For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Michael challenged me with “‘We must live it, now, a day at a time and be very careful not to hurt each other.’ –Ernest Hemingway” and I challenged Kit with “A potter at her wheel; a photographer behind his camera.”
For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Stefan challenged me with “You’re a hero, so act like one. ” and I challenged Jake Durkin with “To remain anonymous among strangers or to reveal oneself among friends?”
For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Kameko Murakami challenged me with “Like Ophelia, I float on a river of…” and I challenged Grace O’Malley with “No one knew where it began and where it ended.”
I also used this piece for this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge. The word was scandal.
For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Cheney challenged me with “There was a dark shadow crouched in the corner of the room. It looked human, but how could I be sure?” and I challenged The Lime with “Today only: twenty percent discount.”
These days, people even wanted to choose their eye color. Years ago, when he first got assigned to this position, people were happy just to have their vision back. Now they had demands other than health. They wanted to live forever. And they wanted to look good doing it. Only then, would they be happy.
He crouched in the bushes, a hundred feet from the entrance to the restaurant and settled in to wait. Sometimes he waited for hours; sometimes minutes. He didn’t mind. The job paid handsomely. He could afford a home in a gated community. He had an in-ground pool and an indoor tennis court. Every morning, he had his choice of seven cars, though he usually took the Jeep. Less conspicuous that way. He had everything that money could buy, and nothing that money could not.
The door of the restaurant opened. He sat up, peering intently. This was the guy. He held up the gun. His aim was impeccable.
The databanks indicated that Frederick T. Kissell would be a good match. The client had paid hundreds of thousands of dollars. And the government would be happy: Frederick T. Kissell had recently been convicted of bribery. The statistics indicated he was likely to be a repeat offender.
“I’m nearly done. One more job and I’m out of this business.”
Truth was, he loved the business. Loved the excitement and mystery of it. Every time he got a call from the government with an address and a name he felt a little thrill charge through his body. But a diet of fast food and coffee and travel had taken their toll. At forty-five, he looked more like ninety. “The doctors said to slow down, to find myself a wife. Thing is, I have no idea how to love.”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that, Mother.”
He hated being this close up. Hated seeing the confusion and the sadness.
“I know it.”
“I need a heart. And I need it soon.”
He shook his head. “The heart that loves is always young.” Today’s hearts were jaded and weary. Today’s hearts were immune to love.
His aim was impeccable. “Perhaps. Perhaps not.”
And he sent his signal to the police department and waited to be transported with his mother to the transplant unit.
For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Leo challenged me with “The heart that loves is always young…” and I challenged SAM with “Those little yellow flowers you dug up from the banks of the creek are blooming in my garden.”
Note: After reading my posting, my husband sent me this link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/24/world/asia/china-moves-to-stop-transplants-of-organs-after-executions.html?_r=1
For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Jester Queen challenged me with “The king has died and nobody knows which of his twins should inherit the throne, because the healer who delivered them has long since passed on and the Queen won’t answer the question of who was delivered first.” and I challenged Lance with “The silence that had come between them was thicker than ice.”
The doctor lifted the sheet and peered at the injury on the boy’s leg. It appeared to be a bullet wound, deeply infected, oozing yellow and green. But, still. I could’ve been worse. He would mend. “Looks like you’ve had some luck.” Carefully, she turned the leg to the side.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “It hurts?”
“Of course it hurts, Doctor.” The father frowned at her, as if she were responsible for the boy’s condition.
This part of medicine, she hated: The anger. She could heal the physically wounded, but she couldn’t diffuse the anger that was sometimes directed at her. Maybe it was stress and frustration. Perhaps it was her accent or her skin coloring. Maybe it was the economy, she didn’t know. Anger stressed her, though. She felt more pressure. She was more liable to make mistakes. She tucked the sheet back into place and looked at the boy’s parents. “And I might be too early.”
Eighteen years in this country. She prided herself on her English. But every so often, it failed her. What was the word she’d wanted? Not early. No…She searched her memory banks. Hasty. That was it. She smiled. “Sometimes my words mix themselves up in my mind. I’m sorry. What I meant was…”
“Hank.” The mother stood and put a hand on her husband’s arm. “Calm down.” She looked at the doctor. “I apologize for my husband. He’s just worried.”
“How can you tell? You’ve barely even looked at him.” The father again, neck veins throbbing. “This is serious!”
The doctor turned to the boy’s father. “Sir, when my brother’s legs were blown off by a bomb and I had to stitch him back together, while my mother held him down against the pain, that was serious. When my husband was murdered before my very eyes, that was serious. This…” She gestured to the boy. “This is nothing.”
After, she stitched up the boy’s leg. The pull of thread through skin reminded her of the way her mother used to lace up a stuffed chicken before tucking it into the oven. She felt the tears well up in her eyes. Blinked them back.
“I miss my mother.” She smiled.
“Did she die?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. I had to leave my country very suddenly. I left everything behind.”
She patted his leg—the good leg. “You know what I wish?”
“I wish I could stitch up a fractured country as easily as I did your leg.” She pulled the thread through and knotted it.
“You know what I wish?”
“I wish my father would stop hurting me.”
She nodded. “I wish that, too.”
She wished her husband were still alive. She wished to see her mother and her brother again. Most of all, she wished she could go home.
Again, the doctor nodded. “I know.”
For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, SAM challenged me with “Write a story based on this line from Patricia Coldwell’s Cause of Death: “Looks like you’ve had some luck,” I said. “Although I’m not sure what I’m seeing. And I might be too early.” ” and I challenged Kirsten Doyle with “Write a story from the perspective of someone just entering or just about to leave earth (or life).”
This has also been linked up with this week’s Yeah, Write Challenge.
Just before my husband pushed me, he’d whispered in my ear. “A Roman emperor used to throw visitors he didn’t like over the cliffs and into the sea below.”
And then, I felt nothing.
As I fell, the memories flew by, faster and faster until it was all I could do to grasp at them; as if by holding onto them, I could gain purchase on my life again.
“Don’t go,” he’d said to me, the week before I was to leave on a mission trip. “You can help people here—in the United States.”
He took my hand. “The rainforest is full of dangers. You’re terrified of snakes.”
He released my hand. “At least come camping with me before you go.”
Within a year, I’d given birth. I busied myself with bottles and diapers and doctor’s appointments. As I began to navigate the waters of motherhood, my confidence increased. I became aware of my power as a person.
“It’s not your fault, Jules.” But Phillip’s were eyes dark and angry as he turned away and knelt to pray in the hospital chapel.
My confidence did not.
I totaled the car.
My food sickened the guests.
From this height, I could see the way the earth knit itself together. The fields were anchored in place by pristine farmhouses and pretty red barns. The roads crisscrossed here and there; so many places to get to where you are going. So many paths to take. Further off, the interstate cinched itself around the ever-expanding waistline of factories and malls and discount stores.
Phillip had cinched a belt around my confidence.
I wondered how he intended to save me now.
So this was what it was like, I mused, to be weightless. This was what it felt like to be free of worry. This was what it felt like to be full of confidence. This time, Phillip’s plan to rescue me had backfired: When he pushed me from that plane, Phillip had set me free.
Apparently my husband had planned to save me mid-air.
For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Eric Limer challenged me with “Write something where the viewpoint character is in freefall for the duration of the story’s timeframe. (Your POV can, like, think back on things, but he/she should be in the air at the beginning of the story and in the air at the end.)” and I challenged Chimnese with “You’re given the opportunity to meet your mother or father at a point before your birth. Who would you meet? When? What would you talk about?”
Momma burst into my bedroom, an accusing look on her face. “Billy, you take Brutus out yet?”
“Billy, when we got that dog, you promised me you was gonna’ take care of him.” Momma began enumerating my sins upon her fingertips. “You was gonna’ feed him. You was gonna’ walk him. You was gonna’ pick up his doo from the yard.”
I rolled onto my stomach; returned to my video game.
“You mark my words, child. You gonna’ come back as a dog in your next life. Then you’ll see what it’s like.”
I grinned. Momma didn’t like talk of hell and sin.
“After I finish this game.”
Momma grunted. “You don’t start taking care of that dog, Billy, I swear I’ll take him to the pound. Let someone responsible take care of him.”
“You can’t take Brutus to the pound, Momma. No one in their right mind would adopt that crazy dog. He’d just…They’d give him the needle, Momma.”
“Wouldn’t be my fault, now, would it?” Momma nodded and crossed her arms.
I rose from the bed and went to the garage for the leash. Brutus skittered into the kitchen and began whirling around in circles. He barked twice and continued spinning.
Momma laughed. “Looks like he’s tap-dancing out a message in Morse code on them yellow tiles. When’d you feed him last, anyhow? He’s acting hungry, too.” Momma crossed the kitchen to Brutus’s water bowl. “That poor dog. Nothing to drink, neither. Billy, it’s the middle of summer, what are you thinking?”
I snapped the leash on his collar and headed out. Despite the dark, it was still hot outside. I yanked on Brutus’s collar to speed him along down the sidewalk.
When I returned, Momma was sitting on the living room couch, a pile of mending beside her, the eleven o’clock news on low in the background. “Night, Momma.”
She glanced up, pulling the needle through the fabric of the shirt on her lap. “Good night, son. See you tomorrow.”
“Brutus!” Momma’s voice was livid. She shook her finger at the mess on the floor. “I told that boy you was gonna’ pee on my new rug.” She looked around the house. “Now where did that boy get to, anyway? Billy? Billy!” She shook her head. “I got me a lazy son, is what I got, Brutus.” She snapped a leash to the collar around my neck and gave a tug. “I’m taking you to the pound. See if I care if you get the needle.”
I braced my front legs.
Momma pulled. “Oh, no you don’t.” Momma dragged me across the yellow tiles and out the front door. She hauled me into the front seat of her Chevette. She backed out of the driveway and slowly drove to the pound, determined tears streaming down her cheeks the whole time.
And as hard as I tried to tell Momma it was me; it was Billy who sat beside her, my words came out as a series of of strangled and desperate barks.
This post was also linked here:
The entrance to the diner opened, sending in a blast of cold air. Bitsy frowned. “Lilly Jean, you know we don’t open until six o’clock. I can’t keep letting you in or everyone else will be coming in for their morning coffee before we get it brewed.”
“I know you and Spank are sweet on each other now. But that doesn’t give you special privileges.”
Lilly Jean walked behind the breakfast bar. She reached underneath the bar and grabbed a filter. “Regular or decaf, Bitsy?”
Lilly Jean tore open the packet of coffee and poured it into the filter. She nodded to the kitchen. “I hear Spank’s got his music on again. How he can listen to that shit is beyond me.”
Bitsy sighed. She’d have to talk to Spank; tell him to keep his girlfriend in line. She studied Lilly Jean as she took out two coffee cups from beneath the counter. Seemed to Bitsy that Lilly Jean was acting pretty fast; hooking up with Spank when she was still married to Daddy Sheriff. Coming into the diner like she owned the place. “Lilly Jean…”
“Why do I feel like a guest in my own diner, Lilly Jean?”
Lilly Jean tore open a creamer and poured it into one of the cups.
Lilly Jean emptied three packets of sugar into the other cup. “I come to help, Bitsy.”
“I don’t need help.”
“You lose your best waitress, you need help.”
“And how will people get their stamps today?”
“Not my problem. I quit.”
“Daddy Sheriff got me that job.” Lilly Jean shivered. “I’ve washed my hands of that man.” She picked up the coffee pot and poured out two cups.
“So you just burst in here, looking for a job? I’m losing customers right and left.” She’d been a fool to end her business relationship with Jonathan. She’d never expected it to backfire the way it had. “I can’t afford to hire you, Lilly Jean.”
Lilly Jean shook her head. “I ain’t lookin’ for a job, Bitsy. I’m here to help you. As a friend. Now where do you keep your aprons?”
“In the kitchen, with your boyfriend.” Bitsy sighed. The last thing she needed was Lilly Jean mooning over Spank, keeping him from his work.
Lilly Jean pushed through the swinging door and returned a second later, trying an apron around her waist. “Put me to work, Bitsy.”
“Lilly Jean, I…”
“Tell me everything that needs done before opening.”
Bitsy began counting on her fingers. “Tables need to be set. Water glasses filled with ice. More coffee made. Baskets lined with napkins and filled with sweet rolls…”
“Holy, shit, Bitsy. How many things you got to do every morning?”
Bitsy sighed. “How many angels can dance upon the head of a pin?”
“Oh, don’t go getting all spiritual on me, Bitsy. I’ll start with the tables.” Lilly Jean grabbed a stack of placemats and began setting them neatly upon the tables. “Well, go on,” Lilly Jean said, casting a glance over her shoulder. “I reckon a woman knows how to set a table without a body watching over her.”
Bitsy nodded and pushed through the swinging door into the kitchen.
A moment later, she returned to the dining room. “Hey, Lilly Jean?”
Lilly Jean looked up. “Yeah?”
Lilly Jean nodded. “Happy to do it, Bitsy.” And she returned to her tables, humming along to Spank’s music drifting in from the kitchen.
And for the first time since Ellie left, Bitsy allowed herself to smile.
For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Kurt challenged me with “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” and I challenged Jay Andrew Allen with “I’ve just made a horrible mistake…”