paws on my thighs. “Does Bella want a treat? Does she?”

“Karen? What are you doing?”

“I’m giving Bella a treat,” I said, keeping my gaze fixed on the dog. “Aren’t I, girl. Yes, I am. I’m giving the puppy a treat.”

I gave her two. I figured owed her for being instrumental in figuring shit out. Tossing the bag back on the table, I pulled open the front door.

“When are you coming back?”

The dog darted for the open door, but I gently nudged her back. “Who’s a good girl? That’s right, Bella is,” I crooned to her in that same annoying voice Shellie insisted on using.

From the corner of my eye, I could see that she’d stood. “Karen?

“Bye, Bella.” I shut the door and walked down the front steps.

I could breathe again.

That’s it for me this week. Be sure to see what the other bloggers came up with. Kayleigh, DeelylahKris, and Siobhan.

Flash Fiction #57 – Avebury

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05-2017

“Maddy!” I hollered. “C’mon! We have to go now!”

I stopped moving to to listen. There was nothing. Well, there were a few birds singing somewhere in the distance, and the scrabble of claws against rough bark. But there was nothing to tell me which direction my little sister had headed. No cracking twigs or rustling leaves or muffled giggles.

“Madeleine, this isn’t funny.”

Something that might have been a laugh sounded from the right. It sounded again–this time from the left. It could have been a laugh,  but it also could have been rusty bedsprings, tossed out in the woods with the rest of the forgotten junk.

My sweat-damp hair clung to my neck and moisture trickled down my spine, but I shivered, anyway, goosebumps peppering my skin. Whatever the noise had been, it definitely wasn’t a seven-year-old girl.

I crept slower now, moving quietly through the trees, following the barely visible deer path and searching for any sign of Maddy in that ridiculous red and white polkadot dress she’d insisted on wearing. The one with the red satin sash around the waist. Instead, all I saw was an endless sea of green and brown. Trees and bracken. Leaves and brambles.

I was far enough away from town that I hadn’t stumbled across any other trash piles. And I hadn’t seen an empty beer can or liquor bottle for what seemed like ages. The forest was darker here, letting in very little light through the shifting leafy canopy above.

Movement up ahead caught my eye. Movement and a flash of red. “Madeleine Margaret, get yourself back here right this instant, or Mama’s gonna ground us both!”

I moved faster, breaking into a run, as the trees became sparser. That creaking laugh that might have been a person or might have been the scrape of rusted metal sounded again as I emerged into a clearing.

An old woman, tottering on a rickety wooden ladder was stretching up to reach a branch in the tree above her. Now that I was still, I could hear slight flapping sounds. Ribbons of every color and length, snapping in the wind. My gaze drifted back to the old woman who was humming to herself.

Dread crept over me like a shadow, chilling my blood as it moved sluggishly through my veins. She was tying a knot in a long red sash.

The woman stared down at me, eyes milky blue. “And what have you brought for my tree?” she asked, her voice like scraping metal.

That’s it for me today. Be sure to check out Jess, Deelylah, and Siobhan’s stories, too!

Flash Fiction #56 – Ever the Same

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Okay, so we’ve got to new blogger for the flash fiction posts–please welcome Siobhan Muir! Yay, Siobhan, we’re glad to have you!

This month’s song fic is Ever the Same by Rob Thomas. Here’s the video and here are the lyrics if you’re interested.

Laughter bubbled from her, and she clapped her hand over her mouth–as if she were just as unfamiliar with the sound as he was. Her hazel eyes sparkled with bits of brown and copper and gold mixing with brilliant green as they captured his gaze. He couldn’t look away from her. How had he ever thought she was plain? He  was obviously a fucking idiot.

“Hey, after we clean up here, why don’t we…” he began, but his words died as soon as they hit the air.

Her eyes widened, fixed and unblinking as she stared over his shoulder.  The blood drained from her face almost as fast as her smile faded. Her head dropped and she appeared to stare at the table between them, but he could see she was staring through the curtain of her hair. Glancing behind him, he didn’t see anything out of the ordinary, and he turned back to her.

“Are you okay?” he asked, laying a hand on her arm.

She jerked her arm away from him as if she’d touched a live wire. Her gaze flew briefly to  his. Her pupils had blown so wide they’d all but swallowed the irises, and her breath was far too rapid and shallow. Her fingers had turned white from clutching so tightly to her phone. “I have to go. I’ll text your driver. I’m sorry…I can’t–”

Whatever she couldn’t do, he wasn’t going to find out any time soon. She was race-walking toward the bookstore exit, and there wasn’t a goddamn thing he could do about it, he still needed to finish the Q&A portion of the evening. As much as he wanted to chase after her, he couldn’t. These people had waited here all night. He glanced down. Her purse was still under the table.

He texted her, but there was nothing from her, and it seemed to take forever to finish answering questions for the assembled readers. Thankfully, he’d signed the bookstore stock earlier in the evening, so he could just grab his rucksack and Eliza’s purse and go. He continued to text her, but there was no response. He had no idea if she wasn’t getting his messages or was just ignoring him. As soon as he cleared the building, he started calling her. And as he expected, the calls went straight to voicemail.

As soon as he was in his room, he tossed his backpack and her purse on his bed, went to the doors of their adjoining rooms and knocked. No answer. “Eliza?” Nothing. He called her again. She didn’t answer, but he heard the muted sound of her phone ringing. She’d at least been there.

Worry sat like a boulder in his gut and he knocked again. What if she needed help? Crossing the room, he grabbed her purse rifling through it until he found her wallet. Her keycard was inside where he’d hoped it was. She must have gotten another card from the front desk. Heart in his throat, he walked into the hallway and knocked on the outer door. When where was no response, he called out, “Eliza, I’m coming in.”

Sliding the key into the slot, he sighed in relief when the lights flashed green and the lock disengaged. He pushed open the door and felt around for the lightswitch in the darkened room. When the overhead light flickered to life, there was no sign of her. The blackout curtains had been drawn, the bed was neatly made, and the bathroom was empty. He looked around for her phone thinking there might be some clue there as to where she’d gone. When he didn’t see it, he called her again.

He startled slightly as her ringtone sounded right next to him then was silenced. He turned and slowly opened the closet door. Elliza was huddled in the corner on the floor. Clutching her phone so tightly her hands shook, she glanced up at him, eye wide and face tear-stained. Her breath still came too frantic and fast.

His heart ached at the expression on her face. How many times had he seen that same haunted look on his sister’s face? Moving slowly, he stepped into the closet and sank to the floor, squeezing in next to Eliza. He slid the door along the track, closing them away from the light, and pulled her into his arms. She was stiff for an endless moment, then she sank into him, burrowing close, but she continued to tremble and gasp.

He pulled her over his lap to sit between to sit between his thighs and drew his legs up so they bracketed her. Her skin was chilled and clammy against him. Keeping his arms wrapped tightly around her, he pressed a kiss to the back of her head, and murmured, “It’s okay. I’ve got you.”

She took a shuddering breath that nearly broke his heart. “I — I’m sorry.”

“Shh. You’ve nothing to feel sorry for. But you need to slow your breathing before you pass out.” He took a long, slow breath, letting her feel the rise and fall of his chest against her back. “I want you to match your breathing to mine, okay?”

She nodded jerkily, hot tears splashing onto his forearms.

He took another deep measured breath and held it for a few seconds, hopeful as she tried to do the same. “Just focus on my voice and and the sound of my breathing. Those are the only things I want you to think about, now.”

She nodded again, still shivering almost violently.

He continued with his drawn out, exaggerated inhalations, quietly encouraging her as she gradually relaxed into him.

“Do you want to talk?”

She tensed.

“It’s okay. We don’t have to.” He smoothed his hands up and down her arms. “Whatever you need. I’m here.”

Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ posts: Kris, Jess, Deelylah, Paige, Siobhan, and Gwen.

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