Friday, May 23, 2008


get the Fiction Friday code

This Week’s Theme: Conspinkey. Don't look that word up, because it doesn't exist. But you're going to use it in your entry.

I walked into the Iron Arms and was momentarily blinded as my eyes adjusted to the gloomy smoky bar. I scanned the room as nonchalantly as I could. Then I saw him. I almost missed him; he blended in so well with the other guys at the bar, but the beat-up stetson on his lap set him apart.

I walked over to the bar and stopped behind his chair. I coughed the word discreetly into my hand, "Conspinkey." He casually said, "God Bless you. Or is it more PC to say gazundheit nowadays?" I smiled, relieved that I had picked the correct man and that my instinct had been dead on. "Either one is fine with me, thank you. It got chilly early this year, don't you think?" He nodded and replied, "Can I buy you a hot toddy to warm you up?" His innocuous words chilled me to the bone. I squeaked out my answer, "No thanks. Warm drinks don't sit well with me," and I walked out as quickly as I could without calling attention to myself.

I needed to make my way to a private contact point as quickly as I could; there wasn't much time to warn headquarters. I'd been prepared for a shirley temple or even a pint of guinness at the worst, but a hot toddy was the worst possible scenario. There was nothing left to do other than getting as far out of the city as possible. This time tomorrow there would be nothing left.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Baby Bird Soars

The baby bird sat at the edge of the nest, paralyzed with fear. His little talons clung to the bunch of mashed up sticks and feathers that had been the only home he had ever known. The nest had stopped being warm and cozy when his brothers and sisters flew away. It was hard, cold and smelly. His mother hadn’t stopped by with food for the entire day and he was hoarse from chirping out her name in hunger.

He knew that it was time to fly away, but he couldn’t bring himself to take the leap. It was just so high, terribly, terrifyingly high. He could hardly make out the ground below. Why hadn’t his parents chosen a nice low lying bush to make their nest? Now he was left with the difficult choice of plummeting to his death or starving.

With one last pitiful chirp, he closed his eyes tightly and flung himself out into the void. At first, he was falling straight down, plummeting to the death he’d imagined many times before. Then, without knowing exactly how, his wings started flapping and the awful sensation of falling disappeared. He was flying!

At first it was a bumpy ride, then he figured out how to work with the wind instead of against it. He began to glide through the air, buffeted up by the gentle breeze. He came to a beautiful field of wildflowers and swooped down to feast on a cloud of mayflies. His belly now full, he started to enjoy the ride and test out his new skill. He soared into the brilliant blue sky as high as he could go, singing with joy for all the world to hear.

This post was inspired by the Sunday Scribblings prompt: Soar.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Three Little Pigs

Once upon a time, a single mother had her three sons. They lived frugally in a two bedroom apartment on the bad side of town and yet they could barely make ends meet. She worked two jobs to bring in enough money to clothe and feed three hungry boys but it was never enough. She worked so hard and worried so much that she became severely depressed and was committed to a state mental asylum for shock treatments.

The oldest son told his brothers not to worry because he had a plan. He dropped out of high school, a few months before graduation, and began dealing drugs at local strip bars and night clubs. He made decent money, but it wasn't enough, so he began cutting his product with powdered sugar. One night, a dissatisfied customer shot him in the head and he died.

The second brother put his grief aside in order to care for his youngest brother. He knew better than to get involved with drugs. He had heard that you could make a lot of money by working in construction. He dropped out of school a year before graduation and started working as a builder for a new office building. His athletic body was perfectly suited to the work and he was a hard worker. He quickly became an asset to the crew. He joined a union and quickly got a pay raise. He was making good money and got along well with the other workers; he was happy. One day, hungover from too many beers with the guys while watching the game, he tripped while walking on a beam and fell twenty stories to his death.

The youngest brother was now all alone, but he didn't panic or make desperate choices. At this point, he only had a year of high school left. He continued to work hard in school, living on pasta and tuna sandwiches. He took out a loan in his mother's name to cover any unavoidable expenses. He was named the valedictorian of his class and was accepted at Harvard with a full scholarship. He graduated from Harvard in three years with a dual major in economics and english literature. JP Morgan competed with many other investment banks for the privilege of hiring him. They won him over with a starting salary of $125,000 and a company Lexus.

He moved to a nice two bedroom apartment in a fashionable part of New York City and checked his mother out of her asylum. He set her up in the apartment with a visiting psychiatric nurse. He then moved his brother's bodies to a nearby cemetary and commissioned beautiful matching headstones for their tombs. With his family taken care of, he got to work. He dedicated all his waking hours to conquering Wall Street. He became the youngest partner JP Morgan had ever had. His poor mother never spent another minute worrying that the big bad wolf was at the door.

This story was inspired by the Fiction Friday Prompt: Pick a favorite fairy tale or legend. Now briefly describe how you could update it to the modern day.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Horns

Even at night, in the dark, with just a little wimpy quarter moon in the sky, they taunted me. I could see the moon's reflection in the large Texas Longhorns mounted on the back of the Cohen's house; it was like a circus spotlight. Every time I saw them, I got angrier. Even now that I was finally getting ready to take action, just seeing them made me furious.

Those Cohens had pushed me too far when they ignored my last letter. I am not an unreasonable man. I gave them one last chance. I warned them that I would be forced to take action if they didn't remove that flaming insult, but they didn't even bother to answer. They chose to continue to insult the Roma family name with their insinuations that my wife was unfaithful. When they put them up, I explained to them that those horns mean cuckold in Sicily, but they thought I was being funny. They even laughed when I suggested they take them down. Bet they won't be laughing later tonight. Day after day after day I have been mocked by those horns right outside my dining room window, staring me in the face, hinting that my wife lies with another man.

They tried to tell me that the horns were a souvenir from their honeymoon in Arizona, but they couldn't fool me. I saw how they laughed at me when they thought I couldn't see them. I heard them joke about my anger when they were barbecuing with friends. I won't be the butt of jokes. Especially not when I've been so nice to those people. Soon they'll be sorry that they tried to make a fool of me. No one makes a fool of Tony Roma.

The can of gasoline banged against my knee. The pain snapped me out of my dreams of revenge. It was time to get to work.

This piece of fiction was inspired by the Friday Fiction prompt: Using first person narration, logically describe something that is crazy. Click through to see what others did with the prompt!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

PTA Hopes

Sally looked over at the mixed crowd of parents, teachers, and various educational personnel scattered around her. Her palms were sweaty, no matter how much she wiped them on her nicely fitted 7 jeans; she couldn't get rid of that damp clammy feeling. She felt warm and wondered if she looked as flushed and disheveled as she felt.

Principal Edward Singer was up on the podium, droning on and on about the procedures they were going to put in place to prevent further outbreaks of lice at the school. To date there were four kids in two classrooms quarantined at home until they were lice-free. Sally made a mental note to check Madison's hair tomorrow morning then refocused herself on her impending moment of truth. The Glenwood Ridge School PTA meeting was about to come to the miscellaneous portion of the agenda. Sally quickly glanced at the thick stack of white notecards she'd been clutching to assure herself that she was ready to plead her case. She'd been readying herself for this moment for a long time.

It all began when Madison first started eating lunch at school. She tired quickly of Sally's wholesome brown bag lunches and started asking for lunch money. Initially Sally was happy to give her the few dollars a day, as it meant one less thing for her to prepare in the morning. However, Sally quickly became appalled by the poor food options available to the students. The healthiest option was usually frozen pizza, but even that was overshadowed by Doritos, french fries, and chili dogs. No wonder obesity was becoming a crisis in America! Madison's brown bag lunches made a quick comeback, but that did not quell Sally's discomfort with the situation. Glenwood was an affluent community; they should be setting the standard for public school nutrition, not being a victim of a statewide trend. A few months ago, during what she thought was a typically one-sided conversation with her husband Larry, he interrupted her rant about the sad state of affairs in the Glenwood cafeteria with a simple, yet powerful suggestion, "Sally, why don't you stop complaining, and do something about this already." He had stunned her speechless, but her mind started working overtime immediately. Of course she could and should do something. With her degree from the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) currently underutilized making Madison's brown bag lunches, she was the perfect person for the job. She would revamp the cafeteria offerings of the Glenwood Ridge Elementary School. It would probably open up a world of opportunity for her in consulting to other schools and maybe even catering! With that one little suggestion, Larry made her fall in love with him all over again.

For months, she studied the programs of cutting edge public schools around the country, beginning with Alice Water's program in California where the students grow their own produce. Now she was ready to start a food revolution right here in Glenwood. Sure, she was going to get the usual budgetary objections, and she certainly did not know how they were going to pay for any of her proposals. She did know her fellow Glenwood parents, always so proud and sanctimonious, and she was sure they would find it insufferable that other schools had superior culinary programs. Glenwood always prided itself on being one of the best schools in the state; they would not want to come up wanting in any category.

Sally was sure the people around her could hear her runaway heart thundering in her chest. The school secretary had just come to the podium to announce that anyone with miscellaneous items should raise their hand to be invited up to speak. Sally started to lift her hand, slowly, shakily at first, then higher and more confidently to gain the attention of the secretary. As Sally prepared to get up, she realized that she felt electrified and more alive than she had felt in years. She took a second to thank Larry silently again for his little suggestion. The secretary called out, "Sally Smith, you are welcome to the podium to bring up a miscellaneous item."

This was a beginning attempt at fiction based on the writing prompt MISCELLANEOUS. For more sunday scribblings on the same prompt, please visit the Sunday Scribblings blog


Lindsay was in a truly foul mood. She was sitting in a creaky and uncomfortable white wicker chair next to the window of her 500 Euro a night room in Santorini. She should have been gazing out onto one of the most beautiful vistas in the world: the Santorini Caldera, a stunning volcanic crater jutting out from pristine blue waters dotted with quaint Greek fishing vessels; instead all she could see was grey fog. It was as if she was wrapped in a thick, damp, foul grey blanket.

Ironically, it made perfect sense that, after 4 days here, she had yet to see the dazzling white rooftops and scintillating blue ocean of Santorini. She didn't question her luck at being stuck in this freakish fog. She was supposed to be here on her honeymoon, relaxing on the black sand beaches with her new husband James, but as she had broken his heart by leaving him at the altar five days ago, it made sense that she would be punished with this foul weather.

James had refused to use the non-refundable tickets to Athens. She'd insisted that he take them and go with his best man, but he had muttered something about going to stay with his mother for a while. It seemed silly to let the tickets go to waste, so she had grabbed her bag and jumped on the plane. There had been no time in all the confusion to ask one of her friends to join her. Now she was sitting here, sick of eating Greek salad and moussaka, with no one to talk to and nothing to do except consider what she'd done.

It had all started so promisingly last July. They had met at Moran's Bar down by the water in Battery Park during a lazy summer happy hour. James was funny, smart, and good-looking in a good-guy-next-door sort of way. After a few mojitos, they'd grabbed some sushi and had ended up talking 'til dawn. By Thanksgiving, they were living together. He had proposed that New Year's eve, with champagne corks and fireworks popping all around them. She had immediately said yes, looking up into his brown eyes. It seemed quick but right. They were so in love.

Once the ring was on her finger, like a lead weight dragging her down, things changed. James' mother, Brenda, took a starring role in their relationship. Lindsey watched helplessly as her new fiance turned into a simpering momma's boy overnight. Her relationship with Brenda rapidly went from cautious polite to outrightly antagonistic. Brenda insisted on being involved in every wedding decision from placecard font to cake flavors. Each time the two women disagreed, James sided with his mother. Lindsey had even asked him angrily one night whether he wouldn't rather be marrying Brenda.

Miraculously they had made it to the wedding day, July 20, exactly one year after their first mojitos. Lindsey had been hoping that once the wedding was over, she and James could go back to the way things used to be, before his mother became a constant third wheel in their lives. She had been particularly looking forward to spending two weeks touring Greece with him alone. Neither had been before, and they had both been so excited to discover Greece together.

On the big day, she had stood outside the heavy mahogany doors of St Alban's Catholic Church, nervously fingering the smooth satin of her gown. She was alone. She had no siblings, and her parents were gone. She was so eager to put the whole wedding mess behind her and begin her life with James as she had imagined it before things got so hard.

The doors slowly swung open and she peered cautiously in the dimly lit church, blinded by the contrast with the sun outside. She could see many of Brenda's friends ogling her critically. She strained to catch a glimpse of James, up at the altar. When she finally spotted him, she paused. James was so intently staring at his mother, sitting in the front pew, that he did not notice his bride. At that moment, Lindsey knew that nothing would ever change. Brenda was part of the package. She realized that going through with the wedding would be a catastrophic mistake. The only easy part of the decision was knowing that Brenda had paid for the wedding and reception. She had to protect herself, even though it probably meant hurting James.

Now she was alone in grey Santorini and she missed the James she'd moved in with, the James she'd falled in love with, the James who was not his mother's son before he was her lover. She stared at the murky waters down below, hearing the sad tolling of the bells warning the sailors off the cliffs, and she wondered whether she would ever love again like she did last fall.

This fiction writing was inspired by this week's Sunday Scribblings prompt: FOUL. Check out how others used the prompt!

Fridge Space

The house is dark and quiet with the exception of the occasional sleep whimper from little Jack. Juliette is snuggled up against my shoulder; her cheek still red and wet with tear tracks. Every few seconds she hiccups a quiet sob and clutches my side more tightly, as if to ensure that I will never leave her in that dark room alone again. I give her soft curls a caress, letting my free hand linger there as we begin to tiptoe down the stairs by the flickering light of the lamp post on the corner.

We get all the way down the stairs without tripping over the baby gate and go around the corner towards the kitchen. The cold tiles on my naked feet send shivers up my spine. The hardwood floor of the kitchen is a relief. I glance at the microwave clock: 2:16AM. With any luck, I can have her back to sleep and be back in bed by 2:30.

I pull open the fridge door, praying that I had the forethought to leave a bottle of milk ready. I glance around the well-stocked fridge shelves, taking in the lack of fridge space with satisfaction: 4 gallons of milk, 3 packs of fleur de sel butter, a big container of tomato corn chowder, a bowl of cut up strawberries and melon, and a Tupperware filled with cut-up roast chicken. I love a full fridge.

A bottle of milk is tucked up in front of the milk cartons in the door. I grab it and sleepily make my way back up the stairs. I tiptoe into Juliette’s room and settle in on her blue armchair to feed her the bottle. She’s asleep again after a few sips and I settle her limp body back in her crib. I tuck her cuddly pink blanket around her and walk out backwards, closing the door with a soft click.

With a few quick quiet steps I’m back on my side of the bed. It’s still warm. I peek at the clock: 2:26AM. I breathe a sigh of satisfaction, pull the covers over my head, and settle back into sleep as the comforting warmth surrounds me.

This post is inspired by the writing prompt "fridge space" on Sunday Scribblings.


Valerie hated her skin, everything about it: the color, the complexion, the greasiness, and most of all the zits. She had an okay body as long as she limited her Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey intake. She'd even heard some basketball players comment on her ass the other day before she had turned around and they'd realized who they were talking about. But then they saw her face and any lascivious yet flattering comments about her bootie just dried right up. Conversation generally stopped when people took in the minefield that her face had become.

She essentially was one big "before" picture for a ProActiv campaign. Unfortunately, she had tried ProActiv, along with every other miracle acne cure out there, but had not had the same success as Jessica Simpson. Her face usually had at least 10 large pimples on the forehead, cheeks, or chin. They were red, inflamed, and impossible to ignore. She spent hours in front of the mirror trying to pop them and when she succeeded, the relief was intense. The aftermath wasn't pretty though. The first few days the zit became a crusty crater and then became a scar. She had dozens of these white scars all over her face, a roadmap to loneliness, a guarantee that she would die a virgin. On bad days, even her best friend Maggie had trouble looking her in the eye!

Valerie had one last hope. There was a little clinic just over the border in Mexico that specialized in these desperate acne cases. They had some sort of weekend treatment based on face masks from some sort of illegal plant extract followed by intense chemical peels. Normally Valerie was skeptical about these types of things, but the testimonials she'd read were so powerful. It really seemed like it was extreme enough to make a difference. Her parents, of course, had refused to help. They just didn't get it. So, she had saved all her babysitting money for the last six months and finally had enough: $1000. Her parents believed that she was going camping with Maggie for the weekend, they'd even given her a little extra allowance to buy camping supplies. She couldn't wait to see their faces when she returned transformed. But she was even more excited to see the basketball players faces on Monday morning!

This fiction was inspired by the Fiction Friday challenge: scars.

Night Train

I've always loved sleep. As a kid, I was always comfortable claiming sleep wherever and whenever I needed it: squeezed next to a farting labrador in the back of our little blue Renault V on long car rides down to the South of France, or curled up tight on the banquette of a brasserie while my parents lingered over coffee with friends after dinner. I loved the security of falling asleep trusting that I would somehow wake up in my bed the next morning.

Once our family grew too large, it became unfeasible to make the annual summer vacation trek down to the South of France piled in the car with all our luggage, girls, and pets. We started taking the night train instead. Everything, mother, daughters, dogs, cat, luggage, and even the car, would get on the train. We usually had a compartment to ourselves which we would fill to the rafters with our bodies and belongings. After a quick dinner of bland plastic-wrapped train sandwiches, our compartment would magically be transformed into a sleeping car. There were three sleeping berths on either side of the car, each with its own set of freshly laundered sheet sleeping bags, brown woolen blankets, and tiny SNCF pillows. I loved that everything was in its own plastic bag; it seemed so new and exciting. My mother must have hated making all those beds, but we didn't notice. As bossy eldest child, I would claim the top bunk and climb to my perch pretending to be a pirate. The perilous climb as the train gathered speed and rushed into the tunnels exiting Paris was quite a thrill.

I would slip my still clothed body in the crisp sheet bag and call out a cheerful goodnight to each of my family members. We kept our clothes on to save time upon arrival. Sleeping in such close proximity to my mother and sisters wasn't an inconvenience; it just added to the sense of adventure. The goodnights would die down quickly as we all fell prey to the rhythmic lullaby of the wheels on the train tracks and let the train's motion rock us to sleep.

When the conductor threw open the compartment door to warn us that we would be in Toulon in 10 minutes, it always seemed as though I had just closed my eyes. My sisters and I barely had time to blink the sleep out of our eyes and extricate ourselves from our berths before we disembarked into the blinding sunlight of the train platform. I have no idea how my mother managed to get her three daughters, two dogs, one cat, and luggage off the train without forgetting anything crucial. But there are no disastrous forgotten kids or luggage stories in our family lore so she must have managed it somehow. We always stepped off the train thrilled to see our grandmother again and to begin a month of vacation at the beach. To this day, I get a comfortable sleepy feeling whenever I ride a train, even if it's only a commuter train to New York City.

Later on, as a college student backpacking through Europe, I took more overnight train rides. The sense romance and adventure was heightened by tales of thefts and rapes by dangerous dark Italian men in the night. Even fraught with danger, I still could not resist the train's rhythmic lullaby and slept much more soundly than at youth hostels.

This post was inspired by the prompt "sleep" at Sunday Scribblings.

Puppy Love

It had been a mistake to eat that last hot dog. Greg knew it the minute that first salty, greasy burp began to bubble up his esophagus. Regret flooded him like the burning acid reflux that was sure to follow. But he knew that he had been powerless in the face of a great adversary; he had always been a sucker for big breasts.
A month ago, at Bob’s Beer Hall on Pleasant Avenue, Monica had looked him up and down with those big caramel doe eyes and had given him the slightest little greedy smile. From that moment on he had been able to think of only one thing: sinking his face between those milky white breasts. She knew it, and he knew it: he was doomed.
Infatuation with a Nathan’s Best hot dog saleswoman was a dangerous game. He had quit his job and started using up his meager savings to travel to the stops along her route. She talked to him, touched him on the arm, even gave him free dog samples, but would always slip away before he could try to kiss her. One thrilling night in a crowded bar on the outskirts of Tucson, the crowd had pressed around her and her tray of mini wieners. In the crush of the happy hour rush, his hand had been pushed into her right breast. It felt just like he’d fantasized. That little taste of paradise had been enough to fuel him to continue the chase through another seven cities.
Now here they were in Hackensack, New Jersey at the annual Bergen County hot dog challenge. Monica had breathlessly explained to him that winning this competition would be a huge win for Nathan’s, and a huge win for her. Anyone who helped her would receive her heartfelt gratitude. She had leaned up against him suggestively and he had agreed to be the Nathan’s competitor, up against the 300-pound monster representing Oscar Meyer. He didn’t know how much lust could make up for the lack of bulk on his scrawny 125 pound body, but he knew that if he didn’t try and find out, he would never get to dive into Monica’s bosom.
He lost pitifully. The Oscar Meyer man had scarfed down fifty hot dogs in ten minutes without breaking a sweat. The last hot dog Greg had consumed was his seventeenth, and it had brought tears to his eyes. Unfortunately, the blurriness in Greg’s eyes had not shielded him from the painful image of the Oscar Meyer Wiener’s meaty hand possessively squeezing Monica’s perfect butt as they walked to his red mustang.

This post is a short short fiction linked to the Sunday Scribblings prompt: Passion. Click through for more interpretations on the same prompt!

Lost Soul

"We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year..." Pink Floyd echoed in the cold dark room. The walls seemed to be pulsating with every electric guitar note. Roger Water's haunting voice began again, "wish you were here..." The burning in Jane's throat and chest was unbearable. She had been sobbing, these animalistic, gut-wrenching cries of despair for over an hour. She didn't think she would ever be able to stop, or even want to stop. Every time she took a shaky breath and lifted her head up, she took in the desolate emptiness of the room and started crying all over again. Jeremy was gone. He had finally left her.

She'd been praying for this moment for the last few months; why did she feel so empty inside? It didn't help that he had taken all her stuff. Instead of slinking away like the sleazy rat he had become, he had made a grand exit by stealing all her clothes, furniture, books, even the wedding picture of her parents. All he'd left her, like some not-so-subtle message, was this Bose IPod dock with her IPod. Unfortunately, he'd even taken the time to erase her entire music library, with the exception of this one song.

Jane thought back to the day they had moved in to this Chelsea studio. They were so happy that day, bickering over whose sofa to keep. They'd ended up making room for both couches and had eaten Chinese food reclining Roman-style on their respective couch. They had even baptized both couches that night by making love on one then the other to test out which one was the most comfortable. She had thought she would be telling a G-rated version of their moving in story to their children one day.

Things went downhill fast from that idyllic day. Living with Jeremy was very different than dating him. He was extremely moody, due to a nasty little cocaine habit he'd kept hidden until now. Once she found out and voiced her displeasure, he promised to quit, but he'd just found better playmates. He didn't even try to hide them, often bringing them to the apartment, and introducing her to them. Every once in a while, they would have a nice day together: a picnic in the park or a movie night on the couch, and she would be reminded of why she had moved in with him. Then the phone would ring and she would hear Candy or Randy's voice on the machine telling Jeremy about a great party, and he would rush out of the apartment. Towards the end, she didn't even have the energy to get angry anymore.

Now she was left with nothing more than the wrinkles of disappointment edged at the corners of her mouth. Slowly the power of Pink Floyd's lyrics started to penetrate her self-indulgent sorrow. What kind of message was he trying to send her? Was he telling her that he still loved her after all that? Or was it some sort of threat? A result of some terrible coke-induced delusion? Should she be scared? Her sobs slowed, she started breathing deep, and shivering. She picked her the phone and called 411. "Hello? I need the number of a 24 hour locksmith." It was time to get herself together.

This post was in response to the prompt, use the lyrics of this Pink Floyd song in a fictional piece from Fiction Friday.

Textbook Treason

This piece of fiction is inspired by this week's Fiction Friday challenge - tell a story that unfolds through text messages. (I took the liberty of mixing it up between text messages and IMs).

SUZYQ: Hey! U there?
AMY269: ☺
SUZYQ: Crazy night, huh?
AMY269: Totally. What happened 2 u?
SUZYQ: Met hot guy. Got digits. U?
AMY269: Got so wasted.
SUZYQ: Brunch Sunday?
AMY269: Same as usual?
SUZYQ: cool. See u.
From 917-456-2789 Friday 2/1/08 10:30AM
From 646-123-4560 Friday 2/1/08 10:31AM
From 917-456-2789 Friday 2/1/08 10:45AM
SUZYQ: He called!
AMY269: Cool.
SUZYQ: Dinner tonight. Totally pumped.
AMY269: Have fun but be careful.
SUZYQ: Got a meeting. Bye.
AMY269: So? Scoop?
SUZYQ: ☺ ☺ ☺ great guy. Don’t want to get too psyched though.
AMY269: Remember Zach.
SUZYQ: that jerk!
AMY269: Movie or party tonight?
SUZYQ: What party?
AMY269: Mike’s.
SUZYQ: Oh God… I’m not in the mood.
AMY269: Come on…. It’ll be fun. Pick up, that’s me calling.
From: Suzie Cell Saturday 2/2/08 1:07PM
From: Paul Cell Saturday 2/2/08 1:45PM
From: Suzie Cell Saturday, 2/2/08 5PM
From: Suzie Cell Sunday 2/3/08 3:30AM
From: Suzie Cell Wed 2/6/08 11:30AM
From: Paul Cell Wed 2/6/08 2:30PM
From: Suzie Cell Wed 2/6/08 2:35PM
Sure. 355 W 86 – apt. 15E.
SUZYQ: Ames!!!! Had dinner with HIM again last night. So fun. ☺
AMY269: Can’t talk. In meeting. Call you later.
AMY269: Sorry about be4. Wanna come over to watch Lost 2night?
SUZYQ: sure. I’ll bring wine.
From: Suzie Cell Thursday 2/7/08 10:30PM
AMY269: Hi!
AMY269: What’s up?
SUZYQ: nothing.
AMY269: Did you go out last night with your new guy?
SUZYQ: no.
AMY269: You stayed in on a Friday?
SUZYQ: yeah.
AMY269: Got plans 2night with lover boy?
SUZYQ: no.
AMY269: Come out with me!
SUZYQ: too tired.
AMY269: U OK?
SUZYQ: yeah… just tired.
AMY269: OK. I’ll be at Moran’s if you rally. Brunch tomorrow?
SUZYQ: sure.
From: Suzie Cell Saturday 2/9/08 7:30PM

From: Suzie Cell Sunday 2/10/08 11:05AM
From: Amy Cell Sunday 2/10/08 11:45AM
From: Paul Cell Sunday 2/10/08 4:05PM
From: Suzie Cell Sunday 2/10/08 4:06PM
From: Amy Cell Sunday 2/10/08 4:08PM
From: Suzie Cell Sunday 2/10/08 4:09PM
From: Amy Cell Sunday 2/10/08 4:10PM

Oh What a Night

There’s a particular smell that takes me right back to college. One little whiff of it and I’m right back, 15 years younger, having a blast. It’s not the smell of new books or dusty libraries, nor is it the chemical smell of dry erase marker. It’s not the smell of burning microwave popcorn during late night study sessions, or of Noxzema on my roommate’s face. It’s the sickly sweet smell of spilt beer on a barroom floor.
Now that I’m a stay-at-home mom in the suburbs, I don’t have many occasions to step into a college bar. We go out on the weekends, but it’s generally not to places with sticky floors. But every once in a great while, I’ll go somewhere that has a hint of stale beer aroma. One hint of a whiff and I’m transported back to late nights dancing with a few of my closest friends in the Pub, our student-run campus bar. Everyone is dripping with sweat, “Oh What a Night” is blasting, and we’re all singing at the top of our lungs. We’ve all been screaming and dancing for hours; we’re hot and wasted; but we don’t care. We’ll stay at the Pub until it closes. It’s where everyone ends up on Saturday night. No one would dream of going home before closing the Pub. The following Monday, we’ll all be back in class together, working hard, but that night we’re all about the celebration, the pure release of letting it all out. Whenever “Oh What a Night” comes on the radio, even if I’m driving the minivan at 8AM with the kids bickering in the back, exhilaration courses through me. For the 90 seconds the song lasts, I’m back at the Pub having the time of my life.

This post was inspired by the prompt "time machine" on Sunday Scribblings.

Joy Fire

“Burn baby burn!” The gorgeous flames licked at the sky, their amber glow clashing with the crisp blue April sky. Tammy put her hands on her hips, loving feeling her hipbones through her chinos, and took in the beautiful sight of her size 8 clothes catching fire.

The last six months had been long and hard but well worth it. The beauty of the blaze almost made up for all those nights without chocolate. Now all that hard work was behind her, burning in that gorgeous bonfire. If her fat clothes didn’t tempt her, she would finally have the discipline to keep her sweet tooth in check and keep on working out.

Just thinking about working out got her blood pumping; she’d never been this fit in her life. Her heart was really racing; she was actually beginning to sweat. Was it the moment? Or was it the fire? Tammy noticed that it was beginning to get a little out of control now that her control-top underwear had caught on fire. The synthetic material was really combustible.

Just as Tammy was beginning to really worry that her little celebratory bonfire was going to take her house, she heard sirens. Just in the nick of time! She glanced at her watch. If they could put the fire out in thirty minutes, she would still have time to make the 1:30 step class.

This fiction was inspired by the Writer's Island prompt: Rising.

Unrequited Love

This post was inspired by the Friday Fiction prompt: "Friend or foe - write about your character's feelings for animals."

John was completely crazy about dogs. He loved them with a passion. He only noticed pretty women if they were walking good-looking dogs, or even ugly dogs. He only had eyes for the pooches. He always carried some sort of dog treat in his pockets, doggie bones of at least two flavors to be sure to have something for finicky palates. He lived to get tails wagging.

John had a great tragedy in his life. He had a certain quality that made dogs fear him. Some dogs ran away from him, some growled at him, and some even lunged at him. None would let him get close enough to pet them. He’d been to see all sorts of specialists, both veterinarians and human doctors, to understand why dogs didn’t reciprocate his affections. The best hypothesis he’d heard was that he emitted a strong predator pheromone. Unfortunately, the research on pheromones was in its infancy. The doctor’s best suggestion had been to try his luck with cats. They just didn’t understand that dog people are not cat people. It was like suggesting that a macho heterosexual become a homosexual because the ladies didn’t care for him.

John continued to hunger for canine affection. He became an expert on pheromones. He increased his dog bone flavor selection and continued stalking the local dog parks and animal rescue centers. His hope never wavered that he would one day encounter a special dog that would appreciate him.


This post was inspired by the Sunday Scribblings Post: smorgasbord.

A smorgasbord is really another European word for buffet. It somehow seems more decadent and bountiful than the more pedestrian buffet. One is Swedish, the other is French, but they can be used interchangeably to describe the same kind of meal. Smorgasbord is definitely more fun to say.

The most amazing buffet/smorgasbord that I ever attended was Sunday Brunch at the Plaza. The Plaza is currently in the final stages of being transformed into luxury condominiums. They may bring back the Brunch, but it will never be the same. The meal has become even more fantastic in my memory because it can no longer be replicated.

We were at the Plaza to bring my mother and my boyfriend's parents together for the first time. We had just moved in together and my mother was visiting from France. I should have been nervous about bringing our families together, and I probably was, but any butterflies in my stomach flew away the minute I spied the amazing spread at the back of the ballroom. Everything at the Palm Court was golden: the chairs, the painted ceilings, the accent plates, and the chandeliers. There was a string quartet playing with gusto in the corner. Once my eyes and ears tired of the opulence immediately around me, they were drawn to two large golden French doors at the back of the room. This was the gateway to the inner sanctum, where all the glorious food was hiding.

Our waiter came by to distribute mimosas and offer coffee and tea. He then gave us the go ahead to help ourselves to the buffet. My legs and hands were shaking with anticipation. Steve sensed my eagerness and got up to accompany me. Neither one of us could bear to wait for the polite parental get to know you chitchat to end. We had to see for ourselves the delights awaiting us. He took me firmly by the hand and we stepped past the giant golden French doors.

It was an awesome sight. There was a table with a towering array of shellfish: dewy clams and oysters on the half shell, pink shrimp, ruby red Alaskan king crab claws, and even lobster tails. Little ramekins of cocktail sauce and mignonette sauce joined by quarter lemons in adorable little cloth jackets rounded out the shellfish offerings. The usual New York offerings of bagels and lox were taken to the next level with five different kinds of smoked salmon, along with little bowls of caviar, and even a selection of foie gras and pates. There was a mountain of pastries from around the world: croissants, mini chocolate pains au chocolat, strudels, Danishes, brioches, blintzes, and a myriad of flavors of muffins. The sweet vanilla aroma of warm waffles drifted over to us from the waffle station. It mixed pleasantly with the tangy salty smell of the roast beef station. The feast continued with a wide array of savory lunch dishes like mushroom tagliatelle and veal Marsala. They looked good, but were no competition for the rest of the brunch fare. The typical breakfast offerings were like Olympic competitors here: eggs Benedict with either Canadian bacon or smoked salmon with gleaming fresh hollandaise sauce, fluffy silver dollar pancakes with blackberry compote warm on the side, Challah French Toast sprinkled with powdered sugar. My head was swimming trying to decide where to start. Then I looked into the next room and discovered the world of dessert. The room was filled with chocolate and vanilla layer cakes topped with clouds of buttercream frosting, glossy fruit tarts, Boston Cream Pie, German chocolate cakes, mocha mousse cakes, little crystal bowls filled with decadent chocolate mousse, buttery pound cakes, fruit cakes, brownies, and chocolate covered strawberries.

I briefly considered the possibility of just refusing to leave the room for the next week. Then I remembered that brunch ended at 2:30. I came to my senses, realized I was wasting valuable time, and went to work. It was time to take charge of what was sure to be one of the most memorable meals of my life. If I paced myself, I was sure that I would be able to sample the best and the rarest. I found Steve, compared notes, and together we set off to enjoy this momentous meal.


I just don't get it, she thought, as she closed the door with a light little click. Why don't children ever want to go to sleep? Regardless of how tired they are, they fight for every extra minute awake. Ever since she had become a mother, she had been exhausted. She couldn't remember the last time she felt rested. Why didn't she sleep more back when she was single? Tonight, Jayden had bargained for precious extra minutes by introducing a difficult question during her last hug. "Mommy," she whispered, "Can girls marry girls?" Nina had taken a deep breath to compose her thoughts. There were so many ways to go with this question, and each could have repercussions. She could already imagine the annoyed phone calls from other moms asking why her child had been told about lesbianism by Jayden. But the question had to have some root beyond sleep procrastination and that couldn't be brushed off. She had ended up giving her a truthful but fuzzy answer about love. When Jayden had pressed on with, "but how can they have babies mommy," she had cut her off and told her to go to bed. Enough was enough.

She tiptoed past the baby's room and down the stairs, careful not to trip over various dolls and stuffed animals along the way. She found the remote in a bowl of half-eaten goldfish under the sectional. How long had it been there? That was a less controversial mystery. She sat down on the couch, noting the toys scattered around the room. Why don't kids clean up their toys, she wondered. Why don't they realize that would give them more space to play?

She started delicately dropping the goldfish crackers one by one in her mouth. They felt greasy to the touch and she kept wiping her fingertips on her pant leg without ever feeling clean. Why am I eating these disgusting crackers, she wondered as she popped the last one in her mouth. She tossed the empty bowl on the coffee table and wrapped herself in her cozy beige fuzzy blanket. The baby squawked on the monitor. Nina sat up, holding her breath and crossing her fingers. The monitor stayed dark; it seemed the baby had settled back down to sleep. Nina sighed, a mixture of relief and exhaustion. She turned on the TV and turned the channel to her favorite show: Lost. It was high time to start focusing on some adult mysteries for a change.

This post was inspired by the Sunday Scribblings prompt: I just don't get it Click through for more scribblings on the same prompt.

Piña Colada

This Week’s Theme: Describe a time your character was wronged; even though it was insignificant to the one who wronged them, your character never got over it.

The crystalline Caribbean water sparkled under the hot noonday sun and contrasted beautifully with the pristine white sand of the private beach. Olivia took in the gorgeous view from her perch at a shaded table at the beach snack bar. This hotel was even better than in the brochure. Everything, down to the ice-cold piña colada in front of her with its beads of condensation, was perfect. Sometimes piña coladas were too heavy on the coconut, but this one was just the right combination of rum, pineapple juice and coconut milk. She only drank them on vacation; if done right like this one, a good piña colada really set the tone.

Olivia sighed deeply in total contentment. It was hard to believe that she and her friend Lydia had gotten off the plane only a few hours ago. Five more days of heaven, she thought to herself. It was just what she needed. She could feel the last vestiges of work stress she had been stockpiling over the last few months melt away.

She looked up and spied Lydia walking towards her. Lydia was wearing a beautiful sarong and struggling a bit on the planked floor of the beach restaurant in her high-heeled sandals. Olivia called out, "Hey there! Why don't you take your fancy shoes off? We're in the islands now! You have to feel how delicious this sand is between your toes. Isn't this place amazing?" Lydia looked grumpy and annoyed. "I guess you could call it amazing if you like run-down hovels. I can't believe we're paying $400 a night for this dump. Can you believe it took me over an hour to get a pedicure? And now this stupid wood floor is going to ruin it." Olivia took a deep breath. Maybe it had been a bad idea to invite Lydia to go along on this trip. She had thought it would be fun to go with a girlfriend, but she really hoped Lydia's mood would perk up soon.

"Why don't you join me in a cocktail to get you more in the vacation mood?" Lydia frowned and peered over her large sunglasses to inspect Olivia's drink. "What are you drinking? Do you realize how many calories are in one of those drinks? We need to be in a bikini for 5 days - don't you want to look your best? After all, it's not as though you can afford to gain any more weight. There's nowhere to hide the extra pounds when you're wearing a little bikini like yours." Then Lydia looked over at the bar and spied the hot bartender. She smiled greedily and said, "You know what, maybe a drink is a good idea. I'll be right back. Do you want another?" Olivia sighed before answering, "Why don't you get me an ice water while you're up there."

As Lydia teetered over to the bare-chested bartender, Olivia pushed her drink away sadly. She imagined she could feel the few sips she had just taken get transformed into new cellulite pockets on her butt. She wondered if it was too late to change the coconut shrimp she had ordered for a house salad with dressing on the side. By the time Lydia returned to the table, all giggles and smiles, Olivia was thoroughly depressed. She just wanted to go back to the room and change into that black one-piece she had brought. Five more days in a bathing suit now sounded like pure torture.

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Walking with the Stars

Tropical beaches, with their white sand and impossibly-turquoise water, are incredibly beautiful during the day. At night the glittering daylight colors mutate into a dim blend of browns, blacks and greys. The heat of the day still echoes in the sand trapped between my toes. The rhythmic crashing of the invisible waves upon the beach is a mysterious backdrop to the main event of the night: the awesome spectacle of the night sky. The dazzling blanket of the sky is all the eye can really see. The sky is so huge on the beach, with nothing to obstruct the view, it feels as though I am floating in outer space, surrounded by blackness and little specks of light. I lie on an abandoned beach chair and take in the immensity of the sky. I am stunned by how miniscule I am compared to all of those constellations I wish I could name.

After observing the sky reverently for a while, it's easy to imagine that I am watching an elaborate balls with the many satellites and occasional airplanes doing a spirited dance with the stars. Then, as my eyes begin to get heavy with sleep, a shooting star tears across the dance floor and steals the show. I remember to make a wish and promise myself to keep a piece of this quiet yet awesome glimpse of the universe stored up to chase away future stress.

The waves are beckoning to me now. I get up, roll up my comfy pajama pants and put my feet in the warm water. I'm not quite brave enough to skinny-dip alone on a deserted beach, so I merely walk along the beach, feeling incredibly fortunate to be experiencing this little moment of paradise undisturbed by children or other tourists. I wish I could share this nocturnal beach walk with my husband but he is back in the room watching the children, granting me the gift of this magical solitude. I can see the flickering light of the TV screen through the curtain in our hotel room window. So I walk on, delighting in the feel of the sand between my feet and the warm water on my ankles, knowing that I'm making footsteps that no one will ever see. The black sky melts into the water, it's impossible to see where the sky ends and the water begins. Everywhere, as far as the eye can see, stars sparkle, winking at me, keeping me company.

This post was inspired by the Sunday Scribblings prompt: Out of this world.

Toll House Grief

George Williams' mother was, without a doubt, the best baker in town. It was quite possible that her chocolate chip cookies were the best of the county. She also had an uncanny sense of knowing exactly when we would be walking through the door starving. She miraculously always managed to be taking a fresh batch of cookies out of the oven exactly as we trooped in, all muddy and out of breath.

In those days we were a tight band of friends. Life wasn't complicated by girls or Fox News kidnapping fears. We roamed the neighborhood in search of adventure and stumbled home in time for dinner. My parents were divorced and my mother worked. This made me a latch-key kid, an oddity in these parts. I didn't mind, it was the reason George's mom had unofficially adopted me. I ate countless dinner at the Williams home; I even had my own place at the table. She always told me that she cooked a little extra hoping that I would join them for dinner. She liked to make sure that my belly was always full. She cooked my favorite dishes and always saved an extra cookie for me. I was a tough kid, accustomed to being on my own, but I basked in her attentions. It wasn't as though I was neglected by mother, but I loved pretending to be a part of the perfect Williams family. I had never been fussed over like that and I relished every minute of it.

Then Albert moved to the house next to the Williams'. He was shy and skinny. He wore glasses held together by masking tape. He lived alone with his dad, a widower. His mother had died the previous year. They had moved to our town to escape the memories of their newly empty house. We thought that he was nice enough, but not the kind of kid who would really get dirty. We weren't exactly hostile to him but we weren't overly welcoming either. George's mom would not stand for that kind of behavior from us. She foisted Albert on us time and time again, nagging us until we rang his doorbell and invited him along on our escapades. It didn't take long for him to become part of our gang. Once we got past his shyness, he was a pretty funny guy.

I was happy to have him around; I didn't realize how much of a threat he was. Then, one tuesday afternoon, after playing wiffle ball in the Williams backyard, we ran into the house, starving, as usual. George's mom had one of her batches of warm chocolate chip cookies ready for us. They were warm and gooey with a caramelized edge. The platter went around the group and we each grabbed a cookie. One by one, we all grabbed a second cookie, leaving only one cookie on the platter. I reached for it, with a goofy grin on my face, claiming my usual special cookie. I felt Mrs. Williams' hand on mine. I looked up into her face confused. Instead of her usual mothering look, her face was disappointed. She scolded me gently, "Now Bobby, don't grab. I made an extra cookie for Albert. You don't mind, do you?" I nodded gracefully and passed the tray to Albert who accepted it like an eager little puppy.

At that moment, I realized that my golden days at the Williams' were over. I gave up without a fight. I was only the victim of divorce; I couldn't compete with an orphan. Thirty years later, the smell of warm chocolate chip cookies still makes me sad.

This post was inspired by the Fiction Friday prompt: Describe a time your character gave up and how it affected him the rest of his life.


Jill was sitting at her desk, pencil in her mouth. She was chewing so hard that the unpleasant taste of lead was beginning to flood her mouth. She didn't really notice beyond a vague sense of being uncomfortable. She couldn't see beyond the blank baby pink page in front of her. She had to get the tone right. The first sentence was critical, particularly with a note like this one. She kept taking the pencil out of her mouth and putting it on the paper before sighing and putting it back in her mouth. Finally she glanced up at the clock and started writing furiously.

The sun was streaming through the window like a bright spotlight onto the paper, almost as though Jill were receiving divine intervention to assist her in this difficult task. Jill signed the note with a flourish, filled with relief at having completed this nerve-racking note. She restrained herself from adding a smiley face to the second L in her name and got up to check on her children outside. She was going to have to rush to get the note in Bianca's backpack before the bus arrived.

Jill strode out to the side yard and took in the sight of her two children swinging in the early morning sun. The sky was a dazzling blue and the brightness of the day was almost overwhelming. Jill picked up Bianca's pink backpack and opened the main compartment. She reviewed the note one last time before folding it up and placing it in the bag. She had really hit the nail on the head. It was perfect.

Dear Nancy,
I really enjoyed our conversation yesterday. As you suggested, I do have a few more questions I'd like to discuss. Would you be free for lunch next week? Or would drinks be more convenient? Let me know what works best for you.
- Jill

The bus driver pulled up to the curb and honked once, startling Jill out of her reverie. Bianca ran up to her and took the backpack from her mom. Jill gave both her children a quick peck on the head and waved to them as they boarded the bus. As the bus drove away, Jill chuckled to herself. She was certain that this was the first time a first grade backpack had been used for such illicit purposes. A summer of suburban dangerous liaisons was about to begin.

This post was inspired by the Sunday Scribblings prompt: compose.

The Future of the Planet

Sarah placed both her hands on the door to the garage and gave a mighty shove. She grunted with exertion but it only budged an inch. She leaned on it with her shoulder and managed to open it another two inches. She reached down, grabbed the empty plastic bottle at her feet and and shoved it into the garage with a satisfying crunch. She knew it was meaningless, but she still got satisfaction out of separating the plastics for recycling. Even though the recycling pick-ups had stopped two years earlier, she couldn't kick the recycling habit. Throwing away the plastic bottles just felt so wrong, as if she were just giving up and accepting what the newscasters were clamoring about. She still couldn't come to terms with the fact that all the environmental measures she and millions of others around the world had adopted hadn't made an impact. The expensive light bulbs, the complicated recycling, the car pooling: all had been for nothing. Those products were part of a massive PR cover-up by Corporate America to keep us busy while they poisoned the earth to keep investors happy with growing profits. Didn't they realize that they were hurting themselves? Now the damage was irreversible.

Temperatures had recently gone as high as 112 degrees Farenheit in the shade in Maine in April. People had become like vampires, only venturing out after dusk for fear of vicious cancer-causing ultraviolet rays. Sarah felt like a prisoner during the day, trapped in her warm suburban home. Even at night, when the deadly sun was not an issue, the exorbitant cost of gas made every trip a luxury. Things had gotten bad so quickly, it was hard to believe the reports of worse to come.

Sarah shut the door with a sad little click. She sat back down in front of her solar powered computer screen and flicked a switch to turn it on. She was eager to get the latest scoop on Britney Spear's botched face lift.

This post was inspired by the Sunday Scribblings prompt: The future of the planet.

Unity Tree

This post was inspired by the Fiction Friday prompt: Write about a tree.

Pauline's hand was sweaty. It was warm, wet, sticky, and it was hard for me to keep my hand in hers. Jack's hand was fine, as you would expect his to be, but Pauline's was disgusting. I wanted to throw it down and run away, far away, but breaking our unity circle around the Tree would have been disastrous.

Five years ago, coming together hand in hand around the Tree just seemed like the right thing to do at the end of that crazy night. We had all drunk way too much and the pedestrian came out of nowhere. She made the softest little thud on the hood of our car. We didn't realize what we did until it was too late, we had already driven away. Jane was the first to speak up and say what we were all fearing. Her words sobered us instantly, "Do you guys think she's dead?" No one answered. Instead, we pulled over, next to the empty field with the tree in the middle and stumbled out of the car. I threw up over and over again but it still didn't make me wake up from the nightmare. One by one, we wandered over to the tree and stood there. It was bathed in the moonlight. It seemed like the right thing to do. Pauline was the one who started talking then and made us swear to keep this a secret. She insisted that we were all guilty, not just the driver, and that we would all go to jail. But the truth was, she didn't need to say anything. All she did was articulate what we wanted her to say.

The secret didn't get easier to bear with time. It was the fifth year in a row that we were all back at the Tree, renewing our vows. Five years of not being able to look people in the eye, jumping every time I saw a policeman. I couldn't bear it anymore. And then suddenly I realized why Pauline seemed so nervous.

It made so much sense, I wasn't even surprised when the flashing blue lights of the police cruiser lit up the white tree trunk.