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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Dark Horse

He takes his time. The buttons on his combed-cotton dress shirt are tended to on an individual basis. He slides one neatly through its button hole, caresses each smooth polished side before moving on to the next. His shirts last forever.
He pays attention. Her hair is usually worn up in a careful bun. The color is natural, highlights from the summer sun dance under the soft light he has turned on with a deliberate motion. He pulls his hand away from the lamp slowly, lingering.
He stays focused. The spot behind her ear where he whispers receives most of his attention, his breath briefly hot and his lips close. He can and will return there. He is not easily distracted.
He thinks ahead. A plate is arranged with two different cheeses, strips of finely cured Spanish ham and a thick slice of home-made quince. A baguette sits on the counter. He uncorks the wine in one smooth motion.
He goes for broke. He once dated a girl who used to make fun of him. Jeer. On one occasion she went so far as to blow a raspberry and boo.
“What?” she asks.
“Boo,” he says. He hangs his head.

In a finale to the Halloween run up, here are 200 words for including:
   boo 3 (verb) to show dislike or disapproval of someone or something by shouting “Boo” slowly

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Quickening *

Most mornings Elaine awoke in dismay. Expecting cloud cover, she was perpetually confounded by the blue patch of sky shining beyond her window. Accordingly, her despondence required some justification. She should already be watering and fussing over the plotted plants. She could be halfway through a twenty-minute mile. She might have polished off a chapter of a highly-acclaimed novel.
On this overcast Wednesday morning, there was inexplicable joy. Elaine mistrusted the illusion of renewal, the phantom of well being that was invading her. She knew it wasn’t real, but felt it necessary to do some spot checks just the same. A glance through her window confirmed impending rain. A gentle roll of her head to the right yielded the customary crackle at her neck but, unaccountably, not a hint of stiffness. A trail of euphoria burned its way down her spine, shooting bursts of warmth through her abdomen.
(She cast an eye to the left, entertaining the possibility of an unremembered bedfellow. Alas, there was just familiar emptiness beside her.)
With a brisk swing of her legs off the bed, she propelled her torso into a sitting position. She waited in vain for the dizzying rush this act of returning to an upright state lately provoked. When none came, she began to let down her guard, to ignore the chimerical nature of her physicality.
She imagined, but did not try, skipping down the hall to her bathroom. She admired the shining tiles, smiled at the dazzling chrome that sparkled under exquisite lighting. Giving herself over to the illusion of youthful vigor, Elaine stretched wide her arms and rose on her tiptoes, filling her lungs with a deep, purposeful breath. This caused her to cough. The coughing made her left ankle twist horribly inward, allowing her knee to give way, then her hip. As she crumbled to the floor, her left temple met the impeccably white porcelain edge of the tub, and so consciousness, with all its devilish tricks, ended that day for Elaine.

333 words for  including PHANTOM (noun) 3 : a representation of something abstract, ideal, or incorporeal .

* While I was away at the #METM13 annual conference in Poblet, my virtual friend Steph let me know this story had placed third for week 101: "Third place this week is KymmInBarcelona. Her story Quickening is a well-written tale of that old Lothario called Happiness, which can disappear at any moment." Many more stories with phantom things can be found: http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/2013/10/trifextra-week-ninety-one.html

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Morning Pedestrian

Standing  at the light,
huge bus to my right.
 A whoosh to my left.
I jump. His skateboard deftly
 pushed forward against the red.
 Just as a taxi noses ahead
of the bus.

33 words for   who asked what scares us.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Abby ducked into the shaded portico two steps before she succumbed to heat stroke. Five minutes early to collect Joy, she was again reduced to scanning the activity board: ‘Need a babysitter? Call Judy!’ and a phone number she would never remember.
There was a prickling at the back of her neck a second before the past touched her arm, said: Hello, Abby. She looked down at the fingers on her wrist, wanting to vaporize them, wanting to bare her teeth and rip that bit of skin right off.
No one but Joy was allowed to touch her now.

This weekhave given us a page from the Oxford English Dictionary. The ninety-ninth page to be exact.
From this page, we can choose any word, any definition, to use in our post. (Chosen word in bold, so they know.) And instead of their typical 33-333 word limit, they are asking for 99 words exactly.
They are also shooting for 99 entries, using a randomly bestowed $99 gift card as incentive.
This week's challenge is community judged. Enter here. Don't forget to go back and vote!

Abby llegó a la sombra del pórtico dos pasos antes de sucumbir a un golpe de calor. Quedaban cinco minutos hasta recoger a Joy; se puso a revisar una vez más el tablón de anuncios: “¿Necesitas canguro? ¡Llama a Judy!” Ese número que jamás recordaría.
Se le erizaban los pelos de la nuca un segundo antes de que el pasado le tocara el brazo diciendo: Hola, Abby. Miró los dedos que descansaban sobre su muñeca. Quiso pulverizarlos, quiso enseñar los dientes y arrancar de cuajo ese trozo de piel.
No consentía que nadie más que Joy le tocara ahora.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Not Feeling Yourself?

When you come to, you’re in a strange apartment in one of those neighborhoods that first your mother, then your friends warn you not to get lost in, and you do not know the name of the person next to you, much less the way home. You remember there was a pizza party at Katie’s and you wonder if the apartment got trashed. You lift your hands, inspect your fingers and are inexplicably relieved to find no blood on them. Not home free yet, you scan the unfamiliar room for signs of clothing. Almost every item is black, so the blood, were there any, would be hard to see. Before you get up, you make sure the person next to you appears to be equally free of bloodstains.
Getting up turns out to be a less appealing proposition than you had first thought. You are expecting your head to feel like a pothole, but are unprepared for the lack of motor response. More than asleep, your arms feel incapacitated. There are no pins and needles. The opposite of phantom limb syndrome, you feel nothing where your arms need to be. Your legs are fairing no better, so your brain, though hugely malfunctioning, is your only hope. You concentrate.
You don’t remember beer, you stayed away from the colas and tonics; you must have gone with vodka and something sweet. The backs of your eyelids attest to the kamikaze verdict. Your stomach is in disaccord, certain that you had rum. Many rums. As your eyes roll back in your numbing head, your mouth falls open and a thick line of drool begin to spill out. Your collarbone feels damp and cool, as if the skin were peeling right off. You feel hungry, and your teeth begin to snap, but you cannot think of a single meal that appeals to you, that might assuage the sudden howling in your bowels. Just before you pass out again it comes to you. One drink, many versions: zombie.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Potted Plants

Clouds tighten on the horizon at the end of the six-lane highway. Julie grips the wheel at a precise ten-o’clock-two-o’clock angle and repeatedly demurs to adrenaline-crazed slaloming lane-changers. She tries to shrug the frown lines from her forehead as she considers the neighbors motives. Calling the office to complain, who does that? Yet, seeping through her annoyance is a sinking feeling that she should not take it out on them. Surely they were doing her a favor, probably heading off another five identical phone calls. She wonders if this is how people lose their jobs. That kind of personal commotion at work never goes unremarked.
The tightly-packed clouds have settled over the driveway. Julie feels them twist around her head as she gets out of the car, as she bends to pick up an empty baggie from the lawn. The blood rushing to her head feels purposeful and necessary.
She has only to push and the front door opens. Ashtrays and teacups are strewn around an ancient bong on the attic-door coffee table . Reclining languidly against the oversized batik cushions on the hardwood floor is her flesh and blood, whose  otherwise foggy-eyed face lights up in unabashed pleasure as she focuses on Julie.
“Hey,” she drawls. “How was your day?”
“I had another phone call,” Julie says carefully.
“The Carsons, right?”
“The Carsons, yes.” Through a window Julie catches sight of a beat-up Volkswagen Beetle rolling silently away from the curb. “It seems the Carsons and everyone else in the neighborhood have had enough of you and your hippy-ass friends. They’re tired of hearing the Mamas and the Papas on endless repeat. And they’ve asked me again to deal with those potted plants in the back patio.”
“Busy bodies. They need to get a life. Get tuned in and turned on.”
Julie retrieves her mother’s silk chiffon headscarf from the floor. She takes a swipe at the coffee table with it.
“The sixties are dead, Mom,” she says. “Long live the sixties.”

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