Author's Note

Hi there. This is where I'm going to be posting my writing, or at least the things that don't belong on my blog.

Here's the breakdown: The blog is (and always has been) non-fiction: true stories, personal asides, and musings about my life, my activities, or my ideas. In short: The blog = me.

On the other hand, this site, if all goes according to plan, will be where I post the rest of it -- i.e. fiction. Or things that are mostly fiction. Or partly fiction. Or things that might not be entirely fictional. You know, the things that I need to get out of my head by writing down, and will then pretend that they're fiction
, regardless of the degree of truth.

So, assume that nothing here is real. If you think it is, best keep that to yourself. (And if you think it's about you, well, just remember what Carly Simon said.)

And now, on with the show.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Panic Mode

My head is pounding, my pulse is racing. I can't remember the last time I had a decent night's sleep. At least it's almost over. One more test, one last paper to turn in, and then I'm finished.

Until next semester. And the one after that. And the one after that....

STOP. Thinking about the future isn't in the schedule. Focus on the index cards. Focus. Focus!

Can't focus; I'm too tired. Maybe some coffee first, then back to the cards.

I can hear the clock ticking, wasting precious seconds. What time is it? Where does the time go?

I need to finish that paper. And study for the test. Then, vacation. I can almost feel the beach beneath my toes, hear the sound of the waves when I close my eyes.... 

NO. There's no time to sleep. Index cards. Paper. Focus! 

But first, another cup of coffee.

For the Scriptic prompt exchange this week, Tara Roberts gave me this prompt: It's nothing a second cup of coffee won't cure.. I gave Michael this prompt: "The heart has its reason which reason knows nothing of." -- Blaise Pascal

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Guitar

He thought he had placed the dusty black case in the far corner of the closet, where no one would see it. But the grandkids, they get into everything, even by accident. The little one, the one that looked so much like her grandmother that it sometimes hurt to look at her, asked what it was, where it came from.

And so, he said, simply and sweetly, "That's my guitar."

He didn't tell her that, along with a small bag of clothing, the guitar was the only thing he brought with him to the city when he left his parents' farm at 17. He didn't tell her about how ridiculous he was, thinking that it would make him enough money to cover his rent.

He didn't tell her that, along with the two jobs, he played in dingy bars and dirty coffee houses just enough to to be able to take one college class at a time, occasionally with a little bit left over for replacement strings. He didn't tell her that it was how he met her grandmother, late one night, in one of those places, now long lost to time.

He didn't tell her how once the kids -- her father, her aunt -- came, he stopped playing out at all, and only occasionally took the guitar out of its case. And he certainly didn't tell her that, now with her grandmother gone and arthritis starting to kick in, he took the guitar out of the closet every once in a while and cried, a combination of sad tears over what was lost, and happy tears over so much gained.

He just said, simply and sweetly, "That's my guitar."

One of the boys came over and asked if he still played. "Not so much anymore," he said.

"Do you think you can teach me, Pop?"

He smiled, and opened the case.

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Allyson challenged me with "'That's what livin' in the city does, man. Stick your song in your throat.' -- George Carlin" and I challenged Tara Roberts with "'We don’t get angry because the glass is broken, we get angry because we thought the glass would never break.' -- Robina Courtin (Buddhist nun)."

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Twist of Fate

The paperwork wouldn't be finalized for another couple of days, but as they were leaving the courthouse, the lawyer explained that that the judge had signed off on it, and now, all she had to do was wait to receive her final, certified, copy in the mail. She did, however, have to go back to the office to get her check: the last remaining joint account cashed out, the lawyer's fee deducted, and the rest -- a significantly smaller sum than she was expecting -- to be deposited into her account. Maybe she would buy some new shoes this weekend, to celebrate her new freedom.

In the car, windows down and radio blaring, she silently debated whether to use the drive-through or park and go into the lobby. The line of cars at the drive-through teller made her decision for her, and so she parked and walked inside. She was standing in the long line, absentmindedly filling out her deposit slip, when she heard a voice she recognized.

She tried and tried to place the voice. And then, just like that, a flood of memories. High school. A few parties here and there, some friends in common. He was in her World Lit class Junior year, sat in the back of the room. He was quiet and brooding, and back then, she had thought it was absolutely adorable.

She looked up from her thoughts just in time to see a flash of metal and a voice -- the voice she recognized -- yelling at them all to get down on the ground.

This was not the way she had intended her new life to begin.

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Fran challenged me with "Freshly divorced, you're waiting in line when you spot someone you had a crush on in High School. Write about it. " and I challenged Diane with "Go back through your archives (we all have them) and find your most embarrassing piece of adolescent writing -- 8th grade or so. Rewrite it in your "adult" voice."

Thursday, March 29, 2012


As soon as she got off the plane and collected her luggage – just a few small bags – she hailed a yellow taxicab to take her to the Grandmother’s apartment, not knowing that the Grandmother had sent her car. The taxi pulled up to the massive stone building overlooking the park. The doorman stared at her quizzically – this was not a building for children, even teenagers. Perhaps eventually, he would get used to her presence there.

She took the elevator up to the top floor, walked to the door, and knocked. There was no answer, no sound from within. She knocked again, to no avail. So, she sat down on the floor to wait. Some time later – she wore no watch – an older man in a dark suit exited the elevator in front of her and spoke her name, in a questioning manner, but they both knew there was no question. He was the Grandmother’s driver, and had been tasked with collecting her from the airport.

The driver fumbled around with his key ring for a moment, and then, having settled on the right one, opened the door and grabbed her largest suitcase in a fluid, almost-effortless movement. She followed him into the apartment, and then down a long hallway filled with expensive-looking impressionist paintings in impressive mahogany frames. Towards the back, he opened a door to reveal a bedroom that appeared to have gone untouched for years, and motioned for her to go in. The driver stepped into the room just enough to deposit her suitcase next to the door, told her that the Grandmother would be home shortly, and left, just as quickly. She heard the key turning in the front door’s lock almost before she could react.

She didn’t know whether she was expected to unpack her belongings, and instead, sat down on the chair in the corner to look out the small window. After a minute, she opened the window to hear the sounds of the strange city below. She heard car horns and the squeal of brakes from the intersection below. She could hear people talking and music playing – not the type of music the Grandmother would approve of, but the music of young people, the music the other kids in school preferred. She was so close to that freedom, but now, locked in the tower, she felt so far away.

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Melissa R challenged me with "Include the following in your story: a teenager, a painting, a cab, and a Salt-n-Pepa song." and I challenged Diane with "peach moonshine and glow bracelets"

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It Could Have Been Different

(cross-posted at blah blah blog)

As one of the editors of IndieInk, I again agreed to participate in the weekly writing challenges. This week, my challenge was from my co-editor James Whitaker, who challenged me to take my pick from the following writing prompts: "unthinkable." "somewhere...out there." "it's never meant to last..." "tomorrow." "they'll never know..." "it could have been different."

The choice was easy for me.

You see, I have an unhealthy fascination with the movie Sliding Doors. Before I understood anything about Schrödinger's cat or parallel universes, I found myself completely fascinated by the concept that one little chance occurrence – whether the movie’s protagonist caught the elevator or the train, or had to wait for the next one – could totally change a life.

As a result, I find myself constantly thinking about how things could have been different. “If only I had caught the earlier train. . . ” “If only I hadn’t accepted the invitation . . .” ”If only I had not gotten in the car. . .” “If only I had made the call. . .” It’s an exhausting way to live, trying to figure out which decision was the one that derailed everything – or worse, trying to augur whether any decision you make is going to be the one that changes your life. And, ultimately, things that seem inconsequential have deeper import; things that seem important turn out to be meaningless in the end.

Case in point: New Year’s Eve. I had spent the entire day (and the day before) catching up with an old friend, which mostly involved drinking and talking, then drinking some more. In the wee morning hours, I found myself getting up off of the couch, taking out my contact lenses, and diving face first into bed. But something held me back, and, as a result, I made the decision to go back out to the living room to check on him.

My entire life changed as a result of that split second decision. And I am completely aware that it could have been different.