The Wall

The lawn sprinkler tips lazily from side to side on the freshly cut grass and onto the sidewalk, leaving the little girl greedily breathing in and out of her nose to catch the smell of water on the hot cement.

Little rivers of water run down her legs from her wet bathing suit, and she shivers as she feels the unexpected breeze.

She stands alone wondering what to do next.

Why don’t you go run around in the sprinklers for a bit? her mother had innocently asked her. It was stifling hot in the house – they couldn’t afford to run the air conditioning – so she thought it sounded like a good idea. Just as quickly as she stepped outside, she heard the click of the door locking behind her.

She knows that her mother won’t let her back in until it was dark outside. She knows she won’t be getting any lunch. She didn’t have have a towel or any sunblock, and hoped that if she knocked long enough her mother might open the door to give her those neccesities.

She had no siblings, no friends. She was actually surprised that her mother had let her outside, it didn’t happen often during the hot summer months. Her mother was always worried that a neighbor would see the bruises that covered her arms and back or that they would question her about the small circular burns that littered  her legs.

The man that her mother called her friend, that her mother made her call her Daddy even though he wasn’t, hurt her sometimes. Like when the girl asked for something to eat or if she could watch TV. All that her mother and the man wanted to do was sit at the table and smoke out of the little glass pipe. No interruptions, no requests. They definitely didn’t want to have to deal with her.

She tilted her head upwards and closed her eyes, feeling the hot sun on her skin. She grabbed her hair and wrapped herself up in it. It smelled dirty and like outside. She heard music and laughter, and decided to peek over the fence to see what her neighbors were doing.

She dragged a chair to the wall, and pulled herself up, scrapping her knees and using her chin to help gain leverage. It hurt, but it was always worth it.

It looked like they were preparing for lunch with their family. A tray full of plump berries and brightly colored fruits sat in the middle of a table. She caught of waft of the burning candle, it smelled like the beach. The lady with the white hair was fussing to get everything to look just so, and the man had just started the barbecue. The charcoal gleamed red and the scent of it – the epitome of summer- made everybody in the backyard oohh and aahh anticipating the upcoming meal.

The sun left little twinkles of light glistening in the pool, it looked happy. She wanted to run and jump right into the middle of it. She would close her eyes and hold her breath and listen to the silence of being underwater. She could pretend to be Ariel the mermaid who was swimming back to the sea to her loving father. She would do somersaults in the water and when she couldn’t hold her breath any longer, she would push off the bottom and burst through the surface while the chlorine burned her eyes and tickled her nose.

There was a little girl that she didn’t initially notice who was standing next to the pool eating a piece of watermelon, watching her intently. She felt the color rise in her cheek and realized she was embarrassed to have been caught. She quickly pushed off the wall, climbed down the chair, sat on the cool grass and started to cry.

The scene she had just witnessed was what she wanted for herself. It was summer. It was family. It was everything she knows she will never have as long as her mother is with the man she that she has to call Daddy brings the pipe.

She wants to run away.

She wants to be the little girl on the other side of the wall.

She wants a huge chunk of watermelon. She wants to feel the juice drip down her chin and arms. She wants to fill the sticky it leaves behind.

She just wants to be normal, no more hiding under long sleeves in the middle of summer.

She just wants to be.

Photo Source

Mama’s Losin’ It I wrote this post for Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop in response to Prompt #1: What five images paint a perfect picture of summer to you? Put those five images together in a piece of writing. (inspired by writingfix.com)

I used more than five images in this post, and they all came from a post I wrote back in March titled The Scents of SummerThis piece is fiction, and obviously the girl isn’t experiencing my picture perfect summer. Maybe the other side of the fence is closer to my picture perfect.

I want to thank Nichole for suggesting I start writing fiction again. If you’ve read my fiction before you know it’s always dark, and it felt good to open the closed and locked door in that part of my brain. It so interesting to me to take those scents I love so much and twist them into something else. It is always an adventure  to take an idea that pops in my head (the lazy lawn sprinkler tipping from side to side) and see where it ends up. Feedback is welcome – I wrote this in about half an hour and I’m sure there’s lots of things I need to fix. That girl makes me so sad, maybe I will continue her story to see if she can find a happy ending.

Just One More Time

If you’re looking for Lila and Mia Host ‘The Bidness’, they’ll be back next week!

——-

This was absolutely the last time that she would do this. It was all too exhausting, too degrading. But the money kept sucking her back in. Where else could she work just a couple of nights a week and make enough money to pay her rent and buy her groceries for a month?

School was expensive, and her parents could barely afford the tuition costs. She told them that she had a part time job and a roommate to help her pay the rent. She told them that she worked in a busy restaurant not far from campus. She didn’t want them to worry, and she didn’t want to disappoint them. They wouldn’t understand or approve of what she was doing.

The club was just a step above being called ‘seedy’. With a mixture of working class locals, students from the college, and tourists, there was money to be made. Men would spend their last dollar on a beer and a chance to have a beautiful woman pay attention to them. They wanted a fantasy, and she could be that fantasy, but it would cost them.

She had been working here now for almost 9 months. As many of the girls did, she started out serving cocktails. The “uniform” was a bikini top and shorts that didn’t leave much to the imagination. She remembers back to the first night of work…how she was mortified to walk out in front of people wearing those shorts and too-high heels. She was so embarrassed. But at the end of the night, she had gotten almost $400 in tips, and decided to work one more night…

Less than a month later, her boss had asked her if she wanted to fill in for one of the regular dancers. He said that she didn’t have to remove any clothing, just wear a skimpy bathing suit and dance suggestively. After a couple of shots and a “bump” as the girls called it, she put on the barely-there-covers-nearly-nothing swimsuit and stepped on stage.

The attention was immediate and gratifying. To have so many men desiring her was almost erotic.

But over time, the novelty wore off and the dread and disgust set in. It was the same man wanting the same things, only their faces changed. They always wanted more, “extras”, they wanted her to do things that she’d never even heard of. They tried to touch her, bribe her; a few even started waiting outside of the club for her.

She only had a month of school left. She could quit now and she would be okay. Sure the money would stop coming, but she could find something else over the summer.

She could feel the rythmic bumping of the music. She smelled the stale alcohol. The air was electric – as if the desire coming from them all was alive.  She looked at herself one more time in the mirror after she heard her name called.

She was going to give up the money. And as she stepped onto the stage and saw the packed club and all of the dollar signs where their faces should have been, she knew that she was wrong.

——-

Just for the record, this is fiction.

Con-crit (constructive criticism) appreciated! Please feel free to leave any suggestions you think will help me improve my writing!

This post was written for the red writing hood at the red dress club. The prompt: Write a short piece – 600 words max – that begins with the words, “This was absolutely the last time” and ends with “She was wrong.”

What Words Cannot Describe

I opened the door and the cool air whisked past me. I wasn’t expecting it, and gasped under my breath, or so I thought. Several people in the room turned around…including him.

The room itself was intimidating. The tables, the seriousness of it all, the bailiff watching everybody’s every move. It was stark and cold. It was sad; not hopeful. No matter what the outcome was, I would be the loser.

My son had been gone for over a year. His smile and laughter, things I thought I would never forget, faded away a little more every day. His scent, the way he scrunched his lips to one side when he tried to make a decision, the way he said “I love you, Mommy ” Gone forever.

He turned around and stared at me. Recognition instantly flashed across his face. He looked me up and down, raised an eyebrow, and nodded his head up, as if to say “Hey, what’s up?”. 

I was sickened. My stomach fell to the floor, and I felt like I might throw up. But I did not. I showed strength and no fear. I had to be strong for my boy.

The verdict had been read just hours before. Guilty. Now sentencing. My turn to stand up and give my Victim Impact Statement. But what did I say?

How could I describe with words what was been stolen from me? How could I possibly make people understand that my heart – my soul – was taken right out of me.

That I woke up at night not being able to breathe and not knowing where I was. My husband left. I couldn’t get out of bed most mornings.

I still looked for him everywhere I went, even though I know he wouldn’t be there. I couldn’t cry anymore. That I did nothing but cry. That I cut myself to try to feel something, but there was nothing there.

I was hollow.

How could I describe the feeling of watching little boys that were playing, learning, fighting, screaming…being little boys…and how it angered me more than anything else?

That this WAS.NOT.FAIR. and that MY.LITTLE.BOY.DIDN’T.DESERVE any of this.

That I only could hear his voice screaming “Mommy” in fear instead of remembering it being spoken with love? That I couldn’t get the terror and pain and suffering out of my head. Tears streaming down his face while he prayed for me. Or the thought of what he must have been thinking while having a piece of rope tied around his neck?

I would never see him graduate high school or college, never hug him the first time his heart was broken, or hug him when he found the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. I would never hold a grandchild or be called grandma. I wouldn’t be there to watch him struggle through life and learn from his mistakes and experiences.

How do I describe the guilt that I wore like a crown of thorns?

I couldn’t.

I could not describe the devastation and darkness that has become my life. I could not make people understand the depth of my loss. I walked towards the podium, searching for the words.

Con-crit (constructive criticism) appreciated! Please feel free to leave any suggestions you think will help me improve my writing!

This post was written for the red writing hood at the red dress club. The prompt:  Someone has stolen something from you (or your character). Something of tremendous value. What will you do to give it back? Or will you give up?

This post is fiction, and was a follow up to another red writing hood prompt I wrote called “Darkness“. As I wrote the this post, I cried…that’s never happened to me before. I hope to NEVER experience anything like this. EVER.

The Replacements

I was looking for my other pair of reading glasses when I found the picture. I had torn our bedroom apart, yelled at the kids and looked outside before finally deciding to dive into the dresser drawers – even though I knew they weren’t in there.

I sat down on the edge of the bed, the weight giving under me with a sigh. How long had it been since I had looked at that picture Months? A Year? Years? There used to be a time when I couldn’t go to bed at night without looking at it. When had that stopped? After my wife miscarried our first child, I think. She never knew about the picture. She was five months along when she lost the baby and our world(and relationship) came to a screeching halt. It took a long time to get both back on track.

I gently traced the outline of her body; brushed her hair. The smile beaming back at me brought tears to my eyes. I could smell her shampoo and the cherry Chapstick she always wore. I could hear her laugh; it was like champagne glasses being clinked together – gentle, high pitched, and always made you happy to hear.

She was the one. The one that I should’ve spent the rest of my life with. Instead? I killed her. I didn’t kill her myself, but I was the one that was driving the car when the drunk driver hit us head on.

We had a fight that night, and she was supposed to be staying over at my apartment, but decided she wanted to go home. She only lived across town – ten minutes tops – away from me. Maybe I was driving fast because I was angry. Maybe I was trying to be an asshole and wanted to scare her. Or maybe her words before we left my place scared me more than I admitted to myself: I think we should take a break. I feel like we’re always at each other’s throats for no reason. I love you and you love me, but maybe we should take a step back and see if this is what we both want.

I didn’t see the drunk driver weaving in the lanes in front of us. I didn’t see him hitting his breaks and then speeding up. I didn’t see it because I wasn’t paying attention. I was trying to be angry. I was breathing hard and kept tapping the steering wheel. I had turned up the radio when Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love came on so I wouldn’t hear her try to talk to me.

She tried to hold my hand, and I pushed her away. But looking back on it now, I’m not sure if she was trying to hold my hand or get my attention. The last word out of her mouth was a screaming NO, and I remember looking over at her bracing herself against the impact that was coming. Her arms straight and gripping the dash – I could see the muscles in her sun tanned arms. Her legs also straight out against the floor.

They said that the car in front of us had hit the center divider of the highway. It must’ve done at least two 360’s before slamming into us. I don’t remember any of that. I just remember waking up, and she was gone.

I love my wife, and I love my children. I wouldn’t give them up for the world. But this is not the life I was supposed to be living. This is the replacement life for the one that I destroyed.

I wrote this prompt for the Red Writing Hood. The prompt: Write a piece – 600 word limit – about finding a forgotten item of clothing in the back of a drawer or closet. Let us know how the item was found, what it is, and why it’s so meaningful to you or your character.

Warmth

The sound is what I remember most.

The wind. It sounded like screaming. An angry woman screaming.

Or maybe it was crying. Sad, hopeless crying. The kind of crying that you hear somebody cry when they find out that their spouse or child has died. The kind of primal crying that you can’t stop or control. You taste it and feel the angst; the loss…and yet you can’t make it stop.

That sound scared me more than the situation we were in. Because I could stop hearing the helpless voices in my head, but I couldn’t stop hearing that screaming/crying. The fear was a feeling that wouldn’t go away. The voices would hush, but the fear sat right in my lap.

I couldn’t relax. Couldn’t concentrate. The phone wasn’t working and nobody knew that I hadn’t made it back to my house from my mother’s house. She died a month ago, and I came to check on things. The storm? Came out of nowhere.

The cold was totally indescribable. After waiting for hours for it to stop, it just kept coming. It seeped into everything. Everything. I had on layers upon layers of clothing, and the baby laid shivering on my chest, skin to skin. We couldn’t get warm. The baby was whimpering. I think that he somehow understood how afraid I was and was trying to avoid causing me anymore stress. And as the minutes ticked by and my tension turned into comfort, he slowly dosed off. But I couldn’t stop the cold.

Just one drink, I thought to myself. Just one drink to ward off the cold. I won’t be so afraid if I can just get some warmth.

The sweet, dry taste of wine warmed my tongue, my cheeks, my throat…down to my empty stomach. I instantly felt warmer, more in control. More able to handle the screaming. The baby slept on.

One more. It will calm my nerves and help me think more clearly. I won’t be as afraid.

But one more turned into two, three more. The bottle was gone.

I have to stop…try to figure out what to do.

But the warmth of the wine was smooth, relaxing. Comforting. It helped deaden the screaming – turned it into nothing more than a loud, irritating whisper.

There was no heat. No light. No food. No communication with the outside world. The baby had his formula, I had my wine. Bottles of it. We were okay. For now. Except the fear, gnawing at my brain.

The baby was stirring. Was it already time for him to eat? I’m so tired now. The fear and unknowing was wearing me down. Another glass of warmth would calm my nerves.

I’ll just finish this second bottle and then try to sleep. Things are always more clear in the morning.

The baby was crying, and trying to get out of the inside of my sweatshirt. I knew he was hungry, tired, needed to be changed. But the screaming of the wind wouldn’t stop; it was daring me to step outside and have a look into the darkness. I was hot and needed to get some air.

I hear my name in the night. The taunting howl. I want to look – to see what is calling me. I am stronger than the wind.

But the baby won’t stop crying. I push him into my breasts. I want him to be quiet so I can hear the taunt.

The baby won’t stop. The wind keeps calling me. I step outside. I’m not cold anymore.

And so it goes…

I wrote this prompt for Red Writing Hood in response to the prompt: “You are trapped (alone or with others) in a single location during the fury and/or aftermath of a blizzard of historic proportions.” And I wanna know…why is my fiction always so dark?