Naughty People (A Naughty Poem)

I want you to kiss me as though you’ve never breathed air like this before;

And I want you to slam your body against me after nervously shutting the front door.

I need your fingers holding me in place so that I don’t run away from something I want more than I can say;

And I need you to need me in the worst way.

I want us to break the rules and pretend for a moment that the world doesn’t exist;

I want you to tell me to forget the way they’ll look at us and get lost in the kiss;

Get lost in the sex, get lost in the love; get lost in everything we can’t get enough of;

And most importantly, touch each other as if we don’t give a fuck.

We’re just naughty people with naughty memories;

With naughty words for naughty stories.

Maybe tomorrow when we wake up we’ll reap what we sow;

Maybe tomorrow when we wake up and nobody knows;

Maybe tomorrow nothing changes and we’re no better off;

Hell, maybe tomorrow the sun never comes up.

But I know that I don’t care about the consequences today, so I won’t care tomorrow.

To hell with what we’ve reaped, to hell with what we’ve sewn.

These dirty secrets are the ones I love to own;

And I know you’re glad to have taken me home.


“America’s Sweetheart” – A Short Story Inspired by Elle King

Author’s Note: Due to the length of this story (27 typed pages), I have deiced to put a “Keep Reading” break after the first section of this story. I very much like it and hope that you will read it in it’s entirety.

America’s Sweetheart

(Lyrics from Elle King’s same titled song)

(A fiction piece adapted by Alixx Black)

Disclaimer: Let it be known that I am gaining no profit from using the lyrics from “America’s Sweetheart” as performed by Elle King and written by Tanner Schneider and Martin Johnson. The inspiration from this story stemmed from the lyrics, and as such I incorporated them into the story with a bold and italicized front with left alignment. I am not claiming credit for these lyrics in any way whatsoever.

 However, all right aligned text is an original piece of fiction

No there ain’t nothing that I gotta prove

You think your words will make me black and blue.


The bonfire burns brighter than the sun in this darkness. Or at least that’s what it feels like to her anyway. Everyone has a struggle, but the joy of growing up is learning how to deal with it. For Echo, well, that was just accepting everything at face value. If it had a deeper meaning, then it wasn’t any of her business.

Not even when it came to the hateful comments that some other party guests had for her; “You’re such a tramp. You drink, you fuck, and then you wake up in the bed of some guy’s pick up with no clue what happened that night!” Of course, she complains as a boy offers her another wine cooler. She’s been taking it easy tonight, moving at a much slower pace. The guy must be her boyfriend – or at least someone she likes.

None of these girls know that Echo is in therapy. These people have no idea that she was in the hospital over the summer after a suicide attempt. Of course, that only occurred while she was detoxing from her oxycodone addiction – which her parents had confronted her about after realizing that she was calling in additional prescriptions using her mother’s name. It’s all whatever now because she’s dealing with it, she supposes. Besides, these girls wouldn’t care even if they knew, and to be fair – she wouldn’t care if they tried to explain why they’re so hateful. It all washes out in the end.

Darwinism, right?

“You look so ugly in those boys’ boots and that ragged flannel. You look like a homeless farmhand, or something.” Another girl in the group laughs, or it sounds like a laugh anyway. Echo can’t really tell because she gets a chuckle out of it too. Perhaps it’s because she is tipsy, or perhaps because she’s a loud mouth with sarcasm itching beneath her skin.

Even with the therapy, keeping herself from biting back with these gals was next to impossible…

Continue reading ““America’s Sweetheart” – A Short Story Inspired by Elle King”

Cherry Cream Soda

Disclaimer:   Normally I wouldn’t post something “fanfiction” -eque on my blog, but I couldn’t resist this poem. I wrote it after watching Adventure Time’s newest episodes starring Cherry Cream Soda, Root Beer Guy, and Starchy. So without any further adieu, I bring to you – unnecessary rhyming and a story about Adventure Time.

Falling for you wasn’t a choice.

Literally, it wasn’t a choice.

I looked at you and was told what to do,

To get married! And to smile, and to love you…

Arranged neatly, calculated and precise.

Of course when our lips met for the first time;

It was really great, actually.

Better than I thought,

So I guess science isn’t wrong.

There were smiles and tears,

There were spills and cheers.

Together we built a home,

Together we built a life.

Of course, we did everything together.

You know, because I was kind of your wife.

Really, being married was nice.

It was warm, exciting; it felt right.

You bought me cute vases from cheap shops;

And I cooked extravagant meals, pulling out the stops,

Being as perfect as I could manage.

So when you cracked up and crapped out – I was legitimately damaged.

I had to bury you.

Time passed, flowers grew;

Eventually the grass died in the winter,

I was forced to forget you.

It was hard at first, in this empty house;

But once I got out and got around,

It seemed like finding a new love was super easy.

Like – too easy.

Seriously, it was too easy.

So in no time, it felt, I was married again.

To a fluffy odd man with an awkward grin,

And a giggle that I couldn’t trust,

But it was an odd sort of love, and at times it felt felt like guilt.

I guess it faded overtime because I let it disappear.

I actually convinced my heart to beat faster when my second husband was near.

We became neutral, I suppose, and instead of being upset I let it slide.

It went on like this for several years.

So many years passed, though.

Where did the time go; because I don’t know…

And then at the drop of a hat you came back.

You are a zombie?

Yes, you’re a zombie.

You are the shell of a man that used to be my husband.

I had convinced myself that you were dead,

Because the brain works in mysterious ways?

I guess I just ran away because I no idea what was going on with you.

People change, and sometimes we’re blind to it all.

I thought life was good but I watched you fall,

Without a clue what was even happening.

I guess that’s part of why it was so easy remarrying.

Of course, after I see your face and the way you were willing to fight…

Even though I think both of you men are mad,

The only thing that feels right is starting over with you.

So, yeah, I guess you’re a complete stranger.

And I get that you feel undead, and that you think you’re just a danger to me.

I just want to learn what it’s like to choose the love of my life.

And I think it would be really great,

You know, to be your wife again.

Not right now!

But eventually.

For now, I just want to slow it down.

Do you want to go out?

The Girl In My Reflection

Contest Host:     Writers Weekly

Contest Title:     24-Hour Story – Fall Segment

Theme:     940 Maximum Word Count; Following this exact scheme “The barren, tan corn stalks behind her snapped in the cold
evening breeze, the only sound louder than the dry, fiery red leaves swirling around her tiny, shivering bare feet. She’d lost her bearings again and she hoped the dinner bell would ring soon. A gray tree with endless arms and fingers, devoid of any remaining foliage, loomed before her. She gazed at the odd markings on the trunk, which appeared to
outline a hand-cut door of sorts. And, as she stared, it opened…”

Placement:     Grab Bag Door Prize (85 Prizes are awarded in each contest, I was listed as 1/35 Grab Bag winners).

Today was another long day at work. Everyday is a long day at work, though. Especially Fridays because it’s almost time for two days off and everyone wants to get to quitting time and crawl into bed. Okay, so only I want to crawl into bed, but I worked two twelve-hour shifts this week. This body has been running on fumes since Tuesday.

Before I can do any sleeping I am going to have to shower. I didn’t this morning, so there are all kinds of product in my hair and on my face. The apartment is small and sort of triangular in the layout. My roommate loves it, unfortunately, so I put up with it for cheap rent. But it never takes long to get from the front door to the bathroom, which is quite nice after work.

Immediately, I turn on the water for some noise while I get everything I need: pajamas, towels, washcloth, and so on. Moving through the motions is incredibly easy in spite of the fact that I can’t feel my face and I can’t think straight because I keep fantasizing about my pillows. To distract myself, I flick on the television sitting atop my dresser for another layer of noise to help me stay awake.

“Help me.”

The words don’t register at first but they are repeated, “Help me,”­ and I turn around to see what is on the television. As it turns out, it’s one of my favorite sci-fi shows. I love this episode because the wife has to save the husband for a change. Laughing under my breath, I return to the bathroom. Mindlessly I push my hands out to check the shower temperature. It’s warmer than I prefer but I won’t mind. I will be able to stand in it.

Quickly I peel away my button up, slacks, socks, and hair tie. As my hair cascades and I shake it out, I swear I see something moving behind me. Hesitantly I turn myself to check Nadia’s door. It’s shut. I then peer through to my room. It’s empty.

“Help me! I am lost.”

That isn’t a line from this episode. I must be getting really tired if I’m hearing things. Distracted, I wipe off steam build up on the mirror. I wasn’t exactly paying attention, so when I see an image instead of my reflection I don’t react. It takes several seconds before I decide that I’m not hallucinating.

A small, frail girl with blonde greasy hair sticking to the tatters of her clothes stands there expressionless. Her eyes are dark and her skin looks to have been stretched over her bones. I know it’s insane to believe this little girl is standing in the middle of a dark, barren field is actually inside of my mirror, but I do. The maternal side of me emerges and takes over. I need to do something; “What happened to you? Are you hurt?”

I drag the towel more harshly down the mirror, hoping for a drier surface to see the child more clearly. As I pull the cloth away, this thick black ooze replaces the water residue. Without hesitation, I begin using my hands to clean the mirror. When the substance covers my arms entirely, I realize it is blood. I wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t stopped to climb onto the counter.

“They want to kill me. Will you help me?” Soft tendrils of her voice reach beyond the glass barrier between us, and it just consumes me. I hear nothing but her pleas for help. I know I have to save her. I push myself hard against the mirror. At first it doesn’t budge…

…But then it does. My entire right side slides through the glass no differently than reaching down into a pool. I can see the girl, the dead world behind her, and I can see it every bit as plainly as I did before breaking the barrier.

“Take my hand, sweetheart. I can pull you through.” I say to her, using the voice I use to tell my nieces when it’s bedtime. My sister says it is serene and comforting. I wish to be so welcoming now, “Come on, and just take my hand. I will help you.”

She seems uneasy at first, but her frown starts to melt away as she glances cautiously over her shoulder. Naked feet carry her fragile body nearer to me. Feeling as though there is not a single moment to spare I push myself harder again into the mirror, slipping more and more into some other world that has trapped this innocent child.

She is walking but she seems no closer than she was minutes ago, and so I lean out more and more and more until only my feet are left on the other side of the mirror. Once my head is on the other side of the mirror completely, I realize that I’m covered in the tarry blood. Since I’m balancing with one hand I have to use the other that I’ve extended to the girl to clear my face off. In one swift motion I smear away just enough to regain unobstructed sight.

What I see startles me. The girl is not a girl at all but rather a slender black mass. It’s eyes match the child but there is no other resemblance. A scream rises in my throat but I have no opportunity to let it out. Tree roots sprout from the ground and wrap around my neck. My fear is smothered as I just barely hear, “There’s the dinner bell. I’ll be glad to have you.”

Very Short Fiction Series

A Series of Very Short Fiction Stories

Based on These Prompts Here

Because I Do What I Want When I Want, Thank you ❤

Prompt Idea #1:   “I’m in a bookshop and I really need that book can you get it for me??? Wait you’ve read that book? let’s have an in depth conversation about it.”

My friends know what to expect from me for Christmas. It’s books. Every year. It has been books every year since I was fifteen. A decade of books. It’s kind of a nice legacy, honestly. Maybe one day there’ll be a book called the “Book Lady, Giver of Books,” and it’ll tell the story of a kind woman who educated her loved ones with great literature.

“But that would be a very boring story, wouldn’t it?” I grumble. Really, it isn’t that the story is boring so much as the story wouldn’t have much gusto. It would be some sort of Indie story about loving and giving and caring and self sacrifice. As the Giver of Books, I don’t buy books for myself. I am probably the last woman in town that actually uses my library card for books.

Before I know it, I’ve reached the aisle I was looking for in the back of the store. This is where they keep oddball works, and clearance books. While I’m not looking in the clearance bin today, these are books that maybe only got one run from their publishers because they just knew that the work wouldn’t perform well in the market. I always have to remind people that this is not to say that the work isn’t good. It just means that they are still undiscovered. Better undiscovered than to keep the words inside, in my opinion. But today, my actual mission is to get a book series for my younger sister. A series called “My Boyfriend Merlin.”

I read it quite some time ago, but I found that I liked the love triangle element of it. Really, the love triangle is way overdone. Too many stories are doing it these days, but I felt that “My Boyfriend Merlin” did such a great job of really showing the complications of romance – especially where brothers are concerned. Merlin and Vane caused a good many problems, and it must have been hard for Ryan to choose. Vane was hardly the romantic type.

As I recall silently the difference between Merlin and Vane as potential mates, I find the books in a box set – how rare! – and pull it off of the shelf. Seconds later, though, I accidentally run into the shelf because someone chimes in and I wasn’t expecting it, “Opposites attract – don’t think I’ve read a better story proving it than that.” When I pinpoint the person to whom the voice belongs, I am happily surprised that this girl is very attractive. Very, very attractive. I don’t mind looking at her in the slightest.

Talking to her, even easier – believe it or not – “I’m not sure they’re opposites completely, but I was surprise that she chose Vane. I thought for sure Merlin was her match!”

The girl in her ripped black jeans and her crop top jersey shirt steps closer and takes the book set from me, looking down at the bindings with her thumb caressing the edge of the box. This series must really mean something to her, something that maybe I’m in no place to question. I don’t have any business wanting to know.

It doesn’t stop me from wanting to know, and it certainly doesn’t stop me from asking her out so that I can hear the story behind those deep sighs; “This sounds like a debate best engaged over brunch in a run down diner.” She accepts with a hearty laugh, handling the box back to me and tagging along just behind me.

Prompt Idea #2: “You were trying to reach for a box of cereal and a whole shelf’s-worth of cereal boxes fell on you here let me help”

I hear over the intercom that “Floor Tech needed in aisle three” which is the breakfast and snack section of the store. I’m thinking that someone must have dropped the pudding cups again. The stocker thought it was a good idea to stack on the top shelf, and stupid assholes have been dropping them on the floor all week. It’s irritating.

So I drag my bucket behind me with a bit attitude. I hate this job, honestly, because I’m more or less a swing employee. I show up and I don’t know what department I’m in until I clock in. The only places I’m guaranteed to never work is the pharmacy and the deli. Those a specific jobs that have specific training for which I definitely opted out. But really, I could be stock today, janitorial tomorrow, and cashier the day after. I never really know.

And for some reason this week, I’ve been the janitor kid just hobbling about cleaning up messes. I hate it. Of course, I’m seventeen. I’m genetically programmed to hate work. At least that’s how I feel.

“I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!” A presumably female squeak sounds off as soon as I get half-way to the mess – which is actually a pile of cereal boxes, “I stood on the bottom shelf and there was tilting and falling and boxes!”

This poor person can’t be any more than five feet tall, maybe five foot one if she is lucky. I don’t need my mop and bucket, so I just pop my stuff in front of the Nutella – because let’s be real, we don’t need chocolate spread for our toast. On the floor in a messy blob are at least five brands of cereal just chilling out. Today my tall, lankiness is not a curse. I’m able to start stacking everything up on the shelf without any issue.

I don’t say anything to the short girl because typically they all take off after they make a mess, embarrassed that they have inconvenienced me. Most people know I make just over minimum wage doing a job that is arguably harder to do than a good many other jobs. This one, though, she stays put – even helps by handing me boxes as I put them away. By the time everything is stacked, she even opts to apologize a second time because she must actually feel really bad; “I should have just asked for help. That would have been far less troublesome. I am extremely sorry that you had to come out here and pick these up. As you can tell, I have short girl problems.”

“Sounds like you need a tall boyfriend.” I don’t mean to suggest I could be her tall boyfriend, or that she even wants a boyfriend – so I have to urgently correct myself. And what would an embarrassing flub be without my panicked stutter?

“N-not t-to s-say t-th-that y-you wa-want a b-boy-boyfriend, of c-course. You c-could wa-want a g-girl – a g-girlfriend who is t-tall.”

“A tall boyfriend would be just fine.” She laughs. Well, if she’ll have me – then I guess I can openly admit that she’s incredibly cute. And her laugh is the cure to all ailments.

Prompt Idea #3: “We’re both baristas and sometimes I have trouble reaching for things and I show up to work one day to find a personalized stool with hearts and my name on it i hATE YOU but also thanks”

Week One – The new barista is hilarious. He is shorter than all of the other guys on staff, so he’s been having to ask us all to grab certain coffees from the top shelfs and cabinets. He’s also been standing on his top toes in order to reach the syrups. My buddy Troy has been calling him Hobbit Bob. I am not sure Robert likes it, but he smiles anyway.

Week Two – I took break with Robert after a customer congratulated him on being a “small person” with great customer service. The jerk seemed to think that Robert can’t be short and have a good demeanor. It kind of pissed me off. Actually, it kind of pissed everyone off. We’ve asked the manager to put a sign up at the register telling people not to insult the employees and to be respectful of other patrons – you know, just to hide the fact that we think the jerk – who is a regular – doesn’t feel like we’re calling him out.

Personally, I don’t care. He’s a dick.

Week Three – Robert is still having a rough time. He was hoping to handle a short shift on his own a few nights ago. It went really badly, and he had to file an incident report. He’s taken two days off to recover, but he’s not sure if he wants to come back. At least, that’s what his Facebook says. He’s concerned that with his height he’s better suited for a desk job. I think he lost he his confidence and on a man-to-man level – I can’t let him think he can’t do this job. He’s good and his height shouldn’t make him think he’s not.

Week Four – I bought a two-step stool and decorated with pictures of Robert smiling that I may or may not have downloaded from his Facebook page – this is why people should be more careful with the things that they upload. I put an encourage message on the top step “Size Don’t Matter.” It’s a funny joke because men always worry about the size of something else entirely, and also because he is short. Nobody has told him who brought the stool in because I want it to be a secret. He’ll figure it out when the time is right.

Week Five – So it may or may not – I say that phrase a lot don’t I – have admitted to liking Robert. At first I was just like – Yeah I like him, he’s a Barista Bro. But then at some point I think I accidentally started liking Robert in a – He’s My Short Robert kind of a way. A couple of the gals know, and my buddy Troy knows. Troy wants me to tell Robert because it’s kind of a big deal. I haven’t dated anyone in a few years because it gets complicated explaining to my family why sometimes I date guys and sometimes I date girls. Bisexuality doesn’t make sense to them yet. So I just avoid it – also – that’s a lot of work and I just want to pay bills and be a good barista.

But I also want to be a good boyfriend to Robert.

If he’d have me.

Week Six – Robert gave me a fucking Valentine’ Day card. It says “thanks for the step stool.” And then it has – I fucking shit you not – a HEART SHAPED GIFT CARD that has, in silver sharper – “Will you take a coffee break date with me?” written on it. Are fucking kidding me? This is like that fanfiction crap you see online. I could kill the internet with the cuteness of this relationship with Robert. How even did this happen? I was just trying to be a bro – a proper Barista Bro.

And now I have a short boyfriend that sometimes answers to Hobbit Bob.

This is happiness.

Prompt Idea #4: “You are very tall and I am very short so you run into me all the time and honestly this is getting ridiculous”

A few weeks ago, my gym partner tripped over me while we were running laps, right. Seems like a legit thing to happen since he’s six-foot-two and I am only five-foot-one. That’s a huge difference. This is certainly not an unheard of phenomena. Unfortunately, it’s not happening in gym anymore.

It’s happening in the hallway between classes. It’s happening in classes when we are turning in our work. It even happened at Friday night’s basketball game! He nearly sent my tumbling down through the crowded bleachers! But I think last night was the last straw. He and I were at the store at the same time – buying cards for Christmas and stuff like broke teenagers do – and he somehow trips over me and knocks over an entire stand of greeting cards!

He laughed it off like it was a joke, like it was no big deal. I was furious, though. Or at least I was for the time being. When I complained about it to my older brother he giggled. Apparently that’s how he met his currently girlfriend. They were both at the movies one night trying to get in line for midnight tickets. He accidentally trampled her while she held her friend’s spot in line. They’ve been together for a couple of months now and couldn’t be happier.

Naturally, he is convinced that my tall gym partner is trying to tell me that he likes me without using words. I suppose it’s better than the whole “boys tease girls because they like them” trope – which honestly, shouldn’t even be a trope to begin with since it sends a nasty message. Regardless, I figured that there may be merit to some degree in what was happening. The frequency of these incidents were absolutely obnoxious. Something had to be said.

So I said something yesterday, while we were doing our stretch; “Gym Partner Charlie, this has got to stop. You keep falling over me like I’m so sort of piece of sidewalk jutting out of the ground. It is ridiculous. You need to watch were you’re going.”

I could have stopped there, but I kept going; “Unless, of course, you are tripping over me on purpose as a way to say you’ve fallen for me. In which case, you should probably just ask me out to dinner sometime. I like anything barbecue.”

We have a date next week.

Prompt Idea #5: I’m in art class and I just opened a cupboard to find a tiny person (you) squished inside and you just looked at and said “shh i’m hiding”


10/16/2015 at BSU via Facebook Mobile

So has anyone ever told you that college is a wild ride? If they haven’t, let me be the first person to tell you that it is! Today in my Advanced Mixed Media class we were in the studio to start our projects. A couple of the students were out to get coffee because our professor was – as usual – running quite late.

A group of friends were playing hide-and-seek. Someone that isn’t in our class must have been working in here earlier in the day because a very tall guy – very handsome, by the way, wouldn’t mind seeing his backside again – he shows up and goes to a storage locker. He swings open the door and bends down to pull something out, right. Normal thing to do – you know – if you work in this room a lot. Nobody suspected a thing.


Turns out there was a very tiny gal from out classroom his locker. To make it even better – she wouldn’t surrender his supplies unless he answered a riddle! Poor guy didn’t know what to do so he just shrugged his shoulders and left without taking anything with him! I hope he didn’t have anything that he had to turn in tomorrow!


Prompt Idea #6: “We’re on the bus and I’m really not trying to take up your space I’m sorry I just have rlly rlly long legs” 

Jeff gets nervous when he has to ride the bus. Firstly, because he’s never rode the bus before – at least not to school. This is his first year. Secondly, he’s in a brand new school district. Jeff knows not a single person. And lastly, he grew five inches this past summer break and he’s all legs. What a terrible way to start the sixth grade. Long legs, gangly arms, taller than everyone else – and it’s first impression on everyone at the school.

So it’s understandable when he panics a tiny bit one on his bus to school. Every seat is already occupied! So he just looks for the tiniest other person on the bus and takes his seat next to what looks to be a kindergartener. The child smiles at him and waves; “Hello! My name is Annabella but my momma calls me Anna. I’m five years old. Are you having a nice first day?” The lines sound almost rehearsed, not that he’s surprised. His mother took a video of him on his first day of pre-school and he recites that same lines four or five times because he knew what he wanted to say to the camera. He knew what he wanted people to remember about it.

Or at least he thought he did; “Hello Anna. My first day isn’t so bad. I hope that I’m not taking up too much space, though.”

The little girl shrugs her shoulders and says, “You look like human spaghetti. It don’t bother me.”

“Yeah, it must be my long legs, huh?” She nods her head happily, and viciously – actually. This Anna child is full of energy and can’t seem to stop smiling for anything.

While that normally wouldn’t be a problem, she proceeds to say: “I wonder if those long legs taste that noodles.”

I hope she’s not a cannibal in the making. Perhaps it’s just a “kids say the darnedest things” moment, like my mom always says…

Prompt Idea #7: “We’re at a concert and I can’t see a thing let me sit on your shoulders, maybe?”

This girl I’ve been talking to all night is pretty cool. She bought these tickets for herself after her boyfriend cheated on her – she moved out with enough money to buy gas and these tickets. She said since then she’s been living in her cousin’s spare room and working as many odd jobs as she can to move into at least a 3-month leased studio apartment until she can get her life figured out a little bit more… I guess she is waiting to hear about a job? I can’t even remember what kind of job.

That’s beside the point, though, because she’s been pretty wonderful all night. Not just to me, but to everyone. She has been spotting people a few bucks when they find themselves short changed for drinks or snacks. In the merch lines she handed someone a twenty and told’m to buy a shirt to remember it by… For someone who has no money to speak of – she sure is getting rid of it a lot.

When I ask her if she can see the screens alright – because we’re on the grass and you can’t see a damn thing from here unless you’re tall enough – she just shrugs her shoulders; “I’m not here to see the band. I’m not here to listen to the band. I’m here to say that I earned it. I’m here for the memories.”

And she’s a short gal, so if there’s anything worth my time – it’s making sure that she can see something from this concert worth remembering. It’s a no brainer when she tells me that her favorite son is being performed. I look at her and start kneeling down, “Get on my shoulders.”

I am thankful that she doesn’t decline my offer, and something tells me that she will be too.

Prompt Idea #8: “You’re afraid that you’ll lose me in big crowds so you always hold my hand but now you just hold my hand when there’s only, like, five people around and I’m getting vry suspicious”

Dear Carla,

I understand that we want to Six Flags as a group with our friends, and that you panicked because we got lost in the crowd. I understand that we both agreed to hold hands, alright, because if we couldn’t find our friends then we needed to stick together. And I understand that we had a great time and that eventually we kind of gave up finding our group since we liked all the same rides.

But, it’s become a bit of a habit. Okay, so you and I were holding hands all day at the water park so that we didn’t get shoved out of the lines. That made sense. And we held hands again during the summer festival in town. Again, it made sense. It can get busy at the park during festival time.

Yesterday – though – I’m not sure it made sense to hold my hand when we were at the library. There were literally two other patrons in the library. And they were downstairs in the adult computer lab. Nobody was around. When I asked why you were holding my hand – you joked that you didn’t want to lose me in the shelves.

I’m starting to think that you don’t want to lose me at all. Like, you think we’re in a relationship and that you think if I stop letting you hold my hand that it’s going to end this relationship. We’re not in a relationship, though.

So I figure if this hand holding business is going to continue, the least that we can do is make this official. You are my girlfriend and I’m your girlfriend. As long as that sounds good is, why don’t you shoot me a message. We can go out on a proper date Saturday night?

Yours – literally,


Food as Comfortable as a Blanket

I wanted to squeeze in a quick flash fiction piece before work today, just to keep the flow of work going on my blog. I’m using a “non-traditional” prompt today. It comes from a Tumblr blog geared towards character development.

Prompt: What is your character’s favorite comfort food?

I watch the rain outside with a frown on my face. The unfortunate thing about a rainy day is that it prevents me from working. As a landscaper, I need the skies clear in order to do what I do best. Since the weather doesn’t pass the test, I have to stay home and lose out on some cash. This makes four days in a row, now, that I haven’t been able to work at all. If I don’t work, I can’t get paid. And if I don’t get paid then those bills that are weeping on my counter… They’re mad at me! I can’t hear them.

Just then my sister texts me, reminding me to eat lunch on her. She slipped me a twenty when I stopped by for dinner yesterday. I was talking about the work week, and the bills, and the banks being awful – and she said that she was going to grab a couple drinks after work with the girls. She followed that by saying I deserved a good meal. I didn’t want to take it but I had to do it. If I turned her down, she would have taken it personally.

Everyone in my family takes gestures of the monetary sort personally.

There’s a beautiful bakery up the street that is joined with a family run café that I just love. I could eat there twice if I wanted to, but that’s exactly the problem. I do not want to go there today. I don’t even know that I’d want to go there tomorrow. That’s a place I visit when I am happy, when things are going good. Right now everything seems to be falling apart around me.

So as I stand with my face pressing against the window – I don’t even remember leaning against the glass, but apparently I’ve made myself comfortable there – and I consider what I should eat for lunch. What does one eat when life has decided to take the dark path through the woods? Chili? Macaroni? Hot dogs? Ramen noodles?

“Broccoli and cheese.” I decide. I know it’s not from scratch but I have a microwave dinner in the freezer from last week that I never got around to – last week was definitely a bakery and café week. Going through the motions carelessly and wearily, I find that I am cheered up just slightly after I heard the whirring of the microwave.

My mother used to give all of us kids broccoli and cheese on Mondays after school. With five kids, of course she would have to do anything just to make us calm down after the first day back to school in the week. Oh, how rowdy we could get! My two oldest brothers would wrestle in the foyer, and my two sisters would like chase me through the house playing ‘Tammy Tara Tina Tag.” Those, of course, are all our names. Our brothers are Thomas and Theodore.

The microwave dings, the smell of almost burnt cheese wafts out and grabs my heart. My parents were also “T” people. Tamara and Tyler. We were doing the “same first letter of our first ahem” thing before the Kardashians. We are twice as entertaining and only half as crazy. Someone should give my family a television show.

That would certainly help my financial struggles.

During my consideration of the alternate reality where my family is famous for reality television, I dump my broccoli and cheese into a tupperware container that is actually an old ice cream tub. I also swipe a fork from my drawer. It’s the last one clean. The smell of the steamed broccoli finally permeates the cheese, its earthy and salty. Microwave food is notoriously bad for being salty to help preserve the foods long beyond their normal life span.

But I don’t care, because it tastes fine. The first bite is always weird, especially if I haven’t ate it for a long time. By the third bite, I’m every bit as melted as the cheese. Just ooey-gooey insides and warm coursing through my veins. I barely even noticed that I’ve settled into my blanket on the couch. Halfway through my dish, if any Chef would allow me to properly call a microwaveable meal a dish, I move around to pull the blanket all the way up over me.

“Food as comfortable as a blanket.” Mhmm, it sure is.

Maybe tomorrow the sun will shine and I can go to the bakery to celebrate the clear skies!

Don’t Fall Asleep with a Book

Today I didn’t look for any inspiration, but rather just started writing. However, I did have a particular prompt in mind – you can check it out here on my Tumblr blog.

Inspiration: Character A falls asleep on top of his/her reading material and has a crazy dream about whatever is on the page.

Loud noises cause me to stir from my slumber. Literally one of my least favorite things is being yanked from a good nights’ sleep. Cutting my rest short is just shy of being a crime. I don’t want to get on the bus to go to school – no, I just want to crawl back into bed. Besides, I could stay home and read my favorite books and learn more than sitting a desk being told how important geometry is in life.

I want to be a fucking librarian. Why the fuck is geometry important to me? Physics, yeah I get that one a little bit. I gotta understand what is going to happen if I stack a thousand books together, but I can calculate that using algebra. Geometry – completely useless to me.

The light is bright, so I guess that someone has come in my room and pulled back the curtains. Classic parents-waking-kid move. I cover my eyes with my arm and reach around to get my cellphone. As I swing myself about looking for my side table, though, I realize that it’s not there. Did I flip sides of the bed?

With some effort, I’m able to crack my eyes open and look into the sunshine. Of course, I was expecting to see my bedroom. A bright sure light that can be hidden from in the corners of my room – perhaps even my closet. I fell asleep in there once, actually, and my mother was not impressed. Anyway, that’s not what I see when I start adjusting to the brightness.

You know, the brightness of being outside!

Yeah, so I guess I’m hallucinating, because right now I’m standing in the middle of a medieval village. There are homes everywhere wit stone walls and splintered doors. The paths are also made of stone, and stalls are everywhere with sheepskin canopies and rotting wood posts. Did someone play a prank on me?

Did someone take me to some sort of convention and drop me – just to see what I’d do and how I’d react? What even is this? At least I’m in my pajamas. Regardless, I don’t think anyone in the streets plans on telling me the truth. That’s the problem with LARPing – the players will never break character. It would have to be a very serious event for someone to forget about the game. My brother LARPs and he’s a mega-doofus about it. It makes him happy, which is cool, but I have convention weeks because he takes to perfecting his role. My folks wants him to move out of the basement.

So I just travel along the road until I reach what looks like it is the outer city edge. There are guards and they eyeball me as I walk right out of town. I was expecting – like – roads. There had to be a parking lot or something around here. Nobody walked all the way out here with their LARPing gear and their “tech pack” for when they take a “siesta” from their lives.

But hell no – there’s no parking lot anywhere. In fact, there’s actually a forest and a river. Oh, and there’s a ton of horse crap just off the path. It smells horrendous.

“Where the fuck am I?” I groan. Someone was very conveniently passing me. He has this unnaturally golden hair and these huge ass blue eyes that look faker than painted on blue dots. Next to him is a little man – probably some manservant LARPer or something. He’s much older with gray strains of hair taking over his brunette locks.

“This is Camelot. Have you been to the tavern?” The manservant sniffs the air. Horrified by how serious the LARPing is – I just keep walking because this is not Camelot. No, this is just a freaking joke is what it is – a joke. A terrible joke.

Really, it’s terrible. Who just kidnaps people and drops them in the middle of a LARPing convention?

Probably my brother.

It’s probably my brother – he always does this kind of shit.

As the blonde dude and the old fellow start walking away – I accidentally on purpose listen to them as they go – maybe they’ll break character to complain about what a weirdo I am for not participating the the LARP. Unfortunately, the only thing that I can hear is: “Do reckon we should let him wander the forest by himself? He seems kind of off.”

Yeah, I’m off alright. They’re dressed in whatever garb fits their roles and I‘m kind of off.

Author’s Note: This idea could be an entire book by itself – an entire series even – but I wasted it’s potential on a flash fiction entry. Maybe someday I’ll do something more with it but for now – this is just a snap shot. Hopefully you enjoyed it!

A Love Vigilante

Contest Host:  Screamin’ Mamas

Contest Title:  Screamin’ Mamas Magical Fiction Contest

Theme:  A day in the life of a fictional character, exploring what that character would be doing with his or her time during a normal day.

Placement:  Honorable Mention

Every day is a surprise for me. Men and women alike confronting me, insulting me, attacking me; this is the life of someone in my line of work. They think I’m being a home wrecker. People call me every name in the book: slut, whore, skank, trash, and so much more.

But nobody bothers to call me what I am: a succubus.

It is only six months into a new year but I have saved nine women and four men from terrible relationships and marriages. Namely, one such person was Cindy. She had glistening blonde with a button nose. The woman cooked, she cleaned, and she was a star patron of her church; if she could fit something into her schedule then she did it. Honestly, she was the best wife a man could ask for in his wildest dreams. Too bad her husband was sleeping with her sister, her mother, her cousin, and her best friend. I watched and waited for only a few days before making my move.

In today’s day and age, a pair of short shorts and a low cut sequined shirt goes a long way for grabbing a man’s attention. Sickeningly, I didn’t even have to try. He followed me into an alley not too far from his home. All I had to do to encourage his advances on me was wink. The schedule in the neighborhood was set so I knew Cindy would drive by just as his pants settled around his ankles.

Within days, I was working my magic on Cindy’s best friend’s relationship. Boyfriend, Dean, had plans to propose to her based on the rumors I’d been hearing from the couple’s social circle. Cindy’s husband stopped knocking on her door but there was always another man she would string along. The monstrous woman had men queued up. Just shy of prostitution, the only thing that would make the entire gig more businesslike would be if she took payment in the form of cash – you know – instead of peppermint lattes from her favorite coffee shops. I could see that Dean worked too hard at his factory job to waste his time and money on a woman who did not have the same desires as him. Dean needed someone willing to settle down with instead.

The approach for his situation was much different, something a little more traditional. I appeared in his dreams whispering doubt into his subconscious. It took nearly two weeks before he was suspicious enough to expression concern. Glorious was the day when he finally confronted her about the myriad of unidentified numbers in her phone. Upon further digging he unveiled dating apps and photo-sharing programs, each littered with scandalous pictures of her inviting men to have a good time. Never in a million years would she have been able to effectively explain away those secrets. Thankfully, he moved out that same night and hasn’t looked back. Being the occasionally benevolent creature that I am, my connections to other charity cases allowed Dean to stumble upon – entirely by accident – a young lady named Lenora. It is history from there, of course. Both of them freshly out of scandalous relationships. Both of them idolizing futures with families and security in their frayed hearts…

As for today, well, I’m not doing anything in particular. Mostly I’m just watching for anyone dressing in deceit. People today see each other as pawns. Everything is a means to an end. Most days I am convinced they are all animals. Succubus or not, I understand the error in thinking in such a foul manner. My goals have not always been sincere, true enough, but by neither have I been heroic for the entirety of my existence. Once upon a time I was the evil force ruining relationships rather than reconfiguring them. Lately females are realizing the power that they have and the worth they contain beyond nurtured inferior compliance. The gaining popularity of the though sparked enthusiasm within me; I had the ability to use what is truly a curse and turn it into a gift. I could turn it into a sort of unofficial business. Since then it has become my way of life.

“You are lookin’ dressed up tonight but I see no date?” A lovely woman behind the bar with a silky voice grabs my attention, forcing my body to turn from the crowd of people dancing under black lights. Immediately I notice her shining bronze skin, as flawless as well crafted jewelry. My lips curl in a wicked grin. I can practically smell the conflict emanating from this bartender.

Now I know the mantra, all servers are looking to give good service for good tips. She is being nice and thoughtful because that is her job. I have no intention of overstepping my bounds. That being said, it doesn’t mean that I won’t attempt to pick her brain just a tiny bit. As soon as I suck in the air from her direction I am positive that I taste distrust. Something plagues her mind.

“No more dressed up than any other woman in the building tonight. Very sweet of you to say something, though.” I bat my eyes sensually, reaching for a shot glass that she offers with a lackluster slide. Pouting for only a moment, making it appear as though I don’t want to work for my drink, it seems to be an all too familiar gimmick for her. The pretentious expression on my face softens at the sight of her gearing to shoot me down. Enthralled by her easy strength I know that hers will be a name I want to know precisely so that I shall never forget. If only I could manage a peek at her nametag.

“Thanks, but no thanks. Taken.” She replies. The tone is bored. How many times must she have said some variation of this concept tonight? Furthermore, I want to know what was the rate of depreciation in confidence as she caught glimpses of her partner enjoying the company of others. Her hand nervously reaches up to the tight bun atop her head. I catch her staring down the counter to a man laughing with a crowd of scantily clad barely-legals. I can see it a mile away. That is her boyfriend – but he tells her to keep it casual.

How do I know? How could anyone know just by looking at two people without any context? The answer is simpler than you might believe. It is because bodies are my what I live for; they are my passion. When she looks at him she sports a relaxed brow but tense shoulders. This indicates that she respects his desires but harbors an internalized hesitation towards them. Obviously there is more to it than that because body language is the only language that cannot form lies.

The server’s grin toward the patrons is sincere but any mention of love or hooking up and her jaw tightens. It isn’t just a reflex, though, not an absent-minded reaction. When she clenches her jaw her smirk is unmoving making the act intentional. This is conducive of a person consciously “keeping face” to do her job. Plus there’s him to consider as well. Moments come when he glances at her during conversation. Clearly working her in as a topic of discussion. I can see the way everyone giggles at the mention. It assures me that he is making it clear that his relationship sounds more friendly than intimate. None of his customers are in awe of my bartender. Their eyes do not twinkle at her bur rather at him. Sloppy and selfish, he accomplishes exactly what he hopes: he is desirable to these girls hanging around him.

“I’m not the customer you need to worry about…” I venture to share in such a velvety tone that forces her to frown. Her shoulders lower and her arms drop finally exposing her nametag. Until now her movements have been preventing me from seeing it. It was impossible between all the poured drinks and crowd checks around her boyfriend for any faces that may bring her concern.

Memorizing everything I can about Chantel allows me to further confirm my desire to keep this one locked away in my mind. There is something hopeful about the way she sighs in acceptance of my comment. Fear is something that I combat in men and women too weak to see the worth in themselves. Her thick black hair, her short unpainted nails, a pudgy stomach that she hides with spandex undershirts and too big uniform shirts; this is an average woman and yet she has potential to be so much more than that with me.

Chantel wanders away for quite some time. I don’t bother to keep an eye on her since I know that the foundation has been laid out. Chantel will approach her boyfriend with refreshed mascara and a brilliant grin. He will kiss her cheek but proceed to kiss all of his co-workers in the exact same fashion. Meanwhile a redheaded bombshell will keep making her way back to her boyfriend’s section drunkenly, sputtering about how handsome his crew cut makes his chin stubble look so dreamy.

“Little Miss Scotland giving you a run for your money, isn’t she?” I ask loudly when I sense Chantel behind me. When I spin back to her I am met with angry eyes. If I offer sympathy she will most likely open up to me. Or, I can offer her something else; “Tell you what – I’ll go over and see if I can get him to bite. If he does, then you dump him and leave here with me tonight. If not, then you’ll know he’s a good man with a faithful heart.”

Carefully leaning over the counter as she contemplates is one of the more subtle moves in my repertoire. My leather dress pulls tighter against my chest and my wavy brunette locks frame what prove to be an alluring amount of cleavage, even for a straight female. After she glances down she trails back up just as slowly. Chantel does not seem very impressed.

“Is this what you do? Use your good looks to avenge women who feel cheated?” Of course she doesn’t trust me but she certainly doesn’t trust him at this point. Aside from her teetering allegiance, she is somewhat fixated on my offer, if not on me entirely. Even though she is the tiniest bit offended by what I’ve suggested she is considering the value of what I can prove to her. The doubt that she reeks of will burn deep inside of her and make her vulnerable.

Telling her that she is wrong – even if only on a technicality – is a choice that I have to make even thought it isn’t a particularly difficult task. There are people every so often whom almost see what I am trying to accomplish. They ask if I’m working for a private investigation service, or if maybe I’m filming a show about cheating lovers. Admittedly, nobody has ever been as close as Chantel is now. It strengthens my belief that she is special.

Conclusively, I choose to be upfront with her, “I protect men and women from being treated like meat. Nobody deserves to be played as the fool. If he isn’t open enough to tell you he wants an open relationship then he can’t be trusted at all. I can step in and make sure you don’t waste any more of your time on a liar. My interest is in you and making sure that you find what you deserve.” Chantel stalks away once I finish explaining my motives but it is hardly surprising. Articulate conversations with patrons and staff alike support my theory that her focus isn’t on doing her job. Mulling over the opportunity in front of her takes absolute precedence. I need no more proof that I have weaseled into her heart exactly in the fashion I’d planned.

As soon as she returns laden with irritation – Chantel rejects the offer. With this announcement she affirms that it is not a question that he wants something else. Initially I inquire at what point I misread the signs. Did I not look at her jawline closely enough? Maybe I should have analyzed the way she walked with more precision. Hesitation prevents me from apologizing. The delay stems from dismay. How could I have gotten this so wrong? I feel humility after a few moments and push myself away from the counter feeling absent.

My interference was not needed, apparently. Even more so, this time it was unwanted as well. Discouragement befalls my mind and it is frustratingly foreign. I cannot remember the last time I set out to do something and failed.

Chantel is everything and nothing I penned her down to be – and just this once unpredictability is welcomed, “I will still leave with you. Truth be told, I am dying to hear more about what you do as a love vigilante.” And so, shame on me for not waiting to pass my internalized judgment. If there is any luck to be had – Chantel will prove to be the perfect apprentice.


It’s that time of the week again! I find all of my inspiration on Tumblr – at this blog this week – and I’m starting to wonder if I have an unhealthy relationship forming with the website…

Prompt/Background: She had a dream in which a dentist was going to pull four of her teeth. Not front teeth, but on the upper jaw, on the side. The dentist’s plan was to replace them with someone else’s teeth. She wasn’t at all comfortable with the idea and couldn’t get answers that made any sense. so she told him No. His response was, “I’ve already done it. How could you have not noticed? Now, let me get these new ones in before it’s too late.” He put the new ones in and for a little while, they were fine, but then they started detaching.

When she woke up, she spent a long time trying to figure out what the dream meant. And then, suddenly, she knew.

The ticking of the clock is the first thing that she hears when she wakes. It is annoying and she cannot focus after she swings herself out of bed. Warm, golden skin glistens with sweat as she struggles to breathe. Fingers tap along the wall until she finds the switch to turn on the lights. Brown eyes filled with fear scan the bedroom only to see that her husband isn’t in bed. In fact, it would appear that he never came to bed at all.

Dream still fresh in her mind, and heart still pounding from her suspicions, the woman shakes herself and tries to start running. Unfortunately, her mind is inexplicably foggy and she slams her shoulder into the doorknob as she falls to her knees. If she is correct, she can’t scream so she bites down onto her lip to keep silent. The clamoring would be enough to draw in the attention of anyone else in the house – and she knows how dangerous her enemy can be if she is correct.

These things aren’t supposed to exist. Doppelgängers aren’t supposed to be real – nothing like that is supposed to be real! Vampires, werewolves, ghosts, mummies, fairies, leprechauns… if Doppelgängers are real then everything is real. But this is the fourth time that she’s had this dream and this time the dentist was operating on her teeth in her son’s bedroom. This time she saw something in the background of her dream that she’s never noticed before…

…she saw a man carrying her son through a window…

She had just watched a show that had doppelgängers and she had made a comment about her son over the last year. He was acting differently from himself, he was a completely different person. At the time she thought that it was just a joke, that it was a mother complaining about her child growing up and getting moody. Her husband made a comment that night, he said “You wouldn’t notice anyway so what would it matter?”

So many subtle hints! How could she not have known before? Now that she’s shimmying into the hallway she thinks to grab a weapon. She has no idea how to kill a doppelgänger but she will sure as hell try. They keep a gun in the office, that’s where they store their important document too. Sneaking in seems easy enough, just as is loading the gun with the bullets. As soon as she’s “locked and loaded” as all the action heroes like to say, she goes back into the hallway. Each step takes her closer to her sons room.

Unfortunately, his door has always creaked in a strange way. No matter her efforts to open the door quietly it draws in the attention of her husband whom is wrapping their son in a large burlap sack. When she goes to open her mouth another person steps out of the shadows. Immediately she recognizes him and she finds herself frightened to silence.

“I suppose there’s only one thing to do now,” Her husband laughs. His skin is glowing in such a way that almost makes him ghostly. His usually dark skin is tinted gray and his black eyes have a whitish film. It is a wonder to her that she even recognizes this man as her husband but she does and it makes her cry; “Do you know what you have to do, Melissa?”

Of course, Melissa does know what she must do. She lifts the gun and shoots at the dentist first. When the bullet meets his gut there’s a shrill laugh as he evaporates. Blinking nonstop, Melissa trembles as she repositions to point the barrel in her husband’s direction.

But she can’t shoot without answers; “Why!”

It’s not a question – it’s a demand.

“Why does anyone ever steal children?” Screeching amusement parts his lips. The sound of his happiness reverberates throughout the room until the very foundation of the home is shaking. Melissa can’t get her mind straight because there are several reasons that someone would want to steal a child. He must see that she can’t figure it out, so he suggests the truth in much plainer words; “We have needs. Children are just – tastier.

Melissa doesn’t hesitate now as she sobs very audibly.


Pop! Pop! Pop!


– Pop!

Melissa hadn’t realized that she squeezed her eyes shut. It almost more painful to open them than it was to keep them closed to hard. When she opens them her husband is on the floor covered in blood, grinning with a bloody mouth from ear-to-ear. Part of her wants to help him, part of her wants to believe that she’s done something wrong.

But this man was a doppelgänger, and so was her son.

All she’s done is kill a monster.

Back Again, Back For Good

Contest Host: Toasted Cheese

Contest Title: A Midsummer Tale

Theme: Returning home or getting away from home, the setting of the story much show the transition from locations.

Placement: None

Back Again, Back for Good

            The sun doesn’t dare peak into the kitchen. This would make the morning better. Tension as bitter and resentful as theirs could taint the world outside, and judging by the current forecast – Eleanor is certain that it already has; “Are you ready to go to Grandma’s lake house?” Chewing her pancake can be likened to eating glass at this point. You are just nervous, Eleanor assures herself shakily. Every time she speaks she must choose her words carefully. It will still be several weeks before the kids will be sat down for a serious conversation. Eleanor knows that she has no intention to talking to her kids immediately and should not be anxious at this moment.

Elijah, her eldest son, is sitting across the table with his black hoodie covering his entire face. It literally and figuratively feels as though a villain is seated at the dining room table. The real villain, their father, is absent so apparently the next of kin must take his place.

Absolutely not, he complains. Of course he complains. He is seventeen years old and this is his last High School Summer. His girlfriend is having a party tonight but he can’t be there and who knows what could happen while I am away, mom? Tons of things will happen, she has to remind him, and sometimes people just have to roll with the punches. Another handcrafted allusion to things he will be faced with soon that are far more difficult to deal with than another girlfriend being checked off the list. He disagrees by dropping his syrupy fork directly onto the table, defying her in the only way he can while he enjoys his favorite breakfast. Eleanor made it intentionally. Maybe if he likes his food enough he won’t be as whiny for the ride to her mother’s lake house.

“What about you, Emilia? You have anything you’re excited to do?” For a brief moment it seems as if the sun will burst through the crisp gray shutter blinds. Much like the kids, the sun has no desire to make an effort to care today. Eleanor hates this aspect of living in the city. It’s not even a “big” city; it is just a big city for Indiana. Nonetheless, being in a city environment for twenty years certainly has been quite enough for one lifetime. Refocusing on the shutters, she begs the sun to change its mind. During her pleas she finds that her mind slips and she accidentally reminisces on the argument she and her husband, Evan, had over the damned blinds. For days during the renovations they were head-to-head on the matter.

Of course, the real argument wasn’t about the blinds but what they represented; what they were preparing the ‘happily’ married couple for in the coming months. Forcefully she stands up from her chair and takes only her dishes to the sink, leaving the unfinished food in place, and tosses it against the metal. Evan can deal with it later if he remembers to even come back.

As it turns out Emilia has been answering the question for several minutes with enthusiasm. She is fourteen and significantly more interested in spending the summer doing something interesting. This year was a whirlwind of new experiences that left her feeling invigorated. There was a time when Elijah was the same way but those years passed, that phase of his life was done. Now he just broods. In fact, he is brooding now, which causes Eleanor glower back at him to stop. She hopes to be as enthusiastic as her daughter in a couple of months when she’s forced to start over with scraps.

“I think the most important thing that I want to happen this summer is my first kiss. I have it all planned, you know? I want to have my first kiss with the hottest boy on the lake at a bonfire that you told me not to go to because there will be way too many older boys. That’s my plan!” Elijah gets to the punch first; stating that mom sucks the fun from everything, don’t get your hopes up kid. He looks like his dad, he sounds like his dad, and he acts just like his dad. Sometimes it frustrates her, sometimes it is adorable, but today it’s just annoying in a way that she doesn’t want to have to tolerate.

Such is the role of a mom, though, and she is aware that she cannot dwell on it. “Get your bags into the car. Keys are on the cabinets by the door. I’ll be out in a minute with the cooler.” Her hands plant upon her hips and her eyes follow the kids as they go outside. When did Emilia finish her pancakes? Did Elijah really take the actual plate of bacon with him to the car? She wiggles her lips in false optimism. Today must be a good day.

Elijah opts to sit in the backseat with his feet propped on the center console. Emilia is behind the driver’s seat with her head leaning dreamily against the window. For a moment Eleanor sees an exact replica of herself, a hopeful blonde teenager with high hopes for what summer will bring and all of the possibilities that exist. When she gets outside and sits in the car she realizes just how bright the sun is in spite of the fact it can barely been seen through the buildings. Temporary jealousy for those in better locations that get to enjoy sunshine and breakfast washes in and out. Eleanor could have used the brightness and converted it to confidence five minutes ago!

Both girls are chattering about rolling the windows down if it remains nice outside. Emilia in particular wants to practice her ‘hair in the wind’ expression. There won’t be an opportunity to do this, though, because Elijah reminds everyone that it will start raining shortly and will continue to do so for the remainder of their trip; “We are driving right into that shit.”

“Watch your mouth, Elijah Daniel!” Eleanor’s brown eyes bore into her son’s matching pair. He has been testing the limits with his swearing and this summer is sure to be decorated with situations similar to this almost every day. The puff of air from her sigh fogs up the window for a few seconds as she winds down from her son’s outburst.

Almost as if on cue, only about ten minutes into the trip sprinkles of rain decorate their silver crossover. Emilia whispers about romantic rainy nights, listing some of the best movie kisses that happen in the rain. Even Eleanor doesn’t want to listen to the charade so she encourages her daughter to think of more authentic activities such as biking the trails, swimming races across the lake, and fishing contests. Emilia mentions the Fourth of July celebrations and fireworks display. Eleanor supports her daughter’s interest until she goes on again about meeting the perfect summer boyfriend.

Listening to her daughter is grating beyond the fact that she hates hearing her unrealistic expectations. It also reminds her that at some point she really will have to tell the kids they are going to live here permanently. The whole point of renovating, Eleanor had found, was tot add value to the house for resale. Instead of falling down a deep, dark mental hole she must replace those thoughts with positivity. All she comes up with is that the chances are Emilia won’t be as dreamy when she’s told this is their permanent residence; provided Evan and Eleanor don’t magically repair their marriage. Such a thing seems unlikely since he’s been sneaking his belongings off to a condo somewhere nearer to his job for several weeks.

“How about some radio?” Regardless of her personal thoughts, she tries to avoid frowning while she speaks. Her grim tone betrays her, coordinating with the weather outside again. She snarls unintentionally but it seems to send a warning to Elijah not to cross her. The rain shifts from drizzle to downpour, and the waterfall created by nature turns into some sort of mosh pit of terrible weather phenomenon. There’s a brief period of time about an hour into the traverse that she pulls alongside the road for the safety of everyone in the vehicle. Not seeing the road is quite the hazard, after all.

Elijah fancies himself hungry still, and starts making a turkey sandwich with way too much cheese and even more mayo. Before he gets anything on her seats Eleanor yanks napkins from the glove box, throwing them into his lap just as a globby mess falls out of his mouth. A toothy grin decorated with partially chewed food follows. His gratitude is expressed with slurred words that might be ‘thanks mom,’ but she cannot be certain. Her focus actually shifts while he is talking to the crack of blue lighting in the sky instead.

Things don’t slow down very quickly so her daughter ties a knot with her hair, talking about how she makes the best sandwiches ‘on the east coast.’ Immediately after she starts using her theater voice to describe this perfect lunch entrée. Secretly Eleanor disagrees with her the entire time because the most important ingredient to sandwich making is the part when someone else makes it. Someday she will realize this, perhaps one day when she is taking care of someone else. It wasn’t until Eleanor moved in with Evan and the relationship became serious that she really started to appreciate food prepared by someone else.

Dear goodness, she doesn’t want to think of her daughter in a serious relationship yet. Thankfully – though other parents may not feel the same way – Elijah has secured himself a reputation that prevents such a thing from ever happening for a good many years. Emilia, though? Finding love and romance is all she talks about and that scares Eleanor as a mother. For now those are problems for another day, hopefully another decade entirely.

Twenty minutes seem to fly by just as quickly as the whipping winds outside. However, there does come a time that Eleanor decides she can drive again. By then everyone has eaten at least two sandwiches and a snack bag of potato chips. Even though she feels comfortable driving again she wants to minimize the distractions. Hands begin pulling her hair into a tight ponytail on the back of her head, hoping that maybe Emilia won’t say she is a ‘copycat’ since the style is different. Just a few days ago they both wore a red shirt to the store and she was sore about it the entire time, mom, you matched me on purpose!

The drive itself was slated to take just over three hours; and as the second hour floats by it proves to be a slosh of muddy roads and cracks of thunder louder than the radio. Even Emilia feels the dampness of the bad day laying its tendrils in her conscience. The three of them wear expressions of malice for the weather, for the unexpected summer trip, and for all of the unspoken things that linger just beyond their grasp. Kind of like proper sunshine…

The cities that blend together grow darker with the weather. Part of it is simply because of the black skies, and the blotted sun. Some of it has to do with the fact that they are driving by run down cities that are losing their population to bigger and better equivalents. Eleanor can relate to those changes on a personal level. It isn’t until she hits the first stretch of road without a single building in sight for miles that she relaxes enough to temporarily forget her personal issues.

Emilia has fallen asleep and is drooling all over her shoulder. Her phone is opened to one of the social media websites that she uses all the time, but it would be a stab in the dark to guess which one specifically it is at her angle. Eleanor urges for Elijah to take the phone and close the app. He is all too happy to help, but not before he takes a “selfie” with his sleeping sister and shares it with her friends. Truth be told, she could probably stop him. Emilia won’t be happy when she wakes up and she’ll be mad at her mom for it. That’s fine, though, because everyone gets mad at mom for everything. Since it won’t matter whether or not she stops Elijah she simply doesn’t; the siblings can deal with those problems on their own. If they go prank war… She vows to video tape it this time so she can post it online for the rest of the family.

Passing through a couple of small towns perks everyone up a little bit along the way, mostly because they stop for candy bars and bathroom breaks. Some of the stress goes down the drain, literally. It is a relief to get back in the car with everyone in a better mood. The last twenty-five minutes of the drive should fly by as easily as the raindrops.

An inner lull leaves Eleanor smirking half-heartedly. There is a sort of silence in her mind and in her heart. She swears that the weather is linked with her telepathically. As soon as she calms the the rain slows in perfect sync. Unfortunately, the scenery foreshadows the constant veil around her thoughts. The sky is currently a light smoky gray, as if a small child drew a picture of a cloudy day and wished for it to be real. An unknown tugging in her chest leaves her bothered.

Several minutes tick by before a text message buzzes her phone in the passenger seat. Unsafe as it is, she sneaks a peak at the screen. Thanks for cleaning off the table; she can practically feel the breath of his sarcasm on the back of her neck. An echoed voice in her head reminds when he first used that tone with her. Again, she reels about the damn blinds and notes that she sees the same color in the clouds. These moments right now are precisely the reason why she and Evan are getting divorced. Stupid fights should not infect every facet of one’s life. She nervously flips the phone so she won’t see any further messages from her husband.

Eleanor finally reaches the edge of the right city and turns onto the right road, the path taking her to the last place she can go without seeing anger in everything seems to be a fairytale. For a second she wonders how she evolved from moderately disinterested to full blown fury during the drive, but then she remembers that real life isn’t just one note of emotions. Wrinkles melt from her forehead and allow her to just admire her surroundings. There’s wet grass and enormous pine trees.

“Are we there yet?” Elijah gurgles through the last mouthful of bacon he’s been stashing underneath his seat. Part of her wants to think he’s food hoarding because it would make more sense. Children as old as him typically can see a marriage fall apart and food hoarding is sometimes a sign of depression. Elijah, though, could just be doing it so that he can get on everyone’s nerves. It would be easier to address if he were doing it for a reason other than to be annoying to everyone around him. Elijah does accomplish that but she hopes that it isn’t his primary reason for making his meals mobile.

The infamous question plagues her mind because, yes, they are almost there. Part of her wants to answer his question. This is the bigger part of her, too. The other part of her that exists wants to lie and keep driving. Eleanor would go so far away from everything that reminds her of her husband; so far that she forgets whom she is and what is happening to her. The moment of weakness lapses, as it always does, because she is mom and she must be there for her kids.

After a few songs run their course on the radio, Elijah repeats the question during the commercial with an emptier mouth. He also dresses his tone with a fresh layer of irritation. She knows she has to answer him, and so she does with a tone easily flatter than the bumpy country roads. They are only five more minutes away, at best, which does excite both kids. They each murmur about television and cell phone reception, better than last time, I hope. Technology is just as addictive as anything else children can get their hands on and she hopes that this summer gives them a new perspective. Eleanor wants the same for herself, too.

Clouds seem to be parting over the lake, which is promising. Her body works on autopilot when she arrives. The car jerks and shakes as she pulls beneath the carport attached to the northeast side of the house. The view of the lake is unsurprisingly motivational because the water twinkles glamorously in the sporadic sunlight. It is more sunlight than she’s seen all day so immediately she’s jealous of – that’s right – water.

The way the house, the lake, the trees are all so natural and comfortable just down the hill from her; Eleanor can only describe being there as slipping back into her own skin. This is where she grew up, after all, and somewhere in her past she left it behind for something else. No, she thinks, for someone else. There is no ‘feeling’ to identify when she closes her eyes because this life is ingrained. Falling back into the old lifestyle will require no command from within because it will emerge plainly.

“I forgot how big the house is…” Her son isn’t even looking at the house. When he should be admiring the two-story home build halfway into the hill his eyes are instead glued to his phone. On the screen is a ridiculous picture of his girlfriend frowning. In reverse of her brother, Emilia is taking pictures of herself next to anything, ready to send them off to the world without any hesitation. Half shouted thoughts from the two become background noise with all of the tweeting birds and bustling squirrels. Eleanor notices all of the dead leaves that haven’t been tended to by anyone for several months and how they are so fragile that they crinkle in the wind.

She encourages the children to go inside and make sure all of the utilities have been turned on, that the appliances are working. It is simple enough that neither of them can mess it up, not even with one hand stuck to their phones. As for Eleanor, she stays behind and leans against the car.

Right before her eyes gusts of air cause the low hanging branches of nearby maples, oaks, and willows to shiver. Ripples from the water bring life to the dull shores decorated by browned seaweed and driftwood. Even though the landscaping seems untamed, the lack of management is quite charming. Eleanor can whip it all together with the help of her kids. Especially now that the skies are clear and the sun finally makes a full appearance. It dismisses the clouds with a vibrant confidence, just the kind she needed to start this summer right.

Eleanor can do this. She can do anything.

“Welcome home,” a familiar voice sounds off somewhere down the hill. Emerging from a neighboring house is an old friend of her father’s, a man who bunked with him during their service in the army. Though nobody has been told why Eleanor and the kids have come for a lengthy visit, they all must have an idea, don’t they? It has to be obvious that they’re really just staying; moving back into the long emptied house.

“Glad to be back.” Her smile for the first time in so many months is genuine. It has all just been too long. Energy courses through Eleanor as ideas for landscaping fill the empty spaces in her mind hurriedly. Welcome home, indeed.