Can You Vague That Up For Me?

Bronwyn Green's Random Thoughts

Archive for the tag “Kris Norris”

Writing Fears and Anxieties

Apparently, it’s time for another episode of Therapy with Bron.

It’s totally cool to back out of the room now. Honestly, I probably won’t even notice. I’ll just assume you were looking for the bathroom or something. Maybe you were trying to find the kitchen? I did just make cookies.

Oh? You’re still here?

*passes the cookies*

Okay, so…writing fears and anxieties. I have quite a few, but I’m willing to bet that they’re not all that different from other writers’ issues. We all seem to have a fuckton of them.

I feel like this is one of those topics I could go on and on about ad nauseum, so I’m just going to stick to the biggest, doomiest ones, otherwise we’ll all be here for ages.

So, in the fear and anxiety round-up, there’s the ever popular:

I’ll never have another good idea again.

This one usually hits as I’m about 3/4 of the way through a book. There a little voice that whispers, “This is it. The last book you’ll ever write. You sure you wanna finish it?”

I hate that voice. That voice is a total asshole. Also, that voice is dumb, because the voice and I both know that I have pages and pages of ideas. But somehow, that voice gets me to listen to it, and I suddenly think all the ideas I’d previously loved are shit. Stupid voice.

The people who buy and positively review or otherwise say nice things about my books are just doing it because they’re being kind.

This is a popular one in my head. Like I’m the author version of that kid with the lemonade stand on the corner. You know the one…he was always kinda grubby and sticky-looking and you hoped that he’d just spilled some of the lemonade on himself and got sticky that way. Because you really didn’t want to think about him actually making the lemonade. And the lemonade itself was always weak tasting and uncomfortably warm–but you bought it anyway, ’cause you felt bad for that grubby, sticky kid.

That’s a really long way of saying that sometimes, I’m afraid I’m that grubby, sticky kid on the corner who people feel sorry for, but instead of questionable lemonade, they’re buying books.

I’m a fraud, and someday, my secret will be out, and everyone will know.

This is the garden variety imposter syndrome that I think most authors probably face. It’s that clawing feeling that no matter how well I do, it’s not because I’ve worked hard to learn my craft or have dedicated tons of time and effort writing these books. Nope. It’s all because of some cosmic misalignment of the stars, and when everything goes back to how it’s supposed to be, I’ll be here like this:unnamedAnd everyone will know that I’ve just been faking this whole time.

Okay, so that’s probably more of my neuroses than anyone can comfortably handle in one day, so I say we should all go troop over to Jess and Kris‘ blogs and see what kind of cookies and anxieties they have going on.

Flash Fiction #54 – What are You Waiting For?

 

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Okay, so this month’s song fic was chosen by our resident Canadian and number one Nickelback fan. The song is What are You Waiting For? Here are the lyrics and the video.

Through the open door, Molly stared at what she’d been convinced was the answer to her prayers. It was all there in front of her. Their first apartment together–the one-bedroom loft above the town’s only bar. She glanced at the woman who’d brought her here–to her past, and she smiled benevolently.

Molly had thought the woman was full of shit when she’d told her that it was possible to go back to a time when she as Christopher had been happy. That she could have a do-over and go back to prevent things from ever going wrong in the first place.

As she drew closer to the doorway, she recognized her old leather coat hanging over the back of the chair shoved under the cheap formica-topped kitchen table. He’d always hated that jacket. She frowned. Was that why she’d decided to get rid of it?

She glanced around the rest of the room, smiling at the hideous cow-shaped salt and pepper shakers sitting on the counter next to the hand-me-down coffee pot from her sister. There was the spider plant rooting in a jar in the kitchen window along with a collection of cobalt blue glass bottles. Those had survived a bit longer than the jacket, but all but one had been smashed to pieces in a long ago arguement.

The calendar on the wall next to the microwave read March 1999. If she remembered correctly, they’d only been in that apartment for six months, at that point. There were so many memories here. And most of them had been good. Like Halloween parties they’d thrown or the Christmas feasts they’d invited both their families to. The book club she and her sister had started and the nights they’d spent gaming with their friends.

Molly crept closer to the doorway–a niggling sense that something was wrong. Almost as if something was out of place. But she couldn’t put her finger on it. From her changed vantage point, she could see past the kitchen doorway, through the dining room and into the living room. Christopher was sitting on the couch playing some Xbox game, and a younger version of herself, looking ridiculously dressed up for an evening at home, sat curled up in a chair reading.

Only she wasn’t really reading. She was sighing and staring at Christopher who didn’t seem to have any clue that she was even in the room with him. Nope…he knew. He’d just asked her to get him a beer. Another beer from the looks of it as she noticed the the three empty bottles by his feet.

Past Molly got up and grabbed him a beer from the fridge looking just as dejected and defeated as she currently felt. He barely acknowledged her when she handed him the bottle and returned to her chair.

“What are you waiting for?” The woman at Molly’s side gestured to the open door.

Molly had forgotten she wasn’t alone. “What?”

“I said, what are you waiting for? This is when you wanted to return to, right? The time when things were still good between you.?”

Molly’s gaze landed on the calendar again. On the day that had a big heart drawn in the center of the square–March 20th–their one year anniversary. The day that he’d decided he’d been too stressed with school and work to acknowledge their anniversary. Sure, he’d attempted to make up for it later, but she realized now, he’d never really been sorry. Like the majority of his attempts at amends hadn’t really been about her or their relationship. He’d just been looking for a way to make his current situation more comfortable, and often that meant appeasing her.

How had she been so stupid not to grasp that it had been this way since the beginning? She glanced around the apartment and was again struck by the onslaught of memories. And she realized that almost all of the positive ones were ones that included other people.

Molly looked at the woman. “I just realized that I’m in the wrong time. This isn’t the right door. I need to go to January, 1998–the seventh, I think.”

In a blink, Molly stood outside O’Toole’s Pub, the biting wind blowing in off the river and the snow swirling in eddies around her feet.

“Is this where you wanted to go?”

Molly nodded as she watched her past self push her chair away from a table full of her friends. Grabbing the cold metal handle, she pulled open the door and entered the bar, the woman following silently behind. Molly rapidly crossed the floor, cutting off her past self as she headed up to the bar, and the two collided.

Molly stopped stopped in the middle of the floor, a sudden chill skating up her spine. She glanced around noticing a vaguely familiar woman by the door. Molly shook off the chill–must have been a blast of cold air from when the woman came in from outside–and walked up to the bar. It was her turn to buy the post finals rounds.

As she waited, trying to catch the bartender’s, a cute guy to her right said, “Let me guess—you just finished your last exam?”

She smiled. “That obvious?”

“Me, too. My name’s Christopher. Can I buy you a drink?”

She stared into the prettiest blue eyes she’d ever seen and shook her head. “Thanks, but I’m here with friends.”

He nodded. “No worries.”

As the bartender took her order, she couldn’t help but feel that she’d dodged a bullet.

Okay, so that’s it for me today. Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ stories by clicking on their names. Jess, Kris, and Deelylah.

Promptly Penned: Three More Days

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Prompt: Three more days of this.

I looked at the calendar.

January 17th, 2021. 

Three more days of this. Just three more days, and the nightmare would be over.

That’s it for me this time–short and sweet. Be sure sure read the other bloggers stories. Jess, Deelylah, Jessica, and Kris.

Flash Fiction #53 – The Room

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It’s time for another photo flash fiction, and I have a feeling this one is going to be pretty short–partially because of the idea I have, and partially because of the million and twelve things I need to accomplish today because I’ll be out of town all day on Sunday when I usually start writing these. I should also mention that this story was inspired by this picture in conjunction with another photo a friend texted me yesterday morning. So, Amanda…this one’s for you.

***

Amanda sighed as she headed toward the last cottage on the lane. There had been rumors that someone was living there after hours, and based on what some eagle-eyed teenagers from one of the local school tours had pointed out earlier that afternoon, she had a good idea of the squatter’s identity.

She stretched her neck from side to side as she walked, trying to loosen the perpetually tight muscles. Why had she thought managing a historical reenactment village was a viable career change? More importantly, why had she thought hiring David Mulder was was a good idea?

She supposed she’d fallen prey, much like the majority of actresses in the village, to the effects of the last residual bits of stardom that clung to him no matter how much shit he rolled in. She’d been stunned when the washed up television actor had shown up for the open casting call, and of course he’d nailed everything he’d read for–Washington, Jefferson, Madison. But he’d insisted on taking the smaller part of Paine. Said he didn’t want to be a distraction. And he’d smiled that crooked grin–the one that always seemed to reach his heavy-lidded eyes, and she’d hired him on the spot. She was a moron.

Pausing outside the cottage door, she lifted her hand to knock, but thought better of it. It wasn’t like this was someone’s private residence. Shaking her head at herself, she opened the door and immediately regretted it.

David lifted a teacup in her general direction. “Hey, bosslady.”

She opened her mouth, but nothing came out. David Mulder, former star of various sci-fi shows and crime procedurals, was sitting, bare-ass naked, on the kitchen counter, holding a historical reproduction teapot and matching cup. The coordinating creamer was sitting in his lap. A half-eaten pizza was to his right, and an empty sandwich bag was next to his hip.

“I made tea,” he added unnecessarily.

“I see that.”

He blinked at her, a slow, lopsided smile lifting his lips. “Want some?”

Whatever the hell was in there would likely get rid of the tension she’d been carrying for months, but she said, “I’m thinking probably not.”

He shrugged. “Suit yourself.” Tossing back the contents of the cup, he poured himself another.

“We need to talk.”

He frowned. “Is this about Abigail Adams’ boyfriend? I didn’t even know she–”

“No,” she snapped, interrupting him. “And her name’s Brittany.”

“Right. Right. Brittany.”

She knew he wasn’t going to remember the name. “This is about the rumors that someone is living here after hours. And,” she added, her voice growing louder, “the weed growing in Benjamin Franklin’s garden.”

He frowned. “I was just going for historical accuracy.”

“Look. I gave you a chance. You’re gonna get me fired.”

“Pffft. Nobody’s gonna care about this.” He slouched against the wall and took another drink.

She sighed. “As soon as one of the parents from today’s tour group gets wind of your horticulture project, I’m jobless. And so are you.”

He didn’t say anything, but he didn’t look at her, either.

“You can’t stay here after hours,” she continued. “You can’t grow weed here. And just to remind you, this is an education center, so this entire property is smoke free.”

“I’m all over that last one. I gave up smoking.”  He lifted his cup and grinned. “Makes a damn fine tea, though.”

She stalked over to him, grabbed his cup and gulped down the cooling liquid. “Put your fucking clothes on, David.”

That’s it for me today, be sure to check out the other bloggers’ stories. Jess, Deelylah, and Kris.

Top 10 Things I Avoid

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I think we all have things we avoid in life–at least, as much as we’re able. Here are a few of mine.

10.) Clowns. (I feel like this is pretty self-explanatory. They’re creepy AF.)

9.)  Wet paper. (I don’t know why, but it makes me gag.)

8.)  Large warehouse stores like Home Depot, Best Buy and Ikea.  (They stress me right out.)

7.)  Fluorescent lights. (They make me twitchy and give me headaches.)

6.)  Aspartame. (It gives me migraines.)

5.)   Cilantro. (Because it tastes like soap.)

4.)  Spicy food. (Because I have baby mouth.)

3.)  People who use others to try to get ahead in life.

2.)  People who refuse to take responsibility for their own actions (or inaction).

1.)  People whose version of the truth changes depending on who they’re talking to and what they want from that person.

So…what do you try to avoid? Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ posts to see what they avoid. Jess, Kellie, Deelylah, Torrance, Gwen, and Kris.

Flash Fiction #51 – Red Cape

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I peered through a broken window in the once spectacular public museum. They were coming. Hooded cloaks and greatcoats hiding their identity as they walked along what had once been the portico to one of the most amazing libraries in the entirety of North America.

It was hard to believe that only three years ago this had been building had been full of life–full of students, professors, families, even tourists. Now, it was a shell. The books that hadn’t been destroyed by the oppressors for containing “treasonous content” had since been used by the homeless as kindling. And we were all homeless, now. Well, more of us than not. There was nothing left for us anymore. No jobs. No way to pay back our mountains of student loans for degrees we’d never use. We were all surviving as best we could.

In the basement of the library, searching for the blueprints for the subways and sewers, I found something else–something that had become our last hope. Shoved out of sight, under a desk in the staff area of the special collections room was a wooden packing crate. I pried it open with the tire iron I never let out of my sight. After society had crumbled, I’d learned the hard way that I could never let my guard down. Not any more.

Inside the crate was a single book–large, ornate, and very, very old. Not having read anything but the propaganda pamphlets the oppressors bothered to drop on us every few months, I couldn’t bear to burn the book. I shoved it inside my backpack and dragged the crate upstairs to burn.

Keeping clear of the oppressor’s foot soldiers and those who’d turn me in for a day’s worth of food rations, I read the book. It was nonsensical–a spellbook–but that didn’t matter. The symbols on the page became words and the words became images in my head. And the images birthed thoughts I hadn’t dared think in far too long. Thoughts about fighting back. Thoughts of resistance. They were so powerful, that were so intense, they hammered on the inside of my skull. They clawed at my graymatter. They slipped into my dreams until I woke, gasping for breath and my heart in my throat, repeating words I hadn’t realized I’d memorized. Repeating the Spell of Gathering. 

The woman in the red cloak stepped over the debris strewn across what had once been a beautiful mosaic floor. She glanced toward the others who’d gathered then approached me. “We’ve been waiting for your call.”

My confusion must have been clear on my face. She pushed her hood back. “We knew the book hadn’t been destroyed. And we sensed when it had been found–when you found it. But until you spoke the words, we couldn’t narrow our focus.”

Swallowing thickly, I pressed the book into her hands, not wanting to relinquish the words I’d come to depend on, but knowing I must.

She cradled the book to her chest. “Can you get us to the roof? ”

I nodded then turned to lead the way to the access stairs in the rear of the building. The woman in red followed me and her companions fell into step behind her. We climbed in near-silence, the rustling of fabric and the shuffling of feet the only sounds. In the darkness, I felt something that felt a lot like hope.

It was a hope I was afraid to examine too closely. Afterall, if the book was to be believed, I’d just summoned an army of witches to fight the greatest evil ever known–an utterly corrupt government led by an egomaniacal despot and his collection of  pet monsters.

As I led the witches out into the moonlight, the woman with the book smiled grimly at me and took my hand. That tentative feeling of hope grew a little bit stronger.

 

Okay, that’s it for me today. Be sure to check out the other bloggers stories, too. Deelylah, Jess, Kayleigh, and Kris.

Top 10 Ways to Hook Me as a Reader

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It’s time for another Top 10 List!

Okay, so like most people, the best way to hook me as a reader is by writing a good book. And when I say a good book, I  mean the premise and the actual writing, too–some books are strictly a one or the other kind of thing. I want the whole package. Because I’m demanding. And picky. And a limited amount of time available to read. That’s why I usually read the first few pages to see if the author’s voice and I are going to get along.

I’m not sure these are actually in any kind of order, cover art aside, they’re all pretty crucial.

10.) Okay, so I’m going to start out here by being utterly shallow. I love a good cover. I’m not saying it’s crucial, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t play into whether or not I was attracted enough to a book to pick it up.  I mean, there are books I’ve loved whose covers I hate, and I secretly think to myself that it deserved a better cover.

9.) I want to see as little telling as possible. Show me what’s happening in the story, don’t tell me. What does her anger look like? How does it affect her and the other people in the scene. Do her fists clench? Does her scalp pickle? Does her face get sweaty? Does her eye twitch? What are her her specific thoughts?  I don’t want to read, She was so angry she was ready to scream. I want to read, Rage-fueled lava flooded her veins, and her hand tightened into a fist. If that horrible orange man got any closer to her, she’d punch straight through his saggy, fleshy throat. 

8.) I need me some character growth. I don’t want to read about static characters–I want evolution. I don’t want to read the story of a person falling in love and being  the same person they were when the story started. Everyone we interact with, every experience we have, changes us it some way. It makes us look at things differently. Even if it’s something as mundane as standing behind a hipster at a coffee shop. Fucking hipsters. But damn, that really is a cute plaid. Maybe I don’t hate plaid as much as I thought. The same is true for characters. No, they might not discover a latent appreciation for plaid, but if they fall in love, they’re going to change in other ways. Well, I suppose they could fall in love with a hipster and plaid.

7.) I need the story to be believable. I don’t care if the book is about a race of land-dwelling purple squids who time travel through portals in stairwells of municipal buildings. Does the plot of  a story about land-dwelling, time traveling squids make enough sense with enough familiarity that I’m willing to suspend disbelief in the laws of reality, possibly physics, and known biology of aquatic animals? If yes, good for you, writer. You’ve got yourself another sale.

6.) I need you to make me care about these people–or land-dwelling, time traveling squids. Can I identify with these people? With these squids? With their struggles? Are the squids holding up some kind of mirror to me that I see at least some portion of myself or someone I love amongst their tentacles and ink? Or something relatable in the life of this washed up actor or soldier suffering from PTSD?

5.) I also need you to not bore me. So, let’s talk conflict–is it helping to drive the plot? I’m talking both internal and external, here, but I’ll be honest, I’m far more moved by internal conflict. We all experience it–it’s a regular state of being for many of us. So, what do the characters what that they can’t have? What’s thwarting them? What’s keeping them apart? What’s at stake? Are the stakes high enough. That doesn’t mean that the stakes in every book need to be at the level of world-ending nuclear annihilation. However, whatever the conflict is in your character’s life needs to feel like it is. So that boy who desperately wants the lead in the school musical so his mother will finally be proud of him, being cast as an ensemble member is going to crush him. That conflict can be just as interesting, if not more so, than the fear of world-ending nuclear annihilation.

4.) Chemistry – it’s not just for high school teachers and meth labs. This goes back a bit to showing vs. telling, but I need to see the chemistry between characters. This goes for all characters, but it’s especially true of romance. I need to see how they affect each other. It’s not enough to know that each of the pair finds the other the hottest person in the history of ever. Finding each other attractive doesn’t equal chemistry. Characters who sex with one another also doesn’t equal chemistry. Show the reader specifically what makes the characters personalities spark when they’re together. When that’s absent, secondary characters commenting on the chemistry between the main couple doesn’t make it true, it just makes it author intrusion.

3.) Please don’t give me a story where the plot just happens to the characters. Those kinds of stories seem to grab the protagonist like a riptide and drag them farther and farther from shore and instead of acting on the plot–making choices that change the course of the story, the character is constantly stuck in reaction mode, trying to deal with whatever the plot is throwing at her, but not making any moves of her own to affect the storyline. Even if the character make some stupidass choices, and ultimately makes things worse for themselves, at least they’re victims of a runaway plot.

2.) I’m a sucker for emotional angst. I want to feeeeeeeeeeeel all the feels, and yeah, I usually want to cry about them, too. That’s not to say that I’m looking for melodrama, but I am here for the intense emotion and also the catharsis that comes from experiencing those emotions through the eyes of well-written characters.

1.) I can forgive a lot of writing sins in exchange for awesome dialogue. (Looking at you, Buffy and Firefly.) I love language. I love listening to the way people talk to each other–how we communicate. I’m focusing on English speakers here, because it’s the only language I speak fluently, but we’re all using the same 26 letters. We’re all (mostly) using the same collection of words. We’re all saying many of the same things to one another, but phrasing is everything. Some authors have such a way with dialogue that it not only sounds completely natural, it’s so delightful (and sometimes awful) to the ear that the reader has a visceral response to it. Some people write such great dialogue, you almost want to read it aloud. Well-written dialogue is at its best when it works to reveal the individual characters and their personalities. I read a book recently, and I found myself getting frustrated because while there were all these great lines, all  of the characters were saying them–even when what was being said was completely out of line for those particular character’s personality. That great dialogue lost all its impact.

What are the ways authors hook you as a reader? Share!

Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ Top 10 posts! Deelylah, Jess, Gwen, Kellie, and Kris.

Musical Musings #1

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Musical Musings is a new feature this year where we’ll blog about some of our favorites and not-so-favorites. This  month, the topics are: Song that Makes Me Want to Dance, Song that I Love to Sing Along With, and Favorite Soundtrack.

Song that Makes Me Want to Dance – this one is super easy.

Rusted Root’s Send Me On My Way. Every time I hear it, I want to dance and dance–even when I’m driving.

Song that I Love to Sing Along With – This one is much, much harder – mostly because I love to sing. And if I know the words, I’m singing. Sometimes even if I don’t know the words. But I literally love to sing EVERYTHING, and I’m pretty much incapable of resisting singing along. But, I guess if I have to narrow it down to one, I’m going to go with Adele’s Rumour Has It.

Favorite Soundtrack – I’m hoping that a cast album qualifies because (and if you’ve been here before, you all know this is coming) I have to go with Hamilton. I still love this so hard I don’t even have words. It’s just fucking brilliant.

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Also…there’s this.

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Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ faves: Jess, Kris, Paige, Torrance, and Gwen.

Flash Fiction #50 – Albatross

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I can’t believe this is my 50th flash fiction. I mean, I know there are people out there who write a piece of flash fiction every day. I, however, am not that person, so I’m gonna go ahead and be impressed with and delighted by 50–especially since, when we started doing this, I was so weirded out by the idea of throwing unedited fiction out into the wild. Now, my attitude is more like, “Welp…I hope it doesn’t suck. But…if it does, it does. I can always come up with something better next time.” Okay, it’s laced with more anxiety than that, but I’m getting better about it. 

Anyway, this month’s song is Albatross by Susan McKeown and The Chanting House. It’s one of my all time faves, and wouldn’t you just know it? I have absolutely zero ideas for what to write. *sigh* But you can hear this gorgeous song: here and read the lyrics: here. I’m gonna go listen, too…in hopes of coming up with something. 

 

“You listening for the mermaids, girl?”

I smiled and nodded like the grizzled sailor expected and turned my face into the headwind. There was only one song I was listening for–one voice–as the sun sank low and red on the horizon, setting the clouds on fire while lightning flashed violently to the east.

“Watch your head, girl,” the first mate barked as he tossed a coil of rope past me to where some of the crew was busy lashing cargo to the deck. “You should go below with your sisters. We’re headed for weather.”

“I’ll go down before the rain starts.”

I’d traveled often enough with my father that the ship’s crew felt comfortable speaking to me almost as if I were one of their own. I didn’t demand the deference my sisters did. Actually, I didn’t demand anything at all which was probably why they liked me. There were some among them who disliked the idea of my father marrying me off to a fellow merchant as much as I did.

The first mate frowned, then shook his head. “See that you do, lass. Yer father wants you chapel-ready when we dock.”

Forcing myself not to allow the shrieks past my lips–the wails that had been trapped in my lungs since my father had announced my betrothal–I nodded and turned back to the open water. Ignoring the the frantic preparations behind me, I crept closer to the bow and listened for the sound of her voice carrying over the waves.

Thunder rumbled and lightning illuminated the now choppy water. I’d never seen her in seas so rough. But she’d promised if I ever needed her, she’d find me. She promised she’d come for me.

“Where are you?” I whispered. The tears I’d willed myself not to cry every time I thought of my husband-to-be finally slid free, loosed from their mooring, and fell into the churning  water below. Closing my eyes, I could almost feel Ianthe’s lips on mine as she’d said goodbye. And then she’d vanished beneath the waves.  The last I’d seen of her had been the iridescent, flashing scales covering her tail, shimmering in the sunlight as she dove to who knew where. That had been nearly three years ago…on my fourteenth birthday.

The ship pitched violently as a huge wave slammed into it–the hull creaking beneath me. I fell hard against the rail as the rain exploded from the sky in sheets. I smiled grimly as my hair clung to my face. So much for being chapel-ready.

The ship begin to rise awkwardly, and I clung to the rail, preparing for another swell. Suddenly, through the noise of the storm and the shouting of the crew, I heard it–her voice. I couldn’t tell where it was coming from, but I’d recognize it anywhere. It had been burned into my memory.

As the wave hit, I let my fingers uncurl from the rail and allowed the motion of the tilting ship carry me over the side. Icy water enveloped my body, stealing my breath. From somewhere up above me, I heard the sailors shouting, but it didn’t matter. I was free. Whether Ianthe came for me or not, I was free.

My sodden skirts dragged at me, pulling me inexorably down. I slipped beneath the surface and let the anchor of my clothing carry me lower. As the water closed over my head, lightning streaked across the sky above, illuminating the water–illuminating her delicate features as she swam to meet me and brushed her lips across mine. And together we sank lower still.

That’s it for me. Be sure to check out the other blogger’s stories: Deelylah, Kris, and Jess.

Promptly Penned: Bruises and Glitter

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Prompt: S/he showed up at his/her door, soaking wet, bruised and covered in glitter.

Alex stood in line of the grocery store clutching the last bouquet of slightly wilted roses they had and red plastic shopping basket filled to the brim with all of Izzy’s favorites. He set the flowers and everything else on the conveyor and grabbed one of those reusable cloth shopping bags. She was always bitching about plastic bags. She’d probably appreciate the cloth bag. Hopefully.

“What’d you do?” the cashier asked.

“Huh?”

“Fancy wine, three different kinds of chocolate, and flowers.” He nodded knowingly. “You fucked up, bro.”

Alex pulled his debit card out of his wallet and as he finished swiping it, the other guy grabbed his wrist. Alex yanked his arm away. “What the hell?”

“Dude. Look at all that glitter on your arm. You can not go from the strip club straight into apology mode. Chicks hate that. Trust me, on this. Personal experience talking, here.” He nodded sagely as he handed Alex the bag. “Personal experience.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Alex squelched quietly to the car. Well, he tried, anyway. It was hard to be unobtrusive when his clothes were so wet he could probably wring out enough water to fill a kiddie pool. And how was it the cashier noticed the glitter but not the fact Alex had created a puddle in front of the register? Douche. 

With a sigh, he sat on the grungy beach towel he’d found on the floor in the backseat, hoping against hope it would protect his seat from the worst of the water and glitter. Putting the car into gear, he drove the few short miles to Izzy’s and forced himself to march up the steps and ring the bell.

The porchlight switched on, and he squinted in the glare.

“Alex! What happened?” She ushered him into the foyer. “You’re soaking wet! Are you okay.”

“I’m stupid. And I was so, so wrong.”

She brushed at his cheek. “Is that…glitter?”

He sighed. “Yeah.”

She lifted his hair off his forehead. “And a bruise?”

He shoved up his sleeve and showed her his arm. “Bruises.”

“What–”

“I promise, I’ll tell you all about it. But first I owe you a huge apology.”

Izzy’s eyebrow rose. “Oh?”

He shoved the flowers and goodies at her, waiting until she took them before he spoke. “I am so, soso sorry I ever said your job was a piece of cake.”

Her lips twitched. “Actually, I believe you said my job was a cakewalk.”

“Oh, it’s a cakewalk, all right. A cakewalk in the seventh circle of hell filled with tiny, demonic, soul-sucking monsters with voices so shrill I’m pretty sure my eardrums are still bleeding.”

“You don’t say.”

“I’m the worst little brother in the world for not believing you. Please say you’ll forgive me.”

She stared at him for a long, uncomfortable moment, until all at once, an evil smile lit her face. “You got assigned to a preschool room for student teaching, didn’t you?”

He nodded miserably as she laughed so hard, tears slid down her cheeks.

“Help?”

The only answer he got was more laughter.

That’s it for me this, week. Be sure to check out Deelylah, Jess, Gwen, KellieKris, and Paige‘s stories.

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