Unhappened Stories

I often wish I had made the effort to enjoy music with my grandmother when she was alive.  On lazy days my vinyl treasures blast Tommy Dorsey, Glen Miller, and Count Basie, with singers from that era.  I wonder what facial expressions grandmother would have made, what tapping of a foot or shake of a finger.  I crack a bittersweet smile.  A slippery clarinet reminds me how I might have entertained her back then, if only I’d practiced more in high school band class, or explored beyond my age-accepted genres.

I’d ask, “Why does that man’s voice wiggle like that when he sings the last word in each stanza?”  She’d say, “That was the style in those days,” meaning, “… in my days.”

She’d add her sweet soprano to Marlene’s voice, somewhere between alto and a place exotic.  I’d smile, my gleaming eyes telling her how relevant her music and her passion remain.  “I never really cared for Dietrich, but the boys sure loved her.”

“What boys?” I’d ask – wondering if she meant one of her husbands, or my uncles – looking for a story.

“The ones that came home after the war.”

But I never was much for listening to stories back then.  Wasn’t big on sitting still and paying attention to older folks, even my grandmother.  That is why this story never happened.

#NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (Day 3, 2015)

The weather was agnostic.  There was no commitment to any particular sort of forecast, not even short term, except for the leaves.  Those things couldn’t hold water.  The trees were showing their colors.  Ditches on both sides of the road spilled over with their fallen vestiges, and the skies made their cards known with clouds, as still as ever, dark but not foreboding, standing sentry duty.  No rain, bright sky, but no sun to be found.  Macon knew winter was close, but the air was still polite and her hands could stand to be without gloves.  She drove the roads at dusk.

 
She left the radio off and focused on the taillights fifty yards ahead.  “Focus on the taillights of the car in front of you and you won’t have to worry about staying in the center of the road; you just will.”  She remembered the lessons her foster dad tried to teach her.  She’d heard horrible stories about foster families over the years, but hers was one of salvation.  Her only regret was that she hadn’t been placed with them sooner.

 
A trio of Lodgepole pine trees presented themselves from the other side of the bend in the road up ahead.  Two were upright while the third leaned in as if preparing to tell a secret to the others.  She rounded the corner and caught a sip of the Hood Canal before more pines crowded in to block her view.  Another opening and she glimpsed one of the Olympic peaks, “The Brothers,” she recalled, before the sign ahead offered “Fresh Steak Gyros.”  She slowed and pulled in, parking where the gas pumps had been many years ago.


PrintTune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

 

 

 

The “I remember …” Writing Prompt

US Navy 020712-N-5471P-010 EOD teams detonate expired ordnance in the Kuwaiti desertI remember … a voice.  Soft and low, it beckoned me from my sleep.  My eyes were reluctant.  Soft and low, then a hint of discord – the voice reached, the beat of its language growing more insistent.  I reasoned with my eyes, my limbs … perhaps a little stretch.  “Mueller – wake the hell up.  Dammit, they’re here.”  Heat pricked my skin before I felt the concussion, and my eyes snapped open just as a shroud of dirt flashed over my body from the impact.

Writing Spaces

Smoke by THORMarge scratches her head in the midst of the last remaining place of business where smoking is allowed, “The Everyone and their Mama Meeting Place Bar and Internet Lounge.” The dank odor is already permeating her heavy overcoat, a vital accessory since the owner saves money by not turning on the central air unit. In the summer Marge wears the skimpiest tank top she can find and has to purchase several rounds of water before she’s through with her writing. Gone are the days where she could enjoy the little writing shack she fixed up in her back yard. Once a hot tub outbuilding, it already had water and power when she cleared out the insides and swept away the spiders. A fresh coat of paint, a small desk and ergonomic chair, built-in shelves, a work table, and two dry erase boards later and she’d put together the best writing environment. The man at the computer kiosk next to her lets out a loud burp and jams his fist in the air as his screen emulates a winning slot machine. Her blank screen yawns at her. It’s enough to make her start smoking again.

Writer’s Day in the Life …

Writer – Bless me Father for I have sinned.  It’s been 26 days since I last wrote.

Priest – Have you read anything, my child?

Writer – Yes Father.  About eight books since then.

Priest – Hmm.  That’s not many.  That’s about how many I’d expect if you had been writing.

Writer – _____

Priest – Tell me what you’ve read.

Writer – I read two Stephen Kings, one of them a short story collection, the other a car thing—

Priest – Oh dear – not Christine, I hope.

Writer – No Father, much worse.  The newer one.  From a Buick 8.

Priest – Okay then.  We can actually count that one twice since it takes a real effort to keep reading it.

Writer – Thank you Father.  I also read another short story collection called Dangerous Women.

Priest – Have you gotten into the erotica reading?  What is this book?

Writer – No Father.  It’s a collection of almost “noir” stories with the character type in them.

Priest – Very literary then.  That sounds good.

Writer – Unfortunately it’s also full of mysogeny.

Priest – I’ve heard this word.  How is it defined?

Writer – It’s when there’s dislike or contempt, usually because of an assumed prejudice of women.  Lots of objectification—

Priest – I see.  So this book involved … a great deal of sex?

Writer – No.  But there was a heavy leaning on the assumption women exist for man’s sexual gratification.

Priest – ______

Writer – Anyway, I also read another Asimov “Foundation” novel, and three indie published books.

Priest – Let’s get back to the, how did you pronounce it? “MY – SOJ – IN- EE?”  Explain it so I understand.

Writer – It’s a big topic, Father.  What would you like to know?

Priest – Well, the last part about sex; it’s my duty to remind you it sounds scripturally sound, dear.

Writer – Wait – you mean about man’s gratification?

Priest – Yes.  Paul writes—

Writer – I know what Paul writes, Father.  But it goes both ways about suffering a spouse.

Priest – Have you had marital problems, my child?

Writer – No.  I’m just saying, there’s a more enlightened understanding about “suffering a husband.”

Priest – I see.

Writer – Besides, mysogeny is more than just viewing women as sex objects.  It involves seeing them as—

Priest – Careful dear – remember the Lord created woman as a “help mate” for Adam.

Writer – Help is not a footstool.

Priest – Footstools can help reach books on higher shelves.  Yes.  And don’t forget the Marys – at Jesus feet.

Writer – I know the stations of the cross Father.

Priest – Would you look at the time.  Tell me about these “indie” novels you read.

Writer – One was a horrible fantasy story set in Irish folklore that obviously mirrored Harry Potter.

Priest – Sounds delightful, you must share your copy with me.

Writer – The other two were great – a spy thriller and a great speculative fiction called Chimpanzee.

Priest –  Uh, the premise of Chimpanzee?

Writer – A futuristic society where you have to get your brain wiped of your education if you can’t pay your student loans.

Priest – I see.

Writer – This guy’s wife has a job but he doesn’t so he has to serve on the conservation corps and get his multiple degrees wiped while his wife supports them and they buy a new house.

Priest – Oh dear.  I’m not sure that’s appropriate.

Writer – Appropriate for what?

Priest – It’s just that, well it appears you are struggling with your writing because of these confusing ideas you’ve encountered.  I can only imagine the toll this is taking on your marriage, child.  You should consider this before choosing your next book.

Writer – ___

Priest – Child?

Writer – You know, I’ve also been reading a lot of Moses lately.  I’m thinking about changing my pen name to Terzah.

Priest – Who?

Writer – Excuse me Father, I feel a story coming on.

Priest – But your penance, dear.  I haven’t blessed you yet.

Writer – I’m a grown woman, Father.  Not a “dear.”  I need to go.  I think if I wait around to be blessed by you I could die a very old and disappointed lady.  Gotta’ go write.

Personification Loosed

The onion’s protest registered in the air throughout the house.  Its flesh sizzled as it hit the pan and, soon after, it began basking in the sheen of butter.  The metamorphosis began.  Two eggs balked at the corner of the counter before they cracked and were beaten in rapid swirls.  The Organic dill made its appearance from the cabinet above as a new aroma rose from the pan.  The onions were caramelizing.  The egg and spice joined them as the coffee maker hissed its message, “Mission complete.

The tomatoes would probably swamp up the whole thing and the writer doubted they would add much flavor, but she cut one up and threw it in anyway.  They’d go bad in a day or two.  She stirred and sifted the hotbed of shapes and textures and lifted out sections to the waiting plate.  After a sprinkle of parmesan on the concoction, she slid the rest from the pan to cover the cheese.  Her coffee and creamer poured, she carried the muddy mug to the table and downed her morning vitamins.  Rinsing the fork she’d used to beat the eggs, she tasted breakfast and deemed it serviceable.

What to write about, she wondered, as she opened a web browser and began her morning rituals.  The screen stared back at her, still groggy from the operating system update the day before.  She adjusted the brightness and checked her glasses for streaks.  All systems go.  Must have sleep in her eyes.  The fork finally rested on the empty plate, and she moved it out of her reach, purchasing better access to the keyboard.  Her neck pulled at her head and coaxed her to tilt back and stretch before leaning forward once again.  Her fingers reported to their assigned positions but remained poised and still.  What to write, what to write …

Nearly two years of blogging and she’d learned a very important lesson – find your niche and stick to it.  Her’s was “writing.”  Essays, memoir entries, poetry – the style made no difference as long as it had to do with the artistry, romance, challenges, and techniques regarding the craft of writing.  IMG_0175The blog readers had spoken.  So this morning she pondered what sparkling, mystical pool of the art she would dive into.  Candle flames danced. The floor heater whispered a smooth unending exhale.  An unfinished book taunted her from across the room, and still she focused on the blank screen, its face devoid of expression – as clueless as she about what would adorn its space.

An angry truck roared past outside.  huffing as it came to a stop at the sign, and mumbling something about gravel and ice before rounding the corner and grumbling off into the distance.  The coffee pot ticked and popped on its hotplate, reminding her it was there if she needed help.  She went for a refill as the empty breakfast plate caught her eye.  It joined it’s family in the dishwasher.  The icy floor tiles were not interested in her morning routine except to demand that she remove the stray onion skin that had interrupted its stubborn compulsion at order.

A second cup of energy sparked her neurons into more intense action.  “Action,” she said aloud, and the house responded with awkward silence.  She could write about creating action in a story, or inciting forward momentum in pumping out a daily word count.  “Fat chance at that,” the house seemed to insert, and she had to agree – faced with the still blank page.  Yesterday’s post pulled her to her blog page, and reminded her that decades of writing teachers would surely provide material for her to expound.  “But that feels like cheating,” she replied, “unless I put some kind of spin on it.”

The chair squealed as she twisted in it, staring at the patio-door window to think.  The blinds it wore were those cheap, plastic hanging strips that twisted to open, and shuffled along the track it hung on to open wider or close.  Some of the strips were warped and hung crooked, exposing a striped portrait of the neighborhood.  She let the spaces paint lines of light on her brain as she dissected the art of writing for a specimen that could hold her spellbound long enough to make her fingers twitch on the keys.

Alliteration, hyperbole, metaphors – she stretched her memory for other literary devices.  Imagery, simile, irony – she loved them all and they had always been faithful, except for “hyperbole,” she recalled, that one time in college.  Such friends could make or break a piece, she started to write about it, simultaneously questioning each as to their whereabouts earlier that morning.  She broke their resistance, they started talking; she was making great progress. Some were even pointing their fingers, and just when several had named the culprit (“Personification,” whom she’d forgotten to put into the lineup – the space heater began an annoying incessant beeping.

Death found an author writing his life.. (3517039221)

Death found an author writing his life.. Designed & done on stone by E. Hull. Printed by C. Hullmandel. London, Dec. 1827.

The fuse breaker’s lack of cooperation had incited a strike.  She moved from her seat and headed over to begin negotiations.  The phone rang.  Work was calling.  She would have to finish the article another day.  It was times like these that she was grateful for the MacBook’s battery.  The laptop would protect the morning’s work, safeguarding it until her return.  She had a lead now, she thought.  It was only a matter of time before she could round up “Personification,” and expose its habit of transforming objects,  animals, and even concepts like “death,” into humans.

Asrai Blessing: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (The End)

The pilgrims gathered on the bow of the ship as instructed by Larien.  Their traveling things, now much lighter, had been hoisted above their heads to the awaiting dirigible airship above.  Now, they each took turns saying their goodbyes to the Asrai.  To R’Zen and Tboi, Amras said, “Courage and wisdom your honor brings.  I embrace you for certain of times.”  Tboi blushed a pinkish color and R’Zen bowed deeply at the pair.

Larian touched Hoss’s face and cradled it there with a rippling kind of sadness in her face, “So acquainted with loss your strength.”  She turned to Ingrid and said, “A heart must never win where knowledge can sacrifice.”  Ingrid made no sign that she understood, but nodded and hugged the brother and sister.

Each of them taking one of Miriam’s hands, they placed a kiss on both and said, “Stories to tell.  Stories to tell.”  She smiled and shivered, thanking them for their blessing.

Terra felt ticklish again as Larien and Amras both gave her a parting hug.  “Take your care, world woman,” Larien still used the mysterious title, “must needs to find the cure.”  She looked to Ingrid and Miriam for help, but neither had any answers to offer and met her glance only with a shrug or raising of the eyebrows.


This is the last quick read of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.  NaNo conquered.  Next move – additions and revision number one.

 

 

 

Lizard vs Horse: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (29)

Terra was excited.  It was one thing to read about things, even to watch vids on them, but in a short time she was going to actually see, with her own eyes, the beaches of Kepler-Z.  R’Zen, reading her excitement from behind and aching to give his much atrophied legs a good exercise, jogged to her side.  Her horse, startled by the appearance of a fully grown matterhorn gentry suddenly appearing at its side, crow hopped and then calmed back to its original trot.

Participant-2014-Square-Button“N’Sa, apologetic for startling dumb animal,”  he smiled his cantankerous smirk and Terra laughed, not missing his intended irony.  “Beach not far,” he trilled, “if Ms. Terra wish to race.”  He was stripping his leggings and tying them around his neck.  Terra smiled, even giggled a little, then played a game she remembered playing with Ingrid what seemed like so very long ago.

 


Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (28)

Tboi hadn’t spoken or paid much attention to Terra after their disagreement.  Now she reflected upon how nice it felt to have been stuck in the same awkward plight with him.  She smiled her recognition of this when she caught his eyes.  His face, a pleasant mix of relief and contentment, now shifted to one of hurt and disdain.  He looked away and she was bruised by his disgust.

 

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Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

 

 

 

The Speaking Tree: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (27)

NEEDANAME was a seventh generation folk-teller.  His stories, when he told them, made young and old sit still and stay quiet.  In the early mornings, when most were stretching their muscles, scratching their itches, and hustling to and fro, there was one story he especially liked to tell.  He called it, “The Speaking Tree.”

“When the moon races slower and the Cimarron week is nearly at an end,” he would say, his raspy voice so quiet you had to stop moving in order to hear over the hustle, “there is a MOGUL that lives in a particular tree.”  He would would stand tall and stretch his arms and hands, then freeze, to imitate a tree.  “If you find this tree, you may still never know of this MOGUL, because for one hundred twenty-one days, it never makes a sound.  But if you find it, or happen to be sitting beneath its dwelling tree, you will hear a song and a word or two, and never will you ever be the same again.”

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Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (26)

 

“Was there a question somewhere, Bishop?” The Maiden’s voice, less mundane than before and with a bite of disgust, sent ice water through Terra’s veins.

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Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

 

 

Tboi: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (25)

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Tboi.  She liked the sound of his name when she said it.  He’d said her name too.  His words leading up to it had been angry, but not when he said her name.  She closed her eyes, could still hear it, “That’s why we don’t touch the ground, Terra.”  She shortened it.  “That’s why, Terra.”  His voice had softened at her name, had been gentle.  He’d asked her what she was thinking.  She wondered, in the silence that divided them after angry words subsided, what was he thinking.


 

Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

 

Stagecoach Shootout Prelude: NaNoWriMo BotD (24)

“Right.  Anyway, Nog knows the plans, both this one an’ the contingency plan.  If they come at us this way, he knows t’ scuttle the coach.”  He could tell this confused both Terra and Tboi.  “He’ll derail us, so you’ll have t’ make sure yer strapped in on my signal.  Otherwise, Tboi here will be too busy cleaning yer bloody carcasses off an’ trying to heal ya’ to figure out how t’ aim a weapon.”

Ingrid drummed her fingers on the coach wall in irritation and he took the hint, but before he could continue, Terra asked, “If we derail, how will we get away or get to the Depot?”

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“No get away,” hummed R’Zen.  “Must kill all or else.”

 


Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

The Matterhorn Gentry – R’Zen: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (23)

“R’Zen,” said Miriam, “Be nice.  She is the product of Ancestrian teaching, but you will find her a very brave and gifted individual.  Give her a chance.” Terra squirmed and continued to weigh her options.

“N’sa,” he hissed with a soft humming, “what difference between Ancestrian and individual?”

Miriam opened her mouth to speak, but Terra beat her to it.  “Individuals can think what they want,” she stuttered as she dropped onto the bench, and purposely scooted as close as his large frame would allow comfortably.  Her defiant look hadn’t quite made it to his eyes yet; she remembered the flicker of orange that surprised her the first time she’d caught a glimpse of his reptilian face upon entering the coach.

A deep rumble churned from his chest and rolled out as a slow laugh that sounded to Terra like he was having a coughing fit while humming.  “Your heart beats pound at me with rapid pace, N’sa.  When finally you meet me, I count you brave as Miriam says.  But you make laughs – so silly.”  His tongue slithered outside the rounded tip of his mouth/nose as he said these last two words, it curled casually upward and then withdrew back into his mouth.  Terra noticed the scales at the edges of his mouth pull upwards as his jaw muscles beneath formed what looked like a smirk.

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Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

Time: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (22)

Baker’s Dozen took an entire day to traverse and although the light of Kepler, the red dwarf sun, still shone on this last of the solar week.  All three seated in this compartment knew the time of day.  Tboi knew, just as all Lorgose knew, because of their uncanny connection to the planet and its stages.  R’Zen knew by virtue of his third eye, his parietal eye, a biological feature of his alien kind, detecting even the slightest differences in light – and he was able to quickly regulate this sensitivity to the lumen cycles of any world he visited.  Bishop Patel knew because of the antique pocket watch he carried.  “It’s got 21 jewels,” he bragged whenever anyone asked him to show it off.  He wound it daily – just three twists – and calibrated it regularly with the pawns of the Planetary Time Counsel or with his friends like R’Zen or Tboi.

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Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.