Life or Death

300 words? Evil. So. Evil.

Red Writing Hood

Flash Fiction can be fun and a real challenge. This week focus on the words and the strength of each to contribute to your story. Write a 300 word piece using the following word for inspiration: LIFE.

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Life or Death

She knelt in the soapy water, knees aching in her wet jeans. She stared down at the white kitchen floor.

It had been an hour, but it wasn’t clean.

She started again, methodically scrubbing the tile in front of her.

Top left corner, down the side, across the bottom.

It had to be right.

It had to be clean.

She pushed the rag hard against the floor, scraping her knuckles in the grout and gritting her teeth against the sting of soap on her raw skin. She rocked back onto her feet and fought through the ache spreading through her back. Darkness creeping in.

There was still a spot. She abandoned the rag and scraped with her fingernail. Imperfections would not be tolerated. She would have to start again.

Top left corner, down the side, across the bottom.

If it wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t right.

And it had to be right.

A bead of sweat ran from the base of her neck to her waist.

Harder. She had to scrub harder.

In her mind, she saw the crash. The metal crumpled like paper, erupting into flames. Cars twisted. Faces cut by shattered glass.

People lying bloody and broken.

Flashing ambulance lights.

Death.

No. She wouldn’t let it happen. She had to make it right.

It wasn’t rational. There was no car. There were no people. But what if there were?

The breath caught in the back of her throat.

What if she was wrong?

What if she missed a spot?

She knew it was the OCD. But she scrubbed, because she couldn’t be sure that spotless tiles weren’t a matter of life or death.

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This is fiction based on reality.

It isn’t the OCD you see in Monk. Television shows you the cleanliness, but never the thought process. This is called flashing. For someone with OCD, it can feel very real. The magical thinking that you know is completely irrational, but you still feel compelled to do the ritual anyway, because if you don’t, the pictures in your head might come true.

My best friend still teases me about her all-powerful broom. I rarely sweep to prevent car crashes anymore. Though I did clean my door jambs before my niece was born. Just in case.

Thanks for reading! Concrit WELCOME and Appreciated! 

*Bobs

A Different Kind of Pain

I almost didn’t post this. I wasn’t sure if I should.

I’m not this person anymore. But I remember her very well.

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RemembeRED

It’s a fill-in-the-blank-for-your-own-prompt Prompt:  
The first time I ________-ed after _________-ing.
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A Different Kind of Pain
(The first time I cut after promising I’d stop.)

Ungrateful.

Selfish.

Worthless.

I sat on the edge of the bed, my hand clutched around the phone, thumb still lingering over disconnect. The echoes of his words hung in the air, making it heavy and thick. My whole body shook with the effort of breathing.

You don’t love me. You don’t respect me. It’s your fault I’m stuck here in this fucking desert. You don’t care what I’ve done for you. I gave you an opportunity and you just threw it away. I wasn’t shot at in Vietnam so you could be such a screwup. 

He’d stopped taking his medication.

Again.

He thought they gave it to him to shut him up. He didn’t think he was sick.

You and your mother, you’re conspiring against me. Don’t think I don’t know that. You both just want me dead.

He berated me for an hour, twisting my words and flinging them back at me. He ripped me apart with one delusional accusation after another, and even though I sat rigid, trying to be strong— trying to be stone— the tears came.

Don’t try to pull that crying bullshit. You can’t manipulate me like that. You aren’t as smart as you think you are. 

I stared at the phone in my hand. I hated him. I hated myself.

I wasn’t seven any more, but his words still paralyzed me. Even through a phone, he could back me up against a wall and recite my wrongs.

I couldn’t even disconnect the phone. Not until he stopped and I was shattered. Until he’d given me his permission to go lick my wounds.

Weak. The voice in my head spat the word at me.

I threw the phone to the floor and curled into myself, rocking, sick, aching. I had to do something before my skin turned inside out and my chest caved under the tight pressure of disgust.

I couldn’t hurt like this anymore.

My eyes flicked to the bottom drawer of my nightstand.

It had been three weeks since the last time. Since I promised I would stop. In three weeks, my wounds had turned to scars.

I opened the drawer and pulled out the tin lunchbox with Lucille Ball on the front. No one knew I had a kit. Inside was my salvation.

Bandaids, gauze pads, and a roll of adhesive wrap. A bottle of hand sanitizer. A washcloth— stained. Rubber bands. A pink thumb tack. An Exacto knife. Clean blades.

An orange box cutter.

I picked it up and turned it over in my hand, weighing the decision in the cool metal. Opening it, I ran my thumb over its blade. Just a little deeper and I knew I could trade the feeling in my chest for adrenaline and dopamine.

I could feel better.

I pulled my dress up over my hips and traced the blade across my upper thigh, leaving a thin, white mark.

Deeper. Harder.

Anticipation and guilt throbbed in my fingertips.

I want. 

I need. 

I shouldn’t.

Worthless.

Weak.

I held my breath and drew three hard lines down my leg— two for my father’s words and one for my own broken promise. Tears filled my eyes again as bright red blood rose in beads from the cuts.

I bit my lip and traced the line of blood with my finger.

I still hurt. But this pain, at least, I could see.

**********

My father isn’t a monster. He has schizophrenia and PTSD. Medicated, he’s fine, but unfortunately, the nature of his illness is such that he doesn’t trust the doctors who are medicating him. I don’t know, really, what goes on in his head. But I do know that unmedicated, he is mean and paranoid and delusional. It isn’t his fault.

But it’s not mine either.

I’ve been clean now for one year, seven months, and twenty days.

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Thanks for reading! Concrit welcome and appreciated!

*Bobs

Bedtime

I’ve been filling the role of ‘honorary auntie’ for my best friend’s children since before they were born. I remember when her oldest was younger, every time I babysat and put him to bed, I would burst into tears. When you love someone that much, I guess it has to go somewhere.

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RemembeRED

This week we would like you to write about how the show of affection has played a part in your memory.
Choose a time when either the abundance or lack of affection (either by you or someone else) stands out, and show us.  Bring us to that time.  Help us feel what you felt.

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Bedtime

Tonight, I gave him a hug before he ran up the stairs for his bath with daddy.

“Night, Monkey,” I said, and kissed his forehead. “I love you,” I whispered, burying my nose in the sweet spot between his shoulder and his neck.

 Then he was gone — a superhero, an astronaut, a boy whose imagination astounds me. A boy who is outgrowing my lap quicker than my mind or heart can comprehend.

This is bedtime now. It’s different, full of bittersweet memories.

I’m sure that, just yesterday, we read Goodnight Moon on the couch downstairs. I knew it by heart, because he demanded it at least six times a day.

“Where’s the moon?” I asked, and he pointed with a chubby, drool-covered finger.

In the bath, the purple octopus and the squid chased each other around the tub. Giggles filled the room as I sculpted his hair into a soapy mohawk and tickled his belly button, and when the last of the water circled the drain, leaving only a few tiny bubbles behind, I gathered him up in a towel. We played peekaboo with his pajamas.

Just yesterday, I wrapped him in my arms and carried him to his bedroom — the damp weight of him warm against me, his legs dangling and his wet hair leaving a spot on my shirt where his head rested on my shoulder. He yawned.

“Such a sleepy boy,” I said. “What a big yawn.”

In his room there was only darkness and the smell of baby shampoo. We curled together on the chair beside his bed. My chin rested on his head as I inhaled him, and we rocked. I closed my eyes and sang soft hymns that took me back to my own childhood, listening to my parents practice for church after I had gone to bed.

“I will always love you,” I whispered. “I will always be here. I will keep you safe. I promise.”

I sang and rocked, not sure which of us clung more tightly to the other and it wasn’t long before my tears came, running down my face and dripping onto his head.

I cried because I loved him. Because already, he grew heavier in my arms each day. Because soon, I knew that snuggles before bedtime and singing hymns would just be a memory.

I cried because he was my best friend’s child, and my only claim to him was that I loved him more than I ever knew was possible. Because no matter how many times I read Goodnight Moon, he would not be mine.

Just yesterday, I laid him in his bed and placed a stuffed penguin in his arms, kissing him and letting my hand linger for just a moment longer on his cheek. I turned on his music and snuck out the door, wiping my cheeks and hurrying downstairs to plug in the baby monitor — part of my promise.

If he woke, I would be there to chase away the monsters.

Tonight, when he went to bed, I didn’t cry. After books and hugs and kisses, I smiled and watched him go. He is mine. My Monkey. My superhero. Not because he has to be, but because he chooses to be. Tonight, when I whispered, “I love you”, he whispered, “I love you” back.

I tell him every time I see him, so he doesn’t forget. And I take in every hug, every smile, and every giggle — sure that just tomorrow he’ll be a man, the scent of baby shampoo long faded away.

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Monkey and Me Circa 2008

2010

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Thanks for reading! Concrit welcome and appreciated!

*Bobs

Giving In

I haven’t written fiction in years. But this character wanted to be written. So I obliged her.

Red Writing Hood

 The happy ending.

This week, we’d like you to write a scene that includes a happy ending – it doesn’t have to be the actual END of your story, if you’re working on continuations, but it should include at least one challenge for your hero to overcome.
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Giving In

Rumors by Neil Simon. Laughing until our sides ached and we gasped for air. Her hand on my bare back leading me out of the theatre. Electric. Dinner at that little Italian place, at a table in back. One plate. Two forks. A bottle of Merlot between us.

A perfect date.

Now we stood together outside my building. I wobbled, and leaned against the wall to steady myself. Was it the wine spinning my head, or just the anticipation of her touch? I couldn’t be sure. Either way, I was intoxicated.

“This was nice.” She said, smiling.

Her lips were the color of ripe watermelon, with all the same promise of sweet relief from the heat of summer. They would satisfy me.

Hungry.

Wrong.

I swallowed, tasting the acid of desire and guilt burning the back of my throat.

I shouldn’t. The two words danced through my head. Shouldn’t want. Shouldn’t need. Shouldn’t be drawn to the curve of her hips, the softness of her skin, the smooth velvet of her voice. I shouldn’t.

But I am, I thought. I closed my eyes and allowed myself to feel. My cheeks burned red. My fingers tingled.

“Jenna?”

I looked up. Could she see my uncertainty?

“Hey,” she said. She touched my shoulder and ran her hand down my arm until her fingers were tangled in mine.  “Where’d you go just now?”

I squeezed her hand and twisted her rings with my thumb.

“Away.” A smile crept onto the corners of my lips. “London. Rome. Paris. The Eiffel Tower. A little cafe at a table under the stars. Coffee and beignets.”

“Hell of a trip.”

“Yeah.”

The word hung in the space between us. Her eyes met mine and she pulled me into her.

“Yeah.” She whispered, her breath warm against my ear. Her lips traced their way across my cheek, brushing my skin and stopping on my own.

They were softer than I expected, smooth with lip gloss that tasted like cherries. Her tongue teased my lips, parting them and running over my teeth, pushing inside and becoming a part of me.

I shouldn’t.

Wild panic exploded in my chest. I ripped my hand from hers and pulled away.

“I can’t. I’m sorry, I can’t.” I shook my head and tears I didn’t know were there slid from the corners of my eyes.

She stepped back, her mouth still open showing where mine had been only seconds before.

“But… why?” Her words were tinged with rejection.

“Because…” I started, closing my eyes.

Because when I was eight, I kissed my best friend on the lips and she told me that it was wrong for girls to kiss other girls.

Because shame burned my cheeks as I stared at other women’s bodies.

Because I could still hear my father spitting words like dyke and fag, warning me about sin and abomination.

Because that abominable word — lesbian — felt warm and safe on my tongue, like a word that was already part of me.

“Because you’re a woman.” I said. Already I missed her arms wrapped around me. I could still taste her. I wanted her back and I hated myself for it.

“I thought that was what you wanted. I thought…” She stared hard at me. “Why the hell did you agree to go out with me if you didn’t want to date a woman?”

“I needed to know —”

“Know what?” She cut me off.

“If it was right.”

“And?” The softness in her voice surprised me.

I shouldn’t.

I should.

This time I reached for her, wrapping my arms around her waist and pulling her into me, until there was no space between us for my shame. Until her heart beat against my chest and her hands were in my hair, and she filled my senses, pushing out everything else.

I smiled, as a new set of images flooded my mind.

Her. Me. Sheets tangled at the bottom of the bed. Her hair tickling my stomach. The weight of her on me. The easy fit of our curves.

“Come inside, Amy.” I said.

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Thanks for reading! Concrit WELCOME and Appreciated! It really has been a long time since I’ve tried to write fiction. I need all the help I can get!

*Bobs

Riding Home

Because even today, nothing soothes me like vocal harmonies.

RemembeRED

This week, your memoir prompt assignment is to think of a sound or a smell the reminds you of something from your past and write a post about that memory.  Don’t forget to incorporate the sound/smell of your choosing!
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Riding Home

I pressed my cheek against the glass as I stared out the window, watching silhouettes of leafless trees streak by. They were monster hands, spiky and twisted, and even though I was six – too old to still be afraid of shadows in the dark – I secretly knew they snatched at us, hoping to trap our car in their gnarled fingers. Hoping to eat us alive.

And maybe, I thought, mama and daddy knew about the tree monsters too. Maybe that was why daddy’s knuckles turned white gripping the steering wheel; why mama’s foot tapped the floorboard.

I squeezed my eyes shut. The heater filled the space with the scent of warmth in the winter – the comfortable and safe smell that always welcomed me inside from the cold like my mama’s arms. I breathed it in, wanting to get as close to the heat as possible. I slipped off my shoes and put my feet on the vent in the console, wiggling my toes against the slats. I sighed, and melted further down into the back seat.

Mama and daddy were quiet now, their furious whispers hushed when they remembered I was there, but the weight of things unsaid still hung thick in the air – an almost tangible presence; a silence that was heavy with the sounds of the heater and each passing car.

They forgot about me sometimes, but I didn’t really mind. If I was very quiet, I could almost disappear. I paid attention. I knew things they didn’t think I knew.

Daddy was angry. So was mama. We felt broken.

We turned, and my head bounced against the door. I opened my eyes and looked up, this time seeing over the trees. Millions of tiny stars dotted the sky; constellations of lights painting pictures against the black night. I stretched to see more.

Ursa major. Ursa minor. Draco. Orion. I turned the words my granddaddy taught me over, tumbling them like stones until the ideas became smooth and familiar. His voice in my head saying, “Now lookie here, Katydid. See how those stars make a dragon?” He would point, tracing invisible lines in the sky.

I put my finger to the window, cold from the outside air, and tried to trace the same lines between the stars like a connect-the-dots puzzle. Big bear. Little bear. Dragon. Hunter. I smiled as I found the shapes.

The car rolled to a stop and a red light shone in the window. Daddy sighed and said a bad word. It popped the silence like a pin to a balloon.

You shouldn’t say that, I thought. It’s a sin to say bad words.

But I didn’t say anything. Instead, I started to sing, softly at first as I tested my voice in the heavy air. The hymn pushed through my lips, wanting to come out.

…I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,

Thy power throughout the universe displayed…

At the first line of the chorus, mama started singing too. But her notes were different from mine.

“Don’t sing what I’m singing,” She said. “Listen to yourself and sing. Try it again.”

I started singing again. This time, at the chorus, daddy sang too, his deep voice below mine. I closed my eyes and tried with all my might to hear myself.

When we came to the last note of the song, the harmony filled the car pushing out every last bit of the thick silence.

“Sing something else,” Mama told me.

So I did, wriggling to the middle of my seat and leaning forward between my parents into the music that we created – just our voices and the hum of the heater.

They sent me to bed when we got home. Their muffled argument seeped in under the bedroom door. Outside my window was my own tree monster – the one that knocked the house at night trying to get in. But that night when I closed my eyes and listened very hard, I could still hear the harmony we made. It filled me, as it had filled the car, and wrapped me snugly in a six-year-old’s certainty that nothing broken could sound so good.

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Thanks for reading! Concrit welcome and appreciated!

*Bobs

The Language of Rape

*Trigger Warning*

There is language in this piece that might be triggering to some. Read cautiously.

I wrote this piece as a monologue, to be performed in a show that I’m running. The show is called “Speak,” and it is encouraging women to talk about their sexuality, their relationships, their experiences, in their native languages. Obviously, I am an English speaker, and so I decided to attack the English surrounding rape. It’s a bit of a soap box for me, both personally and from a linguistic standpoint. Though it was difficult, it was cathartic to write and I’m proud to be performing it.

The Language of Rape

I wasn’t quite fourteen when he killed me. He ran his hand up my thigh, breached the hem of my shorts and worked his fingers under my leotard – slowly, carefully, holding me in his lap. His hands were hot and sweaty against my skin…

They said he was a good man. A godly man. My parents trusted him. Our congregation loved him. Of course, it was all a show. That evening, I met the monster inside of him – the devil, the demon, the darkness, creeping out through his fingertips and burning my skin, so hot I was sure that his fingerprints must have left marks on me. Finally, after years of whispered desires, touches and caresses in the shadows, conditioning me to think that I was the one who was sick, he put his fingers inside of me. He… killed my past.

What? That’s not the word you were expecting? He took something from me. He changed me forever. The person I was before that evening would never exist again. But no, I suppose I can’t say that he killed me. So which word would you prefer?

Abused. Assaulted. Molested. Touched. Fondled. Played with. Penetrated.

Raped. Yes. Raped.

That’s the one I use now. That’s what happened. He raped me. But getting to that word took time, and even now when I say it, I see the confusion flash in people’s eyes as if they don’t quite understand. Rape? Do we call that rape? Tell me, what’s the linguistic value of that word?

You think the language of rape doesn’t matter? I think it makes all the difference in the world.

Years after the abuse stopped, I struggled with what to call it. I simply chose not to define it. If I never gave it a name – if I never spoke about it at all – maybe I could just pretend that it hadn’t happened. If I never spoke about it at all, maybe I could erase it.

And, it might have worked. Only I still knew what had happened. It seemed that not speaking about something really could only erase it as far as other people were concerned. But then…

I still hurt. I still had the memories. Just because I couldn’t define them didn’t mean that they weren’t there. But even when I finally decided I wanted to give them a name, I didn’t know what that name should be.

Legally, I was in limbo, left there by arbitrary language in the sexual violence law books. I was a year too old for it to be called the rape of a child. He used his fingers, and where I was from, that wasn’t rape either. Just because he didn’t put a penis in my vagina, I was suddenly violated less. Sexual assault? Aggravated? Well, he didn’t have a weapon.

In the linguistic hierarchy, I found myself at the bottom of the sexual violence list. It left me confused and frustrated, because from where I stood, what happened to me was significant. He had raped me. He had KILLED who I used to be. He had taken that part of my life from me and I would never, ever get back the person I was before.

But what the language told me, was that it wasn’t all that serious. It could have been worse.

Let’s talk about that phrase for a minute.

It could have been worse.

Well of course it could have.

There is no conceivable situation in the world that could not somehow be worse. But do you know what you really tell someone when you say to them that their situation “could have been worse?”

You tell them that their feelings of devastation aren’t valid. You hand them guilt. And they start to wonder if maybe they’re feeling something wrong.

At least, that was me.

I felt as if I had been raped. As if something was stolen from me. But it could have been worse, and so that word… rape… the word higher up in the linguistic hierarchy… it felt like a betrayal to use it.

Besides, when I say the word rape, what you probably picture is intercourse. And the last thing I want is to be accused of lying, just because he used his hands.

Now, lying. There’s a big one. “Are you sure?” Why didn’t you just say no?” “Was it really that bad?” “Tell me again, that doesn’t seem consistent.” “Are you really sure you were raped?” These things they ask us.

Of course I’m fucking sure. I was there. I survived it. And while I’m on that – I wasn’t raped… HE RAPED ME.

If I say “I was raped,” that makes me the subject. It makes raped the descriptive word, the one that defines me. If I say “I was raped,” it makes it a part of me, like I was happy, or I was purple, or I was a Russian language student. I accept that label, and it becomes something I can’t shake. It removes the actor. I was raped… so clearly, I could have done something about it. I was… I was…

I’ll tell you what I was.

I was innocent.

And HE. Raped. Me.

Subject, Verb, Object.

He did something to me, that had nothing to do with me. It wasn’t my fault. It was his choice, his action, his sin, his sickness.

At the time, I was his victim. Helpless. A child. And I couldn’t fight back –

because I didn’t have the words. No one ever really taught me to say no. That’s not to say I didn’t think it, or didn’t mean it. But I never spoke it, and what did we decide? Things left unsaid might as well not exist as far as other people are concerned.

But it did exist, my “no.” I just didn’t know how to say it.

You think that the language of rape doesn’t matter?

If I don’t talk about what happened, if I don’t call it what it was – how do I ever move past it? How do I ever find my voice again?

Maybe If I speak the words, I can find my reason to keep fighting against the son-of-a-bitch who took them from me. Against anyone who takes them from someone else.

And I do.

I found the language that empowered me.

He raped me. And I was a victim.

But you know – I came out on the other end of this hell. A little worse for the wear – but whole. Healthy. Maybe a little dented, but I’m not damaged and I’m certainly not broken.

I put my pieces back together. Duct tape and super glue, good as new, but with a few scars to show for it.

Don’t tell yourselves that words don’t matter. For me, for us, they help define who we are and what we survived. They can create or remove guilt, blame… shame. They can tear down, or they can shine light into darkness.

Language is a powerful thing, and the words we use change everything.

Me? I’m not a victim anymore. Now, I’m a survivor.

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Concrit is welcome and appreciated. The piece is personal, but the writing is important to me. I’ve never written a monologue before.

Thanks for reading!

*Bobs

Tears of a Grounded Bird

I can still smell that classroom…

RemembeRED

For this week’s RemembeRED prompt, we’re asking you to remember kindergarten. If, after thinking about it for a while, you can’t recall anything, move on to first grade.

Mine your memories and write about the earliest grade you can recall. What was special? What was ordinary? What did you feel? Hear? See? Smell?

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Tears of a Grounded Bird

I was weightless.

The wind blew hair into my face as the plastic swing cradled me – precarious and safe all at once, it was the vehicle that could take me into the sky. Maybe even to the sun. I was sure if I let go, I’d fly away, soaring over the curly, yellow playground slide, over the cinderblock building, over the trees tall as giants.

The other children ran around me, but they were little more than background noise. I wasn’t like them – boring people. I didn’t belong on the ground. I was a bird.

And like a bird, I sang as I flew, with all the enthusiasm of a five-year-old who hadn’t yet let learned about inhibition or shame. At the top of my lungs, I sang out lyrics that told stories too old for my little lips.

They will bury me where you have wandered
Near the hills where the daffodils grow
When you’re gone from the Red River Valley
For I can’t live without you I know

In childhood’s happy ignorance, I sang only because I could. Because when I soared on my swing, I was free.

Until that day.

The teachers sat in a line on the wooden bench in front of the swings. There was the sweet first grade teacher, who rescued me from naptime each day, when I would leave my kindergarten class in the mildew-scented basement room to take advanced reading and math. Beside her, the assistants, and beside them… that’s where she sat.

My teacher, with her blonde hair pulled into a severe ponytail, had none of the sunshine that a kindergarten teacher should. She wielded her power with a little too much joy, denying unscheduled visits to the bathroom and making Tristan cry when she wouldn’t let him bring his stuffed dog outside. Because big boys don’t need stuffed animals, she told him.

I didn’t like her. Not since she told me I’d painted my leaves wrong in art. Of course they were all clumped together at the bottom of the page. They were in piles. Didn’t she know that’s what happened to leaves in the fall, after granddaddy raked them up? Didn’t somebody put the leaves into piles at her house? I knew I hadn’t painted them wrong.

No, I didn’t like her. Not one little bit. But at recess, I knew she wasn’t there for me. She and the other teachers were there for the bad kids. For the ones who tackled each other and got into fights. For scraped knees and bruises and that time that Jessica threw up. When I was swinging, she couldn’t touch me.

“Katie!”

Her voice, calling my name, stopped me mid-song. My name? I hadn’t done anything. I dragged my feet on the ground, kicking up a cloud of white-brown swingset sand, my untied shoes drawing lines in the dirt.

I looked at her, defiant and wary.

“Yes ma’am?” I asked, because daddy told me I always had to say yes ma’am to my teacher.

“Could you give it a rest?” She said.

I didn’t understand. A rest?

“What?”

“Could you stop singing?”

“Oh.” I looked down, hot tears already filling my eyes. “Yes ma’am.”

I left my swing there – my magical vehicle to the sky still swaying back and forth – and became one of the ground people. Running as hard as I could, I dove into the shaded gravel under the curvy yellow slide, where I could cry the tears of a grounded bird until the playground whistle blew.

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Circa 1995

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Thanks for reading! Concrit welcome and appreciated!

*Bobs (Formerly known as Katie. Before she got old enough to start using her first name.)

The Lure of Virtual Donuts

This was a hard one… then I went to Krispy Kreme for research. Six donuts later…

The Lure of Virtual Donuts

It was founded by The Troll and MacBraveheart – that much I know. The Brekkie Club existed long before I came into the picture, at the ripe old age of 13. I was just a kid then, attracted by the idea of all-day breakfast buffets laden with coffee and donuts. But how the Brekkie Club came to be, I’m not exactly sure. I simply wandered in one day and became a member. That was the way of it then.

We were a group of gamers and writers, who found a corner of the internet to call our own. Every morning, the post would go up:

Thread Title: Brekkie Time! Coffee and Donuts!

We came together to talk over a virtual breakfast spread – of games and stories, of fantasy and make-believe, and of the details that made up our “real” lives. As if who we were on our forum was any less real.

McB once said that we were all a little broken. That we had to be, to spend so much time in a world of our own creation. Maybe she was right. We were a mismatched group, like a pile of socks that had lost their partners in the wash. We were the ones left over.

A German-born woman, raised in India, Stefanie lived with her Scottish husband and designed tartan fabrics. Complications during the birth of her daughter left her with chronic pain.

Bob watched as his children moved away from him, one by one, leaving him alone with deteriorating health. Still, he got great joy every fall, when his daughter sent him tulip bulbs from the Netherlands.

Catherine battled cancer. Leonard anxiously awaited the birth of his second daughter by his soon-to-be-second ex-wife. Wanda was a pagan social worker. Michelle was afraid to leave her house.

Is it any wonder I ended up there? I was a thirteen-year-old homeschooler with obsessive-compulsive disorder and an overdeveloped geek gene.

If not broken, we were certainly different – straight off Rudolph’s Island of Misfit Toys. But that was reality; it wasn’t our world. In The Brekkie Club we transformed. Into Lady MacBraveheart and King Trollie; Lenrod, The Duke of Suave; BloodRunner, and Hortensis, and Trops, The Lady of Breakfast Charm. I was Lairdess Bobbi.

These were our true identities.

We gathered in MacApple Hall, where we had our adventures battling monsters and watching great romances unfold. On Shrove Tuesday, we brought our pet dragons to a virtual pancake party. We fought doughnut thieves and chose sides when MacBraveheart and King Trollie waged the war between the breakfasts. Haggis or donuts – the choice was ours. They were called The Donut Wars and they were epic.

So were we.

Eight years later, our lives have changed. Stefanie went back to college to study film. Catherine beat her cancer, and got a tattoo of a zipper over her surgery scar. Bob’s other daughter had a daughter, and now she is the joy of his life. Michelle left her house. I grew up. Through it all, we’ve remained friends, both online and off.

No one on the outside understood our games. To them, they were just words typed on a screen about dragons and donuts. The adventures we wove for ourselves seemed trivial, but they saved us, in a way. We connected to one another there. In the land of MacApple Hall, we found laughter and support in one another when we couldn’t find it in the “real world.” Loners, outcasts and oddballs, misfit toys, and partnerless socks – brought together by the internet – and the lure of virtual donuts.

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And just for your viewing pleasure – I did these back in 2004 and posted them to The Brekkie Club group. I decided our stories needed promotional artwork. When you’ve stopped laughing, remember that I was only 14 at the time.

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This week’s prompt was simple: write a piece, fiction or non-fiction, inspired by the delicious shot of the donut seen above. Word  limit is 600.

Concrit welcomed and appreciated!

 

 

 

 

 

Flashes of Blinding Technicolor

I didn’t initially start writing this piece for this prompt. But by the time I got halfway through, I realized that it was, in fact, about forgiveness.

Blogging for The Red Dress Club.

RemembeRED

This week’s prompt is about forgiveness. Forgiving others, forgiving yourself. Write about a time of forgiveness.

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Flashes of Blinding Technicolor

It starts again, when I least expect it, springing from a thought I didn’t ask for – from memories that I can’t keep away.

Slowly, one tear slides down my cheek and over my lips, leaving a trace of saltiness before it drips off my chin. Then another and another, until they come in cascades – wet, sticky, and uncontrollable.

The swell of pain in my chest expands like a balloon attached to helium. My heart. Soon it will pop. Soon… My lungs hurt. My blood aches. A heaviness extends through my fingertips — all of the hurt, the craving, the desire rising into my throat until it finally escapes and my body heaves sobs. I gasp for air, and hold myself, wishing away the memories that explode in flashes of blinding technicolor.

Our first kiss, outside in the cold. It sent shockwaves through my body, tingling my toes and making me high.

Protective arms around me on our first date. Feeling completely safe in the midst of chaos with my body against his.

Valentine’s Day. Him fanning the smoke out of my apartment as I stood paralyzed in the kitchen, staring at the catastrophe. He ate the steak.

The heat that flushed my cheeks as he announced publicly that I was his friend, his partner, and his girlfriend.

His words. Mine.

“You know,” I said, “I kind of like you. I think I’ll keep you. You okay with that?”

And in that moment, he looked at me and I saw something in his eyes change, as he walked to the bed and leaned over me. Close enough for me to feel his breath forming the words just before they left his lips.

“I love you.”

“I want to have children with you,” he said. My stomach did backflips as the yearning for motherhood enveloped me.

Him holding me up as my knees buckled. Gasping for air, telling him I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t walk, couldn’t keep living. Panic attack. The wild fear I felt as my body tried to turn itself inside out melting away as he helped me breathe again.

Me, in a hotel room in downtown Dallas, tracing his tears with my thumb. Wiping them away. Feeling the dampness of his face against my chest before I took it in my hands and said to him, “Listen to me. Believe this. You aren’t alone anymore.” Feeling helpless to take away the pain of his past and trying to hurt for him so that he wouldn’t have to.

After the fight, the letter I wrote to him. His hand on my shoulder as I sobbed, and hearing his words whispered in my ear. “I love you, Bobbi. That’s a constant.”

Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon, surrounded by colors. He kissed me there and even with the wall between us, it still electrified me.

“Is this going to work?” He asked.

I looked away.

“I don’t know.” I answered. But in my mind, I heard a quiet “no,” echoing as if I’d said it aloud into the canyon.

The tears eventually stop, but the guilt of broken promises, whispered when I was sure he was the one, still sits heavy in my chest.

Only two words are left.

I’m sorry.

In the stretches of time between the tears, I survive. But sooner or later, the tears always come back. Sticky hot reminders that I haven’t yet forgiven myself for breaking his heart. For breaking my own. For choosing self-preservation over his love.

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Constructive criticism welcome. Thanks for reading!

*Bobs

Reasons Why…

This site is here…

  • Because I love to write.
  • Because not everything I write should be seen by everyone I know.
  • Because I don’t have an awesome web designer at my disposal who can integrate the different portions of my mind into one cohesive blog.

I picked Alice in Wonderland…

  • Because Lewis Carroll was a linguistic genius.
  • Because I love Alice in Wonderland.
  • Because I think there is a lot to learn from the stories Carroll wrote.

I write…

  • Because it helps me heal.
  • Because I’m better at writing than I am at speaking.
  • Because I’m a language geek, an aspiring linguist, and as far as I’m concerned, writing is play.

I play…

  • Because it helps me heal.
  • Because I don’t want to forget how.
  • Because it’s fun.

And really…

  • That’s enough.

*Bobs